Baby (running) steps

“How was your run?” 

It’s the same question KK asks me every time I return from my run. I’m so busy sync’ing my Garmin to my Strava that I often reply with, “Great!”. But this time, it was different. My run was fantastic and I could not get the smile off my face. Looking at my watch, I was asking, “What? A PB?” I had just run my fastest time on a regular 4km route from home. I was thrilled!

Strava

Strava details comparing my runs on the same route

It’s my last month taking blood thinners since my pulmonary embolism scare in December. Six months of rehabilitation and slowly getting back into running. It’s not the only excuse reason I have scaled back on my running. With KK’s femur stress fracture, we’ve both been living life in the slow lane this year.

But I haven’t been sitting idle…

  • I’ve been training regularly with a personal trainer (and friend) Super Stacey. The focus of my training programme has been on strength exercises, and especially targeting areas such as glutes and hamstrings.
  • I’ve also returned to following a more balanced eating plan *whispers: LCHF/banting*. More veggies, less meat. Cutting out dairy for the first time in my life. What an eye opener! Lots and lots of water. It’s made a huge difference to how I feel. (and yes, I keep promising to update you in a follow up blog on my diet.)
  • Shorter runs. I love heading out for a 4km run before the sun sets in the evening. My route is out, up, down and back in. Mentally, it’s easier to handle after a tough day at work. I keep the longer run for weekends. And when I say longer, I mean no more than 7kms.

Screen Shot 2018-05-14 at 9.47.16 PMI’m unable to say what has made the difference to my progress specifically, but I’m guessing it’s all of the above. It’s a factor of quality over quantity in my running distances, proper eating, focused strength training all wrapped up in one, and time… in my case, 6 months.

You can’t just run. You need to strengthen and fuel your entire body. And sometimes, you need to stop thinking about half marathons and be pleasantly surprised by the joy and relaxation of a simple 4km run.

In other news, KK is ready to start running again. Baby steps….

Dear Annie

It’s been just over a week since we said goodbye to you. A week of re-adjustments and changing of habits. One bowl of food, not two. One handful of biscuits, not two. I keep looking for you and hearing your bark. Even though you’re gone, you’re still very much in our hearts and minds.

Brussels Griffon. You’re not a common breed of dog and when describing you, I always refer to the movie “As good as it gets” with Verdell. But that’s not how we ended up choosing you.

13 years ago, KK was not a big dog fan. When picking a dog breed, instead of strolling through kennels at the SPCA, he paged through a dog directory narrowing down his choices based on size, hair shedding and outdoor space requirements. The entry for a Brussels Griffon was a match!

You were so much smaller than your little beetle bug! And so stern. That look never changed.

We found a breeder in Durban and within a few months, you arrived. Just like the catalogue had described, you were “full of self-importance, happy, spunky, spirited, and comical.”

From day one, you were an escape artist. You managed to get out of the dining room, up stairs and set the alarm off while we were at work. For a couple who had decided not to have kids, we ended up installing a baby gate in the kitchen to keep you inside during the day with a little dog flap in the back door to come and go as you please.

You loved weekends when we would potter around in the garden and you’d do your best to mess with the leaves and grass.

You were always the first to dash outside an open door to greet guests and run trails along the bottom of the garden, barking at the neighbors dogs behind the wall.

You never knew quite what to do with your chewy and if we looked away for 10 mins, you had buried it in the sand outside.

You exploded with boundless energy and life. I can still remember hearing your laughter as you raced up the stairs and flew onto the bed. Or making sure you snuggled behind us on the couch to watch TV. The breeder warned us that this position meant you were establishing yourself as the “Leader” of the household. True words indeed.

Your favourite position.

There are so many memories of you in my head. The way you walked (pulled) on the lead. How you kick-boxed me when I was dishing up your supper. Watching you stalking and chasing the haadedahs.

Sitting on Oupies lap

Going for walkies with Oumie. You loved this!

In December 2015, our lives changed and a tumour was found on one of your adrenal glands. We were “lucky” that it had been caught early and successfully removed. But you were never quite the same after that. You lost your sparkle.

You hated being on a drip. Sorry Panks.

 

Suddenly old age caught up with you. You had started to go deaf and blind fast. When KK would arrive home from work, you wouldn’t run to the door anymore because you hadn’t heard him come home. If you couldn’t see or hear me in the room, you’d be frantic. You battled to jump on the couch and I started carrying you up and down the stairs in case you slipped and fell down them (which happened often when you ran down ahead of me). You refused to give up.

A little fighter. The ghastly Lenisilone drugs started to take their toll. Mood swings. Bloated belly. Hunger. You weren’t comfortable. A bout of pancreatitis meant a change in diet. Low fat kibbles and tin food. No more grated cheese snacks.

Cuddles…

You held on for another two years before your body gave in. A growth discovered in your belly and on your liver, inflammation of the stomach lining, suspected Cushing’s disease… I’m grateful for the doctors at Fourways Veterinary Hospital for their list of life-saving options but we made the decision to not pursue treatment. 12 years & 9 months is a good age for a dog. We made sure you had an amazing life. We refused to let you spend your last few years in and out of hospital and on medication.

We said our goodbyes on the 30 April. You spent your last day pottering around in the garden, barking at our neighbor’s painter on the roof. For lunch you had a big bowl of cheese and biltong and enjoyed a walk through the complex with your sister. I hugged you at every moment I could and stared at you while you slept in the warm afternoon sun. Emma would tiptoe up to you and sniff your sleeping face. She knew.

When we drove you to the family vet, you were calm. You didn’t struggle. KK and I stayed with you till the very end. We owed you that.

But my heart is broken. KK’s heart is sore and Emma is lost and confused. She misses you so much and you know how much she hates being alone.

But we did the right thing. You were not suffering. You were not in pain. You were uncomfortable but happy.

Sitting with KK on the bed XXX

A lot of people often refer to my dogs as “my children” because KK and I have chosen not to have kids. I always correct them saying, “No, these are dogs. No comparison to actual children.” But when I think of the love and joy that you brought us Annie, I think you were a pretty good substitute. You loved us so much! And we loved you. We called you Panks and I was your mom and KK, Mr non-dog lover, was your biggest fan.

You loved sitting on my lap.

Our first and last dog park trip. You couldn’t understand why the other dogs kept talking to you.

We will miss your smile, your stern face and your joy!

Spatchcock Annie

Drink more water. Yuck! Here’s how I’m doing it.

“Research” says that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I’ve seen this stat somewhere so when my nutritionist recommended that I drink 1.5l to 2l of water per day, 3 weeks flashed through my head. If I could keep it up for 3 weeks, I’d be okay, right? Eeek!

I’m a big tea drinker. I can drink up to x6 cups of tea a day, easily. To give that up in favour of water was tough! I was dreading it! But I’ve survived. It’s 3 weeks later and I think I’ve cracked it!

Here’s how:

  1. I bought myself a spoily water bottle. Instead of using those skanky freebie plastic water bottles you get at the road races, I wanted this to feel different and not feel like I was carrying around my water bottle from the gym. Glass bottle
  2. My personal trainer suggested that I use the dead time driving to work and back to get through one litre – 500mls on the drive into the office and 500mls driving back home. Then to ensure that I fill up again during the morning and again after lunch.  Driving with water bottle
  3. Add a little sparkle! The good old SodaStream has been a life saver. Most of the time, I am drinking sparkling water which feels oh so fancy. People actually spend money on this stuff!IMG_5284
  4. Every now and then, I drop in some flavour bursts. My boss told me to look out for sugarfree flavour drops. What a gem! I don’t mind the plain water during the day but every so often, just having that extra flavour makes a big difference. IMG_5283
  5. Lemon, oranges and even apples. I have added some cut up fruit to the water and been amazed at the subtle flavor it adds.

The difference drinking water has made to my body is incredible. The “research” and all those articles in health magazines was spot on. And yes, it only took 21 days. It’s a good habit to have too. 💪🏼

Any water drinking tips of your own you’d like to share?

7 lessons on living a good life as told by me, the Librarian

I studied Library Science and working in a public library was my first job which set me up for my working life (Read my other blog post about this – it’s my highest read post!) I often look back on those days and remember with fondness all the activities which kept me busy.

As a team of librarians, we didn’t just stamp books and ask people to be quiet. There were lessons in every thing we did back then which make complete sense to me now.

1. Seek silence

I can still remember the music streaming throughout the library floor during the day as people strolled around. Sometimes it was classical but my personal favorite was the soundtrack to “On Golden Pond”. People walked in rushed, but their pace and body language changed after a few minutes as they made their way through the maze of shelves. In a world which has gone mad, you need to find your own peace and quiet, a place to zone out. With so much noise and anger, especially on social media, make time to go offline and find silence in the real world.

2. Be organized and neat

Believe it or not, these were still around when I worked in the Library!

Before we opened the doors at 9am each day, the team of librarians made sure the library was clean and organized. We would sit in front of the books in a straight line and make sure that each and every book was in its place, exactly where it should be. You’d always find the odd lost fiction book, where someone had randomly shoved it between other books. Non-fiction was particularly important in making sure the Dewey Decimal system was adhered to. This habit has stuck with me & to this day, has helped me find the order and structure I need at work to be efficient.

3. Make time for tea, always

Working for the Council meant that we followed typical old school working hours. Stopping for tea was the norm back then. We’d even have a tea room where we would sit, relax and sometimes even read for 15 minutes. I miss those days. Switching off and taking a break felt like a mini reward. But now, we’re stuck in this “busyness hype” where we eat at our desk over our laptops and if you do stop to catch your breath, it’s frowned upon. There’s nothing wrong with pausing & catching your breath. In fact, it’s a habit we really should practice more often.

4. Forgive and forget

Returning the library books before the due date was tough for some people. And I get that. Life happens. The same faces would return their books late and have to pay a fine. But once they did, all was forgiven and they’d choose a whole new set of books to leave with. You knew you’d hear the same excuses when they were late again, but it didn’t matter. Forgive and forget. It’s a good attitude to have. Rather allow people to enjoy the books than focus on the punishment. Which one mattered more?

Who remembers this? WOW!

5. Be known for the things you love

The kids from the nearby schools would run into the library to do their homework every afternoon. Helping them find info on topics such as Egypt’s pyramids or the human body was always fun. But so too when you’d assist someone who had started a new hobby to find every book they could to read up on. I knew exactly where to find the info they were looking for, often without having to check on the system. If you’re passionate about what you do, you become the expert and can help people find what they need. No matter what job you’re in, there’s no greater satisfaction than this!

6. Get excited by the small things, because they matter

One of the best days working in the library was month end when the new books would arrive! We had the advantage of unpacking them and booking the ones we wanted to read first. The smell of those boxes, of the fresh, new books and being the first person to turn those pages… pure delight! You need to invest in your own happiness and know what brings you joy. It’s so important to seek out and anticipate these special moments! Find them!

7. Trust

The whole library system is built on trust. People register to join the library and then each week, get the opportunity to leave the building with a handful of books, promising to return them. And they do! (well, majority of people). How crazy that in a world riddled with crime and corruption, the library works on a system based entirely on trust. It’s a system still respected by society.

Do libraries still exist in communities and suburbs? I haven’t been to one in years! When last did you visit your nearest library or bookshop? Next time you do, remember a few of these lessons.

Credit: Images sourced from Google