From Exercise

Ok women, stop it.

There’s a woman sitting near you in a restaurant, on a train, in a school meeting, at your kids’ sport, on a nearby desk at work, or walking past you in the street, feeling lousy about herself. A really ‘I don’t want to be here. I feel so uncomfortable. I am so fat.’ kind of lousy.

Truthfully, there’s probably more than one woman feeling like that.

In fact, there’s a strong possibility you are that woman.

Having almost 38 years of ‘femaleness’ under my belt, having had female friends all of my life; and working in the health and wellbeing industry specifically with females, I’m starting to see a big, fat, bold, scary pattern.

We hate on ourselves.

All. The. Time.

If we’re not doing it publicly (“Oh my god, you should see what I ate on the weekend.”), we’re doing it privately (“F**k it! I’m not going, nothing looks good on me. I’m such a fat cow.”) If we don’t beat ourselves up about it enough, we beat our loved ones up about it (“Honey how does this look?”…. “What do you mean byOK’? Do you even want to be married to me?!?!”).

This downtrodden attitude towards ourselves is dictating our conversations. When was the last time you had dinner with the girls and no-one brought up what diet they were on, what new weight loss technique they were trying, how heavy they were feeling, how many kilograms they’d gained or how much weight so-and-so had lost?

Minute-to-minute (sadly, I’m not even exaggerating) it is affecting our moods, our social lives, our relationships, our careers and our professional or personal aspirations.

I’ve met women who are tiptoeing on the verge of agoraphobia as a result of how they look in the mirror; dozens tell me they can’t come to an exercise class until they have lost some weight; and friends that tell me that they rarely enjoy social occasions because they never feel comfortable with how they look.

Gah. It’s got to stop.

Women. Stop it!

But I know these women. I’ve been this woman. And I know it isn’t as easy as just saying, “Oh ok, I rock, let’s go disco dancing!”

I don’t know where this venom entered our blood stream. We consistently blame advertising and all of their lighting and airbrush trickery. We blame our mothers for switching to low fat milk and flora margarine in 80s. We blame clothing manufacturers for inconsistent sizing and the designers who insist on using waif like models to sell them.

But while we are turning down another social occasion, having another low-self-esteem fuelled argument with our nearest and dearest and-or internally abusing ourselves again with a grimaced face in the mirror; another airbrushed ad is being produced, another diet-related food product is being pumped off the production line, another size 14 clothing tag is being sewn onto a size 10 jacket and another model is being employed for next year’s biggest fashion show.

The industries that could shoulder some of the blame for our self-hate are not going to stop doing what they do in time for you to go to go to the ball, apply for that job, buy that dress, check out that dance class or have that raunchy lights-on-completely-starkers night with your hubster.

It’s up to us to stop listening. Stop listening to those voices that tell us we’re too fat to go out, that our partner couldn’t possibly love us, that the spin class is only for skinny people or that we can’t change our career path until we’ve lost 10kgs.

It’s up to us to stop the weight-related conversations with friends and start talking about something other than body size and body parts.

It’s up to us to stop thinking that achieving a certain body shape or size is the sole purpose of our existence on earth.

Seriously, this obsessive negative body image epidemic needs an antidote – and it lies within us.

Obviously, I don’t discourage an enthusiastic attitude toward better health, but I suspect that the incessant focus on our appearance is in fact, plaguing our bodies way more than the desperate 3p.m chocolate bar.

By all means, continue to work on your fitness; continue to explore better nutrition, but synergise it with a loving and appreciative acceptance of your body, and all bodies.

My top five tips for breaking the hate-on-ourselves pattern are:

1)      Reduce self-criticism: Challenge yourself to 2 days a week (more if you can) where you don’t criticise your any aspect of your reflection.

2)      See internal characteristics in others: Practice describing (either to yourself or in friendly discussions with your peers) other women using only non-physical characteristics. “You know Kate, the one that is really friendly? She’s friends with Lucy, who is always willing to help out at soccer…”

3)      Change the conversation: When you meet up with your girlfriends, have a zero-tolerance approach to body-related conversations.  If someone raises how heavy they are feeling, how their clothes aren’t fitting anymore or how skinny they were at their damn wedding 15 years ago, don’t fuel the discussion by adding in your two cents about their weight, or yours. Next.

4)      Ignore clothing sizes: Image if you cut off the tags on every piece of clothing in your wardrobe. Eventually, you wouldn’t remember what was a size 10 and what was a size 16. You’d just wear whatever was comfortable on that day. Adopt the same attitude when you shop. Don’t worry about the size you need, just grab the one that will be the most comfortable.

5)      Letting go is different to letting yourself go. I saw this quote at some stage on the socials and wish I could credit it appropriately. It perfectly represents the synergy of body acceptance with health awareness. Being more accepting of your body does not mean that you should throw out the runners and schedule in a nightly date with the pizza delivery driver.  Likewise, continuing to work on your diet and fitness does not have to be all in the name of external body changes. Gosh darn it, it can be just for the benefit of feeling good and, hold-the-damn-phone, a long and healthy life.

Regardless of where the responsibility lies for this venomous culture of self-hate, if we start to change the way we think about ourselves, talk about ourselves and what we notice in others, that woman in the restaurant, whether it’s you or not, might order a dessert and not feel self-conscious about it; the woman on the train might apply for that promotion and the fellow mother at the school meeting might feel confident enough to introduce herself and come to the next social night out.

Is fat a dirty word?

I have embraced. Locally, I promoted and hosted Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary last year. I wholeheartedly support the #bodyimagemovement. On the socials I like, comment, support, applaud, share and encourage women of all sorts that are joining the body positive chanting.

This embrace-thy-body mindset is undoubtedly overdue. Women (in particular) are constantly hammering their confidence into the ground one blow at a time; often to a point where their self-hate can make leaving the house feel like a confronting task.

It absolutely should not be like that.

But despite all of the roar-roar-roaring and hashtagging in the right direction, I, ah, um, well…

I feel fat.

I feel fat and I am on a mission (a gentle mission) to lose some weight.

Is that me un-embracing? Have I just said a dirty word? Will I be cast out from this beautiful, jelly-belly loving tribe?

This is the first time that I’ve felt not-so-happy with my bod since the #bodyimagemovement turned from a ripple in the ocean to a brilliant tsunami. Prior to that, it was pretty much a daily (wait, maybe hourly?) occurrence. The difference now, is that me and my extra k.gees are totes calm about it all. I can look back over the year and see that some injuries sidelined me from a lot of my favourite physical activities. I can see that along with embracing my child-beared body, I also embraced a fair few “clean” and not so clean treats. (My husband and I found a local supermarket that stocks Cadbury pineapple chocolate ALL. THE. TIME. Friday night ritual: on point).

Me feeling fat right now, isn’t body shaming myself. I feel fat, because I am carrying more fat than I have in a long time. There are a lot of lovely, logical events that landed me with this extra layer, but I’ve reached a point where it’s just not comfortable for me. It’s kind of like buying a beautiful pair of shoes and finding out that, despite dogmatic persistence, they rub your heels raw. I don’t hate my current body, I just can’t wear it for long.

Not limited edition. ALL THE TIME PEOPLE.
Not limited edition. ALL THE TIME PEOPLE.

For the first time since Mark Zuckerberg became an answer to a trivial pursuit question (un-researched, but confident that it’s fact), my fat-feels are not because of women I see on Instagram flashing their impossible abs at me (which for the record, I have a well-programmed reflex to do the insta-equivalent of swiping left on, because of the super power they have of sending me down a hate-myself-hell-hole).

In fact, probably not since I put a Dolly (R.I.P) issue Alison Brahe poster on my bedroom wall and longed to be just like her (blond, tiny framed and dating Cameron Daddo…I achieved none of the three) has my desire to lose a bit of weight been so intrinsic.

This overweightness that I feel right now isn’t because someone or something made me feel this way. My motivation is not because of @sixpacksusie (not a real account. Yet.) or the adorable Alison Brahe (I bet she is still adorable) (wait, I just googled her. She is). It’s all me. I’ve embraced myself at this size and all the glorious pineapple chocolate that it took to get here. But it doesn’t feel quite right and I’ll just change a little bit here and a little bit there, until I feel comfortable again. Whatever that may be.

With a healthy, level-headed, gentle approach, I’ve come to the conclusion that “fat” isn’t a dirty word. You can embrace yourself and change yourself at the same time. I still have my arms lovingly wrapped around my additional lumpy bits, and I’m hopeful that even as I try to lose a little weight, I won’t be voted off the body lovin’ island.

Resolutions that roll with the punches

If you’re anything like me, you’ll scoff at the idea of making a New Year’s resolution. A lifetime of experience tells you that they never stick and they only come back to haunt you when Christmas rolls around again.

And experts tend to agree. According to many, New Year’s Resolutions are so last decade. Apparently it is the worst time to declare lifestyle changes and there’s a very slim chance that you’ll be high fiving yourself come December 31st. The New Year is amidst celebrations, frivolity and for us here in Australia, weather that calls for beach side holidays, alcoholic drinks, BBQ gatherings and icecream. It’s hardly a breeding ground for spectacular transformations.

But despite all of this, as I flip the crisp new page of the carefully chosen calendar, I find it hard not to reflect on the past 12 months and contemplate what might be possible in the year to come. Is it ingrained in us, or is there something in the cosmos that makes us want to seek out personal improvements when a new year clicks over?

What’s possibly the limiting factor in New Year’s Resolutions is they are generally a statement of declaration: “I’m going to lose weight!” “I’m going to be more organised!” “I am going to give up alcohol!” “I am going to start running!” There’s plenty of enthusiasm, but very little planning bolstering up our resolutions.

sparkler_1

Despite a worthy protest, if you feel the gravitational pull towards implementing some new year changes, there are some things you can do to make your success a little more likely.

1. BE SMART ABOUT IT. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame. Replace “I am going to lose weight” with “I am going to lose 5kg by September.” Replace “I am going to start running” to “I am going to run in a 10km event in August”. You can even make us your own system of scale, for example “At the moment, on a scale of 1-10 on how healthy I feel, I am a 5. By the end of June this year, I am going to be at 8.”

2. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS FROM WHAT YOU WANT, TO WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING. Once you have your SMART goal, it’s time to carefully consider what actions you will need to be doing consistently to achieve that goal. The person that says “I am going to run a half marathon in June” may need to invest in some new runners, start going to bed earlier to make early morning training possible and set aside some time to run 3-4 times a week. Change is the result of a series of new behaviours done consistently, so make your behaviour the focus, rather than the overall goal.

3. GO AS BIG OR AS SMALL AS YOU CAN MANAGE. It’s an old cliché, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take one step at a time and appreciate that each of those steps are entirely customised to you; what fits your lifestyle and what you can physically, mentally and emotionally manage. If your SMART goal is to lose weight, and the changes you need to be doing consistently involve reducing portion sizes, it might start with simply reducing the size of one meal, one day a week. Once you feel that you are doing that fairly effortlessly you might move to two meals, two days of the week. Don’t let this step be dictated by impatience or pressure. It’s vital to long term success that each step is integrated gradually and easily into your lifestyle. The downfall of most New Year’s Resolutions is that people go too hard too soon!

4. OBSERVE, DON’T JUDGE. As Thomas Edison said “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If one week doesn’t go to plan – you miss a run, you overeat, you relax on a Monday night with a scotch, just make an observation about what lead you to that point. Rather than throw your hands up in the air (like you just don’t care) and rubber stamp it failure all over it, simply think about how you can adjust your ultimate goal, your behaviours or your environment to make it work. Like Thomas Edison, it could take thousands of attempts and you’ll learn a little bit about yourself each time.

5. KEEP YOUR RESOLUTIONS ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES. Life happens. We get busy. We get thrown curve balls. We lose our way. Our priorities change. Revisiting your goal and being willing to adjust it (and the required behaviours) if it no longer fits within the realms of realistic or achievable, is totally ok. It’s far better to keep moulding it around life, than sidelining it altogether.

Whether it is habit or something in the universe that pulls us towards change around January – make your resolutions SMART, support them with small changes in your behaviour and when things don’t go to plan, adjust the plan; and I expect there will be high fives rather than haunts by the time December arrives again.

3309, the adventure continues

Continued on from previous post

Hi 3309, it’s me again.

Last week, possibly painfully, I explained what life could have been like, had you made it to the Melbourne Marathon. I detailed the atmosphere that you would have experienced, the emotions that you would have witnessed.

But I wasn’t entirely honest.  You didn’t get the full story.

You see, 3309 I’ve never been particularly sentimental about my bib-numbers. They have normally suffered a long day; safety pins and tired movements have gradually torn their corners, Gatorade guzzled desperately at the final drink station has made them sticky, and sadly, you would have been superseded by a medal that endured nothing more than a production line and the helpful hand of a finishing chute volunteer.

The truth is 3309, if it was indeed your destiny to travel the 42.2 kilometres of the Melbourne Marathon, I am afraid it was also your destiny to end up in the hotel room bin.

Instead of experiencing the Melbourne marathon, your Sunday 16th October was spent as just another average Sunday with me. We went for a short run, along one of my favourite courses with one of my favourite friends. We enjoyed an overdue brunch (the smashed avocado and poached eggs were delicious) with some old school mates. We whipped up some wholesome feel-good foods for a beloved pal who had had an emotional couple of days. We lovingly prepared and proved pizza dough ready to feed the family their favourite weekend meal. We did a spot of home maintenance and we got the groceries in for the week ahead. We finally gave in to my 9 year old son and agreed to play, albeit poorly, a new Xbox game with him.

Just another Sunday in the life of me.

3309-adventures

I’ve often questioned why I run the marathon. Why I can’t just tick it off the bucket list and move on. I usually arrive at the answer that it somehow validates me. It justifies me. It makes me feel like I am doing enough. That I am enough.

Completing the 2016 Melbourne marathon with you would have, of course, given me a great sense of achievement. But strangely 3309, this year it almost feels like a bigger achievement to have not run the marathon; to have had the sense of self, the belief that I would be quite okay to not do it. To recognise that my life is full, that there are other experiences to enjoy and other elements that make me the person I am; to appreciate the other laurels I have to rest on.

I may run the marathon again. I may not. Whatever the case may be, I feel that I no longer need to cling to it.

So strangely, 3309 you are pretty significant. You represent a certain maturity, an inner strength. You represent a new found comfort in being, rather than doing. You tell me that with or without the marathon – I am enough.

It’s ironic 3309 that you might just be the one bib-number that I do keep.

quote-board-louis-ck

Dear number 3309

Dear marathon number. Melbourne Marathon Number 3309.

I had high hopes for us. With complete confidence I applied for you as soon as the virtual ticket booth opened. I worked hard. I was running at extremely early times on extremely cold mornings. I had a training plan that I was sticking to. I was exceeding my targets and was on track to give you a wee-bit-of-a-faster-run than what my preceding marathons numbers have experienced.

But things changed. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to make the call. I had to ask them not to send you. I had to tell them you wouldn’t be needed. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. It broke my heart.

I had hoped that you’d be allocated to deserving runner. A runner ready to take you to that start line, where the oxymoronic mix of nerves and excitement is so thick in the air, it’s like a psychedelic rainbow snaking its way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of runners. Where the music is playing, people are stretching, hugging their loved ones, taking selfies, doing warm up runs; many are on their third trip to the porta-loos.

I wanted you to go to someone who would allow you, number 3309, to soak up the atmosphere that is the Melbourne marathon. A runner that would proudly pin you to his or her most chafe-friendly running top and take you on the 42.2 kilometre journey. Firstly, hopping up and around other runners, comrades, not quite keeping the same step as you; to the point where the cluster starts to stretch out a little and you find your stride. I wanted you to go through the drink stations and hear the unique tinging and tapping of the plastic cups hitting the ground; to the seemingly long and lonely stretches of Beaconsfield and Marine Parade, where the energy and excitement seems to dull, feet seem to be hit the ground a little harder and the faces of other runners show the mind’s wrestle between determination and regret (and in most cases, determination has the upper hand).

I wmarathon-numberanted you to see the people lining St Kilda road, the children selflessly handing out lollies to weary competitors rather than scoffing them all themselves, the signs people hold up to push you just a little more, the random people clapping and telling you what a good job you’ve done. On the chest of your runner, curving around past Federation Square, I wanted you to feel the lift, the slight straightening out, as pride and self-belief resurrects: so close now, so close now.

And then, number 3309, the MCG appears and the step of your runner, somehow, just gets a little faster and the noise just gets a little louder. Already-finished competitors are making their way back to their cars, to cafes, to pubs with their in-awe family quizzing them about their accomplishment. Their finishers medal proudly beating against their number as they walk, or hobble, along.

3309, if things had have gone to plan you would have made it into the MCG with me, possibly a little weather beaten, a pin or two missing, creases indicating my fatigued posture.  You would have been photographed with me, arms raised as high as I could manage crossing the finishing line. You might have even caught a tear or two, as for whatever reason I cry every single time.

But it didn’t end up like that. For some administrative reason, you weren’t assigned to another eager participant. You ended up in the letterbox of this tired runner who had decided this was not the year to do the Melbourn marathon.

But has it been so bad?

To be continued…

Let’s go throw a bike. (A not so perfect family bike riding adventure).

Last week I blogged about the challenges I faced finding the time and energy for fitness when my children were just wee-little-cherubs (you can read it here). Now they are medium sized cherubs, it is a lot easier, so I like to combine hanging out with my family and some physical activity whenever I can. I now have a bit more time, a bit more mental stability and a fair bit more energy, but even so exercise+family can still = challenges…

Picture perfect. Discovering puddles, or ponds. Or whatever.
Picture perfect. Discovering puddles, or ponds. Or whatever.

My children both celebrated their birthdays in the last month. They were lucky enough to be given swanky brand new mountain bikes. Being family-bike-riding enthusiasts, hub and I were both pretty happy to see Sunday bearing a sunshine icon on the weather maps, and we excitedly pencilled in some quality pedal pushing fam-time.

With hub being away a fair bit of late and kid’s sports usually chewing through our Saturdays and Sundays, this bike ride became one of my non-negotiables for the long weekend. So at 2:45pm on Sunday we set out gleefully for the nearby rail trail. I made sure hub had his phone with him because I had banned myself from my own phone for the event (so that I could truly enjoy every magical family moment without being distracted by intriguing message and gaming notifications) but I still wanted access to a camera so that I could go to Instagram-town with this picture-perfect family outing.

We set off with Master 9 and Miss 7 cheerfully wagging their cute little butts in front of us as they called “we’re gonna beat you!” and hub and I sharing a knowing little smile to each other, celebrating the amazing gifts we have given the world. I am pretty certain bluebirds fluttered around our helmet clad heads and the admiring community hummed “Let’s go ride a bike” (to the tune of “let’s go fly a kite” if you missed that clever transposition) in our wake.

The bluebirds continued to flutter; the community continued to hum.

Life. Perfect.

We eventually came to a junction where we had the choice to continue on to a nearby township, complete with skate park, or turn around and head home.

Hub had a goal in mind and wanted to make it to the town. He was using the skate park as his best and only bargaining chip.

Miss 7 ummed and arred, but eventually agreed the skate park sounded like fun.

Master 9 was done and wanted to go home.

I didn’t mind either way. But was happy to split and accompany my son home.

But Miss 7 using  tears, crossed arms and stomped feet, argued against a split and wanted the WHOLE family to stay together.

Now I don’t really know what other kids are like, but my two have stubbornness in spades. I knew that if hub or I made a call, we’d be leaving one child by the side of a busy, fast paced road, in tears with foot firmly on the ground and chained to their opinion like a hippie to a tree.

You know that crass but common Aussie saying – “he had me by the balls”? I know anatomically it’s not possible for me to be in that unfortunate situation, but figuratively speaking that’s basically where they had me. It’s not the first time and sadly, I’m confident it won’t be the last.

With thanks to experience, I handed the reins straight over to my youngsters. I encouraged them to think about the other point of view, to consider being a little more flexible and to weigh up the pros and the cons of what they wanted to do. It took about 8 minutes (and about four hundred and fifty deep breaths on my behalf) and we had a change of mind.

In fact we had two changes of mind.

Master 9 no longer wanted to go home. HE now wanted to go onward to the skate park.

Miss 7 had lost interest in the skate park idea and now SHE wanted to go home.

No more bluebirds. No more cheerful Mary Poppins tunes. Just me muttering profanities under my breath about how effed up motherhood really can be.

Hub, still erring toward the skate park, now realised his opinion was no longer being accepted as a valid bid. I had to move away from my bike before I threw it.

Dip dip dip. Round 3.
Dip dip dip. Round 3.

 

Again, I told my kids I had no way of winning here and they had to sort it out: “Tell me when you’re done”.

Between them there were dropped lips, tears, bribes, manipulation, promises they couldn’t keep – it was like watching the lead up to the election.

Another 8 minutes. Another 450 deep breaths.

Three rounds of dip dip dip. Three arguments over which hand meant which direction. Three times I considered riding off on my own. Towards Queensland.

Eventually, Master 9 conceded. Miss 7 won. Homeward bound, we rode, as a friggen family. A picture-perfect-instagram-worthy-friggen-family.

Stomping on my pedals, shaking off the frustration, I had to breathe in the fresh air, admire the setting sun, take note of the toadstools, the warped trees and the rabbit holes to remind myself this was still a great idea and a great outing.

Life. Imperfectly-perfect.

One day hub and I will get the opportunity to ride as far as we’d like to ride without stopping for negotiations of epic proportions. One day we’ll cross that junction without having to even discuss going further or not. One day we won’t need the skate park as a bargaining chip.

But on that day our kids won’t want to be around us in our daggy helmets. They won’t let me photograph them, knowing I’m intending to use it as bragging evidence on social media. They won’t wiggle their little butts in front of us as they race up the nearest hill. They won’t be in awe at toadstools or decrepit trees, or ponds (/oversized puddles) and I’ll wish I could have it one more time.

Bluebirds might not flutter around us all the time. The community might not always turn into a chorus line. But while I can, I will still apprehensively excitedly pencil in some quality pedal pushing fam-time whenever I can.

 

Can't imagine the kids ever being embarrassed by us.
Can’t imagine the kids ever being embarrassed by us.

Good vibe, good view, good cider.

Earlier this year, I participated in the inaugural Flying Brick Bellarine Sunset Run with a PT client of mine. It was a very unique event and certainly worth shining the light on. This is the second, in a short series of my fun-run reviews.

Distances offered: an “extended” half marathon – 21.8km and a 10.7km. (my client and I took on the 10.7km).

This run was heavily and from all accounts, successfully, promoted amongst the Bellarine locals and holiday makers (it sold out within 5 weeks). Organiser Dion Milne shares an attitude to running (trail running in particular) that is akin to my own – just get out and have a go (the waiver included a clause to the effect of I am willing to stop and walk to appreciate the scenery that the Bellarine coastline has to offer – LOVE. IT.). This outlook, combined with his own personal story of depression led Dion to initiate the event, encouraging people to use running as personal outlet for emotional stress and to raise funds for Headspace. From what I am told Dion was very dogmatic, enthusiastic and passionate to get the event up and running (pardon the pun) and his efforts were well worth it.

For a regular early morning runner, starting a gallop at 6:00 PM was both novel and annoying.  Even though my approach to running fuel is far from scientific, I did have to be conscious of what I ate during the day. And, as I pulled into the Portarlington caravan park to meet my running partner, I had to protest against the thought of opening a cold cider and spending the evening on the beach.

The 21km runners started off near the Portarlington pier while us 10km runners had to make our way to St Leonards. A bus was available if you prebooked and paid for your seat, but I had a husband and kids who were willing to do the drop off (right before they tucked into some fish and chips for dinner mind you… biastards).

The vibe at St Leonards was great, with lots of people huddled around in the Flying Brick running singlets that had been available to purchase. I had underestimated how good they would look and rather than doing what Personal Trainers probably should do (rev up my client, help her warm up, give her a pep talk, sing Eye of the Tiger… ?) I spent a fair bit of time discussing my annoyance at not purchasing one. It has become very evident to me that judging people’s running attire is my go-to pastime to calm any run event nerves or bolster up any wavering energy. JCNI startline

Before our starting siren went off, the lead runners of the 21km event had to plough through us. And plough is the most appropriate term; they had a bit of sand to trudge through before hair pinning up a hill and negotiating their way through a slightly oblivious 10km crowd. If I was a front runner of a 21km event, I may have been a little p.i.s.s.e.d at this point. But thankfully, I’ll never wear that crown, so I’ll continue my running career in blissful ignorance.

As we set off, it was obvious that my opportunities to assess, critique and admire others runners’ gear was going to be limited. The narrow track was pretty busy and crowded with 10km runners starting off and the remaining 21kms runners coming through. There was a lot of hopping, passing, slowing down and speeding up. It interrupted any potential conversation my running pal and I tried to have. Some of the 21ers took the crowded track quite literally in their stride and just dealt with it; others were a little frustrated at us piddley shorter distance runners and barked for us to “move over”, “hurry up”, “get out of the way”. Pfft, I don’t think they read all the clauses.

It took a while for the field to spread out a bit, but when it did it certainly was worth admiring the scenery. The gentle beach breeze fluttered at our side and the setting sun was slowly making tracks for the majestic You Yangs. The path, mainly flat, was a mix of slightly sandy and bitumen. The camaraderie amongst runners and the support from sidelines (warning, you run alongside a few caravan parks where deck-chaired settled campers clap while simultaneously drinking wine, beer and champagne) was one of the best I’ve come across. I haven’t personally met Dion, but I feel like his attitude towards running/exercise/life was somehow engrossed in the runners and spectators alike. jode scenery

Drink stations on the Bellarine Sunset Run were unique, innovative and respectful to the surrounds. It was made very clear in the lead up that disposable cups would not be provided on course and that runners had to either carry their own water or drinking vessels. Drink stations were on course to fill up camel packs, drink bottles or well cupped hands, but collapsible cups were for sale pre-event for about $3. These amazing little inventions fitted tidily into the palm of one’s hand when not in use. I’m all for a bit of environmental-friendliness, so think that this was just a super idea. (Mind you, if I had to carry one of these “amazing little inventions” on the marathon, I envisage myself piffing it at a well-meaning spectator anywhere between 28 and 40 kilometres).

Whilst most of the course was reasonably flat, there was a bit of undulation in the final kilometre. However, the anticipation of the finish line (directly below) was enough energise us up and over and down the other side.

The finishing chute was pretty exciting (I haven’t run through a non-exciting finishing chute yet). We were awarded with a pretty snazzy anchor shaped medal and the Flying Brick tent was only metres away for me to finally have that cider.

This is what my running colleagues had to say about the run:

“Being held in the evening, and my first Fun Run in 18 months, I was a little daunted to begin with. It was hot out on the course, but the scenery got me through. To get across the finish line was the best feeling in the world. I will be back to do it again next year.” Jodie, 10kms (that’s Jodes in the pictures above 🙂 )

“I totally loved the Sunset run. The course and the view was spectacular. The atmosphere was amazing and the enthusiasm of the residents at the caravan parks was fantastic. The organisers and volunteers did a brilliant job. I loved the fact that it started later in the day because it gave it more of a party atmosphere than early morning events. The only negative was the lack of toilets on the course, but overall it was an awesome event that I will definitely do again.” Jo, 21kms.

Next run I’ll review is the Great Ocean Road Full and Half marathon….

Coward’s Punch of the road is unacceptable.

A good majority of my facebook and instagram posts lately have been in reference to the cycling community and the response to the gut-wrenching, devastating, infuriating and unfathomable incident that saw the husband of my good friend viciously knocked from his bike. You can read some of the details of the incident here.

Not only is the incident sickening, but so too is the mindset that exists towards cyclists.

Over the last few years we’ve seen uproar over the king-hit; aptly now referred to as a “coward’s punch”, thanks to tougher penalties, increased media coverage, zero tolerance approaches and greater community awareness. The “cowards punch” is a punch made without warning, allowing no time for preparation or defence on the part of the recipient (Wikipedia).

When a cyclist is purposely tormented, threatened, provoked or struck by a car, I consider it the coward’s punch of the road. It doesn’t matter if you a driving a Morris minor or a 4-wheel drive, you’ve immediately got more muscle power than anyone on a bike.

Getting angry at a cyclist for the way he or she manoeuvres around traffic or hazards on the road, and using your car as a way to frighten, shock, send a message or make your point, is bullying and cowardly. Supporting the belief that that cyclists need to be taught a lesson by way of driving aggressively or carelessly around them is just as bad.

We wouldn’t accept the same behaviour from truck drivers towards cars. We wouldn’t accept trucks tailgating, overtaking at close range, throwing rubbish or hurling abuse, sounding the horn abruptly or over a long distance or leaving so little space at an intersection that cars have to jump up on to the sidewalk. It happens, I’m sure, but we don’t accept it. We’d see the truck driver as the bully, the bad guy, the arsehole, the reckless driver.

So why any different when it’s car versus bike?

Just like motorists, cyclists have endless quick-thinking decisions to make on the road. Sometimes cyclists do make bad judgement calls. But so do car drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, motorcyclists, tractor drivers, policecars, ambulance drivers and pilots.  The only difference between cyclists and those drivers, is that on the road cyclists have no time for preparation or defence against a road rage attack. There is nothing, nothing, between them and the brunt of a vehicle. They are vulnerable, defenceless and will undoubtedly come off second best.

If you use your vehicle to send a message to a cyclist you are delivering a coward’s punch.

Slow down when you see a cyclist.

Give cyclists space.

Overtake when it is safe to do so.

And stop supporting the notion that the coward’s punch of the road is acceptable.

(And it’s time that this behaviour received the same attention as the Coward’s Punch. A Coward’s Punch can carry a maximum jail sentence of 20 years. But driving dangerous causing serious injury? – 10 years. )

Hundreds of riders gathered for a solidarity ride in support of Christian Ashby and the #andacyclist movement
Solidarity Ride. Hundreds of riders gathered for a solidarity ride in Ballarat to support Christian Ashby and the #andacyclist movement

I love Christmas, I love it not. Diary of a crazy Christmas person.

Christmas is one little week away and I find myself in a flurry of competing emotions at this time of year.

I loathe greed and excessiveness, but yet I want my kids to have everything that’s on their Santa list and damn, that dress is pretty… I want it. I’m getting it. And some new sandals to match too, thanks.

I love the school holidays. Not having to make lunches, brush hair, sign homework diaries and rush out the door. Until the kids start fighting at 8:41am, then I hate school holidays. The kind of hate where I want to pick my fingernails off one by one.

I love Christmas parties. I love being social, having some drinks and maybe some more after that. But I hate hangovers. I hate them. Almost as much as I hate school holidays at 8:41am.

The abundance of food at this time of year makes me uncomfortable. I admit to having a pretty dicey relationship with food and the silly season sends me into high alert. But I love preparing Christmas treats and I just ate chocolate melts for lunch. But I hate myself for it.

Yes. It is exhausting.

on floor

I enjoy integrating health into what is renowned for being a season of overindulgence. I love being creative and making tradition-breaking goodies. But I also hate being “that” person; the one who brings the cacao and spouted buckwheat “mint slice”  to the table and wants to start Christmas morning with a run.

I look forward to spending time with my family; my nieces and nephews, seeing the kids playing with their cousins, drinking wine and laughing with my sister and our parents. But of course, put three family units in a house together for a few days and there’s bound to be some tension crop up at some point. I don’t cope with tension very well. And all I’ll have to calm my nerves is a gingerbread house made from quinoa. Damn it.

But Christmas will come and I think if I can stop trying to please all of my demons at once, I might be able to enjoy it, even with the undercurrent of moral, emotional and ethical see-saws rocking inside me. To get through Christmas, I almost need to balance those see-saws a little bit, or enjoy the thrill of them crashing to the ground occasionally.

We’re lucky. The kids get a lot, I get a lot and there are many that are not as fortunate. I’ll focus on being grateful. I’ll give food, clothes and toys to the needy in an attempt to somehow make a small ripple in a big ocean (and in selfish honesty, to help alleviate some of my own guilt).

The school holidays, will, at times be shit. The kids will fight. I’ll yell profanities. But it doesn’t mean they are destined to be lifelong enemies and it doesn’t mean I have failed as a mother. There will be laughter and cuddles too. And I just have to hope like hell that it’s those moments they remember.

I’ll enjoy the few Christmas parties I go to (one actually, I go to one). And I’ll probably enjoy it enough to not need another party for 12 months.

Food is good. Yes, we live in a society where there is a ridiculous and unnecessary amount of it. Chocolate melts for lunch probably aren’t ideal, but I know enough to understand that that won’t be regular faire every day of the coming year.

Cacao and sprouted buckwheat, probably goes pretty well with Bailey’s on ice. Just like a balance between health consciousness and luxury indulgences.  smoothie cheers

My family will individually or collectively, annoy the beejeepers out of me at some point over the Christmas break. And there’s a good chance I’ll be driving them crazy at some point too. Thank goodness for cacao and buckwheat slice, with a side of Bailey’s. And laughter. And Christmas morning jogs. And chocolate melts at lunch time, sisterly chats and card games. And little cousins causing mischief together. Thank goodness for what I have.

Christmas. I got this.

Not everyone wants to run a marathon. And that’s ok.

In my little bubble of a world, people do crazy things – they get up at what often seems like the middle of the night to take on massive physical tasks before most people have even kicked off the doona. In my world, doing more than 1 hour of exercise a day isn’t extreme or obsessive it is quite literally, all in a day’s work.

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