Looking ahead, 10kms away

I’m excited for this Sunday’s road running race at Old Eds. The crowds. The vibe. The stench of Voltaren gel. The queues outside the loos. All of it!

It’s just a 10km race but I’m looking forward to the adrenaline and satisfaction one gets from crossing a finish line.

I’m one of “those people” that (over) analyses the course before the race so that I know what I’m in for. To be prepared, I tell myself. But it’s usually a mental mind fuck because almost every race in Jo’burg is hilly.

KK and I have run the streets of Jo’burg for so many years that I have the routes logged in my Strava history. The Old Eds route is daunting! Yowzer, check out these hills!

It’s a crazy downhill fall followed by a staggered 8km uphill climb to the dry, grassy finish at the club.

I realised looking back at my Strava history that there was a time when KK and I ran a race almost every weekend. A time when I desperately wanted to run a 21km in 2:30 minutes and was absolutely gutted after each and every race when that goal seemed completely unobtainable.

Old Eds road race 2014.

So much as happened in the last couple of years which has changed my views on what really matters with running and in life. People and things come and go…Running coaches, running friends, running partners, running races, running injuries.

Weight loss, weight gain. Pffft….

Shorter distances have led to achievable goals. The runs around my neighbourhood have been so good for my soul. There’s a time and season for everything and those days of chasing 21km PBs have been shelved (for now).

CMIYC (Catch me if you can) photo stop

Runners don’t always give themselves credit for their running ability and so one of the other things I’m changing about my running is the narrative.

So yeah, I’m really looking forward to Sunday. It’s not “just” a 10km road race. It’s a 10 kilometre road race with 6 000 other amazing, strong runners through the beautiful tree-lined streets of Houghton on a fresh pre-Spring Sunday morning!

See you there!

The stories behind my “Best 9 of 2018” Insta pics

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the last 12 months, the good and bad. Both the wonderful and the disastrous memories we either cling on to or choose to forget.

Instagram does a great job of revealing which images received the highest engagement. It’s the images that others felt worthy of a Like or a Comment.

Here’s the story behind each of these pics:

1. My Dad retired after dedicating his entire life to serving as a Fireman. This was his last ride out on the fire engine. Incredibly emotional.

2. A week on an island off the coast of Singapore. It was bliss! Cocktails, snorkeling, overeating. Just what we both needed. I swam in those warm waters each and every day and loved it. The best part was leaving our cell phones in the hotel room.

3. and 7. We said goodbye to Annie this year. After the removal of her adrenal tumor a few years ago, her days with us were numbered. She held on to the very end. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Panks!

4. After 20 years in corporate, I said goodbye to these high rise photographs overlooking Rosebank and decided to open my own business. To be my own boss. Eeek! Watch this space!

5. I started the year off recovering from a double pulmonary embolism. This pic was taken on an early morning stroll along the Camps Bay promenade with KK. You start appreciating life a lot more after experiencing something like that. I have no makeup on, my hair is knotty, but the coffee tasted divine.

6. KK. My rock. The support and belief in me really shone through this year. Thank you! After 17 years of marriage, I’m still learning that an engineer will never know how to read my mind, It’s just easier to tell him what I want.

8. Our CW-X business happened for a reason. It was the bug that bit and made me decide that I wanted to run my own business. It’s with sad hearts that we will finally close the business for good and shut down the site in January.

9. Two words. New Zealand. Never before have I witnessed the emotions behind a father’s decision to emigrate and the impact on everyone left behind. There’s only so much anguish a 16-year-old can take. But watching my sister and niece recently laughing together and enjoying time together in the pool made me so happy.

My friend Conrad always reminded me that we say every year, “Gee, the year was tough”. But it’s tough every year. It’s how you come out on the other side that matters. It’s what you learn and how you grow that counts.

It’s the friendships you make and nurture. It’s how much you love yourself and others; when there are more happy days than sad ones, and the excitement of setting goals for the year ahead.

How did your 2018 turn out?

My magical jumping beans

I was out running last week when literally out of the blue, I remembered a memory of the magical jumping beans from my primary school days.

Growing up, my family spent every holiday we could dragging our caravan through the Kruger National Park.

We would set up camp as close to the fence as possible in the hope that the smell of our braai tjoppies would lure the hyenas. During the scorching days, we camped out at drinking holes for hours with the zinging drone of insects in our ears just waiting for the Big 5 to get thirsty.

It was on one of these holidays that I stumbled across some magical jumping beans lying under a tree.

I collected them up and carried them around in a used yoghurt cup (most probably a choc chip flavor as this was my favorite and still is). The beans mimicked popcorn kernels and would jump erratically with a life of their own. Magic!

I was mesmerized. It kept me busy for days and instead of scanning for animals on our drives, my head would be looking down, into the cup, with delight.

Magic in my hands!

This was amazing! And I thought that when I returned to school, the kids would fall at my feet, dying to hold the magical jumping beans in their hands.

It was just before the holiday ended that my beans slowed down and eventually stopped jumping. My heart sank. How I was going to convince my schoolmates of my beans and their tricks. I was devastated.

I returned home and threw the cup with its contents in the bin. School holidays ended and for weeks, my eyes drifted out the classroom window, remembering the clickety click sound of those jumping beans. There was no way anyone would have believed me and so I kept it a secret and when we had to report back on our holiday, I spoke only of zebbies and giraffes.

As the leaves of winter have fallen and spring arrives In Jo’burg, there are pods scattered on the pavements along the road where I run near home. Every time my running shoes crunch on the pods, I remember the beans. 

I know that everyone has a similar memory, their own bean story. How absolutely wonderful life would be if we could capture those feelings again, that innocence, and not listen to the naysayers but truly believe in the magic of jumping beans.

So then, magic or not?

The Tamboti tree flowers in September and the pea sized seeds develop in three-lobed capsules which fall, when mature in November, to the leaf litter below. If you stand by a copse of Tamboti trees on a hot November day you may hear a distinctive rustling in the litter and if you look more closely you will see some flicking in the litter due to some seeds jumping intermittently. Collect some of these jumpers and place them on a plate in the hot sun and the jumping becomes more invigorated. Open one carefully and you will find a small larva whose body suddenly contorts causing the bean to jump. This is the larvae of the small grey moth Emporia melanobasis which parasites the seed when still green. ~ http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_tamboti.html

Caravan image credit: SANParks

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.