Archive of ‘Fitness’ category
Yeah, I know, I know: it’s ANOTHER one of those stupid “photo-a-day” roundups. Right after the last one. With nothing in between them to at least allow me to PRETEND I sometimes write about other things here. SIGH.
Look, it’s not my fault. I HAD intended to have a couple of outfit posts for you this week, but… the weather. I don’t need to tell you about it, do I? Suffice to say the snow stuck around until a couple of days ago, and while it was here, I was dressed like this every day. Well, when I was outside, anyway. I didn’t dress like that at home, although don’t think I didn’t consider it. Did I mention it’s been COLD? Anyway, the snow was here, and then it melted. But when it melted, the rain came. And the rain remained. It’s still raining right now, in fact, which means I’m STILL not leaving the house, and I’m STILL not wearing anything worth photographing, because… the weather. Yes.
Anyway, I may not have managed any outfit photos, but I have been continuing with my 365 project, and I’ve gotten a little bit behind with the roundups, so I figured I may as well play catch-up. Seeing as I’ve nothing better to do, obviously.
Last week’s set of photos mostly revolved around my attempts at the Insanity Asylum workouts. Other than the photo of the pink sky, obviously. It’s… a photo of a pink sky. Look, I LIKE THE SKY, OK? As some of you may recall, I completed the original Insanity 90 day programme last summer, and really enjoyed it. I mean, I say “really enjoyed it”: I’m fairly convinced Shaun T and I were mortal enemies in some previous life, and that’s why he’s trying to kill me in this one, but still. This is the kind of exercise I like best: mostly high-energy cardio, which gets you totally out of breath and doesn’t give you much opportunity to get bored. Like yoga, say. God, I hate yoga.
So I completed Insanity (Yay, go me!), and for a while I was all, “I will work out every day now, for I have learned new habits which will serve me well throughout the rest of my long, healthy life.” Then December happened. And I ate ALL the things at Christmas. I also didn’t work out at all, and although I did make an attempt to get back into running at the start of this month, that attempt was to prove unsuccessful, because… the weather.
Enter Insanity: The Asylum. Which has well and truly kicked my ass over the past few days. From the top:
21. Welcome to the Asylum. Apparently I will “look and feel like an athlete in 30 days”. But which one, I wonder? My breath is bated. I bet it’s Tiger Woods. I just have a feeling about it.
22. PINK SKY.
24. Free weights. (Actually, they weren’t free at all: Terry paid for them. Boom boom!)
23. Resistance bands. My favourite is the green one, natch.
(Yes, I mixed up the order of these slightly. Such a rebel I am!)
25. On Friday, these shoes arrived, courtesy of Sarenza, whose brand ambassador programme I’m lucky enough to be a part of. I love them.
26. On Saturday we went out with a bunch of friends to a birthday party in a local bar. My “out on the town” outfits are rarely documented on this blog because I always leave it to the last minute to get ready, and then it’s too dark/late/Terry is too annoyed with me to take photos of them. I don’t think “tragedy” is too strong a word to describe this sorry situation. (Yes I do.) Instead, you’ll have to make do with this blurry iPhone photo, the capturing of which made me realise there IS actually an art to that whole “I am taking a photo of myself in the mirror” thing, and I am sadly lacking in that art. For instance, I was wearing a really nice jewelled collar but can you see it? No, you cannot! Because I’m holding my phone in front of it! That’s why my face is frozen in an attitude of barely contained anger. It’s either that, or the fact that there was an ice-cream van parked outside my window blaring out the A-Team theme song for twenty minutes. Or maybe that’s just my face.
(It’s totally just my face. I have one of THOSE faces. My “resting expression” is best defined as “pure, undiluted anger”, even when I’m perfectly happy and am thinking about, I don’t know, kittens or something. That’s why people are always walking up to me and saying, “Smile, it might never happen!” And why I’m always smacking them in the face in reply.)
27. The road to my parents’ house, where we headed on Sunday afternoon. It’s long. With many a winding turn. OK, it isn’t: it’s kinda short and straight. No one ever writes songs about those kind of roads, do they? Just blog posts. And not even full ones, just, like, a few paltry sentences as part of some stupid photo roundup. Sad for those roads.
28. This is Poppy. She is a parrot. And I’ll just ‘fess up right now: this photo of her was actually taken by Terry, using the “real” camera, which explains why it’s so much better than the rest of ‘em. (Actually, the top photo was taken by me with the real camera, too, but I included the blurry iPhone version in the roundup itself. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, because it’s not like I’m in a court of law and in danger of being charged with non-adherence to some strict Project 365 Code of Honour or something, but I feel the need for full transparency, apparently.) I DID also take a photo of Poppy with my phone, so this totally counts as part of my project (yes it does, shut up), but mine came out really dark and blurry, so I’m using Terry’s instead. Anyway, Poppy belongs to my in-laws, and unlike her predecessor Pepe (yes, it’s confusing), may God rest his soul, she is notable for being a nice, friendly bird, who has yet to take a chunk out of anyone’s finger. Unlike, you know, Pepe. She is also notable for the fact that we don’t actually know for sure what sex she is, so people walk around saying things like, “Look at Poppy, what a pretty girl he is!” and “She’s such a good boy, isn’t she?” Well, gender is such a touchy subject, isn’t it? We wouldn’t want her to feel like she was being pressured into being one or the other if she doesn’t want to. You just do you, Poppy. Atta girl. Boy. Whatevs.
29. I bought shoes. They are from River Island. I hope one day to be able to wear them, but, well… the weather. GOD.
And we’re all up to date. FINALLY.
I am out running.
It’s a bright, sunny afternoon – one of those near-mythical crisp days which make me almost understand why people love autumn. I’m jogging along, listening to music through my headphones, totally lost in my own little world, when all of a sudden, two things happen almost simultaneously:
First, I feel something hit my shoulder and fall to the ground at my feet.
Almost immediately afterwards, a girl of maybe 10 or 11 (I’m terrible at guessing people’s ages, so let’s just go with old enough to know better) runs up from behind me and gets right up into my face, laughing and jeering at me, all the while pointing at whatever it is that just hit me.
What DID just hit me?
I look down, and see a small, plastic object. It is bright yellow, and about the length of one of my fingers: I have no idea what it is, exactly, but even although it hasn’t harmed me in any way, the fact that someone has deliberately THROWN SOMETHING at me, and is now laughing in my face – and RIGHT in my face, too – is enough to bring out that famous temper we redheads are always being told we have.
(Because we are all the same, us redheads. All exactly the same. It’s almost like we’re one person. Amazing, isn’t it?)
I’d already stopped in my tracks when the mystery missile hit me: now I pull my headphones out of my ears and confront Jeering Girl, who is still standing there laughing, like this is the most! hilarious! thing! ever!
“Did you throw that at me?” I ask calmly, pointing to the mystery object.
Instantly, Jeering Girl’s expression changes. She is utterly shocked to be addressed like this. She obviously thought she would throw something, hit me with it, laugh in my face and then we’d all be on our way, like nothing happened.
She is wrong.
“It wasn’t me!” she tells me, smirking. “It was one of them!”
I turn. Sure enough, standing behind me are two other kids: another girl, around the same age as Jeering Girl, and a boy who looks a little bit older, so maybe about 12 or so. He is holding a gun.
A GUN, people.
“OMG!” I think. “I’ve been shot!” But whodunnit?
Obviously Gun-Totin’ Boy would be the prime suspect in this crime, but he’s having none of it. Neither is Other Girl.
“It wasn’t me!” they exclaim simultaneously. “It was one of them!”
And then they all point at each other, in a move so perfectly executed it was almost like they’d practised it. It was like Spartacus, but with cowards.
“Look,” I tell them, “I don’t care who did it. You’re all idiots for throwing things at people in the street. Do you realise how much trouble that could get you into?”
(Yes, I know: shouldn’t have called them idiots. Bad of me. Realised that the second the words were out of my mouth. Felt pretty stupid. But still, was annoyed. And also: had just been shot in the street! And seriously: our town isn’t exactly Disney. It really IS pretty stupid to deliberately try to provoke passers-by, and it was clear from the behaviour of these kids that this wasn’t just a case of them “playing” and me getting hit by accident – they were deliberately trying to provoke me. If they’d picked someone else, a lecture might’ve been the LEAST of their worries…)
“Shut it, gingernut,” said Jeering Girl.
It was at that point I realised I was fighting a losing battle. I mean, “gingernut”, seriously? It’s a long time since my hair has been used as the insult of choice, I’ll tell you that. Why, I can’t even remember the last time someone slowed down and yelled “ginger” out of their car window at me, for instance. Perhaps I am losing my touch?
(Aside: I’ve always wondered what the correct response is to someone who shouts “GINGER!” at me out of a slow-moving vehicle. Should I yell back “Brunette!” or “Baldy guy!” or something? What IS the etiquette for this kind of thing, anyway?)
These kids may have proven themselves capable of a) shooting a moving target and b) correctly identifying my hair colour, but I suspect my short but (I thought) eloquent speech on Why We Do Not Harass People In the Street or Use Their Genetic Makeup as a Stick to Beat Them With was pretty much lost on them. I suspect this because the whole time I was making this speech, they were still calling me “ginger”.
I made the speech anyway. I did it for ALL the redheads. I did it because… well, because I might be crazy (I think they called me that too, actually, now I come to think of it?) but I just think it’s important not to harass people, you know? And when I was done, my three assailants looked at me, in silent hatred.
“They’re just little girls,” Older Boy managed eventually, conveniently forgetting that HE was the one holding the smoking gun at the time. And, of course, he was right. They’re just little girls. But one day they’ll be older girls, and then they’ll be women, and they’ll be the kind of women who think it’s perfectly OK to throw things at strangers, or call people names, because no one ever told them any different. That makes me sad.
And that, my friends, is the strange story of how I was shot in the street that one time. It’s the kind of thing that could only happen to me: or, OK, to anyone else who happened to be running past at that particular time. (I’m actually quite surprised it’s taken this long for something like this to happen. I’m used to people – both children and adults – stopping in their tracks to stare at me with open hostility as I run past them, but I’ve heard some absolute horror stories from other runners, so I have a feeling I’ve gotten off pretty lightly.) Someone else might have been called “fat” or “ugly” or some other equally offensive term: I got called “gingernut” because, as I am all too often reminded, to some people, red hair is just as bad as those other things, and just as cutting an insult.
Unfortunately for my three assailants, their insult of choice failed to have the desired effect. I didn’t rush home and cry into my pillow, or hack off the offending hair with a carving knife or anything like that, because, well, they were the children in this little story, not me.
I did, however, renew my determination to move house at some point in the next year. It’s never a good sign when the neighbourhood kid are armed, is it?
(Primark trench, J Crew trousers, Next shoes.)
I quit the gym. Yes, Others, YOU WIN, with your space-invading ways, your whistling and your general other-ness . You can have the gym, see if I care. Although, before you go feeling all smug about having chased me away, let me just tell you that it was actually the music that did it. And, honestly, I have pretty broad tastes when it comes to music. I can put up with a lot. But there is one genre of music I absolutely CANNOT STAND, and it is cheesy 70s disco music. Which was unfortunate, because that was seriously ALL our gym ever wanted to play when I was there.
Ladies Night would be followed by Le Freak, which would be followed by That’s The Way I Like It... and I know it’s not 70s disco, but I’d had the modest aim of getting through the rest of my life without ever having to hear Swing Out Sister’s Breakout ever again, and I had to listen to it every single time I went to the gym. Every time. And it wouldn’t have been so bad if they’d just been playing at a reasonable “gym” level, but no: that crap was turned up to max volume, so loud that I couldn’t even drown it out with my own music, although God knows, Lady Gaga and I certainly gave it our best shot.
So I quit the gym.
It’s OK, though, those of you who are about to call me out on my laziness: I may have quit the gym, but I haven’t quite exercise. No, in a move which is every bit as amazing to me as it is to anyone else (I’m the girl who “forgot” her gym kit so many times the gym teacher actually forgot she was even in the class. And who spent one memorable baseball game in high school waiting until it was almost her turn to bat, before deftly slipping out of the line and proceeding to the end of it. And doing that over and over and over again, until the game ended without her ever having actually made it to the front of that line. I didn’t learn much about baseball but I did learn how to be, er, inventive, let’s say.), I have become an outdoor runner.
Now, those of you with long memories will remember that I’ve actually been running outdoors for quite some time now. I hadn’t been doing it consistently, though: the first year of my outdoor running experience was the year of Snowmaggedon, after all. No one was running anywhere in that. Or after that, either, because the snow melted, but I managed to convince myself that I was far too delicate a flower to be able to cope with the cold, so I just didn’t. I went back to the gym, instead. And by “back to the gym” I mean “sometimes I would go to the gym, but most of the time I wouldn’t.”
Fast forward to this winter, though. I’d been running outside for much of the summer, and had assumed that I’d give it up in winter again. This winter was a mild one, though, so somehow I managed to keep it up. December passed, and so did January, and I was still managing to get out a couple of times a week at least, which is more often than I’d been dragging myself to the gym. By the time we got to February, and I STILL hadn’t managed to find a good enough reason to stop, my mind was made up: I would quit the gym.
So I did.
“The only reason I can imagine going back,” I told Terry, “would be if it snowed again. And if it does, I’ll just re-join!”
The week that I cancelled my membership, it snowed. In March. Honestly people, my power to influence weather patterns is freaky, it really is.
Anyway, that little blip aside, I’m still managing to keep up my routine. No one crowds my space, whistles in my ear, or douses themselves in a full bottle of aftershave before getting onto the machine right next to mine, even although the rest of the gym is completely empty. I haven’t had to listen to Swing Out Sister since November. It’s all good, in other words.
Now, let’s just see how much snow THIS winter will bring!
Facebook // Twitter //
This morning I went to the gym, just like I always often sometimes do of a morning. Now, when I go to the gym, I’m always weighed down with a collection of STUFF that is essential to my existence at said gym: stuff like my hoodie (yeah, yeah, I own a hoodie, settle down), water bottle, car keys, gym card, iPhone, etc. When I use the treadmill, most of this stuff fits onto the shelf below the display (Not the iPhone. I normally just throw it around the room. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, I announced my arrival at a spin class by opening the door of the studio and basically just throwing the phone inside. No, I have no idea how I managed it: I think I must have tripped over my own feet in the doorway, and somehow managed to drop/throw the phone in my struggle to steady myself. What I do know is that this was the second time my phone had preceded me into a class at the gym, so it’s a miracle that thing is still working, seriously.). This time, however, I decided to use the elliptical. This was to prove a fatal mistake.
The elliptical doesn’t have a shelf for STUFF. A “Stuff Shelf”, if you will. Well, it does, but it’s only big enough for the phone and the water bottle, so I placed the rest of my STUFF in a neat little pile beside me on the floor and got on with my workout. (Aside: Bambi Girl was in the gym at the same time as me, obviously. She was doing this weird, suspended animation kind of running move, which involved the treadmill moving very fast, and her kind of skipping slowly above it, all Bambi like. It was pretty compelling stuff to watch, I’m telling you. She probably thinks I’m stalking her now, whereas as we all know, it’s the other way around. Anyway!) When I was done, I got off the machine, and gathered all my stuff off the floor, ready to leave.
It was only as I reached the main reception area of the gym that I realised I seemed to be carrying more stuff than I’d had when I arrived. Huh? How could this be? I glanced down at my arms, to reassure myself that I was just imagining things again, and there, cradled protectively against my bosom, along with my phone, membership card and water bottle, was this:
Exhibit A: bottle of detergent, with label reading “Please wipe down your machine, thank you.”
Oookkaaaay. Now, there are some people in my life who would describe me as a bit of a control freak. Put it this way: you know the episode of Friends where it’s revealed that Monica has a mini Hoover, which she uses to vacuum her main Hoover? I thought that was an excellent idea. BUT – and it’s rather a big “but” – I have to point out that I am not yet SO much of a neat freak that I carry my own bottle of detergent, complete with handy “please wipe down your machine” label with me every time I go to the gym. (Only some of the times. No, I’m kidding….) This, then, was clearly the GYM’S bottle of detergent. The fact that I had caught myself in the act of absconding with it meant that either:
a) It had been on the floor next to my stuff, and I had gathered it up along with said stuff.
b) The bottle of detergent is alive, hates living at the gym, and figured it would hitch a ride with me. “Let’s get outta this gym toniiiight, nothin’ but dust in the shaaadooowwws!” it would sing as we went.
c) I am a secret kleptomaniac (secret in that even I didn’t know about it, I mean), and have moments when I black out and steal things from gyms, and possibly other places. That would explain all of the shoes, actually. (“These? Oh gosh, no, I wasn’t STEALING these! They were just lying on the floor, and I must’ve, you know, dropped my coat on top of them, then when I picked it up they must’ve been inside, silly me, tee hee!*)
Whatever the explanation, I think I got off pretty lightly here. I mean, thank God I realised before I walked out with it! Can you even IMAGINE the embarrassment of being caught trying to “steal” a bottle of detergent from the gym? Or the humiliating phone call I’d have had to make to Terry. “Oh, hi, babe! Yeah, I’m at the police station. I bin stealin’ again. Yeah, detergent. Can you come and get me? And bring bail? They’re asking for £2.75…”
(I have no idea why I have a Southern accent in my little “caught stealing” fantasy. I just do.)
Anyway, needless to say, I returned the detergent to its rightful place, and escaped the gym without further incident. I expect the security cameras will have captured a nice little video clip for the staff Christmas party this year, though…
* Some of my readers have a tendency to take everything I write totally seriously. For those readers, I feel the need to point out that I have never stolen shoes, or, indeed, anything else. It’s just the bottles of detergent.
So, this happened:
And this, my friends, is why I leave the country every December, if it’s humanly possible. “Imagine if we weren’t going on holiday soon!” I said to Terry last night, as we watched a couple of cars get stuck in the small smattering of snow that lay in our street at that point. “Just imagine how much I’d be complaining right now!”
Terry could only nod silently, and turn pale at the very thought of it. And, as you can see from the photo, it’s actually a very modest amount of snow. I mean, it’s not even covering Rubin’s paws, and although it’s deeper on the grass than it was here on the patio, it’s still not very much snow. Nevertheless, it has plunged the country into End-of-the-World style hysteria, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since, oooh, since about April, I think, which was when we last had snow. I’m puzzled by this, because the thing is, we’ve known the snow was on its way for at least a week. Every night this week, I’ve checked the news before going to bed, and it’s been full of stories about the omgsnow that was going to fall overnight – so much so, in fact, that I have dreamt about snow every single night (made a change from the crabs, I guess) and have woken up amazed to find that it still wasn’t there.
Not so the schools, airports, and highway maintenance people, though. Nope, despite a week’s worth of warnings about the omgsnow, these agencies were completely unprepared for it: in fact, they could not have been more surprised by it if the snow had fallen in May. (Which actually did happen, now I come to think of it…) So we woke up yesterday morning to find that, while the snow hadn’t quite reached us yet, not far north of here the schools were closed, the airports were closed, the roads were closed, and the news reports were full of slightly dazed looking people walking around going, “OMG CAN YOU FREAKING BELIEVE IT!!! SNOW!!! IN WINTER!!! CAN YOU EVEN?!?!?”
Comment of the day yesterday went to Sky News, which solemnly informed us that “experts” had predicted that “the wintry spell” may last for another ten days, omg! The hell does that mean? The winter’s only going to last for ten days? And what, then it’ll be summer again? Because I may be going out on a limb here, but for my entire life, the “wintry spell” at this time of year normally lasts from November – March (and last year it lasted from October – May). In fact, most people have actually stopped calling it a “wintry spell” and just refer to it as plain old “winter”. But hey, if Sky News have “experts” who say it will only last for ten days this year then that is, indeed, cause for rejoicing.
No one, however, is rejoicing more than Rubin. The title of this post, you see, doesn’t refer to me (and thank God for that, I hear you say!) but to him:
SO. NOT. IMPRESSED.
Don’t worry, I don’t make him keep the hood up. (And he was actually unimpressed purely because as soon as he laid eyes on the jacket, he knew he was going for a walk, and so he didn’t want to sit still and have his photo taken.) In fact, he normally wears this:
I should probably point out here that I’m not a fan of making animals wear clothes just for the sake of it (Well, not unless we’re talking about the Yoda costume we bought him for Halloween that one time): it’s just that Rubin has hair like Velcro, and his belly is close to the ground, so without something to cover that area at this time of year, he tends to return from his walks covered in mud, and leaves, and twigs and all kinds of other nasties, and have to go straight into the bath.
(I should also point out that Terry refuses to be seen with us when Rubin is wearing his little duds. It’s OK, though: Rubin says the feeling is mutual.)
Yesterday, then (also known as Before The Snows Came, Bitter Chill It Was!), I thought I was being ohsoclever by getting Rubin into his little red coat in preparation for his walk. I continued feeling clever even although as soon as I got the coat on him I realised I couldn’t fit his walking harness over the top of it, and would have to put his collar on him instead. And I STILL felt clever even when I couldn’t find his regular collar (red, to match his coat, natch) and had to use the fancypants gold “bling” collar I bought as a joke/because I am stupid one year, and which has a diamante “STUD” charm hanging from it along with some other sundry blingtastic items. (Terry REALLY didn’t want to be seen with us that day, seriously.) In fact, I continued to feel clever right up until about ten minutes into the walk, when it became clear that Rubin had eaten something that disagreed with him, and he had an, er, “accident” which resulted in him coming home and having to go straight into the shower ANYWAY to be disinfected. Then the shower had to be disinfected. Then I had to be disinfected. Which just goes to show that while fine feathers make fine birds, fancy duds don’t necessarily make clean dogs.
And yes, I did just write an entire paragraph about dog poop. Sorry. Just be grateful I didn’t take photos of the aforementioned “accident”, as I’ve seen some potty-training mothers do on Facebook.
So, I decided to start running outdoors again. Yeah, I know: been there, done that, got the washed-out Nike t-shirt (actually it’s a tank top, but whatever) to prove it.
If you’ve been reading this blog since God was a teenager, however, you’ll know that I don’t tend to have much luck with running outdoors. Or even just being outdoors. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say my last experiment in this area was a complete and utter failure. You see, I was afeared. I was scared in that way that I think most women are when they find themselves out in the middle of nowhere, on their own and with no-one to hear them scream should something bad happen. “What if someone tries to kill me?” I would think, as I plodded up some lonely woodland trail or other. “I bet they wouldn’t find my body for YEARS out here!” And so the fear drove me away from those pretty woodland trails and towards the streets near my house, around which I would circle endlessly, passing the same, suburban scenes over and over and over again, seeing the same people multiple times, and getting the same looks of shocked disbelief from them every single time. (If someone’s running in this town, it normally means the police are after them…)
This got very boring, very quickly. Eventually, it got SO boring that I headed back to the gym, and the treadmill. At least people don’t stop what they’re doing to stare at you on the treadmill, you know? Well, not ALL the time, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the treadmill. It’s my “thinking” time. And sometimes it’s my “not thinking” time, where I just put on some good music and let my mind go blank. Or blanker than usual. Other times, though, it’s my “Damn, but this is BORING!” time, and when that started to be the case more often than not, my mind once again turned towards the idea of running outdoors.
This time would be different, I thought. This time I would not be afraid. I would run where I wanted to run, and I would ignore the incredulous stares. It would be ace!
So, one fine day in July (it was literally the ONE fine day in July, seriously), I pulled on my running shoes and headed out into the great outdoors. What could go wrong, I thought? I had a phone with GPS on it. If I got lost, all I had to do was pull up a map, and I’d be found. (Also, it’s a PHONE. That you can use to speak to people on). And if someone tried to kill me, why, I was a RUNNER! I would RUN AWAY. Fast. Or I would poke them in the eye with my keys. It would be fine!
And actually, it was fine. Our town didn’t really exist before the 1960s. It was one of the “new towns” that were built in Scotland around then, and it has a very 1960s look to it: lots of concrete, buildings like boxes, strange bits of “street art” that have long-since become so thickly coated with graffiti that they’ve actually started to look better than they originally did, in that grim, urban kind of way. There is, however, also a river, and the area around the river is rather lovely. Lots of woodland trails that make you feel like you’re out in the country, even although you’re smack-dab in the centre of town, water rushing, birds chirping, flowers, er, flowering… I even saw a group of bunnies, people, and what could be better than that? (Oh, and every now and then, dotted in amongst the foliage, will be some graffiti-coated concrete edifice from the 60s. It’s awesome, seriously.)
Well, I finished my run, and I LOVED it. I actually don’t know this town very well, or not on foot, anyway. In the car, I could take you anywhere, but I’ve never really walked around it, which is a shame, because there are so many little interesting footpaths and trails that it was like a little adventure. I was converted. I was going to be running outside ALL THE TIME from now on, I decided. It would be my “thing”. I would be Fearless Adventurer Amber! I couldn’t wait!
A couple of days later, then, I set out again, with the adventuring. Once again, I headed to the river, and I was having a fine old time. So I ran on. And on. And on. It was great. The trees! The river! More bunnies! And then, in the middle of nowhere, under a random bridge… a tramp! Um, OK. I stopped at this point. The Fear returned. It seemed obvious to me that this man would try and kill me. I mean, why else would you be hanging out under a bridge in the middle of nowhere, if not to kill the next random runner girl that went past? Well, no problem, I thought, I would just double back a bit, and pick up the trail further along the river.
You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? And I’m glad YOU can, because I certainly couldn’t see where I going. Leaving my country trail, you see, I found myself in a network of streets. This town is full of such networks. You get into them, and you can wander around for weeks, until someone stumbles across your poor, emaciated form and takes you in. Ironically enough, I knew exactly where I was. It was a part of town I’ve been to many times in the car, and a couple of times on foot, although on those occasions I was with Terry, who is a native of the town and knows its many secrets.
So I knew where I was: I just didn’t know how to get from there to where I wanted to be. Not on foot, anyway. If I’d had my car there, I could have driven straight home. That route, however, would take me along busy main roads, and wasn’t one I really wanted to take on foot, so I turned and plunged back into the woods, determined to work it out. Well, I ran and I ran. I ran for about a mile, and then the path I was on returned me abruptly to the same street I’d started from, having apparently taken me in a large loop. I turned around and set off again, this time taking a different route… which took me to slightly further along the same street I started from. Hmm.
Once again, I set off into the woods. There are lots of different routes through these woods, I discovered. You set off down one track, only to find it splitting into three more tracks a little way along it, with no clue where each of them leads. If only I’d been prepared, like the Famous Five, and brought a ball of string to unwind as I went, I might have had even the slightest clue where I was going, but alas, no. I knew I’d gone wrong again, when I encountered these:
What was disturbing about this was that I took this photo with my phone camera, which means I was just as close to those sheep as it looks. I was in a field with sheep! Sheep were in a field with me! This was ALL KINDS OF WRONG, and by now I was starting to get a little annoyed, mostly because it was getting close to lunchtime, and if I didn’t get home soon, I’d miss Neighbours. That right there tells you all you need to know, really, doesn’t it?
Well, I turned round and I retraced my weary steps. Arriving back, once again, at the street I’d started from, I encountered a woman in a car, who slowed down and asked me directions to the mall. “If I knew where I was, I might be able to tell you,” I said, which was actually a total LIE, because I am absolutely useless when it comes to giving people directions. I couldn’t direct you from my front door to the bottom of the driveway. I can’t read maps, either, which was why I now realised that when I’d come up with the whole “I can’t possibly get lost because I have Google maps on my phone” thing, I’d obviously been smoking crack:
The map, then, was no good to me, and time was a-wastin’, so I decided to admit defeat, call Terry and ask him to come and get me. This would be humiliating, sure: I mean, I was “lost” in a place I knew well, and which I could have driven home from in a matter of minutes, but I figured walking back along that route would be a) dangerous and b) time-consuming, so I sucked it up, got my phone back out…
… and it had no credit on it. OF COURSE NOT.
This has long been a bone of contention between Terry and I. When I got my iPhone, you see, Terry insisted we go for a Pay-as-You-Go tariff, his reasoning being that as I never, ever phone anyone anyway, it would be a waste of money to pay a monthly fee for it. “You could put £10 worth of credit on the phone and it would last you all year,” said Terry, little knowing that I would burn through three times that amount in the space of ten minutes at Gran Canaria airport just a few short months later.
We argued about this for a while. My fear was that, with Pay-as-You-Go, I would always run out of credit at the exact moment I most needed it. It was inevitable, I said. AND WHO WAS RIGHT ABOUT THAT, TERRY, HUH? HUH?
So I had no credit. I couldn’t phone Terry, or, indeed anyone else. And I had no money. Of COURSE NOT. Because when you go running in the middle of nowhere, you don’t take anything with you that could conceivably be of any use, do you?
So I sent Terry an email. The phone allowed me to do this, luckily. (Actually, the more I think about it, the more grateful I am that emergency calls are free on these things. Because if they weren’t, and I got into an ACTUAL emergency, I’d have to send the police an email saying, “Help! Am being attacked!” And, knowing me, because I really detest text speak, and can never bring myself to use it, I would type it all out totally correctly, and then spell-check it before hitting send.) Unluckily, however, Terry is not like me, and doesn’t spend all day hovering over his email like a giant bat. So it took him ten minutes to read my message, during which I had decided to embark upon the long road home, using the only route I knew would definitely take me there, and not send me back to the sheep.
Now, imagine you get an email from your wife saying that she is lost, and needs your help. What do you do? Do you call her, say? OF COURSE NOT. You simply send her an email in response, and you do this because YOU DO NOT KNOW HER PHONE NUMBER.
No, Terry and I do not know each other’s phone numbers. In fairness, we don’t really need to, because we have them programmed into our phones. This is of no use to Terry whatsoever, though, because when he got my email, his phone battery was dead. OF COURSE IT was. Terry’s phone is almost always dead, and when it’s not dead? It’s lost. He’s not big on the whole cellphone thing, either, you see.
Just to recap, then: my phone has no credit, his has no battery life. He doesn’t have my phone number, I don’t have a brain. WE FAIL. At everything. GOD.
To bring this lengthy story to an end, though, I emailed Terry my number, he called me, and a few minutes later, came to my rescue. And all the way home, he pointed out the routes I COULD have taken. Which is really the story of my life.
(I now take spare change with me when I go running. Terry keeps his phone charged, and I always have credit on my phone. Not all of these statements are true…)
Quick swine flu update: Terry had the vaccination yesterday, and, much to my surprise, so did I. In fact, they gave me the vaccination for the regular flu at the same time, so I felt a bit like a walking pincushion. Contrary to what we were told last week, it turns out that a lot of people who’ve been offered the vaccine have turned it down, and it also seems that new supplies have arrived, so there now does seem to be enough go around, and thank goodness for that! Despite the dire warnings we’d read about the vaccine, we’re both absolutely fine – sore arms, but nothing more, so hopefully we will live!
Now, who wants a random act of stupidity? Oh. No one. Well, here’s one from last week, anyway:
So, picture it: I’m at the gym, plodding through a run on the treadmill, and thinking about the half-assed fancy dress “costume” I’m going to wear this weekend. (Because, yes, we’re going to another fancy dress party this weekend. Hee!) Suddenly, though, the music I’m listening to is rudely interrupted as something small and rectangular goes flying past my head and lands with a sickening crash on the floor behind the machine. I twist myself round, while still trying to keep running, and, whoops! It’s my iPhone!
I hit the “Emergency Stop” button on the treadmill, and do a kind of comedy lurch as I try to keep my balance while the machine shudders to a halt. Then I jump off, grab the phone, and, oh, miracle of miracles! It works!
So I get back onto the machine, re-set it and start running again, this time thanking my lucky stars that I DIDN’T just wreck my phone, and wondering how on EARTH I managed to throw it across the gym. The phone, you see, was sitting where it always sits: on the shelf at the front of the treadmill. It had never taken to the air before, and I was just pondering the theory that I must have somehow got my elbow caught in the headphone cable and kinda flicked it across the room, when…
My music cuts out suddenly and a small, rectangular object goes flying past my head.
WHOOPS. I. DID. IT. AGAIN.
I once again performed my comedy lurch, and once again rescued the phone, and I am both surprised and amazed – totally AMAZED – to report that, once again, it was still working. Not even a scratch! My reputation in the gym, however, was in tatters, because although it was fairly empty at the time, needless to say, everyone there was crowded around me like paparazzi. D’oh!
(Oh, and just in case anyone thinks I exaggerate about this strange behaviour of The Others, my friend Mhairi goes to the same gym, and has noticed exactly the same thing. So either the folks there really are weird, or both Mhairi and I exert a powerful magnetism that draws Others to us like Rubin to a radiator.)
I did get back on the treadmill again, but I’d only been running for five minutes (with my eyes firmly fixed on my phone and my elbows clamped to my sides) when Bambi Girl arrived. Bambi Girl is my shadow at the gym. No matter what time of day I go there, she’s there. I think she might actually live there or something. And no matter which machine I choose to use, she chooses the one right next to it, or just one away. I’ve experimented with using different machines, just to see if this theory of mine holds true, and yup: it doesn’t matter which one I use, she’ll be right there next to me, like me and my shadow. I call her “Bambi Girl” because after walking slowly for ten minutes or so, BG will suddenly ram the speed up on the treadmill, execute this weird kind of Bamb-like leap into the air, and then run for a few minutes before her twenty minute cooldown. It’s actually quite impressive.
Not as impressive as my iPhone-flicking maneouvre, though. I think The Others will have to go quite some way to beat THAT one…
Riddle me this, readers:
You’re at the gym. It’s empty, but for one solitary person – a clumsy redhead, say – who is wheezing away on the treadmill right next to the wall. This treadmill is one of about ten such machines, so there are lots to choose from. Do you:
a) Use the treadmill furthest away from the wheezy redhead.
b) Use one in the middle of the row, so you’re not too close to the wheezy redhead, but not so far away that she’ll worry that she smells or something.
c) Use the treadmill RIGHT NEXT TO HERS, even although there are, as noted, about eight other ones to choose from.
d) Leave the gym immediately. Ain’t no way you’re sharing space with a GINGER.
I would choose option A. This is because I hate people, and I like a bit of space while I’m working out. Also because I am apparently incapable of listening to music without kind of mouthing along to the words, and sometimes, you know, busting some moves. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lady Gaga on my runs: you can imagine how good THAT looks. Put it this way: you totally CAN read my poker face. GOD. When I’m not singing, though, my mouth just kind of hangs open, like a slack-jawed yokel, and I CANNOT keep it closed. Which is… nice.
So, yes, I would choose option A every time. Every other member of our gym, though? Option C. Doesn’t matter how many machines are free, they will choose the one next to mine. Every. Time. This is how The Others behave, obviously. It kind of horrifies me, because as well as the aforementioned “mouthing”, I sound like I’m having a fit when I run. Seriously, it’s like I’m dying. And when someone else is running along just an arm’s length away from me, I have to spend the whole run repeating, “Shut your mouth. Be quiet. Stop singing. Shut your mouth. Be quiet!” (In my own head, obviously. Well, at least I THINK I say it in my own head…)
(Note: I obviously don’t mind people being near me if the gym is busy. Well, I do, but I don’t feel I can complain about it. I’m talking about when it’s as quiet as the grave, though, and I’m the only other person in it. )
This is, of course, the same phenomenon I used to notice when I would go swimming at the gym, and instantly my lane would fill with fifteen other people, while the rest of the pool remained totally empty. Terry says people just like a bit of company, and I’m weird. This may well be true. Either that or it’s the “If you’re crazy, come and sit next to me!” sign on my forehead…
Today I did my first ever 10km run. 10km!
And OK, I did it on the treadmill rather than outside, and I didn’t exactly break the land speed record in the process, but I did manage to run for the full 10km without stopping or walking, AND I did it without having my own choice of music to listen to, thanks to my iPhone deciding to reach critical battery when I still had two kilometres to go. I knew that if I reached my goal, I’d want to take the photo above (featuring a guest appearance by the enormous head of Lily Allen), so I had to turn off the phone and resort to watching the only music station available on the treadmill, which was called FLAUNT. And which played the most depressing video I have ever seen in my life. Evereverever. Seriously, it was by someone called “Just Jack” and it was called “The Day I Died.” Can you guess what it was about? CAN YOU?
“Now we have a song about a man who gets run over by a taxi,” intoned the disembodied voice-over man on FLAUNT. “And dies.”
And sure enough: the man got run over by a taxi. And died. We, the viewing audience, were treated to this event in all its heart-breaking misery. We saw the man get up, and have a jolly breakfast with his loving wife and cute little kids. We saw him kiss them goodbye, and leave for work, taking a quick moment as he opened the door to look back on his loving family and reflect on how very lucky he was to have them. The family, meanwhile, looked back at him, all smiles and thankfulness. And the whole time this was happening, we, the audience, knew that the man was about to be run over by a taxi. It actually made me want to die. I ran the whole of the last kilometre thinking “OMG! OMG! His wife! And those kids! It was just an ordinary day, but then he… he… DIED! Wah! What if that happens to me? Or Terry? Or my parents? What if, on this very ordinary Wednesday, I am, in fact, about to be run over by a taxi? And I’ll have spent the last 72 minutes and 38 seconds of my life running on the spot, on this stupid machine?”
What a total downer.
Seriously, if you run, and you’re looking for music to motivate you, don’t choose “The Day I Died”. Because at the end of my run, as happy as I was with the achievement, all I could think about was that poor, poor man, and his wife and kids. I hate FLAUNT. I’m charging my iPhone as I write this, so I never have to watch FLAUNT again. Then I’m loading it with songs called “Fluffy Bunnies Who Totally Don’t Die During the Song” and “No Taxis in This One!”
Anyway. I ran 10km, but I had the weight of the world on my shoulders for the last km, and was so depressed it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, so it was more like 12km. It was like FLAUNT actually wanted me to fail, you know?
I also have another milestone to celebrate this week, as The Fashion Police had its 3rd birthday yesterday. So I’ve spent three years now writing about how much I hate Crocs and harem pants, which I guess is quite an odd thing to spend three years doing when you could get run over by a taxi at any given time. Still, it pays the bills, so happy birthday, Fashion Police, here’s to three more taxi-free years! I hope.
Wow, see how easy it is to get out of the habit of blogging when there’s nothing at all happening?
Lately life has entered one of those weird “frantically-busy-but-also-mind-numbingly-boring” phases. In fact, I don’t think I’ve left the house in the past couple of weeks other than to visit the parents/walk the dog/go to the gym. THAT’S how dull it’s been.
Oh, and I started going running. Like, running outside, as opposed to on the treadmill. Because I figured that the coming winter was JUST THE TIME to start a hobby that involves being out of doors all the time. D’oh! I thought it would be fun, though: I had this image of myself, a lonely yet dignified figure, battling bravely through rain, hail and snow to pound those pavements, and saying things like, “I’m just addicted to exercise!” and “It totally clears my mind and gives me, like, space to be ME, you know?”
Of course, I was obviously on crack when I thought these things because I am forced to run through Bandit Country. Well, not “forced” exactly. I mean, no one has actually held a gun to my head and said “Run through Bandit Country, wench! Run like the wind!” Or not yet, anyway. The aforementioned all work/no play scenario means that I just don’t have time to drive somewhere nice to run, though, so Bandit Country it is. And it’s … an experience. I dunno, maybe it’s the same no matter where you run, but people here actually stop and stare as you go by, with their mouths open in astonishment. Yesterday I ran past a group of women with their kids, and they all actually stopped their conversation so they could turn round and watch me. And trust me, I was moving so slowly I was almost going backwards, so they weren’t open mouthed with awe.
Still, at least I’ll be able to run away now if someone tries to attack me with a branch again!
Anyway, I’m going to try and keep at it for… well, a while at least. Maybe until next week, because by then we’ll be deeply into winter here, and I won’t want to leave the house at all. Ever. Terry, meanwhile, is currently in training for a 10k AND a triathlon. Because that’s what kind of crazy HE is. He did ask me to join him in running the 10k, but it cost £16 (Why, I could buy another green dress for that kinda cash!) and you’re not allowed to listen to music while you run. Oh, and it would kill me. Maybe next year lifetime.