Monday, March 28, 2016

Shock, Horror, Shame!

I had a blinding moment of horror on Saturday.

The day had started okay. 4:15am alarm. Two and a half hour run that I really wasn't into at the beginning but got past and ended up enjoying. Coffee and toast with the crew. Some grocery shopping. A normal, run-of-the-mill, unspectacular kind of Saturday.

And then it happened. The horrific part. When we were driving back home.

I'd stiffened up after the two and a half hour run and all the sitting at breakfast and in the car and I just thought I'd do a little bit of stretching while Iven chauffeured me home. So I had a fighting chance of getting out of the car at the other end - let alone get up the stairs.

I lifted my left leg onto my right knee and something caught my eye. I think it was the angle of the light as the sun came through the windscreen. Because at home in the dingy light, I'd never seen what I saw. A very long - and by very long I'm talking about a good inch - hair on the back of my thigh.

I assumed it was one of the dogs and tried to brush it off. But it didn't budge. So I grabbed it and pulled. Ouch! Nope, definitely not one of the dog's.

And then I inspected a little further. It was not the only one!!! And I will never get a job as a contortionist because that closer inspection was really, really tricky.

I changed sides and sure enough this cosmetic disaster was not confined to just my left leg. Shock, horror, shame!

Iven assured me that he'd never seen any long black hairs on the back of my legs. But he thinks I don't have any wrinkles. Or flabby bits. That's the beauty of being married to someone who's a little older. Their eyesight fades just as time is wreaking havoc on your body.

I spent the rest of the trip home plucking out the offending hairs. And the damned things are just like spiders. If you don't get a good grip on them when you pull they just shrivel up into tight little Shirley Temple ringlets. Nowhere near as impressive as they were. Not that I'm wanting anyone to be impressed with the pelt on the back of my legs.

So I feel I must take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who may have caught sight of this offence against humanity. I've plucked out the worst of them now. And I'll try to keep on top of things. Every Saturday on the way home from getting the groceries when the light is at just the right angle. At least until it gets cooler and I can finally wear capris again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What's In A Name?

When I was growing up my Mother told me that lying was wrong. Lying never leads to good. Lies are like scars to the soul. Liars never prosper. Or is that cheaters?

I'm not a very good liar. I don't do it very often so I'm not practised at it. If I do lie it's generally to do with business stuff - 'the fabric was out of stock' (I forgot to order it) - or keep the peace stuff - 'no of course I'm not upset that you left your washing on the floor.' Little, inconsequential lies that don't really hurt anyone.

The other day I got a reminder why lying is bad. And I didn't really even lie. Except by omission.

We were having our painting done and I introduced myself to our painter, Neil. His memory for names must be as good as mine because I became Chantelle instead of Charmaine. I felt bad about correcting him. Figured that it didn't matter because he'd paint the house and be gone. I could be Chantelle just for Neil. No harm, no foul.

No, it wasn't role-playing, Bob. Bob's one of my running friends who suggested I was enjoying my new persona with a warped sense of gratification. I may have created a whole personality profile for Chantelle including the private jet that whisks her away to exotic locations to run events. And the Swedish masseuse, Sven, who accompanies me on these running junkets. But that's only because I have a vivid imagination. Only yesterday I was parking next to an impeccably clean car (unlike my own) at the shopping centre and saw fingerprints on the dark tinted window of the back seat. Instead of assuming that the car was owned by a family with kids, I assumed that the car was owned by a psychopathic killer who'd abducted a teenage girl. See - vivid imagination.

I did Google Chantelle Donaldson just out of curiosity. Turns out that she's an academic at Auburn Montgomery University in Alabama. She's in the field of Communication and the Dramatic Arts. A far cry from Charmaine Donaldson from Miami whose criminal profile includes petty theft and failure to appear. Maybe a name change isn't such a bad idea.

Anyway Neil finished the painting on Wednesday. He came down to my workroom to say he was done. He also said that if there was anything he'd missed or if it needed touching up after we'd had the flooring laid that he'd come back. I took his phone number and he left.

When I finished work later on I went up to see the finished job and yes, there are some things that he's missed. Just a couple of spots have the wrong trim colour. And he's left behind a paintbrush. So now I'm left with a huge dilemma. How am I supposed to make the phone call? When I go to introduce myself do I use my real name (which he won't recognise) or do I continue to perpetrate the myth of Chantelle? It's such a tough decision for me that I've almost decided to paint the trims myself. With Neil's paintbrush. And I really hate painting.

Or I could just get Iven to make the call.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Exodus Has Started

My baby's left home.

I'm torn between crying and celebrating.

It's a bitter-sweet moment when your kid packs his bag and wishes you adieu. All the memories of my little Lukey came flooding back. The nights spent rocking him with his endless earaches. Trying to get the grease off him after he spent a couple of quiet hours trying to figure out how Daddy's bike worked. Listening to him giggle while he was reading his favourite Judy Blume Superfudge books. The frantic morning drives to try to get to the City Cat on time so he didn't have to catch the bus - because he didn't like riding the bus in the mornings. That time we took him out to dinner only to have him throw up all over the floor at the dessert place because he really didn't have any more room in his stomach. Ahhh - precious memories.

He and his girlfriend Becky took a 12 week trip to Europe last year and since they've come home it's been increasingly hard for them switching between her parents' and our places. They needed somewhere to call their own and they managed to find somewhere fairly quickly.

When your kid tells you that they're going to move out you start to hope that all the things you've tried to teach them over the years have clicked. That they'll be able to feed themselves - and I'm not talking about just buying takeaway. That they'll pay their bills on time. That if something unexpected or unusual happens they'll be able to cope. That you've done your job right and they'll be able to muddle their way through adulting just the way we did.

And they seemed to be doing great. Sorting out the lease. Organising electricity and internet. Buying a fridge and washing machine. Working out a budget.

They moved just a couple of days before we took our road trip to Port Macquarie and Saturday I finally got to see their place for the first time. Yeah - ten days after they'd moved out. And I'm trying to placate that voice in my head that's been telling me I'm a bad mother for leaving it so long by reminding it that I baked brownies for them to have a little piece of home in their new home.

It's a lovely unit. Not too small. Two bedrooms. A fairly new kitchen. Nice bathroom. A little patio to sit and watch the sun go down at the end of the day.

We got the grand tour and I checked it all out. Checked out the fridge to make sure it wasn't just filled with beer and wine - that there was at least some food. And there was. Checked out the walk-in wardrobe. More space there than my wardrobe. Checked out how much storage room they had by opening up the linen closet and found this ...

Enough toilet paper to deal with a Norovirus outbreak on 10 day cruise.

Yeah, they're going to do just fine.

And in other news, my friends organised to have a special run on Saturday in honour of my birthday. All the girls and one of the boys wore their Run Amok tights and photos were taken for promos. My favourite was the jumping one. It embodies the ethos of Run Amok. Fun, crazy and joyful.

But what you can't see here is what happened a split second later. Let's just say I didn't stick the landing. Could have been because my legs were tired from the 20k run we'd just finished. Or because these 53 year old legs don't have the stickability that their 10 year old version had. Or it might just be because I'm a klutz. Luckily nothing was hurt except my pride. At my age it could have been a broken hip and that would really have screwed my running plans for the year.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Port Macquarie Half Marathon (Or How I Spent My 53rd Birthday)

It seemed like a good idea to run a half marathon on my 53rd birthday when I decided to enter a few months ago. A gift to myself. A weekend away with Iven and Ian. And by March the weather should be cooler, right?

And then race week came and all of a sudden it didn't seem like such a good idea any more. Eight hours drive there. Summer temperatures and humidity. Busy, busy, busy with work. Feeling really sick on Thursday and Friday. Running a half marathon was a really crappy idea. A stupid, stupid decision. Who'd ever want to do something like that on their birthday??

My head was all over the place on the drive to Port Macquarie on Friday. I could just pull out and enjoy a weekend away. I could try to change events. Maybe do just the 10k. Or even the 5k. Or I could start the half and pull out if I wasn't feeling it. It was a 3 lap course so if I pulled out I wouldn't have to walk very far. Too many options. And I had to make a decision at some stage. So I did - I decided that I'd defer the decision till the next day when we went to pick up our race kits.

Saturday morning I was starting to feel more like myself. So when we went to pick up our bibs I'd decided that I'd give the half a go. DNS-ing was still on the table as was DNF-ing. Decision made and I'd live with it. At least my brain could stop arguing with itself over the best option. And I got to spend the day carb-loading - so there was that positive.

Sunday morning hadn't dawned before my alarm went off at 4:45am. The race started at 7:00 NSW time but I'd stubbornly refused to put my watch forward. Ian and I were both ready by 5:40 for the short walk to the start line. We got there with 10 minutes to spare and sussed out the competition.

The half had the smallest field. Not quite 250. It was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere in the starting area. People just milling around - no need to jostle for position. A brief word from the race director, that really wasn't brief and that no one could hear clearly apart from when he asked if we could hear, a hunt for the hooter and then we were off.

I made a couple of mistakes in this race and the first was not having a clear plan for pacing. Because I'd been so ambivalent about the event I'd decided to wing it. Definitely not a great plan in a longer race. Running how I felt meant that I took it out a bit hard. 4:49 for my first k. 4:48 for the second and 4:46 for the third. I could keep that up for 18 more kilometres couldn't I? My competitive brain said yes and stop thinking so much. My rational brain said slow down - it's hot and a couple of days ago you weren't well so don't be too ambitious. My rational brain won that little debate and my pace slowed. But only marginally - 4:51, 4:51,4:51, 4:55. First lap was done. Only two to go.

At the start line I'd guessed at who I was racing. And one of those ladies had passed me in the first lap. Second lap I started to reel her in a bit. And by the first turn around on that lap I'd passed her. I hadn't seen any other elderly female runners up ahead so I guessed that I might be #1 in my category. All I had to do was hold on for another 11k. Ughh! It was getting hotter by the minute and there wasn't much shade on the course. Had a couple of snakes for fuel - but had them a couple of kilometres late and got left with sticky hands. Used my next water stop water to wash my hands and only had a little sip left to hydrate. Silly, silly silly. Stop thinking. Keep running. 4:51, 4:58, 4:58, 4:53, 4:53, 4:58, 5:07.

Second lap done and so was I. It was hot. It hurt. I wasn't having fun. And I didn't even have any music in my head. I think it was being drowned out with all the negative chatter happening up there. 2k up to the turnaround - 5:06, 5:07. Still ahead of my nemesis. 2k back down to the starting area - 5:05, 5:18. Only three k to go but that three k seemed like an awfully long way. The naysayers in my head kept telling me to walk. And I told myself that I could but only if my nemesis passed me. But until then I had to keep running. 5:08.

Just two kilometres. Anyone can run two kilometres. I can run two kilometres. Except that I don't really want to. The water stop was coming up and I did something that I haven't done in a very long time. I stopped. And walked. And drank an entire cup of water. It tasted sooooo good. That's when I realised that I was probably really dehydrated and those goosebumps I'd had a couple of times in the last few kilometres might not just be because of the sea breeze. I ran to the turnaround and then walked through the water stop again. 5:40. Who cares. It's my birthday and I'm 53 and if I want to walk through a water stop twice then I'm going to.

The last kilometre was spent reassuring myself that it wasn't failure to have walked just a little. I needed to redefine my idea of success. Running a half marathon at 53 is success. Running it without pooping or wetting yourself at 53 - incredible success. Without vomiting - success beyond my wildest dreams. Hell, getting out of bed some days is success. So walking a little bit is no big deal.

That last k went by quicker. 5:05. And all of a sudden I was able to see the finish arch. I made a final surge to the line and stopped my watch. 1:45:31.

My time wasn't even that bad - considering that I'd walked a little.

Ian had also run a great time 1:38:something. He'd died a little in the back end and we decided that it was the heat.

Iven had also run. A 5k. And a PB. Go Ive!!

A pretty successful day out. And success like that needs to be celebrated. With ice cream. For breakfast. My birthday, my rules, don't judge.

I found out on the long eight hour drive home that it really had been a pretty successful day. I'd won my age group. And, for the first time ever, I'll be getting prize money. $65 which, after the entry fee is taken out, will leave me with $5. Not enough to give up my day job but I'm not complaining. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The PB That Wasn't

My stopped watch said 22:14.

Really?? Just over 22 minutes? A new 5k PB at my age? That's freaking awesome!!!

I was elated and amazed.

The day before I'd hardly been able to get off the couch. I'd run a pretty cruisey 12k long run (tapering for next weekend's half marathon) but within hours had felt achey, shivery, exhausted. And disappointed because I'd wanted to see what I could do at the International Womens Day 5k. Saturday afternoon I didn't even know if I'd be able to run it, let alone race it.

But Sunday morning I felt okay. Decided that it was a 24 hr bug and I'd be fine to run. I still might not be able to race it like I'd wanted but at least I'd get around the course without collapsing. So I dressed in my pinkest clothes, drove into the city and met up with my friends. A quick photo and a kilometre warm up then we made our way to the start line.

We got a great position. Last year I'd hung back and paid the price on the bridge when I got stuck between people who were already walking. That mistake wasn't going to be repeated this year. Apart from the two ladies who were talking about hoping to get under 30 mins - obviously had no idea that if you are hoping to get the cut-off for the group then you shouldn't be at the front - you could tell we were surrounded by serious runners. Some waiting, some formalities, a quick warmup to blaring music (now I remember why Firework was my earworm for this race) and we were off. 

The first bit of the race is over the Victoria Bridge. It's basically a little hill so I wasn't surprised that I was breathing heavily quickly. I got to run fairly freely until just before the crest of the bridge where there was a group of schoolgirls just trotting along and I had to slow till I could get a break to pass. I didn't look at my watch. Had no idea of the pace - until my watch beeped and I realised that it was probably way too fast and I might be in a world of hurt before too long. First kilometre 4:13

Kilometre 2 also had a hill in it. I'd tried to slow my pace enough so I was still running a pretty good pace but so I wouldn't have to walk before the top. We'd done this hill in speed session on a stinking hot day not long after Melbourne marathon so it doesn't hold great memories for me. I kept reminding myself that there was a downhill on the other side and that got me to the top. The downhill felt great and we got to check out what was for sale in the markets that lined the course. 4:34 - that's a bit more like it.

I don't like it when I'm starting to wish that the race was over even before the halfway mark. The voices were starting up in my head and there was a particularly disputatious one that was arguing against the feeble voice of my inner cheerleader. It had nothing good to say. No words of encouragement. It was all about death, pain and the stupidity of old women who don't know how to pace themselves well even though they've been running for decades. Luckily I can multi-task and could still manage to push on despite having to try to devise arguments to rebut the sound reasoning of my inner nay-sayer. Kilometre 3 - 4:40 which actually happened to be the pace I'd intended to target.

Kilometre 4 is the Goodwill Bridge kilometre and I'll be quite frank when I say that there was not a lot of goodwill in my feelings towards having to cross it. I'd run it just the day before with Jodi in an imaginary race against a girl that had passed us a little earlier. We'd been triumphant on Saturday. Sunday it was just a death march. I had nothing left to push any harder so when a couple of friends passed me all I could do was wave them on their way. Having a downhill didn't even help. 4:50.

It was such a relief to know that the last hill was done and the rest of the course was flat. I run at Southbank all the time so I knew that section of the run intimately. The tree we meet at for speed. The 'beach'. Our 500m mark just past the building that juts out. The rainforesty section. Then there's the Wheel of Brisbane , veer left up a little slope, through the arch and it was over. Stop the watch. 22:14!! Worth every second of the pain.

The elation lasted for possibly a minute until someone asked if I'd gotten a short reading on the course. 4:82k was on my watch. Poo, poo, poo. Not a pb. Not an anything really. Still we all crowded on to the podium because we're all winners!

It was weird not knowing how to feel about the race. But I did feel pretty excited that a pair of my tights won overall. Well done Clare Geraghty - you make my tights look good.

And then there was this. Made me feel a bit less ambivalent.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I'm Not Dying Today.

Just a normal Tuesday morning. Get up at 4:30 am. Eat a banana. Drink a glass of water. Get changed into running gear. Answer a call of nature. And then it became not a normal Tuesday morning.

I looked down into the toilet bowl. Everyone looks down don't they? I'm not weird or anything am I? Anyway what I saw was disturbing. As well as the normal toilet stuff that you'd find there was blood. Clearly visible blood on the porcelain. And not just a little bit.

Activate full hypochondriac mode. I had to be dying. My best guess was cancer. That annoying discomfort that I often get in the evening can't have been my super-sized uterus like my GP and the gynaecologist assured me. It was probably intestinal cancer. And it had probably eroded through to the blood supply and that's why I was currently haemorrhaging into the toilet bowl.

Funny though that I felt okay for having a terminal case of self-diagnosed intestinal cancer.

A little voice in my head told me that I could be wrong (although I'm rarely wrong when it comes to hysterical self-diagnoses). That there may be other causes for the blood. Like a giant haemorrhoid that had ruptured. Like a fibroid that had degenerated and rotted to its blood supply - yeah I'd need a hysterectomy for that one but it's better than cancer. Like it wasn't my blood at all and might be the result of all the beetroot that Sam likes to eat.

But honestly I couldn't shake the thought that it was the big C. Surgery, chemo, baldness. Probably only had months left.

So what did I do? Climb back into bed and ring the doctor for an emergency appointment? Of course not. I got into the car and went to speed session. One does not have to contemplate ones own painful demise when one is running.

I didn't think about it at all once we'd gotten started. Can't think about the mundane stuff of life when your head is filled with reps and goal paces and arguments over whether you can stop early or if you'll get to the end without throwing up.

I did think about it once I got back into the car. And all the way home. And until Iven turned up home from work even before it had started. Because he was peeing blood. Urinary tract infection as it turns out. Antibiotics, lots of fluids, a bit of rest and he'll be fine.

So I guess I'll be around for a little bit longer.