Tuesday, April 30, 2013



I took the kids shoe-shopping after school today. Totally failed to get anything (Jasmine is very very picky about shoes, they always "feel wrong") but decided while I was there to look at new running shoes for myself. My other ones are probably a couple of years old, I thought new ones might make a difference. They did all the various tests they do nowadays to find the right shoes and brought out three pairs with some padded inserts.

I guess I was hoping to find something that would miraculously make running pain-free, but even trotting up and down the shop made my shins hurt. I didn't buy anything, I will go back another time and do some more trials. And take my old shoes along to compare the feel.

I've pretty much decided not to do the Mother's Day run, I want to wait until I am closer to running a decent amount of that distance. I couldn't find anything else in the next couple of months, but there is always Parkrun every Saturday. And that is free.

I have PMS and I've been eating sugar and starch all day. Feel like rubbish (for both reasons). Tired and cranky and depressed. Oh well, it will pass.

A bridge and a weird person


Another zombie run today, Week 4 Day 2. One more session and I'll be halfway through the program! That's a scary thought as I am nowhere near running a continuous 5K. I really didn't feel like going out for a run today but the only low-guilt alternative was staying at the desk where I'd been stuck all morning and doing more work. Even running seemed preferable to that.

It was the same format as Saturday, a mix of slow walking and fast walking and knee-up jogging and 30 second interval running (it still seems odd to go backwards in terms of how long I am running, last week was 60 seconds). I planned out an interesting route that I hadn't taken before around nearby suburbs.

I set off down the hill for a few blocks on a path between houses, then across a main road. The walking/cycling path on the other side wove between trees at least 50 meters away from the road so it wasn't dangerous or too noisy but at the same time I didn't feel isolated. I didn't think my route was going to be long enough to cover the whole session (turns out I was wrong) so I diverted up a side street and along beside a park for a while, then back again.

As usual my shins were pretty sore, especially on the left, but stretching helped. The path was moderately hilly -- I really like running downhill as long as it's not too steep. Just before the bridge back over the road, about my 2/3 point, I saw a runner coming the other way. I was only walking at the time -- I had finished my intervals and was up to the 15 min free-form and I was pretty tired. From a distance I thought the runner was a child but as she got closer I saw it was a woman. She was very unusual-looking, hard to describe. Short and stocky, I suppose, with very brown skin. At first I thought she was of non-Anglo ethnicity but then I decided it was fake tan. She had on shorts and a bright orange crop top that exposed a flat stomach but with very loose wrinkly skin, making her body look a lot older than her face.

I was preparing to give a quick friendly smile as we passed each other, as you do, when she suddenly swerved in front of me and stopped, forcing me to stop too. She stood a bit too close for my ideas of personal space with sweaty strangers. I am only 5 ft tall (152 cm) but she was even shorter, with a very square masculine face and the skin peeling off her nose (so maybe real tan not fake?)

"Keep it up!" she exclaimed. "You'll get there!"

I gave a polite smile and wondered if it would be rude to step around her.

"I lost 22 kilograms in six months with running! You can do it."

Well that explained the excess stomach skin. It seemed an odd thing for her to say; a not particularly tactful way of saying I needed to lose weight. But I'm sure she meant well. I made some appropriately amazed facial expression.

"Start with walking and soon you'll be running! I did it!"

"I'm trying," I said. She finally trotted off. It was an odd encounter. I know she was just being friendly but something about her was just weird.

I got to the geographical goal of today's run, the pedestrial suspension bridge over the main road. On the side I was on I only had so go up a short ramp, but on the other side the ground was lower and the path spiraled round and round and down. I really enjoyed running down that, my longest interval of the day.

My shin pain was making me rethink the whole hard surfaces thing again so I tried running across a huge oval -- two football fields side by side -- with smooth short grass. It was nice and soft underfoot, but was like trying to run through quicksand. Much more exhausting than on the footpath. So I'm going to stick to the footpath for now.

My session finished when I was still a kilometre away from home. I bought a juice at the service station and walked home slowly. I didn't have time to shower, I had to pick up the kids almost immediately. At the school I arranged with a friend for the kids to go to her place and went home to shower, jogging part of the way. Then I walked to the friends house. All up I would have gone over 6K today, a lot of it walking but some running. And my legs are really feeling it tonight. A bit achy all over. Definitely need a rest day tomorrow.

Oh, and there were no actual zombies today. Some more exposition of the storyline though.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Snout stuck in the chocolate


Yesterday afternoon Tim took the kids out for a scooter while I did some editing work; Jasmine came off her scooter again and grazed up the other knee pretty badly, putting a hole in her new jeans, and Tim was feeling a bit dizzy and sick when he got back. He seemed to recover ok but I woke up about 4.30 this morning all sweaty and with slight stomach pain. I got back to sleep eventually. Later walking the kids to school left me feeling yuck again and in a mucky sweat which was unpleasant. Luckily I felt much better throughout the day, but I put off my zombie run until tomorrow.

Still haven't managed to get back on the healthy food wagon. I tried hard today but got my snout stuck in the chocolate bar. Then tonight we got home really late after the usual Monday run of activities, Jas was delayed by being measured for her costume for the dance concert coming up and we didn't get home until 7.00 with dinner not even started, so I got fried chicken on the way. Very bad choice. Super greasy.

Luckily tomorrow is always another day, another set of decisions to make.

There is another 5K in 2 weeks, a Mother's Day run, I just saw the ad on TV today. I think I'll do it. It gets expensive but it's very motivating to have a goal and be with other runners. And the money goes to breast cancer research. I need to beat 49:38! Two more weeks training should help a lot. Mother's Day (12 May this year) is also our wedding anniversary -- 11 years. What better way to celebrate my lovely marriage than by making myself healthier so that it lasts longer?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday at the lake


Thursday was ANZAC day (when Australia and New Zealand thank our war heros) and Tim took Friday off so we're having a nice family long weekend. We couldn't go away because my mum was staying with us, and also I still have editing work to finish.

I always stress about food when mum comes to visit. The irony is, of course, that she would be happy to have cheese on toast or something. She always gives us the same thing when we visit her. But I like to show off my culinary skills. Unfortunately my mum is affected by salicylates which are heavily concentrated in a lot of vegetables and fruit and almost all spices. And processed or packaged foods. And she is not that keen on eating a lot of meat. Which doesn't leave a lot of choice. Starches and fat, basically.

Anyway, we've had a calorie-laden weekend. Home-made chocolate cookies and banana bread, fried pork schnitzel and potato bake, croissants for breakfast, and we went to Pancake Parlour for lunch today as an early Mother's Day celebration. She went home this afternoon but it's not over yet -- still lots of left-overs!

After she'd gone we went out to the lake for some exercise. The kids took their razor scooters and Tim kept pace with me as I did my zombie run. He's much fitter than me so it's kind of embarrassing for him to see me struggling but it was also nice for us all to be out together.

Week 4 of the program was a bit different; it had alternating slow and fast walking, knee lifts (which are hard) and 30 second running intervals. There was a 5 minute free run at the start and a 15 minute one at the end -- I continued to do 30 second intervals but not that many. I didn't feel like I got in as much running as last session but it was harder nonetheless.

My shins hurt straight away on the first run after the warm-up and Tim had to remind me to stretch, so we stopped to do that a few times and it really helped. A bit more pain than last session, but it was ok. Not as much as poor Jasmine who came off her scooter half-way around and hurt her knees and hands.

Tim and I are in agreement that it is harder to get back on the healthy wagon after a binge; it is a downward spiral. But it must be done.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stretching and surfaces


I'd been toying for a while with the idea of straying away from the boring grass oval for my training run, but that would mean running on the hard surface of the footpath -- bad for my shins and possibly hips, ankles etc. Today Tim brought it up, and then when I got to the oval I found someone there practicing their golf. I'd rather run away from imaginary zombies than real golf balls, so I headed off on a big loop of the neighbourhood.

I walked the first five minutes, stretched, then walked the whole second five minute "free form run". I wanted to be sure I was completely warm and limber. Then my first 60 second running interval. I started running on the grass beside the path but it was uneven and I had to watch out for sticks so I quickly moved back to the footpath -- and it was so much easier! The end of the interval was up a steep hill but I made it (possibly going slower than I could have walked, but I was still doing jogging movements). Second interval was along a flat bit of footpath. For the last 10 seconds or so I veered off onto dirt and it instantly became much harder to keep up the pace.

But I still hadn't learned my lesson. I was at my destination, an interesting raised dirt path. Although after trying to run on it I shall revise the phrase "dirt path" to "dirt path covered in gravel, big rocks, sticks, leaves, and ants". I only got to 45 seconds on intervals 3 and 4, which made me sad. Was I never going to be a confident runner?

I got to the end of the dirt and scrambled down a steep crumbly incline, back onto a civilized surface. Interval 5 came up (so quickly!) and off I went without much hope in my heart. But I flew through it! I can't say easy, but so much easier! Was this the answer I was looking for? Is the grassy surface I've been running on just too uneven for me, making my legs and ankles work much harder than they do on the even footpath? Even allowing for stretching helping (I stopped a couple of extra times to stretch during the session) and natural improvement from being consistent with training, today's run seems to show that, contrary to all received wisdom, I've been running on the wrong surface.

I got to the free form section of the session -- two 8 minute run/walks with a 2 min walk in the middle. I did SEVEN more runs of around 60 seconds! Such awesomeness! That is ten altogether, not including the 45 second ones. And I didn't finish up limping and gasping, they were ... again I won't say easy, but managable. By the end of the session my shins were a little bit sore, but nothing like as bad as they have been other days.

And going a different way instead of round and round an oval was much more interesting.

I am filled with a new hope.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lurching onwards


I'm feeling a bit frustrated that I have this constant mental back-and-forth about running. I've been sticking to it because I would love to be able to run, and I enjoy listening to the app, and feel quite a lot of pressure (from myself) about not quitting everything all the time.

But I hate doing it. It is boring. And my legs hurt so much, all down my shins. Yesterday I was finding walking down stairs quite painful. I did another training run today and it hurt my shins all over again. I was limping a bit after I got home today. Am I damaging my body? Am I stupid to keep doing it when there are fun things like dancing that are just as much exercise without the bad bits?

I want to overcome obstacles, to succeed in difficult circumstances. I want to be able to look back and know that it was hard but I did it anyway. Maybe it's an opportunity for personal growth or something.

I was watching Biggest Loser Australia last night. Five contestants were sent home for a few days (which they were mostly very happy about) but almost immediately they were told they had to do a challenge, riding a spin bike for five hours. They could get other people to help them. The one covering the most distance would win something (unspecified). Four of the five seemed resigned, even quite excited about it. They asked workmates or family to take turns with them, one went to her old primary school, which her mother now taught at, and got a whole classful of kids to ride for a few minutes each.

The fifth person, a girl in her early 20s who already had a reputation as a slacker in the House, reacted quite differently. She whined and complained and had a tantrum. Five hours on a spin bike was a waste of her time, she'd wanted to spend time with her family (the others did spend time with their families, at the bike!), she had plans, she'd been misled about being able to come home, she was so angry and unhappy. So ... she hadn't been planning to spend any of her time exercising in the days at home, then? She said she would do it all by herself because she wouldn't waste anyone else's time on such a stupid challenge. Her mother kept her company, and also tried to recruit some passers-by (with very limited success) to ride a little for her.

We don't have the results of the challenge yet, but that is less important to me than the impact this person's attitude had on me. She was clearly so unpleasant to be around. She never stopped complaining. She only saw the negative. She made herself and those around her unhappy, when others used exactly the same circumstances to get pumped up and get friends and family to rally around.

Maybe, with her attitude, she knew she wouldn't have any family or friends willing to help. Sad thought.

I really don't want to be like that.

I vent a lot here and write about my frustrations but I really am trying to complain less. I want to be a positive happy person who is fun to be around. Still a lot of work to do.

So partly because of that episode, I got myself out for my zombie run today even though Sunday's session was boring and difficult. It was the same run format, but at least with a zombie this time so it was less boring. I also purchased Queen's Greatest Hits from iTunes so I have 51 well-loved songs to listen to that don't make the app glitch. It went smoothly today. Me, not so much.

I walked to the oval with the kids after arranging to meet some of their friends there (unfortunately they never showed up, but the kids were ok playing) and didn't start the app till we got settled. Warm-up then free form run which for me was short running intervals, then five 60 second running intervals. I ran the first one, made it to 45 seconds on the second, felt sick after the third, better on the fourth, 45 seconds again on the fifth because my shins were hurting so much. Then I limped around and around the oval for the two 8-minute free-form runs plus 2 mins official walking. Didn't manage any more running. By the time we got home I'd done about 1 hour 20 mins. Continuing doubts about the wisdom of all of this.

I did try to focus on some of the good parts of the outing. The intense blue of the sky, and the freshly-mown green of the grass. The music. My kids having a good time. The young couple with the big kite, it looked like it took a lot of strength to control and he had to keep helping her when it was her turn. Cute. Lots of people throwing balls for their dogs. The chained zombie trying to get loose. Plenty to enjoy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Boring run


I got out for my week 3 day 1 zombie run this afternoon. It didn't go well.

Firstly, I found it much harder. After a 5 min walking warm up there was a 5 min freeform run/walk -- I did two short run intervals during this time. Then there were the proper intervals; 60 seconds running then 60 seconds walking, plus some knee lifts. This was about where the other C25K plans had started in their week 1 and I'd hoped I'd built up to it by now. I really struggled. After the third interval I thought I was going to vomit and after the 60 seconds of walking I was still gasping for air so I walked the fourth interval and ran the fifth/last. Then there were two 8 minute freeform runs with a 2 min walk in between. On the first one I tried to run for about 15 seconds of every minute. Then the walk rest started. And went on. And on and on. There was a glitch with the app (more on that in a sec) and I ended up doing only one more very short run before going home.

I felt like it was really difficult today, possibly partly from the hayfever (this morning both my husband and I felt better, but after my run and him doing some gardening we both felt much worse again, so being outside was the trigger) but also it was boring. I usually love the zombie app, but today there were no actual zombies; it was a pretty straight training run with a virtual (human) partner. I was going around and around the oval, not enjoying it at all. I tried to focus on my music but wasn't into it.

The very first time I used the app it was glitching on me, and I learned that there are known problems when you pair it with music not downloaded directly from iTunes (to do with DRM locking), I only had one single "purchased" song and the rest of my music is copied across from my CDs (not sure what the legality of this is but it seems fair to me as I have purchased that music, just in CD form instead of from the internet). I bought about five more songs but it still didn't cover an entire workout, let alone variety from day to day. So I made some playlists from my other music and it seemed to be working ok.

The one day last week one of the 30 second intervals seemed to go for about 2 minutes. It was the last one of the day and I actually thought it was deliberate; it fit with the storyline and I thought it was a tricky way to get me to run longer. But today it glitched again and again. The voiceover gives you 15 second notifications when you are running, but several times there was a long long gap between notifications (I just guessed when I'd done about a minute).

Then there was the 2 minute walk that went for about 15 minutes. Finally the voice said: 'Ok now start running. That's two minutes. Halfway, going well. Only two minutes to go. Great work, you're done.' All in the space of about 10 seconds. I guess it was catching up.

So I have the choice of the same six songs, or my music with glitches. Or buying a lot more.

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's not working


So I stopped tracking calories and worrying about carbs and I stopped weighing myself everyday and just tried to focus on eating "real" food and moving my body. I wanted to be less obsessive about the whole subject of food and weight and somehow naturally evolve into a healthy person.

It's not working.

My new scale isn't very accurate, but I think I've put about two kilos back on. In about a week. The two kilos it took me months to lose.

I don't blame the real food/exercise combo because I haven't actually been following those guidelines well at all. Lots of junk, and the only exercise has been my zombie training run every second day -- about 35 minutes of mainly walking.

The problem is that when I relax the rules, I somehow give myself permission to go wild.

Maybe I shouldn't need strict rules of eat this/don't eat that, but I do. Apparently "eat real food" wasn't a firm enough guideline for me. I kept giving in to all sorts of food-like substances.

The fact that it is school holidays of course doesn't help, I am outside my normal routine and we are going to places like the movies where (for us) snack food is part of the event. But I think I would have had similar results anyway.

Another barrier has been the pollen. Hayfever is really making me feel awful every day. I comfort eat. Again, that is a contributer but I am in full control of what I put in my mouth -- hayfever or not.

I tend to have way too many "just on special occasions" events. Snack foods at the movies. Dessert when my dad is visiting (which he didn't eat! He never does). Chocolate cake because I feel yuck and I deserve it to make me feel better.

So I need to tighten the reins again.

Movie and shopping


Today was the first time I have missed a zombie workout, which I am a bit bummed about, but I'll do it tomorrow.

The kids and I were out for most of the day. We saw the movie "The Croods" which was very entertaining, and bought new boots for Aiden and new jeans for Jasmine and had lunch at a new Thai restaurant and did the grocery shopping. When we got home I basically collapsed into my cup of tea. Aiden had a bout of tears about his shoebox getting broken so I think he was tired too.

Sudden plunge in temperature today. Feels like winter.

Weekend now. And with no commitments at all. Yay.

And so goodnight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tree porn


Could all you trees please stop having sex in public?

The pollen count is "extreme" at the moment (it's autumn here so it's from trees not flowers, and I've seen a gust of wind shaking a huge cloud of green dust from the trees as I run past). My husband has had a headache for a week and my eyes water so much I can't wear mascara. When you're blonde like me that is a real issue! And my ears are itchy.

Today has involved some editing work in the morning then taking the kids to "Kid City" in the afternoon -- an indoor playground with huge slides and a jumping castle and ball pits and all that. They are big enough now that I can just let them roam free instead of nervously running around after them. I sat and read. The I took the boy to gymnastics and the girl to the library then home. Nearly time to get dinner started then pick up boy.

No exercise yet today. Maybe I can fit some dancing in after dinner.

Shins and books

more Wednesday:

I got out for my next zombie run this afternoon, week 2 day 3! I've finished two whole weeks! I took the kids to the school oval and they played with a ball while I walked/ran around the outside. Not as bad as Monday, but still quite painful for my shins. I'm still hooked on the whole zombie app thing so I'll keep going.

I just re-read Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" which is compelling stuff, and particularly enjoyable because it reinforces my current belief in the real food cult. I also read Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" (I've been reading her blog for a while) which was interesting. And "Hungry for Change" by James Colquhoun and Laurentine Ten Bosch but that is all about green juice fasts and detoxing so not so much in my line -- still promoting the real food thing though.

It's part of my working life to read a lot of fiction and usually I love that but for the past month or so I've been feeling really resistant to starting new books. I've re-read a heap of old favourites, I'm still reading through most of my free time, but maybe I'm a bit burnt out. I'll try a few book but put it down after a few pages, just can't make the commitment. Oh well, I'll get back to it soon I hope.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

re: Dancing Queen at bus-stop


I just saw a little video of a woman waiting at a bus-stop, grooving along to her iPod without caring that people might be watching. It has been given a soundtrack of "Dancing Queen" which didn't seem to quite match her moves and someone commented that they thought she was actually listening to "Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)". Anyway, it's a really cute video.

I flicked through some of the comments. All the ones I saw were very supportive and said it brightened their day etc. But some gave a very backhanded compliment; in essence that it didn't matter that she was fat, she should do it anyway. That she was perky and entertaining EVEN THOUGH she was overweight. My reaction to that was, why even mention her weight? It just shows how pervasive the "fat is unattractive" culture is that they thought they were being nice allowing her to dance in public just like a "normal" person. Kind of soured the whole thing for me.

I don't agree with the fat acceptance movement in that I don't think that fat is healthy and I don't think it should be embraced. But I do agree with the part of it that says that overweight people shouldn't be discriminated against. And in this case her weight had absolutely nothing to do with her entertainment value.

Or maybe it did, for some people. I don't know.

Maybe I am perpetuating this by talking about it at all. But I didn't think about her weight until it was brought up by other people. To me, she was just a person dancing surreptitiously in public.

Monday, April 15, 2013



My dad is here visiting. He listens to the radio before he gets out of bed so when he came to breakfast he asked if I had heard about the Boston marathon bombing. (I think it happened about 5am our time.) I turned on the news but had to turn it off again because of the kids, so I read about it on online newspaper reports. Just crazy, and senseless.

Bad stuff seems to happen in the US all the time (and lots of other countries that we don't hear about so much) and I always feel bad for them but it doesn't really touch me; this one did I think because I just ran a race myself three days ago. I have a very recent memory of running, approaching a finish line, with my husband and son cheering me on from the sidelines. That makes this bombing much more personal for me. It's so sad for everyone there who was affected in some way, losing their life, or a leg, or a loved one.

We took dad out to Cotter Dam, Jasmine had been there for a school excursion but I'd never seen it. The actual dam itself is of course a big ugly blot on the landscape -- but impressive -- but the surroundings are really nice. There is a lovely park and playground beside the river at the base of the dam, and a long gentle path up the opposite hill so you can get a good view of the dam. We spent a little while at the top looking and reading the info about it all but had to hurry down again to take the children to the toilets. Then they got to play on the extensive playground equipment. There was no internet connection there which was probably a good thing, I had a swing and chatted to family instead of checking news feeds every few minutes.

Then we went to lunch, dad always insists on a shopping centre food court which is beyond my comprehension, but wants to go to a different food court each time (as if they aren't all identical, and equally bad). Last visit I insisted on a decent restaurant so I gave in this time. The kids always get a McDonald's Happy Meals. I've tried and hated just about everything there but went with fish & chips. Horrible. I should have just got McD or KFC, at least that has some flavour. Salt and fat flavour, of course, but better than nothing.

A few days after my bathroom scales broke I bought a cheap version from Kmart. They aren't even digital so it's hard to get a reading more accurate than half a kilo. But that is what I want at the moment. To know that I am not gaining weight but without obsessing about it. I am only weighing myself a couple of times a week, when I think of it, and I'm not tracking food or counting calories or anything. Trying to eat more "real" food. Still having treats. Just relaxing a bit about the whole thing. And exercising more.

Sunday, April 14, 2013



I thought I would be exhausted for at least 24 hours after the race, but I woke yesterday full of energy. I spent nearly the whole day tackling projects around the house, including the biggest of all -- Jasmine's bedroom.

Today I took the kids to the park (it's school holidays) and they played on the equiment while I did the next zombie run -- week 2 day 2. That's when I felt the repercussions of Saturday. My shins started hurting straight away, running was very uncomfortable and I struggled to get through the session. Did it though. Yet again I am abruptly doubting the whole wisdom of continuing to run, but I'm sure the lure of zombies will keep me trying for a bit longer. I'm just sore from pushing myself, I've been doing so well for the past week. Can't give up now!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My first 5k -- done!


We had so much to do today I didn't think we would be able to fit it all in, but somehow we did. First was Jasmine's violin performance in a String Festival (she was in non-competitive under 10yo). Luckily for us they split her category into two groups so by 10:30 she had her medal and Tim could rush the kids off to their swimming lesson and then Jas to a party while I made my way to the race area. Luckily it was literally a block away. The 10K or maybe the half marathon was in progress, tomorrow is the marathon and ultra-marathon.

I changed and put on sunscreen, had my banana and string cheese and half my bottle of water, and sat down to play with my iPhone for half an hour. Then I checked in my backpack and got in the long line for the porta-loos. I was feeling a bit discouraged as I looked around me. In front of me in the queue was a woman with two young children (maybe 5 and 7) and also a toddler in a stroller, and I knew they were going to beat me in the race. Everyone was going to beat me. I could run a whole 15 seconds at a time, who was I kidding?

But I made my way to the starting line anyway and placed myself near the back of the large pack -- apparently there were 705 finishers today. We couldn't hear any of the announcements from back there so the starting gun came as a bit of a surprise but we all started shuffling forwards. We couldn't run yet, it was too crowded. After 100 metres or so I passed the starting line and the pack started to thin out.

I decided to put on my Zombie app, week 2 day 1, during the race. As I anticipated, I couldn't hear all of the voice-over at first due to the crowd but later it helped me get going. I was up to 30 second intervals today. For the first 10 minutes I watched a pink-haired lady in front of me, she stayed at a walk. Because I have short legs (I'm only 5 foot tall, 152 cm) I walk slower than most other people (I'm probably also just a slow walker). So this lady strode ahead and I would jog a little to keep up, then walk to recover and she would get ahead again, then jog to catch up again. At some point I passed her and then I never saw her again and had to use other people as markers.

Those first 10 minutes were the worst of the whole race. Whether it was because I wasn't warmed up properly (I did a little stretching and walking, but not much) or just the hard surface of the road when I usually run on grass, my legs were killing me. Quite bad pains up my shins. In particular, every step on my left foot sent pain shooting the front of my leg. And this was only the first 10 minutes! I still had 4 kilometers to go! But actually after that the pain eased up and it wasn't too bad at all.

After the 10 min warm up the zombie intervals began so I did those. 30 seconds of running each time, which I found managable. I found that I did 40 steps (on each foot, I always counted each right foot-fall) in 30 seconds. I was also listening to the soundtrack to Jekyll and Hyde, but couldn't hear it all that well.

When I was a couple of blocks away from the finish line on the first of two laps, the real runners started passing me on their second lap. After six or eight men had zoomed past me, a group of spectators started cheering me and yelling "go girl!" and "doing great" and similar and I smiled and sped up and then realised that they were cheering the first girl to lap me on her way to the finish line. She looked about 14.

I did my last zombie interval just before I finished lap one, and then I was on my own with the timing but I kept trying to do the same thing ... running 40 steps (about 30 seconds) and then walking to recover. The only water station was at this point so I had a few mouthfulls and set off on lap two. I felt in pretty good shape. I started trying to pass people. My stats show that although I was slightly faster on my first lap (not by much), I was comparatively faster on my second lap in relation to others -- so I slowed down a little bit but not as much as other people. We were all either walking a bit and running a bit, or just walking. I would set my sights on someone ahead of me, run to catch up, walk and fall back, run and pass then, walk and drop behind again, run and pass them for good.

The middle three kilometres were all pretty managable; the leg pain was much reduced and I was pacing myself well. But that last kilometre was a real struggle. I was out of energy. My legs were tired. Each running interval was harder than the one before. I was dehydrated and overheated. I saw a woman point out the corner to the finish line sprint up ahead so I sailed past them ... only to find she was wrong and I had another block before the correct corner. Finally the finish line was ahead. I walked until I thought it was close enough for a final sprint and ran. Saw my husband and little son cheering me on. Crossed the line and slowed to a walk. My husband yelled at me to go on and I realised the actual finish line was about a metre further on. Lurched over it. Yay!

After collecting my backpack and having a drink of freshly-squeezed juice (man that was good!) we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for a quick lunch -- I was still all hot and sweaty but we didn't have time for anything else -- then went to pick up Jasmine from her party. Got home at about 2.15 pm after a day that felt like it went for about a week, scoffed some birthday cake, had a hot bath and collapsed into bed for an hour. Killer headache and aching legs.

But I did it. My first 5K. My dream time would have been 45 mins, the only thing I had to go by was walking/jogging around the lake about a year ago in 52 mins. I hadn't done very much training.

My official time was 49:38, and I am happy with that. I got under 50 minutes, at least.

The winner took 15:58, the first female 18:53.

I was 682nd of 705 finishers (not last! yay! but as I tell the kids, even the person who came last did really well for finishing at all. The slowest walker is lapping the person sitting on the couch), 89th of 92 in my gender/age group.

So will I do it again? Dunno. I guess so. Not anytime real soon. I am still keen on running away from zombies, and I like doing races. I don't consider myself a runner. Some people say you are a runner if you do any running whatsoever, I disagree. I'm not a chef just because I cook my family dinner, I'm not a writer because I scribble a shopping list (or even this blog). I think it can make words almost meaningless if you broaden the application so far. But I guess I am in training.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Finished week 1


Today was the last day of term so we are now in school holidays. My first 5K is tomorrow (I did a FunRun a few months ago but it was only 3.4K). I did Week 1 Day 3 of my Zombies, Run! training app -- so I got through the whole first week! The other two training apps I've tried, I did week 1 a couple of times because I still couldn't do it all. This one I could, which feels good.

I had a funny moment half-way through my walk/run. My mission was to find something outside the safe zone, so at one point the voice in my ear told me to start looking around in the long grass for it. And I did! Then I realised that it was just a virtual item, it didn't actually exist in the real world.

As usual, I didn't get anywhere near as much paid work as I expected done today. So I had a think about what I did do.

Get up, dressed, work out what I need to organise for our super-busy day tomorrow, breakfast, make kids' lunch, chivvy children into readiness (how many times do I have to say "shoes on NOW!"?) take them to school. Drive to shops, find birthday present for tomorrow's party, grocery shopping, drive home, put cold things in fridge, start load of laundry. It is now 11.00. Cup of tea. Editing work. Make and eat lunch, sit and read (re-read) Game of Thrones. Change into work-out clothes, go for zombie run, shower and change. Time to pick up kids from school, take Aiden to gymnastics and get him changed, drive halfway across this small city to pick up my race pack for tomorrow as I registered one day too late to get it mailed to me, drive home. Now 4.30. Organise a playlist on my iPhone for race tomorrow, eat some grapes. Go to pick up Aiden from gymnastics, talk to his coach, drive home, start dishwasher, make and eat dinner. Write blog. We are coming up to 7.00pm.

Honestly the only gap I see there is that I had a long lunch break -- a whole hour.

I often have plans, earlier in the day, to work in the evening; but generally I'm too tired. I just want to sit in front of the TV and watch and/or read and/or play my iPhone.

This is not to complain, not at all! I am just justifying to myself why I often feel like I got nothing done all day. I did, really. Just not paid work!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013



Procrastination time! So many other things I should be doing ...

I don't know if it was anything to do with the party, but on Sunday morning my bathroom scales wouldn't work. I tried new batteries, I tried leaving all batteries out for hours so it could reset, but the numbers continued to sweep up and down and not settle on anything other than a string of Fs (it's supposed to be E for error, it couldn't even get that right). So I'll need to get a new scale, but for the first time in a couple of years I haven't weighed myself for days.

Then that morning (or it might have been the Monday) I decided to start tracking calories etc again (as I often do of a Monday) and my tracker didn't have a listing for the first thing I ate so I just decided to let that go too. No numbers this week! I have no idea what I weigh or how much I'm eating!

I've been trying to eat clean food, avoiding processed and eating more whole grains. I've been doing pretty well at that. Still lovely white sugar in my tea, though.

I've been wondering for a while if I'm becoming lactose intolerant. It worries me that I think about this stuff so much -- am I turning into my mother? I don't want food to be the focus of my life: allowed to eat this, not allowed to eat that, this food is good, that food is evil. On the other hand it makes sense to eat things that promote health and not things that upset my stomach and make me feel horrible (or stay obese). Anyway, last night I had a cup of hot chocolate, made with the last of the special chocolate flakes my husband bought me for Valentine's Day, and shortly afterwards felt intensely nauseated and my stomach bloated out so much I had to undo my jeans. I had it straight after dinner so the fajitas could also be a culprit although they have never bothered me before. I have dairy all the time, in the form of cheese or occasionally yoghurt, but I rarely have a whole mug of milk like that. Somthing to keep an eye on.

After my first zombie run I was sore for a couple of days, but after yesterday's run I was a bit sore immediately afterwards but I'm fine today. So that is good.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Undead Dancing Queen


After doing some editing in the morning then taking my daughter out of school for a dentist appointment then a quick lunch, it was zombie time again! Same routine as day 1, ten 15-second sprints amidst lots of walking. Total workout 37 minutes.

I am still excited about the whole "running away from zombies" thing, but nevertheless every time I run it reinforces the fact that it's just not natural for my body (or else my technique is terrible). Other exercise leaves me tired and maybe with sore muscles, running leaves with with aching shins (even after running on soft grass) and niggling pain in my hips and ankles. Oh well, I'm not giving up now. The zombies would get me.

I went to the further oval today, for variety, but didn't stick to the marked track.

I think I've got the music thing sorted. Maybe. I bought a few individual songs, ones I've always liked but didn't already own -- they are not particularly chosen for running, they are just songs I liked -- so today I didn't have to listen to any song more than twice; but also the friend who introduced me to the zombie app showed me how to make it play all my music. I haven't tried that yet, and the app itself says it's the less-recommended option and it can have some issues like stopping or skipping. Anyway, I'll give that a go next. I copied over my soundtrack to "Jekyll and Hyde" because I thought the transformation scene would be particularly appropriate -- lots of moans and roars! -- so I'll try that next. Although I'm not sure how to make it play specific songs or albums, today it just went through all my "purchased" songs in turn. So maybe it will just start with ABBA and go from there.

I can see me now, prancing around to "Dancing Queen" with a horde of zombies doing Thriller moves in the background...

I was extra tired after the session today, so that even picking up the kids from school (a walk of slightly over a kilometre in total) was an effort. So clearly I got in a good work-out.

Monday, April 8, 2013



Today I resisted the lure of the zombies and just did some dancing in my loungeroom. I was supposed to go to BodyPump but I decided I didn't have time (an hour class plus set up and driving and shower and changing is a big chunk out of my short working day) and ... just didn't wanna. BodyPump is not where my head it at at the moment.

I find balancing work and exercise and mothering etc etc tricky. I honesty don't know how others do it. Some people work many more hours than me (full time or more hours of part-time) and still have kids and have cleaner houses and go to the gym and maybe even study too. I guess they don't watch as much reality TV as I do. [At the moment (not right this second, in the evenings) they have simultaneously on three different channels The Biggest Loser, My Kitchen Rules, and The Voice. Bastard programming. They are each only on a few nights a week -- but the SAME nights as each other!] I can't watch them all, and don't have time to catch up later.

Time to retrieve children from school and have a playdate/cup of tea with a friend.

Need more zombies!

Monday evening:

I was so excited about my Zombie app that I went out running again late this afternoon! Can you believe that? Me, twice in one day! Of course the first session was nearly all walking, but I'd done my exercise for the day and chose to do more -- and chose running. So I guess this is a strong recommendation for the app. They've made running fun.

I took Jas to her dance class then Aiden & I went to a nearby park. He is six, much more active than me so I wasn't worried about him keeping up! He was totally excited about running with me, and only disappointed that he couldn't listen to the app himself. Week 1 Day 1 was a 10 min warm-up walk, then ten 15-second jog/run sprints with 60 second recovery walks in between. Then a 10 min "free form" where I chose to walk and Aiden did a bit of running off ahead.

I didn't feel there was enough zombie action in this session, but the 15 second intervals were great. As you know, I had been really struggling -- having tried two other apps -- starting with longer running intervals. Being able to actually complete all these ones made me feel really empowered and eager to keep training with this app. I even felt a bit defiant when the session finished with them telling me to take a day off running and they'd see me the day after that. My plan is to do BodyPump tomorrow, but I really want to go out running again!

Daylight savings just finished here and it was getting gloomy by the time we finished, and was fully dark 15 mins later.

My legs and ankles are pretty tired tonight, but better after a hot bath. Probably a good idea to alternate days with strength work.

I am trying to transition into more whole grains (instead of going low-carb, just going healthier-carb) as part of eating real food, so when shopping today I bought the usual white hi-fibre bread plus a loaf of grainy wholemeal bread. I haven't tried it yet. I still have major problems deciding what to have for breakfast (particularly since they've taken both my cereal and my yoghurt off the shelves), but for the moment I've decided on toast. With creamed corn, or cheese, or eggs, or peanut butter or even vegemite. I'll vary the topping. I've tried the white Country Grain before but not the wholemeal Country Grain.

I also bought some wholemeal flour, in case I want to make the healthy banana bread from www.100daysofrealfood.com (lots of interesting info there). And I looked at the wholewheat pasta but it was so dark brown and gritty looking I couldn't imagine the kids eating it (or me, for that matter). I decided to try the 51% wholegrain version. I'll let you know how it all goes.

An interesting thing they say on that site is that low-fat milk is worse than normal milk because they take out the fat but then add back in other stuff to make it acceptably creamy. They avoid all low-fat or diet versions of everything. I never use artificial sweetners and I know that "low-fat" can often mean added sugar to make it palatable, but it never occured to me that low-fat milk was anything other than regular milk with some fat removed.

I'm not going to quote all their stuff here, but it's worth having a look. I was fascinated by their report of a study about the effect of (approved) yellow food colouring in mice.

I'm not all of a sudden never eating pasta sauce out of a jar again, but I am trying to head in the general direction of clean eating. I think of myself as someone who generally cooks from scratch, but some convenience items do creep in. I never thought of making my own tortillas, for example, or salsa, although I do marinate and season the meat for fajitas myself not from a packet. Every step towards real food is progress. And every step away from a zombie saves brain cells.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Being chased by zombies


Today I tried the Zombies, Run! app. I won't be giving any spoilers about the story, but essentially it starts with you in a helicopter that crashes out in zombie territory and you have to make it to the fenced town. You hear a bit of the story, then it plays a song from your collection (more on that in a sec) then a bit more story - occasionally urging you to speed up to get away from zombies. The first session is more of an introduction and mainly walking. The actual week 1 day 1 is next.

I thought it was really fun. It definitely had me interested in running some more. Today I went to my kids' school oval which doesn't have marked lanes like the other one further away. I walked/ran around the edge, under the trees as much as possible - partly for shade but also because it was more atmospheric. The dog poo on my shoe and the nasty scratch from a twig snapping up onto my leg just made it more realistic. Oh no, would the smell of blood attract more zombies?

I was really pumped up and full of nervous energy, ready to sprint like a startled rabbit when I heard the dreaded "Braaaiiinnns......" so I was kind of disappointed that it starts you out so easy (I ran twice, and heard the laboured breathing of pursuit only once) but of course it is actually great for me because I could do the whole session. My one issue, really, is that they tell you to speed up but don't actually say to slow down again so I just chose my own time for that. I'm hoping the more official run training sessions are more precise about that.

With the music, I was having some problems getting it sorted and with all the fiddling I accidentally restarted the session when I was already 10 mins in, which was a pain. I finally worked out that it would only play "purchased" music, not all the stuff I have transferred across from my CDs. That left me with exactly one song, the only one I have ever bought directly from iTunes. So I listened to my helicopter crashing, then Christina Ricci mournfully sing "Jar of Hearts", then a bit more story, then "Jar of Hearts" again... etc. Eight, nine times? I urgently need to buy something I can run to. Maybe something angry, like Pink?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Party and Zombies


Last night we had a cocktail party for my husband's birthday. The actual birthday was a couple of weeks ago but having the party then would have meant getting up the next day to do the Verti-cool challenge. I am so so glad we didn't do that! I can barely even type this morning, let alone run up stairs.

It meant spending most of yesterday cleaning the house. Housework is always pretty low on our priorities list but when we have people over we do a huge clean. Sometimes unfortunately that makes us a bit tired by the time people get here! But yesterday was ok. Got everything ready, got the kids to bed, mixed up the first jug (strawberry margaritas) and got the party started.

It was an awesome night. We had a group of fun friends over and after a while of chatting we got into the Singstar and the Just Dance. Usually I'm pretty good at both, but I've found that when I've had a bit to drink I can still dance ok but I can't sing! I think my pitch was not too bad, but I had trouble keeping up and was often a word or two behind where I was supposed to be. No-one cared about who won any of the games, we all helped each other.

We had quite a lot of alcohol and I think most of us are not usually drinkers (Tim & I probably average one glass of wine a month if that) but no one got unpleasantly drunk, just happy and a bit silly. The last person left a bit before 2am, so much later than my usual bed time.

We crashed into bed but I had a lot of trouble sleeping for some reason, even though I was exhausted. I'm sure must have actually slept on-and-off but it felt like I was wakeful a lot of the night. My wrist was aching (a little dancing collision) and I felt a bit nauseated. So I'm pretty trashed this morning. Need to get some fluids into me.

Tim got up first so I came out to a clean kitchen! All the bottles and dirty glasses and squeezed husks of lemons gone. Lovely.

I had a lot of extra calories yesterday, mainly in alcohol, but it was actually a very active day.

The friend who was recently able to run 3K without stopping told me about the app she's been using, "Zombies Run", and I've downloaded it to try in case it makes run training more fun. There is a C25K type version, which I got, and another one for more advanced runners. Instead of just a boring voice telling you to start running or drop back to walking, you get a warning that a zombie is chasing you to inspire you to run faster! If it gets too close you get scary sound effects of groans and twigs snapping. I hope it doesn't give me nightmares! Haven't tried it yet, but it does sound inspiring. And apparently it starts off easier than the program I'm currently struggling with, with shorter run sections. I look forward to trying it.

As you can see I am still wavering between continuing running or not. So far I suck at it and hate the training, but on the other hand I would love to be able to run. I remember being a kid, running and leaping down stairs and feeling like I was flying. It would be awesome to get back to that.

I think today is going to be a rest day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ultra fit


I borrowed a couple of "Ultra Fitness" magazines from the library yesterday. I enjoy reading all sorts of Health and Fitness literature, from the very basic stuff to the more complex, and these ones are at the higher end without being boring or only for super-elite athletes who want to improve their race time by 0.3 seconds by doing 2 hours of pylometric exercises every day. Anyway, there was lots to inspire me.

It is just over 12 weeks to my next birthday (I will turn 43). I haven't been to the gym for ages but I rang them to check when my membership runs out and coincidentally it will end the day before my birthday. So I have 12 weeks of neglected gym to use. It's a good time to return to the gym as the weather is starting its slide towards winter here in chilly Canberra.

One article suggested that my best time for exercise would be 12-2 (to do with cortisol levels of an unfit person) so I am going to try lunchtime exercise classes for a while. A mix of Pump and Step, plus some dance at home and climbing mountains on the weekend. This gives me my alert morning period for getting brain work done.

Speaking of which, I am finding my current editing job really hard going. It is an intense traumatic true life story which is giving me flashbacks to some bad periods of my own life so I am working in fairly short bursts with lots of breaks.

My son is home sick from school today with a barking cough; he's sick enough to stay home but not sick enough to need to be in bed. Bad combination for me getting anything done today, but I'm trying. Shopping and going to the gym are out, but I can get him interested in his Lego or whatever and squeeze in some work and later dance a bit at home.

I've been lurching up and down with my diet plans. Every Monday or so I try again with a new variation of lower carb: cutting out just sugar and flour, or all starchy carbs including potato and quinoa, or all processed foods... then I have a binge and fall snout-first back into junk food. My fitness mag is all about clean eating -- ie no processed food -- so that is the current focus.

Oh, I haven't trained for running for more than a week, only one week to go until the race. My current feeling is I won't be doing it at all, but my husband suggested I have made a committment to do and paid my money... I don't know! Arg! If I do, it will mainly be a walk.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sleepless in Canberra


Tiny quick rant. I woke at about 5.00am and started stressing about all the stuff I have to do: the new medium-sized work project has turned into a major one, trying to fit in exercise including training for this stupid race, overflowing baskets of laundry waiting to be folded and put away, all these people I have to call because the dryer has broken and the garage door is broken and we need a new fence etc etc.

Anyway I wasn't really particularly unhappy, just wakeful and wishing I could get back to sleep, and then I suddenly realised that the expansion of the work project means I have now committed to work all through the upcoming school holidays! Arg! I try to avoid that, so hard to work with the kids home all day and not fair to them either. There is a deadline so I can't really do anything about it, other than work really hard for the next week and a half so I can take it a bit easier over the school holidays -- like do a couple of hours each morning then take the kids out every afternoon. And work a bit more in the evening.

So now I am really stressed. And I have no idea how I am now going to fit in exercise. But it is super important that I do. And will even make me more efficient at work, too, because my brain will be working better. And it will stop my RSI taking over.

Yesterday Jasmine brought home an invitation to a birthday party at the same time as the race. It would still be possible to do both, plus the String (music) Festival in the morning where Jas is performing, but very difficult. I felt like the universe was telling me I really didn't have to do this race, no one was making me do this hated thing except my own stubbornness. Then that night I learned that both a friend and a different friend's eight-year-old son had just (independently) managed to run 3K without stopping. And I was so jealous. I can barely run for 60 seconds! And frustrated with myself. Not knowing whether to quit running or stick with it.

I shouldn't be using my break from work to do more typing, so will go and stride around the house a bit. But my head is all over the place today, I need to settle somehow. Blogging helps me sort out my thinking.

Monday, April 1, 2013



I felt pretty unwell Sunday and Monday, whether from a virus or just PMS or a combination of both I don't know and does it really matter? Miserable too, I was thinking about how I don't really like who I am but don't know who I want to be or what I want to do with my life. I tried to imagine what my perfect life would be if I could have/do anything -- and I just didn't know. No wonder I'm going around in circles, I have no idea where I want to go.

But some of that could have been the PMS talking.

Feeling much better today. A new job came in but I haven't had a chance to start it yet. After I'd done the shopping this morning (groceries plus some winter clothes for the kids) the school called for me to pick up Aiden after a minor accident. Everyone is fine, but having him home this afternoon threw out my schedule a bit. He played quietly for a while then we tidied the kitchen together.

I started low carb again yesterday, except for some nibbles at my chocolate Easter Bunny. It's a limited edition boutique chocolate shop one my husband bought me so there is no way I am throwing any of it away, but it is a big temptation! I'll just have a bit each day until it's gone, and avoid the cheaper stuff the other bunny left around our house.