running

The Journey to Two Oceans Marathon 2018

or in my case the 21.1km half marathon because at this stage running the 56km Ultra is still a little beyond me. At the time unbeknownst to me this journey started a year ago. On the 23rd of March 2017 in an effort to get fit and lose some weight I decided to join the local running club in my neighbourhood.  The running club also happens to have a walking group, so that’s what I did, I joined the walking group. I am no stranger to walking, I mean I have done the Discovery 30km big walk more than once. So walking, yeah, walking I can do.

The first few weeks of walking went well, well enough that someone suggested I join the beginners running group. The first night that I hesitantly ventured along with the beginners running group I barely made it to one km before gasping for air, my chest was tight and on fire and I could not stop thinking that this is impossible. I can’t run. What was I thinking? Luckily this was the beginners group so there were walking breaks and lots of words of encouragement from the coach and the rest of the group. Week after week the running became easier, it is indeed true what they say, consistency is key to success.  Pretty soon I entered my first 5km race which I managed to finish in 45 minutes. This is slow, I mean some runners can finish a 5km in 15 minutes, but nonetheless this was an achievement for me. I focused on improving my time, I did ParkRun whenever I could and right now I can run 5km in 35 minutes. I started thinking maybe just maybe I could do a 10km race. So that’s what I did, I signed up and did a 10km race. It took me an hour and a half and whole lot of mental strength to get me over the finish line. I stuck with my 10km races because I was comfortable with it; quite happy not to run further than that.

A few months after joining the club distinctly recall one of the coaches telling us that soon we will be training for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon 2018 (the 21km half marathon) affectionately known as OMTOM. The entire time she is telling us that we will run a half marathon I kept thinking to myself that this woman is crazy. Bat shit bananas crazy. Look lady, ain’t no way that this body of mine is completing a 21km race and within a cut off time to boot. It is just not happening. I scoffed, laughed and shook my head, all internally of course. But then fate stepped in and I was assigned a new coach. All of a sudden this impossible task seemed like something that could  very much become a reality. However it will require months of sacrifice, training and too many mornings of getting up at 4am to train in the dark and cold empty streets of Cape Town.

I ran my first 21km in July 2017 in Atlantis. It took me 3 hours and 7 minutes to complete. It was gruelling. Even after weeks of training, my coach setting the pace and being there every step of the way it took determination and grit to finish. The mind is a funny thing. It whispers quietly to you that you cannot do this thing. You need to find that voice from within. The voice that will shout back and say “I am capable of a greatness you cannot possibly fathom”. You have to learn to push on through the pain and there was an abundance of pain on that day. When I got to the 19km mark I was certain that my legs would not carry me further but I kept telling myself that all I have to is put one foot in front of the other. I burst into tears when I crossed that finish line, so overcome by emotion, in shock that I actually ran 21km. Me! I ran 21.1km to be exact!

There was no looking back after that. The crazy thing is, the entire time a runner trains or runs a race we keep asking ourselves the same questions over and over. Why do we do this to ourselves? We tell ourselves this sucks, it’s too hard, it’s too painful, and I’m never ever doing this again. But the minute we are finished we are ready to sign up for the next one. We are always chasing the next runner’s high. After my first 21km race I was officially addicted. I signed up for as many 10km and 21km races that I possibly could. Weekends were now dedicated to long run training sessions usually nothing less than 22km or 3 hours. The evening sessions were mostly hill training and running suicides. It was hard work but I never lost sight of the end goal and that was to complete the Two Oceans half marathon.

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Before I knew it the day was upon me. I felt ready. I have done seven 21km races before OMTOM so I knew I could do this. A year after starting this running journey I was at the starting line in Newlands on Saturday 31st March 2018. I was excited, nervous and anxious to get going. The excitement at the start line was palpable. Hearing and singing along to the national anthem was a moving experience. The countdown begins, the gun goes off and I start running. A friend and I managed to secure D seeding which means we got an earlier start and would not be running with the rest of our running group.  We stuck together, motivating and pushing each other along when we felt we couldn’t go on. Then came the hill. Southern Cross. The hill that everyone warns you about or maybe they just try to scare us first timers. Our coach told us that this 3km hill starts after the 10km mark so we had to make sure that we didn’t tire ourselves out before then but we still had to make good time. He said a walk/run strategy work best. So that was the plan, however when we got to the hill we felt strong, strong enough to run the entire hill. All those weeks of hill training finally paid off. At Top Gate, the 15km mark it was all downhill from there. I don’t mean downhill in a bad way. I mean after a constant steady climb I had 3km of downhill to run which was a relief. I had to make it to the bottom of the hill and not miss the 18km mark cut off time. Thankfully I made it to 18km with time to spare and after that I cruised through the last 3km (well not cruised per se because there were some tough moments in that last 3km). But with steady stream of supporters along the road I made it all the way to the finish line.  A goal achieved. I can hear the tick being made on the bucket list. I put my medal around my neck. I shed a tear. I smiled. I did it.

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Is this thing still on?

So yeah, I guess it’s been a while. What have I been up to you may be wondering or not! In the past two years since my last post I have been unemployed, self-employed and then finally employed at South Africa’s largest conservation non-profit organisation.

I also managed to finish my Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences (I graduate June this year!) and got a promotion at work. So it seems like things are looking up. Despite all the hard work paying off and some good fortune that has come my way things are not always perfect, I still have my ups and downs. Adulting is hard. Peopling is hard. It also seems that slang has made it’s way into my vocabulary and that’s okay, the English language is nothing but a constant flux of change.

I guess the biggest achievement and accomplishment in my life is that I have taken up running and somehow managed to stick to it. I joined a neighbourhood running club which keeps me pretty much disciplined and accountable even on my laziest of days. More on the running in a later post. This one was just to get me started and whet my appetite.

Until next time!

 

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Life, Uncategorized

Rollercoasters and forks

2015 has been my most eventful year emotionally. Before this year, I thought I have been tested to my capacity but oh boy was I wrong. I don’t even really think there is a way for me to recap this year and I do not think that my words would be able to do it justice. So much has happened.

When last I blogged, I had lost a loved one, been retrenched and taken a customer service agent job at one of the top airlines in the world. I tried to make the best of life as it happened, some days were easier than others. To say that call centre work was not for me would be an understatement, I was just not cut out for that shit. Being called a fucking retard was pretty much just a normal day at the office. Oops, did I say day, I meant night. For some reason I ended up on night shift most of the time which wrecked havoc on my sleeping patterns, health and even my moods. I literally had no life, never saw anyone or went anywhere, all I did was work and sleep. To top things off I became a target for gossip, rumours and was bullied and victimised by the coaches who assisted in training me. Basically modern day mean girls. I could not believe what was happening. It was like being back in high school. Needless to say I did not last long there and gave minutes notice, I walked out of that place and never returned.

Luckily, I was offered a job the very next day. I was back to doing what I knew and loved, buying for an e-commerce company. I was hired as the homeware and appliance buyer for the biggest deal site in South Africa and globally. Alas things were not meant to be, the environment was too target driven and I was constantly threatened that if I did not start to meet targets and earn commission I will be replaced. Not exactly a work environment conducive for performing. I struggled here because throughout my career my focus and way of doing business has always been about building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with my suppliers. This seems not to have been valued, instead a hard push for deals is all that seemed to matter. Add to the mix a manager who only values money, expects constant family time sacrifice, disregard for ones personal goals or work life balance…oh and swearing, well you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I resigned three months later, I was the fifth person to resign within the three months that I worked there.

So now here I am again, back at square one with zero job prospects. The only good to have come from my time at that job was I met my future business partner. Once we both decided on our own that this was not a culture fit for us, we thought perhaps we could start something of our own. So even though we are both broke and living off our credit cards, we are working hard at building our empire.

I am optimistic about 2016 and even though I have no resolutions for the new year I do have dreams and goals that I am working towards.

Until next time…

 

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Life

The now

So the retrenchment possibility became a reality and I spent my time at home studying for my first semester exams. I have spent the time off looking for work but to no avail. For some reason buyer jobs are not that easy to find. I am either over or under qualified and I have received so many rejection letters from retailers that my skin has thickened considerably.

In the interim I took a call centre job at a well-known airline company and what started out as something promising quickly turned into a nightmare toxic work environment. It quickly became known to me that I was the victim of some nasty rumours and was being bullied by two grown up females. Now I know what you might be thinking, you’re an adult, so are they, just confront them. Unfortunately these are not the type of people you confront. They will see any sort of reasoning as a personal attack. I figured if I ignored them for long enough they would eventually tire and grow bored as all bullies do. Alas no, they just kept at it. Then I did something I have never done in my entire working life, I quit, with immediate effect and walked out same day. I felt free and at peace with my decision.

The next day I awoke and had a freak out, I was unemployed and had bills to pay and I really did not want to lose my car. I love my car. I just got her. I feared separation anxiety. Thankfully I did not have to worry to long because shortly after, I received a call from a company that interviewed me recently and offered me a job as homeware buyer. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. I felt blessed and extremely thankful. My months of stress and anxiety has finally come to an end or at best this is a reprieve from constantly worrying. So new job, new beginnings and I can now focus on getting that degree done now that I have one less thing to worry about.

This post can in no way explain what the year so far as been like. It has been an emotional roller-coaster. Losing my job, being rejected from numerous companies seriously affected my self-esteem and self confidence. I doubted myself too often. Taking a job where I earned way way less than I was used to in order to make ends meet was tough and almost soul-destroying. Especially in an environment I was not used to where professionalism and basic manners seemed to be optional.

I know that I would not have made it through this difficult time without the support of my family and friends and their unwavering faith in me. They have been and will always be my fiercest cheerleaders. Now I look forward to something new. I look forward to proving myself in my new job, because it is something I am good at. I look forward to the next phase in my life.

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The journey so far

So it has now been exactly 3 months since I started my healthy living plan (healthy eating and exercise). So far I have lost 10kg over a period of 3 months. The weight loss has not been fast nor easy but I am slowly starting to change the way I think and feel about food. I am also more dedicated than ever to reach my goal weight.

I decided to take my doctor’s advice and eat a low carb high fat diet. The LCHF diet has been met with lots of skepticism and there is a bit of controversy around it. That means no rice, no potatoes, no pasta, no bread. As you can imagine this is not easy. Eating gluten free can be very expensive and time consuming as many of the things that I want to eat I have to make from scratch. You literally have to change the way you shop and you will start eating (and liking) vegetables you never thought you would. To help me know what to eat and what not to eat I purchased Tim Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution Cookbook.

For me the hardest food to give up was potatoes. I rarely eat bread or rice so that was easy but potatoes is on a another level. Fried, baked, roasted, mashed – you make it, I’ll eat it. So when cauliflower was suggested as a substitute for mash I was like no way! I gave it a try and I was not disappointed. I now can’t remember what mashed potatoes taste like anymore that’s how good cauli-mash is.

The other thing that I was sad to give up was flour and baking. I recently discovered my love for baking last December so when the Real Meal Revolution Cookbook said no flour or grains of any kind I was deeply saddened. There are alternatives to normal cake flour namely almond and coconut flour but these items are pricey so baking is restricted to once or twice a month now.

I’m also jogging a minimum of 4 days a week now. I am currently training and preparing for my first 5k race which is happening Sunday 29th March. I did say that my ankle problem will not hold me back and it seems the more I jog the less it pains. When I started this everything was difficult but with each passing day it’s feeling more like a lifestyle choice than a chore. I hope that I remain consistent this time as I do like the results that I am seeing and feeling.

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Life

F5 – Refresh

So to say things have been crazy would be an understatement. Hence my absence on this blog. A broken laptop, non-consistent internet connection and a crazy schedule has thrown writing by the wayside.

The last time I wrote I mentioned that my company might be merging with another. This January the merge has been approved. It has been and still is an uncertain and stressful time as I am unsure if I will still have a job after April. For the most part I have been keeping positive but it is not always easy. What a way to start the year and with each new year like most people we all want to do and be better. I have never been a fan of New Years resolutions but this year I am making an exception. Although I am not truly viewing it as resolutions but more as lifestyle changes. Below is my list of changes (and already existing habits) that I intend to implement:

Rediscover my passion for writing (literally as I am typing these words I realise how much I have missed it). I aim to write a minimum of one blog post per month and to start doing things and living a life worth writing about.

Pick up my camera again – I can’t even remember the last time I took photos. If it means taking up a 30 day photo challenge to kick start my hobby then that is what I will do.

Focus on my studies, as in not only the bare minimum but actually setting time aside daily to study for at least an hour. This way I won’t stress when exams come around and I will feel more prepared. Also better grades and who doesn’t want that.

Travelling – since I came back from my 1 year hiatus away from the real world I have not been able to give travelling a second thought. I have decided to no longer put off my desire to go to Italy. My next trip abroad will be Italy no matter what. I want to hit the big 3 (Roma, Venezia and Toscana) and spend the bulk of my trip in Bologna in Emilgia Romanga. I do still want to incorporate smaller trips, weekends away in and around Cape Town. I tend to forget tourists spends thousands of Rands every year just to travel to Cape Town and I am still not taking full advantage of what my home country has to offer.

Jogging – I used to jog regularly but an ankle injury a couple of years ago put an end to that. I started again end of last year, not pushing myself too hard and it has been going well. That is, until my ankle problems popped up again. This time however I am taking action. I went to see my GP, went for x-rays and I am waiting to be referred to a specialist. I will do everything I can in my power to heal myself so that I can take up jogging full time again. In the meantime I will stick to walking, swimming and yoga to keep fit and help me achieve my goals.

Eating well, as in eating as healthy as possible and watching my calorie intake. In theory it is simple, expend more energy than you consume and weight loss will follow. My doctor has recommended that I try banting (high fat, medium protein and low carb diet), but I am not a fan of diets especially ones that are too restrictive. I think most people know what the healthy choices are, it’s just a matter of making these lifestyle choices habits. I also do not believe of depriving myself of anything as that often results in binge eating on the forbidden food.

Find balance – with all of the above floating around on my to do list I want to remember to take time to relax and focus on things that bring me pleasure and that is not goal-oriented.

Be more spiritual – find the time to talk to God, this is something that has dwindled to non-existent in my life. There was a time when I was constantly plagued with doubt about who is up there watching over us. I do however realise that whenever I pray I feel better and this is a feeling that I want to hold on to for as long or often as possible.

Stop-multitasking – I used to think multi-tasking was an essential skill but I have come to realise that spreading myself too thin is not good for me in the long term. Even a simple thing as watching a movie. I find myself watching a movie or a series and being on my phone at the same time. Instead of just relaxing and enjoying some down time, I feel that doing two things at once will somehow save me time. At work it’s the same, I have numerous tabs open and end up taking forever to finish something. I want to focus on the task at hand and do that to the best of my ability. Also to-do lists are underrated.

Zero-clutter – I dislike owning too many things. This is one thing that I am generally good at. The minute I buy myself something new I get rid of or giveaway something old or that I no longer have any use for. Years of moving around honed this skill. The less you own, the less there is to pack and unpack and should I ever decide to pack up again and live overseas there will be less to get rid of or to put into storage.

I have shared some really personal things in this post which I don’t normally do. But this will be the focus of my blog. I find it easier to write about things that have a true meaning for me or things that I struggle with daily. I will talk more about my weight-loss journey as this is my biggest goal for the year.

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Changes

It is now just over a year that I have returned from living in Bangkok for a year. Time flies. Bangkok is now a fleeting memory and I yearn to go back. I also celebrate my one year anniversary at my current job. I never would have thought I would enjoy being a corporate drone again. I also however know that this is not something that I can do long term. I am always looking out for the next adventure or challenge.

For the past year I have been working as the home and appliances buyer at South African online retailer. For the first in a really long time I can say that I love my job. Obviously not everyday single day is all rainbows and unicorns but for the most part I enjoy what I do. I fell into a comfort zone of sorts and when they offered to make me permanent as I was on contract I gladly accepted. I even bought myself a car.

I still think about travelling all the time though and I do have an exit strategy all planned out or so I thought. Two weeks ago my company made a huge announcement that they will be merging with an up and coming online retailer. A deafening silence settled over our offices when the announcement was made. There is a good chance that of us will be retrenched and unemployed by the beginning of the new year. My carefully crafted 5 year plan went up in smoke. After the shock and panic wore off, I decided that it was best to remain positive, I work hard and there should be no reason for me to keep my job after the merger. I also thought that if I am let go that this could be an opportunity for me to study full time. With my degree out of the way I will be able to go work in Dubai and start travelling again. Which is what I want anyway – this way I might just get there sooner.

So I guess not all bad news is bad news it could end up being the best thing that happened me. Who knows. I will just have to wait and see what happens. Nothing in life is certain and change is the only constant.

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