Secret angels

You get all types of people who run races. The serious few who stand at the front of the starting line and sprint out ahead. The casual Joe who mills at the back of the pack and who takes the run in his stride. The newbies, the grannies and yes, even the walkers. But there are a few runners who, in my eyes, are like secret angels when they run. You’ll know who I’m talking about…

The guy with the tambourine who taps out a jingle for 21kms. The jokers who point out arb things throughout the duration of the race to make other runners silently giggle. The pacesetters with their music strapped to their backs to sing out regular tunes to ensure the kilometres peel away.

In fact there are two specific individuals who never fail to give me that extra oomph in my feet. The one angel runner claims to always look out for my blue cap. He usually catches me on the first kilometre and will trot along at my pace for a few meters and make chit-chat. The other will come from behind usually singing my name for all to hear… “Brooooonnnnwynnneeee…..”  I recognise him immediately. In those few minutes of running alongside me, they fill me with such motivation, their words are so incredibly uplifting and encouraging, and it’s that extra energy that pulls me along.

Power

I was thinking about that bunch of angels today. I longed for one of them to walk past my desk and throw out some of that awesome support. I needed it. All it takes is one word, one pat on the back and one smile to help someone get through to the end of the day. I hope my angels don’t stop being so special when the race ends because the world needs people like them. At races both on and off the field.

*A blog post dedicated to @CraigBeePee and @BiggestBossFan*

(Image: Google)

Everyone needs to start somewhere

I’ll be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy the Dischem 21.1km running race. I find it quite challenging. In 2010,  running down A.G. De Witt Drive hurt like hell and I almost died injured myself. So every year, I commit to at least doing the 5km Rehidrat Dash (don’t you just love that word – Dash!)Finish line - Dischem

At the starting line of the race this year, I looked around and was amazed to see such an eclectic mix of so many different people. The serious runners fiddling on their running watches trying to locate satellite, the ‘fun run’ gang who kept promising each other that they’d stick together and not go too fast, the moms with prams already feeding kids with sticky snacks, and the walkers with headphones and backpacks full of …stuff (I never know what they’ve got in there).Runners - Dischem

In that huge crowd of what must have been over 2 000 runners and walkers, the ages ranged from as young as 5 years old to over 85 years. It reminded me that running is truly a sport for everyone. To say you’re a runner doesn’t necessarily mean you do the Comrades every year. Often, running means just putting on your running shoes and getting out there, enjoying yourself with other runners, regardless of the distance. Everyone can do it!

And so having completed my third Dischem Rehidrat Dash, my 2013 race year has officially kicked off…2013 runners guide

5 things I’ll remember from London 2012

It’s all over. As quickly as the Olympic Games arrived, it ended even quicker. But wow, what a great two weeks it was! There were many highs and lows but five key things stood out for me:

1. Pushing yourself to the limit … and then going even further.

It was absolutely incredible to see so many personal bests, new Olympic and World records being set and competitors pushing themselves beyond what they thought possible. What stood out for me? The runners, of course. But watching the weightlifter’s step out on the mat, time and time again, to lift weights that seemed impossible to lift was fascinating to watch. Maybe it’s the smack from the coach across the face that did the trick or the loud shout before the lift? But there’s definitely a look on their faces that you start recognising which tells you ‘they’ve got this in the bag’.

2. Different strokes for different folks.

I really enjoyed most of the swimming, track & field and gymnastic events, but I must be honest when I say that there were some events which I did not watch. In fact I am baffled by the fact that they are even part of the Olympics at all and yet hundreds of spectators filled the grandstands to watch these events. It made me realise that maybe I don’t enjoy watching them but others do. I guess we’re all different and we all enjoy different things.

3. Great legends come with great responsibilities.

I watched in awe and amazement every time two of my favourite stars of this year’s Olympics, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, came out to compete. However, both ‘legends’ acted very differently in front of the crowds and cameras. Phelps was humble and took time to congratulate other swimmers. Bolt on the other hand revelled in the limelight and became a tad too arrogant for my liking. What disturbs me somewhat is that younger athletes look up to them and I do not know if Bolt realises the power he now holds and the message and image he portrays. Legend, yes. But role model? I’m not so sure.

4. I love you South Africa!

My country is a proud one and one to be proud of! Watching the four gold medallist rowers belt out our national anthem was such an emotional sight! Seeing both Bridgitte Hartley and Caster Semenya’s infectious smiles on the podium was stunning and made me smile too! And who can forget Bert Le Clos – no explanation necessary. I can still hear him saying, “Beautiful!” in his husky voice. I am filled to the brim with pride!

5. Even good athletes give up, but great ones don’t.

I watched the women’s marathon with keen interest because two of my favourite South African runners were participating, but my attention was on the runner who came stone last.  Ireland’s Catriona Jennings in my mind demonstrated true guts and determination. The awesomeness of the crowds as they cheered Jennings home over the final agonising mile of the marathon. Crippled with the pain of a foot injury, Jennings finished last in the women’s race, a full hour after the winners. She was overcome with emotion and I’ll never forget the visible pain on her face as she crossed the finish line and bawled her eyes out.

The lesson: She did not give up, no matter how much it hurt. She showed me that even great athletes also have bad races; even good runners can struggle and come last, but winners never quit.

See you in Rio!

We’re all so different. Keep running.

I was sitting in a team meeting on Tuesday engrossed in a discussion about diversity and culture and how it’s important to understand each and every individual and just how different we all are.

It was a late afternoon meeting and I kept checking my watch hoping the meeting would end early enough for me to get home and run. My mind wandered off and I secretly checked my Twitter timeline to see what everyone was up to.

As I scrolled through my list of Twunners (runners on Twitter), I saw the tweets about afternoon training sessions, updates on evening time trials and even some blogs posts about the Pirates 21km and Peninsula Marathon from the weekend.

It’s then that I made the link between the discussion focussing on diversity, and my thoughts about running. We’re all different. As individuals, as work colleagues and as runners.

I often make the mistake of comparing myself to other runners, particularly when it comes to my pace, the distances I run and even training methods. But I shouldn’t.

You see, just as in life, every individual is different and so too are runners.

Some are lightning fast, others are slow. Some like to incorporate training sessions at the gym, others like to do track work at athletic clubs. Some runners wake up to run at 4am, others prefer to run in the evenings.  

Some runners are able to run 21kms in under 1.5 hours, others do it in 3 hours.

The point is, we might all fall under the category of runners but we’re all so very different. I need to remind myself of that next time I compare my running with other runners (and walkers).

The focus should be on me. What’s my PB (personal best), what’s my PW (personal worst). How am I doing? Am I improving? Am I having fun? Am I reaching my goals? Because that’s what counts.