25 days as a tatted up woman.

Tattoos have always fascinated me.  When I was a lifeguard I saw a lot of tattoos and I learned something very important: If you get one be sure you take the time and energy to find an excellent artist and be ready to pay.  That is because one of the things I witnessed was how many truly awful, cheap, half faded or blurred tattoos are out there.

I watched piles of friends turn 18 and join the legion of the awful, cheap, half faded tattoo club.  It was a sort of right of passage, but for me it was a bigger commitment than marriage as it was on you for life irregardless of personal circumstances.

So I let that be, until the whole ‘flash tattoo’ craze hit.  I realised that temporary was my thing.  I could have an inspirational phrase one week, a little design the next, and then there was the bear hugging himself.  I love this one, but it always fell apart the fastest.

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Isn’t that not the cutest?

But then came the Inkbox.

I know, I’m sounding like I’m building up to something here, and I totally am because this takes ‘flash’ to a whole new level.

I stumbled across them through the vast metropolis that is Kickstarter.  I watched and thought, “OMG (those actual initials) this may be it.  This may be that wonderful line between temporary and permanent that I’ve been looking for.”  So I backed them and then completely forgot about it until it showed up.

And then for some reason I left it sitting on top of the kitchen table for awhile because I’m absent-minded like that.  (Wait, it gets better.)

And then… then one day I finally tried it out.

So, here’s the thing for people not wishing to go to websites and do such things as ‘research.’  They use a very special ink that dyes the top layer of skin for a few weeks and, like a stamp or marker, fades away.  But unlike a stamp or a marker it gets just deep enough to look real.  For awhile they’d had bottles of the dye and stencils available and what the Kickstarter did was back a faster application.

Which, because I am a genius, I messed up immediately.

I chose to the Project Semicolon tattoo.  First, because it looked like something I could easily apply.  Second, because I liked the cause it stands for and third, because it was a simple enough design I could likely get two uses out of it.

I carefully read the instructions on how to apply and did everything to the letter.  I think the hardest part is applying the constant pressure for 15 minutes.  Thing is the application used to take an hour, so this was a distinct improvement.

I took a photo of the skin standing out in a semicolon shape and posted it to my Instagram account and waited.

While I waited a message came through my account from one of the founders of Inkbox.  I was completely taken aback that I would be contacted let alone contacted by a FOUNDER.  I wrote enthusiastically about how I was waiting and that I would post photos.  He was very nice and politely asked for me to give any feedback so they could improve.  This short conversation got me very excited.  I put on my science hat and carefully watched as my wrist appeared to not develop anything at all.

Fun fact, in the period of time that I decided to try out my tattoo they had changed their application video instructions.  And so, the next day when nothing appeared I went back to their website to discover I had not followed the instructions to the letter – I had actually forgotten to take off the top green layer cover that activated the ink.

Sort of important.

So I ran outside and rescued the package from the garbage (I had also foolishly attempted to throw it away) and carefully followed the instructions to the new video.

This is what  happened over 12 hours:

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It was seriously cool.

I sent this picture over to Inkbox and they used it to show people what happens.  So I’m sort of famous.  Not as famous as my Tom Cruise post, but famous enough to feel special.  I helped out a small business!  In Canada!

Not only did I have what appeared to be a quality tat for 10 days, I managed to successfully apply it again…

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While not as perfect, it served as a reminder to continue on that brutal but worthwhile journey that is the marathon.

So, if you are considering an Inkbox, here’s some stuff I’ve learned:

  1. Read the instructions and watch the video a few hundred times.  In my case, a few thousand.
  2. If you want to get one that re-applies, choose something simple.
  3. Oh, and if you want to re-apply keep the towel separate from the tattoo as I think that my second application wasn’t as perfect as I kept it with the tattoo and the shape of the die-cut had warped slightly.
  4. If you regularly swim in pools (as I have a son who we are fairly sure is the deposed King of Atlantis and if he isn’t exposed to water he turns into a demon) it will fade faster.  I’ve joked with the team there that Inkbox water wings will be an accessory offer they need to look into.

In total I managed to be tatted up for about 25 days.

I’m looking forward to what they come up with next.  Hopefully some colour?  I’m sure that will be super easy to do! (Writes the person with zero experience in development as well as chemistry.)

Any ways, thank you Inkbox.  My need for self expression coupled with my lack of commitment has been met.

 

 

 

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Post-Marathon Blues

I can’t believe I’m writing this but… I am missing all the preparation for the marathon.

I’m missing the calculated mileage, the packing, the visualisation, the excitement.  I’m finding myself upset that it’s all over.  And even though I know that technically it isn’t, and that I should be enjoying my recovery period and thinking about what smaller races I would like to participate in, I am in a semi-mourning state.

I ran a really great race.  As I work in software I had colleagues walking up and telling me that I was bang on with my slow-and-steady mileage.  (Nothing like stats to excite a bunch of super geeks like us.) I couldn’t agree more.  Marathons are tough and you have to strategise in order to keep your energy consistent.  I achieved that.  I was sore when it ended but outside of a stomach that has been a bit everywhere this week (including into the leftover Easter candy) and a bit of IT band twinge, I’m fine.

But mentally, I’m not.

Here’s the thing, I know this is part and parcel of distance races.  I know that there are endorphin crashes and that you have to work through the recovery.  In fact, the reason I’m writing this is just in case there are others out there wondering why they are sad about it all ending.  Because this is one of the things that might happen and it’s normal.  You aren’t alone, and yes, it can even happen to people who have been running for years.

Enough with the sad emojis that are littering this post.  The way you recover is through kindness to yourself (and a bit of light exercise).  So…

I did things that made me smile this morning:

Oh, and for England, today’s weather looks like it may stay consistent with cold but sunny.  If anyone has spent time in England during Bank Holiday weekends it is usually rainy and miserable so I’m taking a moment to give a shout out to Mother Nature for keeping it beautiful.

I know these blues will pass and soon I’ll be writing again about all manner of silly things on this blog.  But I thought I would write a little about the things that people may not expect from running, that sometimes you can be sad.  And that’s okay.

Interval Training

intervalTraining

I had to turn on Endomondo for this moment alone.

As part of my marathon training plan, and for the first time ever in the twelve years I have been willing to run ridiculous races, I have decided to interval train.

Why?  Because I want to endure.

I have done alright for a slow-poke on a marathon course and hung around 6 hours.  But I know I lose the mojo at the “wall” point of about 18 miles.  To push through that wall I had read that doing such things as going and running up a gradual hill really fast over and over and over again will help build endurance.

So, out I went to a series of gently rolling hills near work where I ran, over and over and over again, up and down them.  Scared the daylights out of leisure lunchers and dog walkers, but did it.

And boy, did it suck.

I mean, wow, brutal.  It’s been years since I wanted to puke after running and for the first time in ages I took myself just up to the point of it.  Dry heaves and all.  It was the most awful thing in the world since my pole instructor added these fantastic hanging inverts into our warm up. (What are those you ask?  Well, you hold on to the pole and pull your knees up.  You then count to five and then curse profusely as you cleanly flip yourself over. You then neatly lower back down to the ground with all the grace of a swan who learned to speak at a truck stop.  Then you do it again.  And again.  And then on the other side.)

I have a scheduled ‘dry heave’ now booked into every week of training.  There isn’t an end to the pain.  We have 1 minute as fast as possible followed by 1 minute of putting my stomach back in my body.  We have more hills.  We have things called “progression runs” which could be called “progressing into hell.”  None of it even sounds fun.

So, yeah, I’m totally doing them.

Every single awful terrible one of them.

Because you know what?  They only amount to about 2 miles of hell based on my pace.  2 miles of hell for 26.2 of prospectively more pleasant miles?

I’m down with that.  Seriously.  The food is going to stay down.

Promise.

 

 

 

 

Pain. Pure, pleasurable, pain.

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:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

&*(^%$!  My &^$£ 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.

There will be peanut butter cookies

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.