Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Be still, my heart...

I've always been super careful not to push J and Miss K into running. Sure, they didn't have much say in the matter when they were babies and I took them on our stroller runs, but their constant, happy chattering and long, peaceful stroller naps showed me that they rather enjoyed it. In fact, all three of us loved our season of singing and squealing (them) and grunting and gasping (me) on the run.  

Miss K (2) at our very first parkrun event at Greenpoint in Cape Town 5 years ago. [Photo by Run Cape Town.] 

But, just like most good things, our stroller running chapter eventually (and very reluctantly!) came to an end, leaving me to once again spend most of my runs clocking solo mileage. Until a few weeks ago.

One Friday evening, completely out of the blue, Miss K asked if she could join me for parkrun the next morning. And while my heart instantly leaped with joy, I carefully explained to her that a 5K is quite far and that she had to make really sure that she felt up to the challenge. To which, of course, she promptly replied: "I'm ready!". Be still, my happy, thumping mama heart!      

Oh, happy day! Miss K's very first self-powered parkrun. [Photo by Jeff Stark.] 

Our run went exactly as expected. The first kilometer was a joyful conglomeration of jokes, giggles, and over-dramatic leaps over mounds of horse poop. After which the going got a little (okay, a lot) tougher. It was hot, 5 kays is far for a pair of tiny, unpractised legs, and there might have been a little mini-meltdown or two. But I loved every glorious second of it - horse poop, meltdowns and all.  

In true runner fashion, all hardship was instantly forgotten as the finish line crept into sight. We picked up speed, Miss K surged past me, and she crossed the finish line sporting the biggest, happiest smile. "So when can we do this again, Mom?", she panted proudly. Not soon enough, Beautiful Girl. Not soon enough!  

Friday, 8 February 2019

The chickenpox and the NENDY {Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun}

Towards the end of 2018, my parkrun tourism count for the year was sitting at a measly four. And what's more, only one of those runs were completed at a new-to-me parkrun venue. Needless to say that I was itching to get out there and explore! So out came the diaries and on came the smiles as we locked in a quick weekend getaway to Greytown, aka my NENDY (parkrun lingo for "Nearest Event Not Done Yet"), for the final weekend of 2018.

Excitement grew as the date drew nearer, with visions of our resort's indoor pool and a visit to a new parkrun venue serving as main drawing cards. But then, disaster struck. As the rest of the Western world woke up to dreams of glazed hams and Pavlovas on Christmas Eve, we woke up to... chickenpox.     

It was Bear's turn first, and while it thankfully appeared that he had a mild case of the pox, we could do nothing but wait it out. His spots had exactly four days to either get worse or a whole lot better. And yes, the bulk of those days were spent in prayer. By grace, the latter of the two scenarios played out: He only developed a handful of spots and by the 28th, travel day, his blisters were gone and only a few scabs remained. Hallelujah! It was all systems go for Greytown.

Our road trip was a delight. Greytown is literally located only a few rounds of "I spy..." and one smoothie stop away from our home. And after settling into our hotel room, the weekend morphed into a blissful blur of naps, playground adventures, and indoor pool visits. Family holiday heaven!

Way too small, but gloriously good: A quick smoothie stop at Food Forest Organics.

My extra slice of running mom heaven came on Saturday morning when I snuck out of the hotel room while the other three were still asleep. It was time for parkrun! 

The Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun venue is located a few kilometers outside of Greytown, and what a joy it was to be greeted by the same laidback, welcoming community and vibe that parkrun is known for worldwide. 

I especially loved the story behind this particular parkrun route: It winds along a section of the former Greytown-Woodside rail line that was operational in the area between 1880 and 1953. But if history isn't your thing, don't worry. The breathtaking Rimutakas and peaceful surrounding pastures make a visit to this fast and flat gravel course more than worthwhile.

I ended up clocking a 25:43 as the third lady home - super chuffed for this chance to explore my seventh parkrun venue in New Zealand. And, of course, no parkrun tourism stint would be complete without a post parkrun smoothie, right?

Just in case you were wondering: Miss K did end up catching chickenpox too. But thankfully only after New Year's Day, when we were already safely back home from our NENDY adventure.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Happy holidays...?

With our end-of-year ballet concerts and school Christmas parties officially a thing of the past, there's no denying that the holiday season is upon us. And with more and more campervans and caravans coming out of hibernation and crawling onto the roads, I can't help but feel just a twinge of good old summer holiday cheer.

Summertime - time for our annual strawberry picking tradition!

The start of the holiday season has, however, caught me slightly off guard this year. Because while this will be our third Christmas in New Zealand, it's the first one where it feels like every second fellow Saffa is either heading to SA to visit friends and family for the holidays, or hosting international family over here. And, to be honest, it sucks. 

So for the first time since moving to New Zealand, the start of the holiday season has me longing for Africa in a big, big way. I miss Table Mountain, proteas and window shopping at the Waterfront. I miss the Lowveld, its mangoes and the peace and quiet that can only be found around a Cadac braai at Pafuri's picnic spot. I miss rooibos tea, Johnny Glegg and Riana Nel. I miss "howzit", "lekke(r)" and "yebo yes". I miss the Kalahari, its doringhout fires, and Vryburg Spur's sweet potato fries. Yes, I miss my beautifully complex, cherished African roots.

Big Bay parkrun with Table Mountain in the background.

So does this mean that we want to move back to SA? Heck no. New Zealand is our home now and we love it here. But this Christmas, just for a while, indulge me as I reminisce about the beauty of the country that we left behind. And maybe, just maybe, next Christmas it will be our turn to visit its beautiful shores once again.  

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

A tale of two pictures

Two weekends ago, I ran a great parkrun. The weather was fine, I felt strong, and I clocked a sub-26 5K for the first time in weeks. I felt really good during the run and then, afterward, felt even better when a runner whom I really admire (she's a machine!) commented on my parkrun pic that I had great form and made it look easy. Cue warm fuzzies all around!

Photo credit: Jeff Stark.

But then last Saturday, a mere seven days later, this happened... Bad form, bad posture, and a look of exhaustion that's enough to make even the onlookers tired. In all honesty, I did have a really bad run, with zero energy and lead in my legs for the entire 5 kays. I was nonetheless rather surprised when a sweet fellow parkrunner asked if I was okay post-run. But one look at my running pic for the day and the reason for their concern became glaringly obvious, ha!

Photo credit: Jeff Stark.

So why am I sharing this unflattering picture (and I have a whole collection of them!) with you? Because, in the past, I would have allowed it to steal all my joy. I would have looked at it and, in an instant, let it rob me of all the pleasure that I derived from a specific run. Why? Because somehow, subconsciously, I felt that my worth was based, at least in part, on how I looked. If I looked good on a running (or any!) picture, I'd feel happy and confident, but if I looked terrible, I'd feel discouraged and disappointed. 

But you know what? These past few weeks I've really been reminded again that our worth is determined by one thing, and one thing alone: The price that was paid for us on the Cross. We're loved. We're chosen. And we're rejoiced over with singing. And that's something that will never, ever change. Yes, we mess up and yes, we sometimes look a mess. But our worth and value, in Christ, will never, ever change.

So for me, this unflattering blooper was actually a mini celebration. Because for the first time in a long, long while (maybe ever...?), my first reaction when I saw it, was a sincere giggle, and not a feeling of disappointment or shame. After being reminded of my true worth - as it is written in the Word - for the past few weeks, I could see the picture for what it truly was. It was simply an unflattering picture of a very tired, but still worthy, child of God.    

Don't make the same mistake that I did for all of those years!


Monday, 3 September 2018

Chapter Stop-And-Smell-The-Roses

A little more than two years ago, when we were bang in the middle of toddlerhood squared, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about the chaotic state of our existence (you can read it here). And while we definitely still have our moments, I'm happy to report that we've all survived Chapter Chaos and that things are now officially less chaotic. Well mostly, anyway.

Chaos? What chaos?

And while life chapters and training chapters are not quite the same, I'm slowly but surely starting to ease into a new training chapter too. On Saturday, I ran my first sub-25 parkrun in five long months. And not only has it been a while since I've clocked a sub-25, but I've also clocked only two of them this entire year. A far cry from the 12 sub-25s I clocked in 2015!

Second sub-25 for 2018. [Pic by Jeff Stark.]

But you know what really got me thinking? The fact that Saturday's effort hurt. And the fact that I wasn't sure that I want to hurt on the run anymore. Yes, seeing that sub-25 on my watch after the run was thrilling, but I couldn't help but feel that an easy bird-watching jog along the river bank or a good old plog down to the beach would have been equally rewarding. Who am I, right?!

So while I'm definitely not done chasing PBs, I'm certainly enjoying this new state of mind. It's taken me 40 long years to realize that every run can be a good one. Not just the ones with a shiny new PB or a gong of a medal waiting at the end. 

Post-run shenanigans with Bear.

Here's to remembering to stop and smell the roses!

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