Hugs and condolences

I ran 10k without my Garmin last night.

*dramatic pause*

You can hug me now, or just provide words of support – whichever you prefer.

It wasn’t until the halfway point that I even realised (how did that even happen? I usually check it obsessively every 30 seconds or so!).

Disbelief and sad feelings ensued, let me tell you.  I finished the run, but it just wasn’t the same.

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You can then imagine the sweet relief when I awoke several hours later to discover it was a very real nightmare, you guys! just a dream.

Just a dream. (*repeats and rocks back and forward*)

It was awful. Imagine if I hadn’t just forgotten it, but that it (gasp) died!

I would definitely need something like this (please take notes – this subject is overly dramatic, I know very important):

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In any case, it was just a dream (but thank you for the hug – I feel much better now).

It may also have been an indication that I love and rely on my Garmin just a little too much.

Like a heads-up from my subconscious that it might be verging on ridiculous.

Subconscious: You can go for a run without it, you know? Other people manage just fine.

Me: Whatever.

Stupid brain.

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More sympathy cards for runners available at Runner’s World:

Twitter for chicks

You know…chicks!  As in: those with recently-hatched accounts who still have their downy fluff (or is it fluffy down?), are ‘cheeping’ as opposed to fully-fledged tweeting, and still awkwardly stumbling around in the nest Twitter land.

See – chicks!

Or to be more specific – this chick!  *points to self*

So now that we’ve got that sorted: fellow chicks and unhatched thinking-about-joining folk, feel free to gather ‘round for a few basic tips and explanations I’ve picked up along the way.

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First tweets

When starting out with a new Twitter account, you’re on your own.  No one knows you’re there, but the general idea is to start saying stuff anyway.

See that compose button?  If you click on that, you have 140 characters available in which you can announce things… to yourself. That’s right!  You say things, and they just float out there into the whatchamacallit.

Imagine wandering out into the street. It’s dark and deserted.

You:  *clears throat* “I did THIS today!”

Crickets:  “chirp”

To mix things up a bit, you might try something different.

You: “Look at what THIS person did today!”                                                                       *points at newspaper you’ve carried out into the dark street with you*

Crickets: “chirp chirp”                                                                                           *tumbleweed rolls by*

See? That’s tweeting. Announcing stuff, saying things and sharing tidbits of information.

There’s no guarantee anyone will hear them but if you like the sound of crickets, it’s all good.

Following others

Feeling very strange talking to yourself a bit lonely?  Just click on the search button and find other people that are also saying stuff – preferably with similar interests to you.  You may still be talking to yourself (or letting out the odd half-hearted “cheep” now and then), but by adding people to follow you can creep in on read what they’re saying about…things.

Just a word of warning:  Try not to develop click-and-follow-frenzy. Yes, people are saying things!  Things that interest you!  Just try to stay cool. You’ll get suggestions on people to follow, and if you’re clicking in a highly-excitable fashion and following all willy-nilly, Twitter will think you’re a 12 year old girl and recommend Justin Bieber (ps thanks, Twitter – that was awesome of you).

Still not sure about following?

Imagine you are at, say, a supermarket, and someone ahead of you picks up your favourite brand of muesli.  Keeping a safe distance, you wander behind them – waiting for their thoughts on the benefits of muesli. Or a recommendation on a new type of muesli. Or an announcement that there is a special on!

That kind of thing.

Which brings us to…

Retweeting

If you’re feeling brave, you repeat their muesli announcement. Word for word – making sure it’s said loudly enough for them to hear (you might even nod to each other in acknowledgement).

Making sense?  OK let’s look at it in a different way:

Do you have siblings, and if so, did you ever play that game where you just repeat what the other said? Well, in the land of Twitter, the childhood game of Copycat is encouraged with a retweet!

Someone just said stuff that’s pretty awesome? Retweet that stuff! 

A bit shy, or don’t have anything to say? Retweet someone else’s stuff!

So basically: sharing someone’s exact words with your own entire zeroes-of-followers.

Which leads nicely onto…

First follower

You’ve just announced loudly that muesli is on special, and someone else in the supermarket happened to hear.  They’ve popped over a few isles to where you are, had a bit of a subtle squiz at your shopping basket, and basically decided to see what else you might have to say (after-all, savings are savings!).

When it happens, try not to let this exciting event throw you too much.

It may be someone who liked what you had to say, but it could also be someone on their own clicking-and-following frenzy.

Either way, there’s no need to agonise over future tweets for fear of scaring them off.

Commenting

If until now you’ve just been saying stuff to yourself, it might be time to say stuff to actual other people.

It may feel like you’re butting in on a conversation to add your 2-cents, or answering a random stranger you just happened overhear, but…actually that is what you’re doing…anyhow – on Twitter, it’s OK!

You may even try taking part in an organised chat using hashtags (eg #runchat). Just be prepared for a flurry of never ending, oh goodness there are so many! tweets.  And if you only manage to say a couple of actual things in the space of an hour, that’s OK too (small steps).

Just jump right in and comment.  Engage away!

You’ll outgrow your downy fluff? fluffy down and have feathers in no time.

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Final tip

If someone tweets @you and shares something you wrote, don’t panic (‘what do I do, what’s the etiquette; is there some kind of tweet-speak or secret code?‘).

Once you calm down you’ll realise that a simple thank-you also works in internet land. There’s definitely no need to courtesy, and in fact there is a ‘favourite’ button that you can also use to show your appreciation. Asking fellow Twitterers / twits / tweeters others is right up there, too (you know, do that ‘engaging thing’ we talked about?).  You’ll soon find out they’re a pretty helpful, welcoming bunch.

For anything else, you may wish to Google ‘Twitter 101’ or ‘How to not look like a dick on Twitter’.  You know, if you want to…not that I did that or anything.                            *whistles and walks away*

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@RubySneaker

All cartoons created using the bitstrips facebook app. 
Additional (poorly Photoshopped) 'chicks' courtesy of Twitter.

Catch me if you can

I’m not big on having my photo taken (you’re shocked, I know), so was quite surprised to find myself looking forward to seeing some from the 10k last week. It was my first ‘big’ event, and having a snap or two would have been a bit nice.

For memories and…stuff.

Or at the very least, something to whip out for extra motivation (ie to ward off the diddly-squats).

So when an email came from the official photographer a few days ago, I excitedly clicked on the link.

Umm…

“What are you doing? Why are you staring at the ground?! Are there coins or other valuables down there? A treasure map, maybe?”

All (bar one) were of the top of my hat, and with my head tilted sideways in some weird pose. Like I’m not only looking for coins or valuables, but listening (intently!) for them as well. I’m almost certain that without the help of the crowd, I would have ended up completely lost and going the wrong way (but rich, apparently!). 

The photos are actually quite good for a bit of a laugh, but alas, could have been of anyone in a red hat and white top. The only difference being that I’m clutching a wad of used tissues in my headband thingy that I’d taken off earlier (so not only rich, but classy as well).

Being a race novice, I also figured that if there were going to be photos taken it would happen right at the end. 

*Cue over-the-top, I’m-not-puffed-at-all smile*

So, yeah… I do want to apologise to the unsuspecting family and friends of other participants who were greeted by a grinning loon at the finish line. Turns out, the photographer was placed 30 or so metres before this point (whoops) so my well-timed ‘finish face’ was probably a bit over the top / scary.

I actually feel a bit silly now for wanting an ‘action shot’ (not to mention embarrassed by admitting to the whole ‘finish face’ pose and subsequent let-down).  I should really have known better.

First, there was parkrun:

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Then, the Women’s 5k:

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(Sorry Tasrunphotos – I would have paid $28.00 for the real thing; if only you’d captured my ‘good’ side)

So last Sunday was nothing out of the ordinary, really:

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And another. So fast I was a blur:

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In fact – on looking back over the ‘evidence’ of my running, I may have discovered something so much better: a new game to play!

‘Spot the wannabe runner’ (not dissimilar to Where’s Wally?).

See – there’s always a silver lining.  It’s actually right up my alley, and something I could definitely have fun with.

Or ‘run’ with, if you will (sorry).

So here’s to the next challenge – I think it’s white hat’s turn to partially shine. 🙂

I survived The Hunger Games!

Or maybe it was more like The Long Walk – a novel by Stephen King in which race participants get ‘taken out’ (for not keeping pace) until only one survives.

There’s also a chance I may be exaggerating ever so slightly have misinterpreted things.

But I’m sure you’ll forgive me for experiencing a moment of panic that there would be weapons involved slight concern about today’s 10km event upon agreeing to the following ‘WARNING, RELEASE AND INDEMNITY’ (all caps = Very. Serious. Business.):

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That’s right: significant risk blah, blah…of death from blah blah…’accidents’ with other participants, spectators or road users!

No worries, race organisers: here’s some money – where do I sign?!

In reality there was not a whiff of danger in sight. I don’t mean to sound disappointed (honestly), and in fact am quite relieved. Dodging runners who did the whole ‘sudden-stop’ thing certainly kept me on my toes, so to not have the added pressure of also dodging arrows or bullets was a blessing, really .

Now…onto the actual telling-you-about-the-run stuff!

The Launceston 10 is a 10km road race, and this year’s event had around 1600 entrants.  Apparently it’s a bit of a big deal, and attracts top athletes from around the country.  The men’s division winner – in 29:09 – was Olympian Ben St Lawrence, who is also known to some of us as a ‘provider of great tips and advice’ in the 12WBT running forums.

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Way to go, Ben!
Photo source: http://www.examiner.com.au

It was a flat course – out and back along the highway, with bagpipes at the halfway point. Yes, you did just read that. And no, I didn’t stop for a bit of Highland Flinging (tempting as it was).

It was cold (I guess it is winter after-all), and the home 5km-stretch provided a lovely, challenging head wind, but all-in-all it was pretty great.

Runners are an awesome bunch, aren’t they?  Even though I arrived alone, I quickly met up with three lovely ladies I met through the 12WBT program and instantly felt welcomed and included.

(Big thanks to ‘M’ and her pre-run training / stretching tips. I think they made all the difference.)

During the run there were also numerous people chatting, laughing, and generally having a grand old time.

So how did I go?  I managed to run the whole way (woo hoo!) and beat my 5km PB time in the process (*almost* under 30 minutes, so am getting closer on that front).

My legs held up, my lungs didn’t burst, and I averaged 6:24 min/km which isn’t too shabby for a first 10km attempt.

In short: I survived The Hunger Games!

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Having a bunch of supportive, encouraging people in your corner certainly goes a long way (thank you!). Congrats also to those who took part – now go and rest up!

So I guess this also means that I need to find a new goal. I hear there’s another 10km coming up in September, so that might be worth a look.

This ‘running thing’ might end up being just as addictive as the ‘buying running gear thing’.

Which can only be a good thing, right?

Eight days and counting

Anyone who has been checking in on my progress during the last six months may know that I’ve had a few stops and starts; from achieving (and enjoying) a certain level of health and fitness, to falling off the wagon (then getting back on again, then doing diddly-squat for a while) to more recently setting a goal of eating the whole block of cheese running 10km.

It’s nearly here (cue trumpets)! 16 June. Only eight days away, and the day I attempt to run 10km for the first time.

Eight. Days.

Crap.

Sorry. I mean – oh dear, that’s not far away!

So in honour of the countdown (did I mention it’s only eight days away?!) below is a bit of a wrap-up of the last couple of weeks.

Otherwise known as: eight random bits of information that you didn’t ask for but are getting anyway:

8. The longest distance run so far.  I’ve been doing my long runs on Sundays, and last week managed 8km. There was one teeny-tiny point where I walked briefly, but no-one was around so it doesn’t count (Right? Good. Carry on).

Tomorrow’s goal is 9km (and to also not keel over in the process), followed by 10km on race day.

7. The magic number, apparently. Around the 7km mark during my last two runs something weird happened.  It felt OK. For a time my mind was quiet, my breathing felt even, and running didn’t seem like such a struggle.  It was so encouraging, and a feeling I want to experience again.

Sidenote: I must admit to getting a tad bit excited at this point: ‘I’m a runner! It’s happened!’ If I had long hair, there would have definitely some slow-motion-ponytail-swishing action and toothy, sparkling smiles going on. 

I quickly got a hold of myself though, ie:

6. The number of seconds ‘7’ lasted for.  OK – maybe it was slightly longer (at least a minute?) but when my stupid, sabotaging brain kicked back in, that’s what it felt like (so sweet, yet so fleeting). On the upside, I now know ‘that feeling’ does exist (yay!).

This was also the point where I had to remind myself (yet again) that it takes time, effort and persistence, and to also not be so impatient for results.

6 is also the number of runs completed over the last two weeks – a mixture of speed work, treadmill, long runs and a group run. I’m trying to do three per week, and include some core work or strengthening stuff in-between.

5. The current PB distance.  One of my goals is to run sub-30 minutes over 5km, and each week am slowly chipping away and getting closer. Tuesday night’s running group helped – there’s nothing quite as motivating as running in the dark, at the absolute rear of the pack, and having to speed up so as not to lose everyone and get left behind!

4. Days left to register for the 10km.  Umm…yeah. So I haven’t registered yet. I’ll do it later today (or tomorrow). Promise.

3. Running things bought this week.  It’s winter, so the two long-sleeved tops purchased were a must. I also lashed out and bought proper socks (man, those things are expensive!).

2. Running things left to buy this week.  Black was not the best colour to wear while running at night. I did start out wearing a jacket with light reflector thingies on it (being safety conscious and all that), but stripped off around the 3km mark.

There was only a smallish section of the course that was unlit, but I now need to buy stick-on reflector tape and a light of some sort. Running in black is best left to the real ninjas.

1. Quite possibly the number of people left still reading this. *waves* Hi there, you! Aren’t you a bit lovely. 🙂

So that’s it. The eight-day countdown has begun.

I have a speech all prepared in the event I actually finish in one piece, and am also expecting a press conference and news cameras to drop by my house. Oh, and a write up in the local paper, if you don’t mind.

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Source: http://www.bitstrips.com (facebook app)

OK not really, but if my first non-stop 5km is anything to go by, there’s a chance I may be a tad bit excited. So while not a news feature, I will post an update on how it goes.

I think I’m actually looking forward to it.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey…stuff

Or – have Tardis, will travel.

Have you ever wondered what you might do if given the opportunity to visit your ‘younger self’?  (Let’s assume doing so wouldn’t create any gaping holes in reality or any other warned-against dire outcomes of time travel).

Would you maybe impart a bit of wisdom, warn against mistakes yet-to-be-made, or even provide reassurance that it will all be OK?

Maybe your preferred mode of transport would be a Delorean.  Or even Dumbledore’s Time Turner.  I’d definitely choose the Tardis (Hello, Tenth Doctor!), but I think instead of trying to fix or help with ‘the big stuff’, would take a light approach (I don’t want to scare the kid, and having a random stranger turn up in a blue box would be a bit freaky in itself!).

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Original art by Eloise Moffatt. Gatecrashing ‘companion’ from http://www.bitstrips.com

So I think it would go something like this:

George Michael will break your heart.  I know you have the dance moves down pat to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and absolutely rock it! wearing your Choose Life T-shirt, but he’s not the one for you.  You’ll just have to trust me on this. Oh, and taking a photo of yourself in front of an A-Ha poster…not cool.  People can tell that you’re not really with them.

Spoil your mother a bit more.  Your gifts until now have been a bit…lacking.  Did you really think that bunch of fake flowers and a crappy vase from the $2 shop was an awesome mother’s day present?  Oh you did?  Well…try harder next time, OK?

While we’re on the subject; in a couple of years you’ll have to do a school project on your family.  Here’s a tip – Mum isn’t ‘just a boring old housewife’.  OK, maybe you won’t write those exact words but they’re pretty close.  We both know you don’t mean it that way, but…talk her up a bit.  She’s a great mum and deserves it (especially as your dog got such a detailed mention…with photos!).

Hang in there with your sister.  Sharing a room will only happen for a few more years – around the time when your Guns n Roses posters take over and you also discover Aerosmith.  She’s really not so bad – she just has her own friends, is more grown up, and doesn’t always want her little sister hanging around (these things just happen).

Oh, and that thing you guys have with an imaginary line down the middle of the room (meaning she can’t access the door as it’s on YOUR side) is mean!  Things may seem terrible now, but these times will give you some great memories when you’re older.  You’ll remember things differently, and she will actually turn out to be your best friend and someone you’ll share many laughs with (especially over her past love for Billy Idol).  It seems really far-fetched now, but I promise that one day you’ll wonder what you’d do without her. You’ll also wonder how someone’s laugh can make you laugh harder than the joke itself…but that’s something for another time.

Don’t stop playing the guitar.  You’ll regret it down the track, and when you pick it up again years later will discover how much you love it.  Keep trying even though your fingers hurt and you think you suck.  Just a tip though – ask Dad to buy you some real strings.  That fishing line he put on the ‘D’ string is not really cutting it.

That money tree will never grow.  I hate to break it to you kid, but those coins you planted have long been dug up and spent by your brother and sister. It was a bit of a joke, apparently (one you fell for).  So you can stop watering it now. They’ll continue to leave you out of things at times, and play these kinds of tricks on you (you are very gullible, aren’t you?), but it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.  They’re just being pests.

Brush things off.  When you’re around 15 a friend’s mother will ask, ‘Have you always been chubby?’ Just brush it off.  You’re not chubby, you’re healthy and active.  Don’t run home and weigh yourself – there’s enough time for that ‘joy’ later in life.

You’ll learn why people say dumb (or even hurtful) stuff later, too.  So when it happens just ignore it and move on.

Think about choosing a different AFL team.  I know you love Richmond, but you’re in for years of heartache.  You’ll convince yourself it doesn’t matter that they haven’t won (or been in) a premiership since around the time you were born, and that they’re a ‘scrappy’ team full of heart.  You’ll also eventually come to love the number 9 (sigh).

But just think about it.  Maybe Sydney?  Red is your favourite colour, and you did once have that thing for Warwick Capper (or maybe that hasn’t happened yet?).

Anyway, no pressure (we really do love them, and their year is coming!).

Keep reading!  I know you love it now, but even bigger things are in store.  One day you’ll discover Roland, Jake, Oy, Susannah and Eddie (they’re on a quest to The Dark Tower!) and will consider them dear friends.  You’ll have to wait years in-between some books – and will curse Stephen King at times for this – but it’s so worth it (especially the part where Oy wears ruby slippers…or whatever Billy Bumblers wear on their paws…anyway – you’re gonna love it).

Oh – and those comics you read?  Buy the Sea Monkeys!!  I’m still wondering after all these years if they were as awesome as they looked in the pictures.

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So there it is, young one.  Not big life lessons – you’ll have to learn those yourself.  At times you’ll be scared, and there will be many tears – but you’ll get through them. They’ll make you stronger, make you kinder and more compassionate toward others.  People will tell you that at times live life through rose coloured glasses – but you’ll be OK with that.

Now go have fun!  If memory serves, you’re about to go searching for Tasmanian Tigers again with your brother. I know you both think they’re still around (even if they have been extinct for years)…so enjoy!

Oh, and I almost forgot…don’t blink!

(not spoiling the surprise on this last one…you’ll just have to wait)

WordPress – we need to talk!

Dear WordPress,

Or should I call you Judgey Judgerson ?  How about JJ for short?

Here’s the thing, JJ – your tag “suggestions” (when I publish a post) aren’t doing much for my self-confidence. They almost feel like…well, a diagnosis of sorts.  Like you’re simply picking out certain words I’ve written and then being all, ‘A-Ha!  Fellas, here’s that poor blogger we’ve been trying to help out.  Quick – suggest that tag for her again before she slips through the cracks!’

Or even worse – that you made up your mind months ago, assigned me a permanent tag “suggestion”, and I’m now pigeon-holed for all future posts.  I can hear it now: ‘Hey love, file this one in the Watch and Observe category for us would you?  Cheers.’

What tag I hear you ask?

Mental–Health (seriously, JJ – it’s kinda starting to hurt my feelings)

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Stern, questioning look courtesy of Bitstrips facebook app

I actually can’t tell if you’re trying to be helpful, witty, or well…a bit of a dick.

But just in case it’s the first, and you really are the caring type (I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, JJ), please let me explain a few things:

1. The username – RubySneaker

To you that name might make it appear that I really dig wearing only one shoe.  Like it’s my thing and that I actually do get around with a permanent limp and holes in my sock.

The thing is, your 12-letter-username rule meant that I had to drop something (or was it that someone else already had that username?  I can’t recall sorry.  Anyway…).  So I had to make a choice, and the ‘s’ on the end of my preferred name went.

See?  Easily explained away.

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Sidenote:  I tried to get around this by (craftily) using a gravatar picture with the full name of RubySneakers, but alas – some fellow bloggers also think I only wear one shoe. So for this one I’ll give you a free pass.   

2. Talking about sometimes needing other butts to sniff

If you took the time to read this one instead of automatically playing “helpful doctor”, you’d find that I meant something completely harmless.  That I was actually referring to exercising with others and how it can be motivating and encouraging.

Mental-Health indeed!

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Stern, annoyed look courtesy of Bitstrips facebook app

3. Conversations between my mind, legs and smoker’s lungs (when I first tried to run)

Umm…so…yeah.

Kidding.  I was kidding!  *awkward laugh*

That never really happened.  Honest.

4. The fact that I’m now addressing you as an actual person

Well, JJ, we have known each other for around six months now.  Sure, there is no doubt a team of people working there.  With algorithms, technical thingies and wot-not also most likely involved somehow.

But you’re always providing helpful blog posts, encouraging me to read Freshly Pressed, and even hinting at other blogs I might enjoy.  “Diagnosis” aside, it’s like you do know me a bit.  Therefore I feel like I know you a bit, too.

In fact, in Australia, giving a nickname to someone is a true sign of friendship.  So, JJ (mate), I think this one’s also explained away pretty nicely.

So there you go – all cleared up and not a Mental-Health tag in sight. (right?)

I hope you can see that you have been pretty darn judgey, and I also trust that my use of stern air quotes on certain phrases (and my even sterner cartoon-glares) have served their purpose.

So, JJ – thanks for your time.  I hope the above has sufficiently quashed any concerns you may have had.

If so, great.

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‘Relieved, hope-they-fell-for-it’ image also from Bitstrips

If not, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.  And just to show you that there are no hard feelings, this one’s on me:

*tag*  #Mental-Health

Ps – there’s also a slight chance that the tag suggestion might be as a result of writing about running, fitness and mindset.  All healthy stuff.  If so, please accept my apologies, JJ – sorry – WordPress. You’re doing a fine job.

Chat soon!

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Update: Upon posting, this was the suggested tag.  I heart you, WordPress.

WordPress is funny!

Well played, my friend, well played.