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.