Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jeepers Creepers

It's still been warm and there's still mozzies around at night so each night I'm going to bed cocooned in a mozzie net. It's nice to know I can have a hot flush in the middle of the night and not be attacked by a swarm of those noisy blood-suckers.

But the other night the mozzie net did the opposite to what it's supposed to. Instead of keeping the baddies out, it locked them in with me. Kind of like a white-collar criminal in with an axe murderer.

It must have been around 4:00am when I roused briefly to have a debate in my head over whether I should bite the bullet and go to the loo or whether I should trust my ageing urinary sphincter for another couple of hours. Common sense prevailed over optimism. It was when I'd returned to bed and settled down to (hopefully) a couple of extra hours of sleep cause I didn't have to get up early to run, that I felt it. Something ran over my hand.

Shudder. Goose bumps. And a creeping feeling of dread.

It was dark so I couldn't see what the culprit was. And there was no point in turning on the light because I'd flicked that sucker so hard that it was hiding somewhere peaceful to lick its wounds. Then I realised in my still sleep-dazed but increasingly adrenalin-fuelled state that whatever it was was still trapped within the confines of the mozzie net.

A moth would have been the best option. Followed by a cockroach. I could cope fine with a cockroach crawling on my hand as long as I didn't have to see it. I'd be less fine with one of those rhinoceros beetles that we get - not since one latched on to me and drew blood. And even lesser fine if it was a spider. I'm not the sort of person who runs out of a room when I see a spider but neither do I enjoy them creeping over any part of my anatomy in the dark.

I tucked every exposed bit of my body under the sheet so only the smallest bit of my face was exposed but any more sleep was just not going to happen. Of course, once it was light enough to see there was no trace of the creepy critter who'd stolen my sleep-in.

So the next night I was extra-careful to block off all entry opportunities to my sleeping quarters. That net was firmly tucked in and I was sure there was nothing trapped within its confines. I had another morning with no running ahead so that meant no alarm and the rare opportunity to sleep till I woke up naturally. Bliss!

And again at 4:00am I was in that semi-awake state having the same old debate that ended up in the same result. And once again I tried to settle back down to a couple of hours more sleep when I felt it. The ticklish scurry of something over my hand.

But this time, when I did that whole jerky, hysterical flicking of my hand I managed to work out what the culprit was.

Not a spider - thank goodness. Or a beetle, cockroach or moth.

It was the tissue that I keep tucked half under my pillow. Fluttering in the breeze from the fan.

Yeah, I felt pretty stupid.

And for those of you wondering how I managed to have two mornings off running while I'm smack-bang in the middle of training for a marathon. I gave myself those morning off. With Coach Chris's blessing of course. I'd just started to get a few warning signs that I wasn't recovering from my sessions. The elevated heart rate, leg fatigue, headaches. I've been here before and ignored the signs and it hasn't ended well.

So this time I decided to nip it in the bud. Just take a couple of extra days to get my body back on track before knuckling back down. It was just what I needed and I could tell how much fresher I felt when I ran 25k on Saturday. What I found especially interesting was the data from my watch. Both runs were done at the same pace and on pretty much the same course. The weather was fairly similar but my average heart rate was 10 beats slower in the second run.

Objective achieved.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thanks For Rubbing It In

Since my last post it's been lovely to have so many women rub their handy-in-the-kitchen husbands in my face. I've been told of partners who do all the cooking and shopping. Ones who cook roasts while their better half is out running races. Barbecue kings and others that like to dabble in desserts. I even had one of my favourite running partners (male) come up to me on the warm up on Tuesday to regale me with tales of his home-made pasta. No longer one of my favourites Elio!

So it's official. My better half is a kitchen dud! Just as well there are other rooms in our house that he can redeem himself in. And for those who have their minds in the gutter, I was actually referring to the toilet. He's a dab hand with that toilet brush!

I probably should have known that he was never going to make the short-list of Masterchef from the first time that I tasted his mother's cooking. After all most men develop their palates from their mother's cooking. And his mother was a dreadful cook.

There is no malice in that statement. It's just God's honest truth. She has been the only person that I've ever known who's managed to get boiled beans greasy.

The main aim for food in his household was to not waste any of it so it took years to convince him that he shouldn't eat mouldy bread, jam or cheese. And that leftovers were probably better left after a fortnight. His mother had taught him well to clear his plate and be grateful for everything. So, despite my complaints about having to take sole responsibility in the kitchen, I know I'm cooking for an appreciative audience.

And there are always side-benefits to being the chief cook. I get to choose what the menu is so I get to cook what I want to eat. And if I want to eat chicken and rice three nights in a row then so be it. If you want to complain about the lack of variety well you're quite welcome to borrow the frilly apron and take charge.

And in other news, this came in the mail on Monday.

Not second place like it had showed when the results were announced initially but I'm still happy with the result. Another medal to add to the collection - and the fact that it's not just a finishers medal makes it even more special.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It's Not Bigamy If You Just Propose

I knew Saturday's run was going to be hard even before I'd run a step.

I'd known it was going to be hard for the week before. As soon as I'd seen what the weather was supposed to be. And I'd been hoping all week that the forecast would change. A low of 23C with the chance of showers and maybe storms. That means only one thing in my world. A really humid, sweaty, chafe-inducing run. And I had 24k to get done.

I was even desperate enough to beg Coach Chris to do something about the weather.

He had some lame excuse why he couldn't help out. Well, two can play at that game. His cake plate may be empty when his birthday comes around next year. If I can remember to hold a grudge for that long.

When I woke up at 4:15am it didn't feel like 23C. And it wasn't. 25 with a feels-like of almost 30. Oh yay!

Thank goodness that I'd organised to run with someone or I may have stayed in bed and skipped the first four kilometres that had to be done before meeting up with the squad. Yes, there was a little bit of rain but not enough to make any difference to the temperature. It was just going to be a matter of keeping a very moderate pace, drinking often and trying to keep my mind off how horrible it was by passing the time talking to Craig, one of the men-not-my-husband-who-I-meet-in-the-dark.

I'm going to blame it on the torrid conditions. The fact that I did something out of character. Something that my husband doesn't need to know about. Something that Craig's wife shouldn't know about either if she's the jealous type.

I'm going to blame it on being dehydrated. Heat stressed. Slightly crazed. Possibly hallucinating. My brain wasn't functioning at it's normal rational, sensible level.

Somehow these words slipped out of my mouth.

"Will you marry me?"

But what's a girl to do when she hears that her companion regularly cooks dinner for the family?! And does the shopping!! I thought that men who did that were unicorns. Urban myths.

I took back the proposal when I heard that he wasn't a very good cook. But I'm willing to revisit it if he takes a few classes. And I'll even proffer some suggestions of cuisine to focus on - Thai, Vietnamese and Indian. No need to worry about the sweets side of things. I've got that covered.

And in the meanwhile I'll just have to put up with my husband of 29 years who I can manipulate into buying me my favourite Vietnamese takeaway by making him think it was his idea.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Where Did He Get It From?

I don't know where he gets it from.

I'm talking about my #1 son. One of the lights of my life. Except for the fact that he graduated as a physiotherapist and moved to Melbourne almost straight away - before I could utilise his free services. He wouldn't charge the mother who'd changed his poopy nappies, wrote poetry assignments for him, kept him supplied with cupcakes, brownies and cookies which were in hot demand for lunchtime bartering and supported him from the side of the soccer pitch for what would add up to be years of my life. Would he?

All bitterness aside, I recognise a lot of his traits as ones he's gotten from me. All the good ones of course. The not-so-good and the little-bit-annoying ones came from his father. Obviously!

But there's one that has me totally stumped. And he showed it in all its blazing glory last week. After I'd sent him a slightly bragging, please-pat-me-on-the-back text. About the race. And my, let's be honest here, awesome result.

And because I'm being honest I'll admit that part of the reason that I had to brag to him was because he'd run a 5k the previous weekend and run it in 24 mins. My 23:06 was obviously superior and I wanted him to know that there's a bit of life in his old mum yet.

His response was as gratifying as I'd wanted. "Wow fast Mum. I'll have to pick up my pace."

I didn't know I'd poked the dragon. But I realised it when I got this text later that afternoon.

Competitive much? Actually I'm kind of flattered that my time was respectable enough for him to want to beat it. 

So I'm wondering which race I should enter to try to beat his 22mins. And I'm still trying to work out where he got that competitive streak from.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My How Times Have Changed

I turned 52 on Friday.

Sometimes I just have to scratch my head and wonder how I got to be this old. And I do the maths (a couple of times because my maths skills aren't as sharp as they used to be) just to make sure that I really am this old and it's not all just an hallucination. It never is. I really am this old.

When I was growing up being 50 meant your life was well on the way to being over. There was a certain look to women of a certain age. They all wore dresses and make-up. I can't remember any who wore shorts - even when playing tennis (the only publicly sanctioned exercise in the circles I was part of). And not being able to wear shorts meant that all the good times were over. No more climbing trees or bike rides or pretending you were a horse while running up the beach.

A lot of those women were fairly generously proportioned too - which may have been why shorts weren't part of their wardrobes. Apparently this was a side-effect from having babies. They put on weight when they got pregnant and never returned to the slimness of their youth. They wore step-ins (think spanx) to keep their jiggly bits from jiggling too vigorously and to give their legs that special sausage appearance where the fat was squeezed out below the hemline. And the older you got, the cuddlier you got. This was just what happened to middle aged women.

But within my extended family I'd heard whispers of rebels. Ladies who didn't toe the party line. Runners no less. They toed lines - but only start lines.

I'd like to think that they were the ones that planted the seed. That I did not have to go gentle into that good night. That I could rage against the dying of the light - because wearing dresses and make-up and not being able to cut loose and run because that's-not-what-ladies-do seemed like a death of sorts.

If you had asked the ten year old me what I would have been doing at 52 it would probably have been some permutation of the lady in the floral dress, with a pretty floral aroma, heels (but sensible ones) and taking tea with scones and clotted cream and dainty little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. I used to read a lot of English stories when I was ten.

My 52 year old reality is so much different.

It involves alarm clocks that wake you up before 5 am. It involves messages from men, who are not your husband, asking to meet in the dark. It involves short shorts, bright running shoes, technical, wicking fabric and hi-tech watches. It involves sweat - copious amounts of sweat. It involves hours of exertion that kind of hurts but in a strange but addictive way, feels incredibly good. And it usually involves a well-deserved coffee at the end.

The day after my birthday was spent doing what I love most. Running for a couple of hours with friends. Training for a marathon that I would never have believed a woman of advanced years would be able to do. Then spending the afternoon lounging around, recovering. After all I'm getting older now and my body needs all the recovery it can get for the next week of hard training.

It also involved a little bit of this.

And it involved a lot of gratitude that times have changed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scratching An Itch

We've all been there haven't we?! Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic when we're hit with an inappropriate itch. Not that itches are ever inappropriate. But where they are might be and scratching them in public? Not a good look!

Yes, this happened to me today. Driving home from a run and it's peak hour. The traffic's not moving far or fast and I'm itchy. Maybe itchy's not the right word for it. The sensation was more like a sting. Or stings. Not a bee sting or a wasp sting just a sharp little stab that happened over and over again in my bra.

Instinct said to scratch. Decorum and training said restrain. There are just some things that a lady doesn't do in public. And I was in public. Whether I'm a lady is up for discussion but let's pretend, shall we?

When the traffic's moving slow, drivers get bored and look for any distraction. And I'm pretty sure that the business man in the next vehicle would have enjoyed the distraction of me with my hand down my shirt having a good old scratch. Same with the tradie in the ute who slowly passed. And that reminds me - why do I always end up in the slow lane?

But back to the itch. I tried the subtle rub with the upper arm while pretending I was stretching my neck. Made no difference at all. So I tried to mask a subtle but harder rub with the opposite hand. Still no good. What this itch needed was some nail action. And to do that I needed privacy.

So I suffered in silence for a good ten minutes. Ten minutes of strong impulse being denied. That's nothing for an endurance athlete. Except that it wasn't. I fought that impulse to scratch like I fight the impulse to stop three quarters of the way through every race.

And then finally I was out of the traffic and I could let rip. And it felt so, so good. So good in fact that I didn't realise that I was going through a school zone without slowing down. Oops! Thank goodness the police weren't there with a speed gun because it would have been awkward trying to explain why I was distracted. Would boob itch be a good enough excuse to let me off with a warning?

When I got home I went to shower and found out the source of my discomfort. Four little ants. Not sure how they got there or when but we're all regretting their decision. But at least I'm home alone and can scratch my welts to my heart's content.

In other news - I turn 52 tomorrow. And I'd like to announce to the world that I've finally matured. I was told that we were going to be running fartlek in our speed session on Tuesday and I didn't smirk, giggle or laugh out loud. Yay me!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Women's International Day 5K

I ran in a race yesterday. 

Not my first time for this race but it's the first time since I said I'd never run it again. I like to make a liar out of myself. I'd done this event three times before and two out of the three times I hadn't enjoyed it at all. 

The first time was fine. I ran in a team. Had no expectations. Didn't even time myself but worked out that I'd run around the 25 min mark and was pretty chuffed.

The second time I'd trained for it. I knew I was faster and I wanted to see what I could do. But the race was growing quicker than the organisers had allowed for. There was no proper starting line and no real plan for managing the hoards and in all the confusion the walkers ended up in front of the runners and the result was mayhem. Runners trying to get past rows of walkers with strollers. Injuries galore. My worst ever time for a 5k. 

The third time I did it it had grown even bigger. Not enough toilet facilities had meant that I'd gotten to the start quite late and was way back in the field. Again I'd had to spend most of the race trying to pass people and again I was left frustrated.

But this time was a different story. This time the race organisers had gotten smart and had self-nominated starting groups. This time I was close to the front at the start so this time there was a chance that my race time would be fairly indicative of my current fitness and speed. And this time, for the first time in ages I was not nervous at all about racing.

I'd gotten to the start area with plenty of time to spare. Enough time to do the warm up. Not a running warm up - an aerobics warm up. And I swear that nothing has changed since I was wearing fluoro g-strings in the 80s. Good times and bad fashion! It was enough of a warm up to get my heart rate up a little before the hooter sounded and we were off.

Well, kind of off. I might have been close to the front but not quite close enough to get running straight away. And even once I was running I wasn't running like I wanted to. The group may have been the fastest group but I'm pretty sure there were people there that had guessed when they'd put themselves in this time group. Like the girls who were walking before we'd gone 500m. And the Mum with her young son that I just couldn't get past for ages. There's not many races out there where this won't be a problem so it's just a matter of sucking it up and getting on with it as best you can. And it turned out the my best for the first kilometre was 4:42.

That number pleased and scared me. Was it too fast? Could I maintain it? Should I stop thinking so hard and just trust myself? 

The answer to the last question was obvious. Of course I should stop thinking and trust my training. After all, my last post was on how well I'd been running and Wednesday's tempo run had seen me maintain that pace for about 8 kilometres so 5 should be definitely do-able. 

Second kilometre ticked over at 4:37. Almost halfway through and I'd gotten over two out of the three 'hills'. The third kilometre was where my surprise cheer squad was spread through. There's nothing quite like having someone yell your name to give you a little lift. And having four people at different spots saw me through that kilometre in a speedy-for-me 4:23. 

The fourth kilometre had the last 'hill' in it. The Goodwill Bridge. There was not a lot of goodwill in my feelings towards that bridge as I went up it. I knew it was going to bite and it did but I still managed a 4:43 and hearing my watch beep meant I was only a kilometre from home. 

And it was about here that I started taking note of the other runners around me. The young girl in the multi-coloured shorts that I'd been trading places with. The tall girl in the pink top. The older lady (and by older I mean close to my age but probably still younger) that came up and slowly passed me with only about 500m to go. 

I have been known to be a little competitive at times and I really didn't want her to beat me. But I also didn't know if there really was only 500m to go - I didn't want to start pushing too soon and die before I actually crossed the line. So I just picked up the pace marginally to stay on her tail till I could see the finish line.

I have to admit it was hurting. But I was able to keep it up - the pain was only going to last such a short amount of time longer. And then I saw the looming arch of the finish line. So I stepped on the accelerator. Who cares if I was already red-lining? Who cares if I have historically been known to toss my bickies if I push too hard? This was all about fleeting glory and beating the lady who may or may not have been in my age group. 

We had to turn left and then a sharp right and as I went to pass her on the right she totally cut me off. But that didn't stop me. If anything it spurred me on and with only metres to go I was past her and over the finish line. Yay I'd won!! Just that little race within a race. I'd also forgotten which button was the stop one on my watch and didn't work it out till I was well over the line. Obviously multi-tasking isn't my forte. I can either run or operate my watch - not both at the same time.

I left the race knowing I'd run well but without an accurate time or placing. The website said that the results would be up the next day but we all know that they're often up early so I checked a few times during the afternoon. At one stage it looked like the positions were up without times and I got super-excited because I was 29th. Surely a 29th would get me an age group placing! Then I realised that that was my bib number and felt pretty stupid for a good couple of minutes. At least it gave my kids a good laugh at their mother's expense.

Then finally the results did come up.

My fastest 5k in at least 6 years. Gotta be happy with that.

Oh, and that lady? She was in the 40-49 age group. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Other Coach

I don't want to say this too loud just in case the universe hears me and decides to knock me off my perch but I'm running pretty well at the moment.

That 49 minute 10k I ran in the second half of my Saturday 20k a couple of weeks ago was not a fluke. I've been backing up with some pretty solid efforts that, surprisingly, feel a lot more effortless than I thought they would. And by effortless I don't actually mean that they're easy. They just aren't the slog that they would have been last year or the year before or the year before that. Actually I don't know if I could have even run this fast in the last couple of years.

It's looking good for this year. Finally. Touch wood and throw a pinch of salt over my left shoulder.

So what do I owe this improvement in form? Apart from consistent training, attention to recovery and illegal steroids (which aren't illegal if you have a prescription for them)?

I've thought long and hard about this because, at my age I was pretty sure my running times were on the slippery slope downwards to the point where walking and running was almost indistinguishable. I haven't really changed my training significantly. Or should I say Coach Chris hasn't. I'm not eating any 'superfoods' - unless what I was eating before has become a 'superfood' and I didn't know about it. The only thing that has changed in my life has been Ricky. So I'm pretty sure I have to give him the credit.

And when I really thought about the impact that this little guy has made on my life, it's really not a surprise. I'm talking about physical impact. Like chasing him around the garden trying to wrestle shirts, shoes, socks, cushions and baby scrub turkeys out of his mouth. Doing stair reps from my workroom over and over during the day because I can hear him getting into mischief upstairs.

I'm pretty sure that because of him I'm doing an extra three or four kilometres a day. And it's paying off.

So next time we have a rainy day and I have to clean ten wees on the carpet I need to stop complaining because that little bladder on legs is actually a very effective coach.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I did something last week that I should have done two months ago.

Everyone else was doing it two months ago so from that you can guess that I'm either lazy, unwilling to bow to peer pressure OR a procrastinator. And you'd be right on all three counts.

This 'something' that I did last week was to pencil in a few dates on my race calendar. Yeah, I know that every other serious runner out there does this on the 31st of December - a New Year's List of potential PBs, fun and pain (for runners fun and pain are kind of the same thing). I can never get my arse in gear that early. I need to read magazines and pour over the pretty pictures of scenic courses, ponder the ebb and flow of my work year and how the exhaustion of marathon training will mesh with aerobic competition deadlines and bodybuilding competitions. And before I know it, it's almost March and I'm pretty much the only person in the squad who hasn't submitted a plan to Coach Chris. Again. I guess he's used to my inability to decide by now.

I did pick my Big One a month or so back. Gold Coast marathon in July. Less than 19 weeks away now according to the email that the organisers sent last week. Personally I think they're starting their countdown a bit far out but who am I to judge?! And I did enter a 5k (coming up this Sunday) just to have breakfast with friends. But Coach Chris also likes us to do a couple of lead-up races to the Big One and it was those that I was having issues with.

So after careful consideration I have picked two half marathons. And by careful I mean the dates fitted okay and I they're close by so I don't have to do other stuff that would require decision making like booking flights and interstate accommodation and asking Iven if he wanted to make a long weekend of it and what else will we do while we're there?

So I'll be running the Gold Coast Bulletin half marathon on the twenty-somethingth of April and then the Noosa Half Marathon on the twenty-somethingth of May. Both are double loop courses but having done one of these I can say I really don't mind them. My memory is a lot like a goldfish when I run so by the time I'm running the second loop I've forgotten what the first was like and it's like running somewhere that I've never run before.

And not only have I decided on my first half of the year, I've done something a little rash and wild. I've pencilled in a second marathon at the end of the year.

What??? Me, Mrs Over-cautious, Over-thinker doing two marathons in a three month period? Slightly out of character, I know. But I have run it past the coach and he's confident. And I do have an out - I can drop back to the half if I'm not recovering well enough from the July marathon. So it's not so wild and rash as I like to pretend. Leopards (or dalmatians) never really change their spots.

And speaking of dalmatians, we've found out that ours likes fresh meat. I know that all dogs like meat and so of course fresh meat would be something delicious in their eyes but when I say fresh meat in this case, I mean meat that was running around only a few seconds before and meat that still has its feathers and beak and feet attached.

Yes our little Ricky caught and killed his first scrub turkey the other day. Admittedly it was a baby scrub turkey but he has the taste for them now. I didn't know whether to be proud or horrified when I saw him, feathers and dangly legs hanging out of his mouth.

This is the face of a killer.