super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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a tropical island getaway got in the middle of everything else…

…and it was equal parts terrifying and divine. But mostly divine.

In any case, normal blogging should resume now. I’ve got a handful of posts I want to write about the three and a half days I spent exploring Samoa but, for now, I’ve got to save my words for NaNoWriMo, which I desperately need to catch up on. I haven’t written a single word for it in over a week (which, yes, is making me rethink the whole thing). I logged onto the website for the first time in days today and the little dashboard thing told me that, at this rate, I’ll be finishing my novel on January 13, 2012. Boy, do I have a crap load of writing to get done in the next few days!

I also didn’t run at all while I was in Samoa and had a pretty pathetic excuse for a run today – the final run before the half-marathon this saturday. I had the best intentions and took all my running gear with me to Samoa but sunday was the only day when I actually had free time to go for a run (after feeling sick as a dog on friday and saturday) and I was told jogging/running was not recommended on sundays as it is a rest day in Samoa. I’m not one to offend anyone’s costumes and beliefs (at least not intentionally) so the running clothes came back to Auckland untouched.

Stress levels? Pretty much back to really freaking high. I’m a lot less fit and a lot more unprepared for this half-marathon compared to the last one (and this is a very objective statement) so I can only count on the track and the weather and the running gods to help me out on the day.

And to think that it was just yesterday that I was taking the photo above…

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Inspired!

After my mini-meltdown about the half-marathon last week, I’m feeling a lot more positive about things this time. It may have something to do with all the marathon excitement that populated the internet in the past few hours (with a friend finishing the marathon in Porto – his first marathon!), people I have met finishing the NYC marathon and other cool stuff like finding out that the fourth place belonged to a Portuguese lady (is she fast or what?). I mean, between the article about the couple who got married *while* running a marathon and this great read about the un-sporty turned runner, there’s a lot of running goodness out there on the interwebs right now.

I am sure it this positive vibe I’m getting is also somewhat related to the fact that, after running 6km on Saturday and feeling like crap, I ran 16km on Sunday and felt amazing. Not sure what happened there but boy was that a good run! I think that’s exactly what I needed: a good long run to put my mind at ease and remind me that, yeah, I’ve done it before so I know it’s not impossible.

On sunday morning, in spite of the cloudy (sometimes rainy) weather, S. and I headed over to St Heliers for what we thought would be a 12km (maybe 14km) run. Our goal, when we started, was to run non-stop for 45 minutes, then stretch, turn around and run another 45 minutes to where we’d started.

The temperature was just ideal and all the other runners around really added to our motivation. Once our 45 minutes were up, we decided we could keep going a bit longer and ran another 5 minutes to the port, where we sat on the grass overlooking the shipping containers and had a good stretch. Then we turned around and ran another 50 minutes back, with a total of 16km (according to her app) or 16.25km (according to mine) done. The best part? We felt great afterwards! And may I add this was a mere 30 something hours after my epic running fail when I met up with her, ran 1km (yes, one!) and had to walk home with some sort of weird stomach pain? I was glad to see that hadn’t stuck around.

The half-marathon is now less than two weeks away and I’m feeling a LOT better about it. We’re making a girls’ weekend out of it, staying at a cool hotel and heading to the street party that the town is putting on after the half-marathon too. I don’t know what I’m more excited about but the important thing is that I no longer feel like Kerikeri is the place where I am going to die. Win!

On a less positive note, I’m so far behind on NaNoWriMo it’s not even funny! I wrote about 300 words last night and felt myself hitting a bit of a dead-end in the story so decided to sit there and let it simmer for a while. Time to stop over-thinking it and get that word count up, seeing as that’s what this challenge is all about anyway.


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early morning runs rock

Today, I went for my first run since the Auckland Quarter Marathon last Sunday. The weird thing about it? I ran in the morning, before work. And no, I wasn’t on a late shift.

I jumped out of bed (and by “jumped” I mean slowly rolled out while cursing my life), got into my running gear and headed out of the house. It had to be a very quick process because I knew I was racing against my lack of willpower and laziness. It was 6:45am.

To be fair, it was only a short 5km run so it’s not like I ran a marathon, saved some children from drowning and then baked a pie before doing a full day’s work but, you know, it’s better than hitting the snooze button for half an hour while lying down regretting not having gone to bed earlier the night before.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever make a habit of it but it definitely proved to me that, rather than make you tired, exercising in the morning is the productivity boost you need to then be able to go to work and kick the crap out of your to do lists. It also felt pretty awesome to be running while it was getting sunnier rather than running as it starts to get dark (on weekdays, those are my only two options).

It was a good thing I unintentionally went for this morning run on the deadline day for one of the publications I write for. I had what seemed like 4 million words to write before the end of the day and they were all written.

*pause for patting self on the back*

Now I’ve got a free evening to do whatever I want without feeling guilty about not being out running! Yay! Maybe I’ll go running to celebrate. I do need another energy boost if I’m going to tackle today’s NaNoWriMo wordcount…


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Summing up the October blogging challenge

October has come and gone and so has the blogging challenge I set for myself.

I had initially decided to try to blog once a day every day during October which would mean I would get to the end of the 31st with at least 31 blog posts written. I knew it would be a busy month so thought that, if necessary, I would just post some YouTube video or whatever interesting Ted talk I had watched on a day when I didn’t have time to write anything else.

Then I decided that there was really no point in posting stuff like that just to fill up the blank space – the old “if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all” adage came to mind. After all, this was a challenge for myself, to try and get me into the habit of blogging (and writing) as often as possible. A YouTube video to replace a blog post wasn’t going to help that, really.

I started off well. In fact, I managed to publish on blog post every day until the 14th, when I didn’t publish anything. It was okay because I had published two blog posts the day before and then published another two the day after.

From the 15th onwards, things got slightly harder. I travelled through different timezones to Singapore and worked my butt off so couldn’t keep up with blogging and everything else. Nothing was published between the 15th and the 19th, when I sat on the hotel lobby and posted a quick recap of my Singapore trip. And then another break… travelling back to New Zealand (stopping over in Australia) took a total of 15 hours and I came back to the office with about 3.5 tonnes of work to do before setting out on an overnight hike, which I blogged about four days after the Singapore blog post. The next day, to try and catch up, I published another two blog posts. For some reason, I skipped the 25th and didn’t blog on that day, but got back into it the day after with another two blog posts (one of them fairly long). From then on, I’ve blogged every day until today, the 31st, including two blog posts on the 29th and three today (!).

In total, I posted 30 blog posts in October. I know I’m one short and I could quickly pick a funny cat photo or something else to put up here and get a better result on this challenge. But what would be the point? I don’t think that would make this self-imposed blogging challenge any more successful. I really feel like blogging as become a habit again and, regardless of whether some blog posts are more interesting than others, I’ve enjoyed documenting everything I’ve documented here this month.

Here’s a roundup of the most read posts from October, in case you feel like a trip down short-term memory lane:

  1. Leitch’s Track, Whareorino Forest, New Zealand
  2. lomo love
  3. distance means nothing
  4. crouch, touch, pause, engage!
  5. a photo tour of new plymouth, new zealand
  6. running randoms
  7. a small photo tour of Sintra’s many Sintras
  8. vanilla cupcakes with passionfruit icing
  9. Fado (and other weird expat behaviour)
  10. How much did this run suck? Let me count the ways. 
November will be a very different story. I’ll be focusing on my off-work writing efforts on NaNoWriMo and a lot of the rest of my free time will be taken up with half-marathon training. But I’m sure I’ll squeeze in the time to stop by as often as possible to document all of those things too.


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NaNoWriMo 2011

Starting tomorrow and for the next 30 days, I will:

  • try to remain just as productive at my full-time job
  • train for my second half-marathon, run said half-marathon and finish it injury-free
  • spend time on a pacific island and try to enjoy it as much as possible
  • maintain some sort of social life
  • write a 50,000 word novel (or 1666 words per day, to be more precise)
So apologies in advance if you say good morning to me and I respond by threatening to hit you in the face with whatever I happen to be holdingl. As you can see, it’ll be totally justified.


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Pre-challenge challenge

 

WordPress reckons that I should write a post every day in October. It’s a sort of pre-challenge challenge, in anticipation of NaNoWriMo, which starts on 1 November and which I decided to do again this year, because I’m clearly a big freaking idiot. I’ve got a lot coming up in November, such as, oh I don’t know, another half marathon for which I haven’t even started training (crap!), the whole full time job thing which, as the description suggests, takes up quite a bit of time, concerts (portishead coming to auckland – yes!) and other activities that I stupidly signed up for while at the same time deciding to try to write 1,667 words a day during the 30 days of November.

I’m not taking this whole one post a day in October thing very seriously but I also don’t think it’s a terrible idea, to get me into the right mood for the November madness (hello, big fat giant bags under my eyes!). So yes, I hear ya WordPress, I’ll give this one post a day thing a go, if it helps getting my ass into gear for November.

I’ll probably cheat though, just so you know. Just a bit. You know, here and there. If I struggle to come up with something to write about because life has been sort of uneventful, I might just make it a “photo a day challenge” for that day. Or I might just slap you with a random You Tube link. Or even pre-schedule posts if I don’t think I’ll be able to blog on a particular day.

Or, if I wanted to be a real cheater, I could write a post about writing a post a day for a month and have it count towards that final goal.

1 October = done!


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It’s the (not so) little things

Around lunchtime on 29 November 2009, I typed my final word on the document that I had had open for the previous 29 days, added a “the end” for dramatic effect and grabbed my phone to call C. It was sunday and he was out on a bush walk with some friends.

It was a gorgeous day outside, as it had been in the few days prior to that. I had massive bags under my eyes and was in serious need of some vitamin D so I remember feeling really bummed out I couldn’t join them for the walk. “I DID IT! IT’S FINISHED!” I said, as soon as he said ‘hello’. Instead of his usual patronising “hmm okay, honey” (usually said while he quickly tries to remember what the heck I’m talking about), he said “All done? Wow! That’s awesome!” and proceeded to tell the person walking next to him that I had just finished my first NaNoWriMo challenge and, with that, my first 50,000 word novel.

The reason for his genuine satisfaction with my achievement (which, on a universal scale, is pretty minuscule, I do realise) was because he had seen how hard each of those days had been, working full-time in a writing job, only to get home and write another 1667 words on top of that, when my brain was begging for a break. I printed out my “winner’s certificate” and felt genuinely proud of myself.

Was it because I had written the next New York Times Bestseller? Of course not, I’m no Snooki! I had over 50,000 words of complete rubbish (so bad I haven’t dared to open the document pretty much since that exact same day, for fear of dissolving into a pool of embarrassment).

So no, it had nothing to do with the kind of work I had slaved over. It was just about the fact that I had set myself to do it… and I had done it. Bonus: I had managed to stick to my self-imposed rules: 1) do not take any time off work because of it and 2) do not cancel any pre-scheduled social engagements because of it.

In the great scheme of things, doing the thing you love the most every single day for 30 days shouldn’t be hard. But like most things in life, turn it into an obligation, give it a deadline, and it enters the “tedious chore” danger zone. That was what I was afraid to happen. It didn’t.

Anyway, I started thinking about this after watching this short TED talk by Matt Cutts about how small sustainable steps make you achieve your goals in a much easier way. It all sounds pretty obvious until you start thinking about how you usually have big ideas (I want to write a novel! I want to run a marathon!) and then get completely overwhelmed by the scale of those ideas and toss them aside in favour of something a little easier.

In a way, I think that’s the same logic behind my decision to enter one running event per month this year (I’ve entered five so far, having missed the June one due to a cold and the July one due to not wanting to give organisers $50 for the only run that fits into my schedule… but I’ll catch up). The point is, this goal is not to run a marathon (CALM DOWN!) but to slowly progress towards something of the sorts.

(The fact that I’m going to be running my first ever half-marathon in 3 weeks time and still have no idea how I’m going to live to blog about it is a subject for an entirely different blog post.)

Last January, I also set myself the “mini-goal” of running 100km during that calendar month. It turned out to be fairly easy to reach, with summer days being a big help and getting through the month tracking the numbers and seeing them increase was actually quite exciting, like I was in a race against myself… and winning!

Thirty days seems like short enough for me to stick to something in case I don’t like it and it also seems like long enough for me to do something I like very often without getting sick of it. Plus, it means I’m making each day matter, somehow. Well, most days.

***

image credit goes to my friend & running buddy S. and you can sort of see me with my dorky knee brace during our very first running event, on Waiheke Island, back in January.