Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

New Starts

…ok, so I spent a lot of the last 2 years ‘just getting through’ things, you know – I’ve just got to get through this week at work; I’ve just got to get through this stage trail run; I’ve just got to get through this or that event – and I have had enough. It is time to start enjoying, embracing and sucking the marrow out of life again. There are a few things coming up, and I am determined not to ‘get through them’, games day at school, Thandi’s birthday party. It does mean I need to get all my ducks in a row, so planning is going to be crucial – no almost all nighters getting ready for things, a little less chilling on the couch (not that I do an awful lot of that), fewer excuses, more discipline. (Just reading that makes me feel tired!) Because then I won’t be exhausted and on the edge, and actually able to enjoy the events with my little lady!

So, my commitment this weekend is to settle down into a sewing project that I need to complete for games day, and finalise all the decisions on Thandi’s party – we are doing a combined party with the Germans, since Thandi and Charlotte are 3 days apart, so at least I share the load! I’m also nercited (nervous/excited combo) to run a 10km run on Saturday – it’s a nostalgic one for me – the first time I ran 10km without stopping 3 years ago. So, let’s make it happen!

The Two Oceans Marathon

…ok, so here goes. If you aren’t a runner, you can look at the pictures and look away, it’ll be painful for you to read through this.

My race day dawned on Saturday, 15 April. It was also my brother’s birthday, but that’s an entirely different story. Since my qualifying marathon I had tried hard to stick to my coach’s programme, but I’d found it tough and I’d been exhausted. Had I done enough? I was anxious. And taper week had made me super grumpy. (Apologies to Charlie, Thandi and the Germans.)

I woke up early – before the dawn in fact, so that I could eat breakfast and ablute timeously. The things us runners worry about – will I poop properly before my run? Will I need to go during the run? (some of the lesser spoken about parts of running) Anyway. Suffice to say that all went according to plan – the breakfast of champions (or rather, just finishers) was a hot cross bun, an apple and some yoghurt, chased by coffee. I put on my kit, and cursed the lack of a throw away – it was colder than I had anticipated; and before I could really think about what I was about to do I was out the door, walking down to the start with Charlie.

After a wait in the shadows, it was time for a quick good luck kiss and to head into my seeding corral. It’s a scary and lonely place amongst 11,000 other runners, knowing only about 10 of them, and knowing that I would be running on my own for the day. With my big brother’s advice and pacing chart fresh in my mind, I queued up, sang the anthem, and all of a sudden, the starting gun was fired and then the slow struggle to cross that start line began – 4 and a half minutes is what it took for me to start running. Bearing in mind that it’s a gun to gun race,  it is a tough ask for those of us in the E seeding (the end of the starting line up) who will cut it close to the wire to sacrifice 4+minutes to get going. Oh well, them’s the rules.


Conditions en route were quite tough – it was quite windy – not Argus cancellation windy (thankfully) and quite cool, but in the end, the wind blew in the right directions, and kept us cool, so that things like dehydration were not high priorities.


The first 20km went according to plan – flat, cool fairly easy running. I went through the half marathon mark in about 2:15, so I was definitely holding back a bit, as I was warned. Turning towards Muizenburg the wind was a lot tougher, but once we turned to run next to the coastline it felt a bit better and the beauty of the sea was possibly a little distracting. I found the stretch from Fishhoek through to the halfway mark at the base of Chapman’s Peak a bit of a struggle. I think I was so focussed on the challenge of Chappies, that I was impatient to get to it. Once I was there I was surprised at how the hill was manageable. I was able to walk/run it, and I was very happy to see the summit! Thankfully I had been warned about ‘Little Chappies’ with it’s false summit, so I wasn’t surprised to have to continue climbing after a welcome little descent. The descent from the peak down into Hout Bay was tough, I was starting to feel a little sore, so I was able to heed the warning not to go too fast down that hill.

From the base (on the Hout Bay side) through to the marathon mark seemed interminably long. I really felt like it was never going to arrive – again, I think the anticipation of Constantia Nek was getting to me – I just wanted to run the beast now, and get onto Rhodes Drive. Anyway, as I went up that hill, again using a run/walk strategy, the 7 hour bus passed me, and my heart sank. Surely this wasn’t how it was going to end? I studied my watch, looked at my splits and my pacing, and just continued to believe I had it in me. It was at this point that I heard a little chant happening behind me – 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-1, ok, let’s go, run 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, ok walk – and so he went, I decided to try his strategy and it really worked – sometimes I ran more than the required counts, sometimes I walked a bit less, but I made it up, and felt like I still had something left in me. as I crested this hill I was a bit shocked to see people collapsing into the gutters, frozen in cramped poses and vomiting up all their nutrition. I was also rather relieved it wasn’t me! I managed to find a once rhythm and get going again – I ran some of my fastest km’s here in fact. (and passed that 7 hour bus agin!) Rhodes Drive is beautiful – the forest on the left, the homes and then more forest on the right. Coming up to Kirstenbosch, with another lovely leg stretching downhill and I knew I was going to make it!

Then that damn turn onto the M3, with it’s little hill that felt like a mountain – rude, I tell you! But with 2km to go, nothing was going to get me down. I so badly wanted some company at this point, but there was no one to really talk to, no one to share the line crossing experience. But, as ran down the little slip road into UCT and hit the grass none of that mattered anymore – I heard the triumphant shout from my family, Charlie had Thandi on his shoulders, so I could see her and with arms raised I whooped with joy and made my way down that grass to the finish line!

In an incredible feat, I had done it – 6:48! (less 4)

A coke, some water and a lie down on the grass, big hugs from family and friends,  followed by a delicious Flying fish, and I was ecstatically restored. And so special to see all my friends achieve their goals – a gold medal for SS, a sub 6 for JD and a finish for me. I’m still battling to really comprehend it. I did it!

 

A week in the Cape

…and 56km on Saturday.

Guys!!! I did it!!!I have now joined my brothers as a finisher of the Two Oceans Ultra! I am so happy! But OMV, it’s far! very bloody far. It’s so weird – I thought I would do a lot of thinking about how it was the furthest I’d ever run – but the thought never actually crossed my mind – in Paris 2 years ago, I spent a lot of time thinking about that, (I’ve never run 30km before! I’ve never run 35km before! I’ve never run 40km before!) It was far, there were hills, I got over them, somehow it wasn’t as horrible as I suspected it could be. I’ll do a bit of a blow by blow report for you (the runners among you, because I know it’s incredibly boring for the non runners, but there will be pictures!) in the coming days. But there you go, I am an ultra marathoner!

The week in CT was great – nice to see friends, taste wine, eat some exotic food. Not so nice to have a headache turn into a ingrain that had me vomiting on the wednesday and doubting I would ever get to the start line. Cape Town is really a beautiful city to holiday in. The winelands, the mountains, the scenery… But living there is, I think, a tough call. There are severe water restrictions in place – showering was reserved for sweaty days, no bathing, and buckets in showers and all those sorts of measures are in place. The traffic is insane! The number of people and the crowds are insane – I am not a crowd kind of person!

I got to meet Deblet and catch up with RM while I was there, what a treat! But we very foolishly forgot to take a photo – bad bloggers! So even though there is no evidence, we met, drank coffee and laughed a lot, with a tinge of crazy (runner’s) nerves! It is so nice getting to meet my friends out of the computer in real life – it’s like using windscreen wipers and seeing their blogs so much more clearly now! Thanks guys!

Some pictures!

Head

…games and aches. There is nothing worse than waking up around 1am with a headache – realising it is going to cloud your day… and then despite taking a painkiller and getting some more sleep, it persists. And you realise you are in for a mightily stressful day…

 

Of shuffling and quaking

…flip, is the planet mad at us? or were those tremors in JHB and surrounds the ancestors turning in their graves collectively at the thought of what is going on in our beautiful country. For the first time ever, I’m starting to wonder if I have been naive about my future, and my family’s? I’m so worried about what may happen. I know it doesn’t really help to worry about things I can’t change personally, but when these things affect my quality of life and the quality of Thandi’s future, I do. Oh man!

Is there anybody with integrity and a backbone left in our ruling party? I guess the next few days will tell us.

I have to say though, I’m not quite sure what to hope for – as the Afrikaans idiom goes – die koel is deur die kerk – what’s done is done. Whether our self enriching dictator goes now or not, we are in for a protected time of difficulties – economic downturn, recession, poverty. Even if we have a complete turn about in government and cabinet, a new president – the damage is done.

Too depressing for words. I guess we need to surround ourselves with positive thinkers, visionaries, who believe as much as I do in the South African magic – its ability to rise again – beating all odds. The problem is there are so few of us left now…

 

12 sleeps

…to race day. Flip! The nerves are now mounting! 2 oceans – I’ve waited a long time to run this one, let’s hope I get it right. Had a good long run this weekend, felt tong again – and then had a club brunch, where we discussed the run – it made it very hard to swallow – because my heart was in my throat. The club coach brought up my brother, so now people know I have a ‘pedigree’- pity I’m the runt of this litter. Anyway. I have my pacing chart from my boet, and I think I will get it right. 56km is a very long bloody way! We leave for the Western Cape on Saturday – I am looking forward to the break from work. We are dragging my Dad along with us – and will drop him off in Hermanus with my brother – I am also relieved to be ‘off the hook’ in terms of responsibilities for a week. This weekend he seemed to be doing a bit better – but I am very aware of his bad days too – last week I had him on the phone and I could hear the tears in his voice… My big strong dad… A good break may do him the world of good!

 

The Madness

…of Dictator GJZ. Oh my fuckity fuck fuck fuck. What just happened? Where are all the good men in our ruling party? Who will stand up and put an end to this craziness? My heart is sore, and I am so very angry that this dictatorship has been unopposed. What has happened to our integrity? Or did that evaporate when we sold our souls to China, Russia, India, the devil – whoever would have it? All to protect a horrible little sly bully. Really?

Anyway, enough of that. Last night I hosted book club – and it was really lovely. One of the girls is getting remarried, and we had an informal bridal shower for her – nothing big – but we celebrated well. I themed my evening hollywood vintage and the dress code was a little black number, red lips! My menu was a prawn ritz to start; fillet with a madagascan green peppercorn sauce, followed by a delightful cheesecake – Donna Hay’s recipe – totally simple and so delicious!