Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Announcing My First Race for 2010

Speed session today! Coach Chris had us running 800m reps - the longest reps I've done since I developed overtraining syndrome. The first two were at 3:31 and 3:33 and by the second I knes the pace was a little fast for me. The final four I did between 3:41 and 3:45 and I was pretty happy with the consistency.

I looked back at some old sessions that I'd done last year just before I ran my 10k PB and I'd run 6 x 800m all between 3:30 and 3:35. So yes I am a bit slower but my first two reps showed that there is a chance that the speed will return.

So on the strength of a couple of good weeks' training sessions I've dared to look ahead to plan my first race this year. My first race will be ... (drum roll please) ... the 5k at Doomben at the beginning of June. It's still a little way off and it's just a short one but it'll give me some idea of how I'm progressing and I'll have time to consolidate the gains that I've made. Plus I have a soft spot for the 5k at Doomben. I've won my age category there twice - picked up a bit of bling and some socks!

So now I'm a little excited!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life Lessons.

I've learnt a few 'life' lessons this week. They were eye-opening and they were things my mother couldn't have told me because they were out of her realm of experience but, as they're quite important I feel I should pass them on.

Life Lesson #1 - One day your young son or daughter may come to you with a form from school. It will be about learning a musical instrument - specifically percussion - and being in the school band. Sign that form at your own risk. There will be much begging and pleading from your apparently musically gifted progeny but you should stop and think about the ramifications before putting pen to paper. Learning percussion can bring a whole world of auditory pain to a family and your neighbours (unless you have a sound-proof room).

Life Lesson #2 - If you do happen to weaken under the weight of parental guilt and off-spring nagging, DO NOT under any circumstances buy them a drum kit. DO NOT allow any well-meaning (and slightly sadistic) relative to give them a drum kit. DO NOT hire a drum kit. Make your house a drum kit-free zone. Iven and I made the grave error of allowing Luke to buy his own kit and we even foolishly contributed to the cost. LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE!!

Life Lesson #3 - If you have ignored Life Lessons #1 and 2 you will inevitably be forced to confront this one. If your son is a percussionist and owns a drum kit he WILL become a member of a rock band. And because you own a drum kit and it is not easily transportable like guitars and amps, your home WILL become the official practice venue for said rock band. And if you thought you were unpopular with your neighbours before, you will soon reach a state of unpopularity you never thought possible. The rock band will play cover versions of AC-DC hits at decibels high enough to be mistaken for minor earth-tremors and may even cause Tsunami alerts to be issued. There will be very limited amounts of musical talent in the group with the exception of your child, who is an obvious musical genius.

Life Lesson #4 - We only get our kids for a short time. Sometimes it feels like forever when they're going through a particularly unpleasant phase (like the artistic phase when they painted their cots with a poo-collage, or the literary phase when they cried every day before school because they couldn't read their word list). But all too soon they're making their own decisions, running their own lives and being what we always dreamed for them - independent, functional, contributing members of society who we're enormously proud of. And then we wonder where all the time went.

But being that today was the first practice session of Luke's rock band I'm really looking forward to the time I can look back fondly on his musical phase.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A No-Show and Orange Ice-Blocks

I woke up a little excited today. I had a 16k run planned (something to look forward to after my awesome run on Thursday) followed by breakfast at our favourite cafe, followed by a visit from our friendly neighbourhood kitchen designer. That's right - after 23 years we are treating ourselves to a new kitchen!!

The designer was due to arrive at 10 so Iven and I hurriedly tidied our sad old kitchen so we wouldn't be shamed like I was when I had the oven-fixer guy over. 10 o'clock came and went. Than before we knew it , it was 11. I decided to put on a batch of m&m choc chunk cookies to try to entice him/her but our kitchen designer was a no-show. No phone call to explain why - just a non-appearance and I'm a little deflated. I will not be going to bed tonight dreaming of the amazing new kitchen that was designed just for us. Nor will I be discussing/arguing colour combinations with Iven.

So to make myself feel a little better I thought I'd treat myself to an ice-block. I always keep a multi-pack of water-based ice-blocks in the freezer. They come in an assortment of flavours and the only one I'm not so partial to is the orange one. But I always do the lucky dip and eat whichever I pull out. So what do I choose? Of course it had to be the orange one! Just wasn't my day.

But on the bright side, my run was fantastic again. It was a nice flat 16k along the Brisbane River into the city. I'd run the same route five weeks ago but today I ran it four minutes faster and it seemed so much easier. I even allowed myself to push up the speed over the last three k to bring it home strong. Rest day tomorrow, a slow 10k on Monday then we'll see how I go at Speed on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Endomorphin High.

I had the BEST run yesterday. It was over my favourite route which runs past a golf course then along the Brisbane River and throught the University of Queensland. The golf was covered with fog and the River was like a mirror. there were runners, walkers, cyclists, golfers and rowers out doing their thing and it was only 5:30 in the morning. It was cooler than it has been for a while and, thankfully, not raining.

But they were not the reasons that it was the BEST run. It was the BEST run because I felt like I could run again. I could speed up and my HR would go up but when I slowed down it went down (it hasn't been doing that). My legs felt strong all the way to the end. I had a runner's high that lasted all day. I felt like a drug addict who'd been given a shot of her favourite recreational drug.

My name is Charmaine and I'm an endomorpho-junkie!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Timing is Everything

We got our land valuation notice yesterday. For those who have no idea what a land valuation notice is I will explain. It is an innocent-looking piece of paper sent by the local city council to tell you how much they believe your land is worth. The naive amongst us (namely me the first time I ever received one of these notices) will get a little excited to see the big numbers printed boldly on the paper. But the excitement only lasts until you realise that the whole thing is an evil plan for the council to tax you more money.

Yesterday we found out that the value of our land has gone up $125000 in the last year. A baffling number that I was sure some valuer had plucked out of the air ... that is until I realised that said valuer had probably been around in person to our magnificent house (and I say that with as much sarcasm as I can muster) while we had our lovely water feature. In all honesty, he would have had to come around for the short while when we had not only the front-yard pond/moat PLUS the gorgeous water fountain that was courtesy of the broken water pipe. I do believe that he should come back and revalue the property now that the pond has disappeared to be replaced by a muddy quagmire which is only attractive to mosquitoes. Honestly, timing is everything!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Changing It Up

Just a quick post today. I've decided to tinker with my running schedule in the hopes of maximising my recovery. Trying to run 3 days in a row just wasn't working for me. I'd do speed on Tuesday, have a 10k moderately paced run on Wednesday then try to do an interval run on Thursday. I was getting to Thursday and being too tired to run or just running slowly - as I said, just not working for me.

With three of my days unable to be changed (Tuesday's speed, Thursday's group run and Saturday's long slow run) I was really only left with one alternative - Monday. Monday has a couple of things going for it. It's just after Sunday which I've had as a rest day and have usually slept in AND had a little nap. It's the beginning of the week so I'm always a little more keen to do things. And I'll only have to do two days in a row - after speed session (which is pretty intense) I get a day off.

This is my first week on my changed schedule but it's looking promising. I had a good run yesterday keeping my HR under control and backed up with a pretty good speed session today. We did almost exactly the same session as last week so I could compare times / HR's etc. Last week I did 10 X 400 m with 100m recovery at around 1:44. This week I did 12 X 400m, same recovery at around 1:45. My HR was marginally higher today but it was hotter and I ran more reps. I'm hoping that this change will be a winner.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I am a Runner

I have been running on and off for years. It started second year uni when my good friend Chris and I decided to get into shape (she had a boyfriend who was a runner - say no more) I ran until I was 5 months pregnant with Sam and had to stop because of hypertension. I gymed it for the next few years until I got too bored with being inside and decided I needed a challenge. I think I was 32 when my sister and I decided that we should train for a half marathon and for a couple of years I caught the bug again. Then having young kids, school, sport and running a business intervened and it was back to the gym interspersed with long walks with my dog.

All through this time I never considered myself a runner. Of course I ran but giving myself that title seemed too pretentious. Real runners ran most days of the week and racked up many kilometers. When I started running again about a decade ago I still didn't consider myself a real runner. I was running about 4 times and 30k a week. It really wasn't until I joined a running group that I finally allowed myself to own the label runner. I think that being around people who thought of themselves as runners, no matter how fast or how slow they ran, finally gave me that freedom. And now, having a running injury/condition, no-one can dispute what I am.

I am a runner!

When did you finally label yourself as a runner? Or are you not there yet?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recovery is Training Too

I am experiencing very unwanted ramifications of thinking that I was better than I really was. On Saturday I had a huge day (thank you everyone for your birthday wishes) including an unexpected 19k run that was supposed to be 16k. I'd completed a 17.5k the week before with no nasty side-effects so I thought I'd be fine. Wrong!!

It's now Wednesday and I'm still tired. I did do speed yesterday, but I was a bit slower and cautious. I felt obliged to go because the girls were doing a special birthday breakfast for me after the session. By last night I just wanted to curl up into a little ball in my bed and sleep for 15 hours. This morning I'm feelling a bit better but the fatigue in my back is still there (I seem to have a spot between my shoulder-blades that holds a lot of tension) and I'm a little nauseated. So I'm taking tomorrow off and and doing a short run on Saturday if I'm up to it. I will be sensible even though my head wants to ignore what my body's telling it.

I was talking to Jenny (running friend) yesterday about injuries and OTS and we both agreed that the frustration comes from not being able to JUST DO IT (apologies to Nike) When I feel tired I'm always wondering if this is just normal tired or OTS tired. If I'm a bit sick - do I have a virus or OTS. I'm constantly monitoring how I'm feeling and it makes me feel like a hypochondriac. I'm so used to saying that I can do it that it's hard and humbling to admit that I can't. I'm sure this is character-building and I will come out a much better person. So my attitude for the rest of the week is that I am training hard - recovery is training too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I am injured.Luckily it's not an injury that will affect my running in any way, shape or form but none-the-less I have some pain. It's actually my thumb and it's a pathetic injury that was caused by my oven self-destructing a couple of weeks ago.

The sequence of events goes like this:
#1 Oven breaks
#2 I call to get a repairman to come.
#3 Wait a week and a half
#4 Repairman arrives and I feel the shame of having a totally disgustingly filthy oven (It was similar to the shame I felt when I went to see if the lump in my breast was cancer or not - it wasn't - and when I lifted up my arm for the doctor to palpate lymphnodes I realised that I hadn't shaved the pits for a while) BTW he was lovely about the filthy oven, ignoring it to a point but having to use dishwashing detergent to get rid of the grease on his hands.
#5 Guilt starts to eat away at me.
#6 Buy oven-cleaning product which promises to eat away at my skin if I accidently spray it on myself.
#7 Finally get around to using said oven-cleaner and in the process of scouring the oven racks manage to scour off most of the skin on my right thumb.

It is truly a pathetic injury but I've decided that, seeing as it was the first time I'd ever cleaned my or anyone-else's oven and I got injured that oven cleaning is obviously a dangerous activity and I will not do it again. I will live with the shame of a filthy oven or buy a new one when it becomes too disgusting for words. Running is a much safer activity. I've really only had one injury - sore knee caused by a tight ITB - but I've had it a couple of times. So no oven-cleaning for me - I'll be sticking to running.

PS - That is NOT my thumb.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It was a very Happy Birthday

Thank you all for your wishes.I had such a lovely birthday. It started exteremely early - quarter to five I was out of bed trying to find a banana that wasn't on the too-brown side. No success there so I went with the white bread and honey option. By five thirty I was running with a group of bleary-eyed people and chatting away as the sun was rising.

We did one of my favourite loops which involves heading in the opposite direction to where we usually go, over the Brisbane River, through the brand new tennis centre and along the river on the other side, back over a bridge at the University of Queensland and then back to our starting point. Coach Chris had said it'd be 16 or 17 k but it ended up being 19!! It was the longest run I've done since OTS set in. I was running with Peter G who had just turned 60 on Wed and wasn't sure where to go - I'd promised to stay with him to the Queensland Uni because he knew the way back from there. This meant that I had to slow right down a few times to wait for him to catch me up. Sometimes I think that running slow is harder than running at your natural pace. I was pretty tired by the end and really glad to be finished.

The run was followed with breakfast with the family - all my siblings bar one made it and that was a nice surprise. Three of my sisters had bought me clothes as a present. They have so much better taste than me and the clothes are great! My other sister gave me a cupcake carrier so I'll be able to make and decorate cupcakes and take them places with no fear of them getting crushed.

I had a couple of hours at home then headed out to the season launch of the running squad where I was given lots of love from my fellow runners. Then it was home and dinner with my friend Natalie and my boys, Teresa (Josh's girlfriend), Mum, Dad, one of my sisters and my little bro. I was shattered by the time I got home. It was a huge day but I'd been made to feel so special and appreciated. Pity that birthdays don't come around more than once a year!

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Year's Resolutions.

It's the eve of my 47th birthday and since eves are the time to make resolutions I thought I'd make some tonight.

#1 I will run my first marathon in the next 12 months. The plan is to run the Melbourne Marathon in October. Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in Australia. It is very cosmopolitan, has great food and you honestly can't get a bad coffee there plus it was where I ran my half marathon PB in 2008. After this week and the good runs that I've had I'm feeling like this plan can actually happen.

#2 I will try to stop being negative about some people in my life. We've had a really tough year with my parents and I was really supportive to begin with but that's been a little less so in the last couple of months. I'm needing to turn my attitude around.

#3 I will push my limits a bit more. I have a tendency to stay totally in my comfort zone and shy away from things I think might be too hard. This year I'm going to try to say yes especially if I don't want to.

I've got a busy day planned for tomorrow. An 18k run with the group. Breakfast with my family. A fashion parade and launch of the Galeforce running squad season. A walk with my friend Natalie followed by dinner with her and my boys.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Incidental Water Features

I'm feeling a little guilty because I should be downstairs sewing up a storm but instead I'm sitting here posting. I can justify it because it's my birthday on Saturday and you shouldn't have to work so hard for at least a week before your birthday so you can arrive on the day feeling fresh (pathetic excuse but it's all I've got)

We found out the real source of the new water feature in the front yard. It wasn't the torrential rain. It was a leak in the pipe going to our house but it was cleverly disguised by the torrential rain so we didn't realise for a week (This quarter's water bill is going to be ugly) Actually, the only reason that we realised was because of the pretty fountain that had appeared in front of the house. Seven pm last night you could find me outside in my pj's holding a torch for Iven who was having a great time digging in the mud. He's a useful man to have in a plumbing emergency. All's well now and the water pressure to the house has improved miraculously.

Running was fantastic today. It was the best speed session I've had in at least five months. I felt strong and ran strong and looking at my HR data, I can see that my recovery between reps is very much improved. Follow a good session with breakfast in good company and I'm a very happy camper.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

RIP Oven. You have served me well.

This has to be quick - work has gone mad and I'm constantly trying to catch up.

My oven has died. This is a major disaster for someone who spends a good portion of every weekend baking for my starving children. (their words, not mine) It was particularly hard to not bake this weekend because it was raining, AGAIN!, and there's nothing nicer than filling the house with the smell of baking on a wet day. (So much better that the strange smell of cat wee that seeps up from under our house when it gets damp) Baking also eliminates the frantic search for morning teas for the entire next week. So instead of baking I was reduced to no-bake recipes. Today's morning tea is Mars Bar Slice - not as decadent as caramel mud cupcakes - but beggars can't be choosers.

My running aim for this week is to get four sessions done. I have speed tomorrow, a
10k on Wed, an 8 on Thurs and between a 12 and 16k on Saturday. Fingers crossed that it all goes well.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How Quickly We Forget

Pre-OTS I used to run a hill session every Thursday with the running group. I haven't done any hills since October and how quickly my legs have forgotten how to run them. This last Thursday was Coach Chris's birthday and I had to get his birthday cake to him so I decided to go to hills, deliver the cake and then go off on my own on the flatter stretch of Mt Coot-tha. I would like to say with my new-found familiarity with said flatter stretch, that there are NO flatter stretches on Mt Coot-tha. There are only hills - up-hills and down-hills of all lengths and gradients.

I managed to run 10k and felt pretty good but within only a few hours I could feel that special feeling that only intense workouts bring - DOMS (except there wasn't much delay in the onset of the muscle soreness)

When I woke up Friday I could really feel the love. (Who said that love doesn't hurt?) And again today on my LSD run the memory remained. But the good news is that I managed both Thursday's and today's runs keeping my HR at a respectable level and not feeling like throwing up for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Going Commando

It's been raining all week - not torrential rain but good solid, soaking rain that's filling our dams and my front yard. (I always thought that a moat would be a nice water feature. Now all I need is a couple of swans)

But despite the rain our speed session was on yesterday morning. Chris texted us the day before to let us know that it WOULD NOT be cancelled. So there was really no excuse for not turning up - except for being a total wuss. I am not a total wuss. I am totally hard-core. I, and 14 other hardy souls, arrived in the pouring rain wearing our oldest shoes (so we can keep our good shoes good).

Chris was kind and scheduled the session on the road so we weren't having to run through puddles. It didn't make a lot of difference though. Five minutes into the session and the shoes were weighing at least a kilo more that five minutes before.

There's something about running in the rain that releases the inner child. I had a blast. We ran intervals of 30 secs, 45 secs and 60 secs. We even had spectators! A family of ducks came to watch the stupid humans run round and round in circles.

Afterwards I went off to the athletics track to shower and it was there that I discovered that I'd totally forgotten to put any underwear in my bag when I'd packed it the previous night. No bra! No knickers! It was a dilemma. I didn't have time to drive back home before meeting Jenny for breakfast so my options were to wear the sodden, dripping ones I'd taken off or to liberate my inner hippy and go commando. I chose option #2 and I can tell you now that I did NOT feel liberated. I felt very self-conscious and very grateful that I'd put in a jacket just in case I was cold.