Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside

You guessed it - I got in a beach run this morning. There's nothing better than a run at the beach and our squad generally has one a fortnight over late Spring and Summer. Coach Chris texted me last night and offered me a ride - too kind - so 5:20 am saw me hopping into his car for the hour drive to Southport.

It's been stinking hot for the last four days and today was no different. We had a little breeze as we headed toward the spit but nothing on the return journey. Talk about sweat!! Didn't matter, though. Something happens to my spirits when I run on the sand. They lift and any baggage I've been carrying gets tossed into the ocean. There's a section of beach that's off-leash and that's the best part. It's a dog party!

“Big dogs, little dogs, red dogs, blue dogs, yellow dogs, green dogs, black dogs, & white dogs are all at a dog party! What a dog party!” (Apologies to PD Eastmann)

There were dogs digging holes, dogs barking at the waves, dogs chasing sticks or balls and some very friendly butt-sniffing dogs. Their joy was tangible and contagious.

The run was capped off with a very good coffee and breakfast at a local cafe. What a great morning!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rainbows on Grey Days

Sometimes hard days strike for no reason. You just get out of bed one day and feel flat. The world seems grey and you don't have enough energy to pull yourself out of it. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I'm not sure what precipitated it but I had a serious case of the blahs! My number one son, Sam was supposed to meet me to shop for his graduation present (a winter jacket for his trip to Europe) but he had rung by 8:30 to postpone it till mid-morning which left me wondering how I would fill the next couple of hours. At this point I need to explain that work is finished for the year and I don't cope with boredom very well.

I decided to just go about my usual morning - shower, dry hair, dress and go to Indro for a coffee. I was just at the hair-drying stage when I heard a voice over all the noise. It was little-sister Lucy who needed a slight alteration to her daughter Dani's costume (dance concert is this weekend and in the dress rehearsal Dani's pants had fallen down. Unfortunately Dani had gone commando - much embarrassment) We chatted for a while but Lucy had to get to work so I finished up and headed off. This was my first glimmer of light through the clouds.

I've befriended the owners of my local coffee haunt and had heard that their twins were visiting rellies in Kenya. It was a surprise visit due the previous day. My second glimmer of light was hearing how excited everyone in Kenya had been. I don't know these people but I enjoyed sharing the joy and excitement vicariously.

My third glimmer of light happened when my oldest niece Nicole found me, drinking coffee and doing the crossword. She was happy to fill in the rest of my spare time with all her plans for an extended stay in Europe followed by her wedding. Happy conversation!

My grey morning dissipated. How can you be down when you're given rainbows?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Three Days in an Oven

I survived! I've just endured the hardest, hottest weekend of running that I'll (hopefully) ever do. Runners are the most insane bunch. Over 300 of them turned up pre-dawn on Friday morning to spend the next three days racing over 500k. I woke up at 2am (after only 4 hours of very fitful sleep) and was at Coach Chris's house by half past. We packed the bus and were on our way by 3. The starting line was Beenleigh Football Grounds and I was number one runner for our team. The gun went off at 5:45 and we were on our way.

Most teams had put on their gun runners which meant that I was left eating dust. My plan was to be conservative but, as usual, my competitive spirit got the better of me and soon I was passing runners - not many, mind you, but more than one. I finished my leg in 4:45 pace fairly pleased with the run but worried that I may have made a mistake in going too hard. Then I realised that I couldn't see the pick-up car and my worry changed to whether I'd been forgotten. Twenty minutes later the car arrived and I could get some water but some damage had been done. I've been having some problem regulating blood sugar levels and need some high GI food really soon after finishing exercise so the delay meant a BSL dip and I started to feel really sick. Three mouthfuls of cereal and I was heaving into the bushes. Yuk!

The nausea stayed for a few hours and I was seriously wishing that I'd stayed in bed. And seriously wishing that there was no such thing as over-training syndrome. But it passed and I started to enjoy the company of the team. We were unlucky to have the most horrendously hot weekend that the 500k Challenge has ever seen but lucky to have an airconditioned bus. Incredibly no-one was seriously affected by the heat although a few did collapse at the end of their relay legs. I think the tireless work of the watering crews kept everyone in one piece.

My runs did slow through the event. I had been given 5 but Chris knew I was struggling and swapped me down to 4. The last was at 1:30 pm in over 35 degree (Celsius) heat so it was a real endurance event. I could only manage 5:30 pace but I survived and didn't throw up at the end!
The funny thing though is that I had a fantastic weekend. Spent hours with amazingly positive people and laughed till I was almost crying. I'd definitely do it all again - but next time I'll be praying for cooler weather.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where's the Brass Band?

There are some moments in life that really should have their own sound-track. Today had one of those moments. Sam finished his degree in Human Movement Studies and is now (bar disaster in any of his exams) an Exercise Physiologist. It's been a bit of a slog. First year he failed Anatomy after his girlfriend dumped him a week before the exams. Then he took a year off to get his head together and earn a bit of money. He came back all fired up with a new direction and hasn't looked back. His last exam completed was a bit of a let-down. It should have come with a bit of pomp and ceremony or, at the very least, a brass band and fireworks so here they are. Congratulations Sam - you've done a great job and we're really proud of you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feeling the Fear.

'Feeling the fear' - it's part of a line from a Desiree song which finishes 'Doing it anyway'. I'm up to the feeling the fear part. The weather forecast for this weekend is starting to freak me out!! We can expect anywhere from 34 to 36 celsius (92 - 97 farenheit) and out on the open road it's likely to be even hotter. Is it crazy to be doing this relay? I know most of the legs are less than 5k but I don't know when my legs are. I'm hoping Coach Chris has been really kind to my poor battle-weary body.

The weather isn't the only thing I'm scared of - I'm lacking confidence in my body and its ability to back up especially after very little sleep. Last year I didn't even give it a thought. I just hopped on the bus and went for a ride and had a wonderful time. What a difference a year can make!

I shouldn't worry too much. I know I can pull out if it gets too much. I know I can run slow and I know that I probably won't die but once that niggle of doubt gets in it's hard to shift. It's one of those silly little quirks of mine that makes me so endearing (note the use of sarcasm) and this time next week I'll probably be blogging about how great it was.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


It's not even the end of Spring and we're having our first mini-heatwave. I hate Summer! It starts too early and goes too long and sucks the life out of me. The forecast is for 30+ every day this week - not so great for the weekend's relay. I've got my fingers crossed that Chris has been kind to me and given me mostly early runs. It's a crazy time of year to be running in the middle of the day but runners are a special kind of crazy!

And talking about crazy, the inaugural Mousdash was held yesterday starting from the Botanical Gardens and circling up and around Mt Coottha. That's 10.5k of crazy! I have run Mt Coottha before but never in a race and never starting right from the bottom. About 700 hardy souls took up the challenge and I got to stand around and cheer. I've never seen so many dodgy porno-star moustaches in one place in my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Glimmers

Three runs this week. Just three runs but they've been three glimmers of light in my running wilderness. Tuesday's speed session was slow but I recovered well. Thursday's 8k - also slow but recovered well again. This morning it was a 10ker and, running with the group, was probably a little too fast. My average HR was up to 170 (Wednesday's was 160). I averaged 5:45 per k and I should be shooting for 6. But, good news - I'm feeling pretty good and being that it's Saturday I get to have and afternoon nap. Yay!

Even though it was a little fast, I love the social side of running with the group. I love catching up with what everyone's up to, saying hello to acquaintances that we run past and even running into old friends. Today I ran into Louise. Louise and I have spent many hours together on the side of soccer pitches around Brisbane but now the boys are older we don't catch up that often. It was so nice to catch up. This is one of the little gifts that running gives me.

I'm starting to look forward to next weekend's relay. It's going to be a long, tiring three days and it's likely to be hot but there's no other event like it. We're not competitive but everyone gives it their best shot and there's nothing that bonds the group as close as acting sentry for each other when we use the bush toilet. Plus the weekend raises heaps of money for the Endeavour Foundation to help kids and adults with Cerebral Palsy. Fun, fun, fun!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Love to Run

There are just so many reasons. I love the endorphins, the peace of being by myself, the company of others when I run with a group, the fact that I can eat just a little more. The list goes on and on till we get to the number one reason - having breakfast with my running friends.

We've been doing it for about two years now on a monthly basis and it's something that we all really enjoy. There's 5 of us but numbers can drop to 3 if things get busy. We range in age from 55 down to 24 but age doesnt seem to matter when we have our love of running as a common interest.

I've just been organising a last-minute breakfast for a very special reason. Karen, our 24 year old, is getting married. For the last year we've been discussing dresses, venues, flowers and menus so we all decided that a pre-wedding breakfast was a must. I'm so blessed to be able to share in the special moments of these special friends. All of us married runners are going to bring along our wedding pics to laugh over and we'll declare a moritorium on husband-bashing for the morning. I can't wait!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Feeling Good! Yay

It was speed session again today and, after last week's debacle, I knew I had to be ultra-conservative. The warm-up went okay ( my HR was around 160 - but that's pretty normal for me)
then it was into the work. Coach Chris was mixing it up a bit - 1k's and 200m's with 200m recoveries. Everyone did 1k to start. Mine was a pitiful 4:47 and after that he just gave me 200m repeats for the rest of the session. I had a standing rest every 3 or 4 reps to get my HR down. It was hardly the sort of session that I'd normally be pleased with but I'm so thrilled with my recovery. I'm sitting here feeling so good - better than I've felt in such a long time so I'm cheering. Yay!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Patty cake, Patty cake...

What a huge weekend! It was the first engagement for the next generation. Nicole and Nick finally decided to bite the bullet and formalise their long-standing relationship. So the family did what it does best - cook and decorate.

Mum was in charge of the floral arrangements and I was in charge of the cupcake tower. Older sister Julie was my hugely-capable sidekick and together we whipped up 101 cupcakes. We did chocolate mud, lemon sour cream, white chocolate and vanilla. Then we had to decorate. It was 5 hours worth of exhausting - but it was fun and we were both pleased with the end result. The party went off well too.

I didn't run all weekend. I have a huge dose of the guilts which I have to quash and let go of. The 500k Relay is on in less than a fortnight and I need to be feeling on top of things by then. I have only 3 runs scheduled for this week and need to be ultra-conservative especially at speed tomorrow. Coach Chris has been told to be on my back about going slow - seems so wrong for a speed session.

And on the home front we're in full exam mode. Josh has only one to go to finish his 3rd year in electrical engineering. Sam starts on Wed but will be finished his degree (human movements/exercise physiology) in less than a fortnight and Luke will start next Monday. There will be neurons firing all over the house!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oestrogen Therapy

What is it about males that makes them totally oblivious to mess - especially the mess that they have created? Does the Y chromosome confer a state of domestic blindness that would make them technically eligible for the Paralympics?

Sometimes it's hard being the only female in a household full of males (and no, Bubbles our dog and Bailey the rat do not count) There is no pink, no frills and no lace, unless you count the curtains in the loo which were my one defiance. There is, however, lots of socks, jocks and football boots that have an indescribable odour which could be bottled and marketed as a weapon of mass-destruction.

Coming from a family full of females, except Dad, I sometimes long to escape it all and have some Oestrogen Therapy. So the plan is to escape for a long weekend with my sister Julie and fly off to Sydney for a long weekend. We're going to see Wicked - something I could never do with Iven who doesn't get the whole singing thing and can't even last through an hour of Glee. We'll also get to shop. Yay!!

I've actually just been to Sydney. I was there in September to run the half - my last race before realising why I wasn't running well. (The photo is about 3k from the end when I'd given up all will to live but managed to smile for the camera.) Iven and Luke came too so shopping was pretty-much off the table. I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maybe Melbourne?

Reality is setting in. It's going to take a long time to recover from OTS. I just relaxed my guard a little on Tuesday, ran a little too fast (and believe me it wasn't fast) and yesterday I felt like I was back to square one. I dragged through the day, exhausted. I had an 8ker this morning and was vigilant. HR monitor on and me watching it like a hawk. It was a pitifully slow shuffle - run would be a huge exaggeration - dropping back to a walk if my HR started to climb too much. It took 56 mins to do the distance. Ah well.

I'm starting to think that Canberra in April may be a bit too soon and Melbourne in October more do-able. The thing is - I don't want my first marathon to be a nightmare.

On the up side I've got a fun few days ahead looking forward to my niece's engagement party. I'm in charge of decorating the cupcakes (in lieu of an engagement cake) so I've been practicing. Check them out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

One step forward, one step back.

It feels like I'm marching on the spot at the moment. I've cut my running down to three per week and the aim is to run with as little intensity as possible. Saturday's 8k turned into a 10k because I prefer to have company and Geoff had said he was doing 10. The problem with company is that you will push yourself probably more than you should so you don't let the side down. I let my HR get up a bit more than it should but I did recover well that afternoon.

Today's non-speed Speed Session was also a little harder than I should have tried but I did stop after the 3rd k to let the group I'd been running with get enough a head that I didn't feel like I had to keep up. I had a great chat with Tammy after. She's been where I am now - overtrained and going backwards. It was so encouraging to hear about her first marathon just three weeks ago and how her recovery has gone. It may have taken almost a year but she's running so well now. Her advice? Take all the pressure off and enjoy running. Sounds like good advice.