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


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?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Here's to the ones that suck

As I write this, I'm just starting to emerge from the fog of my post-Round the Bays slump.  And I can tell you one thing: It's been a looooong month and ten days...  As hard as I've tried to cowboy up and tackle my runs with enthusiasm, I keep having to drag my sorry and unwilling butt out the door to get it done.  Ugh.

The high was pretty high.  But the subsequent low is soooooo low...

Isn't it funny how, even after years and years of running, many of our runs still plain and simply suck?  One would think that extensive first-hand experience of the perks, joys and highs of running would somehow make us immune to catching the running blahs.  But alas.  Running remains a humbling habit that not even the elite can completely domineer.  And I guess that, in some sadistic way, that's part of what keeps us running?

But I'm happy to report that the slump is (almost) a thing of the past.  Getting out there is requiring less and less mental bribery and the thought of going for a run is (almost) appealing again.  Almost.  

A slowish, sadish effort...

And as frustrating as running ruts may be, this past 40 days have just reminded me again that they serve a really good purpose.  First they annoy the heck out of us.  But they inevitably lead us to the question of why we're running.  Why, oh why do we drag ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn to slog around the neighbourhood feeling like lead-legged zombies?  Which leads us to the good stuff:

  • Because it makes us feel fit, strong and healthy.
  • Because it's a socially acceptable and effective way to get rid of anger and frustration.
  • Because it's a form of me-time that benefits us in a million different ways.
  • Because endorphins.
  • Because [fill the blank]...

All of which affirms that there's no way on earth that we're ever giving it up.

So here's to the ones that suck.  The ones that make us droop with frustration and question our sanity.  For they ultimately keep us going.     

Monday, 13 March 2017

2017 Running Goals: First Check-In

I usually only do my first running goal check-in post for the year in April, but I've made such good progress with all five of my running goals so far that I just can't wait any longer!  This is in stark contrast to both 2015 and 2016, where I literally waited until the last week or two of December to tick some goals off my list, ahem...  So, yay!  I'm really happy with such good progress so early in the year.

Just a quick reminder of my running goals for 2017:

And here's how I've done so far:

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

I'm getting there!  I completed parkrun #91 this past Saturday, so there's only nine more to go...!  But, if you do the math, you'll see that there's only eight Saturdays left before my 40th birthday on 10 May...  Boo!  So technically it's no longer possible to earn that black shirt before I turn 40.  In my defence, the parkrun event that I missed this year was cancelled on account of flooding of the course.  And, at the rate that it's currently raining, there might even be more cancellations in the near future.  Ugh, so frustrating!

But even though it's frustrating, the reasoning behind this goal was/is to consistently do parkrun throughout the year, and I think that that's being done where possible.  So I'm not too bothered about joining Club 100 a week or two later than planned.  Fingers crossed that I can check this goal off by the end of May!      

2.  Complete four new-to-me New Zealand parkruns

I dove straight into this one on the first day of 2017 by completing the New Year's parkrun double at Lower Hutt and Porirua parkruns, woot!  

I must admit that Lower Hutt parkrun was a bit of a shock to the system...  The weather was horrendous and the wind literally blew me right off the path at least once or twice.  I know that the weather is probably not that bad every weekend, but I sure do have a new-found respect for the hard core Lower Huttees who brave that wind on a regular basis!

Toughing it out with the hard core Lower Huttees.

Porirua parkrun, on the other hand, was bliss.  Although it was also raining, the route is absolutely amazing and it's without a doubt one of the most beautiful parkruns I've ever done.  I can't wait to go visit again!

Porirua parkrun.

So that's two new-to-me NZ parkruns down and two more to go.

3.  Comfortably complete two half-marathons

I completed the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon on 19 February and it was just a perfect race in every way.  My training went right according to plan, and I started training early enough to even schedule in two distance cut-back weeks.  I think that's a lifetime first for me!  I also recovered and rested enough between long runs, and as a result every long run felt comfortable and manageable.

The race itself was tough, because I really pushed it pace-wise, but I definitely felt ready for it and up to it.  So, yes, I think that I can safely tick off the first half of this goal.  One comfortable half-marathon down, one to go!  

4.  Clock a half-marathon PB (i.e. anything below 01:56:12)

The Cigna Round the Bays Half also gave me a band new half-marathon PB!  I knocked almost four minutes off my previous PB to clock a 01:52:21, and now, of course, I want to go below 01:50:00...  But that's a goal for another year, ha!  For now I'm just enjoying having reached this one.  

5.  Find and implement five ways in which to do good to others through running

I recently discovered the Charity Miles app based on a reader's recommendation, and although I don't track all my runs through it, it's good to know that I'm making a difference when I do.  So why am I not quite all in?  Well, I must admit that I was hoping that for every mile run, it would contribute a specified amount of money to a charity of choice.  But, instead, as I understand it, there's a set pot of money, and the miles you log only increases the percentage of that pot that goes to your selected charity.  So for me personally it kind of feels that what I "earn" for my charity of choice is sort of "taken away" from another...?  Anyone else feel that way?

Anyway, I'm also planning to enter a virtual race raising funds for autism in April, as well as a local race benefiting troubled youth towards the end of March.  There's definitely still a bit of work to be done on this one!

How have you progressed with your running goals for 2017?  Please share your updates, so we can cheer each other on!  

Happy running!          

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February 2017 Coffee Date

Wow, February has literally just whooshed past!  It started off with me preparing for and looking forward to my first big race in New Zealand, and two kiddos in kindy.  And now, a mere 28 days later, I'm the proud owner of a Cigna Round the Bays finisher's medal (and brand new PB!) and we have one kiddo in kindy and one in "big school"...  What an eventful month!  So grab a cup of coffee, and let's catch up.  (Thanks to Laces and Lattes for the idea!)

Currently eating

Ah, eating...  I must confess that the whole eating situation here in NZ has caught me a bit off guard.  For our first two weeks here I was in a complete daze: New shops, new brands, and a variety so big that it made my head spin.  Thankfully I've since reached a point where I know what I want and where to get it, but unfortunately one challenge still remains: Food prices.  Oy.  Food is expensive in NZ.  Hugely expensive.  And I'm not talking about fancy, organic this or all-natural that, no.  I'm talking about normal, everyday grocery items like eggs, veggies and bread.  Ouch.

And if everyday grocery items are that expensive, it goes without saying that the healthy stuff is even worse.  Double ouch.  In South Africa it used to be pretty easy to find a wholesome, healthy snack or treat for under R10 (NZ$1) in most of the bigger centres.  Not here.  I really battle to find healthy (or any, for that matter!) snacks and treats for under NZ$2 (about R20).  So, yes.  It's so much more affordable to just buy the sugar-laden, unhealthy stuff (and I sadly have!), but then again that's not me at all.  So I rather go without, but then I end up feeling so deprived that I splurge on the affordable, sugary stuff anyway.  Sigh.

Let's just say that it's a work in progress.  I must add that, thankfully, the harder you look, the more places you discover with affordable(-ish) healthy things.  So there is progress.  Here's to keeping on looking and discovering many more gems.   

On a lighter note, we were delighted to find that commercial-type dark chocolate is much cheaper here than in SA.  Awesome, right?  (Or not...?)  The artisan stuff (read: best stuff) is still expensive, but good old Lindt is at least R10 a slab cheaper than in SA.  Happiness. 

The good (but expensive) stuff.

Currently drinking

One other thing that is really affordable in NZ, is coconut water.  Wahoo!  It costs just about as much as normal fruit juice, so we pretty much buy it on a weekly basis.  We've also found that coconut water is consumed by a much broader market here.  It's commonplace to be offered coconut water as a beverage when visiting friends, where back in SA that would result in some pretty bewildered stares, ha!  

Currently reading

Am I the only mom with toddlers on the planet who somehow never finds the time to read?  I look at other moms (with more and younger kids) and their "book-a-week" posts and just shake my head in disbelief.  Definitely not happening in our household.

I do still love to read, though, but currently my reading fix is limited to short blurbs from the two weekly local community newspapers, and Runner's World Aus/NZ (which also costs a fortune, by the way).  But don't you just love discovering new international running magazines?  I do, and I devour this monthly splurge from cover to cover.

Currently watching

After five years of watching little to no TV (except for the odd kids' show with the kiddos), Will and I have officially become the last two people on the planet to discover Netflix.  Yes.  Heartland is our series of choice (good, clean, family stuff) and we're properly hooked.  I must say that, apart from an initial binge or two, we're pretty disciplined about it and stick to one episode on weeknights when the kids are in bed, and two or three over weekends.  It's become our much anticipated daily couple's ritual before hitting the hay and yes, it's even better with dark chocolate.    

Monthly high(s)

Looking back, February has actually been one big highlight!

Miss K turned five, graduated from kindergarten and started "big school".  She took it all in her stride, with no tears, and just keeps on amazing us with how well she's adapting to NZ and getting by in a new language.  So proud!  (J Bear is doing great as well, and is speaking English with a proper Kiwi accent.)    

Running-wise, the Cigna Round the Bays Half Marathon (and new PB!) was the perfect culmination of 12 weeks of training and preparation.  It was my first "big" race in New Zealand and my first half marathon in more than two years, and although the distance was humbling, it just reminded me again how much I love racing 21.1 km.  With the kids a bit older now, I definitely think that I'll start adding half marathons to my race schedule more often.

Another February high was discovering that I was eligible for finally claiming my (hard-earned!) parkrun Club 25 volunteer shirt after not being able to do so in SA.  I ordered it (free of charge!) from the UK Wiggle site and, sure enough, it arrived in NZ a week later.  It's perfect.

And then last, but definitely not least, I came home one (hectic) weekday morning to find the most amazing care package filled with parkrun goodies from two SA parkrun friends on our front porch.  What an amazingly kind and generous gesture - Marina and Hermien, you made my week!

Latest challenge

And then lastly, as shared on the blog earlier this week, I have a very unexpected and exciting new challenge in the pipeline: The Saint Clair Vineyard Half Marathon!  It takes place during my 40th birthday weekend in May, and I'm really, really looking forward to celebrating this life milestone with a running adventure of note.  Can't wait!  

Phew, what a mouthful!  How has your February been?  And how's your running going?  

Onwards now to March!

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