Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 - 365 Days of Potential

Today is a day of new and firsts.

It's a day for new calendars and diaries. 

For new resolutions. For beginning again. For leaving old stuff behind. It's been a day of lots of firsts for me. 

First time in decades I've made some resolutions. I generally don't do resolutions. I do tweaks. Refine a bit here. Finesse a bit there. Nothing too big or grandiose. But I was prompted by one of my sons and in the light of a terribly sad event that a friend has recently gone through and horrible things that have been in the news, I decided that my resolution would be to have a positive impact on my little corner of the world.To be more helpful, tolerant, kind. 

Let it be seen on record here that my altruism lasted only five minutes into the new year. Apparently I don't do selflessness after midnight when I've planned a 5:15am wakeup for a run. In fact, after midnight I turn into a harpie that yells words-that-my-mother-would-frown-upon out the window. Not that anyone heard me over the sound of fireworks, shrieking girls and loud music.

But my bad start to the year was turned around when the sun got up. I managed to restrain myself from pulling out Sam's old trumpet and visiting the early morning revellers. Let's chalk one up for kindness and consideration. Then I set about tallying up as many firsts for this year as I could manage.

First time I went for a run without making my bed beforehand. That never happens. Ever! But I was in two minds as to whether to wash the sheets (showery weather vs another gross and sweaty night). When I got home from the run I remembered why I don't like to leave without making it - coming home to a needless chore when I'm tired.

First run of 2015. Even though the temperature at 5:30 was already over 25C with an 87% humidity. It was a sweaty one but it's summer in Brisbane. Wouldn't expect anything else.

First time my midriff has been exposed in public in over a decade. Seriously it was that hot! And I'm now at an age where I've earned the right to choose comfort over dignity. And there really wasn't that many people out and about at that time of the morning - certainly no one who knew me.

First desperate dive into the closest bushes that would provide a modesty screen. Actually it wasn't a bush but a nice, large Monstera deliciosa and I'm pretty sure that it hid me from that couple pushing the pram that I hadn't noticed when I made my toilet selection.

First post-run selfie of 2015. This is post-licking by Toby and Bubbles so I don't look quite as sodden as I did when I collapsed on the step.

First breakfast out with #1 hubby.

First mid-morning micro-nap.

First movie - The Imitation Game. A really good one that's well worth seeing.

First time I was told off for trying to be polite and let someone down the cinema steps in front of me. I'm going to still chalk that up as another resolution success even though my efforts weren't appreciated. 

First double-nap day. Four hours sleep before a 5:15am alarm just isn't quite enough for me.

And my first blog post of the year.

So glad to have waved good-bye to 2014. I have very few fond memories from the past twelve months. Some years are best forgotten.

So pleased that the new year is a chance for fresh beginnings. I'm looking forward to uncovering what lies ahead in the next 364 days.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Christmas Highlights.

I'm sitting here in my underwear typing this.

I know - a little racy but I'm celebrating having a totally empty house for a few hours and the best way I could think of to celebrate was to type in my undies. Yeah, I really know how to live.

Our house has been full for the last six days. Of people. Of noise. Of laughter. Of joy. Of food. But that's Christmas, isn't it? A time of excesses.

The highlight of my Christmas would have to be having my whole family together. This boy came up from Melbourne which made Toby incredibly happy. Another willing victim for him to sit on. Another pair of hands to pat and stroke him.

And it was Sam who provided me with the best laughs over the weekend.

We recently have been extravagant and signed up for Foxtel. I told Sam on his arrival that the only numbers he needs for the weekend are 505 - the football channel. Basically our TV stayed on that channel for the whole time he was here. Fine with me - I quite enjoy a few dozen games of football over a weekend.

Sam is not au fait with all the workings of Foxtel. Particularly the Foxtel guide app that I have on my phone. He didn't know that I can set up recordings and change the stations remotely. In fact I didn't know that until Coach Chris told me that it's how he entertains himself - by changing the stations on his set from his bedroom while his eighty year old mum is watching in the other room. I thought that was a little mean but when you do it to your own progeny it's actually hilarious.

I stood in the hall while son #1 and son #3 were watching an EPL game. And I changed it to a Disney movie. Then I sniggered silently as I heard one brother accuse the other of messing with the remote. Indignant denials were the cue to change the channel back. I left it for a couple of minutes then changed it to Dora the Explorer. Then another of the cartoon channels. And another. And another. Then back to the football.

There was murmurings of confusion and bewilderment coming from the couches. And then the brains trust tried to nut out what was happening. And what they finally came up with was that the channel changes had coincided with selecting songs on a phone using Spotify so there must be some glitch that was messing with Foxtel.

I was at the laughing-so-hard-tears-were-streaming-down-my-face stage. I'm just grateful that I had an empty bladder before starting or we may have had to call in the carpet cleaners.

I did let them know what was happening. Eventually. 

Best Christmas gift to myself. Ever!

Actually it was the second best Christmas gift. Seeing my boys together and hearing them talk and laugh and just enjoy being together - that was the absolute best.

Hoping you all had a happy time with family and friends too.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Santa Run 2014

We had our annual Santa Run on Saturday.

Over 50 runners, walkers, babies and a few dogs showed up to take part. 


It's possibly one of the most fun runs that we do. And one of the most annoying. Try singing Jingle Bells in your head for 12k. Inspired, of course, by the bells sewn to the shirt of the runner nearby. The Jingle Bells in your head is playing at the pace that you're running at but the runner with the actual bells is not running the same pace. Tempo mismatch! Bah humbug!!

So what does one do on a Santa Run? Apart from dressing up in totally inappropriate clothes for our climate? We talk about festive things, naturally. Like what we're doing over the break. Like whether the Christmas shopping is completed. Or almost completed. Or not-really-started-but-I've-got-some-ideas. And we debate the big questions - like why women look good in tight black pants while men don't. (Jury's still out on that one - I personally think it's in the eye of the beholder) And whether it's wise to put a set of car keys in the pocket of a totally new pair of shorts whose drawstring has previously been untested. There are some days when the built-in undies may seem inadequate.

We weren't the only ones out there feeling festive early Saturday morning. There were a pair of Santa's helpers on the path. Bearing gifts. It's probably the only safe time to accept candy from a pair of sweaty middle-aged men.

We were greeted with smiles and wished Merry Christmas all through the run. And every time it happened I was surprised that there were so many friendly, happy people out. Then I'd remember that we were all dressed up and that they were actually enjoying the spectacle of adults acting like kids. Nothing wrong with that. 

But the best part of the run was raising over $1000 for a very good cause - the Advanced Breast Cancer Support Group. Christmas is all about giving.

And talking about giving - those Christmas cards that I've been given have come in very handy this year. They're not only festive and decorative and remind you of all the wonderful people in your life - they act as decent cockroach killers too. Merry Christmas and take that!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where The Wild Things Are

This story starts all the way back in March on my birthday when I was given a Kindle.

I'd never really considered getting an electronic reader. Books have always worked fine just the way they are and I didn't see any need to change my reading habits. But apparently I'm hard to shop for and my kids thought that I'd be up to handling new technology so I now am a Kindle owner and reader.

I've actually embraced this new little piece of equipment. Not least because I can get a book for less than $2 on the daily deal. I've expanded the list of authors that I'll read simply because it's not so expensive to try out someone new. 

But just occasionally I'll end up with a real paper and ink book and when that happens I need a bookmark.

I started reading The Rosie Effect the other night. Hard copy - not the electronic version. Great book. Sequel to The Rosie Project. Couldn't read it all in one hit so I needed a bookmark. Couldn't find one so I used a tissue. Night two of reading The Rosie Effect and I accidentally used the bookmark to wipe my eye.

Weird fact about me. Sometimes my eye will just randomly leak tears. I'm not crying. I'm not sad or emotional in any way. It usually happens at night when I'm reading in bed and usually happens in the eye that is lower to the ground (I read on my side). So my theory is that it has something to do with gravity. And something to do with getting old.

Obviously, having used the tissue to wipe my leaky eye I didn't want to use it as a bookmark so I went on a hunt to find the most beautiful bookmark that I've ever owned. It was a surprise birthday present from a running friend - a metal butterfly complete with bling. And for the life of me I couldn't remember where it was.

The obvious first place to look was in the top drawer of my bedside table. I had a quick rummage around without actually getting out of bed and opening up the drawer properly in the hope that my hand would land on a piece of metal that was sure to be the bookmark.

No luck! I was actually going to have to get up and do a proper search. So I pulled out the drawer. The drawer that hasn't been tidied up in years. Possibly decades. And what I found was shocking!

This drawer had, over the years, become a lingerie graveyard. Where all things slinky, satiny and lacy went to die. There were things in there that I didn't even know that I owned. A white lace suspender belt? Where the hell did that come from? And why? Pretty sure that it's never been used so if anyone is interested I'm open to offers. And, no, not THOSE kind of offers.

As I pulled each of the garments out random memories floated back (except for when I pulled out the suspender belt because I'm still baffled about that one). I still remember telling my Mum that I didn't care if people could see my legs through my skirt because my legs were still good and it was way too hot to wear a petticoat.

And underneath all those pieces of naughtiness were these.

They too had me baffled. They looked like little mints but, again, I couldn't remember buying mints to have in my bedside drawer. But hey, I couldn't remember buying a suspender belt so obviously my memory is not a steel trap. I was just about to pop one into my mouth when I dropped it and it disintegrated as it hit the table.

Not a mint. A gecko egg.

I don't know what's more disturbing - the fact that I almost ate a gecko's egg or that the geckos are having special mummy and daddy time in my lingerie drawer. If I'm not getting use out of that drawer I don't think anyone or anything else should be.

And I still haven't found the bookmark.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kurrawa To Duranbah 30K

Some runs are good runs.

They're the runs where you float along on clouds. Where every step seems effortless. Where even the steepest hills seem flat. Where you feel like you can run forever.

My 30k yesterday was not like that.

It was hard!

There were no clouds - except for the ones in the sky. There was no effortlessness. There were steep hills. And I didn't feel like I could run forever. In fact there was some walking. Mostly up those hills. But I finished it. And that's really all I'd planned to do.

There was a big plus that I'm taking away from the run - even though the running part wasn't so great. I didn't get nervous or anxious about running it. Not once. That would be the first race that I've done this year where I wasn't. Yay me!

So what went wrong? Mostly I think it came down to not planning my eating well enough the day before and going out a little harder than I'd intended. I was starting to fatigue around the halfway mark and only keeping myself going with the promise that I could stop and walk a bit once I'd gotten to 20k.

From there nearly every kilometre had a little bit of walking in it. But there's a point where you just give up caring about your splits. All you want to do is make it to the finish line.

I'd been running to that point without music and it seemed as good as any time to add a sound track to my misery. Maybe an up-beat song would lighten the load? Can't say that it made the running any easier but it did supply me a wry laugh in the last kilometre. I was heading towards the finish line (which had also been the start line) when Coldplay's The Scientist started to play.

'Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start'

Never have the lyrics fitted my situation so perfectly.

What a relief to have it done. My legs were tight and sore and on the verge of cramping up. I was covered in salt crystals - even though it was fairly cool I'd still managed to sweat a lot. I just wanted to curl up into a little ball and sleep. But I had to drive myself back to where I was staying first.

When I got into the unit I just collapsed onto the couch. And stayed there for a couple of hours until I had the energy to move again. And by that time I'd stiffened up so much I was moving like a severely arthritic octogenarian. Every time I had to move was accompanied by groaning. So packing up the car to go back home was a fairly vocal affair.

Luckily two of my greatest fears didn't eventuate. I didn't go into cramp while changing gears on the trip home. And I was able to get up the stairs at home without assistance. But when I finally lay down on the couch I basically didn't move (except to get more fluids or go to the loo) for the entire afternoon and evening - which suited Toby because he'd missed me and needed to lay next to me or on me to make sure I wasn't going to disappear again.

But despite being so sore and miserable and despite the run being pretty awful, I'll probably do it again. Because we runners are a little weird like that. We hate to leave things on a sour note. We like to achieve what we set out to. So I'm pretty sure I'll take up the challenge again. But firstly I need to conquer the challenge of walking. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kick-Starting 2015

This year's winding down quickly.

I'm into my last week of work. I've made my last rhythmic costume

I have five bikinis to cut out. One more business phone call to make. And that will be that.

We've celebrated our last family birthday for 2014 and I've made my last birthday cake for the running squad. In fact I'm putting away my piping bag for a few months until the weather becomes a little kinder to butter and sugar - so sick of seeing my carefully iced cakes melting.

The only thing that hasn't wound up is running. It never winds up. Thank goodness - because running is my sanity over this dead part of the year. There will be plenty of sessions to do between now and when 2015 really gets under-way again. And I still have one more 'race' to get through.

Race is a term that I use quite loosely these day when it comes to events. I try to keep the pressure out by thinking of them as runs. With lots of other people.

This Sunday's 30k will definitely not be a race. It's basically going to be a glorified weekend long run. In a new area. With a whole heap of different people. It won't be a big race and that suits me fine. The roads won't be shut down. We'll just be running on paths - but, again that's fine because it won't be that crowded.

It'll be hot and humid and probably horrible at times. And I'll wonder why I decided to sign up in the first place. My feet will get tired. I might end up with blisters. I'll get dehydrated. Sweat will get in my eyes and make them sting. My body will ache and me head will want to give up.

So why DID I decide to sign up? Because at the end I'll feel great - in a tired, thirsty and cranky way. I'll feel like I've achieved something. Something that's just for me. Something of value - whose value is only understood by other runners. Something that will be the impetus to want to do more of the same in 2015.

So really the run this weekend is the kick-start to 2015.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Getting Perspective

You probably all saw my birthday cake creation from the other day.

This chocolate indulgence. 
While I was making it I did something a little odd. 

It's not unusual for me to do odd things. I personally think everyone does odd things from time to time and if I do it a little more frequently than other people then that's just one of my lovable little quirks.

I was mixing a triple batch of chocolate cake by hand. A triple batch is a pretty intense workout for anyone who's used to using an electric mixer to do the heavy stuff. I could feel the muscles really straining in my arm so I looked down to admire my awesome guns. 

And they really did look pumped from where I was standing. They looked like I actually worked out my upper body - which I pretty much don't ever. So I decided to do the odd thing. Something only the young and vain do.

I took a selfie of my bulging biceps.

And then I looked at it and almost wet myself laughing. 

I swear it looked like I had a muscle from my perspective. 

Guess I won't be entering a body-building competition any time soon.