Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And The Excitement Continues To Build

Another music hero Harry Chapin used to say this in concert as a particularly laboured and slow intro occurred. That's how I feel about returning to work tomorrow. Mind you, I have only been on holidays physically: since I have no Account Manager, I've been checking emails in the evening and solving the occasional issue by day. No family time has been postponed, but I sure haven't relaxed evenings as I would have liked. Next break: a few days at Easter, and my new Account Manager (still to be recruited) can deal with things.

The last few days have been consistent:
Mon 29/01 8k Clean Streets 8am followed by weights at BLC.
Tue 30/01 8k Clean Streets 7:30am
Wed 31/01 9k Rouse Hill 8:30am

including the 1k time trial. Tesso, you may be pleased to know I managed 4:00 min flat!

I think I scared a couple of council workers. From halfway, my legs started to tire, and I kept shouting abuse at myself to keep going. I'm sure they were one phone call away from requesting the padded wagon.
Still, I'm pleased with the result, given I'd run 8k there and have had no break since last Tuesday (= tired legs). This year, I've managed 4:16, 4:10 and now 4 flat. Today, I hit halfway at 1:50, so if I can improve my fitness, I feel a sub 4 min is on - perhaps next week!

Miners, good news. I took my bike to the guys at Windsor Cycles. I am a firm believer in calling in the experts. Bike Shop people always seem passionate about bikes (unlike staff in Target, Big W etc). I left my bike in good hands, and it will be ready for me on Saturday, fine tuned and fixed (new cables and tubing). I'm looking to do a 40k ride out and back on the M7. It will be interesting, since I've run a fair bit of it, but Sunday will let me see much more. Think I'll freeze the clip-on water bottle, and look for refills along the way. Any other tips, Miners?

YD started year one on Tuesday, so the last two days were interesting to see the development from a year ago. New kindy kids start tomorrow. I won't see that, but Mrs BB will. It'll be "tears and tissues" like last year. They'll manage, and I know they'll like our school.

Elder kids were over to dinner last night. Son started Year 11 yesterday. Monosyllabic responses are typical for his peer group. Surprisingly, they do well at school, even English. Yet their response to a question is often "mmm er mmm". Translation : "I am not clear on that point, father. I would need to confirm the data." Otherwise known as "I don't know".
ED starts Uni again at the end of February. I know because I looked it up online and told her. Gee, three whole clicks to get the information. A shame she was unsure up to that point. Even if you have a myspace page and ipod and download everything digitally available, you still need a level of interest if you are to do well at studies. Oh dear, sounds like my mum...

Mrs BB and I enjoyed two lunches by ourselves this week: Ettamogah Pub Tuesday, and then today we journeyed to Kurrajong for a foccacia at the Valley View Cafe. Lovely area, a little like the Dandenongs and a smidge like the Sunshine Coast hinterland area around Maleny. Except here, the platypus is safe and no Woolworths is trying to juggernaut its way into the community. It's pleasing to learn that the folk in Maleny are leading a successful boycott of this unwanted supermarket in their town. I guess IGA will be happy.

I'd like to finish on a happy note today, for that's how I normally feel: that and lucky. Here's a good story that might just Perk you up...

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Breathe In Breathe Out Move On

Once again, JB comes to the rescue with a suitable line. It seems I have managed to pick up a few useful tips over the years, even if much of his music is escapism and pays off handsomely for him:
I bought a cheap watch from the crazy man
Floating down Canal
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And if I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe in breathe out move on

Right now, that's useful advice, both sports-wise and metaphorically.
While enjoying the first week of my vacation, I have still managed a few decent runs in the hot humid conditions Sydney has endured recently.
Mon 22/01 10k Clean Streets 8:20am, followed by weights training
Tue 23/01 rest day!
Wed 24/01 10k Clean Streets 10am, enjoying cooling, refreshing light showers
Thur 25/01 10k Clean Streets 1pm
Fri 26/01 10k to Quakers Hill 10:40am
Sat 27/01 11k Beaumont Hills 9:20am, followed by weights training
Sun 28/01 17k Rouse Hill/Beaumont Hills 9:20am

While that looks good (actually, it is good) there have been some disappointments
* no sprint training this week
* no Penrith Australia Day run
* bike still not in for repair

I just haven't been motivated to add on sprints this week, and we decided that it was a little unfair to make Mrs BB and YD get up at 5:30am on Friday just so I could do the run and then all of us to stay on for the entertainment. So I didn't make it. Hope it was good - I had been looking forward to it, but my family comes first. I hope to take my bike to Castle Hill for inspection tomorrow.

We've had a nice break: swam at home, drove south of Sydney and spent some hours at Thirroul beach, cricket with Son at Telstra Stadium (NSW lost), movies at Castle Hill ("Charlotte's Web") plus a little shopping. Max got to see more of me. Not sure if he's keen on that aspect.

Son and ED persuaded ex-Mrs BB to get a dog for them. I'm not sure what type it is, but a quick glance indicated it is some sort of mixed breed, medium sized white rat. Allegedly a maltese cross, it is severely undernourished and had obviously been poorly looked after. Still, they are happy. We obviously think Max outshines Rocky (well, it was almost called Luigi).

The downside to all this canine frivolity is that ED has used it as an excuse to no longer spend weekends here. As this is not an online psychiatric counselling service, let's just say we are both very unhappy at her method, timing and logic of announcement. Only the village idiot would genuinely believe she needs to remain at home to look after the dog.

Mrs BB has known her for more than 11 years, while I have had the pleasure for all her 19. It's a little saddening and disappointing to think she doesn't want to be here. We both recall our teenage years, and understand, but it doesn't make us feel any better. It would be nice to think she can exhibit the same steely independence at home and not ask her mother to do everything that's important in life, for her.
The JB quote is also apt because, although ED has many "facts" to present in any discussion, and will never admit anothers viewpoint, like a broken watch, she is right sometimes. I just wish she'd know she's also wrong too...

So, dealing with the tears and sadness of YD who wants to know why her sister is no longer coming over (except to swan in and out) has been something we've had to deal with over the last few days. Certainly these holidays have been lively rather than restful...

Back to work Thursday, so still three more days of holiday. YD starts year one Tuesday; she has dancing resume Monday, swimming Thursday and now flute lessons Saturday mornings. Mrs BB and I hope to go to lunch and the movies Tue/Wed. Oh, and the yearly eyesight checkup. And probably the same joke from the opthamologist about how well I look for my age... Oh they're a funny lot

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, January 21, 2007

If we couldn't laugh, we'd all go insane

So said my musical hero Jimmy Buffett back in 1977 on his Changes In Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes LP.

On Wednesday night, sanity prevailed over frustration and anger.
I had a sense of anticipation towards my first crack at the Hills Athletics 3k/5k time trial. As one of my goals for 2007, it was important to get one "under the belt", especially as I hadn't run this since 1993, and Steve Whelan has been at me for about that long to get involved.
Still, I had decided to do the 3k, as it was a little easier. I wanted to do 15 min - a nice steady 5 min/k pace. Logically, if I could do 2 min/lap, I was on track. No problem: just a tad under for each lap. Problem? I lost count and ran an extra lap. At lap 6.5, I somehow thought I had two to go, so breezed through in 1:55, then attacked the last 200m of the last lap for a 1:45 min last 400m lap. Great... except I finished in 16:10 min. Hang on! Too slow!
Then I worked it out. I don't have big ears, nor can I fly, but I sure was Dumbo.
So, my actual finish time was 14:25. After the frustration came the positive talk. All my years in Sales served me well: at least I completed the race, and I did it in under 15 min. So, a good start to a worthwhile endeavour. Mrs BB took the photo BEFORE I worked out I'd run too far...

Afterwards, I got some good tips from HillsAths1, as well as enjoying some of the repast made available by his contact at Bakers Delight. I think Steve cornered the baking market Wednesday night. Certainly the Hills Athletes enjoyed the snacks. Mrs BB and YD came along to watch, and YD took home a large sample bag of goodies, including chocolate scones.
Next 3k is February 21. I'll be aiming for 14 min...

Running has been consistent this last week
Mon 8k Clean Streets 6am
Tue rest day
Wed 8k Clean Streets 6am, plus 3k time trial briefly referred to above
Thur 8k Clean Streets 6am
Fri ibid, plus weights workout at BLC
Sat 10k Rouse Hill in the heat at 9am. I followed the new Windsor Rd bikepath to where it is blocked off, and continued on gravel/dirt around past Rouse Hill homestead then Rouse Hill Regional Park. This is a great family spot with plenty of activities and play areas. It's also a good spot for a little off road running - as long as you don't mind the steep hill in and out. I think I'll add that course to my "should try" list. Could be a good 15k option.
Sun 10k Clean Streets extended at 7am and it might as well have been 10am it was so hot. I just didn't have the motivation to go longer. Mrs BB had a rest day, so we headed off early to The City. YD wanted to see the Australian Museum and Hyde Park. I showed her my old school next door, and we spent a couple of hours exploring the AM in air conditioned comfort. We stayed away from all references to snakes. After that, lunch in Hyde Park near the Archibald Fountain, a brief shopping expedition to Abbeys for some books and a well-deserved afternoon tea break at Gloria Jeans. Then home and into the 38 degree pool...

Now that holidays have arrived, it's relaxation time. A few plans involve exercise, most have other foci. Examples: movies, drive to Wollongong beaches, NSW vs Tas cricket at Homebush with Son, prepare for YD's year one commencement Tuesday week, read a few of the eight outstanding books in The Pile, listen to the new Carly Simon CD.
Sports-wise: get bike fixed (take to Castle Hill during the week), the usual runs (and 1k time trial at Rouse Hill, aming for 4:05 min thanks Tesso) plus weight workouts as well as the Penrith 10k Australia Day Fun Run.
This promises to be special: a free run followed by breakfast and then all the fun of Australia Day activities at Penrith Lakes. Might even see a few other CRs there...

And now to enjoy a pleasant Sunday night without having to front up to work tomorrow...

For those of you who complain and emphasize the moral and ethical beauty of paid employment, I would merely refer you to Aristotle

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.

"Exit, stage left"

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bike Blues (Buffett)

It would be fair to say I have experienced a level of frustration around point 6 of my 2007 goals (cycling). A pre-requisite to a successful ride is to have air in both tyres. Sadly, my bike has none, lying idle for seven years. A comical series of events transpired yesterday afternoon as I tried to remedy this. Sequentially:
1. at home, attempt to pump tyres using three different pumps. Unsuccessful.
2. walk bike to local servo. Air hose out of order. Return home, muttering.
3. somehow get bike in car, drive to Rouse Hill servo. Bike tyres would not inflate. Kick said tyres several times, return home, late for dinner. Replace bike against garage wall, in a somewhat cavalier fashion. Commence late-starting BBQ, washing away frustration with moderate quantities of Verdelho. Ran out of Verdelho. Mrs BB volunteered to immediately purchase more from Dan Murphy's, justifying husband avoidance. Rest of family stayed indoors until cooking completed.

So my first 40k cycle for 2007 has been delayed. I now need to get the bike fixed. I have the feeling that the tubing has perished and so the thing needs an overhall. Any tips on good local bike shops?

Since last post, I've managed to get out for a run each day.
Wed 10/01 8k Clean Streets 6am
Thur 11/01 9k Rouse Hill 6am - this included the now legendary 1k time trial:
With urging from Tesso, I pushed myself hard and managed a 4:10 min PB. I await her new challenge (hoping it's still just above 4 min).
Fri 12/01 8k Clean Streets 6am PLUS first weights workout for the year!
Sat 13/01 12k Glenwood Gallop 11am; quite warm and slightly longer than planned, albeit over a new course
Sun 14/01 13k Rouse Hill Ramble 9:30am. This was pretty good, considering my mind was still thinking about a 6am 40k cycle. The swim with Mrs BB and YD refreshed me, so much that I was able to head down to the gym for another weights session before lunch.
This afternoon was a pretty relaxed affair; Son and ED were staying, and so it revolved around watching, with Son, Australia beating the Kiwis; catching highlights of Barnyard DVD with ED; and chasing YD around the house. Max relaxed outside and showed bursts of energy, curiously viewing, from underneath, YD's trampolining ability.

Good to see a post from GoGirl, who seems to be doing some big k's with the Hills Runners on Sundays. Perhaps we can hook up for a cycle if mine ever works.
Miner's training programme goes from strength to strength, although I think he may soon run out of movie quotes for titles. Once you trawl Monty Python, the end is nigh...
What a segue - just look what's coming on March 28! An imperative for all true fans. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition".
Robert Song has been MIA from blogland, enjoying holidays. 2P is training hard for the Six Foot, doing incredible runs such as this weekend's 43k...
Don Juan is attempting to return to running after surgery to fix his foot problem. Today's events may have distracted him... Paul's training is very impressive - like Miner's he has the wonderful Port Macquarie region to motivate his training sessions.
Non-running but Skyhooks fan Marcia is hopefully coping with her friendly python - perhaps it only eats chickens and mangoes.
Have you worked out I finally decided to learn how to do links?

Drama in the BB family, with BB's mother and step-father caught up in the wheat silo fire at Cootamundra. They weren't evacuated, but were on standby. We're all much relieved.
BB's Dad is hosting friends from days past in Vietnam. A tough gig: a hard day of visiting Eumundi market, walking Hastings St at Noosa, and lunching at Coolum Surf Life Saving Club. Now he's off to see more old colleagues (these from Cambodia days) at Nimbin, followed by Byron Bay environs. Retirement is not for the faint hearted.

This week I'll be heading off to Roxborough Park on Wednesday evening, to do the 3k track time trial with my club Hills Athletics. I'm hoping for 15 min, and that Steve Whelan will take a photo, as it's been 14 years since my last t/t there. Other than that, it will be more running, more weights, and hopefully one sparkly bike.
Oh, and come Friday lunchtime, it's annual leave until 01/02!!! While we went to Ballina in late November, please recall Elbert Hubbard's sage advice:

No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one.

"Exit, stage left"

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

seek and be scammed

2007 has started, and I use this adjective advisedly, frenetically. At work, my account manager has resigned, so next Monday I'm It. That means recruitment and all the pitfalls associated. Hopefully it'll all go smoothly over the next few weeks. We are instructed to use Seek first, then an agency if the quality of the responses are no good.
Well, they've been entertaining.
I can confirm that there are people out there who apparently have a "reply to all" button on their Seek home page and automatically spam out their CV. At least that's what I thought when the guy who has just jumped off the boat from Ireland sent me his. Maybe his friend who has worked at Maccas borrowed his software programme. Curiously neither of them - nor most of the others - have had 5 plus years head office account management experience in Australian Grocery.

Training wise, I've stuck to part of the plan. I've reduced the k's, and started the 1k time trial. Here's the last week or so:
Tue -Fri 8k runs each day, with Tuesday the t/t at Rouse Hill. The result? 4:16 for the measured km. I was happy, especially as Tuesday brought on the beginning of a virus which has lasted about a week. It seems to be wishing me bon voyage now, but has meant my training lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Actually, I do know: motivation. I did the basics, and then read, watched tv, swam with the family or just pondered what ailment had struck me. Not really conducive to high level training.
Even the Saturday 10k and Sunday 11k runs weren't that enjoyable. Still, with Monday rest day and today's 8k at 6am, I seem to have recovered a little of the right spirit...

So the plan is to get back into it! It's good running weather early on in the day, the gym is apparently still trading and my bike continues to slump forlornly against the garage wall. This weekend may just be the one...

The BB family is in good health, thanking you for your enquiries. Mrs BB is just peachy, her shin splints have purchased one way flights and are currently boarding, and Max is bounding from strength to strength. He accompanies Mrs BB on her walks now, showing - I am reliably told - a surprisingly consistent turn of speed over 6k. He eagerly awaits dawn, as breakfast beckons when we appear. Obviously he believes in the post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy.
One attendant irritation is that the inevitable concomitant of Max's food is the appearance of several myna birds seeking to disenfranchise him of it. Spirited defence via YD's water pistol normally works (note: Max limits himself to watching this rather attractive spectacle, then gets down to the real business of eating).
Son has just arrived back from a refreshing holiday at Diamond Beach, while ED has spent the past week without her mother. She spent a little while with us, but seemed happy to be home alone, even when I defined No Parties to include No Twelve Friends Just Dropping In Simultaneously.

And finally, scanning others blogs, it would seem they are leading more adventurous lives: Marcia with her python guest, Tesso her stair falling/lumbar injury, and Don Juan his SBS Friday night starring role. Hunc tu caveto.

"exit, stage left"

Monday, January 01, 2007


...and the very best for the year ahead...

Christmas worked its wonders for the BB household, especially for YD who was pleased that Santa listened attentively. Even the reindeer enjoyed their carrots.
Mrs BB is well over her health problem mentioned previously, but now has shin splints, which are proving to be pretty painful and have prevented her exercising the past week. Any really good cures would be much appreciated.
NYE was spent at friends' house at Mosman. Our first ever experience of seeing the fireworks live, not just on TV.From the large upstairs balcony, the view was spectacular and all the kids were excited. What a house: over 100 years old, with some sympathetic modernisation eg gas heated pool. I'm sure it's worth $6m - a shame the friends are just housesitting!
So, a late night for the BB's, although made longer by the trip home. Normally about 45 min, we left at 1:15am and made it home at 3:00am. You could say there were a few cars along Military Rd and associated areas. Still, the crawl home enabled us to observe younger members of the community still heavily intent on continued celebrations. Others were simply attempting to walk straight. Fond memories...

2007 holds the promise of challenge and the excitement of potential. Personally, it will be a prelude to 2008 which has some Big Ticket items: Son's 18th and HSC, ED's 21st and maybe final year of Uni, my 50th.
These are all milestones, and while important, should not detract from the real purpose which is to get on and live. Don't worry, no major philosophical or metaphysical statements loom in this blog - for this, please see my other one...

Shamelessly copying my thoughts from CR (it's not plagiarising when they're your words), here are my plans for 2007

Plans for 2007 are - for me - radically different:
1. don't focus on k's!
2. complete SMC 1/2 series
3. do 1k reps weekly at the newly-marked-out Rouse Hill sports complex
4. complete the monthly Hills 3k t/t (Steve, here is my commitment!)
5. continue weights programme
6. dust off the bike and do a decent 40k ride weekly (Windsor return is looking good when the road is completed)
7. lose 5 kg, thereby hitting 65kg, my ideal weight. This involves much pain via chocolate exclusion and some other sensible choices
A few other plans, and I'm unsure about the WestMet series as I may need to be chauffeur for soccer on Saturdays. Still, apart from the SMC, there are few other races I'd like to try in 2007.Other? Keep reading and enjoying CRs blogs (perhaps unfairly singling out Miners, 2P, RobertSong, Tesso, GoGirl and Don Juan). A source of motivation, entertainment and enlightenment...

So you'll see the change in emphasis - 2006 was all about breaking my k's record, which I did (3,440 vs 3,198) and beating each month except Feb, when I ran less due to a cold.

Now, I plan to improve the quality. Hills Centenary Park in Kellyville is the newest and largest sporting complex in the area, and has a bike/walking path, marked every 50m, to 870m. With a little extension, this easily becomes a great 1k time trial. I did it Saturday, as part of a 13k run. Managed 4:26 min, so pretty pleased with that. I'm looking to do this once a week. Unsure if I'll run there and do 2 x reps, or drive and do a couple of laps warm up, 2 x reps and a couple of laps warm down. As always, it depends on family and priorities. My aim is to get to 4:00 min flat.
Assisting in this endeavour will be the 3k time trials every month at Roxborough Park. I've done a total of one, in 1993, so HillsAths1 may be pleased to see my overdue return.

I'm keen to do the SMC runs (but not longer than 21.1k) as I've heard good reports. They sound well supported, and good value.

Add the weights, bike riding and diet improvements, and 2007 is planned to be a step up in fitness and health.

Aside from any raves about injustices in the world, global warming, the Howard Govt and the price of books, I don't plan to use this as a soapbox.

I'd like to hope that we can all get through this year a little healthier, happier, more experienced, and certainly older. Oh, and it's only 20 more child support payments to go. That's reason to celebrate (note to all CSA lurkers: I still support my older kids financially well beyond the minimum required. Note to Howard Govt: I'd just like a little more control over how my compulsory payment is spent. Please inform all ex wives that, in Australia, child support is not alimony).

Best wishes to everyone and I hope you have the right plans for you, and that they work out; just don't take it all too seriously. You may recall Mark Twain's advice:
"Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."