Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ricky Run-ning Amok

I did something extremely brave yesterday. I put my life on the line in the interest of the greater good. And by the greater good I mean just my family not all of humanity - I'm not that self-sacrificing. It was an extremely risky undertaking. I could have been slightly injured, permanently maimed or worse. But I managed to come out of it unscathed.

And this perilous undertaking? I took Ricky for a run.

I'd been thinking about it ever since I saw someone's Facebook post earlier that day about taking their dog for a run. When I'd gotten Toby I'd been hoping that he'd become a running companion but he's a walker not a runner. I've tried. I really have. And the most I've ever been able to convince him to do is 5k - in the middle of winter. Once it gets a little warmer I'm lucky if we can get more than a kilometre before he drags me to a dead stop, lies down and refuses to go any further.

Ricky, on the other hand, is built to run. He's a lean, mean running machine. But he's not so obedient on a leash which is where the danger lay. Crazy, excited dog on a leash barrelling along with only my body weight to act as a brake. It had potential disaster written all over it.

The greater good that I was potentially sacrificing life and limb for was our family's traditional fish and chip night. Every Sunday we plonk ourselves on the couch in front of the TV and scoff fried food - don't judge! It was never really an issue to be eating food down within reach of hungry, slobbering dogs B.R. (before Ricky) but Ricky is a Dalmatian and Dalmatians love their food.

Golden Retrievers also love their food but they love the approval of their owners more so Toby was always fairly restrained when it came to fish and chip night. Throw in a bit of black and white spotted competition and some corticosteroid-induced hunger and let's just say that Toby's exemplary fish and chip night behaviour started to slide a little. And on a couple of nights we even had to break up dog fights.

So I decided that a bit of a run might calm Ricky down and we might get a relaxed meal while we watched the Australian Open Men's final.

Ricky thought that the run suggestion was a great idea. In fact, he was so excited that I wasn't allowed out of his sight for a second. Even to go to the toilet. Toby also was excited about it so I felt really mean when I only got one lead down. (Don't feel too sorry for Toby because he and Bubbles were going to get a nice, peaceful, Ricky-free walk with Iven)

And then we were off. There was a bit of walking to start off with - because our house is at the bottom of a hill and I hate hills at the best of times and even more so when I haven't warmed up. Then we got to the top of the hill and we were really off. And flying down the other side. Until I managed to haul him under control.


The next uphill seemed almost effortless thanks to the pulling power of 26kg canine powerhouse. And we positively flew along the flats. Ricky was in his element and I was having an unplanned tempo session. I had no idea how fast we were going but by my breathing I guessed it was probably somewhere around the 5 min k mark. 

After about 1k the manic excitement had settled down  and Ricky was running at a controlled trot. A fast controlled trot. He was obeying directions fairly well and we even managed to get past the black Labrador without a big meet and greet. But I would have to say that my proudest moment was running past the woman who was squatting while doing a bit of weeding without having to stop and sniff her butt. 

We slowed to a walk after 3k. Not because he was wanting to but because it was still almost 30C and this was his first run and I didn't want his first run to end with him having heat stroke. We found a tap, had a quick drink then ran/walked the rest of the way home.

I think, from all the sweaty kisses, that he really enjoyed it. But as far as a cure for bad behaviour on fish and chip night was concerned, I'd have to call it a fail. There was still a greedy Dalmatian trying to steal as many chips as possible. I guess the lure of fried food is too great.

And if you want to know how fast a 26kg Dalmatian can run towing a 62 kg weight, the answer is 4:56/k

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I've Been Doing It All Wrong

I had a light bulb moment the other day. A revelation that rocked me to the core.

I've been doing it wrong. Me, who rarely gets anything wrong. Or, more accurately, hates to admit getting anything wrong. And I've been getting it wrong for about seven years now without even realising.

Oh the shame!

The moment of clarity came when I was writing my last post - about my secret stash of food in the pantry. It's on the second top shelf. Right at the back. Far from the grasp of sticky little fingers. It's been my secret stash spot from the moment I realised that the boys were physically capable and cunning enough to drag a stool over to the pantry, climb up and pilfer the good stuff. And by good stuff I really mean bad stuff.

They might look innocent but these three inherited their mother's sweet tooth.

My desire to not have to share has been an historical one.

My secret stash spot has served its purpose since its inception. I can't remember a single incidence of food theft from it. (Mind you I usually can't remember the third item on a grocery list that's only three items long so that's not saying a lot.)

So its location has stayed the same for over two decades now.

And then the realisation on Monday. That I'd been doing it incredibly, stupidly wrong. I have been the shortest in the family now for at least seven years so why am I hiding food up high out of the little kiddies reach?!!

Who's the short one now?

I AM the little kiddie. And I often have to drag a stool over to be able to find exactly the right packet of wrong food that my food entitlement is telling me that I deserve.

So what do I do now. Do I change my secret stash site? Chances are that if I do I'll forget where the new site is and the food will be lost forever. Or at least until I do my bi-decade annual pantry cleaning. The word annual is probably superfluous and misleading in that sentence so you can mentally delete it. I've only put it in there for my mother-in-law's benefit so she'll think I don't actually feed her son food that expired five years beforehand. 

Or will I continue to hide my food up high and be forced to maintain muscular strength, balance and agility well into my tenth decade of life? 

I'm thinking it'll be option number two. If I'm planning to keep running till I'm really, really old (and I am)  I'm sure I'll still be wanting to eat naughty, non-paleo, gluten-full, I-didn't-quit-sugar types of foods till I'm really, really old and my memory will be even worse then so I'd best let sleeping dogs lie. Hell hath no fury like a ninety year old woman who's just finished a 5k shuffle and is fanging for a packet of Red Rock Deli potato chips with sea salt. Plain - not sweet potato.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sometimes You Just Don't Want To Share

On Saturday I ran my longest run for 2016 so far.

I was going to write that it was only 20k. Because 20k is what my base long run usually is. And I have run many, many long runs that were way longer than 20k. But I have run for long enough to know that 20k must be respected - even if you have run it many, many times before. And it needs to be respected even more when your starting temperature is 24C and the humidity is ridiculous.

When I got up on Saturday (at 4:15am after a broken night's sleep) I wasn't excited about running it. When I heard we were running to Bulimba and I knew exactly what hills I'd be having to run, I wasn't excited about it. The only thing that made me take the first few steps was the fact that I had a packet of Red Rock Deli Sweet Potato chips in the cupboard at home. I'd been wanting to try them for ages but every time I'd gone to buy them I'd talked myself out of it but this week I went shopping full of unreasonable PMS hormones that didn't even bother trying to stop me so the chips came home and were stashed at the back of the pantry in my secret food-hiding spot.

The first few kilometres of the run weren't fun. They felt hard and I was convinced that there was going to be a significant amount of pain and walking in the near future. But somewhere along the way it actually started to feel a bit better and even though I can't say it was my best run ever, I can say that I did sing parts of 'Time Warp' out loud for a while. Really wasn't anywhere near as bad as what I was expecting.

Thanks to these two for getting me up and out and keeping me going on Saturday.
So I finished the run feeling actually pretty chuffed with myself. That I'd gotten out of bed in the first place. That I'd changed into running clothes. That I hadn't pulled the pin before leaving home. That I'd taken the first step. That I'd let myself enjoy it. That I'd conquered every hill. Gotta love those endorphins! 

But the flip-side of those lovely happy hormones is that they sometimes give me the feeling of entitlement. Food entitlement to be precise. I'd run 20k in really shitty conditions when I really hadn't wanted to so I pretty much deserved the entire packet of chips. 

The problem with wanting to eat an entire packet of chips is the fact that we currently have a full house and there is NO place where I can go that is safe from prying eyes and thieving fingers. Except the toilet. And even I draw the line at eating in the toilet. So all afternoon I agonised over how I was going to be able to scoff the whole packet without sharing and without seeming like the biggest food-bitch ever. My last resort was to embrace that food-bitch and just blame it on hormones.

Then I found out that Josh and Yui were going to be out for dinner - two down. Luke and Becky were busy playing computer games so that would keep them occupied for a few hours - four down. That just left Iven and Sam and Iven knows that sometimes, to keep his wife happy, it's best to just throw her the packet of chips and quickly walk away. So my ultimate happiness was really down to just one person - Sam.

Sam has been away for a couple of years and I've really, really missed him. He's only been home since a bit before Christmas so we're still in that honeymoon period where I can remember that I really, really did miss him. But on Saturday evening I was kind of wishing that he was back in Melbourne. Just for a few hours. And then I felt mean because it's been so nice having him back at home and what kind of nasty mother wishes that their progeny was 1000s of kilometres away so she can eat a packet of chips without sharing?!

Then he told me that he had a mouth full of ulcers. And while I went into sympathetic, caring mother role there was internal secret rejoicing because the last thing that a person who has a mouth full of ulcers wants is to eat salty, scratchy chips.

So I opened the packet. And had my first taste. And was a little disappointed. They were good but not as amazing as I was expecting. So I offered them around. 

So much for not sharing.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Riding Amok

It's our 30th wedding anniversary today. Yay us! For 30 years we've resisted the temptation to mortally wound each other with knives, add poison the the other's night time cuppa or drop our loving spouse off in the outback and see if they could make it home under their own steam. A milestone (oops nearly typed millstone) that should be celebrated.

Most normal people do stuff like throw family and friends a little party. Or a big party. Or they go out and have a nice meal. In a fancy restaurant. With white table cloths (that aren't butchers paper that you can doodle on with the supplied crayons).

But we're not normal. And we don't bow to conventions. Actually, after what we did yesterday there's not a hell of a lot of activity happening from the waist down so bowing is totally out of the question.

We did not don our glad rags. Instead, we found our rattiest pairs of jeans, drove out to Mt Tamborine and went for a trail ride. On a real, live horse. Make that two real live horses because both of us on just one horse would have been cruel.

Iven has done a lot of riding in his time. Me, not so much. When I was about eight I was led up and down the beach for about ten minutes which confirmed my conviction that horses and I had an affinity and my parents should encourage this affinity by buying me one. Yeah, that never happened. Then I had a couple of riding lessons when I was in vet school which confirmed my conviction that you really need to learn while you're young so my parents' reluctance to buy me a horse had ruined any chance I had of being a jockey.

Then there were the couple of rides that I did with Iven when we were courting. Romantic rides. With his sister in tow. And his niece and nephew who were both good riders because they'd had horses when they were young. Not sure if it was the saddle or my anatomy or my posture but I removed a nice big patch of skin over my tail bone on the first ride so when we went riding again just a couple of days later Iven had to tape one of his sister's sanitary pads over the scabby bit just so I could come along. And he still asked me to marry him.  

My knight on a white horse - that had undergone a mid-life crisis and decided to become a brunette.
So with all that horsing around in our history, going for a trail ride seemed an obvious choice for such an auspicious occasion.

We were introduced to our mounts for the day. Iven got Simon and I got Bert. I did wonder if this was a bad sign. Surely it should have been Ernie that Iven got! Where was Ernie? Had he gotten a disease with a prognosis that there's no coming back from? Had all of those rings around the bathtub from the endless baths with that rubber ducky finally tipped Bert over the edge and forced him into a little Dexter-like problem solving? Or had they just grown apart after so, so, so very long together? 30 years is a really long time but they'd been together since 1969.

But it turned out that Ernie was there. He was just a bit little for either Iven or I. And he's still Bert's best friend. So, yeah, I probably had read too much into it.

Iven had booked us the 90 minute hilltop ride. I was a little concerned that it might be too long and I'd get bored, or I'd get a naughty horse that I couldn't control and he'd take off down a hill and jump over a gully and I'd be left clinging and screaming which would only make the horse run even harder (yes, this has happened to me before) or we'd fall off the top of the mountain and die in an avalanche of mane and hooves. But only a little concerned.

No need for any concern at all. Bert was beautifully behaved. He just fell into line behind Simon and off we went. It was ninety minutes of relaxing and enjoying the bush, the birds, the smell of the lantana. And as for being bored - not even once!

The view from the top

Maybe not traditional or what people think as romantic but when your husband tells you that you're beautiful even with helmet hair then you know the love's real.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Don't Colour Outside The Lines.

You don't know what you don't know until you find out.

That's been my whole experience of setting up this business venture. I didn't know so much - and it's lucky that I was so pig-ignorant because I may have been even more daunted by what lay ahead. Ignorance can be bliss.

The website display issue I had turned out to be an easy one to fix. Thanks to Raj, who I'm pretty sure was sitting typing at his laptop in his boxer shorts in his lounge room. At least I hope he was wearing boxer shorts. For hygiene reasons. And because of the three playful cats who can't resist suspended soft toys.

Is my stereotyping showing?

Anyway, Raj asked me specifically what display issues I was having. So I told him about the website being cut off on smaller monitors. And my confusion because I'd figured that what was on my screen would surely just be shrunk to fit whatever the viewer was viewing on.

I'm pretty sure I heard eye-rolling over our internet connection. And hysterical, disbelieving laughter. Then a deep, pull-it-all-together-and-try-to-act-professional-mate breath. And then he calmly typed in a few questions.

"What have you done to try to fix this?"

Nothing - apart from considering asking everyone who complained about the display to get the same size monitor as me.

"Can you see the vertical and horizontal lines on the website template?"

Of course I can. I'm just techno-stupid, not blind.

"You must keep all of your content between those lines."

Ah! Light bulb goes on and all is clearly visible. So computers don't actually encourage you to colour outside the lines just because you're feeling creative. Not like that grade 5 teacher that I had who used to wear patchwork hippy skirts with embroidered tops and vests whose name I can no longer remember because it's been pushed out by all this newly-learnt computer stuff. Those lines weren't just there to help me line things up symmetrically.

It did make me wonder if I should have pressed publish on the day that I'd set as my "I'd like to have it up and running by then' date. But if I hadn't pressed publish I wouldn't have gotten the feedback that it wasn't quite right for everyone.

I also wondered momentarily if I should be embarrassed by presenting such an imperfect product to a world that expects perfection. Only momentarily though. Then I thought "Nah!" I'm so old that most of the pride's been beaten out of me and my boo-boos make good topics for blog posts. And just because the website isn't perfect doesn't mean that the tights aren't. I've been in the website business for all of two months but I've been making tights since I was pregnant with Josh 27 years ago. So I know what I'm doing there.

No orders yet but it's early days. I'm working on spreading the word. Hmmm - marketing. Another new skill to learn.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Run Amok Goes Live And Public

I did it!

I pressed publish and my website is now live.

Actually I pressed publish on Saturday and told just a few people so they could look at it and give me feed back. Invaluable feedback cause there were a couple of boo-boos. Like I'd forgotten to do anything on the mobile version of the site so it was pretty much unusable. Thank goodness it didn't take as long as the website to fix.

There does seem to be some slight issues on some people's devices. Like the side bits of the pages aren't there. Not sure why but, hey, I'm not sure how I did it all in the first place or how people on the other side of the world will be able to look at something I made on my computer at home so my lack of surety is really not a surprise is it?!

I'm sure there will be problems that I'll have to get sorted before it's all running smoothly. Other problems than me forgetting to fix the mobile site. But I'm getting way better at telling people in India that I'm a virtual imbecile. It's so much easier to swallow your pride when you know that Titus is never going to recognise you walking along the street so the chance of him pointing and laughing at you are almost negligible. And I say 'almost' because I watched one episode of CSI: Cyber.

So here it is if you want to have a look. Let me know if you have any issues with the site - and also let me know if you know how to fix them.

My gorgeous nieces Lily and Ally

Now all I have to do is let the world know that I'm ready for business. Kind of. I think.

And in other news - Iven ran his second Parkrun on Saturday. Yay Iven! He did kind-of have to since we spent some money on running gear for him so he looked more like a real runner rather and less like a confused tourist who thought people were running away from a fire or a crazed gunman.

I'm not sure he really loved every single minute of it but he did smash his PB by about 4 minutes. Go Ive! And he wants to go back for more. But maybe try a different parkrun that doesn't have bridges to run over.

He wasn't the only member of my family to attend. Sam and fiancĂ©e Hannah also gave it a crack. And Hannah talked her sister Milly into running as well. Josh was going to run too - until someone kicked his foot at indoor soccer and made his toe swell. Maybe next time. 

Both girls looked pretty awesome in their Run Amok tights. Not that I'm biased in any way, shape or form.

My second parkrun was not as great as my first but I had run a solid 12k the day before and done most of my long run just prior to the start. Not at all unhappy with my time and I still won my age group. But I'm with Iven on the hating the bridges thing. If only we could run on water.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

We Can Do Hard Stuff

I have heard a little voice in my head over and over again in the last couple of months telling me one thing.

"It's just too hard, you might as well give up."

Ever since I decided to embark on my little business venture that nay-sayer has been very vocal. And for pretty good reason. I'm a sewer/baker/mother/blogger/qualified-vet-who-hasn't-practiced-in-decades. I am NOT tech-savvy. Not, not, never, never, don't be ridiculous.

But there seemed to be such a good business opportunity. People really seemed to like my loud, fun tights. And people kept urging me to do it. I was told it wasn't that hard to do. I'd have no trouble at all. Hang on - that's how I signed up for my first marathon.

So I jumped in to the deep end without testing to see if there were any roots, rocks or crocodiles. That's the best way to learn to swim isn't it??? So it must be the best way to develop a cottage industry that one day will take over the global activewear industry. Are you quaking in your boots Lorna Jane?

I got some amazing help and guidance from a friend who's a graphics designer but that only showed me how much stuff I was going to have to get organised. How much thinking I was going to have to do. How very little I knew about running a business in a hi-tech world. And I almost stopped at that point.

But I'd kind of put it out there that I was going to do it and I didn't want to say that I'd given up because it all seemed too hard and I was too old and lazy to be bothered with learning all this new stuff. So I started making notes. Lots of notes. Lists of things that had to happen. Things I had to write. Information that was needed. And then I set about trying to do a little bit towards it every day. Just one thing ticked off a list that seemed to grow exponentially the more I investigated.

Every day that voice kept reminding me that it was too hard and I could just give up. And every day I'd have to tell that voice to shut up. I'd remind it that I was reasonably intelligent and incredibly stubborn and that combo seems to work well when it comes to getting stuff done. Then I'd complain about how hard it was and how inept I was to my family and my friends and they'd all tell me that I could do it so I pulled up my big girl panties and plodded onwards.

And I've discovered something along the way. Just because I'm not tech-savvy doesn't mean that I can't do techy stuff. I don't actually have to understand it to use it. Kind of like my car - I've been driving for decades but I can't tell you how it worked. There are people out there who know how it works and who've made things so virtual idiots (I'm talking idiots in the virtual realm - not someone who has an IQ of between 0 and 25), like me, can do computery stuffs. And when I couldn't just figure out how to get things the way I was wanting there were people out there in cyberspace who could sort it out for me, or point me in the right direction to get it sorted. If you don't know how to do something then ask someone who does. But if it's a computer geek you're asking you might have to get them to really dumb it down so you can actually understand what they're explaining.

The doubts about whether I could do it weren't my only ones. I also doubted whether there'd be a market for more tights in an already-flooded activewear industry. A friend let me put some in her sports shop (Sportsfirst at Toombul if you're a Brisbanite looking for fun, funky tights - thanks so much Judy and Phil) and they've been selling. Judy has also been a font of knowledge about lots of business stuff and has been so open and available for answering my questions - which are possibly quite stupid but I figure if I don't ask I'll never learn.

My middle son, Josh, got to hear a lot of my doubts and fears and he had sage advice. "The worst that can happen is that you lose a bit of money. And in the meanwhile you've learnt a lot of stuff and you're having fun. And learning new stuff at your age is supposed to stop dementia." And he's right.

So now I'm almost there. I'm on the threshold of publishing my website and it's getting kind of exciting. There's just a little bit more tweaking to do (not twerking Jim, Definitely not twerking!), some editing, sorting out the payments side of things and lots of proof-reading (cause heaven forbid that there be any spelling or grammatical errors). I'm hoping that it'll be up and running by Monday when I officially start back at work.

Here's sneak preview.

The moral of this post isn't to say how great I am. Or to advertise my new line of tights which are 'fun for your run'. It's just to say that we can all do hard stuff. We can all learn something new - even at my age. The trick is to keep moving forward just a little bit every day and to never give up even when the finish line seems so far away. Just a little thing that running taught me that works in so many different areas of life.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Running Amok at Parkrun

Happy 2016!

Have I made any resolutions? Absolutely not. I don't do resolutions.

I much prefer tweaking. (That's tweaking - not twerking.) The things I'd like to tweak are small and involve doing more. More smiling. More laughing. More saying yes to new experiences.

I spent a bit of time last year thinking about life. About what I want mine to be when I grow up. And one of things I decided that I really wanted was a big life. I've seen a lot of older people who let their worlds get smaller and smaller until it exists only in their home and a couple of select, safe locations. Their friendship circle gets smaller and smaller. Their universe just shrinks. The older people I've admired haven't let that happen. They stay involved. They expand their horizons by joining groups and volunteering. They make new friends and their lives are richer and fuller for it. They say yes to new things because why the hell not?!!

I've already said yes to my first new experience - and it's only days into the new year. Yay me! I'm giving myself a gold star!! All tweaks that are achieved should be rewarded with a gold star. Or a piece of rocky road. Or a new running singlet. My latest batch of rocky road hasn't yet set and I already have enough running singlets so I'll have to make do with a virtual gold star.

A running singlet rainbow. 
And my new experience? My first parkrun.

My long run crew had decided that it might be fun to do some of our Saturday long run early and time it to finish just before parkrun started. When I heard about it my initial reaction was 'That's not what I usually do' and honestly, being a creature of habit, I was a little hesitant. But it didn't take me long to realise that running is running whether it's just with the few friends that you usually run with or the dozens of new friends that you just haven't met yet. So why the hell not?!!

I said yes. Then I registered and printed out my barcode.

Then I told Iven I'd said yes and he did something surprising and completely out of character. He said that he'd like to do it too. My Iven! Running!!! You could have painted me green and called me a cucumber. Pinned on my tail and called me a donkey. Knocked me over with a feather. But hey, if I'm embracing new experiences, why shouldn't my husband?

So I registered him and printed out his barcode.

Saturday came and I got to sleep in. Till 5:00. Met the group at 5:45 and we headed out to pay homage to the camel toe tree.

We got back in plenty of time to find Iven and get him to the starting line. We lined up and started before I'd even given a thought about how I was going to run it. Okay, I had given it a little thought - maybe just slightly faster than our cruisey long run pace - but put me in a crowd and somehow my brain switches to race mode and all intentions of cruisey go out the window. I wanted to break out of the mad crush of the start and just run unimpeded so I went with it. 

It was so much fun! Because I hadn't started right up the front I had lots of runners in front to try to run down. Picking them off one by one never gets old. The steps and bridge that we had to run up and over slowed that down a lot but by the time we got over the other side there was only about a kilometre to go so it was just a matter of holding on and not letting too many people pass back. I knew I'd run solidly even though we'd already done over 10k so I was pretty happy.

The best moment of the morning, though, was cheering Iven in to the finish. He'd intended to mostly walk and do a bit of running if he could but he ended up running the entire way except for the steps and bridge. What a champ! And he finished second in his age group.

Today we went out and bought him a complete running kit so he can look like a real runner. Because he is a real runner now.

I can definitely see more parkruns in our future. It can really pay to say yes to new things.