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A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how it was only March and already 2015 was turning out to be a pretty awesome. I talked about how I’d finally obtained that effing sub-2 and how I’ve set new PBs for a 5, 21, 30 and 42km. I also stated that I was about to participate in my first ever Ultra and that there was a chance I might not complete it. And if this were to happen, there would be tears.

Well, I did it! I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:25. I was hoping for sub-6 and up until the 28km I was on track. That is until Ou Kaapse Weg and then it all went downhill from there. Figuratively speaking, of course. Ou Kaapse Weg is a bitch 7km climb.

What else can I say about the race?

Well, for weeks before the big day my father and I planned to run the race together. We trained together – 5 days a week. We talked strategy. Or more accurately, he talked and I tried to absorb it all. On the day of the race, at the 7km mark, he left me. And I wasn’t surprised. Or angry. Or hurt. He’s done this before; so many times that I expected it. At the 37km mark I caught up to him. And then I proceeded to finish the race ahead of him, by 12 minutes. (It’s funny, at the beginning of the year he told me that I would be able to kick his arse in shorter races but I’d never take him in longer events. This year I’ve beaten the old man in a 10, 15, 21, 30 and 56km race. And now I want to do what he’s never been able to achieve. I want to do a marathon in less than 4 hours.)

At the about the 40km mark, there was a radio announcer slash TV presenter. He asked various runners what was the first thing they wanted to do when they got home. Some said they wanted a cold beer. Others said they wanted a warm shower. And I just thought, “I’d like to take a nice, satisfying shit.” Right now several mothers are wishing their sons would end up with someone as classy as me.

Other than wanting to take a dump, I also wanted to cry, a lot. After 42km, running is no longer fun. It’s just this stupid hobby that requires you to move your legs in quick succession. And yet, the very minute I’d crossed the finish line I was so overcome with euphoria that I vowed to run the Comrades next year.

So that’s one of the reasons that 2015 has gotten a little sweeter. The other is that I’ve been awarded a partial scholarship to go to the United States for a few weeks.

Life is good.

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I did it. I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:26. I was secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to do it in less than 6 hours. Anyway, that’s one more thing to tick off my bucket list. Next year I attempt the Comrades.

Thanks to everyone for their words of support, advice and encouragement. You guys rock.

And now I leave you with an extract from the latest book I just completed:

 “The King’s Preserves had almost been hunted out. In these modern days it was rare to find so much as good-sized deer in them, and no one had seen a dragon since time out of mind. Most men would have laughed if you had suggested there might still be such a mythy creature left in that tame forest. But an hour before sundown on that day, as Roland and his party were about to turn back, that was just what they found … or what found them.

The dragon came crashing and blundering out of the underbrush, its scales glowing a greenish copper colour, its soot-caked nostrils venting smoke. It had not been a small dragon either, but a male just before its first moulting. Most of the party were thunderstruck, unable to draw an arrow or even to move.

It stared at the hunting party, its normal green eyes went yellow, and it fluttered its wings. There was no danger that it could fly away from them – its wings would not be well developed enough to support it in the air for at least another fifty years and two more moultings – but baby-webbing which holds the wings against a dragon’s body until its tenth or twelfth year had fallen away, and a single flutter stirred enough wind to topple the head huntsman backward out of his saddle, his horn flying from his hand.”

The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King

OMTOM and books

Bali

 Photo taken at the Lynwood City Lodge gym. 

It’s the end of March and so far 2015 has been pretty sweet. I’ve accomplished most of my running goals. I’ve finally managed to achieve that effing sub-2. I’ve set new PBs for a 5km (26min), half-marathon (1:58), 30km (2:53) and marathon (4:27). And in a few days I will be attempting the Two Oceans Ultra (56km).

 

There’s a good chance that I might not complete the Ultra within the seven hour cut-off. I’ve accepted this possibility. This is a new me. I no longer dwell on ALL the things that could go wrong. Keeping a mental inventory of how things could blow up, served no purpose. Instead it only made me anxious, to the point where I was numb with fear and struggled to breathe. Now I accept that things might not go my way and calmly think about remedial measures. What will I do when shit hits the fan?

 

In this case I’ve decided that irrespective of what happens on race day, I will pick myself up. I will take a week (and no more) to cry (and there will be crying). And then I’ll get right back to training. I’ll start working towards my goal of getting faster. I will work towards completing a marathon in 4:15. I will qualify for an Ultra and I will run the Comrades Marathon in 2016. Race day (4 April) changes nothing. Hashtag think like a winner and toenails will be sacrificed.

 

And even though 2015 has been pretty sweet so far, I can’t help thinking what else can I do to make THIS year even better? Well, there would be travelling. There would be adventure. There would be roadtrips, dancing, music, fun, laughter and romance. There would be a blue eyed fellow, a ring, a grey Wizard and a volcano called, Modor.

 

Okay, so I probably can’t arrange for the Lord of the Rings type scenario, but I do have control over the travel/adventure/happiness aspect of my life. I’ve already been lucky enough to spend a few days with good friends in Wellington, celebrating the nuptials of Juan and Dizzy*. And in a few weeks, I’ll be jetting off to Durban to eat bunny chows, check out The Valley of A Thousand Hills and witness one of my craziest girlfriends tie the knot. What next? Well, then I head to Turkey for just under a month. There I’ll have my very first taste of stretchy ice-cream, check out the Whirling Dervishes, the Aya Sofya, and will attempt to take a selfie with every individual who makes me smile. That should keep me busy until the end of June.

Paolo Nutini

Photo taken at the Paolo Nutini concert in Kirstenbosch. 

I finally did it! All those hours of hill training, bootcamp, early mornings and ounces of GU have finally paid off. Today, 21 March 2015, I finally managed to achieve my goal of running a half-marathon in under 2 hours. 1:58 to be precise. And even though it has taken me months (fine, YEARS) to get to this point, I can’t help but wonder, “What else is possible?” Can I possibly get faster? Can I do 21km in 1:55?

Notes about this race:

  • I’d originally started the race with my dad. At the 1km mark I was slightly ahead of him. But it really did take him long to catch up (3km mark). And then he widened the gap. Man, did he widen the gap to the point where I couldn’t even see him. It took me a whole 10km to set my sights back on him and another 5km to actually catch up with him. And the whole time I was eyeing him, watching that gap close, I kept thinking, “He must be crazy if he thinks I’m just going to hand this one to him on a platter. I am going to put up a fight. I am going to make him work for it.” I beat him by 1 minute.
  • I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make a sub-2. At the 19km I had ten minutes to spare. That’s 10 minutes to finish the last 2km. That isn’t a lot of time to play with. But at no time did I think, “You’ll never make it. Just give up.” This is something I think of often on races. It’s the reason you’ll occasionally find me walking during a race. Instead I just thought, “Anything is possible.”

Now what?

  • Complete the Two Oceans Ultra-marathon (56km) within the cut-off time (7 hours).
  • Get faster. Set new PBs. I’ve already set a new PB for 42km (4:27), 30km (2:53) and 21km (1:58). But I’m hoping to drop my marathon time by 12 minutes (4:15).

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Photo taken in Sea Point.

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Photo taken at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.

At the end of January and February, Nicole from “A life less bullshit” recently sent her no BS club a monthly review template. I had every intention of completing January’s review, but didn’t … Anyway, here’s my review of February.
Thinking back over the month of February, I am …

 

Most proud of: Completing the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) in 4:27. I’d set a goal of 4:20 and missed it by seven minutes. And I’m okay with that. I set a PB of 25 minutes. And I still believe that one day I’ll run a marathon in under 4:20. It just requires work. (In January I set a new PB for 30km. I completed the Bay to Bay race in 3:08.)
Deeply grateful for: My running club. I love how they push me to run further and harder. I love the constant encouragement. And let’s face it, I love hearing the words, “Oh we’re not in her level. She’s does a marathon in 4:27.”
Delightfully surprised by: How willing I am to speak to ANYONE about any aspect of running. You want to talk about how you’ve lost a toenail? Cool. You have advice on which Garmin running watch to buy? Awesome! You want to tell me that a sub-2 half-marathon is totally possible? Stop flirting with me! 
Letting go of: A crush, a fantasy, the idea of someone perfect. I am letting go of this with the firm believe that someone out there will appreciate my sense of humour. (FYI, my WhatsApp status once read, “Does this smell like chloroform to you?” )
Feeling inspired by: The characters in Grey’s Anatomy. (I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.) I love how gutsy the female characters are. I love how they say what’s on their mind. I love how brave they ultimately are. Here’s a link to some of my favourite quotes from the show.

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Photo taken in Indonesia. 

I’ve slowly been editing and cataloging my photographs and have come to the conclusion that I am an awesome photographer. I am also exceptionally humble. (One of my favourite bloggers once tweeted that there was nothing humble about his brags.) On a serious note, I do realise how incredibly lucky I’ve been with regards to travel. In 2014, I was lucky enough to travel to India, Cameroon, Eastern Cape, Durban, Johannesburg, Langebaan and Cape Agulhas. This year, I attend a wedding in Worcester and will be heading to Durban AND Turkey. I simply cannot wait! Did I mention how I plan to eat ALL the Turkish Delight in Istanbul? Did I?

Anyway, let’s talk books.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading “The Rosie Project.” The book is easy to read, funny and oh so adorable. The main character, Don is a socially awkward geneticist (reminds me of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, and Adrian Mole). Don is intent on finding a wife and even devises a scientific test to find the perfect woman.
Here’s an extract of the novel. Don is giving a talk on Asperger’s to young sufferers and their parents.

“I decided it would be helpful to provide an example, drawing on a story in which emotional behaviour would have led to disastrous consequences.

‘Imagine,’ I said. ‘You’re hiding in a basement. The enemy is searching for you and your friends. Everyone has to keep totally quiet, but your baby is crying.’ I did an impression, as Gene would, to make the story more convincing: ‘Waaaaa.’ I paused dramatically. ‘You have a gun.’
Hands went up everywhere.
Julie jumped to her feet as I continued. ‘With a silencer. They’re coming closer. They’re going to kill you all. What do you do? The baby’s screaming – ’
The kids couldn’t wait to share their answer. One called out, ‘Shoot the baby,’ and soon they were all shouting, ‘Shoot the baby, shoot the baby.’”

The above paragraph had me laughing so hard. I just found the idea of little kids screaming “shoot the baby” so absolutely ridiculous.

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Taj Mahal, Agra. Photo taken on a rather misty day.

Books
A few weeks ago, I finished reading “The sex lives of Siamese twins” by Irvine Welsh. At first I found the novel hilarious and engrossing, but I was left feeling dissatisfied in the end. I just didn’t see the need for all the violence.

I am currently reading “The gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson. I am still at the beginning stages of the novel, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Note: I’ve already shed a tear or two.

Anyway, here’s an extract from the novel:

“Your car gathers speed down the embankment, bouncing. Your hypothesis is quickly proven correct: it is, indeed, quite painful. Your brain catalogues the different sensations. There is the flipping end over end, the swirling disorientation, and the shrieks of the car as it practices its unholy yoga. There’s the crush of metal, pressing against your ribs. There’s the smell of the devil’s mischievousness, a pitchfork in your ass and sulfur in your mouth. The Bastard’s there, all right, don’t doubt it.

I remember the hot silver flash as the floorboard severed all my toes from my left foot. I remember the steering column sailing over my shoulder, I remember the eruption of glass that seemed to be everywhere around me. When the car finally came to a stop, I hung upside down, seatbelted. I could hear the hiss of various gases escaping the engine and the tires still spinning outside, above, and there was the creak of metal settling as the car stopped rocking, a pathetic turtle on its back.”

Running
I am running the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) tomorrow. I am pretty nervous about the prospect. I’ve set a pretty impossible goal for myself (4:20). That’s 32 minutes faster than my personal best – I’ve only ever run 2 marathons. I’ve done the maths, over and over again, I know what pace I need to set to achieve this goal and I am afraid. I am afraid that I might fall way short of this goal. I am afraid of THAT crushing disappointment, THAT sinking feeling, the realization that I’ve given it my best and my best still wasn’t good enough.

Note: Nicole talks about disappointment and running goals here.

Travel
I’m getting really excited for my trip to Turkey. My flights and passport are sorted and I have a pretty good idea of which cities I’d like to tour. I’ll be spending a few days in Istanbul – eating ALL the Turkish Delight, spending ALL of my money purchasing glass lanterns and leather jackets, getting a massage at a haman and checking out the whirling dervishes. I’ll then move on to Goreme (Cappadocia), where I’ll (hopefully) be charting a hot-air balloon. I also plan to check out the hot springs at Pamukkale, the Eternal Flames of Chimaera in Olympos, the archaeological site at Ephesus and chart a boat to the Blue Cave.

All I need to do now is sort out my visa and accommodation.

Books, running and travel

MumbaiMumbai. Gateway to India is in the background. We took a ferry to Elephant Island.