Saturday, April 30, 2011

Silly Hats, Chickens and Sore Knees

Don't need to say anything about this one, do I?! The look on the man's face pretty much says what we're all thinking.

Now that I've finished ridiculing the royal fashion sense, I'll get on to the real reason I'm here today. The Rockettes have been renamed. After the events of yesterday, they will henceforth be known as Babs and Ginger (of Chicken Run fame).

Yesterday I forgot to collect the eggs. Actually I didn't really forget but it was raining and I'd blow-dried my hair so I sent Iven down to collect them. (Iven never minds getting his hair wet - probably because he doesn't have as much as he used to.) It's usually a two minute job to go down into the backyard, get the eggs, tell the girls that they've done a great job then get back into the house. Iven was down there for a lot longer than two minutes and I heard a lot of rustling through the foliage before he came back ten minutes later to tell me that our beautiful, plump, egg-laying machines had gone!! And they weren't the only ones missing. Bubbles, the foxy, had also vanished.

Our side gate was open so I immediately jumped to the obvious conclusion - they'd all been stolen. I was thinking maybe a group from a chicken-and-dog-eating nation had conducted a raid to supply their Saturday night dinner. But I had to mentally apologise for my thoughts when I found out that Sam had left the gate open and Bubbles had just taken herself off for a little walk around the next-door school. And a little while later we found that the chooks had done the same thing. Maybe they were worried that Masterchef was starting up on TV and I'd be tempted to try one of the chicken recipes. But I don't know why they'd worry - I've told them that they're safe as long as we get two eggs every day.

I found out yesterday that running is a lot like childbirth - it can hurt so much but the memory of the pain fades quickly and we line up to do it all over again. Yesterday we were sent on the same run that I'd done the previous week. All I could remember was that it was generally pretty hilly and that I'd loved hearing all the birds in the bush. I did remember one nasty hill that I'd walked up but I certainly didn't remember all the other ones that seemed so much harder (probably because I'd spent the week coughing and doing absolutely no running) I could have turned around with some of the group and done a 12k or even a 16k run but NO. Stupid me decides that I'd only had a little cold and I could do the full 26k. It turns out that I was wrong but it wasn't my lungs that held me back. My stupid ITB decided that it didn't like all those hills and the camber of the road and started to protest. So the final result was 23.5k of running, 2.5 k of walking (mostly up the hills because my knees were not feeling the love) I will have to visit my Physio/friend Chris this week and get her to caress me with her fingers of immense pain.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ch-ch-ch Changes

Big achievement today - I managed to get through the entire night without a coughing fit. Hooray!!! I am seriously OVER this cold. I haven't been able to run all week mostly because of the coughing-most-of-the-night-and-not-getting-any-sleep thing. So I see that a full night in bed is an enormous improvement.

It's been a big week in the Donaldson household. Josh has started his first job as an electrical engineer. It was a pretty soft first week for him. Two days holiday followed by tree days work and this weekend is another long weekend. And his verdict on his first day? "Sucky" (I don't know - they go to university for 4 years and graduate with honours and that is the only adjective they can pull out of their vocabulary?) Why was it sucky? Because he was new and didn't know anything and didn't want to make a fool out of himself by asking stupid questions. Was there anything positive? They do have two pretty sweet coffee machines so Josh's caffeine addiction will be catered for.

I should not have been surprised at Josh's reaction. He has NEVER taken to new situations easily. He cried at the gate at kindergarten for months. Then when it was time to leave kindy and go to school he didn't want to leave his kindy teachers and he worried that I might not manage the shopping without his help. He walked into school every day for 6 months clutching a tissue to dab at his tears before he finally settled in. But once he got to high school the tears had dried up - only to be replaced by anger. Why did we send him to that sucky school? (His vocabulary didn't really improve from the age of 13, did it?)

Day 2 at work was preceded by a nervous stomach but the home-coming Josh was a lot happier than the day before. The work had gone well and he was making progress. Today is day 3 and Josh couldn't have been happier. There was singing in the kitchen and the ritual teasing-of-the-younger-brother. The status quo in our house has returned. Adjustment has taken only a couple of days. I'm sure there'll be a few hiccups in the next few months - times when he struggles with the work, times when things just don't go quite right - but I'm relieved that he seems to have settled fairly quickly.

His situation this week has made me do a bit of thinking about changes and adjustment. For years my life just ran smoothly with one year blending seamlessly into the other. I didn't really have to face any changes until the past decade. And Josh's problem with changes is a hereditary one. I don't like to make changes either - particularly if they're not ones that you've chosen but they've been imposed on you. But what I've learnt over this time of flux is that not all changes are bad, it's best accept them early on because resisting just wastes way too much emotional energy and flexibility can be your greatest asset. It's hard to fight your nature but this is one area I'm working on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Tales

I'm still waiting to redeem all my Easter calories. I finished Easter with a raging sore throat - probably because I went running with a slight tickle - which made chocolate taste disgusting. So Sunday was a bit of a bust. Iven and Sam and I went to the movies but for the most part I just lay around and read my new Jodi Piccoult novel.

Then Monday came and nothing much had changed with the throat so I spent the day cutting out pieces of lycra to applique on aerobics costumes.

Then Tuesday dawned and my throat wasn't sore any more but boy, was I coughing. Didn't go training on Tuesday morning because I'd spent most of the night on the couch trying to cough up a lung. It was still part of the long weekend - officially Easter Monday (confusing) - so Iven and I hit the shops to kill some time, have a good coffee and find stuff for the kitchen. It's funny, I hardly coughed at all during the day after having such an ordinary night. When we got home it was time to bake.

A double batch of lemon cupcakes, triple choc cookies and a big tray of caramel brownies. My kitchen smelt good! And I've included a picture that shows the new tiles.

I was really hopeful of a good night's sleep last night but it was couch time again. And after a few hours on the couch I went back to bed but I think I must have been coughing in my sleep because I managed to chase Iven onto the couch. And the piece de resistance came this morning when I coughed so much that I vomited (a little bit) onto my pillow.

But rather than leave on that note I'll leave you with an Easter story from my Mum. She has two dogs Benson and Pete who are very big and black and boisterous. Just before Easter Mum and Dad went shopping and bought lots of eggs and chocolate and Mum decided to leave them on the guest bed. But the guest bed was not high enough and Ben and Pete preempted the Easter bunny and ate about a kilo of chocolate - wrappers and all. And when Easter Sunday came it looked like Mum and Dad had prepared for an Easter hunt in the garden - only the wrappers were inside the brown stuff and the brown stuff was not chocolate.

Hope you all had a lovely Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

Australia is having a really long Easter break this year. Because it's so late in the year, Easter has collided with Anzac Day so we're having a five day break. Well, most of us are having five days - some of us are only having three or maybe even two days off because we have imminent deadlines looming. And yes, that someone would be me.

Despite working my butt off over the past 10 weeks I've found myself in my usual situation where holidays are a luxury I just can't afford. This year I was on top of my work but a last minute decision by my machinist to go away for all of Easter has meant that I'm left a week's work short so it's heads down and bums up and work, work, work!

That's why I begged (nagged) so hard to get a run this weekend. And I mustn't have been the only one, because at 4:50am yesterday 11 of our group met to tackle our new route. Coach Chris had mapped out a doozy. We were heading west and within the first kilometer we'd hit our first hill of the morning. It was the first of many!! In fact, this new route makes last weeks hilly route look almost flat. But I loved it!!

It was a low-key run. We tried to stay together as a group despite pretty big differences in speed and this meant that I got to stop fairly regularly to let the slowest catch up. It took us through the middle of Brisbane Forest Park where we stopped to fill up water bottles and listen to the Bell birds.

I got to smell the distinctive smells of the Australian bush - the lantana, the damp soil, the dust and the rotting road-kill - and it took me back to when I was 10 years old going on bush walks with my Grandma from her farm. I can't say it was one of the fastest runs I've ever done - 26 k in two and a half hours - but it was one of the most enjoyable.

I got home, showered and wrestled myself into my new compression tights. Beth of SUAR fame had reviewed 110% Play Harder tights a couple of weeks ago. I thought they were GENIUS. Compression with ice!! The perfect recovery tool. So I'd gone on-line and ordered a pair as had Sam (exercise physiologist son). Great service from the company - we had the tights on the other side of the world in less than a week.

Putting those ice packs into the pocket - heaven on my tired stiffening muscles! We were heading out to our usual Saturday breakfast so I had to throw on a skirt to look respectable but no one at the cafe would have known that underneath that skirt a whole lot of recovery was going on (except that I lifted up the skirt to show my sister - I'm classy like that!)

And this morning my legs hardly feel like they did anything out of the ordinary. Plus I've pre-paid a heck of a lot of calories that I'd like to redeem in the form of chocolate eggs. So Happy Easter to us All.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life On The Upswing

It happens every Easter - well, every Easter since I've been in my running squad. I think "great, I've got a bit of time off work so it'll be awesome to do some extra running" and every year Coach Chris sends out a NO RUN ban for the long weekend. I truly understand his logic. Lots of people are away. We've been training hard for a few months and a weekend off won't hurt and can only help those with niggly injuries. It'll refresh us for the next few months leading up to the racing season. But I have my needs. And sanity over the long Easter break where nothing has been planned involves running. And the guilt-free consumption of copious amounts of Easter eggs also involves running. So every year I have broken Coach Chris's NO RUN rule and gone out on a surreptitious run.

But this year will be different. This year I have permission to run. And Coach Chris is actually leading a run of a few select squad members (ones that have important events in the very near future). Woohoo!

And even better than this - he's mapped out a whole new run for the occasion. 25k of virgin territory for our little group. The only downside is the number of hills and I know that there'll be lots and we all know how I feel about hills.

Running has been so uplifting for me lately. Every runs a winner baby, that's the truth. It's nice to be able to run and then back up the next day if I want to. Saturday I had my long run which was 23k along one of my least favourite (hilly) areas and apart from matching little toe blisters (new socks), a bush toilet visit and a burst blood vessel in my finger (from retying my shoes after trying to wiggle the sock seam off the sore spot) it was a good run.

Sunday was supposed to be a rest day but I'd missed a run during the week and Sam was playing a soccer match at the Uni so I decided to do a split run - run to the Uni, watch the match then run home. I even convinced my youngest Luke to run with me. He now gets that his Mum is quite fit. He took the easy option home (Dad in the car) while I rounded out my 11k.

Tuesday was speed session and it was 1 mile repeats. It's a tough set because the course has a hill at the beginning. I ran 4 repeats - 7:18 (a bit fast), 7:31, 7:33 (both spot on) then 7:40. When I got home I compared the times to the last few times that I ran this set and they were better!! That makes me smile.

Then today I went for a nice 11k run trying to stay relaxed and keep my heart rate down. 155 bpm is pretty good for me so again :)

Yesterday was also a very good work day because
a) I got paid by a group I'd been waiting on for a couple of weeks
b) One of my fabric suppliers sent a parcel of fabric and included a whole pile of chewy mints as a little Easter gift AND
c) The customer who I'd had to explain my pricing to last week ($220 for 14 hours of labour is really good value whether you've supplied the fabric or not) came to pick up the leotard and brought me a bottle of wine as a thank you.

These nice little things totally made up for the fact that I cut out 12 leotards in the wrong fabric and now have to re-cut them. I think it's time for a little holiday from work so I can put my head back in gear.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pandamonium and Ninjas

Spontaneous decisions were the name of the game this week. Actually that should be in the singular - it was just one decision.

Last weekend we went and chose tiles for our kitchen floor. Remember about a year ago we got our kitchen redone? Well, we hadn't actually finished it. We sort-of stopped after the cabinetry went in. The thing is, I'm not big on upheavals and refitting the kitchen was a pretty big upheaval. And I'm also not keen on making big and expensive decisions that could end up as big and expensive mistakes. We'd had cork tiles on the floor for 24 years and, believe me, they'd seen better days AND they looked even worse with the new cabinets in but still I managed to delay the inevitable this long.

So last Saturday we went back to the tile shop that had been so helpful with advice when we bought the tiles for the splash back. Again they were super-helpful and we came home with a boot full of tiles and the phone number of a tiler. On Wednesday we finally got around to ringing the tiler and within 30 minutes he was here.

The tiler was first generation Australian, originally from Vietnam but I like to think of him as a tiling Ninja. He blew into the house and was flinging words around like Ninja stars. It was a full-on verbal assault - not that he was saying anything nasty, he was just speaking so quickly that when he left you felt like you'd been under attack. Then once he'd made sure you'd understood he just disappeared leaving Iven and I with his card, a quote and a stunned look on our faces.

He'd said he could start the next day but since we had to move the entire kitchen and laundry into the lounge room, we decided to make it the day after. So Friday came and so did a troupe of Ninja tilers. They kept appearing out of nowhere and giving me a fright. They arrived at 8am and were gone by 2pm leaving us with strict instructions not to walk on the tiles till the next morning. I wish I'd known about that when we were getting stuff out of the kitchen. I hadn't taken anything out of the pantry and I didn't have any plates or glasses or mugs or cutlery or any means to cook anything. So Sam came to the rescue.

I think there are footprints on my bench tops.

Sam makes our kitchen look quite small.

Nelson was quite put out by all the upheaval. He's old now and is quite set in his ways and having to spend all day outside lying in the dirt rather than sleeping on his comfy mattress ... well lets just say that the turkey neck didn't quite make up for it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What I Do

Amanda from Runninghood asked what exactly I did for my work. So Amanda this post is for you.

I'll just start by saying I spent five years at uni studying to be a vet and when I graduated the first job I did was a locum. When I was there a girl came in with her dog and she was allowed to stitch him up. When I asked about it I found out she was a qualified vet but because of personal circumstances, was working as a sewing machinist in a clothing factory. All I could think was 'who would give up vetting to sew?'

I started sewing with lycra when I was pregnant with Josh and needed some bathers that accommodated my growing bump. Then I made my gym-junky sister some tights. Pretty soon she was bringing home orders and I was making a little bit of money and that's how it all began.

So now I have a business that's reliable, will never make me rich, that satisfies my creative side and has allowed me to be home for my boys while they were growing up.

Basically I make anything in lycra. Swimming bathers

Rhythmic Gymnastics Costumes

Dance Costumes

Body building Bikinis
(I do the bikinis for a friend's business and she does all the decorating. She's a creative genius)

And Competition Aerobic costumes.

The video is some of the costumes I made in action at the World Championships.

I love what I get to do.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thank God It's Sunday!

Finally it's Sunday! It's been a crazy busy week (couple of weeks) and at last I have a day with no obligations.

Monday, Josh went for a job interview. I think I mentioned about a week ago that he'd finally gotten a job. Well, my little boy continued to look at the job ads and found one he liked better. It's in the field of electronics and firmware development (please don't ask me what that is) and that was his ideal work. So he applied. And then came down to where I was working to ask what to do because he'd already accepted the other position. I suggested he call this company to ask when the job applications close and state his case. To cut a long story short, he rang and by the end of the day had a job interview. So Monday came and Josh made himself all pretty and by midday I'd had a call saying he'd 'owned' the interview. By Thursday he had a job offer and Friday he called the first job up and told them the bad/good news.

I had to work most of last weekend getting a huge order (that I've been working on for a month) finished in time for a competition. By Monday night I'd sewn the last stitch and the costumes were ready to go. They were picked up on Friday and late that afternoon I had a call from the coach apologizing profusely. Two girls had joined one of the teams and she'd forgotten to tell me so she was two costumes short and can I make them up for her in a rush. Poo! Poo! Bum! Bum! Why does the buck always stop with me?!! If I don't get them done a whole team of girls doesn't get to compete and they'll be so disappointed so then I'll feel bad but I already had more than enough work to do this week so I guess it'll be more late nights.

Running has been awesome! My speeds aren't back to where I want them but I'm feeling so much stronger. Yesterday's long, slow run was a tough, hilly route but I felt great up to 20k. I was trialling a new form of nutrition Powerbar Gel Blasts. They are a jelly lolly style and I decided to have 3 at a traffic stop. Big mistake! I ended up with an awful stitch and had to keep stopping to walk and stretch over the next 2 k. I don't get stitches so I'm blaming the Gel Blasts and I'll be sticking to gels in the future.

But my run yesterday capped off 55k for the week and I'm really happy with the total and the quality. I'm starting to think of races that I want to enter for the year and in the back of my mind I'd love to do the Sydney Half and then the marathon in Melbourne again. And I'd love it if Josh would follow through with his plans and do them with me. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've had a couple of really great runs this week but Thursday's run is the one i usually dread - HILLS. My nemesis! But in the spirit of my last post I vowed I would stay in the moment and enjoy the company and appreciate the amazing views.

It's getting darker in the mornings now so I was sure we'd be running on the road. (I'm not keen on the trails - especially since we've had all that rain at the beginning of the year and they've become really rutted) Well, I was wrong! We were running on the Channel 9 trail (named that because it starts near the Channel 9 tower). It's a challenging trail - heading downhill for about a kilometer till we get to a road. We turn around at the road and do reps up the steepest bit. Coach Chris was at his most sadistic best and had us do 5 long reps then 10 shorter, faster reps.

So how did I go at staying in the moment and appreciating my surroundings? I did really well at enjoying the company. But that's easy. Appreciating the surroundings? Okay, it was pretty dark on the way down the hill to start with so I couldn't see the surroundings, couldn't see my footing and was pretty intimidated by running on precarious, skiddy gravel so I guess that was a fail.

It had lightened by the time we got to the bottom so I could see our beautiful bushland. It was a brief moment of appreciation - once the pain started the only moment I was in was one that was saying nasty things about Coach Chris in my head. Another BIG FAIL!

Actually the only time I really stayed in the moment and appreciated all the beauty was on the drive home. I listened to my CD (Newton Faukner) and just basked in the beautiful morning and the gorgeous city views. SUCCESS!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


For the last 6 months we've had and interloper at our running group. Deb was here in Brisbane with her husband and family from England while her husband worked. Deb used to run - A LOT - in England and Europe but had had surgery on a foot injury then had twins and the running had not been happening so much lately. She met one of our members who enticed her along and soon she was running 5 times a week.

Her husband's contract finished and she's heading back home this week but I was lucky to get to run with her for our long run on Saturday. It was such an eye-opening experience to run with someone who's mentally saying good-bye to a place she's fallen in love with. I got to run through our usual routes looking through her eyes and really appreciating how beautiful our city is and how lucky we are to enjoy such good weather year round. Even the muddy Brisbane River looked better to my eyes than it has in a long time.

It's not been the first time this week that I've had to look from someone else's perspective. I had my sister-in-law over last weekend and I was looking very critically at my house through my own eyes before she arrived. I wanted everything to look nice and all I could see was the mould, the dirt, the dog hairs and all the imperfections that I can ignore every other day of the year. I had even apologised in advance about the state of the house. When she arrived she told me off for exaggerating and I realised that she wasn't here to critique our home, she just wanted to spend time with her family.

Both events have made me stop and think. It's so easy to get caught up with nit-picking or to ignore the familiar just because you see it all the time. I'm determined to spend a little more time being less self-absorbed and appreciating my life, my family and my surroundings.