The half-marathon that almost wasn’t

Well, I’m sitting here with the post hard run feeling that is a mix of slight nausea and dead tiredness.

I should have known that things for my run weren’t going to be silky smooth when our next-door neighbour decided to have yet another one of their fantastically loud parties that continue until the early hours of the morning and that send those deep thumping base sounds to every corner of our house. I’d gone to bed at 10:00ish hoping that the music would die down, seeing as I was planning to be up just after 6am. 11pm came and went. By 11:30pm I’d gotten up and jammed a pair of earplugs in my ears but nothing was drowning out that sub woofer duh duh duh. It would have been well after midnight before I finally dropped off.

I got up, had two weetbix with milk for breakfast and a coffee. I’d hoped there might be some bowel movement following consumption of the coffee, but alas not. I then angsted a little bit about whether to wear a long-sleeved shirt or a short sleeved shirt. After stepping outside in the chilly morning air, I went with long-sleeved and pinned on my race bib.

All stations go.

M was waiting outside for me with the camera as usually and he snapped a couple of pre-race shots. Then we piled into the range rover and started the 15km journey into town. We had gotten about 200m down the road and were stopped at the give way sign when rangie decided that she was not going to move into first gear and we would be stuck there. M hopped out of the car ready to push the girl out of the intersection and told me to get into the driver’s seat. I angsted for 0.3 seconds before climbing in and with the help of a fellow passerby who also assisted in pushing, we got rangie off the road and into a side carpark.

I had 40 mins before my race was due to start.

I looked at the petrol station near where rangie had stopped and saw a taxi that was fueling up. I raced over and accosted the driver asking him if he could drive me into town. He’d just come off shift and was due to drop the car off to the next driver. I put on my best girl-in-distress-look and begged him and after several hurried phonecalls to the other driver and his boss, agreed. I raced back over to rangie, grabbed $50 out of my wallet, my ipod, sunnies, lip balm and tissues and threw my phone and other stuff at M, told him to call the RAC to have the car towed and hopped into the taxi.

The driver agreed to drop me into town if I gave him $50 as a cash job. The trip in to town normally costs about $30, but I wasn’t arguing. $50 to my knight in a shining white taxi it was.

I had 35 mins before my race was due to start.

5kms down the road we ran into road works and had to divert around the area that was closed off. We finally reached town and he ended up dropping me about 10 mins walk from the marshalling area of the race, saying that he needed to get back on the freeway and drop the car off before his boss got too angry.

I was ready to hug him.

By this stage, I needed to pee. So I took a slight detour walk to the bus station and went to the public toilet. After that small relief, I headed down to where I needed to be. Of course, I’d forgotten what 45,000 people all attempting to get to the same place was like – pure and utter chaos. I wasn’t getting very far, very fast. Approaching the area I could see that the other half-marathoners were already lined up at the starting line.

Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the fence, heading in the opposite direction, trying to find a way to join them. By the time I found a break in the fence, I knew I’d have no time to drop off my stuff for its journey to the finishing line and make my way back to the start, so I just found an empty space on the side of the road, stripped off and started to get ready. Walking up to the start line, I adjusted my iPod, put on my gloves and applied lip balm – that I also had to donate to the side of the road along with my jacket as I had no way to carry it.

Anyway, I’d just joined the rest of them when the starting gun went off. It was not the zen-like peaceful start to the race that I had hoped for and the whole situation certainly wasn’t in the myriad things I’d angsted about in the four-month lead up to the race, but at least I’d made it.

I did the first 10 kms in blistering pace, emerging out of King’s Park in just over an hour, but there were still two massive hills left to climb and my pace dropped dramatically after that. By the 16km mark it seemed like I was just shuffling along.  It’s true what they say about the course, it’s hilly and not for the faint of heart.

For some reason, I’d been thirsty about the 5km mark and decided to have some poweraide. It was blue. It was not a good decision. Even though I only took about two sips of it, it sloshed around in my stomach for the entire rest of the race. From then on, I had water and nothing else – hoping and praying that I wouldn’t need to pee or poop suddenly.

I had water at about 4 of the stations, sipping a little and sloshing the rest over my face and head. This year I managed not to throw my cup or water into anyone else, but I still managed to throw water all over my sunglasses and then spent the next kilometre trying to see straight.

Last time I did the city to surf it was the 12km. The 12km has the most entrants and I remember vividly spending a lot of time dodging other people and prams. I was also overtaken a lot by people pushing prams. This year because I was in the half-marathon, we were separated from the 12km-ers by a fence and  it improved my running experience exponentially.

Anyway, so I made it over the finishing line in about 2hrs and 12mins. It’s a time that will only ever qualify me for the slow olympics, but at least I finished and I ran at a faster pace than I did over the shorter 12km distance.

I ended up catching the bus home, which seemed to work out quite nicely, but I was absolutely FREEZING. Since I didn’t have a jacket or anything else with me, I put on my souvenir finisher’s t-shirt over my running top and jumped around from foot to foot trying to stay warm. I came home and immediately hopped in the bath – probably not the best thing for my muscles, but I needed to get warm.

While I’d been out tackling the course, M had walked home, called his mechanic and had the rangie towed to be fixed.

While I was running I kept thinking about how comical and pretty fucked the whole situation had been. I reminded myself about how I’d angsted and angsted over every single little detail – what to wear, what to eat, shoes, underwear, pacing, etc. etc. But never for a moment did I think I would ever miss the start nor that I would ever want to hug a taxi driver.

Chilling the fuck out

I’ve been thinking very seriously for several weeks now about de-cluttering my life. I even went so far as to pull all the books out of my bookcase and split them into sell and keep piles. But that’s as far as I went and the piles are still sitting on the floor of my bedroom. Now I’m actually thinking about just putting them back into the bookcase and being done with it.

Danshari fail.

The exercise made me realise just how much of a problem I have with cutting ties to things that I perceive as having some value or importance to me.  While I have no issues disposing of other’s people’s crap or things that have served their purpose and are broken or empty, things that are still ‘good’ or ‘useable’ end up being put away ‘just in case’.

I also seem to have a particular problem with books. I tend to read books I like over and over again and they represent hours of entertainment and escapism for me. While I’d love to have all my favourites on a kindle and be able to take them anywhere, there’s just something special about the pages, the smell and the feel that books have.

On a positive note, I haven’t bought new things this year except for two new shirts for work and my running gear. Both sets of items were things that I needed and have been put into regular use. So instead of having a buy nothing new month in October, I’ve had 6 or 7 months where nothing new has been bought. Part of me feels very frugal and proud of this achievement, but another part of me feels a bit sad about not having the frivolous joy associated with the acquisition of new items just for fun.

Sometimes I get overly frugal and a spanish inquisition-like Q & A session accompanies every purchase. M thinks I’m a bit bizarre when I’m dragging him over the coals due to the existence of an ‘unauthorised’ item in the shopping trolley – even though it might only be something that cost 99c.

Waste also irks the crap out of me. My two pet hates are throwing away food that has gone bad and being overcharged for things at the supermarket. Nothing annoys me more than buying a brand I don’t particularly like because it is on special and then being charged full price for it. AHHHHHH!!

I think I’m definitely getting more anal and fixed in my ways as I get older. When I was younger, things used to bother me, but I’d be able to move on and forget about them. These days, I’ll be waking up at 4am irate over the bowl of soup that got thrown away 4 days ago because it had been in the fridge for a week.

It doesn’t sound very healthy does it? Any ideas about how I can chill the fuck out?

Little Miss Crabby

I have a theory: the loudness of someone’s voice while talking on a mobile phone in a public place is directly proportional to the inanity of the conversation they are having.

Am I right?

I always make it a point to put on my best phone-sex-at-work voice i.e. super quiet and breathy, whenever I absolutely must answer my phone on a bus or train. But 9.9 times out of 10,  I just have it set to ring silently and I wait until I’m off said form of public transport before calling the person back.

Does no-one else think this is the normal and polite way of doing things?

Or maybe I’m just a bit too sensitive, namely because I feel ridiculously self-conscious talking on the phone when I know the 60 or so people within earshot of my conversation are listening intently to every single word I say. So by default, I want to avoid having to talk on my phone like the plague.

But do other people not have this sense of shame?

Do they feel like their stupid little conversations about running out of staples at work are so important that everybody in the immediate vicinity needs to hear it at a really loud volume?

Do they also feel that what they have to say is so important that they actually need to continually call people up on their phone for their entire journey and have stupid little conversations without even waiting for someone to call them?

Or am I just getting crabbier and crabbier in my old age??

Someone tell me the answer!

Stat!

My deadline list

I don’t have a bucket list – those lists that some people create of things they must do before they die such as ‘jump out of a plane’ or ‘insert something edible into a body cavity’ (*tick*). Instead, I have a deadline list which lists certain milestones that I should reach before it’s too late. And sometimes, my idea of too late is not a physical limitation, but a perceived idea that some things are just not appropriate past a certain age e.g. leopard print boob tubes past the age of 22 (*unfortunately tick*)

Although, thinking about it, what I actually have is bucket list – with deadlines. I’m not one for the idea of doing the things on my list ‘one day’, I’m interested in doing things while I can and I’m fast approaching that age where the press of those deadlines is palpable.

My done list includes things like:

  1. Live in a foreign country
  2. Get married
  3. Get divorced (wasn’t on my to do list, but ended up on my done list anyway)
  4. Learn a language

My to do list includes banal things like:

  1. Live in a hip, inner city apartment
  2. Have sex with a random person I just met
  3. Give someone a tip and don’t feel ridiculously self-conscious about it
  4. Go to the doctor and actually get all of the things that are wrong with me checked out to the nth degree so I can stop worrying about those niggling feelings…it’s not a tumor! (or it might be…)
  5. Do stuff that not everyone does (half-marathon anyone?)

But my to do list also includes some scary things like:

  1. Have a child  (if I ever decide I want one)
  2. Live in a place I want to be
  3. Be happy

And these scary things are either things I don’t know how to achieve or things that I don’t want now, but I may want in the future and if I’m going to want them in the future, I’d better fucking hurry up and make that decision before it’s too late.

My problem is that I’m a hedger. I like to always minimise risk and disappointment so I tend to separate my eggs into a variety of baskets and keep my options open. My choices in subjects at high school were a good example of my hedging. I chose my subjects not according to what I wanted to study or what I was particularly good at, instead I chose what would give me the most options later on if I decided to go to university. Hello chemistry and physics!!

Or maybe my problem is that I’m really fucking indecisive and therefore I have to leave my options open so that when I do some to some sort of a decision, I have some choices.

I’m currently thinking about whether I want to stay in my present job and stay in Perth. While a job that is enjoyable and meaningful is on my deadline list, I also realise that I’m starting to get to that age where I can’t change my job willy nilly so if I’m going to change, I need to do it NOW. Ditto for leaving Perth. While there are plenty of worse places to live, I also think that I’ve done more than my fair stretch of time in Perth, but if I’m going to move, I need to do it NOW. The longer I stay, the deeper the hole I am digging for myself.

I keep feeling a sense of pressure by these deadlines that I’m making for myself, even though there isn’t really any need for urgency. What is it that I’m trying to escape from?

Or what is it I’m looking for?

Anal beyond the call of duty

Normally when I start talking about anything anal, I start with pineapples. But in this case, I’m just going to have a normal rant about my overly anal co-worker, because if you thought I was anal, you’ve not met a truly anal person.

I’m starting to dread it every time she opens her mouth because my mind is wanting to shut up shop before she even gets started. I’ve always made it a point to give people a voice and the chance to give their opinions before taking their ideas on board or dismissing them, but with her, I’m not even wanting to listen. It’s not good and I don’t know how to deal with it.

I think there is a definite distinction between being thorough and careful – which is good and perfectly okay – and painfully over-thorough – which is annoying and unnecessary. She’s very much in the latter camp and is trying to bring me over to her dark side, but her method of doing so is what rubs me up the wrong way the most.

She obviously has an idea about what is the ‘right’ (a.k.a her way) and it is generally over-thorough and erring on the side of doing waaay too much. With her ‘right’ way firmly in mind, she will ask me, “Do you want me to do it this (my) way?” To which I will say, “No, I’m happy with how it’s being done now.” Then she will say, “But you need to do it this way!” To which I will say, “I don’t think it’s necessary to do it that way, because we have a, b & c backups and there is a very small chance of anything going wrong with it”. To which she will say, “Yes, but there is a chance that something will go wrong, so you have to prepare perfectly for it just in case!” And I will sense her wanting me to join her on the dark side, so I will say, “I don’t think it’s necessary to do what you’re suggesting, but if you feel uncomfortable doing it the current way, you’re welcome to do it your way.” And then she will give me the classic line of, “But tell me how you want it done!”

To which I want to say, “FFS woman, I told you at the beginning. You asked my opinion and I gave it to you. If you don’t like it, then don’t ask for it!!!!!”

But I don’t. Instead I generally have to end the conversation very quickly and walk away because I feel a very strong urge to slap the crap out of her.

Rinse and repeat several times a day. She has also basically told me to stop helping her because she doesn’t like ‘the way’ I do things and she wants to be more ‘systematic’. Yet she’ll complain about having too much to do. I’m not sure if I should feel offended or happy that apparently I’m not nearly as anal as I thought I was.

I’m not and have never been a very assertive person. In an ideal world, it would probably be best for me to be able to say to her, ‘Please do it THIS way.’ (although I’m not sure that would be enough because I’d probably have the same conversation with her the next day, as a new day is a new opportunity to bring me around to the dark side.) I probably also feel the urge to slap the crap out of her because I feel like she is basically telling me I’m wrong and I hate to be wrong (which is not a good thing, I know, but who realistically likes being wrong??)

I’m not sure if her problem is that she doesn’t have complete confidence in her dark side ways and ultimately wants to be able to say, “I’m only doing it the way I was told to do it” or if she is on a mission to try to make me change my opinion to her dark side ways, but whatever her problem or mission is, I need her to stop. Now.

In terms of her wanting to be told what to do, I can understand that. I’m generally much happier being given a direction or an outline of what I need to do and then being left alone to my own devices to meet the goal.

That being said, I also don’t mind having a very explicit set of instructions for how to do something that I’m not familiar with. In fact, the more detailed the instructions are, the happier I am. I don’t like to ‘figure stuff out’ or ‘play by ear’. If there’s a recipe, I use it. If there’s a manual, I read it. But I don’t go out of my way to do unnecessary things. I don’t need to do 200% when 100% is perfectly acceptable.

I feel like she wants or is expecting something of me that I can’t provide. I also feel like she’s the frog in a well who cannot conceive of the ocean, as they say in Japan. I generally have my attention stretched over many facets of the business during the course of the day and I don’t have the time or the mental energy to get to the nitty gritty of all of them and sort things out to the nth degree. I do things the best I can using the resources I have, and while it may not always be the perfect solution, it gets done. Her work is a very narrow part of the business and so I guess what seems like a small issue to me, becomes a huge issue in her world. That’s why I guess when she goes on and on about something, I want to ask, “Don’t you have something bigger to worry about?” or better yet,

“Aren’t you worried about the sky falling?”

Angsting & ranting

This past week I’ve been running, enjoying the pain associated with running (and by ‘enjoying’ I mean coping with) and angsting over hotels in Tokyo.

I’ve got an upcoming business trip to Japan and I’m hoping to stay there for a week after the business stuff is done and stock up on my all-important Japan supplies. My supply situation is very, very dire at the moment – I am almost out of make-up and I’ve had no kit kats in funky flavours or prawn crackers for months. Serious with a capital ‘s’.

Wasabi flavour

I enjoy angsting over hotel rooms almost as much as I love looking at house floor plans (I’ve got a bit of a fetish for looking at floor plans for some reason. That’s why if I had my life over, I think I’d be an architect.) I get particularly excited when I find a hotel that has floor plans of the rooms on their website…mmm…and some of them even have that delightful 360° panorama thing that makes visualising all that more exciting.

Apparently there are 2120 hotels and other places to stay in Tokyo according to the 2011 records of the Tokyo metropolitan government. Looking through their data, you can pretty much find out everything down to the most common shoe size of the residents of the 23 wards of Tokyo. Some might call the fact that the government knows just about everything about its citizens a bit eerie and big brotherish, but as a result I think they are able to plan their infrastructure and services in a much more structured manner.

In Australia we barely know our population (and it’s more of an estimate than anything). Sure we have a rough census every 4 years or so on which I could report my religion as Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster if I so wished, but there is no central ‘database’ per se. We are a mash of states that don’t share information and under privacy rules, most government departments are not able to share information with other departments. I suppose that’s a good thing if you don’t want to be found, but it must make it very hard to know what people need and where it is needed. It also means that anytime you want to do something, you’ve got to have five million types of ID to prove who you are and where you live. In Japan, your handy Jyuuminhyou (Resident’s Registration) or ARC (Alien Registration Card) will do the job in a snap (and you can even get a copy of your Jyuuminhyou from 7-11, how’s that for convenience?!?)

And speaking of Tokyo -just for the record -Tokyo is not a city, it’s an area, kind of like a province or state. Within Tokyo there are 23 central wards, 26 outer cities, 5 towns, 8 villages and 35 or so islands that stretch 1200kms into the pacific ocean. So if you say you’re going to Tokyo you could be going to this:

or this:

/rant

So, my hotel situation…I’m considering the factors such as proximity to 100 yen shops, Starbucks, train station, supermarket, convenience stores, karaoke boxes and post office as well as the price, square footage, existence of bathtub, age of hotel and the type of bed. Yes, I am that anal. I guess I don’t go places all that often, so when I do go somewhere, I want it to be good. At least, that’s how I’m justifying my anal tendencies in my head.

In running news, this time in three weeks, I will have finished my race. Hallelujah, I’ll be glad when it’s done… I’ve got two more weeks of long-distance training and then I’m tapering the week before to be fresh for the run. I ran 19.45kms in 2hr 10mins yesterday so I won’t be breaking any speed records, but it looks like I’m on track to finish the 21kms in under 2 1/2 hrs. I’ve just got to make a decision about what I’ll be wearing and I think I won’t be able to do that until I know what the weather will be like. In the unlikely event of rain, I’ve also purchased myself a waterproof running jacket with a hood and it can be folded up into a pouch and tied around my waist. I’m very impressed by these type of running gadgets… that I have to buy on the internet from foreign countries because shopping in Australia is expensive and it sucks. I priced a similar jacket here for $200. Online from the UK I paid $42. And they wonder why people don’t want to visit Australia.

/rant part 2

Well, I think I’m all ranted out for now. I still have hotels to angst over and kit kats to dream about so farewell.

Crushed baby soya bean flavour

The reason why I don’t want to have a baby

Along with the obvious things that make you take a long, hard look at becoming a parent such as having a total disbelief that anything that large can come out of there and not wanting to defecate in front of a crowd of people, there is one big reason why I don’t want to procreate – because I don’t want a human life being totally dependent on me.

Seriously, I can’t cope with that total dependence thing.

Even in a relationship I can barely cope with the feeling that another person needs me and I usually get around that by convincing myself that they are another adult and therefore don’t need to rely on me for everything.

We’ve had a rash of visiting babies in the office recently. In a strange coincidence, four people in our office have had babies within the last 12 months which is a pretty damn high percentage considering that there are only 12 people in the office.There was a strange rumour going around that there might be something in the water, but fortunately it doesn’t seem to be true as I guzzle down litres of the stuff everyday and the only thing that seems to come out of my birth canal with any regularity is wind.

Fanny farts…worst things ever when they make that flappy noise.

I try to be enthusiastic about the visiting babies because I feel that is the social convention, but seriously, I’d rather watch paint dry than a drooling baby. I always find it funny as well when everyone goes on and on about how the kid looks like one of the parents. No shit Sherlock! Of course they fucking do (and if they don’t you should probably be on one of those annoying daytime tv shows and flashing your boobs.) The only thing that really goes through my mind when I see the kids is how daunting it must be to be responsible for a life – utterly and responsible for the well-being of another human being.

I just couldn’t cope with the pressure. I remember my few isolated baby sitting experiences have always involved me checking every 5 mins to see whether said child was still breathing.

Parenting – I can’t help but feel smothered.