Juice

I recently bought a Breville juicer hoping I could use it to get more fruit and veg into my picky kids. Well so far kids-4, mom-0, but I’ll keep trying. And I’m still juicing as I happen to love the stuff and hope it will keep me strong and healthy for the jam-packed running and packing/moving months ahead.
Coincidentally, flicking through the US edition of Runners World yesterday, an article entitle ‘Get Juiced’ caught my eye. By the way, the fabulous Shalane Flanagan, my current runner’s crush, is their cover girl this month and there are several articles related to Monday’s Boston marathon.

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Back to the juice. I opted for the 1 beet/1 cm ginger/half cucumber/1 pear combo recipe from RW and it tasted great. Beet can be tough on the intestines but it is meant to be an athletic performance enhancer as it oxygenates the blood. Ginger is supposed to calm the stomach. Let’s hope they balance each other out for tomorrow’s 21km LSD!

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Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya Trophies

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Thank you to Ironman for these wonderful trophies, two of which will be proudly displayed wherever we set up home and will always remind us of our fabulous time in Malaysia. My husband is already talking about registering to do Ironman 70.3 in Western Australia. It looks like I’ll have to find new team mates though as he wants to do the whole event himself. That’s the thanks I get 😉

 

 

Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya

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One of the best ways to cheer yourself up, besides going for a run, is to convince yourself that it could always be worse. All ten of your toenails could have fallen off, instead of only one, for instance. Or, you could have broken your wrist when you fell face-first on the pavement instead of only your pride and a few inches of skin. I found this ‘could be worse’ philosophy very useful on Sunday during the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman triathlon competition. It could have been a LOT worse. I could have been a triathlete and not a mere runner.

A triathlete is a person who doesn’t understand that one sport is hard enough. This is a definition I saw posted on Facebook before the event. After Sunday’s competition held in sizzling temperatures that edged up to 40 degrees C, I have come to the conclusion that it takes a certain level of insanity combineded with masochistic tendencies to attempt to swim, cycle and run any distance in succession.

Putrajaya 70.3 was ONLY a Half Ironman  which is the shorter version of the suffering in lycra known as the Ironman. 70.3 is the total distance (in miles) covered: a 1.9km swim, followed by a 90km cycle, topped off by a half marathon, 21.1.km which must obliterate all hope of walking normally for at least a week afterwards. Several of my husband’s cycling buddies signed up for the full event and suggested that my husband and I form a team with a swimmer to compete in the Mixed Relay. He loves cycling, I love running. Why not? Team PJJ Express was formed – the name was my husband’s doing, a play on our initials, the name of an area here referred to as PJ, and the need for speed. He’s an engineer so logic reigns supreme.

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Putrajaya for those who have never been there is a modern, purpose-built city 30 km south of Kuala Lumpur that serves as the federal administrative centre of Malaysia. It is new, clean and uninhabited at the weekend except for water-skiers, runners and cyclists. It has wide boulevards, a lake, lots of well-paved footpaths and is an ideal venue for races, especially on Sundays, when traffic is minimal.

But Putrajaya is hot! It’s like a sponge, sucking heat from the sun, radiating it back at you, so that running there at midday is akin to running while being roasted in a massive oven. When you’re wilting after just strolling from the car to the start-line, you know you’ve got 21.1 very challenging kilometres ahead.

The strange thing about running a relay is that you don’t have an exact start time but must wait on the return of your team mate, in this case my husband. I thought this hanging about at the transition area would be tortuous but it helped to have friends to chat with – the hot weather was the main topic of conversation – and lots of portaloos with no lines. There wasn’t the usual stress of timing a trip to the loo just right to make it to the start line on time. A major plus for toilet-obsessed moi.

My husband hobbled into the transition area after his cycle and parked his bike before passing the timing chip to me. On hindsight, I realise that he was one of the first team cyclists to arrive, but I wasn’t really thinking about placing and prizes. I didn’t think we had a chance; we were just there to have fun. So I was less nervous than in any previous race. Once the timing chip was secured around my left ankle – as instructed in the very comprehensive Athlete’s Guide – I was off. At midday! Fun?! After 500 metres I realised that I’d been deluded.

What followed was the hottest 21.1km of my life, two loops of a very pleasant course, much of it waterside, with absolutely no traffic to worry about. There were numerous water stations which were well laid out with warm water, isotonic drinks, food, flat cola, iced water and ice – always in the same order so you could sip some water or 100Plus, grab a gel/watermelon/candy then finish with some ice as you passed through each station. Normally I wouldn’t stop at fuel stations but the heat made it a necessity. At every station, I poured iced water over my head – though by the end of the second loop the water was almost warm enough to make a cup of tea – and managed a fast kilometre half way through the race with the help of a cube of ice which I rolled over my neck until it melted. Unfortunately the ice cubes ran out after 9km.

This was not an event to try and push the pace for fear of total heat exhaustion. And, despite the conditions, I couldn’t complain; I knew it could most definitely have been a lot worse, I could have been a triathlete out under the scorching sun for six hours plus! It’s the least complaining I’ve done in my five half marathons and, in the process, I learned a lot about the importance of psychology in completing a tough run. No matter how bad I felt in the heat, almost every single person I passed, felt a hell of lot worse so I had no excuse not to keep going.  In fact, as I ran past participants who had been racing since before my leisurely breakfast in an air-conditioned room, I called out encouragement to a few, and felt like apologising to all. That, and telling them what crazy fools they were for doing this triathlon lark.

(L) Approaching the finish line. (R) Two-thirds of Team PJJ Express
(L) Approaching the finish line. (R) Two-thirds of Team PJJ Express

I did my 21.1km in 1:53 which was fine given the temperature and all the stops I made to throw water over my head. I had hoped to do 1:50 and was ahead of this pace for the first 10 kilometres but I knew I risked not finishing at all, if I tried to keep it up. Crossing the finish line, I was wrapped in an ice cold towel which felt sublime, and bestowed with three medals – one for each of my team members. Not fair I know; we only did a third of the event yet got a full medal each. The towel provided welcome shelter for my poor shoulders which despite the SPF110 slathered on a few hours before, were starting to feel the sting of the sun. I wandered about, medals jangling like a bell on a cow, finding my husband and friends, waiting for others to cross the line, congratulating the crazy men and women, half made of Iron who had miraculously not melted in the sun. There was plenty of fruit, water and isotonic drinks available in the recovery area and many people availed of the sports massage on offer. Medical facilities seemed plentiful, and well used, too.

Out of interest, I asked at the finish line how my team had placed, and was told by a Norwegian lady manning a laptop that we had come fourth. We were surprised and delighted as we had no expectations of making it into the Top-5. At least I certainly hadn’t. Our team time was 5 hrs 15 mins which wasn’t too shabby but just a little bit slower than the winning pro athletes. Ok, a lot slower. Australian Brad Kahlefeldt (34) won the men’s division in 3:55 and Czech triathlete Radka Vodickova (29) was the first lady over the line in 4:23. What amazing achievements!

Only later, did I discover that PJJ Express had come third in the Mixed Relay, the highest ranked team with two females. A combination of misinformation, hurrying to get home to the kids, and the total non-expectation of winning anything, meant we missed a photo opportunity on the podium. Forget the photo, we missed a unique chance to be on a podium and to hang out with the fastest triathletes on the planet! Unlike the individual athletes, the team competitors weren’t provided with live online tracking so I still can’t see our official timings, though a friend sent me a photo of the results posted at the prize-giving ceremony. We’re listed here as second but I know that this is a mistake; according to the runner on the team that came second, who happens to be my running coach, we came third. Their swimmer swam in 31 not 1:31, hence the ranking mistake.

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I’m still trying to chase down our trophies before they are shipped back to Ironman headquarters in Australia but my calls and emails have so far gone un-answered. Given how well organised the whole event was, I’m hopeful that the trophy issue can be resolved without having to pay for them to be shipped back to Malaysia, to no doubt arrive after we leave. I’m not really too bothered about the trophies though it would be nice to have a couple for the kids to fight over when they’ve sent us off to nursing homes or the great running/cycling track in the sky. Look what Mum and Dad won before they started to use adult nappies! Back when we lived in Malaysia.

So I’ve done one-sixth of an Ironman which is more than I ever anticipated and about as much a I’m ever going to try. Kudos to those who pushed their endurance in all three disciplines; I am in awe of your drive and stamina. You totally rock, whether you managed to finish the course on Sunday or not. It was inspiring (but not tempting) to run amongst you, to watch you suffer (though the vomiting was tough to watch) yet still push on forward to the finish line. My next event is the Borneo Half Marathon in just under three weeks time. Already I’m thinking it could be worse. I could be running the Full!

P.S. Thanks to DK for directing me to the results here. We definitely came 3rd in the Mixed category and were the 5th team overall (out of 52 teams). Amazeballs!

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Feeling the Fear – and never doing it again!

The Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel
The Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

We spent most of this week in Singapore where my training plan went a bit awry but it was worth it to spend time in one of my favourite ex-home towns (and the birth place of two of my children). These over-indulged children, one of whom has a Forever 21 habit well beyond her pocket money allowance, enjoyed their third visit to Universal Studios Singapore. For the record, if asked, my kids will tell you that the have never in their entire lives been to Disneyland unlike ALL their friends! (All their friends have mobile phones too I’m told but that’s a whole other subject.) Back to Universal Studios. Obviously if my kids have been thrice, so have I. Lucky me! Three visits during which I have kept my feet firmly planted on the ground and my nose in my Kindle. I have never in my entire life been on a roller coaster  though I suspect most of my friends have. I am terrified of heights you see. You’d have to kill me before you could coax my corpse onto any sort of ‘fun’ ride or helicopter. Which is why I went on the Singapore Flyer. Obviously.

For those who haven’t seen it, the Singapore Flyer is like a massive ferris wheel from which hang multiple air-conditioned glass capsules that house up to 28 people. It travels very slowly so it’s not a thrilling ride per se but an opportunity to see Singapore from a new perspective. One of the things I am trying to do in my forties is live less fearfully; no mean feat for a chronic worrier with serious anxiety issues who thinks about death at least once a day, and more often at night. I’m very aware at how limiting fear can be, how it can drive you into an ever-shrinking hole of experience until one day your kids leave home, and you, living and working online, can no longer find the courage to ever leave home without some form of calming medication. I do not want to become that version of me. So, I’ve striven to push my fear aside by, for example, entering races, knowing that overcoming the fear of racing is in itself a reward, apart from any finisher medal. I got a tattoo figuring how sore could it be. Not very, it turned out. And so it was with the Singapore Flyer. I would continue my strategy of feeling the fear but doing things anyway in pursuit of feeling better about myself, and warding off late life agaraphobia. Anyway, how bad could it be? Ooh so bad!

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It seems that this vertigo thing doesn’t respond very well to cognitive therapy, not my version of it at least. Luckily we had the capsule to ourselves. After some initial bravado, as the wheel transported us higher towards the sky, I had the horrendous sensation of free-falling to earth. I needed to feel tethered to something to quiet the very real physical sensation of falling (to my death!) and clung to the benches in the middle of the capsule for dear life, keeping my eyes to the floor. I couldn’t even bear the sight of my children and husband walking freely around the capsule and shouted several times at my daughter to stand in from the edge. My husband took photos, and very helpfully called out interesting sights below, while I inspected my toes in need of a pedicure. Never have a pair of well-worn feet been so mesmerising. Thirty minutes of toe-watching, and the odd-side glance later, we were back on solid ground where I discovered that there had only been a mere metal hinge keeping the doors shut while we floated in space. One petrified woman’s flimsy piece of metal is apparently a robust hinge in the eyes of an engineer (my husband) but really when you think of it… I still get palpitations when I do.

So I have realised that it’s not always a question of mind over matter. It’s completely useless to tell me how safe the Singapore Flyer is. Sometimes, our mind and body does have limitations and being more than two feet of the ground while conscious is one of mine. Funnily enough, I don’t mind flying (much) in airplanes, despite my anxieties and recent tragic events, but of course you won’t find me volunteering to sit in the window seat. And I can safely say that fearless forties or not, I will never, ever go on a roller coaster. Unless you are prepared to kill me first!

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If you are not terrified – I’ve upgraded my fear from scared, but don’t do it if you’re merely scared either – of heights, the Singapore Flyer is a great experience. More info at this website.

Malaysia Women Marathon 2014

Coolest medal ever
Coolest medal ever

Have you ever got dressed up and gone out with friends then, faced with the option of going on to a smoky nightclub to have fun or heading home at a sensible hour, you throw caution and the certainty that you will regret your decision in the morning to the wind, and choose to dance in bad air until the small hours of the morning?

Well that’s what the decision to run the Malaysia Women Half Marathon (MWM) was like yesterday morning. Except I didn’t get a hangover.

There I was, at 5 AM, having jogged to the start line, race kit on, bottle filled with electrolyte drinks, the acrid smell of smoke in my nostrils and throat, faced with the dilemma of heading home full of carbs and adrenaline or running in air that was so polluted that I would absolutely have forbidden my children to stand outside for a minute, not to mention run for the best part of two hours. Of course, I ran. I am happy to report that unlike many a night out in my now distant past, I remember the whole occasion very vividly, despite the dark, hazy conditions, and as a French person might say, je ne regrette rien.

A little background for those not living in Kuala Lumpur. For the past week, the city and the wider environs of Klang Valley have been experiencing pollution due to burning. On Friday, in Shah Alam where MWM was to take place, and several other areas, air quality levels were well into the unhealthy range. Sporting activities throughout the city were cancelled/postponed and many schools were closed. MWM organisers were faced with a dilemma on whether to go ahead with the race on Sunday, not knowing whether the haze would clear by race day. It was announced that a decision on the race would be take on Saturday evening based on the published pollution levels. Runners were understandably agitated over whether to cancel their babysitters and put away their bowls of pasta. Just in case I didn’t get to run, I bought two running skirts in honour of the event. Then, Saturday morning, KL residents awoke to clear blue skies and a refreshing breeze. The news from Shah Alam was that it was clearing there too. The race would go ahead as planned.

My first running skirt
My first running skirt with my MWM kit.

I bought the skirts from Skirt Sports who lugged their wears from Australia to sell at the MWM Race Kit Collection & Expo at Shah Alam Theatre which took place on Friday and Saturday. As well as offering a platform for vendors and running event promoters, the Expo provided inspirational talks, including one from MWM2014’s Guest of Honour, Catherine Ndereba. Catherine’s marathon achievements have earned her the moniker, the Marathon Queen, and she has been described as the greatest women’s marathoner of all time. In short, this lady is a legendary athlete.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Shah Alam in time to catch Catherine’s Friday presentation on balancing motherhood and a career. But by the power of serendipity, I did get to, not only meet her, but speak to her (and watch her eat pasta). Having decided to stay in a hotel in Shah Alam on Saturday night to avoid pre-race stress and travel, my friends and I went to the hotel restaurant for dinner to find Catherine sitting with two runners I know, Elvin and Wai-Yee. Catherine was so gracious not only to pose for a photo but to spend time talking to us. Having done a whirlwind of press, meet-and-greets, and goodness knows how many photo opportunities in the previous three days, combined with jet lag after her trip from Kenya, I’m sure Catherine was exhausted. Yet she was friendly, generous with her time, and recommended ice baths and massage for post-race recovery. The next time we saw her was at 5 AM Sunday morning, returning from the race start venue, having flagged off the Full Marathon, in a break before running a 5km later with Race Director Karen Loh. I haven’t mentioned Karen up to now, but MWM now in its second year, is her vision and how she has implemented it here in Malaysia, deserves a post of its own. Today I will stick with the event itself.

MWM Expo
MWM Expo

As my friends and I drove out to check into our hotel around 5PM on Saturday, we could see a wall of haze ahead. Had it not retreated after all we wondered, or was this a case of the haze returning? Unfortunataly, despite some rain on Saturday night, it was the latter. The haze returned with a vengeance over night.

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Shah Alam Haze

Early Sunday morning, with so many runners at the start line already, the organisers decided that the runs would no longer be competitive, that the prize money would go to charity, and if runners wanted to run for fun they were free to choose to do so. A large group of us who know each other, were assembled near the start line, prevaricating over what to do. I wasn’t going to run. I couldn’t defend it to my family if it made me sick, I said. I spent so long standing around saying that I didn’t think I should run, that I forgot to go to the loo and I didn’t stretch. Well, I wasn’t running so why would I do either! Then, I realised that the people I was with were going to do an easy run that wouldn’t tax the lungs, and as I had to wait around anyway, I decided to run with them.

We started slowly, at 5:45 AM, no rush, chatting away as if it was our usual weekend LSD. The relief of not having to race was palpable. It was great! I stopped at a portaloo at 8km and my unstretched leg muscles loosened up around that time too. I managed to catch up with my friends again after my pitstop and stayed with two of them the rest of the way. I wasn’t focussing on my pace, just on keeping moving forward. Even without the pressure to achieve a PR, I still didn’t find running a half marathon easy but it wasn’t unpleasant either. Having company made all the difference, as did having a friend, a very accomplished runner, offer encouragement and pacing all the way. My legs felt heavy from about 13km onwards but my lungs felt fine, and the desire to stay with my buddies kept me going even when my brain was starting to regret having set off at all.

To their credit, despite the haze, volunteers stayed to man the water stations which were well stocked, regularly spaced out at 2km intervals, and each with a portaloo. Others cheered us on. Inspirational signs appeared along the route. I think one said: ‘I have mascara that runs faster than that’ which was less of an inspiration, more of a rebuke. Or was I hallucinating in the haze? I loved the route, in that the roads were wide and the hills were manageable. My only criticism was that the street lights were out for long stretches which made me glad that I was running with a group as it was pitch dark. There were plenty of traffic cops on duty and many more volunteers offering directions, though a few more directional signs at junctions would have been nice. There were plenty of distance markers. The fire truck spraying its hose over the road was a fantastic surprise and very well received, as were the volunteers with their water spray bottles. I get emotional when I think of the people who get up to support and take photos of runners in the middle of the night. You guys and gals are nothing short of amazing and really made this race (or non-race) experience something special.

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We love to run!

The route turned out to be more than 500m too long and as I upped my pace at the end, Strava calculated a PR of 1:50 for 21.1.km, by lopping off the first half kilometre which was very slow as we were just jogging and talking. As the many photos cropping up on Facebook are showing, despite the conditions, and the disappointments of the Marathon runners who had their runs cut short, MWM brought together a diverse community of runners with spirit and enthusiasm, all aspiring to Karen Loh’s suggestion to ‘Dream, Believe, Become.’ The weather did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the volunteers who did magnificent jobs in what I think was a very well-organised event.

So finally a Half Marathon during which I did not feel nauseous, did not get a stitch, nor did I stop to walk. Finally, after three miserable experiences, it seems I’ve figured out my fuelling strategy. Yay! For me, running with friends, not competing with them (or even against myself), made MWM an even more positive experience than I could have imagined. The camaraderie of yesterday morning is what running is all about and I would not have missed that for the world. That said, I respect the decision of the people who chose not to run, which was the sensible thing to do. Believe me, I’ve gone home to bed early many, many nights while friends have partied on. For once, I took a risk, and I don’t regret it. Ultimately, we each had the freedom to make a choice, which after all is what empowerment is about.

As well as great memories of MWM2014, I’ll always have these photos of my meeting with a running legend. I’ve no idea what I was saying, it was probably something like, ‘You are amazing. How do you do it?!’ but of course my friends and I have had a lot of fun adding funny captions of me offering Catherine Ndereba advice on everything from cable-laying to achieving a PR. Catherine told us that she doesn’t know how to stop running, as she loves it so much. I know how she feels, though obviously on a far less legendary (and slower-paced) level. Run, sisters, run!

CatherinePhotos on this post courtesy of: Nik Fahusnaza, Elvin Tan Chye Guan, Wai-Yee Chan & The Expat Runner.

More #MWM2014 photos are available at:

WARNING: Be prepared to see photos of men in wigs and skirts 😉

Running Malaysia Magazine 

Chan Wk

Victor Chong

Elvin Tan Chye Guan

ET Tey – provides lots and lots of photos, and a comprehensive list of links to photographers who attended the event.

Haze Worsens

 

Tourist expecting to see the Petronas Twin Towers today will be disappointed. They're there, somewhere, honest.
Tourists expecting to see the Petronas Twin Towers today will be disappointed. They’re there, somewhere, honest.

I love Malaysia, Love it! I love the diversity, the vibrancy, the sense of possibilities, the people (when they are not on motorbikes or driving cars). I don’t want to leave. So I feel sorry for anyone visiting right now, or newly arrived. Not only do we have the pall of MH370 hanging over the country, and the debacle of the Anwar Ibrahim scandal, many people have no running water and this morning the air is so polluted that driving the kids to school felt like a scene from Armageddon.

The Royal Palace shrouded in smog
The Royal Palace shrouded in smog

Yesterday, four times Boston Marathon Champion and former World Record holder, Catherine Ndereba, arrived in Kuala Lumpur as guest speaker at the Malaysia Women Marathon event which kicks off tomorrow. The races take place in Shah Alam on Sunday, assuming the air is clear enough. I’m doing the Half Marathon. Tomorrow, I plan to drive out there to hear Catherine speak about balancing her career as world champion and motherhood. Obviously, I’ve left it a bit late to start aspiring to be world champion, or even champion, but I‘m sure her experience will be interesting and relevant nonetheless.

There is no question of running outside today. I’ve had a frog in my throat all week, thanks to the haze. I’ll have to attempt a few easy kilometres on the treadmill.  Yes, I say easy, but there’s no such thing as an easy kilometre on a conveyer belt. Let’s hope the air clears up as fast as it deteriorated yesterday. It’s hard to imagine racing on Sunday if the pollution continues but until we hear otherwise, we must assume that it will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One Where I Get a Tattoo

Tattoos have many purposes including acting as a distraction from the state of one's hair.
Tattoos have many purposes including acting as a distraction from the state of one’s hair.

I never wanted a tattoo, so it has come as a bit of a surprise that I now have one on my left shoulder. As my daughter put it: ‘I still can’t believe that you got one. I thought it was just an idea but you really did it!’

The idea emerged after our January trip to Thailand. Walking past a series of tattoo parlours, one of my kids joked that we should get tattoos. ‘Oh but your dad hates tattoos,’ I said. ‘Well, I dunno, maybe a little one might be nice,’ the tattoo loather said. Huh? So the seed was sown.

A couple of weeks later, a friend put ‘I’m getting a tattoo’ on her Facebook status. ‘I’m thinking of getting one too!’ I responded, amazed at the coincidence. It turned out that she had no intention whatsoever of getting a tattoo but was participating in some Facebook meme. Too late! I’d outed my vague idea and proceeded to discuss it online as if it were a concrete idea. Designs were discussed. Tattooists were recommended. Hitherto unknown (to me) tattoos were revealed. It was hard not to get carried away on other people’s enthusiasm for permanently dying a portion of my skin.

Every Thursday, I run with my friend KC. She has three tattoos, though I didn’t know this until I expressed my own vague idea, now concrete idea, now ‘let’s make an appointment’ idea. She offered to go with me to look at designs. I knew where I wanted it – on my shoulder so that it would be visible in my running tops – but I wasn’t so sure of the design. By the way, I’m certain that if I hadn’t taken up running, I’d never have considered getting a tattoo. I’m not altogether sure why that is.

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After a bit of thought, I planned on getting a Chinese symbol related to running which is why, of course, I ended up with a Celtic Butterfly. The Chinese symbol was to signify my time in Malaysia as well as my newfound passion for running but then I realised that there are probably people in Europe, who’ve never been to Asia, sporting Chinese tattoos so I reverted to my Celtic roots. Not being religious at all, I wasn’t into a Celtic cross and a shamrock was well TOO Celtic so I found a butterfly online and liked the look of it. KC loved it, the tattoo artist, Lina, thought it would work, so an appointment was made, a deposit was paid, and I didn’t tell my husband as he was in Australia and it slipped my mind.

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Unsurprisingly, Tattoo Artist Lina loves tattoos. She plans to eventually cover her arms in ink.

This is the most amazing thing about this whole tattoo experience. I am a control freak, with chronic anxiety, who does nothing lightly, worries constantly, and is rarely spontaneous. Yet, the prospect of getting the tattoo didn’t bother me at all. There were no nervous trips to the loo as I waited with KC in the waiting room, no fidgeting, no agitation. I was as calm as I am capable of being, sober. I was bothered much about the pain, as I knew it would be fleeting. I’m sure some of this uncharacteristic zen-like feeling was due to the fact that KC was with me and that Lina is really a lot of fun and I trusted her completely (don’t ask why, I just did). For once I surrendered control and it was a very pleasant experience indeed.

Tattoo complete but the skin is still inflamed.
Tattoo complete but the skin is still inflamed.

KC held my sweaty hand throughout the process and the three of us chatted about everything from childbirth to jobs and of course tattoos. I asked Lina if people had ever left in the middle of a tattoo as they couldn’t’ bear the pain. Plenty have apparently. After thirteen years, Lina still remembers the first tattoo she inked, and does three or four clients a day. The inking process was mildly uncomfortable at times but nothing compared to the pain of Shock Wave Therapy on my foot. There was a scratching sensation but little more. Afterwards, I felt like I had a little bit of sunburn on my shoulder.

But I didn’t. I had a Celtic Butterfly which I’ve decided symbolises my provenance, combined with metamorphosis and change. We’re all changing all the time, nothing remains the same, but I’m also living a life that requires massive change and upheaval every few years, so the butterfly symbolises that reinvention. Clever eh? Yes, phew, as I only came up with that after the permanent mark had been inked on my skin. I chose the butterfly because I liked the look of it and was too lazy to do much more research!

So it’s there for good, a souvenir of Malaysia, a badge to display when I run, and a reminder of a rare episode of calm. Luckily my husband, who I did tell before the appointment, pronounced the tattoo ‘very nice’ and ‘elegant’. KC says I’ll definitely want another one. I can’t contradict her. But for goodness sake don’t tell anyone I said that as sometimes, a few loose words about vague ideas can develop into full-blown actions, and I wouldn’t want to make a habit of such rash behaviour!

On Friday, I wrote a post about my tattoo which I planned to upload on Saturday. Then on Saturday morning, news came through of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, and it seemed inappropriate to be flippant. I know that tragedies occur everywhere, everyday, but living in Kuala Lumpur, travelling regularly out of KLIA, and as a frequent flyer with Malaysia Airlines, this particular event is close to home. It has also brought the world media spotlight to Malaysia.

 

I don’t pray, but I am constantly thinking about the people who had loved ones on that plane and who still (mid-morning Monday) have no idea where the plane is. If I blog about a tattoo tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that I’m any less concerned with the fate of MH370, but as I’m not in a position to add constructively to any discussion on the issue, or even console anyone affected by the event, I will stick to writing about what I know.  

Rationing & Running

Well four days since the start of systematic water disruptions, our kitchen tap has not yet run dry. Apparently, as it is connected directly to the mains, this indicates that my neighbourhood has so far escaped water rationing. Maybe we’ve just been lucky, forgotten about or someone on my street is very well-connected, as most people I know here have had their water cut-off as per the SYABAS schedule. And drivers continue to wash fleets of cars as if water just fell out of the sky on a daily basis. Well it doesn’t, not anymore. We did have some rain on Monday which was, according to local media, a result of cloud seeding as the government attempts to affect some refilling of the depleted reservoirs. The drivers I challenged on Monday about water wastage seemed to think that as long as their hoses produced water, there was no need to worry. Aargh! It’s enough to make me want to run!

And I have run a little despite the unhealthy level of pollution. I won’t even go there. Google ‘KL Haze’ if you don’t live here and haven’t experienced the smog first-hand. Yes, I’ve run a little, but way less than usual, as my PTT is definitely back.  Already this week, I’ve had two rounds of deep massage on my foot, and much stretching, thanks to my wonderful physio. I’m meant to be doing the Malaysia Women Half Marathon in 10 days time but at the moment I’m just taking it one day at a time, hoping that my injury doesn’t escalate from a niggle to full-blown pain.

Speaking of pain, I’m sitting in a cafe, in my running gear, waiting for my friend, who is accompanying me to get a tattoo.  The running gear is so I can be sure that the tattoo is visible while I run – and of course, it may also come in handy, if I find the pain unbearable and literally do a runner. On this, I will definitely keep you posted!

No running (water) !

So I can’t run today. I just shouldn’t. My foot is as sore as it was yesterday so I must heed it’s plea for rest. But I feel restless. Boy do I really, really want to run! Second to my desire to get out on the road is my wish for rain. We’ve had so little rain over the past two months that water rationing is now being implemented. In effect, this means that since 9 AM this morning, the water company has switched off supply to our area and it will not be switched back on until 4 PM on Tuesday. Then, we will have water for 44 hours before the off-on cycle starts again, all the way to April 1.

My understanding is that there is currently water in the communal tank and that it is up to residents to make this water go as far as possible. The last time there was a two-day water cut off, for maintenance reasons, my neighbours continued to have their staff water their gardens, wash their fleets of cars daily and send litres of water down the drain, literally. I was gobsmacked when I ran – of course – around the neighbourhood through puddles that had come from hoses. When I challenged one neighbour’s driver, as he scrubbed the hubcaps on a Mercedes, he laughed at me. Laughed! So let’s see what happens tomorrow. Even if I can’t run, I’ll walk, like a vigilante water inspector, armed with an iPhone. I’ll be damned if I’m asking my kids not to flush and have the briefest possible showers only for others to squander the precious little water we have. Let’s hope I’m able to run tomorrow to temper my anger somewhat. Or perhaps my neighbours will surprise me and keep the hoses off. Perhaps..

And some good news – I’m very pleased that the Weekly Telegraph has published an article I wrote about how I developed a passion for running mid-life. Please have a look by clicking on this link. Thank you!

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