Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Empty Nesting In A Not-So -Empty Nest

The end of 2016 is staring me right in the face. Well it is when I go to the toilet and shut the door because that's where we keep the calendar. Not that shutting the door is compulsory any more. Stuff has happened here. Major stuff! Stuff which means that I can be a bit laissez faire about the whole toilet door decision.

Our last chicken has flown the coop. After almost 30 years of having buffers in the house to stop Iven and I from sitting silently across from each other twiddling our thumbs and wondering what to talk about. Actually that hasn't even happened because Iven's flown the coop as well. But just for a week to visit his Mum. The thumb-twiddling fun starts tomorrow.

Admittedly I knew it was coming. I just didn't know how it was going to be timed. #1 son, the last hold-out, was going to be moving out when his fiancée moved back to Brisbane in January. But then her aunt decided to lend them her house while she went and grey-nomadded it around Australia for 6 months.

In the meanwhile Iven needed to pop down to Gunnedah and mum-sit for the week and in my excitement devastation I decided that I couldn't face cooking meals because I'd obviously be too busy pining for my lost love. Okay, it was more like I was taking a holiday from one of my most hated chores for the first time in ummmm almost 30 years.

To make this decision official and avoid any meal-expectation-disappointment for #1 son, I made the announcement on Friday.

"Sam, because Dad's going to be away next week I've decided I'm not going to cook dinners all week."

He looked at me dead in the eye and said "That's okay cause I'm moving out tomorrow"

I've been wondering ever since if I'd stopped cooking earlier would the mass exodus have happened sooner? Hmmm. Then I started wondering would I be lonely. A whole week alone! Not even a year ago we would sometimes have eight people in our house. It was getting pretty squeezy.

Can't be sad about everyone leaving when you've got this smile to brighten your day.

So it's been a very quiet week at Chez Donaldson. All except for the wolf pack, who Iven has trained to maliciously come whine at my door at 4:00am every morning. Nice one Hon - I've had all week to plan my revenge.

Of course we won't wake you at 4:00am. 

The 4:00am waking up calls have been a little annoying on run days when my alarm is set for 4:30. Believe me that extra thirty minutes of sleep makes a hell of a difference. And it was especially annoying on Wednesday morning when I'd been woken up at 2:11 (yes I checked my clock) by the toads in my neighbours pool having sexy-sexy time. Man, those suckers are loud. And they have endurance!

But today was rest day so the wolf pack was really considerate and woke me up at 3:58 am. So I got up, opened the back door, fed them (no point in putting it off or they'd have been at me again by 5:00 am) and crawled back into bed for just a few more minutes or even hours if I could manage it. And one by one all three of the dogs snuck into the bedroom to assuage their need for human company.

Ricky is always the neediest. He's 26 kilos of black and white over-enthusiasm. His version of sneaking into the bedroom involved a two metre long jump from the doorway onto the bed, lots of face-licking and tail-wagging. Bubbles, the geriatric mini fox terrier, just waddled in, fairly unnoticed and leapt what is her equivalent of a 'tall building in a single bound' onto the end of the bed. Toby was actually the only one who snuck. And he does it because Ricky intimidates him - as do flapping pieces of plastic when we're out walking, little old ladies who want to pat him and most other dogs that he's never met before.

Ricky doesn't like Toby getting any of the pats so he did his best to keep Toby away from my outstretched hand by cutting him off at the past and humping him. It's a very effective way of stopping forward progress - having a Dalmatian put you in a death lock and hammer away at you. Not that I'd know personally because Ricky's affections don't generally extend any further than poor long-suffering Tobes.

Ricky also has great endurance. Probably because the Dalmatian was bred to be a carriage dog - to run alongside carriages way back when there actually were carriages and dogs were allowed to run on the road. He has about as much endurance as a pair of toads going at it in our neighbour's swimming pool at 2:11 in the morning. Toby was starting to look distressed and his knees were starting to buckle under all the enthusiasm when all of a sudden there was a Christmas miracle.

I farted. Quite loudly. Hopefully loudly enough to wake the neighbours who encourage rampant nocturnal amphibian copulation in their backyard without considering the sleep patterns of their fence-sharers. But definitely loudly enough and with such unusual tone (I blame the berries and cherries I've been eating over the last couple of days) that Ricky did a spectacular dismount and went off in search of the source of the incredible noise.

I know, I'm ashamed of me too. But it was really funny. And that's been the tone of my week. You don't ever need to feel lonely when you've got a devoted wolf pack to keep you company.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Survival Instincts

I nearly died yesterday.

No joke. I'm serious. Deadly serious. (See what I did there?) Luckily I didn't or else you wouldn't get to read the tale of how I almost died.

Why I almost died has its origins way back a couple of weeks to the week after I ran Melbourne Half Marathon. Oh yeah, I ran Melbourne Half Marathon about a month ago.

It was fun but extremely windy with lots of flies. Came home with another NY qualifier and a 6th in my AG but no sub 1:40. Also came home with a virus that really took hold about a week later. URT infection, fevers and a nasty cough that's taken a while to shake.

Roll on a couple of weeks and I'm still occasionally coughing and it's the coughing that nearly killed me yesterday. The coughing and the lovely salad roll on a toasted bun that I had for lunch. An unfortunate timing of a coughing fit when I had a mouthful of chicken, avocado, cucumber, tomato and a very crusty piece of bread that I hadn't quite chewed enough. The cough took me by surprise. A quick inhalation and that very crusty piece of bread lodged at the back of my throat and I couldn't breathe.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!

I'm not going to apologise for my language because I was terrified. Totally alone - except for the wolf pack (that are untrained in first aid procedures). Not able to speak because I couldn't breathe. I couldn't ring 000 because I couldn't talk and anyway, by the time they arrived I probably would have already carked it. Or at least have a severe brain injury from oxygen deprivation.

I don't think I've ever been more scared - apart from the time that I almost choked on a two cent piece when I was quite young. But then there were people to run to. My Dad picked me up and hung me upside down and whacked my back and the coin dislodged. Yesterday my Dad wasn't there and even if he was I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be able to hang me upside down any more. I'm pretty sure he can't lift me up either. Things have changed since I was 6 or 7.

It's weird the things that go through your head when you're potentially taking your last breaths. There was no 'my life flashed before my eyes' moments. It was all about survival. What can I do to breathe again? The instinct to survive is incredibly strong.

I remembered reading in the Readers Digest about someone doing the Heimlich Manoeuvre to himself so that's what I did. A hard punch to my stomach. Not easy to be effective when you're doing it to yourself. The angle is all wrong. And let's face it - my upper body strength is really crap. I'm an endurance athlete not a strength one.

Then I found a chair to try to do it against (and just a side note here - a swivelling desk chair on wheels on a slippery floor is probably not a good option). Again  not immediately effective but between the punch in the stomach and the chair procedure and the frantic gasping for breath, the very crusty piece of bread dislodged and I could breathe freely again.

It took a good twenty minutes for my heart rate to settle while I contemplated what could have been. Iven walking in after work to find me on the floor of the workroom. An autopsy. Ughh, I'd rather go to my grave without being sliced up unless it's to use my organs for a good cause - and really, who wouldn't want my heart? It's pretty damned strong. My liver's been barely touched by alcohol but I can't guarantee the same about liver flukes or other parasites that like to wander through viscera from my vet days. Then a quiet and dignified memorial service where all attendees were required to wear bright, fun activewear in keeping with the Run Amok ethos.

Then I googled 'what to do when you're choking and alone' and I'd been pretty right with what I'd tried but I found something that may have been even better which I want to share today. Just in case any of you find yourself with a very crusty piece of bread lodged at the back of your throat.

Watch it! Embed it in your brain. Make your family members watch it. One day it might save your life.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fancy Meeting You Here

Have you ever have something weird happen to you in a race?

I'm not talking about farting, burping, wetting yourself, pooping, or vomiting. They're all pretty normal activities for a race. I'm talking more about something that leaves you thinking 'can't believe that happened'.

Something weird happened to me in last week's half marathon. Yeah, I know - you didn't know I was running a half marathon. Yes, I've been an absent blogger. Again. Because life. Because busy. Because stuff. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

So just to catch you up, I ran a half marathon last weekend. In Sydney. It was originally going to be a marathon but I just wasn't feeling the training love and lots of my friends were doing the half so the full became a half. No regrets. Just a fun weekend in Sydney. A well-needed long weekend of no jobs and no responsibility and no stress of worrying about running 42.2k.

Just a little side-note here - #2 son and girlfriend coincidentally chose last weekend to move into a unit. And because of the Sydney trip we managed to miss out on having to haul furniture. Mostly. Except for the fridge that arrived on Friday before keys were in possession and when no one except little old me was around to help lug it up two flights of stairs. There was a near-death crushing accident because I'm not so coordinated at pulling extremely heavy white goods while walking backwards up steps. But I lived to tell the tale and so, fortunately, did the fridge.

Anyway, back to the race. And the weird thing that happened. I was running along thinking the usual things that I think in a race - Am I running too fast? Am I going to die? This is not fun. I'm going to have ice cream afterwards. How can they call this course flatter with all these hills? Shake it off, shake it off. Oh no - not another 16k of Tay-Tay. Think of another song. Shake it off, shake it off. Ooh look at those cute tights. Is that rain? - when I heard a voice next to me.

"Hey, you live in Howitt St don't you?"

A woman that I'd never seen before was right next to me. A woman who freakily knew which street I live in.


"I live up the road in the blue house. I see you out running all the time. Love your tights."

Okay, so a neighbour not a stalker - phew. And a neighbour with pretty damn good taste in tights. And a neighbour who's training for Melbourne marathon and was doing Sydney as a bit of a hit-out.

She ran off (a neighbour who's faster than me) then when she got about 30 metres away she turned around and ran back.

"That was rude of me. My name's Kerrie"


And she was off again. Leaving me a little bemused. I'd finally met the lady in the blue house but in another city in the middle of a race.

So has anything like this happened to any of you?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Not Dead!

Not dead!

I know you were probably wondering. And secretly suspecting Iven of something nefarious. Because it's the quiet ones that you can never trust.

I've just been busy. With life. Business. Running. Racing. Caking. Attending weddings. Taking dogs to the emergency vets and getting yelled at by psycho personal trainers for parking in their spot. You know. The usual.

In the time since I last wrote anything here I've done two races.

One was the River Run 100. Just part of a relay team - not the whole 100 solo. Not that crazy! And the other was the Brisbane Half Marathon which went pretty much how I expected it to go. Not super-fast because, hills. But totally respectable as far as finishing time's concerned.

Is it weird that I checked out the guy's finishing time to see if I beat him? (Yeah - I totally chicked him)

My tights business seems to be gathering a little bit of momentum. Mostly because of the advertising I'm getting through Intraining - a local business that stocks my label. And because of the exposure they've given the tights at a couple of race expos. I've also been lucky enough to get them in Sportsfirst at Toombul and Kenmore and the tights have been selling at both places. I get such a buzz to be in a race and see someone I don't know wearing my tights.

 The caking was for a friend's sister's baby shower. Guess what sex she's having?!!

And for my sister's wedding. 

 She makes a pretty stunning bride. And he scrubs up pretty well too.

As does my mob. Love all of these to bits!

That was all the fun stuff from the last month. Now for the not-so-fun.

Ricky got blocked up again. And by blocked up I mean he couldn't pee properly. Urinary urolithiasis is the medical term - aka bladder stones. It's a fairly common problem with Dalmatians. They lack an enzyme to break down protein properly. They get crystals in their urine and the crystals can become stones which can block up their urethras. Ouch! 

Poor Ricky was trying to pee but not very much was coming out so we had to take him to the vet. She unblocked him but strongly recommended that he have an ultrasound to see what was happening inside. The ultrasound results were ominous so we booked him in to have surgery.There just happened to be a public holiday that week so he was booked in for Thursday and of course he got blocked up again on Wednesday - the public holiday. 

We had to rush him to an emergency vet clinic in Woolloongabba across town. So stressful! We arrived at the clinic and parked out the side in a parking spot that was designated for another business. It was a public holiday and the street looked totally deserted apart from the vet clinic so I assumed that the parking spot wouldn't be needed. 

I was wrong.

A woman came out from the 'boutique' fitness centre that the park belonged to and asked us to move our car. We said 'no problem' but when my husband walked towards the road to check out where to move the car to she totally lost the plot and started yelling at us, threatening to have us towed. We tried to explain to her that yes, we were going to move it but she wouldn't let up. It made what was an already stressful situation so much more so. And apparently we're not the first people that she's done this to. The receptionist at the clinic told us that she's made a lot of their clients cry and they now report her to the city council. My tip for Brisbane locals is to give the 'boutique' gym on Balaclava St in Woollongabba a big swerve. No one needs that bad energy in their lives.

The vet was able to unblock Ricky again. Thank goodness. And first thing Thursday morning he was back at our local vets to have these nasty not-so-little things flushed out of his bladder.

The cone of shame made for a very frustrated Dalmatian for ten days. Actually it was a double cone of shame because the first cone wasn't quite long enough to stop a very flexible dog from creating a sore right next to his suture line. He needed lots of cuddles and tummy rubs.

You've never seen a more excited dog than when we finally removed the stitches and the cones on Sunday. The celebrations were exuberant ... and R-rated.

So now we've got to try to prevent it from happening again. He's on a special diet and on gout medication (because it's basically the same issue). And we have to try to get his urine to a neutral pH instead of the acid pH that it was. This basically means that for ten minutes a day I'm chasing a very suspicious Ricky around the garden with a kidney dish begging him to pee.

My life is so glamorous!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Pokemon Go Cautionary Tale

Anyone else been swept up in the Pokemon Go craze?

My sons were really into Pokemon when they were young. I knew all about Ash and Misty and Team Rocket and Pikachu and Pokeballs. And then time passed and they grew up and I forgot. Until a couple of weeks ago. All of a sudden they were talking about it again.

I had some vivid deja vu moments. My sons were going on hunts to catch Pokemon. But not imaginary ones any more. Real, virtual Pokemon. And they sounded like they were having fun. Good, clean, healthy fun. So I hopped on board.

Took me no time to catch my first Pokemon. A Charmander for Charmaine. Couldn't have been more perfect. I was hooked. The excitement of the chase. The collecting. The comparing (do you have a Vaporeon with a combat power of 933 because I do?). Hatching eggs by walking - or running - as long as you put them in an incubator first. And laughing with my Pokemon-chasing posse about the nay-sayers. Nothing wrong with a little bit of silly, childish fun. And certainly nothing wrong with a fully grown, 53 year old woman living in a virtual world for a few minutes a day.

I might need to keep my eye out for  the symptoms of Lyssa Virus after Iven's close encounter.

Not even a cheeky Clefairy can wake a tired Dalmatian
But in the last couple of days I found out that there is a dark side to living the Pokemon Life. My health and well-being have been challenged. Twice.

The first was Monday night. My middle son and I decided we'd take the dogs for a walk around UQ after work. For a bit of exercise for us and the dogs and some quality time hunting Pokemon. Oh and bonding. Let's not forget bonding.

The dogs were soooo excited to be having a walk in a new and interesting-smelling place. Especially once we got to the duck pond. Duck poo is like Old Spice to the discerning dog nose. Toby was a sniffing machine which was a little inconvenient as I was deep in Psyduck territory. I'd missed catching one the day before so I was determined to add one to my Pokedex.

The phone vibrated in my hand and there it was - the elusive Psyduck. Right near Josh and Ricky. I tapped on him and got ready to aim and fire off a Pokeball. Or two. Or even three if it took that many. And while I was in that distracted state Toby took his opportunity. He'd spotted a little cluster of real ducks down at the water's edge and he was on his own duck hunt. With me attached.

Did you know that it's really hard to stop a determined 32k retriever who has a bit of momentum and the smell of duck up his nostrils? The ducks took flight into the water thinking that would stop Toby but retrievers are water dogs and he wasn't planning on stopping. It was only my significant weight advantage and my equal determination not to go swimming in the university duck pond in the middle of winter that stopped us. Right at the water's edge. Heart racing. Breathless. With the sound of my son's laughter ringing in my ears.

But I caught my Psyduck. So it was definitely worth it.

So I survived my first negative Pokemon experience without any real disaster. Number two happened just a couple of days later. 

Wednesday I turned up at the morning run just not feeling the love. I was supposed to do a 16k with a 10k tempo portion. I'd had an ordinary speed session the day before and just felt off for the rest of the day and I wasn't feeling much better after a night's sleep so I pulled the pin on the tempo bit and just ran what-should-have-been-easy-but-felt-way-harder pace and when it turned out to be a kilometre short I didn't worry.

We had our usual coffee and my stomach churned. I went home and had breakfast and it churned some more. Worked for a few hours then had lunch and my stomach churned so much that I threw up. A couple of times. Ughh! I'd caught the virus that had struck Josh down the day before. The same Josh that I'd shared the Pokemon walk and a car ride in close quarters with on Monday just before he got sick. 

Strike two Pokemon Go!

But again, this experience had its silver lining. I'm a couple of kilos lighter today. So winning! And while I was feeling so disgustingly nauseated last night and not able to go out in the real world to hunt for virtual monsters, I used a lure and caught a Jigglypuff. When life gives you lemons it doesn't hurt to make lemonade.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I just added another half marathon to the list I keep in my phone. Of half marathons I've run in.

It's probably a strange list to have in a phone but if I had it on a piece of paper and put the paper somewhere safe I'd probably forget where I put it. Because, yep memory is an issue at my age.  And the whole reason that I want a list of races that I've run is because of my memory. I don't want to forget any of them. Not a single one.

I've done 23 now. Not a huge number in the scheme of things but not a small number either. And, considering number 2 was going to be my last ever, quite a big number really.

 Number 2 was going to be my last because it was awful. Horrible. Painful. Miserable. And disappointing. And it wasn't like I hadn't trained hard for it. I'd done nearly all of the training sessions I'd been set. I'd battled through a case of ITBS and come through. And I'd run a pretty okay-for-a-newbie-runner half a few months before. That one I'd finished in 2:01 and I knew I could run under 2 hours. In fact I was so determined that I put too much pressure on myself and totally fell apart on the morning of the race. Spent a lot of time in the bathroom throwing up and barely made the start line. In fact the thing that got me to the start line was the fact that I'd paid for the race and money was tight back then so I didn't want to waste it. I ran 10k of the race then had to walk most of the rest of the way. Pride and getting the t shirt and medal I'd paid for were the only things that kept me going.

That race is still my PW time - 2:20. And I swore I would never do another. Not under any circumstances. Ever!

Then I joined a running group and it was one of those 'lie with dogs - rise with fleas' kinda things. Spend enough time around people who think that doing a half marathon is a good idea and you end up warming to the idea. So I did another. And another. And another. And now there's 23 entries to my list. 23 times that I've trained for weeks to get to a starting line. 23 times I've had to quash doubts and fears and believe that I can do it. 23 times that I've had to ignore the voices in my head that have told me to stop because it's hard and it hurts. 23 times that I've seen that 21k marker and known that I've done it. I've beaten the Beast-this time anyway. And 23 times that I've felt the elation of finishing and the incredible sense of achievement - which is why I keep on signing up for races.

I have my next half in just a couple of weeks. And then I'm really not certain about the rest of my racing year. I've signed up for Sydney marathon in September but I'm tossing up with dropping back to the half for a couple of reasons. I've got a minor toe issue. A tendinopathy of the
extensor-something-or-other-scientificky-sounding of my big toe. I don't think running's making it worse but it's not making it better and I'm not quite sure how it'll hold up to the stupid long runs ahead.

And then there's the whole sub 1:40 thing that didn't happen at the Gold Coast. I don't think I'll get it in the Brisbane half because it's a hillier course than Gold Coast and I truly suck at hills. Sydney is supposed to be flatter this year and I've run some good times there on the old, slightly hilly course in the past. And then, if I don't hit the time in Sydney there's always Melbourne a month later. And Melbourne is a pretty flat course. I'm not the fastest recoverer from marathons in the world so there's no way I could attempt a pb if I ran the Sydney full.

So I have a quandary. And I'm vacillating on the best option. And I really should decide sooner rather than later. What would you do?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Elusive 1:40 Half Marathon

Everything had gone well leading into Gold Coast half marathon. Training had gone well. Tapering had gone well. And my headspace was, well - fabulous, as was my outfit. I knew what I had to do. I knew it'd be tough. But I was going to give it a good shot. And not beat myself up if I didn't reach my goal. I even had a personal pacer/mobile cheersquad of one, Elio, to keep me company when the going got tough. It was as good a time as any to go for my sub 1:40.

Sunday saw me on the start line with 8781 other runners huddled in the pre-dawn cold. Perfect weather conditions. A good starting spot - not too close but not too far back and just in front of the official 1:40 pacer. Pondering whether I should have braved the horrendously long toilet queue for one last nervous wee but knowing it was too late so best stop thinking about my bladder because I'm sure I really didn't need to go again. Well, almost sure.

And while I was pondering the vagaries of my bladder the time had ticked down and we were off. My bladder could wait. There were bigger issues at hand. My magic number was 4:44 and I had to hit that 21.1 times before I could stop.

Kilometre 1 - 5:01. Lots of traffic. No room to just run. Keep moving. It'll clear soon.

Kilometre 2 - 4:40. Right where I need to be. Running strong but not too hard.

Kilometre 3 - 4:40. Lock in this pace and try to stick it a few more times.

Kilometre 4 - 4:38. Oops a little fast. Didn't mean to get any in the 30s but on the up-side the first kilometres deficit is nearly gone. Slow down a bit next kilometre. Don't want to crash and burn too soon. Actually, don't want to crash and burn at all.

Kilometre 5 - 4:36. Oops again. But seriously, slow down!

Kilometre 6 - 4:42. Yep, that's more like it. Don't think about how far you have to go. Just keep running. Those kilometre markers are ticking down nicely and you're feeling strong.

Kilometre 7 - 4:40

Kilometre 8 - 4:42. Another oops but this time it was almost a trip on a speed bump. Traffic calming measures aren't great for racing. Especially for runners who are economical with their vertical oscillation. A little bit of excitement for a moment but good recovery.

Kilometre 9 - 4:40

Kilometre 10 - 4:44. Bang on the magic number finally and almost halfway done. Still feeling okay - tired but not too tired. There's still a few good kilometres in me yet.

Kilometre 11 - 4:40. Yay, we're over halfway. On our way back to the start. This is just like my tempo runs on tired legs. I can do this.

Kilometre 12 - 4:54. Damned traffic calming speed bumps! One second I'm running along and the next second I'm flying. Then the next second I'm flat out on the road. Like a felled tree. I've never been a graceful faller. Elio retrieved my visor and helped me up. Did a mental checklist of moving parts on the run. A couple of sore spots, shoulder and the side of my calf, and a nice trickle of blood down my forearm but nothing to stop me running. Only lost a little time. My race is not over yet.

Kilometre 13 - 4:46. The running's feeling tougher now. That fall and the adrenalin rush knocked the stuffing out of me. Time to bring in the mental big guns. You want this. You can do it. More hard-core points if you can do it with visible blood.

Kilometre 14 - 4:43. 2/3 done. Only 7 to go. Just keep running. One k at a time. The quicker you do them, the sooner you can stop.

Kilometre 15 - 4:46. Glad I banked a bit before I fell over to cover the couple of extra seconds.

Kilometre 16 - 5:10. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Where's a toilet?? That adrenalin rush did more than make my heart rate go up for a bit. And the man in the vest on the side of the road could only tell me that the closest loos were in the direction I was already going. The finish line is also in that direction. I hope he doesn't mean that far away because I'm not going to make 5k intact.

Kilometre 17 - 4:46. No loos but taking the foot off the accelerator seemed to help a bit. Maybe I will get to the line without shaming myself. Still not giving up. There's still a glimmer of hope. I think. Maybe. If I can just keep pushing.

Kilometre 18 - 4:47. Only 3k more. Passing the people who passed me when I stopped to ask for toilet directions. Keep running, keep running!

Kilometre 19 - 5:01. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. Does no one know where a toilet is?? Everyone I ask has no idea. Real hard core runner poop themselves in races and just splash water on themselves at the next water stop and tell everyone they're cooling their thighs. I don't think Elio would appreciate me being hard core seeing as we'll be sharing a car afterwards. But I do have a pair of tracky-daks in my bag and we are parked near a shopping centre so maybe I could buy some new undies and it'd be all good. What am I thinking? Look for a toilet!!

Kilometre 20 - 5:54. Found the toilet! Hallelujah. No way am I going to get my sub 1:40 but at least I'm not going to shame myself.

Kilometre 21 - 4:47. So much easier to run. So, so, so much easier to run.
The last .3 to the finish line - 1:14. And done!


So the elusive sub 1:40 is still dangling just out of reach. But this race showed me that it's within my capabilities. Just have to watch those speed bumps. And lift my feet. And memorise the toilet stops.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Training The Brain

Two weeks till Gold Coast marathon and I'm ready to taper.

I've been training so, so hard for this one. For the last couple of weeks anyway. Since I surprised myself at Noosa and realised that a sub-1:40 was possible. Remotely possible. If I gave it my best shot. Work hard for a few weeks and just see what happened on the day.

Working hard hasn't meant changing things too much. Speed is still speed and it will always be done as hard as I can on the day. Friday will still be my recovery run - and I'm needing that more than ever. Saturday's long run is still a long run. Done at long run pace. Except maybe the last couple of k where I might push the pace just a little. It's the Wednesday runs that have changed.

Wednesday runs have been reinstated to tempo status. They were tempo runs last year but once summer hit they just became another longish run. But now that it's cool and I have a goal in mind, they've become a little bit faster. Actually, a lot bit faster.

These were the runs that I'm certain that made the difference to my running last year. The ones that taught me to trust my body again. The ones that retrained my brain to cope with discomfort for longer. So it was an obvious step to bring them back. But, man, they're hard work!! I'm doing 16k total and at least 10 of those will be at tempo pace - which for me is the pace that I'd like to run come GC half marathon.

This week's tempo run was particularly hard. We'd done 500m reps the day before and that had been a solid session. That'll happen when you're chasing the fast boys. And believe me - they were fast on Tuesday! Then I'd gone home and done my strength work. Speed session + strength work = very tired legs. It was raining on Wednesday when I woke up and I almost pulled the pin. I almost convinced myself that my legs were too tired and I really needed the rest day but the nagging voice in my head made me look at the weather radar. Damn, the rain wasn't going to last much more than a few minutes and I couldn't risk being called soft by my running posse so I went.

We did the first 4k easy and then I got the prod to get moving. Ughh. Wasn't feeling it at all. I just wanted to run with the group at that nice, easy, comfortable pace instead of having to push on alone. Out on my own. Out of my comfort zone.

But I did it and I was so glad that I did. Because I will be feeling tired and heavy-legged in the latter parts of the GC race. I will want to mentally quit - and if I mentally quit, I generally quit physically as well. I will wonder why the hell I even wanted to set myself a stupid goal in the first place. And when I do feel all the feelings I'll be able to remind myself about this run. About how I could still push to do what I'd set myself to do even though I was tired and hurting and didn't want to do it.

Training seems like it's a purely physical exercise but it's so much more than that. Training the brain is just as important as training the body. If you think you can't then you won't. But if you think you can, you might surprise yourself with what your body can do.

These tempo sessions are doing just that. As I run them I'm practising things I'll need come race day. Things like ignoring negative thoughts. Concentrating on where I am and what I have to do now rather than anticipating how I'm going to be 3, 5 or 10k from now. Finding out what self-talk works for me. 'Feeling strong' worked for me on Wednesday so I might stick with it and use an expletive every so often - just for effect.

Roll on Gold Coast Half. I'm as well prepared as I've ever been before a half marathon. Just have to turn up on the day and see what happens.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Failures, Foundation Garments and Fanciful Goals

Last weekend was the City to South race. And because the course was going so close to my house I decided that it might be nice to get out and cheer on the suckers dedicated athletes who'd decided to run it.

Last weekend was also when I found out that I truly suck as a cheerer/spectator/photographer.

It started off okay. Watching the frontrunners go through. Genteel clapping while clutching my takeaway cup of coffee. So very civilised. But then the runners started to come through thick and fast. I'd wanted to get shots of all my friends running but to do that I needed to spot them early enough to actually take aim and shoot. Here's how I went.

I wanted a picture of Clare. The little dot at the pack of this group of men. She's wearing my Run Amok tights. You can tell, right?! So a fail there. But what's worse is that I know the runner on the right of the pic. Totally didn't see that he was there until an hour after the race when I was checking my photos. Sorry Rob, I don't know how I missed you.

Katie yelled at me and that's the only reason why I've even got a picture of her. I'd like to say I'd meant to take a photo of her great running form. But honestly I didn't.

Youngie also gave me fair warning of his arrival. A good 50m of warning is what I need for a shot that shows the front of the face. 

See - Elio didn't give me 50m of warning. Only got the side of his face.

Didn't zoom in on Heather so I missed another opportunity to get a good Run Amok photo. But at least you can see her. Which is more than I can say for Sue.

Poor Sue - that's her foot just visible to the right. 

And finally another butt shot. This time of Mellie. Seemed appropriate to finish the morning on that note.

But it wasn't only my photos that failed. My brain had a little processing issue - fairly normal for a person of my vintage but really inconvenient when you're trying to cheer people on by name. There were no less than ten people whose names I remembered only once they were well out of earshot. I'm sorry. And I'd apologise to all of you individually but I've already forgotten who you are. Sorry for that too.

But, luckily, my brain is the only thing that's failed me this week. My body seems to be working just fine - at least as far as running's concerned. We did a 3k time trial at speed and I've managed to improve from my January time by 12 seconds. This could be because it's a lot cooler. Or it could be because I've been training diligently and consistently since then. OR it could be because I bought a new running bra. Which promised up to 50% less bounce. Less bounce = less turbulence created while running = greater speed. At least it does in my head.

I only bought the high impact bra but apparently Berlei make a bra for extreme impact. What on earth does extreme impact involve? Running into a brick wall while doing your best Usain Bolt impersonation??

I'll definitely be wearing that bra come Gold Coast half marathon. I'm going to need as much help as I can get to achieve what's been festering in my head ever since I ran Noosa half. My big audacious goal for this race is to go sub-100. 

There it is. I've said it out loud. That would have freaked me out a year or so ago - to lay it on the line like that. But today it doesn't worry me. I might make it. I might not. If I don't, the world will still keep turning. People won't turn away from me in horror because I'm a failure. And I'll get to try again another day. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Noosa Half Marathon

If I only had one word to describe my race on Sunday that word would have to be satisfying.

I had no real goals or expectations leading into the race. I just wanted to go sub 1:47 because it's a New York qualifier. And I wanted to be able to walk away from the race knowing that I hadn't given up mentally at all during the race. Because I feel like I had given myself permission to ease up in every race that I'd run this year. Not proud of that - but it is what it is.

I raced in Noosa last year and ended up shocking myself with a 2 minute PB. There's nothing like a PB to make you feel warmly towards a course. It's pretty flat. And it's in a lovely part of Queensland. Didn't take much to convince Iven that it was a good idea. Iven also thought carb-loading was a good idea. The bit about him not actually running didn't really factor into it.

The race started at 6:30 Sunday morning and I'd organised to meet my posse at 5:45. Enough time to check out the loos, go for a short warm up jog up Hasting Street and pose for a couple of pre-race pics. Ten minutes to start time and we wove through the runners lining up to get a decent starting position. Just a short wait and we were off.

I didn't really have a plan apart from holding it together mentally. No pace goal apart from staying under 5:00 minute k's. The 1:40 pacer balloon ran up past me in the first kilometre and stayed just in front of me for some distance. The temptation was to stick with him but I was pretty sure I wasn't in 1:40 shape so I suppressed the urge to kick it up a half a notch. It was way too early and I wanted to stay strong till the end. 

I've given up racing with music most of the time. So it was just me with my thoughts. And a few hundred other runners. Trying to stay relaxed but strong. Trying to keep my head conversation positive. Not a hard task in the first couple of kilometres. But telling yourself that you're feeling strong when you've only run 4k is a whole different ballgame to believing it at 17k. 

I couldn't spend the entire 21.1k telling myself I was feeling strong so I looked for distractions. Like the dead possum in the middle of the road on the way out. Pretty sure it was a ringtail. The dead possum on the way back was more likely a brushtail and probably hadn't been dead quite as long. CSI Noosa - the animal episode. A moment of silence for remembrance - not that I actually knew either of them - but it seemed like the right thing to do and I didn't have anything more pressing at that moment. Apart from running and breathing.


Noosa is a double loop course. I'd run through the 10k marker at 48:30-something and I was happy with that. By the 11k marker we were heading back out again. I was still feeling fairly strong. Surprisingly strong. But my 'surrender' point is always about 3/4 of the way through any race and that was still a while off so I wasn't congratulating myself yet. I've had the wheel fall off my cart too many times not to know that it's not over until you press stop on your Garmin.

I was running around the 4:50 mark. With a few high 4:40s thrown in for fun. I wasn't watching my watch except to look down whenever it beeped to see that I was still under the magical 5:00 mark. I had no idea of cumulative time but I knew I'd go under my 1:47. Way under my 1:47. Probably under 1:45. I just had to keep pushing as hard as I already was. 

The far turnaround point was a welcome sight. Just a little over 5k to run. That's like running back to Southbank from New Farm Park - just without the water stop under the Storey Bridge or in the Botanical Gardens. Trying to chase down Jodi and Andrew. Less than 25 minutes more of pain. Or should I say discomfort because that's less negative.

I started to count down around this point. And, paradoxically, my paces were starting to count up - just a little. I was working really hard now and it was hurting but there was no way I was giving up now. I wanted to see how close I could run to last year's time even though I was convinced that I wasn't quite in the same running shape. 

Three kilometres to go. That's just like a three k time trial. Yep, they suck and I hate them but I can run 3k hard if I have to. Generally not after I've already run 18 k - but no excuses. Damn, a photographer and I've got no one to hide behind. Do I want to look like I'm dying? Hell, no. Let's make it look like it's fun. Let's fool the masses into thinking that they too will have a great time if they run hard for over 90 minutes.

Two k to go and I started to feel an embryonic stitch. Oh crap - not now. Breathe out hard. Push against the diaphragm. Yep, that helped for just a couple of minutes and then it was back. Whatever. Just have to suck it up and make the best of it. No one ever died from a stitch. That I know of.

And then there was just one kilometre to go. I still had no idea of my overall time and I didn't really care. I was tired, I had a stitch but I was still giving it all I had. I could hear the loudspeaker. Getting closer. Iven cheering me in. The finishing arch. Sprinting (okay not actually sprinting - just pushing it up a gear). And then I could finally stop my watch.

1:40:37. Only 8s slower than last year. Maybe I'm in better running shape than I thought I was. At least my head is in good running shape - if that makes any sense. I didn't wave the white flag once. No retreat, no surrender!

Seriously nothing beats the feeling of achieving better than you'd believed yourself capable of. Except maybe seeing your friend smash her PB. Awesome run Jess! And then meeting a celebrity vet who turns out to be as nice as he seems to be on TV. Dr Chris was pretty impressed with how fresh we looked after running a half marathon. Probably didn't quite smell as fresh as we looked but the man spends his days smelling poo, pus, farts, wee and vomit so I'm guessing his nose might be forgiving when it comes to sweat.

What? You've already run? I don't believe it! 

So that's half marathon #22 done and dusted. #23 happens in just over four weeks time and I've got goals for this next one. Goals that I'll pretend aren't goals because I don't like the pressure of goals. A few more weeks of solid training and we'll see just how close I can get.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Moments Of Clarity

I had a moment out on my run yesterday. A moment of stunning clarity.

I will not be able to do this forever.

No, I'm not sick. Not injured. Not psychic. Just 53 and realistic. And I know realistically that something, someday will most likely happen and I will have to give up running before I die. Unless I die while I'm out on a run - which really doesn't seem like that bad a way to go.

It'll be a sad day when that happens. No more early morning alarms (hmm, maybe that bit's not so sad). No more taking in the morning as the sun comes up. No more feeling the freedom and joy of running fast. No more laughing until I pee myself just a little at something that someone's said (which really doesn't happen very often - honestly). No more post-run coffee. No more feeling the satisfaction of having worked out before most of the city is even awake.

But rather than dwell on what I'd be losing, I looked clearly at what I had. There. At that moment. Right in front of me. A magical crisp, clear morning. A flat mirror-like river that still looked pretty with the lights of the city reflected in it. The Story Bridge lit up like a rainbow.

Friends around me. Feeling strong. Running strong. Without any niggles or pains. An undeniable feeling of contentment. Of satisfaction. Of joy - probably endorphin related. 

So I took a mental picture to tuck away in my head with the other mental pictures of special moments. I'll bring it out and look at it when I can no longer do what I can do now (assuming that dementia hasn't hit) and try to remember the gratitude I felt on this day. Not focus on the loss but focus on how lucky I've been to find a passion that endured.

Yep, yesterday's run was one of the best.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Tip For A More Youthful Appearance

I freaked out some of my running friends last week.

Back story is that I've been kind of slack lately. I haven't been bothered with a few of the things that most women bother about. Personal grooming things. Hair cuts to be perfectly honest. It just seems like too much effort to try to fit it in when I've got other things occupying my brain space. So my hair is starting to get longer.

But longer, to a runner can be a bit annoying. For a while a cap was enough to keep it from bugging me on the run. But it grew past the length that even a cap could control and those long scraggly bits at the back of my neck were really starting to piss me off so I did something radical. I put it up in the littlest ponytail ever. 

Actually it's two ponytails because some of the top stuff is still too short to reach around the back of my unusually large head. It's not stylish or pretty but it's really practical and my hair is no longer pissing me off. And once my friends got used to it (took a full run and a whole coffee conversation) it was pronounced to make me look more youthful.

I was a bit dubious. Until I saw this clip from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

A tight ponytail can have some advantages. Good-bye jowls and wrinkles.

Just have to work out the right amount of tightness to get the youthful appearance without the too-tight headache.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ambivalent Racing - Mother's Day Classic '16

I know. I've been MIA for the past few weeks. I blame it on the public holidays and the facts that I can't blog when there's people hanging around and my computer is in the kitchen so there's always people hanging around. And it could be that there's nothing blog-worthy that's been happening in my life. Just running, working, sleeping and eating.

But then this weekend happened.

It started as all good weekends do. Meeting at 5 am for a nice 22k trot around the river. An entertaining 22k trot around the river due to the higher than average amount of public nudity on display. A few half naked blokes and a girl who'd decided that clothes are for losers and she is not a loser. Just as well it's been a very extended summer so their sensitive bits didn't shrivel up and drop off.

Saturday was also the day that I got to use the birthday voucher for a massage that I was given. Talk about being spoilt. It was the fanciest massage I've ever had. Such a beautiful day spa. And a very competent masseuse. The only downside to the whole thing was having to hold in a fart for the full hour. My boys still don't believe that I did it but I actually do have better control and decorum than they ever believed possible.

I'd registered for the Mother's Day Classic again this year and that was on Sunday. I kinda didn't really want to do it. I'd run Friday. I'd run Saturday. My Sunday was looking like it was going to be a big one and adding a race was only going to make it bigger. But I'd paid for it and I'm a bit of a tight-wad so I posted up something on Instagram to make me accountable and I set my alarm once again for an early morning.

I'd roped Iven in for job of chauffeur, bag-holder, photographer and post-race coffee companion. I only had to mention coffee and he was in - he's easily manipulated. He did a great job finding a good car park and walking me to the loos and the start line. I was still extremely ambivalent about running the event. But when you're dressed in your running clothes with a race bib on your chest standing on the start line you've really backed yourself into a corner. Of course I was going to run. And of course I was going to run hard. It's what I do in a race. It was going to be an interesting exercise in keeping it all together mentally when I wasn't altogether there mentally in the first place.

The Mother's Day Classic is an interesting event. Sooooo many non-runners do it and that means that there's sooooo many people who have no idea about race etiquette. Like not wheeling your pram up to the start line of the 8k run when you're there for the 4k walk. And not letting your entire family of four little kids stand in front of the elites. So little common sense on display. What hope is there for humanity?!!

We had to endure another really bad warm up session. Again - no common sense!!. Don't encourage us to all crowd together and then make us do windmills with our arms. That is not going to end well. And no choreographed sideways movements. We're runners - not dancers. Someone is going to go the wrong way.

And then finally we got to run. And because I'd snagged myself an awesome start position I could run freely from the start. Not always the best thing for a runner who has a very poor but optimistic ability to pace. I also didn't warm up. Part of my ambivalence. Not a smart move. By 500m I was in oxygen debt and I only hoped that it meant I was running fast-ish. First k - 4:32. Fast-ish. I'd earned my discomfort.

Kilometre 2 felt a little better. My body was getting over the initial shock of moving fast. That little lady who'd shot past me in the first k must have had an even worse ability to pace than me. Who'd have thought it was possible? I was reeling her in. Good for my ego cause she looked older than me. 4:36. Only 6k to go. Surely I can hold on for 6 more k??

Passed my nemesis in the third kilometre and then saw the boy with the bandaged thumb I'd been chatting to before the race. Wondered why his thumb was bandaged until I passed him and then he was forgotten. Wished I'd brought music to distract me from what was happening to my body. The beep of my watch once a kilometre wasn't cutting it. 4:40. Oops slowing down.

I know this route so well. We run it almost every week. Sometimes twice a week. I knew there was a rise coming up. Let's call it a hill to make me feel better. Keep pushing. Stupid hills! And we got to run just far enough that the turnaround was past the bottom of the hill and I was going to have to run it again. I remembered my mantra - we don't train so races won't hurt, we train so we can cope with the pain. Kinda wish that training meant that it wouldn't hurt. 4:45. I'm starting to see a trend here and it's not good. But hey, over half way. Less than 20 minutes more and then the hurt will stop.

Getting to the halfway point gave me a little lease on life. Picked it up for the next k and managed to nudge in under 4:40 again. 4:37. Three more k at that pace?? Maybe? Probably not!

From there it was a matter of encouraging myself to just run the kilometre I was in. And that was fine for the first 200m of each kilometre. Then I'd remember that a kilometre was quite a long way. And there were more little inclines and maybe I need to preserve some energy just to make it to the finish line. 4:50, 4:51.

Only 1k to go. Time to start trying to pick off runners ahead. But I wasn't the only one playing that game. I passed a couple of runners but more passed me. Que sera. Saw a few photographers and could barely raise a smile but I managed one for Iven who yelled at me from under a bridge - the man is part-troll.

My watch beeped the final kilometre just before I crossed the line. 4:43. Done!! Cumulative time - 38:02. Not so bad. Or at least I believed that until I saw last year's time which was almost a minute faster. Whatever - I don't think I could have run any harder. Maybe age is catching up with my times.

I found Iven at my meeting spot and we headed off for our coffee. Got the message that I'd placed first in my age group over my soy cap and raisin toast. Sometimes it's just about turning up - not speed.

Not sure if I'll run this one again. I might give it a break for a year or so and then see how I feel. Or I might have forgotten my ambivalence by next year. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Racing With Friends

I had a revelation on Saturday night.

I was reclining on the chaise watching the Broncos flog the Bulldogs and counting up votes for which outfit I was going to wear in the following day's race when I realised that I had zero anxiety about racing. No little flutters when I thought of the race. Nothing at all. Racing has become a non-event. I have finally got to a point in my life that something that I choose to do, pay to do, love to do, doesn't fill me with so much stress that I'm taking prescription drugs and spewing into the toilet.

Hallelujah! I'm slightly less crazy than I used to be.

I was actually excited about the event. Not the running part necessarily because running hard hurts and if I like pain that makes me a masochist and masochists are crazy so that would have me sliding back up the crazy scale. Running hard makes me feel satisfied. Like I've achieved something. Which I have. I've achieved ignoring the voice in my head that says to stop because it's hurting.

The excitement was because I was getting to do the event with a car full of friends. Yeah, road trip!

It was an early start on Sunday. 4am alarm. Trawling the streets of Bardon to find the right number in the right street then picking up a couple of dodgy looking characters over in Highgate Hill. We got to C-Bus Stadium in Robina in plenty of time, made use of the facilities and then just hung out until the races started. I used the facilities twice because (a) I needed to, (b) there was no queuing, (c) I am and over achiever and (d) three babies. I would do this race again and again because of the toilets. Plenty of them! Real toilets - not portaloos!!  

The half marathon started at 6:30 and we waved Jess off. Then Ian and I contemplated a warm-up and while we were contemplating heard the call for the 10k runners to line up. Oops. Decision made for us. There were less than 600 in the race so we were close to the start line. A little waiting and then we were off.


Or kind of off. There were a fair few runners ahead of me who'd done a pretty ordinary job of working out where they should be in the pack. Slow, slow runners up near the front. But I was feeling pretty Zen about the race so I decided it wasn't a bad thing to not run too fast in the first kilometre, like I sometimes have a tendency to do, so I didn't mentally taser any of them. 

The first kilometre ticked over and then the hill loomed in front of us. I remembered the hill from last year when I did the half marathon. It's short and sharp so it was just a matter of sucking it up and sucking the big ones in then enjoying the downhill on the other side. And once that was over with it was a fairly flattish run to the 5k turnaround. 

I can't say it's a terribly scenic course. Kind of a pity to have a race down at the Gold Coast and not see any of the beaches. But then we wouldn't get those awesome toilets at the start so I guess that's the trade-off. There was nothing to distract me from the pain of running hard except the thoughts in my head and the other runners. There was one runner in particular that I'd noticed at the beginning. Hard to miss because he would have been at least 6'5" in a red singlet. He'd been just ahead of me in the first couple of kilometres then had pulled away but once I'd passed the 6k mark I could see him up ahead of me. And I was starting to close the gap.

Kilometre 7 came and the gap was getting really small but I had this vivid memory flash from last year. My memory's pretty crap these days so to remember something so vividly means that it was pretty significant. There was big pain ahead. In the form of three longish (for me) inclines and then the climb to the traffic lights. I just wanted to slow down. To save myself for what lay ahead. But I've mentally given up in races before and I hate the regret afterwards so I told myself to suck it up and keep putting in the effort. The hills would slow me down a little but it's effort that counts. 

The first bump wasn't too bad. Then the second bump came and I managed that okay. The third one bit hard and I was hurting when I hit the top. Then there wasn't the normal downhill to recover. It was flat until I reached the last hill. But at this point there was only 2k to go and, miraculously I'd passed my giant in red so all I had to do now was stay ahead and see what I had left.

Soon we were running through the 1k race. It was like I'd gone from running with giants to running with dwarfs. Time to keep my wits about me. Little people have no idea about running in a straight line so I tried to keep a wide berth. I found it a bit inspiring to see these future runners giving it their all and I loved the wisdom of the mother who told her daughter that if her brain told her that she couldn't do it then she wouldn't be able to but if her brain told her she could do it she would. I made my brain use that message all the way back to the finish. 

And then it was over. I stopped my watch. 48:12. Not too bad considering the hills. The work was done. Now it was time to kick back and relax. Wait for Jess to finish her half. Enjoy that post race euphoria and wait for the results.

I'm still confused about the time difference between my watch and the official time. But whatever. 

Nice to get the age group win but honestly the best part of the whole day was the time spent with my posse. Support, encouragement and laughing till your cheeks hurt.

When can we do it again?