Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kicking Goals

I know we're well into 2014 now but I've finally set myself some goals for this year.

I'm not calling them resolutions because I traditionally haven't done well with resolutions. As a teenager I'd make these grandiose goals that would start on the 1st of January and be inviolable. I'd go great with them for a day or two, have a little whoopsie then get disheartened and abandon them. Only to do it all again the following year.

I'd always fail because my goals were too big and didn't actually have a plan to back them up. Invariably they'd be about losing weight and getting fit and invariably it didn't happen. I'd never thought as far as working out the little steps between where I was at and where I was wanting to be and I'd certainly never put in contingencies for my moments of weakness. No wonder I was such a bad chess player.

Somewhere along the way I started to incorporate the health and fitness goals into my every day life without all the grandiosity of a resolution and eventually I was close to where I wanted to be. But I'm never one to be totally content with my fitness regime - there's always a little bit of tweaking that can help fine tune this work in progress.

So here it is - my current fitness goal is to improve my strength. I've been here before and was working fairly diligently on a program my son had written me but, because my testosterone levels were sub-clinical I only ended up exhausting myself. With a year of testosterone treatment under my belt I'm a lot more comfortable giving it another go. I'm back using that strength plan Sam wrote me and I've started running up hills again because there's no better training than sports specific training with overloading.

I've mentioned here a couple of times about going back to run hilly trails. I had to do it quite a few times by myself to get the nerve up to run them with the group. I know it sounds silly but I was quite anxious about doing the group session but I've got good reason. I don't get to pick where we go for the group run. That's all done by our sadistic coach who is part mountain goat and who knows no fear of a steep downhill. I, however, have a very strong self-preservation instinct and when I look over the edge of some of the steep cliffs that Coach Chris wants us to voluntarily fling ourselves off, I can't help but think of lemmings.

I am also at an age where a broken ankle/femur/hip/pelvis would probably take a while to heal. And I'd make a very unpleasant patient.

I'd already told Coach Chris that I'd never do Owl Trail downhill again and he's been obliging in letting me know if that was in the plan. But I had NO idea that Owl Trail wasn't the worst (and by worst I mean steepest) hill on Mt Coottha. No, the one that we went down this morning might possibly lay claim to that title. (But it just as well may not - we haven't explored every trail yet.)

We were so naive when we set off down the trail this morning. It was a pretty cruisy downhill on a fairly wide and smooth path. The running felt easy and it wasn't demanding on my brain so I was able to chat with a couple of people. 

But then we hit it. From where I was standing it looked like a vertical descent but I'm prone to a little exaggeration when I'm scared so let's just assume it was a few degrees off being completely vertical.

I stopped dead and contemplated my options. If the hill had been grassy I would have done this - 

But all the dirt and jagged, skin-tearing rocks made that a poor option.

And if it had been the middle of winter and we'd had a never-before-seen, freakish-climatic-event, I'd have been doing this and loving it.

But my only real option was to run it. And by 'run it' I mean kind of run/ kind of walk between trees (because you can grab onto a tree to stop you hurtling down to the bottom of the hill) making whimpering noises. It was pitiful but luckily there was only a few other scaredy-cats around to see what a hill-wuss I really am and they were so busy looking for their own safe descents that they weren't scoffing or mocking my extreme patheticness.

Luckily I survived the downhill without damage to any part of my body but the thing with down-hills is that there has to be an up-hill to get you back to where you started from. 

My calves are still sore from that uphill and it's been 6 hours since we finished. It's not DOMS yet but I'm pretty sure that'll set in by tomorrow. I don't know if I even ran half of it but I don know there was a significant amount of walking involved and even the walking was HARD!! 

Then when we'd finished that hill we got to do it all over again on another trail. But this time our legs were already dead from the first trail so even though it wasn't as steep, there was still significant pain. And more walking. I felt like I'd won just by making it back to the car.

But in some strange way it was a tiny bit fun (maybe in the misery-loves-company way because the company is always good even when it's miserable). And I'm pretty sure that the whole lot of us will turn up again to be tortured next week. We're a strange bunch of masochists.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Life Is Good But Running Makes It Even Better.

I had an epiphany today. I really like my life.

I wouldn't have said this a couple of years ago.Things were tough back then. I wasn't well. There was a lot of emotionally tough things happening as well and I couldn't use running as my neurological drug of choice. Yes, I was still running but it was really hard and sometimes the only reason I did it was to be with the running group and pretend life was normal for a while.

But as my health has improved, my running has improved. The emotionally tough stuff in my life has gotten a lot better and life is pretty good again.

Last week was especially good - strange, because it was my first week back at work after a few weeks off.

It was good because I had work but it wasn't over-whelming. Plus I got to see my favourite client. I got to run a lot and I'm recovering really well from my runs. I had two trail runs and didn't stop to walk any of the up-hills. I've re-discovered the pure joy of running out in the bush and being surrounded by all that green stuff. I got to have a date with my husband on Friday afternoon - played hookey from work for a couple of hours and went to the movies. And I had a long weekend and actually got the public holiday off. I'm hearing from my absent son regularly and he sounds like he's doing fine down in Melbourne. And my other boys are doing fine too.

My youngest even seems to have learnt a little lesson from the public shaming exercise of a couple of weeks ago - where I called him out over bringing his dirty washing home when he was house-sitting. He's been house-sitting again and so far no dirty washing. He had to drop over the other day to pick up some good clothes and while he was over he even emptied out the dishwasher! And I know this because he had to text me to let me know.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this epiphany - this realisation that I am content in my life is directly linked to my running. It could even be that because I'm running more that I have a higher level of endorphins than usual. Just as well they're not illegal or I'd officially be a junkie. 

I know it's not always going to stay this way. There's bound to be more storms to weather. But while everything's going smoothly I'm going to take the time to appreciate all the good stuff. 

I don't even mind that the paper's all covered in slobber.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Of Course I Did It.

I did run Owl Trail.

I'd love to be able to say that I conquered it. That I owned it! That I beat it into submission! But honestly it was more a case of me whimpering feebly as I put one foot in front of the other and reminded myself that I'd have to share my failure for the whole world to see if I didn't keep on running. So I kept on running - even though it may well have been quicker to walk. So you can all pat yourselves on the back for getting me up that hill.

I'd kind of remembered how hard and painful the run was but the reality was even more than my fading memories. A little like halfway through giving birth to my third after a five year absence from labour - when there was no way of backing out the situation.

Had it always been so steep?? I felt like I was running on the spot - a little like the octogenarian who tried to go up the down travelator at the shopping centre yesterday. Her little legs were really moving trying to make headway and I can't say that I was sorry when the security man (who I'd cunningly distracted with a stupid question) made her come back down because it was one of the most entertaining things I'd seen in a long time. If only I'd had the presence of mind to whip out my phone and get video. You too could have been impressed with her determination. But of course I didn't so you'll just have to imagine that the bird in this GIF is an 80+ year old woman wearing heels. And that the elevator is a travelator that's going down not up.

And while your brain's doing some creative transposition, imagine that the bird is me and the elevator is a steep hill mountain. Yep, that's the progress I was making. But I was working a hell of a lot harder than that bird. And I'm pretty sure I was thinking more naughty words than the bird too - most of them directed at myself and the state of my sanity.

For the few of you who wanted pictures - yes, I did take my phone but I didn't dare stop to take any photos. Because if I'd stopped then I wouldn't have been able to say that I'd run the whole way to the top. And I'm really not coordinated enough to remove the phone from my pouch and snap off non-blurry shots while trying to navigate rocks, roots and ruts without falling over. I took one photo only - the view from the top with the light streaming from the clouds. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Running Owl Trail wasn't my only win this week. My iPhone lost some of its magical powers the other day. Specifically it had lost its ability to telepathically get information that I need. Really important stuff like how much Serena Williams weighs (apparently 70kg - calling bull$#!t on that) and how old Hugh Jackman is (45) and if he likes older women (well, he's married to one so I'd guess that's a yes).

Not having WiFi connectability didn't seem to be too much of a problem at first. I could still get information via 3G. Or I could sometimes when the signal was strong enough and if I was patient enough to wait for it to download. But on the third day I realised that using 3G all the time meant that my battery was running down really quickly and it was starting to piss me off. My only option was to go to the phone store and ask for help.

I seriously hate going to the phone store to ask for help. It is always staffed by young boys men who speak a totally different language. I speak English and know a few words in German (thanks to the persistence of Miss Murray I can still remember what scheissen hausen means) but I only have a tenuous grasp of techno-speak. Even trying to explain what the problem is is fraught with the very real chance that the pimply young man you're asking for help will roll his eyes at you.

I'd thought long and hard about how I was going to explain my dilemma in the most erudite way possible (without being able to Google how to ask because my phone was taking too long to spit out any answer at all). I decided that the best way to present the problem was that I thought the WiFi thingy in my phone was broken. I'm pretty sure thingy is the technical term for it. 

The young boy man who I talked to was restrained enough not to roll his eyes. And his lip did not twitch trying to resist a smile. There was no muffled chortle. So I'm guessing that I was indeed right - thingy is the correct term. 

He asked if I'd dropped the phone (no, I hadn't) and if it was running the newest iOS (yeah smarty pants, trying to trick me with your fancy letters - I know what that means and no it isn't running the latest iOS because last time I did upgraded the software my phone crashed and I had to get a new one so now I operate on the 'if it aint broke don't fix it' theory.)

Then he asked if he could try something which worked on his when he had a similar problem. Of course I agreed as long as it didn't involve throwing the phone at a concrete wall or flushing it down the toilet. So he turned the phone off and on and voilĂ  the WiFi thingy started to work again.

I'm calling this a win because my phone is fully operational again but I feel a little bit betrayed by this object that I spend more time with than any family member - even Toby. I'd already tried turning it on and off and it had made absolutely no difference. I'm thinking that it wanted to make me look a bit silly in front of one of its people. I'm also thinking that if I get an offer to upgrade my handset I probably won't hesitate now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Must Be Crazy Thinking That

I've had a thought rumbling around in my head for a while.

It's a bit like an ear worm. Try as I might, I can't get rid of it by trying to hum bits of my favourite songs. Those same 16 bars keep playing over and over in my head for hours. Or in this case days.

But it's not a song - it's a crazy idea.

It's crazy because as a runner, there are some things that I really don't like to do. Like running up hills. And for me a hill is defined as anything with a positive gradient.

See that yellow thing under the car? I would definitely call that a hill. A very small hill, granted, but a hill nevertheless.

So what I'm doing, thinking what I'm thinking defies logic, the laws of gravity and some of my own personal principals.

I want to run the Powerful Owl Trail at Mt Coottha. 

There, I've said it and I've heard the gasps of shock resonating around Brisbane. I know I've said I'll never run it again. And I absolutely mean it. But I'm really referring to the downhill direction. The trail is steep and the ground is incredibly unstable - your feet can disappear from under you in a millisecond. And I am a huge coward when it comes to running downhill on unstable footing. 

This photo doesn't do justice to the gradient of the slope. You'll just have to take my word that it's steep. And nasty. And has reduced many runners to a slow walk.
No, what I want to do is run up it. All the way to the road at the top of the trail then run around the road loop so my downhill will be on solid ground.

I used to walk up Owl Trail with my sister about a decade ago and I found it tough. Then the first day I ever turned up at hills with Coach Chris he told us that we were going to run it. I thought he was joking. He wasn't. 

One of my proudest running achievements was running up Owl Trail three times in a session without having to walk. That's huge for a runner who sucks at hills.

Since I've started running hills and trails again, I just can't get rid of the thought of re-visiting my old nemesis. I know it'll be tough. That my legs will burn and I'll feel like I can't breathe. But I also know that I'll feel awesome if I can do it. And I know that I'm not going to stop thinking about it until I give it a go.

And if I can't do it, I'll probably have to keep trying till I can.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

28 Years

It's all about nostalgia today.

Iven and I did manage to make it to out 28th wedding anniversary. So to celebrate I did this. Just to see if it still fit.

 And it did.

Trying it on brought back a whole lot of memories. The proposal - there wasn't really one. It was just a weird incident a short while after we'd been going out when someone asked when were going to get married and me, totally embarrassed by the question because it HAD only been a couple of months, answered 'who'd said anything about marriage?' which really upset Iven because he'd been thinking about it already, being that he was 32 and feeling a little left on the shelf or maybe he was totally smitten with this woman who wasn't scared to put her arm up a cow's backside as long as the cow was well restrained.

I remembered all the hours of ironing I had to do to pay off the dress. Back then I was just finishing uni and my income came from ironing at $5 an hour. At $250 the dress was 50 hours worth of ironing and that didn't include the alteration.

I remembered just how hot it was the day we got married. How it had rained for a lot of the morning. How we were trying to come up with contingency plans for our afternoon out door reception. But how the sun came out just in time to turn the day into a sauna. How the sweat ran down my legs during the ceremony. But how it really didn't bother me.

My four sisters were my bridesmaids along with Iven's niece. Somehow I'd forgotten to let them know that Iven had a slightly unusual middle name - Newbury. When Iven Newbury Donaldson was asked to take me as his wife the whole female side of the bridal party started to giggle.

This next photo is a particular favourite. It's just so 80s. The big hair thanks to bad perms. The mullets - 'business at the front, party at the back' hair. The bouquets that the florist got totally wrong but we'd used anyway because what would we do with our hands if there wasn't a bouquet to hold. The necklaces that had been made by a family friend out of bread and glue that were just what I wanted.

And then there was the cake. It was beautiful. Made by the pastry chef brother of my brother in law.
It was put on a table that wasn't quite level and the cake tiers were really only balancing on the little champagne flutes.

I didn't actually see when they all came tumbling down but I knew something had happened when I found myself cutting a two-tiered cake.

Then there were all the other memories that there are no photographs of. My Dad's wet eyes as he walked me down the aisle. My little baby niece, Nicole, in her baby capsule. My sister having to reverse the top of her outfit because it had been too long since she'd fed her baby. The smell of sardines on the breath of our old neighbour when she kissed me - certainly one way not to get forgotten. Picking embedded rice out of my skin later on when I finally could take the dress off because that stuff had gotten everywhere.

Before the day I'd been worried that I'd find it all a huge ordeal. I hated being centre of attention and it's hard not to be when you're the bride but it ended up being such a wonderful day that I really enjoyed. And it wasn't a big fancy event. A lot of what was needed was done by family and friends. But that's what made it even more special. 

And if I had to do it all again, I'd probably do it the same way. But with a dress that was a little less taffeta and a lot less big sleeves and frills.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Yes, Gravity Is Still Working

I finally did it.

After months of procrastinating. Of saying I wanted to start doing it again. Of doing some not-so-secret solo training sessions in preparation. I finally pulled on my Big Girl panties and joined the squad for a hill session.

Except that what I pulled on weren't actually panties. They were my Lululemon post-marathon indulgence. My I-had-the-crappiest-run-ever-but-still-conquered-42.2k-and-I'm-proud-of-myself-shorts.

They're the shorts I wear to remind myself that I can do hard stuff even when I doubt that I can. And I doubt myself a lot.

I even doubted myself yesterday despite having had at least 6 successful runs on Mt Coottha trails in the last couple of months. 

The doubts come from worrying about silly little things. Like keeping up with the group (not an issue a group that has a huge variety of paces and hill-climbing abilities). Like slowing people down (there are a lot of places people can pass you on the trail and if you start towards the back of the pack it's not likely to be a problem). Like pushing myself so hard that I (a) vomit or (b) have to walk (that's just pride talking - no one cares if you vomit unless they're a sympathetic vomiter or they step in said vomitus and no one cares if you walk). Like falling over and breaking something or hitting my head on a stone and getting a brain bleed and ending up a vegetable on life support (totally legitimate concerns for a hypochondriac who watches too many TV medical dramas).

So my only real worry was the falling one which meant my only objective was to concentrate on where I was putting my feet.

Well I can happily say that the run was a total FAIL as far as that was concerned. I managed to trip within the first two kilometres on one of the uneven rock steps. 

One moment I was bounding gazelle-like over the roots, rocks and steps. Effortlessly picking my way through the uneven terrain with poise and balance and, dare I say it, elegance. Or at least that's how I imagined it in my head.

Poise, balance and elegance - only in my imagination

The next moment I'm doing the whole 'I know I'm falling and there's nothing I can do about it even though it feels like it's happening in slow motion' thing.

It was a little like this but without the dog and the fat half-naked man running next to me, And I happened to be wearing a lot more stylish running outfit
There really is no way to fall gracefully is there?

I did manage to put down a hand to soften the blow and prevent my skull from being cracked open on any one of a multitude of craggy rocks. I didn't even draw blood - quite disappointing really because if you're going to have a fall you might as well end up with something to impress gross people out. 

And I also managed to survive the rest of the run without further mishap. So I guess I'll do it again next week. Except this time I'll try to do it without feeling the need to test to see if gravity is still working.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


My husband and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary this Saturday.

Now before you all send your congratulations, I have to let you know that I don't know if we're going to make it to Saturday.

You see, Iven committed a marital sin the other day. And I don't know if I'm prepared to forgive him. Not without him showing precisely the right amount of penitence for his ignorant male comment. Which at least would involve the giving of a small token - chocolates, flowers, expensive jewellery.

The sin was perpetrated last Thursday afternoon at precisely 4:52pm. I know, I know - you're all astounded with my steel-trap-like memory but I really have to admit that I know the time because it was just before I stepped out the door for a run and the time was recorded by my Garmin.

I was actually meant to run in the morning but the lazy voice in my head was louder than the diligent one so I turned the alarm off. But, being that the day was coolish for summer, I decided to make it up in the afternoon. But even though it was cooler I still had a bit of a sweat glow from the day so when I went to change into my running gear a small struggle ensued.

The sort of struggle I'm talking about will be familiar to some females out there. Females who like to keep their 'assets' up where God intended them to be. Females who want to defy gravity and the sands of time. Females who prefer not to be slapped around the face with every step they take. In short - females who wear a good, firm, supportive bra.

Most males out there will be unaware of just how challenging these things can be to put on. Especially if the wearer is sporting a summer sweat glow. Or is trying to put it on in the dark when she is on her way to a stupidly early session. I'd managed to put my head and arms into the appropriate holes and wrestle it into place but not without working up a bigger sweat.

Then I had to pull on a running singlet over the top - a fairly form-fitting singlet which had its own in-built bar shelf. There was more wrestling, a lot of swearing and a bit of claustrophobic panicking before I managed to wrangle myself into it. 

I was ready. And nothing - not gale nor cyclone nor 7.5 magnitude earthquake was going to shake my tree. The girls weren't going anywhere that I wasn't going.

I went through the lounge room to say good-bye to Iven and that's when he said it.

"Hon, you're a bit uneven." Looking directly at my chest.

Seriously?? He was worried about one headlight being on high beam and the other being on low? Was I somehow going to bring shame to the family name as the one who lacked symmetry? Was I going to cause traffic accidents because drivers were going to be distracted by the freakish imbalance?  Was I going to be pulled over by the police and issued a hefty fine with loss of points for public indecency? Were strangers going to jog up next to me and whisper behind their hands "you're out by five degrees on the port side bow"?

Do I ever go up to him and say "You're hanging a little too far to the right?"

Despite my indignation, I did what was expected and readjusted to his Highness's satisfaction - no mean feat. And you know, they just didn't seem to sit right for the rest of the run. So maybe I'm meant to be a bit lopsided.

The only saving grace for my darling husband is that after almost 28 years he still bothers to look at my chest. I guess I forgive him after all.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Missing A 'First'

This is the first time in my life that I've missed one of the 'firsts' of my eldest son.

I was there when he took his first breath. When he first rolled over. When he took his first steps. When he went to kindy for the first time. First day at school. At High School. University. 

It's a pretty long list now that he's 26, so it's about time I missed one of those firsts. And I didn't feel sad about not being there. Not terribly sad. Just a little wistful that I didn't get to send him on his way with a "Have a good day." And I wouldn't be able to know just by looking if he was nervous - because a mother can just tell these things. 

Today would mark the first of many firsts to come where I won't actually be there in body - only in spirit.

So how lovely was it to get this picture from his girlfriend, Hannah, who'd made him pose (reluctantly) for the "obligatory first day of 'school' photo"?

Sam, you've picked a winner there! A girl with a kind and loving heart.

The 'first day of school' comment took me back to his first week of school, 21 years ago. My first-born going to school was a pretty big deal and I'd been a little unprepared for my baby interacting with older, more worldly children. Within a couple of days he'd come home and proudly announced that he'd learnt which finger was the rude one. And a day or so later he'd asked me if he was a 'poofer' (poofter).

So I sent him this good luck text.

Hope you have a good first day at work. And that the big kids play nice with you. If any of them ask if you know what the rude finger is I give you permission to show them (unless the asker is your boss). And if you're asked if you're a 'poofer' just show them a pic of Hannah.

I didn't feel like I'd missed out on his first any more.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Of Life's Little Mysteries

This is a mystery photograph.

If I was really clever at all things computerish, it would be overlaid with a big red question mark. But I am not really clever at all things computerish - despite espousing to be a techno-genius at times. All techno-genius phenomena that happen on my computer are generally accidental or aided by a Google search and a helpful YouTube video or are created by an actual techno-genius who is not me.

You might think that this is a pile of laundry. A pile of clean, neatly folded laundry - ie done by the mother and not by the child who would roll said neatly folded laundry into a ball and file it away somewhere on his bedroom floor for future use then forget that it was still clean and put it back in the laundry basket because it was mixed in with all the balled-up dirties on the floor inevitably resulting in a shirt that's worn and faded despite only being used twice.

If you thought that, you'd be right. It's definitely a pile of clean, neatly-folded-by-the-mother laundry. But that's not the mysterious part of this photo.

The mystery lies in how these clothes made it into the washing in the first place. After all the clothes-wearer was house-sitting at a house in a galaxy suburb far, far away. A house that presumably has a washing machine.

This presumption is based on sound reasoning. One of the usual residents of the house in question is often at our house and I have rarely seen her in dirty clothes except maybe for this morning when she spilt a little milk onto her pyjamas. But this only strengthens my suspicion re the washing machine. If she often has issues with hand-mouth coordination I would expect to see food-stained clothes more often, which I have not.

These clothes turned up towards the end of the house-sitting term, coincidentally just after my son, the house-sitter, returned for a visit.

So I'm left with two possible answers to this conundrum.

The first is divine intervention - a small miracle. It was a gift from above for a mother, who recently said goodbye to one son as he moved out of home and had to temporarily say goodbye to another, so she wouldn't feel so bereft and melancholy about the passing of time and her use-by-date as mum.

The second is that my son (who will remain nameless for the moment but not if he ever does this again) doesn't know how to use a washing machine or is too lazy to use a washing machine and I've failed in my duties as a mother ergo not past my use-by-date as a mother because I still have some useful life-skills to teach.

So what do you think - past my use-by-date or still got a bit of mothering to do? And will this public shaming actually work?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Are You Good At It?

I was asked a question the other day that had me a little stumped.

It was asked of me by an acquaintance that I hadn't seen in years. We were having a 'catch-up' in the local shopping centre and naturally I managed to work that fact that I'm a runner into the conversation.

The question that had me stumped was this - "Are you good at it?"

Ask that one of yourself. Are you a good runner? See, it's a bit hard to answer for a lot of us running-addicted middle-of-the-packers.

In one respect I'd say that yes, I'm a very good runner. I manage to put one foot in front of the other for quite a few kilometres in a row without falling over (unless I'm running on trails where falling over is acceptable and even a point of pride). I can generally run in a straight line if I need to. And I can handle lots of different terrains.

My form is not perfect so I suppose that could mean that I'm not such a good runner. But my less-than perfect running style has never caused me a major injury so I guess I'm not that bad.

Good can sometimes mean righteous and in that regard I'm an incredibly good runner. No one feels more righteous than me after I get up at 4:45am and run up and around a mountain, watch the sun rise and get back home before some people are even out of bed.

Good may also mean 'in excellent condition' and I like to think that for a 50 year old runner I'm in pretty good nick. Sure, there are bits of me that complain at times (Like after we do 100m sprints in speed session. And yes, I was sore most of last week from that - thanks Coach Chris). And sometimes I walk like an 80 year old once my muscles seize up after a hard session. But the fact that I can still do a hard session must mean that I'm not doing too bad for a middle-aged woman.

If he meant 'are you a reliable runner' again I'd say yes. I run four times a week, all year long, year after year. I'm pretty much uni-dimensional when it comes to exercise. But being that I can't really see when I'm swimming and am a threat to small, furry, unleashed creatures when I'm on a bike and get incredibly bored in a gym, I don't think this is going to change.

Good can also mean well-behaved. And to this I'd say I'm mostly good. I try to stick to the side of the path and not get in cyclists' way. I try not to fart up-wind of the pack. I'll mostly smile and nod to other runners - unless I'm in my own little world or am using running as an emotional management tool. The worst thing that I do as a runner is to use improvised toilets - but I only ever do that in emergencies. (OK I'll admit to having more emergencies than most but at least that makes for some really impressive tempo runs)

He may have meant 'are you a fast runner' (and I'm pretty sure he did). Again it'd be a hard one to answer. Fast is a relative term. I'm definitely not fast if you were to compare me to the elite runners. You'll never find me out the front in a race - which is just as well because then I'd have to have some idea of where I'm going. Am I fast compared to the average 50 year old woman? Probably - considering that the average 50 year old woman is fairly inactive.

My answer, in the end, was that I was an 'okay' runner.

So how would you answer that question if it were asked of you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Year So Far In Runs.

It's 2014!

There's always so much hype going into a new year. How are you going to see of the old year and welcome in the new? What are you planning to do to reinvent yourself (for a couple of weeks before you realise that your resolution was way too grandiose and you really didn't have a plan to make it stick and hey, there's always next year ...)?

As you'd expect, seeing as I'm really not into celebrations that involve dressing up, large crowds, staying out late and boozing, my plans for the evening were to watch a bit of tennis then take my aching body to bed for an early night with my ear plugs in so I could be up before it got way too hot and start the new year the best way I knew how. In my happy place.

Why was my body aching? Because of a cruel and sadistic coach who takes pleasure in our pain and a body that's not used to running 100m reps at close to world record pace. And I'm not exaggerating about the world record pace - for an 80 year old woman. All I have to do now is maintain my fast twitch muscles for another 30 years and that record's going down!

By 5am New Year's day I was up and out of bed wearing my traditional (since I started running trails 8 weeks ago) bright pink singlet and bright checked shorts. Yes, I'm still convinced that my less than amazing coordination will result in a fall and a twisted ankle or broken arm in a mobile phone black spot so I need to be able to be easily spotted by helicopter.

And this is how I finished the 10k up and around the mountain - sweaty, dehydrated and happy.

Thursday morning I was up and out the door early for another 10k (which was supposed to be 12k but I hadn't checked my program before I left home). And once again I ended up looking like I'd been training for a swim not a run.

Once again I spent the rest of the day looking for a cool spot and trying to rehydrate.

Friday was a rest day which meant that I got to sleep in a little (it's hard to sleep in when there are kookaburras and lorikeets and cockatoos going off outside your window from about 4:00am) and the dogs got to go for a walk after the temperature had cooled to just under 30C.

And then came Saturday. Saturday which promised the joy of running in oven-like conditions and a potentially new temperature record. Saturday where the maximum was expected to be over 40 and the minimum around 26. Saturday - our long run day!

I'd tried to convince Coach Chris to get an ice cream van to follow us around for the entire run. He said he'd look into it and that's pretty much as far as that plan got (Personally I don't think he tried hard enough). But he did come up with a pretty good alternative - a run through Southbank parklands where there's a public pool that we would stop at on the way back.

From the start of the run it was all about making it to the next water stop. The weather was quintessential Summer in Brisbane - like someone had thrown a warm blanket over the entire city and not much breeze (except what you created yourself by running through the soupy air). It only took around 100m of running before I'd worked up a sweat. It only took a hundred metres more before I wished I was still back in bed in an air conditioned room.

But one does not simply give up on a long run. Giving up would require an elaborate ruse of faking an injury and I'm not a good enough liar to carry that off so I kept going. 

We passed the pool on the way out to our turn around point and the heady, redolent aroma of chlorine was almost too intoxicating to resist. But on we slogged. For a couple more kilometres. Stopping at every water stop we could find.

Finally we were at the turnaround point and on our way back to the blessed relief of the cool, cool water. A bit more running and we were finally there. Strip off the shoes and socks. And the watch. And take the car key out of my pocket. Then, and only then, could I finally jump in.

It was like jumping into a tepid bath tub. A very large tepid bathtub. That could bathe a couple of hundred people. And where a couple of hundred people could have peed in - probably had judging by the temperature and the strong smell of chlorine. Did you know that chlorine when mixed with organic particles (eg urine) produces chloramines which we recognise as the strong smell of chlorine? (See I did learn something in organic chemistry 33 years ago.)

There was no attractive woman in a red bikini floating in the pool when we were there. If there had been I'm pretty sure more of the male contingent of our squad would have jumped in (some without even taking their keys from their pockets) rather than running on.
But despite the disappointment of pool, it did make a huge difference for the last three kilometres. My wet running kit kept me just a little cooler. And made quite a large puddle on the floor under me at the Regatta where we had a post-run refuel.

The rest of the day was spent hiding in my workroom in the air con with the dogs while the temperatures outside soared.

Today is supposed to be the last of this mini heat wave. I'm hoping we've seen the hottest days all year and I can start to enjoy the new year.