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Thursday, March 30, 2006


The word for today is serendipity. I'll leave the history of the word for the reference below. The reason I like the word is because it conveys a sense of more than just luck in making a discovery, but also the skill to recognise something of benefit. You could call it a combination of fortune and perception. It takes nothing to receive something by luck, but it is truly serendipitous to be on a path that leads to an accident in the first place, and then to perceive that the accident is of benefit. I guess what it says to me is that you make your own luck.

ser·en·dip·i·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key (srn-dp-t)n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties

The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
An instance of making such a discovery.

[From the characters in the Persian fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who made such discoveries, from Persian Sarandp, Sri Lanka, from Arabic sarandb.]

seren·dipi·tous adj. seren·dipi·tous·ly adv.

Word History: We are indebted to the English author Horace Walpole for the word serendipity, which he coined in one of the 3,000 or more letters on which his literary reputation primarily rests. In a letter of January 28, 1754, Walpole says that “this discovery, indeed, is almost of that kind which I call Serendipity, a very expressive word.” Walpole formed the word on an old name for Sri Lanka, Serendip. He explained that this name was part of the title of “a silly fairy tale, called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses traveled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of....”

Baby Steps

Went for a run this morning with the track timers. I just did slow laps of the track while they did speedwork. Got in 5km in about 25 minutes. The effort wasn't too hard and the achilles felt OK. I strapped it using a technique I saw on a sports injury website. We'll see how the leg feels over the next couple of days before setting out for another run. At the moment it will be baby steps to see how much I can do and whether I've recovered. Will keep up stretching and massage. Now that I'm over the cold, I'll try and do some more strength sessions too.

Nice to meet Michel (hope I got your name right) out at the session this morning. It is awesome to know that there are people out there that are following my running progress and life, and even nicer to meet some of you.

Speaking of meeting people. Phil, Robbo and Murray of Track Timers blog fame are going over to Canberra for the marathon (Phil is doing the 50km). Feel free to say hi to them any of you who may be reading my blog and are running in Canberra. The guys will probably be wearing SARRC singlets. Phil met a few of you at 6FT a few weeks ago, but I'm sure the other guys would love some conversation and encouragement.

I think I'll put a favourite word in another entry.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What is the word for...

that chalky yucky feeling you get in your mouth when you eat an unripe banana? You know the one, where you screw your face up and try to suck the leftover banana residue out of your mouth whilst making a silly sucking noise.

I've been savouring my 'nanies lately in the event that the destruction of the banana crop by cyclone Larry will push the price of the remaining crops through the roof into luxury status. They're already $5/kilo, up from $2-3/kilo, but they are still good quality. It's times like these that you start to appreciate what you've previously taken for granted. I generally eat a banana a day. I wonder what price I'll pay to continue this habit?

Almost over the cold. Achilles is feeling a lot better. Might take one more weekend off just for good measure.

Monday, March 27, 2006

: (

Still sick, still feeling like the achilles is not quite right. That's all I have to say about the matter. : (

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Good news, bad news, good news

The good news is that my achilles is feeling a lot better. As suggested by several websites, I think I will move on to some achilles and calf strengthening exercises tomorrow, now that the pain is gone.

The bad news is that I've got a cold. It came on only a few hours after RunCarly came home from Canberra, so that's a bit of a bummer.

Which brings me to the other good (sort of) news. I'm sick, but I'm injured anyway, so it isn't affecting my running. And since I'm not running, the cold might only take a few days to go away rather than weeks. How's that for twisted logic?

BTW. What a great 5000m race last night at the Commonwealth Games!

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Today is the first day that I have felt real improvement with my leg. There is still soreness in the muscle on the inside of my lower leg, but the achilles isn't feeling tight and "funny" and the tingles have gone. I've done a few weights sessions now and I think that will help my much neglected core strength a lot. Feeling a bit depressed that I haven't run for a week and I couldn't do my long run, especially seeing all the inspirational running in the marathon and the triathlon.

Today's word is dedicated to the appalling abuse of language by the commentators at channel nine. Along with their overuse of cliches, numerous errors of logic, ridiculous parochialism and continual mispronunciation of names, the nine commentators have managed to take tautology to new levels. I'm sure their mission statement reads: "If we can't find a superlative, we'll make one up". This word is very important to me because it reminds me to say exactly what I mean.

tau·tol·o·gy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tô-tl-j)n. pl. tau·tol·o·gies
Needless repetition of the same sense in different words; redundancy.
An instance of such repetition.
Logic. An empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false; for example, the statement Either it will rain tomorrow or it will not rain tomorrow.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Still injured. Have done a couple of weights sessions and my muscles are telling me all about it. Not very happy about not being able to run. I'm sure my leg actually felt worse yesterday than the previous three days rest. It feels a bit better today, so hopefully things are on the way up. Plenty of stretching and massage now and some strengthening exercises when all the soreness is gone. I'm thinking about doing some riding to keep the fitness up. I'll get the bike out tomorrow and see if I can get it to work.

My word today is vulgar. It's not quite the correct descriptor for how my leg feels, but it is close. I like the word vulgar because of the repulsion it can illicit. After reading the history of the word, it might make me sound a bit pretentious.

vul·gar ( P ) Pronunciation Key (vlgr)adj.

Crudely indecent.
Deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.
Marked by a lack of good breeding; boorish. See Synonyms at common.
Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious: the huge vulgar houses and cars of the newly rich.
Spoken by or expressed in language spoken by the common people; vernacular: the technical and vulgar names for an animal species.
Of or associated with the great masses of people; common.

[Middle English, from Latin vulgris, from vulgus, the common people.]
vulgar·ly adv. vulgar·ness n.

Word History: The word vulgar now brings to mind off-color jokes and offensive epithets, but it once had more neutral meanings. Vulgar is an example of pejoration, the process by which a word develops negative meanings over time. The ancestor of vulgar, the Latin word vulgris (from vulgus, “the common people”), meant “of or belonging to the common people, everyday,” as well as “belonging to or associated with the lower orders.” Vulgris also meant “ordinary,” “common (of vocabulary, for example),” and “shared by all.” An extension of this meaning was “sexually promiscuous,” a sense that could have led to the English sense of “indecent.” Our word, first recorded in a work composed in 1391, entered English during the Middle English period, and in Middle English and later English we find not only the senses of the Latin word mentioned above but also related senses. What is common may be seen as debased, and in the 17th century we begin to find instances of vulgar that make explicit what had been implicit. Vulgar then came to mean “deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement.” From such uses vulgar has continued to go downhill, and at present “crudely indecent” is among the commonest senses of the word.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I'm injured/Reciprocity

I'm injured.
There, I said it. I've been denying it for almost two weeks now (and as my dad always says, denial isn't just a river in Egypt). The injury isn't bad and it really doesn't hurt too much, but something isn't right with my achilles/calf. It feels tight and knotted; almost like it is ready to tear at some moment. I don't want to continue running and wait for that moment. I'll be taking at least this week off to make sure it gets better. In the meantime I think I'll try and do some weights and much-needed core strengthening.

Today's word is relevant to my blogging activity. The word is reciprocity and I'm guilty of showing a lack of it. I am very busy at work at the moment and I haven't been able to return many of the comments on my blog or keep up with reading everyone's blogs on bloglines. So sorry for my lack of reciprocity.

rec·i·proc·i·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key n. pl. rec·i·proc·i·ties
A reciprocal condition or relationship.
A mutual or cooperative interchange of favors or privileges, especially the exchange of rights or privileges of trade between nations.

n 1: a relation of mutual dependence or action or influence [syn: reciprocality] 2: mutual exchange of commercial or other privileges

[From Latin reciprocus, alternating. See per1 in Indo-European Roots.]

Monday, March 13, 2006


Just realised I haven't logged what I have done in the last week. On Tuesday I had an easy 5km. Wednesday I ran into uni a little harder (10.5km). Thursday morning we did Mona fartlek (well done the Steve on Australia's Brainiest last night). Friday I did a recovery run from home to uni. And yesterday I went for a 21km long run. The achilles and calf are still feeling not 100%, but still no real pain. The run didn't feel too good. I just felt a bit flat in the legs and kind of struggled over the 21km. I was glad when I got back to the start. The calf was feeling a bit sorer today but felt much better after a good stretch. I'll push on and see how training goes this week.

Now to my next word. I had hinted that the next word would be "vulgar", but that will have to wait for next week. Today it is eclectic. I like it because it describes my tastes and my way of life in general. I particularly like the usage of the word as a noun and hope that one day people apply it to me. Also, this week I have included the derivation of the word because it always interests me where words have come from and how they came to be part of our language. I may have to go back and add the derivation of my previous words.

e·clec·tic ( P ) Pronunciation Key adj.

Selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles: an eclectic taste in music; an eclectic approach to managing the economy.

Made up of or combining elements from a variety of sources: “a popular bar patronized by an eclectic collection of artists, writers, secretaries and aging soldiers on reserve duty” (Curtis Wilkie).

n. One that follows an eclectic method.

[Greek eklektikos, selective, from eklektos, selected, from eklegein, to select : ek-, out; see ecto- + legein, to gather; see leg- in Indo-European Roots.]

PS. Well done to everyone who ran the Six Foot Track Ultramarathon on Saturday. Phil, it sounds like you had a real battle out there.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Coffee bad...Noooooooooooo!

I read some rather disheartening news about coffee yesterday in New Scientists feature article about agricultural water use. Coffee was the worst offender taking 20,000 litres to make a kilo of coffee! In comparison, it took 11,000 litres of water to make a Quarter-pounder and 5000 to make 1kg of cheese and 2000 to make a litre of milk. In a world where water is becoming scarcer, it makes me think about how much of it I drink and also reminds me to appreciate it a lot more. Out at training this morning, one of the guys suggested that I get fair-trade coffee so at least the growers are getting a good deal. I suppose the important thing is that we realise what goes in to producing a lot of the things we take for granted.

Last night on Jamie Oliver's show they showed him killing a lamb to eat with a family he was living with in rural Italy. He made a really good point that if you're not prepared to find out what really happens to all the animals you eat, then maybe you shouldn't be eating them. So many people are detached from the food that they eat, that they find the death of animals repulsive, but have no problem eating the same animals. I am so glad they showed it. I don't eat meat myself, but anything showing the reality of eating meat is a good thing I think. Not that a lamb raised on a picturesque farm and slaughtered very gently by a squirming pommie chef is anywhere near the conditions of a crowded, dirty and compassionless abbatoir, but it does show people that an animal has to be killed so that you can eat your lamb roast.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

100th Entry - Why I race.

As my 100th entry I thought I'd have a philosophical look at why I go in races.

Why do I go in races? As a runner, it is a fairly fundamental question. I recently read in someone's blog that they thought previously they thought they deserved a race because of all their hard work in training. Another person had pointed out to them that they could alternatively view a race as a reward and hence something to be enjoyed. What I think this all boils down to is whether you see the race as a right or a priviledge.

If you think it is a right, then you may think you deserve a good result for hard work and a poor result for lazy work. So no matter what you do on the race day, you deserve the result: a very fatalistic approach. This may result in you not making the most of what happens on race day.

If you think it is a priviledge, then you will enjoy the race because it is a reward for all the training you have done and hence will try to make the most of the reward regardless of how hard you trained. I think this is a very positive way to approach racing, especially when you are doing it as a social pastime. This approach may result in you not working as hard in training because no matter what effort you put in during training, you know you will enjoy the race anyway.

So this got me thinking - why do Irace? I think I have taken aspects of both of these approaches into races. However, for the most part I see racing in an entirely different light to the two previous approaches.

I see racing as a test, a test of how well I can do based on my personal ability, my training and my effort on the day. And, I suppose if I'm really honest, it is somewhat egotistically a test of how good I am compared to other competitors. I suppose I like tests in general, so it it no surprise that that I would want to test my ability for running.

I do find races rewarding and I really do enjoy the atmosphere on the day, but I don't think it is my primary reason for racing. I get the most satisfaction from testing myself; laying my body on the line and giving 100% to see what I am capable of on that day. Perhaps this is the reason why I can't hold back in races or try to run at a slower pace with someone else (if this is the case, please don't anyone ask me to pace for you because I may not hang around for long!). I find I just have to go my hardest and there is little stopping me.

Of course there are several other reasons why I race including general health benefits, being a good role model for my kids, pleasing parents (sad I know), raising money for charities and encouraging others to take up a healthy lifestyle, but I consider that they merely prop up my main motivation for racing.

I suppose an allied question would be why do I run at all? And that is a question for another day. I will say that this entry may remain subject to additional thoughts and editing as I continue to ponder these questions.

I hope all those who have read my previous 99 entries have enjoyed them and I hope everyone sticks around to read the next 100.


Ever wanted a better word for the vulgar phrase (vulgar is also another favourite word of mine - stay tuned) "shit, shave and shower"? Well, toilette is it. It is a polite way of saying that you have performed your daily ritual of cleaning and making yourself look and smell good. It may also be a sneaky way of commenting on someone's cleanliness and smell, eg. "He/she had a rather unpleasant toilette". I suppose it is a fairly old-fashioned word, but in this world of newly fabricated, re-defined and lost words, I believe that some deserve to be preserved.

toi·lette ( P ) Pronunciation Key (twä-let)n.
The act or process of dressing or grooming oneself; toilet.
A person's dress or style of dress.
A gown or costume.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Longish run

I tentatively went for a long run this morning. Got up late after working late last night and then took Addi to the beach and back (6.5km) and then ran directly into uni (10.5km) for a longish run of 17km. The achilles felt OK, and, owing to the four days off, my legs felt pretty fresh which, is a change for my long run. It wasn't really such a long run, but it was good to get back out there. The calf is feeling a little bit tight now, so plenty of stretching and massage over the next week and hopefully I can quickly build up to the mileage I was doing two weeks ago.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ugly Sculpture Comp

My achilles still feels a little bit sore so no running today. Instead I have taken up the challenge from Wobblyman to find the world's ugliest sculpture. I think I have two contenders.

First are the famous 'Fones' on the Barr-Smith Lawns at the University of Adelaide. Over 15 years of O-week bunnies have basked in their ugliness whilst consuming copious amounts of free beer and playing pointless sports such as hacky-sack and frisbee. They are there as a permanent reminder to all other people that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

The second sculpture is located in the Hughes Plaza at uni. I'm not sure of the sculpture's name or date, but it is near the the mathematics and computer science departments, so I guess it is some form of conceptual art trying to represent a number of intersecting planes. However, other than the fact that it has always looked like it is unfinished and made of substandard materials, it has faded and rusted over the years and looks as dated and run-down as the architecture in the plaza itself.

I nominate these two pieces of 'art' as the ugliest sculptures in Australia at least.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Didn't run home last night and didn't do speedwork this morning. My Achilles is still feeling a little sore and weak. I don't feel confident pushing it so I'll probably take off another couple of days before testing it out. I was intending on having a light week this week - looks like it will be a really light week.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I like to use this word because we are all unavoidably different. Plus it is a really polite way to say that someone is just plain weird. Eg "He certainly has his idiosyncrasies".

n : a behavioral attribute that is distinctive and peculiar to an individual [syn: foible, mannerism]

id·i·o·syn·cra·sy (d--sngkr-s)n.
A structural or behavioral trait peculiar to an individual or a group.
A physiological or temperamental peculiarity.
An unusual individual reaction to food or a drug.

Ran home last night. Legs were really sore. Feeling a little niggle in my right achilles. Running home tonight to see how it feels. Hopefully I'll be able to do a light speed session tomorrow.