Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Out With The Old And In With The New

Change is afoot.

Do I sound intriguing and mysterious?

Or kind of old because who else but old people use words like 'afoot' these days? Let's, for the sake of argument and my fragile ego, go with intriguing and mysterious.

What is this change, you ask? It's an evolution. My evolution.

It's been over six years that I've been blogging on My Life's a Marathon. I started out to chronicle my journey towards my first marathon and, when I started, I was in the middle of my first bout of overtraining syndrome and had no idea if I'd even be able to run a half marathon again, let alone a marathon. There were other tough things going on in my life around that time too and my blog name reflected how I was feeling about life at that time. That it was a tough trial. Something to be endured. Something to conquer.

The tough stuff hasn't stopped coming. But over the years I've changed and my attitude has changed. I've toughened up and learned to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. I've learned that a sense of humour can get you through some really tough s%@t and when you can't summon up a smile then your friends and a good run can get you through another day. Then suddenly you're through a whole heap of other days and things aren't so bad any more. And I've learned that I'm stronger and more resilient than I ever believed.

I ran that first marathon. And I've run three more. I've qualified for Boston and New York. I've achieved more in my running than I ever thought I was capable of. I've made friends. Lots of really good friends. Friends who think that running for hours every week isn't crazy but is the ingredient that actually makes each week crazy fun.

I've changed from worrying too much about what people think to realising that people don't really spend much of their energy thinking or judging me anyway so why should I worry? It's so liberating to embrace that truth.

And the really big one is that I've stopped allowing that anxious voice in my head from stopping me from doing the things I want to do. Don't get me wrong. It's still there. I just don't let its opinions matter to me any more.

I feel like the pressure and the heat from the trials of life have moulded me, much like a diamond. But diamonds are a little too colourless and showy for my taste. A synthetic emerald is much more my style - cheap and cheerful.

My boys have grown into men. Wonderful men who I love dearly - which is just as well because they're all back home. And I now have 'daughters' who I would have chosen for each of the boys myself if I'd had a say. They're all keepers.

My business has also changed. I'm getting bold in my old age and embracing this new venture. And embracing the new technology I need to make this venture work. I'm learning stuff. Businessing stuff. It's fun and it's scary and it's given me a new lease on life.

When I was looking into a name for my running tights label Run Amok was the one that I fell in love with. I googled the meaning and there was quite a range from 'act in a murderous, frenzied way' to 'act in an unrestrained manner.' As much as I like the idea of murderous frenzy at certain times of the month when certain people are eating too loudly, I've leant towards the second meaning.

I've been living and breathing Run Amok for the last few months and I realised that that phrase is how I want to live the rest of my life. It's how I'm living my life - compared to how constrained I used to be. Looking for the fun. Making my own fun. Laughing out loud. Smiling more.

So with all this change happening, I've decided to make a change here too. A name change. To reflect the new and yet old (gotta love a paradox) me. Henceforth (again with the antiquated language) it shall be known as Running Amok.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Favourite Part Of Christmas

Christmas 2015 is done and dusted. And it was quite lovely.

It started off with a 4:30 am alarm, a quick change, a short drive into Southbank to meet up with some friends. And the fact that a couple of my boys had decided to tag along made it even that much more special. 10k done before the day really got started. 10k of smiles and greetings from strangers and Ho, Ho, Ho-ing which I chose to believe was not casting aspersions at our moral character. That would have had to be my favourite part of the day.

A fabulous sweaty start to the day.

Then we managed to find one of the few cafes that had opened up on Christmas Day and got a really good coffee. Actually that was probably my favourite part of the day.

Back home it was sweaty hugs as punishment for the son who didn't come running and a breakfast of poached eggs on toast made by my boys. I did help - I put four slices of bread in the toaster then forgot to push them down so maybe it wasn't much of a help but the intent was there. Having breakfast cooked for me would have to have been my favourite part of the day.

And then it was on to the very traditional bagel-making part of the morning. Again a family effort. Measuring, mixing, kneading. rolling, shaping, boiling and baking. It's something I did one year for no reason that I can remember and enjoyed it so much that we've done it ever since. All that family togetherness in the kitchen is my favourite part of the day.

A Christmas Bagel Tree - of course it's a thing.

My parents and eldest sister came over for lunch. We'd lost a couple of the boys to the 'in laws' so it was a small group around the table. A nice, relaxed lunch of prawns, ham, salad and bagels with some cherries and lychees to finish with. And finishing early enough so we could get in a nap before the final Christmas event. That was my favourite part of the day.

Then it was out to my sister's and b-i-l's place for our family get-together. A big, bustling meal with a big family that seems to get bigger by the year. Sitting around the tables listening to what each person was most grateful for in the last year was probably my most favourite part of the day.

Just one of the four tables
And then we dragged our weary bodies home. I headed off to bed to get ready for another early start on Boxing Day but as I drifted off I could hear the laughter of all the boys with all their girls as they sat around the dining table playing Taboo. Listening to their laughter and hearing them enjoy each other's company - that was really my very favourite part of the day.

You might be wondering if there were presents. Yes there were, but as I've gotten older they take a lot less significance in the day. All the best bits are the people bits. Being with people that you love. My day was filled with people that I love so no wonder it was so hard to choose my favourite part of the day.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Non-Alcoholic Christmas Spirit

My Christmas spirit has once again been sadly MIA this year. And I don't mean that the the rum that was bought for the rum balls. I mean the 'what a wonderful time of the year', 'full of glad tidings and great joy' and 'let's deck the halls' type of Christmas spirit.

I've been filled with a 'OMG how am I ever going to get everything done', 'will people please leave me alone for just a second cause I'm trying to think' and 'can't we just skip Christmas this once?' anti-Christmas spirit.

In the past, my go-to to reverse the Bah Humbugs would be to deck myself with a festive apron and bake up some festive feelings with butter, sugar, flour and lots of chocolate. But I haven't had the mental energy to make myself do it. I've been preoccupied with businessing. Getting my tights venture off the ground is taking up a lot of the grey matter that I still have available and there's not been a lot left over for other stuff.

Apart from running. There's always enough left over for running.

And it's been running that's provided me the remedy to my Christmas blahs. In the form of a Christmas run with some really great people. In fancy dress. Because there's nothing like wearing a silly hat running to help you let go of whatever real-life stuff is blocking up your fun pipes. (Yep, I saw it as soon as I wrote it. Not sure if it's my bad for writing it or your bad for misunderstanding my use of a perfectly innocent phrase.)

Toby insisted that he wanted to model the silly hat and I will deny that he ever tried to chew the pompom off it - that was Ricky.
There's also nothing like seeing an octet of festive elves running along the road to inspire smiles, high fives and 'Merry Christmas'es. And there's nothing like getting such a warm reaction from strangers to make you feel all tingly and shimmery and sparkly like pre-programmed Christmas tree lights that were made in a country that doesn't even celebrate Christmas. No, the irony hasn't been lost on me.

We looked special - some more special than others (and I am not singling out the sunglasses-wearing, dangling-baubled reindeer on the right) - and we felt special. Well I did anyway. 'Specially blessed to be able to run fun and run happy with this lot.

Winning a prize didn't hurt either.

And that was the kick-start I needed to get me looking forward to Christmas. I even decorated the tree that Iven had brought up and dumped in the corner of the living room. Subtlety is an art-form that continues to elude that man.

So I'm probably not going to need the get-rid-of-all-the-crazy benefits that I was thinking I'd desperately need from my four scheduled runs this week. They will just be for fitness, fun and pre-burning Chrismas calories purposes. Metaphorically the brandy cream on the top of my Christmas pudding or the stuffing in my turkey. 

With just five days to go, I made it just in time.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Kurrawa To Duranbah 2015

I want to thank each and every one of you who voiced an opinion on my last post. Having so many people say that I should do the 30k made the decision easy. Because I'm perverse I chose to do the 15k. Actually it was more than just perversion - it was a conviction that I was totally over doing stupid long races for the year. And some begging from a friend who wanted company. Pitiful begging. I'm a sucker for pitiful begging.

We totally lucked out on the weather Sunday morning. The forecast had been for possible showers. Wrong! It bucketed down for a lot of the race which was so much better than the other option of stinking hot and humid. And I did the one thing that runners should never do in a race - I wore gear that I'd never worn running before. The race singlet which was pretty, damned comfortable and a great fit. And my Run Amok tights - might as well start getting them seen out in the running community.

I lined up at the start line with no set plan except to run with Liz and Jess. And that was a loose plan. None of us had any set idea about pace so the consensus was run to how we were feeling. No pressure. Just enjoy. The race started and I just tagged along with Liz. The first k was a little obstructed - narrow path and slow runners starting right at the front - then the path merged onto the road and we could spread out and feel for a pace that was comfortably hard.

Comfortably hard ended up being just under 5 minute pace even though I'd sworn that I had no intention of running any kilometres starting with a four. Oops. I did worry that the decision to just go with it would come back to bite me on the bum later on but that was a momentary worry that I decided Future Char could deal with.

Kurrawa to Duranbah is such a fun event to run. It's a smallish (but growing in size) run with a lot of distance options in a great location. Possibly the only drawbacks are that it's a summer race and that there's a few hills. And I'm not talking about my usual 'ooh it's a slight positive gradient so it's a hill' type of hill. I'm talking about legit hills that kinda hurt runners that never train on hills unless they didn't realise that there was a hill on the route and they bitch and moan the whole time they're running it. Can you tell that I'm talking from personal experience? I'd looked to find an elevation graph of the run beforehand because I'd forgotten where the hills were and was really, truly and sincerely hoping that the hills all came after the 7.5k turnaround. Turns out that they didn't.

The nasty, bitey hill that I remembered from last year was actually at around the 5k mark. Luckily this will be the last year that it'll be included in the race and that will make the decision to run next year's race a no-brainer. My pace dropped from sub-5 to mid-5. Hate hills! Hate hills! Hate hills!! It took the rest of the kilometre and a lot of stern words in my brain to pick up the pace again. I think Liz hates hills too because it was about there that I started to pull away a little.

I got to the 7.5k turnaround and knew that I'd made the right decision about the distance. Only 7.5k more to go sounded like a great idea at that moment. Unfortunately there was still that hill to climb and I knew that there was a photographer right on the top waiting to capture potentially the worst running moment of my life. For the next couple of kilometres I plotted how I was going to fake my way to a photo that didn't look like someone needed to call the coroner then decided to leave it in the hands of the Gods.

The hill loomed in front of me and I felt momentarily overwhelmed. Already putting in a significant effort - would I have anything left in the tank to conquer it? Would I be reduced to walking? Would anyone care even if I did - probably not.

And then I was on it and climbing it. It was slow - not as slow as the girl who I passed but slower than the girl who passed me. A quick pained smile at the top for the sadistic photographer who probably has a dungeon wallpapered with the grimaces of agonised runners and filled with torture equipment that he spends his leisure hours in, and then it was down the steps with only 5k to go.

At this point I decided that I'd try to run sub-5s all the way home but unfortunately my legs didn't want to cooperate with my brain. They managed two kilometres before spitting the dummy and deciding that three kilometres more was three kilometres too far. Again the battle raged in my head. Speed up. Slow down. You can do it. No you can't, fool!

And then it was just one more kilometre to go. I pulled up my big girl panties and stopped the argument because I'd be running past all the tents and one must fake a good finish even if one is not feeling good. The last kilometre beeped at 4:55 but I still had 200m to go. Managed that at 4:21 pace so there's a lot to be said for the power of pride.

15k crew
I'd finished in just over 1:16. Drenched, tired and satisfied. Then it was a matter of cheering on the rest of the group as they finished - drenched, tired and satisfied.

While we were waiting for Ian (the only one foolhardy brave enough to tackle the 50k), the organisers started the presentations and I was stoked to come away with this. This is the upside to getting old.

A bunch of pretty awesome runners.

So racing in 2015 is now done! Time to ease back a bit before ramping up in the new year. And I'm pretty excited about what 2016 might bring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Do I Do????

A long while ago I signed up for a race this weekend.

I think it was a long while ago. Could have just been a short while ago but with everything that's been happening it just feels like a long while ago. I do like to give out fairly accurate information in my blog. Except in the case where a little truth-stretching makes for a better story. So in the interests of preserving my 97.8% honesty requirement I'll change that statement.

Some time ago I signed up for a race this weekend.

I signed up before Melbourne Marathon and I chose the shortest option (15k) because I wasn't sure how I'd be feeling. I trained for the middle option (30k) because 30k requires carb-loading and I kinda like carb-loading now I've learned to manage my pre-race jitters. And also because a lot of my friends are running the 30k and I like running with my friends.

My training has been fine. Sure I might have cut one of my mid-week runs short but it was stinking hot and on the scientifically-devised scale that exists only in my head a 13k run in 24C heat with a humidity over 88% is equal to a 16k anyway. So technically all the training is in bank.

But I sit here now in a quandary. I am in a state of indecision. Perplexed. Irresolute. Confused (although that's nothing new for me - you should see me trying to find my car in a shopping centre car park). Do I do the 15k or the 30?

The whole reason for signing up for this race was to run with friends. But I have friends in both of the distances so that criteria will be filled no matter which starting line I choose to toe.

It's not too late to make the swap. This race is pretty low-key and I can make the distance change as late as the morning of so this state of indecision could follow me for the rest of the week like that fart cloud that follows Ricky.

No naked flames allowed around this end
I was going to leave it up to the Weather Gods to choose. If the temperature was going to be stinking hot I'd stay with the 15. But the weather isn't looking too bad for this time of the year. That should mean that I definitely should change to the 30 and yet I'm still hesitant.

The reason that I'm hesitant is that the memory of last year's 30k is still quite vivid. And it's not a happy memory - despite how I'm looking in that photo. There's a lesson to younger people here - Facebook photos don't always tell the whole story. Someone might look like they're having fun when in fact they're dying inside.

Sure I could say I want redemption for last year's horrendous 30k, which had a significant amount of walking in the last 10k, but honestly I don't. Couldn't care less about proving anything to anyone because I've proved enough to myself this year. And this run is just supposed to be about having fun with friends.

So what will I do? (All suggestions will be considered)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Where Did That Week Go?

Busy, busy, busy.

In fact so busy that it's been hard to find the time to sit down and put pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard.

First there was this ...
Birthday cakes

Then there was this ...
Check out the ring finger. Yes - I'm going to be a mother-in-law!!
Then these two came home ...
Twelve weeks in Europe are done and dusted
Then there was this ...
Pre-wedding Run
Followed by the main event ...

Jodi, one of my favourite all-time people and running-buddy-extraordinaire, got hitched.

Dayne's okay too :-)
And in amongst that I had a little bit of businessing to do.

Labels done

And photo shoot done - this is NOT one of the professional shots
And now it's Monday and it starts again. I think I need a double shot in my coffee today.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How To Feel Thirty Years Younger

Want to feel thirty years younger? I know the secret. Just deposit $10000 in the bank account that I'll email to you and the secret can be yours too. Seriously! I'm not lying.

I discovered the secret yesterday. And, yes, I'll share it without the thousands of dollars being directly deposited into my bank account because I'm kind and because I wouldn't have a post idea for today apart from how a fart that had delusions of grandeur caused me to cry in the shower. Farts are very entertaining topics to a lot of my reading audience but I'm pretty sure the demographic I attract will be more interested in the fountain of youth thing so I'll keep the fart story for a dry-ideas day.

So ... drum roll please ... the secret ... slow crescendo on the drum ... of feeling thirty years younger is ... pause drum roll for dramatic effect ... catching up with a friend that you haven't seen in thirty years.

Now don't be disappointed and ask for your money back because you haven't actually paid any AND I only promised that you'd FEEL younger not look younger. No, both of us definitely looked older than when we'd last seen each other (and I'm pretty sure that was when we were in our late teens) but somehow over the course of that two and a half hours over coffee the years fell away.

Robyn and I had found each other on Facebook a few years back and the other week she'd suggested a get-together with two of our sisters but it happened to be on a weekend when I was away so she suggested that we catch up separately. We organised the place and time but as I was driving there I started to wonder if we'd have much in common, if conversation would be stilted, where we'd even start finding common ground again after all those years.

I shouldn't have bothered worrying. From the first moment the conversation just gushed like a creek after a heavy summer storm. We talked about the usual stuff - work, kids, husbands, extended family - but interspersed were these blasts from the past. Names that haven't been spoken of in decades. First crushes. Pashing in the hallway and getting sprung by a parent.

I'm pretty sure it was highly entertaining for any of the other coffee shop patrons to listen to two middle-aged women talking like '70s teenagers. Do kids even pash any more? Is hooking up the same as pashing? Is my ignorance showing like one of the petticoats that I used to have to wear to church back then?

It was really fun to reminisce about those excruciatingly awkward teenage years when we always felt fat and ugly. And it was interesting to see that some of those insecurities were still deeply embedded. We could both show the pale scars of words that had been spoken so many years ago. Teenage girls feel things so, so deeply. And they have the memories of elephants.

We haven't changed at all.

I drove home afterwards thinking of things like youth exchanges, hay rides, Paul Macartney, The BeeGees, Countdown, Grease, Rocky Horror Picture Show, first bikinis, not being allowed to have piercings, camps, going on the 40 hour famine to lose a few quick pounds but eating lots of barley sugar because that was allowed. Yeah, fun times.

We'll definitely have to do it again Robyn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

More Stuff On Girly Bits - You've Been Warned

My adventures into the fun and intrusive world of medicine are not totally over it seems.

I'd figured that talking with the sonographer while she stuck her magic wand up my nether regions would have been enough but, no, my GP wants me to go to see a specialist to make sure that my slightly thickened endometrium is really nothing to be worried about. I get why she wants me to do it but I just don't really want to. I've made the appointment and I'll go but I'm pretty sure that there's really nothing wrong and I will be paying out big bucks for no good reason - except to astound and amaze the gynaecologist with my 5 kilo uterus.

Yeah, she probably gets to see those all the time. She probably won't even applaud me.

I've worked out that I can fund this visit to the gynaecologist by selling my eggs because I've still got plenty. Woohoo! I'm never going to go through menopause. I am so not average. I'm decidedly above average in uterine size, weight and reproductive longevity. One might say I was ultra-feminine except that I'm not in the least girly. In fact I was only just saying yesterday how I'm one of the boys after running with the boys and they were kind enough not to point out the giant elephant-sized uterus in the room.

Anyone want a couple of half-century old eggs? I'm sure there's still some genetic material in them that's worth using. I couldn't have used up all the good stuff on my three off-spring.

But back to the medical stuff. I decided that I needed to get my full money's worth out of my GP visit (that is bulk-billed because she likes me) by asking her about my last lot of blood results. I had them done in July and had heard nothing so figured that all was okay. Well all is almost okay but not quite. My B12 levels were low and I needed to have a follow-up blood test. Still wondering if I would have had to have one if I hadn't bothered asking about my bloods. I thought it was the doctor's job to check results and ask for call-backs if there's something a little off. My mistake.

I got home and googled B12 deficiency so I could be fully cognizant of my newest fun condition and I decided that the blood tests were wrong. Yeah, I get tired but I'm pretty sure that's from running between 50 and 80k a week. And yes, I get breathless - when I'm running. And I think everyone, especially Iven, would vouch that I'm never moody, irritable or psychotic. But to be on the safe side I had vegemite on my toast for lunch because that's full of folate. And then I googled vegemite only to find out that folate is B9 not B12. Should have had tuna on my toast instead. Or tuna on vegemite. 

I kind of feel like my body's falling apart a little bit. That age is catching up with me - except of course to my ovaries which are living in denial. I'm a little bit pissed off about it. Or I was until I remembered that this year I've run 3 half marathons and 2 marathons and I've had three new PBs. There's life in this old bird yet.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Crisis That Wasn't

I had a little medical crisis last week.

Actually it's been going on for a lot longer than a week but I was treating it the way I usually treat running injuries - with public optimism and private worry. It's the ultimate in yin and yang therapy. Brush off the fact that I'm in any pain to anyone who notices and then when I'm by myself go through the list of potential diagnoses and try not to freak out that it's probably cancer. It's always probably cancer.

I had a pain in my pelvis. Not bad pain. More like just an annoyance. Sometimes it wasn't bad, sometimes it was worse and sometimes it wasn't even there at all. It's probably been a few months that I'd had it but I hadn't seen a doctor because I kept believing it would just go away. Or maybe hoping is a better word.

But last Sunday it got worse. Not to the point of having to have painkillers but bad enough to have me lying on the couch all afternoon with a heat pack and being cranky because, well pain hurts. Iven was all for me going to the doctor on Monday but I was still stubbornly believing it would just resolve itself. And it had improved a lot overnight so I didn't. I didn't go on Tuesday either. Or on Wednesday. But on Thursday the pain was bad again so I finally did what I probably should have done weeks before.

I got to see my favourite doctor - not an easy ask at such short notice. She's not my favourite because she's a medical genius. She's my favourite because she bulk bills me and she chats about her kids and she prescribes me whatever I ask for. Yes, she's my drug dealer. Don't judge.

She had a bit of a poke around my belly and made me cough and proclaimed that I had a hernia. Then she referred me to get an ultrasound to confirm and suggested that running should stop for the meanwhile. I suggested that I'd probably run Melbourne marathon with it so why stop now? Then she suggested that I be sensible and I agreed. But I had a sneaky suspicion that her version of sensible was a little different to mine.

Eff it! A hernia was not what I was wanting to hear. But it was a lot better than a lot of the other diseases on my self-assembled list of differential diagnoses. I had about ten items on that list ranging from appendicitis, ruptured ovarian cyst, endometriosis to a few real nasties ending in cancer. Hernia had made an appearance on the list but was in the 'unlikely' column because I'm a woman and it's more prevalent in men.

A hernia means surgery. And surgery means that I have to be off running for a while. It also means that I have to be cautious until I have the surgery because intestine could get stuck in the little hole in my abdominal muscles, die and turn gangrenous which could lead to me dying and turning gangrenous. And then I'd be off running permanently.

I went home and had a little pity party. Messaged a few running friends so they could be part of my pity party. Messaged my sister who's an anaesthetic nurse and was in theatre doing a hernia list when she got my text. Googled hernia surgery. Read running forums about hernia repairs and recovery (which was quite encouraging - minimal time off running). And basically came to terms with imminently having to go under the knife. The running forums also let me know that most crazy runners continue to run with their hernias for months until their surgery so my doctor was just being a worry wart when she suggested that it was better if I didn't.

I didn't sleep so well that night. The pain seemed to be worse. I'm pretty sure it wasn't but the fact that I was thinking about it all the time could have contributed. I got up the next morning and ran a really easy 10k with my posse and they got to listen to my tale of woe. Then I went home, ate breakfast and waited for my appointment. Part of this waiting process involved fasting for six hours. And I have to confess that I decided that five hours would be enough and a coffee while I did the crossword would help pass the time better. Okay, it may have been more like four and a half hours but I was still pretty hungry with two hours to go and started to google whether it was even necessary to fast before a hernia ultrasound and all the sites said that it wasn't. So then I was hungry and resentful.

Eventually it was time to go and I really didn't have to wait long till I was called in to be examined. The lovely sonographer told me that my doctor had ordered the wrong test. She was a pelvic sonographer and I needed a muscular one (not a bodybuilder type - although I wouldn't have minded if he was built) but if I waited a little longer she'd arrange for the muscular guy to do it. I confirmed with her my suspicions about fasting. No I hadn't needed to but she would get me a coffee if I'd like. And that's the moment when I fell a little bit in love with her - just as well because it would have been so very wrong letting someone I had no feelings for do the things she did to me later on.

A bit more waiting then I was good to go. A bit of cold jelly on my belly and a bit of pressing and we had the results. No hernia! Not on the side causing me pain anyway. There's a little one on the other side but it's not the cause of my symptoms. My new girl crush had seen some things on the screen that she thought warranted further investigation so she offered me the full pelvic job and she found this.

Okay, maybe not. But she did find a giant uterus filled with fibroids. Woohoo! Her estimate was that my uterus is the size of a five months pregnant uterus and probably weighs about five kilos. I think she may have been exaggerating with the five kilo bit but she said it so I'm going with it. She also found lots of ovarian follicles so it looks like I won't be going through menopause any time soon. Forever young!

Her best guesses as to what was causing the pain was that one of the bigger fibroids had outgrown it's blood supply and was degenerating or that I'd had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Either way, the pain would just resolve by itself. Like I'd initially thought. I'd just given up too soon.

So Saturday I was running again, without fear of strangulating my intestines, and regaling my running companions with all my medical escapades. Of course most of them were males - they really love hearing about all that female reproductive stuff gone bad. I can tell by the way they put their hands over their ears and try to drown me out with "la la la la ...".  But when I got to the part about the five kilo uterus they were all of a sudden more interested. The general consensus was that I should go ahead and have my giant uterus whipped out for the sake of my running times. Five kilos lighter = faster. 

And if it weren't for the whole surgery thing and the months of recovery I'd be so doing that. I wonder how much faster five kilos would let me go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Businessing Like A Boss

I've been businessing my little butt off lately - ever since I decided that I would take my loud and proud tights to the world. And I've been learning so much.

I've learnt that notebooks are precious commodities and shouldn't be left in the reach of destructive Dalmatians. I've learnt that I might have enough technical knowledge to set up a website - but I'm not completely convinced that I will. I've learnt that if you're a one-person business you actually have to do everything on a project unless you outsource and you're still going to have to be the one to organise the person to outsource to so effectively you're the one doing everything.

I have spent hours on the computer. And, yes, it might have looked to my husband that a goodly amount of that was on Facebook (which it probably was, but my brain can take in only so much proper information without needing a fluff-break) but I have been mining the internet for nuggets of gold that are going to prove invaluable in this process.

I've been writing lists entitled 'Important Stuff I've Got To Do'. Yes, that's right - there are multiple lists that are all called the same thing. And that's because I keep thinking of other important stuffs that have to be done and then the old list becomes defunct. And I've been trying to attack at least one of the items on the list every day - on top of trying to cut out stuff to send to my machinist. It's been busy - but it's been fun busy.

On Tuesday the task I'd set to tick off was actually the task I'd set myself for Monday and not gotten around to doing. It was to decide what to have on my washing label for when I get my custom labels printed. I thought it wouldn't take long to do.

I was wrong.

But only because I got distracted by one of the sites that came up when I Googled 'washing labels'. Or it may have been 'funny washing labels'. Don't judge - businessing doesn't have to be all dull and boring.

Anyway I ended up deciding that I want to have something a little bit quirky on my washing labels after seeing these.

So far I've got all the boring, utilitarian stuff written.

Made in Australia
Cold Hand Wash or Gentle Machine Wash in Laundry Bag
Don't Wring, Iron, Tumble dry or Dry clean
Dry in Shade

I just haven't quite decided on the quirky. So far it's between 'Run Like a Girl' or 'Live Long and Perspire'.

Or if any of you comedic wordsmiths out there have any suggestions I'm totally open to them.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Just Because Your Last Run Was Bad ...

I know I haven't done a lot of writing about it lately but I have been running since Melbourne marathon.

Photographic evidence that I really have been running

Really, I hardly stopped apart from a brief hiatus the week after. I had my first run back on the Friday, where my legs reminded me that they'd run 42+k, then another run on the Saturday. Both were short and easy. And ever since then I've been building back to normal. Back to four sessions a week. Back to some decent speeds. And back to some longer distance stuff.

It's all been going pretty well. Apart from the heat and humidity. We've had a couple of really nasty humid days and both have seemed to coordinate beautifully with the weekly long run.

The first was a week ago and it wasn't fun. It felt hard right from the start and only got harder. We didn't push the pace and we stopped at every water stop and still by the end I was trying not to faint when I stopped. Which is a little disconcerting for me and a lot disconcerting for my poor running companion who doesn't know if he's going to have to try and break my fall. (Just protect the head Elio, everything else will heal but a brain injury is for ever). I spent the rest of the day on the couch with a bucket trying not to vomit. Yeah - good times!

So this week I was a bit antsy about a repeat performance. The conditions were pretty similar to the previous week and I still hadn't totally worked out where I'd gone wrong - apart from actually getting out of bed to run. Part of me wanted to pull the pin on it altogether but I'd organised an early start to get 4k done before joining up with the squad. Really the only way I'd feel justified in piking was if I'd been throwing up all night or had a heart attack. So I set my alarm for 4:15 telling myself that if it felt awful then I could pull out after the 4k. Or I could just do the 12k with a good proportion of the squad. These are the lies I tell myself so I"ll get out of bed.

Of course there was never really any intention to pull out and run less. Once I've got a distance in my sights I can never be happy until I've got it done but those little lies I tell myself can be enough to keep my calm when I'm worried about something.

So we set off at 5:00 the next morning and did our 4k loop and it was okay. My legs didn't feel as uncooperative as they had the previous week. We were keeping the pace gentle. We were drinking when we could. And Elio was doing a great job keeping my mind off the previous week's debacle.

I had water and Powerade once we got back to the group. Sweat was trickling down my back already. It was hard to completely wipe away the thoughts of how bad I'd felt on the last long run when the conditions were just so similar. I just had to remind myself that we were taking it easier. That we were going to be drinking regularly. And just because one run is bad, it doesn't mean that they're all going to be bad.

And it turned out that I was right. There was nearly nothing about the run that was bad  - for me at least. Can't say the same for one of my friends who got distracted by a couple of pretty faces and ended up on the pavement in a puddle of blood. Proof again that a lot of men find it hard to multi-task.

I've been running for a lot of years now and I know quite a bit about it but it seems that there are still so many things that I don't know. And so many things that I'll never understand. Why is one run so, so hard and another in similar conditions, off a similar work load not? I don't get it. I can't science my way to an answer. But I'm happy to accept it. Just because your last run was bad doesn't mean that they all will be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Birthday Luke!

This little boy's 22 today. My sweet little baby boy who had ear infections every couple of months until he got grommets put in. Always dirty - "dirt just comes to me!" Taught himself to read at 4 with a phonetics program on the computer - who says that phonetics isn't a good way to learn to read. Musical, athletic, kind and thoughtful. He'd be a catch if he hadn't already been caught.

Yep, he turns 22 today and I can't give him a big, sweaty birthday hug. Or a gift. Or get him to blow out candles. Because he's half a world away. On an epic European adventure. He's currently in Florence so if there's any Fiorentini mamas out there reading this and you see a lanky, good-looking Aussie wandering around, taking in the sights, can you give him a hug from this mama who misses her little boy. I've included a more recent pic for easier identification. He might not be wearing the lederhosen though. 

Happy birthday Luke! We will celebrate your special day eating birthday cake while watching the Socceroos beat Krygyzstan tonight.

And if I'm feeling kind I might even bake you another one for when you get home in three weeks (not that I'm counting).

Love you lots!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When The Universe Speaks ...

The universe has been trying to tell me something lately.

The universe has often tried to tell me stuff but I'm either not very attuned to subliminal messages or I'm just so obstinate that I refuse to listen. I've never really liked being told what to do.

It all started last Wednesday when I went for my meeting with the lovely Bek, who's going to design my logo. I left my notebook there. But it didn't have a huge amount in it so rather than go back I just bought another one. And I wrote a heap in it that evening because I'd just talked with Bek and Bek had great ideas and I needed to get them down before I forgot which I'm fairly prone to do. Then I just left the notebook on a low chest that was low enough to be in Ricky's reach.

Woke up to this the next morning.

I probably could have persisted in using it but it had been so pretty and un-slobbered-on and the pages had turned over so much more easily before they'd been deformed by Ricky's malicious teeth full of evil intent. It would have bothered me so much every time I went to use it that my creativity would have totally shut down. And besides, it was only $3:00. So I went out and bought another one.

The next one was even prettier. Bright pink with gold spots. Sure to inspire exceptional creativity. I was so excited to find it on the shelf in KMart. Excited enough to fork over $5:00. Don't worry - it'll be tax deductible as long as I can find the receipt. 

I paid for it and declined the plastic bag because I like to do my bit to save the planet and I'd hate for a turtle to die a horrible slow death of starvation just because I'd been negligent. And besides I already had a plastic bag that had enough room for me to shove the notebook into. Pity I didn't actually think about what that plastic bag was carrying .... (cue ominous music)

I got home and pulled out this pretty pink source of inspiration and creative genius only to find the bottom of it covered in a warm, brown jellyish substance that smelled distinctly of roast chicken. Oh yes, I'd had a warm roast chicken in that bag and it had leaked out of it's own bag all over my milk and my dreams.

Ok, maybe a little melodramatic but I did say a little swear word out loud. Possibly loud enough for the neighbours to hear but they're getting on in years so I'm banking on deafness setting in. I didn't really want to have to lock up the house and get back in the car and drive back to the store and find another parking space just to buy another notebook so I set about with a paper towel to clean up the mess while trying not to slip on the drool-coated tiles or trip over the three dogs which we must never feed because they're always starving. 

And it really did come up pretty well. At least the pretty pink cover did. The inside pages were a little damp and warped at the bottom but I figured they'd dry so I left it on the bench and went to do some real work.

At about 1:00 I came up to get some lunch (chicken salad if you must know) and found the kitchen abuzz. Flies everywhere! I might have thought I'd done a reasonable job cleaning up the chicken juice but that black swarm told me otherwise. And at that point I got the message that the Universe was trying to send. Go digital! Use the computer and smartphone for your notes!! Use Dropbox or Evernote or one of the other apps that will send info from one device to the other. Embrace the 21st century and the technology that you have at your fingertips.

So do you know what I did? I said 'screw you, you're not the boss of me' to the Universe, sprayed the pretty pink notebook with a bit of surface spray and have felt empowered every time I open it up. I am the author of my own destiny - not the Universe! I also remember to put it up high out of the reach of curious canines when it's not in use.

And talking about curious, hungry canines, there have been a couple of 'incidents' in our house in the last few days. Chewing incidents. And I was just starting to think we'd gotten through Ricky's puppyhood relatively unscathed. 

First it was the notebook. 

Then an entire roll of toilet paper. 
Bubbles was not the culprit but she really enjoyed the 4 ply, quilted softness

Then finally, a new box of tampons. 

I've noticed that his tastes tend towards paper and it was his first birthday last week. A birthday is like an anniversary and tradition has it that the first anniversary is the paper one. Coincidence? I think not!! I'm so glad that dogs don't live to 60 or in 59 years I'll be having to hide my engagement ring.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

No Doubts About It

I had a big moment of self-doubt yesterday

I was pretending that I was a real business woman and went for a real business meeting. Luckily I didn't have to do anything crazy like dress up for it - it was a business meeting with a friend after all and friends don't make friends wear heels. She's a graphic designer and I need a logo for my new business - match made in heaven.

We talked a bit about what I was wanting to do. What image I was trying to get across. What sort of thing I wanted for the logo. Then she started talking about the website and that's when I realised that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Websites need planning. You need to know exactly what you're going to put on every page. It's not just about some pretty pictures. You need words to go with the pictures and size guides and order forms and payment options and return policies and probably a lot of other stuff that I've already forgotten. Because I'm at an age where I forget stuff  even if I've taken notes. Which I didn't - and it wouldn't have mattered if I did because I left the notebook behind.

She pointed me to a site where I can set up my own webpage. Apparently it's a fairly easy process. But I was less than confident about my technical abilities. Just because I've set up a blog doesn't mean that I have skillz in that area.

I briefly thought 'I'm too old for this' and 'do I really want to be bothered?' and 'you could outlay a whole heap of money and not have it work'.

Doubt was putting excuses in my head. Doubt was wanting me to shut the whole thing down and just continue plodding along with work in status quo. Not a good thing when some weeks I haven't been getting any.

But then I remembered how much I've been enjoying working on this new project. And I remembered that old adage - that you've got to spend money to make money. And I remembered how much great feedback I've had about the tights. And I remembered that I'm a reasonably intelligent person who can read and follow instructions so if that website is as easy as it claims, surely even the less technically inclined amongst us should be able to manage. And I remembered that this middle-aged woman can run marathons - in a BQ time.

I've had a lot of practice talking down my self-doubts this year. And I'm getting pretty damned good at it. That doesn't mean that the self-doubts happen less. They definitely don't. It just means that when they do start shouting at me I can shout facts back that shut them up - or at least quieten them down. It's kind of awesome to have finally learned this life skill.

So I walked away from the meeting knowing that yes, there's a lot of hard work ahead of me. But that I'm perfectly capable of working it all out. Or sourcing people who can work it out with me.

And then I went out a bought a new notebook.

I have stuff to plan. Over coffee and a scroll. And the crossword.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In-House Experiments

Do you ever run small anthropological experiments in your house just to see what's going to happen?

I do. All the time. Like leaving an empty Vegemite jar in the fridge and secretly using the one in the pantry just to see how long it'll take for Iven to cave and admit that it's really empty. Or not throwing away mouldy foodstuffs to see how long he'll keep shaving the mould off the cheese despite the threat to his health. That man really likes to live on the edge.

I've actually had a small experiment going for the entire length of October which I could only just reveal - being that it's now November. For all of October I had the calendar hanging on the back of the toilet door opened to November. Okay, it was an accident but when I noticed what I'd done the next day, I decided to leave it and see how long it'd take for someone to say something about it. I was pretty sure that no one would actually change the calendar because that seems to be my job and mine alone. But I'd notice if they did and the experiment would be over.

My toilet door is covered in cork tiles and cute animal photos. Makes for a more pleasant toilet experience if you ask me.

A week passed and no one said anything. Each day I'd sit on the throne and chuckle to myself about how unobservant my family is. In the second week my cleaning lady told me that it was on the wrong month so I then had to explain what I was up to. She understood exactly what I was doing - providing myself with scientific proof that men are less observant than women. And so far she'd helped out the women's case enormously. We were now at 100% for observational skills.

By the end of the month I'd heard nothing from the male side of the equation. Zip. Zero. Nada. So yesterday I revealed to Iven that he'd unwittingly been a participant in my study. And apparently my observation, that 100% of males wouldn't notice that a calendar was on the wrong month, was incorrect. He had noticed but he'd assumed that I didn't like the October dog as much as the November one. He just hadn't bothered to comment about it.

So my experiment proved nothing except that 100% of males in the household couldn't give a rats about the calendar. And that 50% of the males probably didn't even see it because they rarely bother to shut the door.

Why do I bother?!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Crises, Questions and Dilemmas

I'm having an existential crisis.

Actually crisis is a bit of an exaggeration. It's more that I'm grappling with an existential question. Not a deep existential question like 'why do I exist?' or 'what is the meaning of life?' So I guess that grappling might also be an exaggeration. But I can't think of any better word at the moment so I guess we'll stick with it. Unless I have some bolt of inspiration before I'm done.

My question? If I run and it's not documented photographically, does it actually count?

It used to be that I ran and it counted just because I ran. Then I got my first Garmin and then the run counted because it was uploaded onto the computer. And then I joined the Garmin community and then it counted because other people could see it. Now it's got to be documented in pictures for it to count in my head.

How did things change? Why did they change? Will they change again? Will I cope - especially over the next few weeks when the chief photographers are off swanning in NY (marathon and glory-bound)? Should I even bother running if it's not on Instagram or FB? What IS the meaning of life?

See!! It's a real dilemma.

Funny thing is that I don't even like having my photo taken. Comes from being brought up with very attractive sisters. But I haven't minded it - even though they're taken when I've dragged myself out of bed before the sun's up and I'm usually red-faced, sweating and tousled. And the reason that I haven't minded them is because I look happy. Because I am happy. Running's my happy place. And running with friends is the best!

And talking about crises, we have a little one in the laundry. I only have to wash once a week now that the kid washing is no longer my responsibility and today Iven couldn't find a dry pair of undies!! I had washed and it all would have been fine if the weather had been. I'm not sure how he solved his dilemma and I don't think I want to. There are no good answers to that question. 

I looked around the laundry to see if any of his jocks had fallen behind the dryer (which I won't use unless there's a real weather crisis). No luck. But what I did see were all of the clean, damp running clothes I'd used this week that made up about a third of the wash. So I guess the answer to my existentialist question is that yes, photographically undocumented runs do count and I have the washing to prove it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Can't Think Today - I Have The Dumbs

It's just a week since the marathon and already I'm bored.

It was okay while I was still away and had distractions. Like #1 son, Sam and his girlfriend Hannah.

No picture of Hannah (my bad) but it is Hannah's apron 

And the zoo. Werribee Zoo is pretty good - especially having the meerkat exhibit backing onto the cafe. Watching an erotic interlude between star-crossed meerkats while I sip a soy cappuccino? Don't mind if I do.

But eventually the fun had to be over and we had to return to the land of same-old-same-old without my endorphin fix to numb the boredom. 

It is totally normal to get the blahs after a marathon. So of course the logical thing is to immediately enter other races. All week I've been tossing up ideas in my head and so far only have one firm definite. Maybe two. See! That's just an example of where my head's at. My firm definites are not that firm. They're like just-set jelly that could have done with a tablespoon more of gelatine. 

So here's my maybe firm definite list thus far - Port Macquarie Half Marathon (on my birthday in March so I think that's a sign that I'm supposed to do it) and Melbourne Marathon in October.

I've got a whole list of other halves that I'd like to do but keep wondering how many is too many. I'd kinda like to try for a sub 1:40 half (seeing as I was less than 30 seconds away so that's only a bit over 1 second per kilometre faster and that should be doable shouldn't it?) so maybe less is more. But on the other hand most events are a weekend away and more mini-holidays aren't a bad thing - except for the bank balance.

I think what I'm really wanting is for someone to make the decisions for me cause my ability to make decisions is at an all-time low.

Take this cake, for example. 

I decided, with the wisdom of many years of cake making and decorating experience, that it'd be fine to leave the dome on top. And then cover it with oozy caramel. And then put stuff all over the oozy caramel. This is after only recently making a cake which oozed everywhere. And then I was disappointed when all the stuff on the top oozed over the edge. I also decided that it'd be great to put raspberries in the chocolate mousse filling. With a caramel topping. And then I decided it was fine to give as a birthday cake because it was the recipient's fault for having a birthday just after my marathon when, patently, I wouldn't be at my sharpest mentally. 

Yep, decision-making at its finest. 

And this lack of ability to make a decision is creeping into other areas of my life - not just the fun running and baking ones. I want to start an online business selling my loud tights to other runners who, like me, enjoy a little colour in their lives. I know I can do all the sewing/manufacturing stuff and I have a good name (or I think it's good anyway) - it's just all the other stuff. Tech stuff. Money stuff. Registration stuff. 

There's so much that I know that I don't know and it seems such an effort to try to wrap my head around. Maybe that's the post-marathon ennui. Or maybe it's that I'm 52 and it actually is harder to learn new stuff. I'm hoping that it's the former and that my ability to think clearly without being overwhelmed will return soon. Today would be good.

But even if it doesn't, I'll be back running this week. On my usual schedule. Just shorter and slower. So at least I'll be getting my endorphin fix.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Melbourne 2015

A bit over five years ago I started writing this blog. It was to chronicle my journey to the start line of my very first marathon on the 10:10:10. The training had gone really well but the marathon didn't quite go to plan. My stomach didn't cooperate and my sub-4 goal wasn't achieved. But I'd finished my first marathon so I had to be proud.

Three years later I lined up again. The training cycle leading into it had been filled with self-doubt after some poor health but I'd gotten all the runs done. Just before the race there were a series of unfortunate events which led to a really tough day at the office and again no sub-4. But I was incredibly proud of the run - that I'd finished despite nearly everything going wrong.

Then I lined up at Gold Coast earlier this year after a training cycle that went better than I could have expected. I was running well and I knew that the sub-4 I'd been after was well within my capabilities. And it may have been if my ITBs hadn't given me grief. A new PB but still no sub-4. Still I was so proud that I'd run the entire way and not walked like in my previous two marathons.

I really had no expectations of time leading into Melbourne on Sunday. Running three prior marathons without achieving what I knew I was capable of made me a little leery of getting too caught up in goals and times. If there's one thing that running marathons has taught me is that it can expose all your physical and mental flaws. It is a humbling, pitiless master that must be respected without being feared.

In my first marathon I was a little cocky with my expectations and went out too hard and that led to the stomach issues. In my second marathon I was so nervous that I'd hardly been able to eat beforehand and ran out of fuel before halfway. My third marathon exposed my lack of attention to other areas of my fitness - namely strength. For this one I just tried to fix what I could - the strength, the anxiety and overambitious expectations - and show that I'd learned from all my mistakes. I had a plan and I was going to try to stick to it.

So 5:45 found me standing on a dark corner in Melbourne city with a couple of friends ready to walk to the start. There's nothing better for calming pre-race jitters than to be amongst fellow crazies. I had slept okay but woken up with an adrenalin rush that I'd had to do a bit of mental self-talk to get under control. I'd managed to subdue the butterflies kicking up a storm in my stomach so I could eat. By the time I was dressed there were no nerves at all - just a determination to run smart.

Ready as I'll ever be

We met up with some more friends, did the last-minute toilet visit (and for the first time I picked the right queue), obligatory pre-race photos and then made our way over to the start line. While I was standing there I pondered whether I should have visited the loo just once more for good measure but decided that the queues were too long and it was probably all in my head. I got my watch ready. Then finally we were off.

Where's Wally?
The plan was to run within myself. To sit somewhere between 5:30 and 5:40 pace. To run relaxed and to try to enjoy as much of it as possible. In a marathon pain is inevitable - I just wanted to delay it for as long as possible.

The first kilometre was slower than my pace plan but I wasn't worried in the least. A few seconds lost at the beginning can be made up over the other 41.2k. And at the beginning of a race there's usually a fair amount of traffic to navigate. Melbourne has the added joys of tram lines that you have to be aware of so a 5:49 start wasn't an issue. By the second kilometre that was down to 5:29 and I wanted to keep it around there or maybe just a smidge slower.

We headed down St Kilda Road towards Albert Park and somewhere along there one of my running friends caught up with me. Tracey had contacted me during the previous week and had said she wanted to run a similar pace but I hadn't seen her before the start. She fell in beside me and I'm pretty sure that's why the race went so well. She stuck with me from before Albert Park and kept my mind from the unhelpful chatter that it can sometimes go on with.

"Only three k done. You've still got 39 to go. And don't forget the point 2. Are you feeling tired already? Yeah, I think you're feeling tired. You might as well just turn around and go out for breakfast.Whose stupid idea was this anyway??"

Yeah, I'd gone through all of those thoughts in the first couple of kilometres. And a couple more that were bladder-focused. I was pretty sure that I was going to have to find a toilet before I was finished. And I'll admit that I had penis-envy seeing the male runners lined up in the bushes in the park. But once I had Tracey's company I seemed to forget about my bouncing bladder.

Our pacing was pretty good. Any time it crept down to the low 5:20's we'd ease back a little. It concerned me a little that my watch was beeping kilometres before the marker and the distance between the beep and the marker was getting further and further apart. But Tracey was wearing a pace band and was able to check when we passed the markers so we knew we were on track. We'd even banked a little margin.

We got to the halfway point feeling pretty good. A couple of minutes ahead of Tracey's pace band time but nothing to be alarmed about. The next goal was to make it to 30 still feeling okay and then to 32 where we could start counting down the kilometres in single digits. We were down in St Kilda along the waterfront at this stage. It was cool and a little bit breezy. There were a couple of rises but I didn't find them too tough - they were actually a pleasant change from running flat. We got to the turnaround and back to St Kilda Road still feeling okay. Yes, we could feel the 30 kilometres that we'd run in our legs and feet but we were both feeling strong and it was about then that I really started to believe that my sub-4 was going to happen. Finally!

But I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself. In my first marathon I'd been on sub-4 pace up to 35k so I knew that it wasn't over until it was over.

We got to 32k and I was so excited to start counting the kilometres down. We were reaching the spot where I'd had to find a toilet immediately and lightning struck again - but this time it struck Tracey. We scoured the route for potential toilet stops and she managed to make it to the same Arts Centre that I'd stopped at in 2010.

All of a sudden I was running alone. And that wasn't good. Somehow without my pacing buddy I'd picked up some speed - not smart when you're heading into the 'Tan and you know that there's a bit of a nasty hill ahead. But also ahead I could see Jess and I knew that she was within reach. I might be able to catch her before the end. I caught her without even realising. She was ahead of me one minute, I got distracted at a water stop and all of a sudden I heard her voice from behind me. I had company again.

The hill in the 'Tan took its toll on my now-very-weary legs. My pace dropped a little but it was still within my 5:30-40 window. It was hurting and I was wanting it to be over but I knew that it wouldn't be long until I could finally stop. The crowds were getting thicker and we could see the MCG. Then we ran past where the squad had set up and I saw my husband, son and his girlfriend. Just a little further and we were in the MCG running that last lap. And it was done. 3:53:53!

Jess had finished about 30 seconds ahead of me but we found each other. Tired, sore but oh, so happy!

A bit later on I caught up with Tracey for a sweaty, salty hug. She'd managed her sub-4 too despite the toilet stop. 

The effort it took for some of us to get up for this photo was unbelievable - you'd never know it from the smiles.

So how many minutes did I cut off my PB? Just count the fingers and you'll see why my smile's so big.