Sprung

How is it already the end of September? I thought I was getting into this blogging groove thing but it’s already been more than a month since my last post!

That said, I’ve done a lot more thinking about posting than I usually do, and even drafted some notes on my phone, with the intention of doing some scheduled posts. I know that many of the bigger bloggers out there use scheduled posts to make their lives easier. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m wondering whether it’s worth the bother in my case, because, scheduled or otherwise, there’s still the issue of having to find the time to actually write the posts. (Those of you who have this down, some tips would be welcome!)

As you will have guessed by the title of this post, I’m doing my Spring thing today – half-arsed and late to the party, as always. I must be honest, though, and tell you that I’ve had some really cool things happen since my last post, not least of which was being invited by Jacaranda FM and Discovery to participate in a blogger activation in anticipation of the Jacaranda FM & Discovery Spring Walk 2016, which took place on 25 August at the gorgeous Planet Fitness Platinum health club in Sandton.

Upon arrival, bloggers were treated to refreshing drinks and delicious smoothies, during which we exchanged Twitter handles, greeted familiar faces and tweeted the obligatory selfie or two. Next we had a bit of a warm-up stretching session with a semi-sadistic fitness coach, interspersed with frequent water breaks and fuelled by some delicious wraps, juices and other edible treats. Because you can’t exercise properly without being appropriately plied with food, right?

Suitably stretched and refreshed, we made our way to the club’s fabulous indoor running track, where we split into teams and it was fastest feet first for some amazing prizes. This part of the day’s fun brought me to the shocking realisation that, having not run all winter, I am extremely unfit! Luckily, through sheer luck and the kindness of¬†better athletes, I walked away with the best prize of the day: A complimentary 6-month Premium membership to Planet Fitness, which I intend to put to very good use, regaining some semblance of fitness and (hopefully) toning up for the coming summer! You can catch a glimpse of me coming in 6th or 7th place, here:

(I’m the one in the light blue crop top! ūüėõ )

Because happiness is healthy-ness, right?

 

What it felt like to run my first 32km

This past Sunday, I ran the Colgate 32km.

This is the longest distance I’ve ever run (if you can call it running, given that it took me very close to 4 hours to finish!) and it was HARD.

The day started off hard, because it was freezing, so just getting to the starting line in the first place took a hell of a lot of pushing. So, this one time, I guess I’m at least a little bit grateful for that voice in my head that reminds me how much I’m going to hate myself if I don’t do the thing/s I’ve set out to do.

I set my alarm to wake me at 3:50 on Sunday morning, so that I could throw on my shoes & running gear, pick up my running buddy and hit the road by 4:20 at the latest.

I grabbed a little container of leftover curry mince & rice and two small bananas, gulped down some L-Glutamine and headed out as planned. We arrived at Boksburg stadium just before 5:00 – an hour and a half before the start of the race. I ate my mince and rice, set my alarm to wake me again at 5:45, reclined my seat and curled up to catch a few more zzzz’s…

When my alarm woke me again, I hopped out of the car for a second to grab something from the back seat and regretted it instantly. Let me tell you, I was THIS close to starting up my car and driving straight home! Instead, I handed my running buddy (who was signed up for the 15km race) a banana, and ate one myself, and half  joked about how much I wanted to go home and get back into bed.

I started the race REALLY not feeling up to it and at 3km in, I doubted I was going to finish. But I reminded myself that I have a full marathon coming up in 2 months’ time and I had, at this point, only ever run about 23km.

At around 6km, I needed a loo really badly, so I did the unthinkable and stopped at a petrol station along the route to use the bathroom, and quickly learned that I was but one of several runners who’d had the same brilliant plan. Ultimately, the bathroom break cost me somewhere between 6 and 10 minutes which, given how dismally I performed in the end, didn’t help. But then, given how dismally I performed in the end, 10 minutes weren’t going to make a huge difference, either. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The race route is a double loop around the Boksburg stadium and past the Unilever factory, so many of the places you pass (twice!) appear to be really close to the finish. At times, this is great, because it creates the impression that you’re nearly done. At others, it’s awful, because it creates the impression that you’re nearly done, only to reveal after another 3km that you still have several more to go!

I was sorely tempted to pack it in after the first lap, and follow the rest of the 15km runners to the finish. But my legs carried on straight instead of taking the turn into the stadium and to the finish, and I fought a small mental battle with myself in that moment, and lost. Or won, depending on how you want to look at it…

In the 16th kilometre, I found myself completely alone on the road and wondered for a second whether I was imagining that there was a race at all. It was one of the single loneliest moments of my life, out there in the middle of suburban industria, feeling like I must be the last runner on the road.

By 17km, I had caught up to and passed a couple of my fellow stragglers and I felt encouraged to keep slogging away. At 18km, I was joined by another runner, who came up from behind me and kept pace with me. We ran next to each other, silently, until two other runners came up from behind us and one cracked a joke and we all managed a chuckle and my new comrade and I introduced ourselves.

Suddenly, we were chatting like old friends, urging each other on in turns. It’s as if the universe knew that I needed someone to share the slog with just then.

By 21km, we caught up to the cut-off bus and agreed that we’d stay with them, ensuring that we would make it to the finish on time. But I found their pace difficult – I just couldn’t get into their rhythm. So I let my legs do what felt right and soon found myself pulling ahead of the group.

By 24km, my friend and I had widened the gap between us and the bus by a good 0.5km, which felt good!

But at 26km, I started taking strain. My legs felt heavy, my mouth felt dry, my right ankle started protesting and the Coke I’d been gulping down at the refreshment points was starting to repeat on me. I thought about stopping and catching a ride with the sweeping vehicle, if there was one, or calling my real running buddy, who had my car keys, to come and pick me up. But then my new friend urged me on a little bit further, and somehow I managed to pull myself toward myself and run another step. And another. And another…

My phone rang somewhere between 28km and 29km, my D wanting to know how it had gone. I felt a mixture of pride and shame as I told him I was still running, and pushed myself to keep at it just a little bit longer. I could hear the bus chanting behind me and was determined not to have come this far to fail. So on I went, alongside my new friend.

A man was handing out Jelly Tots at the 29km mark and smiled at me ¬†nodding a “Hell, yes!” at him as I approached. I grabbed the packet from him and slowed to a walk.

Another friendly face at 29.5km called out the words I needed to push on again, “You can’t walk now! Only 2.5km to go!”

Turning off the road and into the stadium grounds at 31km, I had to have another little internal discussion with myself, once again a split second away from giving up. But then that cut-off bus loomed just behind me again and I couldn’t.

As I turned into the stadium, expecting to see finish line, I almost cried when I realised that I still had 500m to go, around one end of the athletics track. I think I shouted at a marshall “When does it end?!” before forcing myself to suck it up and get to the finish.

I watched the clock tick over 3:56:00 just before I crossed the finish and that was that. 32km.

 

 

Lemonade

As you may have read in an earlier post, I applied for a job in October. I thought the interview went really well. The test I was given was nerve-wracking, not because I couldn’t do it but because I TOLD myself I couldn’t do it. Because as soon as I realised how much I really, really wanted that job, I knew I’d somehow screw it up. It’s what I’ve done almost all my life: Sabotage the things I want the most.

So I did a rushed, panicked job of the test and had all kinds of technical stuff go wrong, just for good measure.

Even then, though, it still felt like things were kind of on track. And then I started pushing and nudging and I think I kind of felt the shift when I followed up for the third time. I’d blown it. I received a message that the other candidate they’d been considering was more experienced than I, but they’d keep my details on file for a possible future position. ¬†I actually cried.

I’ve had all kinds of mixed feelings about this these past few days. I’ve explored other options, set up a few appointments with people and largely moved on. What lingers, though, is the sense of having been deemed unworthy, not only of the job but also of an open, outright, honest dismissal¬†and having bought into that mindset myself. *

Anyway, it didn’t work out and I can’t wallow forever.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. There have been a few highs in between the dips and it has been an especially busy time in these parts. With our eldest finishing primary school and gearing up for high school next year, the youngest getting prepped for Grade R and the year having been a tumultuous one for our Jack in Grade 1, there has been plenty to keep my mind occupied!

Since my last blog post, here are a few of the things that have happened:

I tweeted for and won a double ticket to the Titanic Expo happening in Rosebank. It’s not a huge thing in the big picture but was a much needed little boost to my emotional state.

Then, I was chosen as the lucky, lucky winner of a copy of Sarah Graham’s new cookbook, HOME. Food From My Kitchen PLUS a R1000 Yuppiechef voucher!

I spent my voucher buying several of my Yuppiechef Wishlist items, an experience which was made extra awesome by the fact that they were/are running a 4 for 3 sale, so you get the cheapest of any one of 4 items from the sale for FREE!! Naturally, this meant that I got to spoil myself not only with some coveted kitchen goodies but also some decadent edible treats!

My Yuppiechef Loot
My Yuppiechef Loot
My new Sarah Graham cookbook
My new Sarah Graham cookbook

Then, on 1 November, I got to revisit the Soweto Half Marathon, which was amazing. Soweto was my first ever half marathon last year, and I was thrilled to be able to go back this year.

It was a tough one and I was a lot slower this year than last. But I was happy to be there and humbled by the interactions between the runners and the residents of Soweto, especially around the 15km mark, where the water point that was supposed to be, wasn’t.

Residents brought out hosepipes and jugs of cold water to cool down runners and quench their thirst and I was just overcome with emotion at the kindness of strangers. That, to me, was the true embodiment of The People’s Race.

*And then, the day after Soweto, I received a rather cryptic tweet from someone I didn’t know, which would soon lead to something exciting, which I’ll blog about that in another post. I will say this, though: November shot by in a blur of panic and excitement and between my big news and the preparations for Megan’s first year at high school, there hasn’t been much room for anything.

2015 Seems to have been a hard year for many of us and I can certainly say that it was nothing like what I was expecting. But I guess it hasn’t all been lemons.

Admitting Defeat

It dawned on me yesterday that I was fooling myself if I thought I was going to make it to marathon ready in less than 2 months. Less than a month and a half, even.

So, as much as it breaks my heart, I won’t be participating in the Knysna Forest Marathon this year. ¬†Instead, I’ve made an appointment to see a physiotherapist this month and she’ll be helping me treat this niggling knee injury properly, so that I can get back to running and training the way I want to.

It’s been a shitty time these last couple of weeks. Health issues in the family have been a problem – my mom took a nasty turn last week with the diabetes and, after not paying too much attention to Jack’s moaning about a sore tummy for quite a while, I finally took him to a doctor and it turns out he’s gluten intolerant. His liver and intestines are taking strain because he’s been eating all the wrong things and I couldn’t feel more like a fucking horrible mother for not listening to him sooner.

On the upside, the tumble dryer has been repaired and our lives are that much easier once again. Also, my mom having to have emergency treatment for seriously high blood glucose levels (24.5!!!) and Jack’s visit to the doctor have driven home a little bit better what I’ve been trying to get the family to understand for months: We should be eating Paleo. Or at least as close to it as we possibly can.

The hardest part of that for me, of course, is giving up the sugar and the decadent desserts. And the dairy. Apparently, Hashimoto’s sufferers are supposed to cut out gluten AND dairy. And just like that, my whole life is once again about food and giving up the stuff I love eating most…

Except that my whole life can’t be about food because there’s simply too much to do. And my Meg is off to high school in a few short months’ time. She’ll be boarding in another province, coming home one or two weekends a month and holidays. So much planning, talking, preparing to do!

She can’t wait to go, which I’m glad about. At least she’s going into it with anticipation, rather than feeling like we’re deserting her or don’t want her around. I guess we wouldn’t have considered boarding as an option if she’d felt that way but still…

A part of me is almost jealous that she gets to go to an awesome school with some amazing teachers. And another part is terrified of sending my child off into the world. Yet another part looks forward to her absence so that I get to enjoy her that much more on her weekends and holidays at home for having missed her so much while she’s away. This Mom gig ain’t for pansies!

 

Weeks

There are 8 7 left before Knysna and I have managed three 4km runs since injuring my knee, which is no-where near adequate.

The knee is much better, though, which I am glad about. I was supposed to start running properly again this morning but stayed up late last night, reading and then couldn’t force myself out the door this morning. Tomorrow, though, there can’t be any excuses.

I’m going to bed at a decent time tonight and at 4:00 tomorrow, I’m outta here, pounding that pavement.

In other news, the accounting is slowly actually getting somewhere. And some other business admin I’ve been putting off is finally happening. Soon, I’ll be free to dive into some of the more enjoyable aspects of my business again, and to focus more on getting a proper market presence established.

Otherwise, all is quiet. Ish. Well, as quiet as a household of eight people can be.

I’ve been thinking all the things this past while, about all the other things. But the urge to blog any of it is simply not there.¬† I find myself giving a lot of thought to my personal online presence – and I mean outside of Facebook and Twitter which, as we all know, I’ve already eliminated from my life. I’m talking about blogs and Instagram.

I’m not exactly prolific on either platform and I definitely don’t have the time to go and explore others. I certainly don’t have the urge to.

I do find myself spending a bit more time on Pinterest and Houzz.com lately, primarily looking at houses and home stuff, because I don’t plan on us living where we’re living now for all that many more years. We have a plan, see? Largely, that plan is why I have nothing left for sharing on the interwebs.

But it seems to me at the same time that I’m experiencing a broad, life-encompassing shift of focus. Maybe because of getting older. Maybe because, however incrementally, things are finally moving forward. Maybe because, after a few months of not being sucked into all the things that used to take up all of my time, I’m rediscovering myself, my life and what I really think of both. And of the people I surround myself with. Maybe it’s¬† because there are only so many hours in a day and I’m learning what it really means to prioritise.

At the moment, it’s hard to say exactly what I’m focusing on. It’s like I’m walking toward my life and I can only look straight ahead. I know where I’m headed but it is still too far ahead for me to see it clearly.¬† As I get closer, it’ll start to take shape and I’ll be able to make out more detail. But for now, I have to just keep going, satisfied in the knowledge that I’m going in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

On Learning, Purging, Races not Run and Runner’s Knee

I’ve been chipping away incrementally at the many things I need to master in my life for the last while, all the while dreaming of when it’ll finally be done so that I can get to the more enjoyable bits of life.

And then I read a blog post yesterday by a blogger I haven’t read before – a letter from her 40 year old self to her 20 year old self – in which she states that it hit her at 38 that her life is already here!

This is something I have struggled with all my life – this inability to live in the moment, always wanting more, always looking ahead instead of simply being in the now. Most often, it’s about not having the money to do blah right now or putting off something I want to do because I’m not getting around to doing the things I’m supposed to do, first. And if I’m honest with myself, the root cause of the problem is me.

I procrastinate and delay and put off and avoid doing things because I don’t enjoy them. Or I’m uncertain of myself and afraid of doing it wrong, so I do nothing instead. And every day that passes, I tell myself I’ll get on it tomorrow. But tomorrow, the cycle repeats itself and I go to bed again, telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow…

And every now and then, when all things are perfectly aligned, I have a good day and get things done. And it goes smoothly and everything works and I don’t have to force myself all that hard to get going. And it feels great. But it’s not enough.

So, I’ve decided to revisit some of the successful tools I’ve used in the past, to get myself motivated and busy, doing the things I need to get done.

One of these was the 31 Baby Steps on this website. I don’t necessarily like all the stuff on there or agree with her very touchy-feely vibe. But I can look back and recognise that when I started doing the 31 steps a few years back, and kept at it, it was one of the most productive phases of my life so far.

Another is doing a daily Battle Plan or To-Do List and sticking to it. This is a tricky one for me at this point because there are just so many things I need to get done and have neglected for too long. And the difficulty for me is in prioritising the list. Getting work stuff finished is urgent but so is making sure that the kids are all fine. At the same time, I need to up my skills in various areas, in order to be able to properly do what I need to do. This means finding the time and resources to study some stuff I’m not that clued up on, otherwise I’m never going to get anywhere. And having a clear, uncluttered space in which to work is the only way I can focus, so sorting out my space and the house in general is just as important.

I was thinking today that perhaps, instead of working off my big “Master Plan” for the year, I should break down the day into specific time slots, each dedicated to a specific activity. That way, I get to do some work in every area of my life, every day, and slowly get to cross off all the stuff I need to do, until I’ve caught up…

I’m giving myself a deadline by which I need to be caught up on everything, from each child’s individual space, cupboard, school stuff, etc., to each room in the house and each division of my business, not counting stuff I have yet to learn how to do. That deadline, I’ve just decided, will be 30 June 2015.

In the process of catching up and sorting out, I should be able to set up systems for maintaining these various areas and activities, so that I don’t fall behind again. Kind of like the FlyLady system. Starting small, slowly working up to more things, so that you can keep a handle on it all as you go. Which should free up time for learning the things I need to learn and so on and so forth.

There are a few different areas of study I’m interested in but I’ll start with my incomplete BA (Language & Literature) at UNISA. I won’t be able to register again until next year, though, so I should be able to do a couple of short courses in the meantime. I’m looking at a basic web design course, so that I can finally get my business site and blog to look and work the way I want them to, and a digital marketing course, for obvious reasons.

Considering the time it’ll require to complete my UNISA degree, the other things I’m keen on are purely theoretical at this point, but I have decided that I’m going to re-do matric Maths (I dropped to Standard Grade because I was lazy) and also do matric Science next year.¬† With those, I’ll be able to sign up for a BSc or BEng degree when I’ve completed my BA. I’m looking at BSc Chemistry or BEng Mechanical – ideally from somewhere other than UNISA.

Speaking of time and the lack thereof, my propensity for procrastination and general disorganisation aside, I’ve noticed that I still waste lots of it opening email newsletters every day. In fact, the percentage of emails I receive every day that are actually meant for me, from someone I know, is embarrassingly small, given how many emails I open every single day. This is, of course, another symptom of my online competition entering addiction – You know how it is: Like us on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter, tweet about our promotion/s, etc. for an entry…¬† I know I said some time back that I was going to clean that shit up and I did, some. But today I realised that I still receive far too many emails that I really couldn’t care less about, purely because I entered a signup-tied competition at some point.

And you know? I think this is something that brands may want to take a closer look at. Yes, it’s good to build your mailing lists. Yes, you want to attract customers with giveaways and promotions. But what good a mailing list made up of mostly people looking for free stuff?

Anyway… So today I unsubscribed from another dozen or so newlsetters I receive every day and never read. Tomorrow, I’ll have a look at what comes in and purge a few more.

In other news, the running is not happening right now. I was registered for 2 races these past 2 weekends and I missed both. It broke my heart because the kilometres and race experience are vital to my preparations for the Knysna Forest Marathon in July. But I have had to accept that it is even more vital that I treat and recover from this case of runner’s knee I’ve developed, otherwise I may find myself unable to run at all in the long term. That would be tragic.

I’m still going to try to be ready for Knysna but¬† if worse comes to worst, there will be other marathons later in the year.

What’s happening in your world?

 

Better?

On Monday last week, I ran 21.5km in 2h20m44s. It wasn’t my fastest run ever but it was my fastest 21km ever. And it was just me, my music player, my water bottle and the road. I felt like a total rock star after that run.

Then, I took my Jack for an eye test.

They had those compulsory eye and hearing tests at school a while back and we received a letter stating that Jack had some problems with his eyes – a convergence weakness and a weak tracking system.

I looked those up and it seemed we’d be okay with some eye exercises. But I wanted a second opinion before getting into anything, just to be sure.

And it turns out he needs glasses and will probably have to live with them all his life.

The optometrist gave me a pair of lenses to look through, so that I could see what Jack sees without glasses on. I can’t believe my poor little guy has spent all his life seeing everything as a single, distorted blur!

And I guess I’m really glad we’ve caught the problem fairly early, and that we can do something about it. He looks too cute in his new glasses!

Jack with his new glasses on
Jack with his new glasses on

And he’s being surprisingly diligent about wearing and looking after them. The optometrist said that we would probably have a hard time getting him to wear his glasses but I think she underestimated what a difference they make in his world, because I really don’t have to remind him all that often to put them on…

We had a low-key Easter holiday at home. Lots of DVDs, playing in the garden and doing as little as possible. Apart from finally having started that accounting…

A lot of things this year have been and are going to be low-key. It’s just what it is for me right now. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m getting nowhere but that’s not entirely true. Stuff is moving forward, progress is being made and whatever.

I’m going to have to get my head straight and get busy(er) doing things like blogging, keeping my shit together and doing business.

This week is heading for hectic-ville, what with school applications, running around, executing logistics, fitting in enough long runs to ensure I’ll be able to complete the various races I’ve signed up for (a half marathon on 26 April, a 32km on 3 May and my very first full marathon on 11 July…)

I even splurged on a pair of new running shoes at last! I took them out for the first time this morning and I love them!

New Shoes

The colder weather is making it harder to get out of bed at sparrow’s fart to run, so these are a great motivator. These, and the fact that I need to be marathon ready in just under 13 weeks.

Anyway… This post feels totally half-arsed – mainly because it is. I started it a while ago and got tired, so I went to bed. And now I don’t feel like going back into all the details of it all in my head, so I’ll be back soon with a proper post.