Friday, November 25, 2016

Two weeks of awesome writing

These past two weeks have probably been my best of the whole year. I love writing and copyediting and I find it very rewarding. But, work has been slow. I've loved this loaded period and the mixed bag of writing assignments.

I wrote two blog posts for client A - one on activities for children over the festive season and another on choosing gifts for women. These were fun to write.

I wrote two informative articles for a new project that I'm working on with Celliers (more on this in a few weeks).

I wrote two product-focused media releases, also for client A, where I paired product content with activity content. I also wrote a lifestyle-themed release, also with a product focus. One of the most fun was re-working content written by someone else - I've done a few of these for them this year. I haven't dealt with this client contact for very long (she started there in June-ish) so when I got back the following from her, I was chuffed.
"How are you this amazing? Your writing abilities are incredible!"
I copy edited and re-wrote website content for a friend, pulling off the old content, which was informative and interesting but too wordy, and making it nice-nice. This was a super project to work on.

I had a blast writing a profile article on a farmer for an industry magazine. He won an award and the mag asked him for an article on himself. It is really difficult to write about yourself - I even find it challenging to write my own releases about my events; and so he gave me a call. I shot off a bunch of questions to him, he replied with bullet point notes and I turned it into an article. He sent a copy to an industry-involved friend to get feedback and the response was, "Kan nie beter nie". Nice.

On Wednesday afternoon client A sent me a note asking for "an emergency media release". Two hours later they had the first draft - I was waiting for comments from one other person, which needed to be included. Submitting the finished piece in the morning I received the following response, "Thank you. Such a lovey, touching piece. Felt like I was 100% part of the team".

I also wrote a couple of news stories for FEAT, certainly a blog or two and some quick copyediting of website content for a friend's new business venture.

Writing is a bit like being an artist. Here, on this blog, I write for myself. I write to record events and memories and to have a place to write. I'm not too fussy about the writing and I rarely copyedit - I just write and post. Writing for other people, for me, is very satisfying. I enjoy creating something that fulfills a need. It also requires greater concentration too. I can blank out for hours.

Writing is one of those things that people too often think they can do themselves. To type an email to a friend, that's fine. But for public content, having someone with better skills to look over it, really makes a big difference - not only to the quality of the content but to how the content makes you come across.

When work is slow, it is so easy to doubt your ability. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting my head around these diverse writing projects. I'm feeling a lot more positive and upbeat and stimulated, enriched by the reward that comes from creating, completing challenging projects and gaining happy clients, who have had a weight lifted from their shoulders.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Memories in the fabric of race bibs

Last year, before I moved to Parys, I cleaned out a bunch of old and sentimental adventure racing odds, including a pile of race maps, tee shirts and bibs. There were a bunch of goodies that I didn't let go of and I found them on Saturday.

After photographing them, I'm ready to save them here and to toss them all out. With some going back 16 years, here are my old race bibs (and a few other odds) that I've held on to for very many years.

I have three like this. Probably from my first AR, a 250km in the Drakensberg in mid-1999, the 500km in the Cederberg a few months later and a 180km in the Knysna area in about May 2000.
My teammates and race passport from the Cederberg 500km - late 1999
We had these printed to bin on to our backpacks.
An old road running license. These were printed on thicker fabric. I had this license number for many years, when I ran for Bedfordview Athletics. When I started AR Club and its road running section, I got another number.
55 guys, 5 women and a couple of days doing activities, tasks, problem solving, obstacle courses and puzzles. Many adventure racers made the cut and went on to the top 10 and then the final pair of Xavier Scheepers and Wim van Herzeele. This was the last Camel Trophy and would be replaced by the LandRover G4 Challenge.
15 years ago... my first staged ultra. I heard about the race a week before it started and was roped in all because of writing a product review. A direction-changing running experience.
What an experience! Through our months of training and preparation, I learned to raft and read rivers, a skill that has served me well throughout the years. I think this was 2001.

This may have been from the >500km in Northern KZN in 2001
From one of the Drifter series events... I have no idea which one. 2002 / 2003 perhaps.
Another Drifter event... this would have been one that Bradley Weinand organised - 2003 maybe.
Remember the first adventure racing sprint events? This was probably from Zirk Botha's Dirty Weekend Sprint event at Roodeplaat Dam. 2002/2003.
A bib from one of three years at the wonderful Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (2008, 2009 or 2010)
My first staged ultra overseas where I ran and also wrote for the event. I won the women's category and placed 10th overall. I have no doubt that, with many more years of experience, I would run this race even better now - but probably not as good a placing with so much more competition out there now.
Zirk Botha's race flyer. Yes, this is ALL of the events that there were in 2000. Also, at this time, there wasn't a mountain bike series nor trail runs every weekend. Most of the adventure racing participants where at the three big events - 250km, 500km plus there had been a 180km in the Eshowe area in Jan/Feb too - with fewer (but still the same people) at Zirk's Desert Challenge. Note: no email... fax instead. hahahaha


Great memories.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mulberry foraging and treats

My annual mulberry foraging exploits are usually done on runs where I munch handfuls as I pass mulberry trees. I'm always on the lookout for the sweetest and juiciest mulberries in the area.

After my recent travels to Spain, with my mom, where I foraged a great deal, it was a treat to return home to the start of the mulberry season. I had a mission "To use them for something". I think the most I've ever done before was a bit of a sweet sauce.

Well, I outdid myself this weekend with TWO mulberry cobblers AND a dazzling mulberry compote.

The first mulberry cobbler was eaten for dinner (yes, dinner - I was out of other ideas) on Friday night (with icecream and custard - Ruben and Kyla and Celliers were in 7th heaven). Ruben, Kyla and my mom were part of the mulberry picking.

I baked the second, a bigger one, on Sunday morning to take to a lunch. I got out early in the morning on my bicycle to check out the trees in the area. The one, which I remember from last year as being very sweet, is not yet loaded with ripe berries. I scored more from the tree that we picked from on Friday. The third is near home and I was able to reach a good number.

I made the compote on Friday night. It is a sweet sauce, much like a runny jam. The idea is that this is a drizzle for icecream or anything else.

Feast your eyes.



Mulberry cobbler

Friday night dinner...

Bigger and better for Sunday lunch


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Can two weeks of walking make you fitter?

I had my first run last night since I got back from Spain - it was a gentle jaunt with my furry husky friend, Kiska. When I got back from Spain I came down with a sore throat and snotty nose with clogged sinuses for a good 10 days. So I did little much of nothing - except blowing my nose and gargling and one good bike ride. I've also been parkrun Run Director at the two Saturday parkruns (for the two Saturdays that I've been back), plus our special Tuesday evening parkrun for our second birthday on 8 Nov.

Yesterday evening, my furry friend was in a frenzy. We haven't been out together from before I left and it was good to enjoy the road and park with him. My legs felt good (a bash and graze still on my left shin from one of my three swims from kayaking the Vaal on Sunday), lungs felt good and body felt good.

We ran part of the parkrun route and I wondered whether my two weeks of walking in Spain would have made a difference to my fitness and, more importantly, whether it will make a difference to my parkrun time, especially as I'm now more than adequately rested and recovered.

Walking is a funny thing. The hours spent each day on my feet have made them even stronger than usual. We did have some good hill climbing but as I was always walking slower than my pace, I was never stretched physically or in cardiovascular effort. But still, spending seven to nine hours a day walking, versus the same time sitting at a computer - it is bound to have made a difference. Perhaps not to speed, but to overall fitness.

I'm running parkrun this Saturday - my first in months (I was RD a number of times before I left and on other Saturday I volunteered so I ran early, missing the parkrun vibe). I'm looking forward to stretching my legs and pushing myself to see what time I can achieve.