Picnic for the soul 

During March, KK’s Comrades training was at its peak. Waking up at 4am, running 100km’s a week, he was exhausted. So I suggested to him that instead of wasting the March public holiday, that perhaps we should go for a picnic somewhere & spend some time together “chillaxing”.

My idea was loading our straw basket with some cut up vienna sausages, blocks of cheese and packets of chips. But when I woke up that morning, he said, “Dress comfy, we’re going for a picnic. It’s a surprise!”

We took a leisurely drive out to Magaliesburg and I kept wanting to stop and take photos of the fields of cosmos that greeted us on our trip.

Cosmos flower in bloomcosmos flowers in bloomWe finally arrived at our destination. The Budmarsh Private Lodge, tucked away in the heart of the Magaliesburg mountains.

Budmarsh Private LodgeKK had pre-ordered our picnic basket so the only thing required from us was to decide on drinks and select a spot around the grounds to have our picnic. Mmm, that beautiful gigantic tree or that sunny chair next to the gentle flowing stream?

It was so quiet! Our voices seemed to pierce the silence that engulfed us. We tucked into the food immediately! It was delicious! With full bellies, we lay back and dozed off…

It was the perfect day. KK has been doing such intense training for Comrades so the day “off” allowed him to relax and sleep, guilt free.

I took a stroll along the little stream next to the house and tried to get the ducks to come say hello. But I was full of thoughts and allowed the beauty of the surroundings to speak to me. The only ones who did come bounding by to say hi (and possibly steal whatever was left in the basket) were two adorable basset hounds. Scrumptious food, wine, warm sun, overly-friendly dogs… I was officially in my element!

There are a couple of public holidays in South Africa coming up. If you haven’t yet decided what to do, consider driving out somewhere unknown and escaping the city. It doesn’t have to be a picnic. It doesn’t even need to be a public holiday. But it’s the silence and time away from the daily chores and routine that allows your body and soul to recharge.

And yes, that includes runners. Be kind to your body. Take some time to rest!

If anything, 2015 taught me this…

There are three races that I ran in 2015 which taught me incredibly valuable lessons which I’ll be using as a guide in 2016.

1. RAC 32km Tough One – Lesson: Set big, hairy, audacious goals

RAC 32 km road raceI had never run further than 21kms and this distance frightened me! I had sleepless nights worrying that I’d fail. In the weeks leading up to the race, it consumed my thoughts. But I did it! And loved it! I experienced moments of pleasure as well as extreme doubt & pain on the day. There were blisters. But wow, I floated on air pretty much for days after the race.

I realized this:

  • I must set goals that are so big, they fundamentally change my life
  • I need to ensure I surround myself with people who believe that I can achieve my goals
  • Always believe in myself! I proved that day that I can achieve anything I set my mind to
  • I also learnt that in life, the journey is not always easy and there will be uphills. But each & every step will get me to that finish line! It’s the rule of running.

2. Kaapsehoop 21.1km – Lesson: Write your own story

Kaapsehoop half marathon FinishI had heard the stories that this race was easy, flat (downhill) and a piece of cake. In fact most people spoke of PB’s. I believed them and repeated their stories with confidence. But on race day, my experience was different. The race was tough. The weather was unbearably hot. The camber of the road was painful and I did not manage to shave off the time I had expected to.
I know now that:

  • I shouldn’t believe everything I hear
  • I need to get the facts for myself and not blindly follow the masses
  • Make up my own mind. Have my own opinion
  • In every situation, everyone has a unique story to tell. What’s mine?

3. Two Oceans half marathon – Lesson: Sometimes in a race what matters is who runs along side you

Two Oceans Half marathon 2015If you’ve followed my blog then you’d know that Two Oceans and I have not had the easiest of relationships. In fact I’ve hated the race since I missed cutoff a few years back. But last year I ran the race with my Dad. We ran together the entire way and as the light drizzle came down and we chatted and laughed at stories along the way, my fear and anxiety of the race disappeared. I didn’t care what my pace was or what my finish time would be. Nothing could take away that special moment.

This wonderful memory showed me that I should:

  • Focus on the right things in my life. Look around and appreciate what really matters
  • People who matter will always be there for me
  • Realize that the reward is not the medal. It’s the family & friends in my life that run my journey with me each & every day!

All in all I’m truly blessed that I am able to run. It’s not about how fast or how far I run. It’s the fact that I’ve started 2016 fit, healthy and happy. Here’s to a wonderful year ahead! Enjoy the run…

See it to believe it!

Trying to decide which medals to hang up on my medal hanger was difficult! I was amazed at the number of medals that I had accumulated since I started running. After every race, I chuck them into a shoe box and kinda forget about it. But sorting through the medals made me realize a few things.

  1. I’ve run a shitload loads of races
  2. Some races mean a lot to me and I treasure those memories more than others
  3. I’ve come along way as a runner
My medal hanger from some of my favourite races

My medals from some of my favourite races!

We get so caught up in the goals, so focused on what’s next and the training that we forget the journey we’ve been on. Every runner started as a beginner. For majority of us, 5km was a huge milestone. Now, we push on to get PB’s for half marathons, 42kms and even ultra’s.

I hung up my favourite medals with a huge sense of pride and became quite nostalgic about certain favourite (and not so favourite) races. I remember the races where I rejoiced and felt good and those which made me cry and hate running.

I recall my first 10km race where I managed to come in under 80 minutes and the Johnson Crane half marathon where I hit my first (and hopefully last) wall. The races I’ve hated and then fallen in love with again, such as the dreadful (but now my favourite) Deloitte, and Two Oceans – my schizo’ mix of fun runs and serious 21.1kms. When the selected medals were all hung up, I felt really good, incredibly proud of myself. We don’t get many opportunities in life to feel that way lately.

My friend Pamela custom makes these medal hangers with whatever quote or title you want. I wish she could make me one with the title “Bron’s life” and I could see everything displayed up on the wall. All my goals accomplished, the lessons in life that I’ve learnt, the different experiences which have made me grow and become the person I am today. Oh wait… actually, nothing does that better than running and I’ve got the medals to prove it.

Sometimes in life, you need to see it to believe it!

In case you want your own hanger, go check out these links:

SA Medal Hangers on Facebook

SA Medal Hangers website

A surprise visit

It was an unexpected Facebook message which read, “Hello! Hope all is as well as can be. I am going to be in South Africa from 4th to 8th August (work-related) and I will be in JHB on 4th and 5th August near Melrose Arch. If you can spare a coffee or quick meal, I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to see you both!”  OMG! One of my best friends from high school was coming from Portugal to SA!

From left to right: Vicky, Me, Monica (who moved to Portugal) and Karen

From left to right: Vicky, Me, Monica (who moved to Portugal) and Karen

The last time I saw Vicky was when my parents bought me a plane ticket to Portugal for my 21st birthday 18 years ago. Our only contact since then had been via Facebook. So I was incredibly nervous as my other best friend from high school and I sat on the couch waiting for her to come down and meet us in the hotel reception. What would we say? How would it all go down?

As I saw her, I could not control my tears! And in those first few minutes, all we did was stare at one another and hug and stare and giggle. It was so surreal. We had aged but still felt like teenagers looking into each other’s eyes.

Later, as we sat around baskets of dim sum, the emotions flicked between moments of uncontrollable laughter to those of intense sadness. The storytelling went from exotic travel destinations, new inventions on to tales of separation and death.

BFFs

It’s weird. It felt like yesterday that we were strolling around the school corridors but here, 18 years later, each one of us had or is living through some of the toughest times of our lives. Comforting one another seemed natural and instinctive.

BFFs 2

A lot happens in 18 years. We grew up. I never would’ve thought that I’d be sitting around a table chatting to my best friends from school about what I had planned for my 40th birthday. Crazy!

Pals, thanks for a wonderful evening of reminding me what great friendship is all about. You guys are awesome! X