Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ticking Off Goals

Here's a quick update on this week's running.

Last Saturday I joined the group for the long slow run. Fifteen k done and dusted three minutes faster than I'd run the previous week's slightly shorter run. It makes a big difference to run in company.

Then Sunday I got up and did it all over again. Maybe not so smart to do two long runs only twenty four hours apart but I figured I'd do it slow, walk if I had to and cut it short if my legs were tired. But I did have a certain route in mind and when I decide on a route I generally finish it. And I did. Another 15k done and dusted.

Monday was a rest day - just a three k walk with Toby and some yoga.

And then came Tuesday. Tuesday has been speed day for years now. But since January I actually haven't done a proper session. I did a 3.7k loop by myself keeping my heart rate as low as possible and then I'd do some 1k reps with plenty of rest between them. And that's been my routine for months now - until last Tuesday. I'd decided that the time had come to do a full session. Of course it would be modified a little to get more rest between reps but I was going to do what the squad did. And I was almost wetting myself with nerves.

I had to keep telling myself that if it got too hard I could stop. I didn't have to run hard. No one was expecting me to run super-fast. In fact they were all so welcoming and pleased that I was able to join in.

Coach Chris had threatened me with a tough set and I'll admit that it wasn't really easy but running a bit faster than snail's pace was never going to be easy. One kilometre reps with a 500m recovery. I managed five reps - 4:48, 4:49, 4:40, 4:47 and 4:41. Pretty consistent so I was happy. But I was even happier with the caramel slice - thanks Mike for making good on the birthday promise and it was every bit as good as you'd bragged.

Wednesday was a rest day and Thursday was an 11k run. You'll note that there's no qualifier like tempo or progression in front of the word run. It was just a run trying to keep my heart rate low. And by low I mean low for me because my heart rate is always higher than what the books say it should be.

I'd run this route last Thursday and this week I ran it slightly faster (and it was only just slightly) but my heart rate was quite a bit lower. Little successes make me happy.

My total for the week was just over 50k. And that's the bench mark that I'd set for what I wanted to  be doing each week when I'd set my new year's goals. It may have taken me almost 9 months but I made it!!

Now I need to see if I can do it all over again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wrapping Them in Cotton Wool

Bringing up a puppy is a lot like bringing up a child. You feed them, you protect them, you teach them manners and socialise them. With kids a lot of this socialisation happens when they are exposed to other people's kids and it's a bit the same with Toby. He's had a couple of 'exposures' lately that took me right back to when my kids were young.

I sent my beautiful, innocent little son Sam off to school when he was five and a half. He was the oldest and hadn't been terribly exposed to 'worldly' kids. He'd been to kindy and pre school but the kids there were a lot like him - sweet and kind. So the first week of school was a bit of an eye-opening experience to both him and me.

It was only his third day when he came home and asked me a question that had been bothering him all day.

"Mum, am I a poofer?" (He meant poofter - a not-so-nice word referring to male homosexuals)

I'm sure I didn't hide the look of horror - not that my son might be homosexual, but that someone had obviously addressed him that way. I might blow snot rockets (very badly) but I had no intention of my kids using derogatory language like that - and especially using it incorrectly.

I assured him that he wasn't and left it at that. After all he hadn't asked me what a 'poofer' was and having to explain it was going to open a whole new can of worms. Five and a half is a little young to be learning about sex.

Then the very next day he came home proud with his new knowledge.

"I know what the rude finger is!"

We had to have a conversation about rude words and rude gestures. And I was incensed that my gorgeous little boy was being sullied by exposure to a lower element. So I went to see the teacher.

I explained why I was there and her eyes almost rolled back in her head. Yep, I was one of 'those' parents. An over-protective complainer. She explained very slowly to me, like I was a bit simple, that there was very little she could do when kids get together in the playground and what Sam had learnt wasn't part of the curriculum.

Basically her message was 'suck it up, he's going to hear it whether you want him to or not.

Yesterday Toby had a similar exposure to, shall we say, a rougher element. Hamish is a West Highland White (I actually just typed shite - it's funny what your fingers can come up with subliminally) terrier who often walks around the same areas as Toby and I. His owner Joan is a lovely older lady but, quite frankly, her Hamish has not been brought up as nicely as Toby.

When Toby meets a dog he wags his tail and assumes the 'let's play' pose. He may sniff a butt or two (and sometimes even an owners crotch) but I see that as acceptable doggy behaviour.

When Hamish meets another dog he goes straight into humping mode. And it doesn't really matter which end he's at. A head is as good as a tail in Hamish's book. While I totally 'get' that Toby is an attractive dog, Hamish's behaviour is akin to paedophilia and it had Toby totally bewildered. I will be giving Joan a wide berth next time I see her.

And then there was THE CAT.

Last week we took a new route which took us past the house of one of Josh's primary school friends. We were just walking past the front gate when I saw THE CAT sitting on the front path staring at Toby with his round green eyes.Toby took little interest in him but I can't say the same about THE CAT. He started to follow us down the street.

I thought he'd lose interest once we'd reached the boundary of his property but no - THE CAT wanted to make sure that we were well and truly gone. We walked a few paces and THE CAT walked a few paces. We stopped and THE CAT stopped. It was a bit like a scene in a bad spy movie.This continued with Toby getting increasingly excited about his new companion so I decided to let Toby say hello. Toby did his usual - got down in the play pose - and that's when all hell broke loose. That territorial, dog-hating feline came at us hissing and spitting and flashing evil-looking talons. So we exited, stage left - one of us with his tail between his legs.

Sometimes the only safe place is home in bed with your 'sister'.

So in one week we have learnt a little of the birds and the bees and we've also learnt that not everyone is friendly. And I thought we live in a nice neighbourhood.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Snot Rocket Fail

It all went horribly wrong the other day.

Remember I had a cold a few weeks ago? Well the cold is well past but my sinuses still pretend like I have a cold when I run. And being a lady who's been brung up proper (thanks Mum), there are just some things that I shouldn't do. Picking my nose is one of them. And wiping my nose on my sleeve is another. A lady should always carry a scented pocket handkerchief (preferably hand-embroidered with little garlands of flowers and her initials) around with her BUT my tights don't have any pockets and I don't actually own a handkerchief, being that it's the 21st century and not the 18th. And every time I stuff my bra with tissues it looks like I have some sort of deformity and they end up a sodden mass of sweaty pulp and there-in lies the dilemma.

Last Thursday my nose was running like a tap that had no washer. I had sniffed but my nasal vacuum was inadequate for the flow. I'd surreptitiously used the back of my hand (major unladylike action but no one was around and if a tree falls in the forest and no ones' around does it make a sound?) but the flow wouldn't stop. So I was left with just one last weapon in my arsenal - the snot rocket.

I've seen the snot rocket performed on a few occasions and it seems quite simple. One blocks the airflow to one side of the nose then forcibly exhales through the other nostril, causing the snot to rocket elegantly to earth. Easy!! Or maybe not. I did what I thought I'd seen before but I left out one important step. I forgot to aim. And being a little tired from my hilly route, the force of exhalation wasn't as explosive as required.

You don't look quite so ladylike with a long cascade of booger flowing from your nose and landing on your thigh. And of course this all happened when a peloton was passing. There were some stares - and not because I'm a fit, foxy lady. The amount of snot coming from my nose was more like what you'd find with a cow than a fox.

Did you know that black tights can show snot? I had to wear my mark of shame for the five kilometres home.

It looks like I've got something new to practice.


And talking about practice, I made the cake that I've been planning since last week. Making a three-layered cake where each layer is a different flavour means a lot of work. And the extra batter means that we also have a lot of cupcakes to eat this week. But I'm really happy with the end result. (And I actually ate a small bit of this one to make sure there wasn't too much happening.

Coffee, caramel and chocolate cakes layered together with a white chocolate ganache

Iced with a cream cheese frosting. The rosettes are made with a plain cream cheese frosting and a choc-hazelnut flavoured one.

Yes, it tasted pretty good.

Now I have enough cake in my kitchen to put on a small garden party for 20 of my closest friends. Looks like I'll be giving away samples again this week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Better and Better

I'm not quite sure why, but my running's taken a big leap forward in the last week.

Saturday's long run was awesome. It's usually run with the squad but Coach Chris had chosen a route that's hilly. Hills and I are still not on speaking terms so I opted to go flat. The problem was that I couldn't quite make up my mind where to go. Up through the botanical gardens and to the bridge and back or through Kangaroo Point cliffs till my watch beeped at 6k and back again? I kept changing my mind until I settled on a combo of both - through Kangaroo Point, over the bridge and back through the gardens. Best decision ever!! I hit the top of the bridge when the sun was rising - a golden orb reflected off all the high rises. Gorgeous! My heart rate stayed low and I managed a 15k run feeling like I could have gone way further.

On Sunday I wanted to run but didn't want to push too hard. My solution? A Toby training session. He's going to be a sometime running companion when he's fully grown (he doesn't know this yet - I have to break the news to him gradually) and he needs to learn how to run without tripping me over or pulling me flat on my face. I took him on my 7k route and we walked whenever he found an interesting smell. When I got home I added up all the running sections and found he'd managed 5k out of the 7 - without causing injury to me. He's going to be a great running buddy.

Then yesterday we went to speed session. I'm still doing my 3.7k loop before I join the squad just so I don't push myself too hard. But yesterday might be the last time. I managed 4 X 1k reps all under 5 mins. That's the best I've done since the bottom dropped out in January. But even better than that - I didn't feel sick afterwards and I didn't need a nap before I started work. That's huge! And exciting!!

So how do I explain the big improvement? I think it's a combination of things. I've been committed to eating well - including lots of foods full of anti oxidants or are nutrient-dense. I'm supplementing with a pharmacy of different things and drinking beetroot juice (both good runs were done after a glass of the red stuff Carilyn - the experiment continues) I've been sleeping well (not sure though if the improvement is making me sleep well or sleeping well is causing the improvement - all I know is that when I'm not well I sleep really badly).

 I've also tried to reduce the sources of stress in my life as much as possible. Some things I can't do much about but attitude can help with how I deal with stressful times. I've incorporated some yoga into my schedule and getting out for a walk with Toby at the end of the day is a good defuser. And I've changed my mindset where it comes to my #2 son.

He's struggled with depression for the past couple of years and I thought my role was to support him - and it is, but not the way I was doing it. I've had to accept that he's an adult and I can not control his actions. At 23 I can't be telling him what he can and can't do. We've been back to the doctor and he's had a dosage change on his medication and it seems to be working wonders. It's awesome to hear him singing around the house - something he hasn't done in a long time.

Letting go is incredibly cathartic. I've stopped waking up with panic attacks, wondering where he is whether he's safe. And I can talk myself down now if I do get a little worried.

But I think the the thing that's made the most difference has been my new best friend. He makes me smile every day.

He's a great help in the kitchen.

He's amazing at snuggling.

And he insists that I take time out to play. He's my furry little tonic.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stacks of Inspiration, Guilt and Colour

 A little while back I was forced to do some spot decorating - to cover a little naughty carpet tearing by Toby. I was pretty happy with the results - mostly because they've stopped Toby from destroying any more carpet and they've allowed me a place to send subliminal messages of encouragement to my family. In fact the messages were so subliminal, not even I knew I was doing it. The chalk board is just opposite the toilet and can be read and mulled over when you've felt the call of nature and yet forgotten that we actually don't live in the great outdoors and we do have a toilet door.

I've been putting up quotes that inspired me and hoped would in inspire the rest of the family. Stuff like this ...

and this ...

But this is the one that caused a little consternation with some members of the family.

Apparently Luke thought I'd put this one up just for him. But Iven was sure I'd pointed it squarely at him. All I can say is that it's nice to know that they're aware of their own shortcomings and it's nice to know that I can inspire and guilt people with a little piece of chalk. Ahh the power of words.


I took Friday off work again. It's awesome having your own business sometimes. But having the day off didn't mean that I did nothing. It just meant that I did nothing that could earn me money. I spent hours working on the biggest, most impractical cake that I've ever made just to see if I could do it.

Layer cakes are all the rage at the moment and I just happened to have 5 cake tins that were all the same size. And I had a box of AmeriColor Gel Paste food colours. And I was feeling a little nostalgic for the fluoro 80s. 

Bright enough?

My cake stack did have a little list but nothing bad enough to cause structural failure

It was a great opportunity to practice rose swirls

The finished product. Can you tell that I love colour??

It was just a plain vanilla cake and this did disappoint some members (Josh) of the household. BUT his comments have inspired me to make another layer cake. I'm thinking just three layers - chocolate, caramel and coffee layered with white chocolate ganache and iced with the double swirl choc/white choc cream cheese frosting. Unfortunately I won't be able to make this one until the other's gone. Can I wait that long??

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pieces of My Life

Pieces of my life.

- Luke and his girlfriend Becky went to the Ekka on Wednesday. The Ekka is basically the equivalent of a state fair, I think. I used to love going as a child but as an adult I'm happy for the kids to go without me. They turned up late in the evening with their arms full of loot that they'd bought and won. Luke had managed to win two giant stuffed toys - one was a hedgehog and the other was like a giant purple My Little Pony.

Toby was not a happy camper. There was something quite terrifying about that pony. His hackles went up and he backed away quickly and all of a sudden he was on my lap. And that's where he stayed until the pony was removed. What a Mummy's boy!! I don't think that he's going to make much of a guard dog.

- Running is still a bit of a struggle. I know I can't expect too much because everything I've read says that it'll take time and I'll have set-backs. I'd count having the flu followed by a cold counts as a set-back so I'm pleased that things aren't as bad as they were at the beginning of the year. Yesterday the plan was to do a very slow 8-10k. I started the run by walking into a door (It's still pretty dark at 5:30am) and finished with a dog sitting on my head ( I haven't found a safe place to do my stretches yet - Toby does love to be close to me). Luckily the bit in the middle - the actual running bit - wasn't too bad. I managed to keep a low, for me, heart rate so I'll take count that as a success.

- And talking about successes ... 

Thanks to Pinterest for the new cupcake idea. One of the men in the squad asked me not to put any more cake pics on Facebook because he's trying to clean up his diet. Silly Chris! He obviously didn't realise that asking that was like asking me to put up pictures of my most decadent, enticing cakes. I'm contrary like that.

- Our hens stopped laying. I know they don't lay for ever and I know we'd basically caused them to become osteoporotic by feeding them low-calcium food (and by we I mean Iven). I thought they'd gone into menopause. They were a little moody - you couldn't look at them sideways without them getting into a flap. And I was sure I saw one of the hens fanning the other through a hot flush. But apparently they'd just been having a laying hiatus and they've come back with a vengeance. They're laying eggs so big that I can't get the egg container to close. The egg on the right is a normal, bought-from-the-shop extra large egg. The one on the left is just showing off.

I hope everyone has a great weekend filled with family, friends and little fitness too :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic Daydreams.

I've been a very diligent puppy mummy lately. Nearly every afternoon Toby and I go for a walk. It takes us about 45 minutes and ends with us on the school oval next to our house. And usually when we get to this point we run as fast as we can - tongues and ears flapping in the breeze, all full of puppy joy.

On Friday we got to this point and I decided to channel my inner Allyson Felix. Seriously, that girl has to be the prettiest runner at the Olympics. I'm not talking about her face, I'm talking about form. Long strides that look effortless. A back kick that gives it's own encouragement. My form is nothing like that - but a girl can dream.

I told Toby that we were going to sprint and he was ready. My head took me to the finishing straight of the 200. It was me and my dog in lane seven and we were pulling away from all the other runners. We were getting faster and faster and had a clear lead ... and then something happened - let's just call it a legacy from having three children. Way to come down to earth - not an Olympic sprinter, just a pre-menopausal mother! But it did leave me wondering if that's ever happened at the Olympics. Clean up in aisle three!!

Yes, it's still all about the Olympics for just tiny bit longer. I had a really enjoyable night the other night watching the diving. It was the men's 10m platform and it's an event filled with suspense. Will they hit their feet on the platform (yes, a couple did)? Will they his their heads (no one did thank goodness)? And will anyone lose their precariously positioned bathers?

I spent a while discussing optimal swimming costume height with Iven. Personally I like them so the whole gluteal is covered and there is no hint of plumber's crack but boys these days like to wear their costumes low. I also looked with my professional eye at how the pattern on the costume could enhance or disguise the wearers 'package.' And I must emphasise that I did this in a purely professional context!

There was one diver who had a particularly low-cut pair of togs and I watched with interest as he placed his hands on the diving platform and lifted himself slowly into a handstand position. And it was at this point I heard the TV commentator say "if he falls out, he'll lose a lot of points."

Immediately I thought - depends on who's judging. If they're a group of judges who've been reading 50  Shades of Grey during their lunch break he might get a few bonus points, especially if he points his toes. Then I realised that he meant if the diver falls out of the handstand. Perfectly understandable mistake if you ask me.

Ahh, I'm going to miss the Olympics.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Reason Why I run

I bought a packet of almond M&Ms a week ago. They were on sale and, never able to resist a bargain, I had to throw them in my grocery trolley. Then I paid for them, took them home and stashed them up in the pantry for a weak moment.

The weak moment came on Wednesday. I still was suffering from the last lingering effects of my cold - alternating blocked and runny nose and unfriendly sinuses. I was tired from the run that I'd done the day before which I probably shouldn't have done because the cold was lingering. And I was bored - and that was probably the real reason that I had the weak moment. I'd been cutting out costumes for body-builders and was onto about my fiftieth pair of posing trunks. And my brain was slowly rotting on the inside from a constant diet of Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice because I'd forgotten to set up the work room recorder for the Olympics. I needed a little pick-me-up!

Well that's how I justified opening the packet. I'd have just a couple to get me through a slump. I went upstairs to the kitchen and found those luscious little balls of deliciousness. The bag entered a very futile resistance to my trembling fingers - oh, yes I like them just that much. And I tipped five into my hand. Toby's pleading eyes were the only ones to witness my little food indiscretion and I saw no condemnation there. Only envy.

I took my five little M&Ms downstairs and savoured them before cutting out yet another pair of posing trunks. The five little morsels hadn't really filled the hole that boredom had created and their sweet sugary goodness had only enticed me to partake again. So upstairs I trotted - taking the steps two at a time because it's kind of like working them off before you eat them. Or it might be if I had a set of stairs that went the height of a 50 storey building.

This time I tipped about ten into my hand. And walked back downstairs to enjoy them.

I was back upstairs before fifteen minutes were out with Toby now starting to look quizzical (like he had when Sam had farted on the bed). And then I was back about fifteen minutes after that. And each trip I seemed to get a slightly bigger hand full. On the last trip there weren't that many left so I just took the rest of the bag. I tipped them onto the work table and they were gone too soon. Then I hid the empty bag at the bottom of my bin, covered with little shreds of shiny emerald, royal and flaming red. And I was still bored but this time it was tinged with a little food regret. So I vowed that I wouldn't weaken again even if they were a ridiculous, incredible bargain.

Yesterday I went back down to work and I found one lone almond M&M on my work table that had tried to escape destruction. So I ate it - and I wanted more.

And this is another reason why I run.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Uncouth Sons

Everyone knows by now that I think farting is pretty funny - and blog-worthy - so I've got a couple of short ones here for you.

The first came from son Luke. We were sitting watching the Olympics the other night and he let one rip. Yes, I know you're all shocked - not that a teenage boy farted, but that we were watching the Olympics again! And being a teenage boy with his girlfriend next to him he couldn't really admit to being so uncouth so he blamed it on the dog. The dog that we had put down over three months ago! Poor Nelson is still copping the blame. Needless to say neither Becky or I were fooled.

The second story comes from the nether regions of my oldest son. (Yes, I know that you're all shocked again. Boys still fart loudly and laugh into their mid-20s). He was lying on my bed where I was reading, telling me about his day (a little aside here - they always wait until you're engrossed in a book or just about to drop off to sleep to decide to have a little chat). Toby wanted to be included but the presence of Sam lying across the end of the bed made it hard to jump aboard so he just had his front legs up. This meant that his head was so close to the end furthest from Sam's face. Sam let out a long loud one which left Toby confused and bemused. His eyes opened wide. His ears came forward and his forehead wrinkled in puzzlement.

To further investigate he did what all dogs do - he used his nose. A few sniffs at ground zero was enough to make him jump down quickly and leave the room. And I did what all mothers do when the fruit of their loins scare off the dog with a fart. I laughed so hard that tears rolled down my cheeks. It was that ugly out of control laughing which is probably the reason that my children are so uncouth. 


I was back at running yesterday. The cold is almost gone - just a residual cough when the air's cold and a bit of a runny nose. It was Tuesday speed session but I just did my own thing - a slow 3.7k loop to reach the group, a little chat with Coach Chris, then another slow loop around the uni lake. 

It's starting to get a little lighter in the morning, even if it's not getting any warmer yet. The ducks were just starting to wake up and take to the water. The sun was making the sky multi-coloured. The air was crisp and clear. And I was filled with a wonderful sense of peace. There's something about being out there that makes everything right with the world.

And that's why I run.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Addictions - The Non-running Version

I'm sick. Again! This time it really is man flu. Or as we women refer to as a simple cold. And I think it totally sucks that I couldn't have gotten this a couple of weeks ago when I had the flu. Kill two birds with one stone - or two viruses with one break from running. My body has not been kind to my running ambitions this year. It's like it's laid down the welcome mat and invited any of the circulating nasties to come visit and stay a while.

But if I'm not able to attend to my running addiction, at least I have other addictions to turn to. For example, the Olympics. Because I don't have to get up to run at a ridiculous hour, I can stay up extra late then wake up at the ridiculous hour I was going to run at and sit under a doona cuddling the snoring love of my life (that's Toby not Iven). And then I have an excuse to go back to bed and nap for a few hours.

Australia is going great - if you prefer silver to gold. We keep getting pipped at the post by the Mother Country. And I'm starting to believe that it's time Australia became a republic. No more being subservient to the Queen and Her country - politically OR on the sporting field. Especially on the sporting field! Those Poms get a little too cocky when they beat us and it only fuels their belief that they kept the best and sent off only the dross. (sorry, Liz - I told you I was a very partisan, competitive Olympic watcher.)

Toby's my second addiction. After all what's not to love about this gorgeous, intelligent boy?!

Oops! I put up the wrong photo. He really doesn't look so 'special' normally. And he doesn't usually have to poke his tongue out to perform any of his tricks. He's been a great companion again while I've been under the weather. He hops up on the couch with me (yes, I'm one of THOSE people who let their dogs sit on the furniture) and snuggles in. He rests his head on my lap and looks up with those big brown eyes, imploring me to pat him. And he likes to get rid of my piles of snotty tissues - by chewing them into shreds and leaving them strewn all over the carpet (note to self - don't leave piles of snotty tissues in reach of the dog.)

My other addiction is baking cupcakes. Pinterest has a lot to answer for in fuelling this addiction. I see something all chocolatey and delicious looking and I just have to make it. The cake is a nutella-flavoured one from here with a couple of changes because I don't have cake flour or buttermilk - I just substituted self-raising flour for the cake flour, bicarb soda and baking powder and used plain milk instead of buttermilk and it worked out just fine. 

The frosting is caramel buttercream drizzled with melted chocolate (I had to add a bit of vegetable oil to get it to drizzling consistency) and topped with a Nestle Rolo. Looks good enough to eat.

My cold is starting to improve - I know because I could smell the cakes while they were baking. And it's just as well it's improving because that means I'll be able to run soon. I may have a few extra calories to run off. That nutella batter tasted pretty good and it's my job as a responsible baker to quality control what comes out of my kitchen, isn't it?!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Have A Dream

Who hasn't been inspired over the last week? If you haven't then you're either NOT a sports fan or you haven't watched enough of the Olympics. I've been totally inspired by the feats that we've seen and the knowledge of all the hard work that's gone into those performances. The hours spent on the water, in the water, in the gym, on the roads, at the athletics track ...

And this inspiration has lit something deep within me - my very own Olympic flame (which has nothing to do with gastric reflux and eating junk food while watching the Olympics late into the night). I've decided which sport I'm going to compete at in Rio in 2016. No, stop laughing! I'm perfectly serious. I have the will and I have a plan. (Sorry Jenni I should have warned you not to be eating dinner when you read this - can't have you choking again)

So the sport I've selected is Hockey. And if you've been watching you'd understand why too. Hockey does incredible things to a girl's physique - those deltoids, the beautifully muscled legs and those abs! I've always wanted flat abs, maybe with a little definition other than a belly button.

But it's not all about vanity. You also get a stick with a hook on it. How useful would that stick be for picking up washing from the floor NEXT to the washing basket?  And for whacking recalcitrant children - especially when they're just a little out of your reach (not that I condone child abuse in any way - I'm just talking about whacking that doesn't leave a bruise or any other incriminating mark). In fact you could hook the child's leg to bring him/her closer before deftly unhooking and tapping him/her gently on the backside. I could also use it to pull down branches on our tangelo tree so I could pick the ones that are too high to reach.

I did a little bit of hockey back in high school PE in grade 8 ... in 1975. So I may have a bit of work to do. First of all I'll have to bone up on the rules because those 8 one hour lessons haven't exactly stuck in my memory. Shouldn't be too hard as long as I keep doing the Sudoku and crosswords to keep my nemesis, dementia, at bay.

Next I'll have to grow my hair long enough to hold a ponytail. I haven't had hair that long since, let me think - probably 1975 when I was doing those hockey lessons. I've got four years to grow it so I'm not too concerned. And if worse comes to worse I can always ask my hairdresser sister, Cindy, to put in extensions and to bleach out all the grey that will be there in four years. I'd better start saving my money now.

I'll have to get over this post viral syndrome for once and for all. But I've seen so many other athletes at the games who've had issues with it. I figure I'm in elite company and if they can overcome, so can I.

Probably the most important thing that I'll have to work on in the next four years is changing direction while running, holding a stick while running, hitting a ball while running without poking my tongue out and trying not to hit anyone else (apart from my children) with the stick. Jumping out of the way of the ball also appears to be a useful skill so I might have to practice that too. I'm sure my kids would happily throw hard hockey balls at me (especially after I've whacked them with my hockey stick) so I can become the best ball-avoider there is.

I may have to talk the Australian Olympic Committee into changing our country's colours. Gold is such a hard colour to wear - particularly when you're a little more mature. I'm thinking that a nice aqua would suit most complexions. But if they REALLY can't change the colour I'll just have to do the fake tan thing. I'm not likely to sweat too much during the matches in Rio am I? Can't have those nasty little sweat-streaks ruining a good tan.

So that's the dream and the plan that's going to get me there. But in the meanwhile it's back to the TV to become even more inspired (if that's even possible). Tonight we'll all be cheering on Meagen Nay in the 200m backstroke. My son Sam worked with her on her strength training so I'm emotionally invested.

Anyone else been inspired? What event what you most like to compete in?