Monday, 28 April 2014

Can I get a HOORAH?

Wow, ten days since I last posted.  That time has flown by so quickly!  We're already halfway through the school holidays!  The boys aren't happy about that, they want it to last forever.  I most certainly do not!  They're away from us for this week, so hopefully I'll have a slightly more productive week in terms of study and housework.  But for now it's time for me to catch you up on the goings-on in kreachr-land since my last update.

I finished my assignment and submitted it only a day later than the original due date, so although it was good to know I had an extra week, as expected I didn't need it.  I got the results from my other assignment, submitted the day George died.  I managed 79%, which is an A-.  So relieved!!  I did not manage to finish that last week of the 30 day challenge, but I did get my housework done.  Of course, the housework needs doing again, such is the nature of it.  Sigh.  I attended one more boot camp session to prep for Tough Mudder, and nearly concussed myself by sliding/falling down a very wet and slippery half pipe in the skate park and smacking the back of my head on the concrete at the bottom.  I think it was my buff that saved me.  That, or I have a remarkably solid cranium...  I haven't been out for many runs lately, except for a jaunt through Goldie Bush in the Waitakeres last Sunday.




I slipped on a rock during a stream crossing and got soaked from the shoulders down.  Chilly!!  I have since purchased a waterproof bag for my phone which, surprisingly, still works.

So running is something I'm looking forward to fitting in this week.  But oh, let me tell you about the craziness that is Tough Mudder.

My alarm woke me at 5.30am, although to be honest I was pretty much already awake anyway.  That night and the night before had not been the most restful - I recall looking at the clock at least two or three times every hour.  I was nervous about TM, and I was nervous about being nervous about TM.  I know what my stomach can be like before big events, and how much time can be wasted going back and forth to the bathroom.  The thought of TM was scary, and I was worried I'd be stuck in the bathroom for hours.  But I got up and got dressed, ate a banana for breakfast (seems to work pretty well at keeping the nasty effects of IBS at bay), made a cup of tea to take with me, and went outside to wait for my ride.  We all convened at Sylvia Park to reshuffle and reload into various vehicles for the drive to Hampton Downs - with 19 people it can take a bit of organisation, particularly at 6.30am!  We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so took a leisurely approach to registration, marking (where they write your bib number on your forehead) and gear organisation.  I took a much-needed pit-stop, relieved that the distraction of many teamies was keeping the nerves (and resulting gurgly tummy effects) at bay.  We were all heading off in the 9am wave so we had time to get a team photo and fluff around for a bit before convening at the top of the hill for the pre-pit briefing, warm up, and cheer to send off the 8.40am wave.  Once they'd gone, we wandered down to the pit - it's a square section of ground surrounded by a tyre wall where everyone crams in to get amped up for the course.  Lots of cheering, TM chants (and weird random chants if the MC feels so inclined, and he did), the Tough Mudder pledge and countdown.  Before we knew it, the hooter sounded and we were off.

This year's first official New Zealand Tough Mudder course was 18km, and had 18 obstacles.  Some of them sounded pretty daunting - Arctic Enema, Electroshock Therapy, Electric Eel, Everest, Ladder to Hell...  To start with though, we had the Kiss of Mud and Mud Mile which both involved - you guessed it - mud!  Actually, the whole course was full of ditches and mud piles so sometimes it was hard to tell what was supposed to be an obstacle and what was just part of the course.  We trudged along happily, knowing that Arctic Enema was the third obstacle.  I was mentally prepared for it, and had the strategy of 'just do it'.  What else can you do with a giant ice bath?  I climbed up the ramp and jumped straight in.  There's a wall in the middle that you have to duck under so there's really no avoiding getting your whole body wet, head and all.  The ice cubes were so thick it was actually kinda hard to get back up out of the water, and you really had to dig your way through it all at the end to climb out.  It wasn't as bad as I was expecting to be honest - perhaps that dunk in the stream the previous weekend prepared me for it.  I found it invigorating ;)  Not something I'd do on a regular basis though, in case you were wondering...

After that it was Tyre Mountain (easy peasy, just climb over a hill of tyres), Trench Warfare (super easy, unless you're scared of the dark and enclosed spaces of course) and Glory Blades (teamwork is important on this obstacle, and I had plenty of helpers).  Next up, the dreaded Electric Eel.  I did hesitate briefly before this one, watching a few others in my team crawl in.  But it was a case of 'suck it up', so I just dived in.  I got three quarters of the way through before being shocked, and managed to escape with only two in total.  Ouch.  What actually hurt more though, was accidentally hitting a rock with my knee on the way through.  I have a bruise and a scrape from that, and my knee was sore for at least half an hour afterwards.  Then there was the Ladder to Hell - again, really easy unless you're scared of heights.  I was slightly more concerned about the screws coming loose at the top of the ladder, but the frame held up and we carried on.

Cage Crawl was one of the obstacles that I was slightly dreading, but found to be much easier than expected.  The only thing I was really worried about was getting mud through my hair, which at that stage was laughable.  We were covered head to foot already, what's the point in worrying about it?!?  Bale Bonds was another team effort - my legs were too short for me to climb over them alone, so I had help from my teamies to get over the three piles of hay bales.  If they weren't plastic-wrapped it might've been easier.  Warrior Carry was just a piggy-back and swap-over half way.  I teamed up with Deb, who is not much bigger than me.  We had a husband and wife in our group that teamed up, and we were all rather impressed when she carried him!

Then, along came Walk the Plank.  I hadn't prepared myself for that one - by the name I had assumed it was just a case of walking along a plank across a ditch.  Nope.  It's a five metre jump off a platform into a muddy pool of water.  I think we all agreed that was one of the scarier obstacles in the course.  Not only was it quite a long way down (particularly when you're standing at the top looking down) but it took quite a while, once in, to come back up to the surface.  Because the water was muddy, you couldn't see anything (although I kept my eyes closed anyway because ew).  Dan was a little scared, and he was ahead of me.  I figured if he could do it, I could.  So thanks to Dan for going first ;)

Hard Wood & Rubber was basically what I thought Walk the Plank was going to be - logs placed across a stream, but with four tyres to climb over along the way.  No biggie.  Nor was Cliffhanger, which was just a muddy hill to climb up.  Although it wasn't all that muddy, so it was actually pretty easy to get up.  Berlin Walls was a bit of a challenge - we used teamwork to get over the first one, but I managed to climb over the second wall myself by using the framework on the side.  Cheating?  Maybe.  It was still really hard!  My shoes were caked in clay mud and that made it really slippery.  So I call it a win ;)  After that, all that was left was Everest and Electroshock Therapy.  I seriously considered just going around Everest, because it was kinda freaking me out.  Maybe that was because of my little half-pipe slide the previous weekend.  I didn't make it up the first few times - couldn't get enough speed up to reach the arms hanging down trying to grab me.  But one of the supervisors on the course came over and gave me a little advice.  "Run hard, and don't look at the wall.  Don't even think about the wall.  Just look straight up."  Well I'll be damned, he was right.  I made it quite easily after that, and I have another random stranger to thank for it - one of the builders I believe.  He was legendary - standing at the top, hauling up person after person after person.  Dan had my other arm and he said "I've got you, and I am not letting go!".  Bless them.

Electroshock Therapy was the last obstacle, and we decided to run through it as a team.  Not only for the camaraderie, but also because of the way it's designed - it's a loop circuit, so the more people are in there, the less shocks you get.  There were hay bales to jump over just to make it a little more challenging (and a little more likely you'd fall over and get stuck) and the shocks were stronger than the ones in Electric Eel.  I got a few and could feel them go from head to toe.  Holy cow, they packed a punch!  But I made it through with the others without falling at all (yay!) and then it was a light jog to the end to get my well-earned orange headband and (disgusting) beer.

In case you can't find me (since we're all covered in mud and look kinda the same) I'm to the right of Martin, who's in the middle with his green headband (it's his second Mudder).

Was it a challenge?  Yes.  Did I have fun?  Hell yeah!  Would I do it again?  .......ask me next year, once I've forgotten about the electrocution obstacles ;)

The rinse station afterwards wasn't particularly fun - it was a series of pipes spitting out freezing cold water and there was a whole bunch of people jostling for position.  I rinsed off as much mud as I could, then went to the toilets to change.  Unfortunately in the early morning prep I'd forgotten to grab my shoes for afterwards, so walking around the car park was a little ouchie.  Had a laugh about that - just ran 18km with some pretty gnarly obstacles, and I'm whining about gravel hurting my feet...  We all went out to The Jolly Farmer in Drury for a buffet meal and a few drinks to celebrate, so I was able to get Deane (who came out to join us) to bring me some shoes.  Not that anybody seemed to mind my bare feet, but I was cold, so they were welcome.

As always, the volunteers were awesome - they had high-five areas ('no denied high-fives' was part of the pre-run briefing), and the signs along the way were entertaining.


Check out the ice in that pool.  Brrrr!

Obviously not the kind of event you can take your camera or phone on, which is a shame because there were so many cool things I'd liked to have snapped a picture of.  But I have plenty of good memories, and the official event photos are still to come.  Looking forward to those!  (Otherwise you can check these ones out.  Note how many people look like they're saying 'f***' while going through Electroshock Therapy, lol).

Back to sort-of reality now though (not completely normal without the kids here) - study is top of the list, as I am once again behind.  Time to play catch-up!  Have a good week :)

Friday, 18 April 2014

Focus

Before I get stuck in to my usual rambling, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words following my last post.  It's always a tough decision whether or not to share something so personal, and aside from my occasional jokey whinge-fests, I've tried to keep this blog positive.  But sometimes you just need to vent, and I'm a sharing person.  So thanks for reading, and thanks for being nice :)

This week has been a lot like last week, but with less crying and more palavering.  I haven't been able to focus on anything much, bouncing around from one thing to the next and not getting a whole lot done.  I'm glad I got that extension on my assignment, since it was originally due yesterday and I've barely started it.  I have done approximately zero exercise since last Saturday's parkrun, unless you include walking into town or to the supermarket (and I don't).  My house is disgusting me with its level of filthiness, but as yet I have not had the inclination to do anything about it.  When things get this icky, figuring out where to start is half the challenge.  And don't even get me started on the poor diet choices, oh my gawd!!!

My mother-in-law is arriving early next week for Deane's 35th birthday, and staying several nights.

Tough Mudder is next weekend.

Our friends are getting married in two weeks and I have a very tight-fitting, expensive designer dress I need to squeeze in to that was purchased specially for the happy (and long-awaited) occasion.

Shit's about to get real, y'all.

The time for mourning is over.  It is time now to focus on the journey ahead.  And for starters, that means finishing my assignment.  Easter weekend is going to be a little busier than planned, but I'm okay with that.  I want to do well and finish my degree with good marks - it's not in me to do any less.

I need to get this house clean and tidy before I check out of sanity  - we have scum buildup in the bathroom sinks like you wouldn't believe, gross boy toilets I don't even want to look at, and the floors have that outdoorsy feel to them (y'know, just a little bit gritty underfoot).  That, and my assignment, is today's goal.  Along with maybe finishing off the last week of that 30 day challenge I started four weeks ago.  Five 12-minute HIIT sessions in one day is totally doable, right?

I want to be fit and healthy - not just now so I can enjoy doing crazy things like Tough Mudder, but for my whole life.  We only have a limited time on this earth and I want that time to be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible (except for maybe during the really tough parts of a marathon, or wading through mud and climbing walls in order to achieve a personal goal - things worth doing aren't supposed to be easy).  Tomorrow morning at 8am I'm meeting up with a bunch of people for a 10km run and a one-hour boot camp training session to prepare for next weekend.  I can't wait.  This lack of exercise is making me a little craycray, to the point where I actually started researching home treadmills before I realised it was pointless.  I'd still miss out on my beloved sunrises, and a little rain has never stopped me before.  I would've gone out yesterday morning, but for this:

Tamaki Drive - photo by Mark Jennings, pilfered from the 3 News website

It's a little difficult to go running along your usual route when waves are crashing over the sea wall and flooding the street.  Quay Street and Tamaki Drive were closed for safety reasons anyway...

Being  fit and healthy is not just about exercise though, it's also about eating right.  I've hoovered up all the junk food in the house (gluten free hot cross buns, chocolate, etcetera) - yesterday marked the end of junk-food-appreciation week.  I have a big bag of spinach, fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries and a bunch of bananas all ready to go for smoothies and salads, and I have vegan meals (and omni meals for the boys) planned for the week.  So I'm finishing this post, making myself a green smoothie, then sitting down to work on my assignment.  When I get antsy I'll attack the housework.  With any luck I'll be able to knock out a HIIT session or two in between and in an ideal world, I'll collapse in to bed this evening exhausted, but with a clean house, a finished assignment, and a completed 30 day challenge.

Let's do this.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

It's been one of those weeks...

This week started out like any normal week, aside from the fact that I had an assignment due by midnight Tuesday and I wasn't near finished.  Normally I don't cope well with that kind of pressure and like to be finished well ahead of time.  Also, it helps me avoid cranky-bitch phase where I yell at people for no reason.  A number of events popped up that ate into my study time for the beginning of this trimester (hospital stay, trip to Palmerston North to visit my grandparents, several races) which prevented me from being quite as well prepared as I usually am.  Okay that may not be entirely true, I also got a little lazy and fobbed off study in favour of walks into town to run errands (mostly to procrastinate - any excuse is a good excuse, right?), food shopping (have I ever mentioned how much I love supermarket shopping?  Call me crazy) or whatever else I could find to fill in time.  In any case, the end of last week including some of the weekend (which usually never happens), and most of Monday was taken up with writing a 12 page assignment.  Tuesday morning started much the same - I had a couple of pages left to write and then the whole thing needed to be revised and edited before submission, and I wanted that to be before the kids got home since T was having a friend over after school.  I was on track, until I got a phone call from mum.  My granddad, George, had collapsed.  His heart had stopped and he had no pulse.  They were attempting to resuscitate him but it wasn't looking good.  She was getting packed and organised to drive down there to be with my nana.

Suddenly my focus flew away with the wind, and all I could think was that I needed a cup of tea.  Our landlady had been outside water blasting the deck, and turned up at the front door minutes after I got off the phone to mum.  I composed myself, dried my face, and offered her a coffee.  I managed a decent conversation for about ten minutes before she packed up and left, then I tried to sit back down and continue on with my assignment.  Shortly after that, dad phoned to say that George had gone.  Well, shit.  After blubbering for a while, eating some lunch (who knew you could cry and eat at the same time?  I thought they only did that on TV with ice cream and chocolate), and generally just staring at nothing, I sat down and finished my assignment, did the most rudimentary 'revise and edit' in history, and submitted it.  There was no way I could get an extension at the 11th hour and really, who cares, right?  I'd done what I could, either I passed or failed.  At that stage it didn't matter either way, and I really didn't want to prolong it.  I still haven't looked over the assignment again to see if its actually alright - I'll get my mark in a week or two.  That afternoon life, for us at least, carried on as usual - the boys played and made a lot of noise, T's friend went home, I cooked dinner, fed the boys, then herded them off to bed at the usual times.  Deane had flown to Wellington for work that afternoon (the sixth week in a row if I'm not mistaken) so I had the evening to myself.  I can't honestly remember what I did.  Maybe I watched a movie...

Wednesday I went for a horribly difficult 10km run, thankful that I managed to hold it together.  I also found out when the funeral was to be held.

Thursday I checked flights and calendar appointments and came to the conclusion that not only was it implausible that I could get down to Palmerston North and back in the small window of time I had available, it was going to cost $500 in airfares.  I had to make the horrible decision to not attend.  Heart-wrenching.  Cue blubbering mess...  I consoled myself with the fact that I had visited him just a few weeks ago, and he'd been happy.

Friday, I went and bought a sympathy card to send to my nana, and discovered that it's not a good idea to have a meltdown in the supermarket.  I'd imagine a bookshop would be just as awkward.  I plodded along with course work since I still had an assignment due the following Thursday, but applied for a one week extension, knowing I wouldn't be able to focus on it fully and would end up submitting a pile of garbage.

Today is Saturday.  George was farewelled by friends and family this morning.  The service was recorded on video for those that could not attend, so I'll get to see that at least.  I managed to avoid moping around home dwelling on the situation by going to Parkrun this morning and running a PB, coming home and cooking breakfast for my family, then going shopping for a dress and shoes to wear to a wedding in three weeks time, along with the bride-to-be who has much better fashion sense than me and knows all the good designer stores (that ordinarily I would never set foot in).  Once home, I proceeded to devour all food within sight, and hunted out some more.  Potato chips, white bread, chocolate, ice cream... Not all of it was bad though, there was also a green smoothie, lentils, chickpeas, salad and tofu.  But still...  I'm giving myself this week to mope, emotional-eat (something new I discovered about myself), deal with the slightly unpleasant consequences of eating a bunch of wheat-based food items, and generally just feel crappy.  Next Monday, it's game on again.

Rest in peace George, you've earned it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ponderings...

I've noticed that I often put on an appallingly bad, fake American accent.  Like, when I'm telling the kids to get their jammies on, or hustle to get ready for school, or any number of random mini-events in our daily lives.  Does anybody in America ever put on an appallingly bad, fake kiwi accent...?

I'm an angry cleaner.  When I'm in a really bad mood, or I'm having a heated discussion with Deane, I start doing things like wiping the kitchen bench, cleaning the stove, putting random things away, or whatever else I can spot that needs a tidy up or a good scrub.  Am I alone in this weird compulsion?  And why does this never seem to happen when I'm bored and have plenty of time on my hands?

I called a lady out at the supermarket the other day for taking a family size pie out of her trolley and stashing it in the yogurt section instead of walking back one aisle and returning it to its rightful place.  I wonder if she felt embarrassed enough to go and put it back, or if she was overwhelmed by righteous indignation and just walked off in a huff?  She mumbled something back at me, but I didn't hear it and wasn't going to bother asking her to repeat it at the time.  Wonder what she said?

I had planned to do a marathon this year.  Originally, I was just going to do the Auckland Marathon in November.  However, I recently discovered that XTERRA Waihi has a marathon option, and it will be held on the day of my 35th birthday.  Trails are way more fun than roads, but this particular course takes in many of the hills of the 60km ultra version which has been dubbed the 'Kaimai Killer'.  Awesome way to celebrate a birthday potentially (hopefully) achieving a personal challenge, or am I just a little insane?