Durban 2016 - Ushaka

Crossing the finish line of the Comrades Marathon, I was filled with sheer relief, immense accomplishment and astonishment. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d managed to achieve my goal; that I’d battled exhaustion, despair, self-doubt and minor cramping to finish THE FUCKING COMRADES in 11 hours. Days later I would think back to THAT moment, the moment when I actually crossed the finish line and I’d smile like a lunatic.

And even though that feeling of accomplishment has yet to diminish, it was soon followed by the question, “What next?” I’d started this year with the simple resolve to make this year amazing, which meant that other than improving on my running, I needed to travel. So after visiting the Travel Start website on a daily basis for the last week, I finally entered my credit card details and booked that damn plane ticket.

More details to follow soon.

Anyway, here are a couple of links to my favourite travel posts and Instagram accounts.

  1. Nasrin Suleiman posts pictures of her life in beautiful Zanzibar.
  2. Olivia Rae Jame’s bachelorette party in Harbour Island.
  3. 9 American habits I lost when I moved to Germany.
  4. Hoping that I can one day tick Bolivia off my bucket list.
  5. Hailey Wist is currently in Italy at the moment.
  6. Truth Slinger normally posts pictures of his home country, Kenya, but he’s currently in Iceland.

Splash - Durban 2016

“I went to the hospital when my time come. So I could be easeful. I didn’t want to have it at home like I done with the boy. They put me in a big room with a whole mess of women. The pains was coming, but not too bad. A little old doctor come to examine me. He had all orts of stuff. He gloved his hand and put some kind of jelly on it and rammed it up between my legs. When he left off, some more doctors come. One old one and some ones. The old one was learning the young ones about babies. Showing them how to do. When he got to me he said now these here black women you don’t have any trouble with. They deliver right away with no pain. Just like horses. The young ones smiled a little. The looked at my stomach and between my legs. They never said nothing to me. Only one looked at me. Looked at my face, I mean. I looked right back at him. He dropped his eyes and turned red. He knowed, I reckon, that maybe I weren’t no horse foaling. But them others. They didn’t know. They went on.”

Extract from the novel, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

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I recently stumbled across this quote on social media, “I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I didn’t.” It’s a quote from the novel Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini and it resonates deeply with me.

I’ve the best version of myself when I travel. When I travel I’m a little braver, a little more confident. I’m not afraid to ask strangers questions about their lives. But when I’m home, I tend to bottle up my questions. It’s not that I’m uninterested. I’ll have a thousand questions I’ll want to ask someone, but I’m simply afraid to speak up and that could cause me to appear aloof.

I wish I could be the best version of myself everyday.

Talking about travelling, have you seen this blog post by Olivia Rae James?

 

Two things I’m most proud

1.Completing the Comrades Marathon
ComradesWeeks before running the Ultra, I’d told my dad that this was the first and last Comrades. I was convinced that I would hate every second of it. I was afraid that I would fail badly; that I wouldn’t make it pass the 20km mark before I would start vomiting, cramping or crying.
Well, I did it. I managed to run 89km in under 11 hours, earning my second bronze medal for an Ultra this year. And I only wanted to cry at the last 5km of the race.

Insert quick rant: To get the start of the race, my peers and I took an official Comrades bus from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Our bus driver got lost IN Durban and we arrived to the race late! At some point my fellow runners and I told the bus driver to stop, we bolted out of the bus and sprinted the last 1km to the start line. By the time I arrived at the start I’d miss the national anthem and the race had already started.

 

2. Hiking Lion’s Head on my own
LionsheadHiking up Lion’s Head is something I’ve wanted to do for ages now, but it isn’t always easy to find a partner in crime. In the end, I simply decided to go up by myself.

 

Two things I’m grateful for:
1. My brother-in-law
He found me at the last 5km of the Comrades, the point at which I finally hit the wall. The point at which I’d decided that I’d simply walk the rest of the damn thing. It was at the point that he delivered some vital information. He told me that I had 38 minutes to do this in under 11 hours. Realising that this was achievable, my body responded positively.
2. My Comrades running partner
On the day of the race, I met a guy who would pace me for 90% of the race. He told me when to run, when to walk and urged me to eat. Unfortunately, I lost him at the last 10km when I stopped to use the portaloo. Without him by my side I found it really hard to urge my body forward.

My intention for June:
To track every kilometre I run during this period.
Try to figure out my next big goal or adventure. I want to hike the Fish River Canyon but I’m not really sure how to make this happen. This isn’t something I’m keen to do on my own. This is something I would need to do with a group.

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Rusch to Glory

I’m currently reading “Rusch to Glory” by Rebecca Rusch. 50 pages in and I am completely and utterly captivated.

 

Extract from the novel,

“Though I have some great scars from climbing, mountain biking, and paddling. I got my favourite scar while rebuilding that truck. It’s on the front of my left thigh, halfway between my knee and hip, a straight, thick line across the quad. On that day I was using a heavy handheld rotary grinder to prep the inside of the truck bed for painting. Filthy, sweaty, and holding a big power tool, I felt supercool. I turned the grinder off and stood back to admire my work. Funny thing about grinders – they continue to spin even after you turn them off. My proud moment was interrupted by the smell of burning flesh. The grinder had buzzed right through my Carthartts and seared the flesh of my thigh. The heat of the blade had cauterized the skin so it wasn’t even bleeding, but I now had a big, deep burn on my quad.”

 

Comrades

The Comrades Ultra-Marathon is less than a week away. I’m not going to say anymore than that in case I fail.

 

Fish fingers

My niece is still adorable.

Yesterday, I asked what she was doing and she replied, “Peeling my fish fingers.”

And she proceeded to peel her fish fingers. Like an orange.

Rusch to Glory

SeaPointMay

Above two photos taken in Sea Point.

Black Diamond

I’m currently reading “Black Diamond” by Zakes Mda. It’s not my usual fare. I generally prefer more poetic pieces (think “Jazz” by Toni Morrison), but this story is funny, raunchy and has so many truths about South Africa. Here’s an extract from his novel.

 

“With all this talk of deployment, Don cannot help wondering how the government became so enamoured of military vocabulary. In this brave new world accumulation of personal wealth is dressed-up in militarism, as if capitalism is the continuation of the guerilla warfare that was fought during apartheid. It is as if they are compensating for the fact that most of those who are enjoying the fruits of deployment are not the freedom fighters – the foot soldiers – who bore the brunt of the war. It is mostly the leaders whose fight against apartheid was in the capitals of the world, and the trade union bosses who crossed to the other side to be at one in body and spirit with corporate bosses. Or perhaps it is compensation for the fact that the actual war itself was a very limited one, and the liberation movement was denied the glory of an outright military victory when liberation was won mostly through ordinary black civilians who made the country ungovernable, and the workers who brought the economy to its knees, and of course the western community which pressured an erstwhile ally to negotiate with the blacks now that the feat of the Soviet Union was a thing of the past. More than anything else, the so-called mass action brought the government to a standstill; we did not see platoons of cadres in a triumphant march into Pretoria after felling the Boer forces.”

 

My niece

A few months ago, my three-year-old niece (and her parents) moved into a place 10 minutes from my apartment. It’s such a delight having her close y. A few days ago, I turned up at her place after a run. My running tights were slick with sweat (so gross). She touched my thigh, looked up at me and earnestly asked, “Did you pee in your pants?”

 

Asking the Universe for a big slice of adventure 

A few friends might be immigrating to the States soon. This depresses me. I feel like everyone is leading such exciting lives and nothing ever happens to me. Eat, run, sleep and repeat.

On 29th May, I’ll find myself in Pietermaritzburg attempting the Comrades Marathon (89km or 56 miles). That’s little over a month away.

early_morningsPhoto taken after a 20km run. 

Friends keep asking me if I’m excited for the Ultra and I’ve been rather tight-lipped about the endeavour. Excited doesn’t describe how I’m feeling. Terrified and anxious is a more accurate description. But I don’t say any of this to my friends. I’m afraid that they won’t understand exactly how worried I am. I’m afraid that instead of listening, asking WHY and trying to understand how I’m feeling, they’ll simply brush away my concerns, offer empty platitudes and advice. None of which I want or need.

 

Right now I simply want to say, I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t complete the thing. I’m scared that my body won’t be able to cope with the distance. I’m scared that I’m not mentally tough enough. I’m scared that I’ve taken on more than I can handle. I’m scared of how crushed and devastated I’ll feel if I fail. I’m scared.

 

Typing this I realize that the biggest truth is that I’m afraid of feeling disappointed. And it is this fear that making me cautious, less hopeful, less willing to dream, less willing to aim higher, less fearless. Instead of aiming to finish in 11 hours, I’m simply hoping to scrape by. TRUTH.

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Random photos

April2016

From left to right:

  1. Milkshakes at The Creamery. I went with Lime Curd. Yummy.
  2. Ships at the Waterfront.
  3. The Big Wheel at the Waterfront.

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The view from my office. 

IMG_0374St James. 

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Somewhere in Kalk Bay. 

IMG_2915Slacklining above the pool at Brass Bell

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Last week I ran the Milkwood half-marathon (21km). I’ve rambled with this race several times before and have been disappointed on each occasion. (One year I injured myself so badly, I had to sit out for 6 weeks. That was pure torture!)

 

This year, while slowly crawling up the hills, I kept thinking of the narrative I wanted to tell. I kept telling myself that “today I was out for retribution; today I was out for blood.” I didn’t worry about going out too fast in the beginning. I didn’t worry about whether or not my body could hold this pace for the entire duration of the race. I didn’t listen to my jagged breathing and think, “You’re pushing too hard. Your body won’t be able to withstand this stress for 21km.” And when there were doubts, and there were doubts, I didn’t let them linger. I didn’t mutter anyone else’s mantra to get me through the tough parts. I didn’t have to tell myself to dig deep; to ignore the pain; to keeping putting one foot in front of the other. I simply remembered that I was a girl on a mission, I had come out with the sole goal of proving myself and that there was nothing more dangerous that a girl with something to prove.

 

Last week I ran the Milkwood Race, and for the first time in years I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Not only need I manage to achieve my goal of sub two hours, I managed to surpass my expectations. 1:52 – 5 minutes faster than my previous PB. I was so giddy that for days afterwards I resisted the urge to walk up to complete strangers, point to my chest and say, “1:52.”

 

Anyway, my goal after the Comrades Ultra is run a half in 1:49. Let’s go!

Random_March

Some random photos (left to right):

  1. Tortoise spotted at work
  2. Protea
  3. Sunset over Sea Point swimming pool

I am currently reading Jazz by Toni Morrison.

Here’s an extract from the novel:

“Dorcas has been acknowledged, appraised and dismissed in the time it takes for a needle to find its opening groove. The stomach-jump of possible love is nothing compared to the ice floes that block up her veins now. The body she inhabits is unworthy. Although it is young and all she has, it is as if it had decayed on the vine at budding time. No wonder Neola closed her arm and held the pieces of her heart in her hand.

So by the time Joe Trace whispered to her through the crack of a closing door her life had become almost unbearable. Almost. The flesh, heavily despised by the brothers, held secret the love appetite soaring inside it.”

And if you’re looking to kill more time at work, may I suggest the following articles:

  1. A modern proposal by David Sedaris.
  2. The racist gatekeepers of Hollywood
  3. To anyone who thinks they’re falling behind in life
  4. Bad blogging in Turin, my favourite city in Italy

I generally spend my Friday evenings swimming at a public pool, but after learning that rain was predicted this Friday, I decided to tick one more thing off my not-so-bucket list.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Here of some of the photographs I snapped at the exhibition. WildlifeExhibition

Middle photograph: A wide aperture lens was used to focus on the two butterflies and blur the flowers in the background. The female butterfly is more transparent due to an unexplained tendency to rub their wings more.

I absolutely LOVED, LOVED this exhibition. I absolutely admire the amount of patience is required to take photographs of wildlife. Not only did I get to see some amazing works of art, but I also learnt a great deal about climate change. Did you know that jellyfish numbers are increasing due to climate change? (If you go, DO read the notes beneath each photograph.)

This exhibition runs until 15 April 2016.
Where: Chavonnes Battery Museum, V& Waterfront
Time: 09:00 – 20:00
Price: R50p/p – R240p/p (depending on whether you’re a student or pensioner).

Training for an ultra-marathon (anything over 42km) is tough. It requires dedication, commitment, sacrifice and TIME. Boy, does it require time.

 

Training for the Two Oceans Ultra (and the Comrades) is a big time suck. My week days consist solely of working, running, and sleeping. Lather, rinse, repeat. My weekends are spent leaving parties early (22:00 for the latest), because I have to wake up at the crack of dawn the very next day to pound the streets and think about my life choices. Weekend runs can last anywhere between two to five hours. Naturally my run is followed by SLEEP. Three to four hours of glorious SLEEP.  I normally awake from these epic slumber events completely listless. So listless that I often hope that there’s food in the fridge and I won’t be forced to put on pants and venture outside in search of sustenance. (Spoiler alert: There’s never anything in the fridge).

 

One of the ways in which I’ve decided to make training (and all the accompanying sacrifices) easier is by making the most of my rest days. This means spending it with people I love; people who make me laugh; people who support my endeavours. It also means doing something special; something out of the ordinary; something other than sitting on the couch and watching TV.

 

This is why I’ve compiled the not-so-bucket list. It’s a list of achievable things I’ve always wanted to do in Cape Town, but never make time for. One of those things was swimming at the penguins at Boulders.

Here of some of the photos I took at Boulders.

Boulders

Entrance fees from 1 Nov 2015 – 31 Oct 2016
R65 for adults
R35 for children

Operating Hours: 7 days a week
Dec – Jan: 07h00 – 07h30
Feb – April: 08h00 -18h30
May – Sept: 08h00 – 17h00
Oct – Nov:  08h00 – 18h30