Thursday, April 29, 2010

I had a phone call from my running friend Jenny today. There is some background to the call which I must explain first. Almost 2 years ago Jenny did the Gold Coast Marathon and afterwards confided that her biggest achievement was in staying dry. Now all you who have given birth, are perimenopausal, menopausal or are in any way continence-challenged will understand the enormity of that statement. Having had 3 kids myself, I understood.

A few weeks later I was at a clearance sale and saw little packets which had emergency, one-size-fits-all undies. I HAD to buy Jenny a pair.

Fast-forward to this morning. Jenny finished swim squad and had her shower. When she went to get dressed she realised she'd forgotten her undies. That's the moment that my gag-gift became a hero. She unwrapped the emergency undies to a round of applause from her fellow swimmers. And then she called me to have a laugh about it.

So the moral of today's story is - always have an emergency pair of undies stashed. You never know when you might need them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two Days =

Two days = two runs plus two concerts. It's that time of year again. It's Musical Showcase time. Yay (can you detect the strong undertone of sarcasm?) Luke, my 6 foot+ baby is heavily involved in the school music program. And when I say heavily I mean significant tonnage. He's in the percussion ensemble, the symphonic band and the jazz band - each of which require either an early morning start or staying after school for rehearsal.

Twice a year we, the parents of prodigiously talented musicians, get invited to hear what these early mornings/late afternoons have produced. The powers that be, in all their wisdom, program the two concerts to run on consecutive evenings and they go to special lengths to make the concerts run REALLY, REALLY late. (Keep in mind that anytime after 8:30 is late for me) We got home last night after 10pm - not so great when you get up at 4:45 for speed and have to be up at 5:00 the next morning.

I decided, when I was sitting through the Wind Ensemble, that things could be done much better. Firstly I would eliminate intermission. There is absolutely no need for me to have a cold beverage at 9 pm at night and I would happily forgo this wasted 20 min if I can be in bed earlier. Secondly I would eliminate any and all talking by the conductors to save a few more minutes ( or in the case of Mr Ruben 20 mins per ensemble). I have no interest in discovering that the composer Mr Chance died by means of his own electric fence. Finally I would reschedule all ensembles so that the really crap ones (and we all know who they are)have to play on one evening and the good ones play on the other. Then I would only have to go on one night and I wouldn't have to listen to anything that disturbed my highly-tuned musical sensibilities.

Can you tell that I'm tired?!!! And I still have one concert to go.

Speed session went really well, yesterday. I know so because I got a text from Coach Chris telling me that it had. It was a mix of 300m and 400m reps. I was really consistent and a little faster than last week. Today's run was a 10k'er. My route ended up 250m short but what's 250m between friends. I averaged 5:19 for the run and even managed a couple of k's sub 5:00 mins.

Off to have a little nap before work so I can face this evening's concert.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

I piked on my run this morning. I piked but I don't feel in the least guilty about it, which I normally would. I have two very good reasons for piking - I was really tired last night after my longest running week since I cut right back and I got very little sleep last night.

The reason I got so little sleep is because of my love-lorn son. Josh is struggling with his newly-single status. His sadness is almost tangible and when he's at home it pervades every room. It's really normal for him to be feeling this way but when it's your baby that's so sad you just want to make it better. He's usually the sort of kid/man who's a ball of energy - a little irritating and a little loud at times. At the moment he's like a deflated balloon. There's no energy and even when he smiles or laughs he's just going through the motions.

Last night he couldn't sleep so at 1 am he decided to take himself off for a bike ride. I was woken by the door shutting and once I was awake I couldn't go back to sleep. I spent the next three hours sitting up pretending to read but really just worrying sick about him. Funny how everything seems so much worse at night. I finally got back to sleep and when I woke he was back home asleep in his bed.

There's going to be some very long days and nights ahead for both of us I think. It's a pity there's not a pill you can take to mend a broken heart.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Temperamental Girlfriends and Garmins

What a manic week it's been. It's been work, work and more work and interspersed with the work there's been all the emotional fallout of my middle son and his rocky relationship with his girlfriend.

Honestly, when I decided 21 years ago to have another child I did not realise I should have gone back to uni to get a degree in psychology. Counseling is not something that I've trained for and it's not something that I'm particularly good at. I've decided that even if I feel inadequate, all I have to really do is listen and do things to take some of his other loads off his shoulders - things like making his lunch or tidying up his room or even taking him out for breakfast like I did today.

Our breakfast out came after my long run this morning. It was a fairly good run, I think. I've got no proper stats from my Garmin because it started to rain in the last 3 k's and my Garmin gets a bit precious when it's raining. The bezel seems to be over-sensitive and it flicks from one screen to another and won't let me stop the timer. Of course this all could be avoided if I locked the bezel but I always forget and by the time I remember it's too late.

The Garmin was not the only thing that played up because of the rain. I wasn't wearing my cap (because it wasn't supposed to rain. I'd checked the weather radar before I left home) so the rain got in my eyes. I suffer from dry eye and when water gets in them they sting and I can't keep them open. I tried to keep running for a bit but I had to have one fully shut and the other only partially open and when I couldn't keep the open one open any more I had to swap eyes. Then I couldn't keep either eye open - it's hard to run in a straight line with both eyes shut. So I gave up and walked a bit, trying to wipe my tears with my sodden singlet. I would have paused my Garmin at this point had it not been so temperamental so all my stats after 18k are wrong. What I do know is that I ran 21.5k at an average of 5.30/k for the first 18k and I'm happy with that.

I've experimented with wearing my compression tights after some of my runs this week. (I'm wearing them ATM and feeling like a sausage) It's made a huge difference to my recovery. My legs feel so much fresher for the next run. I've only got capri length ones so I'm now in the market for some long ones so my calves get the same benefit as my hamstrings and quads.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Rockettes and Michael

I know I'm going to sound like a weird, slightly eccentric bird-lady in this post but I'm going to say it anyway. I think the Rockettes like Michael Buble. That's right - like females all across the globe, my chickens seem to love his romantic crooning.

I only discovered this fact this afternoon. When I'm getting dinner ready I put my computer on and bring up my music. I've got it set on random so the music flicks through lots of different artists. I was looking out on the 'girls' while I was washing up when Michael Buble started to play (Try a Little Tenderness). Both of the 'girls' stopped chasing the lawn moths and headed at a gallop (I'm not sure what to call top speed in a chicken) over the window and hopped up on the tallest rock. They had their heads cocked to the side - exactly like they were listening to the song. They stayed there till the song had finished and then raced back to the moths. My 'girls' have great taste. Tomorrow night I'm going to introduce them to Harry Connick Junior.

It was speed session again today. Coach Chris's idea for today was to run one mile and then either another 2 x mile reps or (depending on fitness and race goals) 8 x 400m. I get preferential treatment and got to choose - 400's! The mile rep went ok. I came in at 7:12 and the 400m reps were around 1:48 (fastest - 1:45, slowest - 1:51) I was really happy with the consistency, particularly because I'd run a fairly solid 10k yesterday. Rest day tomorrow!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What Am I Made Of?

I went to the movies today to see Beneath Hill 60. It's a story from WW1 about a group of miners who tunneled beneath enemy lines to plant mines and blow up the Germans. I found myself thinking about how hard life was back in the early 1900's. Even out of the war zone there were none of the things that make our life easy - no cars, washing machines, dishwashers. On the front line it was unbelievably miserable - the mud, the cold, being fired on, the rats, dysentery. People were so tough back then.

Life has become so easy. We don't need to struggle for our existence. If we're hungry we go buy some food. If we're thirsty we can turn on a tap. Generally we don't have to fear for our lives. And when I see a movie that makes me think like this I wonder how I would hold up if I was the one on the front line. Would I be the blithering, whimpering person in the foxhole who's incapable of moving? Or would I rise to the challenge and lay it all on the line?

Maybe because we don't get to test our mettle like that we undertake our own tests of character. Some people climb mountains, some trek across frozen wastelands and some run marathons. Within that 42.2 k's we have to fight to achieve the goals we've set and to survive. We don't have to do it - we just want to see if we can and what we're made of.

I'd like to say that tonight I'm made of very sore and tired muscles. I've had a great week of challenging training sessions and I've survived. Yesterday's 18k hilly run was the icing on the cake and apart from a few aches I've recovered really well. I'm really excited about the weeks ahead and the increases in mileage and the opportunity to see what I'm made of.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learner Drivers + Peak Hour Traffic = ???

Today I woke up feeling faintly nauseated. It's a feeling I know really well - it's a nervous nausea. I couldn't work out why I should be feeling nervous for some time. And then I realised that today I was going to take Luke into school in the city in peak hour traffic. I HATE peak hour traffic at the best of times but today's trip had an extra twist. I was NOT driving - my 16 year old learner-driver was.

I would like to write a disclaimer at this point. Under no circumstances could Luke be considered a bad driver. He is cautious and alert and sensible. The problem is me! I am a BAD passenger. My husband hates driving if I'm in the passenger seat. He hates when I gasp and try to apply my imaginary brake. Generally I do the driving. I've had to be instructor for the previous two learner drivers so you'd think by the third I'd be really good at it. I'm not! In fact I think I'm worse.

So poor Luke had to put up with his neurotic mother in the passenger seat. I tried to get in a zen-like state with my mantra - "We'll be fine. We'll be fine" That worked for about five minutes until Luke oversteered while turning a corner and almost ran us into the gutter. (He really is a good driver - he was just trying to get around the corner a little fast) I nearly popped a quadriceps trying to apply that imaginary brake. Luckily I was wearing a skirt so Luke didn't see the muscles straining but I'm sure he picked up the nervous tension.

Trying to be calm was pretty much over for me at that point but all attempts at keeping myself together faded when we were passed by a huge semi hauling a trailer that was a mite too close to my window. Harrowing would be an appropriate descriptor. Thank goodness there was only five more minutes driving. We reached school, he handed back the keys and my nerves dissolved.

I think I have serious control issues.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marathon Madness

I received an email yesterday that gave me a little nervous flutter. It was from the people who run the St George Melbourne Marathon. This is my goal debut marathon and to say I'm excited is an understatement. It's crazy really - for years I've said that I'd NEVER do a marathon. Honestly, people who do marathons have to be a little nuts, don't they?!! Well I've joined the ranks of the 'little nuts'

I can't even remember when I started to turn to the dark side but I'm sure it has to do with the people I hang out with. When most of your friendship group have done a marathon or are contemplating one the thought that you might do one doesn't seem so out of left field. My friend Jenny has been saying for some time that I could do one and when you hear it enough times you start to believe it and you even start to look forward to it.

Training continues to go well. Hills again this morning. It was a beautiful morning for it - a little cool but not yet needing a jumper. We did hill sprints up a quiet section of road and watched the day dawn. The highlight was seeing (and hearing) a flock of cockatoos fly over. There had to be almost 100 birds in the flock and they were loud! Some days are just golden.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Difference a Day Makes.

It's funny what a difference 24 hrs can make. Yesterday's run left me feeling tired and flat but with work being hysterical (and not in a funny way) there was no time to rest. The afternoon wore on and I felt less and less tired. I think the low HR run did me good.

So I woke up this morning in the pitch dark wondering what effects today's speed session would have. Coach Chris had a different type of session planned. We had to run out from a set point for 15 secs at speed and then recover back to that point for 30 sec. We did that quite a few times and then, when we were good and tired he sent us off to do a 1k rep. 4:22 - not too bad. He'd promised us 2 of these reps and I stupidly thought he'd give us some time between them. Not so. It was a short recovery and off we set again. This time I hit 4:20. Then back to the 15/30 reps again. It was satisfying to complete the session and know I'd been consistent to the end.

I just have to give a plug for running with a group. It is the most uplifting thing you can do at 5:30 in the morning. (Let's face it, if we weren't running we'd be in bed asleep) My running group are the only people who get to see me unshowered with my hair not done (I sound like a feral don't I) and they accept sweaty, red-faced me. Some days I just draw on the group energy when mine's a little low and I never walk away feeling worse than I arrived.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Slow and Steady

I had a pretty ordinary run today. I had to really talk myself into getting out of bed. I'd had a bad night's sleep and it was raining but it was pretty warm. All-iin-all not good running conditions. But 'good me' won out over 'evil me' and I got up, dressed and out on the road.

The legs were still a bit heavy from Saturday's hot, horrible 16. I had a 10k listed so I decided on my route and set my Garmin to just show heart rate and off I went. My aim was NOT time but keeping my HR low. It's a different feeling running slow. There's no lightness. It feels like I'm holding back and almost plodding. But I kept to my purpose and took regular peeks at the watch. 10k later and success! My average HR for the run was 154 - way better than the 170 of Saturday's run.

Since the run I've been feeling a bit tired. It's so hard not to be a hypochondriac after overtraining syndrome. I find I'm constantly monitoring myself - am I tired? is this a normal tired or something more? am I making excuses not to run? should I be taking the day off and resting? I'm constantly second-guessing myself and at times it's frustrating but I don't feel like I'm far enough along with recovery that I can afford not to be vigilant. I'm keeping obsessive records - HR, distance, temperature etc so I can compare and watch my progress and that's reassuring.

Sorry for the boring post. Writing things down seems to help me process better.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturday's Run

Our weather is confused at the moment. Here we are in the middle of April so it should be the middle of Autumn and we have not yet had a day with temperatures below 27C. In fact this weekend the temperatures were up over 30 again. And not only were the temperatures up - the humidity had hit the roof. Yesterday's run was a disgusting sauna run. It was one and a half hours of solid sweating. I'm so over Summer especially now that it's not!

The awful conditions left me with a little surprise that I didn't find until I'd hit the shower. Apparently the undies I wore must be losing their elasticity and sweat isn't a particularly good lubricant. When they don't grab properly they rub and 16k's of rubbing = chaffing. And it was in a very sensitive area! (Note to self: Throw out the pink undies. It's time to go shopping)

But despite the ugly weather and the unwanted side-effects, it was a pretty good run. My heart rate was up a little but I'm pretty sure that was the heat/humidity. It's capped off a good running week. 46k's is the most I've done in six months. I'm happy!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pleasant Surprises

This morning I got out of bed very gingerly. My legs had been aching and tight yesterday afternoon and we all know why. So I knew what was ahead of me today - the pain and suffering of DOMS (or as I like to call it - 'if you don't use it you lose it' syndrome)

I sat on the edge of the bed and dangled my feet for a moment and then stood up - there was surprisingly little pain! In fact I'd go so far as to say that I've avoided DOMS altogether. Amazing!! There was a little stiffness but that's not too unusual when I get out of bed and certainly nothing that a bit of stretching didn't fix.

I'd been so sure of DOMS that I'd almost asked Iven to put one of those bars up on the toilet wall. You know the ones that you use to help you pull yourself up with. And I'd considered the elevator on the stairs - the sort that disabled people have. I was even contemplating hiring a mobility scooter when I went to the shops today. So I'm pleasantly surprised. Maybe I hadn't let myself go as much as I'd thought.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hills - Friend or Foe

This morning I finished my first hill session of the year. Up till October last year I had been faithfully running hills every Thursday morning with the squad. But OTS = No hills so it has been a hill-hiatus for 6 months.

I have to say that I was a little nervous about the session. I've never been good at hills, even after running them for two years. But I figured what was the worst that could happen (apart froma heart-attack and death). Maybe I'd have to walk a little. It's not really that big of a deal.

Coach Chris was kind when he planned the session. It was 6 loops of a 1k hilly circuit where there's about equal amounts of ups and downs. The first loop felt okay - 4:44. The next lap was in reverse and must have had less ascent and more descent - 4:22. Lap 3 was 4:44 - pretty much the same as lap 1 (same direction too) Lap 4 - 4:37 (oops starting to slow) and lap 5 - 4:48 (That one really hurt!)

At that point Chris pulled me out. It was my first time back after all and I still have a 16k-er to go on Saturday.

I'm feeling the session now - five hours later. There are muscles in there that haven't worked for a while and they're complaining. There's every chance that I'm going to be walking like an octagenarian in the morning. But I don't care - I'm just grateful to be able to do them at all.

Monday, April 5, 2010

All's Right With the World

I'm a little bit excited this week. It's been six months since the onset of overtraining syndrome and FINALLY I'm being welcomed back into full training. I have four sessions this week - one of which is hills. It's also a bit scary. I haven't run hills for six months and it's going to hurt - REALLY hurt. And I'm going to be REALLY slow. Doesn't matter.

Every week lately I've been feeling stronger and stronger when I run. My times in speed are slowly coming down and I'm lasting the session much better. Basically it feels like the sun is shining and all's right with the world.

I've discovered something about myself this weekend. I don't like to sleep in separated beds to my husband. Now before you go and assume it's because we're still so much in love even after 23 years of marriage, I'll tell you the real reason why - it's because my arms are too short. If we're sleeping in single beds (like we did this weekend) my arm is not long enough to span the gap so I can poke him and tell him to roll over when he's snoring!

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.

Decision-making is hard! I'm not talking about the little things like where we'll go for Saturday breakfast when our normal place is shut because it's Easter (we went to McDonalds - honestly, there was nothing else open). I'm talking about the big decisions that will affect you for at least ten to fifteen years. I had to make one of those decisions yesterday.

We've been talking about getting our kitchen replaced for a couple of years now. It's 23 years old and starting to look really dated. We've got chips of laminate missing in places where our careless children have put hot pots down. The cork tile floor has seen better times and I'm scared of washing the kitchen curtains in case they disintegrate. Last weekend the kitchen designer stood us up but this weekend was a different story.

Pia, the designer, showed up on time and had us sitting at our dining table surrounded by hundreds of pieces of laminate. It's a little overwhelming when you have to come up with just the right combination. And that's just one of the decisions that has to be made. You have to decide on bench heights, lay out, door design, handles, tap, oven, stove-top, whether to have soft-close drawers ...
My poor head!!

It took us four hours but we did come up with a design and colour scheme that I hope will be tasteful (understated elegance is what I'm going for) Now we have a lot of fun stuff ahead of us - like unpacking the kitchen, being without a kitchen for days, having workmen through the house and trying to stop our dogs from escaping. I know why I've been reluctant to make the change. Anyway, after Pia left I felt absolutely sucked dry and was hanging out for a run but as I've already been a little naughty this non-running weekend I refrained.

I'm hanging out to run again and I still have two more non-running days to go. I'm off to the beach today so will make do with a walk along the sand. Tuesday's speed session can't come soon enough.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! It's good Friday today and so far it has been a good day. I got to sleep in a little (until the dogs couldn't be ignored any more) and I went for an illicit run. Illicit runs are always the best!

Coach Chris likes his whole squad to have all 4 days of Easter off running. It's good in theory but in practice my week didn't work out to correspond with his program. I was supposed to run on Monday but I was up for hours in the middle of the night throwing up so that didn't happen. I ran Speed on Tuesday then did Monday's run on Wednesday so when I got to Thursday's run I thought it'd be quite silly to push through a tired run just so I could have 4 days off. So I slept in on Thursday and then again today plus I got my run.

My family has an Easter tradition of going to my sister Cindy's house for Easter breakfast. So my post-run breakfast was bacon and eggs and muffins and beans and fruit and specially-made hot-cross buns (thanks to another sister, Julie) I'm so full and sleepy and it's nice knowing that I can go have a nap whenever I want. Loving my Easter break!