I am a disgrace to my gender

Despite looking the picture of femininity in some of my earlier childhood photos, there were warning signs that, according to some standards, I was going to be a failure as a chick.  Here is a photo of me and my little brother at Christmas in Indonesia:

We got wooden owls.  My brother is demonstrating his 'owl' face.

We got wooden owls. My brother is demonstrating his ‘owl’ face.

This picture stands out to me because my mother had obviously just brushed my hair.  I distinctly remember having my hair brushed, on average, 3-4 times a year, usually under duress.  Hair brushing was a waste of time, and the bristles on brushes were really scratchy.  No thank you.  I am also fairly sure she would have tied that blue ribbon on my dress into a bow, but it became unravelled, possibly when I was doing whatever caused my bangs to look as though I’d just had my face licked by a dog. I now introduce exhibit B.  Still wearing a dress, my excitement at wearing said dress and being photographed wearing it are evident…

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

…ly non-existent.  At this point, tying my hair up is less hassle than trying to make me brush it.  The real solution, as my mother soon discovered, was just to get rid of the hair altogether:

Class photo! (In our PE kit, for some reason)

Class photo! (In our PE kit, for some reason)

I am the one to the right of my friend Jen, who had the most amazing ‘fro, I think we can all agree.  My bouffant bowl-cut is less amazing.  And, as an aside, the boy on the far left is fabulous.  With little hair to take care of, I continued my descent into failed womanhood, never learning the all-important skills of blow-drying, crimping, curling, using hair products appropriately, etc.  But these are definitely not my only feminine flaws.  I can list countless ways in which I feel sub-female, but instead I’ll list 5.

1. I cannot paint my fingernails.

Well, I can, but really badly.  Generally if you end up with the same amount of nail varnish on your skin as on your nails, you’ve gone wrong somewhere.  Now, if I ever find I really want to paint my nails for an occasion, I’ll do them about 3-4 days in advance, then do lots of dishes.  I find that the abrasive sponge scrubs the polish off my skin, but not my nails.  Then I just need a top coat, and it looks nearly good.  I would say that I am equally crap at applying eye-liner  but in truth it’s only when I’m doing one side, and that’s only because I’m blind in the other eye, so I’ll cut myself some slack there.

2. I do not wet myself over babies.

Because really, one person wetting themselves in a situation is quite enough, unless you’re into watersports, then I guess the more the merrier.  Generally, I find childbirth revolting.  Don’t get me wrong, I know I came from my mother’s vagina, and I am eternally grateful to my parents for choosing to procreate, but every time I learn something new about childbirth, it puts me off the idea of having my own even more.  I remember knowing that babies came from inside their mother’s bellies, but upon careful examination of my own stomach, could not work out where from, since I met significant resistance at the end of my belly button.  I asked my parents, and they fully explained.  Fully.  My dad even drew diagrams.  My parents told me that when I started a new school (I was about 5-6), the teacher asked us all to write a couple of sentences about where we were from. Apparently I wrote:

My name is Rachel.  My mommy met my daddy.  They did sex and I was born.  Then I came to [insert school name here].

So it wasn’t like I didn’t know the drill.  But then came sex-ed class.  And the video of a woman giving birth.  There was a lot of screaming, a lot of gross looking flaps of skin, a lot of blood, and one ugly, wrinkled, sticky baby to show for it.  I could feel my thighs pressing together, it was that traumatizing.  And then I found out more. Pregnant women can suffer from all sorts of nasty stuff.  Haemorrhoids.  Morning sickness.  Craving pineapple on pizza.  Complications.  And then there’s that whole thing about apparently crapping yourself during birth. Oh, and I never knew what the word ‘episiotomy‘ was until recently.  When I searched that on Google  I could almost swear my legs were crossed 83 times.  I have so much respect for mothers.  Because ouch.

Re-reading what 'epiostomy' means.

Re-reading what ‘episiotomy’ means.

There are certain situations in which babies are OK, however.  When they’re asleep, when they’re happy, when they’re clean, and when they’re not eating.  In fact, at a party last night I requested a shot of the baby (a couple of new parents dropped by for a couple of hours), and it was one of the cutest babies I’ve pretended to fly around a living room with machine gun wings, and then make dance to rock music.  Plus, when it touched my face, his tiny hands weren’t covered in baby food.  And after 5 minutes, and a faint whiff of fart, I could hand him back to his parents.  While I’m not denying that baby made me smile, I don’t want something that size exiting something that currently struggles to accommodate something the size of a cucumber.  I would like to stress I did not say ‘an actual cucumber’.

3. I do not want to have sex with that kid from Twilight/’World’s Most Desirable Men 2012′

For research purposes, I scanned through Glamour magazine’s Sexiest Men of 2012 and can only say that out of the ONE HUNDRED men they list (a bit overboard, really), I would count 4 as attractive. For the record: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Leonardo Dicaprio as a fatter, sleazier looking guy than he was during the Titanic era, RDJ, and James McAvoy, but all of these were chosen because they come across as really likeable people in interviews, or have played characters that I want to pretend the actors are like in real life.  So, basically not 100% to do with their looks.  And not 100% to do with reality.  You should probably not judge the other 96 guys too harshly, however, as I am a person who favours David Bowie in his mullet/glitter/eyeshadow/drugs phase and Steve Buscemi.  

4. I would fail a class in complimenting 

Generally, the people I hang out with most frequently have a penis.  This is partly because all of my girlfriends have moved away and are currently dotted around the USA while I freeze my ass off in Scotland, and partly because outside of school, it’s kind of harder to make friends because you aren’t forced to see people every day, so keeping in touch can kind of fall behind.  But when I am in the company of females, I am blown away by how nice they are to each other.  They say things like ‘I love your hair’ and ‘that dress is beautiful’.  They notice that you have (badly) painted your nails.  They do things that boys do not do, and that make me feel a tiny bit awkward sometimes.  If I receive a compliment I usually go a bit red and mumble a thank you, because I don’t know what to do with it.  If I try to give a compliment, I come across sounding like a creep.  Because who wouldn’t sound weird saying: “I like your tights.  The darker colour really emphasizes your calf muscle.  It would make a nice steak if we were all stranded on a mountain and had to start eating each other.”?  Nobody, that’s who.

5. I’m atrocious at flirting

Not that flirting is a skill that I require, what with being in a long term relationship and having the moral backbone to not sleep around, but when I have found myself single, I am retarded at picking up on signals.  I mean, my friend Grant frequently accompanied me as my wingman, and had to tell me when I was being hit on.  My finesse in matters of courting pretty much extends to approaching a male I am interested, saying, “I am Rachel, if your personality doesn’t suck we could be licking each other’s teeth later, please indicate your level of interest.”  Not particularly suave, but then I usually get distracted by a song that I just HAVE to dance to, or end up challenging people to drunk push-up competitions.

These days, Ian often makes comments about men I end up speaking to in bars about various things.  Usually, I have become embroiled in an argument and am enthusiastically fighting my side, and I would say I win 90% of the time (sometimes because the other party is too drunk to keep arguing, sometimes because they eventually come around to my way of thinking).  Ian, however, tells me that they only submit because they think I might sleep with them.  I’d rather keep on believing that my debating skills kick ass, and that Ian can become irrationally jealous of hairy men in bars.

Although I think it’s tacky, I am kind of in awe of chicks who can flirt their way to a free drink without making the man feel like he is being used.  I tried that once.  It went a bit like this:

Me: Hey.
Guy: Hey.
Me: Are you buying a drink?
Guy, holding wallet, at a bar: Uh, yes.  Yes I am.
Me: Cool.
Guy (raising eyebrow): Are you trying to scam a free drink?
Me: Yeah.  I’m not doing very well, am I?
Guy: Definitely not.
Me: Cool.  I appreciate the feedback.

Despite all of my shortcomings, I do have boobs, and according to Ian I display fairly stereotypical symptoms of PMS, so I guess I’m not a complete failure.  I find that running has helped to introduce me to a bunch of other wonderful, flawed women.  Ones that would rather hurl themselves into muddy bogs than get manicures at the weekend.  Ones that are not self-conscious about grunting and sweating in public.  Ones that are glad that they look like crap after a workout, because it meant they put in the effort.  And ones that come on 15 mile runs with me when the weather is like this:

Deeside railway line (January 20th, 2013)

Deeside railway line (January 20th, 2013)

And with that, my second long run of over 15 miles is done in preparation for the Paris marathon.  Thank you, ‘ladies’*, for the company!

At the halfway point today.

At the halfway point today.

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Me and Ronnie, trying not to slip on the ice.

Here’s to being a failure!**

*And gentlemen.
**And yes, I know that you do not need to be good at all of these things to be considered a woman.  I am also aware that the implication that being a woman consists of such trivial things could be considered offensive to women in general, but whatever, have a hissy fit.

40 mile weekend

So it looks like I’m in that painful part of marathon training, guys.  I’m also going back to work tomorrow after 7 (beautiful) weeks of summer holidays, so my mind and body are crushed.

Saturday started off bright and early (for a Saturday) and I left my apartment at about 8 to get some miles in on the (boring) railway line.  At 8:35, I turned back, and continued past my place towards the beach, where I just managed to arrive at parkrun on time!  3.1 miles later (at a faster speed than I’d have liked, but still way slow compared to just a 5k), Ronnie and I set off for some laps of the beach.  We had originally intended to do one massive loop starting with parkrun, but as I’d started early, we settled for the beach, agreeing to hit the gym’s cafe afterwards for some freshly squeezed orange juice.  As the miles ticked by, I was aware that I felt a lot better than I did during the 18 miler a fortnight ago.  My muscles felt as though they could go on and on.  Unfortunately, the chaffing in unmentionable places did a pretty good job making me want to stop.  However, having company with me for that last 9 miles was amazing and really helped me through.  It wasn’t fast, but I ran my first 20 mile training run, and I didn’t collapse.  Result!

At 19.92 miles, ‘Chariots of Fire’ starting playing in my head. No joke.

The freshly squeezed orange juice was amazing.  The shower when I got home was less pleasant (I imagine) than using a dildo made of sandpaper and glued on pieces of broken glass.

Chaffed delicates + hot water and soap = tears and swearing.

Anyway, that night, Ian, myself, Liell and Grant all indulged in a curry.  And beer.  I pretty much inhaled everything that was placed in front of me, and even shared a desert with Liell, using a cocktail umbrella as a utensil (times were desperate).

While I was out running on Saturday, Ian was finishing up my bike, which he has been working on for the last few weeks whenever the weather is nice enough to work outside after he finished work at his day job.  I tell him ALL THE TIME that he needs to wear sun block when there is actual sunshine, but he just says he’s ‘building up a natural immunity to burning’.  Well, it seems to be working really well….

Bad sunburn

Despite his terrible sun care, he’s pretty good at cleaning and fixing up bikes, and because the weather was gorgeous today (the best day of 2012 by miles), we decided to give my bike a test ride.

We chose the railway line because it’s pretty flat (and my legs would shout out a ‘heeeeeeeeell no!’ if hills had been suggested).  We cycled about 10 miles out, and it was amazing how many other cyclists were out today – they were obviously all in the summer spirit today!  We soon realized, however, that life would have been a whole lot easier if we had a bell (like everyone else) to warn people when we wanted to overtake.  Luckily, my front brake squealed when I stopped abruptly, so it became our impromptu bell for the day.

I’ve posted photos of the railway line before from some of my runs along it, but today we went a little farther.  Some of the sections are like country roads, some are like trails, some are totally overgrown and bursting with stinging nettles.  We also passed loads of different animals; horses, sheep, cows, bunnies.  And my insect kill count for today must be through the roof (I’m sorry bumblebee!).

At the point where we turned back, I took a few photos, and stopped to take a few more along the way home:

My fixed up bike! Her name is Juliet.

Ian working on his guns. And sensibly covering up.

Cows. Ian didn’t want to pose with them because he felt guilty that we’d both be eating them later…

This bridge actually shook when cars went over it…

 

So, things I learned this weekend:

  • 20 miles is a long way.
  • Cycling 20 miles is easier than running 20 miles, though chaffing and a saddle do not mix as well as I’d have liked.
  • Wearing heels after a 20 mile run is ill-advised.
  • I am glad that swimming comes first in a half ironman, because holy shit, it would sting after cycling over 50 miles and running a half marathon.

Back to work in T-minus 10 hours.  I am already in a grump!

18 miles!

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So I’m sitting on my sofa, totally naked apart from my socks and sports bra (but sitting on my somewhat sweaty shirt, for everyone that visits me and sits on my sofa), and I am exhausted. I am exhausted, not … Continue reading

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Well, my training went a bit off the rails this weekend, but who can blame someone for wanting a couple of beers with friends once in a while, huh?  Saturday is usually my pakrun/pump day, but I didn’t make either.  Why, you ask, narrowing your eyes and throwing a side-eye my way?  Simple.  I was hungover.

Friday night was the one year anniversary of a writing group I’m a part of.  Anniversaries are for one thing: drinking.  Now, it was a themed night, and the theme was ‘moral decay’.  I took that to mean ‘dress like a ho’ and I gave it my all.

Total number of party guests that decided to follow the theme: 2

Far left: me. Far right: the ONLY OTHER PERSON TO MAKE AN EFFORT TO DRESS UP!

So I spent the night teetering about in trashy 6-inch heeled boots and a rubber dress whilst everyone else lounged comfortably in sensible, non-ho clothes.  Awesome.

Anyway, I didn’t get home until just before three, so I decided after 8 straight days of working out I had earned a rest day.  And it was great.  I slept in, ate loads and topped it off with a play at His Majesty’s Theatre.

Roll around Sunday.  I also slept in today.  Until the afternoon, which is unheard of for me.  I told myself I would do some form of exercise today, but the longer I languished in bed, the less likely that idea seemed.  After lunch, however, with the sun out and the energy of instant noodles soaring through my body, I thought ‘Ugh, screw it, I’ll go’.

I set off not knowing how far I would run.  Initially I was thinking 5 miles, but it was such a nice day I just kept going.  My hip was giving me a bit of bother and the knee still isn’t 100%, but I just felt happy on the go.  When I eventually checked my Garmin and noticed I’d gone 5.5 miles, I decided it was time to turn back.  And who wouldn’t be in the mood for running here?

Pure stunnin', ken?

Turning onto my street I saw I’d run over 11 miles, my longest run at 28 so far!  Having not planned for a long run, I was glad I’d tucked a cheeky tenner into my phone-carrier arm-strap thing, and ran past my front door, round the corner, and straight to the Tesco Local that I know has good fridges (because poorly chilled beverages piss me off).  The sight of pure heaven?  Witness:

Excessive?

So that’ll be my longest run before my first half marathon, which is exactly two weeks away now.  Feeling confident I’ll manage the distance as I felt strong (but thirsty) after my run today, and have a realistic goal of coming in under 2:15, although sub 2:00 is like my holy grail!  I guess I’m starting what is known in the biz as ‘taper time’, apart from my 10 mile race next Sunday.

Hope everyone else’s training is going well, and that you’ve been balancing all of your hard work with some hard play!  😉

Hasta luego.

Last Run on the Right Side of 27!

And it was a good one. Make no mistake, I feel like a Vegas hooker after Charlie Sheen has been in town, but I am really pleased with today’s run for a couple of reasons.

The first reason is that this is the second longest run I’ve ever done.  In my life!  10.14 miles, to be exact (Thank you sweet Garmin).  I have a 10 mile race and a half marathon coming up next month, and finally getting a run in the double figures has given me a bit of a confidence boost because a.) I know I can run the distance and b.) I didn’t feel like I was going to suffer from a cardiac event!

The second reason is that I have been a 10k girl for years.  It is a distance I have been comfortable with and I know how to pace myself well through one.  I have attempted a Long Slow Distance run a couple of times before, but always start out too quickly and tire myself out.  Today I was religious about checking my pace, and managed to stay around the 9:30/mile speed for the most part.  Not too fast to exhaust me, but not too slow (in my eyes, anyway) to feel like there was no effort.

The final reason I am pleased with today’s run?  Well, it will have helped work off the mexican food and beer from last night.  Oh, and this:

Enormous lemon "cupcake"

In case anyone is interested, I wouldn’t recommend beer, mexican and cake for a meal before a long run.

As far as birthday celebrations went, everyone tried to hold in their anger at sucking hard at indoor crazy golf (I came second by ONE MEASLY STROKE!).  Then there was a meal before gathering at a friend’s house to watch some humorous documentaries and inflate balloons with helium (one of my gifts).

One of the most uplifting presents I've ever received. (Har har)

I’d like to point out that the stripey dress I’m wearing isn’t the only article of non-workout clothes I own, I just really like it.  Anyway, everyone was really into the balloons.  And when I say everyone, I mostly mean my friend Liell.

Balloons!

I also got a very swanky new headband, which I wore on my run today, a scarf, and then this afternoon my friend Grant and his brother, Bruce, came round bearing even more gifts: A book by Nick Cave (THE Nick Cave, I didn’t even know he wrote books!  I’m ashamed that as an English Teacher I didn’t know that!), and some trashy scratch cards.  I’ll let you know if I’m a millionaire next time….

Bitchin' Style

Swag!

Over and Out!