When love goes sour

IMG_0152

Dear Running

There’s no easy way of saying this so I’ll be blunt – I think we need a break from each other. Just for a little while. I imagine this comes as a bit of a shock. At least, I didn’t see it coming. Yet, today, I know that if our relationship is to survive for the long-term – and I hope it does- some time apart is essential. I need time. Time to recover from yesterday’s race, time for my glutes, hips and back to relax, time away from you to rekindle what really has been an amazing mid-life romance.

We’ve had a great year! No injuries, ten joyous races, and PBs in 5km, 10km and 21.1.km distances. Until last week, things had never been better between us. Maybe it was the effort of that 5km PB at Champion Lakes parkrun last weekend, or it might have been the half marathon PR I inadvertently set at the WAMC Fremantle Half four weeks back. Or maybe I’m just too old and tired for a full-time commitment. It was probably a combination of these things that turned last week’s short, easy taper runs into drudgery on legs that felt like steel (as in stiff, not strong). Yet, despite these poor training efforts, I thought we’d get through yesterday’s Ironman 70.3 Mandurah race with our love intact. I believed in us. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

The first 10km went according to plan – 49 mins. Then, something went wrong. My legs turned to lead, and took my heavy heart with them. We let each other down. And you know, these things happen. I get that. After all, I’ve been married 17 years, so I know that you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, but did you have to let me down on such an important event? Did our bust-up have to be the only race where my family stood by the sidelines cheering me on, telling me they loved me and that I was doing really great (when I really, really wasn’t)? Did it have to be the team event where my poor performance cost us a place in the rankings? I know, I know, 5th place is still pretty amazing when you show up vaguely hoping to make the Top 15, and my swimmer and cyclist really couldn’t have been more supportive, but still. Your timing was off – excuse the pun. And telling me that my time (1:52) wasn’t that bad is missing the point too so please stop saying that.

IMG_2685

The point is that I hated you for 11km yesterday. I hated you enough to walk a little bit. Yes, walk! Every step I took was miserable. All those cardio workouts were for nothing; my legs wouldn’t move fast enough to get me out of breath. By the end, I was running slower than an easy training run, and I loathed every step. I watched so many other runners, their mojo intact, their legs springing them across the finish line, and couldn’t help feeling slighted. What had I done wrong? All the time and energy I had invested in our relationship, and for what? To be grateful that at least the ice cubes at every fuel station kept my nausea at bay and I didn’t need to stop at the portaloo? I really thought we’d moved beyond that stage.

I’m going to take a few days rest. I might go for a walk or two. I will probably try a gym session to revive my weary muscles. I will analyse over and over what went wrong between us without much hope of an answer. I will avoid uploading yesterday’s run to my Strava profile until I feel resilient enough to review the graphic representation of our first major argument since we moved to Australia. Today, I honestly feel too fragile.

This morning, for the first time in three and a half years, I actually looked at runners, and felt meh, as if they belonged to another tribe. Ok, so I did go for walk. You can’t expect someone as passionate as I to turn into a total couch potato whatever our difficulties. A girl has her needs. I’m flying to Singapore on thursday for the weekend. I’m hopeful that I’ll feel like taking my Garmin with me. I’m guessing that by Friday, I’ll be checking out Active Wear in Under Armour. Maybe by Saturday, I’ll be missing you enough to get up at 5:30am and do a tropical parkrun, though to be honest, the way I’m feeling today, I think that’s highly unlikely. My Facebook feed (where I won’t change my relationship status – it’s just a break – honest!), so cluttered with running advice and anecdotes, has given me a headache – though this may also be due to dehydration. Today, I will tend to what are left of my toenails (don’t take this as a criticism!) and try make them look less repulsive – assuming I can bend down far enough to brandish tea tree oil and nail polish. I hope you understand that I need time to reassess our relationship and my expectations, to work through my fatigue and ennui (and bruised ego), and do the laundry created by five people going to Mandurah for one night. Be patient. I know we’ll get through this.

Best regards,

Jo

Off the Beaten Track

IMG_7754 (1)

Today, I crawled up out of my comfort zone and took my fear of everything that has feathers, beaks, fur, wings, scales, legs, or a pulse and ran with it around Bold Park, a nature reserve that is very close to my kids’ school. It’s surprising how noisy nature can be – between parakeets and crows squawking, unseen things slithering, flies buzzing and fluttering butterflies, it was akin to running through a haunted house for my nerves. But I completed the well-marked Zamia Trail (yellow line on the map) unscathed by swooping magpies, and my lungs got a good workout as the trail is undulating (very, very hilly in plain speech). I’m also pleased to report that there were no sightings of the four possums I had professionally evicted from my roof space over the past four months and relocated to Bold Park, the latest as recently as this week. That’s a non-running story for another day.

IMG_2566 IMG_2567

Suck it Up Runners or #SCKLM4October

I have never participated in the Standard Chartered KL Marathon event though I do have one unused half marathon bib (due to injury) from 2013. I no longer live in Kuala Lumpur and I have not registered for this year’s marathon. All of this makes me perfectly qualified to post a detached and well-reasoned post on the decision, announced yesterday, to move the race day back a week to Oct 10, 2015. Yet, I can’t, because even here in Perth, I find myself getting angry over the obvious disdain this decision shows towards runners, towards 35,000 runners who have committed their money, time and training to an event long-scheduled for Oct 4.

The change of date (and day, from Sunday to Saturday) is a political one, to allow the international event to coincide with the newly conceived National Sports Day run by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth & Sport. The National Sports Day has amongst its objectives: ‘promoting unity, stimulating economic growth, growing sporting knowledge and recognising sporting talent.’ Well congratulations, Dirigo Events, you’ve certainly managed to promote unity; unity of anger of thousands of SCKLM registrants who have taken to Facebook, Twitter and blogs to voice their outrage over the mixing of sport with politics with little apparent consideration for the people without whom the event couldn’t exist.

I’m astounded that Standard Chartered Bank would allow their brand to be tarnished by such shoddy treatment of race registrants, surprised that event organisers Dirigo didn’t anticipate the backlash, and very glad that I personally didn’t book flights and accommodation for KL for the race. I feel very bad for those that did.

There have been many reasoned comments made online about the consequences for overseas runners, including many Malaysians who have already booked travel from Sabah and Sarawak. Many commentators have also rightly voiced their dismay over allowing a politically-neutral sporting event to be hijacked for political purposes. There’s also the worrying issue of staging such a major event on a Saturday, a working day in KL, and the fact that the new date clashes with several other running events. How any of this serves to promote ‘economic growth, growing sporting knowledge and recognising sporting talent’ is beyond me!

What bugs me most is the apparent disdain SCKLM organisers have for the commitment made by runners to their event. It’s like organising a secular wedding then, once thousands of loyal friends have bought their outfits, booked their hotels and organised a babysitter, changing the date to suit one wealthy, but distant, acquaintance who is insisting on a Church service to help promote their parish. Well, stuff your wedding I’d say – and don’t bother inviting me at all next time!

There are plenty of races in Asia for those who want to travel. Plenty of races in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam that, as far as I am aware, value their runners and don’t flip flop over things as fundamental as race dates. There are plenty of races around KL for those who don’t travel too. Since 2009, SCKLM has been considered the premier running event in Malaysia, adhering to international standards that runners could rely on, and other event organisers could aspire to. Dismissing the commitment of 35,000 runners to keep politicians happy, as SCKLM has done this week, was a misguided move and one from which the event’s (and main sponsor’s) reputation will fail to fully recover. Unless of course, thousands of runners voicing their opinions online get their way and the original date is restored. Everyone can mistakes. The trick is in recognising and rectifying them.

UPDATE: July 16, 2015

Over the past three days there has been no statement from the organisers of SCKLM while runners continued to lobby on social media for the marathon to be returned to its original date of Oct 4. This afternoon, the Malaysian Minister for Youth & Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, released a statement on his Facebook page announcing that the event would indeed revert to Oct 4. So, common sense prevails, the power of social media seem unassailable and Dirigo Events have been peculiarly mute throughout the whole debacle. Perhaps, silence in this case, speaks a thousand words.

Reunions (and a bit of stalking) in Paris

When I was nine, my best friends were twin girls, four years my senior, who lived next door. Their dad was a bank manager, so they were Irish nomads who moved house every few years. When I was nine, the twins and their siblings moved to a village in an adjacent county, Wexford, less than 100km from Kilkenny. Other than one visit to stay with them, when I vomited in the back of their dad’s car (from eating too many sweets on the sleepover), I never saw them again. I don’t think my spewing over the car was a contributing factor. The twins’ departure from my life was a major, sad event, one which I recall vividly. Back in the pre-internet days, when a telephone call to Wexford was prohibitively expensive, our friendship hadn’t a chance.

IMG_6551

My own children have bid goodbye to many friends during their short lives. When I chaperone their tearful leave takings, I insist on saying it’s not goodbye forever, it’s until next time. I recall the twins and the vomiting and I vow to do better. I mean it when I say that they will see their friends again even if they are moving to the other side of the planet. All this is a long introduction really into how last week I found myself in Paris with four teenagers, aged 12-15. Selfless mother that I am, I travelled from Dublin with my two daughters, to meet up with my eldest’s two friends who now live in Houston and San Francisco. One of the friends, who is Dutch, lived in Paris for 8 years before relocating to Perth, where we first met and understandably his family love the city so much that they visit annually en route to the Netherlands. Spending time in Paris with people who know where to go, how to get there, and can suggest great places to eat, while also being great company, really makes for a spectacular holiday. I might even go as far as saying that I relaxed and enjoyed myself. I know! Incredible! IMG_1089

After five great days of being tourists with insider guides who didn’t charge a fee we took a taxi to Charles de Gaulle Airport to return to Ireland. Our reunions hadn’t finished yet however. Serendipity meant that another friend of my daughter’s, from our time in Kuala Lumpur, was arriving in Paris from Toronto, and we managed to meet her and her mother for coffee and a catch-up. Yes, my children do think such meetings and international travel are normal, no matter how much I try and explain that they’re not. The Wexford situation is beyond their comprehension in this instant messaging age.

IMG_1111

As we approached the airline check-in desk, I spied the familiar figure of Colm Tóibín, probably Ireland’s most famous living writer, coincidentally from the friend-robbing county of Wexford. I was as excited as a teenager bumping into Harry Styles but managed to keep my rapture under wraps channelling my energy instead into explaining to the check-in lady in Frenglish exactly whom she had just served. She was oblivious to Mr Tóibín’s celebrity status and possibly thought I was slightly mad. I’d met Mr Tóibín a couple of times at Kilkenny Arts Festival a few years back but remarkably he didn’t seem to recognise me (!). I’m pathetically bad at shoving myself forward (while sober) so this particular reunion was wordless and only experienced by one party. Some people might call it stalking but I promise, it was inadvertent. Remarkably no one else appeared to recognise him during all the time we sat in the departure lounge – he on his laptop, me pretending not to be watching him on his laptop, or back in Dublin airport in the line for Passport Control, me admonishing my daughters for staring, lest he actually notice me – for the wrong reasons. I guess not everyone thinks that writers are like rock stars but this brush with multi-Booker-nominated celebrity, whose career I’ve long coveted, topped off what turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve had in years.

toibin

Ireland 2015

IMG_1017

Yesterday I did my first non-Australian parkrun in my home town, Kilkenny, something I’ve been looking forward to for months. But I’m not going to write about it yet. I can’t, because I forgot to take a photo of the delicious scones topped with fresh cream and jam which we ate at the Castle Cafe afterwards and being a diligent blogger, who likes things to be complete, I plan to return to Kilkenny parkrun next weekend and take a photo of the after-run delights. I’ll probably run as well:)

IMG_1014I’ve been in Ireland a week and I’ve done much of my running around the Castle Park where parkrun is held. Today though I ventured a bit further afield, and actually ended up IN a field. There is a trail that runs along the River Nore from Kilkenny to Bennetsbridge, and beyond, for around 11km I think but I did not end up on that trail today, despite my best navigation efforts. I was, it turns out, on the wrong side of the river. Still, I took lots of lovely photos of the scenery I took for granted as a child. I was mulling around in the ruins of the old mill when I got an SMS to say my lunch was on the table at my mother’s house. The delights of being home.

I’ve posted the rest of the photos on my Facebook page. Tomorrow I head to Paris with my daughters for a few days. I don’t know if I’ll manage to persuade them to let me run but I’ll try as we’re staying very near the Bois de Boulogne which must be a good place to run. No doubt there will be plenty of Eiffel tower snaps to follow. Á Bientôt:)

Cottesloe parkrun Launch

IMG_0627
The start and finish point for Cottesloe parkrun.

You know I’m already a big fan of parkrun but this morning parkrun just got a little bit better (for me). Cottesloe parkrun launched within running distance of home. Yay! Half an hour longer in bed and a warm-up built into the journey.  Sounds too good to be true? Well good no, but tough, well hell yes!

IMG_0011
Part of the Cottesloe parkrun route

Cottesloe parkrun’s location is stunning, on the beachfront along a path on which I’ve clocked hundreds of kilometres in the past nine months. This morning I think there were about 55 parkrunners some of whom I was delighted to discover I knew already, and not just on Facebook or Strava:)

For the first two kilometres I think I recognised every crack in the pavement. The thing is that to avoid colliding with dogs and walkers further along the beachfront at the aptly-named Dog Beach, the parkrun route must deviate off the path down onto the beach. Almost 1km of the 5km route is in sand. Yes, in not on! This morning’s run felt like a bootcamp, trudging to exhaustion along the beach; my legs were so grateful for the solid surface of the boardwalk back onto the path that it felt churlish to complain about the very, very steep incline. It took a kilometre for my legs to recover from the sand trudging, my 5km time was almost 2 mins slower than usual, and I crossed the finish line calling the beach a b**tch BUT would I do it again?

Hell, yes! What a great workout. If nothing else, Cottesloe parkrun will make other parkruns seem easy in comparison and I’m sure that the sand running must be a great training device. Something that feels that tough and ludicrous must be good for you, right?

To be honest when news of this parkrun surfaced several months back, I was sceptical of how it would work with so many walkers, runners and cyclists already using the path. This morning though this didn’t feel like an issue, mainly I think as there were very few cyclists along the stretch of path and I’m used to having to swerve around walkers.

So, if you’re looking for a parkrun with a little extra challenge, or just want to run 5km by, and on, the beach, head to Cottesloe. My usual parkrun at Heirisson Island has been on hiatus for while but once it’s up and running again – did you see what I did there? – I will try alternate between the two locations.

As there are no parkruns in Australia next weekend due to Anzac Day 100th anniversary, the next event is on May 2  I won’t be there as I’ll be at the Busselton Half Ironman team relay, a story for another day.

PHOTOS from Cottesloe parkrun #1.

My new race recipe

A 2012 trip to Angkor Wat.
A 2012 trip to Angkor Wat.

Given my enthusiasm for registering for races, I’m a pretty lousy racer. Every single time I have crossed a finish line, I have complained about at least one (but usually two or three) of the following:

  • I got a stitch.
  • I had shin splints for the first 5 km.
  • I felt like vomiting for half the race though I was barely jogging.
  • I needed the loo for the entire race.
  • I used the loo during the race.
  • I ran out of fuel.
  • My back/leg/foot hurt.
  • It was too bloody hot.

After Angkor Wat Half Marathon last December, I crossed the finish line shivering from low blood sugar, complaining about every single one of the above. Which is of course why I’m travelling all the way back to Angkor Wat this weekend, via Malaysia, to try again. I need to exorcise the ghost of Dec 2013 by which I mean make it through the 21.1km without a dash to the loo.

Peninsula2014Lately, I had given up on running a decent race, you know one that reflected my training, and not my sensitive gut, performance anxiety, tight calves, inflamed ITB, pissy posterior tibialias, and the dodgy caps on my fuel bottles. Then when I least expected it, it finally happened. At the Western Australia Marathon Club (WAMC)’s 10km Peninsula Run last sunday, I crossed the finish line not only happy but astounded. I could not think of a single thing to complain about. I had run strong and consistently without a stitch, nausea or shin splint, faster than I had ever run before (48:28 according to Strava) – faster than I had ever thought that I could. Unfortunately there was no one I knew there as I crossed the line to witness this miracle so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Besides the obvious fact that a 10km distance is probably a much better distance for me (and my still tender ITB) than 21.1km, I thought about what I had done this time to see if I could possibly replicate it.

My race recipe:

  • I ate steak and drank three glasses of champagne the night before. I doubt this is in the elite handbook.
  • I slept terribly. Nothing new there.
  • I got up at 5AM (it was already bright which made it easier than those dark early starts in KL).
  • I ate a toasted English muffin with butter and jam two hours before the race. No more pre-race oatmeal. I think that may have been last year’s big mistake.
  • I ran 1km slowly then stretched before the race. I reckon this was a big factor in avoiding shin splint pain for the first half or the race.
  • I did not look at my pace while I ran but focussed on my cadence and form whilst doing short sprints to pass people all along the route. At the rate my eyesight is deteriorating, looking at my watch and actually seeing numbers will not be an option for much longer anyway.
  • I didn’t stop at the water stations as I was carrying enough in a handheld bottle. I know that if I had slowed or stopped I wouldn’t have been able to resume my running ryhthm.
  • I ate three jellybeans during the race as I’d run out of GU chews.
  • I spent 48 minutes thinking ‘I’m so glad that this is only 10km. I couldn’t run a further 11.1km’.

This unexpected PB that has given me a little morale boost after about six months of rehabilitation and self-doubt. In a way, I feel that it gives me license to relax a bit (yeah like pass the personality transplant!) and try and enjoy this year’s Angkor Wat Half Marathon.

My WAMC bib finally got an airing.
My WAMC bib finally got an airing.

The champagne and steak maybe hard to come by in Siem Reap, and the toasted English muffin at some godawful hour may also be unattainable, but I will attempt to warm up and stretch, have jellybeans and working fuel caps at the ready, and not look at my watch as I run. In addition to my multi-excuses last year, the fact that I didn’t make it to the start line in time for the starter gun as the race started 5 minutes early was a bit of a bummer, especially having travelled all the way from Malaysia and making it as far as the portaloo queue with time to spare, or so I thought. The race is starting 20 minutes earlier this year, presumably to allow runners to fall over each other in the dark before watching the sun rise over the temple at the end of their first kilometre. (Yes I’m that anal that I’ve checked the sunrise time for Sunday. Normal, right?). The bonus will be that there are so many people I know travelling from KL for the race that there will be plenty of familiar faces at the finish line. Feel free to start placing bets on which complaint I spout first – I’m thinking it will be: ‘I’m going to stick to 10km races in future’. Let’s see.

The Art of Finishing

I’m getting lazy. Not about running but about blogging. I half wrote a post about the Mandurah Half Ironman which I ran a few weeks back but I didn’t finish it. The blog post, not the race. I finished the race, despite the heat which matched that of the other Half Ironman run I did in Putrajaya back in April. It was a freakishly hot day, and only the second day during which I can honestly say that I have felt warm since moving to Perth.

IMG_8241I’ve never been a good finisher which is possibly one of the reasons why I like racing – it forces me to finish something that I usually regret starting. Crossing the finish line is like waving a magic wand – ‘what was I thinking?’ and ‘OMG I can’t run another step. I want to stop!’ transforms into ‘Wow. I did it. I feel fantastic!’. And so it was at Mandurah. I spent 1hr 54 minutes thinking ‘This is crazy! How do people swim, bike and run without dying?!’ but once I crossed the line, and limped, medal in hand, with my outraged ITB screaming at me, to meet my husband and kids, I felt euphoric. I hadn’t done a personal best but I had finished! I don’t think the power of finishing a race will ever diminish, even though I rarely perform as well as I’d like. I’ve decided I won’t die disappointed if I don’t break the 1:50 Half Marathon barrier but I will keep trying.

As I often have things to say about running but I don’t always have the time to finish blog posts, I’ve set up a Facebook page to which I can post shorter snippets, as well as links to running articles and information about running events. It will also allow people to comment on Facebook and the comments will appear here on the blog. I’m still very disconnected from the running community in Perth but instead of just pining for my running buddies back in KL, I’m hoping that this new page will allow me to connect to new runners as well as old, until I figure out how to get my butt to a gathering of real runners as opposed to the virtual kind.

Please like The Expat Runner Facebook page 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 10.50.06

Shadows & Wind

I have blogged much lately because I’ve been writing. And running. I’m almost back to my pre-ITBS mileage and hopefully next weekend will race 21.1km as part of the Ironman 70.3 Mandurah competition. Hopefully I say, as I’ve got some worrying shin pain today but come on, I can’t be that unlucky can I? I’ve learned quite a bit about running in Perth over the past few weeks while avoiding further magpie attacks but sticking to the same tried and tested route inhabited by non-violent birds. I’ll admit I’m twitchier that ever so that every shadow that crosses my path, even if it’s only a butterfly, makes me jump. I’m one step short of being afraid of my own shadow. It may be time to cut back on the coffee. Besides, the dangers of wildlife, the other thing no one mentioned when they told me ‘Oh you’ll love running in Perth’ is that it’s damn windy here. It’s so windy that I think if I wore this anti-magpie cap on my head I’d take off like a helicopter. 41blwh4qNWL Wearing a skirt running makes me feel as graceful as a galleon. If hills are speed work in disguise then so is running against the wind. Then you run with the wind and imagine how it must feel to be a fast runner; it’s performance enhancing but not in the disappointing way of Rita Jeptoo! Let’s hope her dope test failure is not the thin edge of an elite wedge. Besides running, and writing a novel set in Ireland, I’ve been expanding my horizons (in the car which protects me from angry birds). In the search for a new leotard for my daughter’s gymnastics competition, I discovered a brothel across the street (which is illegal here). Perth’s Best Brothel according to its website. The giveaway was the neon sign that said: ‘New Girls’. One wonders if such signs can be bought off the shelf or if this was a special order. I wondered other things too but I’ll keep those to myself.

Magpie Menace

pd_the_birds_movie_nt_111228_mainAfter almost two months back on the road, I’ve been enjoying the change of environment. While I miss the running community and the races in Malaysia, I’ve adjusted well to the fresh air, running tracks and free water refill stations. Sorry KL friends if I’m making you a tad jealous. I’ve also got used to not looking over my shoulder constantly, on the look-out for muggers on motorbikes. I rarely see a motorbike and have yet to hear of a mugging. Pedal power dominates the two-wheel transport scene and I’d imagine that it’s quite hard to mug someone while balancing on a bike, unless it’s a tandem with an accomplice.

That said, yesterday I was viciously attacked while running – by a testoserone-fuelled magpie. I remember noticing the bird out of the corner of my eye, before it swerved up in the air – away from me I presumed. I could see its shadow and was stunned when that shadow, rather than move away, headed straight for my head. The damn bird swooped down and pecked my hat. Talk about a true WTF moment! Thankfully, I was wearing a cap. If 2XU ever needs a spokeswoman for their Magpie-proof peaked caps, I’m their woman. I tried to dodge the menace, but it continued to dive-bomb at my head, stabbing me with its beak. The fact that I could see its shadow heading for me each time totally freaked me out. Luckily, the psycho bird which chased me across a four-lane road and back again, much to the bemusement I’d imagine of passing traffic, did not aim for my bare shoulders or my ears. At one point I stopped moving, and the bird just sat on a telephone line looking all innocent. I should point out that this was a suburban residential street and if there was a nest I certainly didn’t hang around long enough to see it.

Anyway, as soon as I moved again, swoop and attack, over and over! This was one vicious bird! I eventually outran the feathered fiend  – or at least ran out of the territory it was trying to protect. The whole incident lasted just over a minute but left me feeling somewhat rattled. I ran the 6km back to my car which incidentally I’d noticed when parking, was under a tree full of magpie nests. Thankfully this flock hadn’t eaten their crazy worms that morning.

Of course, the only thing to do after a traumatic incident such as this, at least when it’s too early to turn to drink, is to turn to Google. It turns out that not only was I not the first victim of magpie assault in Australia, but that magpie attacks are a THING, a big enough thing to merit a WikiHow page entitled HOW TO KEEP SAFE FROM SWOOPING AUSTRALIAN MAGPIES. Apparently, Ozzy magpies are notorious for swooping attacks on runners and cyclists at this time of year which is nesting season. Notorious! Strangely though, no one has mentioned it.

IMG_7893So what should I have done yesterday instead of flailing about, panicked by this unprovoked nasty attack? Well besides avoiding that stretch of road, I should have slowed to a walk, and calmly looked the bird in the eye whilst walking backwards. Yes, right, of course. I am genetically incapable of remaining calm in the face of wildlife, so that’s never going to happen. WikiHow recommends carrying an umbrella while walking or running so that it can be deployed as a head protector should a magpie swoop. For cyclists, the recommended protection is a helmet adorned with plastic cable ties when cycling. It doesn’t mention how to protect one’s dignity whilst wearing such headgear but then again, there was nothing remotely dignified about my panic dance yesterday, so it’s probably worth it. You can imagine the danger of falling off a bike or swerving into traffic if a magpie swooped.

Interestingly, WikiHow warns that I should ‘not return to the area after the encounter’ as magpies are so smart that the bird will remember me and attack me again. So yes, it was as personal as it felt! Apparently, even looking like me may be enough to trigger the magpie’s ire.

Interactie map of Perth on MagpieAlert.com.
Interactie map of Perth on MagpieAlert.com.

Back in KL, I remember people discussing the merits of a website on which people could map muggings, to help mark crime blackspots and alert people to be extra vigilant in affected areas. Well, MagpieAlert.com does exactly the same thing for magpie attacks. Yes, it’s that prevalent!

There’s also a Facebook page for the site on which a cyclist posted the clip below of a swooping magpie just like the one that attacked me.

So it looks like I’m back to running with one eye on the road (for snakes) and the other in the back of my head (for nasty birds). Oh my poor nerves!