Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Katy's Birthday Surprise

Today my lovely sweet sexy wife has her Birthday. She was talking about doing Belly Dancing lessons with a friend for some time and agreed that would be her present. It just happens that the classes start tonight, on the same day.

After much plotting and planning I managed to sneak off to the Gold Coast where there is a shop that sells costumes for such a thing. Lots of beads, bobbley bits and high cut split em up straps plus a wrap-around jingley belt. I secured my special purchase and was home around 5ish knowing Katy was out for dinner with a friend. Plenty of time to box up the gift and hide until the big day ........ Plenty of time you'd think!!!!! ...... unless you were silly enough to take it out of the packaging and somehow have a strand go and spend several hours searching the floor for beads that bounced and shot off in all directions. With beads all rounded up I then had to thread a needle [Special note: Get a damn needle with an eye that doesn't need a microscope to thread]. Three hours passed and after a lot of sweating and swearing, I managed to fix the costume. I gotta tell you, it was like eating a bowl of rice using bananas as chopsticks. I'm sure my fingers swelled as the thread got shorter and the holes on the beads closed up all at the same time.

Box nicely wrapped and secured with 5 minutes before Katy comes home around 9ish. Little does she know the drama and panic that has just preceded her.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Week 2

Results for Week 2 of the Canberra Quest are in.

Total Ks 75 (46 miles) versus plan of 70
Tempo 6K average 4:08 min/K
Yasso 4x800m @ 16.5 kph = 2 min 55 sec (3:38 min/K)
Average pace over the week 4:53 min/K (7:52 min/mile)

A lot of training this week has been working on visualisation and my state of mind to ensure each session has quality.

The week started with a strange fatigue issue that had me falling asleep during the day from Saturday and didn't leave my system to Wednesday. No other serious issues but I can feel tight calves, hamstrings particularly the right one plus a few blisters and split webbing on my right foot. Considering all this, I am surprised .... no delighted to be getting good speed and my mid-week run along the coast was a real beauty. The tempo run was, not just an improvement of a couple of seconds but, an extension of the effort that I put in preparing for my last race (the Columbus Marathon 3:16).

All that said folks, there is one hell of a long way to go. 761 K according to the plan, Yassos to build up to 10 x 800m, hills, faster Tempos, weekly distance to increase up to 100K and 5 more loooooong ones. If you hang around, you will see more appearances of my Inner Kenyan (IcK) and the likes of the March of The Executioner . There will be ducks and cheezy poofs plus whatever I can warp out of your blogland brains (the inspiration I derive from you is the pinnacle of my mental strategy, sorry it might not seem so). This is my plan until either they lock me away or the victorious black flag is adorning Canberra's number one landmark.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Party People in the House say Yeah

I want to hear you say "YEAH" ..... come on say "YEAH" .... everybody ..... come on .... now clap with me (all together, you are in a big circle and I'm doing my thang in the middle) .... I CAN FEEL IT BABY!!!!!! .... say "YEAH" ... oh YEAH!

Cue the tribal bongos (real quick like) ..... and some maracas ....

OK we got it going ...... I'm dancing .... we got the funky jungle rhythm!

Cue the brass sections ..... I'm on fire .... every say "YEAH"!

I'm off, I'm going, I'm flying through the Jungle of the Royal Botanic Possum Park .... I'm IcK (my Inner Kenyan) .... the funky jungle beat is pulsing through my system ...... and I turn the corner, cutting into the 100,000 strong crowd gathered along the banks of the Brisbane River to see ME ........ (and possibly the fireworks celebrating Australia Day)

The fireworks explode at the end of my session and that my friends is what it's all about!

Happy Australia Day

This is from Wikipedia on today's celebrations. I enjoy listening to the Hottest 100 which covers songs of 2005 some of which find its way to my iPod ..... well used too.

There is a bet on .... my running buddy Tesso versus the Toaster (yours truly)

Tesso's picks for the Top 5=

Gold Digger - Kanye West (came in at 13)
Ben Lee - Catch My Disease (came in at 2)
Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To (came in at 10)
White Stripes - My Doorbell (came in at 7)
Wolfmother - Joker & The Thief (came in at 9)

My picks for the Top 5 are:

White Stripes - Blue Orchid (came in at 17)
Bernard Fanning - Wish You Well (came in at 1)
Wolfmother - Mind's Eye (came in at 6)
Kanye West - Gold Digger (came in at 13)
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc (came in at 3)

At stake, is a drink of choice after the long run on a Saturday.

Tesso wins 4 top 10's to 3!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trivia Tuesday

In honour of tonight's dinner and following Trivia evening with Jen and Mark from the place where I used to work .... well at least attended .... I thought a little quiz might be fitting ......

1. Who was born on this day 24th January??? Hint: I learnt one of his songs at primary school when I must have been about 8. I was looking at the lyrics of some of his songs ....... and ..... Good lord! (*loud with Brooklyn accent*)

"Drop your shrink and stop your drinkin'
Crunchy granola's neat
Sing it out
Da da da da
Da da da da da
Dee dee dee dum"

2. Name the movie this quote comes from:

The scene is kids (Kimberly and Jason) in the back of a car wanting dad (Randy) to take a toilet stop ....

Kimberly Pear: Dad, I'm prairie dogging back here!
Randy Pear: Well, what the hell does that mean?
Jason Pear: You know, like when a prairie dog sticks his head in and out of the ground.
Randy Pear: Oh.
[Five seconds later]
Randy Pear: Ohh, god, I do not wanna picture that!

3. Which band doesn't come from Brisbane?

a/ Powderfinger
b/ The Veronicas
c/ AC/DC
d/ The Bee Gees

4. First the trivia .... The Scoville Scale: A scale developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1912, to measure the heat level in chillies. It was first a subjective taste test, but since, it has been refined by the use of HPLC, the unit is named in honour of its inventor .... Wilbur's ass blew apart in 1930.

So place the following chlllies in order of pungency (that is burnies)

a/ Jalapeno
b/ Bell Pepper
c/ Habenero
d/ Chipolte

This question is for Jen in memory of her testing Katy's stuffed pepper recipe and then chugging 3 litres of milk in our kitchen. (Photo of Jen, the taller one with head down avoiding picture, Taylor is the one smiling for the camera)

5. In Chess the pawn is valued as 1 point and the Queen 9 points .... what are the Rook (castle), Bishop and Knight (horsey) worth?

I miss my games of chess at work with the other Mark as it was one way to make the day more interesting.

Answers posted in next weeks Quiz.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Because if you have a duck in your shorts, you have to let it quack.

I like running with others and I like running alone .... sometimes I gotta make a little noise that's sort of like a car backfiring ... when this is the case, I like to run alone.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Week 1

Week 1 on my road to Canberra results are in. So lets go straight to the stats .....

Total Ks 72 versus plan of 65
Tempo 6K average 4:11 min/K (running 4 flat for the first 3)
Average pace over the week 4:54 min/K

I wanted to skip the Tempo session or put it off. After a lot of procrastinating and a very slow start, when I hit the beginning of the Tempo section I figured I needed to put in a good effort and just concentrated on leg speed all the way through it. The result was my fastest time at this exercise ever, so I am very pleased with it. After the long run, I came home and fell asleep on the day bed. I'm also happy with my cruisin speed around 4:50 min/K across all runs. It remains to be seen if I can keep going at this rate and I feel a little unsure of my ability to maintain the intensity and discipline for the next 11 weeks.

Next week's plan is 70K including 4x800 at 16.5 Kph and finishing with a 30ish K long run with Glenno and Geoff and then 10 minutes at Southbank beach pool.

Thanks for the suggestion from "mouse" the IPod is now in the shop. I have brought my mini disc back from retirement so will still have music.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My first infection .... as a blogger

1) What were you doing 10 years ago?

Still at my first employer Shell, as in the oil company, after 11 years and traveling around the country auditing transport activities. Second born Andrew was just one month away and Clare, not quite 2 years old, was the centre of the universe.

I was fat, unfit and had no idea what I wanted in life but I had more money than I do now (could be something in that). I also had less confidence in my own abilities and wasn't doing a lot of "living".

2) 5 snacks you enjoy?

Cheezy poofs
Ranch flavoured dip with chips
Clucky poofs

3) 5 songs you know all the words to?

All songs in a mumbling sort of non interpretable way with blah, la, yeah and then strong and clear on the chorus but not always in tune ....

Psycho Killer - Talking Heads (How's that one Stefano? not bad for an executioner! I could be getting into this role a little too much)
Never Tear Us Apart - INXS (singing it now)
Bohemian Rhapsody - Don't we all?
Common People - covered by William Shatner

4) 5 things I’d do as a millionaire?

Pay off the house, go on a holiday ............ zzzzzz

Actually I was thinking of a lifestyle enhancement with Katy running a business promoting running stuff and anything related to what we enjoy doing. Traveling at the same time, living an adventurous life integrated a self supporting money source, setting up the business so my children have an option to support themselves in the future, get to visit and be with great people and help them be part of it wherever it works, and also remaining true to values where no one is exploited and have a positive impact of society in general.

5) 5 things you like doing?

I'm not going to put "that" down.

so apart from "that"

Meeting good people
Actively participating with music (sort of like listening but comes with singing along and dancing)
Decoupage and Beer Can Art

6) 5 favorite toys?

Coffee Grinder
Inflatable Kayak
Mountain Bike
Little battery powered buzzy thing ... I use to trim nose hairs

Did you know about this??????

I've been exercising, putting in the big miles and trying to eat right ..... and then I see this ..... I feel like such a goose! If you knew about this and didn't tell me ... well .... well ..... (I'm so darn mad) ... you might find yourself off my christmas card list ... so there!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Small Celebrations

A recent comment on my marathon program was "LSDs scare the wife. It means bad things in this house." I have since determined that this relates to a ritual, I have very rarely practiced, in celebrating my long runs:

Here are possible answers for you to decide how I celebrate my long runs:

a/ hanging out on the couch listening to Mariah Carey hits
b/ soaking in the tub with cheezy poofs, beer and the catalogs allowing me to virtual shop whilst my tired muscles recover and I rebalance my salt intake
c/ (it's not "c")
4/ none of the above


Monday, January 16, 2006

10 Things I think about when I run

1. Just because we are married doesn't mean I should take it for granted, so how can I stay "Always Dating"? ..... and this thought goes along with other loving thoughts of Katy and how she balances me out

2. "The PDL has been alerted... prepare for da hole brotha!"

3. Am I a good dad? ..... It's a guilt thing and I often wonder if I am doing the right things by my kids.

4. "To run fast, you have to run fast!"

5. Why do the tongues in my running shoes skew to the side after I have been running for awhile?

6. I look at the faces of the people going the other way and wonder what is going on with them.

7. I do maths ...... calculate distance by pace to determine finish times of a race.

8. I think about how I am feeling such as if I'm floating, toughing it out, adding to my "running bank balance" so I can withdraw on the experience sometime later

9. Sometimes I daydream and listen to my breathing or the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground

10. My big toe ..... I sometimes focus on just my big toe, and how it initiates the propelling of each step

Ridgie Didgie Fridge

Mack ... the latest foster dog wanted to know what I was doing taking a photo of the fridge .....

... and here it is ....

I don't know why the peanut butter jar is upside down, or why we have 7 hot sauce bottles, except I did enjoy Katy's face when she put that last one on her eggs thinking it was somewhat more mild ...

Can we add flavour to our sea monkeys?

In the yellow box is home made muesli bars.

Damn ... no beer!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ready to go

The lead up to the start of my 12 week marathon program is finished .... I captured the times, distances and little reminders since the Kurrawa run, 5 weeks ago .....

Hills are in Green and Tempos are in Red, Long Slow Distance (LSD's) have the final last K's and pace shown and the same goes for the Tempos.

Click on it and gets a little bigger.

I get a little anal at times .....

P.S. I did a google search on "Iliketoast" and deviant pictures came up.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fond Memories

I haven't been able to write about this until now and I feel a little guilty about the whole thing and the lack of respect I've shown. Last week, my IPod developed pneumonia, and it was very serious. I tried a little rest, hoping he'd dry out and recover ... I knew something was wrong as the little dially pad wasn't responding and although there was music, I couldn't pick the songs or select a playlist anymore.

On Tuesday, I attached IPod to the Mac life support and created a single playlist in order to give IPod a meaningful, although limited, life. After performing this last life saving procedure, I ejected IPod from the system ...... it seemed to work .... but after a minute the lights went out for the last time. I desperately tried CPR but it was all to no avail.

IPod died as a result of a thunderstorm and it couldn't have been a more fitting end. It was January 4 and my session started at 9:17 p.m. with a sharp tempo workout. After the warm up, I was pleased with the 4:19/km first 3K and I was heading into the wild Botanical Possum park after 10.5k when the black skies opened up. It wasn't hard rain .... no .... that would be too kind ..... it was like a vertical flood. I moved my IPod under my arm in a attempt to protect him and lifted the tempo of my run. I was "pounding" along with lightening and thunder erupting around me. My feet splashed through fast flowing rivers now flooding across the path. Now, IPod was spluttering through what was to be his final song .... it was the BIG LIVE guitar solos of AC/DC and couldn't have been a more poetic finale.

Today we rejoice, in what was a short yet highly valuable life. Ipod endured sweat, sun and torturous sessions leading into 4 marathons. I'll never forget my last long run before a marathon recently, my lovely crusted bread hating wife, crossed my path with only 3 km left on my run (she was heading in a different direction as she was running to a different schedule than myself)... she grinned and asked if I was enjoying my Ipod .... noting the surprise inclusion of "Flagpole Sitta", I thanked her for putting this in with my collection ... my last 3 km were at hard fast pace to finish off this session and just as I started thumping my way down the final stretch "Animal Crackers in my Soup" came through my headphones .... my sweaty fingers only enable me to turn the damn thing up whilst trying to skip to the next song.

Farewell ..... *sniff* ..... you were too young.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Unveiling of the Plan

The road to Canberra .....

Here come the Dawgs!

I've noticed a few recipes floating around of late. Last time I was at the Texas State Fair, I came across the Prairie Dawg on a Stick .... it takes some chewing and needs to be washed down with one of those jumbo sized cups of homemade lemonade ..... but I tell you, it's mighty special ...... give it a try!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

March of the Executioner

Monday I elected for the simple pleasure of just running. No hills, no tempo, nothing long or slow ...... just a run, with the dip in the Southbank beach pool to finish off with. The conditions were ideal, somewhere in the mid to high 20s Celsius and sticky but not overly humid. So I took off at an easy pace, round the Brisbane river on a path that has become very familiar to me. Just to be completely crazy, I ran the other way around, anti-clockwise. I was inspired by Elizabeth's Just get out the door run and felt secure knowing that there were no geese to attack me.

After a little while, the psyche of the "executioner" occupied my mind and I was scanning around for a suitable adversary. Not a hill or mother nature's fiery dragon breath or torrential rain this time, instead I honed in on another runner a little further ahead of me. She was graceful, swift and seemed to be effortlessly gliding along the path like a gazelle. It was time to put the head down and raise my imaginary battle axe in order to claim this trophy. The distance between us began to close. My easy run or "canter" was now a full on gallop as I rode through the night as only a Black Knight could. The gazelle continued her pace without appearing to tire, but I knew now that it was only a matter of time before I would overtake her.

And so it was ...... I galloped past the gazelle swinging my imaginary battle axe claiming this fine scalp ..... take that small 10 year old girl who dares to defy the Executioner ....... feeling pleased with myself, I venture forth to the Royal Botanical Gardens, where the evil creatures of the night lurk.

Passing through the rich inner city forrest, I could hear the creatures in the nearby bushes. There had been times in the past when they bared their gnashing teeth and puffed up their thick skinned coats, threatening to attack me. Sometimes this has caused be to deviate from my planned path and narrowly escape being torn into little pieces. Alas, the possums would leave me alone tonight and I was free to finish and enjoy a swim as reward for my efforts.

Distance 9.3 km
Avg Speed 4:54/km

This morning (Tuesday) I returned home from the gym after the heavy rains of the early morning. The humidity quickly drenched me in an otherwise uneventful run.

Distance: 9.08
Avg Speed 5:02/km

Monday, January 09, 2006

Are we there yet?

1,700 km from Melbourne to Brisbane might not be how many might choose to spend 2 days, but I enjoy it. Rather than describe a long car trip, I put in a list the things that amuse me and make the trip so much fun ....... mainly for me:

1. Game #1 "Guess what animal that road kill was?" This has various degrees of difficulty, based on duration of expiration, hit by truck or car, if the crows have been at it and the original size of whatever it was.
2. Road trip food. This has never been good but the super flat grilled cheese sandwich might be why she hates toast. Why do truckers need enormous meals? I guess it is to maintain there shape which must be ideal for long distance truck driving and absorbing bumps in the road.
3. Road signs. First there was the picnic rest area sign showing a tree for shade. Then every few kms there are "Drowsy Drivers Die", "Take 5 and stay Alive" ....... Then there were picture of cars crashing into the nice picnic trees .... and now .... now .... giant car eating cows!
4. I have often wondered what the story is behind the new big cylinder Hay Bales and what happened to the rectangle ones. Am I alone in my fascination with these?
5. Game #2 "Missing the next toilet stop to see if the passengers can hang on." I stopped playing this game, as it would seem that no one else thought this was fun.
6. Game #3 Making sentences out of town names. Names like Moree (more-e), Narrandara (Nar-Rand-A-Ra), Coonabarabran (Coon-a-bar-ra-bran) ...... Crouton Clare had "I spelt feel F-E-L but my teacher told me I needed Moree. My house is much cooler since I had my Narrandara built around it. My favorite cheese is the Coonabarabran.
7. Checking out the small country town nativity scenes. There is a town south of Dubbo where Mary and Joseph's heads are on sticks and the baby Jesus has been left in the rain for way too long ..... still creeps me out with the visual image of this.
8. Gas station toilets - ahhhh the smells of truckers past and the vending machines which opens up so many questions that I just don't want to go there.
9. Small talk - Many hours in the car will have anyone talking about what is really on their mind and for me coming up with silly games.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cross Traning Until ......

It's been a busy weekend in the land of toast as the croutons have come to stay and play with their dear old dad. We caught the early morning Friday ferry/barge across to North Stradbroke Island. Another family joined us which, true to tradition (we aren't the luckiest campers), ensured we would endure the worst storm the locals had seen for many years. The lightening as going off every few seconds and the thunder moved the earth I'm sure of it. The tent was like sleeping in a pair of bellows or a piano accordion, as the sides sucked in and expanded with the swirling winds.

Saturday morning came and the skies had cleared for us to enjoy the beach triathlon, which is body surfing, sea kayaking and I managed a short 11 km run up and up and up a massive hill to a broken sign reading "Yarr" (I like to think it was put there by pirates).

Sunday morning the camp site was abuzz with the news of a Shark Attack down the beach away. All beaches were closed for swimming, so we headed for Brown Lake (picture attached) and lunch at the bar/pub overlooking ocean whilst the latest deluge of rain confirmed that it was time for us to come home.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another bonus of having a Garmin

I flew down to Melbourne for New Years and drove back the 1,700 km which is yet another story.

At the Avis counter, collecting the hire car, I happen to be wearing my Garmin on my wrist. It seemed the best place for it, as I was using it earlier to try and work out a training program based on previous runs. The guy at the desk asked what it was .... I explained that it was a GPS using satellites to track when I ran. His confused expression didn't match his words of "Oh, yes I know what it is". He then asked if it showed street names, so I then told him it was mainly for distance and speed and that I used it to train for marathons.

The word marathon must of triggered something in the guy across the counter. "Oh marathons" he exclaimed. He snapped to attention and re-checked my name. "Oh! Mark Hewitt the marathon runner, I thought I recoginsed you" he said nodding his head proudly. "I hope you enjoy your stay here" he added in a tone that one might use when addressing royalty. It was all I could do to hold back my amusement, but I thanked him and collected my keys.

I bet my friend at the counter is flooded with famous people everyday.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Cunning Plan

We made it to 2006 ... wheeeeee!

The start of January will see me at around 60 km per week and this will be 70 km but the end of the month. February from 80 to 90 and March reaching around 100 km. In mid January, I will introduce an ongoing regime of tempo runs with 2 consecutive sets of 3 kms aiming at 4 min/km and February will see the further introduction of Yassos at a 3 hr marathon equivalent. It's a simple plan.

What will make it a little different, will be how I maintain motivation and this is where I feel the need to be cunning. For starters, I have a new pack to roam the streets with .... the sacred order of the Black Knights. Canberra will be a week after Rome and I will follow in the shadows of the mighty warrior as he completes is own mission drawing on his strength and wisdom. This may not be enough so my cunning plan will also draw upon others as the weeks unfold ........