Run Sisters Run

Long distance running is a very inclusive activity. It doesn’t requires participants to possess some talent or anatomical advantage to be good at one. Anyone from 5 year olds to 80 year olds can run long distance given enough training. A bit of perspective: Pamela Anderson ran the New York marathon. The oldest runner in the Toronto marathon is around 90 ish of age. Bottom line is:

Anybody can do it.

I wrote about running before, in fact i’ve drawn some analogies about writing with running:

Potentially hate able,often lengthy,but flows surprisingly easy. She writes grudgingly in prelude,but the great contention in epilogue is all worth detesting for.

Background

When i was in school, i keep winning these long distance run competitions not because i was good at it, but most kids my age gave up easily. In running,  you get tired easily, very fast.

Luckily, I figured out quite early how to manage stamina without training by applying some science principles to breathing techniques which worked well. (deep, long breaths for more oxygen to slow down that lactic acid buildup) .

Plus, running is more of a mental thing than physiological.

Endurance is the ultimate mental test. How are you going to end this thing?  Will you give up midway? What will you say to yourself when you feel you do not want to continue? All these demons, they will rear their ugly heads, and you will need a strategy to slay each one of them. I worked on some strategies. Some worked ,some didn’t , depending on the heat that day. It was good mental training which was perhaps the foundation to my resilience (or stubbornness, depending on how you look at it). Wallahua’lam.

Now

School runs are ridiculous in my opinion. They heed no advice on well being, injury and hydration. Runs will start when the sun is at its peak at 10 AM with no water breaks for the rest of the 8km. Good thing that school-going kids are hardy people so dehydration problem doesn’t really fester (and most will just walk the whole way anyway, which was probably for the best)

I got back into running because i don’t walk so much anymore in Malaysia (too much heat) and there was no other way to keep me fit. It was for pure,desperate, very vain reasons about my worryingly escalating weight lol.

What i learnt

- Carbo-loading is a real thing. You really can last longer if you eat well, preferably lots of carbs A WEEK to 4 hours before a >15 KM run. There is no need for carbo loading for 10-15KMs, just a good meal. I made the mistake of not eating for my half-M last night, which was disastrous because you can really feel your legs screaming for calories to burn which had ran out. It was very very painful.

-Core exercises done well and slow is the ultimate solution to back pains and slouching during long runs. It will make sure you can run upright and last longer during the whole course. It looks unnecessary, and easy to belittle but the effects is what i call magical. Sometimes, if i don’t the have time to train and need to run long distance in the last minute, i just make sure i did some core exercises. When i first discovered this, it was a huge revelation to me because the problem for me was not the stamina, it was how do i get my upper body to not get fatigued faster (back, shoulders, neck) and keep up with my legs. You don’t need much, the results will be quick and fast for the 15 minute exercises done twice a week.

How to build stamina?

You start at 1 KM. Juste run 1KM.

Then you build that up by 2 or 3 KM the next week. The first time will always be the most painful but just bear with it (this is the mental part ), and by the time you know it, 10 KM for you will be a nice, flow-y run.

If you can run 10 KM without stopping and water breaks, you definitely have the stamina to run 21 KM. The body then just needs to get used to running longer than 10 KM but the point will be the stamina is already there.

Hydration

Drink before you get thirsty. Thirsty means too late and already hydrated. Hydration prevents injury and you want that knees to last long. I wear knee guards because long distance running is punishing to your knees. If you are very fancy, buy a rolling ball to roll the tight muscles under your knees after a run.

What about Full M?

I am working towards that inshaAllah. Full M is a whole new monster altogether. The training is way different than a half -M because you  run till you have zero calories left to burn. Training takes time, proper post-run care, and correct nutrition on how to sustain calories midway in the run (when to eat during the run, what to eat). One needs to prep body for that kind of punishing abuse . And one needs some kind of sport therapist advice to teach you how to recuperate and prevent injury. Preventing injury is the top on my head right now.

I’m so happy everyone is taking up running. Fit sisters is for life. Happy running!

An honest reply

In the land of over-analysis, what nuances does a reply contain?

A) your interest (depth of answer/description)
B) your enthusiasm (lines of words)
C) your availability (promptness)
D) wether the person is important (promptness/returned follow up inquiries)

sometimes, a simple dinner question is just a litmus test.

“Hey, whats for dinner?”

You can’t really believe that’s just an honest inquiry about meals do you? It never is, in the history of time.

It is a gateway. We await the reply anxiously because the type of reply tells a lot things. Specifically, it is highly useful to gauge a person’s emotional aptitude on wether person on the other end is ready to continue and engage in more deeper conversations.
Like life, love, hopes and dreams for instance.

Good luck everyone and may we all pass the litmus test always inshaAllah taala.

Earth lessons

If you are a nature freak (like me) , you should understand full and well that the best of mother Earth is not very accessible. It takes a lot of sacrifice- money,energy, time, phone reception, good toilets. Why do we do it anyway? The real answer is i don’t really know. It’s not like we’re looking at something to acquire or to keep , since nature is not a tangible thing to possess. What i do know, when you finally arrived at something so spectacular, the emotion it evokes is something so special it demands another repeat.

Climbing a mountain

When i was around 18, i was with a group of friends and our mission was to hunt for mountains and waterfalls. People did not understand why i would spend hours climbing up for nothing ( it really is for nothing, because you came back down not exactly richer in money or something) , especially my parents who couldn’t fathom the very idea. I had trouble explaining why too. My dad’s response was the most epic when i fumble a reply about views.

“I could just Google Earth the view”

 

True, it was about the views, but some mountains that we submitted  was so foggy or full with vegetation, there’s hardly any view. So why do it anyway?

 

What kind of sacrifices?

Money – car rental, guide, new gears, flight tickets, mostly transportation

Time- weekends, sleep

Energy- 8 hours of climbing or walking with kilos on the back

Hygiene- Where is there a toilet in the rugged parts of the earth? The Earth is your toilet

Phone reception- Zero bar

Patience- when the weather went ugly.

So why do it anyway?

Well i don’t know guys, but without all that effort can you get the following?

 

St Anthony's , Newfoundland

St Anthony’s , Newfoundland

...or this.

Greenfield Dunes, Prince Edward Island

Oxford, UK

Oxford, UK

Kawah Putih, Bandung, Indonesia

Kawah Putih, Bandung, Indonesia

Redang Island, Malaysia

Redang Island, Malaysia

God is Great.

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What is it with nature.

What is it with nature?

Even the most stubborn knots in your head untangle,
by looking at the water lapping to the shore,
feeling solitary as each blade of the grass,
but its the fine kind of solitude.

What is it with nature?

The deepest worry can go unforgotten, after a long, brooding sit at the bench, in the most lush park with a pond a gaze away,
has a soothing hand of calm had come to caress?

What is it with nature?

Raging breaths are calmed,
brewing storms recede,
somewhat anesthetized,
delayed,
perhaps the sweet songs of happy birds that do it.

What is it with nature?

Surely when everything is losing,
Try a longing gaze at the starry night,
you will feel that nobody really loses,
and then wonder visits.

What is it with nature?

Concocted of fervent praises of The Creator ,
awash with silent prayers–or just unadulterated silence.
for what words can form through uncomprehended beauty
but hey,
what is the purpose of the worldly life, other than constant worship of You?

So thank You, because of course all of these are gifts.
What other things can fill a heart so close to its brim?

(and inspire an illiterate to become a poet)

P/s: this post was edited for grammar and some other things by the wonderful Aya Salah. JazakAllahi khair.

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Good relationships will help you.

Alhamdulillah, i just recovered from a 7 day, very interesting electrical fault breakdown. It was an intriguing case as it involved multiple parties and multiple decisions had to be weighed. It is therefore worthy to be recorded.

Day 1: Received a call at 2:30 AM from the regional control centre about a high voltage tripping in the area. Looked at the message–it’s a feeder that is relatively healthy. Had a hunch that it had to be a third party vandalism (turned out to be true) . A telco company was doing Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) for their cables and had hit one of the 11kV underground cables. Was thankful that it happened when everyone is asleep or else i would have had a field day.

Day 2: After restoring the supply with an alternative source, we had to find where exactly was our cable fault. It was found to be located under a public restroom building.

Hmm okay.

I couldn’t dig under a public building; so after much discussion we decided to just abandon the fault and lay a cable reroute.

Day 3: The team came up with a design and a route that involved open cutting a main road on one end of a new connection. But it’s not our road. I had to make a long call to the Public Works Department (JKR) and had a discussion during the site visit. It turns out that it’s not their road either, it belonged to the nearby Railway Station. Jeezus alaihissalam.

predicament

“One end found” This is where the open cutting of the road is involved.

Day 4: I decided we just laid the cables first with the approved route and let the open cutting of the road at the last bit while i figure out who on earth i should talk to from the Railway Station to ask permission about cutting open their main entrance road. ( i got hold of that person, and they gave in after much wooing since it involved THEIR electricity supply, but i still got slapped with an email with a list full of conditions )

Day 5: This is the real interesting day. We couldnt find THE OTHER END of the cable and we’ve been digging oh so close to the border wall of the Railway Station. We have also dug deep, around 5 metres into the ground. I actually feared for my staffs’ safety, ad one shake of the earth and people could die being buried alive. When we found one shining sign of the cable end–to our great dismay–the tracer device traced the cable pipes moving towards INSIDE the walled periphery of the Railway Station.

Hence what follows is another hurdle: Are we allowed to dig inside their compounds , and so close to the rail tracks?
Dun dun dunnn.

Day 6:

The person in charge of the Railway Station relented at my persistent begging, but we had no way of bringing in a freakin backhoe into their compound. There is no road suitable for a backhoe to move without leaving a trail of destruction. So we had to knock off a portion of the Rail Station’s wall so that machinery can get straight in.
This was not an easy request to ask. Nor was it conceivable idea at first when the station master first heard it. He caved in eventually, when i gently reminded him that his electricity supply depends on the success of this repair mission.
What we did after reminded me of the music video “Another Brick In the Wall” by Pink Floyd. It is exactly that scene where the huge pendulum ball hits and demolished a wall except we did it more gently and with less destruction in our trail.

Day 7:

We dug and lo and behold, LAY SIX CABLES IN A ROW. Which one is the dead cable?
This is where we got to first use The SEBA KMT Cable Identifier device and hope it got the correct cable. I was crossing my fingers when they spiked the cable once it had been identified and not spiked a live cable ( handing me another breakdown )
Resting your most important decision on an inanimate object and having to trust what a piece of machine tells you is unnerving. But we trust our calculators’ output so i ought to imagine the whole thing as if i was using a calculator.

So we got the other end settled. The new route was completed and joint by 4:30 AM on day 6 and it was pouring unashamedly Alhamdulillah. SubhanAllah i had a great team.

Now i only have the headache of how i’m gonna find the budget to pay for all of this.

What is the lesson here?

We had a pre-existing good connection and relationship with the Public Works Department and the Railway Station which makes things a bit smoother. Imagine if we hadn’t , we would have stuck with no approval or had to bypass loads of red tape (mind you we had to struck down a piece of a wall) to just get an approval of work to be carried out. We had cooperated well in previous projects, which grant me the latitude to get away with just a phone call.

For an industry that is deeply embedded in the community,don’t be a reluctant party to help and cooperate in projects that may not concern you, or to you may seem trivial. You never know how those connections and good relations may come in handy later inshaAllah

Sorry for the horrifying grammar (and the bad doodle) ,but i wasn’t really interested in making this post a literary feat.
Thanks for reading!

P/s: i had omitted most, or even ALL of the technical part of this task due to my intention to focus on the more universal, human aspect of it. If for example you want to know more ( eg how do we electrically locate a cable fault and what devices we used ), send me a comment :)

Bayyinah TV

*At this point, at this ghastly age, i’m just writing what comes off of my head and no longer bother about structure , or creativity, or the art of being a good writer. Dear reader, i am too busy but some things need some urgent written record*

Nouman Ali Khan gave a beautiful motivation to those who want to study the Arabic in order to understand the Quran.

When the material gets tough, and when the study becomes overwhelming, remember always what Allah has promised in the Quran :

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I was a student of Arabic before, quite the serious one too with essays and stuff but i stopped at around 16 years old. I really hated Arabic–the teacher , the dryness, the rough, throaty aural sounds that it requires, and the general toughness of it all (but i had a knack at languages so i got quite good at it Alhamdulillah)

Nowadays i absolutely cannot write those essays anymore, but i can still pick up tenses and a couple of vocabularies.  (That gives me a rough idea what a sentence should talk about). However, even during the times when i was the diligent student, i couldn’t speak it for my life. It was with humongous effort of memorization that i passed the oral exam.

So let’s restart inshaAllah.

I like the way Bayyinah started it by giving the whole big picture on why do we even do this. Its a beautiful thing also that Bayyinah ensures that students start with the correct way before embarking on a study--by making the correct intentions. Not the alphabet.

Here’s to my long journey, please make dua for me.

http://www.bayyinah.tv/sp/9942-bayyinah-tv

Time

*what will follow will be a little personal*

Ramadhan is the time to leave whatever that is eating you inside.

I decided that it is time. Time to stop and move on. It’s been over a year, each month a slipping cause, and the cause of many sad, upsetting times.

Kalau tak call, maknanya taknak call.
Kalau dah tanya boleh call ke tak masih tak nak call, maknanya dah tak interested.

I may be naive, but not obnoxious.
Human behaviour ni senang, kalau tak reply maknanya tak penting.

Tu je.

I’m tired of being the one who always tries. Tired of doing all the work. Always the over enthusiastic person in this dynamic. They say expecting anything from creations is bound to be a road destined for disappointment. I know that . Doesn’t negate the fact that my mortal , imperfect feelings still get hurt.

It’s been real my friend, time to move on.

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Bayyinah seminar series

People go to classes, but every not so often, you go to a class and it was the best one ever. For me, that was last weekend. I am still reeling from it, and i don’t know how to recover from it. Those classes where by the time you’re finished with it,  life should not return to normal after. 

The class is called DIVINE SPEECH: Literary Characteristics of The Quran by Nouman Ali Khan. I wouldnt usually describe a two day, 11-8 back to back class as awesome, but this one really was.

The material is very heavy (I had 42 pages of notes), elaborate,  and technical.

But we had an amazing teacher, Nouman Ali Khan. (By the way, he was much more AWESOME on stage. He ruled it. He imitated everyone, and anyone, and was funny every 15 minutes) . Plus, the class was about something i really love: The Quran. You cannot afford to sleep.

We covered:

1) Verbal idioms

2) Intricate word choices

3)Transitions in the Quran in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person

4)Sequences in Quranic Discourse

5) Alleged grammar errors

6) Relationship between beginning and end of a surah

7)Literary features of Surah Yousof

8) Dialogue in the Quran

You might be falling asleep just by reading the subjects but it is the most wondrous stuff i’ve ever learnt. 

The Quranic journey is a personal one for me especially. I found Islam and was convinced through reading The Quran and learning to understand it, and not because i was born a Muslim. The only niggling problem is i do not know Arabic well.

What Bayyinah taught me that weekend is it paved a clear way on how to approach Arabic in such a way that can make The Quran more accessible to the people. It’s an embarrassment for me, and a sad case for the Muslim Ummah, that Muslims themselves don’t understand the Quran.

I remembered one conversation with my roommate, who was non muslim.

” So you claim that The Quran is your life guide book?”

“Yes”

“But do you understand Arabic?”

“Not really”

“Then, that’s odd, how do you take a strange book that you do not understand as a guide”

SNAP.

The thing with the Quran is not just about the translation, it also has nuances that i wouldn’t even get if i simply read the direct translation without context. This problem had to be addressed.

My ultimate goal (may Allah help me) eventually is this: to be able to teach it. The same way Nouman Ali Khan, may God bless his heart made it accessible to everyone because i’m tired of Muslims doing stupid things because they don’t read the book or simply cherry pick whats inside the book. (Allah even had a verse in The Quran warning of these tendencies). But more importantly, it’s an amazing book, and it’s choking me up when people don’t know it more. 

Now the motivation is here, it’s time for the hard work.

P/S: The Malaysian leg of Divine Series is also the last. When it’s up on Bayyinah TV , go watch it. It might sound like a crazy ordeal to listen to two full days set of lectures but you will thank me later.

http://www.bayyinah.tv/sp/9942-bayyinah-tv

P/S: Congratulations friend. I missed you last weekend.

Khmer Kids

I’ve got some stories for ya.

Recently, i concluded my visit to Cambodia and here i will recount my encounter with the kids there.

Quick facts based on my encounters :

1. The kids that peddles stuff around the Angkor Wat complex are all MasyaAllah, well versed in english-better than mine when i was 4– and pretty good salespeople

2. They dont wear shoes

3. Their nails! and clothes can make you go ‘astaghfirullah’ and enough to give a normal domestic mother heart lesions. Caked dirt that is perhaps, dried and wet and re-dried again, in all shades of brown.

4. They’re very hungry, really, buy them food. I offered one of the local food snacks that i couldn’t finish ( an amazing concoction of rice, beans, coconut, salt and sugar wrapped in bamboo leaf) and they practically GRABBED it.

Snippets:

I was exploring and there’s this little girl whose name i cannot pronounce (but she spelled it for me) was trying to sell me fridge magnets (1 dollar for two). These are her highlights:

  1.  “Two for one dolaaar, (as i walked away and gave a smile ), okay i give you three for one dolaaar!’
  2. (As i was explaining that i already bought stuff) ” But you didn’t buy from me yet!” Smart kid.
  3. (As i was sitting) ” It must be a hot day for youuu, (opening a paper fan, and started to ..fan me) , buy this one for one dolaar”
  4. (As i was asking why she needs the money for, since her school is free by the monks) ” I need to buy a new bag, its already torn”
  5. (As i was commenting about her rotten teeth) ” I eat too much cookies and candy, but i think chewing gum is okay , because its not hard on the teeth” ( I then followed up with lessons about how its the sugar that ruins the teeth, not ‘hard’ food)
  6. (As i further gave her lessons about how a frail kid should eat more nutritious food) ” Yes my mother made me eat rice , or else she won’t let me watch TV”
  7. ” Can you buy me cold coconut water? If i buy for you it will only cost 3000 riels and not one USD, but don’t tell anyone” (I made her buy two , one for me one for her)
  8. (As i was offering her a slightly lower valued one Malaysian Ringgit) ” This is only 25 cents! can you give me Five?, Thats about 1.25 USD”

As i was saying, this kid was smart.

This kid enchanted me, so i made her a deal: Read a paragraph of a book i was reading, and she will have that coveted one dollar. She did, with great difficulty ( the word ‘aesthetic’ was particularly challenging) but she did it.

I was so happy i gave her two.