Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Running to heal

On Saturday we celebrated my late mom's 67th birthday.  And I just realised once again that whoever said that time heals all wounds obviously hasn't lost a loved one.  My heart still aches and longs for my mom and best friend exactly the same way it did the day after her passing.  Maybe even more.  So no, time doesn't heal all wounds.  It just forces you to live your life with an ever-present, dull aching sensation somewhere in the back of your being simply because you have no other choice.

I started off my mom's birthday on Saturday with a long run, just as I do every year on her birthday and Mother's Day.  I ran thinking about the good times; smiling about the memories; and yes, crying about her absence.  And then, about mid-way through my run, I came across the most tender, heart-warming scene.  There, jogging towards me along the peaceful, beautiful river path, was a mom and her little girl, about 9 or 10 years old.  They ran in silence, holding hands.  And the mom lovingly placing her outside hand over their intertwined fingers.  Seeing them choked me up in an instant.

Because, you see, even though my mom was never a runner (in fact, she despised running!), there was something in that mother-daughter duo on the riverbank that I could 100% associate with.  The love.  The support.  The camaraderie.  And boy, how I miss having that.  How I miss having a mom.  My mom.  But I also saw in them little Miss K and Mister J and me.  The here.  The now.  The opportunity for me to be that love, support and camaraderie to two of the biggest gifts I've ever received.

And although the pain of living without my mom will never go away, I thank God for the blessing of having experienced her love and support and camaraderie.  And for the opportunity to take what I've received from her, and now pass it on to my own two blessings.

Thank you, Mom, for showing me how to love.  May I be given the grace to be to my kids the loving, blessing of a mom that you were to me.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

2016/2017 parkrun Triple

Something in my DNA just can't resist a fun challenge.  Mud and rain this-and-that?  Back-to-back anything?  Giving it a bash just makes my inside sing.

You can imagine my delight, then, when the event teams of the three Wellington-based parkruns announced that 2016 would be ended and 2017 rang in with a parkrun triple.  Yasss!!  Kapiti Coast parkrun on New Year's Eve, and then Lower Hutt and Porirua parkruns on the morning of 1 January.  And, what made the challenge even sweeter, was the fact that I've never done either Lower Hutt or Porirua parkrun - double yass!!

The morning of 31 December was perfect.  The fact that I ran in a short-sleeved t-shirt should tell you everything, ha!  I lined up at Kapiti Coast parkrun, which I've done many times before, with fellow parkrunners from as far afield as England, Sweden, Austria and Australia, and ended off 2016 with a new parkrun NZ PB: 24:34!  Part I of the challenge done.     

Kapiti Coast parkrun.

And then the morning of 1 January 2017 dawned...  Bringing with it the most miserable weather ever!  I sat in the car, waiting for Lower Hutt parkrun to start, and silently said a prayer that the rain would ease up just a little bit.  But it never did.  It pelted down and the wind howled.  For the entire 5 kays.  The wind was so strong, in fact, that I physically had to hang on to my cap to prevent it from blowing off and even struggled to stay on the path on the up-wind a few times.  Sho.  It was the wettest, windiest parkrun of my life.   

Lower Hutt parkrun.

I hopped into the car straight after finishing Lower Hutt, soaked to the bone, and dashed off to Porirua, which is about a 20 minute drive away.  It was so cold - how on earth did I not think of taking along a dry change of clothes?!  Fortunately I had a spare, dry running jacket in the car, which felt amazingly warm against my skin.

I made it to Porirua parkrun with 10 minutes to spare, and spent those standing in the rain, waiting for the event to start...  And I must confess that, for a brief second, I considered going home to a warm bath at that point.  I was so cold and even my warm, dry jacket was soaked by then.  But boy, am I glad that I stayed.  Porirua parkrun is a fairy tale.  Wow.  You can see very little of the actual course from the starting point, and what a delightful surprise it is!  Sections of closed canopy pine forest, with huge old trees providing protection from the elements and a carpet of pine needles underfoot; big tree ferns; small waterfalls and a peaceful little stream bubbling along.  It reminded me a lot of George parkrun back in South Africa, but with a wider, easier to navigate gravel path.  It's without a doubt one of the most beautiful parkruns I've ever done - I highly recommend it and will definitely be back for more.     

Porirua parkrun.

I ended off the morning with a big ol' Tank smoothie, and dreams of a hot, steaming bath, which turned out just as heavenly as I imagined it would be.  The perfect way to start off the new year!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2017 Running Goals

Happy New Year!

New year, new running goals, right?  Right!  And since we're also living on a new continent, I've decided to make this year mostly about exploring and discovering beautiful New Zealand on the run.  I couldn't be more excited!  You probably know by now that exploring on the run is one of my absolute favourite things to do, so my head is literally spinning with ideas and plans on how to fit some amazing running expeditions into our schedules (and budget...!) for 2017...  Watch this space!

2017 is also a significant milestone year for me, in that I will, God willing, be turning 40 in May.  And what a journey it's been...!  My goal is to really be present and enjoy and appreciate this milestone and everything that has come with it.  I don't want it to be just another year that whooshes by in the blink of an eye, so grateful, mindful living is definitely at the top of my personal to-do list.

Having said that, here's my list of my running goals for 2017: 

Goal 1: Join parkrun's Club 100 before my 40th birthday

I just can't get enough, can I?!  parkrun is a powerful, life-changing tool that has enriched my life forever and is empowering people to take charge of their health and physical fitness an a daily basis.  I've been a fan from Day I and forever will be.

I have 19 parkruns to go before joining Club 100, which may not sound like a lot, but in practice translates to more or less five months of consistent parkrunning...  Hopefully I'll have that black shirt before I turn 40! 

Goal 2: Complete four new-to-me NZ parkruns

Time to explore!  There are two relatively nearby parkrun venues that I haven't visited yet, so those will be quite easy to tick off.  The other two  will take me to parts of New Zealand that I've never seen before - I can't wait!

Goal 3: Comfortably complete two half-marathons

I know.  People do half-marathons on back-to-back weekends, so what's so special about doing only two half-marathons in a year?  Thing is, I want to do them well.  Prepare properly, train hard, race hard and see what my body is really capable of.  And, of course, I'll be discovering parts of the country that I've never been to - perhaps a half in Auckland too...?

Goal 4: Clock a half-marathon PB

This one ties up with Goal 3: Preparing well and racing hard.  I know I can go below 01:56:12 if I train smart and hard - hopefully race day logistics (like starting pen placement, etc.) will work in my favour as well...!

Goal 5: Find and implement 5 ways in which to do good to others through running

Running is so many things to me: My reset button, my me-time, my sanity...  And the list goes on.  But that's all about me.  And I really feel the need to make 2017 less about me and more about helping where I can.  Why not make a difference while doing what you love, right?  So for me 2017 will be the year of exploring and implementing this a bit more.

What are your running goals for the new year?  Please share, so that we can cheer each other on!

Wishing you a blessed 2017!