Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Story Without A Moral

The thing about coming back to running after a break (a fairly decent break in my case) is that it can feel like starting over. It doesn't matter that I have run innumerable kilometres over the years - take long enough time off and muscles atrophy, aerobic fitness diminishes and the challenge becomes to get back to where you were. Preferably without hurting yourself in the process.

My challenge this weekend was to run both days. Early on Saturday morning with the group and late Sunday afternoon by myself.

The Saturday run was never going to be an issue. I had a pile of birthday cakes that needed to be handed out and I wasn't going to go to the effort of baking without making sure the baking got to where it was supposed to go.

It was the Sunday run that was going to be the challenge. Because it was in the afternoon and it's harder for me to motivate myself to do an afternoon run. And because it was warmer than I'd expected for a winter run. And because my legs were sore from the previous day's run.

Um, maybe not stretching after the run might have been the culprit. Or maybe it was going to happen regardless.

Tight calves. A knot in my glutes. And hamstrings that you could have played a violin concerto on. Punishment for taking time out of my usual exercise regime.

No worries, I thought. It'll improve as I warm up.

And it did. Mostly. Except for the hammies that defied the warm weather and the gentle pace for the entire run. They moaned and whined every time we hit an uphill - and there were a few of those. So I had to take my mind off my geriatric body and distract myself with the scenery.

There were lots of other runners. Although I wouldn't describe them as scenery. More like me - aging, red-faced and sweaty but still out there doing the best to stave off the inevitable decline.

There were lots of flowering trees and shrubs. Spring obviously took the hint from the warmer temperatures and decided to get started a bit early.

Spring hadn't stopped with the flora. New life everywhere.

And then there was the scrub turkey. A big Tom turkey intent on crossing Sir Fred Schonell Drive. 

These could possibly be the world's stupidest birds. Admittedly it was a Sunday afternoon and the traffic wasn't as bad as a week day. But there still was traffic and his escapades reminded me of a game we used to play on the Atari when we were kids - Frogger. Forwards, backwards, backwards, forwards, forwards, forwards.

My very minor psychic powers told me that it was not going to end well.

But he surprised me with his skill at dodging enormous four wheel drives. He managed to make it halfway across with all feathers intact. And that was the busy side. The other side of the road had very sporadic traffic. I checked over my shoulder and saw that if he kept moving he'd be safe in the little park scratching up a new mound in no time.

I felt like I'd witnessed a little miracle. And I scoffed at my melodramatic sense of calamity. So much for my very minor psychic powers. More like very non-existent psychic powers.

That's about when I heard the whack. The fluttering of wings against bitumen. My belief in my very minor psychic powers was restored. And the soreness in my hamstrings was put into perspective.

The moral to this story? None and lots. Be consistent when you exercise or you will pay a painful price. Always stretch at the end of a session. And look both ways before you cross.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baby Steps

I'm reporting in after my first week on the come-back trail to fitness.

After my fairly successful run on Sunday I've run ... (drum roll please) ... once. Underwhelmed? Yeah, me too. But I'm listening to my body and doing what it requires of me and this week it's requiring that I not push too hard.

I went to speed session on Tuesday and it went a lot better than I thought it would. I decided ahead of time that I wouldn't bother with timing each of the reps. Because if I time them I compare them with previous sessions and there was going to be no positive outcomes in comparing. So my aim was to just run consistently for the session. Unfortunately, though, unless you time yourself you actually don't know if you're running consistently. So let's pretend that I did - even though I  seemed to get further and further away from my speed nemesis Bevan in the second half of the set. I'm pretty sure that was because he was running faster.

I finished the session pretty pleased with myself.

Until I realised just how much it had taken out of me. Oops. Always a little too optimistic about my ability.

I had to have a nap before work. And then I dragged through the rest of the day.

I didn't even try to run on Wednesday. It would have been a very poor choice. But Thursday seemed like it was do-able - until I heard the rain when I woke up early to go to the loo. Then I turned the alarm off. And I can't run on Friday with our long run on Saturday so I guess that it'll end up just being three runs this week.

I'm okay with that. I've put the rest of the year on the back-burner as far as events are concerned. Just so I can build up again without the pressure of looming races. I was supposed to be doing a half this weekend but I've canned that - I know that I'd be disappointed and it might put me back a couple of weeks if I pushed myself. And I've also decided against running the marathon in Melbourne.

There will be other races in other years.

But I have had one big success for this week. I've gained back one kilo.

Baby steps.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Slow And Steady

I've had a couple more running set-backs in the last two weeks - just when I thought I was going to get back into it. I got the flu. Like the vast majority of Brisbanites. And once I thought I was getting better I got hit with another round of fevers. Yay!

There has been very little running happening in my world. And the flu made me lose even more weight. Ughh!! Last week I weighed the lightest that I have since I was 13. Skinny is not a good thing to aspire to (although as a 16 year old I would have disputed that). Wallis Simpson was wrong.

You can definitely be too thin.

Being thin and getting over the flu has left me feeling weak and pathetic. Climbing up stairs is an effort that leaves me breathless. It's amazing to think that just two weeks ago I ran a 29k LSD. Fitness is hard to gain and so easy to lose at my age which makes consistency so important.

So this week it feels like I'm starting over. Easy running with good recovery. And a concerted effort to get my weight back where it should be.

I started on a good note with a run yesterday. It was going to be a short easy one. A single digit run. Mostly flat. 

It turned out to be a 10k with a few hills because I felt better than I thought I would. With a couple of breaks because my intestines get confused when I run in the afternoon. Confused intestines are not a runner's friend.

My first pit-stop was only 500m from home. In a toilet that had no lock - as I realised while sitting contemplating the folly of afternoon running. Luckily when someone opened the door I'd already managed to get my shorts up and she was more surprised/embarrassed/horrified than I. 

The second pit stop was only a couple of kilometres later and was more to stop a wardrobe malfunction than anything else. Shorts don't fit the same way when you've lost 5 kilos. Thank goodness for drawstrings.

The rest of the run was as a run should be. And this morning when I got out of bed it felt strangely satisfying to feel the slightly stiff muscles and sore feet. Tomorrow I'm hoping to be back at speed - although there is a certain irony in my use of the word 'speed'. 

I've been here before. Building up again after a lay-off. My body knows what to do. I just have to be patient and it will come. Slow and steady will win this race.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Short and Sweet

Just keeping this post short and sweet. Except that it's not so sweet. The opposite of sweet is savoury but what I'm talking about is quite unsavoury. Again!

But be assured that there will be no mention of vomitus this time around.

So today's topic is dog walking - of which I have been doing quite a bit of lately with my better half interstate visiting his sick, elderly mother.

I'm quite an experienced dog walker. I've had dogs since I was 16 and I can happily wrangle my two around a 5k circuit without wrapping myself around too many poles.

But despite my years of experience there's something that I keep forgetting. Dogs like to cover their excreta after they've finished. Well my dogs do anyway. I'm not sure if it's some evolutionary instinct so other predators can't find them but the fact that they like to pee as high as they can up a pole so other dogs think that there's one giant canine living in the area would dispute that theory.

Maybe my dogs are modest but they like to cover their poop with a good layer over dirt, bark and whatever else they can find to kick over it. And that's the part I keep forgetting. When I bend over to pick up said poop in a plastic bag. And said poop is on a hill and the pooper is facing uphill and the poop-picker-upper (me) is downhill. Which causes the poop to be sent like a heat-seeking missile right in my direction.

All I can say is that I'm glad that the poop was fairly firm. 

But that smell followed me for the other 4.5k of our loop.

It's just as well I love them so much.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reliving My Youth

Have you ever tried to relive your youth? And did you expect that nothing would have changed because even though three decades (or more) may have passed and you may have grey hairs, creaky joints and a few lines on you face, you basically still feel about fifteen?

I did exactly that on Saturday. Yes, call me delusional, but I fully expected my visit to the Ekka to be just like it used to be back when I was 15 - except this time I'd have more disposable income than the $5 pocket money that I used to save for the months leading up to August.

I was wrong.

It didn't end well.

For all you non-Brisbanites, the Ekka is our local show. When the country comes to the city and we're encouraged to spend ridiculous amounts of money in the name of having a good time.

I used to love going to the Ekka when I was younger. The rides. The fairy floss. The show bags. The redolent aroma of manure mixed with hay. Scratching pig bums until they almost collapsed in ecstasy. Watching the butchers make sausages - probably out of the same pigs that had had their bums scratched last year. And collecting as many freebies as we could carry. 

It was all fun and exciting - especially the rides. For me, the scarier the better. If it tossed me around and turned my stomach inside out I was in heaven. I loved the rush of being terrified but knowing that I was safe.

I hadn't been for about 15 years and every year I would have a hankering to go but then talk myself out of it. But this year Iven was out of town and Luke and Becky were house-sitting and Serena was working at the Ekka so Josh and I were at a loose end on Saturday afternoon. He took pity on his bored mother and agreed to a mother-and-son expedition to the Exhibition. 

When we arrived our first port of call was to visit Serena who's working selling ice cream for the duration of the show. And my Snicker's ice cream was even better because I was having dessert before dinner. You can do that when you're an adult pretending to relive your youth.

Milany Gelato is amazing.
Then we followed it with the main course - a potato tornado. Basically a spiral potato on a stick, battered and fried. I had run 29k in the morning and had a case of extreme food entitlement. All healthy eating bets are off when you go to the Ekka for the first time in fifteen years and you've burned a few thousand calories that morning.

And then we made a rash and foolish decision that only the young and young-at-heart would ever make. We decided to go to Sideshow Alley to have a ride on something wild and terrifying. Because I love wild and terrifying when it comes to rides. And because I'm a pretty cool Mum even at 51.

Josh chose this one.

We bought our tickets and stood in queue and soon it was our turn to be buckled in. I tucked my glasses down my bra so they didn't go flying off never to be seen again and leaving me unable to drive home, then we were off.

It started off slowly. Just a few rotations. A little bit of tilting. Lulling us into a false sense of security. Then the lights started flashing and the music amped up and it was on. We were flipping and spinning and laughing and shrieking. Well, I was shrieking and Josh was laughing. And it was fun and I was fifteen again. And it didn't matter that I was the oldest on the ride by two and a half decades (yes, Josh was the second oldest). I still had it!

The ride slowed down and I was simultaneously disappointed and relieved. Relieved that I'd survived and disappointed that it was over so soon. 

I needn't have been disappointed cause it wasn't over yet. 

No, we were slowing down just so we could change direction. Because it's even more fun to do the flips and spins backwards.

Years ago I read somewhere that as you get older you're more prone to fall victim to motion sickness. Especially going backwards. I have now proven that fact to be true.

Not long after we started going backwards I realised that there was a good reason that my mother had warned me not to go on wild rides after eating all those years ago. That deep-fried potato floating on a raft of Snicker's ice cream didn't feel so good any more. I had a Phil Dunphy flashback.

All the fun had gone out of the ride and all I could do was focus on keeping what was in my stomach IN my stomach. There was a lot of swallowing. And a bit of praying that it would all end soon. I did not want to be the old lady who started an epic chain-reaction. 
You can thank me later for using the cartoon Gif. The other one was a little more graphic.

When the ride started to slow again, I was probably the happiest person on board. I was off as soon as they unbuckled me. I needed to walk to settle what was still sloshing around in my stomach. And I needed to find the nearest loos just in case the walking didn't work.

The walking didn't work. And I did find the loos in time. And I tried to throw up as quietly as possible. And then I felt better for a little while. Until I didn't any more. 

The second toilet visit was even more spectacular. And though I thought I'd managed to keep my vomiting to myself I knew I'd failed when I heard voices from the next cubical.

"You only think you want to vomit because you can smell it"

I think it'll be a while till I visit the Ekka again. And I'm pretty sure my wild-ride days are over. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Back Into It

I've been able to run this week.

Hallelujah!! Equilibrium is slowly being restored to my life.

It started on Tuesday at speed session. After missing three in a row I was seriously not looking forward to the pain. Missing a month of speed session has to hurt doesn't it?

Surprisingly, it didn't hurt any more than it usually does. But if you think about it that shouldn't be as surprising as I found it. Speed session is always going to hurt - the only variable is how fast one is able to run at a 'OMG I wish this rep was over because I'm going to die' level of pain. So after careful consideration the truly surprising thing was that I really hadn't gotten too much slower from not having attended.

My nemesis, Bevan, was there. He'd just started back after an injury when I stopped going so this was the first session that we'd done together for a while. And he was ready to revisit our previous rivalry. I was not. But despite all my best efforts to let him get ahead, I couldn't quite shake him. He kept waiting for me on the recoveries to try to spur me on to some faster running. And maybe that was why I wasn't that much slower. His dastardly plan worked!

I missed Wednesday's run due to a sick kiddie-induced late night. (Yes, the sick kiddie is in his mid-20s but who doesn't like to be looked after when they have the flu?!!). So today I ran yesterday's planned 16k. It was hard and cold and I wanted to go back to bed the moment I got out of it - but it was awesome.

It reminded me again that I need to run. It centres me. It takes me away from whatever stressful situation that might be happening and gives me peace. I get to see the city come alive. I get to see the beauty of the sunrise. I get to feel the kinship of the other early risers who also understand the magic of the morning.

And I get to appreciate unique and special moments. Like almost being taken out by a cyclist who apparently was indicating to turn left but his black arm warmers made that tricky to see in the dark. Like startling/being startled by a possum in the branch overhead - I don't know who got more of a fright.

And then there was the sunrise. The sky with a soft pink border as a backdrop to the boats and the bridge. That view is why the Botanical Gardens run is my favourite.

Can you tell that I'm starting to feel my normal self again? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Troll Attack!

I've been sitting here for ten minutes trying to work out what to write about. I feel like I've been away so long even though it's only been about a fortnight. So much has happened. Too much has happened. And very little of it I'm able to share.

I haven't been able to run much. I haven't been able to eat much (which is why I haven't been able to run). I've had to take time out to escape into my cave and lick my wounds.

Damn, life is hard at times.

But instead of mulling over how I'm feeling I want to share the highlight of last week.

I was attacked by trolls!

Not these kind of trolls. 

The trolls I'm talking about are the nasty humans that like to stir up trouble from their computer keyboard. And I was their target because I'd written a review to my local supermarket just giving them feedback on the fact that they kept changing their aisles around. I'd written this review at least six months ago.

The first troll decided that I had way too little to do with my life and way too much time on my hands if a supermarket layout was enough to upset me. Hah - he obviously has no idea how an upset menopausal woman with a decent vocabulary would write. My comment was just constructive feedback so they wouldn't lose frustrated customers.

So I kindly informed Troll #1 that it was precisely because I had plenty to do and not enough time that having to search for items every time they changed the layout was why I and so many of their other customers were frustrated.

That was a mistake. He'd baited a hook, I'd taken a bite and it was on.

He pulled in a friend of his, Troll #2, and it proceeded to get very nasty. I got called a s%!thouse. Friends of mine were called trolls, bitter old ladies. 'Children are starving in Africa and you're crying over a Woolworths layout'.

It was kind of amusing. Here they were saying that I didn't have enough important things to fill my life and yet they couldn't see the irony that they were filling their time trawling through old supermarket reviews to find some excitement. They must have finished watching the boxed set of Sons of Anarchy that they'd received for Christmas.

I wanted so very much to cut them down with my scathing retorts and obviously superior intellect but reason told me that once they resorted to personal attacks, they probably wouldn't actually understand words of more than two syllables. And that would only serve to infuriate their tiny little brains further.
So I pulled down the review and had a bit of a laugh with the friends who had become involved. Together we decided that neither Troll #1 or Troll #2 could possible be runners and we left it at that.

But to Jordan or Daniel, in the very remote possibility that you read my blog, I do have one last thing to say - because it killed me not to have the last word.