Monday, January 30, 2012

Doctor's Visit #1

I finally go to see the doctor yesterday. At this point I'd like to say that I have the MOST wonderful son in the world. He knew that I wasn't comfortable driving into the city in peak hour when I don't know where I'm going, so he volunteered to drive me in to save me the stress. He's so incredibly thoughtful.

The doctor's visit went as I'd suspected except for one small detail. My doctor's name is Young so I'd imagined him to be in his 30s. He was probably around 50 so he wasn't exactly old - just not quite as his name had suggested. I gave him an overview of what's wrong and I hope I've given him all the relevant information. He asked a lot of questions, did a bit of poking and prodding and wrote out a pathology request form. I really hope that my blood will hold the answers. He told me that Overtraining Syndrome is pretty unusual but my symptoms were consistent with it. He also mentioned Chronic Fatigue but was reluctant to call it that either. I am a bit of a medical enigma - a woman of mystery and intrigue.

I have to see him in a fortnight and in the meantime I'm allowed to go for little walks with my dog (or without) and do some yoga but nothing else. He was a little reluctant to let me do the walks but decided that they could provide him with information. I have to take my pulse before getting up every morning and document how I'm feeling.

I've already failed at the morning pulse-taking. I'd decided that I was going to walk where my squad has speed session and so I'd set my alarm for 4:50am. But I'd woken up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep for a while so when it got to 4:50 I was in the middle of a dream where I was running late for the session.  I couldn't wake up enough to hit the snooze button and by the time I found it I was a lather of sweat and pumping adrenalin so I decided that this morning's pulse wouldn't really give any accurate information. I'll start the pulse taking thing tomorrow.

I almost talked myself out of going today. It seemed like it was a little pointless because I'd only get to see everyone for a few minutes at the beginning and at the end. But I had a cake to deliver AND I was having breakfast after so I did go. And it was anything but pointless. I got to chat with a few people before they took off. I walked through the group while they were doing their reps and got to say hello to a lot. A few slowed right down in their recoveries to talk and at the end one of the girls walked back to the car park with me. I was included even if I couldn't do what everyone else was doing. Sometimes I think we have the nicest group in the world (but I actually know that it's the running community in general).

I don't think it's going to be too hard surviving the next fortnight of not running - I'll have my Tuesdays and Saturdays (if I can kick myself out of bed) to keep me going. And I know I've got a huge cheer squad out there all rooting for me to get better and get out there running again. I am blessed.

I'm needing to hear a lot of positive stuff lately so I'd love to hear how you've been blessed lately. What's the positive things that have made you smile today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Resisting The Urge

We had a brief reprieve from the rain yesterday - just enough to let the sun attempt to come out and steam us like a sauna. And of course, because it wasn't raining, I felt the pull of the run. So I walked instead. Bubbles is loving that I can't run. All these extra longer walks that she's getting are doggy heaven. Actually, they're more run than walk for her. Her legs are only about 6 inches long so they have to go double time just to keep up with my slow walk. There's one thing, though, that just doesn't add up with her. If her legs are only 6 inches long, how does she manage to pee 8 inches up from the base of the tree? And why does she pee like a boy (leg cocked) but Nelson (our male dog) pees like a girl? There's a double case of canine gender confusion in our house.

Bubbles Recovering From Our Walk

While we were out walking I saw a girl running with her dog. It looked so effortless and full of joy and I was immediately filled with such envy and frustration. I want to run and I want to run with joy. Unfortunately the only way I'm going to do that is to take the time to recover now. Patience can be such a hard virtue to learn and re-learn.

Focussing on the frustration is not productive so I'm trying to focus on positives.
- Bubbles is loving her walks.
- Her extra walks mean that I'm not having to clip her nails as often.
- I get to stay up late and watch the tennis without consequences the next day.
- There is less smelly washing.
- My hair is staying neater.
- I've got a great excuse to have a nap if I'm tired.
- There's only a couple more days till I get to see the doctor and, hopefully, get some direction.
- There's more time to bake cupcakes.

I've been watching The Biggest Loser, which started last Sunday, and once again I am amazed by the lack of discipline and the level of self-indulgence in some people's lives. Some of these people have never pushed themselves out of their comfort zones in their entire life and continue on self-destructive patterns even though it's making themselves miserable. I never thought I was particularly disciplined but apparently I am. In fact, I'm so disciplined that I don't know how to back off and just chill when I need to.

And to change topics totally - I've been in tears all morning over a thread on Facebook. That's tears of laughter. Someone had the bright idea of getting people to describe their last bowel movement in terms of a movie title. And I still have my 4 year old sense of humour -

The Great Escape
Blazing Saddles
A Cry in The Dark
The Scream
Black Hawk Down
Gone in 60 Seconds
The Long Goodbye

Can you think of any others?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How To Amuse Yourself When You Can't Run

Week #1 of No Running.

A whole 7 days has past since I last put one foot in front of the other with a little bounce. Honestly, the timing of this couldn't have been better. We have had almost constant rain this week and if I was able to run I probably wouldn't want to. It's been quite heavy rain too - 170 ml/ 7 inches in the last 24 hrs and no reprieve in sight. It's making a few Brisbanites a little nervous considering that it was just around 12 months ago that a good part of the city went under.

Iven decided to have this week off work to do a little project that he's been meaning to do since we moved in - 25 years ago. I finally have a concrete path to my clothes line. He put it in on Monday, when it wasn't raining so heavily so heaven knows if it's dry. But when it's finally dry I'll be able to walk to the line without stepping on sticks and stones and hidden dog pooh. My man really knows how to spoil a gal!!

And talking about Iven, I suggested a little while ago that he could benefit from increasing his protein intake. I suggested that he might like to take some of my protein powder. Well, he did manage to find use for it - the empty bucket, that is. And who knows, it might even help build up some of those muscles. I know all you girls out there are a little jealous of me now seeing my hunk of man-flesh. Well you can all back off cause he only has eyes for me.

I've had to find ways to amuse myself over the last week - apart from taking the mickey out of my husband, that is. So I've had to turn to Facebook for a little light entertainment at my kids' expense. One of my philosophies in child-rearing is to give my kids a hard time in front of their friends and they'll build up resilience.

I still don't understand how and why I haven't been 'unfriended' yet. I guess they know where their cupcakes come from.

Starting back at work has also kept me occupied. It's been a little busy for the first week back. I've had a few clients through my door and I'm not quite back into the swing of things. I have the TV going most of the day to keep me company. I've got it hooked up to a recorder and watch a lot of the stuff that they show at night. But when clients come in I pause it so I can give them my undivided attention. But being the first week back I forgot to pause it yesterday when this Nana and her ten year old grand daughter came to organise some costumes. I'd been watching a documentary of how the Petronis Towers were built and while we were discussing colours and fabrics and design, the documentary finished and a movie started. There's a certain distinctive music and noises to movie sex and that's what we heard. I couldn't find the remote control quick enough. Now I'm a little worried that I may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor. Ooops!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Walking The Dog

Tough training day yesterday. After doing absolutely zero, zilch, nada on Saturday (when I'd had a walk scheduled with Natalie and piked because I was too tired), I actually felt pretty good. I put on one of my yoga DVDs in the morning and did a little posing and then after a midday nap, I took Bubbles for a walk. For a whole hour!! It's a little pathetic when my weekend run would normally be up around the two hour mark but I gotta do what I gotta do.

Iven and Nelson came for the first part of the walk with us but Nelson's 14 year old almost non-existent hip joints stop him from doing more than about 20 minutes now and that has to be done very conservatively. We walked through the bush at the back of the school next door then crossed the road to the park. It's all very pretty and we're so lucky to have such an expanse of green right near our door and only about 5k from the city. And when you're walking you really get to appreciate it, seeing as you're actually able to see it instead of zooming right by.

It was a pleasant summer's afternoon and both the school oval and the park were being well used. There were games of touch football, Frisbee, kids riding bikes, kids on the playground equipment and people out walking dogs. There was one woman in particular walking her dog and she was just a little ahead of us on the footpath - I was keeping my eye on her because our dogs are not the friendliest while out on their walks. Nelson isn't friendly because he's been attacked quite viciously when he was young. We don't really know Bubbles history - she was a stray who stayed.

When Bubbles first arrived at our house she was a scared, shy little thing. She weighs about 4 kgs dripping wet and has some miniature fox terrier in her and that's about all I know. Sam said she followed him. I tend to think there was some coaxing involved. She spent the first week at our house with her tail between her legs, cowering a lot while I spent the first week trying to find her real home and then our home became her real home and her tail came out into the wagging position and the rest is a six year history. We have no idea how long she was lost when we found her and no idea what happened to her while she was out in the big, bad world. But we do know that she doesn't like being approached while out on her walks.

Anyway, back to the lady in front of us with the black poodle that I was keeping my eye on. She had the dog on one of those extendible leads that I hate. I hate them because the owners her use them often wander unaware of what their dog is up to. They let them extend across the path of pedestrians, runners and walkers - the perfect tripping hazard. And they let their dog stop and sniff whatever and whoever they want - including other dogs that don't want to be sniffed. Bubbles made it quite clear that she was in this category - she snarled and her hackles went up - but the poodle was kinda dumb and so was its owner. She stood with a silly aren't-they-cute smile on her face and let that poodle wander over in our direction, with Bubbles snarling and barking and me trying to pull her away. And then I did something awful - I turned into a nasty old lady who says exactly what she thinks. I told her that our dogs weren't very friendly (I would have thought that was fairly obvious) and she'd do well to keep her dog restrained. And then I muttered Stupid Cow under my breath. At least I'm hoping it was under my breath but I'm not sure because I was so stunned with this woman's lack of common sense.

I'm turning into a shrew! But for the moment I'm blaming my inability to run. And I'm praying desperately that as I return to running I will become a nicer person.

But lack of running has given me ample baking time. Three batches of cupcakes over the weekend, I've got another birthday on Tuesday and had to get a cake done for Fi yesterday cause I start work today. I wanted to do her the cookie dough cake because my kids have deemed it 'kinda awesome.' But I do the birthday cakes in a four inch tin and didn't know how I could put in the cookie dough. Until my totally-inept-in-the-kitchen-but-can-make-a-pretty-good-cup-of-tea husband gave me inspiration. He asked if I couldn't put a layer of cookie dough under the icing. Well no, that was just plain stupid BUT I could cut the cake in half and put the dough between the layers. So I rolled out the dough and cut it with a big cookie cutter. 

It turned out better than I'd hoped for.

Have you ever let your mouth have free reign and tell off a stranger?

Friday, January 20, 2012

More on Overtraining and Cupcakes.

The reality of not being able to run is starting to set in. Saturday just doesn't feel like a Saturday without a few hours of hot, sweaty socializing with your running peeps. (I think I've been watching too much TV - peeps? seriously?!!) I slept in till 7 am. But luckily we were having a running breakfast so I could get my GaleForce fix for the weekend. Thank you Paul for having a birthday and leaving the country. (I'm not thanking you for leaving the country I'm thanking you for giving us a reason to celebrate. But really, celebrate is probably the wrong word too - we will miss you. And I'll stop now before I put a third foot into my mouth.)

 What is a runner when she can't run?? A ner?! That's only half a description and it makes me feel like only half the person I usually am. I wore one of my squad singlets when I went for a walk the other day and felt like a fraud so I've been compelled to make temporary alterations.

They're temporary because I know I'll be running again - just don't know when. I tried doing my strength session yesterday but it's probably a little soon because it left me on the couch for the rest of the afternoon. (Thank goodness that the tennis is on and I'm still on holidays and I've got a good book to read)

For all who don't know Overtraining Syndrome happens when you place your body under constant high levels of stress for a long period of time. It doesn't have to just be training stress. It can be work stress and relationship stress. And the stressors are cumulative. If you're training hard plus have stress in other areas of your life then you're in the danger zone. I've had some major life stressors in the last 4 or 5 years - one is resolved only to have its place taken by another. And I'll admit to using running as a coping mechanism. My first bout of overtraining syndrome happened three years ago and I've been walking along the precipice of it on occasions since.

My symptoms are worsening performance in training, poor sleeping patterns, digestive problems, nausea after training which will last for the rest of the day, a high heart rate and grinding fatigue. But I know for each person the symptoms can be different. The last time this happened I didn't take much time out but I was very careful not to push too hard once I started running after two weeks off - short distances run really slowly with my heart rate kept at a very low rate. This time I am going to take off as much time as I need. I'm expecting it to be up to 8 weeks but I haven't talked to the doctor yet so that number's a little ethereal.

But sometimes the symptoms are subtle and can be confused for other things. I'm not a great sleeper so not sleeping well is not a surprise and if my HR is a little higher in the morning then it's probably because I didn't sleep well and it's hot at the moment. And I didn't run well at training because I didn't sleep well and it's hot. And sometimes the heat makes me nauseated. It's quite an insidious condition.

But enough about me. Let's talk about cupcakes! My new cupcake book is still providing me with inspiration. But some of the cakes can cause quite surprising reactions.

I tried another recipe yesterday (because of Paul's birthday/going away celebration/man -we're-going-to-miss-your-happy-smiley-face breakfast) Everyone gets to be a guinea pig so I can test out these new recipes. I made the Chocolate Fudge Brownie cupcake and used a chocolate cream cheese frosting. The frosting was so delicious that I'm going to post it here.

Ingredients - 60g butter (room temp)
                    225g cream cheese (room temp)
                    85g melted chocolate
                    pinch of salt
                    3 1/2C icing sugar
                    1 tsp vanilla
Method  -  Make sure you melt the chocolate first so it can cool. I melted it for 1 min in the microwave. Beat up the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer until well combined. Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla and salt and mix well. Then add the icing (confectioners) sugar in batches and mix well.

It was so delicious that I had to have a little out of the piping bag once I'd finished icing the cakes. And then a little turned out to be a lot. And then I felt sick. When will I learn!!!

What is your downfall food - you know the one that you find it hard to stop at a reasonable sized portion??

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Plan

Guess the decade!

If you've guessed the 80s, you'd be right. Look at the beautiful big puffy sleeves and the pretty taffeta. And the white suit. (That's a dead giveaway.) And the amount of hair that Iven still has on his head.

It was 26 years ago yesterday. As I wrote on Facebook, 26 years and we haven't killed each other yet - it must be love! Time flies when you're having fun and paying off a mortgage and raising kids.

So we celebrated by going to the movies (boy, do we know how to live it up). We saw The Descendants which is probably not the best all-time anniversary movie. It deals with switching off life-support, infidelity and other heavy issues and it had Iven sniffing just half an hour into it. He's such a softy! I, however, only cry when there are deep advertisements like the Gold Lotto ad or when someone's dog dies or if the team finally wins the championship against all odds.

But I'm not going to harp on about eternal love and happily ever after when there are real-life issues to be dealt with. I have an interim plan! Having an exercise physiologist for a son can be a real bonus for a runner. I would definitely recommend that all you mothers out there encourage your children into runner-friendly professions like EP, Sports Medicine, Massage Therapy or Physiotherapy. The fact that Sam is now studying to be a Physio is an added bonus. (And having to volunteer to help him with his massage pracs - well it's only what any good mother would do, isn't it?!)

His take on my current 'injury' (I'm going with injury because it's a lot less complicated to explain to people who haven't spent hours on-line educating themselves on overtraining syndrome) is that I am allowed to exercise but it has to be at a very low intensity. None of this getting your heart rate up to that 180 region. Low and slow is the motto until I see the sports med doctor. I can do my yoga. I can walk. And I can even do my strength training but less reps and more rest between exercises. And all his recommendations gel with what I've read on line.

My biggest issue with NOT being able to run is NOT having that social time a few times a week. But there's nothing to stop me from heading over to the speed session on Tuesdays and walking while they're running. And this will mean that no one will have their birthday missed. So I'm happy that I've got a little bit of direction.

I actually did do my yoga yesterday before I had Sam's permission. And this time I managed to get most of it done without distractions. It was only the last 4 poses that I had company for. Josh sat down on the couch with his breakfast and watched me complete the session. And he did it without laughing. At one stage he sneezed and apologised for sneezing on me. I hadn't felt a thing so I told him he'd missed. But when I'd finished and was rolling up my towel I found a blob of peanut butter. The towel had been under me when he'd sneezed so I'm incredibly impressed with his accuracy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I want to yell, scream and shout, kick my heels on the floor in frustration and throw a major tantrum. Ever since I had my ultrasound I've been really struggling with my running. I had to walk after 11k on my Saturday long run and even though we were only travelling at 6 min/k my heart rate was over 170. Today's speed session had my heart rate up that high just in the warm up. The session was mile reps and I managed a whole one and it was awful. Six minute pace and a heart rate of up to 183. I stopped after the one rep - it was pretty pointless continuing and just felt sick. Didn't know if I was going to throw up, have diarrhoea or faint.

So today I'm calling a sports med doctor. I won't be going back to the one I saw last year - wasn't totally happy with him. I've been recommended one by three different sources so I'm hoping he has time to fit me in in the not-to-distant future. I need answers and I need a plan. I'm not ready to be a walker yet!

Anyway, that's enough for the whining portion of today's post. I've been baking again. My sister and Mum found me the most amazing cupcake cookbook and I've been inspired. I've also had a few birthdays at the squad. One of the girls has Coeliac's Disease so the challenge was to make a gluten-free cake. I'd just seen a recipe, chocolate and lime flourless cake, so Jenni got to be my guinea pig. I'm not sure that I got the timing right, getting it out of the oven - it sank a bit. But a little extra icing can hide a multitude of sins.
 Then the weekend came and the lure of the new cookbook was too great. Cookie dough cupcakes anyone? It was a three step recipe. First make the cookie dough (mmm, choc chip). Then make the cakes and let them cool. Then gouge a hole in the cakes and fill them with cookie dough and then make and pipe on the icing. The icing was something really different - it had flour and salt in it and, yes, it did taste a bit like cookie dough.

Then finally, I needed another couple of birthday cakes for today's session. I was feeling a little lazy so I went with my usual caramel mud recipe. But it was the decorations that really made the cake. A little tower of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and a drizzle of chocolate.

Drizzling the chocolate can be a messy business so it's just as well I always have some willing helpers to help with the cleaning up.

Has anyone else had issues with overtraining syndrome? I'd love to hear other people's stories!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finding My Zen

This year is becoming the year of cross-training. Of course running will still be my number one love, but in respect of my ever-increasing age, I'm trying to find other things that will enhance my running experience. So many runners do yoga or pilates, I decided to get on the band wagon. I'm not prepared to go to a class but I am prepared to buy a few DVDs so I can fit the workouts in whenever I have time. And at the moment I'm on holidays so time is not an issue. Yesterday I decided to put on my DVD at around 3pm and this is how I went trying to find my Zen. (This is an insight into the strange place that is my head and my home)

First clear the lounge of all impediments. That means removing the coffee table - a workout in itself, shifting the dogs' bed and the dogs, finding the source of that unimaginable smell (Nelson suffers from a little incontinence and sometimes leaves gifts on his bed). Next change into comfortable workout clothes - an old sports bra that has weird stains on it and a pair of running shorts. Try to avoid looking in the mirror and if it can't be avoided pull stomach in and pretend there's no cellulite on the legs, it's just the bad lighting in the bathroom. Pray to the gods of kindness that there will be no unexpected visitors, no delivery men and especially no clients that turn up  in the next hour.

Cue DVD. Two fit girls are on yoga mats on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. There's the peaceful sound of waves crashing on the shore and gentle music playing in the background. Both girls are in crop tops and tights and have abs to die for.

We start  doing some gentle warm ups. A little Vinyasa yoga where we concentrate on breathing with the movement. What's that smell? I thought I got rid of it all but there's still a smell. Can't I breathe in through my mouth? They're on the top of a dog-turd-free cliff with just the smell of the ocean - of course THEY can breathe through their noses.

The movements become more challenging - meaning she (the pretty blond instructor with abs of steel) tells me to lie on my left. Which is left again? I pretend I'm holding a pencil and in the meanwhile she's completed four repetitions and I have to play catch up. Finally I'm on my left side and she's now swapped to her right. I remember the remote control, try and rewind but manage to press skip instead of scan and all of a sudden we're at the beginning of the DVD again. Damned stupid thing.

I press forward very carefully and manage to find my spot again. Press pause do a quick tutorial on right and left then press play. And we're off.

There's a lot of instruction on correct technique . Stretching out your spine long. Keeping the quadriceps tight. Pointing the toe. Ouch! Cramp!! Cramp!! I stop and stretch my foot and massage out the cramp.

There's lots of Downward Dogs and a lovely flowing sequence that I soon get the hang of. My own downward dog decides to pay me a visit. No problems, Nel. I'm feeling pretty mellow I can open my heart and share this patch of universe with you. We roll onto our left side again and all of a sudden I see the source of the smell. Pause!! Find a tissue. Off to the toilet and a quick flush. Good to go again.

At this point Iven arrives home. He's clearly fascinated by the strange things I'm doing on the carpet and by the voice of the instructor.

"Is that an Asian girl?

I look at the blonde girl on the screen and shake my head - trying not to interrupt my breathing and concentration. Damn, which is my left again? Too bad - she can't see if I'm right or left so I'll just do this side and then I'll do the next.

"It sounds like she's Asian"

"No, hon she's definitely a blonde with an Australian accent"

"Doesn't sound Australian to me"

In the meanwhile the girls on the cliff have moved on and I have no idea what they're doing. I press rewind again.

My mobile goes off. Fat bottomed Girls by Queen which means that it's either Josh or Coach Chris (Coach Chris used to be No Air by the cast of Glee but for some reason I can't get it to upload on my new phone). I press pause and answer it. Coach Chris.

Twenty minutes later I've stiffened up but I press start again. We're on to hip stretches and it's just what my rusty runner's hips need. I'm sitting cross-legged, arms stretched out as far as I can in front and head almost on the floor. Unfortunately I can see my exposed abdomen. Man, that's gross. Look at your tummy then look at theirs. Where's the six-pack? And six rolls doesn't count as a six-pack.  I try to forgive my rolls - after all I've had three kids and I'm 48 and the girls on the screen might total that if we add up their ages. We stretch around to the right and hold it for six breaths then we stretch to the left. My head ends up on Nelson's butt and I regret my previous at-one-with-the-universe decision to let him stay. Please don't fart. Please don't fart. Please don't fart.

Luke comes into the room and asks which car he should take to work. I let Iven answer but Luke NEEDS my input.

"Take whichever one you want. I don't care!!" Breathe in, breathe out. Let the tension go.

"And could you BOTH BE QUIET?!!"

Luke leaves. Iven leaves. And Nelson leaves. Finally I'm alone with the sound of the waves and the gentle music and the two girls who could break rocks on their abs. And finally the DVD is coming to an end. We're doing some restorative poses which are a lot like stretches that I've been doing for years. The last one is my favourite. I lie flat on my back. I wiggle my toes to relieve any tension in my feet then I wiggle my fingers and immediately Bubbles, who's been watching the whole thing from the couch, jumps down and flings herself on my hand. Apparently finger-wiggling is doggy code for 'come have a pat'.

And despite all that when the DVD ends I feel surprisingly good. But next time I'm doing it when no one is home.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My First Ever Product Review.

Thank goodness our little heat wave has past. I've been positively floored by the heat and haven't done much at all - especially not much running. In fact, I've done absolutely no running this week. I'm not training for anything. I haven't had much sleep. And I'm not stupid enough to go out when the weather is so vile. One of my squad friends went out for a little 10k run this week and managed to lose 5kilos in the process. This is not running weather.

So what have I been doing instead? Sleeping in seemed like it would be the obvious answer but it's been so hot that there's not much sleeping happening at either end of the day. Staying at the air-conditioned shops much longer than is necessary. Eating water ice blocks to keep cool. NOT baking (who wants the kitchen 4 degrees hotter than hell?) Watching lots of tennis (because that's as good as exercising yourself, isn't it?). And yesterday when the temperature maxed out, I totally played chicken and went to the movies.

But I haven't been totally slothful. I've managed two yoga sessions and a strength session. Yay me! And even if I haven't actually run a step, I've thought a lot about it and in particular I've been thinking about great running products and wanting to do a review on one. This particular product was introduced to me by my son Josh. In fact it was invented by him and I think there is some genius on display here. He's come up with a new and unique way of managing those pesky earplug cords for your portable music. It's the Nipple Ring.

Personally, I haven't actually used this product but Josh reports that it's effective and safe. For the female of the species I think that he'll have to sort out a few issues as topless running is not particularly safe in terms of sun protection, boob saggage and for local car traffic. But I could come up with a line of running tops with a conveniently placed hole and Josh and I could go into business together. (Donald Trump you'd better watch yourself)

I can also foresee that there may be issues for those of you who live in colder climes. But if we can somehow manage to electrify the cord it would keep those nipples toasty warm and prevent frostbite and nipple droppage.

The other problem it may have would be on trail runs. Running too close to extended branches could result in a snag and a potentially nasty injury but in all cases it's a matter of Caveat Emptor (probably the only Latin I know and I learnt it off the Brady Bunch) - let the buyer beware.

So what do you think - genius? How long till we can both retire? 

Monday, January 9, 2012

No Running But Lots Of Progress

Okay, let's start with the weather. Blech! We're talking sauna conditions here. I had been lulled into thinking we were going to have such a mild Summer and bam, it hits with a fury. Last night it didn't go below 24.6C/76F. And it had a 'feels like' temp of 29.8/85.6 which makes for a very uncomfortable night's sleep. I did NOT run this morning. After bonking on Saturday's run it would have been beyond stupid. And it's better to have and extra couple of days off now than to have to have weeks off to recover. I've learnt the hard way.

Yesterday was the start of the working year for Josh. For new readers to my blog, Josh is my middle son, who's had some issues with depression since breaking up with his girlfriend. He managed to complete his degree, although it was tough at times, and get his bachelor in electrical engineering (with honours - I'm a proud Mum) and last year started a job in embedded software engineering (don't worry if you don't know what that is - I'm not 100% sure myself)

It's been tough for him because he's lost any sense of self-esteem that he had and he's really tough on his performance. But his employers seem to like him because they made him permanent after a six month trial. But he still lacks a lot of confidence and I was a little worried about how he was going to be going back to work. I shouldn't have been. He's implementing all the things we've been working on in the last year and I'm so proud of him.

We've talked long and hard about management strategies of different situations. His biggest issue is letting little annoyances go and not mull over them for the rest of the day. I shared with him the things that I use to cope when I'm feeling a bit down - running, socialising, music (singing loudly and badly along to my favourites), blogging and baking. I've tried to embed things in my week so they just happen without having to make any effort - having breakfast with a friend on Tuesday, walking with another on Saturday, at least two group running sessions a week - all of these are so important to keep me sane.

Thursday he had a bad day. He couldn't say exactly why he felt bad - he just did. So instead of just sitting mulling and listening to heavy music in his room, he rang up a friend and got them over to watch movies together. And it really helped.

Yesterday, his first at work, he got up early and worked out what he needed to do for the day so he could get into work and not feel overwhelmed. Then during the day he contacted a friend and organised a run for the evening which turned into a run and a swim and a bit of socialising. I'm so excited to see him taking responsibility for his emotions and learning to deal with them effectively and positively.

I'll leave you with a little video of what we were doing last night to entertain ourselves.

I'm trying to convince myself that this is totally normal and most families conduct experiments on willing but hapless parents in the guise of the furtherance of their education. But all I can think of is that Sam would work well in certain branches of the CIA.

It is normal, isn't it?!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My Sucky Saturday RUn

I'm a little cranky with my body today. I'm not annoyed by the fibroids - I can live with them and apparently have been for up to 18 years. No, the reason I'm annoyed is my sucky, awful run yesterday.

I've been really happy with how I've been running. It all seemed to be going nicely and I was coping well with 4 runs a week plus the strength training. I was feeling strong. But yesterday it sucked from the first k. My legs felt heavy and tired. I kept waiting for them to loosen up and run freely but it just never happened.

I'd decided before I left home that I'd like to run around 15k. I've been doing 12s for about two months now and I was ready to push it out a little. So I left the group at their 6k turn around and pushed on. Why do I do stupid things like that when I know I'm not feeling it.

So I just kept waiting to get a second wind - and it never came. Thank goodness I had a couple of squad friends with me and one was even kind enough to walk with me a couple of times. Thanks Kerry!

So when I got home I analysed what had happened, as all runners do when it doesn't go to plan. A - I'd had a bit of a stressful night with Josh on Thursday and was worried about his frame of mind. B - I'd had a test to find out if I had cancer on Friday and even though I'd tried not to stress about it, I was a little concerned. C - the test involved fasting for half of the day and then when I ate the only proper meal that I had was dinner. D - on Saturday when we started running the temperature was a balmy (stinky) 24C/75F degrees with a humidity of 85%

Conclusion - A + B + C + D = a sucky run.

I've had other bad runs after days where I've been stressed, or when I've had poor nutrition, or when it's just been really hot. So add all of these factors together and it's no wonder that it was BAD. So my response to this is that I'm resting today - no strength training. My legs are still feeling it and it would be counter-productive. Tomorrow I'll assess how I'm feeling and if I'm feeling ok I'll do a short run. The verdict's out on Tuesday's speed session. It'll be a matter of wait and see. If I have to I'll just take the whole week off. It's not what I'd planned so early in the year. But there are just some things you can't fight.

But on the brighter side, my friend Natalie is back from visiting her son in Denmark. Three hour coffee session yesterday!! It's so nice to have her around again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Ultrasound - rated TMI

Did anyone hear that? About an hour ago. The huge sigh of relief. And then another one about fifteen minutes later. I survived!! (and I didn't wet myself)

Before I actually start, can I please warn all readers that this post comes with a TMI rating. It delves into the parts of a female anatomy that can make a man squirm - either with discomfort or delight, depending on the circumstances. I have a scientific background and can broach these subjects with the clinical mind of a scientist. And I will be using scientific terms so stop me if you need clarification. (We all know what a uterus is, right? And a hoo-ha, which is sometimes known as a va jay jay) Children please leave the room now.

I woke this morning with a cold feeling of dread. Today was the day when there was great potential for public humiliation. Today was the day I was having my ultrasound. Last week my GP had decided that the pain in my pelvis that I'd casually mentioned at the end of my appointment, warranted further investigation. She was thinking ovarian cancer. I was thinking lactose intolerance causing a mighty build-up of flatus (see I said I'd use scientific terms). Turns out we were both wrong.

My instructions were to drink a litre of water an hour before the appointment after emptying my bladder and then holding on for dear life. As I explained yesterday, I've had three kids in the natural manner and some muscles aren't quite as efficient as they used to be. So I personally thought the fluid volume was a tad excessive and the length of holding time ridiculous. SO, in the interest of full disclosure, I CHEATED. I only drank 600ml. I drank it 40 mins before the appointment and I peed after drinking my first glass. But they don't know my bladder like I know my bladder and I was quite confident that it would be full in time.

I turned up at the appointment early and then sat waiting to be called and for that slightly uncomfortable feeling below. The receptionist asked me if I'd been drinking my water. I could happily say yes but I'm glad she didn't ask how much, when and if I'd been to the bathroom - I'm not a great liar.

They were running on time. Yay! But my bladder hadn't really filled much. Boo! And when the sonographer asked if my bladder was full I felt a little guilty. BUT it turned out to be full enough. Yay!!

The first thing he asked once we got going was how long had I had the fibroids? Fibroids?!! What fibroids?!! The last time I'd had an ultrasound on my pelvis was when I'd been pregnant with Luke so my best guess was somewhere between 1 and 18 years. Apparently my uterus is full of them. Some of them are impressively large. Yay me! But they were so impressively large that they were getting in the way of seeing the right ovary and that's why we were all here.

So I was offered a much more effective way of visualising the area - a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Again yay, lucky me. But this works best with a totally empty bladder and that's when you would have heard the first big sigh.

After getting back from the loo there was another person in the room - goody, I get an audience. I had had to change into a fetching black paper gown with a saucy back split so I was looking my most glamorous best. The sonographer explained the procedure and told me he'd be keeping his eyes on the screen and not watching my face. What for? Signs that I was enjoying myself? But he went on to say that it might get uncomfortable or painful and he wouldn't be able to tell unless I told him. And all I could think was that if it hurt he had to be doing it wrong (and I managed to keep my filter on here, Amanda, and not actually verbalise it).

It didn't hurt and I got to see my fibrotic uterus as the star attraction on the big screen. My right ovary was nice and normal. My left ovary was a little shy but we managed to find that slippery sucker and it too was normal. So we can say that generally there is nothing to worry about. Cue second big sigh.

Of course I had to google fibroids once I got home. I am nothing if not curious. Up to 50% of women my age will have fibroids and mostly they don't cause an issue. The pain I'm feeling (actually it's more discomfort than real pain) is likely to be that one of the fibroid's blood supply has been cut off and a part of the fibroid is necrosing. It's likely to go on for a couple of weeks and than disappear. So it's all good!!

And how did I deal with the stress pre-procedure? I put on my Yoga DVD and worked out. And it was really effective. It had me focused and relaxed and occupied when I would normally have been getting myself worked up. Another big Yay!!

Has anyone else undergone an embarrassing medical procedure? And how do you cope with the stress of anticipation?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Joys of Grocery Shopping

Sometimes a simple expedition to get the groceries just doesn't run quite to plan. Sometimes it inspires letter-writing to the grocery store manager.

Dear Mr Woolworths

I was in your store today - as I am nearly every single day because I cannot manage to organise myself NOT to run out of something important - and it came to my attention that SOME staff are in dire need of training. I am not talking about the lovely ladies that scan my groceries and have a chat about the meaning of life and other frivolities. Neither am I talking about the part-time boys who have the creativity to pack tomatoes with the 5 litre container of laundry detergent - that's all good, I'd forgotten the can of crushed tomatoes so this one worked in my favour.

The staff I'm referring to are the shelf stackers. Their incompetence was drawn to my attention today over a series of incidents.

I really didn't pay much attention initially when I picked up the apple off the top of the pile and managed to set off a mini-avalanche. I managed to hide the bruising on the three apples that hit the floor so some sucker - oops, I mean valued customer may still purchase these and be none the wiser till they bite into them and then blame their spouse for the droppage.

I felt a little niggle of concern when I picked up two blocks of butter and a cascade of cholesterol hit me on the toe. Don't worry, I'm not planning on suing.

Alarm bells started to go off when I reached for a tub of custard and they started falling even before I'd touched anything. (I'm pretty sure I hadn't touched anything.) I'm just grateful that it hadn't been the tomato sauce which would have made the blood so much harder to find when that old lady slipped in it. (I can't vouch for her not suing - she may need the money for her hip replacement surgery)

I didn't even dare walk near the eggs. And now I'm having to force feed my two hens in the hope that they will lay the requisite two dozen that we need to survive the week. Have you ever tried to force feed a hen? They don't like it!

And while you're dealing with that matter could I also ask that you fix the security system that goes off randomly, unexpectedly and unnecessarily when I pass through it. I have an aversion to being patted down by strangers?

And could you please fix that trolley with the wonky wheel that I always manage to pick out?

Your faithful and loyal (maybe) customer


disclaimer - some of the events described above may have been exaggerated for effect and some may be totally fictitious.

I'd like to say that I'm generally not a clumsy person but today I was having a doosey! Everything I touched seemed to have an extra-strong gravitational pull. I'm thinking that maybe the 10k morning run may have made me a little tired. Needless to say I'll be walking into Woolworths a little sheepishly next time. (which will probably be tomorrow because I think I'll need eggs)

And could you all keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow? I have to go for a pelvic ultrasound and this involves fasting for 6 hours and drinking a litre of water an hour before the procedure then holding on for dear life. I have had three children naturally and we all know what that can do to a girl's pelvic floor. I'm really hoping that they run on schedule - you can't keep a full bladder waiting surely?!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Blank Page - Now What To Write...

We have a few pets - two dogs, a cockatiel and two chickens. They are a little bit of work (especially now that Nelson has hip problems which subsequently cause him toilet problems and he occasionally leaves us little gifts around the house) but they can also have some side benefits. Apart from the unconditional love that they provide and the companionship while exercising (before Nellie's hips went), they can be might good waste disposal systems and pre-wash rinses.

I've recently found out, though, that Iven is having some problems with me giving all the scraps to the pets. He was brought up in the 'waste not, want not' era where throwing away anything was pretty close to a mortal sin. Mouldy bread? No problems, just cut out the mould. Hard, dessicated cheese? Tastes better when it's rubbery. Weevils in the rolled oats? They're good protein.

I, however, was brought up studying science and food technology. I learnt all about the perils of mould and food poisoning and the importance of freshness for nutritional value. I still firmly believe that if a carrot is so soft that you can wrap it round your wrist, it probably doesn't have much in the way of vitamins and minerals left in it.

I've got a fairly firm rule as far as left-overs are concerned and it's, quite frankly a compromise to Iven's upbringing. I allow them to be consumed for up to seven days and then the chickens or dogs get them. Yes, I know that this is longer than recommended BUT the scientists who made the recommendations never lived with my husband.

On Christmas Eve Iven and I had our weekly takeaway meal of fish and chips and the store owners, wanting to reduce their stock, gave Iven two tubs of potato salad. Now it doesn't matter that our fridge was full and we would be eating Christmas left-overs for at least a week, but Iven couldn't resist free food. I had to totally rearrange the fridge to cram them in. After a week there was still a full tub left so I gave it to the chickens.

"Where's that potato salad?" asked Iven the next day.

You should have seen his face when I told them that the hens had feasted on it. Horror, disappointment, a little hatred all flashed up in front of me. And at that moment I knew exactly what I would be putting on his headstone.


In searching for a suitable pic for this blog I came across another that I loved and really wanted to share.

I know that I've made a huge presumption that I will be last to go and therefore will have all the poetic license that I need. But I am 10 years younger, a woman and I try to look after myself. So statistically I should outlive Iven but on the off-chance that I go first I've taken the liberty to compose my own headstone.

Here Lies
Charmaine Donaldson
Beloved wife, mother and awesome cupcake baker
In fact - so multi-talented, it makes you sick


And speaking of exercise (don't you love the subtle segue?!) - the new year has started really well. So far this week - one strength session plus stretching, a 15k run (I didn't have my program yet - who knew Coach Chris would only give me 10), a speed session (6 X 800 and 1 X 200 just for fun) followed by 50 mins of yoga and a stretching session. And I'm feeling great!!

What would you like on your headstone?