Friday, 29 January 2010

TW minus 11 weeks

The past week has been interesting on the Trailwalker front. Lisa and I walked for 18km along the Werribee River last Saturday, a little shorter than our intended walk, but a good distance nonetheless. I had then intended to walk CP3 to 5 with Emma on Tuesday (Australia Day), a 25km walk through the hills, but we didn't get too far before a blister struck Emma's heel, and we couldn't seem to shake it. So we turned around at the 3.5km mark.

It was a bit disappointing, because I'm desperate to test myself on a longer distance, and I felt a teeny bit ripped off at getting up so early on a public holiday! (The training gig typically has us all meeting at 8am on walking mornings.) However, there didn't seem to be much point in crippling Emma . . . although not sure how we'll deal with such events as we continue training.

Because we ARE continuing to train, and in fact are stepping it up from here as we countdown to the big weekend. This Sunday we'll tackle two stages for the first time: CP 1 to 3 (~22km). None of us have done either of these stages yet, so will be good to expose ourselves to more of the actual trail.

The big drama of the week has been the probable loss of Jenelle from our team. She had appendicitis a week or so ago, leading to the removal of her appendix, and so it's unlikely she'll be up for walking. So now the hunt is on for a replacement walker, which at this stage of proceedings is not going to be too easy. We have a couple of prospects, so hopefully all will be well.

Finally, I went for a podiatry checkup this morning, just to get the low-down on my feet. Turns out my feet are in pretty good condition, and now that my heel calluses have been removed, they are lovely and smoooooth. And now I know how to tape my toes to prevent toe blisters, with the all important Fixomull tape, that is apparently every Trailwalker's best friend. So all is good on the foot front.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Movie: Nine

I've been looking forward to the movie Nine coming out, particularly since I love Chicago, so I went to see this on Tuesday. I knew very little about the plot, and nothing of the music, but sat back and prepared to be entertained.

Unfortunately I was bored. The performances were great, including the singing, but ultimately I didn't give a toss about any of the characters. I was completely unmoved by the predicament of Guido, the maestro film director who can't come up with a plot for his next movie, and the many strange fantasies he has about his leading lady, mistress, wife, dead mother, strange savage woman from his childhood, costume designer and American fashion designer?/journalist? . . .

Nor did I care about any of these women, except, possibly, for his wife . . . although their entire relationship seemed like one big cliche. But she (played by Marion Cotillard), Carla the mistress (Penelope Cruz) and Lilli the costumier (Judy Dench) were the only women whose characters were given any level of emotional development.

The movie was all glam with very little substance. Daniel Day Lewis was good, great even, but his character was so blah that even his brilliance couldn't save it. Maybe the whole premise is just dated. But I must say it is very unlike me to be sitting in a movie wondering how much longer I have to endure it . . . I wish I'd gone to see Sherlock Holmes instead!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

TW minus 12 weeks

I'm now counting down to Trailwalker: 12 weeks to go. OMG

After our team walk on 10 January, Emma and I walked the Merri Creek trail this Sunday morning past (~18km). It wasn't a difficult walk, but it was concrete all the way. Amazing how my feet felt that. No blisters or lasting pain though, which was excellent. I'm hoping to do a 25km walk this weekend along the Werribee River with Lisa (if I can get myself out of bed on Saturday morning early) and then Emma and I plan to do our first official trail double-section walk on Tuesday/Australia Day: CP3 to 5 to see how we go.

I think both Emma and I are really struggling with the mid-week walking at the moment. Normally I would walk to/from work 3-4 days per week, but some changes at work have me in a bit of a spin and I seem to be taking the car at the moment, for various reasons. So this makes the weekend long walk doubly important. Even though I'm still doing a couple of gym sessions per week, it's not quite the same as 'time on your feet'.

We've swung back into fundraising mode this week as well. I hosted a Tupperware fundraiser last night, which was fairly successful. We're still taking bookings for another week, but it looks though we'll raise at least $250 (10% of sales and then some -- our demonstrator said she will donate half her profits from the evening!), and possibly a whole lot more. Will post the amount when I know. I'm also planning an Enjo fundraiser to take place in about 3 weeks; this is looking even more spectacular.

Even before the Tupperware party, we cracked $3K in online donations/fundraising this week, which is absolutely fantastic.

Finally, a highlight of last week was winning the Christmas fundraising competition. Never in a million years did I think our name would be drawn. All teams with over $600 raised were eligible and our name came out first! Our prize is to become Team Number One (instead of 24), plus we have our choice of start time, plus we each win a free pair of Skins compression tights!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Another stroll in the hills

Footsloggers were back on the trail today, walking from checkpoint 4 (Olinda) to 5 (near Wandin, 14.4km). This leg was largely downhill or flat, although there were a few killer uphills as well. The real killer was a section known as the Melba Track, which included both a big uphill followed by an extremely steep (and gravelly, rocky) descent. This is a new section of the trail, and already has earned a reputation for being nasty. It's very likely that we'll be doing this stage in the dead of night -- in the very early morning in fact -- so all I could think of was how challenging the downhill section is going to be when we do it for real.

We'll also miss all the gorgeous scenery when we walk past in the night. I found today a really pretty walk: we passed through forests of tall straight trees, glades of green grass, open meadows, and typical Aussie bushland. Kookaburras were abundant, laughing in groups as they drifted from tree to tree. It was hot too, but much of today's track was shaded. Very pleasant.

Our wonderful support crew was once again in attendance. This time they met us at the 10km mark, where some medical attention was given to Emma's grazed knee. This was the only casualty of today's walk, although Lisa is still having problems with her foot/ankle. My shin niggle seems to have disappeared for the moment. I'll have a recovery day tomorrow (43 degrees!) and then get back to it on Tuesday.

We sent our support crew off to find us somewhere nice for lunch, while we completed the last 4km. And they succeeded big time. Serendipitously, while they searched for fresh cherries near Wandin, they stumbled across the historic Mont De Lancey Homestead, and its associated French cafe, Les Chesselles. The homestead was settled by a French family in the 1880s and there's a museum, plus other colonial activities. The cafe was charming, with a good selection of light lunches, wine, coffee and cake. We really enjoyed stopping there!

This group walk marks the start of our serious training. From here we start increasing the distances. Our next Footsloggers team walk is 31 Jan, when we'll tackle CP1-3 (22.3km).

Friday, 8 January 2010

Not too old to scale fences

I learnt tonight that I am not too old to scale fences.

After a convivial evening with friends, who also happen to be neighbours, I decide to call it a night. We have been out to dinner down the street, and finished up in Thelma's house, which happens to be next door to mine. Thelma also happens to have my spare key. THANK GOD.

I enter my house and remember that I have something on the clothes line outside. A second, a mere second, after I close my back door behind me, I realise that I have forgotten to snib it open. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Don't panic.

This is the first time I have ever locked myself outside. Many times I have wondered what I would do, never considering that it would be 10:30 at night, when all around is dark and quiet. I ghost into my garage to see whether I can open my garage door from the inside. But it is dark, and I have never opened it from the inside before and don't know how. Besides, I know there are spiders camped out on the back of the door. I've seen them!

But one thing I do know, people are still up next door. There is a small fence between our units, and I know that it is possible to climb up and talk to people in the garden on the other side. But it is 10:30 at night, and they are in the front of the house. Will they hear me if I call out? Somewhat panicked and not entirely sober, I decide to scale the fence. It doesn't take very long. In a few seconds I am in the garden next door.

Out comes Thelma to meet me. She looks perplexed. It is not until I enter her house that I realise the pandemonium I have caused. Sally is mopping up spilt milk, knocked over by Dave who was trying to back up Thelma as they confronted the so-called burglar thumping over the side fence.

We are in hysterics for about 15 minutes solid. Thelma feeds me wine, and then cognac. Over an hour later, I am less sober than I was before! But eventually Thelma escorts me home with my spare key and I am inside again. What a night!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

New year's resolve

As usual, I've started the new year filled with resolve and self-discipline. Best news: I've worked on my novel for two days in a row! Not whole days, mere fragments in fact. But I am getting back into the story, and starting to feel it again.

The truth is that fragments of days for writing are all I have time for at present. No matter how much I might wish to immerse myself for days on end (like some of my fellow writing buddies), there are simply too many items on my 'to do' list to allow it. Besides, this is my last week of holiday and I am determined to spend some of it relaxing. It could be the last chance I get for a while! So I am allowing myself periods on the sofa while the cricket is on, and jaunts down the street for coffee and lunch, because that is part of relaxing.

However, I have been achieving things as well. Yesterday, in addition to writing for a couple of hours, I went to the gym, mastered my new washing machine, plus gave my sadly neglected Aussiecon 4 duties some attention. This afternoon, I spent almost three hours in the garden, pruning and weeding. So the good news is that I am crossing stuff off my 'to do' list.

Most importantly, I have resumed training and exercise this week. My target is two gym sessions, plus we have a Footsloggers team walk tomorrow -- a gentle one to get us back into the spirit. And then we have a slightly longer (~15km) team walk on the trail on Sunday. After that, assuming we stay fit, we're going to ramp things up quite a bit. The hump of Christmas/New Year was always going to be a training challenge, but our various injuries, aches and pains across the team really didn't help. From here it's going to be about extending that long walk, first to 20km, then beyond. Waaaaaay beyond.

My own personal challenge will be ensuring that I continue to work on my novel amid all this activity. Not to mention work pressure, which I think could be considerable when I return next week. I just need to compartmentalise and prioritise appropriately, and keep sight of what's important.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Reflection 2009-2010

Another new year. And already 2010 is shaping up to be rather momentous. My focus for the next four months will undoubtedly be Trailwalker, as our team starts to ramp up training and fundraising. But there are certain other things I want to achieve as well, such as . . . yes, OK, I'm going to name these things that have once again eluded me . . . finishing my novel rewrite and renovating my kitchen and bathroom. This will be the year.

But I will pause to reflect on 2009 for a moment, since it has been a significant year for me in many ways. Even if I perhaps haven't achieved all the grand plans stated on this day a year ago, some mountains I did manage to conquer. For instance, my work-life balance is vastly improved. And I had a wonderful trip to Germany in March/April.

Well, OK, so perhaps I didn't get as far through my goals as I thought. I know I haven't read all the books I wanted to, although I feel more satisfied by what I have read. And unfortunately our movie club didn't quite eventuate -- although I definitely saw many movies than the previous year. But -- and this is a big but -- I feel really happy with how the year has turned out.

It's strange, I think, how one can fail to achieve so many objectives, yet still feel really happy. I can honestly say that for the past few months I have been consciously happy, consciously enjoying my life. I have also been more crazily busy in a non-work capacity than I can ever remember. And this I think is the key. I've been crazy busy doing things for me: training, planning and fundraising for Trailwalker, helping out for Aussiecon 4 communications, writing a bit, going to the gym on a regular basis, reading . . . Even though I've been run off my feet, I haven't been stressed. In fact, I've felt really satisfied with everything.

So now that 2009 has ended I can look back and think of it as a good year -- not the brilliant year of 2007, but a thousand times better than the dud year of 2008, even though I achieved almost as little.

Perhaps this is all because I sense that 2009 has laid a positive foundation for 2010, which is shaping up to be a ripper! I already have a sense of purpose with April's Trailwalker event, and I have no doubt that media support for Aussiecon 4 (occurring in September) will keep me as busy as I allow it. Not to mention planning for the big family pledge to spend Christmas in Germany for 2010, which will hopefully see me taking some long service leave from work . . . Lots of good things to happen this year!

Having said that, most of my 2009 resolutions still hold for 2010: better writing routine, more reading, keep in better touch with friends, maintain healthy work-life balance . . . These will no doubt remain ongoing challenges that can always be improved. But I am feeling optimistic. Definitely looking forward to a good year in 2010.