Pain. Pure, pleasurable, pain.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 30, 2014 by cmerritt42

This is Natalie.  Natalie is a sorceress.  She can elevate her body and willingly shape it in ways which are magical.

About a year ago I joined Natalie because I generally hate gyms.  I think is this primarily because gyms in university towns are used as adhoc dating scenes for students who really don’t like the bar/pub scene, yet replicate the same interactions in them.  Replacing such phrases as “Woo!  I’m really drunk!” with “Woo! I feel the burn!”

What you see in this video is magic, because in verbatim this is what it is like:


&*(^%$!  My &^$£ hurts!  How the &*^$$ to you expect me to hold a straight face while *&^$$£ is screaming in pain?

And you know what she says?  Those eyes, those mystical eyes gazing at you?

“Do it again.”

And you do.  You get up off the mat and you climb on the pole and you do it again.

Just the warm up for this stuff is insane.  She makes you ‘mew’ when you do your dead leg lifts in order to prove you are breathing while lifting with your abs.  If any self respecting person wandered in to a room full of women who are half dressed and making cat sounds while clinging to poles with their legs in front of them thought this was ‘normal’ … well then… they should join in I suppose.

I never thought I would be in to this sort of thing, mostly because of the connection to the stripper world.  But, honestly, after crying my way from just sitting on the pole to now trying to flip over and push myself away from the pole (willingly) I can tell you that real pole is an art.

Real pole is hard.

Real pole makes you a total bad ass.  Sort of like her face in the video.  I once asked if she practiced saying, “I am a bad ass” in front of the mirror before she performed to get herself focused.

And then she reminded me that she works with pythons usually, so it comes naturally.

That’s how bad ass she is.

So, if you ever want to go “beyond gym.”  If you ever wanted to willingly inflict pain upon yourself for the sake of making pretty shapes, consider Natalie the sorceress.

And if you want to make fun of me, remember she has snakes.  Really big ones.  And abs which can bend metal bars.

That is all.

The ups and downs of a long training.

Posted in Running with tags , , , on July 28, 2014 by cmerritt42

This donation was brought to you today on behalf of the letter ‘m’ and the number ‘5’.

– Mystery £100 Donation Number 4

Anyone who knows me knows that, both in training for distance and in life, one of the biggest and most difficult things I struggle with is mental blockers.  The Oatmeal hilariously parodied this in his blog on why he’s a distance runner, though my mental blockers are far more dark and brooding.  Kind of like being followed by Morrisey or the Cure.  And while my 18 year old self would’ve just been thrilled to be chased by a pack of brooding, lyrical poets who have a tendency to lean towards darker and edgier themes, my slightly older than 18 year old self knows full well that while being wrapped in the shroud of sadness can be comforting… it doesn’t get you very far.

So lately I’ve been wrapped in the shroud of sadness.  The whole “poor me” theme thumping through my veins.  The recent burglary, the ensuing capture of the burglar in the rental car (apparently it was quite exciting and involved the car being rendered no longer drivable), the insurance claims, the victim statements, the rental car company not at all being organised… the whole sad event that probably took the burglar only a half an hour to sort at max has completely taken over the entire past month of my life.

And so the running shoes were left to the side.  This, I know, is ALWAYS a bad idea, but it happened.

“During times of stress exercise is one of the best ways to cope” – that’s how the advice columns go.  But when you have bad happen in your life it is amazing how much I want to pull myself inward and shut out the rest of the world.  To stop living life and just go through the motions of it.

It’s a crap place to be.

I woke up yesterday to the donation who, unlike the other anonymous donors, decided to leave a clue to who they are.  I don’t know who did it, especially since I know lots of people who have an ‘m’ for their first initial, if that is even what they are going for. (Though so far the theory is the M5 Motorway … because, well, why not?)  But it sort of shook me a bit.  Reminded me that the donations I had been collecting, up to the burglary, had been left sitting on the table untouched.  It reminded me about the people who do believe in me and what I can achieve – whether or not they wish to be recognised.

So, if you are currently finding yourself stuck.

If you have left your running shoes to the side.

Know that some very experienced, full fledged crazy distance runners have been there.

Check that, who are there.

I put on my shoes yesterday and ran a 5k for the first time in a month.  I did it because I know that if I didn’t then I would be giving in to the Blerch and all his cohorts.

And we can’t do that.  I still have a bunch of fabulously wealthy anonymous donors to impress.

So, put on those shoes, people.  One foot in front of the other.




There will be peanut butter cookies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 17, 2014 by cmerritt42

I have been burgled.

Not just any kind of burgled, the enter your house while you are sleeping burgled.

Yep, I am freaking out.

It is weird what goes through your mind when you realise that something like this has happened.  In my case it was, “Where is the rental car?” Followed by what could best be described as my brain firing off random realities in which I was imagining the lack of rental car.  

“Perhaps I drank too much last night.”

“No, I drank orange juice.”

“Perhaps someone moved the car.”

“I am the only person with a driving licence in this house.”

“Maybe I should wake the entire house and have them verify what I am witnessing is not a dream.”

Wake up entire house, realise my reality is valid.

Then realise that to steal car they had to come into the house and take the keys, which were in my handbag.

Commence round two freak out.

In the end they took wallets, keys, mobile phone and two laptops before speeding away in the lovely rental car we had for the weekend. 

Of course with the freaking out comes the completely insane thoughts and actions:

1. Panic over having a £20k estate vehicle stolen quelled when I realise my bike is safe.  (I have obviously lived in Oxford too long.)

2. Acceptance over the fact that my laptop probably needed to be upgraded anyway and decided to go out in a blaze of glory.

3. Sudden decision to scrub the carpet by hand.

4. Sudden need to bake 72 peanut butter cookies.

Yes, there are 72 peanut butter cookies in my kitchen right now.  Because I need to obviously feed lots of people sugar in my manic depressive state. Perhaps to fuel a baseboard washing party.

Here is the thing, and it is truth: I lost stuff today. Stuff. Not people, not pets, not sentimental things. Stuff. And a £20k car that I took full insurance on. But that is stuff on wheels.

Last note: The people who came in did not take any of the charity donations. Not one pound coin, so I like to think Uncle Steve and Mike were protecting me on that front. Tomorrow is apparently a double or nothing day between 5 and 6 pm so I intend to take that change and do my best to double it up. 

As Pete the Cat would say, “I guess it simply goes to show that stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry, goodness no. We just keep singing.”

… And baking a small ton of cookies.


A mystery.

Posted in Fundraising with tags , , on May 31, 2014 by cmerritt42


Something really strange is happening on my fundraising page.

I consider myself fairly good at fundraising.  I consider myself reasonable at building towards a goal.  But where my “sweet spot” is is in getting little £10 and £20 donations to add up alongside spare change.  I like the mantra of lots of people giving little bits to equal one major impact.  If this were a marketing exercise I would say it is all about the tribe, and I like big tribes.

Yet, for some strange reason, I’m getting anonymous £100 donations.

I have three of them.

On a good fundraising campaign I sometimes stumble across one random unknown donation.  But three?  And of a significant size? That’s never happened.

Do I want this to stop?  No.  Absolutely not.  If there are one or more people out there who feel like contributing to my cause in the memory of two incredible men I WILL NOT STOP YOU.

I cannot help but think that I’ve got a bit of supernatural intervention floating about this current success.  If that’s the case, Uncle Steve and Mike are already off to some amazing things in their afterlives.

And if you are one of those people who have decided to donate and remain a mystery, thank you.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you.



I ran the whole f***ing way.

Posted in Running with tags , , , on May 30, 2014 by cmerritt42

Oxford, May 11th 2014

In what can be described best as “the closest we’ve gotten yet to Hell freezing over” a long time “walk/runner” and well known “snail” ran a whole f***ing 10k.

“I ran the whole f***ing thing,” she is quoted as saying.

News agents on the site can verify she’s never run that f***ing long in an actual, timed race and that because she’s not fully trained up she’s really going to hurt tomorrow [1].

When asked why she ran the whole f***ing thing she was quoted as saying, “Because when you’ve got two of the best f***ing people in the world to run for, you f***ing run.”

chickenThe runner would like to point out that she was, however, beaten by a f***ing fully grown man in a chicken suit. (See photo insert.)

“I’ve got to keep some level of standards.  When I lived in Texas a large f***ing pumpkin would often pass me at 5ks and some traditions should be kept alive.”

Her time came in at slightly over 1 hour, 13 minutes beating her old time of 1 hour, 14 minutes.

“This may not seem important to most people, mainly most English runners because, f***, those people are committed, but it’s stupid fast for me.”

The chicken beat her by two minutes.

[1] The runner can report that she was, in fact, in a f*** load of pain the next day.

So, why am I fundraising this time?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 12, 2014 by cmerritt42

So, why am I fundraising this time?

For the man who loved too much.

Posted in Fundraising, Running with tags , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by cmerritt42


“I’m waiting!”

“Mike, it’s three hours before the race.”

“I don’t care, I’m so excited.  I’ve got your gels, are you drinking enough water?”

For two Houston Half Marathons, at approximately mile 5, Michael Masciopinto would wait for me.  He’s the one who brought the camera that took this picture of us, pre-days of quality mobile phone images.  And even though this waiting was horrifically convenient as he lived very close to the race course his insane enthusiasm was what carried me, not the fact it was convenient.

Mike taught me how to read code.  He could teach anything.  He had a million miles of patience when training, despite the fact that he had no patience for other things. (If you ever went shopping with Mike you would find that shopping wasn’t joy for him, it was some form of torchure.)

When I found out Mike had passed, at the very early age of 49, I was just taken aback.  This was the person who spilled with enthusiasm, who, when I announced I was moving abroad helped me sell my car and get all my paperwork sorted.  He was the type who could give the most hilarious of presents.  When he handed me a wrapped picture I had opened it thinking that it would be a picture of us at one of the many SAP events we frequented.  Instead I got his:


For those in the know, Mike’s favorite drink was Mr. Pibb.  He wanted to be sure I didn’t forget him (and also that Mr. Pibb is currently unavailable in the United Kingdom).

Mike was the guy whose cats were his family.  He was the kind who would participate in my silly office pranks (thank you for helping me wrap Randall’s office in Christmas paper while he was away!). He was the one who used toasters and beer to explain the concept of single source capture recording.  The one who made me believe asparagus should be cheered if cooked well.  He was the guy who would complain about choice but when lead into In-And-Out Burger would announce he didn’t eat beef.  He was the guy who would get so indepth to talking about something he would find himself on a ferris wheel and remember he was terrified of heights.

And I know that if I started to get all sad and mopey about him passing from this world would say he wasn’t somebody worth mourning.

Yes you are, Mike.

I didn’t quite expect that you’d go this soon.  But I know that you cared a lot for this world and the people in it.  You were one of the most selfless people I’ve ever come across. With you I always felt loved, special, and safe.  I never expected that in the span of a few weeks that two people who held such influence in my life would leave this world.

So, come October, two spirits are traveling with me to London. I’m now running in memory of Uncle Steve and Mike for JDRF.

I love you both, and this is now for you both.



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