A week until half marathon race day.
I am nervous. I get agitated every Saturday when I race my bicycle around at Ramblers ("Do NOT talk to me, Lano!") but this is different. It's a biggie.
With a week or so to go before such an event, runners do something called tapering.
This means easing up on the cardio, scoffing potatoes and being an insufferable ass at home as you irritably question everything from the training to the meaning of the universe.
Your brain, which you pushed to explosive levels out on the pavement in the past few months, wonders why you are slowing down and calls you a lazy brat.
Dysmorphia rules supreme and you stand in front of the mirror, wondering whether you can lose 9kg by the time the gun goes off, like in seven days time, which would make you REALLY fast, and other cranky weirdo thoughts.
The patron saint of normality, standing in the doorway, heaves yet another giant sigh, rolls his eyes heavenward and goes "Really?"
As a last resort, though I try not to, I search the web for hot tips on Running Your Fastest Race.
Now, I should know better about hot tips. I gave them out for long enough as a career.
I understand the addiction. Nobody on earth can resist the lure of easy money.
It has now been five and a half years since I pushed the button on my last professional trade as a broker (30,000 Auckland International Airport at market, congrats to all holders) yet, at business networking stuff, I still get requests for smoking hot instant moneybags ways with shares.
And, of course, I do always have a large clutch of precious stocks on the go which I think are completely fabulous.
So, when I let this slip, the listener usually starts drooling uncontrollably as they pull out a notebook and lick their metaphorical pencil with anticipation at my impending disclosure of the magic codes.
Then I give 'em the bad news. I'm a 10-years minimum gal. Nice, armchair stuff. Boring as paint drying.
Did I hear the one about the Albanian lithium mine? Pal, I can hardly tell an AA battery from a D.
What's that, mate? You wanted to know if I had any guaranteed-before-Christmas 10-baggers in the tech sector? I'm so sorry, my friend, I only recently learned how to spell C-L-O-U-D.
Once I get the sarcasm done with, these annoying truths about investing tend to have a hugely deflating effect on the poor soul opposite.
However, I don't let them off the hook and I carry on the tension just a bit longer.
A little industry secret. Do you want to know what, through all of time, has been the traders' favourite investment? His hidey-hole for the loot? Do you? (Who wouldn't?)
I lean over, careful not to spill my conference coffee, which always tastes like toxic waste, and whisper in their ears: "Cash".
Having made an impression, but certainly not a friend, I suggest we get off the topic, and my convo-prisoner, though pale, is free to go.
So, now, as I close the laptop, and visualise powering down the final 200m finishing chute, I decide it's time to ignore the shortcut blather, simply line up at the start, and just bloody RUN.
* Caroline Ritchie is a former AFA, sharebroker and portfolio manager. She runs Investment Stuff, a sharemarket-based investment-coaching service. Visit her at www.investmentstuff.co.nz
* This column is not personalised advice.