Monday, December 31, 2007

The last word......

....for 2007.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, didn't eat too much, and scored a bargain or two in the post-Christmas sales (we did!)

The first week of my holidays are over, the Christmas drinks we went to about a week and a half ago were great, and it was great to catch up with iliketoast and ihatetoast the day after the night before!

The running is coming along nicely. I returned to one of my old runs last Saturday - the Black Mountain nature park run. Omg, I'd forgotten how hilly it is! I have lost all my hill fitness and am still experiencing sore quads from the downhills! I have an easy week this week.

But for now - its back to my book. I'm reading Lord of the Rings. It could take me a while!

Happy new year and here's to a great 2008!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Last day at work......

.....for three weeks. Not that there's too many people here or a lot to do. After weeks of frantically typing up briefs, filling out costings templates, and the like, this week there's been........nothing. However there is still a couple of hours before I walk out of the office today so maybe I shouldn't have let that thought out!

Took my life into my own hands and headed off to the Plaza at lunchtime to search for 'the' present - hoping to get some inspiration. 'The' present is to be a surprise for Mr CJ but I have absolutely no bloody idea what to get him. He would have to be the hardest man in the world to buy for. No luck - I ended up buying Body Butter from the Body Shop for moi - I've almost run out. So I've got 3 days left in which I'm hoping inspiration will strike.

Running is going well. So much so that I forget that I ever had an injury that stopped me running for about 3 months. However I'm not pushing my luck - I'm still running between 8km and 10km but at least I'm consistent. Which is good because I'm surrounded by chocolate at the moment - chocolate santas at home, chocolate truffles at work, an amazing flourless chocolate cake made with Lindt Intense Orange chocolate that someone brought to morning tea yesterday (that was to die for....).

Tomorrow is my long run and I'm planning on running about 12km - 15 km. Then tomorrow night we're off to Christmas drinks at our friends' place - an annual event that's greatly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fingers crossed....

*whispering* I'm back running but I'm not trying to make too big a fuss about it....just in case.....you know..... I jinx myself. I've been steadily increasing my running over the past couple of weeks with no ill effects and I'm running 8km - 10km consistently......but no hills.....yet.

Hence the silence for the past few weeks (ok, month then) - that, and then post-election which meant lots of urgent briefings, costings, etc, etc...and then there's Christmas and yikes.....I'm way behind on everything! However I have one more week of work before going on holidays for 3 weeks....can't wait!

So, I'm back and my next event is........*drum roll* the 10,000m in January. Wish me luck.....I'm going to need it!

Monday, November 12, 2007



Courtesy of Lia's blog. I couldn't resist!!!!

A reunion of sorts

This morning I did something that I haven't done for 15 months. And while doing it I realised why I hadn't done this for 15 months. Yep, I got on my bike - literally. The bike was dragged out of the shed yesterday and what a sorry sight it was - covered in dust and cobwebs, and with 2 flat tyres. However once I cleaned it up and pumped up the tyres, it looked much better. Then I had to go searching for my helmet, bike gloves and shoes - also covered in a layer of dust.

The reason for resurrecting my bike was because I need to do something a little more substantial than run/walk sessions that are over before I really get started. I need to get my teeth into something other than chocolate! And it was either cycling or swimming so guess what won out.....for now.

I organised all my gear last night before going to bed so I wouldn't be running around in a flap this morning trying to find things (I'd forgotten how many bits and pieces are required for cycling). I was in the right mind set for a cycle this morning before breakfast.

So why was I lying in bed this morning thinking up all the reasons why I didn't need to get out on my bike? Honestly the time I waste in these fruitless exercises! I did get out on my bike eventually and cycled for about 18km - not far but plenty enough for my first foray. I have to admit I had to focus on clipping and unclipping my shoes, try to remember how the bike computer worked, and changing gears. I think it was all coming together nicely by the time I finished!

So that was my first cycle in 15 months. It won't be that long before my next ride!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A few of my favourite things


I have found pizza in Canberra that is the closest to the real Roman pizza - Pizza-Arte in Kingston. It operates out the back of a house - its a home-based business. Their motto is "life is too short for bad pizza" and I so agree. I had been grumbling a few weeks ago about the lack of decent woodfired thin crust pizzas in Canberra when an Italian friend of mine told me about Pizza-Arte. So Mr CJ and I made the trip across town last night to try the pizzas and we weren't disappointed. I had the patate pizza (potato and rosemary) and Mr CJ had the napolitana pizza. You have to ask specifically for the Italian-style thin crust. The best thing is they don't pile on the toppings so it just becomes gloop on top. Later last night a Domino's pizza ad came on TV and they were advertising the meatlovers pizza with ingredients galore and 'tons of cheese' - in other words, pizza gloop.


Another favourite place is Costa Noosa is, unfortunately, in Noosa!!! They make the best coffee.



As their website states:

"Costa Noosa Espresso is the coast's specialty roaster, catering for lovers of exceptional, fresh coffee.

At Costa Noosa Espresso, we take the best available 100% Arabica beans from the Americas, Asia and Australia and precisely roast and blend them to produce coffee with passion. We invite you to share that passion with us.

Call into our roastery and espresso bar in Duke Street, Sunshine Beach and experience a little Costa Noosa magic. For the true coffee aficionado, sitting in the roastery experiencing the sights, and the intensity of the taste and aroma as the finest primo quality beans are being roasted, creates a special magic all of its own."

The highlight of my week in Noosa was going across the road to Costa Noosa for my morning albinocino. Beam me up Scotty...and take me back there!


My current favourite chocolate!!!


"Traditionally the Maya Indians in southern Belize flavoured their cocoa with spices. We recapture this by blending rich, dark chocolate with a refreshing twist of orange that is perfectly balanced by the warmth of cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of vanilla.

Ingredients
Organic Cocoa Mass*, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa Butter*, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin, Natural Fruit and Spice Extracts (0.1%), Organic Vanilla Extract. * = All the cocoa in this chocolate is Fairtrade. Cocoa represents 55% of the total product weight."

The long road back

Friday I was back at the physio's for more treatment. The good news is that since the cortisone injection seems to have done the trick *touch wood* I can increase the amount of running I can do to.......*wait for it*....2.30min for each interval, with a 3min walk after each one. Sigh......at this rate I might be ready for the 2009 Canberra marathon :-( If, after a week, everything is still hunky dory then I can decrease the walk intervals from 3min to 2min. Lucky I'm a patient person....NOT!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dust if You Must......

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

(Author unknown)

TTOTM!

It was that time of the month again........KokoBlack time! This time I was having morning tea with some friends whom I hadn't seen for some time to exchange holiday stories and photos! I think I have been to Kokoblack three times since the end of September!!!!

As for the after effects of the cortisone injection - I had the injection last Tuesday afternoon, so Wednesday wasn't a lot of fun - in fact, it was very painful. The pain subsided about 4am Thursday morning and since then..........nothing! Now I won't get too excited just yet but *fingers crossed* I might have turned the corner. I have been for 2 short runs since the injection and there has been no soreness or achiness.

ACT has a public holiday on Tuesday (Melbourne Cup day) and so many of us, including moi, are taking Monday off as well - a 4 day long weekend. I haven't got anything special planned for the days off except study - I am currently studying a Certificate in Nutrition. This will be followed by a Cert 3 (Professional Fitness Instructor) and Cert 4 (Personal Trainer). Next year I have applied to do an Advanced Diploma In Naturopathy (part-time), specialising in nutrition. So life, no doubt, will become very hectic!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

X marks the spot

Injury update:

It's been 72 days since the injury first reared its ugly head, up in Noosa (not that I'm counting!) In that time, I have had x-rays, a bone scan, and today it was a cortisone injection. The problem is the injury is not improving despite the very limited running I am doing - it still aches when I run, aches when I stop and aches in the middle of the night, or when I go down stairs, or just because it can. The periostitis is very localised - I can point to exactly where it is tender. For some reason, doctors and physios take great pleasure in applying some force to this particular spot and then asking, with a straight face, whether it hurts - one look at my face gives them the answer.

So the sports doc poked and prodded again today, muttering about how the symptoms still point to a stress fracture and debating whether I should have an MRI before the cortisone injection. However, we opted for the cortisone injection first, and then if it hasn't improved in about a week's time, I will have the MRI. This injury is going to send me broke!

Naturally I googled 'cortisone' before the visit to the doc today and came up with the following information:

How do cortisone injections work?
Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that occurs naturally in the body to controls and assists normal body functions. When therapists use cortisone to treat tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis it acts as a potent local anti-inflammatory drug. Cortisone is useful in suppressing inflammation in the short term, and in the long term, dissolving scar tissue, stabilizing the body's defenses, speeding the healing process, and is very effective in causing certain cysts to disappear.

Cortisone is not directly a pain relieving medication, as it only treats the cause or site of inflammation. Your pain is decreased by a cortisone treatment because the inflammation is diminished and this is turn reduces the pain. By injecting the cortisone into a particular area of inflammation, very high concentrations of the medication can be given while keeping potential side-effects to a minimum.

What is cortisone?
Cortisone is a type of steroid that is produced naturally by a gland in your body called the adrenal gland. Cortisone is released from the adrenal gland when your body is under stress, and natural cortisone is released into the blood stream and is relatively short-acting. The absence of cortisone in the body is called Addison's Disease.

Injectible cortisone is synthetically produced but is a close derivative of your body's natural product. The most significant differences are that synthetic cortisone is not injected into the blood stream, but into a particular area of inflammation. Also, the synthetic cortisone is designed to act more potently and for a longer period of time (days instead of minutes).

Are there side effects to a cortisone injection?
Unfortunately yes. Probably the most common side-effect is a 'cortisone flare,' a condition where the injected cortisone crystallizes and can cause a brief period of pain worse than before the shot. This usually lasts a day or two and is best treated by icing the injected area.

Another common side-effect is whitening of the skin where the injection is given. This is only a concern in people with darker skin, and is not harmful, but patients should be aware of this.

Other side-effects of cortisone injections, although rare, can be quite serious. The most concerning is infection, especially if the injection is given into a joint. The best prevention is careful injection technique, with sterilization of the skin using iodine and/or alcohol.

Also, patients with diabetes may have a transient increase in their blood sugar which they should watch for closely. Because cortisone is a naturally occurring substance, true allergic responses to the injected substance do not occur. However, it is possible to be allergic to other aspects of the injection, most commonly the betadine many physicians use to sterilize the skin.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Attitude

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.
Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today" So she did and she had a wonderful day.


The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
"H-M-M," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today" So she did and she had a grand day.


The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
"Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day.


The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.
"YEA!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly.......

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Motivational Quote of the Day

"It may not be your fault for being down, but it's got to be your fault for not getting up."

Steve Davis

Something’s gotta give

My energy levels haven’t improved.

I went to the gym this morning and while I worked my butt off on the weights I still felt as if I was wading through molasses.

The running is coming along slowly – too slowly for my liking but then I’m not known for my patience. As for the periostitis, there is still some tenderness in one particular area of my shin but I don’t think it warrants a cortisone injection. I see the physio again on Friday and a decision will be made then.

I pretty much flunked the calf flexibility test last week at the physio’s – you know, the one where you stand next to a wall then bend the knee, with the aim of touching the wall with said knee. With my left foot, the distance is about 4cm from the end of my toes to the wall. With my right foot it’s about 2cm.

Now, in case it’s not immediately obvious, I have very tight calves! And this has probably contributed to my injury. In fact, in all likelihood, it’s been the change in terrain since last November that has contributed to the problem as a lot of my running included steeper hills than usual. I have tended to run on the balls of my feet more than usual thus increasing the load on my calves, which over time have become tighter and tighter until *twang* something gave way ie an overuse injury.

Days like these…….

…..are better off spent staying in bed out of harms way!

That was my day yesterday.

I started the day with a ‘run’ of 90sec jog followed by 90sec walk then 3min jog followed by 3min walk and repeat this. I have to say it was the fugliest run I’ve done in a long time. It was like how I imagine running through molasses would be like – hard going to say the least. My energy levels have dipped below the empty mark and yet it can’t be my diet – I am fully loaded on slow carbs ie low GI carbs. And it’s not like I’m over training – 4 runs a week but it’s only a total of 9mins actual running time for each run. I go to the gym twice a week so I hardly qualify as a gym junkie. Hopefully this lack of energy will pass.

Ever heard of the person who sends out a joke email and accidentally includes the whole department in the email?

Trust me, it does happen and I am living proof of it.

Ok, so it wasn’t the entire department but it did go to everyone in one particular building belonging to our department. How did it happen? The person I was forwarding on some joke photos (not risque, thank heavens) has the same surname as the name of this particular building and I didn’t look when selecting the name from the address book – bad, bad move. Anyway to cut a long sad sorry tale short, the motto of this story is to always check the email address BEFORE sending the email (or just don’t send joke emails at all and I’m seriously considering that option!) I sat waiting with sinking heart for emails to come pouring back in but so far only 2. It’s so mortifying…… :-( I’m such a klutz at times.

Yesterday’s highlight (fortunately it wasn’t all lowlights) was attending a work presentation by Ian Kiernan (Cleanup Australia) – a very down-to-earth man who is passionate about the environment and can tell a good story or two. The theme of the talk was leadership and it was a very entertaining hour. The next talk will be given by Dr John Tickell (of the Great Australian Diet and Celebrity Overhaul fame) in November – I am looking forward to it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Motivational Quote of the Day

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending."
Carl Bard

Low GI Diet

Part 2 of Operation Marshmallow to Muscle:


"The Low GI Diet is the safe and healthy way to lose weight with smart carbs. The Australian authors of the bestselling series on the glycemic index, The New Glucose Revolution, explain how choosing low GI carbohydrates—the ones that produce only small fluctuations in your blood glucose levels—can help you feel fuller longer and increase your energy levels, making weight loss achievable and sustainable.

The Low GI Diet includes:
*a 12-week action plan based on smart carbs and smart moves—lose up to ten per cent of your current body weight
*the tools and tips you need to maintain weight loss for life
*delicious recipes, meal plans and a menu survival guide
*the GI tables—with the GI of all your favourite foods.
*Easy to follow, and based on making simple substitutions to the way you eat now, The Low GI Diet will change the way you eat for life."

Is it any coincidence that chocolate is low GI?!!!!! *just kidding - while it is low GI it is also high in saturated fat so all things in moderation!* :-)

Well, I'm almost at the end of the first week of 12 weeks and I have probably eaten more healthily than I have for quite a while. Its a food plan I can live with because it contains a lot of food I enjoy: fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, etc. Portion size is probably my biggest trap and because I am not doing a great deal of running I need to scale down the amount I eat.

For each week there are goals: food goal, exercise goal, activitiy goal ie incidental activity, and Food for Thought.
So, for example, the food goal for the week:
Increase my awareness of what I eat and why (now that can be pretty scary!)
Exercise goal:
pretty much taken care of - I jog/walk 4 times a week and go to the gym twice a week
Food for thought: what is the GI of my diet?

In short, this is a meal plan that I can live with.

As it says in the book: "One of the loudest messages in this book - despite its title - is don't 'diet'.
Don't severely restrict food intake, don't skip breakfast, don't skip meals, don't follow fad diets - you are just asking for trouble. Instead, we want you to adopt simple lifestyle 'manoeuvres', only some of which are specific to food. The aim is to maximise your muscle mass (increase your engine size), minimise your body fat (decrease the cushioning ie the marshmallow) and keep you burning the optimal fuel mix for lifelong weight control (high octane energy with built-in engine 'protectants')."

I know, sounds pretty basic, but its amazing how complicated we can make things sometimes.

Dark chocolate acts as aspirin


Dark chocolate acts as aspirin – study
Cocoa contained in dark chocolate may function in the same way as aspirin in preventing heart attacks, according to a new US study.

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say that a few squares of dark chocolate each day can reduce the risk of heart attack by almost 50 per cent in some cases.

The researchers said platelets in the blood of dark chocolate eaters clotted more slowly, reducing platelet clumping in the blood. Platelet clumping can be fatal if a clot forms and blocks a blood vessel, causing a heart attack.

Given the high levels of saturated fat and sugar in chocolate, you can obtain the benefits of cocoa on a regular basis without the added kilojoules by having a hot chocolate or iced chocolate drink made from cocoa, with skim milk.

Source: Presentation to the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Session, November 2006.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Operation Marshmallow to Muscle

This little project (Operation Marshmallow to Muscle) started when I went back to work on 5 September but it fell by the wayside , what with one thing and another. I have refocused and was back into the gym this morning. As part of Operation Marshmallow to Muscle, I am following the Triple Threat Workout by Dr John Berardi, featured in this month's Oxygen magazine.

Apparently our total daily metabolic rate can be broken down into 4 components:
* Resting metabolic rate
* Physical activity level
* Thermic effect of feeding
* Non-exercise activity thermogenesis

If we want to maximally boost our metabolism we need to rev up all 4 of these components, and to do so we need to take aim at 5 main metabolic targets: muscle, afterburn, post-meal metabolism, inefficiency and exercise volume.

The Triple Threat Workout is designed to maximise 4 of the 5 targets. And the workout got its name because it combines 3 types of exercise:
* weight training
* interval exercise
* active recovery cardio

So, for example, a weekly workout could look like this:
Monday
Weight training: lower body weights
Tuesday
Interval exercise session 1: 7 to 10 x 30sec high intensity; 90 secs low intensity
Wednesday
Active recovery cardio workout: 60mins of low intensity cardio
Thursday
Weight training: Upper body weights
Friday
Interval exercise session 2: 7 to 10 x 60sec high intensity; 60sec low intensity
Saturday
Active recovery cardio workout: 60mins of low intensity cardio
Sunday
Rest

I have changed it slightly for the weights session: I do a whole body weights session rather than split it into upper and lower body over 2 sessions. For Monday (today) I do (did) progressively heavier weights and progressively lower reps. For my other weights session I will do lighter weights and higher reps just to mix things up. Hopefully by summer there'll be more muscle than squishy marshmallow!

So that's one part of my planning put into practice. Still to come: future running goals, nutrition plan, study plans/options.........

Well done Macca!!!!!

Winner of the 2007 Hawaii Ironman

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Persistence


A little bit of what you fancy........

This afternoon I met friends for afternoon tea at where else but KokoBlack! I had a short macchiato and the Belgian Spoil platter. For those not familiar with the Belgian Spoil it comprises a small serve of chocolate icecream, a small serve of choc mousse, a small shortbread biscuit, a small choc muffin, and two KokoBlack chocolates. Yummo! The best thing about it are the small serves, so while it sounds like a lot its not......its just right! Anyway it was a great way to spend an afternoon - with Strewth, Mr B, Kelley and Rachelle. See what you missed Ewen!

Anyway I went for a run yesterday *drum roll* This consisted of 4 x 90sec jog followed by 2min walk in between. If I counted the warm up and cool down walks, it came to about 20min in total. Woo hoo! Baby steps...... The important thing was there was no pain during or after the run. However I am taking anti-inflammatories as advised by the sports doc and will be taking them for a week, so this could be masking the pain. But I'm being positive about this - I've turned the corner and on the road to recovery....slowly! (And twofruits you didn't have anything to do with this injury so just ignore Ewen)

I have also been drawing up a plan - new goals for exercise, running, nutrition and life. All will be revealed over the next few days but exciting times are ahead! See what happens when I can't run - I can't not have goals!!!

Finally a couple of photos from last week's whale watching trip.......



Friday, October 12, 2007

Periostitis

Defn: Is generally considered to be an overuse injury that produces an inflammatory reaction and pain, usually along the border of a bone. Most authors agree that the pain is associated with bony periostitis, rather than the previous theory of musculotendinous inflammation

Etiology: Most studies suggest that excessive pronation, foot instability, along with a change in activity, such as type of shoes, or running surface causes increased stretch and eccentric contraction on the tibialis anterior muscle. This causes increased traction forces at the periosteal-fascial junction resulting in periosteal oedema or microfractures of the cortical bone.

Clinical features: Recent studies using MRI scans have revealed what the majority of authors thought - that periostitis occurs prior to the formation of a stress fracture (Anderson, et al., 1997; and Fredericson, et al., 1995). This therefore makes it extremely difficult to differentiate clinically between the two, because of the similar signs and symptoms.

Symptoms: It a condition also exaggerated by exercise and relieved by rest. The pain description can vary from a dull ache to severe pain, especially with prolonged activity. The patient will nearly always confirm that the pain is along the border of a bone.

Treatment: Since most authors agree that periostitis precedes most stress fractures, the treatment is basically the same. The patient must be aware of the implications of developing a stress fracture if activity is not modified. The treatment relies heavily on rest followed by gradual resumption of exercise. Rest can be considered a relative decrease in the offending activity to a level which is comfortable. In the acute phase cryotherapy, ultrasound and physiotherapy are recommended, while the chronic stage involves the use of massage, heat, trigger point therapy, ultrasound, shoe modification, and taping procedures. Orthotics should be prescribed to assist athletes with excessive pronation or abnormal subtalar mobility. Should these conservative measures fail, anti-inflammatory drugs and steroid injections may be of benefit.

Ok, lesson over....

I had a bone scan yesterday and the diagnosis is periostitis. Better than a stress fracture I guess though looking at the treatment, I can't really see the difference! I can try some 'running' ie 90sec jogging followed by walking and repeat this several times. The sports doc looked at me very firmly as she was saying this and then, to add insult to injury, ended her lecture with "so don't go out tomorrow and run for 30min". *sigh* She knows me too well....

If, in a fortnight's time, it is still sore, then I am to have a cortisone injection. Ouch.....

So what have I been doing in the meantime to compensate for no running?

Well, there was a trip to Merimbula last weekend for a spot of whale watching - unreal, amazing, incredible. The weather wasn't great and it was very windy and the ocean was very choppy but to our credit, no-one in our little group threw up. We must've seen around 20 whales - it really was sensational. There was also a visit or two to Truffles, a chocolate cafe. And highly recommended is a little cafe in Nimmitabel called CJ Harveys - and no, I don't have shares in it! But it serves great coffee and food - the toasted chicken panini was to die for. We stopped there for lunch on our way back to Canberra last Sunday.

I visited KokoBlack here in Canberra a fortnight ago - the first time since it opened in June this year. Here is the link: drooling permitted!: http://www.kokoblack.com/ *And girls (and boy), and you know who you are (!),* I'm going there again this Sunday for afternoon tea with friends AND again in a fortnight's time for morning tea with another group of friends! So texting me while I am in my sick bed to tell me you are at KokoBlacks did not have the desired effect of making me jealous....well, ok, a teensy little bit!

So, no running but a lot of chocolate consumption! I'm morphing from Fit CJ into Fat CJ!!!!

Until next time.......

ps Congratulations to everyone who ran the Melbourne Marathon - you did well, given the circumstances some of you experienced. Well done guys, I'm very proud of you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nobbled

Not a lot has happened since my last post. I've been following physio's orders and only do short runs (7km), on soft surfaces, on alternate days, with right foot strapped, blah, blah, blah......

What should've happened is that the shin pain would have gone away and everything would be hunkydorey.

SO WHY HASN'T IT???!!!! (just a touch of frustration starting to show....)

So today at the physio's I was put through a couple of physical diagnostic tests and the decision was made......make an appointment to see a sports doctor. Until it can be confirmed my injury is now being treated as a possible stress fracture. !@#$%^& (a bit more frustration starting to emerge).

I see the sports doctor Friday 5 October.

Stay tuned........

Thursday, September 13, 2007

If not now, when?!

I admit it's been a while between posts but I foolishly promised someone today that I would try and post tonight. Anyway, since the last post I spent a very wet week in Noosa (the week of the floods), been struck down with injury, and gone back to work after having 3mths off.

Noosa wasn't great weather-wise but I did manage to catch up with iliketoast which was a highlight. Unfortunately ihatetoast couldn't make it and Tesso had made other plans this year. Still it was a good but soggy week. And in Sunshine Beach there is THE best coffee shop around - Costa Noosa. They know their beans and make excellent coffee. It was just across the road from our apartment so it was a daily highlight to go across for my morning albinoccino (capuccino with no chocolate on top).

Running-wise, things have not been great. The two runs I did in Noosa were awful - in hindsight, I should never have run. After an enforced week off from running because of the rain, I attempted a run when I got back to Canberra. However, I didn't even make it to the end of the street. Uh oh.... Off to the physio - medial tibial stress syndrome (aka shin splints but I prefer the medical term - it sounds much more impressive). My calf was strapped but unfortunately I reacted to the hypoallergenic tape and this resulted in huge nasty blisters. To cut a long story short, things got very messy. However the blisters have now cleared up, my calf resembles lizard woman, and I'm allowed to start running - on soft surfaces for about 40mins, a couple of days a week. Tuesday's run went well but there was some tenderness this morning - not good. I go back to the physio tomorrow.....

I'm back at work, same department but in a new Branch doing something completely different - the job has come with added responsibilities so there's a bit of stress. I'm still trying to re-engage my brain but its taking time!

Until next time......

Friday, August 17, 2007

The long and winding (and hilly and lonely) road

Friday Total: 34k
Week total: 75.4k
Month total: 202k
Year total: 1,584.5k

Time: 3hr 19.42min
Av pace: 5.52min/km
Av Temp: 11.7*c (10.36am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 72.4%
Wind Spd Avg: 27kph (NW)
Started with: Knights of Cydonia - Muse
Finished with: Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

There were many ups and downs today - both literally and mentally. The plan had been to start the run early in the morning but this never eventuated because I had to take son #1 into Civic for an interview (he was successful and starts work on Monday - yay!). The weather wasn't looking great either - black clouds, stormy looking, with a brisk wind (which I seemed to run into when running up hills).

I mentally split the run into 3 stages and only focused on the stage I was running, rather than think too much about what was still ahead of me. The first stage took me from Black Mt peninsula, along the cycle path to Aranda bushland and then into Black Mt nature park. This was my favourite run and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything was damp and fresh from the overnight thunderstorm,and it was soft underfoot.

Stage 2 was through the Cork plantation, up Gunbarrel Hill (and I did walk a bit of this), and then up a couple of other hills including Dairy Farmers hill(?) (more walking) before heading back down again. This was hard work and took a lot out of me. The wind wasn't helping either. I headed off down towards the river, across Clo's Crossing (?) and then ran the old jogalong course in reverse. It was bleak out there - the wind blasted across the exposed land and it was threatening to rain - there was some sprinkles but that's about it.

Stage 3 was the run down by the river (part of a Vets course) towards the zoo, then cross the road and run along the cycle path back to Black Mt peninsula. I passed Helen L coming the other way at a cracking pace - the only other person I saw the entire time I was out. By now I was in a black mood and very very tired. I was like !@#$%^&* whenever I came to a hill! I thought a lot about the banana smoothie I was going to have when I got home. I came up with different headings for today's blog entry but a lot of them I couldn't print! My Chemical Romance's song Welcome to the Black Parade came on when I was close to finishing and it was exactly how I was feeling, especially when it spoke about the "broken, the beaten and the damned"!

Finally the Garmin said 34km and that was it - I was stopping. I had run long and far enough. Too bad that I wasn't back at my car, too bad that I still had to get up the hill at Black Mt peninsula - I was walking!

Tomorrow I am off to Noosa to SPECTATE, peoples! Its not a case of being able to do the distance, I know I can. But I'm in the building phase of my program and so its a case of consistency and increasing the distances. Speedwork won't happen for a few weeks yet and I don't plan on doing anything that could jeopardise my training, ie injury. I have had 3 weeks of building so its an easy week and I intend to enjoy it! Besides I make a very good spectator! :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Nothing ventured, nothing gained......

Wednesday Total: 18.7k
Week total: 41.4k
Month total: 168k
Year total: 1,550.5k

Time: 1hr 52.52min
Av pace: 6.01min/km
Av Temp: 10.2*c (9.24am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 68.3%
Wind Spd Avg: 15.7kph (E)
Started with: Henrietta - The Fratellis
Finished with: Good People - Jack Jones

I have often run past the gateway into the Pinnacle nature park, on my way to Black Mountain nature park. I have sometimes wondered what it would be like for running but that was about it, just wondered, never bothered looking. Well, as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so this morning I decided to explore this particular nature park, which is located at the top of Springvale Dve.

Its about a 2.5km run up Chewings St and then up Springvale Dve, from home, and before I can hit the trails. I wonder if there is another way of getting there? Then I crossed a wooden style, followed a gavel path, climbed through a gap in a gate and I was in the nature park. I followed the path to the right, ignoring the sign pointing to the Pinnacle, and instead followed a meandering gravel path. The surface is a little uneven and before long I was heading downhill and then uphill. Actually this was to happen a few times, each time the downhills and uphills getting steeper!

I passed some kangaroos who sat back on their haunches looking at me, some looked very young. Who knows what they made of this human huffing and puffing her way up another hill! I think I ended up running a figure of eight, following different trails before ending up on a trail behind houses. Aside from a short sharp ascent (again) the rest of this trail was very pleasant and relatively flat. Then I continued on down Springvale Dve, across at the roundabout, and down the trail that leads into Mt Painter nature park. However, I was not planning on running up the hill towards Mt Painter today but instead followed a loop that took me through a street in Cook and then out on the trails again, heading back towards the way I came.

All in all, an interesting run and at times very challenging. There were more hills than I had anticipated! But its another off-road run close to home.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Untitled (imagination has gone on holidays...will return early September)

Monday Total: 14.7k
Week total: 14.7k
Month total: 141.3k
Year total: 1,523.8k

Time: 1hr 28.22min
Av pace: 6min/km
Av Temp: 10*c (10.42am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 50.8%
Wind Spd Avg: 15.3kph (S)

Coffee next to the laptop, today's running stats in the organiser on the other side of the laptop, flex the fingers, crack the knuckles (actually no, I have never been able to master that; makes my skin crawl), read a handful of favourite blogs for inspiration, google a couple of ideas, and........nothing. This is going to be a really boring but thankfully short entry because I don't have anything interesting to write about.

Other than, it was a great run this morning, on one of my favourite routes through the bush. Mr B came along for company. The sky was blue, the wind was cool, there were some hills but also some downhills. I didn't take my ipod but that didn't matter because I had company and it wasn't a really long run. Initially I thought it would be a hard run because my legs still felt tired from Saturday's effort (31km) but after 5km things improved.

5 sleeps until Noosa.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Looooong run

Saturday Total: 31.2k
Week total: 82.9k
Month total: 126.6k
Year total: 1,509.1k

Time: 3hr 04.32min
Av pace: 5.54min/km
Av Temp: 14.3*c (8.08am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 47.3%
Wind Spd Avg: 33.3kph (WNW)
Started with: About a girl - Nirvana
Finished with: The angry mob - Kaiser Chiefs

This morning Two Fruits and I ran parts of the Campbell Park offices course, Majura Vets handicap course, Two Peaks course, and Bush Capital marathon course, thankfully avoiding Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie. I know I have to eventually tackle the hills but just not yet! Even today, in the last 6km or so, the little hills (no exaggeration, they were little) were looming up ahead.

I felt fine for about the first 25km but struggled a bit over the last 6km, but I didn't walk. The wind wasn't helping either, especially in the last few kms when it seemed hellbent on making running really difficult.

It always helps to run long runs with company. You can at least then share the pain, even if the other person doesn't seem to be suffering! Generally in the latter stages of a long run my conversational skills take a nosedive as I operate on autopilot so my responses are usually confined to one syllable.

Last week I ran a total of 70.2km for the week. This week the total is 82.9km. Last week's long run was 27.1km; today it was 31.2km.

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Things I think about when running........
Gelato from Dolce Vita gelateria, Cortona

Cappuccino from Caffe San'Eustachio - best in Rome

Friday, August 10, 2007

Putt! putt! putt! (instead of vroom! vroom! vroom!)

Thursday Total: 14k
Week total: 51.7k
Month total: 95.4k
Year total: 1,477.9k

Time: 1hr 26.14min
Av pace: 6.09min/km
Av Temp: 12.6*c (9.30am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 57.8%
Wind Spd Avg: 24.4kph (NW)
Started with: Reflections of a sound - Silverchair
Finished with: Funky tonight - John Butler Trio

Today (Friday) is a rest day hence I'm typing this from bed (9.30am) - the benefits of being on holidays! However I did run Wednesday (7.4km) and yesterday, around Black Mountain nature park (14km). Normally I run this one from home but it means running up Chewings St and Springvale Dve before I can get off-road. Yesterday I drove the car to the top of Springvale Dve (Pinnacle carpark) and started the run from there. All well and good, but I never realised before that little uphill section there before heading down to Coulter Rd, which I cross before heading across the back of Cook and Aranda suburbs.

This is a tough run and yesterday I struggled up some of the hills, one in particular that heads up towards Mt Painter (not quite a mountain, more of a biggish hill though yesterday I would beg to differ). So I stopped to admire the view once I reached the top (ok so I stopped to get my breath back and wait for the wobble in the legs to subside before heading down the other side!). After the initial hills it settles down to a fairly flattish gravel trail (with gentle ups and downs) and so the rest of the run through the nature park went well. But then there was the return trip - it meant I had hills or trails that just head steadily upwards, on the way back to the car. So I plodded - that's the best way of describing my running style at this point.

It can only get better!

Currently running more like an Ape (arp-pay).......

...than a ferrari!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Not so sunny morning

(Taken at 10.12am )

Tuesday Total: 17.5k
Week total: 30.3k
Month total: 74k
Year total: 1,456.5k

Time: 1hr 43.57min
Av pace: 5.54min/km
Av Temp: 6.8*c (10.42am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 88.4%
Wind Spd Avg: 5.6kph (W)

It was a foggy and cold morning and the fog didn't lift until close to lunchtime. Mr B and I ran a similar route to what I ran last week with Two Fruits (ie through the cork plantation, up Gunbarrel Hill and those other hills, down by the river, past the aquarium, and along the cycle path back to Black Mt peninsula) - certainly those hills were the same; they hadn't changed! Compared to last Tuesday, when at the 13km mark I would've been happy to hitch a ride with anyone offering a lift!, I felt much stronger today. Yay!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunny morning

Monday Total: 12.8k
Week total: 12.8k
Month total: 56.5k
Year total: 1,439k

Time: 1hr 13.03min
Av pace: 5.40min/km
Av Temp: 9.9*c (9.30am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 66.7%
Wind Spd Avg: 11.9kph (NW)
Started with: Pieces - Hoobastank
Finished with: Rock the Casbah - The Clash

The start of another week. Week 2 of BC training. So far, so good. This morning was a glorious winter morning and it wasn't difficult to get outside and run. Clear blue skies, no chilly breeze that I could feel, plenty of sunshine, no frost. I've got a good feeling - its going to be a great week.

Tomorrow I won't be running with the Tuesday group as planned, due to an early commitment. However I have planned to meet up with Mr B later in the morning for a run that might take us through Stromlo or around Black Mountain nature park. I'll decide in the morning.

And there's a little rumour that I might be heading up to Noosa in a couple of weeks time for a holiday. Not to run the half marathon mind, but to spectate and cheer on everyone else. I'll have my own training to do - no rest for the wicked!
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Some photos from the Amalfi Coast

These very kind policemen changed our tyre, just outside of Naples

Boats on Praia beach, not far from where we were staying

Our apartment, in Praiano. It was gorgeous!

Capri

Caution: Donkeys at work, Praiano






Saturday, August 04, 2007

What 10% rule?!

Saturday Total: 27.1k
Week total: 59.2k
Month total: 43.7k
Year total: 1,426.2k

Time: 2hr 51.14min
Av pace: 6.18min/km
Av Temp: 6.2*c (8.09am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 59.1%
Wind Spd Avg: 19.9kph (NW)
Started with: Joey - Concrete Blonde
Finished with: Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve

Last week I ran 28.1km for the week. Today I ran 27.1km in one session and finished with 59.2km for the week (nearly the total for the month of July). So much for increasing by only 10%!

It was a great run today though I did spend a lot of time watching my footing rather than the surrounding environment. For a description of the run, read Two Fruits report. There was some hills to start with, but it could have been a lot worse so for that I was grateful. The middle part of the run was great - manageable undulations alongside the river, coming across, at times, kangaroos, cows, a goat, and some kookaburras.

After about 20km everything started to feel tired and/or sore but I refused to give in and walk. I just ran slower. Poor Two Fruits - he must've been wondering how much slower I was going to go by that stage, or if, in fact, I was going to start walking. And then running alongside the lake, we were running into a stiff and chilly breeze - not fun.

Well that was officially my first long run post-holiday. It can only get better, and longer, and faster.....oh,and hillier!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dead legs

Thursday Total: 11k
Week total: 32.1k
Month total: 16.6k
Year total: 1,399.1k

Time: 64.43min
Av pace: 5.52min/km
Av Temp: 6.7*c (6.47am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 82.5%
Wind Spd Avg: 11.1kph (SSW)
Started with: Daddy I'm Fine - Sinead O'Connor
Finished with: can't remember!

It was inevitable that after Tuesday's effort that I would experience some tiredness. That would have to be an understatement! Yesterday's unmentionable run (so bad that I haven't written about it) was testament to that. Today's run was marginally better....actually, it was much better but still slow and my legs are still tired. However its a rest day tomorrow and then I have a long run on Saturday. I'm sure I'll be feeling much better.....

It can only get better!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Oh my golly gosh

Tuesday Total: 17.5k
Week total: 26.5k
Month total: 91.5k
Year total: 1,382.5k

Time: 1hr 41.17min
Av pace: 5.45min/km
Av Temp: 4.9*c (9.21am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 94.6%
Wind Spd Avg: 4.9kph (SE)

I showed up this foggy, grey and chilly morning for the Tuesday group run, which meets weekly at Black Mountain Peninsular on, you guessed it, Tuesday mornings! Two Fruits suggested it yesterday and since I didn't have anything else planned, thought why not. I needed a kick up the pants and this would be just that, plus I would have company...that always helps.

So I donned my leggings, short pants, short sleeved running top, arm warmers, long sleeved running top, trackky pants, big woolly warm jacket (and no, I wasn't planning on running in all of this - the trackky pants and jacket would be coming off, reluctantly). It was good to see some friendly faces, even if I couldn't put names to all of them. Then off came the trackky pants and jacket but on went the headband and cap to keep my head and ears warm, and we were off. I should add that I was feeling a little off-colour thanks to some fresh mozzarella I had yesterday which wasn't that fresh - the tummy was decidedly dodgy plus I had that thumping headache you seem to get with things like that.

We headed off towards the cork plantation and then, omg surely not, we're not heading that way? Up Gunbarrel hill, that's where. The conversation I was having with JK and Two Fruits at this point ceased - there was no way I could run, breathe AND talk at the same time heading up the hill. Yes, I did manage to get up the hill...slowly, but then there was another hill, and then another one, and some of these did defeat me. There was a little bit of walking happening but not a lot.

By the time Two Fruits and I reached the Aquarium (we had run about 13km at this stage) I was definitely feeling the lack of training, the weeks of gallivanting around overseas, and the extra kilos. Fortunately having great company helped get me back to the start...that, and the thought of the thermos of coffee I had in the car.

It was good to finish, have a well-earned coffee (god it tasted good) and catch up with a few people I hadn't seen for a while, Barb being one of them.

Later today I still didn't feel that great (dodgy mozzarella to blame) so I lay on the couch and watched Under the Tuscan Sun - it was fun to pick out the places we'd seen while on holiday (Cortona, Positano).

So I definitely got that kick up the pants, so to speak, running-wise, but it was what I needed. Brindabella Classic training has officially commenced!

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Civitavecchia - Home of the Black Knight
Views from our hotel balcony

Meeting with the famed Black Knight and his Lady Daniela

Amazing and beautiful Estruscan artifacts

Remains of Roman Baths

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wimp!

Monday Total: 9k
Week total: 9k
Month total: 74k
Year total: 1,365k

Time: 52.40min
Av pace: 5.48min/km
Av Temp: 1*c (6.57am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 100%
Wind Spd Avg: 8kph (SSE)
Started with: Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright
Finished with: Revelations - Audioslave

I admit it - I wimped out on the weekend and didn't run either day. Well admittedly I hadn't planned on running Saturday but I had said that I'd go to the monthly vets run at Mt Taylor on Sunday morning. But come Saturday night the thought of running Mt Taylor the next morning just seemed too daunting and I wimped out. The compromise was that I would do a run close to home on Sunday but that never eventuated. If I don't run first thing in the morning I can think up every excuse under the sun why I don't need to do it.

So this morning I made myself go for a run early enough that I couldn't wimp out. Much better. Then after lunch I went to the gym for a lower body and arms workout - even better!
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Memories of Singapore

The chocolate buffet at the Fullerton Hotel

Singapore Slings all round at the Raffles

Merlion

Chinatown

Hindu temple


Little India

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's all good

Inclement weather photos
Because of the inclement weather here in Canberra today, I thought I'd post a couple of photos from our holiday, when we encountered similar weather (except it was a helluva lot warmer!)

This was taken outside our accommodation near San Gimignano, in Tuscany. The wind on this particular day was unbelievable, it blew over the umbrella and chairs, as well as a huge terracotta pot.

Piazza del Campo, in Siena. It was a grey day that threatened to rain. The Piazza has been the town's civic centre since the mid-14th century. In July and August each year Il Campo becomes a racetrack when horses and riders representing 10 of the 17 town districts compete for the palio (silk banner). We were in Siena 2 days after the Palio and saw people from the successful town district parading through the town with their banners.

Looking out from Vernazza, one of the villages of the Cinque Terre, Italy. We walked along a path to the next village, Monterosso later in the morning.

Vernazza again, looking back towards the village. To the left is Chiesa di Santa Margherita, which has stood since 1318.

Lucca, in Tuscany. It was a very brief storm - some lightning and thunder, a bit of rain and then it blew over.

London - we encountered all 4 seasons in the 3 days we were there. The rain forecasts had started for southern England and it was only going to get worse.
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Friday Total: 11k
Week total: 28.1k
Month total: 65k
Year total: 1,356k

Time: 63min
Av pace: 5.43min/km
Av Temp: 10.6*c (9.27am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 82.9%
Wind Spd Avg: 22.5kph (WS)
Started with: Twisted Transistor - Korn
Finished with: Kick in the door - Skunk hour

Because it had rained overnight it wasn't as cold this morning - in fact it was a positively balmy 10.6*c when I headed out the door. (TA, glad to hear the snow's been brilliant - I'm still getting reacquainted with frosts and maximum temperatures of 10*c!) The sky was really black and threatening to the north, the direction I was heading, and I was mentally revising my route, partly because I didn't want to get caught in a downpour but also because I was in two minds about how far to run. So I elected to stick to the cycle path that's not too far from home and has a couple of underpasses to shelter in should it rain.

Ok so the running is getting a little easier each time I set out but I still can't believe how crappy I've felt while running this week. I feel as though I haven't run for 6 months rather than the 2 measly weeks I missed. I would make a granny with a walking frame look good at the moment. And Ewen, I don't think I will be passing anyone on Sunday, let alone while going up a hill! I just hope people don't have to hang around too long waiting for me to finish - after all I am in group 36!

I went to the gym yesterday - this time in the afternoon. It was great - its a lot quieter and I don't have to wait to use any of the machines. The body is feeling a little tender today but I guess its telling me I have muscles somewhere under the wobbly bits! Might up the reps (thanks for the advice Tesso) next week when I will go to the gym THREE times.

Good luck to everyone taking part in the Bush Capital events tomorrow - hi Liza! I'm sorry I won't be there but at the moment my running is just crap. Running Mt Taylor on Sunday will probably finish me off anyway. If there are no further blog entries you will know why!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

More holiday photos



At Torre Argentina stray cats (which now number approximately 250) have found respite from the chaos and traffic amongst the oldest temples in Rome (400-300 BC). Volunteers from different countries, who created the shelter, work here seven days a week. The area of Torre Argentina was excavated in 1929 and this was also the year the history of the cats residency began. Stray and abandoned felines took refuge in the protected area below street level. From 1929 until 1993, the cats were more or less regularly fed by a succession of cat ladies or 'gattare'. These days there are volunteers who help with the feeding, spaying and administering medicines. They rely on donations.
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Back to today! (well, yesterday...)

Wednesday Total: 9.6k
Week total: 17.1k
Month total: 54k
Year total: 1,345k

Time: 56.51min
Av pace: 5.53min/km
Av Temp: 4.6*c (9.30am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 90.1%
Wind Spd Avg: 3kph (W)
Started with: Straight Lines - Silverchair
Finished with: Voodoo Child - Rogue Traders

Since the last run, on Monday, I have been to the gym for a lower body weights session plus 20min cardio on the exercise bike. I have to confess that initially the plan was to do 30min on the bike but the steely resolve wavered after about 10mins...so 20mins was a good compromise. After all, I can only improve....right?! This afternoon I'm back to the gym for an upper body weights session plus 20min on the stepper.

There has been some post-gym DOMS but its been bearable. This is possibly because I didn't go gangbusters with the weights or the reps. Having done this in the past and then not being able to physically move the following day, I opted for lightish weights and low reps.

The run yesterday was a little longer (a kilometre) and a little easier, possibly because I was going a little slower! It was foggy and cold and I was the only one out enjoying the fresh Canberra morning. Though this could've been because most people were either at work or at school. I still feel very heavy on my feet and can be heard approaching a block away (probably attributed to the extra 3kg I'm currently carrying).

Yesterday afternoon I read an article in the latest Runners World magazine. No, not the 'A Chocky A Day?', or the 'Caffeine Hit' or even 'The Girl Who Started It All', though these were all interesting articles. It was the 'C'mon Get Happy' article - "Every run can bring you pleasure - if you train your brain to think that way". Obviously I have some work to do in this area so that I can tap into the physiological cocktail of endocannabinoids, epinephrine, serotonin and dopamine to "transform a workout into happy hour".

Monday, July 23, 2007

No spouting allowed


One of our favourite signs from Italy, at a place called Monteriggione (in Tuscany). In case you can't read the red print at the bottom of the sign, here it is:

"Attention: the unprovided ticket visitors an administrative sanction will be applied.
He is forbidden to rise and lean of the walls out.
He has forbidden to spout or to abandon rubbish to the ground."

Well, it had to come to an end eventually. We've been home for about 5 days now and its taken me this long to defrost enough to write up a post! I cannot believe how cold it is - I can see my fingers and toes but I can't feel them - they're numb from cold. We arrived in Sydney on one of its coldest days, and Canberra has been having sub-arctic weather. The fish pond was iced over this morning and I've been told this has not been the first time this winter. Waaaah - I WANT TO GO BACK TO ITALY!

Apologies for the lack of communication after leaving San Gimignano but internet access became harder to find and/or more expensive. There was no more running either. While staying at Vernazza (Cinque Terre) we decided to do the walk between the 5 villages - easier than trying to run vertically! There were plans on doing a run in Lucca, along the walls, but throwing up one's dinner at 2am put a dampener on that one. By the time I hit London I was fully into the holiday mode - eat, eat and eat and worry about the running when i get home! Which is a shame actually because Kensington Park and Hyde Park were only just down the road. But Harrods beckoned......

One of the highlights was meeting a fellow blogger, aka The Black Knight. Thank you Stefano for the warm welcome, for showing us your city, for the wonderful dinner we shared with you, your wife, Giorgio and his wife, and for the great t-shirt - I will wear it with pride! And it might just be Firenze 08!


Monday Total: 7.5k
Week total: 7.5k
Month total: 44.4k
Year total: 1,335.4k

Time: 43.40min
Av pace: 5.49min/km
Av Temp: 4.5*c (9.50am)
Rel. Humidity Av: 80.4%
Wind Spd Avg: 3.1kph (S)
Started with: We're coming home - Rogue Traders
Finished with: Keep the car running - Arcade Fire

Since being home I've used the jetlag excuse but that's wearing a little thin now (which, I might add, is the only thing that is wearing thin - I have managed to gain 3kg). So this morning I was up, dressed in multi layers, ready to run for half an hour and get re-acquainted with my music, then I stepped outside and..........very quickly backtracked. It was bloody freezing! So I waited 3hours before stepping out again, and it was marginally warmer.

I can't believe how out of shape I feel. After all, its only been just over a fortnight since I last ran but the way I felt while running this morning, it felt like a lot longer. Forget DOMS - I had SOMS (sudden onset muscle soreness)!

Tomorrow its the gym. Now that will be interesting.......

Friday, July 06, 2007

San Gimignano

Week total: 30.5k
Month total: 36.9k
Year total: 1,327.9k

Since being in San Gimignano I have run 4 times: a short 6.4km on Sunday; a flatter 8.5km run to Santa Lucia on Monday; a combination of both the aforementioned runs on Thursday (11km); and a run around the old walls surrounding the town, plus some streets through the town plus the Santa Lucia run again this morning (11km). The weather has been warm to hot with blue skies and sunshine for all of the runs (sorry for those of you freezing through a Canberra winter). We had one very wild and windy day - the day we went to Siena....Wednesday I think. The Palio (horse race) was held on Monday and the winners were parading down the streets, waving flags, drumming and blowing whistles.

We also had a look through Casa di Santa Caterina (I was named after her) - where she was born and lived with her parents and 24 siblings!!!!!!! Then it was on to Chiesa di San Domenico where Santa Caterina took her vows. Here we saw her head in the chapel of Santa Caterina, and also her thumb plus thew whip she used to use on herself, for the wellbeing of the souls of the faithful.

The cappuccini has been of a high standard here in San Gimignano, apart from the very first one we had here when we arrived last Saturday. That particular coffee tasted awful and we haven't been back to that cafe again!

Strewth and I went shopping in Florence on Tuesday and I managed to get a bargain with a leather coat. The San Lorenzo markets are a little overwhelming though - just stall after stall after stall of leathergoods, t-shirts, tacky souvenirs, more leathergoods. Also managed to see David (a copy in a piazza), the Ponte Vecchio, the outside of the Duomo (truly amazing) and the Uffizi Gallery. The only offputting thing is the number of tourists - there are so many!

We leave San Gimignano tomorrow, bound for Vernazza (Cinque Terre) - can't wait! Also looking forward to catching up with the Black Knight next week!

TA - we have seen Italians out running but they do tend to be male. Not so many females running though we did encounter a group of young Italian women running, while in Cortona. Lots of cyclists however.

Ciao!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Nun (and monk)-spotting

Wednesday 27/6/07
Total: 8.8k
Week Total: 23k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1277.9k

Time: 46.40min
Av pace: 5.18min/km
Av Temp: sunny, partly cloudy, coolish breeze
Rel. Humidity Av: dry
Where: Camucia, near Cortona, Tuscany

This was another run through the Tuscan countryside, alongside fields of sunflowers, corn, and fenced yards containing snappy, snarling dogs. To get to the quiet country roads does mean running along busier ones, with tractors (with drivers that almost fall out the window having a good old look), little apes (3-wheeled cars), rattly old fiats that look like they should've died years ago, to sleek alfas that fly past. Oh and the occasional older person riding an ancient old pushbike or scooter, going so slowly you worry they might fall off.

Another town, another market day - this time it was Castiglione del Lago, on the shores of Lake Trasimeno, in Umbria. Taste tested salamis, crostini and cantucci (biscuits). Had a Cappuccino cream (a cold icecreamy type of drink) and a delicious apple from the produce part of the markets.

The market yesterday was in Camucia (where we are based). Mr CJ and I firstly fuelled up on a cappuccino at a local bar, for the grand sum of 2euro for 2 coffees (that is a bargain especially as we sat outside) and then we hit the market circuit. There were stalls in several streets - clothes, shoes (my favourite and where I bought an absolutely gorgeous pair of leather heels - to die for), household items, bags, artifical flowers, fruit and veg, plants, chooks, meats, etc. We bought porchetta panini for lunch for 2euro each - these are really tasty and delicious.

We visited Assisi in the afternoon, hence the title of the blog entry! This is definitely the place to go for nun and monk-spotting. I got a classic photo of a nun in full garb on the mobile phone. Another of a monk returning from shopping. Beautiful churches. Tasty pastries. Average coffee. Tacky, kitschy souvenirs of monks and nuns on motorbikes, playing poker, singing at the piano, etc, etc.

Friday 29/6/07
Total: 13.1k
Week Total: 36.1k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1291k

Time: 1hr 16.52min
Av pace: 5.51min/km
Av Temp: sunny, blue skies, warm to very warm
Rel. Humidity Av: dry
Where: the road to Cortona, then to Bramasole

This morning we ran up the road to Cortona - this is about a 4km climb up the hill, with some steepish parts. After slightly over-indulging in wine last night I wasn't sure how I'd go today but I needn't have worried, I ran fine! Once up at the top, at Cortona, we ran through the gardens to another road that took us to a house we are convinced is Bramasole. Strewth, Mr CJ and MR B asked for directions at a local art store and these were the directions they were given. We did do a slight detour which took us down a lovely little road that went down, down, down but it was so shady and green I couldn't resist going down! Of course it meant that we had to run back up the road - it was tough but I managed it! So this was a long run today (interspersed with hills and intervals).

Its our last night here so we are going back up to Cortona to La Grotta trattoria tonight for dinner. Actually it will be our 3rd time there but the prices are reasonable, the service is great and the food is lovely. Tomorrow we drive to San Gimignano, still in Tuscany, where we also stay a week. The plan is to do day trips to Florence and Siena.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mamma Mia!

Tuesday 19/6/07
Total: 5.7k
Week Total: 5.7k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1260.6k

Time: 37.27min
Av pace: 6.32min/km
Av Temp: hot, sunny, no breeze
Rel. Humidity Av: humid
Where: Praiano, Amalfi Coast

Praiano is a beautiful coastal town on the Amalfi Coast with streets that go up or down, or you take the other option and negotiate hundreds of steps up or down. So it was going to be an interesting run! Good six foot training! We stopped to watch some donkeys being loaded up with concrete tiles and then they were lead off down the road, down steps to somewhere, where it was unloaded and then the donkeys came back up the steps again for another load.

We have only experienced a few mishaps since picking up the car from Rome airport! These mishaps include a flat tyre (within the first 2hrs of getting the car and it happened on the outskirts of Napoli), clipping a parked scooter, knocking some rubbish bins, and a near head-on collision (that was scarey!). Driving along the Amalfi Caost road on a Sunday afternoon was an education - everyone was heading back to Naples and beyond. There were zillions of scooters and cars, and traffic jams, and tiny, narrow windy roads that barely fit 2 vehicles across, and jaw dropping cliffs and scenery. Though I hardly appreciated it because I had my eyes closed half the time as Mr CJ tried negotiating his way. It was a baptism of fire!

The flat tyre was something we could have done without. As I said, it happened on the outskirts of Naples and when we went to change it we discovered there was no equipment in the car needed to change a tyre. Likewise with Mr B and Strewth's car. Mr B rang the hire company on the mobile, trying to get roadside assistance and 20mins later when he got off the phone we hoped the message got across. Then a polizia car pulled up and 2 lovely policeman got out, assessed the situation, and changed the tyre (well, one did the actual work while the other one supervised). Just as they were leaving, the roadside assistance guy pulled up on his scooter and was not impressed to discover that the tyre had been changed. To cut a long story short, it took almost a week to sort out the tyre situation, a couple of trips to Sorrento, the purchase of a new tyre, and several hours of me trying to negotiate the Italian telephone system and repeating 'parla inglese?' innumerable times.

In short, the Amalfi Coast was great, the isle of Capri was overpriced and overrun with tourists but the return boat trip was great - we stopped at several grottos and had a swim. Bellissimo! Our apartment was reached by going up over 100 steps; this proved tricky at night after a couple of wines! Food-wise, I prefer Roman pizza to neapolitan pizza, had some lovely pastas, a very overpriced lunch on Capri, and gelati galore. Straciatella (choc chip) is my favourite. Some of the best lunches have been when we have bought fresh bread, mozzarella or parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto cotto and tomatoes. The worst coffee was at a restaurant at Pompeii; have had some lovely limoncello and then others that would grow hairs on your chest its that strong!

Sunday 24/6/07
Total: 8.5k
Week Total: 14.2k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1269.1k

Time: 55.48min
Av pace: 6.33min/km
Av Temp: cool to start with but it did warm up; blue skies
Rel. Humidity Av: dry
Where: Camucia, near Cortona, Tuscany

We have moved again. Now we are staying at an agriturismo on the outskirts of Camucia, with Cortona up on the hill. There is some flat here as well as hills as we dicovered when Strewth and I went for a run. First we headed along a gravel road which ran alongside farmland (whiff up the country air - the smell of manure is very pungent in these parts!). We turned when we saw a couple of barking dogs up ahead - we weren't tempting fate! Then we ran through Camucia heading up the hill to Cortona - more six foot training! It went up and up and up! In fact the guys were impressed when we later walked up this very same hill to get to Cortona. And to be quite honest, I thought it was easier to run it than to walk it! We also encountered a very aggressive doberman but fortunately there was a big fence and gate between him and us!

Later we all walked back up the hill to Cortona (Under the Tuscan Sun place) - its about 5km from where we are staying. Its a lovely hilltop town - there is probably one flat road in the entire town! Wandered around the town during the day, had panino with mozzarella, prosciutto cotto and pomodori for lunch with a very good cappuccino (I know its not the done thing but I am a tourist!). Walked in on a guy in the toilets....oops. He couldn't lock the door and I never heard him call out as I was opening the door....oops. That evening we drove back up to Cortona for dinner at the Trattoria La Grotta. From the carpark outside the walls surrounding the towm we travelled up by escalator to the town! It seemed really bizarre - an escalator out in the middle of nowehere but we appreciated it nonetheless! It saved going up innumerable steps though by now we are getting pretty good at stairclimbing! The meal was superb! We had antipasti to start; then I had tagliolone with tarturo nero (pasta with black truffle) and Zuccotto for dessert. It was really delicious and I can understand now why people rave about truffle - I have never had it until now. We walked around Piazza della Reppublica to a Teatro (the name escapes me) where we watched some dance performances by children and teenagers.

Today was an experience in patience. First we went to the post office to send some postcards. Simple you might think. Aaah, that's what we thought too. But first you must get a ticket and wait....and wait....and wait...and wait. Even when the people behind the counters don't appear to be doing anything, you must wait. 35mins later we got our stamps! Then this afternoon we drove to Perugia to visit the Perugina Chocolate factory - as you do! They were filming something outside the entry to the museum and once we were inside the museum there was no chance of us escaping until they had finished filming. There are only so many times you can wander around looking at everything related to Perugina chocolate. Even the samples they had available weren't that great. Mr B asked if we could join an English-speaking tour of the factory. No problems they said, or something to that effect. When the tour finally happened, 1 hour later, it consisted of 7mins of walking above the factory floor - no commentary, nothing! It wouldn't have mattered if we had joined a Japanese speaking tour - there was no commentary!

Still, this is Italy and despite some minor frustrations, its a beautiful place.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Basta!

Thursday Total: 6.2k
Week Total: 23.1k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1238.4k

Time: 38.04min
Av pace: 6.09min/km
Av Temp: sunny, hot
Rel. Humidity Av: humid
Where: along the banks of the Tiber with Strewth and Mr B

It was good to have company running this morning though it did feel a little surreal running in Rome with Strewth and Mr B!

Then while Strewth and Mr B were doing the hop on-hop off bus tour, Mr CJ and I walked to Campo de'Fiori to have a look at the produce markets before heading to Piazza Sant'Eustachio - destination Caffe Sant'Eustachio. This place is apparently famed throughout Rome for its coffee, so we needed to check it out! They make a creamy coffee by beating the first drops of espresso and several tsp of sugar into a frothy paste, then add the rest of the coffee on top. We had due gran cappuccini to have outside which set us back 4,20euro each but hey it was worth it. Plus the waiters had attitude and it was great entertainment to watch them.

We did the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps after lunch and a gelato which helped work off some of the calories. I have never walked so much, so far or so fast since being here! Loved the shops in the area (Hermes, Cartier, Prada, Gucci etc) but I decided against flashing the credit card - after all how many designer things does a girl need - actually to be honest I don't have any designer gear!.

Dinner was at Da Enzo, a great little trattoria not far from us where the locals like to eat and where you have to make a reservation or you won't get a table. I had polpette alla limone (meatballs with lemon) and verdure miste (mixed vegetables which were to die for) followed by tiramisu.

Friday Total: 8k
Week Total: 31.1k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1246.4k

Time: 54.15min
Av pace: 6.47min/km
Av Temp: sunny, warm
Rel. Humidity Av: humid
Where: along the 'wrong' side of the Tiber with Strewth and Mr B

We discovered the unsavoury and unsafe side of the Tiber River this morning, and Mr B got bitten by a dog owned by a homeless guy. It was off to the hospital closest to us, on Isola Tiberina (an island on the Tiber River) where Mr B was directed to the casualty area. Well actually we went to the wrong area though we didn't know it at the time until he went back later for his antibiotic shot and a course of tablets plus a tetanus ampoule and syringe.

Strewth and I went shopping in the afternoon, first stop was a shoe shop in Via Florida where I had bought leather sandals a couple of days before. Strewth was hoping to buy a pair of shoes but I had no intentions of buying anymore shoes. But then I saw them! A pair of brown leather wedges - so cute, so Italian! Then it was off to Via del Corso, Rome's busiest shopping street (funny how we can find the important streets in Rome!) where we tried very hard to buy clothes, particularly t-shirts or singlet tops. But it seems the harder you try, the less likely you are to find anything. In one shop I seemd to do everything wrong - first I wanted to try on a t-shirtty top to see if it fitted but you are not allowed to try tops on ie you guess your size and hope for the best. Then I was looking at tops on shelves - wrong again - I was directed to the table where they were all laid out. After managing to buy a top without making any more faux pas I was feeling shopped out (yes, it does happen) I left Strewth and Mr B and headed back to my apartment.

For dinner we went to a very popular pizzeria called Ai Marmi (Casa Mortaro) - another place frequented by the locals. Its really really busy and is referred to as the mortuary by locals because of the marble-topped tables inside (we sat at one of these tables). The only sign outside is Pizzeria. Service is minimal but brisk and our waiter was a little middle aged guy who would look quite at home in a cassock! Mind you, I think we were trying his patience! The pizzas were delicious - thin, crispy crust with great toppings.

Saturday Total: 9.5k
Week Total: 40.6k
Month Total: k
Year Total: 1254.9k

Time: 52.17min
Av pace: 5.29min/km
Av Temp: overcast but there was a cool breeze every now and then
Rel. Humidity Av: humid
Where: Circus Maximus with Strewth

Strewth and I went for a run along Circus Maximus leaving the birthday boy (Mr B) at home. So far there is no frothing at the mouth or any other strange symtoms that we can see (post-dog bite)! Traffic-wise it was fairly quiet so the number of close shaves with scooters today was minimal. No intervals today, it was just a gentle run around the gravel tracks and then a walk back over the bridge to home.

Today we also did the Vatican - there was the inevitable queueing but not for long and then we managed to catch a free tour of the Basilica with an American guide. My favourite was PiƩta - the sculpture by Michelangelo. Next was the Sistine Chapel which wasn't free but well worth what we paid. However to get from the Basilica to the Chapel before the doors closed meant race walking, literally. People who know me and know at what pace I generally walk would be amazed at my newly acquired skill of walking rapido! The Sistine Chapel - Awe-inspiring, breath-taking, amazing (I need a thesaurus!) - it was all of this and more. Finally we walked through the Vatican Grottoes which are below the church and contain the tombs of numerous popes including that of John Paul 11.

By this stage I was tired, hungry (last meal was at 9.30am and it was after 3pm) and my bladder was about to burst (public toilets in Rome are as rare as hens teeth). We had a very ordinary panini before heading back to Trastevere and Piazza Santa Maria where we had a delicious spremuta di arance (freshly squeezed orange juice served in tall slim glasses) at Caffe delle Arance. It was nice just to sit back and watch the people passing through the Piazza.

Tonight we have dinner at a restaurant below Strewth and Mr B's apartment where we will eat lots, drink lots and be merry. Its a birthday bash for the birthday boy. Tomorrow we leave Rome for the Amalfi Coast. There may be a few sore heads as we head south for the coast. It will also be Mr CJ's first experience of driving in Italy. Be afraid, be very afraid!