2013 in review

2013? That is so 12 hours ago.

After last night’s festivities, I did the unthinkable. I slept until noon! Crazy, because I am a creature of the sun, rising early even on the weekends.

I thought I’d do a quick review of 2013. I’m a sucker for lists after all. So here are a few of my highlights from the past year.

7069The best book I read this year was The World According to Garp. It happens to also be the first book I read in 2013. It was first published in 1978 and is, in my opinion, an American classic.

This is an amazing account of a fictional writer’s life. I won’t go into too much detail, but whether you’re a writer or not, this is a beautifully crafted story. Well-written and easy to read, I just loved it.

Honorable mentions on my 2013 reading list include Maggie O’Farrell’s Instructions for a Heatwave (pub. 2013) and Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (pub. 2000).

Early on in 2013 I started a new job as a writer and researcher covering the resource and energy sectors in Australia, Africa and the Indo-Pacific. I have learned so much about industries essential to the Australian economy, and met some great people.

This past year I also finally got my Australian permanent residency. It’s a long process and Matt and I are so happy it’s settled at last.

Me and Mom at the finish

Me and Mom at the finish

As for experiences, the definite highlight for this year was running my first marathon. I won’t go into detail since I’ve already written about it in the past, but working toward and achieving that goal was incredibly fulfilling. To then share the race with my mother was a dream come true. I’m planning to run my second at some point in 2014.

Perhaps the best thing about this year has been my reunion with knitting. It’s been nearly a decade since I first learned, and it’s been wonderful picking it back up and immersing myself in the hobby. I’ve learned heaps and developed my skills at an exponential rate.

Overall 2013 was a great one. It’s also ended with a bang. My childhood friend Lauren has been spending our Christmas holiday with us over the last two weeks. I’ll gather up the best photos of her trip and summarize it in another post. It’s been amazing having her here.

I look forward to the year ahead. Most exciting is my upcoming marriage to the love of my life. Since we first met in 2009, it’s been a whirlwind and I can’t believe I’ll have been in his country 4 years this July. It’s gone by in a blur, and I’m so lucky to be with him.

Here’s to a fantastic 2014, Happy New Year everyone!

My first marathon: A look back

This morning my alarm went off at 5:40am, and I was lucky enough to have a small pocket of clear skies between the dreary downpours that have plagued us Perthians (Perthans? Perthites?) off and on for days weeks on end.

Now I know that getting up at or before dawn is most people’s worst nightmare, but for me this has been the norm until recently. Between the end of February and the end of August, I was rigorously training for my very first marathon.

I love running races. Even though I’ve been a runner for years, my first race as an adult was in May 2012. It was the HBF Run for a Reason, one of the most fun runs in Perth. This year I did it again, with plenty of friends to celebrate with at the finish line.

Post-12km race celebration with mates

Post-12km race celebration with mates

As a descendent of an avid marathoner (my mother), it was only a matter of time before I took on this monstrous task of 26.2 miles (42km). I am a running and fitness freak, a goal-setter and, if I’m being honest, quite a competitive person. Let’s just say that if I were a “Friend,” I would be Monica. I especially love to compete against myself.

I am a Monica, which friend are you?

I am a Monica, which friend are you?

Halfway through my training, I signed up to do a half marathon in Joondalup, and I have to say I fell in love with that distance. It’s amazing how back in May that was the farthest I’d ever run. By June I was running 13+ miles every Sunday and loving it. The incredible high from being at such peak running fitness was rewarding enough to keep me motivated despite all the early mornings in the dark, the wet and the cold.

Half-marathon finisher

Half-marathon finisher

The greatest gift at the end of this solo training journey was that my mom came over from Minnesota to run the race with me. After months and months of putting in all the hard miles by myself, it was such a pleasure to share this experience with her. I am so grateful she came all the way to Perth to be with me.

About a month before the race, I was really starting to hit a slump. Running had become all about training and just getting in the mileage. Normally I run because I enjoy it and it clears my head. This slump happened around the same time that I took up knitting again. I think subconsciously I needed an outlet that wasn’t running. Fortunately I got a second wind as I got swept up in the excitement of the race and my mom’s visit.

Me and Mom at the finish

Me and Mom at the finish

In the few days after the race, I recovered quickly and was itching to get back out there. But my first few runs felt sluggish and foreign. I became easily fatigued, and my legs didn’t seem to have the same effortless spring. I think it was the post-marathon blues.

But like I said, I am very goal-oriented, and my crafting goals have replaced marathon training as my latest obsession. I think about yarn all the time, and I count down the hours until I can back to my projects.

I have also gotten back into other exercise realms. I kept up with yoga and a bit of cycling during my training, but last week I was finally able to rejoin a gym and get some strength training going. So far this year I just have not had the time to devote to fitness activities outside running, and after so many setbacks in the past, I wasn’t going to risk injury with too much cross-training.

It feels amazing to be back at Body Attack (my favorite class at the gym) and going for runs just to feel good and have fun. It’s been almost a month and I still can hardly believe I did it. I ran a marathon! But even more amazing is that I was able to do so by putting in all the training on my own. Remembering the entire journey is what gives me the greatest sense of achievement.

I’m currently in the process of devising a schedule which will help me make enough time for crafting, exercise, writing and reading. Not to mention Emma/Matt time and social activities. But I’m lucky to have fit friends, so it’s easy to combine the social and fitness components.

This post is getting long, so I better wrap it up. As it says at the top of my blog, this is Knits by Emma and everything in between. Most of the time I want to focus on things that aren’t just about me. But in this case, I have had a very meaningful life experience, and I want to cherish it forever.