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Category: Friends

It Wasn’t Just Running

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I was on the dishes at the sink when Fakhrul mentioned about that thing Cedar Wright wrote about ultrarunning. “Read it up, seriously hilarious..” he said. I did saw the headline but never gave a second thought to click it. But when I thought about the coming Sunday’s Great Eastern Live Great Run the BFF made me sign up few months back, and the fact that it will be 12 km, it might do me something good. As I scrolled down and read, I couldn’t help but relate.

I just wasn’t that impressed. I mean… it was “just running.”

Watching someone run was at best boring, and I just didn’t think it was all that rad.

I accepted that even if I had to crawl in on bloody knees, my main goal was to finish.

Secretly, I wished that I never had entered the race.

My pace slowed and I entered the realm of type-two fun: when fun isn’t fun anymore. I went into my pain cave.

Prior to the race (I’m chuckling as I’m typing the word. Race lah sangat!) I was told off in a serious manner by the usual goofy BFF that I needed to practice running. Practice running – sounded so out of this world because how do you practice something that you know how to do since you learned you have legs, really? I was totally underestimating this whole new sport until I ran, like really ran my first 2 km.

It felt really off, practicing running when all I should be doing was catching up with climbing. Two strikingly different things almost on every aspects of it had me overwhelmed a bit. Unlike climbing, there was no overthinking whether 60 meters of rope is enough for this route, wiregate or straightgate quickdraws, if I have enough of them until I reach the anchor, should I wear my downturned shoes or the flatter one, did I do the double figure eight knot right, the fear of falling, will my belayer see me tremble to prepare for the fall.. to name a few worries! With running, all I needed to do was put on a shoe and lift off.

Getting into something that is all about the pace, going faster and enduring longer distance starting to become more and more alien to me as I ran. With climbing, it was all about taking your time getting into the right move and positions – as long as you get up there, who cares if you don’t get there fast enough? Suddenly I felt it, something I haven’t felt in a long time – that pain on your waist. Pancit! Like any other sport, you can easily get obsessive a little about it. Once you’ve known your average pace and the distance you went, you just couldn’t help but wonder whether you can do better the next time around. And so there I was, “practicing”, on some weekdays afternoons doing my rounds at Kampung Sungai Kantan.

Prior to the GE Run, I could only run 3.5 km until going down to walking pace. I had only ran 5 km max and that almost floored me. So deep deep deeeep down inside, I really didn’t think I could finish 10 km, let alone 12! I was already plotting an evacuation plan out of the crowd in case I just couldn’t go anymore. I was like, what if I cramped? What if I fainted in the heat? But with a bit of motivation from my friends and husband who are already pro runners in my eyes, I braced myself for it.

I gotta tell you, running in a crowd is a whole different feeling than running by yourself. Somewhere between the stampede of the bloody hills of Bukit Tunku, I knocked on the road cat’s eye and scrapped my knees. The other runners were so concerned I got so many people asking me whether I was alright. Yeah, I was alright with scars, especially the one that will mark my firsts. I was not alright about tearing my brand new running tights though…

Most of the people I went to the race with are the girls I’d known most of my life and the two that stuck running with me were both the best of friends of 19 years, Ewa and Shareena. At about KM seven, totally drained in sweat, trying to catch whatever breath I could, possibly already hallucinating, I suddenly had an incredibly sentimental moment. Watching Shareena struggling the same, not answering any of our questions “saving” up her energy and Ewa jumping around trying to keep the pace whilst throwing motivational short speeches at us, I was happy. I truly was. Most people would pick some fancy hipster cafe, eating fancy food, all dressed up smelling nice to play catch up with old friends. Instead there we were, running, enduring and making an experience that will sum up who we are. In pain and one of the most tiring condition I had ever been in my life, I laughed a little. Suddenly there were flashback of memories in my head of what these two looked like when they were pimpled-faced teenagers who had very little idea about anything. The people who make me feel like I am already at my best self, challenge me by their example and who I genuinely enjoy. The ones that I take time every week to be in touch. The ones that contribute to my survival and enjoyment in life.

Had Musmarlina been there with us instead in cold Sheffield, I would’ve cried in the middle of the race having this epiphany.

At KM 10 I was totally bummed that my phone was running out of battery and had to turn off the Nike+. I was sure Fakhrul had finished by then and wanted to save up in case for phone calls. I glimpsed at my time and was happy enough I did a 10k with 170 meters elevated route under 90 minutes. At this stage I could already feel my legs getting all wobbly, it hurts just to even step on the feet. It didn’t feel like it was just 2 km more and I was ready for it to be done with. “We have to finish it in style. Resuming run at the roundabout!” jerked Ewa as my eyes were already half closed. And by God did we ran at the roundabout. I suddenly found a bit of energy to just ran the hell up to the finish line. Either that or I was totally struck by her voice shouting “Come on! Come on! Come on!!!” as we did. My eyes wandered for le husband. He better have his phone ready for picture and thankfully, he did.

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I did it. 12 freakin’ km. 12.5 actually according to my have-to-be-accurate friend, Yeen. Who cares what my time is (actually after seeing the official result I cared a little haha), I was a 12 km finisher! At this point we didn’t know where Shareena was but after few pictures taken and ready to retreat, I looked back and there she was! I don’t know but it was as if we were all welcomed back and survived from a horrid war. We cheered, laughed hysterically, ate our bananas, paraded my wound and torn up tights, and that was it.

I still don’t feel like running is my thing, but funnily enough I already signed up for the next run. Sometimes I think enduring a pain like this can be a little bit addictive. Because no matter how worse it gets, after recovering from it, you’re actually OK. It was not all that bad. And then you started to think…

I wanna have a go again.

Musmarlina

At 16

Mus has finally went off to her Married-land.

Immediately after I came back from UK last month, I was back on helping Mus organizing her short noticed wedding. It was pretty mental organizing everything for the bride who didn’t know what she wants, but thankfully it helped when she actually knows what she didn’t want. We managed to get everything in order until the actual day; even the bride who had the coldest feet ever it was almost frozen! We were really trying hard not to get Mus victimized by the Malaysian wedding culture, with the dresses, photographers, make-ups etc that could break her bank .. but what can I say? It is really expensive to get married in this town!

Her dress for example, Mus was introduced to this one designer who is actually not that famous but insisting that his price of (almost) RM4k for one dress is reasonable! Mus’ naivety and desperation almost made her pay a deposit but I quickly convinced her to get out from the boutique and look at other options. After that I immediately thought of Nurita Harith and how I had been drooling for her creations but never actually managed to afford one (not that they’re so bloody expensive, I have certain/little budgets for things I’d only wear occasionally..) and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to see, feel and touch one of her dresses, even if it meant I wouldn’t be the one wearing it hihihi. Unlike that earlier designer who I presumed skeptical whether people actually have any money to spend when one walks into his shop, Nurita was so tending to Mus, even though Mus had always looked like a mess with thin purse with her tudung senget and if she wasn’t wearing one, with her very serabai unmanageable thick hair. We made Mus try at least 5 sample dresses out of 2 that she had to pick and each of them were oh so pretty! Nurita even opened to the idea when I suggested amendments to her design to suit Mus’ famous title among us as budak pendek. I mean, believe me, it is not easy to get a well-known name to be OK with that, Nurita was surprisingly cool. And price wise, I would make the other designer come to Nurita’s boutique and educate him how not to rip-off a customer!

Nah! The pretty one.

The wedding went off beautifully and it was not until a month later after she had moved to KL (ugh, I know. Kajang to KL can’t possibly considered as moving) that I really felt a struck of a small loss in my life. We still see each other whenever we can, but it really isn’t the same when she used to live just a monkey’s feet astride where I can make ad hoc dinners at my place, hang around until I had enough of her high pitched voice and unstoppable chatter-box mouth. And Daisy has never asked about her Mama Mus so much, probably because of how long it had been since Mus appear messy as always in front of my front gate. Friendships are funny sometimes – it gets easier over the years, by the mutual understandings and compromise you have towards each other. But it also gets harder on efforts of keeping in touch compared to that time when Mus and I were seating on that cracked stone chair in front of our school.

But you know what, I doubt that Mus will be one of them: One of them my long lost friends. Because she’s the kind of friend that will always be found. And I won’t make it easy for her to get rid of me!

Getting Physical

It actually started on that Monday 2nd January when we all had a day off from New Year.

We were all supposed to go to Genting Sempah that morning, as Qadir promised he’ll get bikes from Nad the night before for the next morning cycling session. We discussed about it during New Year’s eve dinner two days before that and everybody was adamant to go. So I made Ewa come, even though she was reluctant at first, woke up way earlier than on any other normal working days, kissed the sleeping Daisy and left her on the bed and off we were to Qadir’s when Amer called us on the way.

“Weh, jangan keluar rumah lagi. Basikal takde.” His obvious just-woke-up voice echoed through our car speaker phone.

Typical Qadir. Most of the times his words were not as what they seemed. I was going to give him the lecture of his life (mostly about keeping punctual, be true to your words, stop troubling your friends and all that good behaviour/menace talk) when we learned that it was not his fault, that Nad had been unreachable since night before and being a cycling junkie, I guess he was still hoping Nad would’ve picked up the phone that morning. That’s why he didn’t inform us there were no bikes. So we were all there, all gathered at the self-proclaimed best mamak in Serdang, most importantly too wide awake it was almost not worth going back home to continue our sleep and have the rest of the day doing nothing. We were all talking about what to do when Qadir brilliantly suggested wall climbing.

Qadir brought his friend, Faizal who knows how to belay and have done it before so all the guys and Ewa climbed that day and I just sat and watched, because I didn’t feel like I could do it, plus I was shy people were going to stare at my ass. But Ewa and Fakhrul were talking about coming back so that Sunday the three of us went for a class (which they call clinic for some reason. Ewa and I have been joking that we have to go to clinic before we go to the hospital for falling off). We learned how to make the knots, safety issues, what’s this what’s that and most importantly how to belay a person climbing. The next thing I know I was making my way up the wall.

Seriously, I can’t believe I waited until I am almost 30 years old with a kid to do this. The excitement of putting your feet at the right place pushing your body up. There’s an intense joy or happiness when you find out your next hold can be grabbed and an intense fear when it’s otherwise.  The sweat that keeps dripping from your face which you cannot wipe as if you are hanging to your dear life. The fear of falling once you’re on top and the complete trust you need for the person belaying you to come down from the point of an equivalent 3 to 4 stories high. How convenient for me that I can trust both my climbing partners; my husband and my best friend. And how alive it makes you feel once you have come down to the ground safely. The cramps on your arms and fingers that hurts afterwards it makes tasks like flushing toilet such a burden. These mixed emotions and physical pain are apparently instead of uncomfortable has become what it is to me – addictive.

Suddenly in less than 2 weeks, we did our forth climb yesterday. Ewa asked me before, how many climbing sessions do we have to do until we can decide to buy our own climbing shoes and I said five, at that time thinking achieving three will be in months time. All I look forward now is that phone call from her or Qadir (who are also hooked after his first climb he immediately purchased his own harness days after – pfft!) and I’m all up for it. Fakhrul has been going on about how his “dream” has turned into reality now that both of us have found something we enjoy and can do together, instead of dressing up, hitting the malls, buying things we don’t need and stuff our face with food.

There’s nothing I enjoy more currently than dressing down, getting sweaty, tied to my crotch and grabble my way up just to go down.

P/S : We also finally did get the bikes from Nad the weekend after and Fakhrul and Amer impressively cycled 14km way up to the top of Genting Sempah with me, Qadir and Daisy cheering them along the way in our cars.

The Day That She

Although she is one of my three best in life, I quarrel, disagree and argue most with Shareena. But at the same time, she is also the one I feel most comfortable with to open up to, revealing my insecurities in life, my unnecessary worries and the irrational troubles I often went seeking myself.

I said to Mus, who was also a birthday girl on the same day, it was only last year when the four of us went to find baju raya at Jalan TAR together. We then went and had our iftar afterwards and we talked about her unrest worries about being single, at the age of 28 and her urge to start a married life with at that time, no one in mind. Its amazing what has changed in just a year. She is married now, and it all feels surreal.

I feel so blessed to be around to see her achieve her dreams, and looking at her most beautiful too. I would be very sad if circumstances had been different for me, like if I was still in UK and had to miss her wedding. When I watched her walking down the aisle, taking her careful steps up to the decorated stage, holding close to her man and smiling ever so proudly to everyone, I reminisced the times when we were fifteen.

Years went in a blink when you truly enjoy each other’s company. At times like this I wonder if things are ever going to be the same again. And if it does, how long will it lasts? But for now I’m going to put my worries aside and pray that my friend will have a long and peaceful marriage, filled with love, laughter and joy as any marriage should be.

A Mother and Her Friends

I recently clicked to HHLes’ blog and found an old entry about motherhood, written from a perspective of a single. She said her favorite bloggers (I’m excluded I’m sure) that started to have children begin blogging a lot about their children that it becomes boring to those whose lives haven’t changed the same way. Suddenly it hits me, am I one of them? Am I so ignorant that I’ve become one of those mothers? Who thinks less of her single friends or dismissed her blog readers by bore them with pictures of her daughter?

Friends wise, I gotta say – it will be hard the first time, as it was for me. My besties for life are all still single and pretty much haven’t changed a lot since high school. I swear, we weren’t trying to be a group of four like Carrie’s, but we are really Shaliza, Ewa, Mus & Shareena.

Ewa is naturally a wonderful friend with her instant understanding and caring virtues towards me when I started becoming a mother. I would walk to the baby room everytime Daisy needs a nappy change and find her tailing me. Even I don’t expect her to, even without asking. And when Daisy needs a little entertainment, she’s the clown I can always depend on. She’ll sing, do chicken dance and even makes Barney voice that not only left Daisy entertained, most of the times me and the others will too. She’s the kind of person who makes the most stressful situation turned out to be one of those fun times, which I am very much thankful for. Everytime we plan our travels, she’ll be the one who convinces me it will be no problem to bring Daisy along. Or if I need to change my travel plans, she’s the first to let me know that it will be whatever that suits me and my baby.

When it was Daisy’s time to entertain the entertainer.

Mus was the hardest to come around. She loves babies ONLY when babies are in good mood. Being the first born, its understandable that she has no close experience with babies by not having any nephew or nieces. I know she loves Daisy, but I know she’s also struggling to love her the same whenever Daisy’s on tantrums. Mus would give Daisy an evil stepmother stare whenever Daisy’s giving me a hard time to feed her, then she would say something like this to hint that she might struggle herself when she’s a mother, “Weh, ko memang penyabar gila kan? Aku tak sangka!”. And I will be the one giving her motherly advises like, “Mus, imagine kalau mak ko give up dengan ko masa ko kecik? Apa ko rasa? Tah-tah aku dulu lagi teruk perangai dari Daisy, pernah terfikir tak?” Hahaha, and conversations like that always left her thinking and sometimes I secretly feel it works.  Despite her lack in maternal instincts, she is more alert about Daisy’s whereabouts and dangerous attempts than I do. When we were in Tokyo, I gave her the title Bibik no. 1. Cos she sure did contributed a lot to babysitting when we were there. Honestly, I think she will be a fantastic mother. And a loud one, for sure.

Amusing Daisy while I’m busy deciding where to eat.

Making sure she crosses safely.

Shareena – well, she is sort of in-between those two. She’s also the baby in our group, so I don’t really expect much help for my baby, from a baby. From time to time she will offer a helping hand. But she will be the one who asks about Daisy every single bloody time she calls that even I get annoyed of trying to answer her.

Shaliza, Shaliza. Daisy tengah buat apa?

She’s sleeping. She’s playing. She’s doing all the things a baby does.

Shaliza, dia makan apa hari ni?

Pasta. Nasi goreng. Mee.

Shaliza, Daisy rindu aku tak?

No. No. No.

I gotta give her credit for trying.

You see, as much as we, the new mothers try to fit in back into our social lives, I don’t think it will be possible if our friends just dismiss the fact that becoming a mother is a life changing experience. If having friends who are not understanding enough about everything we have to go through, even we go way back long time ago, then some us might think it’s not worth hanging with those old friends. If it means we have to dress like makcik and socialize with people who are also mothers and way older than we are, then we shall be contented with that fact. After all, what do these friends expect? Wrap our babies in plastic and throw them in the river so that we won’t stop being fun? But yeah, dressing up like makciks is totally avoidable, don’t need to go that deep.

What I’m trying to say is that if you are single and have friends with children, try to be understanding. Support them and be there for them. Even a small gesture means a lot. Acknowledge that someday you’ll have to go through all that too, and when that time comes, ask yourself, what do you expect your friends to do? How you would want your friends to react when your baby cries in the middle of your hot gossip conversation? What would you want your friends do when your baby is rebelling that even with your two hands it is hard to keep your baby still, but you really need to wipe that ass?

Or simply enough put it this way – if your mother ditches you to have good times with her friends, what would you feel? It takes a lot of give and take. I am also not dismissing the fact that mothers do need to leave their children once a while too. But not a lot of us have this kind of luxury. Its a lot of work and not having a break from your baby isn’t healthy for everyone. As much as you love your babies, it isn’t really a good idea to go on babbling about them non stop to your friends who are yet to experience it.

I still talk about other things with my girls whenever I can. Its not always about diapers or cute little booties. Its only polite to acknowledge that boyfriends, pimples and shitty work colleagues are real problems for them, in return to their understanding to all my baby troubles. Like all relationship, it works both ways. And so far, I am lucky that even by being a mother, I am not that much further away from my old life. All because I have such an understanding, supportive bunch who despite everything, still want me in their lives.

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