Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A bump in the road.

This time last week I was on a high....I was still celebrating my half marathon run and had embarked on my marathon training plan with an easy 10 k run, which felt GREAT.  The future was shiny bright and I had my runs all mapped out....the next long funrun would be the Bellarine funrun, (34kms), then the Yarra Valley Grape run (30 km) then the marathon.  I felt strong and motivated. My dreams were castles in the air and I was loving building them.

Thursday, as per my training schedule I went for an 8k tempo run....which basically was 1.5k slow run to warm up, 5km at my half marathon race pace (5min 30 per kilometre) then a 1.5 km slow jog to cool down. I started off on a well worn route along the river, beautiful day, feeling GREAT.

Then I felt like a little bruise on my heel about 3km in.  No biggie, I registered it and continued planning the next long run in my head.

It didn't go away.

I finished the 5km run and slowed down to jog and the pain became intense all down the side of my left foot. I ended up hobbling my way home.

And all my castles crumbled.

I made it home, stretched and iced, stretched and iced.....and iced some more. I took an anti inflammatory pill and kept the foot elevated all day.

And it worked.  I felt better.  I went to work and all was good.  But when I tried to run with my friends on Friday night around the footy oval, I hobbled after 1 measly kilometre.

I sat in the car and tried my best to not cry.  How ridiculous, me crying because I couldn't run, afraid I had a serious running injury, when even a year ago, I could live without running.  I went to bed when we got home and had a quiet sob to myself.  The dramatic self talk happened....I will never be able to run again.

You see, I was lost. Lost without running. I hadn't realised how much running had come to be part of my definition of myself...I am a runner. Without that, what was I? What could I achieve without my running? How would I relax and sort myself out without running? I literally, mentally, fell apart at this.

A weekend of misery followed.  I was fitted for new shoes, thinking that would help. It will, although not immediately. The staff at Running Fit were amazing and I have now got the best damn pair of shoes IN THE WORLD. They tested me on a treadmill and now I know I have a neutral foot strike and a great take off and landing.

But that didn't tell me if I could run again.

Now, I could still be sitting in misery, defeated, back into myself. But I have learned better than that. There is always something I can do....it may be that I won't be able to run marathons again but that doesn't mean I have to shrivel up and die on the couch, watching Dr Who repeats and eating maltesers. 

I came up with a plan.

1. Make an appointment to see a physio and stop diagnosing myself on google doctor.
2. Keep cardio up with swimmming, elliptical trainer or my arch nemesis, the rower.
3. Check what weights I can do and continue with weight sessions if cardio is out.

Plans make me happy.

So armed with my to do list, I made the first step and scored myself an immediate appointment with a physio. And I wish I'd been able to see her before I dissolved into a self pitying mess!
It seems to be a type of tendonitis in my foot, from overstrain. A plan was formulated with her, to cut runs down but I can still run with the taping she placed on my foot. The marathon is still possible....at this point. But if not now, I will heal and be able to run in the future. I am diligent with my exercises and icing and today, was the first trial of running with the taped foot. 

Instead of 8kms as on the plan, I had 5 to do....if the pain didn't return. I stepped on that treadmill with almost as much trepidation as I did the first time I EVER stood on a treadmill. And I started, a nice slow even run, about 9km a hour. Comfortable to keep talking to my mate Mel who ran alongside me.

And I could run. There was a slight ache, but not a pain. I could walk afterwards. I could see ahead a little way again.

This has been a huge lesson for me. It's not what I achieve or can do in life that counts.  It's how I react to life when things go against me. It's about how resilient I am to the unexpected. I found out I am not as resilient as I thought, certainly not the most patient person but I already knew that, as do most people who know me I expect.
I won't get anywhere, wallowing in my self pity because plans changed.  Because things did not go as I expected them. If I hadn't learned to take a grip on myself and work out a plan, if I'd stayed on that couch or in the bed, crying about what could have been, I'd have missed the new paths leading me to my goal. I'd not have grown up. I would have stopped, and not kept going.

 And just think what I could have missed.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Curiousity created the cat...

You know what I love about children? They have a huge '?' in their heads.  Why? How? Where? What?  Their whole world is new and they want to know everything they can about it. And more.

Children are curious. And with curiousity comes CHANGE.

Galileo was curious about the heavens and made the discovery that the earth was the not the centre of the universe, but the sun. HERESY cried the Church and found him guilty, imprisoning him under house arrest for the rest of his life.  The Church burned as many copies of  his book about this discovery as they could and yet, within a generation, Galileo's discovery was widely believed among the educated that the sun was indeed the centre.  A change in the thinking of the world, from a man's curiousity.

How many of us would watch an apple fall from a tree and wonder why it didn't fall upwards, or sideways, or at all? Then work out the mathematical equations needed to form the law of gravity?  A curious mind would, and Isaac Newton had that. And look at all that has opened up since in the hundred of years following.

We all learn through curiousity.  With that learning, we change, in so many ways.

I joined Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body transformation out of curiousity to lose weight and learned about exercise and nutrition. This lead to a whole change in how I thought, what I believed and my lifestyle.

 I was curious about what food tasted like when it wasn't processed, salt/sugar laden or drowning in preservatives or additives. I learned I love the texture and taste of clean foods and now have changed to the point that eating fast food makes me feel ill, and that I often crave an apple or some green vegies.

People tell me they could never be a runner and ask me how I do it.  Well, I wondered if I could run and tried it. I wondered how far I could run so I tried it. The next time I wondered if I could run further and so on. Curiousity led me to trying funruns from 4kms to 5 kms, to 10, 15 and 21.1 kms.  Soon curiousity will drive me to see if I can run 42.2 kms. And somewhere in between, I changed.....I turned from someone who avoided exercise as if I was anaphylactic to it, to someone who plans her life around the next long run.

Never lose your curiosity. By asking myself " What if?" my life changes in innumerable ways. If I didn't ask myself those questions, if I never wondered, I would not have changed, I'd still be stuck in that rut I'd made on the couch.  I would never have found confidence in myself, new friends, new tastes and ways of living, a new me. I would not have new dreams and new achievements, new plans and goals, if I had not been curious.

Or look at it this way, which are you like, the stagnant pond or the  free flowing water? The pond doesn't change and so it begins to rot, to die, harbour disease, to shrink and stink. The free flowing water constantly changes with the flow, which flushes out the old and is everchanging with new, keeping the water clean and clear and full of life.  I know what I'd rather drink from. 

Being curious is exciting, one never knows where it will take us. But the adventure in finding out is half the fun.  Ask yourself...."why?" or " I wonder if......" and SEE. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

That PB feeling.....

On Sunday, July 21st at around 9.15am EST, a momentous event occured here in Australia.

No it wasn't the birth of our new King.
No we didn't get a new Prime Minister. Again.
No. I didn't win the 35 million jackpot in Lotto. (dammit)

No...it was something that for me, the heavens opened and sang, yet noone else would have heard it....

So what was it?

I ran a new personal best.....in a half marathon no less.

Sunday was the day of The Age Run Melbourne half marathon. I had trained for this 21.1 km run, had a plan in place and felt prepared. My goal was to run the half marathon in 2 hours.
The plan was to find the two hour pace group, and stick with them, then I would know I was getting the right time in.

And the wheels all fell off at the start.

I lost my friends, not once but twice. I think I did an extra 2 km running up and down the street looking for them. In the end the start gun sounded for the first wave and I found myself in the very back of the start chute...with what looked like 1000 people between myself and the pace group I was after.

It was cold, I was alone and immediately 'Phyllis' started her whinging...." It's too cold", "you won't make it anyway" " You'll barely be able to cross the line let alone beat your last time" I turned up my ipod.

The first wave left at 7 am. My pace group left at 7.10 am. I finally reached the start line at 7.25am.

I set a pace that left me a little breathless and just kept plodding.  The sun came out, there was no rain or wind, just a seeping coldness that slinked in through my clothes even though running usually makes me warm. We ran all over the place, past the Arts Centre, through the Botanical Gardens, along the banks of the Yarra river, along roads I had never seen before.

And along hills I had never seen before.

I was so glad there were a lot of us, I would have been lost otherwise.

 I had my ipod in and played my mind games to keep going...running to the beat of the music, planning the grocery list for the next couple of weeks, picking a shirt in front of me and seeing if I could pass them. After a while I passed the 2:10 pace runner and felt a little more optimistic....if I could keep in front of him, then I'll be confident of a better time than my first half marathon time of 2:19.

Further on I found two of my friends, the amazing Theresa who, with cerebral palsy, ran the half marathon, and Renee who never seems to stop smiling. I found out they had started further up the chute than I did, so a quick chat and I continued on.

Demoralising moment no 2: at the half way mark I was overtaken by the lead runner who had only 2 km to go and the wheelchair racer who was FLYING. They had reached the end and here I was still schlumping along at halfway.  It was at this point I began to sing....quietly but singing Walk like an Egyptian with your ipod does lift the spirits.

Time travelled on, I passed tents with various entertainers in them singing and playing for us, bringing a smile to my face.  LOVED the drummers just over the bridge....

The wind picked up on the final lap and I found myself with legs that started feeling like blocks of wood, then like lumps of concrete.  I concentrated on just making my feet keep going one after the other, almost like a running march.  I had given up all hope of reaching my goal of 2 hours but I hadn't seen the 2:10 pace runner again so I was hopeful. The slightest breeze felt like I was pushing against an invisible wall and all around me people's faces were in various descriptions of pain or defeat. Much like this...

And then like magic....the flags telling us only 750m to go......then 250 metres to go.....I could hear the angels singing...

to find some bastard put the finish line on top of a hill.

With the finish line in sight, I became focused...extremely focused.

It was do or die and I crossed...

...in an official time of 1:59 and 14 seconds...

I did it. I am not ashamed to say I had a little cry afterwards, I was so unbelievably happy that I...DID....IT.

Next target.....the Melbourne Marathon........

Friday, 19 July 2013

Try a little tenderness

Yesterday I was so excited.  I went into Melbourne to pick up my race number for the Age Run Melbourne half marathon. It was a gorgeous day, sun shining on the Yarra river, the air was sweet, all was right with the world. And my name was on my race bib.

Coming home on the train, there was an 'obstruction on the tracks'. That meant an interesting process of catching the train to one station, changing trains to get to another, getting on a bus to get to ANOTHER station then back on the train home.  Confused? I was....but hey, the sun was still shining, it was still a fabulous day and now it had an adventure in it.

I made all the changes along with grumbling, venting, annoyed passengers. Most were so busy whinging to each other about how inconvenient this all was, the government should do something about the train system, they want their fare money back, etc etc, they didn't see the emergency vehicles beside the train track. They didn't see the stationary train between the stations. And they didn't see the sheet covered stretcher to one side.

And the ones that did.....were angry.  Angry that this person should cause so much disruption and 'inconvenience.'

On this beautiful day, so beautiful I was enjoying my adventure and looking out the window, thinking all was right with the world, a human being died. Whether it be by accident or design, a precious life was lost. Not only lost but relegated to being called " an obstruction on the tracks." An inconvenience.

Compassion is disappearing in our self centred world. The world revolves around us, our busy-ness, our frantic little dramas so that if anything does go unexpectedly wrong, it is as if personal affront has been given. The car accident on the freeway to work making us late...so FRUSTRATING. But there were people in those cars, now injured or in pain.  They didn't wake up thinking " hmmm, I think I will annoy the west side of Melbourne today and smash my car into somebody else."

Someone is walking, staggering in the street yet the usual response is a judgement call on their state...clearly it must be drugs or alcohol. Or it could be someone having a stroke and trying to get help.

Since when did we get so calloused?  When did we as a people of all different experiences, nationalities, cultures stop caring about others and only about ourselves?

Yesterday, a deep sadness settled on my heart. Instead of patience and understanding, even appreciation for the public transport system to so quickly come up with a solution to get us home on time, it was a soulsucking wave of negativity.  And noone saw the real tragedy on the beautiful winter's day in Melbourne.

That person was not an inconvenience. That person under the sheet was someone's child, someone's workmate or friend. Maybe even partner or parent.

I think of the train driver, and his or her family. They too are not an inconvenience if they cannot return to work after such a  shocking occurence.

And my prayers are with them all.

On a final note.....Below are two links if you feel noone will help or listen or care.....they will.  And you are never alone.



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

How to be an Inspiration?

What makes someone inspirational? What is it about someone that makes another think, "Man, I so need some of that?"  Why are inspirational people surprised at being thought of in that way?

A dictionary can tell me what an inspiration is but not how to be one.

I heard a fantastic, inspirational speaker last night, addressing a room full of Early Childhood Educators.  His name was Anthony Semann, and he could motivate a rock to get up and be a better person. About halfway through his presentation, a lightbulb went off.

Well, a whole Hollywood makeup chair's worth of lightbulbs went off.

I suddenly realised.......Inspirational people are PASSIONATE and POSITIVE, even when they are suffering.  Inspirational people radiate an air of positivity around them that infects and uplifts all those who know them.

Think about it....who would you rather talk to if you walked into a room full of strangers?  The one who is smiling or laughing, or the one who has their arms crossed in a corner just staring?  Who would uplift your spirits when you need it?  The positive, empowering, 'happy' person or the one who is yelling, negative and closed off?

Regardless of what an Inspirational person goes through....great or small, they retain a positive frame of mind.  They don't give up. They find the courage not to overcome, but to keep on going when things are at their darkest.

The second element I noticed.....Inspirational people are usually involved in change in some way. Examples at two ends of the scale are Nelson Mandela who was involved in a huge change and suffered greatly but kept his vision for the future. Or someone you know has lost a lot of weight, and had some suffering for it but has embraced the change and you can see the better person mentally and physically they are for it.  It makes me wonder....are we so afraid of change and moving out of our comfort zone that someone who does embrace change and finds the courage to forge ahead become inspirational?

And why is being considered inspirational such a surprise to them?  Because they are just doing what they love, or what they believe in wholeheartedly.  The perception others have formed of them is like a side effect. I don't think anyone woke up and thought " Hmm, I think I will become an inspirational person today." By living their lives and following their passions to the best of their ability, they transformed into an inspiration.

Which brings me to this......


Our behaviour, our emotions, our passions have an effect on every person we meet. Don't believe me? As you pass someone today, family or stranger,  smile at them.  A big smile, a warm friendly smile. You may get a smile back, you may get a funny look. But you will make that person feel just a little better about themselves and their day got just so much better. You may have just inspired them to pass that good feeling on to the next person.

Or you can try glowering at them, staring at your most unfriendly and hostile. The result will be a feeling of anger, or offense in the other person.  That gets passed on and a day that did seem great to them may just feel like it all turned to yuk.

I know what face I'd like to see coming towards me.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

And the winner is......

" How much does it cost to run this marathon then?" I was asked.

" $150" 

" $150? Are you going to win it?"

(snorting quietly to myself)" It is highly unlikely."

" Then why pay that much if you're not going to win?"

Can you imagine it?  Me running my first marathon at 41 years of age, with only a few months training from a magazine, up against elite athletes who have trained and been coached for years, crossing the line as first? I'd be asking for at least 3 different drug tests...and looking for the taxi driver who took me to the finish line. LOL

How do I explain to someone it's not about coming first? That it doesn't matter if I come dead last ( and that is more probable) but I will have won? That the weeks of running distances I still freak out over, the days of running alone for hours fighting with myself were all worth it?

I read in Runners World magazine that only 1% of runners worldwide have ever run a marathon. 1%. That's not much. But after I run this marathon in October, I can say I'm in that 1% group....that's got to be a win.

If I look ahead to the marathon, I can say I've gone from an sedentary 41 yr old mum of 4, to running two half marathons and a full 42.2 kms marathon in the space of two years. That's a win.

Staying committed and disciplined over the coming weeks as I train, and over the past weeks as I have trained for the half marathon, has forged a stronger, more confident version of myself. I find that while I may think "20 kilometre training run today, are you KIDDING?" I also know I can do it. That's another win right there.

Seeing my husband and children's faces as I cross that line after hours of running....a huge win.

No matter what distance race I do or have done, be it 5 km, 10km, or 21kms, it will be a win. It will be a win when I cross that line, running, walking or crawling. It will be a win regardless of where I come or what time I do.  Because there's more to running than just competition. 

Running a marathon for me will be a triumph over my mind. It will be me being better than I was, not better than everyone else. It will be me pushing the boundaries of what I thought I can do and discovering a whole new life.

It will be an experience like no other.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The down side to running...

.....is other people.

I'm out on a run, the sky is clear, air is great, I'm feeling brilliant. Running on the footpath, enjoying my 'happy place' in my mind when....

Thanks dude.  Like that was so original. And just what I needed to hear....NOT.

That makes this quote my most hated one of all time.  But it's better than what I've had called out to me before...

"Your arse is still big" or "Your arse is still behind you."
"Show us your tits" (Seriously?  I'm 41 and had 4 children.  If I could find any, I still wouldn't show you)
" You're going the wrong way"

Oh, the intelligence of the average male who WOULD call out from the car astounds me.

What does scare me are the screamers or honkers  The ones who drive past at speed, lean out the window and lean on the horn,  roar or scream at you on the way past. They really rattle me, although to find the positive, the adrenaline makes for some good run times.

I'm luckier than others.  I've not had anyone throw anything at me. Waterballoons, water bottles, rubbish and thongs I've heard of being turfed out the window of a passing car onto a runner.  Nice.

What is your problem, random man? Because it is usually males who do this, and never on their own. What's the point without an audience, right? You are the reason I don't run on the footpath as much as possible, preferring bicycle tracks. I don't wear my ipod for music when I am running on the road, I need my ears open for idiots who think swerving or revving in my direction is funny. I'm not in your way, or on the road. So what gives?

Does the sight of a 154 cm woman running make you feel guilty? Does it make you feel superior to be in your car while I'm using my feet? Do you get a little thrill or laugh scaring the crap out of me?

Whatever the reason, I hope it's not an indication of your intelligence although I suspect I may be hoping in vain.

I'm bemused a little as to why walkers are left alone but cyclists and runners cop it. Also bemused as to why someone doesn't yell out something positive? How about a bit of " GO FOR IT" or " LOOKING GOOD"?

Or how about leaving a little happiness on the path with chalk? Something like " You Go Girl", " You are doing AWESOME" or " KEEP GOING YOU ARE DOING GREAT"

Next run, I'm taking chalk with me.......I'd rather pass on the happy than to be part of the sad. Because it IS sad, that humour has to be found in the negative, that people cannot be appreciated or cheered for what they do, but rather ridiculed. That's not humour, it's just sad.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Though she be but little...


You betcha she is.

That quote is from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and refers more to temper...well I have plenty of that.

But I like to look at that quote, that line in a different way. Fierce for me means passion. And I am passionate, FIERCELY passionate about being healthy and helping others to do the same.

I never was that way inclined.....I could easily take it or leave it when it came to exercise and as I've often said before, my exercise was minimal.  When I started going to gym regularly though, I found those endorphins at the end of a good class weren't a myth, they were an addictive drug. That feeling I got when I was lifting weights was a mental boost.  And the freedom and supreme joy I feel when out running makes it all worthwhile.

And funny enough...people don't believe me. They think it must be genetic or I was just born a runner. I'm not genetically programmed to like exercise or to be a runner. I just did it over and over again and it clicked one day that I am actually liking this and missing it when I can't go. I've been up the back of the class feeling and looking like a nitwit, going the wrong way in Zumba class or punching myself in the face in Body Combat. Several times in fact. 

But I went back and kept trying. In fact the hardest thing I found to do was to get out that front door. Once I did that, the rest was easy. 

Healthy eating has taken over too.  It USED to be I'd look forward to Friday Night wine.....and a couple of bottles later I'd start to relax. Now I'm in bed by 9 after having a wineglass of lime and soda water. I find myself craving an apple instead of lollies, and my tastes have changed from wanting sweet to wanting fresh clean tastes. Cooking with fresh veges and seeing all those colours gives me a little smug smile of self satisfaction inside.  And yet noone believes that tastes can change. I hope a number of people I know don't get stranded on a desert island....since they can't 'live' without chocolate or wine or hot chips, they might as well curl up right then and there. I used to be that person.

Now don't go pointing those fingers at me...I still enjoy maltesers, or a glass of bubbly and The Park Hotel has THE BEST HOT CHIPS IN THE UNIVERSE (just to let you know) but I don't eat them every day....or even every week. I'm content to have them as a treat every now and then.

Speaking of treats, since when did we become dogs needing a treat every time we do something? "I just finished the groceries, buy a chocolate bar to reward myself for job well done", " It's been a hard day, a glass of wine will make it feel better" ( go for a run in the fresh air, you'll feel ACRES better) " Life's too short not to treat myself with a soft drink (diet or otherwise) with every meal" Well yup, you are right, keep eating and drinking that crap and life WILL be too short.

So I apologise if I have bored you with my talking/blogging/being healthy.  I just feel so INCREDIBLE I want you to feel the same way.

I won't apologise for putting on my crankypants when teased or otherwise about how I live. I have found my passion. And I will....

Sunday, 7 July 2013

When you just gotta dance....

 Now I warn you, this post is a bit clip heavy but trust me, you'll be smiling......

I love listening to music, especially when I run. Takes my mind off the run and I'm singing karaoke in my imagination, like a demon with back up dancers and singers and special fireworks effects. Some songs get me good, because my head says keep running but my feet say START DANCING!

Eye of the Tiger has me air punching, running around arms above my head like a champion, singing (shouting) the few words I know....EYE OF THE TIGAAAAHH.

Footloose has my feet doing the weirdest things, suprised I don't fall over.....I defy anyone to not dance when that song is on.  Much like this clip, one of my favourites...

Dancing equals happy. Dancing makes babies happy and oldies happy.  Dancing makes me happy.  Now I am NOT a great dancer ( but in my head, I am the BOMB) but when that music hits, I just have this overwhelming urge to just go for it.

I can use this to my advantage as well.  The times I am feeling just so blah, the very thought of dragging myself out of the house to go anywhere is far too much for me to put into action, I put on some music. I dance. I dance in the shower like a looney, and I can dance my way right out that door.

Children dance....ALL THE TIME! It doesn't matter who is watching or what they'll think or even if they are cool or not.  And by just dancing, they bring smiles to everyone and become in fact, very cool.

So let's do it. When things are getting us frustrated, when things are just going wrong, or when things are making us feel happy, JUST DANCE. Stuff what everyone else thinks, let the music take over and let it all out.  I know we'll  feel better for it. Find the Happy and share it out, show how much we love life....even at 88...

Thursday, 4 July 2013

What the hell does this make?

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Place eggs, milk, canola oil, sugar, wheat flour, cocoa,glyceryl monostearate, glyceryl distearate, polyglyserol esters, hydroxy propyl distarch phospahte, salt, carmine, paprika, beta carotene, dextrose, glucose powder, citrus fibre and xanthan.  Mix well.

3.Pour into prepared container and heat evenly for 20 minutes. Allow to stand 5 minutes before approaching.

4. When cold, add a well combined mixture of sugar, dexrose, milk,glyceryl monostearate, gyceryl distearate, acetic acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids, glucose syrup, potassium phosphate, wheat starch, maize starch, tapioca starch, cream, maltodextrin, sodioum citrate, salt, tocopherols concentrate, starter culture, hydrolised vegetable protein, citric acid, ascorbyl palmitate and methyl cellulose.  

It's my husbands birthday today and our daughter and I just made his birthday cake.

Packet mix Red Velvet cupcakes....but somehow, I have lost my appetite.