That’s it. I’m out!

I’ve sprained my ankle. I wish I had a more elaborate story as to how I managed to sprain it. I wasn’t saving a kitten up a tree. I didn’t fall off my bike. I wasn’t even participating in a trail run. I simply stepped off the patio onto the grass on my way to pick up dog pooh. Yeah, that’s it.

The timing is actually perfect. It’s year-end and the race calendar has run out. Spraining my ankle has forced me to go into a phase of forced rest without having serious FOMO about any races I’m missing.

Come to think about it, I have missed quite a few races this year. Not entirely out of choice, but because they’ve sold out so quickly. I blame Discovery and their ridiculous point system. Since they entered the game with their Vitality Series, things have been quite chaotic at races.

The entries have sold out fast. The fields have become bigger and bigger resulting in gridlocked traffic on the road as well as huge congestion in the race. I’m seeing an increase in litter at all the water stops from mainly inexperienced runners.

Running a race in Jo’burg has become quite painful. And the last time I checked, old favourites such as Om Die Dam and Oceans were already sold out. We used to have a few months to plan and think about the races we’d like to enter. Not anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. The increase in the number of people running and getting fit is wonderful. It’s positive. I mean, WTH! Sell out races is great. But the vibe has changed. I’ve started to choose an afternoon run around my neighborhood and the occasional run with Graham Block’s group over the stress of an actual running race.

I might feel different about the whole situation next year. Things might have changed. Maybe I’m just tired and winding down. Maybe I’m just really miserable and yes, maybe it is FOMO. With my ankle injury, I’m going nowhere fast and putting my feet foot up has left me with lots of time to think. 

I’m doing a lot of that lately.

 

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.