Respect the distance
A few days ago, my running partner and I started chatting about our first marathons. We’d attempted the Cape Town marathon (in different years) and it was a complete disaster. We’d both failed to meet our goals. Although we had both managed to run the entire distance, we’d failed to complete it in under 5 hours (the qualifying criteria for running an Ultra).
The running partner reflected that this was the best thing that could have happened to her. It taught her to RESPECT THE DISTANCE. And I love this sentiment. I think it’s a profound and beautiful. To me it means that she acknowledges the inherent difficulty of the marathon, recognises the work and sacrifice required to complete the task, and is willing to put in the time and effort to reach her goal. And I love that.
A week ago, I purchased a new car. It was time. Seriously. There has been more than one occasion where I had to gain access to my car by climbing though the boot.
I’m liking my new car. Driving up a hill is no longer a stressful experience. I no longer have to wonder if that burning smell is coming from MY car, even though the handbrake is up and my foot is off the clutch. I no longer feel the need to apologise to the drivers behind me because my car can only go up at 20km/h.
I’ve joined a new running club and I must admit I’m enjoying the members’ reaction to me. After running the Red Hill 36km, an old guy from my new club quizzed another member about me.
Him: Who is she? Why have I never seen her before? She runs really well!
The next night I share a dorm room with the snorer again. This time a German friend jumps out of his bunk bed and screams at the snorer to wake up. The snorer continues unabated.
The next day we will have an in-depth discussion about the snorer. We discuss the rhythm of his snoring, the fact that the snorer is still sleeping at 10:00 in the morning, while some of us had to retreat to the safety of the hammock outdoors in order to get a couple of hours sleep. At some point, someone will pipe up and claim that the snorer is actually quite a nice dude.
There is French toast one morning, a kayak down the river and a hike to the waterfall. There are discussions about the latest book I’m reading, “Into the Wild”. There is swinging from a tree, underneath the stars, while a guy strums his guitar. There is an unwillingness to pack our bags and leave the very next day.
You can read Part I over here.
It’s round about this time that I lose track of time. I no longer keep track of the days.
I regret not hiring a kayak while in Wilderness National Park. I’d seen the shape of the waves and been afraid.
I walk elephants. I hold an elephant by it’s trunk. At one point it hits me, I walking a fucking elephant, an animal large enough to trample me to death.
I meet a Canadian, who plans to walk from Cape Town to Cairo. The journey will take him two years.
I share an eight-man dorm with a snorer. His snoring isn’t consistent. There are long pauses between the roaring noise. His snoring wakes everyone up. At one point, one of my roommates jumped from the top bunk bed and screamed at the snorer, “Jy snork poes erg!”
Translation: You snore fucking badly!
The snorer does not wake up.
I’ve just finished reading the book, “Into the Wild“. Below is two of my favourite passages. It’s on ice climbing.
All that held me to the mountainside, all that held me to the world, were two thin spikes of chrome molybdenum stuck half an inch into a smear of frozen water, yet the higher I climbed, the more comfortable I became. Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your moments tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control.
By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-today existence – the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison from your genes – all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
I wish I could attempt something this scary. I want to be brave and strong.
I’ve spent the last few days traipsing along the Garden Route. Here are some photos and a brief account of my trip.
Day 1: Wilderness National Park
Epic sunset. Pizza from Pomodoro’s. Hummingbirds. Afternoon swim in the river. Sleep desperately needed.
Day 2: Tsitsikamma National Park
Hike across suspension bridges. Lone dassie. Too much time spent in the car. Wishing I’d brought my iPod along. I can’t stand anymore reggae.
Day 3: Tsitsikamma National Park
Alex’s laughter as we sped to the waterfall on a boat.
Lots of cheese. Close run-ins with baboons. Secluded waterfalls and rock pools.
Day 4: Wilderness.
Overheard at garage store:
Guy: Do you have any Peaceful Sleep for mosquitoes?
Store clerk: No, but we do have Doom.
On Sunday something weird happened – weird enough for me to want to put my fingers to keyboard and blog about it.
Let me start by setting the scene.
It’s 19:00 on a Sunday. I’ve just been dropped home after having a rather eventful day. I’d spent the afternoon at the Root 44 Market in Stellenbosch, where my friends and I hustled for seats in the shade, mocked each other mercilessly, and after eating delicious ice-cream, declared that we’d made some good life decisions. It was a good day.
You’d assume that after spending hours in the sun, I would want nothing more than to climb beneath the covers. But I wasn’t tired and the sun was still out. I wanted to see what else life had to offer. So grabbed my iPod and my car keys, and headed to my favourite place in Cape Town.
Once at Sea Point, I immediately plugged in my iPod and gracefully glided down the promenade. Fine. There’s nothing graceful about the way I walk. I bounce. Perpetually. I give the impression that I am completely unaware of ISIS, Donald Trump and the consequences of global warming.
So there I am, bouncing along the promenade listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Ocean, when I notice a woman taking a photo of a guy. The guy is approximately two meters in front of her. Two things come to mind.
- She should be pointing her tablet in the other direction to bathe him in the pastel shades of the setting sun.
- I better move fast to avoid accidentally photobombing the guy.
And just as I’m busy scurrying away, the woman beckons towards me. I’ve got Frank Ocean blasting in my ears, talking about forever, and I can only assume that she wants me to take their photo. I graciously agree. And just as I’m walking towards her, right hand outstretched towards the tablet, the weirdness happens.
In lightning speed the guy is besides me. He wraps his arm my shoulder and smiles. She snaps a photo. I’m dumbfounded. Did that really just happen? And before I can react, the guy smiles at me and points both index fingers towards my face. It’s a friendly gesture; there is nothing sinister about it. The type of pose you’d strike with your best friend. I smile awkwardly. The woman snaps another photo. My instincts FINALLY kick in. Flight or fight? I hightail it out of there. A million thoughts whirl through my mind. The movie, “Taken” comes to mind. I check my handbag to see if my belongings are still in place. I wonder where my photo will land up. Will he tell his family and friends, “This is what women in Cape Town look like?” I tweet about the moment.
I watched the latest Bond film, Spectre at The Labia. I cannot get the opening scene, which is set in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead Celebrations (Día de Muertos) out of my head.
I also couldn’t help but wonder how one becomes a professional assassin, not that I’m looking for a new line of employment.
I ran the Pollsmoor 10km. I managed to complete the race in 50 minutes – a new PB. I could never have accomplished this feat without the encouragement of a fellow runner. He kept reminding me to breathe deeply, and wing my arms as I headed up the hill.
Running outta time
My colleague says that he is still young, only 31, far too young to be married with kids. I wish I felt that way. I wish that I felt YOUNG. I wish that I didn’t feel like I’m running out of time.
This body is earned
I recently turned 30 (ahem) and I love my body more now that I did in my twenties. It’s not perfect, but it’s strong and lean. And this shit is earned.
Wild mustard flowered on the cracked banks, and I picked a bouquet for Yvonne. What was a weed, anyway. A plant nobody planted? A seed escaped from a traveler’s coat, something that didn’t belong? Was it something that grew better that what should have been there? Wasn’t it just a word, weed, trailing its judgments. Useless, without value. Unwanted.
Well, anyone could buy a green Jaguar, find beauty in a Japanese screen two thousand years old. I would rather be a connoisseur of neglected rivers and flowering mustard and the flush of iridescent pink on an intersection pigeon’s charcoal neck. I thought of the vet, warming dinner over a can, and the old woman feeding her pigeons in the intersection behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken, And what about the ladybug man, the blue of his eyes over the gray threaded black? There were me and Yvonne, Niki and Paul Trout, maybe even Sergei and Susan D. Valeris, why not? What were any of us but a handful of weed. Who was to say what our value was? What was the value of four Vietnam vets playing poker every afternoon in the front Spanish market on Glendale Boulevard, making their moves with a greasy deck missing a queen and a five? Maybe the world depended on them, maybe they were the Fates, or the Graces. Cézanne would have drawn them in charcoal. Van Gogh would have painted himself among them.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Left to right
1: I look my two-year-old niece to the aquarium. I trying to turn her into a budding zoologist.
Me: Touch the seaweed.
Her: No. It’s wet.
2: I participated in the Stragglers 15km on Saturday and only managed to finish it in 1:24. I simply couldn’t will my legs to run harder.
3: Last weekend I celebrated the union of two good friends. The wedding was held in the most beautiful setting ever.