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!

#48 | Show Up

A new blog post from my favourite blogger “Just Show Up” resonated with me today. ‘Twas a proper lightbulb moment. See, it moved me enough to write about it.

“Where the mind goes, the energy flows.” – Sarah Wilson, just show up

True this.

This morning, I woke up at 6am. The plan was to go for a brisk run. Only for 30 minutes. I only ever do long runs on weekends. This is the minimum requirement from my training plans (Runkeeper, Asics, and the SMH website). As usual, I struggled getting up. I dawdled. Monday was the last day of a languid 4-day staycation. Not a soul was awake, the hubby was sleeping like a babe. My pillow was so soft, the bed sooo warm, the sleep fairy beckoned…

My monkey mind told me to defer this run to late afternoon. Then my (let’s call it) dog mind, reminded me that “Hey, you’re meant to go window shopping this afternoon (insert other errands/chores lined up). Now is the time. It’s now or forget about it!”

Forget about it?! This prompt moved me. I just need to get out the door for 10 minutes… come back home if the temps prove to be too cold or if my energy is shot.

So I showed up on the street, faced the right direction, and allowed my ship to follow the flow of tide.

The tide. My plans. My commitment.

You build the right “muscle”. Doing, moving, committing…it all builds up good habits in the noggin. – Sarah Wilson, just show up

Thank you, Sarah, for showing me what I just did this morning. That it was a “showing up” muscle that I flexed.

What areas of your life do you struggle with showing up? Here’s the link to Sarah’s full post. You will love it too!

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#47 | A Grateful Easter Weekend List

In keeping with the Lenten Season, I choose to be grateful today for my many blessings in life. Big or small, mundane or essential.

It’s 5:11am on a Black Saturday morning. Today is a big day in my running journey. The hubby and I are going to Sydney CBD and I will attempt to run a section of the SMH Half Marathon course. I am so excited, I woke up too soon. The house is quiet. My brain is clear and alert. Let’s do something productive. Here we go.

1/ I am Thankful for my Instagram community. I find my inspiration and motivation from like minded souls there. Food, photography, art, sketching, creativity, biking, humor, fitness, travel, clean eating… I have IG “friends” from all walks of life. We are all in it for self-expression and self-love. It is not noisy in there. I am intimate with strangers. (Ha! An oxymoron) We share all we want, to our hearts’ content!

2/ I am Thankful for this long 4-day weekend staycation. A chance to take stock, to de-clutter and to spend some downtime with the kiddos at home.

3/ I am Thankful for songs I discover and fall in love with. There was Imagine Dragons, then there was Lorde. Now I have Happy and Pharrell Williams on endless loop. Next song and album please!

4/ I am Thankful for the many learnings on running. For the numerous bloggers, internet resources and Runner’s World online and print magazine. I learned about rotating pairs of shoes, of running different routes or different sides of the same road. I learned to breathe from my belly and to exhale on alternating foot strikes. It’s so darn beautiful!

5/ I am Thankful for my friends. They who understand what I am doing. I am grateful for their quiet cheers. For their patience and forbearance. After all, it must be quite boring to hear my endless chats and messages about my day!

6/ I am Thankful for my positivity and infinite drive (It would seem). I don’t really know where this adventure will take me. I suppose I am enjoying the journey. There is no destination in running, anyway. I am thankful to feel so alive.

7/ I am Thankful for the conversation I have with you. Isn’t it amazing how we are able to connect at the drop of a hat? Not too long ago, I need to pick up a heavy phone or write a snail mail or meet you in person before I can connect. These days, I have multiple short bursts and long narratives with friends around the world. You know who you are. I Love YOU! Ang corny ko talaga!

8/ I am Thankful for an inspiring movie called Chariots of Fire. It’s the Best Picture from 1981 that I never saw, until last night. The story tells about the journey of England’s 1924 Athletics Team into their Olympic gold medal glory. I had to stop myself from putting on my running shoes and do a 100 meter dash after watching. A quote from Eric Liddell who runs with God. “Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within

Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.” – Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

9/ I am Thankful for my life partner. He is my number one cheerer and supporter. I can never do any of my writing and running without him taking up some of my slack!

10/ I am Thankful for Writing. Writing multiplies my voice and compounds my experiences.

11/ I am Thankful for running. Pure Love. Simple and raw. Organic. All truly my own!

God. I am grateful. I humbly run with you in my heart.

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An inspired 14Km run.

#46 | Lessons Learned from “30 Days of Gratitude”

In the 30 days of sharing the simple everyday things that make me happy, I learned:

1. To be very keen. To be very aware of those small details that I take for granted. A kiss from my two boys. A simple message from a distant friend that perks me up. After all, we are all very busy. I am sure we are grateful of the little things…But if we don’t stop and pause and acknowledge? We just lose it. We lose the magic.

2. My senses were looking for magic. And I see it everywhere. The key is to catch the magic!

3. How to translate the magic into pictures? That’s the challenge. For how can I convey the happiness of listening to birds chirping, or of hearing my mum’s voice over a long distance telephone call? This is when imagination and creativity kicks in.

So yes I enjoyed this exercise very much indeed. And yes I want to continue my #mgb_dailythanks and call it ~ Rediscovering Joy Habit.

Here’s the album link to my first “30 Days of Joy“.

A painting I found in one of our road trips. Isn't it pretty?

A painting I found in one of our road trips. Isn’t it pretty?

#45 | My Life is Changing

I read Leo’s post “What the exercise habit did for me”. His last line was: “It’ll change your life.”

And I am floored.

My life has changed big time in the last 36 months. And it’s not just due to exercise. It’s because of everything. I made so many changes, I think I am a different person. I am still M.E with the same personality, but with new and renewed habits!

What changed? My way of thinking, my way of living, my way of breathing.

Let me count the ways.

1. Regular Running. I started running back in 2009, or maybe it was 2010. It was 10 minutes once a week. I slowly built it up. Then to get me in a straight line, I made a vow to join the City2Surf 14K funrun annually. An annual event will drive me to keep going. But then I fell in love with running in the meantime. And so I kept upping my goals. In 2014, I found myself signing up for my very first half marathon scheduled in May. My running journal can be found here.

2. Daily Writing. Without writing, my running will not be as sweet. Because I delved, analysed, and dissected my experiences with my daily practice wruddy writing. My emotions are magnified and relived. “Bleeding” in my daily writing has proven to be the key in waking me up. I have never been so awake and so seeing in my entire life.

3. Expressing myself unguardedly. I found friends who get me; who connected with my new habits. Friends who share intimate stories with me. I realised that we are all in the same boat, everybody is just ‘winging it‘. The key is to open up and share bravely. Oh how beautiful and vulnerable we all are. How perfectly imperfect! {A must read!}

4. Daily exercise. Yoga, Pilates, Running, Lifting. They all contribute to my health and mental wellbeing. I am a more confident person. I smile a whole lot. I take pictures of myself a whole lot. I like how I look, I like how I feel.

I like to enjoy my moments. Life Is Good. I Feel Complete.

Are you on a journey too?

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Bloom!