Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bieberising

We put up a bird-feeder.

I've been enjoying all the birds that come visit my Mum and decided that I wanted to do the same so I talked Iven into creating a special birdy restaurant that would bring birds in from near and far. I got him to put it just out from our patio so it would be easy to refill and easy to see all the magnificent birds that came to call. And it's over-hanging a garden bed so if the seeds fall out of the feeder there won't be any mess. Genius - I know.

I had total faith that if we built it they would come. They haven't!

That was about four weeks ago and so far we've had two birds. A magpie.


And a dirty, great scrub turkey. 


Disappointment is an understatement for how I'm feeling. Especially when I go over to my Mum's and see her lorikeets and cockatoos and kookaburras. And even more so when my sister, who doesn't even have a bird feeder, shows me the pictures of the king parrots and cockatoos who regularly visit her. Seriously?!! There's free food on offer and the only takers are the underclass of bird society.

I personally think that the problem lies in the scrub turkey. I'm pretty sure that the other birds are staying away because he's there. Lording it over the feeder and taking out the best bits of the bird seed like the sunflower seeds and corn. So I have made it my life's mission to dissuade this bird from ever darkening our doorstep again.

Picture this. It's 6am and I'm just out of bed. Still in pyjamas. Hair sticking out every which way. Broom in hand. Screaming like a banshee while flailing said broom over my head. You'd think that would be scary enough to stop him from ever returning. It's certainly made the neighbours look at me with distinct mistrust in their eyes.

But not my fine feathered friend. Food trumps crazy woman in his world and he keeps returning despite my superior broom-twirling skills.

But I have not lost hope. My mother has had a similar scrub turkey issue and has managed to scare him enough so he's no longer scratching out her newly-planted annuals. And the method she used? She Bieberised him.


For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Bieberising involves a life-sized cut out of the (using the term loosely here) star and placing it strategically in the garden. Sort of like a scarecrow. Personally I wouldn't have thought that the sweet, young Justin - before the egg-hurling, peeing in janitors buckets and all the arrests wouldn't have been so scary to a bird that has a pea-sized cerebrum but this doesn't appear to be the case. 

The dogs, on the other hand have no fear of Justin. Both of them have peed on him. Which gives me a sick sense of satisfaction. 

So once my mother has finally gotten sick of having this in her yard I'll be putting my hand up. I just he's not that scary to cockatoos and lorikeets.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Inspired

The Melbourne Marathon Festival happened over the weekend.

The first I haven't been part of for five years.

I can't say it wasn't hard to hear all the excited talk about coffee and food and shopping and running over the last couple of weeks. Cause it was - just a little. And I can't say it wasn't hard to let go of the opportunity to see my big baby boy - cause I miss him every day.

But it wasn't the right time for me this year. So I decided that disappointment was counter-productive and the best attitude is always a positive one.

But how to turn disappointment into something positive?

It actually was quite easy once I started to think out and not in. The weekend in Melbourne was all about my running buddies and their inspiring stories. So many of them went down to run and each of them trained their butts off to be ready.
Some overcame injuries to be there. Some ran with niggles that they were managing. Some ran PBs,. Some ran debut marathons or half marathons. Some struggled to finish but never gave up. They ran individually or together but they all supported each other. Because we are family - running family.


My favourite story from the weekend was from someone I've spent long Saturday runs chatting with. A man who probably shouldn't be alive after a massive heart attack last year. He had his heart set on running the full marathon and no doubt would have if injury had not intervened. And because of the post-heart attack medication he's on, the injury took longer than normal to heal. So he had to be content to drop back to the half marathon - still a huge ask when he couldn't run 10k a month ago.

His training ended up being a very short block culminating in an 18k long run just a week ago. He may not have been confident but he was determined and sometimes that's all you need. I couldn't have been more excited when I got the message that he'd gotten to the finish. And managed a PB!


Seeing all the pictures on Facebook over the weekend became the highlight of the week. It was a reason to reminisce over my Melbourne runs. My half marathon PB in a time that I never had dreamed possible. My first marathon - something that I'd vowed I'd never do. An injured half marathon that I ran supporting a squad member. A half marathon run after a year of a mystery illness that's no longer a mystery. And last year's marathon that I'd never have even started without the support of some very dear friends that I'd made through the squad.

I have gone from a little disappointed to really inspired.

Melbourne 2015 - only twelve months to go!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Blame Game

It happened again.

I went out with all intentions to run a nice easy run on Thursday and somewhere along the way all those good intentions got thrown into the river.

I'm pretty sure that it wasn't my fault. Nothing really ever is. That's the beauty of having a family - there's always someone else to blame. Even when it's clearly my own fault, I can distort things so the finger of blame is pointing away from me. Only just yesterday I had Iven believing that he and he alone was guilty of leaving the dog's lead in the car. Even though he hadn't been at home when it had happened.

I'm going to start by blaming the man posted at the temporary fencing to stop pedestrians from getting onto the Bicentennial Bikeway. He's a brave man that tries to stop menopausal women from running their favourite route at 5:00 in the morning. Let's say that I probably wasn't his happiest customer of the day. Which is nicer than saying I was a cranky bitch and it's lucky that I'm not allowed to carry a taser because I'd have really enjoyed trying to make him dance.



The little 'episode' with him and the adrenalin rush of having to cross Coronation Drive twice, illegally, had me running a little faster than I'd meant to. And we all know that once you get into a rhythm, it's hard to break it. Especially if that rhythm is dictated by the song that's playing endlessly in your head and you can't change it because your MP3 has died. Yeah, should have charged the battery.

I was just starting to get over the annoyance of the dictatorial path man, having to cross the road twice unnecessarily and having my music die when I saw HIM just up ahead of me. He looked fit and a good ten years younger than me. And I thought to myself - I can take him. Because there's nothing that I like better than beating someone in a race that only I'm aware of. Unless that someone is younger, fit-looking and male - I definitely like that better.

So ever so slightly, I picked up the pace. And slowly I started to reel him in until I was at the point of passing him.

Passing anyone always requires a special effort. You can't just pass another runner and ease off knowing that your job is done. You have to pass and make sure that the passee stays passed. And that's all well and good most of the time when the passee knows that there is no point as they are being passed by a superior runner. But every so often you get one that has an ego and doesn't take kindly to being passed by a middle-aged woman. As did this runner.

I passed him and I thought I'd done a good job of it - until I heard the heavy footsteps just a few metres behind. So I picked up the pace a bit more. And so did he. My imaginary race had turned into a real one and I was not going to back down.

Unfortunately, though, I was starting to get tired and my competitor was an unknown force. I couldn't tell if he could keep running at this pace all day or if he was breathing as heavily as I was. And I still had about 6 or 7k to run once I got over the bridge. So I did what any reasonable, sensible person would do in this circumstance. I pretended that there was no imaginary race and I stopped for a drink. And I stayed drinking long enough so he was well past me and I wouldn't be tempted to reignite our bitter imaginary feud.

You'd have thought that at this point I would have been satisfied with my imaginary win (and it was a win - because the race obviously finished at the water bubbler). But no - the competitor in me just had to chase down the other two young males (not fit-looking in the least) on the way back home. Luckily these two knew their place and once passed stayed passed. That's the way it's supposed to go.

I got home tired but satisfied. And five minutes faster than the previous week.

So if I'm a little tired in the legs this week from running too hard last Thursday, we all know who to blame. And it's not me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Highlight Of My Day

Sometimes I think I spend too much time by myself.

Actually I'm pretty sure I said that out loud to Bubbles yesterday when we were walking back inside after hanging out a load of towels.

Yes, my life is that exciting! She looked up at me with her cloudy eyes full of the wisdom of a life well lived, dropped on her rear and proceeded to scoot along the grass.

No, not Bubbles - just a graphic demonstration of the one of the joys of dog ownership.

The problem with my business is that there are busy times and slow times. And when it's a slow time it can get really quiet around here. Quiet enough that I talk to the animals. No biggie there unless the neighbours are hanging around, listening to our conversation. And even that's not too big of a deal because I know, from the number of wine bottles that get dumped in their recycling that, if any accusatory dirt was cast in my direction that I could dispel it with sly hints of alcoholic tendencies.

I'm going through a slow patch at work at the moment and I knew that apart from cutting out 43 pairs of royal blue tights there wasn't a lot of other stuff to look forward to so Bubbles' timely actions gave me a raison d'etre. For all of you non-French speakers out there, that means reason for existence. And no, I don't speak French - I've just read a lot of books.

My raison d'etre? To bring comfort to a small, furry companion who regularly gives me comfort and always gives me unconditional love. To use some of the five years of university training that it took to achieve my degree that I hardly ever dust off. To find those impacted anal glands and release them.




I chose the above graphic illustration of the approximate region that the anal glands are found. This was the toned-down version because I was pretty sure that the squeamish amongst you may not appreciate the tail up, full-pucker view of where I had to head. It's also the exact location that I found Bubbles after she'd seen me come in her direction with a tissue and had taken off. Hiding on my bed in full view may not be entirely the smartest thing to do but it does afford the potential for revenge if my tissue positioning is not perfect and the pressure in those anal glands is high.

I have a confession to make here. I love squeezing impacted anal glands. It's almost as much fun as popping pimples or removing blackheads from your spouse or progeny. And can I say that yesterday's experience did not disappoint. I would almost go so far as to say that it was the highlight of my day because cutting out 43 pair of royal blue tights and running 500m reps, although fun, was not quite as scintillating.

The only thing that might have been more exciting would have been getting a visitor to our newly-created bird-feeder.My parents have been feeding birds for a while and I've been getting a little envious of their fine feathered friends. So on the weekend I convinced Iven to create a bird-feeding zone, carefully suspended over the garden so I won't be having to clean up birdseed off our patio every day.

So far it hasn't mattered that the bowl is suspended over the garden because we haven't had a single visitor to our newly created all-you-can-eat buffet. Not one single bird!

I stupidly thought that we'd put out the bowl and we'd be inundated with flocks of cockatoos, lorikeets and galahs. Not so. Word needs to get out amongst the avian community first, it seems.

But I'm living in hope that if I build it they will come.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Leave No Man (Or Woman) Behind

Saturday mornings is always long run morning. Rain, hail or shine. (The hail part may be a bit of an exaggeration because that's never actually happened in the many years I've been running).

This Saturday was no different to any other Saturday. Except that it was. Yes, we all congregated at an ungodly hour. And we all were wearing appropriate running gear. And we all complained a little about the cool and the aforementioned ungodly hour. But our intrepid leader didn't show.

This has never happened before. Sure, he hasn't been to every single Saturday run but never before has he not turned up without someone knowing why. Turns out that the why was a really bad dose of the flu and he'd basically been sleeping since his last session on Friday morning.

But, being that we're all adults and quite capable of getting ourselves underway, we set off with the belief that we could do this alone. And of course we could. But there's something that Coach Chris does very well every time he leads and something that kind of gets neglected if he's not there. He makes sure that we take the first couple of kilometres pretty slowly and stick together as a group.

I understand why it's important to run the long runs slowly but this last Saturday I worked out why it was important to keep the group together. It's for idiots like me who take off with the quicker kids then realise that they're going too fast. It's no biggie to drop back in pace if there's plenty of people to run with once you've had that lightbulb moment. It is, however, a biggie to have that realisation when the rest of the group is quite a long way back and you're left with the decision to keep running at the too fast pace, run by yourself or wait a while at a water stop till the rest of the runners catch up.

Running by myself was never an option. I don't set my alarm for 4:45am to run solo. And waiting just didn't seem like that much fun so I chose Option A - run too fast and hope that I didn't crash and burn by the end.

Oh, did I mention that this was my first 20k-er in a couple of months? Running my first 20k at a quick pace was obviously the only logical decision. Go hard or go home! In a body bag.

We were running a route that we hadn't been able to take in a long time. In 2011 Brisbane had a lot of rain which resulted in a bit of a flood which resulted in this happening to our beloved Riverwalk.




The Riverwalk had been an integral part of our 20k run to New Farm Park and without it we had to run up Medina Hill. I hate Medina Hill!! It's a hill and it's steep. Enough said.

The new Riverwalk opened last weekend to much joy and elation from the running community. We could again run all the way to New Farm Park without having to do a hill session in the middle. 

I'd been excited about the run from the moment that I'd managed to elicit our route from our tight-lipped coach earlier during the week. (Don't ask me how I do it but it does involve a clever combination of nagging, the threat of bodily harm and the withdrawal of cupcake privileges). But I was less excited about doing it at the pace we were going. 

I'm not talking world record pace here. It was low 5 min k's as opposed to almost 6 min pace. Not an enormous difference but enough to make me question what the hell I was doing.

We got to New Farm Park, refuelled and rehydrated then set off back home. It was about then that I might have mentioned that if I started drifting back no one should worry. But I was told, in no uncertain terms, that no man (or woman - as the case may be) would be left behind. 

I wasn't going to get an out. So I sucked up all those doubts about what I could and couldn't do. And I tried hard to not think about how much further there was to go.

The mind is a powerful thing. If it says that you can't do something then you probably won't be able to do it. When it believes that something is possible then, miraculously, something that may have seemed too hard suddenly becomes achievable. And somewhere along those last 10k back I started to have glimmers of belief that I might make it.

There was no slowing on the way back. In fact we may have run it slightly faster. There were a couple of sub-5 min k's thrown in before the end. And I finished with some of my confidence restored.

I realised again just how important my running group is to me. There is no way that I would have run that far that fast without the company and support. 

But next week I'll be running a lot more conservatively. It might have been a great run and a real confidence boost but we can't be stupid about these things.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Important Life Lesson

I'm a girl.

Not a big surprise there since I've birthed three no-longer-tiny humans. And have all of the appropriate accessories that girls usually have.

I'm not always girlish when it comes to certain things - like wearing make-up and high heels. And I'd prefer to wear shorts over a skirt. But there are definitely times that my gender makes itself felt. Like when I bought these.


No, they're not the most unusually shaped tampons on the market. 

They just happen to be the prettiest dog poop bags that I've ever seen. Seriously, the only way they could have been prettier is if they were encrusted with glitter and diamantes. So when I saw them I just had to have them. And at $2.00 from the cheap shop, I had to have two.

Yes, I could have bought plain, clear ones cheaper but these ones spoke to me. And I'm pretty sure they said 'buy me'. So I did. Talk about extravagant! If Iven asks me about them I'll be using the 'this old thing? I've had it for years' line. Wouldn't want him to think I was squandering his hard-earned money.

Yesterday I realised that I really should have saved that extra twenty cents.

I took these two out for their walk.


And of course Toby did what he always does on a walk. Took a dump that a horse would be proud of. I pulled out a pretty little red poop bag with white hearts on it and did what a responsible dog owner that doesn't want to pay a $227.70 (who decides these random numbers?) fine does. I picked up the poop. In my pretty bag that, oddly, didn't look quite so pretty any more. But felt lovely and warm.

And it was at that point that I learnt an important life lesson. You can wrap up a turd in the most beautiful of wrappings and tie it up with a big sparkly bow but when you open up the wrapping it will still be a turd.

But having said that, if I ever do find poop bags encrusted with glitter and diamantes I'll probably still buy them. Hang the expense. And I'll do it because I'm a girl and I just couldn't resist.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

We Know How To Party

Something happened this last weekend that has rarely happened in the 27 years since I've had kids. We ended up with an offspring-free house!

To have all three of our sons gone at once is comparable in frequency to the passing of Halley's Comet. But certain events aligned to create this miracle. Sam was in Melbourne - no surprise there seeing as he moved there at the beginning of the year. Luke was house-sitting. And Josh went to Sydney to do this -


Add another medal to his collection.


All week I'd pondered the big question. What can Iven and I do? We couldn't go away too because all our puppy sitters were previously occupied. And, as Iven let me know on Friday because he isn't good at sharing pertinent information in a timely manner, he had a shift at work on Saturday. Years of weekend soccer matches and weekend work and just being tired from having a busy life has left both of us a little lacking in imagination when thinking up fun things to do.

I totally vetoed Iven's first suggestion of running around the house naked and after that he was a little reluctant to being forthcoming with genius ideas. However, I was just thinking of his health. Two bulging discs and some annoying bony bits that rub on his spinal nerve means that he shouldn't be running anywhere. And I was also protecting any unwary visitor or charity collector from the sight of pale, unfettered, saggy flesh. No one needs to see that.

I also vetoed any thought of cleaning, tidying or garden work. There is nothing mini-home-vacation-like about working. That can happen on any weekend.

Going out clubbing was also added to the 'no way' list. You get to an age when that's just not appealing - too many people, too much noise, too late at night. I got to that age before I actually tried it. 

So with so many ideas being taken off the table it was amazing that we actually had a nice weekend. But we did. We proved that despite our age we still know how to party.

Admittedly we ended up doing a lot of our normal weekend stuff - the long run, the breakfast out with extended family and the fruit and veggie shopping. But we added in a couple of extra things that we don't normally do.

Like heading out to Eat Street Markets. And eating Peruvian Paella - yum!


Followed by a Tim Tam Cronut and a Nutella Pretzel. I have never tasted anything so divine as that pretzel. Soft, warm chewy bread slathered in nutella. When they talk about Food of the Gods I'm pretty sure they're referring to this.


And to go some way towards paying off all those unnecessary, but totally delicious calories we got up early Sunday and took the dogs for a walk up a mountain.


Then had breakfast up the top. Which kind of defeated the idea that we'd be paying off some of the previous night's indulgence.


Toby and Bubbles loved every single minute of it - especially all the scrub turkey spotting.


We rounded off Sunday with a movie and then I took to bed to read an entire book. That's my idea of decadence. And then I managed to squeeze in another run. Just an easy 7k that felt really good despite the previous day's 17k.

Okay, it's probably not everyone's idea of a fun weekend but you get to an age where you don't actually care what anyone else thinks. And I'm pretty sure that in years to come I'll be looking back on this weekend  and wondering where I got the energy to do so much stuff. And when I do ask that question I'll think fondly about that nutella pretzel.