Thursday, 18 May 2017

Forty!

I turned forty last week. And although I personally don't feel a day older than twenty, the kids exclaimed with surprise and delight that I'm now almost 100. Bless their hearts. 

It is, of course, a complete coincidence that, the day after my birthday, I forgot both kids' ready-packed school bags at home... Causing me to have to traverse the entire school drop-off route twice - on foot - in the pouring rain. Which took my daily walking mileage to about 9 km a mere two days before running a half marathon... Oi! I'm determined never to forget those darn bags ever again.


Two school drop-off rounds in the rain, baby!

School bag snafu notwithstanding, my birthday was one big blessing from beginning to end. Growing older (and busier) sure does teach you to sincerely appreciate every second of time that friends and family take to celebrate you and your special day!

The day started off with a (very sleepy) birthday band waking me up with some happy birthday tunes. Followed by the perfect breakfast in bed. Will got all my favourites: Muesli, yogurt, blueberries and coconut water. Yum! And then it was time for presents: Some old blocks and toys that the kids wrapped themselves and completely melted my heart. Some full-length running tights because my (African) cropped leggings just don't cut it in the NZ cold. A tripod for my smartphone to take some cool pics for the blog. And a subscription box filled with all kinds of healthy and organic products because Will knows just how to indulge my inner health-nut. My bestie from SA treated me to a Runner's World subscription (yes, I did three cartwheels and a happy dance!) and some wonderful new NZ friends treated me to tea and a spread fit for a queen. I'm blessed and so, so thankful.


Birthday tea with some wonderful new friends.

I am, of course, also officially now a masters athlete. Waaaaaa! After a quick squiz at our local parkrun's weekly results, I noticed that 40-44 is actually a fiercely competitive age bracket... So perhaps that will motivate me to clock some seriously speedy times before I really do turn 100...?

Anyway, blessed and thankful for the privilege of having celebrated this milestone with the ones I love!        

Monday, 15 May 2017

The (incredible) race that came with a boat ride from hell {Saint Clair Vineyard Half Recap}

I've always suspected that I'm not a cruise ship kind of gal. And now I know it's true. But wait, let me start at the beginning.

This past weekend I had the privilege of travelling to New Zealand's South Island for the Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon. And boy, did I travel! It took a bus, a train, two shuttles, a ferry boat and a rental car to get me there... Phew! But I loved every minute. Okay, except maybe for the ferry part. Because, you see, I suffer from motion sickness. Not too severe - I did, after all, manage to survive a 14-hour flight alone with two toddlers on zero medication and with zero problems. But, I get it just bad enough to have turned a Cessna adventure over Botswana's Okavango Delta with my dad into a complete nightmare. So yes. I was a tad nervous about the ferry trip.

Fortunately sea conditions were calm when we set off for the South Island. And with a whole lot of focus and very little movement on my part I pretty much got off scot-free. Hallelujah!


A little bleak, but doing okay.

And, before I knew it, it was time to toe the starting line. Yikes, it was a cold one! But as soon as we got moving, my frozen feet thawed and I even started shedding some layers. 
      

My goal for the race was twofold: 1) To enjoy the sights and sounds of the South Island in my running shoes, and 2) to come in under two hours. And I'm happy to report that I did just that! Guys, the South Island is breathtaking. Even though I only experienced a very small portion of it, my eyes just couldn't stop feasting. The mountains, the vineyards and the incredible autumn colours... I wanted to etch it into my memory and just kept drinking it all in.

Plus, for the first time ever, I had some dark chocolate mid-run! At about 2 km to go, two lovely ladies with huge bags of artisan dark chocolate truffles appeared as if from a dream... Wahoo! I grabbed a truffle and popped it into my mouth straight away - heaven! And even though it inhibited my ability to breathe properly for at least a kilometer, it was totally worth it.     



I clocked a 01:58:56. Right on target! That's half marathon number 9 in the bag.


Post-race, with not much time to spare, I collected my finisher's wine (this one is for you, Will!), hobbled back to the shuttle bus, and braced myself for the ferry trip back home.



I'll spare you the details, but just know that when the ship's captain announced that sea conditions were rough and advised us to take some anti-motion sickness medication, I knew that it was going to be a long three hours home. And it was. I half-sprawled myself over a lounge chair, never looked up once and prayed the entire time. And, judging by the lady next to me feverishly fanning her face with a magazine and doing some serious deep breathing, I knew that I wasn't alone. The massive ship heaved into the air and crashed back down into the waves a hundred times over. Doors swung shut, stuff fell off shelves and somewhere in the background I could hear someone being sick. Very sick. Oi. Not my our finest hour. In fact, my world still feels a bit unsteady, even as I sit here writing this. 

So, yes. I'll see you again soon, South Island. Only next time I'm taking the plane!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Monthly Catch-Up: April 2017

We're still waiting, with bated breath, I might add, for our first New Zealand winter to hit. And although we've been expecting it for a while, I'm happy to report that April has been mild and sunny for the most part. We'll probably start feeling the cold in May then? 

Anyway. Here's how our running has been going this month. 

Best run

My favourite April run was, without a doubt, our first scooter run with Miss K. I was very reluctant to say goodbye to our stroller running days (my aching back was a bit more eager to do so, ha!), but I instantly fell in love with this new chapter. And I'm thrilled that Miss K loves it too!  



Monthly miles

April was a low-mileage month for me. Especially considering that I'm busy training for a half-marathon - whoops! 

Miss K and J Bear have, however, literally both been sick all month, and I've been ducking and diving their flu germs like a woman possessed. I know from experience that running high mileage negatively impacts my immunity, so I've been trying to keep my mileage just low enough not to compromise it. I can't afford to get sick before next month's running adventure...!   

That said, I clocked a total of 77 km during April. 

New gear

My trusty ol' running cap has sadly reached the end of its days. It's faded and frazzled and, well, just old. And if you know me well, you'll know that my, ahem, substantial cranium requires a substantial amount of fabric to cover it. Which presents a bit of a problem when setting off in search of a new cap. One size fits all my foot!

Much to my delight, though, it seems as if sizable noggins are a common occurrence here in New Zealand. I idly strolled into the first sports store we could find, eyed a beaut of a cap, tried it on and voila! The perfect fit. In fact, it's even more comfy than my old cap! I've never felt so normal in my life. Hashtag not sponsored. 


See? J Bear wants one too.

Running high(s)

I discovered some really great new running routes this month. All of them right on our own doorstep! How on earth did it take me more than six months to find them...? 




They're a feast for the eyes and good for the soul - the perfect remedy for my (now cured) post-race blues.

Apart from running some pretty sweet (and muddy!) trails this month, I'm also super excited to be included in the 2017 ambassador squad for Falke running socks! I've been running in (and loving!) Falke for as long as I can remember and can't wait to represent the brand in a more formal capacity. So if you're a fellow Falke fan, keep an eye out for some brand news, reviews and giveaways heading your way soon!  



Latest challenge(s)

The Saint Clair Vineyard Half is in less than two weeks...! I've decided not to shoot for a PB this time and plan on just enjoying the sights and sounds of the South Island in my running shoes. Although my preparation for the race went well, I don't feel nearly as well-prepared as I did for the Round the Bays Half. So if I can finish in just under two hours, I'll be happy.

And that's a wrap! How has April treated you? Any running highs or lows? 

                                                               *   *   * 

P.S. I just have to add that I'm looking forward to so many exciting things happening in May! There's my (40th!) birthday, Mother's Day, my running adventure on New Zealand's South Island, the blog's seventh anniversary and maybe, just maybe, a super exciting event happening towards the end of the month. I can't wait!


Friday, 21 April 2017

In our element

We entered the realm of scooter runs this past weekend.

And, true to form, I was petrified. Why exactly, I don't quite know. Fear of the unknown, I guess? Because what if everybody hated it and we ended up having to clomp back home, a defeated, squabbling bunch? And what about safety? Hidden driveways and, heaven forbid, road hogs? I know, I know. I should loosen up. A whole lot. Especially given the fact that every single (family) running chapter up until now has been a resounding success. Yet there I was. Mother Hen squared.


Miss K, on the other hand, was in heaven. She delights in the freedom that the scooter gives her. And while I was huffing out observations about uneven pathways, stray dogs and sneaky driveways, she was whooshing along at the speed of light. All while trying out bunny hops, single arm steering and scooter-back arabesque. Yep, she was in her element.   


We only covered about 3.5 km on our first scooter run, but that was enough for me to realise that I should also (try to) relax.  Which I eventually did. Eventually. And even better yet: I realised that I was, in fact, also in my element.  Apprehension of new chapters notwithstanding. 

Because what an absolute joy it was to witness Miss K's exuberant happiness. To see the triumph in her eyes after every successful bunny hop. And to hear her squeal with delight every time she beat her dad in a do-or-die dad vs. scooter sprint. A strong, confident, independent little person is emerging right in front of my eyes. And she's beautiful. 


So even though I can guarantee that there will be many more "watch outs" and "be carefuls" from my side, I know that this is going to be one of our most special chapters yet. 


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Settling

Isn't it tragic how quickly we start taking life's blessings for granted?

The kids and I celebrated our sixth (!) full month in New Zealand over the weekend.  And, as passionate as I am about living in the moment and counting and re-counting my blessings, I realised with a shock that I've started doing exactly what I always preach against.  I've stopped making the most of the beauty and opportunities of this new life.  Major fail.

Six months!

Because it's so easy to settle for what comes easy.  It's so easy to plod around the neighbourhood for a quick run when, just a kilometre or three further, the thrill of a beach- or river run awaits.  And it's so easy to plop the kids in front of the TV to get some housework done instead of walking to the playground and building memories.  It's so easy.

So this morning on my run I decided to do what we came here for.  Instead of slogging along the cycle path, as usual, I took a shortcut to the beach.  And, just like in the beginning, I gawked and gawked at Kapiti Island and it's splendour.  I leapt over streams and bounded along footpaths.  I inhaled the fresh air and gave thanks for the gifts of life and health.  My heart sang.    

    

And, just to make sure that I don't slide down that slope of 'whatever comes easiest' again, I set a daily reminder on my phone to appreciate and make the most of, well, life.  We only get one go at it, right?


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