Sunday, February 28, 2010

Speed Bumps

I watched a really inspirational program today wuile I was cutting out costumes. It was Biggest Loser but it wasn't the contestants or the trainers who were inspirational. It was a guest called Kurt Fearnley.

Kurt was born with the lower part of his spine missing and can't walk. But not being able to walk hasn't stopped him from becoming an amazing athlete. He's a paralympian and a wheelchair marathoner. He's won the New York Marathon 3 times. He's crawled the Great Wall of China and just recently he crawled the Kokoda Track.

The Kokoda Track is legendary for Australians. It's in New Guinea and was the site of intense fighting between the Aussies and the Japanese. It's through harsh, unforgiving terrain. It has become a destination for people to go to see if they're made of the 'right stuff' Many people try it and many fail. Kurt was never going to fail. He dragged himself up and down hills, through mud and creeks. Some days he was so exhausted that he couldn't even talk but he never gave up.

He was asked if he ever felt like quitting and he said that whenever hardships arose he looked at them as speed bumps - enough to slow hi down and be a nuisance but not to stop.

I took a lot away from his talk. My overtraining syndrome is just a speed bump. I've got my goals and I'm going to keep plugging away at them until I get there. It may take a little longer than I'd planned but I will get there.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Because of my overtraining syndrome, I've realised that I won't be breaking any land-speed records in the foreseeable future. Nor will I be doing any racing of any description. So to satisfy the competitor in me I've decided to invent a new sport that I can excel at - maybe even become the world champion. It is Extreme Dishdrainer Stacking.

This sport is not for everyone. First of all, if you have a dishwasher then you probably won't be interested (or even know how to wash by hand). It helps if you have a fairly large family and lots of dishes/cutlery/pots and pans. It also helps if you can hold off washing up for most of the day (or even a week) so there are lots of dirty dishes to be done at once. A deep dishdrainer will be your best friend and apart from that it's all down to skill.

But be warned. It can be dangerous. A poorly positioned carving knife or the unbalanced glass/ceramic-tile-floor combo can mean that blood may spill. So if you're faint-hearted or faint at the sight of blood give this sport a wide swerve.

Below is one of my best efforts. (note that this is only ONE meal's worth of dishes)


On to running stuff - I did my long slow run today. A nice 16.6k along the Brisbane River. It took just over an hour and a half and I had a nice little rain shower on the way home. Now I have to have a good stretch and a session on my mean foam roller and I'll be feeling great.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Naming Ceremonies

So the girls officially have a name. (Wait for the drum roll) By unanimous opinion they are the Rockettes. You can now sleep Jamoosh. Thank you all for your input. It was invaluable.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Running Patterns

I've worked out a pattern. I run a speed session on Tuesdays. My very next run is always crap. It's a simple pattern which is just as well because I swear my IQ is going down as my age goes up.

Yesterday was speed session. It was the dreaded 3, 2, 1. This is a 3k time trial followed by a 2k then a 1k. I never liked these sessions when I was running well - like them even less now. My 3k time was abysmal. The last time I did one it was 13:12. This time was a very sad 14:45 and I wasn't taking it that easy. The 2k bumped up to 10:18 and the 1k was 4:57. Demoralising, huh!! I know I shouldn't let it worry me but it's hard not to be disappointed at how slow recovery is going. It's 5 months now and I can see that Sam's estimation of between 6 months and a year really wasn't exaggeration. Has anyone out there had Overtraining Syndrome? What did you do to recover and how long did it take?

Today I had a 10k on my program. My aim was to keep my HR down to a reasonable (for me) level. I misjudged the distance of the run so only did 8.5 k but I did manage to keep my HR down to a respectable level so as far as that's concerned it was a success but it didn't feel great. I could feel my legs were fatigued so I don't think cutting it short was a bad thing.

The chickens are still unnamed. I've come up with a couple more options - The Rockettes (they have great thighs) or Thing 1 and Thing 2. It's almost easier to call them a group name because they're so hard to tell apart.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Naming Rights

I wonder if naming chickens has ever been grounds for divorce. Iven and I simply cannot agree on what to call these birds so we've resorted to 'The Girls' for the moment. The thing is - he likes daggy names and I like cool/clever ones. He wants 'Orang' and 'Tang'. I have a list - Atilla the Hen, Pocahentus, Erica the Red, Ginger Mmmm-eggs, Satay and Tandoori, Thelma and Louise, Betty and Wilma, Omelet and Scrambles, and Phil and Lil (I quite like the idea of naming one of the hens after the mother-in-law, Phyllis)

I treat naming my pets as an art-form. I have had Object (short for Objet d'art because she had beautiful markings), Vegemite (because she was black) and Nelson who's named after Nelson Mandela because he's a dalmation who believes black and white can live side by side. Our other pets have been named by the kids - Hercules the cockatiel, Bubbles the stray fox terrier, Reuben the axlotle and Bailey the rat. And no - we have no cats!

On a totally different subject - I tried to blog yesterday but my computer froze and I got computer-rage and decided to format my computer (for the first time in my life) Silly me! I knew I would lose all my files so I backed up what I thought I needed. I did not know that I would lose my drivers as well. I now have no sound. No more playing my music while I'm cooking dinner and singing big band songs at the top of my voice and scaring small children and animals. I'm hoping my tech-genius son, Josh, will be able to rectify my error and I'll be belting out tunes in no time.

The reason I wanted to post yesterday was to let every one know how good my run was on Saturday. I had anxiety after my bad Thursday run. Didn't know how far to go and if I was going to pull up okay. But I rocked it! I ran a comfortable 16k and really enjoyed it. Felt good during the run and, more importantly, felt great afterwards. Yay!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Name That Chook

Today we bought two chickens. Iven's been working on their pen for a couple of weeks and it's quite a mansion as far as chook pens go. It's actually more than just a chook pen - it's a chook tractor! (which means that it's a chook pen on wheels and you can move it around the back yard so they can fertiliser every nook and cranny)

So now we have two pretty red and white chickens which now have to be named. I'm open to any suggestion.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Ugly Run

I had an ugly run yesterday. I didn't want to get out of bed. I was tired and it all seemed too hard. My legs felt heavy when I finally got going and they never really kicked into gear. I just did a 12k, even though my last few Thursday runs have been 15 and even 12k seemed like such a long way.

But despite it being a physical trial there were some lovely moments which made it all worthwhile. It was cloudy and dark when I left home but I could see a pink glow emerging from behind the clouds. When I reached the top of the hill (I live down the bottom in a little dead-end street) the pink glow had become an orange blaze. Beautiful!

The track around the uni runs past the colleges and in front of the colleges there's a hedge of mock orange busheds and they were all in flower. The scent was magnificent. And on the track I met my two favourite walkers - both men in their 60s/70s who walk by themselves and always have a big smile and hello for me.

Then finally through the park close to home I noticed the lovely sound of running water. The creek there has been almost dry for such a long time but, thanks to a significant rainfall earlier this week it was back flowing again. This is why I have to run outdoors. Being cooped up in a gym just doesn't inspire me like being out in nature.

Earlier this week I had a cougar moment. Tuesdays I train at the UQ athletics track and so do the Broncos (Brisbane's premier Rugby League team. Rugby League is a form of football.) I was showering after the session when I realised I had a companion in the locker-room - a male companion. One of the Bronco's had needed to use the toilets and had decided that mine were the most convenient. There are no doors or screens on the shower cubicles so he got a full-on view. That's probably why he disappeared with such haste (a haste that I found somewhat insulting) muttering apologies. I hope he hasn't been permanently scarred by the incident.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Josh!

It has been manically busy here. Work is spiralling out of control (always happens at this time of year so I shouldn't be surprised) and I'm having to work lots more hours every week. Then, on top of it all, Josh (son #2) decides to go and turn 21. Silly me! I did know it was coming but I thought that if I buried my head deep enough in the sand I would be able to avoid making any decisions.

Apparently 21sts involve quite a significant number of decisions. Things like a special gift and whether to party or not to party. Josh took the second decision out of our hands by saying he didn't want a party and was uncomfortable with the ides of being the centre of attention. (He will probably have to elope if this is the case)He was happy to have a dinner out with whatever extended family could make it on a Tuesday night. That involved other decisions like which restaurant and what time?? Wisely I put the 'which restaurant' to the vote at family dinner - we came up with a winner which was nice and close and allowed us to bring our own cake.

So last night finds 15 of us down at our pizza/pasta restaurant stuffing our faces with pizza (what was I saying in my last post about being a food nazi? Even nazis get to have the day off for birthdays and othe significant celebrations) and caramel mud cake. We had a great time but I have no pics to show for it because someone (and I will mention no names here ... alright it was me) forgot to take any photos. My baby has passed through an important portal in his life and I have nothing to remember it by. Doh!!!

Happy Birthday Josh. Hope you had a great day. Your Mum's a goose!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Food Nazi

I had an epiphany on Saturday night. I could never be a waitress, or a check-out chick or a worker in a fast-food outlet. I am a food-nazi!

This realisation came to me while I was sitting in a cafe with my friend Natalie having coffee - well, she was having coffee and I was having a hot chocolate but only because it was late in the afternoon and I wouldn't sleep if I had a coffee - and I was casually noticing the wait-staff serving other people. They came out with a huge dessert for a rather tubby woman and a thought flashed through my head. The thought involved her girth and it's relationship to the food she was consuming. Then I thought that, in all good conscience, I would find it difficult to serve her without making a snide comment.

Then another thought flashed through my head and it involved all the times I've stood behind large people in the supermarket and I've critiqued their trolley, let alone the times when I've sat in a food court sipping my skinny cappuccino and mentally flagellating the obese about their food choice.

The thing is - I don't believe that most fat people have glandular issues. I think it comes down to activity, food choice and portion control. And I speak from experience. As a teenager my weight got up to 73 kilos. It now hovers around 62.

So I will never take a job in the food service industry. I just wouldn't be good for business.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Story

It's been a very busy week of work and other stuff so I've been a little quiet for the last couple of days. I have, however, been on two 15k runs - one on Thursday by myself and one today with the few squad members who didn't go on camp (I was not allowed to go to camp because of the overtraining syndrome) It was on today's run that I heard a very beautiful love story which I will share.

Mike is a fairly recent member of the group - lovely guy, 6 foot 5 and quite cute. We've run together on occasions and he happened to be running with me when I'd recently found out about my half-brother and was sharing the fact with people to help me process it. He was such a good listener (although he almost had me running into a bollard because I was looking up at him and at 6'5" you have to look way up) and then he shared a bit about his first marriage and how his first wife had run off with his friend. Then he talked about his new wife and it was obvious how much he adored her and I thought how lucky they both were to have found each other.

On another run a few weeks later we got talking again and he mentioned that his wife was sick and when I expressed concern he told me that she had breast cancer. It was the third recurrence but he was pretty positive about how things were going. Unfortunately positive thinking isn't always enough and she has deteriorated and only has days left. It's so sad.

Today I found out that Mike had only been going out with her for 3 weeks before she was diagnosed. She told him not to stick around but not only did he stick around, he married her and has looked after her and loved her.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It was my day for turkeys yesterday. I blogged about the first incidence then. The second turkey-related event happened in the afternoon. I was sitting at my sewing machine in the workroom when I heard a clatter. Sam was home at the time so I disregarded the noise as him. About five minutes later it happened again but this time it sounded like something had hit the mirror in our change room. I got up to investigate and there it was - a juvenile scrub turkey.

I don't know who got the biggest fright, the turkey or me. We faced off for a moment then I took a small step forward and that was it, he was off. He fluttered all over the room. Perched on table tops, rolls of fabric, racks of leotards - with me pleading for him not to poop on anything important. Eventually he flew into a corner behind a big box of scraps and trapped himself so I grabbed him by his legs and relocated him into the school next door. On the way out I gave him a stern warning about the perils of entering our back yard - it is dog territory after all - and about entering the workroom of a slightly manic ex-vet who knows how to break a bird's neck with a twist and a tug. Hopefully we've seen the last of him.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saved By a Candle

It was my running friend, Jenny's birthday this week so after speed session today we planned to have breakfast in her honour. Speed session is held at the University of Queensland on the path that follows the Brisbane River and we breakfast at Wordsmith's Cafe which is on campus. Wordsmith's is basically an outdoor cafe - surrounded by trees and lots of local wildlife.

As is my tradition I made Jenny a birthday cake. I got up really early yesterday and had it in the oven by 6:30 am so it could be cool enough to decorate before I started work. I was really pleased with the end result -

When I picked it up this morning I realised that something was missing - the birthday candle - so I stuck one in and covered it with plastic wrap. I carefully loaded into the car this morning at 5 am and drove (again very carefully) to the uni.

We did our speed session: Mona (after Steve Monaghetti, one of Australia's best marathon runners) fartlek. It was a tough workout. 90 secs speed, 90 secs recovery, 60 secs speed, 60 secs recovery, 30 secs speed, 30 secs recovery then repeat the entire set 5 times. Again I felt pretty good :) Quick cool down and stretch then a shower and finally the main event - breakfast.

I gave Jenny her cake which she left on the table while we went and ordered. We arrived back to find a scrub turkey on top of the table pecking away at all my hard work! I was upset because I'd spent a bit of time and effort on my masterpiece but on closer inspection we found it totally unscathed. The stupid bird had only managed to peck at the candle that had only been added as an after-thought.

And on the topic of creative pursuits, I finished my first Rhythmic Gymnastics costume of the year. It was a marathon effort but I'm satisfied with the end result and thought I'd share it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Soggy Tissues

I need to vent. I've just opened up my washing machine to find a snow storm. That's right, Iven left a tissue in his shorts pocket. Of course it was a 'darks' wash too so every black t-shirt in our house now has a light smattering of shite tissue lint. UGHHHH!!

As a lot of you know, we've just celebrated our 24th anniversary and for 24 years I have tried every trick in the book to make him empty his pockets before dumping his clothes in the laundry basket. I've tried asking nicely, asking not-so-nicely, yelling, crying and making him take the entire load outside with a clothes brush. But Iven isn't a 'details' man and the exercise with the clothes brush was less than satisfying on my behalf. I'm at the point where it's either a divorce or we go back to cloth handkerchiefs - neither of which is really an option.

Don't get me wrong. I do love Iven. Most of the time. But probably not at this moment. We've been married so long now that I know him really well. I know he doesn't mean to leave the tissues in his pocket. I know he's forgetful. And I will forgive him, eventually. He'll be really good for a while and empty his pockets and this will lull me into a false sense of security and then, like today, I will need to vent.

Onto things of the feet - I have new shoes! They are Brooks Glycerin 8 and they're going to make me run really fast (I hope). I got them on Saturday and it's now Monday and I haven't been able to do anything more that try them on. It's been raining and there's no way that I'm going to take my pretty new shoes and run with them in the rain. Unfortunately it looks like it's going to rain for most of the week so their debut run is postponed indefinitely.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An 8 Day Week?

I would like to put my case forward to propose a change. I've decided that a seven day week is just not convenient. An eight day week would suit me much better. The eight day week I propose would be five working days and three days for the weekend. It would mean relocating Public holidays onto one of those weekend days but, because of the global economic crisis, you'll porbably all agree that we can't afford to sacrifice productivity.

The number one reason for this proposed change is that I could fit in four runs a week and still manage a rest day in between each. I've learnt a lot this year and one of the most fundamental training tips that I've learnt is that your training is only as good as your last recovery. Train hard - recover harder. Having so many rest days is working but I'm missing having that fourth run so and eight day week would really suit me.

That's it - my entire argument! I know it's all about ME but, hey, if you don't ask you don't get.

I had another really good run today. It's still way off being fast but it was 12k at 25 degrees and 88% humidity and I felt great at the end.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Two runs so far this week. Two runs that were good runs and two runs that I have recovered well from. Yay!

Tuesday's run was speed and Coach Chris had us doing Gerschler Fartlek. 30sec fast, 90 sec recovery, 30 sec fast, 75 sec recovery ... The fast portions stayed the same but the recovery shortened 15 sec each time till it was 30 sec and the cycle started again. I actually felt quite strong for the run.Today's run was a 16k at a relaxed pace (just under 6 min/k) Again, I felt surprisingly good.

I think I've turned a little corner. I've found my resting heart rate is dropping and my energy levels have definitely increased. Very encouraging signs. I'm not sure what's made the difference - any one of the 7 supplements I'm taking, the four and a half months of reduced training or making a conscious effort to reduce stress in my life - maybe it's a combination of them all. I'm finally thinking that it may be possible to do the 10k/half marathon combo on the Gold Coast Marathon weekend and maybe even make my marathon debut in Melbourne in November.

Fingers crossed that this improvement continues.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Clever One-Liners

I go to my local shopping centre every day. It's probably excessive but, because I work from home, it's a bit of a sanity-saver. I buy a coffee, read the paper, chat with people that I know, do some banking or post a few letters/cheques to creditors.

Yesterday I arrived at the shopping centre, parked in my usual place and walked to the doors. You know the type of door - they see you and they open. Well, they did not see me. I stood at those usually-welcoming doors and they remained belligerently shut. I backed up and walked forward again just in case they'd missed me the first time. Still nothing. Backed up again and repeated - nothing!

Then I did what any self-respecting woman in need of her early morning coffee fix would do. I wedged my fingers between the doors and forced them apart. They were a little reluctant at first I managed to overcome that reluctance with brute-force. I walked through and up a ramp only to be met by a man who had obviously watched the whole performance.

"You're pretty strong" he said in, what I like to imagine were admiring tones.

At this point I should have said something quick and witty - like "Nothing stands in the way of a woman and her coffee" but what I came out with was "Yep." Good response there, Char. Why is it that I always think of the clever one-liners a good ten minutes after they're relevant?