sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


Cometh the Hour, Runneth the Girl

I did it! I ran my race! I am thrilled to bits right now. Also, shattered and aching,  but most definitely elated.

Let me start by saying a massive massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me – Rani, Ben, David, Leila, Naomi and James, you guys are amazing.

So, did I win the race? Good lordy no! But nor did I come last by any means. And most importantly, I achieved my three major objectives: I ran the whole way, without stopping or slowing to a walk; I made fairly good time (35 minutes); I crossed the finish line!

It was a beautiful day for a run, I don’t think I could have been luckier with the weather. Maybe a little on the warm side? Luckily, Battersea Park is very leafy! Thank you for the shade trees – I like this reciprocal relationship we’ve got going on!

Most of my pre-run nerves were due to the fact that – being unaccustomed to getting up before 9am on a weekend – we really struggled to get out of the house. For a while I thought I would miss the start of the race. But get there we did, and in plenty of time to scoop up my new t-shirt:

Race Ready!

and warm up with Francis, of Dance Flavourz:

He’s gotta be. So. Macho

The guy was a Zumba-dancing legend, had us all jumping around and shimmying our hips to warm up.

Here’s a little blow by blow of my thoughts during key stages of the race:

Start line: oh god oh god oh god, please don’t let everyone overtake me. I will try to keep pace with those two in the green wigs, they don’t look very fast.

0.5k: Holy crap, my pace runners are getting away from me! I will latch onto this woman with pigtails instead.

4k: My goodness that was an easy run. Wait hold on, that 4k sign seems a little early

1.5k: Haha! Green wigs have got a stitch and have dropped to a walk! Slow and steady, right Pigtails? We are totally the tortoises here.

2k: How can there be so much park?

2.5k: Woo, there’s Ben! I’m halfway!

4k: Okay, that 4k sign is definitely in the wrong place, even for the second lap…

3.5k: Oh shit! Pigtails is getting away from me! I am too slow even for the Tortoise!

4k: I am beginning to doubt that 4k really exists. Especially as three successive stewards have just told me “only a kilometre to go!” and they were each a good 30 yards apart. Has 4k become some kind of abstract concept? A mysterious bait waved beneath the noses of desperate runners?

4.5k: I can hear the brass band, I’m nearly there! That shortcut across the field looks so fucking tempting…

4.95k: Shit, I really thought I’d have a last minute burst of speed, but it’s all I can do to keep going. Pigtails probably finished hours ago. I haven’t seen Green Wigs in months. I really feel like the old crew is drifting apar… hey there’s Ben!

5k: I’VE DONE IT I’VE DONE IT I’VE DONE IT! Quick Ben catch me my legs are going.

Best. Feeling. Ever

After that it was a quick yoga warm down with a chick who seemed to be whispering into her mic. Like honey, I know it’s meant to be calming, but we’re in a field – people are also meant to be able to hear your instructions. Francis you ain’t.

Now allow your consciousness to sink into the ground, like the roots of a tree…

I picked up my medal, complimentary peppermint foot rescue, and my silver birch sapling. No idea what I’m going to do with that – anyone want a tree??

To the victor, the spoils

And then it was off with the shoes and off to the next starting line, for the hundred metre dash world record attempt…

Yeah, not that 100m world record.

Did we break the world record for the greatest number of people running 100m barefoot? I have no idea. We left before the announcement was made, and on the way home Ben bought me a celebratory ice cream.



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!