Close Call

angelI was in my local cafe yesterday morning, quaffing a quick cuppa and watching the antics of the extended family occupying the al fresco area. Grandpa was having a ball as the dynamic duo of Lilliputian princesses climbed all over him. Grandma had a very young one all snuggled up in her lap, and mummy was gently rocking the perambulator back and forth in a vain attempt at coaxing the tiniest one of all back to sleep. It was a privilege to observe such a happy family unit, but as I paid for my cappuccino all hell broke loose.

The first thing I heard was mummy’s scream. It was loud, plaintive and came straight for the deepest part of her soul. No horror movie has ever captured such a sound of wretched terror and the only noise to compete with it was the elderly banshee with the baby in her lap. My head swivelled sideways faster than a barn owl just in time to see a yellow angel, with pink ribbons adorning curly brown pigtails, race across the road after her Grandfather, who had taken her older sister to the park on the other side.

For a moment it appeared that time had actually stopped and was trying to reboot in a slow, deliberate process.

A tiny frightened girl stopped in the middle of the street and burst into tears, unsure whether to turn back or keep going, and afraid that she was going to get into enormous trouble.

A seated Grandmother threw her arms out, desperately hoping that her reach would magically extend to ensnare her grandchild.

A mother’s shoes refused to grip the ground as she tried to leap the many metres that separated her from her child.

And, with three mighty steps, a Grandfather found the strength of youth when he bounded into the road and scooped up the crying little one.

MinionThankfully the bus service was running late and no other traffic was on the road at the time, so everything ended fine with the siblings happily heading off to the playground.

The whole experience occurred in mere moments, but as the adrenalin began to wear off it caused me to reflect on a similar circumstance that happened many years before. Our third son Granny, who was always pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and is single-handedly responsible for the majority of my grey hairs ūüôā decided one day that it would be fun to run out on the road and see how far he could get before mum or dad caught him. The street he chose though was not as quiet as the one yesterday and I can still see the look of panic on the occupant’s faces as their cars swerved to miss him.

Granny is fine of course, and has just graduated from high school. But I learned that day that the price of parenthood includes vigilance. Kids are predictably unpredictable and that can place them in all sorts of predicaments – both good and bad.

So, as thousands of our little monsters hit the streets hunting for Halloween treats, please do iDad a favour and hold onto their hands.

Best Australian Blogs 2014 Competition

gnatHi Guys,

Once again I have a massive favour to ask all of you.

This year my blog is both a nominee for the Best Australian Blogs competition and the Peoples Choice Awards, along with half the population of the known world.

Last year I just missed out by a gnat’s whisker, so if you’re a basher of Burbage, a lover of lame humour, a fun runner, another frustrated parent, or an aficionado of literary genius, please mobilise your clicking digits and show me the love.

Here’s how you create history:

Follow the link below, swat the big arse bug, or click the Vote For Me Now button on the right of this post, to start the voting process.

Once you arrive on the home page, click on the big blue button that says ‘Vote here’.

Now you will have arrived at the welcome page. Isn’t it nice to be thanked for all the hard work they are about to put you through ūüėČ On the welcome page click ‘next’.

Everything is alphabetised so you’ll have to scroll through to the third page to find Matts Notes. Place a little tick in my box and once again click ‘next’ at the bottom of the page.

You should now arrive at a blank page that gives you the opportunity to choose to continue the voting process by clicking ‘next’ again, or you can choose to finish up and leave by clicking ‘exit this survey’ in the top right of the screen.

Phew, wasn’t that a giant pain in the backside. But as Loreal continually reminds us, I’m worth it.

Voting closes on Monday the 5th May so please get cracking over the next couple of weeks and spread the love.

I promise I really will respect you in the morning ūüėČ

Pack Mentality

Apart from the obvious need to stay hydrated, one of the things that really gets drummed into you before a ‘fun run’ is not to start off too quickly. You have your own pace, your own comfort zone and your own technique, so don’t take off or you won’t make it.

It’s great advice however when you are part of a surging swarm of sweaty runners, buoyed by cheering fans and a flood of adrenalin coursing through your veins, it is almost impossible to follow.

My first foray into jogging for joy (sounds like a hippie commune sponsored by Gatorade) was the Blackmores Bridge Run. This was a simple 9km jaunt across the old coat hanger, around the Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair and finishing in Hyde Park. The gun went bang, my legs went boom and a little while later my lungs went pop. There’s probably a great photo of me somewhere, barfing up a kidney as I crossed the finish line. I hadn’t trained well enough and I paid the price. Lesson learned.

My next competitive outing was the Sydney Half Marathon. An apparently brutal race comprising over twenty one torturous kilometres through the streets of Sydney. I knew I could run this distance as I had done it many times before, so my confidence was high. As people all around me shot off like startled rabbits I remembered the rule and resisted the urge to emulate the Road Runner. Instead I held back, maintained a good pace with my running partner and as we turned the corner in the Domain, I had energy to spare. Unfortunately we had caught up to the group that started before us and had nowhere to go. I finished that race slightly faster that the Ugandan legend, Stephen Kiprotich. Of course he ran twice the distance, but why let facts get in the way of a good story ūüėČ My point is I had held back too much and failed to achieve my goal of breaking the two hour mark by one minute and one second. Lesson number two noted.

The City2Surf was my next opportunity to apply my recently acquired athletic education. Fourteen and a half kilometres from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach via the dreaded Heartbreak Hill. I had discovered how to dodge the slower runners and, thanks to my half marathon efforts, I had qualified for the faster group, so I decided to try a tactical approach this time instead of simply plodding one foot down in front of the other and hoping for the best.

Despite the weather the crowd was pumped. The threat of rain had not dampened the enthusiasm of sixty seven thousand runners, nor had it kept the fans away. Raincoats, umbrellas and blue painted ‘smurfs’ lined the footpaths ahead of us and when the starter pistol fired my partner and I exploded out of the blocks. We set a cracking pace, for us at least, achieving a personal best time for our fastest kilometre ever. As we approached Heatbreak Hill (a 2km vertical nightmare) I didn’t pull back. There is a drinks station near the bottom and I knew people would be slowing up for refreshment before tackling the looming tar leviathan, so I stayed my course down the middle of the road and left several hundred huffing, puffing hot shots in my wake.

Approximately a quarter of the way through the climb I eased down. There were still several thousand metres left to traverse and conserving energy was the key to finishing strongly. Besides, the apex of Heartbreak Hill is not the only lofty obstacle in our path. Just when you think the worst is over you find an equally monstrous mountain to ascend.

By the time we reached the run to the beach we had recuperated enough to give it a good shake. Unfortunately the crowds had begun to bunch up once more, as is the nature of a fun run, but we hit the home straight as hard as we could and finished the race with our fastest ever time over that particular distance.

So what knowledge have I gained that I can share with you? Here we have three races. One where I went hard and hurt myself. One where I took it easy and ended up disappointed. And one where I went hard again and everything fell into place. I guess the secret lies in three simple philosophies:

Train well, go hard and have fun.

One Million Metres

Check it out guys, I made it.

Eighty six thousand six hundred and seventy calories and eighty runs later, I have chalked up a magic 1,000,000 metres.

It has been a hard slog at times filled with magpies and kookaburras, spiders and dog poo.

There have been ups, downs and plenty of days when the motivation to get out of bed was extremely hard to find.

I’ve watched my weight plummet and, at times, felt my confidence shatter.

I’ve broken toes, twisted knees and torn tendons (the plantar fascia tear was particularly uncomfortable).

But the effort has been well worth it.

According to the Nike Community I am running further and faster than most men my age. Go figure ūüėĮ

I’ve done the Blackmores Bridge Run, the Sydney Half Marathon and this weekend, to complete a year of firsts, the City-to-Surf.

You guys have teased me, taunted me, jeered me and cheered me. Slapping me down when I got a big head and picking me up when I needed it.

Its been a lot of fun.

Thanks for your support.

My knee hurts!

The 300 Club

Matt’s Notes has its 300,000 visitor.

Well, we did it!

I say ‘we’ because there is no way I could have done it without ‘you’.

In fact, without ‘you’ there would have been no ‘we’ and therefore nothing would have got done at all.

“What have we done?” I hear you scream through clenched, frustrated teeth.

Well ‘you’ have visited ‘me’ over 300,000 times in the last two years.

And that, my friends, is absolutely marvelous ūüėÄ

So where have ‘you’ come from, I often ponder late at night? Almost everywhere it seems. Just check out the map on the right. (Sorry, didn’t mean to rhyme).

‘You’ came, ‘you’ laughed, ‘you’ cried, ‘you’ criticised,¬†‘you’ commented and ‘you’ told your friends.

Unfortunately I have no idea who most of you are. So here is a great big group hug and a wet, sloppy kiss from the bottom of my heart.

Thanks guys, ‘you’ are the best!