Sunday, February 28, 2016

If You Build It ...

I realised something important in the last week. Having no marketing plan for my business really works. And by 'works' I mean that I was getting none. No marketing = no work. Well, not exactly none - but certainly not very much and definitely not as much as I thought I'd get.

When I decided to start selling my tights it was because I kept getting comments on what I was wearing. A couple of people ordered some and they got great reactions when they wore theirs too. So I thought that all I had to do was build a website and that would be it. Orders would flood in and I'd be scrambling to keep up.

Stop laughing. Especially if you've had babies and understand the 3-sneeze rule. It applies to out-of-control laughter too. Three seconds of hilarity can spell disaster.

Okay I was naive. But I've watched Field of Dreams. I built it so they would come. Because I had a unique product.

Again stop laughing. I actually do know that there are millions of labels that make tights. So many, many, many people decide that they can be the next Lorna Jane and live happily ever after - except when the media is hounding you about your discriminatory hiring practises or not paying your models money.

Last Monday I woke up feeling really flat about work. I'd made a mistake. I'd spent money recklessly on an ego-project. Who was I kidding in pretending I could be a business woman? I don't know a thing about what I'm doing - apart from the making tights part. I'm pretty damned good at that.

Yeah, I was having a real pity-party. And this pity party continued until I had a messenger conversation with a friend. She's very knowledgeable about marketing and told me that I needed to sit down with a coffee and think about my contacts and use them. Talk to them about my product and try to get them involved in spreading the word.

I did actually know all of this but I just hate asking for help. It's how I was brought up. Don't ask - wait until something's offered to you. Be polite. Don't get into people's faces. All that kind of stuff that is fine in a social sense but doesn't work in the business world.

So I pulled up my big girl panties. I rang a couple of people. I messaged a couple more.No one told me to get lost. That I was being a pest. That my product was crap. I got a great response. And I went from feeling like I'd made a big mistake to feeling like the mistake I'd made was not pulling my finger out and start pushing my product earlier.

Building a business takes time. Building a business takes work. Building a business takes energy. And when I next feel flat about it I'm going to come back here and read it to remind myself. I just have to keep working and keep believing in myself.

I finished the week with a big shot in the arm when Iven reported back from parkrun with the news that three people were wearing my tights. I know that's hardly worth writing home about but for me it's big.

Then I saw my friend Clare had worn her new pair and had run a new PB and course record at another parkrun. Who'd have thought that cupcakes would make you fast?!

Not exactly world domination. But it's a start.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why I'll Never Be Trying A New Recipe Again. Ever!

Do you ever get sick of having the same meals over and over again?

I do. And I really can't complain to the cook because I am the cook. I guess it all comes down to not being creative enough and organised enough and not caring enough at the end of a long day to find something tasty, nutritious and not too time-consuming to make.

Tuesday morning I got chicken thigh fillets out of the freezer to make one of the four recipes in my head for chicken thigh fillets. Didn't know which one it was at that moment but it didn't really matter. I'd make that decision later on. A couple of times during the day I'd think about it then defer the decision because I just couldn't get excited about any of the options.

I was still vacillating at 5:00 pm and that's not good because that's when I actually have to start making dinner. But then it came to me. Inspiration. A flash of genius. I'd try something new. Maybe chicken and broccoli. Google came to the rescue with many, many, many different versions but luckily I had the ingredients to the first one on the list so I printed it out and I was set.

It wasn't a complicated recipe. Thank goodness because complicated can make me take short-cuts and the end result won't ever resemble the picture I was trying to emulate. It was basically making a marinade for the chicken, chopping up the broccoli and stir-frying it then frying up the chicken with the sauce ingredients and you've got a delicious dish. Hopefully.

But - yes, there had to be a but - there was a point where the recipe gave the option of adding chilli flakes. I do like a little heat in Asian dishes so I took that option but could only find chilli powder in my pantry. Flakes, powder - same-same. Except it's really not. Flakes don't become air-borne quite so easily as powder does. I made the monumental error of breathing just as I pulled the chill-filled spoon out of the bag.

The reaction was instantaneous. I sneezed. Then sneezed again. Then again and again and again and again. Giant, body-shaking sneezes.

Just as a small aside here - I have had three babies. It was a long time ago now but three babies does have a life-time impact on a woman's body. Let's just say that things don't quite work as well as they used to and one of my sphincters has a three-sneeze limit. I sneezed at least 10 times. Do the maths and reach your own conclusions. I'm sure you've got the gist.

Sneezing also usually makes stuff come out of my nose. Whether or not I've got a cold. It kind of felt like there might be something so I put my finger up to check.. No I didn't think of getting a tissue - it was a pretty instinctive reaction and it was an instinct that I should have repressed. I had chilli powder on that particular finger and I can tell you, from experience now, that chill powder + nasal mucosa = pain!

It did settle down quickly. Once I'd washed my hands and my nostril. And I managed to continue to cook during the entire ordeal. Because having three kids means that I've been trained to ignore distractions to get the job done. But this cooking adventure had one more sting in its tail.

The recipe also suggested sesame seeds to be a nice addition. I like sesame seeds and it just so happened that Luke and Becky had made something the other day with them and had put the leftovers in a container in the pantry. Toasted sesame seeds on the top of the chicken and broccoli would be delicious.

So I went to pull out the container. Only to find that the lid hadn't been put on properly. Seeds went everywhere! On the floor. Through the spice rack. On the shelf above and the two shelves below.

There may have been a couple of naughty words said. Loudly. With vehemence. And I may have left the mess on the floor in the hope that the dogs would clean it up once they'd got back from their walk. Turns out that dogs aren't particularly fond of sesame seeds but I have a good husband who recognises when his wife has come to the end of her tether.

I swore then and there that I'd never try another new recipe.

I finally got it dished out. And we sat down to eat and it was delicious! So, so, so good. I'll definitely be adding this one to my short list of recipes on rotation. But with chilli flakes - that powder is going in the bin!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

That's Just Not Right.

I just couldn't find my belt anywhere this morning. I know where I usually put it (hanging over the mirror) and it wasn't there. Id it wasn't on the floor either. Or draped over the fan. Or neatly put away in the wardrobe like it should always be but never is. It had just gone missing. And that wasn't good because I was going to wear the shorts that need a belt to prevent public shame.

Iven, on the other hand had had no problem finding his belt. He just took it out of the dirty shorts that had been cast off yesterday and transferred it to the clean pair he was wearing. He too needed a belt. He's lost so much weight this year (about 6 kg) by exercising more and eating less that none of his shorts stay up without help.

I'm pretty proud of my husband. He's had a few health issues in the past and was on the verge of potential back surgery a couple of years ago. But this year he's really turned things around. He's been ultra-diligent with his strength exercises, taken up riding to work and back, walking the wolf pack every day and has also started running parkrun every week. He's doing as much as he can to stay active and healthy and that's good reason to be proud.

I watched him thread the belt through the stays and buckle it up. Funny, though, that he could lose so much weight and be only able to buckle to the second last hole. I would have thought he'd have been a lot more holes in. And funny how that belt looked suspiciously like the one I was looking for.

I made him take it off because I am not naturally trusting by nature. He might swear he got it out of his wardrobe but my suspicions told me otherwise. And yes, my svelte husband had been wearing my belt for over a week.

I'm not happy about this turn of events. Not the actual wearing of the belt but the fact that he can wear the same sized belt as me. That's just not right. My role in the scheme of things is to be smaller than him and I don't want to have to be forced into dieting just to maintain my that role.

Another thing that's just not right is my youngest son's reaction to my latest Instagram photo.

I got some new fabric for Run Amok tights and had make up a pair to put through some rigorous tests. And by rigorous tests I mean a 24k run in equatorial weather conditions. They held up really well - no chaffing, no rubbing, no riding up (not that that was really going to be a problem when the sweat holds them in place) and no riding down.

I wanted to show off the cute print on my business Instagram page so I got Iven to take a pic. Only to be asked why the gratuitous butt shot. Not what I was trying to achieve. In my mind it was all about the fabric.

Now I'm left with the quandary. Do I take photos with them on or lying out flat on a table? Is it not appropriate to be photographing one's own backside for the purpose of advertising? Will it scare off customers or will my courage in putting it out there encourage others to give tights a go? Or should I just disregard the remarks because they came from one of my offspring who probably still gets embarrassed by the actions of his mother? 

Man, businessing can be hard!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Katie's Fantastical Birthday Adventure.

I'm blaming Rob for what happened on Saturday.

Blame may not be exactly the right word, though, in this instance. Blame implies that something went wrong and I can't really say that anything went wrong. Nothing really bad or permanently damaging happened, There may have been pain and suffering and a B&E perpetrated by a suspicious-looking group of characters - nothing actually blame-worthy. But Rob's still going to take the rap.

You see, Rob decided to do a little bit of route-diversification the other week. And this route-diversification planted a seed in the mind of one of my group. This member of the group, let's call her Katie, just happened to be having a birthday on long run Saturday and thought it might be fun to replicate Rob's route. Just to change things up a little.

Katie, though, is not an ordinary, normal., rational hill-hating runner. She runs trails for fun. She likes hills. She's chosen, without a gun to her head or any of her children being taken hostage, to run a mountainous trail marathon in New Zealand. Katie, clearly, has a screw loose. But then, we all agreed to go along with it so maybe what does that say about our sanity?

She mentioned her idea to another member of the group and all of a sudden we had an event on our hands. I thought nothing of it at the time. A birthday run? With friends? For a couple of hours? Sweet! Can't think of a better way to start the weekend. Mt Gravatt? Yep, no worries - my sister lives out there. I kind of know where it is.

The Mt in Mt Gravatt should have tipped me off that it wasn't going to be our usual run-for-a-couple-of-hours Saturday run.

We met at 5:30. Well, most of us did. Some of us had already run for an hour before meeting the rest of us lazy slackers who'd decided to sleep in till 4:45am. And we set off on a fun suburban adventure.

And it was fun. For the first couple of kilometres. Playing spot the water fountain. Listening to Beyonce singing about the hot sauce in her bag. I'm still wondering if she also has antacids or if her stomach is still young enough to be hot-sauce proof.  Looking for backdrops for picture opportunities to commemorate the auspicious occasion. See we all had smiles on our faces.

Then, just before the 5k mark, we hit the first hill. It wasn't too bad. Just went on for long enough to have the non-hill-lovers amongst us whining. Not necessarily out loud but there was definitely internal head-whining happening. But I mollified myself with the thought that the long uphill on the way out would be a long downhill on the way back.

A couple of kilometres later there was another hill. Again not too bad. Definitely runnable without having to slow the pace overly but enough to have us all breathing a little bit harder. Except maybe for Katie. Honestly I couldn't say exactly who was breathing loudly because it was hard to hear anyone else over the sounds of my own heavy panting. And it was about then that I realised the whole mountain thing and that maybe what we'd run were just the warm-ups to the main show.

We kept up the water fountain spotting and stopped regularly. It's still summer and it's still pretty warm so hydrating is important. And this is the only reason for the B&E. Actually there was no real B but we did E. A school ground. Just to make use of the bubblers. We may have had to scale a fence to get off the property but I don't think that the school was serious in keeping people out if an almost 53 y.o. can do it.

Once we'd scaled the fence there was another obstacle to overcome. A massive drop on to the road below. It had to be at least a metre and a bit. Luckily we all survived. Knees intact. We'd made it. To the base of the mountain. 

I had no idea of how long the ascent was. And that was probably a blessing. Ignoring the sign that warned us of dangerous animals and plants (still trying to work out what plant could be so dangerous that it needed special mention on a warning sign) we set off up the hill with one goal - summit or die trying.

It wasn't too bad to start off with. I couldn't actually speak but I was kind of keeping up with the main pack. A few metres behind but I could still make out the definition in Katie's calves so I wasn't too far off. I kept telling myself that the top would just be around the next bend. Then the next. Or the next. Then I worked out that there might actually not be a top and that I really couldn't see the main pack any more and hills really suck but mountains suck more. But I didn't stop. Just slowed to as close as I could to walking pace without actually walking.

Then there was the sign that told me I might actually make it. 200m to go. My legs were burning. My butt was burning (that actually is a good thing because it means my butt is finally taking some of the load) and my lungs were burning but I was going to be able to say that I'd run the entire way. 

Obligatory group selfie at the top to prove that we'd all made it.

Then it was time to head back off. We were only halfway done. 

For a while it felt like the running was easier - after we'd gotten off the dirt goat-track that was a bit of a short-cut down. That was probably because it was easier - than running up a mountain. Then it flattened out and my legs and lungs and shoulders and pretty much all of me remembered that I'd just run up a mountain. 

From there it was all about getting from one water stop to the next. I might have been extra-vigilant in finding water stops on the way back just so I could get an extra mini-break. My happiest moment of the morning was when I knew that Southbank was just down the road a little way past the the protesters and the camera crew and I was actually going to make it.

21 kilometres and change. We made it. I made it! And I'm pretty proud of myself.

Happy Birthday Katie. You're never allowed to have another birthday. You will be like Peter Pan and never age. 

And Rob, next time you run up a mountain can you keep it off social media?!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Change In The Air

I needed to hold on for just one more week. If I'd waited only seven days more I could have avoided last week's whinge about the weather.

All of a sudden things are much more pleasant again. The humidity's lifted and I can breathe once again. Not being able to breathe was becoming problematic on my runs. Oxygen intake is a vital element to a good run. I love that first hint that summer's coming to an end.

On Tuesday I woke up and there was almost a nip in the air. Not enough to have me consider wearing anything extreme like a t-shirt. But enough to have me quite excited about the session. Excited that it would be a little easier to run and excited that I wouldn't end up quite as moist as the last few weeks have left me and excited that I'd taken my match-matchy skills to beast-mode level. Aqua hat, singlet, bra, socks and shoes. And yes, the tights had aqua in the print.

It was a speed session and speed session is rarely one I get excited about so that tells you just how happy I was about the weather. We were doing 1k reps but it wasn't as simple as rep, recovery, rep, recovery. The rep was supposed to be at 3k time trial pace and the recovery a minute slower than that. 

My pacing abilities are not the best. And my watch isn't that accurate at giving me a snapshot of how fast I'm going. It's fine over a kilometre but when I look down any other time other than that 1k beep it can read 5:15 pace when I'm going at 4:45 so I've learnt to ignore it and just run on feel. Running on feel is also not that great because for most of the rep I just feel tired. It's judging the subtle nuances of tired that I'm not skilled in.

We set off and I tried to work out how fast to go without burning out in the first rep. One eye on my pretty useless watch and one eye on the runners around me (I know my place in the group) and my internal eye trying to judge if comfortably hard was comfortable enough without it being too comfortable. My goal was 4:34 but my time was 4:18. Oops! Overshot that one.

The return leg was a little harder than I'd normally make my recoveries. 5:27 - a lot closer to the 5:34 I was supposed to be hitting but I was happy with it.

The second hard rep was the usual struggle between heart and mind. My heart tells me I can do it and my mind says to slow down cause it's hurting. Legs hurting, arms hurting, neck hurting (yeah, I know I need to learn to relax my shoulders when I'm running fast), lungs burning and no saliva so swallowing was difficult to say the least. 4:15. Yay - the first rep wasn't a fluke.

My second recovery was in the right ball park again (5:24) but I was so tempted to ease it right back so I could get 3/3 for my fast reps. I didn't - because I'm a little intimidated by the coach and don't want him to think I'm a slack piker - so it was with some trepidation that I set out on the last rep. Just a bit over 4 mins fast running, I told myself. Just 260 seconds of pain. No, not pain - discomfort! Extreme discomfort that's as close to pain as possible without crossing that line. Come on keep pushing. It's the last rep. You can do this. 

And I did - 4:18. 

And not only did I manage real consistency in the hard reps but my last recovery was 5:16 so I feel like I kind-of, almost, nearly did the same on the recoveries.

I finished the session pretty excited. That I'd totally failed hitting my fast pace but failed in a good way in running it faster but not so fast that I couldn't maintain it. That I'd hit my slow pace - or near enough to. And that my fast 1k times were actually faster than they've been in years.

I've changed running groups and the change has given my running a bit of a kick up the butt. My new speed session is actually about developing speed rather than being a weird hybrid speed/tempo session like I used to run. It's shorter so the emphasis is on really pushing the pace, knowing that it's going to be hard but it won't last forever. Plus I'm running with people who are faster than me so I'm having to up my game to try to keep up.

And I'm starting to see results. Last year in winter I was happy to be hitting 4:30s for my 1k reps and yesterday, still in summer, they were down 15s. There's a delicious little frisson of excitement when I think about the year ahead. Yes, I think this change will be a good one.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Undie Report

The new undies were a monumental fail.

I woke up with high hopes on Friday morning. Hopes of a smooth, panty-line-free silhouette. Hopes of a leg-line that would remain around the leg and not burrowing up that place that is forbidden to all underwear except for g-strings. Hopes of finishing a run dry.

Well I finished the run dry. But that didn't seem like a consolation prize after enduring over an hour of uncomfortable wedgie action. Running with a wedgie for over an hour is really not much fun. 

I kind of had an inkling that the undies weren't going to meet my exacting standards when I put them on. Those leg gripper things didn't actually grip anything. I reminded myself that once I started to sweat they'd probably stay put. And once I put on my tights they wouldn't be able to move. 

I was wrong on both accounts.

Just moving marginally had that butt riding up and in. I put moisturiser on to help with adherability. All that did was make the tights stick when I tried pulling them up. And trying to pull that wedgie out when you've got tight tights on is an impossible mission.

But I was so sick of the wet-nappy post-run feeling that I was prepared to put up with the slight (okay, not so slight) discomfort. And besides, I was running too close to the wire time-wise to go and change. So I sucked it up, told myself it'd be fine and left for the run. 

The rest of the story will be no surprise. I felt a bit like a magician's assistant being sawed in half and if I appeared a tad distracted to my running buddies, it was because I was a tad distracted by the small piece of fabric that was trying to find a place to hide. I was heartened to finish the run fairly dry but checking my butt profile in the window of my car (doesn't everyone do that?) made me realise that the claim for no VPL was bogus. 

So I learnt something from the experience. Never believe everything you read. And elastic was invented for a reason.

It was back to my usual cotton undies for Saturday's long run. It's one thing putting up with a wedgie for an hour but two hours would have seen me diving into a bush at some stage to wrestle off the offending article and finishing the run commando. 

In the meanwhile the weather has become a little more kind and I have a feeling that the undie search will go on the back burner  until the next sauna-wave hits. And then I'll be regretting that I can be incredibly slack unless I'm motivated.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Perils Of Summer Running

I thought I was going to get away without saying it this year. I was coping fine. I was managing. I was keeping a good attitude.

And then it happened. Not that I'm actually sure what IT is. I'm sure a meteorologist could explain it accurately and scientifically. My take on it is that Hell opened up all its portals to let some fresh air in and some hot air out (which makes me believe that a lot of politicians are down there) and we've been left in conditions that resemble the bowels of Hell.

So I'm saying it now. I am OVER summer. I am so, so very, incredibly over all this stinking hot, humid weather.

Do you know what it's like running in the bowels of hell?? It's not pleasant! Imagine wearing a full length rubber body suit and running in a sauna that smells vaguely of frangipani, rotting mangoes and, if you're really, really lucky, decomposing possum that's fallen out of a tree, dead from heat exhaustion.

You sweat. Buckets. Bathtubs. Swimming pools of sweat. You leave puddles on the floor of coffee shops while you're ordering an extra hot coffee - which tastes like it's room temperature because the air temperature is extra, extra hot.

Because I've been wearing Run Amok tights almost exclusively on my runs - let's face it, I need to try to make these runs way more fun than they actually are at the moment - I've come up with a little issue that would really be an issue in sub-tropical, tropical and bowels-of-hell climate zones. My cotton undies are just not cutting it.

Cotton is not moisture wicking. Cotton has amazing absorbency. I sweat. A lot. And when I sweat, a lot, wearing cotton undies, by the end of the session I feel like I'm wearing a wet nappy. Ughhh! There is nothing pleasant about a sodden crotch.

So having endured too many uncomfortable runs, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go undies shopping.

It's not that easy finding exactly what you're after when it comes to underwear. Walk into a lingerie shop (or the lingerie section of a shop) and you're generally presented with lots of lacy little bits of froufrou or comfy, breathable (but not moisture-wicking) cotton briefs. And when you ask a sales assistant if they sell what you need, you're given a look of astonishment and a 'why are you running in this awful weather?' Yeah, hard to answer that question when you know that what you're doing is clearly insane to the general population.

I've had the odd suggestion that I try running commando. Umm let me think about that for a second. No! Never! I've seen way too many cyclists in tight lycra that's past its prime and let's just say they give plumbers a run for their money.

But after a comprehensive scouring of the shops at Indooroopilly I did come up with a possibility. A lovely nude pair of Sloggi briefs made of microfibre which the undies-lady told me should do the job. They also have no elastic in the leg, just this rubberised edging which is supposed to eliminate the dreaded VPL. Because I do lose sleep worrying if people can see my panty line - oh the horror.

So tomorrow they get their first test. I'll have my personal butt-checker on hand to make sure they live up to their claims of no VPL. And I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be a way less moist run than I've had to endure lately. Fingers crossed.