Saturday, 18 January 2020

Bert's Bricks 21km 2020

Last year was, I'm fairly certain, the first in about 18 years, that I did not participate in a single road race! So when I was reminded of Bert's Bricks 21km, which I missed last year as I was out of town, I couldn't resist the challenge.

The curse - and blessing - of road races is that they start early. 6am starts best the heat but they do nail me. I was surprised to see this morning that it is now more dark than light at 5am, as I made my way to Potch - one of our closest large towns that is only 50km away.

At the race, I was warmly greeted by many Parys runners. We see each other regularly at parkrun, myrun or Wednesday evening time trials. 

Despite the cool morning and overcast sky, it was pretty humid. Hendrick - a local Parys biokineticist who has a spaniel dog that usually runs with him - and I settled into the same pace from the start and we ended up running together. 

The element that makes this run so much 'fun' is that you have the option to pick up a brick at the halfway turnaround at the Bert's Bricks factory. If you run all the way to the finish with it, you can claim a 6-pack of beer. 

Running with a brick is not easy! It feels like it gets heavier and heavier with every step! It is also awkward to carry and no position is comfortable. It is also not something that you can put into a backpack - as some tried - because it whacks against your back. 

I take along a pillowcase. With the brick inside, I have more options for how to hold it. 

We went through 10km in 56 minutes - nice and easy. We finished in 2:04, mainly losing time when we took the water points on the return route as opportunities to walk a bit and to shake out our arms. I'm sure we arrived at the finish with arms significantly longer after carrying our bricks back! 

A great morning and I felt better on the road than I expected. I'm sure I'll have stiff shoulders and triceps tomorrow, but legs and knees and lungs were all good. 

I've already put my keyring memento onto a set of keys that I use daily. A nice alternative to a medal. 

I haven't got any plans for much road racing this year, but I did thoroughly enjoy this morning's run - a reminder of my running roots. 

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Hello 2020

I like this 'New Year' thing because it gives us a chance to turn our back on all the challenges and bad of the previous year and to look ahead with optimism that things will be different and better.

2019 came with too many challenges, difficulties and stresses for my liking and I'm glad to see the back of it. Of course, there are always highlights and good aspects to every year. Still, I see 2020 as the year that makes the struggles of the past three years worth it. 

2019 hit me with a big knock in December but came right with a river trip on the Orange River over New Year (I'll post about this separately). I didn't make it even close to midnight to see in 2020 (I'm not at all sentimental about this) although I did stare at the starlit Northern Cape sky for a time to see a satellite fly by before climbing into my tent not much after 9pm. And early night and a solid sleep was my way of seeing in the new year. 

For 2020, I am hoping for a year that is not just busy, but productive; one that has a more measured balance of work and play. I look forward to spending time with friends and family who I haven't seen for too long. 

Most of all, I wish for a year that is more kind. Kindness goes a long way to making everything OK. 

I wish you a year ahead in which you achieve your goals, set milestones and that you are bathed in kindness and good health. 

Friday, 13 December 2019

Defying reason

Emotionally, this past week has been one of the most challenging of my life. What I have felt has gone completely against what my logical and pragmatic mind knows and understands and accepts. 

It has given me cause for a lot of reflection to determine why my reaction and emotions have been so incredibly strong and the hurt that I've felt has been so deep. 

I am fortunate to have good support and both talking and listening to friends and their experiences and perspectives has helped me to find strength to face, respond less emotionally and to deal with challenges that still lie ahead. 

The funny thing about situations like this, where it makes no logical sense at all, is that months - or even weeks - down the line I will probably wonder what it was that has caused me to so completely crack when my pragmatic self was completely ok with things. 

That's the thing with emotional distresses - you feel what you feel because that's just what it is. It defies reason. 

While I could not have imagined the depth of hurt that I have felt, I have enough sanity to know that it will pass and that the little bombs along the way will have less of an effect on me in time. And also that this be behind us. 

I think, I write, I reason. I work through pros and cons, reasons, explanations, reality, and silver linings to dark clouds... 

Right now, I do not feel the strength to face some things that I know are coming without inexplicably bursting into tears but in another week I am quite certain that I will feel differently. Stronger.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Moving and reducing

The two weeks since Celliers and I split have been crazy. In week 1, I had the organising to contend with for a group of 90 on the river - catering, venues, guides, equipment. And, I moved most of my stuff to my mom's place. The weekend went well and I was thrust straight into a very busy work week (which is the norm and not an anomaly) and then a bomb of an emotional distress, which threw me completely. I fell apart. And, on top of this and work, I've been moving into a cottage.

I like to think that I'm generally stable and sane and reasonable and logical. This time, despite what my logical brain told me, I was ripped to pieces emotionally. Of course, time heals - it always does. I have a lot to face this week that needs to be resolved.

I have moved and I spent my first night in my new place on Friday night. It is a really nice one bedroom cottage. I'm on a quiet street in a part of town where I often run. Close to time trial and places where Rusty and I run regularly. Everything is close in Parys, which is handy.

Part of my excitement in moving was the opportunity to sort stuff and to declutter. I have been non-stop busy for years and so my home office had needed sorting and even stuff from when I moved from Jo'burg still needed to be dealt with.

I saw this post on decluttering about two days ago - stuff is a burden that weighs us down. Of course, I need my sports equipment, office equipment and files, kitchen and home equipment, and sufficient clothes, linen and the like to make living easy, but there is always extra that can be shed.

I have been through every file and folder, box, and crate. I've already dropped stuff at the SPCA store and I've released myself of papers- lots of old stuff that I'd been hanging on to and others that were not longer valid or relevant. I have trashed the lot and have a hefty crate for the recycling collectors.

Today, I moved another load of stuff. Some of the things that I am giving away include my waterpoint decorations for Forest Run. Whether I every hold another Forest Run event, I don't know. At the moment, I am too tied down with work to even contemplate it and land access on a section of the route remains inaccessible. There is no point in hanging on to these items for another bunch of years. I've got a car load to go to the SPCA shop.

I've also accumulated bookcase 'decorations' over many years and these all have sentimental value, like the green frog soft toy thing that I was given by a runner at Jungle Marathon in Brazil in 2003 and the wooden camel I bought at one of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge events; and the wooden puzzles that I like or the belt buckle from my HURT 100km run in Hawaii in 2006, and the wooden abstract snake carving that I like the shape and feel of, and the yellow plushy sunflower that I bought in Atlanta airport on my very first flight to the States in 2004. For most of these items, there is no point in hanging on to them. They don't serve a practical purpose and someone else may be able to enjoy them. I've put all of these in the SPCA crate too.

After emptying paper from so many plastic folders, I have an abundance of empty folders that are still in good conditions. I'm unlikely to use most of them because the way that I do things has changed. SPCA box.

It is cleansing to discard unused items. I'm mostly there with the unpacking and sorting. I'll be better able to survey my handiwork tomorrow after dropping off stuff.

I'll really consider my books over the next week as I'd like to trim my stash. Books are such a weight and volume to carry around and while I treasure my adventure library and have loved reading these books, will I ever read it again? If not, I'd rather pass it on. Letting go of books is hard.

I've got a number of other items like magazine clippings of articles that I have written. There are a lot of them! I don't read them, they serve no practical purpose but some have historical significance. If I threw them all out, would it change anything in my life? No. If I keep them, I just have to find somewhere for the box. And then agonise over throwing them out again at a later stage. So silly.

Rusty has been very unsettled but she'll be fine. I'm here for her. It has been raining non-stop since Tuesday evening. She'll probably feel a lot better too when the sun comes out again. Me too.