Saturday, March 29, 2008

A different kind of reality...

Thanks to a prompt from Ewen I guess it is high time I popped up an update on what is going on with me at the moment.

Well, in a nutshell, life is different.

The change of jobs in January did not bring many dramatic changes at first as my boss was overseas for almost the entire first month, so I was twiddling my thumbs a bit. But once he got back I discovered what an earnest and intense and, er, moody, person he is, so work life has been a bit interesting since. More pressure, more stress. The job itself isn't especially taxing except that I am forced to try and perform it in Japanese, business meetings and the like, which was not something I represented myself at the interviews as being capable of doing-- in fact I was careful to explain my Japanese level fairly accurately. Daily conversation fine, but native Japanese technical and business discussions are beyond my comprehension, so I have a long, hard challenge ahead.

I have not been running much because I have decided to try to get my nasty left Achilles better. It is slowly, slowly improving, but the change is barely perceptible really. It doesn't hurt much in daily life, except sometimes in the mornings for a little while. It has a kind of hard swelling in the middle of the tendon, which is tender when gently squeezed, so I really think I am in for a long haul getting it to come good. My concern then has been how to keep my weight down. I've been going to the gym sometimes for weights and bike or X-trainer, but can only do that in the evenings and can therefore only fit that in once or twice on week nights and maybe once on the weekend. I ran a long-committed-to 6-km ekiden leg on March 20th that showed up my dwindling fitness (and made the Achilles hurt like buggery). I did a short (6k) easy run last Sunday and another last Wednesday night ... partly social, partly just to burn a few calories and partly to see how the Achilles felt. I haven't even logged them yet. In both cases the pain in my Achilles was much as it has been all along -- not enough to force me to stop, but enough to make running unenjoyable. So I continue to abstain and hope that the damn thing starts healing soon, but I am prepared to give it as long as it takes.

The other thing, of course, has been Dad, Mick, passing away. He has been on my mind, if not constantly, then at least very very often. We shared our birthdays, you know, and he was always such an enormous part of my life, my consciousness, even my identity. I am not exactly sad and mournful, because he had a good and long life and his death went about as well as death can go. We all had enough forewarning, got to say our goodbyes, and he himself was absolutely ready to go and kept his dignity through to the end, passing peacefully at home with a pain-managed terminal-stage cancer of the liver. So, his death itself is easy enough to accept and deal with. At the funeral we were able to celebrate his life while shedding some tears for the loss of this remarkable person from our lives. So I am not sad, and yet, I just miss him so much and somehow feel different with him being gone...I can't really put it any other way.

I suppose, in summary, I am currently dealing with three losses: the loss of my previously comfortable (though tending towards boring) work life; the loss of Mick; and the loss of least for the foreseeable future. Considering this situation I think I am bearing up reasonably well (at least I still have beer and brewing and my family!) and am aware that it is just one of those flat periods that life throws up and it is up to me to deal with the issues involved with each loss. Work I am accepting as an interesting and exciting challenge, the pain of Mick's loss I know will fade with time, and running, well, that's the hard one. But I'm determined to get this Achilles right so that I can make and reach some new goals in the future, like running Six Foot Track!

I am also improving on my didgeridoo, so be warned, I might put up a little video one day!!


Scott said...

Hey Steve

Good to hear from you and to know that you're bearing up under the strain of recent events.

Mate don't expect it's going to be easy to get over your old man's passing. It won't be but your main job now is to make it so others feel such a great loss when you go ;)

As for your work it sounds like the first year won't be easy but from my experience it always gets better. Dealing with the Japanese language in this situation is difficult but once you decide that you will/have to learn it, it will come. Still, tell them you're going to need some time and understanding.

Dealing with work collegues is the biggest problem you face, I think, but this blog link from a Stanford Uni professor sometimes helps me.

Running is the least of your problems right now old son, once you get your injuries sorted you will have the next ten or so years to run some hitherto faster times and better races.

Perhaps if you're feeling a bit "challenged" with Japanese and you want to feel a bit better about yourself you should spend some of your downtime writing some articles, in English, and submitting them to papers and journals, I know you're good at it.

Hope you don't mind taking advice from me, I have been know for many years by various people as the "Maestro of the fuckup!". Still I know one thing as bad as it gets "nobody is going to eat you" so relax and be yourself.

Tesso said...

Good to see you posting, I've been thinking about you and wondering how you've been getting on.

Its such a tough time after the loss of a parent. I lost both of mine within a couple of years of eachother. Though it gets easier, I think its something you never get over, which, when you think about it, is a good thing.

Take care.

plu said...

I am glad Ewen promts you as I just wait for your posts to pop up in Google Reader.

Re the AH - Tim is dealing with it as well - he does not blog about it much but has looked a lot into it. His versionof the lump may or may not be the same - might be worth a PM. He now runs in frees so their is no back of shoe on it.

cheers Plu

Ewen said...

Bloody hell! If the maestro keeps talking you up I'll feel obligated to leave a War-and-Peace-like comment when you finally sprint off to that great marathon course in the sky (providing you beat me there).

With a bit of luck your moody boss will stumble across your blog and give you the sack ;)

On a serious note, I second what Plu said about the Frees. Also, I'm looking forward to hearing a bit of that didge playing at the Six Foot Track one year.

Christian said...

all the best for tough times!
you're an experienced Marathoner, you'll have the endurance for any challenge that can possibly happen. for your new job, you're definitely in the warm-up phase, still running the first k and finding your pace for the initial 5k, not even the first half. I'm sure you'll do negative splits! and then we'll see you back running and racing. feeling with you!

AZ said...

Steve, your achilles problem sounds exactly like the one that bothered me a few months ago. Hard swelling in the middle of the tendon, doesn't stop you from running but does make it uncomfortable and I was afraid if I ran much I would injure it more. The best exercise/therapy that I've found for it is swimming. Once I started that it has gotten much better. Mike Trees told me that running constantly contracts the back of the leg while swimming (and biking) stretch it out. Whatever the reason, it helped me. Now I just have to be careful of that slippery triathlon slope...

Jon said...

What treatment are you undertaking for your achilles problem?
(In Melb now...back in Tokyo on the 14th)

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2P said...

Yeah mate - I hear you. The loss of Dad knocked me for six as well - I think that is what prompted my epic post some six months after his death.

What I can say is that slowly but surely he will inhabit less of your thoughts each day but for me at least the pangs never go away. Birthdays, Christmases, Anniversaries you name the occasion, but part of the joy is always going to be tainted with a little sadness. My Dad turns up in my dreams fairly regularly too - sometimes that is nice and sometimes not so nice.

Like you my work has taken a turn for the incredibly intense and my running is crap - maybe we should start a club...

Cheers, 2P :)

Dan said...

Hi Steve,

Sorry to hear about your stress, but I am glad to know that you are moving forward again.



oldsprinter said...


sorry to hear about your Dad. I thought that post by Omar was really moving...exactly the right kind of sentiment.

Get back to blogging soon hey - I miss the stuff you post.

Oh, and on a totally different topic, the next issue of JAL's inflight mag has a feature on microbrewery beers - I'll try to get my hands on a copy for you.

All the best

Luckylegs said...

I think of you often, Steve, so it's about time I said so!

Anyone who has lost father or mother understands your loss & sadness. Here's a secret : I still miss both of mine, but especially my mother...and I always will. How fortunate are we to have parents that we can say that about?

Hope to 'catch' you (as in 'meet', not as in 'running'!) some day running somewhere.

Scott said...

Hey Steve

Come on old fella get back to it.

It's not fair you leaving me all alone with all those Queenslanders. Also, I need you to come back and help me deal with that Ewen fella. He is getting way out of control ;)

Well anyway at least you don't just ignore me and feely comment on everyone elses blog except for mine. You know who you are 2P!

See what all this silence is doing to me. Write soon before my paranoia develops into something more serious.

Come back Stephen. I don't care what Tesso says about you I reckon you're a good guy.

See what lengths I'm capable of goingt to ;)

Write soon.

Pete said...


How about an update? How is your Achilles? How is the job?