iRun

I like to celebrate before I’ve actually done something successfully.

It’s nice to savour the moment of decision, plunging ahead into the unknown where you don’t know what the results will be. Of course, when I’m thrown into a project and scrambling to break through the waters for a quick breath, I don’t get that chance to celebrate. However, when the decision to do something rests in my hands…

I celebrate.

I am going to run my first race tomorrow. I put that word in italics because truthfully, I won’t actually be racing against anyone. I just want to get to the finish line in one piece, and as long as I’m not the last person doing it, I’m happy.

I’ve been holding on to my white iPod nano (one of the most thoughtful gifts from Spike) and actually enjoy taking it with me while I run as I imagine my muscles working that little bit harder… but I thought that maybe, it was time to get another smaller one. It was almost perfect timing when DigiBoy called me from the Apple Shop in Houston.

I missed that call but he helped me one anyway, since he knew I’d been eyeing the latest stainless steel version. And so, today, I got my new baby.

Isn’t she a sparkling beauty?

Even better, I met Pale Beauty at an open mic event and she offered to pick me up early in the morning. We’ll set off at 5.45am (ack!) and hopefully, be at the start line 30 minutes before flag off, with ample time to warm up. I am going to head to bed early today to try for a full 7 hours of sleep.

I’m actually doing it. My first official run in… 17 years.

‘You don’t look like someone who runs!’ Trish, a makeup artist laughed when she heard about my plans for tomorrow. ‘A race for the best shopping maybe, but run? Why?’

‘Well… I thought it’d be nice to do something I’d never done before,’ I answered.

‘That’s a good reason,’ she nodded.

‘I walked yesterday!’ piped up the Designer.

‘Oh really? That’s great! Are you into exercise?’ I asked, looking at him as he set up the lights for our photo-shoot.

‘I used to be, until my body couldn’t take it anymore.’ He said. ‘It’s a miracle I’m walking today, that’s what the doctor said to me.’

‘What happened?’ I couldn’t imagine what type of sport he once did to warrant such extreme accidents.

‘I jumped out of a plane but my parachute wasn’t working well that day. I broke my spine and was told that I’d be crippled for life. Guess the doc was wrong,’ he smiled. ‘Before that, I also broke a couple of bones, twisted both ankles at least ten times each, tore more than five ligaments in various parts of my body… I guess I just get too excited when I do sports.’

‘How about swimming? That’s a low impact thing you could do…’ I suggested.

‘Ah… if there’s one thing I detest, it’s to get into the water,’ he wrinkled his nose, ‘so now, I walk.’

‘Let’s celebrate!’ I said.

‘I already did. I bought myself the iPad,’ he chuckled.

*

Baby steps after a fall.

Haruki Murakami was right. Pain is inevitable but suffering? It’s optional.

Pain comes in all forms, physical or emotional but whether we resign ourselves to a state of suffering, or we get up and walk on is another thing.

Doing this run tomorrow is monumental to me.

I signed up alone – and no longer fear being independent. I don’t need to wait for others till I make a decision, something that I used to do. I don’t need to fear failure, a bad trait I have as the perfectionist in me wants to only do things in which I know I’ll succeed. I may flail and flounder in an environment that’s unfamiliar but for once, I’m getting out of my comfort zone and reaching out for goals that I don’t need to conquer. This is a goal I just want to accomplish, for myself.

I got more disciplined in training for the run. In the past, I relied a lot on others to do the research and pull together plans while I lazily went along with them. This time, I actually got off my ass to make things happened. I went to the library, read a few books, bought a couple of magazines, subscribed to newsletters… all to familiarize myself with this thing called running. Oh yes, and I actually ran too.

The best part of it all? I made new friends. Friends who love running too. Friends who offer tips, advice and support. It’s a weird, wonderful feeling. My world has grown that little bit bigger.

And to think it all started with a question that Smiley asked me months ago…

‘I just signed up for the marathon in December. Are you going?’ He texted me.

‘Yeah, I think I will,’ I replied.

I immediately went to the website and for some strange reason, signed up for the half-marathon (I’m not that ambitious! Baby steps, remember?) and was subsequently hit by fear. ‘Oh my god, what have I done?’ I gasped at the laptop screen.

Since then, I signed up for an easier run (tomorrow’s) and have entered this new world that really, dear reader, is exquisite.

Amazing then, what putting one foot in front of the other can yield.

I am a runner, albeit a slow one.

But unashamedly so.

*

Something has changed within me, something is not the same. I’m through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. Too late for second-guessing, too late to go back to sleep. It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.

I’m through accepting limits coz someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change but till I try, I’ll never know…

So if you care to find me, look to the western sky. As someone told me lately, ‘Everyone deserves the chance to fly’. And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free. To those who’d ground me, take a message back from me. Tell them how I am defying gravity, I’m flying high…

– Defying Gravity (from Wicked, the musical)

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strange love

I’m staying up to send another man a love text.

He’s facing some mad problems trying to clean up a messy work situation and I don’t want to disturb him with my randomness, so I’m waiting till he’s done, which should be in another 20 minutes.

‘I love you to bits,’ it will read.

Except, it’s not from me. I’m doing the Sister a favour. She’s currently in Berlin and as her husband is out with no internet connection, I have become their official middleman.

‘Can you do me a favour?’ The Sister asked me earlier on. ‘Can you tell Joe that I’m logged in to chat now? I’m hoping he can log in too.’

‘Sure,’ I said, returning with the news Joe was at Brewerkz trying to settle some work and hadn’t gone home yet. It was already close to 11pm. ‘He wanted to know how you were doing,’ I said.

‘I’m okay. Set up has hit a few hiccups but we’re not freaking out yet. I’m homesick and miss him loads and loads. Berlin is boring with a capital B without him. OH! And there’s no freaking hot water pot in this freaking hotel… and it has no aircon?! or heater?! Just a window that opens!!!’ She replied. I dutifully conveyed the message.

‘I have a confession,’ Joe replied. ‘I thought of telling her about my day physically. Then I realized she’s away. And tears welled up. Tell her I miss her. And let her know I’m brainstorming over beers cos everything with the presentation bombed today. Meeting is tomorrow at 11.’

Shucks. I felt strangely voyeuristic at this point.

‘I miss you too sweetie. I wish there was a better way we could be there for each other, but I’ve got you on my mind all the time! *big hugs* Sorry to hear everything bombed. I don’t understand why but hang in there baby, I’m wishing you all the best.’ The Sister typed her reply.

I smiled at the screen. The entire situation was weird but I felt the love and it was just a gorgeous emotion.

‘You guys are darling…’ I told the Sister.

‘But mushy,’ she answered.

I couldn’t stop smiling to myself, stuck between their oozing love for each other.

‘Hello?’ I picked up the ringing phone.

‘Hey, it’s me,’ Joe said. ‘I just finished so… are you still chatting with her?’

‘Yeah,’ I said.

‘Well, could you let her know I’ll be home in 20 minutes so if she’s still around, I’ll try to catch her for a bit,’ he continued.

‘Sure thing,’ I laughed into the phone. ‘Oh! And she wanted to say… she loves you to bits.’

‘This is too damn weird,’ Joe answered.

I agree. But it was way better than watching Glee on my laptop.

*

‘Truthfully, this is the fabric of all my fantasies: love shown not by a kiss or a wild look or a careful hand but by a willingness for research. I don’t dream of someone who understands me immediately, who seems to have known me my entire life, who says, I know me too.

I want someone keen to learn my own strange organization, amazed at what’s revealed; someone who asks, and then what, and then what?’

– Elizabeth McCracken

Like telling someone you love them on the first date, I wondered if I’d declared my passions a little to early, and in doing so… killed all potential of a future together.

After my first run on the tracks again a few days ago, I signed up for a half-marathon in December. I scanned the FAQs and realised with horror that I had no idea what was involved in this new relationship.

‘What have I done?’ I gasped as I stared at the confirmation slip. Humidity levels, heat exhaustion, shoes, clothing, running clinics… it all swarmed around in my head. But the more I thought about it, the more I was certain of my decision. I want to do this. Not for anyone else… but myself.

Since then, I’ve been reading up on marathons and running… and like meeting a new love, it’s all terribly fascinating and at the same time, I feel a little scared.

‘Do you want to run together?’ a friend asked me.

‘Really? I only just started and am really slow…’ I replied.

‘It’s okay, me too.’ He said, sending me the map of our trail.

And all of a sudden, I didn’t feel alone anymore.

‘A new city seems so much more friendly and warm when you have someone to just hang out with…’ read a text I received today.

And I can’t agree more.

So my dear darling new found love… I think I’m ready for this relationship, and to find out more about myself in the process.

See you soon on the tracks.