The memorial park 

I didn’t plan it that way but the day seemed to run a different course and before I knew it, I was standing in the most beautiful cemetry surrounded by memories of loved ones who had left this earth. Quite coincidental but it’s also Conrad’s birthday today.

I had offered to drop a colleague off on my way home from work and as we turned into her street, she nonchalantly said, “oh and that’s the memorial park. Have you seen it?” I knew the suburb well but had never known that in the middle of the gridlocked cluster complexes and townhouses that something so out of place co-existed.

I couldn’t resist.

After dropping her off, I drove through the gates to take a look. There was no security guard to stop me, no one to ask why I was there, but I suddenly felt as if I had stepped into a different world uninvited. This was no ordinary cemetry. The name on the gate read Fourways Memorial Park. The single paved street snaked through rows of closely packed gravestones and beautiful gardens. But compared to other cemeteries, this one was different. 

I climbed out the car and walked around, winding my way in and out of the maze of memories, captivated by the stories, the names, the dates. Jo’burg had just been blessed with one of its spectacular afternoon thunder showers and as the setting sun poked its head through the clouds, the wet grass lightly sprayed my ankles as I made my way from one side of the park to the other.

It was so peaceful and calming. Dead quiet. But I kept hearing echoes of laughter. This was not a sad place at all yet tears poured down my face.

It’s on everyone’s minds at the moment. This end of year rush! This frantic race to get to the end. The last dash before the holidays. Yet time stood still for me this afternoon.

If anything it allowed me to stop to catch my breath. To reflect on 2016, my family, my friends, work and then lastly to remember Conrad.

Remembering Valentine’s Night Race 2008

On Friday night I was trawling through my Twitter timeline and started to see tweets from people who had just finished the Randburg Harriers Valentine’s Night race.

I was suddenly overwhelmed with such emotion as I remembered the race that got me hooked onto running 4 years ago.

I remember that night like it was yesterday. The hot afternoon when we arrived at Randburg Harriers, sitting on the grass with friends watching the field fill up, walking to the start, the sun setting as the gun went off, the funny costumes people were wearing, the streets getting dark and then the final 300m when KK and other friends stood waiting for me as I neared the finish line. (I also recall the KFC burger on the way home!)

My time: 87 minutes!

Reflecting on the race has made me realise something…

I have spent the last couple of years obsessing about my running pace and the fact that I run so slowly. I have even gotten to the point where I have hated races and dreaded running just because my pace is so slow. I started a blog to document how slow I run!

Yet, on that night 4 years ago, nothing could take away that feeling of immense pride and self-accomplishment that I felt. I was on top of the world and felt incredible. Victorious. After completing that race, I felt as if I could conquer the world! But look at my time! Did I care? Not a chance!

So what happened?

How and where did I lose my passion and love? Where did this obsession come from?

I know the answer: Two Oceans 2010. Missing that 3 hour cut-off broke my spirit. I felt like a failure and since then I’ve been on a mission to ensure it never happens again.  In a way, it’s become the focus of my running and I’ve lost a bit of that passion that fuelled me that night. Yes, so I did go back and conquer Oceans, but the stress of it all still overshadows the victory.

These past couple of weeks, I’ve started to relook my priorities and decide what’s important. I’ve been doing some soul searching to understand exactly why I run, why I am so hard on myself and what I enjoy about running.  

Because right now, I’m not sure if what I’m focussing on is right. It sure as hell doesn’t feel as good as it did finishing Valentine’s Night race 4 years ago…