Bearded Ghost

To the stranger I had three dates with…

We bumped into each other this morning. Both of us were on our way to work. But it was not your usual stop.

I saw you from a distance and my heart skipped a beat. I felt it stopped for a second.

And then that rush of blood to my head.

We stopped in front of each other and said hi. We said yes to each others’ questions about whether we’re on our way to work.

So obvious, wasn’t it?

And then I didn’t know what to say. And you started rubbing that dry nose of yours.

The skin on your nose was still as dry and flaky, just like the last time I saw you. You obviously have not taken my suggestion to use moisturizer.

And your beard…. It was just as thick as the last time I touched it.

And that “17/8 Independence Day Run” t-shirt you wear to work, I wear mine to sleep.

And I wasn’t looking spectacular either.

But I didn’t know what else to say. That few awkward seconds.

We finally said good bye. We parted.

Then came that weird feeling, as if a wall came crashing down on me. As if the blood that rushed to my head flowed back all through my body.

It left me feeling numb. My knees went weak.

So weird. A chance meeting that made me feel like I just saw a ghost – without the goosebumps.

A bearded ghost is what you are.

And I wonder why.

Was it because there was no closure after we met last time?

Maybe that was it. Maybe this morning was our closure. Unless the Universe says otherwise.

About the stranger I had 3 dates with….

“The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, through a biting wind and a driving snow, the last snowfall of the year, over the down, walking as it seemed from Bramblehurst railway station, and carrying a little black portmanteau in his thickly gloved hand… Some days he would come down early and be continuously busy. On others he would rise late, pace his room, fretting audibly for hours together, smoke, sleep in the armchair by the fire. Communication with the world beyond the village he had none. His temper continued very uncertain; for the most part his manner was that of a man suffering under almost unendurable provocation, and once or twice things were snapped, torn, crushed, or broken in spasmodic gusts of violence. He seemed under a chronic irritation of the greatest intensity. His habit of talking to himself in a low voice grew steadily upon him, but though Mrs. Hall listened conscientiously she could make neither head nor tail of what she heard.”

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

2XU Compression Run, Singapore 020314

I have to say that it was an all around fun race. Some points that I need to highlight about my first overseas race:

  • Race pack collection was an ease. Even though the venue changed from the last time I check it on the web on Thursday (it was written “Funan DigitaLife Mall” but then changed to “Changi City Point”.) When I arrived at Changi City Point, the queue was long, but the collection counters were plenty so I think we only had to stand for around 10 minutes before it was finally our turn to get the pack. I only need to show my passport and voila! My race pack magically appeared before my eyes. Hmm not really :P
  • The race pack content was pretty straight forward. It contained a race vest, timing chip, bib, Acti-Tape brochure and a sample of the tape, Tiger Balm Active muscle gel brochure and a very small sample tube, and a race guideline booklet. If it was held in Indonesia, it would have contained a discount voucher from various retailers (usually Oakley, Planet Sports, etc) or sponsor’s products, more samples of sponsor’s product, biscuits, or other gimmicky stuff. No complain for my part, though. It’s all good. And because the race vest was yellow, I now have 3 yellow running shirts with varying sleeve lengths. Wait, say what??? 3 bright yellow shirts?? 1 long sleeves, 1 short sleeves and 1 sleeveless. And yellow is not even my favourite colour. Oh well..
  • No-Fuss Race Day. I woke up at 4am (Singapore time; 3am Jakarta time) to get ready and walk to the race venue, Nicoll Highway, from our hostel in Lavender. Dropping my bag at the bag drop counter was an ease – and no queuing either. Toilets were plenty and we didn’t have to queue. Starting time for each race category was well planned, in a way that the ones doing full marathon and half marathon could finish at almost the same time as 10K participants. I’m sure it has to do with the management of road closure too.
  • Not Recommended: drinking too much less than 30 mins before the start. Drink just enough water before you start. If you feel like your throat is dry, have a little sip – don’t try to take that big gulp less than 30 mins before start time.  Just when I was already in the starting queue, I suddenly felt the urge to pee. Because I was already in the middle of thousands of people, I decided to hold it. Besides, it would take a lot of effort for me to get out of the pack and it might start even before I got to pee anyway. So I held it. At the first water station there was a toilet booth, with at least 5 people waiting. Skipped the toilet, skipped the drink. At the next water station, I didn’t see any toilet booth. But I stopped anyway to drink Pocari Sweat. Then, only after km 6 that I found a proper public toilet. Not that red portable booth, but a proper-white-painted-building. So I took a detour and ran straight inside. Squatting toilet – perfect! No need to worry about dirty toilet seat. Toilet paper aplenty – great! And running water – heaven! I got to properly wash my hands and splash water on my face. I felt so fresh and free afterwards. Ready to tackle the last 4km of the race.
  • Enjoyable race route. Overall, the race route was enjoyable. Timing couldn’t be better. The weather was really nice (so unlike the usual hot & humid Singapore that I know). I especially like the part when we were running along Kallang River and closer to the bay area. The view of Singapore Flyer in a distance, Esplanade, the sea, the breeze, and the palm trees and grassy parts made it all the more enjoyable for me. Tired of pounding the tarmac and pavement, I chose to run on the grass and it helped a lot! Also, when I was running on the road, I found that it helped me a lot running along, following the road marker lines (marka jalan).
  • Mindful runners. Unlike in Jakarta/Indonesia, when a runner decided to take a power walk between runs or stop to tie their shoe laces, they would immediately go to the most left side of the road so that they won’t get in the way of other runners. Also when a faster runner was approaching slower runners in front of them, they would say the word “passing” to let the other runners know that they’re coming through.
  • Heaviest medal thus far. I love how the medal is made of thick and sturdy metal. It’s definitely of high quality. I also like the soft material of the lanyard.
  • Drinks and bananas galore at the finish line. The organizer provided lots and lots of pocari sweat, bananas…and something that’s new for me: wet towels!!!

So, overall 2XU Compression Run was a fun race. Different crowd, different atmosphere, different culture (I only saw 3 people stopping to take photos during the race). It definitely has that feel-good factor, at least for me.

I completed the race in 1:18’24 (according to my watch; I paused it when I went for my toilet stop. See result here). The official time for me is 1:20’22 (gun time) and 1:19’37 (nett time). I have moved up a bit from being a midpacker to the middle of the first half of the pack. Uhm, if you know what I mean.. (724 from 2999).

Thank you Pink Apple for a fun race! :)

1964943_10152217975388605_891499011_n

escapism

On Sunday I will be running at 2XU Compression Run race in Singapore. My first overseas race. Another 10K. Not so hard, you say? Maybe. But I don’t know if I could set a PB. Nor that I have that as my target. I haven’t been running as much in the last month. I blame the rain and the overall shitty weather that have been messing up with my morning run schedule.

Another thing is that I haven’t been in my running mood lately. There’s just been a few things that preoccupy my mind, such as the resignation of a workmate/friend from my project.She’s going to the US to get married legally with her husband (they’ve done the Islamic wedding / akad nikah in March 2013). I’m happy for her, but at the same time I’m rather sad to see her go. She was one of the first 2 persons I talked to at work. We didn’t always agree on things but we got along well because apparently she was living in Brisbane at the same time I was studying there – but we never met. So this shared connection to my first-love city was what drew us closer). We used to share the same cubicle too. Oh, well.. congrats, Mila! I’m sure she’ll be happy living in the USA. :)

So, onto my 2XU race.. Godspeed to myself! And my cousin and her friends who will also be doing the race! We’re leaving tonight on different flights. It’ll treat this trip to Singapore and the race itself as a form of escape. An escape from the current dullness of Jakarta and life in general. But damn that currency SGD-IDR exchange rate!

Forestry Friday: A weekly post on issues surrounding the environment

Living in a concrete jungle such as Jakarta makes it easy for us to forget that forest makes up for around 30% of total land area on our beloved Earth. Now, I’m not someone with forestry or even environmental background, but I’ve been involved in REDD+ in the last 2 years and I can’t help but to learn about environmental issues, forestry and many other things related to it (and not without struggle).
So, in an attempt to educate myself about the issues surrounding the environment, I am planning to create a post (hopefully) every Friday, that I call Forestry Friday. It won’t be just about forestry, it will cover other things related to the environment. But to make it live up to its name, let’s start with a post about forests. Hopefully y’all would find it useful too! Without further ado…

#ForestryFriday: The forest is a complex ecosystem – a biological system with distinct, myriad interrelationships of the living part of the environment (plants, animals and micro-organisms) to each other and to the non-living, inorganic or abiotic parts (soil, climate, water, organic debris, rocks).
It is an intricate and complex web – fragile but at the same time holding the ecosystem together. (from WWF)
Read more here: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_forests/