17 May 2012

Hope can be a verb

Here's a writing prompt: try to blog about something other than your thesis, health, or situational depression.

I've taken to wearing earplugs at work some times, rather than listening to music. Music is distracting, with its words and phrases. I should listen to more jazz, but I just want to be alone with my thoughts every now and then. The earplugs give this to me, allow the rest of the world to slide away, as that great British rock band once said.

I am feeling better: after all the frustration of the last couple of weeks, I was sort of losing control. I can tell when I lose control by how much I'm eating. Now I'm running six days a week instead of four to prepare for this half marathon. It's different from the marathon training because it's less about endurance and more about speed. The first week was torture, absolute torture, but mostly because I didn't take control of my eating. If you want to run quickly and often, you have to watch what you eat, and you can't load up the night before you run. You feel slow, bloated, and frustrated. My weight has been all over the place leading up to and after the marathon. In two months, it fluctuated 8 kgs, which is incredible to me. So much water. Even now, this week: on Sunday morning, I was 84.1 kgs, this morning I was 79.9 kgs. This is all, however, under my control: I change my diet and how much I eat and the water just drops off me. It's bizarre: I will probably get under 79 kgs by Saturday morning and then my body will pause (at around 18% body fat) and decide what to do. I will plateau and stay there if I adjust my eating again, or start dropping again in about six days time if I keep up my current eating pattern (High fat and protein, low carb, calorie-restricted, intermittent fasting with exercise), or balloon back up in two weeks if I go back to what I was doing pre-marathon. One of the things I've learned in all my health adventures is how to make my body respond in the way that I want it to.

I would like to run the half-marathon at 75 kgs, but a lot of that will depend on how I eat leading up to the race. All this crap about carb-loading is, I think, crap. You need the energy that you need to run, but if you let your body go, it will run itself into a whole. More, more, more, more: cereal by the truckload. It doesn't know when to stop. All I want is for that gun time to read 1:3-:-- when I get across the finish line. Nothing else matters.

Thanks for asking about the thesis too, by the way. I put in a chapter to my supervisors yesterday and have to put in another one in two weeks time. I have a lot more work to do on this other chapter than the one I put in yesterday. I know what I think I want to say, but I'm not saying it. I'm saying something else. I took out a pair of scissors yesterday and cut up two sections that need to become one, rearranged the paragraphs by theme, and taped them together. This morning, I was supposed to come in and rearrange them in my document. I have not yet done that.

Instead, I filled out a job application, something I am doing at least once a week now. I'm getting better at it, I remember the dates easier and I can just whip through one. I have some good stock paragraphs built about my experience and sparkling personality, so I pop those in the 'Why should we hire you?' box, adapt them to the context, and send it out. The one I sent today though... More realistic than others I've sent. You start to get a sense of which applications you are sending into a black hole and which ones might potentially come back as something. I'm not sure where I sit right now on the UK university hiring totem pole, but I'm hoping that I'm somewhere...

That said, it is 12:37 PM as I write this sentence and in exactly, exactly two weeks, we will be in a car on our way to the airport on our way to Chicago on our way to the maths-literate younger sister's wedding. The maths-literate younger sister is getting married. Just like that. Well, not just like that for her, but for me, as her older brother, it seems like it's just happening. I've managed to keep myself relatively unaffected emotionally about it, but that's only because I've been running like mad. When she said something about her name changing, my heart sort of dropped: wow, yes, of course. We will still, I hope, find times where we are inexplicably on the top of the Effiel Tower together, looking down on the world—just the two of us. But it's hard to not be nostalgic.
When I look at this picture and think about all the things that have happened in my life, I suddenly have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. My twenties, this whole damn decade, has been incredible. How did I end up on the top of the Eiffel Tower with my maths-literate younger sister? Well... It's a long story.