Over a decade ago I was inspired by a revered and popular public figure who ran their first marathon sometime after turning 40. I said, "I'd like to do that one day - run a marathon - sometime in my 40's". Fast forward to November 3rd, 2010, and within minutes of the clock striking midnight, I cried myself to sleep. I had turned 40. My tears were not due to the actual number, but over the fact that my life didn't look like what I thought it would at this age. I was childless despite every effort not to be, and behind closed doors I was hopeless and lifeless. I had many broken dreams and a broken spirit to match.

A month after turning 40 I remembered my words all those years ago and asked my health care practitioner whether I'd be physically able to run a marathon (especially being 20kg / 45 pounds overweight), and if so - how long would I need to prepare. He replied, "12 months". I asked, "Would 11 be okay?" He nodded. That night I registered for the New York City Marathon and the next morning, I started my training program (which was written for me by an expert in aerobic endurance training). To ensure nothing stopped me from realising my dream (like luck in the lottery selection process), I registered with a charity and have a guaranteed place. I now have 9 months to go before I head to New York and realise my dream - running the marathon, three days after my 41st birthday.

This is my journey...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Vlogging on YouTube


Just letting you know that I'm flat out at the moment - juggling a gazillion things before we depart for Europe.

I've found vlogging (short for Video-logging) to be so much faster to keep in touch than typing.

So if you want to see what I've been up to, grab yourself a cuppa and click the link to my YouTube channel.

Until next time, why not experiment and find new and fun ways to be efficient with your time.

Grace xx

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Beyond the 7 year itch

8 Years ago today, Patrick and I married in Launceston, Tasmania. We chose this spot as that is where the proposal had taken place only five months earlier. It was the day before my 32nd birthday when Patrick suggested we take a ride over the Cataract Gorge Basin on a chair lift that boasts the world's longest single span.

I wholeheartedly agreed and whilst we were suspended high over the stunning gorge, Patrick popped the question. Time stood still, as too did the chair lift. I accepted Patrick's proposal and by pure coincidence (some might argue cosmic planning), the chair lift started again.

Having friends and families spanning over two states, it was evident that one side had to travel. In the spirit of fairness and romance, Patrick and I decided that we would return to this site to marry - and requested that both sides travel.

We had always dreamed of a small wedding, however had it been on the mainland - that would never have been possible. Asking people to travel a distance made it easy for those who would have only attended out of obligation, to decline. As it turned out, we had an intimate gathering to share our day. It was perfect.

It rained and rained on the morning of our wedding. Everyone seemed disturbed about it except me. "It's only rain... it's not like it's raining beetroot juice or fire balls - it's not going to stain or hurt us." My hair and make up artist said that I was the calmest bride she'd ever seen. But I learned something that day that I would never have 'got' had it been a bright and sunny day.

The only thing I wanted out of the 12th April 2003, was to marry Patrick. Nothing else mattered. Not even the weather. As it turned out, the boys raided every single army disposal in Launceston and purchased plastic blue ponchos for our guests. My brother Lou suggested that a clear poncho was more fitting for a bride (thanks Weej).

Our gift to our guests was a ride over the chair lift with a little handmade booklet explaining the proposal and why we wanted to return and share the magic. Apparently it was a sight to witness a sea of blue ponchos riding the chair lift, which was all but abandoned by tourists due to the drizzly conditions.

By the time I had arrived to the chair lift to collect my bridal poncho, the rain had ceased and did not resume for the rest of the day. After the ceremony, we walked with our guests along the gorge towards a beautiful rainbow that arched over the city of Launceston. We arrested at Stillwater Mill, where the celebration continued till late in the evening. It was a perfectly imperfect day.

So here we are, 8 years later. We have survived the 7 year itch (which was scratchy at times) and I ponder over all the things that make us thrive.

In short, the key to it all is teamwork. When we're kicking goals, we celebrate. When one is injured, the other steps in and takes on the extra load. When one is down the other becomes a coach. We share visions, dreams and goals. We are heading in the same direction even though we both play our own roles. There is respect for each other's strengths, and we step in to aid each other's weaknesses. We really are a great team.

To my best ever team mate - Happy 8th Anniversary. Let's keep kicking goals!

Love Grace xx

Monday, 11 April 2011

All wired up

Right now I'm feeling like Jaime Sommers, aka the Bionic Woman. Not for my ability to outrun a train or jump over a moving truck - but rather because I'm all wired up to a monitoring device.

Since embarking on my journey to New York, I've been required to monitor a number of things regularly to track my progress - or regress. One thing I am to check every 3-weeks is my resting pulse.

The last reading I did was 36bpm (beats per minute) as I lay in bed before rising. I was delighted at this figure, thinking that I was a sports legend in the making. With a resting heart rate similar to Lance Armstrong and Bjorn Borg, I was feeling pretty special. My health care practitioner on the other hand, was not so enthused.

In response to this reading, I was instructed to take my basal temperature daily to see if there was something causing this low heart rate. This revealed further low numbers - a sequence of sub 36C (96.5F) body temperature readings.

Hmm... Thyroid? That could explain my painfully slow rate of fat loss.

Blood tests revealed normal thyroid function without actually testing T3 or T4.

Back to the drawing board? Or do I ask for further testing? I digress.

In the meantime, I decided to redeem a Pilates prize pack I'd won pre-Christmas. The gorgeous Erica of South Melbourne's Genki Pilates welcomed me into her studio and ran a number of routine tests for a first timer. As a former paramedic, she picked up that I had an unusually abnormal heart rhythm and gently encouraged me to get myself checked out to ensure my road to New York is a safe journey.

Long story short, I am now in the process of being tested. Today I am wearing this contraption that is monitoring my heart rate over the next 24 hours. I have no idea how I'm going to manage sleeping without strangling myself. Then next week I'm having an ultrasound of my heart, as well as an ECG while I exercise on a treadmill (then I'll REALLY feel like Jaime Sommers).

I urge you not to worry. There's no point allowing negative thoughts to enter our heads prematurely. All this testing could reveal that I have a perfectly harmless abnormality that is normal for me. A bit like my sense of humour. Should the tests reveal something otherwise, we'll cross that bridge if and when we get there.

Until next time, don't let fear of the unknown put you off investigating things that may appear to be 'abnormal'. Knowledge, no matter whether it is positive or negative, will empower you to make informed decisions and take corrective action.

Grace xx

PS. A special heartfelt thank you to the beautiful Honni for giving me clear instructions on what steps to take. You demystified a potentially scary subject and gave me courage to take action. You are an angel and I adore you xxoo

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A trip down memory lane...

It's 5:30am and after tossing and turning for the last half hour, I decided to get up and write this post. Perhaps getting things out of my mind and onto virtual paper will be enough to lull me back to sleep. One can hope.

Aside from breaking in my Five Fingers and hosting an international guest this last week, I have also been preparing for a garage sale. The act of going through piles of stuff and determining whether or not I am ready to let it go has always been a challenging task for me.

It's not the 'stuff' that I am attached to, it's the memories that stuff brings. It always amazes me how memories can be locked away for decades, then the smallest piece of fabric or grandparent's salt and pepper shakers can conjure up a moment in time that until that point, you'd completely forgotten about.

Perhaps I fear that if I eliminate all the stuff from my past life, I will also eliminate my nostalgic memories. Then I wonder, is that a bad thing?

Does our personal hard drive, AKA brain, have limited storage capacity? Will we suffer down the track if we clutter our minds with insignificant memories? Perhaps we ought to be selective as to what memories are worth holding onto - just like our 'stuff' - and only keep the important ones like your wedding day, favourite travel destinations and the birth of your offspring (should that apply).

Some may argue that there's no room in the present for memories. The present is all we have. Memories live in the past and the road to enlightenment is to let all of that go. But if that were so, why were we not born with the memory of a goldfish? (which I still question - how on earth does anyone determine the memory capacity of a goldfish?).

I would argue that while the present is were we are, it is not all that we have. Memories give us context and builds dimension to our characters. If the question is "What memories do we hold on to?"my answer would be "The ones that bring us comfort and joy". Though I discourage myself to dwell in memories of the past, I do enjoy indulging in nostalgic moments now and then.

Yesterday was a day of such indulgence.

After seeing my tax accountant I decided to take a drive down memory lane en route to visiting my aunt. I cruised along the street that gave me my porn star surname (in case you don't know, the name of your first pet gives you your first name and the name of the first street you lived in gives you your surname. Pleased to meet you, my name is Tweety Larlac).

I paused in front of the house in which I spent the first four years of my life. I was completely in the present moment while simultaneously being transported to joyful feelings of the past. To me, it was emotional time travel that was comforting and uplifting.

Dawn has painted the sky with her rosy fingers and I feel calmer now. Thank you for being someone I can turn to at 5:30 in the morning to talk about memories. Tomorrow's garage sale has a lot of my late grandparent's stuff and saying good bye to it is obviously having an impact on me. That's okay, I'm sure it's all part of the process of letting go. Now if only my fat cells can do the same with their excess contents and I'd really be on the road to enLIGHTenment.

Until next time, take time to embark on your own emotional garage sale. Throw out the crap memories and only hold onto the ones that are really worth something.

Grace xx

PS. Here are some other pics from my trip down memory lane...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Weird things are afoot

Today I'm to tell you where I am going - but before I divulge that information, I must tell you that I'll be making my way there in my brand new Vibrams.

These 5-toed shoes (though branded as 5 Fingers) are without a doubt the weirdest looking footwear ever to adorn my feet. They are strangely comfortable and I somehow feel connected to mother earth, which is something that has taken me by pleasant surprise. They are the closest things to simulate being barefoot, only there's the bonus protection from broken glass, baking hot asphalt and slippery surfaces.

Over the last few months I've been hearing and reading so much about the benefits of getting about barefoot - our most natural state. My program instructs me to remove my running shoes at the end of my session and lightly run barefoot during my cool down, which I did until the mornings got too cold. My Vibrams will offer me the same benefits of barefoot running, only with a little more comfort and protection.


Should the relationship between my feet and my Vibrams flourish, I plan to run in them full time. At this stage I am uncertain whether or not I'll do the marathon in them - let's just take one step at a time. Literally.

So where do I plan to wear these new oddballs? Well in less than 4 weeks time, I'll be wearing them in Dubai. Then a few days after that I'll be wearing them in Italy, soon followed by France then Switzerland and back to France again. Who knows after that.

You might be thinking that I'm going on a whirlwind holiday - but alas you would be incorrect. I am actually going over to Europe for four months to WORK!

Yes, work.

Patrick and I have a tough job ahead. We're hosting several cycling tours that will be taking in the Giro d'Italia, les PassPortes du Soleil and le Tour de France. While that sounds all exciting, I won't lie - it is. However it does mean an incredible amount of work between now and then.

So the next few weeks will be a vision of me and my Vibrams running around literally and metaphorically as I prepare for our departure. Oh how very exciting.

Until next we virtually meet, do something happy for your feet.

Grace xx

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Where have I been?

It's been a while since my fingers danced over this keyboard. I miss it. I have been so busy since Operation Pat that blogging became a luxury I could not afford.

I've been on a roller coaster ride this last month - too many ups downs twists and turns to tell all. Let's just say that I hit a stumbling block, fell over, licked my wounds and am on my way up again.

This journey has revealed so much. I'm not just talking about the emotional and mental journey - I was expecting that - it's been the physiological revelations that have been surprising, interesting and challenging.

Oh blow it, I will tell... maybe not all, just a snippet or three (dinner can wait).

Weeks 7 - 9 of my training marked my peak. I felt great. I had progressed from a shuffle to a run. I felt that I could go on for miles and miles, hours and hours. I was unstoppable. My MAF (Measure of Aerobic Fitness) test at the end of week 9 was my best ever - smashing my previous time by 7 and a half minutes. I felt like a super heroine that wore stars on her bra (or was it her undies?).

Then week 10, things turned around.

My long sessions had gone from spending 20 minutes in my AHRZ (Aerobic Heart Rate Zone) twice a week to 30 minutes four times a week. Previously my post-MAF test program adjustments had only ever seen 5-minute increases, and my 'long sessions' remained at two per week - that meant that with each program alteration, I had plenty of recovery time between long sessions to adapt to the increases in training time. The 10-minute jump and doubling the number of long sessions proved too much to bear.

*Please note that my training at this stage is based on time, not distance. It consists of 6 training days each week with a MAF test every 3 weeks. Each session has a minimum half hour component that does not vary. It is my 15-minute warm up and 15-minute cool down. This is not a token, but a critical component to the program. I must gradually raise and lower my heart rate. The variable element to the program is the time spent in my AHRZ (after warm up and before my cool down) and the frequency of my long sessions. This is the component that is altered in response to the results of the MAF test. It is a scientific method of building one's aerobic base whilst simultaneously minimising the chances of stress injuries. Very clever.

Weeks 10 - 12 was a period of physical struggle, which ultimately impacted me mentally and emotionally. My inability to recover between long sessions began to drain me, though this did not stop me from being faithful to my program. At the end of week 12, I did my MAF test - I had gone backwards by two and a half minutes.

What a blow.

I felt robbed.

Instead of being rewarded for pushing through the fatigue and being committed to my dream, I was penalised. The MAF test illustrated that I physically wasn't coping with the increase in training. Looking back it's plain to see that the increase was too much too soon. My body was trying to tell me something but I was too fixated with the program to listen. Perhaps I was afraid that I would slip back into being the lackadaisical person I once was.

The MAF test is a tool to track your progress and tweak your program accordingly. I used it as a weapon to beat myself up. As soon as I finished the test, I felt the bubble burst. I was angry, deflated, worried and disillusioned. I began to loose faith - in me, my program and my ability to restore myself physically, mentally and emotionally in time for November.

The day after my MAF test, Patrick had emergency back surgery. I had to put my woes aside to focus on him. The to-ing and fro-ing to the hospital, and the overnighter when Pat ran a high fever, had all but drained every ounce of energy I had left. I was exhausted.

Noticing my grey pallor, Patrick suggested we both recover by the seaside at my friend's beach house (merci ma belle amie xx). I found myself napping 2-3 hours a day (I'm not a 'napper' so that's INSANE for me) before heading out for my run - which sadly had returned to a shuffle. I dropped my training days from six days a week to three and on a good week, four. I was at my wits end.

Then slowly slowly, day by day, I began to feel better. Not great, but better.

I've kept up my training, though have cut back on the intensity and number of long sessions. I'm distinguishing the fine line between listening to my body and keeping up the running habit. I am continuing with my Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture as well as getting a number of diagnostic tests done to see if there are any vitamin or mineral deficiencies that may have contributed to my fatigue. In a nutshell, I'm leaving no stone left unturned.

I have learnt that recovery is as important as the actual training. I know I've said it, but this experience has really driven the message home. Oh, and the MAF test is not a tool to beat yourself up with, but a measure to see how you're responding to the training and make necessary program adjustments.

So now you know where I've been... tomorrow I'll tell you where I'm going ;-)

Until then, know that there are times when you thrive and times when you survive. Do whatever it takes to survive so that in time you can get back to thriving - it's the best state to be in.

Grace xx

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Saturday Tip #4

Resilience is not measured by how long you can stay on your proverbial horse, but how quickly you remount after you’ve fallen off.
- Grace Mimmo Fitzpatrick (aka Zia Grace), 12th March 2011

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Operation Pat

You might be wondering what's happened to me.

Well, last week I was playing chauffeur to my husband Patrick taking him from one appointment to another - and this week, I've been playing nurse!

Rather than re-inventing the wheel that's already been re-invented, I'll just direct you to my hubby's blog post - which is actually a mutation of an email I wrote to some friends of ours.

So here it is... MicroDiscEctamy

Please pay extra special attention to the book Pat's reading - it's the basis of my training program and one that I highly recommend. I'll divulge more about the teachings of the book as my program develops.

Since my last MAF test on Saturday 26th February, I've gone backwards in my aerobic fitness despite being faithful to my training (have I already told you this?). Anyway, long story short - since that day, I've been a bit stagnant (in life) as a result of my over training, under resting and over stressing (not to mention my husband having emergency surgery last Sunday). I have managed a few training sessions over this last week, but each time I head out I'm completely exhausted and feel like I'm running in jelly (this really is starting to feel like déjà vu - I'm sure I've told you this before, no?)


We're looking at taking time out at our friend's beach shack along the coast for some much needed R&R. I'm looking forward to resuming my training with full gusto alongside the beach, while Pat does his rehab walking exercises. Assuming Patrick is discharged tomorrow, we'll be sleeping there tomorrow night - can't wait!

Once again, it's nearing midnight so I must bid you adieu.

Until next time... if you've derailed, do whatever it takes to get back on track.

Grace xx

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The cost of an overactive brain

You may recall some time ago I sought out acupuncture in an attempt to improve my rest and recovery. Since then I've been getting regular treatment, which leaves me feeling deliriously relaxed at the end of each session. While this is great on my acupuncture days, it hasn't exactly stopped my brain from working overtime in between appointments - which is becoming a bit of a concern.

Having an overactive brain has had a dominoes effect from lack of sleep, to frustration and fatigue. All this has had an alarmingly negative effect on my training - not to mention my writing and even speaking. But for the sake of this blog, let's just focus on the road to New York.

Despite being loyal to my running schedule, my lack of quality rest and recovery has seen a downturn in my aerobic capacity. This is measured by a MAF test (Measure of Aerobic Fitness) that I do every three weeks to track my progress - or in this case, regress.

My MAF test consists of a 15-minute warm up before timing how quickly I can run 4km / 2.5miles whilst remaining within my aerobic heart rate zone (mine is 125-135 bpm). I made great gains over the first 9 weeks (over 7 minutes), however this last 3-week block has seen me go backwards.

This has been so disheartening.

My delight in yesterday's milestone was short lived after waking up completely exhausted today (I had another late and restless night last night). It's now edging towards midnight, I have a busy weekend ahead and as I type these words I can feel my shoulders tensing and my jaw clenching.

I have come to the realisation that I have to manage this entire situation pronto or I could really do damage to the fruition of my dream. This may or may not impact my daily blogging - that will be revealed.

So for now I'll just say - until next time... know when to baton down the hatches as the seas rise.

Grace xx

'Idea grow on Brain' is by Malaysian artist Joanna Lim, who wants to show her artwork to the world. World, here is Joanna's artwork.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

A personal milestone

There was once a time when I would drive past Albert Park Lake (aka Melbourne's Formula 1 Grand Prix track) and enviously watch runners glide past thinking "Gee, I'd love to do that".

My first ever lap around the lake was with my mountain bike some years ago and I remember thinking that in itself was an achievement (all you hardcore MTB'ers are allowed to laugh at that).

You see, doing a lap of Albert Park Lake isn't exactly far - nor is it mountainous - it's just under 5kms / 3miles of flat sandy terrain. However it's the fact that you can see all the way around that has you thinking "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

This morning I had an introduction to Pilates (I'm a late bloomer) near the lake and planned to run around it afterwards, which is precisely what I did. I'd left the detachable transmitting part of my heart rate monitor at home, so I was jogging by feeling rather than digital feedback.

Not monitoring my heart rate meant that I had nothing to really focus on. I was able to look around, take a dozen self portraits documenting this momentous occasion and, dare I say it, think. I started getting bored and the words "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" chimed in my mind. I looked at my watch "Gosh, I've only been running 15 minutes!"

I had a mini panic attack "Oh my goodness, what happens if this occurs during the New York Marathon? Feel like I've been running for hours and it's only a few minutes? How will I get through it?"

Then the self coaching kicked in...

"Grace, you're running in a circle. You can see clearly across the lake - where you've come from and where you're going to. When you run through the suburban streets, you can only see the road ahead before it twists and turns. Just focus on what's in front of you and not the end".

So I continued to run around and focus on the time and not the distance. I could see the path whizzing underneath the gaze upon my watch. Before I knew it, I'd done it. I ran around Albert Park Lake. I had achieved a personal milestone - I had become that person that I once envied - and in the process, I learned a lesson...

Do not focus on the end. Just know that it's there and tis where you are heading, but do not fixate on it. Instead, focus only at the task at hand - what is right there in front of you. Devoting your focus on that will take you swiftly (and seemingly effortlessly) to the end.

Until tomorrow, keep the end in mind but focus only on the steps that'll take you there - you'll arrive feeling so much better. Oh, and avoid running around in circles ;-)

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Bloggy birthday to me...

Today marks 1 year since I started blogging.

I launched Project Grace 2010 on this day last year, which was supposed to be an 8-month mission to find myself along with my long lost mojo before turning 40 in November. My birthday came and went and I continued to blog.

On the first day of 2011, I invented Trailing Grace - though between you and me, I think it was ahead of its time as I discovered very few people wanted to trail a yet-to-be-somebody. It wasn't long before 9MonthsToNewYork was born, which is attracting far more interest - thus inspiring me to deliver daily.

I look at my life now and how it has transformed over the past 12-months. In a word, ENORMOUSLY.

My spirit has been revived, as has faith in myself. Each day brings greater clarity and with it comes strength and conviction. Just as the erosion of my spirit was a gradual decay, the rebuilding has been an equally slow and steady process. I feel that if we're not going in one direction in life, we're heading in another (usually the complete opposite). I am so grateful that after hitting the bottom, I am gently heading upwards. Phew.

I attribute 99.9% of this about turn to my blogging. It has provided me with an open form of expression. I type almost as fast as I can talk, therefore my fingers have become an extension of my thoughts and feelings (it's wild). Blogging has been an amazing journey, and one that I do not want to end anytime soon.

As much as we bloggers like to say "We do it for ourselves", let's be honest in admitting that having an audience has an impact - a big one at that. It's what separates blogging from a personal diary. I've tried the latter and it bored me. Blogging moves me. Knowing that I might entertain, engage, inspire, inform, delight, distract and / or challenge you, the reader, fills me with an enormous sense of pleasure. That's the reward.

It's not about money, it's not about fame (though either or both would be welcome), it's about connection. That's why I do it. I love to share my journey - what lessons I've learned, challenges I've overcome and tips I've discovered. In the process, I feel connected and that's what keeps me coming back day after day, week after week.

It is due to you being you, that allows me to be person that I want to be - one who is fully self expressed, open in communication and strong in vulnerability. For that, I am very grateful.

Until tomorrow, remember to give heartfelt thanks when opportunity presents itself - despite not knowing what happened to the 0.1%.

Grace xx

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Monday, 28 February 2011

The power of a poster

It's one thing to imagine your dream in your mind's eye, but creating an actual visual of it is quite another. This practice transports your ideas, fantasies and dreams into a realm of possibility. It starts to feel real.

Despite the cheesyness of one such visual (see Exhibit A: My inspirational poster), it has proved to be amazingly powerful.

When I first registered for the New York City Marathon, I was still recovering from an injured spirit. If I were to measure the string of broken promises (to myself) in dirty laundry, it would have stretched across the Great Wall of China. That's a lot of damage to one's relationship with oneself - and a lot of dirty laundry.

I had come to resemble a typical recovering addict often featured in Hollywood dramas - as much as you want to believe in them, you can't help but anticipate their inevitable fall from grace (pardon the pun and the omission of my addictions, which were illicit foods and beating myself up for being less than perfect). Though I would declare that I believed in myself, in truth - I had very little faith in me. The two are distinctly different.

Behind the facade of a thrilling adventurous lifestyle, harboured a deep sense of fear, self loathing, uncertainty and incompleteness. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Despite the insights and peace I gained from Project Grace 2010 (which BTW, I started a year ago tomorrow) and coming to terms with the clock striking 40, I still felt lost.

The idea of running the New York Marathon made my heart flutter, just as the idea of sitting next to my secret high school heart throb once did in 1985. Surely this was a sign that my heart was in it and that I was inspired?

From the moment I signed up I began to practice what I subsequently advised in the last Saturday Tip - protecting the flame of inspiration (especially from myself). Not only did I have to protect the flame from people wanting to blow it out, but I also needed to frequently stoke the fire and feed it fuel.

My inspirational poster became my fire stoker and feeder. I have it on my desktop, Google home page, office and bedroom wall plus, most importantly, on my iPhone. Every time I switch on my device, I see this image over and over again, day after day, week after week - thus ensuring that I do not forget my dream. As a result, the dream becomes more and more real - and I am growing more and more confident.

There are many exciting things on the horizon, which I am bursting at the seams to share with you. Instead of falling over myself with excitement (as I often do), I am taking things one step at a time - just as I do when I'm out running. My faith (in me) is in the midst of restoration, as is my spirit. Such is the power of a poster, albeit cheesy.

Until tomorrow, do not underestimate the power of visuals. Embrace the cheese and create a poster of your dream so that it feeds and stokes your fire of inspiration.

Grace xx

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Friday, 25 February 2011

A Child's Life

I'm here at my brother's house having just spent the last four hours babysitting my 6 year old nephew and 3 year old niece, whom I've just put to bed with a Mr. Men book.

We spent the evening playing snakes and ladders, drawing frogs and trapdoor spiders, then finished off with an imaginary game called 'mothers and fathers'. My nephew called himself Storm, my niece Curly and I was Polly - their daughter. We re-enacted a typical day and it was amazing to see how they expertly responded to daily crises like me getting imaginary shampoo in my eyes whilst having a virtual shower. "Put your head back Zia!" they cried. Gorgeous.

The things I love most about kids is their imagination, honesty and infectious energy. When I first arrived here, I was feeling exhausted and couldn't fathom how I was going to last to their 7:30pm bed time. Within half an hour of getting into their world, I was energised and felt 35 years younger. Now that they're in bed (way past their bedtime), my fatigue has returned. If it weren't for typing this post, I'd be in a sweet slumber myself.

The energy and joy I felt tonight is reminiscent to what I feel like when I'm out training. Since declaring my dream of running in the NYC marathon, every day out brings me closer to making it a reality. My imagination transports me there. With each step I imagine scenarios like running through Central Park and over the Brooklyn Bridge - and I'm just as pleased with my imaginary athleticism as what my nephew and niece were with their imaginary parenting.

As my eyelids grow heavy, I cannot help thinking that there's a lot to be said for those still in their single digits. How much sweeter life would be if we were to model ourselves on them:
  • When you're doing something you love, you are focused, present and cannot be dissuaded or distracted.
  • You have so much energy, you don't know what to do with it all - and can run around for hours without waking up sore the next day
  • You must have fun in all that you do, or it's not worth doing.
  • All problems are simply solved by imagination.
  • You call things as you see them and your honesty is seen as cute.
  • You know what you want and your determination will take you to great lengths to get it.
  • You don't take no for an answer.
  • You go to bed when the sun sets and up again when it rises.
On that note, it's time I bid you good night as the sun set quite some time ago.

Until tomorrow, remember what it was like to be a child and allow it to expand your imagination, honesty, joy and infectious energy. Oh, and remember to tilt your head back when you wash your hair ;-)

Grace xx

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Look what I got today...

I was sitting down to lunch when the doorbell rang. I wondered whether it could have been my UPS parcel from New York. "Surely not, it's too soon", I thought to myself as I made my way down to the front door.

I opened up to find this...

Mr. Tellier from UPS with my parcel!

I was so excited, I asked Tellier if I could take a photo of this momentous occasion. Tellier obliged (I'm pretty certain that was his name - I didn't write it down and hope I did a good job of committing it to memory).

Tellier was a good sport and didn't appear frightened by my slightly eccentric enthusiasm and questionable appearance - I still had lunch on my teeth.

I quickly darted upstairs to open my parcel all the way from the USA, but not without taking this photo...

And this is what it contained...

My New York City Marathon Training Tshirt.

Feeling like a pro now.

Until tomorrow, be free to express your excitement - no matter whether it's big, small, or even if you have food in your teeth.

Grace xx

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What rice is right?

One thing I've found perplexing on the road to health and fitness is that what's right today is wrong tomorrow, and vice versa.

When I first joined the gym nigh on a year ago, I was instructed by a personal trainer (who featured on Australia's Biggest Looser) to 'smash it'. He operates by the 'no pain no gain' school of thought, however in my personal quest for aerobic endurance I've learned "no pain no gain, no brain".

Further to that is conflicting information about foods. Juicing is good. Juicing is not good. Carbs are essential. Carbs are non essential. Eliminate all fats. Eat good fats. Replace high GI (glycemic index) glucose with low GI fructose. Avoid fructose at all costs. And on and on it goes.

Then today, as I was leaving my acupuncture appointment, I asked what food would best support my spleen (apparently that's low in energy and needs nourishing). The answer to that was "Rice. Rice is good. Eat plenty of rice".

"Rice?" I thought to myself, "But isn't that a high GI carb that I should be avoiding at all costs - especially after 3pm?" Of course I didn't actually say any of this. Traditional Chinese Medicine has its own explanation, which I've found to be the antithesis of what I thought I knew. So I walked out of the clinic with my head tick, tick, ticking...
So how do I do this? Nourish my spleen while still remaining on my low GI lifestyle (which I adopted in April 2010 and slowly lost 15kg / 33 pounds as a result). Out of all the rice varieties in the world, which one is right?
To my knowledge thus far, there are two rice varieties that fulfil my needs - Basmati and the 'clever rice' known as Doongara. Both are low GI and both are spleen-nourishing rice. Bingo!

The acupuncture must have worked a treat as I crashed out on the couch as soon as I returned home. I fell into a deep slumber and awoke with news that Patrick was 'doing dinner' - Indian curry with Basmati rice supplied by our local Bombay Café for a small fee. Delicious. Spleen in recovery.

Until tomorrow, do what you know to be right today - and be nice to your spleen.

Grace xx

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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

To all my friends in Christchurch...

I am speechless.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by today's earthquake.


-Grace xx

PS. We love NZ so much. Spent our honeymoon there in 2003. We took this photo below of the Christchurch Cathedral. Below our image is a photo that was taken after the earthquake. To me, it represents an even greater loss - the loss of lives, hopes and dreams. So sad.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The pointy end of the deal

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, rest and relaxation is as much a part of training as the training itself.

This is something I've been struggling with lately - despite making attempts to wind down, go to bed early and practice the art of meditation, which I completely suck at. As a consequence, I've noticed that over the last week my running has gone from feeling like I'm gliding on silk, to wading through jelly (Australian for jello) - thus proving that R&R is an important component to my program.

This proved to be a catch-22.

The more I tried to relax, the more agitated I would become. The earlier I'd go to bed, the longer I'd spend tossing and turning. I've been driving myself insane. So before this R&R deficit escalated into becoming a real threat to the realisation of my dream, I decided I needed to nip it in the bud and seek professional help. I decided to get acupuncture.

I've had an on again off again relationship with acupuncture. Irrespective of how good I feel afterwards, I have an aversion to the sensation of my skin being pierced with needles. No matter how many times I've received treatment, this feeling is something I've yet to become accustomed to (not even after spending a month in Hanoi getting daily treatment in a locals only clinic just out of town).

As I laid on the treatment table anticipating my first puncture, I nervously wondered why, oh why, did I take this option. A few pricks and agitations later, the practitioner lit a flame and the pungent smell of moxibustion fumigated the room. Then, among the smoke, a clearing appeared - as did the answer to why...

I am doing this because 11 and a half weeks ago, I made a deal with myself. As I stared at my laptop screen contemplating my registration, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
"So you want to run in the New York City marathon do you?"


"I'm not sure about this. It'll cost a lot of money. Besides, you've said you've wanted to do things before and then changed your mind. I'm not sure I can trust you."

"That's because all the stuff I said I'd do was to try and keep you happy. I want to do this for me. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It'd be a dream come true."

"Fantasy more like it. You're 40, overweight and under fit. You were never good at sport during school and you've never done long distance running, don't you think you're biting off more than you can chew? Why don't you lose some weight first and get fit BEFORE you register, then I might have some faith in you."

"Don't you see, the only way I'll lose weight and get fit is to aim for something big, something that means so much to me that nothing will stand in the way."

"Nothing will stand in the way? Does that mean you'll do whatever it takes to get to New York and run this marathon?"




"Once we sign up, there's no going back. Deal?"

And so lying on my back, getting acupuncture and smoking up the place with moxibustion is me doing whatever it takes. Recharging my batteries so that I can resume the feeling of gliding on silk when I run is why, oh why, I subjected myself to the uncomfortable sensation of having my skin pierced with needles.

That is what I refer to as the pointy end of the deal.

Until tomorrow, remember that deals with yourself matter when it comes to manifesting dreams.

Grace xx

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Soothing Sunday Scene #1

I've come to learn in this journey that rest and relaxation is as much a part of training as the training itself.

In fact it has it's own word: RECOVERY.

I've introduced the Soothing Sunday Scene for two reasons:
  1. It will facilitate me to maintain daily posting, in a way that doesn't add any further stress.
  2. Each photo will be of a blissful place and remind me to relax, unwind and recover from the week's stress.
Enjoy the Soothing Sunday Scenes. I hope it relaxes you as it does me.


Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday Tip #1

Goals are head based.

Dreams are heart based

Achieving goals requires discipline and determination. Often you have to find ways to motivate yourself to keep going. You push you.

Dreams inspire you from within. When you feel that it is really possible and you're on the road to making a dream come true, you cannot keep yourself from chasing it. Dreams pull you.

What is your dream?

Friday, 18 February 2011

Things are looking UPS!

I am so excited!

No sooner did I tell everybody that I know and love about my new blog, did I receive an influx of invitations to meet (as far and wide as Bali, Canada and Philadelphia). All of which are tempting... perhaps I ought to seek sponsorship from an airline?

Talking about sponsorship, I have been offered my very first (ever) blog sponsorship - already? Wow. I'll reveal more as the days unfold.

Then if that wasn't enough cherry popping, I received my first comment by my beautiful and amazing mum (thanks Mum, I love you). Mum has always followed me quietly in the wings, so it was just great to see her words of encouragement as the (wait for it) first ever comment on my first ever post on 9 Months To New York.

And if I thought things couldn't look any better, I was wrong. I received this notification (pictured above) in my inbox. There's a UPS parcel with my name on it en route from the New York Road Runners, USA to chez moi.

Can I get anymore excited? I think not.

Until tomorrow, when the waves are up - surf them!

Grace xx

Sunday, 6 February 2011

9 months from today...

9 months from today, I will be in New York City - three days after my 41st birthday. My stomach will undoubtedly be full of enough metaphorical butterflies to lift me to the moon - or at least the start line.

It'll be the arrival of 'one of these days' - the one where I said I'd run a marathon sometime in my 40's. It'll be the culmination of all my training, focus, energy and faith. It'll be the day a dream comes true.

9 months from today, I will be running in the New York City marathon.