I Ran-the-Berg and loved it

I’ve always made lame excuses about running trails. Claims that I if I was going to train, I’d pour more effort into road running than trail. If I had time to run, my focus was going to be on tar. But with KK training for Otter, he hinted that I should try the Run-The-Berg Challenge trail run. Yeah, why not? How hard could it be?

Collecting race packs

I won’t lie, by the time the race weekend arrived, I was nervous! It was the unknown and when we were fully engulfed in the Drakensburg on the Friday afternoon, the weather was overcast and windy. An SMS from race organizers instructed that we had to pack in some of the compulsory items, such as a waterproof rain jacket and space blanket. Luckily with KK out of the race, he had loaned me all his fancy trail running gear.

The night before the race, I kept having visions of getting lost. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to complete the course. We were also given a pamphlet about snakes to look out for in our race packs. Great! If I wasn’t concerned before, I then lay awake till almost midnight trying to convince myself that this was going to be fun and that if all else failed, I could walk to the end.

The race is made up of two days of running. The Challenge event runs 15km each day and the Extreme event takes on the longer distance of 25kms. I knew that coming out of 4 weeks of bronchitis and undertrained that I would only run one of the two days. KK convinced me to run Saturday so that I wouldn’t spend the entire weekend stressing. I agreed.

The race started here…

We woke up to the most glorious of mornings on Saturday. The sun had come out, the wind was gone. It kind of takes your breath away looking up into those majestic mountains!

I clung on to a friend, Linda, at the start of the race. Experienced and uber confident, she showed no sign of nerves. Inside, I was like jelly. Following her guidance, we started in the middle of the pack and off we went. Within 500m, I was at the back with a few walkers behind me. Keep calm, just keep… calm.

It’s an odd experience. By the time we reached around 4kms, there were very few people running beside me. At times, when I looked around, I was all alone. What I expected to be a stressful situation was actually quite calming. I was able to breathe and take in the views. Gosh, they were incredible. Before I knew it, I had reached the 6km mark which was the highest point of the race. It was downhill from there.

As the terrain changed, so did the views. We weaved between forest trees, climbed rocky cliffs and then suddenly emerged into an open Savanah type grass field.

The race did not end at 15kms, something I learnt the hard way. In the end, my Garmin recorded 17.4kms. I was cheesed. But not once during the race did I feel like quitting. In fact, with no one around me, the only person I was racing against was myself. It dawned on me that while a road race is mentally tough, I didn’t feel the same pressures as I did on the trails.

The ugly sense of urgency & panic was gone. I wasn’t as hard on myself when I walked. I loved stopping a couple of times to take photographs.

And when I crossed the finish line, there was no big clock to remind me that I was slow or that I had missed a cut-off. There were only cheers, and a beer truck and boerie rolls. There is definitely a different culture at the trail runs. Refreshing actually.

On the Monday morning, I bought myself my very first pair of proper trail shoes. It feels like I’ve leveled up when it comes to trail running. I’m so ready for that Dassie trail run down at Otter now.

If anything, the Run-The-Berg trail race reminded me that running is about having fun. It’s about proving to myself what I am capable of. I didn’t get lost. I didn’t even come last. I am stronger than I thought. Yes, I coped and boy, I kinda love trail running.

At the race briefing the night before the race, the race director Warren quoted something similar to this:

And it will stick with me forever after I came and conquered Run-the-Berg!

It’s bad news.

It’s bad news…

These were the words that KK Whatsapped me three weeks ago after seeing the sports doctor. He had been in agony since July with a gnawing pain in his thigh which would not go away.

Needling and massaging by the physiotherapist, to more massaging and prodding by a chiropractor, and then more elbowing from yet another physiotherapist but the pain lingered on. He followed a strict regime of icing, heating and foam rolling daily. Nothing helped.

It was only after a final recommendation of X-rays and MRI scans that he found the answer.

It was bad news. A fractured femur.

Don’t even ask how because he doesn’t know. It just happened. Similar to how his pelvis cracked two years ago. It’s no wonder the pain didn’t go away.

The really bad news? No running. No jogging. No walking. No swimming. No gym. Not even a parkrun. He has been instructed to rest. It was only 5 months ago that he ran Comrades and had already set his sights on next year’s race.

Right now, it’s uncertain how long recovery will take but he knows that he won’t be running Otter, Kaapsehoop, Dischem, Pick ‘n Pay (his favourite marathon), or even Two Oceans. Will he be out for Comrades?

The smile I’m used to seeing on his face has disappeared…

In trying to find answers to why this happened, we consulted with an endocrinologist. Maybe there is a deficiency somewhere? Maybe things aren’t ‘gelling’ inside his body? Could be an over-active or under-active something…

The good news (?) is that there’s a possibility that the medication he was talking for the low bone density / pelvis fracture issue actually caused him to fracture his femur. One main precaution of taking Fosavance is … wait for it… fractures of the femur! The endocrinologist dismissed Fosavance as a ‘drug from the dark ages’. Google it and the first page of search results are all lawsuits against the manufacturers of Fosavance for femur fractures! Crazy!

So now we wait for the results of the blood tests and in the meantime, KK’s focused on other hobbies to keep his mind busy. And by other hobbies I mean Cookie Jam because let’s face it, runners don’t have any other hobbies! There’s a lesson in here somewhere, I know.

Running makes KK happy. So what do you say to a runner who can’t run?

My blog has been silent and yet I have so much to share!

My blog has been pretty quiet lately. It’s not that I have nothing to share. Quite the opposite in fact! I’ve been busy. Very busy!

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • We bought a small business. What an eye opener this has been! It’s taken us ages to sort things out. From bank accounts, merchant accounts, web development, ordering stock, waiting for the stock to arrive. It’s been such a learning experience, full of ups and downs. We wanted to wait until we were ready to start telling everyone and sharing our news, but that seems to be taking forever! So here it is: We’re officially the distributors for CW-X in Southern Africa! *Squeal*
  • Running your own social media content plan for your own business takes time! Most weekends and weekday evenings, I’m sitting down writing posts and creating content. The Instagram account is live (go check it out!) but we’re reluctant to get going on Facebook until our website is ready & people can purchase stock. Want to help me? If you do wear CW-X and have any photos showing the running kit, please can you share those with me. I’d much rather show real athletes (that’s you!) than posed models in the kit.

    This is us both in our CW-X clothes at Parkrun. We might need to work on our posing. LOL

  • Like almost 90% of Jo’burgers, I got bronchitis and was out of action. It took forever to heal, two visits to the Doc, daily nebulizing, lots of sleep (read: Allergex). Then out of the blue, I get shingles. On my face! WTH? 3 weeks of misery has taught me two lessons. One: listen to my body. Read bullet point number one. It’s been a stressful time! Lesson number two: when you can’t run, your body had no way of de-stressing. You get even more niggly. I acknowledge the huge role running does play in my life & will try not complain about my running again.
  • I have been on a mission to help an after care centre in Kliptown called Izanokhanyo Community Based Project get SnapScan so that donations can be easier as well as kickstart their social media so that we can start telling their story. Let me tell you, it’s made me incredibly happy inside to help. It’s early days but here’s holding thumbs I can help make a difference! I’d love your help! I’ll let you know how soon!

    Helen, who runs Izanokhanyo without a salary, handing out sweet to the kids.

  • I’ve been successful in my application to be part of a pilot project kicking off at work. All new. Unknown. Virgin territory. Exciting as hell but I’m also nervous. But after climbing in & assisting with some of the project management for the last couple of weeks, I’ve proven to myself that I am capable of learning & trying something new. Doing this nowadays at work needs to be the norm.
  • My Dad’s partner Rina passed away too. It’s funny how you think you have time and you discuss illness and old age and plans on what to do if this happens and if that happens. But when things do happen, no one is quite prepared. Everyone grieves differently. Each person says goodbye in their own way. I’m glad we’re spending more time with my Dad. I wish my parents stayed closer.

Everything I’ve mentioned above happens for a reason and at the right time. The delays in getting our business up and running gave me more time to spend with my Dad. Getting sick slowed me down and forced me to rest and take stock of what mattered. What mattered was helping Izanokhanyo in my spare time and not using that time for reading work emails. And yet I was rewarded by getting the job at work.

I’m going to make more time to blog too. This one was long. If you made it to here, the key take out is that I’m fine, I’m excited and yes… I’m still running! We’ve got Run-The-Berg (or in my case with limited training Walk-The-Berg) coming up, Kaapsehoop and Otter.

Can’t wait for that purple carpet to line the streets!

By the way, the jacarandas are starting to bloom. It’s the most beautiful time to be outdoors! Go for that run!

Sick & tired of being sick

I feel pretty miserable. It’s the weekend and while everyone else is out running, cycling, visiting friends and family, I’ve been locked up at home, desperately trying to treat a cough and congested nose.

It’s my own fault it got to this point. I could feel myself getting sick two weeks ago but still carried on at work as if nothing was wrong. I still stuck to my running program knowing I had some big races coming up. But the body doesn’t negotiate and finally brings you down.

The sore throat became a runny nose which turned into bronchitis. The body aches reminding me that I was unable to do the simplest task, never mind consider a jog. I landed up sitting on the bedroom floor on a Friday night with a nebulizer stuck to my face, exhausted.

I’ve learnt a couple of hard lessons during it all.

  • Work carries on with or without you. I should’ve stayed home and recovered properly. Some of my colleagues didn’t even realize that I wasn’t there.
  • I need to be aware of how much I’m saying yes to. I can’t do it all and eventually I did burn out.
  • Running must stop. This is the hardest lesson. I had already entered a couple of races which I couldn’t run. I was so disappointed. And when I do start up again, it’s going to feel like starting at square one.

I’m desperate to get better though. I’m sick of being sick. It’s frustrating and I’ve had enough. But I forced myself to rest.

And no, not work from home rest. Proper rest. Cups of tea, blanket, in front of telly, coloring in books kinda rest where I could slip in and out of naps as and when I liked.

It’s helped. I’m starting to feel like myself again.