Monday, July 21, 2014

Philosophy and Snap Weddings

Life is hard sometimes.

And by hard I mean can't-eat-because-I'm-so-concerned hard. The tough stuff I've alluded to over the last couple of months has been on-going. And sometimes it's seemed really dark.

But what I've discovered is that when it's really dark the little glimmers of light shine brighter. Little things like finding a note from your favourite trolley boy man in with your groceries.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of customers ended up with notes like this but I'm pretending that I was the only one. And yes, that's a chocolate cake mix stain on the note.

I've also found that when you're feeling most alone that people come out of the woodwork to surround you with love and concern so you no longer feel so alone.

So yes, life can be really hard at times but it's in the hard times that we realise just how blessed we are. I have a wonderful family. I have amazing friends. I have my health. I have my dog who just seems to know when to climb up on my lap for a cuddle. AND I have about three kilos which I'm really going to enjoy putting back on - I'm not a worry-eater.


We had a family wedding last weekend. It was one of the fastest arranged weddings I've ever heard of. None of this book-a-venue-a-year-ahead stuff. It was all done and dusted in about a month.

Luckily our family has been blessed with amazing skills to be able to pull it together so quickly. My youngest two sisters, Cindy and Lucy, are extraordinarily good shoppers and took care of the dress and the suit. Cindy, a hairdresser, doubled up on hair duty. My Mum organised the reception venue and did the flowers. Dad was chauffeur. And I did the cake. 

Orn and Dad (and his prized '37 Chevy)


Annie - the cutest flower girl ever.

My family minus Sam, Hannah and Becky - snap weddings mean that not everyone can make it.

No it wasn't perfect but yes, I'm pretty proud of it. And yes, it was a challenge to cut.

Pretty proud of my family.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Restored to Perfection

I need to print a retraction.

Because as an investigative journalist I suck!

I would never win a Walkley Award because I don't check my facts. I base all my stories on momentary observations and large leaps to wrong conclusions.

For those of you who don't read regularly and those of you with short term memory issues, you may not recall my post of a couple of days ago so I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. For those of you who read and memorised it verbatim feel free to skip ahead.

I left a couple of pieces of chocolate out the other night. On a low coffee table. In reach of my perfect dog. As a test. In the morning I found this wrapper. Covered in saliva. No chocolate.

My conclusion? The temptation was too great. And my perfect dog is only a near-perfect one.

What I didn't do was ask any witnesses to the crime. Nor did I have the saliva forensically tested for species. If I had had the saliva tested I would have found that it was (drum roll please) ... human!!

I'd found the wrapper in the bin so my assumption had been that Iven had found it on the floor after Toby had devoured the contents. I'd set this test for Toby - but I hadn't told anyone else that there was an experiment under-way and not to tamper with the equipment. I'd also assumed that no one in my family would consider chocolate to be breakfast food. Because I have trained them better than that.

My house of ill-conceived cards came tumbling down that evening when I finally remembered to tell Iven about my little test. He had the grace to look sheepish and to confess that the chocolate had tasted amazing with his morning cup of tea. 

And with that confession Toby was restored to perfect status. Iven - not so perfect but at least he has enough conscience to not let the dog take the blame.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Testing Times

Last night I set a test for my dog.

You all must know how much I love Toby. That if my house was burning and I only had time to get out one of my loved ones, it would be him. I wear rose-coloured glasses when it comes to him. Everything he does is cute and amazing and, quite frankly, doggy-genius. There is no better dog in the world.

Once I got him trained, I could make him do or not do pretty much anything. It's such a power-trip having total control over another living being and have them still love you unconditionally. For example, I'm decorating a lolly cake and a malteser rolls off the cake and onto the floor I can stop him from pouncing on it and gobbling it up - but mostly I don't because it's funny to see him scrabbling around the tiled floor trying to chase it.

But if I had to say his one small flaw, it would be his obsession with food. He loves it. Doesn't matter what you're eating, if it's good enough for a human it's good enough for a Toby. And there is never a meal that's eaten without his pleading brown eyes in the background.

We've been training him for months now not to eat in our lounge room - which is also the dining room. And by training him, I really mean that we're training ourselves not to give him any food in there. It's a tough one for the weaker amongst us (yes, I'll admit that I'm the worst culprit and that Iven has a heart of stone) but we'reI'm getting really good at resisting. So I thought it was time to set him the ultimate test. I left the remnants of a chocolate bar (two small pieces) in the wrapper on the coffee table when I went to bed. 

Yes, I did it on purpose. No I wasn't deliberately slack.

And this is what I found this morning. 

I've had to remove my rose-coloured glasses and admit that he's not perfect. But he's pretty damned close.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's A Little Nipply Outside

I need some help. A little bit of advice.To help out a friend.

I got an email yesterday from a friend who's also a runner. Because of my very lengthy running career, she'd thought I might be able to help with her dilemma.

Her problem? An extreme reaction to cold in certain sensitive areas. Or, put less delicately, nipples that felt like they were going to snap off.

I've had ears that ached because of the cold. And an endlessly running nose. And even sore knees. But never that particular problem. Or maybe I've had the problem and forgotten about it. Because dementia. And because it's been a fair few years since we've had a cold winter.

My first thought was to find a man with good peripheral circulation and fairly long arms to come along for the run with her. The only downside I could see to this solution was the potential for tripping. It was a lot more fun than the ever-practical wind-proof vest - just not sure where you source a warm-handed, long-armed man who likes to run and cup breasts and not get distracted while he's running and cupping breasts.

A little research was in order.

The internet is full of the weird and wonderful. Take, for example, The WineRack. "Better than a boob job and cheaper too." It holds 750ml of fluid in a polyurethane bladder. Fill 'er up with something warm and you could keep those headlights from being on high beam. Plus you'd never have to go thirsty.

But my favourite solution came from our neighbours, the Kiwis. Those New Zealanders are very creative when it comes to making a buck without having to invest too much in materials. When we holidayed there we noticed quite a lot of animals that couldn't out-run cars. There was road-kill everywhere. Some ingenious person decided that it'd be great to scrape up that road-kill and turn it into something practical - like nipple warmers. Because who wouldn't want the skin of a squashed, dead animal nestled against their flesh?

So my question, to all of you runners who live in colder climes, is - how do you keep your nipples from snapping off after a frigid run?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gold Coast 2014

I feel like I've lived a lifetime's worth since my last post - five days ago.

Five days ago I was complaining about a slightly sore throat and worried that it might affect my chance to go sub-50 in my 10k race. But then a slightly sore throat was totally put into perspective by some very heavy real-world stuff. Stuff that I won't be talking about here because it's not mine to talk about. But it was stuff that had me knowing that a race just wasn't that important even if it was the last one of a long-term goal. Quite frankly, racing seemed frivolous and inconsequential.

Thursday was supposed to be a day of baking to feed the hungry runners. It ended up being a day where I just sat talking and supporting someone I love dearly.

But by Friday things had improved enough for me to consider the race again. And by Friday afternoon I was down at the Gold Coast meeting up with two bloggers from Singapore who'd come over to race.

Holly is on the left and Grace on the right. Holly was running the half marathon and Grace was going the full 42.2. We had a lovely time chatting over coffee. It's wonderful and strange to finally see people that you feel like you know despite never having met.

Then it was off to the traditional pre-race Thai dinner with my bestie Natalie - who's totally to blame for the whole 10 years of 10k goal (even though she thinks it was my idea).

My son, Josh, turned up with girlfriend Serena and friend Jeremy later that evening and we agreed (some more reluctantly than others) to set our alarms for 4:30 am. Which came a lot sooner than I'd have liked. But, amazingly, there was no pre-race jitters.

By 6:15 we were on the start line. Champing at the bit to get going. Sort of. There were still no nerves. Just a steely determination not to make a liar of myself and run sub-50. I had a race plan of sorts - try not to go out to hard and die AND to see every kilometre click over under with 4 as the first number.

There was just time to photo-bomb Josh's selfie and we were off.

It was a little more congested than I'd remembered it being last year. There was a bit of dodging and weaving to be done before settling down into a comfortable rhythm. Race starts are always like that and it's hard to get the balance right between getting into clear space and not pushing too hard. 

When my watch beeped at the first k at 4:50 I was a bit worried that I'd gone out too fast but I was feeling okay so I just continued on at the same effort.

I'm not going to go into all the minute details of the run but I will mention the highlights. The cheer from my high school friend, Chris, just before the 3k mark. Hoping that the action shots that Martyn, her husband, took didn't show the blind pimple festering under my nose. Running past the GaleForce tent on the way out to the turnaround point and feeling the rowdy support coming at me from across the road - best cheer squad ever! Seeing each kilometre beep with that 4 at the front like I was wanting. Getting to the 8k mark and knowing that I hadn't given up mentally like I so often do in 10k races. Seeing Chris again not long after. Then running right past my squad - the noise that they made lifted and carried me all the way to the finish line. Seeing the clock still under the 50 minute mark as I ran over the finish line. Yes, I did it! 49:14 - three seconds quicker than last year.

Then it was back to the tent to share the joy with the other runners. Winners are grinners! 

Josh had told me earlier in the week that he thought he could go 45 mins. He did! And his friend Jeremy smashed it in 41:??

We waited for Natalie to finish and then she and I went up to a special tent to receive a certificate and polo shirt for completing 10 events.

My work was done but there was still the half and full marathons to be run on the Sunday. So this meant another early start. But the pain of getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning is always worth it when you're greeted with views like this.

The half marathon was first at 6:00am and not long after 7:00 we were already cheering the front-runners. I'm not sure what's more fun - cheering or being cheered - but I do know that the sense of camaraderie is amazing. Every PB is celebrated  and the constant smiling and laughter makes your cheeks ache. 

The marathon started at 7:30 but we didn't get to see any of them for a long time, being at the 32k mark. But eventually they started filtering through. I was thrilled to spot Grace (in the berry singlet below) twice on the course - on her way out to the final turnaround and then on her way to the finish. I'd missed Holly in the half until she was past and I realised too late. She was too fast!

Now it's all over for 2014. 

And the big burning question is - what next? Build on those 10k's and make it to 20? Or complete the half marathon set? Only eight more to go there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

Three days till I run my tenth 10k at Gold Coast.

I've been quite happy with the way I've been running lately. I've been doing a bit more faster stuff. Pushing myself into that hurt zone on shorter runs and finishing my longer runs with a few fast kilometres. It's been confidence-building that there's a little bit of speed left in the old girl, Certainly not the speed I had five years ago but I'm happy with it.

My goal is simple. To run under 50 minutes. Because that's the group that I've seeded myself in and I don't want to make myself a liar. (Not that anyone will care apart from myself.) And after my latest runs I was pretty sure that I could. My 16k run ten days ago - ran the last 8k at sub-5k pace. My 19k run on Saturday - the last 6k were sub-5.

Notice the word WAS in that last paragraph? It should have been an AM. And it would have been an am if I hadn't noticed a tickle in my throat last night. I just thought it was a bit of phlegm that needed clearing. But it needed clearing again and again and again. I dosed myself with zinc and vitamin c and told myself to ignore it. Then woke up coughing in the middle of the night - yep, it's dry and sore.

I skipped this morning's run. I decided the last thing that my throat needed was to be exposed to 5 degree cold, dry air. I may do that run tomorrow morning but will make the call on that closer to the time. If I miss it it's not going to really matter.

My plan is to stay warm, drink lots of hot tea and keep up the zinc and vitamin c if only for their placebo effects. And to keep my fingers crossed. I'm not actually feeling ill so that's a plus.

All those good training runs. All those early mornings. All those high hopes derailed (hopefully temporarily) by breathing in germ-filled air.

If it sounds like I'm disappointed - well, I'm really not. I've been running long enough to know that anything can happen on the day and there will always be other events if this one doesn't go the way I want. But I will be disappointed if the sore throat gets in the way of a fun weekend. Running's only part of the reason that I run.