a re-resolution or two

I just had a thought.

If I write multiple posts to make up for the days that I missed, does that mean I’m still keeping to my daily-post resolution?

And if I start running and promise to work hard at well, running… can I erase the memories of my slovenly ways since December?

It’s already February and I haven’t once hit the tracks since my last half-marathon. The scary realization that my next one is scheduled for sometime in May hit me about a week ago. I pledged, promised and hauled my now wobbly bits to the gym… only to find myself on the floor, dizzy and gasping for breath, while my trainer rushed to get me a cup of sugar water.

And yet, I still haven’t begun running again. The idea alone is daunting. The inertia, immobilizing.

Somehow, desire hasn’t translated to action.

But!

I have a plan to make a plan. At least that’s a start.

And for all resolutions that falter, trip and die mid-way, there’s always the re-resolution, no? It’s that moment when you ask yourself, is this worth it? Do I want to go all the way?

I’m glad to say, I do.

Watch this space.

 

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beautiful. i am.

I want to thank those two ladies who appeared just as I was about to give up.

Out on the tracks tonight, I was initially reluctant to run. I’d already spent two hours in my running outfit, seated at the computer answering emails, phone calls and text messages. It was all tremendously frustrating because I felt time slipping away… then I remembered that ‘if it’s 15 minutes you have, run 15 minutes.’

Basically, it’s a just do it mentality (good for you on that one, Nike).

I headed out and after 4km, was ready to finish when these two pony-tailed females popped out of nowhere.

‘Typical,’ I jealously eyed their physique. Tight asses, cropped tees and slim legs, I had begun on a new round without realizing that I’d been tailing the running beauties.

‘Oh well… I’ll just keep pace with them,’ I told myself. Interesting… the run grew easy while I watched them talk (dammit… they were chatting while I was huffing away). Men kept turning their heads as they passed by.

Just as we reached the halfway mark, they halted. (I know this is mean but what the heck). They were tired! Gleefully inspired, I straightened my back, composed my features into a nonchalant I-do-this-everyday expression, gathered speed and ran past them. It felt gloriously wonderful.

So what if my thighs are twice theirs in diameter? It didn’t matter that I was dressed in a loose tee and shorts while they looked way more professional. I was fitter.

Resisting the urge to do a little dance, I ended my final stretch with new power and looked up into the indigo sky.

Bliss.

*

‘The beauty is in the flaw,’ Mr. H once said to me. A renowned director of photography in this region, we were discussing framing. ‘You have your rules of perceived perfection but really, it’s the quirk that gives a picture that special quality.’

‘I totally agree! That’s why I love used items like books, leather jackets and bags… it’s the scuff marks, the imperfections that make me want to own them. You can’t purchase these flaws,’ I said.

That conversation took place more than two years ago and resurfaced today. Which made me wonder…

Can I see my body the same way? Can I believe that it’s the imperfections that make me beautiful and special? I know I can’t fit into the ‘ideal’ set by someone else… but if I can see my lumps and bumps as the ‘quirk that gives a picture that special quality‘… I can grow happy with whatever shape I’m in.

It’s worth a try.

*

‘Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’

– Marilyn Monroe

huffing and puffing song

I have found the perfect song that defines my running attitude from the 8km marker onwards. It’s extremely poetic, consisting of a few words that anyone can hum along to when they’re huffing and puffing away.

‘F%$k it, f%#k it, f%#k it, f%#k it!’

I know many say that encouraging remarks helps one to cross that mental barrier we face when we hit a wall. ‘Picture yourself running with ease’ or ‘ tell yourself you can do this! You can make it!’ and I’ve tried all that. None of it works. Chanting the above in sync with my footsteps however, causes me to smirk. And that propels me forward.

Especially if I meet Red Runner again.

I saw her last night, as I did my circles around the pond and for the first few rounds, we were in sync. She was running the other way around the course and we crossed each other at the same points for the first three rounds. Our only difference? I was struggling while she was obviously doing an easy pace. I hated her for that.

‘Damn it,’ I muttered to myself as I struggled to bring air into my wretched lungs. I dreaded seeing her again, which I did, unfortunately, as I walked around the circuit. I could have sworn I saw a gloat in her demeanor as she flew past me, over and over again.

‘F%$k it, f%#k it, f%#k it, f%#k it!’ Daftpunk was never more eloquent.

*

The longer I run, the faster I run out of things to think about. Try sitting in a chair and staring at a wall for two hours. Wonderful, isn’t it? Even the usual stories I make up about other people turn into sarcastic commentaries as I begin to find little things about my random companions annoying.

That said, I love every passerby with all my heart. They are a good break from the tedium and monotony of putting one foot in front of the other.

Yes, even Red Runner – god bless her darling heart.

I wonder what she does on a normal day?

*

So Smiley said that my knees hurt purely because it’s doing more than it ever did before.

‘You just need to recover. Take it easy this week and slowly build up your stamina and strength again,’ he said.

‘But they ache all the time,’ I whined.

‘You just did a 10k run last week,’ he stated. ‘It’s more than you ever did before. Just relax…’

Has it only been a week? But yes, Smiley is right. I did a little more reading today and found out that these aches and pains are normal. I, being the over-dramatic person that I am, have been entertaining images of me injured, over my short runs. Forgetting the simple fact that prior to this season, the only running I ever did was to walk quickly in my heels to the office was I was late. I didn’t even break into a jog to catch the train/bus, always preferring to take the next one that came along.

Right. So there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just… pain.

Altogether now, ‘Pain is inevitable. Suffering, optional.’

Now where’s Daftpunk?

a wedgie of a problem

No! No! No! No! No!

I just came back from a run and although my knees didn’t feel awful while I was out on the track, they ached when I climbed the stairs up to my apartment. To be honest, they ache all the time, especially when I wear heels. And I wear wedges and platforms a lot (they are my magic ‘fat-day’ solution). Thinking that I’d better do a little research on the types of exercises I need to strengthen them, I found out something I wish I hadn’t.

Now we all know heels are bad. Whatever. The results (I tell myself everyday I come home with sore feet) are worth tottering around on my 4-inch wedges. But in a study performed in 2001, both American and UK scientists found that compared to thin heels (killer stilettos), thicker heels actually put more stress on the knees as it adds way more pressure on your quadriceps – 30% more than walking barefoot – which in turn, deteriorates the health of your knees.

Their advice?

Wear trainers, walk to work and lose weight.

What the… ?!

No. I cannot accept that. I am going to work on strengthening my knees with exercises that sound very futuristic instead.

Every morning now, I shall devote at least 15 minutes to 3-D Matrix Hops, 3-D Matrix Lunges, Single-leg Balance Squats, Mirror Matrix and Two-legged Jumping. I will put my row of wedges in a line and stare at them (in case I lose the will to do the work) and do this for my shoes.

Oh yes, and for my knees too.

*sob*

This cannot be happening…

Just in case though, I have planned a week’s worth of outfits that match flats instead. I guess a part of me does recognize that when I wear the heels, my knees do ache that little bit more. I was just hoping it was my imagination.

(See the original BBC report here)

*

When I began overhauling the state of my health life, I never expected that it’d extend into my wardrobe. You see, like any other girl, I love my clothes and shoes. I have carefully collected a very wide selection of garments that span almost 15 years of devotion to personal style.

My wardrobe now takes up an entire room and to be honest, there’s not enough space there. My clothes have somehow creeped into other parts of the house and there are pieces of random jackets, tops, dresses and bags hanging everywhere. This has been made worse by the recent renovation works I had to accommodate in the bedroom/closet.

When I began running, I realized with a little sadness that I stopped styling myself every morning. There were days when I was contented to leave the house in a simple top, cardigan and jeans, sans my arm-filled bangles and various accessories. These things became less important as I focused more on preparing a healthy breakfast before I left the house.

I used to rush out in a hurry after spending almost an hour dolling myself up. Now, I spend about 20 minutes extra in bed, 20 minutes on myself and 20 minutes on breakfast. I have become (horrors!) a little slack in my personal style.

Now to lose my shoes too?

I guess I just have to ask myself… what’s important to me now?

*

My first thought as we confirmed our trip to Nepal (we’re doing the Annapurna circuit) was ‘how am I going to style my hair every morning? Can I bring my flat iron? Do they even have electricity in the cabins?’

Don’t mock me now.

virgin run

‘No… not yet…’ I looked at my alarm with bleary eyes. It read 4.45am. Out of sheer habit, I snoozed it and rolled over. ‘Just five more minutes…’ I said to my conscience.

Fifteen minutes later, I scared the Husband when I sat up with a shout.

‘Darn it! The run is today!’

My warm-ups began then, as I ran to the bathroom to wash up, out to the kitchen to make a healthy oatmeal-banana meal, back to the bedroom to change into my running outfit and pack my bags. By then, it was already 5.45am, and Pale Beauty was waiting downstairs in the car.

I was almost out of the door when I remembered my race kit so I charged back into the bedroom, grabbed the still-unopened bag and dashed out of the house. Panting, I entered the car and sighed. It didn’t bode very well for my virgin run.

I tried to read the instructions for tying the electronic sensor onto my shoes when I realized that every girl in the car was dressed in green – the official running attire for the day.

‘Wait, are we supposed to wear the tee-shirt they gave?’ I asked them.

‘No, I don’t think so… but since they gave it to us, why not?’ Pale Beauty answered.

Right. Back to tying the sensor and pinning my number tag onto my purple top. I surreptitiously eyed the other girls in the car and they all looked fit, tanned and experienced. I looked back at my legs and could have sworn they glowed under the lights of passing streetlamps.

‘Umm… am I the only one here who hasn’t run before?’ I asked.

‘Well, the last girl we’re picking up hasn’t run before so I don’t think you’re alone,’ Pale Beauty answered as she nearly swerved into another car. ‘Oops, sorry. I can’t multi-task when I’m driving…’

‘I did a biathlon this year and a half-marathon last year,’ Ms X replied. ‘But I don’t think I’ll do too well today because I got a cold.’

‘What about you?’ I asked Liz, who was sitting beside me.

‘I’ve run before, nothing competitive, just to finish the race. Did you train for this?’ she asked me.

Snapshots of my mid-night practices and trails flashed across my mind, as did images of me gasping for breath.

‘I ran a little… but have never actually completed running 10k,’ I answered.

‘Oh you’ll be okay. It’s not that hard. Just walk if you can’t do it,’ she smiled.

We finally reached the start point 15 minutes before flag-off and there was a scurry to find an empty washroom. While the girls lined up, I stood at the side, watching the thousands of girls in green, feeling intimidated. I didn’t even dare stretch in case I looked like an inexperienced fumbling idiot. Every girl just looked so… good. I quietly hid myself behind some women and snuck in a few ankle rolls and calf stretches.

Over at the starting line, the deejays were warming the crowd up with exercises, while some performing cheerleaders did their stunts. As each minute passed and the girls weren’t back from the washrooms, I felt more and more vulnerable. I heaved a sigh of relief when I finally saw them walk over to where I was hiding.

‘They’re starting!’ Pale Beauty exclaimed. ‘Ooh, let’s take some pictures!’

‘Umm… let’s not?’ I gave a wry smile. ‘How about after the race? Then it’ll be more meaningful,’ I suggested, thinking of offering to be the photographer then.

‘Ok, that’s a good idea,’ she said as we started jogging to the start line.

‘Do you want to keep pace with each other?’ I asked her. I was actually a little worried that I might not find her at the end of the race. The place was akin to salmon laying eggs on a river bed. There were too many people who all looked alike, clamouring for a space in our tiny running stream. I didn’t have a phone and my bag was in her car.

‘You don’t run fast do you?’ she looked worried, ‘I didn’t train for this at all.’

‘Trust me, I don’t,’ I smiled.

We set off and I’ll be honest, it was easy. It didn’t feel any different from my usual practices. I had to ease into my stride and by the 2k mark, it was pure rhythm. It was also extremely fun, weaving in and out of people, overtaking them one by one (ah, such infantile pride!) and the usual warnings to not go too fast at the start? No problem. Like I said, I don’t run fast.

Helpers were lined up along the roads to direct the human traffic and we both skipped the 3k water break. At the 6k water station though, we grabbed a cup each and tried to drink while jogging. Hopeless. The liquid sloshed everywhere except into my mouth. I finally stopped to gulp down the water and then with a nod, Pale Beauty and I continued to slowly overtake the runners, one-by-one.

I finally hit a mental wall at the 8k mark. I say mental because I’m pretty sure my body could have gone on longer but never did so when I trained. Frustrated, I changed music and remembered why I was running.

‘Enjoy yourself,’ I heard the Dream Maker’s voice. And so I did. I watched other runners, looked at the trees, wondered about each person’s history and even had a quick chat with Pale Beauty. Then I saw several runners I’d overtaken earlier on pass me by. Inspired, I began running again. This time, I focused on nothing else but putting one foot ahead of the other.

Past the 9k mark, I started walking. ‘I give up,’ I thought, ‘I don’t think I’ll be the last.’ What fine aspirations I had.

Of all times for someone to recognize me? It was then. I heard a woman call out my name and when I looked up, she clapped her hands.

‘Come on! You can do it! Run!’ she hollered in what I assume was her encouraging cheer.

Right. I gritted my teeth and began a painful, slow jog to the finish line.

‘There, look,’ Pale Beauty pointed at the photographers waiting. ‘Whatever you do, look good.’

I burst out laughing as we crossed the finish line at 1hr 15 minutes.

If there’s a photo of me out there, I’m sure it captured the essence of this experience.

It was a laugh.

*

The hardest part of the race wasn’t the running though. It was the collection of congratulatory gifts – a bag filled with freebies and a bracelet to say, ‘I did it!’ We stood in line for a really long time, stewing under the hot sun in our juices.

‘We stink,’ I said to one in particular.

‘But so does everyone else,’ Liz replied. ‘They won’t notice.’

It was then that we realized the other first-timer in our group huddled under a tree. She was suffering from nausea and could barely walk. We collected her things on her behalf and then, the day was over.

‘Are you going to run again?’ Liz asked me.

‘Yeah, I’ve got a half-marathon at the end of the year and my sister told me about another 10k run in October. I’m considering signing up for that one,’ I replied.

‘Absolutely no way,’ a tiny voice emanated from the still huddled form of the nauseated girl. ‘I will never run again…’

‘Really? As in never?’ I asked.

‘Well… okay. Maybe for a 5k, I will,’ she replied.

And that’s the beauty about these races. They are highly addictive.

*

‘I did it!’ I texted the Sister.

‘Oh great! How did it go?’ she texted back.

’10k in 1:15,’ I said.

‘That’s not too bad, for a first-timer,’ she replied.

Hmph, I thought. Not too bad? Hell, I finished! It was a miracle!

‘What’s good then?’ I asked her. I couldn’t resist.

‘Try to keep it under 1hr.’

A new sense of calm and determination suddenly came over me. I do have a competitive streak after all! I am going to beat the Sister at the next 10k. She’ll never know what hit her.

Well, at least that’s my goal. Whether it actually happens, I don’t know.

One thing’s for sure though… I’m perfecting my drinking whilst jogging move. So if you see a girl running with a folded paper cup, taking measured sips every few hundred metres or so, wave.

It might just be me.

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)

a penny-rich life

When was the last time you observed an ant carry a crumb off your dining table, stopped to watch the clouds move across the sky, or watched a feather flutter in the wind?

Do we miss the pennies lying along the road because we’re too focused on the dollars we want to make? Have we lost the wonder of the penny moments?

I asked myself these questions as I ran today, watching the people going past me. I was trying to distract myself from the pain and torment of running again, after a two week break. Every step I took was agonizing and I asked myself why I was putting myself through this. It seemed as though all those weeks of running prior to my holiday had evaporated into nothingness. Discouraged, I was just about to stop when I decided to look at the world I was passing by.

And all of a sudden, wonder hit me.

There were the huge rats that scampered near the drains, a large grey cat that sat watching me as it cleaned itself, the cool wind that brushed against my skin and the quiet rippling pond that glimmered beneath the moon. It was all so beautiful. I watched the lovey-dovey couples make out on the benches and made up stories about their relationship. There were three men sitting along the edge of the pond, with fishing gear; did they catch any fish? I evaluated the dressing styles of the other runners and tried to guess which were training for marathons, running to lose weight or running because their partner wanted to and they didn’t have a choice.

I watched them leave as I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Before I knew it, I’d run for an hour.

I slowed down to a walk, changed music and began to dance around the now empty track.

My penny moments had accumulated into a priceless moment. I hadn’t quit.

*

Every morning, I take the train and observe the people in my carriage. I ask myself if they feel the wonder of life in their existence. Then I look into my reflection on the glass doors and see that my face mirrors theirs exactly. That’s when I break into a smile.

I don’t want to be cynical. I want to be easily awed by every moment that happens – whether good or bad. I want to take delight in the simple things. Like today:

I celebrated when the cleaners did a good job with the toilets in my office. It felt wonderful to step into a fresh-smelling cubicle.

I cheered when we found a table to eat at during lunch, when the food tasted delicious and when my coffee was made perfectly.

I laughed when I found out that I’d been eating expired bread (3 days gone) and sulked when I had a tummy ache after a slice.

I gushed with the video editor over the musical – Wicked, excitedly recalling the moments we enjoyed the most, re-enacting our favourite lines and singing our favourite songs.

I think I overdid it a little when I celebrated a new administrative project that I got landed with. It is not fun. But what the heck.

I shared with everyone the comments I received from the magazine editor regarding my two articles, happy that she liked the concept a lot, although it might get trashed because she wanted a more ‘serious’ tone.

When I finally took the train home, I felt fulfilled although the day was not extraordinarily special. I’d made the moments mean something to me and in doing that, life became precious.

‘Wealth means nothing at all if you do not know, to the last penny, what your fortune is. You might as well be poor if you do not know what you have.’

– Philippa Gregory

What were the special moments you had today?

I’ll give you a penny for your thoughts…

taking the leap

‘Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn’t exist and never shall. There is only now.’

– Christopher Paolini

If I can get through tomorrow in one piece, with everything intact, I’ll know a miracle took place.

I have three shoots scheduled, back to back in the evening. Besides having to script these ‘interviews’ in a foreign language, I’ll need to direct a very important guest and two testimonials. I couldn’t find a makeup artist in time and so, I’ll be doing makeup on my own. While coordinating with the camera person the shots I want, making the guests feel comfortable and directing the entire production. Brilliant. And hugely impossible.

Once that wraps, I’m off to the gig which I’m guessing, I might be late for. I wanted to back out but the tickets have already been purchased so I’ll just have to pop in for a bit and hopefully, catch my favourite songs.

Just before the gig ends, I’m off for the final appointment – the mother of them all. And it is this final appointment that I’m most anxious about. Because this is the second instalment of making my dreams come true and I’m just worried about how it’ll end. The conclusion is beyond my control.

I stand before my day… a ball of nerves.

This is it, people. This is really it. I’m actually going to do it. It’s impulsive, rash and yet, something I’ve deliberated over for years. But I’m walking ahead, ready… to take the leap of faith.

(while I chew my nails)

*

‘There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.’

– Paulo Coelho

‘How was the run?’ A complete stranger asked me on Sunday as he walked past, before waiting for my answer.

‘Heard you’re running now, since when?’ DigiBoy said when he popped by to help me burn some DVDs.

‘You too?!’ Dimples squealed when she found out I’d been talking to Kitty about training.

‘What’s up with the marathon?’ A few members of the band asked me when I told them I was unavailable for some dates.

I told them I wanted to lose weight, that I just wanted to run for fun… the reasons were many but all of them half-truths. The real reason is that I’m doing this for myself. I want… no, need to know that I can do this. That is my only reason. I want to do something I’ve never been able to do before, never even thought I could accomplish.

I’ve faltered so many times when it came to long-distance running. It was always my mental strength that failed me – not the burning legs or the lack of stamina – it was giving up in my mind long before I even saw the finishing line.

To do the races, to cross that finishing line, is just for me. I need to know I can complete something hard, something I’ve always failed to finish.

Tonight, I hit the tracks again although everything in me rebelled against the idea of going out. Out of sheer habit, I changed, took my iPod and went downstairs. The music I selected failed to energize me. The weather was humid. The tracks empty. Quietly, I began my run and very nearly gave up before I’d even finished one round. Then it hit me.

This was how it’s going to feel in the middle of the race. Can I overcome the immense sense of ‘quit’ in me?

I continued running. It burned my legs and for the first time in weeks, I developed stitches in my side. Still, I carried on for no one else… but me. I met a rat who ran alongside for a bit. A lizard crossed my path. A large cat watched my heavy steps. I ran on.

And crossed the 40 minute mark. I did it.

*

‘To me, Fearless is not the absense of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.’

– Taylor Swift

As long as my gaze is fixed on the Dream Maker, it’ll be alright.

I’m taking the next big leap, my eyes on Him.

Fearless.

the trail of love

We hit the trails today at 10am.

Looking at the other runners doing their stretches, I felt intimidated. They were all tanned and muscular, kitted out in the latest running gear, while there I was dressed in a grey worn out tank top, borrowed from The Husband.

‘I haven’t run in ages…’ I said to The Grouch.

‘It’s easy,’ he encouraged me. ‘It’s all about keeping on, through the tiredness, don’t walk, just keep lifting those knees.’

Right. Easy. I didn’t for one moment believe him.

We set off on an easy brick road that wound around the waters, dodging walkers, serious runners and sweaty humans who’d just finished something intense and were cooling off. Within a few minutes, we entered a canopy of trees. This was where it all began.

We jogged uphill, trying not to slip on the muddy ground, whilst avoiding the roots, rocks and random insects, lizards and monkeys. It was painful going up and down… and within 15 minutes, I was spent.

‘How long is this trail again?’ I panted.

‘Don’t know. But don’t worry, you won’t feel it because really, it’s easy,’ he answered.

I huffed and puffed in reply.

‘Hey… you run as though it’s really difficult…’ he looked over at me.

‘It is, darn it!’ I managed to reply. ‘But I love it.’

And I did. Nothing compares to running in the woods. It was sheer exhilaration, looking at the trees we passed by, crossing wooden bridges, climbing portions that were too tough to run through… My legs were burning but inside, I felt like I was flying.

‘You see that dark patch in front?’ The Grouch pointed out to me. ‘It means… that we’ve finished the first bit of this trail.’

Gee, thanks. I thought he was going to say we were ending. Far from it, we were barely near the mid-point and I already wanted to crawl home.

We took a break 20 minutes later at the highest point of the trail to drink some water and stretch a little. I stood looking out over the top of the trees and breathed in deep.

‘The oxygen levels here are great,’ he said. ‘Although I find the trail boring.’

‘What?’ I turned to look at him. ‘You find this gorgeous trail… boring?! It’s beautiful!’

‘Gah… it’s just trees, trees and more trees. What’s interesting?’ he answered before starting to jog again. I did my best to keep up behind him as we entered the woods again, only to find ourselves by the roadside.

‘Shit,’ he muttered, ‘I think we took a wrong turn.’

I glared at him, but he didn’t see any of it as he took off running. We found another entry back into the woods and continued our course, dodging fresh runners, tourists and student groups… which signaled that we were back on track.

About 100 minutes later, we were done.

‘Hey… why did you ask me to run with you? When you obviously can run faster than me?’ I asked The Grouch.

‘Well, I haven’t run much this year and if I run with another guy, I got to keep up. With a girl, I’ll be faster and can feel good about myself,’ he laughed in reply.

I threw my sweaty towel at him.

But I am indebted, because through him, I have finally experienced a match made in heaven – a beautiful trail.

Slow, challenging and utterly addictive, I am heading back for more.

I’m now deeply in love and have decided to take this new relationship to the next level. I’m getting myself some nice running outfits.

*chuckle*

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.