Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Snoring and a Toby Update.

A few dozen years ago I made a promise before my family, friends and God. It went something along the lines of loving, honouring and obeying (I feel like I was conning no one when I said obey). There were also words mentioned about sickness, health, richer, poorer and death. But not once was any contingency given about snoring.

Iven is a snorer.

Because we did not do the whole 'try before you buy' thing before we got married, the snoring was a bit of a surprise that I wished one of his college room-mates had let me in on. Thanks guys!!

I'm a light sleeper. And the whole light-sleeper/snorer combo is not working for me especially now that I'm contemplating another marathon. All that extra training means that I HAVE to get good quality sleep. I already sleep with ear plugs but for the past few nights even they've not been enough.

He only snores when he's on his back so my tried and true method of stopping the snoring has been to poke him and tell him to roll over. He hasn't always taken this well. And sometimes has told me that he wasn't snoring because he was awake. Obviously! I go out of my way to screw with his head at 2am just for the fun of it. But because he doesn't always react well to being poked (I'm assuming he's in the middle of some amazing dream) I've been less inclined to tell him it's time to roll. And I lie there festering in resentment that I'm awake for no good reason, dreaming up ways of stopping the noise. At 2am the best solution that consistently comes to mind involves some form of bloodshed and a prison term - unless torture by sleep deprivation is considered justifiable homicide.

My favourite daytime solution involves one of my sons leaving home, sound-proofing and blackout curtains. But until then I'm going to have to pluck up my nerve and just poke away. Unless anyone has any other bright ideas??

Toby is much better - thank you all for your concern. The vomiting was only a 24hr thing and seemed to stop once the higher fence had been put around the chicken run. He had lots of company and pats while he was under the weather and I'm sure that helped lift his spirits.

It's so nice not to have to deprive him of food any more. Those sad brown eyes looking at you when you eat are tough to resist. And having him out of action as the pre-wash rinse cycle for our dishwasher has meant that our plates aren't getting that nice sparkle that they usually have.

And for all of you who asked about cupcake decorating tips. My best one is You Tube. I haven't done any classes. I've just looked up stuff that I wanted to try and almost invariably it's there. Don't you just love technology?!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Puking, Piping and Perspiration

Toby's sick.

Before I get inundated with get-well gifts and cards for him (but if you feel compelled to send gifts, he's quite fond of almond M&Ms and always shares some with me ... or is it the other way around?), I'd like to say that it's totally self-inflicted. His greed has given him a little bout of mild gastritis. And by greed, I mean him eating anything and everything. Dog food, human food, compost, chicken food, sticks, chicken poo and possum poo. This is not a dog that you want licking your face.

He puked his dinner up last night. And this morning I had to clean up four more piles of slightly digested solids of unknown aetiology. I managed to rush him outside before he produced a fifth so I'm counting that as a win. Apart from the vomiting there's really no other symptoms. He's alert, happy, hungry and energetic so I'm not worrying. A day off food will hopefully have him better again.

I think, though that the gastritis is a bit my fault. I let my son dress him as a superhero for fun.

Toby liked his new status and started to believe that the mask gave him super powers. He believed he could fly. Which is the only explanation I could come up with when I found him in the chicken run eating all kinds of unmentionable things. When I told him off I saw that the three foot high fence was no longer a barrier between him and what he really wanted. He didn't even need a run up to bound over it.

The chicken fence now is five foot high.

As I sit typing this I'm having to pause to yell at him out the window. He's lying down next to this morning's big success (the one that didn't soil my carpet) having a second go. Ughh! Hopefully, being already partially digested, this time it will stay down.


I got some new nozzles last week. For piping! It nearly killed me to have to wait till the weekend to use them. But the wait was worth it. I got a medium petal nozzle and a medium leaf one. The first is a daisy-type flower.

This next one is supposed to be a rose but I think horticulturists would argue with me on that so I've decided to call it a camellia.

And we can't forget that Christmas is just around the corner.

Yep, I got hours of fun out of those two nozzles.


And last, but not least I had a pretty great weekend of running. Saturday was hot and humid and Coach Chris decided to add another H word to make my trifecta of dread. Hills! We went out along Hillside Terrace. Next time I might need a sea-sickness tablet before I go. Up and down, up and down. But I made it - 16k. Apart from the hills, and the heat, and the humidity I quite enjoyed it. Especially the finishing part. I had some great company and she didn't even complain when I walked the last little bit of the last hill.

And then Sunday I went out on another run to wrap up my fourth for the week. I was a little worried that the previous day's effort might have left me drained but not so - 11k @ 5:45 pace. That made a 53k week all up. That's two weeks where I've run over 50k so I'm a happy little runner.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Bad, Good or Awesome?

I've been trying to weigh up whether yesterday was a bad, good or awesome day.

Let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). I had a pretty ordinary night's sleep. You know the sort - where you wake up at 1am busting to go to the loo, then argue with yourself about getting out of bed and by the time you finally give in to the inevitable you're fully awake. Then when you get back into bed you can't settle for ages and by the time you finally drift off you're asleep almost no time and the alarm goes off and in your befuddled state you can't seem to find it and your poor husband is forced to wake up at 4:45am with you. BAD!

With all my thoughts being on my B.A.D. (big, audacious, dream) which has morphed into a B.A.G. (big, audacious, goal), I had planned on getting some good base kilometres under my belt. (A little aside here - I realised how appropriate my acronyms are for marathon training. As the training progresses the badder the bags under the eyes become). I'd decided to do a route that I haven't done since I was training for the marathon in 2010. It's a lovely route - over the bridge to Chelmer, along the river to the tennis centre, back to the university over another bridge then back home. It's quiet and pretty and there's a lot of water.

As I was running along I got quite nostalgic. There was the park that I had to take a toilet break behind a tree in. There was the beautiful, low canopied tree that I hid under to, ahem, relieve myself and where I lost my red, flashy light because I'd turned it off so no one could see me disappear under the tree and when I pulled my tights down the light flipped off the waistband and I didn't really want to feel around in the dark to find it. There was the petrol station that turned me away in my hour of need so I had to use yet another tree in yet another park. It was about this point that I remembered why I'd stopped running this way. There is a distinct lack of available toilets! Luckily this was not a run where I needed one so I finished the 16.5k without any surreptitious tree activity. So I'll count the run as GOOD!

It was Thursday and Thursday is always grocery shopping day. I met Mum for a coffee after shopping and because of the 16.5k (almost 1200 calorie deficit) I felt that a scone was justifiable. But I'd had a scone just last week that purported to be a fruit scone. In my opinion two sultanas don't really justify that tag. I mentioned this to the owner and he gave me a freebie. And it was filled with sultanas. AWESOME!

And then it was time for Part 2 with my psychologist. I felt a bit of a fraud fronting up because things have been SO MUCH BETTER lately. But we've decided on a few things that I can work on so anxiety will be less impacting on my life. We both agreed that I am a control freak - a little like Clare Dunphy on Modern Family. BAD!

My therapist is also a runner and wanted to know how Melbourne went. She seemed impressed with my time and, being a competitive, control freak with some paranoid tendencies (look how many new words I've learnt since starting therapy) I didn't know if she was being patronising or not. So when I got home I Googled her and her two half marathon times were way worse than mine. Winning! Even with my really slow time. That's another for the AWESOME column.

I have NO work on my books at the moment (BAD) but I've decided to make some rhythmic costumes up for sale for the times next year when I'm too busy to take orders. This means I get to make some stuff I like and I finished one yesterday.

I'd like to thank Andrea for all her photos of the fall leaves in Vermont for the inspiration here.  Back to AWESOME!

And then there was time for an afternoon nap. Not just a quick lie down. It was a full-on dribble on the pillow type nap. AWESOME!

Dinner was just Iven and I sitting on the couch and watching the news. GOOD. He went to bed early (maybe because MY alarm had woken him up at 4:45). BETTER. And I got to watch what I like without knowing that he was not enjoying my choice. AWESOME!

When I finally made it to bed I found Iven wrapped like a mummy in all the bedding, snoring. BAD! But in extricating some of the sheets I got him to roll onto his side and the snoring stopped. GOOD! And then I had a really good night's sleep. AWESOME!

So adding them up I'd say that yesterday was pretty awesome really. How was yours?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of days admiring my achievements of last week. My lovely new medal (which looks a lot like my Melbourne medal from last year apart from a new ribbon) and my shining, clean pantry. It's been so fun that I've almost thought of putting a hook on the pantry door to hang my medal and I can kill two birds with one stone.

But a s great as it is to dwell on past glories, it's important to keep moving forward. So I tackled another job that I'd been putting off for a long time. Actually, I'd been putting my head in the sand about it hoping it would just go away.

A few years back Sam was given a beautiful set of knives for his 21st birthday. And, wanting to take good care of them, he bought a knife block. This way they wouldn't have to mingle with the inferior knives in my cutlery draw. But this knife block has been the bane of my existence. Every time I clean the kitchen bench I find gritty black bits under it. I'd wipe them away and the very next day they'd be back. And I really didn't give any thought as to what could be causing those bits of grit ... until Monday.

On Monday I decided to take action. I saw a cockroach disappear under the knife block and finally worked out what those bits of grit were. I had some insecticide and I wasn't afraid to use it. That cockroach's days were numbered.

I pulled out the knives and sprayed up the knife holes and what I discovered still makes me shiver with disgust. There was a whole village of cockroaches living in that knife block and I'd effectively performed genocide. Cockroaches of all shapes and sizes crawled gasping from their previously safe haven only to be sprayed directly and die an ugly, painful death in my kitchen sink.

Another successful mission completed. Maybe I should mount one of the cockroach corpses next to my medal on the pantry door - as a reminder to me of a very good week and a warning to all cockroaches.

Yes, this is the same kitchen that all my baking gets done in but before you gag in revulsion, I have some very stringent rules in place so no vermin ever gets baked into a cupcake. Firstly I upturn all of my cake pans so any little bits of grit all out and then I do a visual check to make sure. And really, when people see my cupcakes, cockroaches are the last thing they're thinking of.

I found a really great icing recipe on Pinterest the other week and had to give it a go. It claimed to be the smoothest, creamiest buttercream ever. And it really was so I'm going to share it with all of you.

340g butter (room temperature)
4 1/2 cups of powdered/icing sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter until it's white. This will take 7-10 minutes. Then mix in the other ingredients in two batches. And beat until fully combined and creamy. Simple and easy.

I used the one batch to decorate 30 cupcakes and two other cakes so it makes quite a lot. And I stored some of it in the fridge for a couple of days before bringing it out to decorate the other cakes. Once I'd beaten it up again  it was just as good as it had been fresh.  


My mission to do another marathon started yesterday at speed. Coach Chris has been starting the session 10 minutes earlier and it's amazing just how much extra torture he can fit in those additional ten minutes. It was 800m reps yesterday. Oh joy of joys!! The only nice thing I can say is that I like them better than 1500m reps. I managed 8 reps in the time frame all in a fairly even pace of between 4:44 and 4:49/k.

I still haven't had my chat with him but I'm leaning towards the Canberra marathon. Not least because I can enter the marathon but drop down to the half if things aren't going well. One of my squad-mates has sworn that the hills aren't too bad. But he did Comrades so I don't know if he has the same perspective on hills as me. Needless to say - hills will be included on some of my training routes.

I'm just a little excited.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Bad And My B.A.D.

I'm all into amazing and astounding this week. First of all I complete a half marathon in a way better time than I'd anticipated. And then this ... I cleaned the pantry! I know, I know two incredible things in one week is almost too much to comprehend but I'M pretty incredible at the moment so you're just going to have to live with that feeling of inferiority.

Admittedly I haven't cleaned the pantry since we fitted the new kitchen. And I can't even remember how long ago that was. I'm guessing about three years by the use-by dates on some of the packets I found in there. That's actually quite an improvement from the last time I cleaned the pantry where the kids were exclaiming in horror at how old some of the packets were (a decade in some cases) and in fascination at the olden-day food.

Housekeeping is not one of my fortes.

And I'm not sure even now why I came to clean yesterday. Could have been the hang-over of half marathon endorphins. Could have been delusional fatigue from running 61k that week (yes, it should have been a rest week but I wasn't that tired and I can rest when I'm dead). Or it could have been that the power of leadership had gone to my head and confused me. Coach Chris had been away for our long run yesterday and had left me in charge - I'm guessing because of my awesome leadership skills and authoritative air OR because he couldn't get anyone else to do it.

Actually the real reason that my pantry is today pristine is because of a conversation that I had during the run yesterday. A conversation where I finally set a date to have a little cupcake master-class of one and knew I'd be mortified if anyone saw the state of my pantry. Shame and pride are powerful motivators.

So for two hours yesterday I pulled out foodstuffs, dusted off cobwebs (I worked out why spiders like to live in my pantry - it's to eat the moths that have infested my really old food. The circle of life is an amazing thing), scrubbed shelves and marvelled in my total inability to keep tabs on how much stuff I have.

How does over 12 kilos of sugar sound? Excessive??!! Probably not if you're setting up a bakery but I'm not planning on that in the near future. And it was a variety of sugars - white, brown, caster, palm and icing.

And what about this?

The little area where I keep my chocolate supply was (I'm truly sorry for this - the worst pun ever but it's so bad I can't help myself) chock-a-block. Yes, I'm the reason that there's a world-wide chocolate shortage. I'm preparing for Chocolate Armageddon where only those with chocolate baked goods will survive the apocalypse (yes, I've been going to too many sci-fi flicks with my husband).

The chocolate corner (better known as the very-naughty-but-oh-so-nice corner) was a little heart-breaking to clean up. I found no less than six peanut M&Ms that had escaped their packets and their ultimate fate of being devoured in an M&M binge only to fester in unknown filth on the shelf. And despite my overwhelming love of these chocolates, even I couldn't bring myself to eat them. Toby is now quite a fan.

I learnt a lot yesterday - apart from the facts that I'm a horrible housekeeper who hordes.

1 - I found out that an easy way of telling whether something is too old (because finding use-by dates which have faded is a little tiresome) is to check for life in the packet. If it wriggles throw it out.

2 - Really, really old poppy seeds become an amazing amorphous sludge - a little similar in consistency to silly putty.

3 - And I should really keep my peanut M&Ms in a jar to stop escapees and the disappointment of having to share them with my dog (my disappointment, not his). Or I should just eat the entire pack in one sitting.

Today I plan on cleaning up the lower cupboard, cans and sauces. If you hear of any explosions in Brisbane there's probably no need to fear a terrorist attack - I'll have dropped a bulging can.


And because I've left you dangling long enough, I thought I'd better mention my B.A.D. 

I want to do another marathon. Next year. I can't explain why I want to do this - but I had two more children after I'd found out just how painful childbirth is so obviously there's a little insanity linked to this desire. I have three options that I'm considering. Canberra in April. Gold Coast in July. Or Melbourne in October. 

A friend is doing Canberra and I've never had a medal from there but I'm not sure if it's too soon and the course is a little hilly. I'd have someone really nice to train with but it's my busiest work time of the year.

Gold Coast is flat but I've heard it's a really boring course. I wouldn't have to travel to do it (a one hour road trip doesn't really count as travel) but I do have to run the 10k the day before because it will be my second last.

I've done Melbourne before. The course is great - scenic and pretty flat. The weather is usually pretty good. But it's a really long way off and I could lose motivation.

One thing's for sure - I will be having a conversation with Coach Chris in the next couple of weeks. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Melbourne - My Other Highlights

My trip to Melbourne didn't stop with the half marathon. Iven and I took a few extra days to enjoy the city. So I've basically given you a pictorial version of the highlights.

Best part of the holiday - undoubtedly going for another run early Tuesday morning. I hadn't brought any other running clothes so I wore my stinky set from Sunday - socks and all. I would never do this at home but I was in a different state and no one was likely to recognise me or my smell. And I took my phone for safety reasons (never do this at home either) and to take pics.

Sunrise over the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground - the hallowed home of cricket)

The Shrine of Remembrance in the Royal Botanical Gardens. There's something quite poignant running past war memorials in the dawn light. I had a quiet moment here before heading off. Just a little aside - if you're ever running in these Gardens the protocol is to run clockwise. I didn't get the memo and ran anti-clockwise. What a rebel!

This is on my to-do list next time we're in Melbourne. What a great way to see the city.

I ran around the Gardens and decided that 6k wasn't quite enough so I headed down to the river. The Yarra has great paths for cyclists, runners and walkers on both sides. All the rowers were out training and I had a bit of fun racing crews (okay they didn't know they were racing me ... but I so beat the four and I stayed with the eight for at least 400m) 

A sculpture in Birrarung Marr - the park that leads from Melbourne Park (where The Australian Open tennis tournament is played) into the city. It was only a bit over a kilometre from here to where we were staying. I stopped my watch at 10.5k. Best way to spend the morning!!
Melbourne is filled with little laneways and lots of these have been handed over to graffiti artists. And the ones that haven't been painted are filled with cafes. Want a great coffee? Just head down one of the lanes and find a seat - you really can't go too wrong.

What else would an ex-vet and animal technician do on a trip away? Visit the zoo of course. I've got a soft spot for primates.

 Even just wandering around the Fitzroy Gardens made my highlights reel. Brisbane is a sub-tropical climate and we just don't get spring flowers like they do in Melbourne. 

I've come home refreshed, rejuvenated,re-energised. And I've come home with a B.A.D - big, audacious dream ... but that will keep for my next post.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Melbourne Half 2012

I'm back! Did you miss me?

Melbourne was great. Especially considering how many times I almost pulled out over the last couple of weeks. I got a little freaked out about going. And I have pretty good reason - last year when I went, I came home to a son with a broken hand and a pending operation. I had almost convinced myself that something really bad was going to happen while I was away. But of course nothing did.

And then there was the fear of not being able to make the distance. Because I've only made it once this year and had some really ugly abortive attempts. Yes, I knew I could walk it but I didn't want to and I had this internal war going on with one side telling me that I could do it and the other saying I should have left it this year. At one point the 'you can do it' side even suggested that I could run it under 2hrs and that got the other side really freaked.

Sleep was hard to come by Saturday night. That was probably because of the internal war and definitely because I'd decided that I was in Melbourne for such a short while that I had to cram as many coffees in as possible. There was lots of tossing and turning but eventually I got some sleep. The alarm went off at five and the war in my head started up again. I felt so nervous about the race that I felt physically ill. I've done a race after being sick from nerves before and ended up having to walk half the way and I didn't want this to be really bad. Neither did I want to pull out because if I pulled out this time there would be a chance that I'd never race again. So I took a Valium. I had no idea how it was going to affect my running but I knew it would calm me enough to get me to the start line and that's all I needed.

By the time I'd found our squad I was feeling much better. We dumped our stuff, headed over to the start (via the loos) then found a spot in the crowd. The weather was perfect - cool and clear. And it wasn't long before we were off.

I had a plan for my race. It wasn't written in stone - it was very fluid - but it involved me running about 6 minute pace for the first half and then seeing how I felt and ramping it up if I felt good. And for the first k I was pretty close to my plan - 6:01. But that's where it finished. I was feeling good so I just went with it. But I kept waiting for the bottom to drop out - I hadn't been able to sustain paces around 5:30 all year so trying it for a half marathon didn't seem that sensible.

We ran away from the city, down St Kilda Rd to Albert Park. It always surprises me just how big this park is. In my memory it's only a couple of kilometres that we run in there but it's quite a few. We run around a lake and it's such an impressive sight - thousands of multi-coloured runners stretched out like a giant rainbow serpent. I kept trying to tell myself to relax, take it easy, enjoy the surroundings, this wasn't for time - this was to remind myself how far I'd come from the beginning of the year.

I got to about 12k and saw one of our squad members just up ahead. He was having a bad day so I ran across to him and checked that he was okay. Then continued on. Finally we were out of the park and on our way back to the city.

My legs were starting to feel the lack of training kilometres in them. They were getting a bit tired and heavy and I was starting to be a bit over it all - and I still had 4 kilometres to go. I didn't want to stop and walk so I had to distract myself. So I thought about the other runners in our squad who had wanted to run Melbourne but had had to withdraw with injuries and I dedicated a kilometre each to them. You can't stop and walk when you're running for someone else!

I ran past the 20k marker. We were getting really close to the stadium now. And I started to think about my past year and everything I've been through and of course I started to get a bit emotional. And then I nearly tripped so I stopped all that silly, teary nonsense quick-smart.

The course was a little changed from last year. They decided to make us run over a bridge in the last kilometre. It was an uphill that went on and on and on. You can tell from the picture just how much I enjoyed that.

That was followed by a shortish downhill and then it was the final burst into the stadium. And pretty soon I was a half marathon finisher again. I stopped my watch at 2:00:12. One of those voices in my head had been right - I could have gone sub 2 if I'd had more confidence. But I wasn't complaining. Just to finish the run left me feeling like a champion.

I wonder which half I should do next ...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Triumphs and Glory

I'm heading down to Melbourne in just a couple of days. I'm planning on doing a little run down there with about 8999 other runners - give or take a few. It's always been one of my favourite events and I didn't want to miss out this year despite my body not being its most cooperative. It's a really well-run event on a pretty flat course and Melbourne is always a great place to visit. In fact it's the site of my greatest running triumph.

Four years ago I was running really well. I'd been in the squad for a year and had done everything that Coach Chris had scheduled - hills, trails, beach runs, long runs, speed sessions and races. I'd brought my PB for the half marathon down from 2:01 to 1:47 in May that year but it was October and I was hoping that those extra 5 months had allowed even more improvement. I really wanted to run a 1:45 - that was my public goal. My secret, not-said-out-loud goal was to run 1:44 which would have qualified me for the New York marathon (I wasn't actually planning on running NY - I just wanted to know that I could qualify).

My wonderful sister Julie had said she'd come down with me for support and to have a mini-holiday. We got there on Friday and after getting rid of our luggage we did what every other normal female visiting Melbourne does - we went shopping. We shopped and walked for hours. It was great! But shopping and walking isn't the greatest way to spend time before you're planning on running a half marathon. I finished the day with aching legs. They were so uncomfortable that I took pain-killers that night. And they were still a little painful the next morning and I started to freak out a little (I'm an expert in freaking out). We'd planned a day of sight-seeing which meant more walking and I really didn't want to run a half marathon on exhausted legs so I very-selfishly baled on her and spent the day in my room - reading and resting.

Luckily on Sunday morning my legs felt normal. We met up with some running friends in the pre-dawn light to walk the kilometre or so to the start line. We found the toilets, did what we had to do, walked over the bridge with thousands of other excited runners and found a spot in the crowd. It felt like no time till the race starter was giving instructions and the hooter went off. Finally we were moving.

A running friend had given me a little piece of advice before the event. She told me to take the first kilometre slow and relaxed, to warm into it and then build. That was no problem. There was so much traffic that you couldn't really run fast so I just enjoyed the atmosphere. I hit the 1k mark in around 6 minutes - way slower than what I'd planned. This was in the days before I had my Garmin. I had a Nike plus sportsband which gave me some feedback on pace so I just kept checking every so often and trying to keep it around 5 min pace or a bit below.

I had no beep every kilometre like I do now to let me know how fast each kilometre was. I hadn't worn a pace band. I can't do maths while I'm running. So for the most part I had absolutely no idea how I was travelling. I just kept looking at the pace number and almost every time it was reading a number that started with 4. It was comfortably hard but I never felt like I was dying (a feeling that I've unfortunately become very familiar with in the last couple of years).

We ran down St Kilda Road to Albert Park, around the lake and back up St Kilda Rd to the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). As I got to the 18th kilometre marker I managed to work out that if I kept up the pace I was on I'd definitely make the 1:45 mark. Three kilometres doesn't seem so far when you know that your goal is in reach so I kept pushing the pace and the kilometres kept ticking down.

With less than a kilometre to go I saw my sister watching for me. It was one of those moments - I was almost overcome with emotion but I still had a job to do. I ran down through a tunnel and onto the hallowed turf of the MCG, around the boundary and through the finishing arch where I stopped my watch.

1:42:51!!! It was faster than I'd ever secretly dreamt I could do. I was elated. I rushed through the tunnels under the stands and went in search of my sister and running friends so I could share my elation with them. There was a long flight of steps to get up to where I needed to go. A lot of other runners were hobbling painfully up them but I was feeling great! I'd just run a huge PB and I was invincible. I took the stairs two at a time and managed a whole two before CRAMP!! And then it was me who was hobbling painfully up the stairs, ruefully laughing at myself.

Melbourne won't be filled with glory like that this time. But it will be filled with a different type of glory if I manage to finish the race. When I think back to the beginning of March and starting back running - where 500m seemed like such a long way and I wondered if I'd ever be able to run more than a kilometre in a stretch - just finishing the race will be enough. My pride has well and truly been stowed away. It's all about just being there and participating.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In My Next Life I'd Like To Come Back As ...

Spring took a hiatus over the weekend. We've been having the most glorious days - clear and temperate. Then all of a sudden we get a taste of what's ahead for the next three to five months and believe me, it's not looking good.

Temperatures jumped from 25C to 35C (that's 95F for those of you who can't be bothered to convert). We were getting a lovely breeze from the desert so the only thing I'm grateful about was the humidity wasn't too bad.

This will be Toby's first summer and being a long-haired dog he is going to feel it. So we did what any normal dog-owner would do. We went out and bought him a pool. That IS normal isn't it?

It is just a small kiddies pool - one of those plastic clam shell things. We set it up on the grassiest area of the back yard (Our back lawn has never fully recovered from the free-range chicken fiasco of a couple of years ago. Two hens can do a lot of damage.) and then we tried to entice him to get in. For a water dog he likes to keep his feet dry and no amount of enticing could make him get in. That was until we got a visitor.

Molly is an American Staffordshire who lives out the back of our house. Toby and Molly have had a blossoming romance through the fence. They play tag up and down the fence line. They show each other their toys. And Toby has been seen to give gifts to Molly through the wire mesh - gifts like sticks. Molly can often be seen at the fence on only her back legs, looking over and whining for Toby to come and play.

I shouldn't have been surprised to see that our new pool was too much enticement for Molly to bear. After all everyone knows that once you get a pool all the neighbourhood kids want to come over to play. Somehow she managed to burrow her way under the fence so she could come have a swim and a play.

There is nothing more joyous than two dogs playing (except for maybe a huge PB or a run that feels effortless). They wrestled, bomb-dived, raced steeplechase-style around the back yard and rolled in the dirt patches until they were both covered in mud. It was the perfect way to spend a hot afternoon.

In my next life I think I'd like to come back as a dog.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Good Day

I went to the psychologist today. And the verdict? I'm going to make you wait.

I want to start this post back last Saturday. I wanted to run a 20k before Melbourne. A confidence run which would give me enough self-belief to get me through the parts of the half that were going to hurt, where my energy was running low and when I was just wanting it to be over. At this point I want to stress that I really DO want to run. And that I do it for fun. And no one is standing over me with a gun making me do it.

I'd run a really good 18.5k three weeks before but then had a couple of really stressful weeks. Stress does not make me a good runner. The week before had been my aborted 20k - which ended up a really ugly 14k. I gave myself every chance with Saturday's run. I chose to opt out of the group who were running a hilly route. And I took it out slowly.

And it was pretty horrible. The last 3k just sucked and when I finished I got light-headed and had to keep walking to stop from fainting. Then I went out for our usual Saturday breakfast and threw it up. Man, I hate throwing up perfectly good food that I didn't prepare myself. I had to spend the rest of the day lounging around trying to recover. As a confidence run it was a huge FAIL!

Sunday I actually went running again - because I am stupid or crazy or slightly addicted (or all of the above). I did a 7k slow run with Sam and it wasn't too bad. Then Monday I had to get out of the house and I did another 7k on the mountain.

Then it was Tuesday's speed session - I was breaking my self-imposed rule of never running more than two days in a row - and I had a surprisingly good run. 16 X 400m with 100m recovery (which went from being a slow jog to a walk). Confidence was starting to return. So I decided to do something even more crazy considering it's so close to the event. I decided to go long today - 20k to decide whether to run Melbourne.

I set out at 4:50am. And right from the start I felt pretty good. I ran along in the semi-dark watching the sun rise without my music so I could listen to the birds. By the time I got to the river it was light. I put my earphones in and just enjoyed being and doing. It never felt too hard and I finished faster than I started. And I even ran around the oval next door until I hit 21.1k. Can I finish Melbourne? Absolutely.

So what do you do after running a half marathon before breakfast? You go grocery shopping of course. I've never actually run that far before doing my shopping and I have to confess that it impacted what ended up in my trolley. But I'm pretty sure it was someone else who put those packets of lollies in there while my back was turned. And I want to thank the person who left the step in aisle 7 - it was perfect to help me stretch my hamstrings.

And then it was off to the psychologist. I made sure to tuck all my most crazy bits away - I want help, I don't want to be sectioned (although a little rest at one of those special 'resorts' sometimes sounds appealing). She totally agreed that I suffer with anxiety. And that my family possibly suffer from my anxiety. And she agreed that I had plenty of reasons to be anxious but that it just wasn't working for me.

And her treatment? Chamomile tea. Seriously! When I wake up having a panic attack I'm to go to the kitchen and make myself a soothing cup then take it to the lounge and focus on it and some breathing exercises. The idea is to ride out the anxiety and eventually the anxiety becomes less and less until it's not impacting my life so negatively. And I have to stop over-mothering my 23 year old. The phrase helicopter parenting came up and I'm happy to own it.

I feel better just having been to see her. Feel better to have a plan for next time the panic hits. And definitely feel better about Melbourne. It's been a good day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Effin Birthday To You

Does anyone else have days like this?

Yesterday was a public holiday. It was an extra public holiday - we celebrated the Queen's birthday twice this year for some unknown reason. I haven't had many public holidays this year due to the fact that nearly all of them are in the first five months of the year when I'm working non-stop so I really wanted to enjoy this one.

Iven wasn't on the same page as me as far as using the holiday well. All he wanted to do was some jobs around the house and veg out a little. I hinted that I wanted to do something. "I'm bored" said extremely loudly counts as a hint doesn't it? But my hint went totally unheeded.

So I hit up the only other person in the house for some company. Yes, Josh said he'd come for a walk/run up Mt Coottha but could he have another hour in bed first. I gave him an hour and a half and filled it with a bit of ironing and mending. And when the hour and a half was up he still wasn't ready to come. I was on my own and I was cranky.

But you can't stay cranky on Mt Coottha. Puffing your way up the stupidly steep Owl Trail doesn't leave enough oxygen for anything except making it to the top. I walked the really steep bits and ran the rest of the way and finished with a 2k downhill feeling like I was king of the mountain.

I got home to find Iven on the roof cleaning out the gutters and immediately switched back to cranky. The only thing that saved him from being a permanent resident on our roof (after I'd hidden away his ladder - I swear I could have tricked the kids into believing we had some mighty big possums on the roof) was a text from Coach Chris. I threatened him with the responsibility of familial bloodshed if he didn't have coffee with me. He was reluctant but decided to save me from years of imprisonment. I don't think cranky would ever be a permissible legal argument in a case of mariticide.

The day was totally topped off by a visit from the neighbour's dog who's been dying to play with Toby for weeks. Molly and Toby play through the fence but that really wasn't enough for Molly. She managed to burrow her way under the fence and came inside to let us know that she was ready to play. Unfortunately she was so excited that she piddled all the way up the hall on our carpet.

And then Sam came home to find a giant spider in his bedroom. Not wanting to wake up with its hairy little legs all over his face, he initiated a family expedition into the unknown (aka under the bed where you don't know if the hairy things are spiders, dust motes or mouldy apple cores.) The safari was successful and the spider would have been mounted and hung on the wall if it hadn't curled up into an insignificant ball - making Sam's claims of 'biggest spider ever' and 'megafauna' seem like a huge exaggeration.

Seriously, if you're listening, oh mighty Queen. Can you just stick to one birthday next year?