Sunday, August 2, 2015

Run How You Feel - Brisbane 10k

I almost turned my alarm off yesterday morning and stayed in bed. It was cold and I was tired and my bed was warm. Getting up meant that there was pain ahead of me.

Saturday's 24k run had been okay. Not great. Not awful. Just so-so. The only thing that really got me going (apart from the urgent need to visit the loo) was knowing that there were people expecting me. So I got dressed and tried to fool myself into thinking that I'd just be taking it easy - unless of course I, amazingly, felt great.

Just run how you feel.

I'd done a little bit of preparation the night before. I'd actually planned where I would park and bought a voucher for it. But I, stupidly, didn't actually read how the voucher worked and didn't use it when I entered the car park thinking I'd only have to use it at the end. But it actually was a good thing to do something stupid because it took my mind off not wanting to be there.

It was only a short walk to the start where I found my friends, had the obligatory pre-race photo taken and discovered that the toilets in the gardens were locked. I also discovered that the queues for the porta-loos were horrendously long so what's a girl to do apart from find a discreet bush with a view of the duck pond. That fountain definitely made it easier to go.

It was getting close to start time so I took off my jacket and stashed it in the bushes and kind of hoped that it'd be there at the finish. It didn't really matter if it wasn't just meant that I could use it as a boomerang jacket - throw it away but it keeps coming back. Then it was a matter of lining up at the start and waiting. 

It's not a huge event even though it's a capital city marathon. There were only around 1000 in the 10k event. We could be right up close to the start and that meant that right from the time we were cut loose we could run. No dodging. No weaving. No having to slow down to find a place to pass. Just run how you feel.

And I felt okay ... ish. I felt like I was working reasonably hard. Without being stupid because it is 10k after all and you don't want to burn out before half way. Particularly with the hills/bridges that I knew would bite this person who was only pretending to love hills for the day. Seeing that first rise in the first kilometre that I wasn't expecting did almost make me cry so the pretence was only a thin facade. 

Watches were beeping all around me but mine stayed silent for a couple of hundred metres. 5:06. Definitely slower than I was hoping for because it felt like I was working hard. Maybe it was still the marathon. Or the remnants of the cold. Or the 24k the day before. Or maybe the buildings were interfering with satellite reception. I had the kilometre to ponder it before I could check again - 5:02. That wasn't going to give me the sub-50 that I was hoping for.

The third kilometre was the climb up to the Storey Bridge. Yes it was unpleasant. Truly unpleasant. But I knew that I only had to make it a little way across the bridge before I'd be heading downhill and a long, flattish section. There's some advantages to running on your home turf. Kilometre 3 beeped at 5:03 but kilometre 4 was the fastest of the day at 4:27.

Once we got down to the path on the other side of the river I started to take notice of the people around me. Most were men but there were a couple of ladies. And they looked about my age. That gave me a purpose - to slowly run them down. I had no idea how many other 'mature and motivated' women were even further ahead but I had my own little race right there. Handed to me on a plate. 

The lady in black had been the one standing just in front of us on the start line. At the time I'd decided that she wouldn't be that fast. Shows you how deceiving looks can be. She wasn't elite but she certainly wasn't slow. Took me quite some time to run her down. 

And the wiry lady wearing the shorts - well, she was even harder to take. But I did. And that helped with keeping the 5th, 6th and 7th kilometre splits down. 4:38, 4:48 and 4:52. The thing, though, is that she didn't like being passed. She dug in deep and by the 8th kilometre (4:46) she'd passed me back. I had to follow her up and over the Victoria Bridge seeing her pull away bit by bit knowing that I couldn't do a thing about it because, hey, the Victoria Bridge is a bitch for hill-hating runners. 5:04!

The last kilometre I knew was flat. So I tried to regroup and make one last-ditch effort. It was hurting and I was tired but something in my head just wouldn't let me give up. And I was making ground on her. Just a little bit. Reeling her in inch by inch. Knowing that I might run out of course before I caught her.

And that's what happened. She crossed the line 5 seconds ahead of me. But I'd finished at 48:42 - 48:34 chip time. Better than what I'd expected when I'd registered for the race. Better than what I'd expected after the first couple of kilometres. I might not have won my mini-race but I was still really happy with my time. (When I checked the results afterwards I found I'd beaten her on chip time - by one second!)

I hung around with my friends watching the half-marathoners come in and comparing results. Everyone had run really well on a tough course. Yay us! And then I went home, picked up Iven and treated myself to some well-earned empty calories that tasted really, really good.

Then a bit of stretching. With canine assistance. 

As for my results - the lady who I thought might be in my age group turned out to be younger. 

And the strategy of run how you feel? I must have been feeling competitive. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

From Dilemma To Decision

I've got a little dilemma.

I'm currently debating the wisdom of a decision I made a couple of months ago. I'm running a race this Sunday. Just four weeks after my marathon. And I don't really know how I'm planning to attack it.

Not sure what possessed me. Possibly I was high on something at the time. Like post-run endorphins. And they must have been pretty strong that day because my personal history has said that I take quite a long time to recover from marathons. I usually remember relevant personal history like that in plenty of time to prevent myself from doing spontaneous, injudicious stuff like that.

I think my rationale at the time was that it's peak race season in my part of the world and it'd be a pity to miss out on one in my back yard. And a bigger pity to miss out on one where a lot of my friends are running. And the race singlet's kind of nice. And I don't actually have to race it. And it's only 10k so that should be simple after a marathon - right?

I didn't factor into my decision-making at the time that I might have just been getting over a cold. And that the day before I'll be running my first significant long slow run since Gold Coast. But, hey, let's just pretend that I'm a person who thrives on challenges.

And while I'm pretending that I'm a person who thrives on challenges, I'll also pretend that I'm a person who loves hills. While it's not exactly a mountainous route, it's not exactly a flat one either. But I'm not complaining because, for the next couple of days only, I AM a hill-lover.

I think that my current doubts about this event lie in something that I did the other day. I looked up previous race results. And the age group places for 'mature but not old yet' ladies (ie 50-59 y.o.) lie in my range. When I'm running well. Maybe not a month out from a marathon and when I have had a cold. But on the other hand, maybe ...

Sometimes I think I'm too competitive.

Sometimes I think that I think too much.

On Tuesday after speed I would have said that I was just going to take it easy and enjoy the event without pushing myself into the imminent puke zone. I struggled on my fourth 1600m rep and finished the session early. But on Wednesday I did an 11k tempo run with some fast bodies and finished up with a 4:58 average pace. And that flamed those little embers of competitiveness. 

Sure, there's no guarantee of a place even if I do run well. I have no idea who's running this event and there are some seriously fast 'mature but not old yet' ladies in Brisbane. Plus we all know that anything can happen on race day - and by that I mean unplanned toilet stops or accidents or toilet accidents. But there's a little part of me that wants to give it a shot.

Sometimes I'm really grateful that I have this blog because writing this post has actually helped give me clarity. I will just show up on Sunday and run how I feel. Like I've done with every other race that I've run this year. If I feel good I will push the pace and if I don't I'll just relax and enjoy the event.

Decision made.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Weekend In Review

It was inevitable. Bound to happen. No bookie would have given decent odds on it.

Getting a post-marathon cold is just one of those rights of passage. Especially when nearly everyone around you is sniffing into tissues. Run for four hours and it will have a negative effect on your immune system. I'm not sure if the negative effect lasts for almost three weeks but I'm happy to blame my present state on the marathon. I'm just grateful that it happened now and not three weeks ago because I feel crap.

I hate being sick. Not that I'm really sick - just sick enough to have no energy and want to lay around and watch really bad movies all day. And drink tea that I've guilted my husband into making for me. Guilty tea tastes so much better than regular tea. I think it's the salt in the 'my poor darling is sick and I could lose her and then who would make me cake?' tears he spills. I've gotten good at faking imminent death so I can get just one of these delicious beverages served to me on the couch while I control the TV viewing. And my grade 8 English teacher gave me such a bad mark for acting.

I wasn't sick enough, though, to miss the long slow run for the week. Yeah, I didn't feel great but I did the above/below neck check and all my symptoms were in my head (and I don't mean in the hypochondriac sense) so I figured it'd be fine to get the 16k on my program done. Running it with the fast boys and Sue was just an added bonus. A special treat for me in my weakened state. It felt hard! It felt hard enough for me to say that I didn't mind being left behind - and I hate admitting weakness like that. I didn't actually get left behind so yay for me but that could have been one of the reasons why faking imminent death wasn't so hard in the afternoon.

Unfortunately the novelty of lying around and being waited on wore off pretty quickly. So I'm now at the 'I want to just be doing normal stuff but I'm still feeling a bit too blah to actually do it' phase. Hopefully I'll wake up tomorrow and everything will be back to normal. I'm really not a good patient. Or a patient one.

I'm not the only patient in the family. My poor baby had to go to the vet on Friday to get allergy tested. We've bitten the bullet with Toby and dived in to the world of veterinary specialists because I'm so sick of his skin infections and having to deal with a bucket-headed dog. Oh, and I do feel sorry that he feels itchy nearly all the time.

So Friday we drove for half an hour to pay an exorbitant sum to have Toby play pin-cushion. Half an hour isn't really that far but it can seem like it when your dog is almost choking the whole way because he wants to sit on your lap for the drive but he has a restraint preventing him. He was incredibly excited to finally get there and go in to the surgery but a lot less excited when he realised I wasn't going in with him. He's such a mummy's boy!

And then he was returned to me like this.

They did the test on his chest near his front leg. Which just happens to be one of the only places he can scratch with his back legs. And he wanted to scratch! Those tests had stirred up a hornets' nest of histamine release. Luckily the vet had had the foresight to give me some cortisone to keep him comfortable or he would have torn himself to pieces.

The upshot is that he's allergic to so many things! Lots of plants, feathers, ants, moths, mice, cockroaches and dust-mites. He definitely is living in the wrong house. Our place is riddled with cockroaches, ants, moths and dust-mites. Not so sure about mice ... but I wouldn't be surprised.

So the next step is desensitisation shots. Also a very exorbitant procedure but Toby is only three and has quite a few years left in him (I hope). It will save us a lot of money in vet bills over the years if these shots improve his condition. And I'll feel happier that he's not so incredibly itchy.

In other news - my Dad turned 75. And we all know what that means. I get to make cake! My current cake obsession is learning to temper chocolate so I can make amazing chocolate decorations. About a kilo of chocolate later I can say that I do know how to temper dark chocolate now. As for making amazing chocolate decorations - well that's still a work in progress. I can do curls and that's about it.

But I figure if I'm determined and practice enough I'll master fans one day. And in the meanwhile I have all these failed fans that I can't bear to just throw away. Failed baked goods have no calories don't they?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Getting A Handle on Things.

I never like getting certified mail. From past experience the only good thing that I've ever got that way was a passport. Usually it's some demand that the sender isn't going to let you ignore.

I got a certified letter just a couple of days before my marathon. From my doctor. And I knew immediately that it had something to do with the results of the Pap test that I'd had over a month before. And I was right.

The only saving grace to this letter were the words 'non urgent'.

There are plenty of reasons that you might get a letter like this. The first sample might have been flawed. There may have been blood in it or infection or not enough cells. The sample may have been misplaced or the slide broken. There may be cell abnormalities relating to inflammation. A recall letter does not necessarily mean that you have cervical cancer. But of course it's hard to not think that when you get a letter by registered mail.

Of course I didn't want to have to try and squeeze in an appointment in the only day that I had before the marathon but I did want to know if I was going to have to do a repeat test because there's no point in scheduling an appointment for a repeat test while it's that time of the month. So I rang the receptionist and asked if I was going to have to have a repeat test and she said that I would but that there was no urgency. So I decided that I wasn't going to waste any energy worrying about it when I had bigger fish to fry. So I shoved it to the back of my brain to deal with at another time.

Doing that was like trying to sweep a small pile of manure under a rug. Most of the time I could ignore that it was there but occasionally a waft of something unpleasant would come seeping out to remind me that I hadn't actually dealt with it yet.

Well today I dealt with it. I'd made the appointment last week after telling a friend that I had to. So I'd feel accountable. I had to wait a while to see the doctor and I tried to placate my over-active imagination with a game of sudoku - which I couldn't finish because my brain was elsewhere.

When I was finally called in, the doctor asked why I was there and when I told her that I'd gotten a certified letter about my results she pulled them up and found ...

Nothing! The results were perfect. But the medical centre had recently had a computer upgrade and there had been a few glitches.

Not a particularly exciting or funny story but it's another lesson on worrying for a worry wart. Most of the time the things we worry about never happen. And if they do worrying didn't stop them from happening so it's a complete waste of time and energy.

I'm a little bit proud of myself that I did manage to control any anxiety about it most of the time and certainly didn't let it overwhelm me like I might have in the past. Maybe I'm finally getting a handle on my anxiety.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tell Me Your Deepest, Darkest Secrets

I started back running this week.

Thank goodness! And that sigh of relief is not just from me. I'm a much nicer person when I've been running.

Even the dogs hide from me when I'm not running
Of course I'm not fully recovered but I'm not too bad either. I felt tireder than normal after speed session on Tuesday and there was still the after-glow of the ITB pain that bothered me during the marathon. And my hamstrings were super-tight. So I was glad that I'd had the foresight to make another appointment with my physio.

My physio's been away on holidays with his wife so it was great to catch up on his news while I was being tortured. Hang on - great's probably too kind a word. Interestingly gross is probably more accurate because the only story he told me about his holiday was the diarrhoea one. There was no stories of great places to see in the Phillipines or interesting foods or amazing things to do. There was just a very descriptive tale of projectile evacuation in the Starbucks loos. He's such a good tale teller that I almost felt like I was there.

There was the moment when he realised all was not well. The moment when he couldn't decide whether he was going to chuck or poop. The moment when he realised that he was sweating profusely but he was so very cold. The moment of desperate knocking on the one cubicle door which was locked. The moment when he had to decide whether to use the urinal instead because the cubicle was staying locked. The moment when the fear of being caught bum-out hovering over the urinal was overtaken by the very real threat of making his shorts unwearable. And that moment when the other person did finally come out of the cubicle and they all lived happily ever after. It was kind of like a fairy tale. A very grimm fairy tale.

Earlier that day I'd been running with friends and over coffee one of them reminded me of our first run together and how I'd heard the story of his vasectomy which had happened only four days beforehand. Not that I'd forgotten. That story stands out as one of my top 10 in weird things I've heard on a run.

Those two events got me thinking. What is it about me that makes people want to share very personal stories? Is it that I have a tendency to over-share? Or is it that I can be quiet at times and the quiet disconcerts people so much that they spill all their deepest and darkest? Or is it that I secretly love all that stuff and they can sense it in me and try to fulfil my needs?

I was talking with another friend about it and she has the same thing happen to her. She's a nurse. I used to be a vet. Pretty much nothing grosses either of us out.

So I'm wondering does this happen to anyone else? Do people like to tell you really personal stuff? And what's the weirdest story you've ever been told?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In Search Of Adventure (Of The Non-running Kind)

The night before the marathon I was sent a quote by Sue, who I'd done a lot of my training with. It was one of those quotes - exactly the right words for exactly the right occasion. 'Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.'

All through last week I'd been thinking about those words. Thinking about adventure in my life and realising that there really wasn't very much of it. Life can easily become too comfortable and routine. Iven and I had pretty much zero adventure in our lives. What would it hurt to shake it up a little?!

An opportunity came sooner than I would have thought. A few words on the weather report. An Antarctic blast of air. Chance of snow. A thought was planted.

A lot of you won't understand just how exciting the idea of snow is to someone who lives in a subtropical climate. It NEVER snows in Brisbane. It only snows in Queensland once every twenty or thirty years. And for it to maybe, possibly snow on a weekend within a couple of hours drive - too good an opportunity!

Iven and I were awake around 4:00am and on the road by 4:40. Heading to Stanthorpe in the dark. A couple of old farts in search of a little adventure. Actually, an old fart and his much younger trophy wife in search of adventure.

Doing something spontaneous is wildly out of character for both Iven and I. So we were as giddy as two little kids as we hit the road. Or maybe we were just sleep-deprived. There was banter and conversation - we've been married almost 30 years so you'll probably understand just how rare that is.

It's a two and a half hour drive to Stanthorpe - the most likely chance in Queensland. That was a long time to be wondering if the drive was going to be a wasted journey.But I decided that it really didn't matter. We'd had nothing else planned anyway and the worst the day could be was a drive in the country with a couple of cafe meals.

We got to Stanthorpe just after 7:00 and found a really nice cafe for breakfast (Cosmo Cafe if you're ever in Stanthorpe). Iven got chatting to the barista. That in itself shows just how excited he was - he's usually not a chatter. We found out that there were reports of snow in Tenterfield which was only about 30 minutes away so the plans for breakfast were shelved and the coffee put in takeaway cups and we were off.

The clouds looked menacing on the way to Tenterfield. But we got there and nothing. So we kept going and just outside of the town we saw a sign that said something about sleet and snow and proceeding with caution - but I was too slow to get a decent pic. Bad blogger!

The temperature on the dashboard was looking more and more promising. Surely it has to snow when it hits the magical 0!!


And then, finally, the menacing clouds produced rain. But it wasn't like the rain I was used to. The drops were slower. Almost floating. Was it sleet? No. It was snow! We were in the middle of a blizzard!!!

Okay, it wasn't a blizzard but it was falling snow and that's close enough. There were patches of white on the sides of the road and both Iven and I agreed that it was totally worth driving for four hours to find. 

We ended up in Glen Innes trying to find a cafe for our long-delayed breakfast and then had another long delay when our food order went missing. But the bonus was that we ended up not having to pay. Snow and a free breakfast - could this day get any better?!

While we were waiting for the fruit toast that took over an hour to arrive, we'd been on-line looking for places where there had been fairly decent falls and there was a place, Mt Mackenzie, just outside of Tenterfield that had had a dusting so we hopped back in the car, turned it around and set off again. 

But by now it was quite late and the sun had come out so there was every chance that whatever snow had fallen was now melted. But we went on. Just in case.

Sure enough, the white wonderland of the morning had disappeared but there were lots of people walking in the bush so we decided to park and explore. And I'm glad we did. Little pockets of bushland had been more sheltered from the sun. There was still remnants. And it was beautiful!

Mini-snowman convention

Spot the snowman

My Very First Snowman 
We played around for a little while. Until our fingers were so cold that we couldn't feel them any more and then headed off. Adventure successfully complete. And not even the flat tyre on the way home could ruin our moods.

We've already planned our next adventure. 

This could become addictive.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

But First - Recovery

There are certain things that one should not be required to do in the week after a marathon.

Beautiful location for a marathon
Seriously, nothing works like it normally does. Legs, body or brain. Everything is either sore or tired. Starting from the bottom up - feet hurt, two toes and toenails on the right foot (pretty sure they're courtesy of the idiot who almost wiped me out at a water stop darting in front of me), tight calves, twingey knee, super-tight hamstrings, achey hips, lower abs and stiff shoulders.

Then there's the brain. Yesterday I spent the day walking back upstairs to get the thing I'd forgotten to take down only to get distracted on the way up and forget again. Just what you want to do when all your muscles are tired. Another of my friends reported trying to spread butter on his toast with a spoon. Better than a fork I reckon.

But every day I'm feeling a little less tired and less sore. I can now sit down and get up without making very audible groans - which is good

because, apparently, it's not socially acceptable to make those kinds of noises in public toilets. Especially on school holidays when there's lots of kids around who think that noises of pain emanating from the toilet are hysterically funny. Hey cool mean girl, you run a marathon and I'll stand outside your cubicle and laugh at you next time.
There's been lots of these on the menu
This week's been all about recovery so far. Stretching. Rolling. Eating good quality food (when I haven't felt nauseated because I've felt nauseated a lot for the first couple of days). Drinking heaps of water. And electrolytes. A visit to the physio to release the muscle that was causing the ITB knee pain. Sleeping. Napping. Complaining about how tired I am so someone else will wash up the dinner dishes.
And I'm making plans. Working out a way that my body holds together a little better for my next marathon in October.

I had a chat with my eldest son on Monday night to pick his brains. His brains have useful information in it when it comes to recovery and injury. I'm kind of grateful to the kid who almost broke his ankle back when he was a teenager and made him interested in physiotherapy as a profession. And I'm glad that he didn't get into it straight away and had to get a degree in exercise physiology first. All those years studying are now paying off for me.

He gave it to me straight. I'm weak. Soft! Especially in the centre. I'd like to blame it on having three bouncing baby boys but if I'm honest I've always been soft there. I totally need to harden up and hit the gym to get my muscle imbalances sorted.

So I've made an appointment at the place he used to work at to get an assessment and a program. And I'm going to work hard.

But not quite yet. Because recovery comes first.