Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How A Dalmatian Earns His Spots

I've worked out why Dalmatians have black spots. They earn them one naughty deed at a time. Their spots are just a reflection of their dark little soul.

Ricky has earned a fair few new spots this week.

He's chewed up a place mat. He's chewed up a stick on the just-vacuumed carpet (which, incidentally, I'd had to vacuum myself as the cleaning lady had called in sick - double spots for that sin). He chewed up one of Serena's sandals. He dragged his butt over Josh and Serena's bed but had an unfortunate remnant of a bowel motion still stuck to his butt (their doona cover had also been just washed so double spots for that sin too.) He stole Iven's afternoon tea from the table and hid behind the couch when he was discovered. Then he stole Iven's glasses so he couldn't see to do the crossword. He took scrap paper out of my work bin and tore it up all over the lawn. He pulled out chocolate wrappers from my work bin while I had clients over so they all knew my secret shame. He scratched my great-niece's cheek in a fit of excited puppiness.

And then last night I heard Serena's 'you've done it again Ricky' noise. So I went into their bedroom to check and found this,

Yeah, my cute little grandpuppy is a dumpster diver.

He'd stuck his head into their bin and gotten it, well, stuck. Looking for food as usual. And yes, their was food in the bin - dried noodles confiscated from him after a previous break and enter. Yes, that's the lid of the bin around his neck.

Sure he might look like he's ashamed of what he's done but the shame never stays with him long enough to stop him from doing it again.

Still love him though. For the moment.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Can An Old Runner Learn A New Watch?

Just a few days ago I was living in fear and terror.

A category 5 cyclone had formed up north and was heading with huge destructive winds and tons of rain. It was due to hit the coast on Friday and we didn't know exactly where Or how much damage it would create. Or if the Saturday's run would be cancelled.

That's what was really worrying me. Because I'm a runner. And because my week's sanity relies on a good weekend run. Preferably two.

And this weekend I was even more invested in the run than usual. Not because I needed more 'therapy'.  But because I had just bought a new running watch.

My old Garmin 405 had been on its last legs for months. The watch was still going okay but the ANT agent had died, the heart rate monitor had died and the watch band was on its way out and was held together with strapping tape. My plan was to keep it limping along to my birthday in a month's time and ask for a new one.

But then our own little cyclone Ricky struck.

He managed to get the watch off the computer tower that's sitting on the desk and gnaw the band off. No worries, I thought. I'd be able to just carry it in my pouch on my runs for the couple of weeks till my birthday. So I tried that on Thursday and found out that GPS watches actually need to be able to see the satellites to work - or else I really did run a 7 minute kilometre.

When I went to the shops on Friday I really didn't intend to buy a new watch. I was going to buy a couple of torches just in case we lost power in all the bad weather. But something lured me into Rebel Sports and all of a sudden I had the new watch in my hot little hands. But then came the hard parts, explaining what I'd done to my husband and answering the question that has stumped scholars since time immemorial - can an old runner learn a new watch?

My husband's reaction was only a little dismay. "Now I'm going to have to think of something else to get you for your birthday!"

I assured him that that wasn't necessary. But I'm a woman. I reserve the right to change my mind about that.

The watch-learning thing was, as I expected, a lot more challenging. I had to call on the expertise of my youngest son to help with all the computer stuff because Garmin have updated all of their software in the 6 years since I bought my first watch and some of the software wouldn't download through Chrome and Explorer kept crapping out on me so we had to go the whole Mozilla route. Why oh why is technology so complicated?!!

So after getting the watch and the computer all set up. I didn't want a little thing like a category 5 cyclone stop me from taking my Precious on its inaugural run.

Just a little side-note here. We were never actually in the path of the cyclone. It was a few hundred kilometres up north and we were only going to get lots and lots of rain. So I'm not a totally obsessed running-nutter. Even I draw the line at running in a cyclone.

There was a few begging texts to Coach Chris. A bit along the line of please, please, please don't cancel. He wouldn't commit either way because he is not God and can't know what the weather's going to do. I'd pretty much decided that I would run regardless but really wanted the group to run with. Because a group of masochists have way more fun than a single.

So I went to bed Friday night with my gear out and a steely determination to get 20k in. A bit of rain wasn't going to stop me. And when I woke on Saturday in the dark with the rain pattering outside it was all I could do not to jump back into bed - until I remembered the begging texts and decided I couldn't face the shame of piking out.

The run went well. I managed to get my watch to start and stop and record stuff in between the starting and stopping. There was only one moment where I thought I'd stuffed it up - when I wiped rain off the touchscreen and managed to change the screen. But I worked out how to get back to the screen I wanted so I've officially given myself a high distinction for watch-learning. And I guess that answers the question - yes, an old runner can learn a new watch.

And for those of you who only come to my blog to look at the cute puppy pictures, here is my gift to you. A story of lust and how dark desires will drive even the most innocent to commit crime.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

W.W.Wednesday - Again

Yes, it's whingey, whiney Wednesday again.

I'm not sure why I feel at my whiniest on Wednesday. Could be that it's hump day. Could be that I just like alliteration and whingey, whiney Thursday just wouldn't cut it.

Sorry for that brief digression. I know you're all champing at the bit to know what I'm whining about this time. It's not about running. It's about something that we all can relate to - public toilets.

A lot of people have a fear of using public toilets. In fact so many people that it has its own name - parcopresis. I do not have this particular phobia. I'm quite happy to use the women's, the men's or the bush if that's all that's available to me. I actually quite like public restrooms with their free water and their free paper towels or hot air and the fact that I don't actually have to clean out the toilet bowl myself makes using public toilets a winner.

Two of my local shopping centres have recently undergone multi-million dollar transformations to make our shopping experience more special and exciting and fun - if the pictures on their advertising are anything to go by. Personally I've found my shopping experience since the upgrades pretty much the same but maybe I'm just not entering into the spirit of things. Actually, in one very important respect I've found the upgrade not to my taste. And that aspect is the restroom facilities.

Sure they look so much fancier now. They look clean and sanitised and sparkly and new but they have two significant drawbacks that make my once-pleasant toilet experience something that haunts me in my bad dreams.

The first is the lighting. Did you know that harsh fluorescent downlights can make your skin look like and eighty year old's? Wrinkly. Sagging. Cellulity. I swear it doesn't look that bad in natural light. Or maybe it does and I'm just delusional. But I have Googled plastic surgeons and full body lifts while I've been sitting there doing what I've got to do.

The second is the shape of the toiler seat. Who decided that rectangular seats were appropriate for roundish bottoms? Talk about round peg in a square hole! And my backside isn't even that generous. I'd hate to think how uncomfortable it is for the more generously proportioned amongst us. And judging by what I've seen in the food court, there's a lot of generously proportioned out there.

I'm not sure what the brain's trust was thinking when they made those two decisions. Maybe they just want to discourage patrons from spending an inordinate amount of time on the throne when they could be shopping. Maybe they want to discourage them from using the facilities at all. Or maybe they managed to get all those rectangular toilets cheap when the manufacturers realised that they were a bad idea. Personally I'm leaning towards the 'not using the facilities at all' unless absolutely desperate.

Looks like I'll be spending my pennies at home and my toilet brush will be getting a more regular workout.

I can't finish this post on such a negative note. So, acceding to requests from Jim, here are some puppy pictures.

Note that this is my seat

Photo credit - 'My Name is Jeff' Photography
And the cake's to take any of the sour taste of my whining out of your mouth.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Stupid Beyond Words

Sometimes my stupidity is beyond words. (And yes I'm going to write a post about it so it probably isn't beyond words but I liked it as an opening sentence.)

I spent all of yesterday exhausted. As in I had 9 hours sleep but felt like I needed more. As in every time I walked around for more than five minutes I needed to lie down for ten. As in my double strength coffee only managed to get me around a few aisles of the grocery store before I had to call it quits and then provided me with the thrill and excitement of palpitations for the rest of the day.

And it could have all been avoided if I'd been sensible. If I'd run my long, slow run long and slow.

Actually, I did run it long. Not super-long but 20k is always going to be long in my books. It's the slow that I didn't manage so well. But I swear it wasn't totally my fault. I got caught up with the bad boys. The ones who lull you into a false sense of security with their easy pace and their amusing banter.

They get you believing that you're where you should be and then they turn for home and all bets are off. The pace ramps up imperceptibly until you realise that you're panting and feeling a lot more tired than you like to feel with 7k to go. Your watch beeps and shows you that you're running sub-5 minute pace. So you mention this to the wolf pack and they promise that they'll slow down and when your watch beeps again you find that you've actually run the next kilometre a second faster.

That's when you realise that you're out of your depth and out of your league. That you're either going to have to run at race pace for the last 5k or run the last 5k alone. Ignominiously alone. With the whole world knowing that you couldn't keep up.

So pride makes you push onwards. Maybe you can hold on for another kilometre or two or even three. And maybe you can talk them into an extra water stop so you can catch your breath before the pain begins again.

The kilometre that ticks over in 4:44 has you almost crying and begging for mercy. But, surprisingly you still manage a 4:49 for the next and 4:48 for the one after that and somewhere in those three kilometres you start to believe that you're stronger than you thought and you might actually make it home after all.

Luckily the traffic lights are against you so you get a decent breather before tackling the last stretch. Then you see the little green man and the race is back on. Finally you reach The Regatta, the finish line, (in 4:39 pace) and it's all over. You didn't have to face the shame of being dropped. And you didn't die.

In fact you feel irrationally elated because you've just run the last 10k of a 20k run at a pace just 2 seconds slower than the last 10k race you did. Plus you're full of endorphins and we all know how addictive that stuff is.

That's kind of, sort of, exactly how my long, slow run went on Saturday. And that's why I could hardly get out of bed yesterday.

Today's a different story, though. Today I'm back to normal. Thank goodness stupidity doesn't always have permanent effects.

And because I have no photos of my stupidity but can't stand to put a post into cyberspace without an illustration (my grade 2 teacher always liked a good illustration) I've chosen a particularly cute pic of my grandpuppy at his first ever birthday party.

The hat didn't last long.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Stretching - A Contact Sport?

I like to stretch.

It was something indoctrinated into me way back in my high school days when I was (briefly) in the track squad. You run, you stretch. It's almost an automatic response like a dog drooling when he's looking at your dinner and willing it to fall onto the floor.

I don't know if it makes me a better runner. I don't know if it prevents injuries. There are studies out that encourage stretching and others that say it doesn't really make a difference. All I know is that it makes me feel better. And I feel like I'm delaying the inevitable onset of rigor mortis.

But since we've gotten this little guy, stretching has become an extreme sport - only to be undertaken at your own peril.

My prime time for stretching is the little window I have between breakfast and when I really have to get going for the day. And this seems to be the exact same time for the daily battle of strength, skill and agility between our three dogs. 

So far Toby has it all over Ricky on the strength and skill side of the daily challenge. He generally wins tug-of-war with most apparatus - rope, teddy bear, underwear, urine-soaked towel. And he can always outwit Ricky when they're playing chasey. He knows that if Ricky runs from the lounge through the laundry and the kitchen, the puppy will appear at the kitchen door and he doesn't actually have to chase him to catch him. 

Ricky always wins the agility section of the skill test. Mostly because he's young, fast and isn't wearing a cone-of-shame that tends to get caught on door frames, tables, chairs and the legs of humans.. Although he has tried it on for size.

Might as well get used to it Ricky. You'll be wearing one in just a couple of months after you visit your favourite vet.

Bubbles wins nothing. She'll try tug-of-war but only having half the requisite amount of teeth puts her at a distinct disadvantage. So her major contribution to the daily mayhem is to stand and bark from the sidelines. I think she's trying to cheer Toby on - not the interloper.

Today's stretching session was particularly brutal. I ended up with three minor injuries and the very real chance of bruising. 

Toby bit my foot when the toy they were fighting over ended up a little too close. I'm sure he was aiming for the pink gorilla but I think the cone-of-shame refracts light like a prism and he ended up with a wayward lunge. And I'm not just talking a little nip.

Then Ricky decided that it was quite acceptable to walk over my face. And, hey, what are those shiny little baubles in your ear lobe? It wasn't a through and through injury but it made a little tear leak out of my eye. 

And finally I was almost decapitated by the cone-of-shame. Actually that could make an interesting murder mystery novel. Where the crazy dog lady seeks revenge for all the perceived wrongs committed against her by way of a razor sharp, carbon fibre cone-of-shame fitted to her lovable golden retriever.

Anyway I'm going to have to re-think my stretching time. Or location. Or the need to do it altogether. It's become way too much of a contact sport for my liking.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What A Difference A Week Makes

How much difference can a week make? A lot when it comes to running, it seems.

The past week has seen the humidity drop from running-under-water to yay-my-sweat-evaporates. The temperatures haven't really changed but the humidity drop has made the difference for running enormous.

A week ago I ran 20k and it was awful. I felt sick and exhausted for the entire day afterwards. I did back up and ran my 12k Sunday run but I couldn't face running hills like I've been doing on Sundays. I just kept it as flat as possible and as easy as possible. And I napped for most of the rest of the day.

This week the Saturday run felt easy. 5:20 pace felt comfortable. Getting caught up in Park Run was an irresistible, fun challenge. I didn't leave a sweat puddle on a floor at the Regatta. And recovery was easy. So when Sunday rolled around it wasn't so hard to talk myself into running Mt Coottha.

A couple of weeks ago I got it into my head that I could run from home up and around my biggest nemesis. And we all know what happens when I get a thought into my head. I just am not satisfied until I've done what I planned. I ran it past Coach Chris and he gave me his blessing. It was a tough run but I got it done and decided that I really didn't need to do it again now that I'd scratched that itch.

Three weeks on and the thought reappeared in a different form. Maybe the run wouldn't be so arduous if I ran up the Slaughter Falls trail instead of running around on the road. The road way has a 2.2k climb whereas the Slaughter Falls trail is less than 2k and there's a couple of descents in amongst the ascents. Easier.

And it kind of was - because of the more pleasant conditions. I just didn't account for the fact that I had to run over a kilometre more. And that there was stairs. We all know that you have to lift your knees up a little higher on stairs so you don't face-plant. Plus every cyclist in Brisbane seemed to have chosen the same time to be doing their hill training as me and it was sometimes a little challenging to avoid being hit. (Note to cyclists: please look a metre or so up the hill not on the road directly below you so you can avoid obstacles like branches, rocks, wildlife and runners).

I'll admit to being a little wrecked when I got home but the difference to last week is how quickly I've bounced back. Today there is no stiffness. No leg fatigue. I feel like I could run if I had to - like if I was being chased by a bull or a machete-wielding psychopathic killer. Well, you never know - it could happen.

Every November I dread the onset of summer and the misery that I know is ahead. And every March I pat myself on the back for surviving another one and not throwing in my running towel. I might be celebrating a bit early but I'm a wee bit excited over the improvements I can see with just a small change in the weather. Once autumn and winter hit in earnest I'm expecting my summer consistency to really pay off.

A week can also make a lot of difference when it comes to puppies and toilet training. I'm happy to announce that I didn't clean up a single wee or poo in the last week. That doesn't mean that he hasn't done any. It might mean that he's better at hiding them and that our house may stink like a urinal after a grand final celebration in a very short time. But the optimist in me is hoping that he really has grown a good sized bladder and made the connection between peeing on the carpet and being a pariah.

He still has a lot to learn about what are toys and what are important human belongings and what is doggy food and what is human food. His latest disgrace was the theft of a five-pack of extra hot noodles. The red staining around his mouth was the tip-off that he'd done something that he shouldn't.

I'm pretty sure that he only sampled one of the packets of special spicy sauce or there would have been some whimpering when he went to relieve himself this morning. And I'm also pretty sure that the red will wear away. Eventually.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Keep Out Of Reach Of Children

Last night I went to bed knowing that I didn't have to wake up to an alarm and all I had to worry about was getting to a massage by 8:30am.

Tough life - I know. But I've gotten my kids through school and I work from home so if I haven't got a run scheduled I'm allowed to sleep in. I've done my fair share of early morning mayhem and chasing kids out the door to get them to school/buses/City Cats on time so I think I've earned a couple of more relaxed, non-frantic starts.

It was awesome to roll out of bed after 7:30. Feeling refreshed and invigorated. Looking forward to a relaxing painful massage that was going to get all the kinks out.

And then I walked into the kitchen. And I found this on the floor.

This is a packet of antibiotics. That I'd left on the bench last night to remind myself to give them to Toby. 

Toby has been incredibly itchy lately and had managed to divest himself of the cone-of-shame while I was out yesterday morning. He went to town on himself. Tore holes in his rump and ended up visiting the vet yesterday afternoon. We came home with a pharmacy's worth of drugs and a list of instructions on how and when to administer them. And being prone to forget stuff lately, I'd thought that leaving them in plain sight would be the best reminder.

But I'd forgotten about this.  

Stealing those antibiotics wasn't tricky at all for little Ricky. And those blister packs weren't that hard to break into for sharp little teeth. He'd managed to eat a whole sheet of them.

All of a sudden my lovely relaxed morning vanished. I took Ricky outside and tried to get him to vomit by sticking my fingers down his throat. No vomit but I do have some teeth marks on my knuckles. 

I know that some drugs can be highly toxic to livers and kidneys but there didn't seem to be much information on-line about this particular antibiotic so my next option was to call the vet. They suggested that I bring him up for observation. 

I looked at my watch and realised that I could still make the massage if I took him straight up so we jumped into the car and headed off. 

Ricky hasn't always had the best track record with cars and I remembered that while I was sitting at a red light. I keep a towel in the car and it seemed like a good idea to spread it out where Ricky was sitting just in case he threw up. 

Call me psychic (some would call me psycho - I accept both.) but not long after we got the green light I heard him heaving behind me. Of course he'd missed the towel, but you've never seen a happier person whose car has just been vomited in. I was fist pumping and smiling and praising Ricky for being such a good dog. Yeah, I'm pretty sure most of the drivers around me would have opted for the psycho label looking at the crazy dog lady.

So I arrived at the vet with both the puppy and a tissue full of vomit. I bet they love their job some days. And I got to my massage on time. And my masseuse (my sister) cleaned out my back seat with her wet and dry vacuum. Talk about a full service massage!

Ricky's at home now and you'd never know anything has happened. And we've all learned an important lesson - to keep medicines out of the reach of children. Even the furry children.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Last Week in Review

I had a cake disaster last week.

I know. I didn't think it was possible either. And it scared the bejeezus out of me. Was this the first sign that I was losing it? And by it I mean cake-making mojo, ability to follow simple directions, memory and/or mind. Take your pick.

I'd done something terribly wrong and I still can't work out what it was but it ended up with three very crusty, sunken cakes that were fudgy and gooey in the middle. I had to scrape them out of the cake tins!

But even though they were a total disaster they tasted delicious so it's kind of a pity that I don't know where I went wrong because I wouldn't mind replicating them.

So it was with a little fear and trepidation that I cranked up the oven this week. Would it again be a disaster? Would my fears of my cake-baking days being over be confirmed? Would I need to hold a garage sale and rid myself of my now redundant cake tins?

Doesn't look like I'll have to yet. The cakes turned out fine. And we were able to celebrate the Socceroos winning the Asian Cup with way too much sugar.

I found out that my grandpuppy is a genius last week. Yes, I know that everyone thinks that they're grandchildren grandpuppies are geniuses but I have hard evidence as proof. He's only 12 weeks old so he can't really talk yet but he's learned to communicate with us electronically.

First of all he stood on the remote and changed the channel from the news to Scooby Do. Typical kid. Would rather watch cartoons (and one where the star is one of his people) than be informed about world events. They all think the world revolves around them don't they?

And then he got my phone to tell me this.

Typical kid. Always needing applause for every little new thing that they learn. His new trick was to play dead when I shoot him with my imaginary finger. And of course I already new that he'd learnt it because I'd taught it to him. But kids do like to brag.


And finally there was the little matter of returning the pink running top that was intent on exposing me to the world. I didn't think it'd be a big deal. The top was fine as long as I didn't run but as it was a running singlet and designed for running it was a no-brainer in my book that I should be offered an exchange or a refund.

I visited the Indooroopilly Lorna Jane store where I'd made the original purchase and explained my dilemma only to be told that because the top had been worn that I couldn't return it. Umm the top was only a problem once I was running in it so how could I know there was a problem until I'd worn it? And then I was told that I should have bought a smaller size - an extra-small. Yes, patently this 5'9" woman is an extra small. And if I'm an extra small then what do the real extra small people get to wear? Children's sizes?

I was obviously going to get any satisfaction there and I could alter the top to fit (just didn't think that I should have to) so I left without making too much of a fuss. But I did air my grievances on Facebook to get some emotional satisfaction. And this is what I got back in response. Read the Lorna Jane comment first.

How sweetly insincere! I especially like the MNB Move, Nourise, Believe) always and the kisses at the end. Yep, that's going to definitely make me want to shop there again.