Friday, November 28, 2008

home, safe n sound

i'm home. i'm safe. more news about my Bangkok story soon.

i'm using the same number. Just need to get it unbarred. But calls n text message have been received, thanks very much. Will be contacting u soon. =)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Great Cranleigh Kauri Run 2008

Race report first. Trip report later.

There were many firsts to this race. It was my first race in Auckland. It was my first time running 32 km off road. It was my first time wearing running shoes for a trail run. It was my first time eating Leppin, their sport supplement here. And it was my first time having Jellybeans at the refreshment stations!
The race started at 10 am on Saturday morning. The turn up was good they say, although I thought races in Malaysia attracted more people. If they had given free t shirts perhaps they'd attract more *grumbles*. Anyway, I was feeling a tad nervous before start. I was the only one among my friends who was doing the 32km. And at that point of time I suddenly thought, maybe I wasn't being so smart. Let me remind you how my race profile looked like.Yeah. So I wanted to make the most of my visit there. Owell, no turning back. My target time? 4 and a half hours. Everyone started together. The race started with a 2 km beach run, which didn't turn out that bad in the end. Because we ran at the wetter shores of the beach where the sand was compressed. Weather was hot, and I was soon starting to sweat, and yearning for the shade of the jungle.

Then we came to the trail run. People here are so polite, they don't fuss or hurry people whenever there is an obstacle to go through i.e. causing a bottle neck. They wait patiently in queue. Anyway, the moment i started running on the roots and streams I instantly missed my trail shoes. It makes heaps of difference running with road runners. Mine were pretty worn out, so i slipped a lot. Which made me slow down a lot whenever it came to a creek or a muddy slope. Which I got pretty frustrated about because those are spots I usually am able to overtake people. Could've been a tad faster i guess. Owell, least I had my hydrapak. =)

I was doing quite alright in the first 10km. There were markers every km, and it seemed like the kms were passing by faster than it felt. Somewhere after 10km, the route diverged whereby the 13km runners ran down to finish, and we continued to run up. The view was amazing. I didn't bring my phone with me, for fear I might damage it, but mere photos would not do it justice. You'd just have to see it for yourself. =)

A little after the 12km mark or so, I was running alongside this guy who seemed to be having some difficulty. He stopped a lot but kept moving. I spoke to him and found out he did the race last year. I asked him how he did and he said "5:30...but that was because I pulled my calf muscle". whoa. ok, i need to up my pace if i were going to meet my 4:30 time, I thought. So I ditched him as gracefully as i can and carried on. The route could not get any tougher. We were running on gravel road with loose rocks sliding beneath my feet at a gradient of about 75 degrees! My feet were really sore by then. My little toes felt crushed because the shoe was a little too narrow for me.

At every water and refreshment station I had a banana, a few jellybeans and Leppin water. I was getting pretty hungry by about 1 pm, but the food just didn't seem to get digested. And if I studied it right, it is because your gut stops working when you're doing intensive work out. Blood flow is diverted to areas like your legs to maximise energy production. If that is true, whatever food I shove down my throat would just sit in my gut! I dont know if it did, but my stomach was bloated and aching from hunger. I wasn't feeling very comfortable, to say the least.

At about 20 km into the race, my feet were killing me. every step sent a burning sensation through my feet up to my knees. the sides felt more and more crushed. if i stepped on uneven ground, sharp pangs of pain radiated through my ankles, probably due to previous ankle injuries. and because my steps were heavy and uncoordinated, my knees were pounded on very very intensely. the tip of my nose was officially burnt. I had sunscreen on, but i must've missed my nose.

25 km - I.felt.like.crying. But i think i dried out my tear ducts as well. I was in so much pain and agony that my throat twisted, like it does when u want to cry. I was heaving, almost asthmatically, but no tears fell. My legs were wobbly and weak and I kept on stepping on loose gravel or mud puddles or mossy rock. I kept slipping, but miraculously never fell. I did a hobble-jog-shuffle-run-walk-hobble. I was thirsty but my stomach felt way too bloated to take in anymore fluids. I honestly never felt so miserable during a race in my life. And then i did the inevitable. I tumbled over at some point and rolled into a thorn bush. Got my hands and legs poked all over. There are still splinters in my hands which I've yet to take out.

28km - The "Success Trail" started. Which was all the way downhill. I should be rejoicing but i wasn't. Uphill was exhausting, but downhill was a torture to my legs and feet. Every single step was painful. And I had 4 km of pain to endure. I wasn't in a very good mood then and it must've showed because a lot of people asked me if i were alright. Either that or people here are generally nicer than runners back at home. I started talking to myself. Scolding even. My will power and drive were really put to test here. I gave myself little goals to achieve, but they were getting littler and littler. Like "Ok Karen, run for the next 2 km", became "Okla...run till the next km mark, ok?", and eventually I'd spot a leaf at the furthest end of my sight and go "Idiot, just run to that leaf and then u can bloody walk". I was going delirious. I'd have good stretches where I ran for 5 minutes or so...and I'd have really really bad stretches where I ran for 5 seconds and then double over and took deep breaths to stop myself from crying.

30 km - The road. Gorgeous, flat, smooth, pavements. I made myself a promise to finish the last 1km + of the race. And I did. I came in just a few seconds shy of 4 hour 45 minutes. Not too bad shabby la. Friends were all there to cheer me on. The organizer (i think) stood at the end of the line and said "Well done, Karen! Well done!" with his arms outstretched. I don't know if he was just welcoming me with open arms, but I just hugged him there and then. More like i collapsed onto him. hahaha...but yea i was dying to be comforted at that point really. So a big white man's hug was pretty good. =)
running in. that's me in a whole lot of pain.the amount of salt that stayed on my face after the run. click on image for large size.post race FREE beer! that's a first too!

Turned out, I came in 18th in my category out of 24 runners. Ok la. Quite happy. =)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

smashed

"i fell into a thorn bush...look"

had a blast. completely knackered now. race report up next!

Friday, November 21, 2008

empty

I think I'm starting to miss this place. Because an empty shelf, a box of your things taped up nicely, and little notes to housemates which say "This is all yours" does that to you. It's been a short 4 and a half months that I've stayed here, but memorable nonetheless. I've felt and seen so much in these past few months, emotions I never knew could be so bitter, cold i never knew could be so paralyzing, and then a familiar sense of belonging i never knew i could find else where apart from home.

I've learned a lot. And for all the times I had doubted myself, for all the times I actually pondered whether or not this was worth it, I have the answers now. It's a whole new life that I'd begun here in Auckland, and only after 4 and a half months have I come to realise and accept that. Only after I decide which things stay behind and which things follow me home, that I accept the fact this is a new chapter of my life, that for the next few years to come, most of my time would be spent here, with new friends, new places to call home, new experiences, new life. I know it sounds kinda silly to be thinking so deep into this, but really for a good long time since the day I touched down, I kept thinking this was only temporary. That it'll be over in a few months, i'll worry about next year when I come to it. I was in denial, so to speak. And I had a tough time, just fitting in. But I'm all good now. Looking forward to go home, and looking forward to coming back here too. =)

***
last night the gym girls brought me out for drinks and it is either I am a really lousy drinker, or whatever poison they shoved down my throat was really strong, but I wasn't walking straight even before midnight. haha...but i love 'em girls. =)
Merin, my manager
Cara "I can't take good photos!", the Sales Exec
Sarah, assistant manager + Kick box instructor
Kate (head trainer) & Claude


I really hope they'll all still be here when I get back next year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

to be loved

I was prepared to face yet another day of moping around the apartment. I got up bright and early about 7.50 am, because i had slept at 9.45 pm the night before. Had a major headache which hung on all evening till night, so I was dying to lie down by nightfall. I had wanted to go for a short run but the weather didnt permit that, so I breathed and sighed and resigned myself to household chores once again. I have been cleaning the apartment almost every other day.

And then Abby, being the saviour that she is all through the semester, texted me and asked if i were keen to visit the museum! So lucky for me, Abby, Alex, Tze May, Tim and myself all made our way to the Auckland Museum. Museums are usually not my thing. History and me do not go hand in hand. But anything was better than staying home. This museum wasn't too bad. There was a dinosaur floor which I kinda liked. And that was about it. haha...the war, the Maori culture and history, the plants and animals and geology were mere photographic opportunies.
abby and i got a little crazy with the explicit figurespole dancing?do frogs hump? i thought they reproduce externally...u know...persenyawaan luar badanA T-Rex named Sue. No kidding...

Then at night was my last day of work! And I had told some of them earlier this week that it was my last day this wednesday so I was gonna work them hard. And some of them came, with presents! I received 2 farewell presents from my clients. I'm honestly quite touched. I totally did not expect that. And I've only known them for a couple of months! And only about half hour to one hour a week. I felt so loved. =) After work, the owner of the gym, my boss, brought me out for a nice fancy dinner! We had wine and steak. It was delicious. And we chatted for a good 2.5 hours, just the two of us. She was really nice. And we spoke about everything under the sun. Including relationships! ahaha...imagine talking about your boyfriend to your boss! =)

Nancy my sweetest clientMoe & Rachel who cracks me up every time they're on...Fiona, the owner of Configure Express Sylvia Park

sigh...i feel so happy today. It's pretty overwhelming, just the thought of how when i first got here I knew only a handful of people, went to work in a completely foreign environment, dealt with everyone BUT asians, and somehow managed to build good friendships with them. It's a nice feeling, something I really want to get out of whatever I do in future. =)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Have you ever had absolutely NOTHING to do? I am bored out of my wits here. I should be doing stuff, but because friends stay far away, and there's practically nothing to do here at night anyway, I'm confined to the four walls of my apartment with nothing left to do. I'm sick out of my skin of Facebook. My 3 email inboxes have been checked. Bank account checked. Vodafone account checked. Trademe surfed. Kauri Run site surfed. Random blogs surfed. Singapore flight and accomodation sorted. I've begun packing for home. I've even packed for my trip this weekend. WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?

A while ago i picked up TV watching. But I had never been a TV person. Don't think I'll ever be one. Perhaps one fine day I'll be driven to it, but that day has yet to come. I just don't like the idea of sitting down in front of the idiot box. Don't know why.

I don't know what else to do. Oh and I have made Black Glutinous Rice dessert. So yup, cooking checked too. And I've cleaned the apartment. Times like this I really hate the time difference because my dear friends at home don't come on till about 4-5 am Auckland time. This stinks.

Owell. It was my last day at Jester's today. Jester's is the after school program I work for at Meadowbank school, where i teach gymnastics. Well, I don't exactly teach, since it's artistic gymnastics, and I'm probably even newer to it than they are. Anyway, I hadn't like this job very much when I started. Kids here were rude, had the shortest attention span and had no discipline and respect whatsoever. I dreaded every Monday. But through time I seemed to have bonded with some of the littler girls and when they gave me a big fuzzy group hug today I almost wanted to cry. I'd miss the little ones. =)

On a completely random note, I think the saddest thing to see in a child is when the child swears and curses. I wince every time i hear profanities being yelled out from little kids mouths. I think kids should stay as pure as they possibly can, I really do. It's just such a bad reflection on the parents when a little 6 year old goes "F*ck" so nonchalantly. I can't take it. Kids should NOT swear and curse. Not even when they're 10, not even when they're 12. Not ever, if you ask me. I'm 22 and I don't curse and swear. I've picked up "damn" and "shit" recently, but I think I should cut down on that too. I'm reverting back to "darn" and "shoot". It's just NOT COOL when little children swear.

Gah...just thinking about it makes me mad. How can parents sit back and watch their children swear like that? It is beyond me.

Great. 9.52 pm. I've wasted about 6 minutes. So i've got blogging checked too. NOW what else can i do? sigh..

Sunday, November 16, 2008

post exam diary

Gosh I feel so sleepy.

I feel like I haven't quite had proper sleep since Thursday. I was far too excited about the final day of exams that I had a rather restless night on Thursday. Then on Friday, I had a small ceremonious moment with a guitar, a set of drums, a mic, and a whole slew of pretty unheard of rock songs at Shaun's place. Played till close to midnight. I came home, with the beats still stuck in my head, I stayed up...just-because-it's-after-exams...till 1-ish.

Saturday morning I was up at 7.15 am, preparing for work at 8. Work went on till 4 pm, by when i had successfully yawned myself to exhaustion. I came home after closing the gym up at about 4.30, and collapsed on the bed till about 6. Woke up and started preparing dinner. Then there's Skype with the family till about 10. After which I stayed up again...just-because-it's-after-exams...till 1-ish.

This morning, I had work at 8 again. But because I had to make my lunch, I got up at 6.45 am. Prepared, and went to work. Till 4. Again, I yawned myself to exhaustion. I came home and dropped on the bed again, but this time till 5.15 pm. I got up, went for a short run. Then I went out for dinner with Shermayne and dad. Then it's off to Lily's where i ate some more, while talking to her dad. (I seem to be entertaining/entertained by lots of uncles today.)

And now I'm here. Officially spent. I ought to sleep, but I've no work tomorrow. Though I still intend to wake up at about 7 just so I can get a free massage at the gym. Will probably get one, then come back and sleep. :P

Friday, November 14, 2008

blondie says

"one way...or another...*zheng zheng zheng*!"

Guitar Hero rocks.

And i'm done with exams!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sunshine...

The sun shone bright and hot today. for the first time ever, I actually felt the heat...and almost, almost wished there was a fan in this apartment. but then night came and it's cold again.
***
As i was running, getting my skin burnt (i used sunscreen, don't worry) i saw 2 little boys no taller that my waist. They must be about 6 years old. They were talking to each other rather animatedly. With their eyes big and round, and their hands gesturing all over the place. Then all of a sudden, one of them bent over and started rolling down the grassy slope, in a literally head over heels manner, to his home. My heart almost lurched up my throat. I thought he fell and broke his neck. But then the other kid followed suit, and they erupted in laughter. It was the cutest sight ever. Then they scrambled back up and did it again.

Kids here are so independent. I've seen little 3 feet tall children walking home all by themselves. Nobody walks them home from school. They just know how to. They can wait by the lights for the Green Man to appear, then cross the pedestrian. I think if a kid of Chinese parents stepped so much as 5 steps away from mum and dad, they'll be rudely dragged back in by their parents and given a firm warning to never do it again.

heh. i think we're so spoilt sometimes, do u?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

14 days

By now most of my friends are done with their exams. Shermayne finished hers yesterday. Her last paper for her Sport Science degree. On Saturday I got a text from Navin exclaiming "I'm an Engineer!". On Monday, Wye Yin texts me saying she's "DONE!!!". This is insane. My previous papers were so far away I feel like they were a different term altogether. I've been relatively relaxed over the past couple of weeks, since Sport Sci 104 and 105 are quite common sensical papers which require minimal study. But that doesn't warrant a reason to let loose and kick back for the simple reason that I'm still "having exams". Not that I could if i wanted to. I've got some friends who are still having exams till this Thursday. But even this Thursday doesn't give me the right to party just yet. Not till Friday, 12.30 pm...and even then, work starts at 8 am on saturday AND sunday this weekend. Thats for taking one week off to study. Man...who knew the sacrifices to make for Medsci was this demanding. Until 2 days post exam also still have to "pay back".

On a lighter note...i'm 14 days away from boarding a flight home. that's 2 weeks. that's 2 more pushing of rubbish bin out, 2 more washing of my hair with conditioner (yes i only use conditioner once a week now), 1 more phonecall home to my parents, 1 more rent payment, 1 more day at Meadowbank school and 1 Kauri run away! hmm...i wonder what I should have for lunch on the 26th...pan mee at ss19, wanton mee at Asia Cafe, char kuey tiow at USJ14? mmm....

*big silly green*

Sunday, November 09, 2008

high school

Girls of 5 Usaha 2003

There's something very stimulating about coming across an old photograph of you and your friends back in school. I find that when you see yourself and everyone else clad in the white and blue (olive green for guys) uniform, an intense sense of nostalgia arises and you're left there taking a train down memory lane to everything you went through in school. Only when I see myself in the uniform, for some reason. I feel nostalgic when i see old photos of other things as well, but high school photos...those just hit all the right spots don't they? I reckon high school...5 years of that...is a chapter in life in its own. You just spend so much time in school, you think? It's 5 (sometimes 6) days a week, from the moment the sun rises till your stomach grumbles in the hot scorching afternoon. For busybodies like me, after school programs were plentiful too. That's a LOT of time spent with your friends. I happen to have gone through some of the best and worst moments of my life in high school. After all, isn't adolescence the most difficult time of a person's life? Ah...i dont know. I miss high school so much. School was fun. Really fun.

And boy was i chubby back then...haha...

***
btw i made the most delicious bowl of carbonara pasta today. yum~

Saturday, November 08, 2008

why auckland public transport's such an a**

This is a sign at Britomart train station, which Ben so graciously pointed out to me..now if you could just zoom in on the words just a tad...
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Have a good weekend! =)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Guy Fawkes Night

Today is Guy Fawkes Night. Basically it's a celebration of the night a gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Parliaments in London was foiled. The plot was made by a bunch of Catholics who were against protestants (i think) and Guy Fawkes was the guy who made the explosives.

What has New Zealand got to do with it? Well New Zealand was under the British colony and...yea that's it.

Anyway, Guy Fawkes Night is the only time people can sell, buy and play fireworks legally and the days leading up to today (starting on the 1st i think) there has been fireworks lighting the sky every night. And since i stay on the top floor of an apartment with a balcony overlooking the little town of Mount Wellington, i have a pretty spectacular view of the fireworks and all.

No, this image i stole from the internet because my cybershot phone is awesome...but not that awesome.

Anyway, i took a small video just to show just how many houses were playing with fireworks. it's quite pretty, but i don't know if u can see it clearly...=)
video

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

envy

with every step she takes
with every move she makes
i feel a ticking in my nerves
i feel a tension i try to reserve

with every sweat that trickles down
with every crease upon her frown
i feel my adrenaline kicking in
i feel the need to be there to win

with every picture that she's got
with every tan line that she spot
i feel my patience wearing thin
i feel the bitterness from within

yet with every look of every page
of her every picture that she stage
i feel the resemblance so uncanny
i feel the striking similarity

and perhaps i've gone a bit too far
in leaving my envy gates ajar
but really, she's the girl i truly fear
would take the place that i've held dear

Sunday, November 02, 2008

hill training

Kauri run is about 9 days away. if u haven't heard, i'm going for this crazy-one-way-ticket-to-cramped-calves-and-sore-thighs race on the 22nd of November. And with that looming ahead, I try to do as much uphill training as i can. But not really succeeding actually. Because the weather hasn't been too good...

But anyway, i managed to log a 10 km run on the treadmill today after i closed the gym up. I ran at speed 11 and I raised inclination every 0.5 km by 1.0. Until i reached 3.0 i'd go back down to 0.0 again and repeat the cycle again. which was good...i had a good sweat, something i havent had in quite a while because u don't sweat here. u don't get to. ahhaha

So i was feeling pretty happy, thinking i managed to burn some of the calories i've been piling on to my epidermis...that is till i made myself pizza for dinner...

and i wonder why my weight's going up....*shrug*