Even if you know me well, you don’t know this…

Polony. If there’s anything that makes me remember where I’ve come from in life, it’s that big fat pink roll of enterprise polony.

Even if you think you know me well, you don’t know that when I was growing up, life was a struggle. Curled upI was always scared. I was always waiting for something bad to happen. I used to curl up in a ball sitting on the back wall in the garden and rock. Just rock. It was comforting.

Unlike my life of luxury now, we never had cans of coke in the fridge. We didn’t have bags of chips in the cupboard. Underfloor heating was unheard of. I didn’t even know that toilet paper came in two ply.

We once lived behind the parking lot of the Checkers in Primrose on the East Rand. But we had polony.

Fried in margarine. Thinly sliced with cheese. Or just cut up into big blocks. Happiness.

Growing up, our daily chore was to clean the house every day after school. Once that was done, we’d have to make supper so that my mom would be able to pop in quickly, eat and head back to work a double shift to earn extra money. In my mind, this was the norm. It bothered me more that as a child of divorce I was stuck cleaning than the fact that my mom was absent. But we had polony so life was good. We were doing okay, right?

My mom remarried and moved away. Whenever we visit her, there’s polony in her fridge. Comfort.

Inside I’m still that scared, insecure girl. I still wait for bad things to happen. Beneath my happy smile is a frown of disappointment when so many people let me down. What exhausts me most is trying so damn hard. I keep trying…

To this day, I still eat polony.

(Disclaimer: I realize my blog post for the @Writersbootcmp is late but I wasn’t sure if I’ll be able to keep it up. This topic intrigued me. And I was craving polony.)

Focusing on the negative. (Expert level)

The first kilometer of the running route from my house starts on a very semi-steep uphill. Because of this, I usually use the first kilometer to ‘warm up’ and walk. But my running has been getting stronger and one afternoon, I found myself managing to run the entire kilometer without stopping. I was thrilled! When I reached the top at the swimming school, my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest, more from happiness than exertion. I could not stop smiling. My inner voice was saying, “Well done Bron!” Best . Feeling. Ever!

Two minutes later, another runner caught up to me and we started making conversation. We exchanged pleasant neighborhood chatter and discussed some of our road races. A few minutes had passed and I was enjoying running with her when out of the blue, she said, “Well, nice to have met you. Enjoy the rest of your run, I need to get going and run a little faster. I need to get home before the sun sets.” And off she ran…

That’s when all the negative thoughts flooded my head:

Before the sun sets? What the…? Yes, because I’m so slow, right? No one wants to run with you Bron. No one! You’re too slow!

When she was out of sight, I slowed down (even more) and was still grumbling to myself when I suddenly thought back to how my run had started. I had managed to run up to the swimming school without walking. That was a great moment and it was brilliant! So then how the hell did I manage to allow my run to dip into such a negative mood. Why did it become all about my speed? How did I go so quickly from celebrating reaching a goal to focus on one of my biggest running insecurities?

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Lesson learnt: It’s an area I need to work on. Breaking myself down happens so quickly and so easily. It’s destructive. I need to focus on my achievements and stop obsessing on the negative. I’m proud of myself. I ran the first kilometer from home all the way up the hill, to the swimming school, for the first time, without walking. Yeah! That’s what I want to take out of that run. Because that’s what counts!

(Image from Google)

Confessions of a runner: Of course I can run faster silly!

In 2010, I ran the Pick ‘n Pay half marathon. It’s a great race and winds its way through Bedfordview and Edenvale. I remember getting to the 16 km mark and bumping in to an old friend from school. On that day, he was marshalling the race.

When he saw me, he looked surprised and asked me, “Bo, are you okay? Why are you so far at the back? Are you hurt?” In my head, I said, nope, this is my pace. I run at 8mins/km. But I was too embarrassed to admit that to him, so instead I laughed it off, claiming I was having a slow race and taking it easy. Of course I run faster than this, silly billy! Pffft!

Fast forward 3 years. I’m blogging about my race journey and sharing my ups and downs of my running and my quest to run faster. Last week, I happen to have blogged that I was in a dip with my running, that I was not having a good time, and pretty much hating my running. Guess who comments on my blog? My friend, the marshall, from the Pick ‘n Pay race.

However, this time, the encounter was different. Here’s what he wrote…

“… On the running side, if it helps, of my years and years of running have yielded many great victories, but plenty disappointments too. I actually hung up my shoes after last year’s Comrades. I lost the mojo. I never took a step until the Kudus race this year, then Dischem, then Bobbies on Sunday, and I’m totally passionate again. It doesn’t mean you must stop , I’m just saying that we all have little setbacks and disappointments. Some run through them, some take a break till the mojo returns. I think you are expecting too much too soon to be honest.

 Run Happy, Run Grumpy, Run Speedy, Run Slow, Run a Little, Run a lot, just have fun!!

Let me know when you are next at a race, I’d love to run your distance with you and have a catch up, and whatever your goal for that day, let me pace for you and give you a helping hand, it’ll be my pleasure. Keep your chin up Bo, and keep going!”

I did manage to bump into him at Johnson Crane. It was so great to see him and to chat.

How weird that sometimes it’s easier to hide our insecurities because we think others will judge us and not understand what we are going through. And yet, everyone has their own demons that they are fighting. Opening up and trusting someone can sometimes yield some wonderful results!