Saturday, July 31, 2010

Emotional Phantom Pains

Something strange happens to a woman when they become pregnant. They start growing another individual in their body but somehow their body doesn't recognise this individual as a unique entity. It doesn't try to reject the foetus. It sees it as a part of itself. At birth the one entity becomes two but, although the umbilical cord has been cut, there is always going to be a bond.

This week I felt this bond really strongly to my second-born. A few months ago I blogged about how he'd broken up with his girlfriend of over 3 years and how he was struggling. The struggle has continued with up and down days but this week the downs were devastatingly low. It came to a head on Thursday and I ended up taking him to the doctor. He's now on anti-depressants and will be seeing a counsellor.

My body's reaction to this was instantaneous. It was like his pain was my pain and it made me think of the phantom pains that amputees get. It was an emotional phantom pain.

Seeing the doctor was wonderful. She was really supportive and made both Josh and I optimistic that she could make a plan to help. For me it was knowing that I was sharing the burden with someone else that really made a difference.

My week hasn't been all hard, though. Work has gone really well and I've taken the plunge and registered for the Melbourne Marathon plus I had a really good 16k run yesterday. I'm just having to focus on the positives at the moment and we'll all get through in the end.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happily-Ever-After Until Retirement

I don't know if it's just me but sometimes I just need to be alone. All alone in my house without anyone to interrupt my thoughts (or my reading or snoozing). I've always been like this and I expect that I'll always be like this and it's no big deal EXCEPT when I can't get my alone time. And now is one of those times. It's been almost 5 weeks!!!! And I'm totally overdue.

We've had two weeks of school holidays. Follow that with two weeks when my hubby was on holidays (overseeing the kitchen installation). Now I've got my youngest at home with the flu (No it's not man-flu. It's the real thing) Couple that with my oldest's erratic working hours and the middle one being back at uni - again erratic hours - and there always seems to be someone else in the house.

Iven's two weeks off work was the hardest and it's times like these that make me scared of retirement. Seriously, that man knows how to be underfoot. When I turned around he seemed to always be there. The worst was at the supermarket. He wants to push the trolley to help. Makes me wonder how I manage to cope all those other 50 weeks in the year. He runs the trolley into my heels and walks backwards into people and somehow we always seem to spend more. It's nice that he wants to spend the time with me but it'd be so much easier if he could read my mind.

Luckily retirement is still some time off but I'm thinking that I need a plan of action for when that time comes. Firstly I think that full retirement shouldn't happen in one go. He can go from working a 5 day to a 3 day week so we can get used to being in the same house together more often. Then on those 2 days off I'm hoping that he develops a hobby which he is passionate about so when the time comes to stop work all together he will have plenty of things to do to fill his time so he never has to come to the shops with me.

I know this makes me sound like a bit of a shrew. I do love him and enjoy his company but having coffee together is so much more edifying to our relationship than selecting groceries together. And managing the negative sides of the relationship well will mean a much happier happily-ever-after.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Able To Leap Tall Buildings

Life's pretty funny. One day you're feeling indecisive and unsure. The next you're flying high, feeling ten foot tall and bullet proof ( Sort of sounds like bipolar doesn't it?!)

I ran the 10k at Park to Park in Ipswich this morning. I'm NOT a fan of the route there. It's a 5k loop with four major climbs and a few smaller ones. It starts with 100m which is flat and then straight up a long slow hill, then down, then up, down, up...

I've only ever done the 5k there because of the hills so I left home this morning knowing that it wasn't going to be a quick run and it wasn't going to be pretty. It's a small event. Less than 1500 competitors over 4 races. But it's really well-run and has a heap of support from the local community. It even attracts elite runners from Tanzania who are in Australia in the lead up to the City to Surf in Sydney.

Quite a few of the squad were there and we all started off together. That didn't last long and I was left looking at my friends' butts as they pushed hard up the first hill. I hit the first k marker at 5:06 which wasn't too bad considering I wanted to run a measured race. The next k had more downs than ups and I hit 2k in 4:50 then it was up again but my legs were on a roll and 3k passed in 4:48. The fourth and fifth ks were remarkably consistent at 4:49 and 4:51. I ran through the finish chute at 24:24.

It was hurting now and I knew that the second loop was going to get ugly. I didn't dare look at my HR - I knew it'd be in the stratosphere somewhere. Up that first hill again and I'd slowed a lot. The 6k marker seemed so far away. It was my slowest split - 5:16. Then the down-hill reprieve to 7k - 4:55. Then up hill again. My shoe was feeling a little loose so I looked down only to see my laces flapping around. There was a few seconds of internal debate. Tie it and lose time or leave it and risk falling over. I chose safety over time and lost at least 5 seconds fumbling around with uncoordinated fingers. Hit 8k in 5:13, 9k in 5:10 then it was all down-hill to the finish line. I stopped my watch with a final k of 4:36 - flying! My total time - 49:47. Woohoo! A sub-50 run was way better than I'd expected and after checking the results I finished third in my category and tenth woman over-all.

I'm feeling much more positive about Melbourne now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Decisions, Decisions!!

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned much about running lately. That's not because I haven't done any. I've been following my plan religiously. But lately I've had a crisis of confidence about my running ability. It took me longer than I expected to recover from Gold Coast which has made me question all my plans for the rest of the year - mostly my ability to train for the Melbourne marathon.

My plans for the second half of 2010 aren't really too involved - the Sydney Half (with Josh) in September, the Melbourne Marathon in October then the 500k relay and maybe a 50k (2 X 25k) relay in December. The Sydney Half is non-negotiable. I've totally committed to it (well, I've entered but haven't yet booked flights or accommodation) but I've got to decide about Melbourne in the next 7 days to get the discounted entry fee (I do love a bargain) Some days I'm absolutely determined that I'll do it and other days the thought of it scares the s#%@ out of me. I am a mess of indecision.

One good thing though - if I do register for the full and then decide it's beyond me this year I can downgrade to the half (if the race hasn't filled up) That's a big tick on the pro side. The other thing in it's favour is that Melbourne has to be one of my favourite places and even if I pull out of the run at the last moment I can still enjoy a mini-vacation. On the negative side - September, when the training will be at its heaviest, is one of the busiest times for work making dance costumes for the end-of-year concerts and this being the first year by myself I'm not quite sure how that's going to pan out.

Tomorrow I'm racing again - a 10k on a horribly hilly route. I'm using the word 'racing' very loosely here. Participating is probably more accurate. The race is one of Coach Chris's babies and he gave me a free entry so I'm doing it to support him. A lot of the squad are participating so it should be a bit of fun. And to fuel for this 'race' I'm spending the evening with my family celebrating my Dad's 70th birthday. Happy Birthday Dad!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Birthday Gift From the Girls

It's my baby's birthday today - my first baby. He turned 23 today so he's a pretty big baby. It was a working day so he was at work at 6:00 am and seeing as I was running up a mountain at that time I didn't even see him before he left home. But I'd prepared well for his birthday. I'd made him a giant chocolate cupcake and surrounded it with mini white chocolate mud cupcakes and, after dropping Luke off to catch the ferry to school, Iven and I dropped into his work. We were in luck. The place had quite a few clients who burst into the Happy Birthday song as soon as they saw the cake.

It wasn't only me who made a special effort for Sam's birthday - the girls got really busy and produced something amazing and spectacular. I promise you that this is how I took the egg from the nest.

Thoughtful hens, aren't they?!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Work in Progress

By popular demand I've decided to post interim pictures of the new kitchen. Just remember we still have the tiles, painting and floor to do.

I've spent a lot of today in my new space and I'm loving its workability and the extra bench space. I could bake on one side of the kitchen while one of the boys cooked breakfast over the other and we didn't get in each others way. And I'm getting to know my new oven on quite an intimate level and I'm liking her. (yes - I've given her a gender but not a name. That would just be weird) So far she'd turned out vanilla cupcakes (my first effort that didn't work so well because I hadn't read the instructions for the oven), caramel slice and date and white chocolate scones.

This week has been a little weird as far as running's been concerned. On Tuesday I went to speed session as usual but struggled a little and afterwards I became really nauseated. It freaked me out - felt like overtraining syndrome all over again. I emailed Coach Chris and alerted him about it so he modified my program. Thursday I ditched hills (too intense a session) and just went for a run where my only aim was to keep my HR low. I felt good afterwards - yay! Then Saturday I did a 15k run with the group despite only getting 4 hrs sleep the night before and again I felt good during and after the run. I felt even better after I had a nap in the afternoon.

So why did I feel so bad on Tuesday? Maybe my Gold Coast weekend took more out of me than I'd expected but I did rest most of the week after. Last weekend was pretty tiring having to unpack the entire kitchen. And having our house full of workmen was a bit unsettling. Maybe it was just the accumulation of everything. It's made me so aware that OTS can come back at any stage if I'm not vigilant and sometimes I just have to pull back on training of there are a lot of things happening in my life.

But today I'm feeling good again. I've had a restful weekend and I'm loking froward to a good week of training.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's Been a Big Week!

This week has been manic. Seven am Monday morning a whole posse of young men arrive at our doorstep bearing hammers. By eight-thirty the kitchen was gone! It's good to see all that pent-up testosterone being channeled into productive activity. The noise was incredible and, quite frankly, I'd had enough of it by seven-thirty so as soon as I could I had gone leaving hubby in charge.

My wonderful older sister had decided to look after us while we had no kitchen and lent me her slow-cooker complete with a meal. All I had to do was plug it in and turn on the power point and we'd have beautiful lamb shanks for dinner. It was great in theory but in practice - well it didn't quite go to plan. I kept coming up from work to check on their progress and they didn't actually seem to be progressing. By four pm I decided to investigate further - our kitchen installers had SWITCHED OFF the power point. UGHHHH!!! All of a sudden we went from having a beautiful meal to having nothing and I was having to come up with a meal from scratch. I managed but it wasn't pretty.

Day two - the workmen were there at the crack of dawn again but I had left before the crack of dawn for speed session. By the time I got home they had decided that if they worked really hard they would have it finished by the afternoon. Yay! They worked super-hard and were out of our house by four. The whole kitchen installation took about twelve hours. Incredible!!! By four-thirty I was trying to unpack about thirty boxes of kitchen wares. And by eight-thirty I'd had enough and left the rest to do later.

So my kitchen is now looking pretty good. BUT now we need to do some other work - paint the walls, tile the splash-back and put in a new floor. SO I'm not going to put any pics of it up yet.

With all of this extra work I've been a bit more tired than usual. Tuesday's speed session was hard and I felt nauseated at the end. Then I started freaking out about overtraining syndrome again. So I decided not to go to hills and just did a low-intensity 12 k instead. Still pretty tired tonight so I'll keep the intensity down and rest up until I'm feeling good again.

My middle boy Josh, who's agreed to run the Sydney half with me has started his training. He ran Sunday, Wednesday and again tonight and has managed at least 10k each outing. I've lent him my Garmin tonight so he can get some feel for his pace and distance. He's really excited about his training and has roped one of his mates into running with him and maybe even running Sydney. My evil plan of spreading this running epidemic seems to be working. (cue evil laugh)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yesterday I was in a whole world of shame. I had to endure the most humiliating experience - emptying out my entire kitchen with my mother. Don't get me wrong - I don't keep my pornography collection or my illicit drug supply in my kitchen cupboards. It's just the usual stuff. Food, pots, pans, electrical equipment, cutlery and crockery. Things that shouldn't bring me shame. The shame was the state that those cupboards were in.

I am not big on spring cleaning. Occasionally I'm moved to clean the odd cupboard, but I will stress the word occasionally. I've probably managed a good deep clean maybe four or five times since we've been in this house and we're coming up to 24 years here. So you can pretty much guess the condition that my cupboards were in. I started on the high cupboards because Mum is a little height-challenged. Mum started in the pantry. I'm sure she was secretly horrified about how many products were out of date. I think the most out of date thing was 5 years. (Ooops!!) But she restrained herself from gasping out loud or breaking down sobbing at where she'd gone wrong as a mother. She just discreetly pulled out a garbage bag and started tossing stuff. It'll make filling up our new pantry a lot easier.

When she finished the pantry she moved on to the pots and pans and discovered that I'm anti-cockroach-spraying. She managed to fill half a dustpan with bits and pieces from many dead roaches - a few wings, lots of legs and sometimes entire corpses that had died peacefully of old age.

It took about 4 hours but our kitchen is now empty and ready to be dismantled tomorrow. The oven is currently cooking its last ever batch of cookies and brownies and next week I'll be cooking in a shiny new one and washing our plates in our first-ever dishwasher.

Our lounge room has been temporarily converted into an open-plan pantry. It will be an interesting and creative week of food preparation. But I'm up to the challenge - and to make it all the more interesting this week marks week one of marathon training. Will I come out of all of this with my sanity? Keep watching this space.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In Search

I've been recovering this week. Except for Tuesday when I did a speed session. Probably not the smartest thing to do after my weekend of running. I was a bit sore (left hamstring, both adducters and a little muscle in my left arm that I think was from carrying my empty gel wrapper a couple of k to the nearest water stop and bin) and a lot tired. And I stupidly thought that Coach Chris would go easy on us. I've been regretting my diligence ever since and am doing no running at all until at least next Tuesday.

So since I can't run I've had to shift focus to the other love of my life. No, that's not my husband (although he deserves big kudos for being such a great support last weekend) And it's not my boys. Or the dogs. Or even the chooks. It's coffee!!

Last week I mentioned that my usual coffee shop was closing. This week it's shut! I walked past its empty lifeless corpse on Monday and had a moment's silence. Never more will I quench my thirst with its wonderful elixir. I am desolate! And I am also in search of a new coffee shop. So far this week I've tried two. The first has an inconvenient location, but the price was right, the service efficient and the coffee was good. The second was way more convenient, way more busy, way more expensive and had way worse coffee. So do I go for convenience over flavour - hell no!! Contestant number one definitely has my vote. I think I've found my new place.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two Races, Two T-Shirts, Two Medals

It was always going to be a big weekend. Two races in two days plus lots of cheering and catching up with friends. I'm knackered!

We set off on Friday afternoon at 4 pm to drive the one hour trip to the Gold Coast. We'd thought that it'd be early enough to miss peak hour traffic. Not so! We hit it big time and the one hour trip took two. We were almost at the unit when I asked Iven to get the keys out of my bag. He couldn't find the bag. I pulled over so I could have a look - no bag! I'd left it complete with my wallet, phone and, of course, the keys to the unit back in Brisbane. Ughhh! All we could do was turn the car around and drive back home. Four and a half hours after leaving home originally we arrived - not a great start.

I've been a bit nervous about doing the double for most of the week. And I was especially nervous about the half after having such an awful run in Sydney last September. I'd decided to be very conservative in the 10k. Well I wasn't as disciplined as I'd intended. Instead of running a steady 55 mins I finished in 51. It wasn't a hard run by any stretch of the imagination but I was still thinking of the 21.1 that I had to run in less than 24 hrs. And I was still terribly nervous. I'd felt sick in the stomach before the race ... and after the race ... and while I was eating breakfast ... and for the rest of the afternoon. It made refueling a bit of an issue. I also hadn't slept well on Friday night and again Saturday.

So I was really surprised that I woke up today feeling okay - not nervous or anxious, just happy to be at last able to get out and do it. I got to the event precinct about 50 mins before we were due to run. then spent the next 30 mins trying to find a toilet that had a smallish queue. No luck there! There were plenty of toilets but huge queues. In the end I decided that I didn't really need to go.

A couple of my running friends and I decided to run in the 1:50 - 2:00 hr group. Big mistake! At a run that's has a lot of rookie runners it's probably better to underestimate your time. I spent 10k dodging and weaving around people who were much slower than me. My splits for the first 10k range from 5:22 to 6:05. After the 11k marker things improved a little and I was feeling pretty good so I ramped the speed up a little - the range for this 10k was between 5:02 and 5:10. My finishing time was 1:52 and I'm not disappointed at all. It was controlled and comfortable and a real confidence boost plus I actually got to enjoy the run.

Usually I don't remember much that happened during a race but because I was so relaxed I have a few interesting bits to share. For a while I was running behind a woman who'd had a wardrobe malfunction (I'm hoping it was a wardrobe malfunction)She was in her mid-50's and had a great tan but her shorts had ridden up to reveal at least four inches of tanned but wrinkled cheek on each side. I also got to run near someone who'd had a Code Brown - I ran past them as quickly as possible. Then there was the golden retriever who was guarding his front yard and didn't really know what to do about the 6000 runners who were potential threats to his property. The poor thing had given up barking and was just whining mournfully.

I think I'm so happy with my races because just a few months ago I couldn't run much more than 10k - let alone with any speed. And even though it wasn't a PB or even close I'm thrilled that I'm able to start trusting my body again.

So this week will be a recovery week - just two sessions and the weekend off. And next week marathon training will start. I'm excited.