Sunday, September 29, 2013


Thirteen days to go.

That means it's time to take things a little bit easier. No more 4:00am starts. No more really long runs. Time to get serious about resting. Time to start feeling fresh. There's really not much more I can do running-wise at this stage to make the marathon any easier. It's not like when I used to cram for exams at uni. I've had to be disciplined and consistent - and there's still no guarantee that it'll be any easier on the day. At least I know I've done everything in my power to be prepared.

Over the past few months I've completed 3 x 28k (17 mile), 2 x 32k (20 mile) and 3 x 37k (23 mile) runs. I've run my fastest half marathon in quite a few years and I've only missed three of my scheduled runs - two in the week straight after the half marathon and one when I was just too tired. All in all I feel like it's gone incredibly well and even if the run isn't the greatest I can be proud that I made it this far. Sometimes just getting to the starting line is a big deal.

I've had to face some pretty big fears on this journey. My fear of getting sick again and my fear of failure. But in facing them I feel like I've become a stronger person. One who knows the power of persistence and self-belief. And that was the whole point of signing up for this adventure in the first place - to stretch myself, to put my bad years behind me and to remind myself that my spirit can be limitless.

And it won't stop once the marathon is over. I've already been ticking off events in my head that I wouldn't mind working towards next year. My eldest has said he'll do Great Ocean Road with me (the half, not the full). I've always wanted to do Canberra. And I wouldn't mind doing Kurrawa to Duranbah in December if my recovery from the marathon goes well. So many options!

I'm pretty sure my next adventure will be less fraught with fear. It will be built on strong memories of what I've overcome and what can be achieved with effort and confidence.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Something's happened to my sense of perspective over the course of the last few months. I realised it this morning when I was having breakfast with some friends and one asked how far I was running this weekend. My answer? Just 28 kilometers.

A couple of months ago I considered 28 kilometers to be a really long run. I hadn't run that far in three years and it intimidated me a little. But after all the training and building up to bigger and bigger distances, 28 kilometers gets to be 'just' like it's no big deal. I'm now looking at it from a different angle.

Our waiter is also a runner and did his first 10k race last weekend. I asked how it went and he modestly told me he'd run 46mins and now he was hooked. But he would never do anything crazy like run a marathon. And I had to have a bit of a laugh. That's exactly what I said when I started running with the squad. Actually, I went even further - never run a marathon OR a half marathon. I'd run two half marathons before and the last one I did was so awful that I never wanted to repeat the experience.

But again my perspective's changed. When you hang around with a group of inspiring people of all different ages and running abilities and you see them working towards a challenging goal you start to get little questioning whispers in the back of your mind. Hmmm, maybe I could too? And one day those whispers become so insistent that, while you're in the throws of a post-run endorphin high, you actually sign on the dotted line and pay over the big bucks.

It'd be wrong to waste good money and not go through with it so for the next few months you rack up the kilometers. Your shortest run becomes the speed session and you really don't bother getting out of bed to do less than 12k. Years ago my go-to run was a 5k loop (which I've recently found out is actually only 4.5k) and I thought I was pretty hard core doing a couple of those a week. Big change in perspective.

People start to comment on how much you're running. Non-running people mostly. And it's interesting to see things from their perspective. Because from their perspective, what you're doing is a whole heap of crazy! Getting up at 3:15am on a Saturday. Running till your toe-nails bruise. Having to spend most of the weekend recovering from your super-human Saturday effort. Having unmentionable areas of your body chafed. Whimpering when you step in the shower and the water hits said unmentionable areas. Going to the toilet shamelessly in the bushes because there's no toilet around. Accepting that discomfort is just part of the process so you might as well embrace it.

Yep, when you put it like that it is a whole heap of crazy. But it's also an adventure. And a voyage of discovery about yourself. And, if you run in a group, it's an adventure that you take with friends. Friends who get it. Friends who goad you on to dream big, audacious dreams because they're just as crazy as you - or even a bit crazier (you know I mean you Mr I-run-24hrs-around-a-track-then-back-up-a-couple-of-weeks-later-with-a-marathon Smyth ).

So the big question now is, will this change in perspective be permanent?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm a Mum

I'm a mum.

I've been one for over 26 years now. My babies are all grown up now - even though they're still living at home and I still cook their dinners and tell them off for not keeping their room tidy.

My role as mum has changed enormously over the years.

When they were little I was the centre of their universe. I was the one who provided for all their needs and taught them right from wrong. I was the one who encouraged and nurtured and forced them to do the things that were hard but built character. I cheered. Listened to stories that they thought were important. Watched as they did 'amazing' dives into pools, 'amazing' tricks on their scooters and other 'amazing' feats of physical prowess. I wiped tears and bottoms. Spent hours worrying about fevers, assignments, disappointments and whether I was doing a good enough job as a mother.

And then one day it had all changed.

The change happens slowly. They wrestle control away from you bit by bit. And bit by bit you let the reins go until they are strong enough, wise enough, capable enough.

And the mother in you cries a few silent tears. That her babies have grown - even though that is what you want to happen and know will happen and can't stop happening even if you try. That you're not the centre of their universe any more - even though you're so very happy that they have significant others who are wonderful people who have become family to you. That those little pudgy arms don't wrap around your neck any more when they're sitting on your lap - fully grown men don't really fit on their mother's laps.

And you wonder what your role is now. How you fit into their worlds. How to be a part of their lives without meddling, interfering or interrogating.

It can be a hard time when they become autonomous. But then you get those interactions that tell you that you're still part of their universe - maybe not their sun but still important.

I had a couple of these on the weekend. They were just little things - texts, Facebook conversations, real-life conversations. But they reminded me that I haven't passed my used-by date as a mum. And they made the mother in me happy that I have new, grown-up relationships with my boys. With my men (who will always be my boys).

Once a mum - always a mum.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Third Time's The Charm

The third time's a charm, or so they say. And this was definitely true for my third and final stupidly long run.

The first two 37k-ers were grinds. Sure I made the distance but there was pretty much nothing left in the tank (as demonstrated by my wanting to faint at the end of both of them). And because I'm a realist and ascribe to Dr Phil's theory that 'the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour' (I get to watch a lot of daytime TV with working from home - I'm not proud of it but it is what it is) I tend to think my next run will be equally as bad.

But something happened in my head this week and, rather than dread the three and a half hours ahead of me on Saturday, I just gave myself over to it. I knew I'd be able to finish it and once it was done I wasn't going to have to run as long until marathon day.

Preparations for Saturday's run start on Friday. When my alarm went off I set it to 3:15am. Then it was all about making sure I had the right fuel on board. Quinoa and chicken salad for lunch, chicken stir fry and brown rice for dinner. Can you tell that chicken's my favourite protein? I didn't bother with going to bed too early. It just doesn't work for me - I lie in bed telling myself to go to sleep and end up tossing and turning for hours. But I managed to convince my dearly beloved that it would be in everyone's best interests for him to sleep in another room. I got the best night's sleep ever!

I can't really say exactly why this run was so much better than the other two. It could have been the fuelling the day before. It could have been that it was a lovely cool morning. It could have been that the route was a little less hilly (but only a little). It could have been that I'd taken an extra rest day during the week and my legs were a little fresher. It could have been my shift in mind-set. It could have been the company. Or it could have been all of the above.

I got to the 29k mark feeling fairly fresh. Last week I'd had to stop and walk for a while here because I was starting to feel nauseated. Then every kilometre after that I had a little internal celebration that I was still feeling good.

We'd started the run aiming at around 6 minute kilometres but somewhere around the 24k mark it changed and the pace picked up slightly. All bar one of the last 13k were in the 5:30's and 5:40's. I felt strong and confident that if I had to run an extra 5k (which I will have to in 3 weeks time) I'd be able to do it. And best of all Elio (my running partner) didn't have to catch me at the end of the run - no light-headedness!

So that's pretty much all the hard slog done now. I have 3 x 37k and 2 x 32k runs under my belt. The last time I trained for a marathon I did 2 x 36k runs and 2 x 32k so I'm feeling like I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.

The only questions left to answer are the ones about goals and pacing. When I decided to attempt this earlier this year my main goal was to finish the race as a way of putting a big full stop at the end of a couple of years of bad health. Just being able to complete the training was going to be a huge victory in itself.

Now, having done the training and feeling stronger and fitter than I have in years, you'd think my goals may have shifted a little. But you'd be wrong. The last couple of years had such a huge impact on my life that I am excited and extremely grateful just to make it to the starting line. Yes, I plan on finishing - that's my A goal. If I can finish without walking and without getting lost in an Art's Centre looking for a toilet (yes, there's a story behind that) then I'll be ecstatic. And if I can go under the 4hrs and 6 mins that's my current PB then I'll be ... I have no superlatives to describe how that will feel. What's better than ecstatic?

I'm going to be a little bit sorry when it's all done. I've, weirdly, enjoyed pushing myself. Getting up when it's still night and pounding empty streets with like-minded comrades. And I'm not the only one in the family that's going to be sorry when it's done. Luke, my youngest, was laughing watching me hobble around the kitchen trying to put away vegetables in the crisper on Saturday. He told me that he loves Saturdays because I'm so entertaining. Glad I could be such a source of amusement to you Petal. Planning my revenge as I type this!

And because I haven't put up a cake pic in a long time - here's one for you all to drool over.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Marathon Brain

Three weeks and two days to go. But who's counting?

Okay, I am. I'm counting sleeps and runs and kilometres and times that I have to talk myself off a ledge. And I haven't even started to taper yet. Now that's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

I'm down to sixteen sleeps (plus as many naps as I can justify), eleven runs and as many freak outs as I bloody-well like. Apologies for the language but sometimes anxiety can remove all my verbal restraints and make me act like I've had a frontal lobotomy. Or maybe it's a combo of the accumulated training fatigue plus the anxiety - henceforth to be known as marathon brain.

My marathon brain has had me do some strange things this week. Last night I managed to cook the tip of my finger. On a really hot pan. Trying to turn a piece of fish over. To the point where the skin feels hard and crinkly. It doesn't hurt. It has no feeling in it so I think I've burnt a couple of nerve endings. Not my finest moment in the kitchen.

It's the middle finger on my left hand and when I've gone to show people they've taken offence at my unintentional rude gesture. But I unfortunately have a bit of a reputation within my running squad for using this exact gesture  - only at Coach Chris and only ever to his face because to do it behind his back would just be rude!

For those of you who are a little unsure of what I'm talking about here's a demonstration by my good friend Jack who, like me, has a problem telling his left from his right.

I've also been engaged in that on-going argument in my head. The topic of this week's debate is the need to get the kilometres done versus the need to mollycoddle some niggles which MIGHT turn into full blown injuries. 

It's not my ITB this time that's causing the mental stress. All the hip strengthening exercises that I've been doing less-than-diligently-but-enough-to-make-a-difference seem to have helped there and I haven't had a twinge from my knee for ages.

I've managed to get a new niggle - my left Achilles tendon. I've self-diagnosed it as mild Achilles tendinitis with the help of Google and my absent almost-physio son. It's been letting me know it wasn't totally happy for a little while now and I'd been treating it nicely - stretching, strengthening (but not too aggressively) and rolling it out - but then taking it on 37k runs to make sure it knew who was boss.

Then Tuesday we did our speed session on an incline and this made my Achilles really angry. It bitched and moaned to me all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Then complained for the first two kilometres of Thursday's 16k before settling down and enjoying the run. But afterwards it was back to complaining. and I started to wonder whether it was wise to run my last 37k on Saturday.

Actually my brain doesn't just stop at missing a run. It immediately goes to the worst-case scenario which usually involves death. I know - it's an art to be able to jump from slightly tender Achilles to death but it's one of my many talents. Sore Achilles becomes ruptured Achilles needing surgical repair and I either die from an atypical and obscure anaesthetic reaction or get a multi-resistant bacterial infection which results in multiple amputations that fail to stem the rampant infection and that leads on to septicaemia, organ failure and me dying a painful horrible death. Either way I don't get to run the marathon. Which I've paid good money for.

So to prevent the imminent Achilles rupture and my subsequent death I decided to take action. I took some ibuprofen (which I try to avoid except at 'that' time of the month), used a heat pack to relax my calf and then I rolled it, did my eccentric calf raises, stretched then iced. And this morning I got out of bed gingerly, expecting the worse and already planning a tasteful but fun funeral (Is it inappropriate to ask that the toilets be locked for my funeral so that any mourner needing to use the 'facilities' has to go discreetly behind a bush? I personally think that would be a fitting tribute.) To my delight my Achilles felt okay. No twinges, just a little tightness which was no worse than the other leg.

So I guess I won't be ditching tomorrow's 37k. And I'm weirdly pleased that I don't have to. It's the first one that I haven't dreaded with every fibre of my being. I've done two already so I know I can make the distance - even though neither of those ones exactly filled me with confidence. Last week's was downright hideous. It was hot and humid and I started to feel sick around 29k. But I got it done! 

Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be down around 12C (instead of the 20C that we started at last Saturday) so that's got to make it feel a little easier. And knowing it's the last of these really long runs certainly puts my head in a better space. And that's got to be good because my marathon brain only has the capacity to cope with good stuff at the moment - like unicorns and rainbows.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Life As A Movie

Imagine if your life was a movie. That you were being filmed from before sunrise to after dark.

Most of us get through life assuming that we're a little bit invisible. That no one notices what we're doing. But that's not always true.

This YouTube clip was linked on Facebook and it got me thinking.

How many times have I wanted to break out and 'shake my thang' while I've been waiting for the lights to change while I've been out running? How many times have I wanted to re-enact the scene from Sound of Music where Maria runs up the hill, arms outstretched embracing the feeling of being alive? How many times have I wanted to sing along at the shopping centre? And how many times have I held back because I don't want to look stupid?

I sat over my cup of coffee this morning watching that clip and smiling. Just enjoying her enjoying moving and the music. I didn't think she looked stupid at all - more like she was having fun and we got to have fun vicariously. So maybe next time I feel the music move me I should just go with it and to hell with worrying about looking stupid. If I look stupid enough it'll make people laugh - there should be more laughter in the world.

The other thing that it made me think of was what genre would my life's movie be? Absolutely not a
sci-fi despite my zombie-like appearance at early morning running sessions. Probably not a romance - after 27 years together our version of romance is me prodding Iven to make him roll over in bed and stop him snoring and him excusing himself if he passes wind audibly in the bed.

The last few years I would have called it a drama because I seemed to go from one to the next - thank goodness this year's been smoother sailing. Sometimes it's slapstick comedy - like the time I was running down a hill channelling my inner Kenyan only to be almost wiped out by a man inside a bus shelter hailing a bus. Sometimes it's blue comedy - actually that would be every run that ends up with me in the bushes.

No, I think my life movie would be an epic. The search for meaning, happiness, balance and the perfect cupcake recipe. A tale of sporting triumph (on a very small scale where the only person I compete against is myself).

 A story of mother's love and sacrifice - like the time I shared my hidden bar of chocolate with a son who was having a bad day. It would have moments of tension - which happens every time I open the washing machine and wonder if someone's left a tissue in their pocket.

Moments of tenderness - like when I bake and Toby sits below me and looks at me with such a look of devoted love. 

And it would have lots of drawn out boring scenes where I'm cutting out yet another pair of posing trunks.

Yeah, it probably wouldn't be a blockbuster but I'd make sure it had an amazing soundtrack - with selections directly off my MP3 player.

So what kind of movie would your life be?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The End of an Era ... Maybe

Saturday was bitter-sweet for me. Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with running. I know that'll come as a bit of a shock seeing as running is pretty much all I think about at the moment (along with sleeping and eating).

Saturday was Grand Final day for Sam's football (soccer) team.

This post isn't to boast about the fact that his team had only lost one game in their whole season (which they had). Or to boast that they won 4:3 (as they did). Or to boast that it was my son that scored the winning goal with only minutes left in the game (which he did). No, this post is all about what can happen when you let your child find and follow their passion.

Sam was obsessed with football from the minute he went to primary school. I'm not really sure how it happened because football is not traditionally a big sport in Australia, unless you're talking about the other codes - rugby league, rugby union and AFL. Football just doesn't get a lot of coverage over here so it wasn't like we followed it as a family. It's just something that Sam loved to do. He spent hours kicking and chasing balls around with his mates and kicking a ball against the wall of my workroom until it drove me to distraction.

When we finally joined him up with a team it was all his dreams come true. He got to train a couple of times a week and play a match every weekend. And being involved for so many years he learnt some valuable life skills.

He learnt discipline. His first coach was a Scotsman who didn't put up with any rubbish from the boys. If they misbehaved they had to run around the pitch a few times or do push ups. If they missed training they had to sit on the bench for the start of the match.

The team was graded in a high division which meant the boys were competitive and the coach believed even at a young age that if they wanted to be competitive then the best players would be the team that started. The other boys would sit on the bench and get substituted on. It was a harsh lesson for some boys (and their parents) who thought that everyone should have equal time. But there were social teams that were formed for that reason and the coach encouraged parents who thought that way to think about joining a different team. For the boys who wanted to be competitive they were encouraged to improve their skills to keep their spot. Sam didn't always start but he worked really hard on his ball skills to be starting regularly by the end of the season.

He also learnt to push through discomfort. Both in training and in matches. He learnt that he could play with a headache, if he was tired, if he felt a bit sick or if he had a niggle. He's played with corked thighs, with colds, with grazes, cuts and scratches, with strapping tape to protect injuries and once he even played with the flu.

He learnt to work as part of a team. He started his football life as a defender which isn't a glamorous role. Defenders never get the glory of scoring a goal. But a team doesn't perform unless it's got a good defensive line so he learnt to be a workhorse without expecting any glory. Later on he got moved up to midfield which he loved but if a defender was away Sam would be called on to fill the role whether he liked it or not.

He learnt to respect authority. Both of the coach and the referees. He didn't always agree with them or with calls that he thought were wrong but he knew that he had to accept them or accept the consequences of no complying. No one wants to get a red card for arguing with a referee when it means sitting out the next game (or two) and letting your team down.

And he learnt resilience. There were times of bitter disappointment. Like when he had to miss a semi final day to sit his high school entrance exam only to have his team lose and to have his season over. Or like when he was tackled illegally by an opposing player in another semi final leaving him with a severely sprained ankle which put him on crutches and unable to play the final match. But he worked hard to rehab the ankle so he'd be back to play again the next year.

Football also gave me a lot. I made lots of friends. I got to spend a lot of quality time with my son driving him too and from games. I got to share with him a lot of highs and lows which made us grow closer. And I got to know a lot more of Brisbane than I'd ever known before - I can navigate to lots of suburbs as long as there are football pitches there.

The reason why Saturday was so bitter sweet for me was because it might be the last time we get to see Sam play. Next year he will probably be moving interstate to start the next chapter of his life. No more sitting on the sides of football pitches in the cold and the wet and the wind. No more yelling. Or complaining about refs. Or having the slight cat-pee smell of his sports bag come wafting upstairs.

Maybe the end of an era ...

... until the grandkids come along. And then I get to be the cool grandma who actually understands the offside rule. And will be happy to go to every match. And bake for the break up. Now to convince the kids to procreate just so I don't have to give up my football addiction for too long.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thirty Days! The Countdown's Started

I just received an email telling me that there's only a month till marathon day.

What?!! How did that sneak up so quickly? I'm not ready yet.

But luckily I don't have to be ready yet. I've got another 30 days before I really have to be ready. 30 more days to get those last two 37k runs ticked off. 30 days to practice my in-race nutrition. 30 days to finalise my wardrobe options. 30 days to work out the best way to chafe-proof myself. 30 days to get my head in the right space.

Getting my head in the right space is probably the hardest part of this exercise. There's just too many thoughts that are going on in there and not all of them are positive. The most insistent one is the one that keeps reminding me about how my body's let me down in the past when I've pushed too hard. And that's the one that freaks me out when I get a bit tired. But the rational voice in my head (the quieter one that can hardly be heard with all the shouting that the freaked-out voice does) keeps reminding me that you're actually supposed to be feeling tired towards the end of marathon training and if you're not then you're probably not putting in enough kilometres.

Thursday morning the freaked-out voice convinced me to turn my alarm off and miss the scheduled 16k run so I could be rested for the big run on Saturday. Then it made me feel guilty all day telling me that I'd really suffer on the marathon because I'd skipped the run. Man that voice is fickle!

The rational voice kept telling me that one missed run wouldn't matter in the scheme of things and if I wasn't too tired at the end of the day I could go for a shorter run then. And amazingly I listened to that rational voice and went for an 8k run which turned into an 11k.

And I'm really glad that I went because I learned some really interesting things on that run. Running in the late afternoon is way more dangerous than running first thing in the morning. I almost got wiped out three times on the run - by a bike that was coming around a blind corner on the wrong side of the footpath, by a dog-walking woman who wasn't looking where she was going and by a computer-wielding student who was checking his emails or updating his Facebook status while he was walking along.

The other thing I learnt was if you bake cookies before you run your hands may still smell of the cookie dough when you wipe the sweat from under your nose and that smell is as effective in improving performance as taking a gel. Or maybe the reminder that there were fresh cookies cooling on the bench in my kitchen was the real performance-enhancer.

Cookie dough with the lot - white chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut M&Ms, peanuts and raspberry lollies.

I've had some really nice distractions this week to help me from obsessing about Melbourne too much. The first was a surprise text from a friend who was going to be in Brisbane and would I like to catch up? Absolutely!

And the second was from a blogger that I know only virtually who also was going to be in Brisbane and would I like to meet for a coffee? Years ago I would have been too shy and uncomfortable and would have made some excuse as to why I couldn't. I'm not sure if it's because of running or blogging or just because I'm older and grown out of a lot of the shyness (finally) but I said yes.

It's funny how you can meet with someone for the first time and feel like they're an old friend. How you can know you're going to get along even before you've set eyes on them. And that's how it was with Deb. We had a great couple of hours chatting. And I'm really hoping that no one overheard some of the TMI stories - cause that's what we over-sharers like to talk most about.

I obviously need a little more practice in the art of taking selfies.

So really the best way that I'm going to get through the next thirty days is by taking it one run at a time, distracting myself by catching up with friends and by baking lots of cookies.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Vent And A Laugh

I just needed to have a little vent today. And I know it's totally safe to vent in this very public forum because the people I need to vent about are dinosaurs when it comes to technology.

And the people I need to vent about - In-Laws!!

Most of us have them and they can certainly be a mixed blessing. Personally I think the reason I find mine so hard to get on with is because there's a huge disparity in the way we treat people. When I make plans with other people I try to stick with those plans. Sure I might be 5 minutes late sometimes but I try to respect others enough to not let them down.

My MIL and SIL - not so much.

About a month ago Iven found out that he needed to take holidays soon or lose them. I'm not fond of him being on holidays when I'm not, seeing as I work from home - feels like he's invading my workspace and slowing me down. So I suggested he go visit his Mum and sister for about a week. They live in Gunnedah which is about 8 hours drive from here. Iven hates the drive but his Mum's 93 now so it's important for him to see her at least once a year.

So Iven did the right thing. He rang his Mum and confirmed a date before booking his holiday. He was set to leave here on Monday. Friday night he gets a call from his sister saying he can only stay for two days now because they've decided to take a trip.

What?? Who does that just two days out? And when Iven can't change his holidays for a more convenient time?

I'd been not so secretly been looking forward to my mini-holiday. Having the bed to myself. No snoring. Not having to cook dinner if I didn't feel like it because cereal makes a perfectly adequate night time meal. And the trade-off - feeding the dogs and putting out the rubbish is totally worth the blissful sleep. So I'm not proud to admit that I had a little tanty (okay - a pouty, full-on tantrum) on Friday night. But I swear some of it was because of the cavalier way that they'd treated Iven.

So poor Iven's been stuck at home with a sulky wife, no plans for his holiday and no one to do stuff with. Fun times for him!

Vent over.

On to something a little bit lighter. Having sons.

Sons can be basic and gross at times but boy can they make you laugh.

This is a text I received the other day (Names have not been given to protect the perpetrator and punctuation apparently is not important if you're young)

Son : So Im just waiting at the bus stop with my headphones in and im feeling a tiny bit gassy so I let our a sneaky silent one. I turn around a minute later and realise theres a small asian girl behind me and I dont know how long shes been there.. a minute later shes another five steps away from me.. I hope she was just getting out of the sun..

Me: Ha ha ha
      The perils of being tall. And I'm just wondering about her nose to your butt height ratio.

Son: Yeah well considering we were on a drive way slope as well the ratio reached deadly.

Like mother like son (I'll admit to having the same experience in a supermarket queue). But I'm proud of my boy. Not for the flatulence. But for feeling just a little shame.

Do daughters do this?

Sunday, September 8, 2013


The word of the weekend was satisfaction.

"Satisfaction - the fulfillment of one's wishes, expectations or needs, or the pleasure derived from this."

I definitely had wishes and needs satisfied and there was pleasure derived from it.

I finished my 37k run. That was a wish and a need (if I'm going to run the marathon in just under
five weeks time). And I think that the agonising that I did over it made finishing all the sweeter. I didn't want to feel as bad as I had the week before. I didn't want to be running over five kilometres on empty with an alarm sounding in my head telling me I was an idiot for even attempting it. And I didn't want the rest of the weekend to be a wipe out.

I devised a plan with Coach Chris made under the assumption that last weekend's run had been bad because I hadn't totally recovered from my stellar half marathon the week before that. The plan involved making sure my fuelling started the day before - good quality carbs at every meal and lots of water. Then during the run I was to keep my pace very moderate and start fuelling earlier and often. Coach Chris devised a route that would allow me to be close to home if I should fall in a heap again or to cut things short if I felt like I was flagging.

And the plan worked really well. Even though I'd only managed a couple of hours sleep beforehand. 

The first 14k went by quickly. That's the time when the group is still together and there's enough energy to chat. But after 14 k there's still 23k to go so I was still a bit concerned even though I was feeling good. 

The next section involved 8k out along the river - still feeling okay and enjoying the company. Then it was 5.5k back to the bridge where I had to decide if I still had enough in the tank to go the 3.5k past the bridge and back. And I did. 

I'd been running with just one other at this point and his turn around was 1k past the bridge so I assumed that I was going to be on my own for the last 8.5k. But I was wrong. I ran into two other friends on the way back and ended up with company all the way home. 

I won't say it was easy. The last few kilometres were hard work. But I didn't have to walk on the 
bridge like I did the week before. And my feet didn't get as sore even though I'd run further. 

There were times during the last bit that I really questioned why I'd wanted to run a marathon in the first place - it's certainly not because of the fun factor. It's because of that feeling you get when you achieve something that you thought was beyond your capability. And that feeling is satisfaction.

There was also the satisfaction of being able to explain to strangers that the reason why I was walking strangely was because of the 37k I'd done that morning. And there was the satisfaction when I rolled over in bed that night and could feel my tired, achey legs that the doubts I'd had all week had been quelled - at least for another 6 days when I have to do it all over again. 

And there was enormous satisfaction in being able to lace up again yesterday afternoon and add another 12k to the weekend's total. To say nothing of the satisfaction of beating the girl in the green shorts who didn't realise that she was in a race with me as we ran along Hillside Tce into the university. The satisfaction continued when the race finished just as she was starting to catch me back - unfortunate timing for her.

But the weekend wasn't just about running satisfaction. There was the satisfaction of getting the seed out from between my teeth - can't tell me that those little things aren't as satisfying. And the satisfacation of having my baking turn out just like I'd wanted, despite spring-form tin failure.

Probably the only unsatisfying experience I've had in days is not being able to get this post looking exactly the way I wanted. For some reason the spacing of the middle section is all wrong and it's cutting off all the tails of the y's, g's and p's. Hopefully you'll be able to translate it because I've had absolutely no luck in fixing it without one of my sons over my shoulder telling me that it's easy.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Shopping - The Cure to Doubts and Freak Outs.

I've been doing a serious amount of over-thinking since Saturday. Seems that it only take one tiny hiccup for me to completely doubt myself. I have one awful run and all of a sudden I'm thinking of worst case scenarios. Bad run = overtraining syndrome = won't be able to run in Melbourne in October. Pity they don't have Olympics for worriers. I'd definitely win the long jump to the wrong conclusion.

So yesterday I decided that I'd take it a bit easy in speed session. And how did that go, you ask. Let's just say that intentions and actions don't always match up perfectly. I might have just run the way I normally do on Tuesdays. Something just seems to happen on Tuesday morning with my brain. It switches to the 'work hard and reap rewards' mentality almost automatically. And then there's the lure of catching someone who's ahead of you. And the shame of being caught by someone behind you. I know it's all in my head but that piece of footpath that we run on every Tuesday can feel like a gladiatorial arena.

I did feel a little worse for wear after the session. So I had a nap and I refuelled with high anti-oxidant food and good carbs and protein. And I stretched and tried to think positive thoughts. But there was still that little niggle of unrest all day.

I've woken up this morning in a much better frame of mind. A good night's sleep always helps. My legs aren't sore or tired (which they were most of last week - a little thank you gift from the half marathon). I'm feeling rested. And I'm feeling much more positive about Melbourne than I was on the weekend.

So positive, in fact, that I went shopping today. I know that's an obscure connection but I promise it makes sense. I went shopping for a pair of running shorts. Right about now, Iven will be wondering what's wrong with the ten pair of shorts already in my running drawer. And honey, you're right - there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. The problem is with the undies I have to wear with them. And the chafing that a 30+k run can create. And the disturbing yelps of pain that come from the bathroom on Saturday morning.

I used a lot of bodyglide and another product called Skin Slather that I won in a giveaway in all the chafe-sensitive areas last Saturday to good effect.

No crying in the shower! But I have this fear that in all the excitement of marathon morning I will forget to slather where I should or that the slather will wear away and I'll be left hobbling home like I've been riding bareback on a bony horse.

In a moment of inspiration I decided that shorts with built-in tights (not undies because I've had issues with unkind undies' elastic before) might be a good option. And I managed to find a very nice pair at Lorna Jane's this morning.

These are going on a test run tomorrow morning. And if they work out how I planned I might just get a second pair. How decadent! But then I'm all for a few luxuries if they can stop unnecessary pain.

So now I'm feeling back on track. Positive. Doubts temporarily quelled. I can't promise that I won't have more drama queen moments but the road to a marathon is never straight or without a few speed bumps. All I have to do is get around every corner and over every bump one at a time.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Empty Nesting

I'm feeling weirdly unsettled this morning.

It's Monday morning and for a change I'm right on top of things. I've planned my dinner. I've baked cakes for this week's birthdays.

Raspberry and white chocolate - my kitchen smells great.
I've planned tomorrows dinner (which was going to be tonight's until I was inspired to make something different). My laundry is empty of washing. My house is tidy. And I've got just a little time before I need to start work to write.

And the reason for me being so together and organised? I have no idea.

It could be this -

This is the bedroom of my #2 son. And at the moment it's immaculate. Neat. Tidy. Floor able to be walked on without fear of twisting my ankle on some hidden peril under dirty clothes. And it's going to stay this way for the next three weeks. We put him on a plane to Taiwan yesterday for a holiday with his girlfriend. I'm sure he's going to have a great time being shown around Serena's home town. And I'm going to have a refuge just in case I need to escape from a noisy bed.

The bedroom of my #1 son is in a similar state. He's doing prac work for his degree at a hospital at the Gold Coast and so he's away from Monday to Friday for the next few weeks.

The only one left at home is Luke (#3). It's almost like we're empty-nesters. And can I say I'm quite enjoying the novelty. Tidy house. Less cooking. Fewer groceries to lug upstairs and not running out of things so often during the week so less trips to the store needed. 

The only negative is that there's fewer people to eat my baking. And the leftovers. There's been quite a lot of leftovers because I'm not used to cooking for less than five people. Thank goodness we've got dogs and a hen - giving them the leftovers is way better than throwing them out.

Actually there is another negative - in as much as I'm loving the peace and order in the house I'm missing my boys/men. I've spent the morning wondering if Josh made his connecting flight from Manila to Taipei and worrying (just a little) that he'd be nervous or lonely because he's doing this first flight by himself. I'm expecting that I'll hear from Serena within the next couple of hours to say he's arrived safe and sound. And I miss having Sam fill me in on his day every evening.

At least I have training to keep me occupied. And being so organised means I have extra time to put my feet up and rest - I seriously needed that this weekend. I had another 32k (20 mile) run on Saturday and it was a shocker. Actually it wasn't entirely a shocker - just the last 5k. I'm not sure what the issue was but with about five k to go we stopped at a water bubbler and I started to get light-headed. I had to keep moving so I wouldn't faint. When we started running again, it all seemed way too hard and when I finally made it back to our starting point I felt giddy again and a bit nauseated. The rest of the day and a lot of yesterday I was just tired, headachey and a bit sick but today I'm feeling pretty good again.

I'm not sure what was causing the vertigo. Could have been that I had low blood sugar. Or was dehydrated (it was our first warm and humid run for months). We may have taken it out too fast. I may have still been feeling the effects of last week's race. Or I may have had a virus. Either way I'll be taking it very cautiously this week and pulling back on the intensity.

Has anyone else had problems with vertigo during or after a run?