Worth it!

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Don’t you just love those days when you get home and fall asleep before your head touches the pillow? I sure do! Last Wednesday was one of those days.

After work I donated blood. I was very disappointed after my weight was measured. Three months of training and I’m still at 74 kg. I’m eating more, I’m exercising but no weight gain. Sad face. 😦 This was my third time and I used my right arm for the bloodwork. The previous time I almost fainted, I think I got up too quickly after the donation. On this occasion I didn’t experience any dizziness or negative effects. I ate 6 cookies and a chocolate bar afterwards. Totally worth it! 😀 The only side effect was that the next day I ran at a very slow average speed – 11 km/h.

Later that day I had the best Latin dancing lesson so far. It was the 5th lesson and everybody more or less knew what they were doing. We were actually dancing and it looked good. I also learned a “half-turn” which seemed like one of those fancy moves. I like the progress I’ve made.

Among other things, this week I hosted two German girls – Claudia and Steffi – for 3 days (via Couchsurfing). It was nice to have them in the house but I didn’t really get to know them very well. I was at work during the morning/day and they went into the city in the afternoon. So we only had several hours of quality time in the evenings. I think I should plan some activities for my couchsurfing guests.

 

Today I spent most of the day fantasizing… fantasizing about running a marathon in the Olympics. I Googled a bit and found out that a time of 2h15m would qualify me. Not a problem! All I need to do is put one foot in front of the other with an average speed of about 20 km/h. Easy-peasy!

Fueled by my naïve dreams and imagination I bought compression calf sleeves. You know, just to look a tiny bit more professional when training.

I’ll see you guys at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

My first race

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This bald guy passed me and just seconds later was hit by a falling tree branch. It hit his head or neck area but he kept on running. It was a decent chunk of wood about 5 cm in diameter. He surely got a headache from cushioning the fall of that piece of lumber. 😀

Before that I saw rain raining horizontally, which was really cool. I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like that before. Today the radio said the wind gusts were up to 90 km/h with 16,000 lightning bolts. It rained 45mm in 30 minutes in several suburbs. That’s a decent storm!

Since I had already finished my first lap (10 km) I needed to pick up some speed to run a negative split. I was glad when it started to rain. I kept up my mantra “I can, I can, I can” and followed the 1:40 balloons. It actually felt a bit easier to run in these conditions because I wasn’t as hot anymore. It took only several minutes for the rain to form 15 cm deep puddles on the road. It was quite exciting because there were leaves, branches and debris flying all around.

The race track turned around and after the big puddles I lost sight of the balloons. I think they stopped running and were helping an injured runner on the street who was probably hit by a tree branch or something. There was no ambulance near them yet. So it must’ve been a very recent accident.

I felt quite bad about running past them. I told myself that other people were already there with the injured person and let’s be honest I know nothing about first aid. What could I do anyways? Yeah… I’m a selfish bastard. I guess I lost focus on what’s important. This was my first half marathon and I wanted to get a sub 100 minute finishing time. I’ll be a better person in the future.

Several minutes later I saw a man waving his arms and running towards me yelling that the race was over. Everybody should move to the finish. The Twilight half marathon was cancelled. As I jogged along with hundreds of runners I passed two ambulances. For a second I thought about what would happen to me if I needed medical attention? I’ve got no health insurance, I’d be screwed. Oh well… that’s the life of a backpacker.

I ran 5 km in 22:04, my 10K split time is not on the website but I crossed the finish at 1:08:53 and ran a total of 14-15 km (I can’t be sure on the exact distance).

What did I learn from this experience? Firstly, there’s a huge piss-line before the start of the race, everybody needs to take a leak. I didn’t expect that. I strategically positioned myself near the 1:40 balloons and passed them but around the 8th km they passed me and I just kept following them. I was going too fast too early. Some people commented on me running barefoot during and before the race. Nobody said anything bad, here are some examples: “I agree with the concept but not on bitumen” or “What are your split times?” or “Do you get blisters?” or “Wow… barefoot”. I don’t think I deserved any of that extra attention. Nor did I want it. I just wanted to run a half marathon.

Getting back home was a bit of a pain because I spent about 40 minutes in the parking building waiting in line to get out. During that time I didn’t even move an inch. Good times!

I was a bit disappointed because the race was cancelled but I probably ran a 10K personal best and got my first racing experience.

It surely was a very interesting day. I’m looking forward to my next half-marathon in Noosa on Apr 28th.

First quarter

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I know you’re all curious about my speed dating results. Well, I made 4 matches out of 20 but it’s not as good as it sounds because they were all “friendship” matches. Clearly I’m not what you’d call dating material.

This is not what I expected. I was hoping for a 20/20 score and hot girls calling me in the middle of the night and yelling “Take me now!” or “Can you be here in 10?” accompanied by an endless stream of sexts on my mobile phone. Man, my fantasy crashed and burned!

So I thought about the only thing I could do in this situation. I decided to take the advice of a self-made self-help guru who’s transformed the lives of millions of people. Ladies and gentlemen this is Jon Lajoie:

I like that quality of life increases in a straight line as you give less of a fuck. 😀 What a great concept!

Funny story about the video, I once sent this link to a French girl and the very next day she was fired. 😀 I couldn’t stop laughing once I heard about it. 😀 I’m pure evil! 😈

Change of topic. Last week I ran four personal best times (5K, 6.5K, 8K and 10K runs). I liked that. I kept telling myself “run like you mean it”, “run with purpose” and “I can, I can, I can”. The last one is from Bear Grylls’ autobiography. All that mantra really helped.

Sadly this week things are a bit different. Since I’m running a half marathon this Sunday I need to take it easy and save all my energy to kick ass during the race. Doing that is a bit harder than I thought… running slower than I could is a bit depressing. Weird! I’m hoping for a good time in my race (<100 minutes) and I know I can do it. Wish me luck!

Today is also my 25th birthday. I baked a cake (it’s a chocolate sponge, a true culinary masterpiece) and made a wish as I blew out the candles. I also received a letter (an actual snail mail letter in an envelope with a stamp and all) from the company where I had a job interview about a week ago. I wasn’t surprised when I read that a different candidate was selected for the position. Happy birthday indeed! I needed to watch the above video after I cried myself a river. I’m all good now.

Stay tuned till next time. I’ll write about my half marathon.

Speed dating

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I took the bus because I didn’t want to get stressed about finding a parking spot in the CBD. Besides you already know my parking skills are crap. 😀 I didn’t want to risk getting another “insulting” message on my windscreen.

The first girl was interesting. She had a lot of questions and just kept firing at me. The conversation was largely one way – I didn’t find out much about her but she seemed great.

That place was crowded. And LOUD! Sometimes I could barely hear/understand what the girl was saying.

I noticed that girls didn’t ask any interesting questions. They played it safe and only asked about where I was from, what I did for work, my studies… job interview stuff. Seriously, who gives a fuck about that kind of stuff? Man was I bored, so I had to interrupt the interrogation. I had several interesting questions up my sleeve. For example I asked them what superpowers they would like to have or how would they design Lady Gaga’s dress or what kind of time travelling would they like to do or if they were Taylor Swift who would be their next squeeze… things like that. Some of the answers were really funny and I had a good time.

I noticed a strange phenomenon. Once the bell rang we were all strangers again. The 4-minute date is quite magical when you think about it.

One lady was a real Ice Queen and only answered “yes” or “no”, “I don’t know” or “I’ve never thought about that”. God damn it bitch, there are no right and wrong answers, just wing it! She almost turned me into a suicide case. She was attractive… with all that make-up but she seemed to be hollow. And then she yawned right in my face. That was a big no-no. I just didn’t want to talk to her after that.

The last girl was electric. She had a lot of energy and seemed a bit funny with her gestures and fast talking. She was lovely.

It took about three hours to finish twenty 4-minute dates with several brakes in between. I was glad once the talking was done. Finally I could catch my breath and leave. It was way past bedtime (I usually wake up at 4:45 to go running).

I don’t know how “well” I did and whether I made any matches but it was a good way to spend an evening with hot single girls in their prime childbearing years. 😀

Getting lost

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My training schedule has slow long distance runs on Sundays. This means that the longest distances will be covered on Sundays and the focus is on endurance not speed. A week ago I went for my 14.5 km run. That was supposed to be the longest run up to that point in my life. I was pretty excited about that.

The problem was I wanted to spice up my running and I went on a new route. I covered the first 8-10 km as planned and then I got lost. I took a left turn way too early.

I kept running because I thought the big street I was running on would eventually connect to a street I was familiar with. That never happened. So I used my inner GPS to navigate. That too was a mistake.

I started running at 5AM so there weren’t many people outside to ask for directions. Besides I looked like a crazy person since I run in nothing but my shorts – barefoot and with no shirt. I didn’t want anyone to call the cops on me (several years ago in the US there was a woman who called the cops for much less than that).

I kept running. It felt good. I reached a park and I knew that park was about 8 km north from home because I’ve been there before. I didn’t know how to get back. So I ran some more until I gave up on listening to my inner GPS. Suddenly I heard a noise. It was a train in the distance. That was my a’ha moment. I decided to follow the railroad because I knew it would take me home, eventually.

Once I reached a trainstation I was super happy but exhausted. I knew I was only about 5 km away from home. I tried to keep running but I just couldn’t. That was the first time in my runs when I had to walk. I ran a bit more and then walked again. I’d never been this tired and thirsty and hungry. I actually considered drinking from the puddles on the street. I slowly ran the last kilometer which got me home. Boy, was I glad. The day before I made a cake and that morning I ate about ¾ of it in less than 5 minutes. Nom-nom-nom-nom.

I also stopped my stopwatch which was on my kitchen counter. The display said 3:00:12. I checked on Google Maps and found out that I ran about 31 km – more than double than I planned. I was glad I covered the distance but I was a bit worried because my knee felt a bit odd. Maybe I hurt myself. At least I knew I was able to run a half marathon.

Things were pretty normal for the rest of the day but my knee started to hurt when I walked and my legs got quite sore. This wasn’t good.

The next two days I ran according to my training schedule but my knee was still playing up. So I had to take a rest day. This was the first time I had to deviate from my training plan. I felt quite lousy about that. I felt like a loser. I was a failure.

I picked up a book – „True Spirit“ by Jessica Watson. She is the world’s youngest person who sailed solo unassisted around the globe on a yacht. What made her story so incredible is that she did it all at the tender age of 16. She sailed the seas a bit more than 3 years ago. That made me think… what was I doing at that time? Why wasn’t I doing something incredible with my life? Her story was truly inspiring.

I also watched a documentary about an Aussie bloke who went to the United States and drank nothing but juice for 60 days. He was overweight and sick and got much better after his juicing experiment. After watching the movie I did one juicing day too (thinking that this will help me recover from my running). I bought about $15-$20 worth of vegetables and fruits to juice that day. I didn’t really feel much better but I thought it was interesting to try.

Things got better after my rest day and today I ran 16 km on a new route without getting lost or injured. I’m so proud of myself :D. Exactly 2 weeks until my first half marathon (21.1 km). I’m looking forward to it!

Parking skills

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Yesterday I was in a hurry to get to my latin dancing class. They moved my class to Wednesday because the Friday classes didn’t attract enough people. The parking lot was full and I left my car on a street.

The studios were packed with wannabe dancers. I claimed my territory on the floor and started mimicking other people’s movements. Similar to last time we switched partners every couple of minutes and generally I enjoyed the lesson. We learned turns. Sure, I got a bit dizzy after a while but it was funny.

It’s interesting to change partners because every girl/woman is different. Some of them dance really close to you, others keep a huge distance. Some are short, some are almost my height. Some are terrible dancers and some are very focused. And they all react different when they mess up. They apologize, they laugh, they pretend nothing happened. It’s very entertaining.

I do struggle with one thing. Where am I supposed to look when I’m dancing with someone? I cant look them into the eyes because they’re complete strangers and it feels awkward. Staring is creepy! It’s a bit easier when you’re conversing. I need to polish my small-talk skills.

I remember Helen asked us what’s the place a dancer is not allowed to look at? I thought to myself „BREASTS! Don’t stare at their BREASTS!“ :D. But I kept my mouth shut, this ain’t highschool. The right answer was feet. You’re not supposed to look at your feet when you’re dancing.

After class I walked to my car and noticed a piece of cardboard on my windscreen. First I thought it was a huge parking ticket but it turned out to be a message from some guy commenting on my awesome parking skills: „Bro you parked over our driveway. What a dick move. Don’t do it again! Your mother was a hamster!“. I just laughed. It made my day!

 

Good luck with your parking,

Son of a hamster

Another day, another interview

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Peter sat in his red chair. In fact we were all sitting in red chairs at a round table. Charlie, an older man, sat opposite of Peter. Charlie reminded me of David Harding… I liked him and his white hair. He seemed to be very „down to earth“. Peter was much younger. If I cut my hair short it would look exactly like his.

Deja vu, my friends, deja vu. About 3 years ago I applied for a trading trainee position at a prop trading business. Same setting: an older man (the owner) and a younger guy, the interview was in English in a fancy building. That interview was a disaster. I remember they told me what the salary for that role was going to be. It was much bigger than I expected plus a quarterly bonus from my profits. I was all smiles and asked them „When could I start?“. 😀 Idiot… Face palm… Stupid!

15 minutes, that was the shortest interview in my life. But I got the job! Back then. Funny how things turned out?

Today the interview went much better. Charlie said that it’d take only 20 minutes. They kept that promise. This was my second shortest job interview.

The associate equities analyst position I applied for was at a small boutique investment research company which employs only three people. They gave me a quick overview of what this role was about and some background about the company. I was asked several questions. They mostly wanted to know how interested I was in financial markets. I think I did quite well until another dreadful deja vu moment surfaced. Is it me or are all deja vu moments bad?

They asked me about my visa. I said I have a working holiday visa and I’m looking for a way to make a career in Australia and stay here permanently. I was a bit pissed because my resume has that visa information in it and they should have known about it. I had a similar job interview in January when everything went downhill once the visa question was asked. Same story. I guess employers don’t read resumes. The other explanation is that I’m a masochist – I enjoy pain and suffering. So I subconciously deleted the visa section from my resume and applied for those positions. Maybe that’s the case.

Anyway, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to gain some interview experience. Things went relatively well and my visa issue is actually something which is largely out of my control, so I shouldn’t beat myself up because of it. It is what it is.

Iiiiiit’s Salsa time

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I went to the front desk and was greeted by the teacher (Helen?). I loved the fact that she was from Russia and I was able to practice a little bit of Russian. Several people were waiting in the lobby and I joined them.

We went upstairs into the dancing studio which had several big mirrors on a wall. I looked at my reflection and thought I looked stupid, especially when practicing my salsa steps. Moving my arms back and forth made me look like a chicken. Not a pretty sight. Several minutes after we started the lesson, Ian took over and continued teaching.

The good news was that everybody else was awful at dancing too. Kinda like me, so I felt good about that. We paired up and switched partners every couple of minutes. That part I liked because dancing with somebody who’s 30-40 cm shorter than you is just plain wrong (unless you’re dacing with your grandkids or something).

One guy had odd shoes on his feet. They looked like Vibram Fivefingers but they were all dark brown and leathery. Weirdo… Maybe there’s more to it. Maybe he uses those shoes as an icebraker. All I was able to ask my partners was their name and whether they had done any dancing before… sort of a dead end conversation. I know, I know, I’m a real Casanova in the making!

Oh yeah, the reason I started taking dancing lessons is because it’s on my bucket list. I want to be able to do all those fancy dance moves as in Dancing with the Stars. Funny how having a list can motivate me to do stuff.

The lesson was a lot of fun, I enjoyed the „Yes!!! We didn’t fuck it up this time“ moments with my dancing partners. Figuring something out or having a bit of success feels really good. I’m looking forward to my next lesson.