Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vanity and Impatience

Is it just me or are we all just a little vain? I spent an hour yesterday watching a telecast of the Melbourne Marathon. And part of the reason that I gave up my Sunday nap time was because there was the smallest chance that I might catch sight of myself. Silly, really - there was very little chance of that happening. It was only an hour telecast and there were 20 000 plus competitors in all the events. But I did see two members of our squad and that made the missed nap worthwhile.

It was quite fun reliving the whole thing. The telecast showed a lot of the course and I found myself wondering if I'd missed parts of the course because they looked so unfamiliar. I guess there are just so many things to see over the course of 4 hours that you can't possibly remember them all. But watching it made it all very clear in my mind. I DO want to do it again. And it's made me impatient - impatient to be back to a training program again instead of a recovery one, impatient to be feeling strong again at training and impatient to find my next event.

Luckily I've still got lots to keep me occupied at the moment. With Luke winding up school very shortly, we've had a lot of extra events to attend. Just last week he had a music competition (Sun), a percussion soiree (Mon), Speech Night (Wed), and Music Dinner (Fri). All this while preparing for exams and completing assignments! And all the extra running around for us taking him and picking him up and being an appreciative audience. Nearly all these events are because of his involvement in the music program but all the time that he's dedicated was recognized at the music dinner when he was awarded a trophy for Percussionist of the Year! Congratulations Luke!!

The other thing I've been spending time on is trials for my sister's upcoming wedding cake. I've been experimenting with different flavoured cupcakes and frostings and with decorating techniques. Luckily I have plenty of willing guinea pigs who are happy to give me feedback on my creations. I haven't decided on the final design but that decision isn't fully mine - I guess Lucy needs to have a little say in the matter.

But all these things are second-choice distractions to the main event. I want to be really running again and I want it now! If patience is a virtue, then I'm not virtuous.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cold Showers and Sleepless Nights

How little sleep is it possible to survive on? That's the question of the week for my #2 son Josh. Josh is less than 3 weeks from finishing his degree in electrical engineering and it's just now that he's realised that he might have been a little relaxed in keeping on top of his assignments this semester. So far this week he's spent 3 full nights at university trying to complete his work. My friend Jenny, who's a uni lecturer, has assured me that most kids do it but the work that seemed brilliant at 2:00 am may not actually be that great. Personally I don't care what grades he gets as long as he passes and can graduate.

He did come home this morning briefly so I could see that he was still alive ... and to eat and have a shower. Poor Josh has been away so much this week that he didn't know that we're in the process of changing over our hot water system from the I-don't-know-how-old-but-it's-been-at-the-house-longer-than-we-have electrical system to a new solar system. They started the installation on Wednesday but ran out of day, came back on Thursday but were stopped by a huge electrical storm and are finishing today. Unfortunately they disconnected our old system yesterday afternoon which meant cold showers this morning. On the plus side I'm sure that gave Josh a bit of a wake-up. I'm just grateful that it's nice and warm at the moment.

While I'm in recovery, I've decided to try and be a bit more diligent about strength training. I'm particularly working on core strength because I know it's such an important area for runners. Sam has written me a program and I'm trying to do it 3 times a week. Lots of planks, crunches, bicycle crunches and stuff I don't even know the names of. And I've rekindled my love affair with push-ups. I must have the weakest upper body in the history of womankind. I can manage 10 push-ups from my toes but, let's face it, when you're hardly bending your elbows at all. My theory is that I'm weak because my arms are so long - it's to do with physics and lever length to power ratios. But if I'm diligent maybe one day I'll be able to almost touch my nose to the floor in a controlled manner (ie not just do a big face-plant)

Ten relaxed kilometers for me in the morning followed by a HOT shower. Have a good weekend everybody.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It Lives

There was quiet, restrained rejoicing in my house today. My phone has been resurrected. I took it from its little plastic coffin, put in the SIM card and powered it up. The screen lit up and when I used it all the appropriate noises had returned. I texted my son to phone me and I could hear him when I answered the phone. Hooray, my love affair with my phone can continue. Thank you all for your get well wishes - I'm sure they made all the difference.

Run #3 post-marathon happened yesterday. I'm starting to feel the love again. It seemed easier than last week and my endurance was definitely better. The plan for the rest of the week is a comfortable, relaxed 10k tomorrow and the same for Saturday.

This last paragraph is not for the weak of stomach. I just felt the need to say how different it is living in a chiefly testosterone-filled environment compared to the overly-oestrogenised one I grew up in. I have four sisters and three sons. Yesterday I was sent a text from son #1 and to say it was an over-share is not an exaggeration. He had picture-messaged me - our toilet and what hadn't been flushed. Thanks for that Sam! That would never have happened with any of my sisters. I think I've failed in the class, style and restraint aspect of their upbringing or maybe its just that boys will always be boys and will always find bodily functions amusing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tired Legs and Clumsy Fingers

After a very enjoyable/well-earned/guilt-free week off after the marathon, I finally got a couple of runs in last week. The first was speed on Tuesday. Yes, I know speed is an odd choice for a first run back but speed doesn't actually have to be speedy (and it wasn't) and speed has the majority of squad members present and therefore the best opportunity to tell marathon tales of glory (or not). Plus I get to meet up with Jenny after for breakfast.

I had thought I was recovering really well up until that first run. Huh!!! All those books and articles that say recovery takes a good eight weeks are right. Go figure! I could feel how much extra effort I was having to use to run at a moderate pace. I could feel that marathon in my legs. So I eased right back and decided to enjoy my month of recovery runs.

My second run was a long, slow 10k on Saturday and once again I could feel how fatigued my body is. I'm really aware that I'm in the danger zone of overtraining at the moment so getting this recovery right means that my next year of running will be much more pleasant and productive.

And totally onto a different subject - I did a very stupid thing last Friday night. I managed to drop my iPhone (which I am totally addicted to) into a sink of dishwater. Disaster!! Actually I thought that it was going to be fine because it was still working straight after but the next day I realised that I couldn't hear anyone who called me. I went straight to the shop I'd gotten it from to get advice and was told to put it into an air-tight container with rice and any sachets of dessicant I could find. This is to help dry the innards out and I've been told that it could work. So my phone is now sitting in a simulated Mojave Dessert sans cacti and I'm waiting till Wednesday to turn it back on and see how much damage my clumsiness has caused. I miss my phone :(

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I am sitting here this morning basking in the warm glow that only comes with winning. No, I haven't been racing. Since my marathon I've ventured out only ... let me count them up ... once. What I've won isn't really a competition - except that I've made it so. It's the fact that I was right and my husband was wrong! And my winnings - the right to say "I told you so!!!"

We've been having a few issues with the Rockettes lately. The sun is getting up earlier and they're following suit. And while I have no problem with the time they get up, I have lots of problem with the noise that they make. One in particular is extremely vocal and extremely proud of her work (or she's having issues with haemorrhoids and it's pain I'm hearing). She's decided that the entire suburb needs to know every time she lays an egg. Seriously, we live in suburbia and buy eggs in cartons from the supermarket and we really don't care if you've laid one. The fact that I'm in recovery from the marathon means that I have fewer runs and am trying to sleep in and she has NO consideration at all.

After waking up with my cackle alarm yesterday for the third morning in a row I worked out a potential solution. Iven didn't think it would work but couldn't come up with any alternative. My solution was to cover the cage so the Rockettes would think it was still night. So last night we draped their cage with black plastic and told them that there was a solar eclipse and this morning the silence was golden - apart from the kookaburras and the lorikeets and the cockatoos. Bliss!

So there you go Iven, I was right!! I told you so!! I'm enjoying being able to gloat where it won't annoy you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fashion Phobia

I've decided that I'm a little odd. How can it be that I can front up week after week to train till my heart rate is through the roof and I'm red and pouring with sweat? Putting my self on the line like that doesn't phase me at all. But ask me to do something that most women love and I turn into a panicky mess.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned how my youngest sister was getting married. I'm really happy for her and Brad. And I'm excited about the wedding ... all except for one thing. That little thing that I'm dreading is (cue ominous music) finding something to wear.

Seriously, I HATE shopping for clothes. I hate looking through racks of dresses, skirts, blouses, whatever and trying to find something that suits me and is age-appropriate. And don't get me started about shoes! I am no Imelda Marcos - except when it comes to my runners. My best shoes are the ones I got married in almost 25 years ago!

When I go shopping all my insecurities come to the fore. I have four sisters and three of the four love to dress up, love to wear make-up and love being the centre of attention. I feel like the ugly step-sister in amongst them. I was the shy, bookish one who paid more attention to going for goals than looking good. It's just who I am and I'm comfortable with myself nearly all the time - except when I'm put in these artificial situations.

And not only do I have to find something for the wedding but Lucy and Brad have also decided to throw in an engagement party and I'll have to find something for that too. I'm wishing for a fashionista fairy godmother who will just wave her magic wand and clothe me so I look gorgeous. I could always buck traditional expectation and wear what I'm comfortable in - a sequinned technical singlet, running skirt (leopard print, of course) and my cleanest runners.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Week After the Marathon

This week has been strange. It's so weird to go from running 70k weeks to not running at all. But I've got to admit that it hasn't been too hard lying in bed till 6:30 every morning.

I've had a lot of time to reflect over the whole marathon thing this week and what I've realised is that I have the most amazing and supportive people in my life. From my husband who came along for a weekend in Melbourne but just had to do what I wanted (because it was all about me). To my boys who never questioned what I was doing and all sent messages that said how proud they were of me. To my running friends who got nervous for me and sent texts of support both before and after the run. To my non-running friends who sent weather updates and gave me a painful post-race massage. And then there were all my bloggy friends. How amazing is it to get messages from all over the world?!! I would never have believed that reaching a personal goal could become such a community event.

I've also had time to reflect on where I was a year ago. I was at a point where I could hardly run more than a kilometer without becoming exhausted. My heart rate was through the roof and some days I just had to lie down on my workroom floor and rest to get through the day. Now I can run for hours and, yes, my heart rate is pretty up there but I think that's only to be expected.

What really brought all this to the fore was a conversation I had with one of the assistants at my supermarket. She asked about my running and I told her about Melbourne then she went on to say how much improvement she'd noticed in me through the year. She could see it in my face and my general demeanor how much I'd been struggling at the beginning of the year but now I was full of life and happy. Wow - I didn't realise how easy I was to read.

So where to next? I'm taking it easy for the rest of this 4-week cycle then I'll be building up to do the Kurrawa to Duranbah run in early December. It's a 25k run along the coast line and, even though it's pretty hot, the views are just amazing. Then (and I'm saying this in my tiniest voice so no one really hears yet) maybe I'll think about doing the marathon in Canberra.

And finally - joy of joys - I have my washer working again!! I've got to be one of the happiest women in Australia today.

PS - the picture is of one of the leotards that I made for the Commonwealth Games. Dani and her team mates won gold in the team event.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First of all I would like to say I have the most enormous respect for anyone who does a marathon and even more respect for anyone who does more than one.

I flew down to Melbourne on Saturday. I don't know if I've said this before, but I can be a terrible flier. I carry Valium whenever I fly as a security blanket but Saturday I managed the trip without too much angst. I can't ever eat before flying which was a bit of an issue but I figured I'd try and make up for it during the day. We checked into our hotel then I took Iven for a tram ride to the market and it's the tram ride where my nerves really started to kick in. I saw the MCG (where we were starting and finishing) and felt instantly sick. I had to mentally slap myself around the head and try to think of something else. Needless to say I couldn't eat much for lunch. Not the best the day before a big run.

We met the group for dinner (I nearly chickened out cause I was worried about being sick) and had a lovely evening. I managed to eat! We went back to our room and I tried to get some sleep.

It was a really early start on Sunday. I had to meet Coach Chris and our marathoners in the lobby of the motel at 5:20 (which is 4:20 Queensland time) I'd managed to squash a banana and some bread with honey down my throat but it wasn't sitting too well. The nerves had kicked into over-drive. I couldn't talk because I was afraid if I opened my mouth up semi-digested food would come out. I was thinking longingly of the Valium but new it probably wasn't a performance-enhancing drug. Iven knew by my silence that I was a mess. He held on tight to my hand and gave me moral support which is all he can do when I'm in that state. We walked over to the starting area and were about 40 mins early but I couldn't just relax. I had to keep walking up and down. Iven took this lovely picture of me just after I'd been dry-reaching.

All too soon it was time to start. I joined the runners behind the start line and miraculously the nerves disappeared.

The gun went off and so did we ... after a short delay. I settled into a nice comfortable tempo and kept saying to myself to relax and conserve energy. The first couple of k were slow but there was a bit of traffic and I didn't want to do the dodge and weave thing but by the 3rd k I was at the pace I wanted to run and it felt comfortable. I ran into a couple from our group and ran with them for a while but lost them at a water stop so then it was just me and my music and about 6000 strangers all heading in the same direction.

The k's ticked over and I tried to keep my mind distracted and enjoy what was happening around me. I made sure I took my gel around 10 or 11 k and I was taking water every second station. We ran down to St Kilda and turned right along the Esplanade then looped back and ran past our entry point then back up where we'd come in. This meant that the field looped back on itself twice and I got a chance to look out for the Galeforce Squad members. That was fun and a great distraction. We cheered on each other whenever we passed and it gave me a big lift. I'd had another gel about 21k and was still travelling well.

We turned off the Esplanade and headed back into the City at around 29k and I was hitting my 5:30's or under. At 33k I had a third gel and some water and I think this was where I started to unravel. I got to a turn in the road and came to a sudden standstill. I needed a toilet NOW! I didn't know if I was going to have the runs or throw up and I felt just dreadful. It was right near a big car park and there was a parking attendant watching so I asked him if there was a toilet nearby. Yay, there was, down into the carpark and then take a right. I trotted where he'd told me and found myself in the dimly-lit foyer of an Arts Centre. Someone was playing a violin somewhere and there were mirrors everywhere showing me just how dreadful I look after almost three hours of running. I don't know if it was because I was oxygen-deprived or if I was just tired, but I couldn't seem to find where the toilet was. After what seemed like ages I found someone who pointed me in the right direction. Relief! But then I had to find my way out and I kept walking into dead-ends until I saw the sign pointing to the carpark. Doh!

Back onto the course I was optimistic that not too much damage had been done to my hopes of coming in under 4 hours but I didn't realise that the nausea that had forced me to stop was going to keep coming back. I had to stop and walk every so often. But thankfully the kilometer markers kept coming, albeit a bit slower and I knew that the MCG was getting closer and that soon I would see my cheer squad.

I ran past the 41k marker and heard my name. It was Kylie from my squad. She tucked in and ran alongside me for a little way. Rounding a bend I heard Steve, another squad member. And then there was Iven, Mum, Dad and Jack. I beamed at them and asked jokingly if I could stop now. The finish line was so close. It was just round the bend, under a bridge, through a tunnel then onto the hallowed turf of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground). We had nearly a lap of the oval to run then it was through the finish arch. Done!

I got my medal and some water and made my way up to where Iven was going to be waiting. The Geraghty's, from our running group were with Iven and daughter Clare was holding a trophy. She'd won the half marathon! I'm the giant in the pic.

They took a pic of Iven and I and I must say that I'm looking mighty relieved to be finished.

So that's how it went. Will I ever do it again? It's too soon to say. I feel like I've got unfinished business but I have to learn to control my nerves and my stomach. And even though I was a bit disappointed with the time, I've decided that wandering around an arts centre lost in the middle of the race makes for a much more interesting race story.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Am A Marathoner.

Just a really quick post tonight. I am a marathoner! And I have the medal to prove it. The time wasn't what I was quite hoping for but I did make my primary goal of finishing in an upright position. The time? 4:06:50 (unofficially from my own timing) the event? Well organized. The weather? Almost perfect. I've been a little disappointed this afternoon because of the time and because my stomach let me down. But when I think of all the times (and there were many in the past few months) where I almost changed events, I'm really happy that I went through with it. And I've been so touched by all the support I've received. I'll post a full race report when I get back to my computer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waiting ...

It's so close now - so close and still yet so far. The waiting is so frustrating. Today I've been wishing that I was already in Melbourne enjoying myself and the great coffee/food that they have there. But the whole reason that I didn't book to travel today is so I wouldn't spend the day walking around and getting tired legs like I did last time I was down there to race.

I've just had a visit from the washing-machine repair guy. Last Thursday (8 whole days ago) our 4 year old washer decided to have a sit-down strike. Having no washer with a family of 5 is NOT convenient. Luckily my Mum lives only a little way away and was happy to let me use hers. Anyway the repairman pulled the thing apart and told me that he needs some parts and they will take A WEEK to get here. Seriously?!!! A week to get from Adelaide to Brisbane. If they put them on a plane they could be here in about 4 hours. The good news is that we have an extended warranty and if the machine can't be fixed we get a new one! The bad news is that I will be spending a lot of next week over at Mum's waiting for the machine to finish. I'm not a patient person and I'm not good at waiting.

I'm off to pack now. See you all on the other side!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Mild Case of Taper Madness

Four days to go! I'm still in a pretty good state of mind but I've had a couple of moments of hypochondria/taper madness (which is normal isn't it?) My symptoms? A very slight dry scratchiness in my throat - I haven't had a cold in I don't know how long so it would be inevitable that one arrives just before my debut marathon. But logically I think this is due to minor spring-time allergies. I have the itchy eyes and I think it's the sneezing that's making my throat a bit scratchy. And the throat hasn't gotten any worse.

My other symptom is a twingey hamstring. I've been stretching it and rolling it out but every time I finish running I feel it. The good thing is that I don't feel it while I'm running and it's been twingey for a couple of months now so I'm going to continue to bury my head in the sand about that one and ignore it. I'll deal with it after the big day.

These last few days in the lead-up have been great. Our running group is just buzzing with excitement. With so many of us going down, there's a real camaraderie happening. The team spirit has been helped by having team singlets done and they look great!

I've had text messages, breakfasts and coffees with different friends who all wanted wish me the best and who are excited for me. Not one of these people think I'm having a psychotic episode or a temporary break with reality. I have some awesome friends!

The last sign of taper madness that I've had is an uncontrollable urge to tell strangers that I'm running a marathon this weekend. Silly, I know but because the urge IS uncontrollable, I've decided to just go with it - even make a game of it. I'm now counting up how many people I've told gratuitously. So far I'm up to six. (you've got to remember that I don't actually have contact with that many people every day) I'm gunning for double-digits by the end of the week.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy News

I had the most awesome news yesterday. My baby sister is going to get married!! Lucy has had a tough few years. Her first marriage broke down and it was quite a bitter divorce (on his side). She has two daughters and has been a great Mum to them through it all. Last year she met Brad - actually she became reacquainted with him as they'd previously worked at the same place - and she hasn't looked back. He's just lovely and they're so happy together and we're going to have a wedding!

She's tentatively asked if I'd like to do cupcakes as the wedding cake (she has to get Brad's approval first). I'm so honoured (or will be if Brad gives his approval) So there may be a lot of practicing of cupcake baking and icing in my near future. They've set the date for December this year! If I'm doing the cakes I hope the weather is kind.

It's down to 6 days on the countdown to Melbourne. I'm still feeling good. I've been able to check the weather forecast finally and it's looking like it'll be perfect running weather. It's supposed to be fine with a min of 9C (48F) and a max of 20C (68F) The last time I ran in Melbourne it was quite warm and really windy. This will be so much better.

Saturday was my last long run - of 12k. I ran with some of the boys and we were really pushing along in the last couple of k. It felt so good! I felt strong, and I haven't felt like that in such a long time. When we got back, Andrew (who's doing Melbourne too) said we were running at Marathon pace and I almost freaked out. I told him that I wouldn't be running that hard for 42.2k. What he'd meant was that for 3/4 of the run we had run at Marathon pace and I'd thought he'd meant the last little bit when we ran sub-5:00.

I'm still not sure what pace to go out at. I'm thinking that I should start around 5:25ish for the first few k then see how I'm holding out and adjust accordingly. A lot of my friends who are recent marathoners have just run to where they're comfortable and that sounds like a good plan. I'm so glad that I've got plenty to keep me busy and distracted this week. That way I won't be able to over-think!