Marathons and Pilates

August 12th, 2015

I have recently been working for a physiotherapist in Nedlands, writing a few odds and bobs for them. Jeremy and Elle Wisdom are potentially the nicest people on earth. Every time I see them they buy me coffee, and the fact that we met while drinking wine shows how awesome they are.

Jeremy laughed at me when I told him that I run ridiculously long distances and don’t do any sort of additional training to look after my body. I’m fairly certain he thinks I’m a little bit of an idiot, so I am giving him the opportunity to prove this to be the case (I don’t think it will be hard.) I have been challenged to undertake four weeks of physiotherapy and clinical pilates to prepare my body for the City to Surf marathon. In exchange, I am writing about the experience.

So far I have had an initial assessment, one class and one private session and I feel GREAT! Who knew that muscles worked the way they do (Jeremy did) and that if you do certain stretches and exercises then you hurt less (Jeremy did)! You can read about my pilates adventures on the Wisdom Physiotherapy website. There are some interesting (and slightly terrifying) photographs of me in lycra, so be warned.

Look out, England

August 12th, 2015

The final piece of the ‘Get Jess back to England’ puzzle has been set – today I collected a package from the post office, walked to my car, opened it and felt a surge of utter relief (that appeared in the form of hyperventilation and a flood of tears). I have been granted my student visa and I can officially enter the UK without being arrested.

I realised I have been holding my breath for the past six months, not knowing whether or not this ridiculous plan would actually work. But somehow I now have a university placement, a visa, a plane ticket and a room to sleep in. And in 21 days I will start my next adventure. Holy mongolia.

I’m still here

July 29th, 2015

I have realised that my blogging frequency has dropped significantly in the last few months. My apologies if this has affected anyone, although I suspect it hasn’t caused any great distress. I thought I would provide a brief overview of why I have become slack on the writing front.

Work.

I am up to Job #7 at the Subiaco Council and Job #6 required significantly more concentration and effort than jobs 1 through 5. I really enjoyed Job #6. But now I’m moving on. It is amazing how attached to a company you can become – I will now passionately defend the Subiaco town centre and argue against any negative comments that are made about it and its parklets. THERE IS PLENTY OF PARKING. Now stop complaining.

I have made lots of great friends at work which has been a massive bonus, and for some reason people seem to think that I know stuff about writing and whatnot. Strange but lovely. I’m going to miss these folk. Once again, I find myself in the position of having gained the friendship of such fantastic people and having to say goodbye. At least most of them say they’ll come and visit me, but I don’t think any have actually googled Manchester and looked at the weather forecast.

Visas.

My flight to Manchester leaves in 35 days. I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be on it. Having finally received an application number from the University of Manchester, I was able to start my online application for my student visa. What I had expected to be a fairly straight forward process turned out to be a ridiculously complicated application. Why I thought it would be easy, I’m not sure as visa applications never, ever are.

There are always two or three questions that make absolutely no sense, have no explanation or require you to search through a 100-page document that is briefly mentioned in another form in order to find some sort of answer for it. If someone asked you “Do you have an existing presence in the UK?” what would you answer? Exactly. Thanks to an exceptionally helpful person in the visa office at the university, I think I have managed to complete the application correctly.

However I then needed to attend an ‘interview’ at a dodgy office on St George’s Terrace where I sat in a room full of swivel chairs waiting to hand over precious documents such as my passport. Every time I have been in this situation, I have left feeling like I won’t get the visa and that I have committed some sort of fatal error. People who work in visa application centres must have hours of training in the art of making people doubt themselves. Have I supplied all of the correct documents? Have I forgotten something? Is that an original or a photocopy? Is that really how I spell my name? Nothing is certain.

And so we wait.

Life.

The rest of my time has been filled with meeting up with friends, celebrating my Grandma’s 93rd birthday, spending as much time as possible with my family and giving guide-dog Eva lots of pats.

I’ve also started training for the City to Surf marathon. I thought that completing another marathon before I’m 30 would potentially be a good idea. The more I train for it, the more I question this logic. I ran 30 kilometres last Saturday and by kilometre ten I was ready to go home. However my plan of running a marathon in the morning of 30 August, having birthday drinks with my friends in the afternoon, turning 30 on the 1 September and then flying to Manchester two days later to start Jess’s Socially Irresponsible Adventure #328 is quite pleasing.

And that’s the crux of it.

Working with my Great Grandfather

July 3rd, 2015

Two weeks ago, I started yet another role within the City of Subiaco. This time, not only did I move desk, I also moved office to the other side of Rokeby Road. The council rents an office space in a strange orange clad building that from the outside appears to wish it was located in the mediterranean. It has an internal atrium space with a balcony and the front windows dream of housing a fair maiden.

In reality it has been divided into clunky offices, some of which can only be accessed via stairs and it has some serious heating issues.

230 Rokeby Road

230 Rokeby Road

Despite all of this, I am feeling a very odd sense of pride working here because in the years around 1918, my great grandfather and great grandmother lived at 230 Rokeby Road. Obviously their house wasn’t this ridiculous office block and was most likely a very small cottage with not a lot surrounding it, but every day as I walk into work and see the number on the letter box I wonder how on earth this happened.

I very much doubt that William thought, “In 100 years time, my great granddaughter is going to monitor the City of Subiaco’s Twitter accounts from my lounge room.” And on my return from Manchester, I didn’t expect to work in his old house. Yet somehow this has happened and once again William and I have crossed paths three generations apart.

I also bet he didn’t think that Advanced Hair would be operating from his second storey and that these good looking fellas would be hanging on the wall.

Advanced Hair, yeah yeah.

Advanced Hair, yeah yeah.

Living with Eva

June 22nd, 2015

Everyone meet Eva.

Miss Eva

Miss Eva

Eva is the latest addition to the Davies household, weighing in at half of my weight and with more energy than all of us combined. She may not look like a puppy, but give her five minutes and she will be chasing her tail or rolling on her back attempting to bite anything (or anyone) who gets near her face. She does an impressive 4-leg-spring where her entire body is propelled straight up into the air, over and over again.

She enjoys eating leaves and licking humans when they’re half asleep or sweaty. She falls asleep in cars and snores. In the words of Sandra Dee in Grease, Eva is hopelessly devoted to Dad. She whimpers if he leaves her for over 10 minutes and will sit staring at the bathroom door waiting for Dad to finish in the shower.

She’s a messier and louder version of dog than Cali and doesn’t have the same eating etiquette as our previous guide dog in training, however she is fitting in nicely into our family and is being regularly smothered in hugs. It would appear that while I don’t like dogs, I do like Cali and Eva.

Here I come, Manchester

June 15th, 2015

Exciting times in the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess (although less exciting for my bank account.) This afternoon I made a substantial investment in a plane ticket, travelling from unusually sunny Perth to as-rainy-as-expected Manchester. My last day in Perth will be 3 September, giving me enough time to get old and most likely complete a marathon before I depart.

It is great to have a date for exactly when the next ‘bit’ starts. Having something to work towards makes a big difference to how I see my time in Perth as now I only have a few weeks left to soak up the sun, see my friends and get lots of hugs from mum and dad.

So get ready, Manchester – please at least attempt to bring out some sunshine for me. I will be eternally grateful and announce to the world that you’re not THAT grey a city after all.

Puppy Love

June 3rd, 2015

Last night it dawned on me that Sinead O’Connor is clearly singing about a guide dog that she has been training in her song Last Day of Our Acquaintance. A trainer and a dog who have a final day together before being separated forever. They will meet again when the dog graduates but when the trainer tries to say hello, the dog will be so focused on being a good guide dog that it won’t respond. And we already know this will happen.

Today my family is understanding exactly what Sinead was getting at. Tomorrow Cali is leaving our house and moving on to help a visually impaired woman live her daily life. She has made it through the training, been declared as one of the top 20 dogs EVER (of course, she’s a Davies), and is now going to spend the rest of her life providing an amazing service to someone who needs a bit of help. And while we’re ridiculously proud of her, we all want to cry.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

My parents have just spent the last two and half years training Cali, pretending not to be getting attached while really falling in love. My brother has spent almost a year with Cali around while I have gotten to know her in the last three months. When I moved back to Perth I wasn’t all that thrilled that a dog was living in my house and stealing attention from my parents away from me. And now I rush home in order to have pats with Cali. I call her over, rub her tummy, take her for walks every evening, I have given her a soppy nickname and I will do anything she wants when she looks at me with her loveable dog eyes. When I’m sad, she cheers me up faster than chocolate ice cream.

WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED?! No one in my family quite understands how a four-legged furry creature who really is ‘just a dog’ has managed to have such a resounding impact on all of us. We have all been affected by Cali’s presence and she didn’t even do anything other than lie around on our floor. Perhaps this is what all animals manage to do, or maybe Cali is a wonder dog. Whatever the reason, we’re going to miss her and she will always be my favourite dog. I still hate dogs, but I love Cali.

A clean dog is a good dog

A clean dog is a good dog

On that note, we will learn more tomorrow evening whether or not it is possible to like more than one dog, when Dad has taken Cali to school for the last time and returns home with Eva (aka Cali II). Yes, we’re getting another one, because rebound guide dogs are always the best option.

Cape to Cape Capers

June 3rd, 2015

Last weekend was a long weekend, celebrating what was once called Foundation Day and has now been politically corrected to WA Day. To make the most of the break, my cousin Kate had rented an apartment down in Yallingup and invited me and my brother, plus four of her friends, to join her. We headed down on Friday after work and by 9pm had arrived at our fancy-pants beach side apartment with ‘squint and you can see the ocean’ views. Good work, Kate.

The weekend involved large amounts of food, numerous bottles of wine and plenty of outdoor time. The weather turned it on for us with remarkably warm temperatures and heaps of sunshine. My Sunday morning involved a walk along the beach and then a swim in the surprisingly warm ocean. Not what you would expect for the day before winter.

Yallingup beach

Yallingup beach

On Saturday morning, Kate, Karina and I went for a run. The other two are in training for a marathon and had planned a 30 kilometre run. I was still sore from last week’s half marathon and really couldn’t be bothered running that far so instead decided I would run 5 kilometres with them and then turn around and go back. While part of me felt lazy and guilty for taking the easy option, as soon as we started running I was so glad I had made this decision.

Kate had planned the route from the apartment in Yallingup along the Cape to Cape walk, around the Cape Leeuwin light house and back down to Eagle Bay. The rest of us would meet the runners (and Tim who was their back up crew on his bike) at the Eagle Bay brewery for an early lunch. As soon as we set off, we discovered that the Cape to Cape trail was definitely ‘off road’ with a lot of soft sand and a large number of hills. The path wound its way along the coast, going up and down the undulating cliffs. It was a very tough run and after my 5 kilometres I was definitely ready to turn around. I don’t know how the others kept going – to their extreme credit they made it the whole way to Eagle Bay in remarkably good time.

Despite the tough terrain, the run was really amazing – we had shrubby bush to one side and rocky cliffs leading down to the Indian Ocean on the other. The weather was perfect without too much wind and the waves were rolling in to the shore, much to the delight of the hundreds of surfers.

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

It has sparked my interest in doing cross country running, something I have avoided since I was at primary school and we had to run around and around the school multiple times. I have friends in England who go for long distance runs along country paths and my Cape to Cape experience may have just enticed me to give it a go when I get back. It is a LOT harder than running on the road and my ankles aren’t all that happy with me, but since when have I ever listened to my joints? Silly weak ankles… Some rocks might just do them good.

Broken Soles

May 27th, 2015

I found a pair of Camper boots in my cupboard on Friday and got excited. Black ankle boots with a wedge hill that made my chosen outfit look fantastic. I headed off to work feeling very pleased that I had rediscovered my boots.

Having ridden my bike to work and sat down in front of my computer for 15 minutes or so, I happened to look down at the floor and noticed grains of black rubber scattered over the floor around my chair. Closer inspection and previous experience brought me to the realisation that the rubber grains were pieces of the soles of my shoes.

Then the grains turned into chunks and soon I was leaving trails of black rubber throughout the office. It would appear that leaving a pair of rubber soled shoes in a cupboard for over four years will result in the rubber becoming brittle and rapidly disintegrating on impact. By lunch time, my colleague, Matt, had expertly strapped the soles of both of my shoes with black gaffer tape, purely to ensure that the soles wouldn’t fall off entirely.

Goodbye sole.

Goodbye sole.

It was a sad day. It was like showing a cute kitten to a small child in the morning and then grabbing the cat away and saying, “No kitten for you!” by the afternoon. Such a waste of perfectly lovely boots.

Speed Racer

May 24th, 2015

I never sleep well before running events. It’s quite frustrating as my body could quite easily use that energy when running excessive numbers of kilometres. However, I arrived at the start line for the HBF Run for a Reason on William Street at about 6.10am and waited for my cousin Kate and her friend Karina to arrive. As they walked towards me bleary eyed and we all grunted at each other, it was relieving to see that I wasn’t the only one lacking sleep.

There were about 3500 people competing in the half marathon and another of 28,000 completed the 4km or 12km courses. It is always so nice to see so many people participating in events like these. The atmosphere is very positive and supportive and it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

The race started at 6.30am with a hill climb up Malcolm Street in the first kilometre. Big thanks to Kate and Karina who helped me up this hill. I hate hills and Kate took the lead and powered us up. She then told me to be on my way as I had a time to beat – Sir Pubert had clearly been in a good mood the day before and had promised me dinner (to the value of £20… wow…) if I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 56 minutes or less. I was quietly confident but Kate and Karina’s pace meant that I wouldn’t make that time so I wished them well on their journey and picked up speed. As many of you know, I’ll do anything for food and running slightly faster seemed achievable.

Mum, Dad and Cali were waiting to cheer me on in Kings Park which was fantastic – not many other competitors had street side cheer squads so I was very honoured. After I had passed them, a fellow runner commented on my Paris Marathon tshirt and we started chatting. He and I ran together for the majority of the course so more thanks go to my new running buddy, Courtney, for distracting me from the pain.

The course was very enjoyable with plenty of good views in Kings Park, along the river and through the city. The long stretch along the Graham Farmer freeway was a bit dull and tedious and seemed to go forever. However a chocolate flavoured Gü gel spurred me on and my legs continued to feel pretty good.

The final five kilometres were rather painful as I became aware that time was going against me and I needed to pick up speed. So I said farewell to Courtney and told my legs to move it. The final kilometre was just ow. My thighs are questioning my logic, however I am very, very, VERY happy to say that Sir Pubert is taking me out for dinner. With a final time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, than £20 meal is going to taste oh so good.

Another medal!

Another medal!