Tuesday 31 May 2011

Lisa's Seven Day Challenge

A few days ago I invited you to take part in seven consecutive days of exercise, starting on 1 June, which is National Running Day in the US. It would be great to have the same here - but maybe friendlier in our summer.

As I progress with my '35 days of running', I invite you to share in a little (seven days) of the joy that I'm experiencing by prioritising running every day.

So, this is the deal...

Seven days. If you forgot all about this and don't start 1 June, start on the 2 June.

ONE - Decide to do this. Come on, what you gotta lose?

TWO - Make it public. Put your name down by commenting on this post. Public expression aids commitment. So far I know of my mom and Fred and Tezz who are doing my challenge starting 1 June. Whoop-whoop!

THREE - Set distance/duration. Make each session tangible by setting a minumum distance or duration for each day - like run/walk a minimum of two kilometres or do any exercise for at least 20 minutes. Walking your dog for five minutes doesn't count; walking your dog for 20 minutes does (and you dog will love it too!).

FOUR - Priorise YOU. What I've learned so far is how easy it really is to prioritise yourself when you commit to it. Too often we skip yoga classes, runs and rides for deadlines, this and that... I know I'm guilty of this. Ask yourself, is your reason for not going for a 20-minute run/walk/ride good enough?

FIVE - Any activity counts. It doesn't have to be just one; run every day or mix it up with other disciplines. Just do something every day, for seven days.

SIX - Keep a log. Whether you count kilometres or hours, record what you've done over the seven days. I really enjoy my colourful Google Earth tracks as a rewarding visual tally.

SEVEN - Be proud. It's a mind thing to make your daily dose of exercise a priority. You can do it and you will be very proud on that seventh day.

Added to this, consider doing this challenge from the first to the seventh of every month, to keep your training on track (if it falls off the tracks, which can and does happen) and to refocus your attention every month on you and what is important to you (fitness, health, exercise, de-stress, freedom).

Sunday 29 May 2011

D13 - Baker's Dozen

My running adventure continues and I've just wrapped up 13 (of 35) consecutive days of running.

This week, and especially this weekend, I've had some learnings.

Saturday mornings I usually go to yoga but with a jam-packed day, I decided to skip yoga to make space for my run. I'd decided to head out doing odds and ends and to get back home by 11am (or earlier) to run. I'm not big on running in the morning - the later the better. I needed to be back by 11h30 to shower and get somewhere for 12. I had to be at my next thing by 13h30, to leave by 14h30 to get to my mom's work to assist with the big Africa Day concert in Newtown (live broadcast in SA, throughout Africa and goodness knows where else). I knew it would be a late night (ended up as a 2am late night!).

So, I get up in the morning and get dressed to go out. I'm about to head out of the door when I change my mind... I pull on my running gear and do my errands (only a few) on the run, so to speak. I took a creative route to my stops to log about 5.5km. Nice quick run and it was a good time-saving option. My day then continued.

Today, Sunday, I spent the morning on the couch, wrapped up in a blankie, crocheting more square motifs for my scarf-to-be, while watching Comrades Marathon. I remembered why I didn't watch the run last year - I was racing in one of the Kinetic Adventure events. Last year I did get to see the winner coming in (I think) on a tv at the event venue - but it really is not as much fun as watching the action unfold from at least halfway. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning watching the race on telly.

Then I shot off for lunch at my cousins; only left there just before five and made a stop at my uncle's place on the way home. It's his birthday today so it was just a quick hi and happy birthday. On getting home I was out of the door by 6pm. It's now dark by six so it was a run in the dark on roads that were pretty quiet - few pedestrians and few cars. I love running at night but I rarely go out running after sunset on my own, preferring to get home by dark - except for my monthly Full Moon runs, which only start at 19h00 and are run with at least one other person.

I guess this avoidance of solo night running has become habit - a safety conscious thing. Sure, on foot I'm less likely to get attacked / hijacked than if I was on a bike... but still. I think I'm going to do more after-sunset running, especially in winter as the short day really impacts time available for running. Ordinarily I would have been disappointed to miss a run but with this '35 days of running' I had to complete my run today - so I went out and did it, regardless of the daylight (or lack of it) and conditions.

Ja, I can hear family members sucking in their breath when they read about me running on my own after dark... No worry - I pick good routes that are well lit (most of the way) and do not extend too far from home. All within reason, family.

As for my routes... this week all my runs have been from home - my Google Earth image of my tracks is looking really colourful ;) The fun thing is that everyday I try to include one new road so that a new, coloured line appears on the image when I display them all (new tracks overlay older ones). Silly, but fun.

What I'm really appreciating from this '35 days of running' exercise is that I'm prioritising me and my running - two elements that often get shifted for other people, things or activities. Sure, to make way for the daily runs, something has to give when time is tight - like yoga yesterday - but also that habits can be altered to make way - like running solo at night.

1 June is two days away. Remember to consider doing a 'One week of running/walking' from 1 June. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying this.


It's time for my WINTER METROGAINE - an urban point-score navigation event.

Enter as an individual or pair. You will receive a full-colour A3 street map on which checkpoints are marked. A cluesheet will guide you to the control locations. You will have a limited time (one hour or 90-minutes) to walk, jog or run to as many checkpoints as possible.

The map is a regular street map BUT, street names and identifying features have been removed. Only basic navigation skills are needed to locate checkpoints using the clues provided. Compass skills are not required.

You will be penalised (heavily!) for each minute that you are late.

Date: Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Venue: Zoo Lake Sports Club, cnr Westwold Way and Prince of Wales Rd, Parkwood

Registration: from 17h00 to 18h15

  • 90-minute course starts at 18h30 and closes at 20h00
  • One hour course starts at 18h40 and closes at 19h40
Prize giving: 20h45, in the restaurant

Entry format: individual or pairs

Courses: One hour or 90-minutes

Entry fee: R60 (individual) or R100 / pair (one map). Extra map is R15.

PRE-ENTRY ONLY - entries to be received by 10h00 on Monday, 20 June 2011


In addition to their usual fare, the restaurant will also have delicious soup available - perfect for after the run. You're invited to stay for a steaming bowl of soup, a meal or hot drink  before prize giving.

  • Reflective bib / belt: this is a night-time event so reflective items will ensure your visibility to motorists
  • Road running shoes are perfect: the course is run on roads, so trail shoes are not necessary
  • Bring a headlamp: street lights do not illuminate all of the roads and you'll need it to read your map anyway
  • Water bottle/hydration: although it is winter and you won't get as thirsty as in summer, if you're running - especially on the long course - you may get thirsty. Water is not provided on the route (petrol stations will be marked on the map - you can drink from taps there)
ENQUIRIES: Lisa - 082 936-2509
"Thanks for organising the rogaine on Tuesday; it was definitely the most exciting road run I've ever done. I'll definitely be at the next one." - Andrew, participant in the April Metrogaine

Read the report from the April Metrogaine

Monday 23 May 2011

Seven days down, National Running Day, Fish River Challenge 100km

This afternoon I completed my seventh consecutive day of running - 28 to go ;) I'm drawing (or download from my i-GotU unit) all my runs in on Google Earth - just for fun. I should have a really colourful picture by 20 June.

If you look carefully, you'll only see six runs here - the missing one was from orienteering in Pretoria (70km to the north-east of here) on Saturday. To include it would have made these colours into little blobs. Longest run this week was 10km (orange); shortest was the orienteering at 3.8km. I figured my warm-up run topped the distance to just over 4km. I've taken it nice and easy this week with really lovely runs - not pushing it. I've still been a bit post-flu but definitely feeling better with every run. Nose no longer running like my legs.

Talking running... last night I finished Marshall Ulrich's book, Running on Empty - about his 52 day run across the US (West to East). He ran between 60-70 miles! per day through all kinds of agonies.

I've certainly known of Marshall for many, many years from both his adventure racing and ultra running exploits; what a treat to read his book. I was on a waiting list for it for weeks and when I got the notification that the book was available I immediately ordered it. I can recommend this as a book to read - if you're into running tales.

On Marshall's blog I've just seen a note about 1 June being National Running Day in the US - there's a website 'n all (www.runningday.org).

I challenge you to turn this one day into one week. Maybe try what I've just done these seven days - run for one week - from 1 June, every day. It's actually not that hard and when you've got a mission like this; it really does make it easier.

I love running every day but I rarely do it. My running ends up as three to five times a week plus yoga twice a week, dance class once a week, bike once a week... Time just runs out. But, like now, with this focus, running is prioritised and even if I can only squeeze in a 20 minute run (4km), I do.

This running focused period is doing me the world of good. I'm running in the new Fish River Challenge Race at the end of August (booking my flight to Windhoek this week). It's a 100km non-stop, self-supported run through the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. Some adventure racers did it in 2003 and from their adventure this race was born.

This non-stop, self-supported race is so my thing - just read this description:
The race will commence at the rustic Canon Roadhouse Lodge situated near the world famous Fish River Canyon. From there, competitors will follow animal tracks and paths heading cross-country to the edge of the Canyon. They will then follow the edge of the Canyon, taking in the magnificent view until they reach the point where they will descend into the Canyon. Once down in the Canyon, they will follow the river, with an occasional detour across wide meandering bends in the river, and will eventually finish at the wonderfully soothing hot springs resort of Ai-Ais.
Nice eh?

So, let me know if you're gonna give LISA'S ONE WEEK RUN CHALLENGE a try - starting 1 June. I'll be doing it too (as part of my 35 day thing).

Wednesday 18 May 2011

35 days of running

As my 35th birthday approaches I've been toying with ideas. While I was running tonight - a short and fast one - I decided to do a '35 days of running' thing. I should have thought about this a few days ago because then I could have timed the 35 days to wrap up on my birthday... but anyway.

So, the plan is to run every day, a distance of at least 4km, for the next 35 days. Yes, 4km as the shortest distance because some days I'm pushed for time with getting to yoga or teaching dance class. I've got a nice, local 4km loop, which will do the trick for a quick run.

It doesn't matter whether I run with people, like I did for my 'Seven days, seven friends, seven runs' project in January, or on my own. Making arrangements to run with people every day for a week is one thing... for 35 days... tough during the week with traffic. But if you want to join me for a run... drop me a note; I'll be glad to have your company.

So, counting tonight's run, this 'challenge' will take me up to Monday, 20 June. That's actually pretty cool 'cos I'm doing Gauteng Orienteering Champs on 18th (birthday) and 19th June. 20th will be like a victory lap ;)

So, it's not quite Clive's seven years of consecutive days of running, but this little adventure for the next month is inspired by him.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Mother's Day hiking at Suikerbosrand - with my mom

As my mom and I were both under the influence of a nasty flu bug last weekend, we postponed our Mother's Day hike to this weekend (Mother's Day was 8 May here in SA). And a good thing too - we woke to a beautiful day with blue sky and mild temperatures.

A few months ago my mom started walking regularly. She did Tai Chi for the past five years and has been wanting to do something different. After watching the DVD of talks from FEAT Cape Town, she decided that she needed an adventure. She will be doing the 700-odd kilometre El Camino walk in Spain in September and the journey will probably take her five to six weeks - fabulous!

To celebrate her progress we had decided to go to Suikerbosrand, a nature reserve in the South of Jo'burg. I've written about my runs there a number of times (type Suikerbosrand into the search block). My mom was tasked with carrying my small backpack loaded with water and some fruit for a midway stop - practise for her. I took my camera along to take photos.

The main hiking trail is a 10km loop and it has some very technical sections that are rocky underfoot and a number of climbs. For someone who has never really been on trails, it isn't an easy first hike. My mom did brilliantly! This is the furtherest that she has probably ever covered under her own steam and, to make it even more difficult, it was on a tricky trail. It took us four hours, which is a long enough time on foot. By this evening she was feeling it a bit and I'm sure she'll remember (fondly, I hope) her walk tomorrow morning when she gets up - and Tuesday morning.

It's an odd time of year out there - not the fresh green of January. The grasses now have dropped and they're brown. But in the little valleys the trees are still green. We saw two buck in the distance and a small herd of zebra - also a distance away. That was it as far as the wildlife went.

By the time my mom gets back from El Camino she'll be a walking machine; I'll take her on the two-day trail, which we do in a few hours. It goes through my favourite valley in the reserve and we should see more animals on that side.

Mom, well done! I'm very proud of you. xxx

I took the opportunity to try out my hard-earned yoga headstands 'in the bush'. Really not easy on uneven rock with strong winds (approaching storm, thus the dark clouds). But, I got it up and even zapped the L-shaped headstand, which I've been working on. Mom did the arty thing taking pics. In a non-rocky, non-windy envionment I can bring my toes down to the ground and lift them up again - straight legs. Hip-hip-hooray for yoga!

Saturday 14 May 2011

If you had six months

Aside from being flashed by a young 'indecent exposure' fellow on my Wednesday evening run, I had a number of thoughts and good ideas. Lots of 'em actually. I've been down with flu so Wednesday was my first run in a week and a half! I suffered a bit, but it was worth it to get out and about.

My one thoughts was around, "What would I do if I had six months to live?". As a freelancer, I'm always too scared to spend money on trips, holidays, clothes and such because I never know when things are going to be good or things are going to be hard. Work has been fairly stable for the past few months but it looks like one of my clients has had a project cancelled, which means I'm out of work on this project and need to find something to fill the gap.

As a result, I like to keep a reserve so that when this happens, I'm fine for the next month or two while I put something else together.

But, if I was given six months to live... I'd happily spend on things I've wanted to do for ages. That five-day yoga retreat in Thailand, on the island with the 50km circumference that I want to run around while I'm there; going to a big adventure / mountain film festival, like Banff in Canada; a trip to any one of a dozen 100km / 100-miler races; a trip to the UK to visit friends; a trip to the US to visit friends... I don't want stuff; I'd rather go places, see things. And then pass on.

Ja, sure, I could pass on next week, but I don't know that. It's one thing to want to live in the now, but, some thought does have to be given to the future. This is, I find, the hard part of freelancing. It can be a very uncertain lifestyle. So, although I can't, at the moment, jump on a plane to Timbuktu just 'cos I think it would be fun, I still wouldn't trade freelancing to be tied down in an office - it destroys my spirit.

So, if you had six months, what would you do?

Full Moon Run - Fri, 20 May (plus dates for June & July)

Yes, it's time for our Full Moon Run. It's full moon on Tuesday so we'll do Full Moon run on Friday, 20 May at 19h00 from Bedford Centre.

Meet outside Vini's on the upper level, exterior of Bedford Centre (cnr Smith & Arbroath Roads, Bedford Gardens).

Meet at 18h45. Start running at 19h00. Please wear reflective vest / belt etc. It's dark now by 18h00.

Run will be up to 1h30 in duration. Pace is 5:30 (downhill!) - 6:30. Very chilled vibe. We stop and check out views etc.

Pizza and drinks at Vini's afterwards.

Open invitation. Everyone welcome.

Mike, I hope we'll see you and your Edenvale buddies for a nice, chilled, pre-Comrades trot?

In June, full moon is on Wednesday, 15th June. We'll do Full Moon Run on Friday, 17 June. Moon rises at 17h24. Just under full. As it is the night before my birthday, I'll bring cupcakes ;)

In July, full moon is Friday, 15 July. We'll do the run on this day. And, it should be spectacular as the moon rises at 17h55.

Whatchya worrying about?

Saw this posted by a friend on Facebook a while back. I like.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

An eclectic order

Eclectic isn't a word I use often. In fact, I don't think I've ever used it written or spoken. I do like the sound of it.

So, last week my online order arrived. It was a mix of things that I've had on my 'I want' list for a while and things that have just become available. Ja, ja - have a laugh on me. Check out the three things I ordered online.

I've had adventure racer / ultra runner Marshall Ulrich's  new book on order for a few weeks. It finally came available. I'll start it after I've finished the charming and fascinating 'At Home', by Bill Bryson.

On 'At Home' - it is delightful. The first Bill Bryson I read was his 'A short history of nearly everything'. I devoured every word. Oddly, I'd tried one of his travel books some years earlier and it did nothing for me. I don't remember getting much past the first chapter. I've since read his books on the history of the English language ('Mother Tongue' - fascinating!) and the truths and myths around Shakespeare. 'At Home' is well worth a read. The write up on it says,
Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to "write a history of the world without leaving home". The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.

Crochet Bouquet was recommended by a knitting/crochet blog I've been following. So far I've only tried the daffodil. Came out pretty-pretty. Trying to decide on a nice flower for my friend's headwarmer. It's her birthday next week.

Mary Poppins... I've been on a waiting list for some months. I've always loved this movie and as a child would have seen it a few times - certainly not as many times as children these days who play DVDs over and over and over. We didn't have a video player until I was in high school and even then we never owned any videos. I watched my Mary Poppins DVD (45th anniversary edition!) on Thursday night and loved every minute of it. It's amazing how much of the movie I remembered. Dick van Dyke's penguin dance counts as my top favourite sequence. The animation is absolutely charming! I don't think I've watched this movie for a good 20 years.

Although I sang along to most of the songs (memory is a funny thing), I'd forgotten how 'A spoonful of sugar' begins. It starts with Mr Banks saying the words:
In ev'ry job that must be done
there is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
the job's a game
Then I think the next verse is where Mary Poppins comes in...
And ev'ry task you undertake
becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree!
It's very clear to me 
That a...
Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...
So true. When you find that silver lining in any task, it is definitely easier to do ;)

Still, I don't think my order is quite as eclectic as my friend's. He recently bought Bhagavad Gita, a book on rugby coaching and a third book of absolutely no relation to the other two (I can't remember what it was; but I recall it being equally strange in this mix). I'll add it in to the comment below when I remember.

Monday 2 May 2011

How many lives have you been through?

People died young. War, illness and disease wiped out masses. We live longer and if something is wrong, like horribly wrong, we've got access to therapies, surgeries and medications that make everything all better.

This makes me consider how many lives I've gone through.

I was born five weeks prem. Spent time under lights and was cared for in hospital until I'd gained weight and strength and could go home.

As a child (maybe aged 7 or 8) I had an operation (one and only) for an abscess. If it had burst internally...

There have been the odd bouts of bronchitis. One or two of these have bordered on pneumonia, but were swiftly cleared up by a potent dose of antibiotics. Pneumonia can kill.

An embedded 2cm long piece of wood in my heel. During an O event a stick went through the sole of my shoe and embedded in my heel. I saw the puncture but no sign of the wood. Went to the doc the next morning. She cleaned and probed but couldn't find anything. It was excrutiating! I almost fainted and had to spend 10 minutes lying on the floor in the waiting room before I could get up. I then had to stay on a bed there for another 20 minutes drinking tea before they'd let me leave. Two doses of antibiotics dealt with the infection. The piece of wood made it to the surface 11 days later! (I couldn't wear a shoe in this time nor put weight on my foot; went for xrays etc). Bad infection, gangrene... could have been terrible.

Chickenpox at age 29. Antivirals made a big difference to reduce severity.

A few bouts of intestinal infection after swimming / paddling in nasty rivers.

Mmm... I can't think of anything else serious? No malaria or cholera. I may have had fairly mild tick-bite fever. No meningitis. No broken bones.

Each of these could have meant my end. Illness, infection, fever... death.

Like a cat, and thanks to medical intervention, I've quite possibly been through a couple of lives. You?

Sunday 1 May 2011

Happy colours

I'm really enjoying this knitting and crochet adventure that I'm on. This past month I made my very first garment; a wee cardigan for my friend's daughter - her arrival is expected in two weeks.

Over yesterday and this morning, I made this floral headwarmer for my friend. It was her birthday two weeks ago and I have been wanting to make this for her, but couldn't decide on the colour. She has a lovely coral-coloured necklass... yes, this will go nicely. She's also an avid gardner, so I'm sure she'll appreciate the little flowers.

I've been crocheting little square motifs - in a rainbow of colours - for a scarf. It was inspired by a blog post I read about two months ago. It's the colours that just do it for me. I can't get enough! I probably make one or two each day - takes about 40-minutes per motif. I'm getting faster as I become more practised. I've made about 15 motifs... probably another 30 to go...

My one friend is knitting a jersey for her hubby. She messed up the pattern and had to pull out a chunk. Her hubby asks her how long the 30-odd centimetre length of the body took her to knit. About 10 hours, she replied. So, he extrapolated that it could take her well over 100 hours to knit him a jersey. He then said that at her hourly rate time 100 hours... It will be the most expensive item of clothing he'll ever wear. Hahaha. Similarly, my motif scarf would be pricey if costed in this way. But, for the amount of delight I'm getting from the colours, yarn and finishing each little pattern... priceless ;)