sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


Quick off the Mark

It’s race day in T – 10 hours. I should probably be asleep.

I went for a little practice run again last night – 3k at a slow steady jog so I didn’t exhaust myself. I have to say that I felt pretty good during the run, and absolutely fantastic afterwards. I can see how people get addicted to this exercise business!

I’ve been reading a blog called Bucket List Publications (one of these days I’ll write a Bucket List, or a Mighty Girl-style Life List. It’s totally on my to-do list…), and I was struck by how often the author carried out an idea or plan shortly after hatching it.

For me, deciding to do this charity run was a totally spur of the moment decision, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve raised nearly £100 for a cause I care strongly about in under a week, I’ve found a new focus and motivation for getting off my arse, and ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve spent the week on a rollercoaster of apprehension, anticipation, fear, excitement and self-doubt, and ultimately self-confidence.

Contrast that with my intention to do a PhD and become a lecturer, an idea I hatched nearly four years ago and which got off to such an excellent start with my MA. Funnily enough it has involved much the same range of emotions, but increasingly spiralling into apprehension and self-doubt.

If my initial schedule had gone to plan, I would have gone straight from Masters to PhD, and be finishing my doctorate in a year’s time. Instead I procrastinated, postponed, prevaricated, and now I find myself at a point where I want to travel, study, buy a house, have an awesome career and start a family ALL AT THE SAME TIME!


Aaaand that all got a little too heavy too quickly. Point is, sometimes spontaneity pays. And sometimes you just need to go to bed and get some sleep before the big race.


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Go Faster Stripes

New and improved – now with go faster stripes!

Day two of my preparation for Saturday’s run and I am taking it easy after yesterday’s 5.3k test run.

Siri: I feel mostly okay, but the fronts of my legs are killing me

Ben: Yeah, that’ll happen

Siri: Maybe I have shin splints. What are shin splints?

Ben: It’s what it sounds like: they are actual splints they put on your legs when you break them.

Siri: No, I’m sure it’s a terrible malady of some kind

Ben: … there isn’t a name for every little thing that happens to hurt occasionally on your body

Siri: [googles shin splints] you SEE?! I was right!

Ben: Hmmm… yeah okay. Maybe you have stress fractures in your shins… after one jog around the block

Other than googling horrible injuries that may befall me, I’ve been preparing for Saturday with some shopping.

Ben was pretty convinced I needed some shorts to run in. I was pretty convinced he was just making an excuse to see me in some tiny shorts, I tend to defer to him in all physical matters. Wait, uh… that came out wrong.

Either way, I had to admit that my heavyweight cotton jogging bottoms which I bought at Pineapple when I was 15 were not the most accommodating running gear, not least because they actually seem to hamper my ability to lift my knees. I took myself off to TK Maxx, but the only shorts in evidence were denim hotpants (also not the one for a 5k run) so I invested in some snazzy new yoga pants instead.

Are they prime running wear? No. Do they have an awesome pink stripe across the bum? Why yes, yes they do!

I spent the evening wearing my coordinated pink and black gym gear, whilst prepping for Saturday with carb-loading and hydrating with an antioxidant-laden beverage (aka knocking back pasta, garlic bread and red wine).

Happy training all!

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So today is the end of the Fortnight of Pain, and to celebrate I have done something either monumentally stupid or crazy brilliant. Or both, I’m not sure.

I’ve signed up for a 5k run. In 5 days’ time.

I have wanted to do the Trees for Cities Tree-athlon for quite some time. Partly because it sounds like my kind of triathlon (you run 5k, plant a tree, and then round it off with a barefoot 100m dash. Then you have a bit of a village fete type thing in the park), but more importantly because I think trees are such a hugely important thing. I don’t want to use the word resource, because that puts a very human-centric slant on things, but essentially without them, we are fucked.

Photo credit: Sirisa Clark 2011

Bonus: they’re also beautiful

Did you know the UK is one of the least-wooded countries in Europe? Trees are important for biodiversity, soil stabilisation, reducing urban heat retention, storing carbon and releasing oxygen.

I was about 12 years old when I decided all human problems were secondary to environmental ones, because what is the point of World Peace, a cure for cancer, any of it, if there is nowhere to live?

Ahem. So, that’s enough preachy bidness from me! You all knew I was a hippy anyway, so I’m not going to labour the point – I know you want to hear more about how hideously ill-equipped I am to run a race on Saturday morning, right?

The truth is I signed up, made a Just Giving page, sent it round to a few friends, then started to freak out about what I’d got myself into. My dad emailed me and warned me it was a bad idea. My friend emailed to say “weren’t you the girl with an addiction to LOUNGING two weeks ago?!”. I downloaded the training guide from Trees for Cities, which suggested starting your training regime 8 weeks before the race. I don’t even have 8 days.

And then I came home, and Ben hugged me and told me what I was doing was amazing, and that he’d come for a run with me and we’d see how far we could manage. We jogged round the park 8 times, then back to the house: 5.3km.

Today I learned: I can do anything with Ben by my side.

And on that sappy note, cough up bitches!


Fortnight of Pain

Periodically, Ben and I challenge each other to give up something close to our hearts. Ostensibly the idea is to improve our health by cutting back on our vices.

I invariably suggest he tries going tee-total for a month, and he counters with some horrible punishment masquerading as being ‘good for me’. His preferred method of torture is insisting on a prescribed number of visits to the gym each week.

We’ve debated at some length which takes more willpower – abstaining from something, or forcing yourself to do physical activity – and come to the conclusion that these challenges are fair not because they match each other, but because they match our personal weaknesses. For every drunken Ben story, there is an equally embarrassing “Siri fell asleep at a rock concert/nightclub/at work” story.

This time around the challenge is for two weeks, which Ben has dubbed the Fortnight of Pain, and in my case it is quite literally true: people at work keep asking me if I’ve hurt my back because of the stilted, broken way I am walking.

Ben on the other hand seems totally unperturbed, but the experience has given him some useful insights…

Ben: You know what this week has made me realise? Being around somebody drunk when you’re stone cold sober can be pretty annoying.

Siri [slurring slightly]: You see?! YOU SEE MY POINT AND WILL NOW DRINK LESS???

Ben: No, I think the answer is for you to get drunk more often.