Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pre-race Hypochondria

Do any of you suffer from pre-event hypochondria? I'm a huge hypochondriac in the week leading up to an event. Is that a tickle in my throat? How many times did I sneeze today? I've got a little sore spot in my calf and a really tight hip flexor. Honestly, the list goes on and on. It gets that way that I've almost talked myself into believing that I can hardly run a 10k let alone a half marathon.

Doesn't matter that I run half marathons nearly every Saturday morning leading up to the event. Doesn't matter that I've run further than a half at least three times in the last 6 weeks. Right about now I'm wishing I could put my brain into neutral and NOT THINK TOO MUCH.

The problem is that all I'm doing is thinking about this weekend. What to bring. What to wear. What time to get up. What to eat. When to eat. Where to park. And right this moment I'm in the throes of event-baking. That involved more thinking - what to bake, how much to bake, when to bake so it stays fresh.

Tomorrow afternoon we'll be heading off to the Gold Coast so tomorrow there will be a little less thinking and a lot more doing. I'm better with doing - it takes my mind off thinking.

Tomorrow will also be the last time I ever have coffee made by my favourite cafe. Things have been tough for them financially (despite my best efforts - but apparently I can't keep them afloat single-handedly) and they're having to shut. So long Ahrbaya and Harsha, I'm going to miss you both.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Appreciating What We Have.

I just need to have a little whinge. It's cold! Not cold like snowing cold just cold like I-can't-run-in-short-sleeves-and-have-to-wear-gloves cold.We're finally down to single digits (yes, that's Celsius not Fahrenheit so what am I whining about). The thing is that we in Queensland are not ever prepared for cold weather. We live in Queenslander houses made of timber with high ceilings and big verandahs and wooden floors. They're impossible to heat effectively or cheaply so here I sit with four layers of clothes on with the outside temperature at 13 degrees and the inside at 15. Still, I'd rather it be Winter than Summer.

I was made more aware of the cold because of our new team member. In Cambodia the temperature manages to stay between 20 and 30 degrees for most of the year. It generally doesn't get below 20C (that's 68F) so I'm thinking that this morning's 7C/45F start was a bit of a rude shock. But it did make for good running conditions. Coach Chris had a lighter session today because of this weekends races. It was just 6 X 400m followed by a few stride-outs.

While we were running I was thinking quite a bit about Bunting (our celebrity team member). I'd googled him on the weekend and found out lots of interesting stuff. He was one of 9 kids to a farming family in a small farming community. Somehow he found he was good at running and managed to get a stipend from the government of $50 a month. He trained at a run-down old athletics stadium doing laps rather than run through the city streets because of safety and pollution issues. He had no coach - just trained himself using programs that he found on the internet and he managed to run a 2:25 marathon. No coach, no physios, no dietitians or sports scientists. Amazing!

I thought a lot about how we must appear to him. We all turn up to training in our own cars wearing all the right running gear. We must seem so rich and privileged and in all honesty we are. It made me realise just how lucky I am and made me appreciate all I have.

Today was the last session before this weekend's races. Time to rest, relax and NOT think about the races much. Should be a fun weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lost Olympians, Butt Cam and a Blister.

There were a couple of things I wanted to mention today. Firstly, we have a new squad member. His name is Hem Bunting and he's the national champion of Cambodia. How cool is that?! He's training with our squad in the lead up to the Gold Coast Marathon and then Coach Chris will be coaching him electronically up until Melbourne Marathon. He ran at the Beijing Olympics as national champion but didn't qualify on times but he'd like to qualify as an elite athlete for the next Olympics.

He came with us on our long run today for the first time. I'd like to say at this point that he's tiny and doesn't speak much/any English. And he's WAY faster than any of us. Coach Chris gave us the course for the morning and we all took off. Bunting followed behind for a while but the pace was a little slow and he took off. Maybe not such a good idea when you're new to an area and can't speak the language. We were on our way back when C Chris caught up with us and told us that he'd lost his new charge. That's a really big Ooops!! Really poor form as a coach to lose a national champion on your first day. C Chris was really worried but luckily Bunting is savvy enough to find his way around foreign cities. He managed to make his was back all by himself. (much to C Chris's relief)

I went jeans-shopping with two of my boys yesterday. They were the shoppers and I was the cash-cow. We wandered into a shop called Jeans West and found a really nifty gadget. It's called butt cam and it could be the saviour of men who don't know what to say when asked 'Does my butt look big in this?' Basically you just stand in front of it and voila, your butt appears before you in all its radiant magnificence on a screen before you. Yes, we all had to have a go. Luke discovered that he doesn't actually have a butt. His legs just sort-of join onto his torso. Josh has a butt (a Donaldson butt) and my butt is not too shabby for a woman of maturity.

I commented on this new-fangled gadget to the shop assistant. Apparently she's not much of a fan. She often catches her butt up close and personal when she's doing the vacuuming. Maybe not the most flattering time to be butt-watching.

And finally - I have an injury! I wore brand new shoes for today's run and I wore some quite thick socks. It wasn't the best combination. I now have a minute blister on my right little toe. But apart from the blister, I think the shoes are going to be good. (especially if I wear my normal socks) I'll test them out again either for my Monday run or for speed on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Farewell Socceroos. You Fought Valiantly but it was all in Vain

I'm bone weary today. But not from running. I sacrificed my hill run this morning for the sake of patriotism. I got up in the cold and the dark at the inordinately cruel hour of 4:15 am to cheer on the Socceroos in their final World Cup match. Actually I didn't know it was to be their final match - I was hoping and praying for a miracle. We needed a win but it had to be a big win. And we either needed Germany to win big too or for Ghana to do the seemingly impossible and beat Germany.

Well we did win - but only by one goal. And Germany also won - but only by one goal. So the World Cup is now over for me. I'll continue to be a little interested (mostly because I'm in a tipping comp and I'm hoping my ability to pick winners improves) but I've heard there's a little tennis tournament happening in England and there's a few Aussies that haven't been knocked out yet.

And on to my own sporting pursuits - I have the Gold Coast Marathon weekend coming up in 9 days. I'm registered for the 10k on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. No I'm not a masochist. I've got perfectly valid reasons for doing both events plus I have the blessing of Coach Chris. But I need to come up with a strategy. At the moment I'm thinking to do the 10 really comfortably, maybe 5:30 pace (which will give me a PW but I'll get the medal and t-shirt regardless). Then back up with a solid hit-out at the half keeping as close to 5 min k's as possible. Opinions anyone?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time Trial

Coach Chris has a little evil streak. I'm not dissing him - he'd fully agree with me and rub his hands together in delight. He'd told me that we were doing a 3 k time trial at speed yesterday but he didn't tell me the rest.

So yesterday I rock up at 5:30 only to be told we're starting the session with short sprints. We NEVER do anything before a time trial EXCEPT the warm-up. It put the fear of God in me. How was I going to survive sprints with the time trial at the end? So I did what any reasonably intelligent, scared runner would do. I held back a little on the sprints.

We did 12 sprints then had a 2 min breather and then we lined up. I tried to go out conservatively but of course my first k was the fastest of the lot - 4:27. The second k I just tried to maintain speed but conserve energy. I did slow a little - 4:37. The last k was just holding on for dear life and trying to finish without barfing - 4:33. Finish time - 13:37, a good minute and a bit less than in Feb. My best ever time is 13:10 but on a different course which only included 2 turn-arounds (yesterday's had 5!) and one up-hill (yesterday's had 3)

Am I happy? Yep! And today I've managed to talk my no 2 son, Josh into coming down to Sydney to do the half marathon in September. Happy ... I'm overjoyed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Protecting the Minds of the Innocent

Exams are over!! (Can you hear me cheering across the water?) All the pressure and tension has gone from our house and spirits are definitely higher.

Iven and I spent a lot of time on the weekend doing odd jobs that we'd put off. A month ago we received a registered letter from our council telling us that our bamboo (which has been in our yard for the 23 years that we've lived here plus who knows how long before that) was a pest plant and had to be removed within the month. Now we have a LOT of bamboo and the bamboo was performing a very important moral function. It was shielding our bathroom from the prying eyes of students at the high school next door. Iven worked really hard chopping down the bamboo and poisoning all the stems but the end result was a little more exposure than I was comfortable with. (Iven kindly checked how much of our bathroom could be seen one day while I was showering and he happily informed me that the view was amazing)

We did procrastinate for about a fortnight but last weekend we bought roller blinds and now they are installed and the innocent minds of the teenagers next door are now safe. (Yes I know that innocent minds and teenagers aren't words usually put into the same sentence but the school is a special academy for Science, Maths and Technology so I assume there are a lot of virgins on campus)

We also did a big clean-up of my workroom. Because the business is now solely mine, I decided that I should take some ownership and change things up a little. I even treated myself to a new TV which has been mounted on the wall for better visibility. I cleaned out drawers and cupboards and threw away a ton of junk. It was amazingly cathartic.

Our next project will be the kitchen. It's due to start on the 12th of July and between now and then I have to clean out all the cupboards. I'm not looking forward to that.

Tomorrow I have a 3k time trial to run. Being friends with the coach gives me insider knowledge. Last time I ran a time trial I was just coming back from overtraining syndrome and ran around 15 mins. I'm hoping to go quite a bit faster this time. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Boost in Confidence

I had an awesome run today. Let me back up a week. Last Saturday's run was hard. It was 24k and I only survived it because of Brendan the chatty Irishman. I had done a lot of k's that week and I think they'd all caught up with me.

So fast forward to this morning - I hadn't slept well, was up at 2 am taking ibuprofen for stomach cramps then up again at 4 because the anti-inflams hadn't worked so well. I gave up any thought of more sleep and turned on the tv to watch the first half of the England v Algeria match. I had my banana and a couple of spoonfuls of honey and headed off to meet the group, secretly dreading what was ahead but grateful that I had the group to run with.

We set out at 5:30 and I felt like I was running a little faster than I should be (but I was chatting with a new girl and it would have spoilt the conversation if I hadn't kept up). Before I knew it we were running with the faster group which made me worry that the return trip was going to be ugly but at this point I was in an area that I'm not totally familiar with and felt like if I didn't stick with them I might get lost. I got to the turn around point and all of a sudden I was by myself - no sweat, I thought, I just have to backtrack.

Hah! Easier said than done. I was okay for the first couple of k but then the route got a little complicated and I lost all confidence in my memory. Luckily it wasn't long till I came across one of our group who hadn't run as far. Dave knew the area better than me and guided me through the tricky bit. I'd hit around 16k at this point, had taken a gel and was feeling okay so I just kept running at around the same pace. I got to the finish in 2:01 for the 23k - 7 mins faster than when I did the same route 5 weeks ago.

So why is it that some days you run crap and other days it seems easy? I've never had honey before a run before - maybe it's the golden elixir. Maybe I timed the gel just right. Maybe all the planets aligned just right. I'm just grateful that my last really long run before Gold Coast was good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hitting the Shops

I am a creature of habit. I tend to do the same chores on the same day every week. Thursday is shopping day. But yesterday I had another important thing to do which meant that Friday became shopping day.

I don't like Friday as shopping day! There was a different group of shoppers in my local grocery store and these shoppers did NOT have the etiquette of Thursday shoppers. Maybe it's that Friday is almost the end of the week and there's a certain, frantic edge to the expedition. My trolley path seemed to be blocked at every turn. I had to wait behind people who hadn't seen each other in oh so long (probably last Friday) and they had to block the aisle so they could catch up on all the goss.

Scariest of all was the Time Trial shopper. This was a woman on a mission! And woe betide anyone who got in her way. She almost wiped me out in 3 different aisles before I learnt to give her a wide berth. And the woman wouldn't have been a day under 70! She had serious energy ... but I'm thinking it could have been channeled a little better.

The other woman who got under my skin a little was the generously corpulent but highly psychic shopper. She knew where I wanted to go and managed to block my path at every turn. She stood in front of a rack of produce, directly in front of what I was trying to reach and when I went to her left to reach around her she moved left so I went to the right and she again blocked my move. It must have looked funny for any casual observer - almost like we'd choreographed our moves.

So shopping took me a good ten minutes longer than usual but my pantry is restocked and ready to go. Next week it's back to early Thursday morning and familiar faces.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Life Lessons

Yesterday I learnt some very important things. The first is that I must be careful when I choose my words because it's easy to be misunderstood. And it's here that I must apologise to Shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama. When I said pig-headedly stubborn I didn't mean specifically you - I meant that all distance runners have that trait and need it to finish what we set out to do. If I offended you I'm really sorry.

The second lesson I learnt yesterday came from one of the squad members. Sharon is a fantastic marathon runner. She won the Cadbury marathon in January and was only a minute outside of going sub-3 hours. She told me that the trick to running a marathon was to start running and don't stop. Simple! I'm planning on writing that on my hand when I give my first marathon a go in October.

Monday, June 14, 2010

4-0 Plus a Red Card :(

So it's official. Australia pretty much sucks as a football powerhouse. For all of you who aren't glued to your tv's over the next month, the Soccerooos were comprehensively thrashed by the Germans. Yes, we never really expected to win but one goal would have been nice and losing one of our key players to a very soft red card just added insult to injury. I'm generally good at predicting red cards. If I gasp loudly enough to make the dog think he's done something wrong, it's a safe bet that it's a red card offence. Tim Cahill's tackle didn't raise a peep out of me. Still I will sit up till a ridiculous hour next Sunday morning to see if we can regain some dignity against the Ghanaians.

After yesterday's ignominious loss I took myself out for a relaxed 12k run. I was all set to do my usual Monday loop when I got the urge to break out of my mold. Instead of turning off to the University, I ran straight - across the bridge over to the OTHER side of the river. This was exceedingly daring of me. I never run across the river unless I'm in a group! (and there's really no reason why I don't - the people there are perfectly nice) The reason why it was so daring is because I don't know where any of the toilets are over there, whereas here in my comfort zone, I know I never have to run (or walk really quickly depending on my desperation level) more than a kilometer to find a loo. Luckily the toilet gods smiled at me and I didn't have to go.

Today's speed session was quite brutal. Coach Chris had devised a session which involved running loops up and down an incline. It was more like a hill session than a speed session. I found myself running with a new member. I'd break away from her on the rep and she'd catch me on the recovery. It helped push me along and kept me from slacking off.

Tomorrow's a rest day and I get to sleep in (little cheer). This is our last hard week of training before we start to taper for Gold Coast and I'm looking forward to easing back for a while.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It Wasn't Just My Legs That Were Running

Small milestone - last week I ran the most kilometers for over a year and yesterday's run was the longest LSD in the same time frame. Yesterday's run was 24.5k and my total for the week was 63k. Yesterday's run was not the easiest that I've ever done. I was still sore from Thursday's killer hill session - my quads and hammies and even my trapezius hurt. I didn't look at my watch much, just knuckled down and ran.

Coach Chris had mapped out a new route which took us across 4 bridges. It was like a scenic tour of the Brisbane River by foot. By the time I got off the last bridge my Garmin had already clocked 20k and I was a bit over it but knowing I had 4k still to go. Luckily I had my trusty running companion, Brendan the Irishman who's been blessed with the gift of the gab. I reached our starting point 2hrs and 20m after I'd left - not fast but the stats on my Garmin made me pretty happy. My average heart rate for the run was 149 (Pretty low for me)

I hung around and stretched and chatted for a while and then headed off home for a warming shower and it was there that I realised something mortifying. It had been a pretty cool morning and when it's cold my nose runs. I'd sniffed and used my sleeve when I needed to but apparently that wasn't enough. When I looked in the mirror at home I saw a nasty old booger right where it could be seen. And worst still - I'm pretty tall as far as my group's concerned so over 50% of the people I talked to would have had the perfect view of it. Gross!!

All I can say is that runners are fairly accepting of bodily functions that genteel people would find abhorrent. We sweat like pigs, shoot off snot rockets, fart in public (not that I'd ever admit to that), use trees as public conveniences and occasionally barf if we've given it everything we've got. And I'd like to thank the Galeforce Running Squad for accepting me - visible snot and all!

And to change tack totally - good luck to the Socceroos for tomorrow's match against Germany.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Unexpected Treats, Unexpected Pain and An Unexpected Mystery

This morning I had an unexpected treat. I got to turn off my alarm and sleep for as long as I wanted (which turned out to be 7:30) This is unknown for me on a week day in school term but Luke starts exams today and doesn't have to be at school till 11 am. Little cheer!

It was quite hard to get out of bed - not because I was super-tired or it was too cold. It was physically hard! My quads hurt! It's always a bit of a surprise when I get delayed-onset muscle soreness. You'd think after all the k's I've put in my legs wouldn't need to get sore any more but Coach Chris seems to have enough tricks up his sleeve to occasionally bring on a case of DOMS.

Yesterday he had us doing hill sprints. I'd decided that because of the race on Sunday and a solid speed session on Tuesday, I'd ease back a bit at hills. What was I thinking?! You can never ease back when it's hills - and even less so when it's hill SPRINTS!!! We had to sprint uphill between the cones he's set out then recover downhill. That's hard enough in itself but to put the icing on the cake he had us run a relay at the end and that's where my legs came unstuck. Do you know how tough it is to sprint downhill?? My legs felt like they were out of control. And when you get to the finish it's SO hard to stop. I think I'll be wearing my Skins this morning (should have done so yesterday) under my jeans.

Yesterday the photos from Sunday's race went on-line. They weren't too bad and reminded me again that I don't have to worry about my weight any more - I'm no longer a 17 year old, 10 kilo overweight discus thrower. But the photos have asked a question that will never get answered. Did he beat me? Or did I beat him? I seriously can't remember and can't look at the results to find out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dodgy Chips

The results for Sunday's race were finally posted on-line. We had hung around after the event sort-of hoping to pick up an age-group award. I've won my age-group twice before and by previous years results a 24 min finish was a chance at a minor placing. I came away empty-handed and a little surprised with the quality of field.

Anyway, yesterday when the results came up I scoured them to see where I came and I wasn't anywhere! No name, no result! It was like I hadn't run. My guess is that my chip malfunctioned. And where would I have placed? Second in age group - less than 10 seconds behind the winner. I was gypped of my bling by a dodgy chip.

I've contacted the organisers to see what they can do. It's probably petty but I'd really like my medal. I ran hard (well as hard as I could) and it's a physical demonstration of life after Overtraining Syndrome. They've contacted me back to find out my race number so I guess they'll be scouring the finish-line pics to make sure I'm being honest.

Finger's crossed I'll get my just rewards.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

An Eggciting Race

I did it! Despite having one of the crappiest weeks ever, I ran my first race for the year.

After Wednesday last week I was having serious doubts about doing the event. I felt like I'd been smacked down to the canvass and had zero emotional energy. But Saturday I had my long walk with my walking buddy Natalie. Three hours of walking and sitting in a coffee shop = a lot of time to unburden. I vented. She commiserated. We laughed a lot and I got home feeling so much better.

Sunday I woke up after a very unsettled night. I'd stayed up till midnight watching the first set of the womens' finals at Roland Garos then tossed and turned. (Pretty normal for a pre-race night) I was a little more nervous than usual but that makes it way easier to go to the toilet race morning. I could only stomach half a banana but decided it didn't matter because it was only a 5k.

We arrived at the race an hour early and in time to see a lot of the 10k and half mara runners come in. It felt great to stand at the side and yell at my running buddies as they finished. I went for a bit of a trot to warm up and it was then that I realised I'd forgotten my MP3 - bugger! Ah well, it would only be about 25 mins of no music so I could cope.

8:30 came and we were sent on our way. I tried to keep my pace conservative but I went through the first k in 4:36. It was the most glorious day for running - sunny but the air was cool and I was quite enjoying the new flat course. Second k came up and it was 4:42 which was a lot more where I was intending. We ran out to a new industrial area went down a side street and suddenly we were running back to the start. Third k was 4:49 and the fourth k was exactly the same.

I'd been trailing this little girl most of the way. Honestly, she looked about 10 and I was determined not to let her beat me. I gradually caught her between 3 and 4k's and left her eating my dust about 500 from the end (What a champ - Beating a 10 year old and enjoying it) My final k was 4:51 - dying big time - but I still hadn't entered the race course. The finish line was over 100m from when my Garmin clicked over. Finish time by my watch (nothing official yet) was 24:06 but the general consensus is that the course was long by almost 200m. That would take my time into the 23min zone and I'm not unhappy with that.

Then to top off my happy morning, while we were having coffee with Coach Chris I got a text from no 1 son Sam to say that he'd found 3 eggs in the Rockettes' cage. Does that make me a Grandmother?

So my very crappy week finished in a really nice way. My cloud had its silver lining.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Me and My Boy

Sorry for the venting, down post yesterday. Today I'm feeling a little better - doesn't hurt that it's Saturday and I'm sitting in my kitchen that smells of fresh-baked brownies, tangello n poppy seed muffins and date n white chocolate scones. I defy anyone to be depressed when there's hot baked yummies around. The baking is for tomorrow's race and it's the reason that I'm so popular on race days.

Today I thought I'd share a couple of pics that made me smile this week. They're of Luke, my baby, and I and the first was taken four years ago. The second is current.

No I haven't shrunk!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Blahhh! What an ordinary week it's been. Actually the entire week hasn't been bad - just from Wednesday on.

Wednesday I got a phone call from my sister. She and I have been in partnership for the last 18 years in our sportswear business but over the last 5 years things have changed. She and her husband bought a cafe and gradually she's stepped away from our business and become increasingly involved with the cafe. Over the past 18 months things have gone badly for the cafe and in her personal life to the point where she's now separated from her husband and on the verge of losing the cafe and her house. He's left the state and she's had to soldier on and try to hold everything together.

Wednesday she told me that she can't work with me anymore. I knew that this day would eventually come but I'm still hurt and angry. I think it hurts more when it comes from family and especially when you've been supportive and understanding all the way through. I know I'll cope with whatever comes along but for now I just want to be a little self-indulgently sorry for myself.

The hard thing is that although I'm furious with her and feel let-down and used, I still feel sorry for her. And I have to be so careful in my actions because, when all is said and done, she's my sister and I still want a relationship with her. So for the moment I'm just licking my wounds in private.

I've been feeling so bad that I'm not sure if I can run on Sunday. I'm not ruling it out altogether - I'm just going to see how I feel on the day. I talked to one of my running friends yesterday and she told me to give myself a week or two to just be kind to myself and process it all. Sage advice that I'm going to take.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Iven has man-flu. It's a terrible virus which is quite debilitating in males but in females is known simply as a cold. He's been moping around the house. Dragging his slipper-clad feet. Coughing loudly. And talking in a very deep voice so I realise just how sick he really is.

Poor Ive - he married one of the most unsympathetic women that has put foot on the earth. I've remained stalwart in refusing to pander to his illness because I know my boy - one ounce of sympathy will have him reclining in bed for a week.

He has been quite considerate despite his malady. Once he starts coughing in bed he leaves the room and I get to sleep blissfully uninterrupted. I've been hitting the zinc and vitamin c tablets to try and ward off any germs he may have let fly and so far so good. Can't get sick now, I have a race to run on Sunday.

And speaking of races, I'm getting edgy about this one. It's pretty stupid really because it doesn't matter how fast I run. Unfortunately I'm quite competitive and I hate not doing the best that I can do. But on the other hand I don't want to push too hard and suffer any adverse consequences. So for the moment I'm trying not to think about the race at all so I don't get nervous. I just have to turn up Sunday and run how I feel.