Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sneaky Business

I just need to get a few sneaky things off my chest. There's been a bit of sneakiness happening around my parts - some good and some bad.

Sneaky Thing #1
Toby and I are quite enjoying our evening walks most days. On one of our walks we go past a house with a solid gate that you can't see through. And behind that gate lives one of the sneakiest dogs in the world. He sits quietly behind the gate where you can't see him and just as you're passing he attacks. But not literally. He barks ferociously and jumps at you and generally does all he can to give you a heart attack. We call him 'The Stealth Bomber' and I have the feeling that as we walk off into the distance with our hearts beating out through our chest walls, he's sniggering and chalking up another to his tally of victims.

Sneaky Thing #2
I'm fairly careful which aisle I choose when I'm in the grocery store. I generally look for a short one - that's a no-brainer. But I'll also check out basket contents - the fewer, the better. And then I look for grey hair. I know. I know. It's very ageist of me BUT I have good reason. It's a known fact that older ladies like to have handbags with lots of zippered compartments in them. And it's a known fact that older ladies can be occasionally forgetful. So put a forgetful person in charge of a handbag that has way too many hidey holes and you get a LONG wait. Usually the handbag is so large, because of the need to have so many compartments, that the owner needs to put it down on the counter, totally preventing the next person in queue from putting down their item (which is usually something incredibly cold and not in a basket because you only needed to pick up one thing.)

Last week I selected my aisle carefully - short queue, person in front had healthy chestnut locks and a fairly empty basket. It wasn't until she tried to pay that I realised that those chestnut locks had come out of a bottle. Sneaky! She couldn't find her wallet, couldn't remember her pin number and I couldn't put down my ice cream. By the time she managed to pay for her goods I had lost circulation in my fingers. Luckily none of them needed to be amputated. Beware the sneaky dye job!

Sneaky Thing #3
Luke told me yesterday that he'd been teaching Toby a new trick. He balances a bit of food on Toby's nose and, on command, Toby flicks it up into the air and catches in his mouth. Luke was very keen to show me while he was having dinner and I was so excited about seeing the new trick that I had to record it.

As you can see it's a work in progress - or a total fail UNLESS you're someone who doesn't like green beans. Luke doesn't. He eats them under duress. And he managed to empty his plate of them right in front of me without eating a single one! Major sneakiness!!!

Sneaky Thing #4
I have to admit it was me who was sneaky. The thing is, Iven has a habit that drives me to distraction. He's a little older than I (10years) and came from a 'waste not, want not' background. It pains him bitterly to throw anything out and that does include mouldy jam or bread. His most frustrating trait though is putting back the Vegemite jar in the fridge when it's empty. I think that he's being lazy and doesn't want to wash it up but he'll swear black and blue that there's enough spread left for at least another sandwich - maybe even a couple.

I pulled out the Vegemite jar from the fridge the other day to find it as good as empty and decided that two could play at this game. I diligently scraped every last morsel from the inside with my best scraper and returned the jar to the fridge.

The next day I found that it had been replaced by the new jar. I think that's the first time in our 26 years of marriage and I'll chalk that up to a win to my sneaky side.

So has anyone else been sneaky or been on the end of some sneakiness?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Spy

We're two days in and already I'm tired. The problem is that I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to knowing when to switch the box off. I tell myself to get to bed and something interesting will draw me back.

The best invention that will help me through the next fortnight is my digital recorder. I recorded the opening ceremony so I could get out for my long slow run on Saturday. After all I can't slacken off in my training when the most inspiring event in the world is on. It was great to watch the ceremony when it suited me and to zap though the ads (and some of the bits that I found a little boring - so much for being a champion Olympics spectator) and to press pause when I needed to get a cup of tea or go to the loo.

And I've set up the recorder to record every morning from 4:30am. Stupid Northern hemisphere time. It's damned inconvenient for the ones who live Down Under. But it's pretty great waking up in the morning knowing that I've got a few hours of watching ahead and I can zap through the endless replays of successes or disappointments.

And I'll admit to being choked up every day so far. But crying can be cathartic can't it?!

Unfortunately, though, real life must continue despite my desire to just be a couch potato for the duration. I have to work and I have to run. Running is getting easier again, as I knew it would. I ran 45k last week and managed a nice 16k run with the group on Saturday. It's always great to run with the group but my runs have only been 12k for most of the year and that often means running the last half by myself. Sixteen kilometres means company for the whole run. It means that I get to be a social butterfly and chat with lots of different people. And on Saturday it meant keeping one of the runners from driving us all insane.

"Are we there yet?"
"I'm hungry! Are we there yet?"

Who hasn't taken there kids on long-distance road trips and been driven to distraction by those words? I'd never heard them on a long run before and I can say that they're just as annoying when you've still got at least 5k to go. So I did what any mother would do. I started a game of I Spy.

And it got us through a few of those kilometres without having to throw Brett into the river. And no, Brett, FW does not refer to the 'f'n w'er' cyclists - it's the ferris wheel. Remember, I'm a lady and I'd never use terms like that except in extreme circumstances. And it's quite surprising how many 'extreme circumstances' I come up against every single day.

I also managed to back up with a run on Sunday - 10k after watching the morning highlights. My legs were tired but not too bad. And on the strength of two successful runs I took the dive, stopped procrastinating and entered this ...

Just the half, mind you. And with no expectations except to finish and have a little holiday. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let The Games Begin

The Olympic Games start tomorrow and once again I have to swallow my disappointment in not being selected. Ever since I was nine and watching the Munich Olympics (in fuzzy black and white) and desperately praying that the games wouldn't be cancelled despite the tragedy, I've been a huge fan. In my heart of hearts back then I was convinced that some day I would be selected to go - if I wanted it hard enough. It didn't actually matter that I wasn't brilliant at any sport or that I was kind of lazy and didn't want to train. Desire would trump all and I would get to showcase my brilliance on some foreign shore.

But considering that my 50th birthday (yes I know, I know! I don't look anything near 50 - except when I wake up, have done a hard run or after 6pm when I'm winding down) is in clear sight now, I have to face the awful truth. I have been overlooked.

I would have been happy to participate in any event that didn't involve the wearing of lycra because I'd be afraid that showing this much of almost-50-year-old awesome might be too much for the sports viewing public. So that would count out swimming, diving, gymnastics, athletics, beach volleyball, cycling, basketball and water polo.

And I'm not a big fan of violence in sport. Goodbye boxing, taekwando, archery, shooting, judo, rugby, modern pentathlon, wrestling and fencing.

And I've got the upper body strength of a marathon runner. So that would rule out weightlifting, kayaking and rowing.

This doesn't leave me with an awful lot of options. Sailing, equestrian, badminton, football, table tennis and tennis is basically all that's left. And a phobia of sea-sickness, being kicked in the head, feathers, getting kicked in the shins, and racketeering wipes out them. So unless I can convince the IOC to introduce some new sports like competitive dish rack stacking or ironing 30 shirts while baking two dozen cupcakes, my dream of representing my country is screwed! Probably just as well because I don't look great in gold.

So I have resigned myself to becoming the best damned Olympic coverage watcher that this country has seen. I'm seriously thinking of changing my business hours to London time. If you need an appointment I'll be available from midnight till 5 am. I may eschew my normal runs for an exercise bike strategically placed in front of the TV. I wonder if I could generate enough electricity on the bike to power this extreme sports-watching binge.

I promise I WILL be unapologetically parochial in the next two weeks. I WILL malign refs who make marginal calls. I WILL cry every time that the Australian anthem is played (and I will probably cry when any athlete, regardless of nationality, tears up - I'm an empathetic crier). And I WILL go into withdrawals when the Games end.

I know the next two weeks are going to be awesome despite what all the papers are saying about the preparedness of London to host them. Journalists are notoriously pessimistic and they've forgotten the absolute fundamental of the Olympic Games. It's not about the location or the weather or the organisation - it's about the athletes pure and simple. It's about their hopes and their dreams and their determination to prevail. It's all about Faster, Higher, Stronger. It's human drama at it's finest and I can't wait.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Running, Running, More Running and Baking

Yeah, I know that having the flu is going to have and impact on my fitness. But, seriously, did Saturday's run have to hurt that bad? Okay I was not expecting that much from the run and I know I was less than a week from being flattened with fevers but I was kind of hoping that I'd paid enough penalties for the year.

My plan for Saturday's run was to take it easy. Just a nice and slow 10 to 12k depending on how I was feeling. The slow part meant in the 6+ minute range per k. And it was around there for the first two and then, somehow the plan disintegrated. I blame it on winter and the fact that it was still dark and I couldn't read my Garmin. One minute I was running along feeling nice and relaxed and the next I was sounding like a crazed stalker, heavy breathing down the phone line.

"It's because I've had the flu" were my first thoughts. The crazed part of the crazed stalker phrase wasn't so far wrong. My first thoughts should have been - "I've been sick up till just a couple of days ago. I'm not at 100% and this is hurting a little so I should slow way down." That's what any rational, sane person would have thought. I, clearly, am not one of them. When I finally saw  my pace at around the 4k mark and it was down in the mid-5:00 zone, I got kind of excited. My thoughts went something like this - "You were truly, horribly sick for most of a week. Bed-ridden for 3 days (apart from the drugged-up shopping expedition). And still you can crank out a reasonable pace. You are a machine! You can keep this going for miles."

Yes I am obviously deluded/manic/crazed. And I have issues with blending imperial and metric distances. (I also have issues when it comes from knowing left from right when I give directions but that's not exactly relevant here. AND I also have issues staying on topic.)

Luckily I was holding on to one small rational thought that told me that 12k would be enough on my first real run post-infection. I reached the turn-around point, had a drink and all the bravado that was telling me how awesomely I was running drained out. I promised myself that the return trip would be much more moderate in pace. But that thought didn't quite reach my legs they were on a roll and weren't prepared to compromise. Four of the last six kilometres was run in the 5:40 zone. Boy, was I relieved when I finally saw our finishing point.

So I promised myself that I wouldn't even attempt to run my usual Sunday run. That too was a fail. One son MIA makes me a very anxious mother. And the best way to cope with anxiety is to go for a run. Again, it wasn't very pretty.

So for today's session I was uber-disciplined. A turtle had nothing on the pace that I ran my first three and a bit kilometres. I kept looking at my heart rate and slowed it down when it started to creep up. And when I joined the group doing 1k reps, I only did two!! The first was just over 5 mins and the second was just under and I had heaps of rest between them (for rest read chatting with fellow squad members and basically distracting them from doing their reps - my bad!)

And the son that was MIA turned up that afternoon of course. He was fine but his phone had run out of charge and he hadn't thought that his mother would be working herself into a state thinking that he was in a morgue/in a hospital/in jail (not sure why I would have thought this but when I get anxious all logic goes out the window).

But the up-side to all that angst was that I'd baked. Both because it was Sam's birthday and because baking is a known non-pharmaceutical calming agent. Really happy with the end result - a dense coffee cake filled with a dark chocolate ganache and iced with coffee buttercream.

Happy 25th Birthday Sam!

Friday, July 20, 2012


I tried a run the other day. Three days of fevers and another couple of days of throwing up randomly had put a little speed bump into my training schedule and left my legs feeling like jelly. But I woke up Wednesday morning feeling the best that I had for a week (which wasn't a very high standard to achieve) and decided that today was as good as any.

I usually run around 10k for my mid-week run but I wanted to be sensible. Seven kilometres sounded sensible. Walking up hills also sounded sensible. And running at a really, really comfortable pace sounded sensible too. And so I had a plan.

And that plan worked great ... for the first 3k. At around 3k there's a kinda nasty hill which I'd promised myself I'd walk up. Of course I deluded myself into thinking that because I was feeling pretty good that I could run up most of the hill. So I did.

Have you ever watched a documentary about zoo animals given birth? Picture the baby giraffe that's just been born and is trying to take its first few steps. Well, that's how my legs felt when I finally got to the top of the hill. Good-bye gross motor control. Hello wobbly legs.

Luckily uphills often come with a matched downhill and this route is no exception. I didn't need too much motor control going down the slope as long as I didn't hit any pot holes or have to change direction suddenly. My watch beeped over the 4k mark and I decided then that 5k would have been an even more sensible first run back. Didn't stop me from running up the second hill though. I am nothing if not stubborn.

It certainly wasn't my prettiest ever run. And I did need a mid-morning nap. But I'm happy to say that a week of virus hasn't set me back too far.


I received a birthday invite the other day. From someone I haven't seen in years. From someone who used to tease me and my friends about being fat. From someone who groped me during a Christian music concert. Funnily enough I don't really want to go. And even funnier than that - he's grossly obese now and when we made contact on Facebook for the first time he commented that I looked scrawny. Seems like some things just never change.


Toby and I have been training together. Not running training - eating training. Toby is a magician when it comes to food. You put the food bowl down in front of him, say abracadabra, and the food vanishes. 
He finishes nearly every meal with hiccups because of the speed that he eats and woe-betide anyone that gets between him and his plate.

Because I want to have grandchildren one day (not yet, boys) and Toby may still be alive, he needs to learn to eat in a less frantic manner - with more restraint. We need to be able to touch him while he's eating and even be able to take his bowl away from him mid-meal. 

So we've been doing a lot of work - patting him when he's eating, removing and replacing his bowl and, most importantly, making him wait once we put his bowl in front of him.

And he's got it ... almost.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Aftermath

It's been over 24 hours since I last had a fever, threw up or had to take paracetamol so I think I'm getting better. Little cheer - yay!

I am a terrible patient because I have no patience being sick. Someone commented to me that they'd love to have the chance to just lie around and watch DVDs all day. Unfortunately having the flu means that you can't even be bothered getting out of bed to move to a room with a TV in it. Let alone go out and hire DVDs. Yes, I know I went out and did the grocery shopping - but that was different. And you can't expect me to be logical about why when I've been sick.

And as for all the junk food that I bought in my fever-fuelled shopping binge, it's still waiting to hijack me in a weak moment in my pantry. All except for that packet of jellybeans that I tried valiantly to enjoy and on both attempts failed miserably, wishing them a bon voyage down the toilet. I won't be looking covetously at jellybeans for quite some time.

Today was supposed to be the first day back on a program for my running. I had to text Coach Chris on Saturday to say not to bother. I feel like I'm going to have to start all over with my running - building up again. I'm pretty sure that it won't take too long this time but it's disappointing non-the-less after spending the last six months working up to where I was. Last week my plans were to run the speed session on Tuesday, a flat 14k into the city on Thursday, the group 12k on Saturday and another 10+ on Sunday. My week ended up with a speed session on Tuesday and a slow 200m walk around the shopping centre on Friday. But that's been my whole year - I make plans and can't follow through on them. And it's not even bothering me any more. I just go with the flow.

But it's not all been bad - being sick. I've had lots of TLC from Toby. He's snuggled next to me to share his body heat. 

He's kept my spot warm for me when ever I had to get up to go to the loo.

He helped keep Bubbles under control.

Going to extremes when she was feeling particularly disruptive.

And he's gone to get the newspaper for me every day so I didn't have to miss out on any news.

Am I a besotted puppy-owner? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flu, Fairies and Hallucinations.

I've got the flu - I think. I've been told that it's probably not man flu because (and I'm quoting here) "If you had man flu you would be dead. Only a man can survive such a serious infection and live." 

You're probably right Mike. I'm sure my flu's just a sissy, girly flu like swine flu or bird flu or Ebola (yeah, I know that's not a flu but it can't possibly be as bad as man flu.)

It came on me suddenly. One minute I was sitting watching tv and planning my morning run and the next minute I was aching and shivering and turning my alarm off because you don't need an alarm when you can't sleep. 

Wednesday night was spent in a world of hurt. I could feel every muscle that I'd used doing my pathetic strength routine the previous morning - It was mostly glutes but there were some quads in there and definitely some abs. Thursday was just a continuation of Wednesday night - pain, suffering and a total inability to regulate my body temperature. 

Thank goodness someone invented paracetamol! I'm a big fan at the moment and they're the only reason that I could get out of bed today and go to the shops - because grocery shopping is what everyone does when they're sick isn't it??! Actually the only reason that I did something so stupid is because I'm anal about my shopping and don't trust any of my family with the chore AND I can't stand being at home for over 24 hrs straight even if I'm on my death bed.

I timed my shopping expedition carefully - just long enough after the last dose of paracetamol to know that it was working. Have you ever noticed how time kind of slows down when you're feverish? Things are happening and you see them happening but your brain takes a little while to register. I was hoping that the traffic would be light on the way there and that I wouldn't need to make any sudden, evasive manoeuvres. I was in luck and managed to get me and my car to the shopping centre in one piece and even managed to park between the lines.

Walking up three flights of stairs was daunting - but I'm not the kind of girl who shies away from a challenge. Yes, I was panting heavily by the top but I continued valiantly on. I managed the 100m shuffle down to Woolworths and that's when I started to worry. I don't know if it was the fever or the drugs but I was hallucinating. Woolworths was staffed by fairies. Human-sized fairies. With pretty sparkly wings. And tutus. Male fairies with tutus. Really ugly fairies. I thought fairies were supposed to be delicate and beautiful.

Turns out that Woolworths was having a promotion for their bakery - fairy cakes and fairy bread, that sort of thing. I may have nightmares tonight. It really was that disturbing.

I managed to drag my trolley through all the aisles and get most of what I needed. I did my best not to breathe on anyone because I know that's how pandemics start. (I may have deliberately coughed on the stupid woman who was selfishly blocking the entire aisle. And on the man who couldn't decide quickly enough which curry sauce he needed.) And then I headed off to the Chemist to get a thermometer because I want to be able to quantify just how dreadful I feel. 

I'd looked for a thermometer in our medicine cabinet on Wednesday night but couldn't find one - probably just as well because I used to have a special one just for taking animal temperatures RECTALLY and I couldn't remember if it had the human one or the animal one that had broken last. My niece Lauren was permanently scarred by using the animal one when she was a little girl. I'm not sure if she's ever been able to put another thermometer in her mouth since then.

I've just arrived home and unpacked the groceries. And today I've learnt that you shouldn't shop under the influence of flu or anti-inflammatories. Somehow I ended up with all this junk food. Lollies. A big block of chocolate. Chips and pretzels. Maybe the fairies put them in my trolley - I'm sure it wasn't me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cutting The Cheese

I ate a slice of cheese yesterday.

I know. I know. It's hardly earth-shattering news but you have to understand where I'm coming from. I got sick at the beginning of the year and one of my symptoms was lactose intolerance. Now some of you wouldn't be too worried by this, BUT to someone who thinks the four food groups start with a C (Cheese, Chocolate, Cappuccino and ice-Cream) it was pretty devastating. And it was made worse because all of my significant events are at the beginning of the year - my birthday, Mother's Day and Easter. These are all celebrations that revolve around chocolate aren't they?!

I did try to soldier on initially. After all, my illness had robbed me of the other thing that I love to do most in life - run! But constant nausea, stomach cramps and foul, copious wind wore my resolve down. And after THE incident (which involved a little gas-release in a check-out queue in the supermarket where I though I was safe until the short person behind me came into my line of sight) I admitted defeat. I have been drinking soy cappuccinos and eschewing all potential forms of lactose.

I've found a great lactose-free milk (Zymil) which I can stomach without any problems and a lactose-free yoghurt which I put on my breakfast cereal. They even make a very expensive lactose-free ice cream which I mixed with non-lactose-free peanut M&Ms (I'm female - I don't have to be logical if I choose not to be). But there's been no cheese and only the barest minimum of chocolate (hey, a girl can only give up just so much).

The chocolate that I did succumb to would sometimes (okay, often) cause me to be a little flatulent. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting watching TV with my husband and, because we've been married 26 years and the mystery has totally gone, I surreptitiously let one loose. It was a little louder than I'd planned and I obviously couldn't get away with ignoring it so I begged Iven's pardon. He looked up from his computer with surprise all over his face and told me that he thought it was the ring tone on my phone.

How much does that man love me?!! Even my farts are music to his ears (all my ring tones are musical ones). 

I did wonder briefly which song he though I was playing - maybe certain parts of the 1912th overture or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass's, Tijuana Taxi (man, am I showing my age but it was always a favourite back when my sisters and I were kids)

He must also think that I'm incredibly popular.

In the last few weeks my stomach has finally been getting back to normal and yesterday, in a moment of weakness, I had that slice of cheese. There has been NO ramifications. Not a single one. No nausea. No cramping. And no wind (more than usual and that I can safely blame on the dog). I'm a happy little Vegemite. And do you know what goes really well with Vegemite? A nice slice of cheese :-)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Puppy Renovations

My beautiful, adorable puppy has been a little bit naughty. He quite fancies himself as an interior designer and has taken it upon himself to make a few changes to our decor.

Exhibit #1 - Lounge Room Curtains

The red thing on the floor in front of the curtains is Toby's bed. As the family's new guard dog it's important for him to have good visibility of the turf that he has to guard and the front patio is a vital place in terms of family security. The curtains were getting in his way so a small alteration to them was required. Obviously I will not be replacing these until he's a little older.

Exhibit #2 - The Hallway Carpet

In Toby's defence, he did not start this destruction. Nelson did about six months ago. Toby just decided to continue Nelson's legacy and extend the hole. We tried gluing it down but Toby has more grit and determination than mere glue. So a little creative decorating was in order. 

We needed something to totally cover the loose bits so he had nothing to grab onto. I had a stroke of genius - a hallway table with a heavy statue over the oopsy. The finished product wasn't quite what I'd originally thought of but I love it. The hole is covered by the bottom suitcase which has a heavy weight in it to stop Toby's access. 

I love creative and strategic decorating. And I really love how our hallway has gone from bland to interesting. So I probably should thank this little guy for being so destructive - and I might after I've calmed down.

 Seriously, who'd have thought that this gorgeous little creature could have made such a mess.

I went on-line and discovered that Toby isn't the only pet who's ever created household havoc. It made me feel a little better.

Has anyone else had to deal with destructive pets?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Right from when I was a little child, I was timid. I was shy and afraid of the world. Not confident of my own abilities. All through school I battled with fear and nerves. I would spend mornings before school with a stomach ache and sometimes, if I was especially anxious, I would throw up (didn't help that we were forced to drink milk that had been sitting in the hot sun for hours) and then the school would call Mum and I'd get to spend the day at home - safe from the scary world.

This fear of life has kept me on the straight and narrow. I have never smoked because I knew if I took even one puff I'd be the one to get lung cancer. I didn't drink because I was scared of what would happen if I got drunk AND I really didn't like the taste. I've only ever slept with one man because I knew I would get pregnant and get a sexually transmitted disease (probably AIDS) if I even thought about being promiscuous and even if I used contraceptives.

I've been scared of flying - just ask my sisters who got upgraded to business class because I had spent all morning throwing up at the airport and had to be wheeled around the terminal in a wheelchair. The nurse on duty was convinced that I'd celebrated too hard the night before. OBVIOUSLY she didn't know me.

I used to be scared that something would happen to my husband. And I would sit on my patio every day with my baby son in my arms and wait anxiously for him to get home. Now it doesn't worry me so much so I worry that I don't love him as much any more or (if he's left a tissue in his pants and thrown them in the wash) I worry that something won't happen to him.

I've often banged on about how great running is for you. How it gives you energy. How it keeps your heart and your body and your mind strong. How it keeps you young. How it relieves stress. For me, though, it's given me one bonus advantage - it's made me fearless!

Can I run a three day relay in 35C heat? Sure I can. Can I run for two hours in an overnight relay from 2 am to 4 am. Yeah - no sweat. Can I run a marathon? Well if all my running squad can do it then I probably can too. And I did!!!

So getting sick AGAIN at the beginning of the year was particularly shattering. It knocked my confidence in my abilities, in my body and it made me a little fearful again. And I don't like it. I don't like having to say no, I can't do something because I just don't know how I'll be. I don't like worrying that my body will give out on me again. And I really don't like that nervous feeling that I get in the pit of my stomach when I have to put myself out of my comfort zone.

But last week's race went a long way to building up my courage again. I won't say I'm invincible. I've proven over and over that I'm not that. But it showed me that I have tenacity and some good old-fashioned pig-headed stubbornness. It emphasized just how much support that I get from my running squad and proved once again that they will be there in the tough times and the good.

AND it gave me the desire to sign up for another race. The Melbourne half is looking good. Especially if I get to run it with these happy people.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gold Coast Marathon 2012

Amazing is the only way I can describe the group of people that I run with.We come from all around Brisbane and even a little further and we are all different ages, sizes, abilities. But we all share one thing - the love of running.

For the last couple of days I've been down on the Gold Coast for the Gold Coast marathon. The races are held over two days - with the 10k, 5.7k and the children's races on the Saturday, the half and full marathon on the Sunday.

This was a very special event for our squad. It's always the one that most people work towards but this year it had special meaning. Earlier this year we lost one of our runners - a beautiful, talented runner who'd been suffering from severe depression. She was best friends to another of our runners who, along with her husband, was inspired to run the marathon for the first time in Steff's honour and to raise money for Sane - a charity that helps people with mental illness. Quite a few of the other runners hopped on board with her. Yesterday was the culmination of all their hard work.

It was a very excited group of pink-clad runners that were at the GaleForce tent at 6:45 yesterday morning. Pink was Steff's favourite colour and I must say that everyone looked very special. They'd trained together and they were planning on running together. Andrew had his phone with him and was updating us via Facebook and phone calls to his wife. We wouldn't be seeing them until they ran past at about 32k.

It's a long morning, watching a marathon. We amused ourselves on the sidelines chatting, eating, cheering, mentally rating the shirtless runners into the 'should' or 'shouldn't have' categories. Some of the squad had headed down the course to let us know when our runners were coming. And finally they were. Their plan to stick together hadn't panned out. But none of the virgin runners was running alone.

From where we were there was still an out and back loop of 10k and for one of the runners in particular this must have felt endless. One of the girls, Heather, was struggling - it was hot by late morning and when she reached us she was walking. But there was no way that she was going to quit and there was no way that she would be out there alone.

An hour or so passed and a lot of our runners came past for the second time. And each was cheered on raucously. We heard from Andrew that he, Simon and Heather were still a way off so some of the cheer squad headed up the course to help bring Heather home. It was a strange, pink procession that came chanting their way up the course towards the finishing line. Heather was probably a little embarrassed to have so much fuss made but all I saw was friendship, respect, support and an individual sport becoming a team sport.

That was probably the best moment of the weekend for me but coming a very close second was seeing Jenni and Brett, the couple who'd inspired so many of the group to run and helped raise almost $6000 for charity, running to the finish line together. You guys were amazing!

And the third best moment was my own race on the Saturday. I'd nominated to run in the 50-60min and all I wanted to do was not make a liar of myself. I ran a 9 minute PW and I was as excited as the day that I ran my PB. Net time - 55:28. It's so great when you exceed your expectations!

10k Runners

So that's #8 done and dusted. Two years to go till I get my 10 year award!

PS - My guest post on how to make these is up here.