Throw out, make a list and run less. 2018, here we come.

I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions. I admit to starting off January knowing I’d take the rest of the year to lose all the extra weight put on from all the festivities during the holiday. KK and I typically map out the road races we’d like to run in the year and also book our holidays around these dates.

But in terms of actual goal setting, all I have in my head is a list of really bad experiences that I don’t want to repeat going into the new year.

I did make a few minor behavioral changes which I’m hoping make a difference.

Here’s five things I’ve changed going into 2018:

  1. Ditching the plastic

The new Woolies grocery bags. We just need to remember to take them with us shopping.

During our weekly grocery shopping, we collect around x10 plastic bags to carry our groceries. We use the excuse that “we use the bags for dustbin bags during the week.” But we don’t need to, so we swopped the bags for Woolies enviro-friendly bags. I must tell you, they’re huge and carry quite a lot of goods.

  1. Americano vs. Cappuccino

Confession: this pic was taken in December while we were in Cape Town. It’s a cappuccino. LOL

I know that diets don’t last but if I make small changes to my eating, then that alone should help. Those Vide ‘e cappuccinos are just mucho grande cups of frothy milk and when I’m having two or three a day, it adds up (around the belly). Americano is purely black coffee and while I know the best solution would’ve been to swop for water, one or two coffees with less milk won’t hurt. Baby steps.

  1. Getting organized

Labelling all our cupboards & drawers makes it a lot easier to pack items away too.

My sister stayed over in December and exposed just how disorganized we really were! She helped me re-pack my cupboards, throwing out old clothes, linen, pots and food. Oh gosh, my medicine cupboard was a mess! The trick is to keep it clean and organized.

  1. Making a list

I make to-do lists all the time at work. But I’ve never made a shopping list before. KK and I head over to Woolies and buy the things we think we need. It’s only by sorting out my cupboards with my sister that I realized that we had loads of food that was going old or duplicates of items that we were not using. Let’s not even talk about my freezer! Just by making a list, I’m buying less now too & saving money.

  1. Run less but more

I’m loving my new Garmin fenix 5S. With such a great strap, I’ve been wearing it to work. Hitting my 10 000 step goal is tough!

KK and I are both coming out of 2017 with injuries. KK missed Kaapsehoop, he pulled out of Otter, did not enter Two Oceans. With my pulmonary embolism recovery and sprained ankle treatment, my running has been slow & reserved. It hasn’t entirely stopped us. KK has been walking a lot and I’ve been enjoying the shorter runs. We’ve become Parkrun fans! But there have been discussions about whether or not 2018 is a rest year for us both and a refocus on strength training. (The verdict is still in the air at this point. Notice that KK still entered Comrades & Otter 2018).

I’m unsure how I feel about 2018. I’m cautious. Overall, I’d like to have a better control over my life and I suspect the only way I can gain this is by focusing on the small things.

The small things, the small differences which eventually are the big changes. I can only try, right?

Goodbye twenty seventeen. Keep the change!

The narrative on WhatsApp groups and social media platforms is all focused on saying goodbye to 2017. The emphasis is on the negativity, the difficulties, how bad it’s been. Ironically it’s the same conversations we have at the end of every year. 2017 is no different.

The longing for the year to end coincides with another familiar tradition – the Instagram #2017bestnine – where your x9 most favorite, most Liked Insta images are displayed in a collage to remind you of what your highlights were during the year.

#2017bestnineofnine

It got me thinking…

It’s easy to remember the bad times, and yes, for most people, including myself, this year was pretty damn shitty. There were too many times of illness, too many people dying and most of my days were overwhelmed by stress.

But just looking at my #2017bestnine sparked reminders of a few great moments that I’d like to cherish and hold dear for a little longer before they fade into memory.

I started writing them down:

  • We became entrepreneurs. We took the plunge and bought a small business. Both KK and I are in our 40’s with long careers in corporate, but it’s as if we’re reborn. Here’s to an abundant and successful CW-X SA in 2018!
  • We travelled to Germany on a fantastic holiday & I learnt how much family tradition means to KK. A highlight was spending time with our friends, Lisa & Shaun (and their dogs Merlot and Schnapps) in Munich. It reminded me that these are the special moments holiday memories are made of.

    Walking the dogs on a lazy afternoon in Munich. We fell in love with the place! Shaun & Lisa, we will come back! We promise!

  • My sister lost weight & started exercising. It’s so inspiring but more than that, she has control over her health. She’s a different person! She’s the one that now sends me recipes and reminds me to drink water and avoid Pringles!

    My sister’s very first Parkrun. Since then, she’s become a fan!

  • I fell in love with trail running. Reaching the top of the Drakensburg mountains on the Run-the-Berg trail run is truly a highlight of my running career. It was worth an entire blog post of its own!
  • I ran my best 10km road run in Pretoria. And when I say best, it wasn’t the time that mattered, not a PB, but rather how I felt that stuck with me. I felt strong, determined, capable. I “owned” that race!

    It was freezing & I spent the first few meters hating on everything and everybody! But I warmed up… as you do.

  • Annie made it through another year! Almost blind and managing her health day by day with the help of my mom, she still manages to provide us with many joyful moments & laughs.

    She loves to sit on my lap and listen to me talk away. She’s a great listener.

  • Another successful Two Oceans & KK’s 4th Comrades race experience is etched in memory. There’s just something addictive about those two races.

    The nerves before Comrades are something else!

  • We surrounded ourselves with healthy family and happy friends. It’s during all the difficult times that this becomes important in your life. This year, more than ever, did I appreciate knowing my family were there when I needed them. Thank you! XXX

There are so many exciting challenges on the horizon going into 2018. There will be more of the bad times, just like there were this year and years before that. But the key is balance.

I’ve promised myself that there would be more balance in my life going forward. For every hard time, more joy. For all the stress, activities of calm and relaxation. And when there’s hurt and disappointment, to be kinder to myself and others.

Tinsel on the tree

We decided not to decorate the house for Christmas this year. KK was headed to Brizzy on business, my leg was in a moon boot. The jolly feeling just wasn’t there and it felt like more of a schlep than anything else.

But I kinda regret that now. Since my nasty visit to the hospital last week, my condition has improved 100%!

Two visits to the physio confirm that my ankle has healed nicely! In fact, my healing timeline is ahead of schedule! I was originally meant to be out of the moon boot only around 22nd December. But guess what? I’m ready to kick it off and walk in an ankle brace! Forced bed rest was actually a good thing!

The strengthening homework has started: stretches using the band, standing on a pillow while someone throws a ball at me and balancing on each leg.

My physiotherapist, Shelagh, also gave me some mental homework. To walk in the garden.

I haven’t stepped out into the garden since my accident. I’m terrified. That’s where the accident happened. I’ve been too afraid in case I step wrong again. So this morning, I walked out onto the patio and sat on the step. I touched the grass. The birds were chirping like mad and excited to see me. It felt good! *deep breaths*

Christmas is a time of presents, family and gammon. But the main message of Christmas is life; the story of the birth of Christ. The gift of truth, love and hope.

I’ve come through a dark patch but there is light on the other side. The healing has begun and there are so many reasons to celebrate and be happy!

Tomorrow I just might walk out onto the grass. And maybe put the Christmas tree up, tinsel and all. I’m feeling kinda jolly!

How did I get here?

I’m a curious individual, a researcher. I like to read up on topics, especially those related to running form, running health and injuries such as my dreaded plantar fasciitis. I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles and consider myself quite knowledgeable about running injuries.

But lying in the ICU on a hospital bed with beeps ringing in my ears, I struggled to comprehend how this could’ve happened to me!

A pulmonary embolism (PE). Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my right leg. What? I don’t understand?

I drifted between moments where I couldn’t breathe and worried that if I passed out, I would never wake up. A ton of bricks weighed down on my aching chest and injections pierced my stomach. Heat and spiders crawled over my face causing me more irritation as my body rejected the painkillers. Just what I needed, a rash that was hard to scratch between all the ECG patchwork of stickers over my body. I eventually went numb when a stranger washed my body and I needed to ask the nurse for a bedpan whenever I needed the toilet.

DVT is quite common with leg injuries.

The specialist rattled through explanations of how my sprained ankle injury was to blame but that besides pain, I didn’t display any typical tell-tale signs. He prescribed blood thinners and a few days later I was discharged and able to rest in my own bed. Bliss.

The Googling has started and I’ve been doing so much reading up on DVT and PE. A life-threatening condition that is so unknown (well to me it was).

But I’m wiser. And I want the message to get out there. A simple D-Dimer blood test could’ve picked up any DVT in the early stages and avoided the PE.

I’ll definitely be more vigilant & responsible going forward. As runners, we often trip and fall, we accidentally roll our ankles, we self (mis) diagnose calf sprains and tears. Being aware of all complications and treatment is important. There are blind spots and sometimes we don’t know what to look for out of pure ignorance.

It’s back to physio tomorrow to continue treating my ankle. The next 6 months will be different to how I had envisaged them. Giving up my Dis-Chem entry. No more Two Oceans half marathon. I guess more gentle walks. Perhaps even some yoga.

But definitely a re-focus on what’s really important in my life. My health is top of that list right now. Body, let’s do this!