5 lessons from the Two Oceans half marathon for new business owners (aka me)

Let me dive right in. This year was tough. Not only for me but for KK running the Ultra with a last minute route diversions through Ou Kaapse Weg. Here’s what 21.1kms taught me about running my own business.

Lesson 1: You can’t predict what’s coming.

Route changes, rain, water stations running out of water, niggly ankles. Nothing prepares you for hard times. And there’s nothing you can do about them either. They will be there. Deal it and move on. You will get through whatever it is!

Lesson 2: Training is important.

Those long Sunday runs with Tamryn made the difference to my race. When I got to the 16km mark and knew I had 5kms to go, I didn’t stress. I had enough fuel in my body and energy in my legs to keep going and even ran the last few kilometers where I could.

Preparation, learning, up-skilling is everything! And you owe it to your clients so that you both win.

Lesson 3: Sometimes it hurts. But don’t stop.

The argument in my head about quitting when it rained, crying because my ankle hurt, the fear of missing cutoff was intense. Was I really cut out for running?

The imposter syndrome of claiming to be this great half marathon runner is quite similar to the feelings I’ve experienced as a newbie entrepreneur. You have to push through those feelings of doubt and negativity! You are and will be successful, believe it!

Lesson 4: The rewards are phenomenal.

I found my run was a mix of ups and downs. When I felt like quitting, I’d rise above it and get to the next kilometer and rejoice. The victory of getting over Southern Cross Drive, the success of making the 3:20 cutoff, the medal I could finally hang around my neck.

If you take the time to look, you will find that there are many successes along the way. Owning your own business is incredibly rewarding.

And finally,

Lesson 5: There are supporters along the way.

The support and belief in me from my family has been incredible. The work that has come through friends via word-of-mouth has totally surprised me. It’s been touching and has meant the absolute world to me.

When you’re running (or crawling) up Southern Cross Drive and someone shouts out, “Go Bronwynne, you’ve got this…” it’s just the best feeling in the world.

I realized that after 5 months of being a new business owner, nothing will ever prepare me. It’s a journey. A moving target. A hard one. A fun one. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.

But the reward at the end is priceless! And this is only the beginning. Many races still to come…

Celebratory drinks

Keeping my hands busy

I recently took up crochet. Besides recognizing the joy it was bringing to my circle of friends, I was keen to learn a new skill. My coloring books were gathering dust and I was picking up in conversations that crochet was becoming quite trendy.

What? Was this old-fashioned hobby making a comeback?

As a newbie, I was advised to start at the wool shop at Northlands Deco Park where “everyone goes.” They were right, the place was a hive of activity! People were scanning through books of both knitting and crochet patterns laid out on a table. Squeals were heard when a new delightful wool was discovered. Others hovered at the shelves as if they were in a library choosing a new book to read.

I strolled through the many layers of coloured balls of wool shelves along the wall. Stroking. Squeezing. Brushing my fingers lightly over the knitting needles like a feather. Acting like I knew exactly what I was looking for. Crochet hooks of different styles and sizes hung on the wall. OMG, where do I even start?

After mustering up enough courage to ask for assistance and revealing that I was a total newbie to this world, I walked out the shop with a crochet hook and x9 balls of wool, smiling.

I couldn’t contain my excitement!

Crochet is one of the easiest hobbies to grasp. With a basic understanding of the simplest of stitch I started crocheting a large square to finally stitch together a lap blanket.

The wool looks pretty but is a pain to work with!

If only my Granny could see me now!

Here’s what my new hobby has taught me:

  • My hands are too busy to hold my phone. This is the biggest plus! For a change, crochet allows me to take a break from social media. Everybody needs to do this.
  • You listen to TV shows, rather than watching. I find it almost impossible to look away when I’m crocheting meaning I can’t watch TV at the same time. Some shows can be listened to, like Will & Grace, others not. Good Girls needed my full attention.
  • I bought wool that was on sale. I realize now just why it was on sale. It’s fluffy, hard to work with. Grrr! Hobbies take time and practice to hone the skill. You don’t get it right the first time. Lessons learnt.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that, just like running, you have to make time to do it. If it’s 10 minutes while supper cooks or being the passenger in the car on a trip. I’ve also set aside time on weekends to just sit and crochet. No disturbances.

With so much else going on, and with so much I want to do – reading, running, walking Emma – prioritizing my time and what I spend it on has been an eye opener for me.

Crochet makes me look down and zone out. It’s actually quite similar to running in fact. But less sweaty. 🙂

My very first square done!

Okay, hands up! Who wants a crochet blanket for Christmas?

Jump on the bus

You can hear the bus coming down the road. The rhythmic shuffle. The feet pounding in unison. Sometimes a whistle. Other times a tambourine. The leader shouting out to the runners behind them.

If there’s one thing I love about road races, it’s the buses that pace runners! These angels ensure we run the time we’ve set out to run but also to get us to that finish line. I encountered my first bus during my first Two Oceans half marathon.

That’s me in the red top, next to Dave, coming up University Drive.

A newbie to races and unsure how to pace myself in those final few kilometers, pacesetter Dave took all that stress away and helped me walk and run when I needed to in order to save my energy. He sang songs, told stories and made me believe that the race was in his hands and I didn’t need to worry.

Those last few meters coming up University Drive are still imprinted in my memory when he shouted out to me and others, “You’ve done it! Run like horses to the stables!” LOL

He was right. I have the medal to prove it too.

Hanging with someone who has your back, who only wants you to succeed and gives you the right guidance along the way is something special. In the races, these buses have flags so you can see them.

But it’s worth looking for those “flags” in other areas of your life too. Find those buses in your life, not just on the road.

Find them at work where it’s particularly tough and you need the extra support to reach your goals. Ignore toxic people who have their own agendas.

Find them among your friends, the ones who lift you up and tell you what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear.

Running this race called life is tough. Jump on those buses and finish your race!

Letting the dogs out

I’ve always loved dogs. We grew up surrounded by dogs, especially the larger breeds such as Great Danes and Boerboels. In my teenage years, my sister and I worked at the SPCA on weekends. So when my Junkie friends, Brenda and Erica, asked if I’d like to join them to walk the dogs at a local dog shelter, I immediately said yes.

We arrived at the dog shelter and were taken on a short tour of the kennels. My heart stopped. Most of the dogs were big. Very big! They were magnificent! I guess I had grown accustomed to being around Annie & Emma, my little Brussels Griffon breeds and had not spent time with any large dogs in a very long time.

We were paired up in two’s and shown how to hold the dogs on the lead. It was a case of taking turns to walk the dogs down the street, then return to the two different enclosures for the dogs to be able to run freely, which they did. And in the one enclosure, there was a pool which they loved!

I won’t lie, I was scared. The very first dog I took was difficult to hold, strong and heavy. I was relieved that the young girl I was paired up with was a regular dog walker to that shelter and while I panicked in my head, she told me the background story to each and every one of the dogs we walked. Their names, where they came from, their personalities. She clearly had favourites. I was relieved she could “read” each dog well.

While we walked the dogs, another bunch of volunteers cleaned the kennels and provided bowls of food and fresh water. Their blankets were laid out in the sun to dry. That smell of wet kennels and jik permeated the air and brought up many memories of those SPCA days.

We all thought it would be a quick and easy morning. But it was hard work! My hands were broken and it felt as if I had been hit by a bus. Tucking into Steers burgers on the way home, we all acknowledged that it was harder than we had initially imagined.

When we left the shelter, the dogs were fed, walked, clean and happy. There are special people who commit to making sure this happens each and every day. They dedicate their lives to not only looking after these amazing animals, but to finding homes for them. But they cannot do it alone.

You can find more information on their Facebook page. We all promised to be back to do it all again. It’s so rewarding!