Recording ideas through Evernote

EvernoteI’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S2 for a few months now, and I can’t believe that I’ve only started seriously using Evernote for idea-tracking this past week.

I’d actually downloaded this App early on in my Galaxy S2’s life, but after my phone died on me due to an unfortunate, let’s just say, “water accident”, and all my data was erased in the subsequent repair (by the way, well done Samsung. Very professionally and quickly done; no questions asked, too, though it’s probably due to the miracle of unmolested water damage indicators), I hadn’t quite thought about the need to reinstall it again.

So imagine my delight when I “rediscovered” Evernote when, out of boredom, I downloaded the app from the Android store. After signing in, I was brought to my account where, lo-and-behold, the address of a colleague who has since left my current company (and of which, to my great despair as I’d yet to send her my promised wedding invitation, I thought I’d lost) popped up. Backed up on the cloud, and I didn’t even know it!

Already won over, I started reading several other “notes” that I’d posted inside, and realised what gems they were — and to think if it weren’t for this nifty free app I’d have lost it forever; iif there ever were a verb that described a “beyond-won” state I’d use it now. I’ll admit it’s a primitive finding for those who’ve been using Evernote for forever, but for a new initiate like me, it’s amazing.

Bonus (sample gem I found in my Evernote account):

I don’t know why but I’m feeling blue and have been feeling blue for quite a while now. By this I mean that life doesn’t quite feel like the rainbow coloured silken plushie that it sometimes feels like when one is on the top of the world. But it doesn’t feel particularly bad either (like end-of-the-world bad).

What it is, is a peculiar mixture of apathy, lethargy, and longing for a better life. The first two are, as far as I know, symptoms of depression. A mild case maybe but symptoms nevertheless. The last one’s a symptom of an inbuilt propensity to always think that things can and should be better: Optimism.

The first time I re-read this I just had to smile because it was just oh-so-true. It’s probably the perfect summary of what my life has been up till now: a curious mixture of mild depression and optimism.

Life is a Sprint, not a Marathon

I just watched a video on The 99 Percent called Tony Schwartz: The Myths of the Overworked Creative, which talked about how important rest was to people (and to creatives especially). Though rest is something I know I should be getting more of, and something I consciously covet, it’s not something I actually do very much.

Sleep is important
My cat Arsene: Master of Rest

I’m not sure if it’s a strange habit peculiar to me or if it’s shared with humanity in general, but when I’m tired, I tend to drag my feet more than seek sleep, maybe subconsciously equating being awake to making full use of my time. But rest, as Schwartz explains, is perhaps more important than anything else in being the best self you can be.

In the video, Schwartz also says that “life is a sprint, not a marathon.” It’s the first time I’ve heard of life being described this way, and it’s just so counter-intuitive that I couldn’t help but think, why? Reading that life’s a marathon and not a sprint is standard fare (i.e. that one should not keep pushing oneself lest burnout), but that life’s a sprint and not a marathon?

Schwartz explains that in a marathon, you pace yourself, and keep it steady (I suppose he was talking about most of us non-elite marathoners). You’re not so much looking for the finish line as you are in keeping an even pace and finishing the race. It is in keeping this steady pace, without the opportunity for rest and recovery in between, that we often “zone out” and get unfocused.

In life as a sprint, however, the sprinter keeps the finish line in mind the whole time, and is focused on the sole activity of getting to it as quickly as possible. You don’t forget what you’re there for, and there’s simply no time to zone out. At the end of the sprint you get to rest and recover, after which you sprint again. In a sense, you’re always on when you should be, while turning off as necessary.

It’s an interesting analogy, and one I think all us tired individuals should keep in mind.

Singapore Marathon 2011: My play-by-play

4 Dec 2011: 5am. Singapore Marathon. The start of a grueling 42.2km walk/run/crawl/whathaveyou. I thought I’d take 4.5, maybe 5 hours, max. I ran a 6.5. I remember this like it was yesterday, though as I write this, it’s really today. Tells you something about the state of mind I’m currently in.

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I thought I’d prepared reasonably well for this run; my longest run, two weeks prior to the event, was a 22km affair with an approximate 3kg load on my back (I ran with a backpack holding my office clothes). I’d run back from work, looping around the new Punggol Promenade or whateveryoucallit route, made several scenic detours, and arrived home feeling good. For my last marathon in 2006, my training consisted of only one aspect of every elite runner’s workout regimen: rest. And still I managed a respectable 5 hours then, cramping up badly on the 30th kilometer but otherwise unscathed.

The Play-by-Play

Here’s how my day went that day…

2.30-4.45am: Woke up, and felt good about the day. I’d rested well for the previous two weeks. Probably had more than enough sleep in the two nights leading up to this day. Having had an incident of terrible cramps during my previous marathon, I prepared myself this time, reading up on cramp-prevention. I had bananas every single day in the week leading up to the marathon, and loaded up on electrolyte drinks (self-mixed Gatorade). Today I packed a bottle of frozen Gatorade, the final check on my hydration plan. Frozen drinks, I read, helped the body keep cool, something especially important in warm and humid Singapore.

4.45-5.15am: I reached Orchard Road (where the race was starting) at about 4.45, and lined up way back along with the “more than 6 hours” pack. I, having expected a 4.5 hour finish, was in the “4 to 6 hours” category (different categories had different coloured bibs). “What losers,” I thought to myself, but remained with them. I read all about “start slow, finish strong”, and that was my plan today: starting with the “more than 6 hours”. Who knew that it’d be “start slow, finish slower” for me today. At 5am sharp they flagged off, but with the mass of people in front of me, by the time I crossed the start line it was about 5.15am.

6am: After close to an hour of slow running, I felt some pain in my left knee. It felt like cramp. “Impossible,” I thought to myself. At this (painfully slow) pace with just over 5km run, and with all the salts/electrolytes loaded in my body, there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d be cramping up (I’d sooner be a jackpot millionaire).

6.30am: Jackpot! I feel a sharp pain in my leg and I think to myself that it’s got to be some old knee injury. I walk and the pain dissipates after about ten metres or so. I run again, and the pain returns. I alternate running and walking.

7.30am: We’re now at East Coast Park. I stop and stretch my left leg. Ouch, my knee! Then I stretch my right. Ouch! My thighs! My right thigh cramped up, the pain surprisingly similar to that in my left knee. That was when I took stock again of the pain in my left knee… the pain wasn’t just at the knee, but was also around the knee. This wasn’t a knee injury. It was a cramp.

8am: After almost 3 hours of run/shuffle/walk, I’ve resigned myself to walking. The pain in my knee is so excruciatingly bad I’m thinking of dropping out. But with the lack of clear “dropping out” instructions, and the fact that I’ve written all about running this marathon, as well as carrying out fundraising for this (silly me), it’s harder to drop out now than it is to carry on. I carry on. For the children I try to tell myself. For the children.

9-11.30am: I want to quit. But I continue my walk/shuffle.”God put me out of my misery,” I think to myself, wishing I’d get a really bad injury that’d force me out. The sun’s shining brightly, and I can feel my skin getting burnt. I try to think lofty thoughts like “for the children!” but I’ll be honest here, in the state I was in, all I could think about was to finish the damn thing and get on with my life. What children?

11.50am: I’ve gotten my finisher tee and medal. I call Lix who answers the phone sounding so relieved I’m certain she thought I’d died. I tell her how much pain I’m in. I can’t walk up or down stairs. Sitting and getting up hurts like mad. My brain’s fried and I only think of… I forget. And my sunburnt skin feels like childbirth.

I swear to her that I’m retiring from running after this.

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7 Dec: Pain’s almost gone from the knees.  Looking at website for runs in 2012. Singapore Marathon 2012… I must be mad. But I can’t help thinking: I’ll be there.