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!

I’m an entrepreneur, at work

I sat at my desk last week a different person to the one I was just a few months ago. Butterflies fluttered around in my stomach and felt like I was tiptoeing on clouds ready to leap off a cliff at the same time.

KK and I have successfully started our own small business. We are officially entrepreneurs!

No one around me noticed the change (or perhaps panic in my face). People are busy and there’s very little time nowadays for anyone to stop and check-in on one another. It’s a pity because I’m not the only one standing at the edge of that cliff.

As I gazed around the desks, it dawned on me that I would not be where I am today had it not been for many of my colleagues. Their support, friendship and lessons over the years has grown me into the person I am today.

Pulling this off would also not have been possible without all the skills I had picked up during my 15 years of service at Standard Bank.

  • I’ve learnt the power of networking. Of relationship-building.
  • I understand the brand and how important it is to be true to what it is I’m selling.
  • I know how to assess the market & be aware of my competitors.
  • I’ve picked up key skills such as negotiation and buy-in.
  • I guess what excites me the most is the social media and engagement with potential customers.
  • I’ve also been taught that while the good times come, so do the bad and that it’s only by putting hard work into something that you see success.
  • Most of all, I’ve learnt patience. Things happen when the time is right.

    The view from the 4th floor of my office. Development is happening all around me.

As the bank grows, so do I. The courses I go on, the people I interact with. All of it adds to moulding me into a cleverer thinker, to be more strategic and constantly have a business-like mindset to every decision I make.

The more I grow at work, the more my business benefits. And because I’m eager to make a success out of both, the more effort I put in.

It’s a win win situation.

Have you lost your hum?

If you’ve sacrificed doing something lately which brings you joy because you’re busy at work, you’re not alone. It’s how we’ve become. For most people, it’s a way of life. Their norm. The more technology takes over our lives, it frees us up with more time to fill. It’s unfortunate that we fill this extra time with cramming in more work.

A few weeks ago, I watched Shonda Rhimes’ TEDTalk. It got me thinking… What was my hum? What brought me real joy?

I thought about all the times I had skipped running after work because I had emails to get through. Or Sunday afternoon naps I had missed because of an important presentation. Or declining lunch invitations with friends because I had so much to get through.

At the end of May, I signed up with a new running coach. My training program has meant trying something new – less mileage but more consistency. In winter, that has seen me leaving the office early to get a run in while it’s still light & also finding an alternative running route closer to work.

In addition to that, I’m considering buying a small business. The homework and research around what this would mean has been all consuming.  It frightens and excites me.

Not wanting to fail at either of these has meant relooking my day and my priorities. Having a vision means that you do look at things differently. Work has become just one part of my day. It means I’m thinking about something else other than work issues all the time. There’s a spark that has been reignited deep within me. It’s a hum.

If you watched Shonda’s talk, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the more time you make to play, the more focused you are at work.

The difference it has made in my life is astounding. I’m finding my hum. 

When something else other than work occupies your mind, you start to know what really matters. If work is all you have in your life, then it is time to reassess your priorities. You need to start playing. You work better when you play.

It could be playing with your kids, reading a book, spending time with friends or simply… going for a run. Find your hum.

It’s a choice, but it’s mine

I slept in late today. It was cold. It was drizzling and even though I had my running kit set out and ready to go, I chose to roll over and sleep. It was my choice.

Today was Mother’s Day. I’m 42 years old and don’t have any children. I made the decision years ago not to have kids. I believe that too is a choice. And it’s my choice. Not a lot of people understand that.

If you spent any time on social media today, you would have seen the flood of Mother’s Day messages. It’s truly awesome for all the moms out there. But I did see one or two posts about how tough it is for those that aren’t moms, or loved ones who have lost their moms.

I kinda lie low on days like these. My opinion about my choice of not having kids get more negative comments that positive ones. A lot of frowns and questions come my way. Not everyone thinks it’s a choice. Not everyone understands my choice. That’s okay. I have to live with it, not them. But the guilt trips always come.

Choosing not to run was my choice and I did have serious FOMO all day long. I knew that had I gone running, I would’ve felt fantastic and perhaps enjoyed that extra roast potato at my mom’s house a lot more. I also know that I enjoyed cuddling up in my warm bed.

There are pros and cons to every decision. I’ll run tomorrow. Happy Mother’s Day to all my wonderful friends who are mothers (including my awesome sister)! You guys inspire and amaze me. Running is hard, but not as hard as what you guys do each and every day. But I know, it’s also a lot more rewarding!

Thanks for the lunch mom, it was delicious! I love you!