Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Looking back on 2016

What a year! 2016 left me, like many others, feeling shattered. It felt like a year full of stresses and challenges and difficulties. But when I look back on the year, it also had a host of highlights that doesn't make it seem as bad as it felt.

The bad
Work was slow, too little and the lack thereof has been stressful.

Home life has been an adjustment living with two children one-week on and one-week off. As any parent knows, you can have a magical day with children and then the next feels like they've been swapped out for aliens.

A parent who grows with their children from the day they're born certainly has a higher tolerance-understanding-expectation level. As a 40-year old, single-for-most-of-her-life, jumping-into-the-deep-end step-mom, I don't.

This has been a steep learning curve and a big adjustment for me. Some days I do alright and other days I don't. This has brought with it a lot of emotional stress and when I'm in that groove, all I want to do is stay home and climb into bed, when I should be going for a run. And when I'm not running I feel awful and that doesn't help either.

I cancelled FEAT in October and while I was sad to make this decision, it gave me an opening to do other stuff. Usually, my June/July-Aug-Sept and part of October months are all about FEAT. The break was needed. I'm still undecided as to my plans for it this year but you'll find ongoing updates and stories of adventures and expeditions on the FEAT website.

Despite all of the good I had from 2016 (below), the year it left me feeling like there was a vice on my skull, a gorilla on my back and a cement block on my chest most of the time - with gaps of relief.

New Home
I have now been living in Parys for just over a year and I love this town! What I need to work on is taking more advantage of the close proximity and accessibility of everything. We seem to lose the plot and just get caught up in the normal stuff of work and family and responsibilities and commitments.
  • paddling more - the river is a block from home for white water and the paddle club is less than 5km from home for flat water
  • mountain biking more - we've got dirt roads all around plus venues with trails
  • trail running and hiking more - we've got the Vredefort Dome and my Forest Run route 15-25 minutes from home
  • running more - for my sanity I need to get more focus and run more. Last year was so bad that running more that I did in 2016 is not a high target!
A dismal year of running with few events and loads of inconsistency. I have a lot of work to get back to feeling like me again. I've concocted a new game to play - 'Running the roads of Parys'. Over the next few weeks I aim to run on every single road in the town and then wrap up with a run around the perimeter of the town.

I'm running Bert's Bricks 21 in Potch again (I ran it last year). It's on Sat, 21 Jan. I'm probably in for the Sasol 21km on 4 February.

Parys parkrun
Our Parys parkrun has been very much a part of my life a I'm Event Director here. Through parkrun I've gotten to make friends and get to know people in the town. I'm six runs away from achieving my 50th parkrun and this past year I volunteered on nearly 30 occasions - as Run Director or helping when Louis or Karen were RDs. I love it when friends come here to run.

We had low water most of the year so my white water progress has been negligible. I need to practice my rolls and spend more time on the river getting the hang of it. We also slacked off in winter and this summer with flat-water paddling at the club. Ruben had karate on Tuesdays (time trial) and Thursdays (training), which were our main paddling days. Fortunately this has changed, which frees us up to go paddle.

Mountain biking
I've had one ride this year, which is a good start. We've got an awesome 25km loop from home that I've done once. Such an accessible one to do... just to do it! I do ride my Qhubeka bike all around town for errands and smaller shopping.

Yoga (and dance)
I discovered yoga in town in August and have been going mostly once a week since. For the last few months Frances, our yoga teacher, has been in JHB a lot so classes have been a bit here-and-there. I've downloaded a bunch of yoga class videos, which I aim to get around to doing. Sure, I can self-practice, but I enjoy the company of people in a class. A video is a a kind of substitute for real people.

I'll be joining a dance class (solo dance) - probably starting from next week.

Although I didn't attend any orienteering events this year, I did create a map for Forest Run, part of which was used for the rogaine in September. I also mapped Parys Primary School and a section of the Vaal River from the paddling club for two orienteering activities for World Orienteering Day in May.

This year World Orienteering Day is on Wed, 24 May 2017 and I'll again do something at the school and paddle club.

Forest Run
This year's Forest Run was actually a huge project. In December 2015 I decided to move my event from the forests of Lakenvlei to the forests and hills of the Vredefort Dome. It took me just over three months from first scouting outing to hosting the event. These were busy weeks with long hours and well over 250km on foot where I had to scout trails in the area to see what was there, create a map, create three routes, find out who the land owners are, meet with each of them and get the event off the ground. Forest Run went very well although I really took a hammering and the event left me exhausted. 

With the map already created and relationships established, it is an easier journey this year and I can put more time into adding more special touches to the event.

Part of my map was added to and used for the annual rogaining event in September. The event went very well and the map was just perfect for it. I will be expanding the map and adding more detail.

I'm cooking up a new event for later this year - AdventureLisa's Fun Run. It has been on my mind for a few years and a bit of arm twisting by friends has helped to bring it front-of-mind again. Celliers and I brainstormed on the drive back from holiday and we'll go scouting soon. This area is perfect for it. Let's just say that it is substantially longer than five kilometres...

At the beginning of 2016 Celliers presented me with tickets to Chile. He'd managed to exchange his soon-to-expire air miles for flights. A week after Forest Run, we jetted off. During our time in Chile I blogged most days, using the mobile app to post from my phone. You can read about our adventures and where we went - with photos - from these June 2016 posts. A highlight was spending my 40th birthday trekking around Volcan Casablanca with Celliers.

In September I spent 9 days and 8 nights with a group of 16 year old girls on a hiking 'journey', which a friend and old AR teammate coordinates. It was an amazing experience to see these teenagers transform as they underwent long days of hiking, physical hardship and cooking their own meals. Every school would benefit from incorporating a journey into their Grade 10 curriculum.

In October my mom and I headed off to Spain to spend two weeks on the Camino de Santiago route. It was a wonderful experience with treasured memories of an adventure with my mom. Of course, I wrote daily and posted photos as we covered the 320-kilometre distance from Leon to Santiago.

Recently, over xmas, Celliers and I enjoyed a wonderfully restful and much-needed getaway - with thanks to friends who loaned us their cottage. A bit of walking, a bit of biking, a bit of paddling, a lot of reading, a lot of crochet and a lot of sleeping. Just perfect!

Furry friend
Returning from Chile in late June, I made a new friend. Kiska was a husky living across the road from us. An old fellow, he was put to sleep just before xmas. In the few months we had together we went for a few runs, some walks, hiking, rogaine scouting and had a few play dates and sleep overs. I was very very fond of this husky-boy and I miss not seeing him when I look out of my window as I type.

I feel as if I accomplished hardly anything, but my project list on my Ravelry says otherwise.

So, looking back, 2016 definitely wasn't all bad.

We've got new business projects lined up, activity and adventure plans, Forest Run planning and new event scouting on the cards... 2017 is set to be a non-stop year.

Wishing you too a year ahead full of adventures and bursting with health and activities. xxx

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