61 | Find your inner 5 year old

When we were five years old, do you remember how we did what we damn well pleased?

The book Running & Being: The Total Experience by Dr George Sheehan has been a heart-mind-eye opener. Dr Sheehan writes about going back to our 5 year old selves. That age when we viewed our world as our playground. It was a time when money had no meaning, food on the table did not worry us, and mortgages were unheard of.

We were fearless. We jumped over (small) chairs and tables, we climbed (small) trees like Tarzan and Jane. We poked and pushed our physical boundaries and our parent’s ‘annoy’ buttons.

We were curious. We asked a lot of questions, we thought out loud, we were very tactless. Our inquiring minds were pure and filled with wonder. We did not worry about what-ifs. We were only concerned with why-nots. Shy, we weren’t!

We pursued PLAY like there was no tomorrow. We played hard from sunup to sundown. Amoy-araw, mabantot! But we were free and happy. We sang with abandon and danced like Michael Jackson.

Our imagination ran wild. We pretended to “live” under the stairs in our own castles (bahay-bahayan). I remember how I drove wildly in my “pretend racing car” that was my Grandma Glen’s Singer sewing machine!

We were great artists. We scribbled on every sheet of paper we can get our grubby hands on, including the newspaper clippings from the tiangge (wet market), with no regard for tones nor techniques. We painted endlessly. We used sticks and stones to draw stick persons on the sand. 

We were relentless athletes. We raced each other down dirt roads. We ran until our lungs burst, our legs were never tired. We were always exploring every nook and cranny of our neighbourhood.

And then what…what happened? What happened to US?

People around us happened, that’s what. We were told not to run outside because “Kapag madapa ka at magkasugat, hindi ka na pwedeng maging Ms Philippines”. Our wings got clipped. We were told to walk this way, instead of run. Be ladylike and talk in a small voice. Pursue a career and not be a labandera (housemaid). (That by the way, was the only good thing that came out of being good girls. The rest ruined our true Selves!) 

We were measured against other people’s expectations. We joined the herd. We went to school, moved to big city, got a job, found a husband, raised children, (some of us) moved overseas, acquired a mortgage. Where were WE all this time? We were living the life that was “expected”, we parked our true inner selves.

Did you know that our own unique personality was developed between 0 to 5 years old? I heard/read that somewhere. As we grow older, our behaviour is formed. Behaviour is how we react to other people, how we carry ourselves in this thing called life, our perception of the world and vice versa. Our personalities will never change, but behaviour can be learned, unlearned and practiced to suit. The person with the most flexible behaviour wins. ~ paraphrased from Jenny O’Farrell’s workshop ~ Who Are You, Really?, Optus September 2014

It took me ~40 years to learn what happened to me. ~40 years before I went back inside to let my inner child out. I am glad I found myself again. Yes I love my family, yes I will die for them. But my real happiness, the thing that makes my heart beat the hardest is M.E. loving and living my authentic self. It is a looong journey back. Almost a marathon in years!

And how do you go back to your inner 5 year old, I hear you ask. By doing what you damn well please. I have already given ~40 years of my life trying to meet society’s “expectations”. I’d like to think that I have exceeded it. That thing called “The Pursuit of Happiness”? That’s not outside of you nor is it out there somewhere in the world. Happiness is within you. You can make yourself happy anytime; not in some distant future when you retire. It’s your NOW. Your PRESENT. It’s where and who you are right now.

Happiness is not that next holiday you are dreaming of, nor that next car you are lusting for. It’s that cake you will bake this weekend, that sketch you will do tomorrow, that conversation you have with your bestie, that quiet moment when you are praying, that one hour to yourself in yoga/pilates class, that 30 minutes of hard running intervals, that other 30 minutes of swim laps at your local pool, that one hour of gym after work, that knitting project, that song you are playing in your guitar/piano/drums. All these “self-serving” things you must do regularly, daily, consistently. Write a novel for yourself, zumba for yourself, play the drums for yourself, knit yourself a cardigan, plant flowers and grow your own food, learn how to surf, learn Italian…all for yourself!

Real joy comes from Ordinary Everyday Magic, as my writing buddy Chiqui likes to say. I am going to add this ~ Magic is in doing things for yourself

Here is my recent learning. When my sons see me running outside at 6am every Saturday, or at 7pm weeknights, I am telling them this ~ What matters most is “Doing what you love, and doing it often” (words from The Holstee Manifesto).  Ika nga ng asawa ko ~ Happy wife, happy life.

Own your happiness! Find your inner five year old…then hit PLAY!

PS. If you have no memory of your five year old self, don’t despair. Think of high school. In high school, we developed to our full potential only to repress ourselves again. Today, its time to grow into our MAXIMUM potential. No more excuses. It’s in the doing, baby, not in the thinking about it…

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Running takes me to physical, mental and emotional places and spaces I have never been…. ~ myGloryBox.com

60 | Becoming THAT GIRL

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be like that girl. Smart, beautiful, top of her class, popular and a little bit beyond reach. Well, my reach at least. Maybe because I was speechless around her, I followed her from a distance around the school campus. Long before Facebook and Instagram came, I was already an observer, to put it prettily. But just the same, it was my brand of stalking. I took note of all the things she liked, what she did, who her friends were, what she wore, what she read, how she breathed… Ok, that last part is an exaggeration, but you get the picture, yes?

Oh how I wanted that girl to “like” me, to “see” me, to know I exist…I wanted to be her friend, her sister, her barkada.

As I grew older and moved on to corporate and marriage life, that girl evolved in my vivid imagination. I kept up with my mental image of her and her myriad of accomplishments. I continued to aspire to be like her.

I see her as someone who wakes up in the morning quite early to begin the day doing what she loves most. She laces up her shoes and shows up on the street come rain or come shine. That girl goes to the gym regularly and makes time for that very special part of the day to exercise and invigorate. She values her health through fitness and eating clean.

“The body determines our mental and spiritual energies. With the new body we can put on the new person and build a new life…No life can be completely lived without being lived completely on a physical level.” – Dr. George Sheehan, Running and Being

Once she sets a goal, she applies herself to it with focus and grit. Oh yes, like us puny humans, she has loads of excuses. But her commitment pushes her excuses aside. Failing is another excuse to learn, adjust, recalibrate and reset goals.

There is so much to do and so much to experience out there. Stop thinking about it, start doing. – myGloryBox.com

All my life, I wanted her to be proud of me. Insane but true.

I think I have finally become THAT GIRL. I wish she can “see” me now. It merely took me my entire life to become HER. No, I don’t look as beautiful, nor will I ever be as smart as her. But heck yeah, I FEEL like a million dollars and that is good enough for me! I am my unique version of THAT GIRL.

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I wish to THANK YOU, Girl, for being my benchmark. For the inspiration and the constant reminder that anything I dream of, I too have the power to make it happen. I hope you continue to be an inspiration to all women around the world!

THAT GIRL Defined – is a fusion or a cross section of all my female role models back in primary school, high school and college life. Dear Reader, you may not know it, you may be one of my heroines. One of these days, I will tell you which part of YOU, your unique quality, I took and molded into my kind of GIRL.

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59 | ‘Boyhood’ ~ a coming-of-age movie collage

20140905-200232-72152030.jpgRichard Linklater’s Boyhood is a long narrative without a plot shot over a period of 12 years from 2002-2013. The cast met a few weeks each year to shoot the movie. Major actors contributed to the story as director Linklater really didn’t have an established story line. He simply wanted to chronicle what kids do, what they feel, what they have to deal with growing up.

Mason and older sister Samantha grew up with single mother Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette. Absentee Dad is our favourite, Ethan Hawke. Just like the Sunrise movies, we see Ethan transform over a period of 12 years! Imagine that. I am a big fan of Ethan’s movie projects. According to Wikipedia, Richard Linklater told Ethan to finish the film if the former died before the movie finished production.

Mason, over 12 years. (Source: www.motherjones.com)

Mason, over 12 years. (Source: www.motherjones.com)

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. For months now, I have been trying to pin down the single dominant reason for my running obsession. Oh I have a long laundry list of all the reasons that come to mind.

It’s my therapy, it’s my protein shake.
I run when i am happy, I run when i am sad.
It is painful, it is joyful.
It fulfills me, it drains me.
It is an outpouring of all emotions.
It is my prayer, yet I curse every kilometer.
It is freedom, it is my form of suffering.
Because to suffer is to grow and to transform.
Running gives me physical strength.
It gives me supernatural powers to cope and to fend.

You know what, to be very very honest, the above is all blustery flappity-fluff!

None of them represent one single dominant reason!

Then, while watching Boyhood, it hit me! It’s very simple really. I found one core reason where all of the above stems from.

And that is ~

Running is a thing that is all mine. I do it not because someone told me to, or society expected it of me. You see, I go to work to pay the bills, I have to cook so the kids don’t starve, I have to vacuum because we can’t roll around in a pigsty, I have to do the laundry else there will be nothing to wear, I have to brush my teeth or my breathe will stink, I have to watch a movie to relax, I have to drink wine to unwind, I have to eat to live…

But run? I don’t have to run. No one will die if I don’t run. No one gets hungry. No one gets hurt, no one is happy, no one expects me to run.

I run because I want to. I make running goals because I WANT TO!

I run for ME! It’s all mine, this running. I can stop anytime. I can be slow, I can be fast. I can run anywhere, maybe not anytime but certainly I have ABSOLUTE CONTROL of my legs, my feet, and my body. No one dictates. I am the master. I am the captain.

And this is the single glorious reason why runners run!

“All those who feel their lives have been hijacked by work, technology or societal expectation. They too can break free from the herd and run free.” – Dr. George Sheehan, Running and Being

So I guess I am breaking free!

PS:

Near the end of the movie, Patricia Arquette’s character Olivia lamented ~

Olivia sobs (to Mason who is leaving for college): “This is the worst day of my life. I knew this day would come, except why is it happening now? First I get married, have kids, end up with two ex-husbands (who are both losers), go back to school, get my degree, get my masters, send both my kids off to college. What’s next? My own fucking funeral? I just thought it would have been better.”

At which point I whispered to the hubby “She should take up running!”

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Ethan Hawke | Start of movie VS. End of movie (Source: CNN.COM)

58 | Curiosity. Creativity. Ambition.

‘Twas an ordinary Tuesday at work. I casually browsed our weekly internal newsletter and my eyes caught a note about Google’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand holding a TechTalk at 12.30pm. I rang Pepper Potts and announced that we were going to have an early lunch because we are attending a one hour mind-opening talk. She thanked me later for dragging her. :)

I hold an almost obscene fascination for strong women…period. For Maile Carnegie to be head of Google? Well, that just makes my fascination become romantic. There she was, standing tall, confident and quite friendly (I find) in front of a packed auditorium filled with Optus employess who either skipped lunch or shortened their lunch hour just to hear a Google executive speak. Even before she opened her mouth, the whole talk was already a success!

Ms Carnegie, before joining Google a couple of years ago, was head of Procter and Gamble Australia and New Zealand. She came from a traditional old-school company that makes household products, to a tech giant that keeps changing the world and keeps adding new buzzwords to our vocabulary.

“Disrupt yourself. ~ myGloryBox.com

I was captured. I was motivated. I was convinced. You see, I am thinking of doing something mightily scary and I am unsure if I can even get to start it.

Here are some of Ms Carnegie’s words captured in my Evernote, all paraphrased of course.

“If you want to bring extraordinary change to your life, you must have extraordinary ambition!”

“I don’t know how to do it yet, but I will do it any.way.”

“You must have an appetite for risk, and be not afraid to fail!”

“(Company) Policies are dream killers!”

She recommended reading the book Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.

She shared the idea of “Moon Shot Thinking”. A way of thinking BIG and setting the world on fire. I showed this video to my son hoping that it will inspire him.

“When you find your passion, you are unstoppable. You can make amazing things happen!” – Megan Smith, Google X Mechanical Engineer

She showed us how Google Search is solving the world’s problems.

I hope you find inspiration in the videos as much as I did!

 

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Share 1: The Art of Living With Purpose by Rich Roll

A fantastically long excerpt that gripped me so much, I just need to put it up on my own blog…for repeat-reading!

Somehow I found the means to cast aside the endless chatter of the thinking mind. To be fair, fear retained a foothold of precious real estate in my consciousness. But I found the wherewithal to nonetheless move forward in the face of it.  And ignore the often unbearable social pressures relentlessly driving to derail me.  I focused on the heart.  I relied on faith.  I got comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I embraced the mystery of not knowing what the next day might bring.  And at every turn, I focused on how I could be of service to others.  Because there is gigantic, undeniable truth in the edict that when you give, you get back tenfold.

As a result, I have somehow persevered. Broken through into a new life.  An impossible astounding life beyond what I previously thought possible.  Today, I’m a bestselling author.  An in-demand public speaker.  A popular podcast host.  An accomplished athlete.  A respected wellness advocate.  And over the last year I have been paid handsomely to travel to exotic places I never imagined I would ever lay eyes on, investing in service and experience. Creating a legacy. And yes, I remain a happily married family man.  But more than anything, I am content.  Comfortable in my own skin, with a deep knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be.

I’m not saying this to brag.  Nor to suggest that you ignore real world responsibilities.  Only to share that the limits we impose upon ourselves are generally illusory.  And driven primarily by fear.  Fear of failure.  Fear of success. Fear of the unknown.  Fear of discomfort.  Fear of financial insecurity.  Fear of what others might think.  All told, fear of everything.

And fear is not your friend.  Not now, not ever.

To be clear. I’m also not promising anyone that a heart-based life will result in financial reward or notoriety.  Only that it will infuse your life with meaning and purpose.  Happiness — not in a blissed out unicorns and rainbows sense — but rather a deep satisfaction that your life has value.  A value that can be shared.  Passed on as inspiration in service to others who feel impossibly stuck. Imprisoned by a life not of their choosing but compelled by circumstance; and the perils of the thinking mind — an organ wired to prioritize comfort, security and avoidance of fear and challenge over adventure and the depth of experience.

And so the question I pose is this: What are you doing with your life?  And more importantly why are you doing it?

This is your call to action.  Delve deep within.  Do the internal work to embrace the child hidden deep inside — the child before your parents told you to be quiet and your teachers told you to sit down.  Do whatever it takes to find and unlock that thing that makes your heart beat hardest.  Then take the leap.  Invest in experience.  Unleash that inner artist cowering inside yearning to be expressed in whatever form compels you.  Embrace the mystery and challenge of the untrodden path.  

Then watch as a better, more authentic self begins to surface.  Fertilize that sapling like your life depends upon it.  Because it does.

I’m here to say it’s worth the journey.  And at the end of the day, there is nothing but the journey.  Because destination is pure illusion.

In the words of Mickey, do something worth remembering.

This is the art of living with purpose.

Rich Roll is a man of many hats – a wellness advocate on behalf of plant-based nutrition; a writer; an entertainment attorney; and a husband and father of 4 children. But most of all, he is a passionate and inspirational ultra-endurance athlete. You can find him at www.richroll.com.

The Art of Living With Purpose can be read in full right here!

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57 | Migo’s 2nd City2Surf ~ Jog.Walk.Calm Down. Repeat.

Route: Hyde Park to Bondi Beach
Distance: 14km of winding uphill/downhill road race

NOTE: Last year’s City2Surf recap that you can read later is here.

Someone is having too much fun!

Someone is having too much fun!

I looked forward to City2Surf this year. It’s the kind of event that you can bring your entire family along. That means, it’s an event where runners can, if they want to, forget about chasing a Personal Best (PB). My goal was simply to enjoy the festive atmosphere and walk/jog with my eldest son who has autism #forthefunofit. So I ditched the Runkeeper app on my iPhone but kept my Garmin watch to monitor how we are going and not to tire Miguel. It was very important that I kept him relaxed, as he has been prone to loud outbursts lately (puberty perhaps?). I also took plenty of pictures along the course.

Unlike last year when all four of us ran, only 15yo Migo and myself did City2Surf. My 14yo was not interested and Ariel opted to be our support crew (Read: Chauffer and Chef for that important post-race refueling. He prepared pork sinigang and garlic infused fried chicken for our late lunch. Busog-tsarap!)

Migo's highlight!

Migo’s highlight!

My event highlight was Migo besting his time last year by 17 massive minutes. 17 minutes is equivalent to hours in the running world! His new PB is now 2 hours and 15 minutes. Hurray, Migo! This time included one trip to the loo and lots of photo-ops.

He complained less this year. There were no groans of ‘painful tummy’ nor ‘painful legs’. You must understand that Migo dislikes discomfort of any kind. And pushing him to continuously jog for more than 2 kilometers is a very tall ask. However, with his consistent weekend 5km jogs with either myself or Ariel, I’d like to think that he had good preparation leading to race day.

A friend asked: Did Migo have fun?

Hmmm. It’s hard to say if Migo had fun. He hated people brushing him when they were passing by and he grunted really loudly, enough for people to turn around and give him puzzled looks. Perhaps they were concerned if he was in pain. He has this funny way of expressing his unhappiness by limping. I have to always stop when he does that. But there was a stretch of maybe 2kms that he was keeping up with my pace (a slow 8.0-8.30min/km) going up Heartbreak Hill. Then I think he noticed that the uphill seemed to go on forever. So he decided to yell “We’re going up!” Well, yeah, that is obvious, anak! I thought. Then he exclaimed quite loudly, “Let’s go to Bondi”. By that he meant “Asan na ba ang Bondi??” (Are we there yet?)

Perfect running conditions ~ no rain, no wind, cloudy and not too cold!

Perfect running conditions ~ no rain, no wind, cloudy and not too cold!

I calmed him down by walking. When he was calm enough, we jogged again. Jog, walk, calm down. Repeat. This was how I managed my Migo for 14 kilometers. I felt like an evil pushy mother! But then again I reminded myself ~ No pain No gain!

The main thing was we kept moving. We walked the very steep uphills and downhills. We did not want any knee injury, no siree!

Later, on the bus ride home, I asked, “Let’s do City2surf again next year?” Migo’s answer was an emphatic “No!”

Nevertheless, I hope he will come around, I know he will. We will return next year with the aim of doing a PB of 2 hours! I reckon Miguel can do it!

PS: To date, our fundraising for Warrah School has raised over an astounding outstanding $1,800. Hurry! The fundraising page is open until the end of August 2014. It’s not too late to “give”! THANKS in ADVANCE! For more info, you can read about how simple and rewarding fundraising is here. You too can raise funds!

Warrah School Fundraising Page

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56 | Fundraising Is Simple, Rewarding And A Lot Of FUN

I am intrinsically a shy person. I don’t make it a habit to pass around a hat asking for donations for this cause and that cause. It is NOT my thing. But once in a while, a cause close to your heart moves you so much that you just gotta champion it and let the winds of fate do its magic.

My first fundraising effort in 2011 raised over $700! A lot of money for generous souls to give. It was overwhelming. I felt unworthy, which was silly of me really. I wanted to do it again every year. But then, I will be “asking” the same bunch of people to give, wouldn’t I? That thought did not sit well with me. So I gave it a pass for the next few years.

Every year when City2Surf season approaches (August), a Sri Lankan workmate of mine will prompt me with a question. “Charina, are you raising funds for a charity this year?” My reply,”No, Dissa, not this year.” “If you are, please let me know and send me a link”. I swear that this was our office kitchen conversation every year. Dissa, unknowingly, and regardless if it was mere polite conversation, kept on reminding me to get out there and champion a cause.

This year, I complied.

I hesitated fundraising for Warrah (woe me!) because they are such a small school. No one knows about them, not even the special needs community. Back in 2011, fundraising for Austim Spectrum Australia (or Aspect) made a lot of sense. Their name speaks volumes. Aspect helps families deal with autism, every day. It was easy for people to comprehend what they are about.

I could have raised funds for World Vision or Plan International, both have given generously to Typhoon Yolanda. These two are my charities of choice. But Warrah School was calling out to me. They have sent notes about the need to repair this, maintain that, improve this, so on and so forth. Although Warrah is a private school (not exclusive as exclusive goes), their grounds require extensive upkeep being located in a bushland area (Dural). The student population is 16, which is fantastic by itself if you are a special needs mum. This small number means more care and attention is given to your child! But, how can the parents of 16 children support the school? Our tuition fees are kept very low, after all we are already spending so much for our children’s wellbeing. Yes, government funding is available, but in my mind, funding is on a per student basis. The smaller the student population, the less funding the school gets. There’s your Catch-22.

So I contacted Warrah about my fundraising plans. They need to register at EveryDay Hero, City2Surf’s online fundraising platform provider. Warrah School had to pay $400 for a one-year membership. That meant, I need to raise more than $400 before Warrah starts receiving a penny. The registration process took one month to complete. There were bank accounts to open and forms to sign.

Finally, in early July, Warrah and I are ready. My EveryDay Hero page was ready.

The moment I raised money above $500 was when I allowed myself some happiness. To reach $1000? Ah-may-zing. It was better than amazing. It was phenomenal! Does phenomenal exceed amazing in superlative terms??! As of this writing, 30th of July, I have raised $1215!!!

My question to you is, have you thought of fundraising for a cause close to your heart before? But you did not proceed because you were daunted? Were you thinking, like I did, why people would give their hard earned cash to you? My answer to you is this ~ They Will. Believe me they will! There is Goodness in all of us. See my workmate story above.

Here are some lessons I learned from my fundraising experience. I am sharing this to encourage you all to just do it. I mean, if you believe in someone else’s work or you want to make a difference in the lives of orphaned children, it is worthwhile to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.

Be very specific about what you ask. Then get ready to receive.

1. You must have a story that connects. What does the charity mean to you? What made you go that extra mile to raise funds for them? Your story must connect to people’s hearts. It is all about empathy, not sympathy. Make a list of where the money raised will be used for.

2. A call to action. Use words that will make people read past your first sentence. For example, you can say, “Help me reach my money goal of $1000 for so-and-so.” People respond better to the word “Help“.

3. Get personal. Maybe for your first email blast, you can address it to a group of like-minded individuals. For your second email, reduce the number of email addresses to up to 3 only. Get intimate.

4. Be subtle. There will be folks who want to donate the very first time you asked them, but then they got distracted, moved on to the next thing and have forgotten about you. Send them a second email but change the tone by not asking for donation. Instead, tell them how well your fundraising is doing. This will serve as a gentle reminder of their very first thought.

These are just some of what I’ve learned. The number one reason people donate to charities is because they were asked! It’s that simple.

There is a catch though. You have to do something in return. You can’t just pass the money-hat for nothing. You have to: Walk for a Cause, Run for a Cause, Sing for a Cause (concert), Bike for a Cause, Bake for a Cause ……. Do something for a Cause. After all, there is no “free lunch” in this world.

But you know what ~ Nag exercise ka na, nakatulong ka pa! What could be better than that?

THE END.

My Warrah School Fundraising Page is RIGHT HERE. Please DIG DEEP. Any amount is absolutely WELCOME!

Warrah kids perform The Bells Choir.

Migo is fearless and passionate on stage. He recites As I Grew Older.

My Warrah School Fundraising Page is RIGHT HERE. Please DIG DEEP. Any amount is absolutely WELCOME!

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A Winter Lantern Walk at Warrah

55 | The Art of Recovery

I have a running knee injury. So what? Most if not all runners have injuries once in awhile. Some even have it all the time!

“If I lose you after reading my first sentence, I am OK with it!

But see here. Injuries become a big deal only if you make a big deal out of it. This is not my first injury. Many months before my first half marathon in May 2014, I had ITB* issues on my left knee. It came and went and came back again. After 3 physio visits and kinesio taping, and finally a change of running shoes, my ITB issues settled down. In short, it went away. It got fixed by changing shoes, which I did just as an experiment after reading a random blog one Friday night. Since then, I also bought a foam roller which I swear is a major injury prevention device for any runner.

20140727-184239-67359880.jpgThen Sunday happened, a piercing pain pierced my right knee at KM 9 of my supposed 18KM run. Man, I was more upset that this has happened than worried how I can get home. I hobbled for about 200 meters. I felt well enough to do a slow jog. Then silly me, I pushed and run for another 5KMs to complete a 14KM run. What an idiot! My body was screaming and I chose to ignore it. Why? I got used to ignoring pain, that’s why. The reason why runners can run long distances is precisely because they learn how to endure, ignore and overcome pain. Believe me, there is pain every single KM in one form or another including mental battles.

But then, the damage was done.

My new physio (she is the third from the same place as the first two moved on, they are that mobile!) says it is an over arching knee cap. There was inflammation and irritation that’s invisible to the eye. I suspect that a downhill fast run was the culprit. It was on a street that I have not run before, and I got excited, I must admit.  What did the physio advise? Ice the knee cap as often as possible and give it time to heal. She didn’t disallow short runs for the next 7 days on flat terrain, but I decided I would rather sit it out than do more damage. I have a 14K walk/jog with my son 2 weeks from now, and my second half marathon is in 7 weeks. Can you tell, I am feeling extremely anxious.

“What, you are still reading this? Thank you very much. I am grateful, for I know that this post is NOT interesting AT ALL to non-runners!”

This second injury affected me sooo very much. It was more painful than the first one. And this scared the bat-shit out of me! On the third day when the pain did not subside (I could not get a physio appointment sooner), I slowly envisioned my running dreams fade away. It was when I realised how slowly and progressively running has invaded my life. Heck, it is now my life. Running goals have given me purpose every single time I go out the door. I look forward to my weekends because I get to do my long mind-numbing runs. It became my therapy. The balm of my daily grind. It was not simply an exercise, or being outdoors (which I love) or being healthy and all that, running showed me what I am capable of physically and mentally. I found fulfillment, purpose and a sense of pride. It is my midlife crisis. I am pushing my physical and mental boundaries, and chasing personal bests. Additionally, my fitness became well rounded because of runnng. I had to do yoga to become flexible as running makes for very tight muscles; I had to do Pilates for core strength which is essential; I had to lift weights because I needed my arms to stay up during the long distances of a race. I would like to think that my mental toughness and resilience are also at its peak.

“I made my running BIG in my heart and in my head. It is my dominant thought! What’s yours?”

So when my injury sidelined me and halted my training, I had to battle negativity. If you spend most days thinking of running, such that your eating habits change and your social life boils down to one friend (ie. your spouse), then you can understand how I found myself “in the pits” for a few days! I wasn’t really thinking much, I felt more like a zombie. I didn’t have any life at all. I needed a hug. I hugged myself a lot then. I asked a friend to hug me, she who remains true even if I tend to take her for granted :( Fortunately, I have more than one friend left!

At the end of the week, I told myself that if I didn’t make a turnaround, then I wouldn’t have learned anything in this physical journey, right? So after seeing my physio who positively gave me news that there was no permanent damage (bless her!), I decided to learn my lesson. Then ~  learn some more, read, sleep and read more about running. I am nothing but determined to run my first marathon in July 2015. But before that, there is City2Surf and 3 more half marathons to keep my spirit burning.

I will miss my long run this weekend. I will focus instead on resting, a mini-detox, reading my running books and doing my tax return. Doing my tax return means refunds means money to buy more running gear. I know I know I’ve really become bat-crazy!

Rest and recovery ~ something I am never very good at. Time to become an expert at it!

Thank you for reading this running ranting and keeping me warm and loved!

– Charina

*Iliotibial band syndrome is one of the leading causes of lateral knee pain in runners. The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia on the lateral aspect of the knee, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee.

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54 | Murakami Love ~ What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

 

 2014 Book #5: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Shelf it.

“Pain is inevitable (in running). Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself. This pretty much sums up the most important aspect of marathon running.”

Murakami goes on to write…

“It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get that feeling, through this process, of really being alive.”

From these opening salvo in Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, I am immediately hooked. It is only recently that I learned that my (most recent) favourite author is in fact a running nut! This novel was written in 2005. And up to that point in time, Murakami has been running for 23 years, finished 23 marathons at one per year, and when bored with running, he picked up triathlons! Did I say he was a fitness freak?

Running is a lonely sport. That much I now know. And it is a mental sport. The longer the run, the harder in the head. It is very boring indeed, to the non-runner at heart that is. A real runner is a loner. Running is an art form, I’ve read. I need to look into that deeper. I think there is a book about that. In the meantime,

I am learning more every day, as I enter headlong into this whole new world…

“Running day after day, bit by bit, I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. I am an ordinary runner, but that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday...In long-distance running, the only opponent you have to bet is yourself, the way you used to be.”

Murakami does not only talk about running when he talks about running. He also talks about his writing. In this book he explains his writing methods and where his quirky characters come from. His characters are sooo left of center. They are, apparently, based on real people, from folk that walk into his jazz club/bar. Murakami owned a jazz bar for a decade back in the 80s (or was it the 70s?). Quite unheard of in his small Japanese township. But he worked very hard and made a success of it. He paid all his debts and was earning enough at the end of 10 years. He welcomed customers from all walks of life into that bar. For how can he throw a customer away? He reckoned that if he made 1 of every 10 customer happy then he gets to keep the club in business. Because that one happy customer becomes a repeat customer.

Similarly, the same can be applied to readers of his books. He only has to please 1 in every 10. And that one will become a fan and will keep buying all his books, time and time again. If you think about it, the same model can be applied to all kinds of audience or customer for your product or service!

His running and his writings are intertwined. A wild imagination + long hours of total running silence (apart from music in his ears) + exposure to different characters = BESTSELLERS! The media in Japan commented that “Mr Murakami, you are so fit and healthy, aren’t you concerned you will run out of stories?”. Murakami certainly does not fit the stereotypical image of a slighty deranged, unshaven, unhealthy, lives-in-basement kind of a writer. 

But like most writers, Haruki Murakami is quite the introvert.

“When I am running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without.”

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A story about running and writing ~ Shelf It!

53 | Mid Year Stocktake of 2014

Most folk will exclaim “It’s June. June! Middle of the year. Where has time gone?”

NO. In my heart, I honestly don’t exclaim that.

In the contrary, Charina will say “It’s June. WOW! All those things I have done. All the places (within and without) I have been. In a span of 5 months. Has it only been 5 months? It feels like years! I can’t wait for September, for my 2nd Half Marathon. I am so ready already.”

No wonder all those Aussie mums in the FB groupRunning Mums Australia” keep joining races one after the other. It’s a storm. This freaking running obsession. Please allow me to list down this year’s achievements.

Running does not only change you. It reveals Y.O.U! – myGloryBox.com

My first 5 months was FULL ON ~

First Half Marathon – CHECK
Two Family Walks/Hikes  – CHECK
Five Books – CHECK

Let’s say there are 22 weeks since January, that means I have done ~

Yoga – 22 hours
Pilates – 22 hours
Barbel Class – 22 hours

Running Stats – 361 Long Kilometers since January!!!

That’s an average of 16 kms every week! To put that in perspective ~ since numbers are neither here nor there if not qualified ~  it’s about 300 Ks all the way to the Aussie capital of Canberra. Whoa!

I reckon I am on track to run 800kms for 2014. 800 Ks will take me all the way to Melbourne! Imagine that. I pray that I remain healthy and uninjured!

2011-2012 Weight loss years
2013 – Writing Year
2014 – Running Year

How I love my 40s!

My Running Goals ~
Half Marathons * 3 – Sept, Oct, May
Full Marathon – Gold Coast, July 2015

Thank you for staying with me in this new adventure! What are your personal goals?

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Running Goal 2014

#52 | A One of A Kind Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, 11th May 2014

Today I chose to celebrate motherhood in a different way. Not in a better way for sure. As having a lie-in, being served breakfast in bed or not having to do chores all day are the preferred way to spend Mother’s Day. Like all mums, I love it that way. But I have to be honest, gone are the days when the kids present me with cute greeting cards and even cuter presents made at school. Those days are past. I am not being bitter. It’s just the way it is. (Update: Migo’s class however still makes those lovely greeting cards, so I got one :)

What I am saying is, my reality is not Hallmark perfect. I feel that this event is too hyped up, such that when my reality falls short, I feel…disheartened? Left wanting? Perhaps a little incomplete?

I don’t like any of the above discontent, created by…society (for lack of a real person to blame!)

This year, my friend Anna offered a different way of celebrating motherhood. I don’t think she realised that this “offer” was so “freeing” for me. Or maybe she did, discerning as she is. A few of my mum friends joined Anna to a Mother’s Day Classic 8KM FunWalk, a Cancer Foundation initiative.

What gorgeous looks like!

What “gorgeous” looks like!

This event meant going to the Sydney CBD, out of the house, and not having to think of my little darlings (who are now bigger than I). I spent the day feeding my own needs. Being with my friends and walking for a cause spelt fun fun FUN. I was outdoors. I was on my own. I did not have to think what Migo might need, I did not have to think about wiping out the glum look on Gab’s face when I nag him, and I did not have to keep checking that my husband was OK. All I ever thought was… ME. That I had to go to the loo. That I had to get to the venue on time. That I can enjoy the sunshine and fantastic scenery. That I can soak in the festive atmosphere with all the mums in pink. That I can chat with my buddies with no care and with much silliness.

I was with friends who chose to get off their beds early and walk/run to raise cancer awareness. Sure I can publicly declare that I was doing this for Anna and for the cancer cause. That was true of course. But first and foremost was my enjoyment. My own happiness.

So I owned my Mother’s Day today. I did not have to expect anything from the brood and they did not have to do anything for me. Here’s the key. I also did not need any of my girlfriends to make me happy. I was not concerned if any of them was happy or unhappy. I found my own joy and it was mine and mine alone.

Did I say I owned it?

~~~~

Thanks for reading. This wraps up my 52 Weeks of Writing. I remember that I started this 52 Week Challenge in June last year, the month after my ‘Daily Blogging in May 2013′. WOW. It was a writing marathon. Long and meandearing requiring endurance and mind tricks for sure. I even finished a week before my self-declared FINISH time.

YEY ME. Let’s do this again. I quite like the way I numbered every post. I think I will keep the numbers. I will keep writing. I hope you keep me company for…EVER!

I AM GRATEFUL FOR YOU! See you shortly….

Much Love Always,
Cha

Journeying together: Team Breast Warriors

Soldiering Together: Team Breast Warriors (fr left: Leizl, Sol, Anna, Cha Gerlie)

#51 | My first HALF MARATHON experience ~ it was EPIC!

A week out from race day, I worked myself up into a nervous state. You may read about it later here. It came to a point where I just wanted to get it over and done with.

Race Day, Sunday, 18th of May, 2014
Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon

Ariel and I woke up at an ungodly hour of 3am. I took a quick shower and went down to brekky that the bloke prepared (Thank You, Wookie Ko!) It was a brekky of bacon and egg, with a handful of rice. Not much rice even if race was not until 6.45am. I’ve had no coffee since Saturday, a tip from running buddy, Kim (who lives a million miles away). I have also been off my nightly booze (read: glass of red wine) for a week already. Ariel felt unwell (fluish) the night before, so I was thankful that he felt better this morning and my number one supporter looked after me as he always does, in his quiet way.

We left the house at 4.20am, and drove to Gordon to catch a 5.15am train. We saw a few solo runners in the train. It was Sunday morning, people were in bed. But we runners were united in our obsession. We arrived at Town Hall station at 5.50am. We quickly made our way to the toilet, I knew that the portaloo queue will be very long, I wanted to do my business early.

We made our way to the start line. Again I made a beeline to the portaloos, after my usual warmup of 24 back lunges; I added 24 forward lunges just to ease my mind. Goodness me, my portaloo queue was the slowest in the world.

We were off at 7am. What a festive atmosphere! I heard there were 12,000+ participants today and I knew that a lot of them were interstate visitors. It would seem that seriously serious runners spend a lot of money just to join a meet. I was lucky I only paid a $6.20 train ticket. Return pa!

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A majestic Sunday morning with St. Mary’s Cathedral bathed in sunrise!

Everybody was running happy at Km 1. I was running strong. My first 5km was so fast, faster than my runs on the streets of The Hills suburbia. I was averaging 6min/km. All parts of me were feeling good. My legs, my knees (left knee was uncomfortable the past few days), my shins, my calves, my back, my ankles, my sides, my breathing ~ they were all cooperating. I drank two mouthfuls of Gatorade along the way, nothing more coz I did not want a full bladder. At 5Ks, I was meant to take an energy gel, but I didn’t. Just keep going, I was in full flight after all. I will never forget running under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Hickson Road. I was on a high! I soaked in the views of Sydney. It was a majestic Sunday morning, cool autumn feel of 16deg Celcius, and no chance of rain. Perfection!

20140518-212707.jpgAt 6km, we were running over the water views of Darling Harbour. I said a little prayer. I thanked God for this desire to run! Lately, I’ve become closer to God in my own way. I don’t go to church every Sunday. So I believe, this running of mine has brought me closer to my faith.

Runkeeper kept telling me how great my pace was (well it was telling me that i was running below 7min/km which is great to me), and that it took me 60mins approximately to reach 10km! What? Are you serious? My official 10K PB was 69 mins in last year’s RunSydney event. I can’t believe it. It’s a dream. Suddenly this new PB gave me renewed energy, my happiness spurred me on!

By 13K, my legs have become leaden. There were some serious hills. I have not seen so many hills in my running life. Not that my running life is mature. I told myself to run a flatter course next time around. The hills were like mountains. I began to curse them! I walked some of the steepest and longest. I bravely shuffled on on some!

It’s now 15km and a row of empty portaloos brought me out of my pain-trance. I didn’t think I needed to go, but what the heck, use the loo while I can. This was a mistake, it affected my time. I really could have skipped it. But by then, I think my body needed a break, and my mind thought that a loo break was a good excuse as any.

True enough, off I went again with renewed vitality.

At 16km, we were over the Cahill Expressway, which they closed for us. This stretch of overpass has a spectacular view of the Opera House. All the runners looked and ogled at the icon. It’s like we were all praying for fresh legs. Oh there’s also a Princess Cruise liner. I dreamt of going on a cruise soon.

20140518-191313.jpgAt 17km, I started hearing the song “Titanium” in my head. (Aside: I did not listen to music today) You see, I wrote “I am Titanium” on my arm to remind myself of my own super power called “will”.

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won’t fall
I am titanium

Read more: Sia – Titanium Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I started feeling a slight stitch on my right side. Dammit. I cannot afford a stitch! Slow down. I talked to it. I told the stitch to please go away. You are unwanted. It went away.

At 18Km (the longest training run I did), I started hallucinating for the finish line. Where the heck is it? Still 3 kms to go. It was the hardest 3kms I’ve ever run. The runners around me were deathly quiet (and dare I say, pastely quiet? Kasi namumutla na kami?). The chatterers (there were so many of them having conversations along the way) who dominated the first 10kms were all very quiet. Everyone was struggling.

A mum who offered me a protein bar somewhere at 10km where we both walked a steep hill was my pacesetter. I kept up with her. She was running steady, stronger than I. We walked some of the most painful uphill climbs. There was no point running myself to exhaustion. I made up for lost time on flats and downhills. But I never forgot to keep form, to not overspeed on downhill, I was always in control of my legs. I just used gravity a lot.

At 19km, so close to finish line, we reached Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. I felt my leg muscles start to tighten. Oh no. Please muscles, not now, not ever. I had to walk again, and stretch my tired legs. My calves started making small twitches. What’s that? I’ve never had this before. Muscles were fatiguing. Cramping was rearing its ugly head. So, just like my fave author Haruki Murakami did (he who runs marathons and ran for 2 decades and some), I talked to my body parts . This is what Murakami wrote in his running memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  A bit woowoo. But what am I gonna do? “Don’t cramp legs. We are nearly at the finish. Let’s go, ladies!”

My lofty ambition of taking on a full marathon in September seemed farfetched at that very moment. Thinking of doubling the distance to 42Kms was making me ill. Now, why in the world will I do that? Am I punishing myself? Like I said, I had big ambitions! A bit too much for my own good.

At the last K, I gave it all I got. And man, I still have some reserve left. How was that possible? The last 500 meters was all heart. Keep The Feet Moving. I remembered and I ran! I heard my name on the loudspeaker, someone was actually reading out the names of each person crossing the finish line. I jogged drunkenly after crossing the finish, then I heard Ariel call out. He was on the course route 3 times, at strategic points. Everytime I saw him, my legs were refreshed! I ran into his arms. So exhausted-happy was I. And there he was, beaming with pride!!! And that was good enough for me!

OFFICIAL TIME: 2 Hours, 31 Minutes (HOORAY!)
PACE: 7.11 mins/KM

PERSONAL BEST: 10KM at 60Mins (HOORAY!)

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I can’t stop smiling!

#50 | Yoga Lessons ~ Experience your experience!

Erm….WHAT?

I missed Tania. I missed yoga. It has been two weeks since the last lesson I attended. The Easter Long Weekend and the Anzac Long Weekend are to blame. Yes yes of course I love holidays. But that also meant yoga teachers go on holidays too.

The class was full, it was not just me who anticipated coming to today’s class. We even had a few more gents attending.

“Experience your experience….”

There are days that I roll my eyes to these kind of pronouncements. I’d call it fluff, depending on my frame of mind. (Let us blame this to the engineer in me).

Tania gives an example. “When your child throws a damp towel on the floor, or leaves soiled clothes inside their closets, what do you feel? Frustration, anger, disappointment? All of the above? Thoughts of ~ Am I doing enough to remind them? Should I do things differently?”

All of these thoughts and emotions get jumbled up in our heads, increasing our blood pressure and magnifying our experience of the moment.

The study of one’s self apparently must come into play. We should learn to separate each emotion as distinct. Learn to be angry yet recognise that you will always love this person. Be disappointed yet be tolerant.

Experience each emotion distinctly. Watch and observe the ebbs and flows of your being.

For what? To achieve control. Controlling one’s thoughts and emotions is key to happiness and achieving one’s goals!

I hope this learning elevated you today. <3

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Source: Unknown

#49 | Mind tricks

It’s very simple.

At 43, I now understand how folk achieve so much in life. Climb the Mt Everest, consistently win Formula One Grand Prix Championships, or finish marathons. Then there’s also building your own business, earn your first million dollars, publish a book.

All these accomplishments are achieved through sheer will and spirit grit.

Time and time again, I’ve read and heard about the power of the mind. But it was only through running that this point is driven home. Into my heart.

Achievements are 70% desire/passion/drive/will… call it what you like. The remaining 30% is hard work. You can even increase the proportion of desire to a higher percentage, some may even say 90% motivation, 10% work.

“Inspiration fires you up. Motivation keeps you burning!” – Stuart Aken

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Here are some mind tricks I devised to boost my energy levels and calm my nerves.

1/ New specialist socks. My Thorlo socks may not make me run faster, but it will give me confidence that I will be running blister-free, and will have less reason to not finish a race.

2/ New shorts, with bright happy colors. It has a nifty small pocket for my key and a dollar note/credit card. Wearing it makes me feel good. Feeling good will help me reach the finish line.

3/ Energy gels. I’ve read that it is essential to boost energy levels with shots of sugar, caffeine, salt and whateverelse, while running. So OK. Better to have it than not. All the better for my mind to tell my legs to run through my fatigue. Especially at the 10km mark of a 21km half marathon!

4/ Compression aids. I debated on wearing my SKINS full length leggings on the day of my first half marathon. It could get too warm. So I will settle for a left leg compression bandage. It does not look pretty. But it will help trick my mind to ignore any niggling knee pains.

What mind tricks do you employ to cope and achieve your goals?

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Mind over matter works for me!