Friday, July 26, 2013

The Power of a Tune

How many of you out there have a tune that no matter how long ago they heard it evokes (almost) the exact emotion now as it did way back then?

I have a few tunes like that.  One of them is a Genesis tune "Invisible Touch".  Every time I hear it I am transported back to a Blue Light Disco circa 86/87 with my friend Miss D, dancing flat out up the back of the Mortlake hall.  We're up the back because we need lots of space, because we are flying!!!!!!!  High as kites on the fun of it all.  I cannot remember what we were wearing, but I can see the disco lights & the dance floor, feel the pulse of the music & my heart soars with happiness every single time I hear that tune; it puts a huge daggy smile on my dial.

This is what I am thankful for this Friday.  The magic of music & my ability to recall such a vivid memory!  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Race Report

Those of you who I'm friends with on Facebook will already know I didn't achieve my 10km goal time.  

Official time was 51.57 minutes.  

My goal was as close to 50 minutes as possible.  

My trainer threw 47.09 at me.  I knew I had no hope of that, but considering I ran 10km in 50.24 the previous week, I was secretly hoping for somewhere in the 49's.

I guess my regular 10km loop has 1 small hill & no people to dodge.  The fun run had a couple of long uphill inclines (couldn't really call them hills) & a shite load of people to dodge.  I almost face planted 3 times, being tripped from behind - other runners getting too close or swerving too close when over taking & clipping my feet, which wasn't fun. 

There was a bit of a bottle neck under the Swan Street bridge where there was a 4 person wide footpath with the bridge on one side & a 2 - 3 person wide verge of grass & the river on the other.  

Once past the bridge there was also a grass verge on the right hand side but you couldn't run on the road for maybe 1/2km??  On some of the forums & facebook pages I've seen people complaining of being held up for 3 - 4 minutes in this section!!!  

I don't think I was held up that much, although when 3 people are WALKING  abreast on the footpath it made it very hard for runners to get past. 

There were no actual pacers which I found out for sure at the 2km marker - the guy running with the 50 minute balloon was not a pacer - he'd left me for dead @ 2km's & 8 minutes in!!!  I'd missed the 1km marker & had run the first 2kms way too fast!!

I was on pace for 50 minutes at the 5km mark, but by the 8km marker I was 2 minutes behind pace.  I missed the 6 & 7km markers, so maybe the Swan Street bridge section did hold me up for longer than I thought, as I maintained the pace for the last 2kms.  I had intended to "take off" at the 8km mark, but don't think I had it in me to run any faster!!!

I was lucky enough to receive a Runners World magazine subscription for my birthday last year, & through this I was invited to the VIP Runners World tent for the run.  This meant I could leave my bag there (instead of in Fed Square with the thousands of other bags), post race massages (didn't have), mats for stretching, free coffee fruit water & sandwiches post race & there was a small heater which I huddled by before the run.

Cold weather is not my friend.  All the blood drains from my fingers (& toes) & I find it hard to warm them back up.  I have this thing going on called Raynaud's Phenomenon  which is not fun in winter.  I was rugged up with gloves & layers, but trying to take them off while running isn't easy either!  I'd settled on a long sleeve running top, a light wind breaker with pockets & long running tights.  Just before the warm up I took of the additional layers I'd worn to keep warm pre race & headed to fed square where an rather entertaining aerobic's warm up was conducted.

By the time the race started my feet felt like ice blocks & the feeling didn't return til the 5km marker; although on the upside I managed to keep my fingers warm enough & was wishing by then I had a singlet top on instead of long sleeves!!!  Wind breaker was tied around my waist just as the run started & I'd stuffed the gloves in their pockets.  It would seem a simple thing dressing for a run, but sometimes not!!!!

The course was OK, having not done many fun runs I don't have a lot to compare it with.  It was beautiful along the river & there were stages set up along the course with musicians & DJ's to spur us on (although I was listening to my own music!).  There were lots of volunteers along the way all rugged up cheering us on - gave a few of the more cheerful ones high fives on my way past!  We were really lucky with the weather - it had pretty much rain the whole day before.  The sun was out, there was a bit of a breeze, but no rain (nor hail as was a possibility on the forecast!).

Did I have fun on the run?  I'm not sure I did.  

Had I achieved my goal, perhaps things would be different.   
I've been a bit down all week.  Haven't had a run yet (knee only feeling better today & still have a sore heel - I think it's calf & Achilles related - my trainer asked me if it was phantom pain LOL).  

Had a PT session on Tuesday night & downloaded all my woes on my trainer, who said "now you've told me all the reasons why you didn't run very fast you better tell me what you actually ran".  He did point out that I was still much faster than the last run I'd done (January, 58 minutes) & it was only a fun run.  HA.

I dragged my arse to the gym last night feeling in a better frame of mind - instead of focusing on what I couldn't do, I decided it time to think about what I could do: 30 minutes cycling, 10 minutes cross trainer (only because I had to wait for the rowing machine) 10 minutes rowing machine; Abs & a really good stretch session.

This morning I'm feeling better again.  The sun was out before & my disposition is much sunnier.  I think I may even attempt a run tomorrow morning!

For all of you who say that fun & run should not be in the same sentence, perhaps you are right.  

I need to work on fun part.  I guess after training hard for x amount of weeks & then not reaching your target is disappointing, but then again, we're not playing for sheep stations are we.  I need to just chill & enjoy the experience.

So.  What's next.  I'm not quite sure, but that will be a post for another day.

PS if you want a far better written report of the day & some photo's of Melbourne, go & visit Georgia & read her report!!!
(hope you don't mind Georgia!!!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013


Thank God it's Friday!!!  No 5 on a Friday today, can't think of anything new or interesting I'm thankful for so won't re-hash.

My office assistant has been off with the flu for the whole week - I am thankful she hasn't bought it in to share with me, but that does mean I've been manning the phones all day everyday for the whole week & doing some of her work as well as my own.  Hasn't been too painful but I am exceedingly glad today is Friday.

I have my 10km fun run on the weekend - wish me luck.  My trainer reminded me to run in the same direction as everyone else.  Funny bugger.  He's also thrown me an insane time to achieve: 47.09.  I was aiming for as close to 50 minutes as possible.  I'm hoping to run with some 50 minute pacers & then at the 8km mark, as per my trainers instructions pick up the pace & see what happens.  

The weather forecast is for wind & rain & possible hail, so I may in fact get lost because I won't be able to see where I'm going; or freeze to death.  In conditions like that & with a gazzilion people running the course I'll be just hoping to make it to the finish line with out falling over.

Hope you all keep warm (if you are in Melbourne town) this weekend & have some fun where ever you may be!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

5 on a Friday

Five things I'm thankful for this week:

1. You lot - out there.  reading this.  You've cracked me up this week with your talk of bear shit & comments about cows on cars.  I really do appreciate your comments :0)

2. That the bastard burglars didn't get away with any of our gear; all they got was some cash which is less than the insurance excess.  And the police have found the car, but of course Plumbing Boy can't identify the driver, as he didn't really see him.  BUT the cops will be keeping an eye on him & hopefully he'll be busted doing the wrong thing somewhere soon.

3. My cuz who is doing her hair dressing apprenticeship.  It's lovely to have my hair cut & coloured by her.  She'll be able to do it from home soon so will be even better as will save me a buck or 100.  She's still in her first year, but has been colouring my hair since she finished her trial period & has just been given the OK to do ladies straight cuts in the salon.  Asides the fact that she's gonna be a top hair dresser, she's a top chickee babe too!!!

4. My Sis & Niece - after going down to the country on the weekend to catch up with family, it was lovely to see them interact.  Tess had been at her Dad's for the first week of the school holidays, so hadn't seen my sis for a week (we gave her a lift back).  They have a fantastic relationship & despite a few difficulties Tess is facing at the moment, it is totally awesome that she can talk them through with my Sis & they can face them together.  It's not the sort of relationship my sis & I had with our Mum.  The older I get, the more I understand my Mum & how she handles (or doesn't) handle relationships.  Like most people she's a product of her upbringing & models her own mothers (& siblings) behaviors.  Which leads me to number 5.

5. I am thankful for the internet & education & the availability/freedom of so much more information being readily available to my generation (& the next); the ability to talk with friends about the his information which may have been taboo in my Mum's generation & even more so in my grandmothers.  I'm not doing a very good job of articulating this, but I hope you get my drift without sounding like a complete tosser!!!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bastard Burglars

Well.  Things got busy here last night.  Some bloody low life broke into our workplace.  Lucky for us Plumbing Boy was here after working late, had crashed here for the night & heard them.  

He actually chased the lone bastard out of the building & onto the street where said burglar could have run over him or rammed him into the brick factory next door with his car.  PB's got a hit of a sore hand after punching the guy's window a couple of times which did not break. 

Looks like he only escaped with a couple of hundred bucks as most of the tools were out in the street ready to load into the guys car, but as he had PB on his tail he didn't stop for them.  Got the rego, but the police said it didn't match the type of car PB saw, so he may have been using stolen plates.  

Must have been a professional as he didn't set off the alarm & disabled some of the cameras.  

A security upgrade of course is taking place today so if you are reading this you low life mongrel MOFO, don't bother coming back.

I'm hoping that PB scared the absolute shit of him as he clearly didn't expect company.

Moving on!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Black Cat Trek Post Script

It’s been almost 3 weeks since we returned as I write (but 8  til this will post) & I’m still processing the trip; remembering things I didn't consciously note at the time & remembering things I’d forgotten.  

It's taken me this long to finish typing up my journal.  

I can tell you I was frustrated at times at going slower than I'd have liked (while trekking) & that this was born out of my new found fitness & strength, giving me the freedom to tackle the physical challenge with relative ease!!!  And probably a bit of adrenalin!  Who’d have thought I would enjoy that sort of rush!! 
 I do know that all the training I did paid off & I truly did not find the trekking difficult.  I would have happily gotten up the morning after we arrived in Salamaua & done it all over again!  K told Plumbing Boy it was the hardest thing she has ever done in her life.  PB tells me it was physically hard & I have heard him recount this to many people even though he appeared to do it all fairly easily himself.  My trainer told me we need to find a bigger mountain/challenge for me to climb.  I'm usually (historically) the weakest link in physical challenges struggling to make it to days end, so it was a pleasure to not be in that position for a change.

I do know that it was important that we all achieved the end goal no matter how slowly & that my impetuous nature still needs work in the patience area!
 I do know the enormity of what we did has not yet sunk in.  I suspect that that may not come for a number of years, until I have more perspective or faced more adversity. 

I don’t see the physical nature of what we did as that huge; I do see the act of visiting Tom’s grave on behalf of our extended family the pinnacle of our achievement. Maybe I’m not done with PNG & would like to go back & walk the Black Cat Track proper, & get closer to where Blue was wounded, if that’s ever an option: although our trip is advertised as the Black Cat Track, you actually walk more of the Busival track than the Black Cat proper.  I have also considered giving Kokoda a go.  My niece has expressed interested in doing the Black Cat after seeing the pictures, so who know's, maybe I'll go back with her in a couple of years. Financially I have other things to focus on, like a house, but I think it is important to do things of a physical nature while you are able.  I guess it is now that the pride in what my Dad has achieved wells up in me.  At the age of 67, while finding it challenging, he was able to achieve the end goal!  So that kind of makes my earlier statement of doing physical stuff while you are able a little moot, but I guess you know what I mean.
 None of us know what will happen to us in terms of injury &/or illness & Dad was lucky he was in good enough health to give it a crack. 

I guess trekking is not for everyone, as some of you have already pointed out to me, & that what I was doing was kinda your worst nightmare (LOL).  I'm kinda feeling a little smug with myself for having set such a lofty goal & then achieving it though. I've already been bought back to earth firstly in Port Douglas – did a 45 minute ab class with my cousin.  There was a 15 year old boy, myself & 4 other participants all in the 45 – 55 year old bracket.  They smashed me.  I was the weakest link.  I have a lot of work to do yet!!! Then I came home & got straight back into my training – didn't want to lose momentum, scheduling my regular 2 x PT sessions for my first week back & running weekday mornings.  I was sorer after 30 minutes with said PT than the whole trek!!! Help!!!

On the 3rd morning back running, after lacing up my shoes I flopped back onto the couch where I sit to tie my laces (usually with my cat complaining about me disrupting her or failing to get her breakfast), thinking what’s the point?  I have no reason to be up at 4.45am to run around a big suburban block in the dark.  What am I – crazy??? My trainer was right; I needed to choose a new challenge & fast.
 I have signed up for a 10km run mid-July, but I have to admit I’m feeling a little melancholy about going solo.  While I trained for the trek on my own, there was something really special about doing it with a group of people.  Those memories will be shared forever.
 While I’ll be running that 10km with thousands of other runners on the streets of Melbourne town, I have no-one to run with & no-one to share those memories.  I guess that means I need to get out of my comfort zone & find me some running buddies at some point.
  I've since received G's photo's in the post & will put a few below better showing some of the terrain we clambered up & over also received a lovely phone call for him to say G'day & thanking us for the photo's we'd sent him.  He really is a good bloke.

PB & I are planning on doing some more trekking, probably around Tasmania to start with.  K said her trekking days are over, but she’ll consider some half day hikes, next spring/summer!!!

Thus ends our amazing adventure.  

Unless I think of something else I forgot!!!

 the last 10th? of the hills we climbed the first day between the plane & the jungle

A log to clamber over  

 & more..

 a rope where it got steep.......

 some logs we went under

 More land slips

 over & through streams over the side of the mountains

 I'm about to abseil (sort of) down the only rock face where I actually had to use the rope

usually a big drop off on one side

 & some very rocky faces of the mountain to navigate

We found this sign towards the end of the trek - it should have been at the beginning!!! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 13

DAY 13:

Up early yet again for the hour trip to the airport & our domestic flight back to Port Moresby.  Again a long wait for our international flight, although this time we had the heads up on a hotel we could go to for a buffet breakfast & who were happy to let people waiting between flights to use their swimming pool & lounges. Flight back to Brisbane was uneventful & I can’t even remember what movie played or if I actually watched it.  There was a bit of a mad rush to get Dad on the transit bus to the domestic terminal as he was too late to check his bags through @ the counter in the international terminal.  

K & I hadn't cleaned our boots well enough & had a 10 minute wait at customs while the officer kindly took them out the back & pressure washed their soles for us.  By now Plumbing Boy had put Dad on the bus, & was holding it so I could bid him farewell as we were in time to check our bags in at the international counter.  I would have gone with him, but PB had decided that Dad was old enough to figure it out for himself!  Dave kindly decided to go with him though, telling us that his wife hadn't organised his flight home & he had to go & do that – not sure how true that was though, perhaps an excuse to be a good Samaritan.  Thanks Dave! G went off to find a locker to put his bags in, intending to “camp” at the airport for the night rather than paying for a hotel room!  We checked our bags in for our flight to Cairns & then met back with G at a prearranged bar & had a few beers & reminisced for the 2 hour wait we had for our flight.  Of course we left it til the last minute to catch the bus to the domestic airport & arrived at out gate 2 minutes before boarding started. We were sad to leave G who was such a genuinely good bloke, but were eager to hit Port Douglas for some much deserved R & R, although staying with my cousin who has a 2 & a 4 year old, sleep ins were probably not going to happen.
 I sincerely hope that G had as good a time as we did: being the odd one out in a group who all know each other well, can sometimes be difficult & I hope we were as welcoming as I hoped we were.  It was an honor & a privilege to share our pilgrimage with him & he will be a welcome guest in our home & at our table for years to come.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 12

DAY 12 Today’s agenda was sightseeing around Lae.  First stop was a view of the old air strip which was now stacked with containers & then on to the war cemetery.  

The cemetery is maintained by the Australian Government & very well kept.  There was also security as unfortunately locals had taken to both vandalism of the cemetery but also trying to solicit &/or steal from visitors to the cemetery (like us).  There a number of plaques commemorating various battles in & around Lae that had been relocated to the front of the cemetery due to said vandalism.

Blue’s brother Tom (my great uncle) also went to war, but was killed in action & never made it home.  In a way, this was the culmination of our journey, to find Tom’s grave in the cemetery.  We are certainly the only family who have ever made the pilgrimage to pay our respects & probably the only people ever to specifically visit his grave. 

I’d not really given a lot of thought over the years to my great uncle Tom.  I knew that he died in the war & until recently didn't even realize that he fought in PNG although in a different battalion to Blue & I had no idea he even had a grave over there.  It wasn't until someone mentioned to me that the thing Dad was most looking forward to on the trip was seeing his uncles grave, that I began to think about it.

That he never had the opportunity to meet my Dad or any of his nieces or nephews.  That he never had the opportunity to come home like Blue & make a life, find love, get married, have children.  That was all denied him.  Regardless of my feelings about war, he went voluntarily & believed he doing the right thing for his family if not his country (Blue was to have said he never fought for the “government”).  

The last time Great Uncle Tom saw any of his family was in Lae at the hospital after Blue had been shot: they ran into each other there.  According to Blue, he said to Tom, don’t you recognize me?

I was feeling quite emotional as we entered the cemetery.  It is by no means a large war cemetery, but most of the people buried there we under the age of 25.  Dad & Plumbing Boy went on ahead & checked the cemetery register finding Tom’s details.  

There were big plaques on the wall listing all those who were denied a burial as their bodies weren't recovered.  I felt a bit weird taking photos of the plaques, almost disrespectful.  I commented such to G who assured me that it wasn't disrespectful; the fact that we were there showing respect warranted it.

Next it was time to find Tom’s plot which was first, in the last row on the top left hand side of the cemetery.  As we walked towards the plot, I looked for flowers & apologized silently to the gardeners for taking a couple, to place on his grave.  Emotion welled up in me & I almost felt sick as we approached his grave.  I knew that there was nothing to be afraid of, but I felt so bad that he had been there all that time with no-one to bring him flowers or to say goodbye.  I knew this was a bit daft & that he wasn't really there, but that was how I felt.  Dad laughed at me with my flowers saying that I was a better man/woman than he, as he hadn't even thought of doing that.  

We took a few photo’s & then went on to look at some of the other graves.  Each family was given the opportunity to have a line of their own words on the plaque & I had to stop reading them or I was going to run out of tissues.  I’d also lost my sunglasses the day before & it was a very overcast & glarey day.  This in combination with sinusitis which was now in full force did not help my teary state.

I went back to Tom’s grave a few times before we left the cemetery saying my own personal good bye.  And hello.  How do you say goodbye to someone you never even had the chance to meet? 

We found the area where the locals were buried & a whole section of Indian sailors who’d been used by the Japanese to dig tunnels under Lae.  All of their plots read: hear lies an Indian sailor, with the date of the war on the plaque.  While their names were unknown as were their birth & death dates, they each were given a respectful burial & a plaque.  So So Sad.

Once we’d finished wandering around, Reg & Dave called us together to the monument in the center of the cemetery where Reg said a few words.

From the FallenThey went with songs to the battle, they were young,Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;They sit no more at familiar tables of home;They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,To the innermost heart of their own land they are knownAs the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,To the end, to the end, they remain.

From Danny Boy Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are callingFrom glen to glen, and down the mountain sideThe summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadowOr when the valley's hushed and white with snow'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadowOh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dyingAnd I am dead, as dead I well may beYou'll come and find the place where I am lyingAnd kneel and say an "Ave" there for me. And I shall hear, tho' soft you tread above meAnd all my dreams will warm and sweeter beIf you'll not fail to tell me that you love meI'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me. I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me. 

 Again the atmosphere was emotionally charged with Reg’s voice starting to break as he concluded. Dave & G were keen on finding some of the graves of VC recipients & PB was enjoying reading the register & learning about some of the soldiers who were buried there, so they joined forces, PB found the VC’s & Dave & G found their graves.  

Dave said that usually when he goes to a war cemetery he picks a random grave & places a stone on it to pay his respect; as per Tom’s grave, many graves are not visited & he feels this is the best way he can pay his respect. Both G & I had run out of camera battery by the time we’d finished at the cemetery & our driver Kevin was happy to make a quick detour back to the hotel for us to pick up fresh batteries & also to do a drive by a chemist as Dad’s nasal spray was now giving me rebound sinus issues & I picked up some Sudafed.  Dave & Reg were happy too, to make a stop picking up a razor & a phone charger respectively! Next stop was the Markham bridge although the significance was lost on me, still feeling quite emotional & unwell due to said sinus issues.  The bridge wasn't there during the war & the supplies had to navigate across in boats I guess.  

After this we went to the yacht club for lunch (where we’d returned to yesterday from Salamaua) – the food was so much better than the hotel!!!  Next stop a the beginning of the tunnels the Japanese had dug under the town of Lae & apparently went under our hotel several kms away, a church who’s relevance I missed, then a rundown wildlife park which was pretty sad to see the animals in captivity.  We were told they’d tried to release the birds back into the wild, but were unable to fend for themselves & kept coming back to the park to be fed.

 Finally we returned to our hotel for a relax until our final dinner back at the yacht club.  I had a sleep, the boys a few beers, K a read & I think the same for Dad.  It was quite surreal at this point to believe we’d completed our pilgrimage & were about to return home.  It felt like it had gone forever, yet at the same time was over in the blink of an eye.  I wasn't ready for it to be over! Dave did a little presentation & awarded us each a laminated certificate of completion which was sweet.  He always finds it rewarding doing treks with people who have a family connection & in our case the two connections made it all the more special & he has asked Dad for a photo & more information on Tom to do something with.  Despite the fact that his clowning around at times frustrated me, his passion for what he does, his knowledge & his crazy sense of humor rendered him overall a pretty good bloke & I was grateful for the opportunity to have trekked with him.  That said there were still a few organisational issues that need ironing out & a strict policy on NO THONGS of which he is well aware of :0)!