Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Change In The Air

I needed to hold on for just one more week. If I'd waited only seven days more I could have avoided last week's whinge about the weather.

All of a sudden things are much more pleasant again. The humidity's lifted and I can breathe once again. Not being able to breathe was becoming problematic on my runs. Oxygen intake is a vital element to a good run. I love that first hint that summer's coming to an end.

On Tuesday I woke up and there was almost a nip in the air. Not enough to have me consider wearing anything extreme like a t-shirt. But enough to have me quite excited about the session. Excited that it would be a little easier to run and excited that I wouldn't end up quite as moist as the last few weeks have left me and excited that I'd taken my match-matchy skills to beast-mode level. Aqua hat, singlet, bra, socks and shoes. And yes, the tights had aqua in the print.

It was a speed session and speed session is rarely one I get excited about so that tells you just how happy I was about the weather. We were doing 1k reps but it wasn't as simple as rep, recovery, rep, recovery. The rep was supposed to be at 3k time trial pace and the recovery a minute slower than that. 

My pacing abilities are not the best. And my watch isn't that accurate at giving me a snapshot of how fast I'm going. It's fine over a kilometre but when I look down any other time other than that 1k beep it can read 5:15 pace when I'm going at 4:45 so I've learnt to ignore it and just run on feel. Running on feel is also not that great because for most of the rep I just feel tired. It's judging the subtle nuances of tired that I'm not skilled in.

We set off and I tried to work out how fast to go without burning out in the first rep. One eye on my pretty useless watch and one eye on the runners around me (I know my place in the group) and my internal eye trying to judge if comfortably hard was comfortable enough without it being too comfortable. My goal was 4:34 but my time was 4:18. Oops! Overshot that one.

The return leg was a little harder than I'd normally make my recoveries. 5:27 - a lot closer to the 5:34 I was supposed to be hitting but I was happy with it.

The second hard rep was the usual struggle between heart and mind. My heart tells me I can do it and my mind says to slow down cause it's hurting. Legs hurting, arms hurting, neck hurting (yeah, I know I need to learn to relax my shoulders when I'm running fast), lungs burning and no saliva so swallowing was difficult to say the least. 4:15. Yay - the first rep wasn't a fluke.

My second recovery was in the right ball park again (5:24) but I was so tempted to ease it right back so I could get 3/3 for my fast reps. I didn't - because I'm a little intimidated by the coach and don't want him to think I'm a slack piker - so it was with some trepidation that I set out on the last rep. Just a bit over 4 mins fast running, I told myself. Just 260 seconds of pain. No, not pain - discomfort! Extreme discomfort that's as close to pain as possible without crossing that line. Come on keep pushing. It's the last rep. You can do this. 

And I did - 4:18. 

And not only did I manage real consistency in the hard reps but my last recovery was 5:16 so I feel like I kind-of, almost, nearly did the same on the recoveries.

I finished the session pretty excited. That I'd totally failed hitting my fast pace but failed in a good way in running it faster but not so fast that I couldn't maintain it. That I'd hit my slow pace - or near enough to. And that my fast 1k times were actually faster than they've been in years.

I've changed running groups and the change has given my running a bit of a kick up the butt. My new speed session is actually about developing speed rather than being a weird hybrid speed/tempo session like I used to run. It's shorter so the emphasis is on really pushing the pace, knowing that it's going to be hard but it won't last forever. Plus I'm running with people who are faster than me so I'm having to up my game to try to keep up.

And I'm starting to see results. Last year in winter I was happy to be hitting 4:30s for my 1k reps and yesterday, still in summer, they were down 15s. There's a delicious little frisson of excitement when I think about the year ahead. Yes, I think this change will be a good one.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Undie Report

The new undies were a monumental fail.

I woke up with high hopes on Friday morning. Hopes of a smooth, panty-line-free silhouette. Hopes of a leg-line that would remain around the leg and not burrowing up that place that is forbidden to all underwear except for g-strings. Hopes of finishing a run dry.

Well I finished the run dry. But that didn't seem like a consolation prize after enduring over an hour of uncomfortable wedgie action. Running with a wedgie for over an hour is really not much fun. 

I kind of had an inkling that the undies weren't going to meet my exacting standards when I put them on. Those leg gripper things didn't actually grip anything. I reminded myself that once I started to sweat they'd probably stay put. And once I put on my tights they wouldn't be able to move. 

I was wrong on both accounts.

Just moving marginally had that butt riding up and in. I put moisturiser on to help with adherability. All that did was make the tights stick when I tried pulling them up. And trying to pull that wedgie out when you've got tight tights on is an impossible mission.

But I was so sick of the wet-nappy post-run feeling that I was prepared to put up with the slight (okay, not so slight) discomfort. And besides, I was running too close to the wire time-wise to go and change. So I sucked it up, told myself it'd be fine and left for the run. 

The rest of the story will be no surprise. I felt a bit like a magician's assistant being sawed in half and if I appeared a tad distracted to my running buddies, it was because I was a tad distracted by the small piece of fabric that was trying to find a place to hide. I was heartened to finish the run fairly dry but checking my butt profile in the window of my car (doesn't everyone do that?) made me realise that the claim for no VPL was bogus. 

So I learnt something from the experience. Never believe everything you read. And elastic was invented for a reason.

It was back to my usual cotton undies for Saturday's long run. It's one thing putting up with a wedgie for an hour but two hours would have seen me diving into a bush at some stage to wrestle off the offending article and finishing the run commando. 

In the meanwhile the weather has become a little more kind and I have a feeling that the undie search will go on the back burner  until the next sauna-wave hits. And then I'll be regretting that I can be incredibly slack unless I'm motivated.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Perils Of Summer Running

I thought I was going to get away without saying it this year. I was coping fine. I was managing. I was keeping a good attitude.

And then it happened. Not that I'm actually sure what IT is. I'm sure a meteorologist could explain it accurately and scientifically. My take on it is that Hell opened up all its portals to let some fresh air in and some hot air out (which makes me believe that a lot of politicians are down there) and we've been left in conditions that resemble the bowels of Hell.

So I'm saying it now. I am OVER summer. I am so, so very, incredibly over all this stinking hot, humid weather.

Do you know what it's like running in the bowels of hell?? It's not pleasant! Imagine wearing a full length rubber body suit and running in a sauna that smells vaguely of frangipani, rotting mangoes and, if you're really, really lucky, decomposing possum that's fallen out of a tree, dead from heat exhaustion.

You sweat. Buckets. Bathtubs. Swimming pools of sweat. You leave puddles on the floor of coffee shops while you're ordering an extra hot coffee - which tastes like it's room temperature because the air temperature is extra, extra hot.

Because I've been wearing Run Amok tights almost exclusively on my runs - let's face it, I need to try to make these runs way more fun than they actually are at the moment - I've come up with a little issue that would really be an issue in sub-tropical, tropical and bowels-of-hell climate zones. My cotton undies are just not cutting it.

Cotton is not moisture wicking. Cotton has amazing absorbency. I sweat. A lot. And when I sweat, a lot, wearing cotton undies, by the end of the session I feel like I'm wearing a wet nappy. Ughhh! There is nothing pleasant about a sodden crotch.

So having endured too many uncomfortable runs, I decided to take matters into my own hands and go undies shopping.

It's not that easy finding exactly what you're after when it comes to underwear. Walk into a lingerie shop (or the lingerie section of a shop) and you're generally presented with lots of lacy little bits of froufrou or comfy, breathable (but not moisture-wicking) cotton briefs. And when you ask a sales assistant if they sell what you need, you're given a look of astonishment and a 'why are you running in this awful weather?' Yeah, hard to answer that question when you know that what you're doing is clearly insane to the general population.

I've had the odd suggestion that I try running commando. Umm let me think about that for a second. No! Never! I've seen way too many cyclists in tight lycra that's past its prime and let's just say they give plumbers a run for their money.

But after a comprehensive scouring of the shops at Indooroopilly I did come up with a possibility. A lovely nude pair of Sloggi briefs made of microfibre which the undies-lady told me should do the job. They also have no elastic in the leg, just this rubberised edging which is supposed to eliminate the dreaded VPL. Because I do lose sleep worrying if people can see my panty line - oh the horror.

So tomorrow they get their first test. I'll have my personal butt-checker on hand to make sure they live up to their claims of no VPL. And I'm hopeful that tomorrow will be a way less moist run than I've had to endure lately. Fingers crossed.

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.