Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pre-Race Jitters

I've made all my work deadlines! So this is exactly how I'm feeling.

Actually because it's been a tiring couple of weeks, I can't quite summon up the energy to be that excited so it's probably more like this.

Now that my work is at a much more manageable level I can start to focus on some things that I've been trying to ignore for the past month. Things like races. And the fact that they're starting to get really close.

I have a love-hate relationship with races. I love entering them, I love the idea of being a runner who races and I love finishing them. But I hate anticipating them. And sometimes I hate doing them - especially about three quarters of the way through pretty much any race I've ever entered. 

A couple of weeks before a race I start to get a bit anxious. The thought that a race is looming makes my stomach clench and my legs go weak. And I can't even tell you why. 

I'm not scared of the running part. I know that how I perform doesn't matter to anyone but me so if my time's not great it's really no big deal. I know I can finish the race. I've never not finished. And even if I get injured or sick and have to pull out, the world won't stop turning.


So why do I get nervous? 

And, more importantly, how do I stop it?

I've been trying to work on some techniques that the psychologist gave me last year when I was having anxiety issues. I've been practising punctuating the day with deep breathing exercises that help me stay in the moment. I've been doing my yoga and that really helps.

I like to pretend that I'm really this flexible 

But really I look a lot more like this 

And I've been visualising every part of race day - from the getting up part to the finishing. The thing that I've realised is that it's the getting there and toileting things that worry me the most so I'm working on visualising short toilet queues and trouble free trips to the start line.

I've found out I'm not alone with my worries and this makes me feel better. It's nice to know that other people are just as crazy. Even the best runner in our squad worries about exactly the same things. But because she's an amazing runner there's the added pressure of performing. At least I don't have that.

So when are my races? I have one on the 12th of May - just a 4.5k that I'm doing with my youngest and his girlfriend. And the next weekend I'll be travelling to Sydney to run the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon with my eldest son. Did I ever mention that I'm not a big fan of planes?

My goals for these races are simple. I want to make it to the start line with my nerves under control (and without use of any drugs). I want to enjoy the event and the atmosphere. I'd like to try to run under 5 min pace for the 4.5k but have no expectations for the half. I entered a little late and could only get into the slowest start group so I know there's going to be a lot of traffic to get through. I'd like to go under two hours but that'll depend on how much dodging and weaving I have to do.

But if, by some strange miracle, I find myself in the lead coming up the home straight and some Kenyan dude tries to pass me I'm so going to do this ... 

Does anyone have any great nerve-calming techniques that they're happy to share?

Sunday, April 28, 2013



Thank God last week's over.

Let's just say that it was challenging and leave it at that...

... and I would but that is way less fun than having a good old whiny bitch about it. Too much work and not enough time. Having the one-armed bandit steal even more of the time that I didn't have to go do trivial things like see doctors to have stitches removed. Hey, I could have done that with my quick unpick down in the work room.

I have a little wish list for this week - that my husband has some form of divine blessing and is miraculously healed and that my dog stops scratching himself.

Remember how Toby was wearing the cone of shame last week to stop him from chewing on his leg? Well the cone of shame did its job but caused another problem. Toby didn't like is around his neck so he scratched at it and he scratched enough to make his neck infected. There's nothing quite like getting cuddles from a dog whose neck is weeping and manky. After a couple of days trying to keep it clean with betidine I just waved the white flag in surrender and sent him up to the vet to get some antibiotics.

It's looking so much better even after only 48 hours. 

So that was the Reader's Digest version of the week's bad bits. Now it's time to move on to the highlights reel.

- Getting all of my work done. It took an 11 hour day and a threatening Facebook post to the boys to say there would be no dinner unless someone stepped up but it did finally get finished.

Thanks Luke for stepping into the breach and filling my apron.

- Having a great tempo run on Monday - 6 of the kilometres under the 5 min mark and the hilly kilometre at 5:03. I call that a success.

- Having another great session the following day at speed. Four of the 1k reps under 4:40 pace and the other three under 4:50. Another success.

- Making it to the lookout on the trail run without walking. Yeah, I know I walked a little on the very last hill but I'm still calling it a success.

- A solid 20k LSD on Saturday to round out the week.

Funny how four out of five positives are running-related. But running was what kept me sane last week and kept the family safe from their slightly work-crazed matriarch.

It all caught up with me on Sunday. Apart from a little walk to get coffee with a friend, some washing and a bit of cake decorating I just lay around and read for the most of the day. 

Happy Birthday Becky

And I skipped this morning's run - my body needed sleep more than it needed another flogging. 

This week will be much more sane. I hope.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Running In The Spirit Of The Anzacs

I finally did it!

No, I haven't committed any mortal sin that would land me in jail and leave my children fatherless. Since my last post Iven has been behaving himself. Kind of. He's still not following his post-op instructions to the letter but he has stopped using tools, power or otherwise. I'd like to say it was because I was smart enough to hide the key to his tool room. But alas I am not. Well, I'm smart enough to think about doing it but I'm also smart enough to realise that I may forget where I've hidden the key.

What I actually did was go to my first hill session in, let me just count, at least 10 months. Actually it's longer than that but I only have just so many fingers and my shoes are still on.

It's Anzac Day today and in honour of the Anzac spirit one of our runners, Rob. organised a special trail run to remind us about enduring hardships and supporting each other to achieve our goal.

Twenty four intrepid runners turned up at our meeting place before dawn, a little wary of what lay ahead but determined to complete the task at hand. Well I was anyway. When you haven't run any hills for twenty months (Iven lent me his toes so I could finish counting - he couldn't lend his fingers for obvious reasons) you know that there's a world of pain waiting for you in them thar hills.

We stood around chatting for a while as the day dawned. I managed to end up under a tree that was home to a bird with a nervous stomach. I'm guessing, from the size of the poop on my shoulder that it was probably an albatross which is strange and quite rare for an inland city. But I took the bird's blessing as a good sign that my feet would have wings.

Turns out that I might have read a bit much into it and sometimes bird poop on your shoulder is nothing more than a mess to clean up.

Rob had organised a special treat because of the special occasion - a violinist to play us The Last Post before we headed out. And with those haunting strains still resonating in our brains we started.

There was a lot of uphill in the first kilometre. There was going to be no easing ourselves into this run. Soon enough though my muscles started to remember that somewhere in the distant past I had been able to do this and it started to feel a bit easier. We spread out over the trails, regrouping every so often and then pushing onwards.

The first five kilometres were actually quite pleasant. We were in the bush, surrounded by trees and birds on undulating paths chatting and enjoying nature. But then came the last push up to a lookout and that's when I knew that not running hills for twenty months makes running hills a little more challenging.

But I made it! And I didn't stop (except when the whole group stopped to reassemble). And I wasn't the last one up - close to the last but I'm okay with that.

It was a magnificent view from the lookout. We hung around and snacked on lollies for a while and then started back down again. And my legs weren't feeling their normal self. The effort of getting to the summit had made them somewhat jelly-like. Running downhill on jelly legs is a scary proposition.

So to distract myself I tried to think of other things. Like the trees. And the birds. And just how many people used the same trail to walk their dog. And boy, my butt and legs feel shaky (yeah, I'm not very good at distracting myself). I wonder if the people behind me can see the extra wobble. No, wiggle sounds much better than wobble. Wobble sounds like I have a huge, lardacious posterior. Wiggle sounds like I have at least some control over whatever wobbling is happening. Like twerking. (How cool am I to know what twerking is??) Hmmm, I wonder if I keep running up hills will I develop enough of a derrière to twerk?

And that's about when the run stopped. Not with me contemplating the sacrifices that the Anzacs made to keep our nation safe so we can enjoy a wonderful lifestyle. But with me pondering my next challenge. I think, compared to this, that marathon training will be a walk in the park. But I'm determined. One day I will be doing this at one of my son's wedding.

They'll be so proud!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Apparently my husband must be a good man because I'm having trouble keeping him down.

The problem is that he's not sick, just injured. And in his injured state it's quite easy to see all the jobs that need doing around the house and be a bit frustrated that he can't get to them. After all he has a couple of weeks off work (because he is injured from trying to do jobs around the house - the irony seems to escape him).

But rather than suffer through the frustration and just let them stay undone, he's been trying to tackle them one-handed. And this terrifies me because he managed to damage himself enough to require surgery when he had two good hands.

Last Friday I was working away downstairs when I heard a loud banging come from above. A loud banging over my head is not a usual occurrence so I HAD to go investigate. I found Iven sitting on the top step of our patio with a hammer and chisel trying to chip out a cracked tile. And yes, he was using his recently-sewn-up-still-in-a-cast hand to stabilise the chisel while he hits it with the hammer in his left hand. He is not left handed. He is not ambidextrous. He IS an accident waiting to happen.

Then Saturday he decided that he should try to finish the job that started all this drama. He's trying to move a gate at the side of our house to have easier access to a shed where the boys are supposed to store their bikes but don't because they have to open a gate. The gate was welded to a post and he was using the angle grinder to cut it off. This week the angle grinder is definitely verboten so he tried the hacksaw instead. But the hacksaw wasn't working so well so he ended up with a crowbar. Yes, it's absolutely a great idea to use a crowbar one handed with only your leg to help stabilise it.

Sunday, having been successful with removing the gate, it was time to weld something to something (I think it was hinge to a post but not exactly sure because my policy now is to stick my head in the sand and hope that it will all go away). Starting to freak out about a one-handed man in charge of what could be considered a flame thrower. Thank heavens #3 son, Luke decided that it was a good day to learn how to weld.

Luke, I am your Father. Now give me my mask back.

Is it any wonder that I have a packet of Valium in my bedside table?
Is it any wonder that I have the emergency number programmed into speed dial?
Is it any wonder that I run as much as I do?

Even Toby is feeling the stress. Some of you commented on Toby's cone of shame in his last photo. He's been chewing on his leg and I swear it's because he's worried about Iven. Or it could be that he doesn't want Iven to get all the attention.

I've just been reading up on tendon repairs and basically it takes about six weeks to heal. And you're not supposed to do anything with the affected area until you have your surgeon's okay. And 2 out of 50 surgeries end up with complications because the patient DOESN'T DO WHAT THEY'RE TOLD. I'm now taking bets on whether Iven will be one of that 4%. But the odds are really short.

I haven't spent the whole weekend just following around Iven with a first aid kit and popping tranquillizers. I've also done lots of fun stuff. Like doing a couple of loads of washing. Like killing an ant colony that was trying to take over our house one cupboard at a time. Like cutting the hair that grows between the pads on Toby's paws which make him slip all over the kitchen tiles. Like sorting out all the books under my bed into 'read' and 'unread' piles and then trying to find spaces in our bookshelves for the 'read' ones.

I also finally got around to writing things into my diary - important things like races, hen's nights, weddings and 50th birthday parties. And that's when I realised that my system of not writing things into my diary and assuming that I was free every weekend just didn't work so well. It usually works fine because I basically have no social life apart from running, races and breakfasts with running friends. And last year, because I was too unwell to do many events it mattered even less. Now I'm feeling a lot better and running a lot better I've let my hair down a bit and entered quite a few races - including one in Sydney in May on just the weekend of my BIL's 50th birthday party. The same party that I'd bought the gorgeous (and fairly expensive) dress for last weekend. Oops.

And while I'm sorry that I won't be able to celebrate a significant event in Mike's life, I'm a tiny bit devastated that I don't get to wear the gorgeous dress - at least for a little while. So I did what any good blogger would do. I got all dressed up (with no place to go) just so my dress could have a virtual outing. (Note the strapping tape around my ankles - it's what every stylish runner is wearing this season).

The silver lining is that I now have enough dresses to wear a different one for each of my sons' weddings. All I have to do is convince them to get married just so I can wear them.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stress and Sanity

It's been a trying week. One might say it's been insanely, crazy busy.

All that I've wanted to do is run and breakfast with friends and read and nap. But what I've HAD to do is inconvenient, non-fun things like WORK. And I've found that my desire to do all the fun stuff increases exponentially as my level of work-franticness increases.

This week my level of work-franticness was at an all time high. There was lots of stuff that had to be cut out and sent to the machinist by the end of Wednesday. I'd known that this week was going to be bad for a while but I hadn't factored in the possibility of having a husband with only one functional arm. I'd relied on having a fully functional spouse that could take over the daily hiccups like dinner and folding the washing and walking the dog. But because of the angle grinder incident, what I had was a couple of other jobs on my plate.

"You think YOU have it tough. Try wearing a bucket on your head"

So I had to do what I hate having to do - ask people to help. The boys were good about doing what they could around their commitments. Josh took stuff up to the hospital. Luke picked Iven up when he was discharged. Sam did some extra stuff around the house. Mum took Iven to his therapy appointment on Wednesday.

This all took the load off but I still had more work than I'd banked on. And I was feeling stressed like I wasn't getting it right. I should have been the one to pick him up, to sit with him before surgery and be there when he woke up, to bring him home and make sure he was being looked after and take him back to his appointments. But my insightful youngest son gave me permission to ask for help and to lean on family and I really appreciated being allowed to rescind some of the responsibility.

That's the problem with running your own business. There is no one else to take the reins when the s@!t hits the fan. And you're left in the position when you have to decide who to let down - family or clients. Luckily family was able to cover me but I can foresee times when it'll be the client that loses out.

The stress must have been a bit obvious to those who know me best. Coach Chris has rung every day to check on things. And by checking on things I mean he's checking to see that I haven't done anything untoward to my husband. And by untoward I mean mariticide. I don't know why he'd think I'd do anything violent to my husband. Just because I talk about it and write about it doesn't mean that I'd actually follow through. Planning murder is much less messy than following through with one. And I had enough to do this week without having to come up with the perfect murder, commit it and then make sure that there was absolutely no evidence that could point to me.

Coach Chris was also so concerned about my husband and the chance that he might be neglected that he offered to give him a bell so I could be summoned whenever he felt need of food, drink or amusement. I graciously declined his offer and when he insisted that it was a good idea I became a lot less gracious. Apparently 'where the sun doesn't shine' can be taken quite personally and all I'd really intended was burial by canine in the back yard.

So what did I do to manage the stress, you ask? I did what I always do. I ran away from it. Literally. And it felt so good that I didn't want to stop yesterday. So I stretched it out as long as I could justify and still get everything done that had to get done.

Sanity restored.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston 2013

Even though I am thousands of miles away from the tragedy of yesterday it's hard to not take it personally.

I have lined up on the starting line of a race. I have joined with thousands of other runners and run for my own personal reasons. I have had loved ones come and support me. I have done exactly what all the runners at Boston did without fear of anything apart from pain and failure.

And because I have walked in those shoes (or rather run in those sneakers) I feel what happened as if I was there.

We runners are all part of a huge family. We understand what drives and motivates each other. We get the insanity of what we do and applaud others who do it too. And we hurt when our family members are hurt. I'd like every person who was there in Boston to know that there are thousands of runners around the globe who are hurting with you and praying for the best outcomes for your friends and family who have been injured physically or emotionally.

"And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!"

Robert Burns

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Just One of THOSE Days

I started a different post yesterday but events transpired and all of a sudden yesterday's post seems a little insignificant.

Did you ever have one of those days that starts out a certain way then all of a sudden you do a complete about-face? I had one of those days.

It started out completely normal for a Saturday. Well not completely normal. It was pouring (not that that's unusual this year) and I had my long run to get to. My inner sloth told me that it was much more sensible to stay in bed BUT I'd threatened two running friends with public shaming if they didn't show so how could I pike?? So I got dressed in the cold and dark - or tried to get dressed. I'd forgotten to put out my running bra. That meant a surreptitious sortie into the bedroom to retrieve said vital undergarment. And of course in my addled early morning state I chose the wrong one - cross-backed not standard. You men out there have it so easy.

By the time I turned up at our meeting spot the rain had almost stopped but that didn't last long. It was a very wet 21.5k. So wet that no amount of Body Glide could stop the chafing that I discovered when I hit the shower. But hey, I'd just run my longest run of the year in my biggest week of the year and it was one of those runs where I could have just kept on running. That little bit of chafing was like a medal of valour.

Run done, it was time for all the fun Saturday morning stuff like breakfast at a cafe (yum), shopping for our fruit and veg for the week (a necessary evil), unpacking said shopping and getting a load of washing sorted. Yep, Saturday's can be a barrel of laughs.

Usually the next thing on my list is to have lunch and then a nap. But I had other plans - a little bit of dress shopping with a wedding party. My friend Bec is getting married in June and is having a very small wedding - the bride, the groom and six guests. I've been honoured to have been one of those six. The plan was for all of the guests to colour coordinate so we can get some amazing photos. So Saturday we were going to look at fabric.

But getting a dress made is a pretty big job - choosing fabric, design, finding a dressmaker and going for fittings. So the fabric shopping became an orgy of trying on dresses. And I can't believe that I actually enjoyed it. And even better - that we found something really quickly. AND I bought another dress for my brother-in-law's upcoming 50th.

Successful shopping trip over, we returned back home for a little puppy meet and greet. I introduced Iven (who had been home doing some handyman stuff) to the girls. They had to leave and I finally went upstairs to sit down only to find Iven clutching a wad of paper towel to his hand.

"What did you do?"

"Just got myself with the angle grinder."

 That's never going to be a good thing. Flesh meeting flesh-eating electrical device. I asked to see the damage and I was right - as I usually am. We were heading to the medical centre for stitches. But after seeing the doctor we were back in the car heading to the emergency room for hand surgery. Seems the angle grinder is also good at cutting through human tendons and Iven was no longer able to point with his Peter Pointer. No extensor tendon means that another line of communication is cut off if you're a male who likes to grunt and point.

Two doctors and a surgeon later (and three hours of just sitting and waiting) and the verdict was that yes, the tendon was cut and yes, he was to have surgery and yes, he had to stay in overnight.

Surgery was yesterday and it went well but he had to stay in overnight again to recover from it. He should be home some time today but hospitals are vortices that swallow time so heaven knows when it will be. And yes, this is my busiest week of the working year so far with deadlines that absolutely can't be missed. Swearing a little in my head!

Oh and in the middle of this I get my period. Surprise! Four days early. Lucky me.

But despite all this drama (note to the universe - I've had my fair share now. Please stop flinging crap at me), I'm still counting Saturday as a really good day. A great long run PLUS a new dress - doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Regularly Scheduled Vent

Bum, bum, bum, poo!

I'm channelling my inner three year old, my cranky inner three year old, who's not getting their own way today. 

I shouldn't really complain. After all I did get to start the day having breakfast out with some of the nicest people I know. Drinking the best coffee in Brisbane is sure to set you up for an amazing day surely?

The problem is that I'm totally OVER work at the moment. I've worked really long hours and some weekends trying to get everything done by their deadlines and I still have at least another ten days of really long hours to go. Why does every lycra-wearing sport have their competition date in the same month? Why can't every child in a trio be the same size so I don't have to draft three different patterns? Why does the coach continue to choose discontinued fabrics so I have to ring her and get her to re-choose? (I should possibly take some of the blame for that one and sort out my fabric samples more often). Why can't the competitors do their routine naked if I haven't had time to finish? Why do I take on so much work??

I can answer the last one. It's because I don't like to say no. It's too hard to say to clients who've come back year after year.

Every year I say to myself that I'm not going to get to this point and every year I find out I'm here again. Talk about a slow learner.

So what would I rather be doing? Reading one of the running magazines that I've been stock-piling for a while because I don't have enough time to read them. Having a nap after lunch because it's cool and rainy and perfect napping weather. Baking some cupcakes because the container is nearly empty and I've got a hectic weekend coming up. Taking the dogs for a walk because Iven's had to do it nearly every day this week. 

Poor Iven has really had to take up my slack. As well as walking the dogs, he's had to be more involved in preparing the evening meal. And I've been so cranky at the end of the day that I've been less than grateful about it. It's so, so wrong of me but seriously, how hard is it to cut up the broccoli the right way (big bits, not tiny little ones that overcook) or to make the carrot slices all the same thickness? And don't even get me started on the way he hangs up clothes. Or how he slurps his tea and gulps it too loudly while crunching on a piece of chocolate. Yes, crunching!

Add to that the fact that he didn't read my mind last Friday (oh, I NEVER forget anything) and suggest that he go buy the Vietnamese salad that I really wanted for dinner instead of cereal. The man's lucky that he's still alive.

I am a mean, mean person. (Hang head in shame)

But I'm managing to keep a lid on actually venting the meanness and say something that would show just how petty I can get. And all that suppressed pressure is building up inside just ready to explode in a weak moment.

Actually, I may have let a little bit of it out yesterday on the phone to some poor girl. A few weeks ago my son sent his phone back to be repaired. Or rather I sent it back to be repaired because, apparently I have more time to run around and do errands. I sent it back in the regular post, not registered mail, because I didn't even think of registering it and no one suggested it. And the phone has never reached its destination. My suspicion is that some Australia Post worker who's less than honest has pocketed it (Idiot!! Who'd steal a broken phone?) and now my son is out a few hundred dollars if he chooses to replace it. And I feel guilty because I posted it.

So, to assuage my guilt a little, I volunteered to ring Australia Post and see if anything could be done. I couldn't ring on my land line because that's been out for a couple of weeks and Telstra hasn't been able to catch up on repairs since we had the floods at the beginning of the year. (Don't get me started on that one and how I have to pay extra every bill because it's a business phone just so we'll get priority if there are any issues and how their phone centre is based overseas and has staff whose accents are so thick that it's hard to know if they're speaking English or not)

 So I'm on hold for over 15 minutes on my mobile, unpacking groceries with one hand while trying not to think of my next phone bill or the brain tumour that I'm nurturing with all that mobile phone radiation. One dropped tub of yoghurt later (which Toby enthusiastically helped me clean up) I was talking to a girl who helpfully told me that I should have sent it by registered mail (yeah, I know that now) and that no, it wasn't on their list of 'unable to be delivered items' and there was nothing more that she could do. To that I made the helpful suggestion that her company should do better background checks on their workers and wasn't I just so silly for thinking that by spending money to get something delivered, it would actually happen. And I think I ended up the conversation by saying 'well thanks ... for pretty much nothing!'

And then I went to their Facebook page to vent a little more only to have another helpful little person tell me that I should have sent it by registered mail. Great advice and absolutely no help whatsoever.

Do you think that my testosterone treatment is turning me into a grumpy old man?

So I've had my little vent for the day. I'm going to now head downstairs and tackle the leotards that are waiting. And wish that I'd made a stop at the supermarket to buy some chocolate to get me through. I might have to send some subliminal messages to Iven to pick some up on the way home from work. Let's see if he gets them this time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Autumn Running - The Pros and Con

The days are getting cooler. The nights are getting longer. And my happiness quotient is definitely increasing.

I know a lot of people who don't like winter. They don't like the cold. They don't like the long days. They just want to hibernate until it starts to warm up again.

That's a little like I feel in summer. The heat just sucks my energy away and ideally I'd just like to lie somewhere cool with an icy drink until it passes.

But life doesn't let you just hide away for three or four months. There are things that just have to get done. Workouts that need to be ticked off. And so every year in about October I put on my big girl pants, harden up and resign myself to getting sweaty and smelly.

The world keeps turning and by April the weather starts to become a little kinder and all those sweaty hours start to pay off.

But I don't mind it being dark. I quite like getting up when no one else in the house is awake, except Toby and even he doesn't get off the couch to greet me before 5:00am.

It's not even light yet! 

There are just so many benefits to running in the cooler months. (disclaimer: it never gets ridiculously cold here and it never snows)

It's just easier on your body not having to get rid of all that excess heat. Your heart rate will be lower and you don't have to sweat quite as much. All your energy can go into the workout rather than having to keep a little aside to stop your internal organs from cooking.

It's great to be able to see the sun come up. Nothing beats watching the sunrise over a river or from a mountain. Watching the first rays of light reflect golden off the high rises. Marvelling at the pinks, purples and oranges that are painted across the sky. Seeing the city buildings in silhouetted relief against a daily ever-changing masterpiece. It always fills my spirit and lifts me.

It's way easier to use bush toilets in suburban areas under the cover of darkness. That one's an important one for me. I feel so much less self-conscious bush diving when it's dark. I also feel more alone (on my non-squad runs) and that's important for me coming from a household filled with four males and fairly regular female visitors.

You will feel virtuous and superior to the majority of the population for having done the hard yards in conditions that most people use as an excuse not to work out. This allows you to brag gratuitously but subtly in conversations with strangers, friends and family. I find that people are totally impressed when you start a conversation with "When I was out running my 20ker this morning at 5:00am in four degree temperature and gale force winds ..." That glazed look in their eyes is just them processing your complete and utter awesomeness.

In fact I can only think of one down side to getting up in the dark to get in some kilometres. And that would be trying to get around the house without waking up the family. For me this usually involves using minimal lighting and having my running clothes laid out on the dining table. Because of the minimal lighting thing, I have a tendency to bump into or trip over stuff. The bumping into furniture part is probably inexcusable being that we have lived in this house for 26 years and haven't moved our furniture around for most of those 26 years. My theory is that I lose track of my actual dimensions in the dark and think my hips are smaller than they are. So to counteract the threat of bruising I walk around at shuffle pace with one arm out in front of me acting like an antenna.

The tripping over part I blame totally on Toby. Having a one year old golden retriever is like having an untidy toddler. Toby is a dog who loves toys but hasn't yet learnt to tidy them away.

Ted is his favourite. Ted is usually carried around and shown to any person who comes through our gate. Ted is also the result of grand larceny - stolen off Josh's bed and re-stolen any time that Josh has tried to retrieve it. Josh has now surrendered Ted into Toby's loving care, knowing he will be well cared for.

But Ted also gets left in places where you wouldn't expect him. And the other morning while I was shuffling/stumbling my way around the dark kitchen I found him. With my foot. And he felt remarkably like a dead rat.

It's amazing just how well you run after you've had a near-rat experience. 

So even the only negative of getting up in the dark to run has a silver lining.

What season do you most like to run in?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

No Monday-itis Here

It was hard getting out of bed this morning.

The weather has finally turned and it's getting cooler. Cool weather means that my interest in snuggling under the bedclothes has increased (The testosterone treatment has also increased my interest in snuggling under the covers but that's totally different story which won't be told on my PG blog). Plus it's dark at 4:45am when my alarm goes off. Dark and cool just invites you to stay in bed doesn't it?

So I procrastinated for 12 minutes. Played it fast and loose by turning off my alarm clock and dozing for just a bit longer. Luckily my running-Nazi alter-ego was looking after me so I didn't fall back into a deep sleep so by 5:00am I was up eating a banana at the computer checking the results for the Paris Marathon.

Every single one of the Paris-ites finished.

It's such a huge achievement particularly for the six first-timers and the ones that struggled with significant injuries. All the squad back here is so excited for them and proud of their achievements. And a little envious of their awesome medal and their adventure.

And those were the feelings that I took with me on this morning's run. It was, on my program, a 10k controlled run. But I've been a little relaxed with the program - if it says 10 and the route I want to run is 11 or 12 I don't stop once my watch beeps at 10k. And because I have entered a few races now (four as of this date) and I have no confidence in being able to sustain any pace, I've been trying to run a few of the kilometres a bit faster.

So here's how today 's run went by the numbers -

I'm counting the run as a confidence-builder leading up to the Mother's Day Classic (4.5k) in a month. It was also successful in another aspect. There was no frantic toilet-searching or bush-diving. My intestines decided to be kind to me for a change.

I got home with enough energy to take the dogs for a walk and on the walk ran into a niece who has just started a 6 week fitness challenge. We chatted while we walked (she'd finished her session) and she told me that she's going to run the 10k at the Gold Coast. I'm excited for her and secretly thrilled that all the brain-washing and subliminal messages that I've been sending are finally bearing fruit. Son #3, Luke and his girlfriend Becky have been running with a group every week and are thinking of doing the Mother's Day Classic. Son #1, Sam, has been doing some runs on top of training for soccer a couple of times a week. And son #2, Josh has just bought a road bike so I don't think that he'll be running for a while - not until the novelty of the new bike has worn off, at least.

I couldn't have asked for a better start to the week. Roll on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Where Should We Go?

It's just going to be a quick one today and I'm hoping for a really big response.

I posted last week about a crew of runners from my squad going over to Paris to run in the marathon this Sunday. We've been getting lots of updates on Facebook - great photos of all the fun they're having pre-race - and there's been a fair bit of runner's envy happening over this side of the globe.

Coach Chris has started to do a little research into marathons for 2014 with the hope of putting together another group of enthusiastic travellers keen to run an international marathon.

The only problem is that we're totally spoilt for choice. And short of doing this 

I thought I'd use my vast pool of international resources to get some quality information.

So what marathon should we run?? What's the most fun marathon you've ever run? The most scenic? The easiest? (not that any marathon is ever easy - but some are harder than others) The best organised?

My own personal criteria is fairly flat, is easy to gain entry into, in the second half of the year (because of work) and is in a location where there's lots of touristy things to do. 

So it's over to you all now. Where should we go?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Oops I Did It Again

Last week I had a couple of wins. Not of the monetary kind or the prize kind either. My wins came in the form of perfectly positioned toilets while I was out running.

Well my luck ran out on Monday. And that is why I will never gamble. A winning streak is always bound to end eventually and often it ends in a big way.

Last year I went to see a gastro-enterologist because I was having some disturbing, uncomfortable and room-clearing symptoms. He decided that I was suffering from IBS. And he decided that a few dietary changes were in order. Mostly I stick to the changes and sometimes I eat on regardless of consequence.

Possibly the fact that it had been Easter and Easter has some food-based traditions played a part in my gastric downfall. But I'm loathe to blame copious amounts of chocolate and hot cross buns because I'd be forced to give them up. So in this case I might blame corned beef and Brussels sprouts (even though I didn't actually eat any).

I was running my usual 11k Monday loop and was about 5k into it when the first signs that all was not well hit. I knew where the toilets were and they weren't too close but I thought it would be fine. It was probably less than a kilometre away - not so far when you're running but it gets to a point where running is tantamount to lighting a short fuse on a stick of dynamite. A kilometre can feel like a marathon when there's cramping and sweating and clenching and hobbling involved.

There are plenty of bushes where I run and, being that it was early on Easter Monday, there weren't too many people around so I knew that there was a port if the storm came. The only problem was that this is where my squad does speed session and I didn't think I could bear the shame if we had to run reps past here the very next day. Even if nobody knew.

So I headed cross country to where I knew I could find what I so desperately needed. And I made it ... only to find that the doors to the loos (or more appropriately - the gateway to paradise) were firmly locked.  And the next toilets were another kilometre away.

The expression on my face could have been used in a picture dictionary as the description for desperation and disappointment. There was nothing for it but to find the most discreet bush around.

There was an extra bounce in my step once I started running again. It's amazing how much easier running feels when you're not doubled over with cramps. And there was incentive to put distance between me and my make-shift loo as quickly as possible. But what's a girl to do? If you've got to go, you've got to go.

When I win the lottery (the odds of which are incredibly remote seeing as I don't and won't gamble) I will hire a special chauffeur-driven port-a-loo to follow me on all my runs.

I wonder if these can go off-road too.