Monday, 30 March 2020

Our Last parkrun Hurrah (Before Lockdown)

Isn't it crazy to think that life was still pretty normal a mere two weeks ago? That we ran in groups, hugged our friends, and still got our weekly parkrun fix...? And while it sure is hard not to have that (parkrun) barcode scanned every Saturday, Bear and I (unknowingly!) made the absolute most of our last parkrun hurrah before lockdown. 

Now, in order to fully appreciate this story, you need to know that Bear can be stubborn as a mule. And while I'm pretty sure that he inherited that trait from me, that doesn't make it any easier to navigate. Because when Bear decides that he's not doing or completing something, no cleverly devised parenting strategy in the world can make him change his mind. 

So when he started asking (pleading, actually) to join me at parkrun, I was in two minds about it. On the one hand, I was elated. Because what on earth can be better than parkrunning with a loved one?! On the other hand, I had flashbacks to a time, not so long ago, when he wailed that the few steps to the bus stop down our street were "way too far to walk"... 

But he persisted and I caved... And I'm so glad I did! Saturday morning came and, much to my delight, he was up and dressed without any nudging from my side. Not even the chilly autumn air dampened his enthusiasm! We had some breakfast, piled into the car, and soon found ourselves standing at the starting line of our home parkrun, giddy with anticipation.

All smiles before parkrun.

The event director set us off and, after a few customary bouts of sprinting and walking, we settled into a nice and relaxed pace. We chatted up a storm, giggled a lot and, in true Bear fashion, solved a truckload of word sums too! There were no tears, no frustration, and not even a single meltdown... Just a glorious, laidback morning of hanging with my Bear. 

A kind stranger even let Bear walk her dog for a while! [Pic by Jeff Stark.]

I didn't want the morning to end, so after finishing parkrun, we celebrated with an impromptu smoothie date. Cue more chatting, an abundance of brain freeze, and even more word sums thrown at my still-awaking brain.

Post-parkrun smoothie date. Still all smiles!

The perfect morning with my Big Bear. We'll be back for more after lockdown!


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Houston, We Have A Lockdown

It is Day 1 of our four-week Coronavirus lockdown here in New Zealand, and suddenly I feel the urge to write again. What better way to process everything that's going on than by putting pen to paper (figuratively speaking), right? Plus I figured it might be a good way to keep in touch without having to subject oneself to all the negativity being splashed over social media right now.

I must admit that I find the thought of not leaving home for the next four weeks, except for weekly trips to the grocery store, quite daunting. Will (my husband) is a house hen by nature and can (and will!) happily spend all of his free time inside our four walls. I, on the other hand, thrive on getting out. If the wheels turn, I'm on board! But I do, of course, also realise the seriousness and urgency of the current situation, and it is my heartfelt wish to do this right. To do what needs to be done with a positive attitude (throughout!) and in such a way that we don't turn into a negative, squabbling mess by Week 4 (and maybe beyond...?). And yes, the fact that so much of that will depend on me, as the mom of the house, weighs heavily on my shoulders.

You'll understand my elation, then, when it was announced that we'd still be able to run (or walk or cycle) in the streets during the lockdown. THANK YOU to the powers that be!! We have to go solo, of course, and not get within two meters of passersby, but hey, that's a small price to pay for endorphins! Running is just so incredibly valuable to me in terms of mental health perks (especially now!) that I can't even begin to describe how thankful I am for this arrangement. So this morning I laced up and headed out for my first official lockdown run. I swapped my usual scenic (and rather narrow) route along the riverbank for a jaunt through our neighbourhood. And while it wasn't anywhere near as picturesque as my usual running fix, it was glorious nonetheless.


We spent the rest of the day playing Monopoly, eating lunch outside on the trampoline (a new lockdown tradition?), building a pillow fort, scootering on the deck and doing some online school stuff. So far, so good...!

Thinking of all of you in these uncertain times. xx


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

A (Much Needed!) Change Of Scenery {Anderson parkrun Recap}

Spring is almost here...! And what better way to celebrate than with a quick family getaway, right? So Will and the kids took Friday off work and school and we packed up the car and headed north to beautiful Hawke's Bay for three days of family fun. 

We haven't been away in ages, so the change of scenery was much needed for all of us. J and Miss K literally counted down the sleeps to our adventure and, yes, the dreaded "are we there yet?!" popped up a mere three minutes after exiting our driveway... But the wait was so worth it. Hawke's Bay is amazing!

And while we had a whole list of family activities (and eats!) planned for the weekend, Saturday morning was, of course, set aside for parkrun. Having never visited the area before, Anderson parkrun not only served as an opportunity to indulge my (starved!) inner parkrun tourist, but also to notch up some sought-after parkrun challenge credits (A is for Anderson...!). Plus it was a chance to do one of my all-time favourite things: Explore on the run.

True to parkrun's nature, Anderson parkrun has a super friendly, welcoming vibe. The route is a two-and-a-bit lapper in and around Anderson park, and while the pre-run briefing of Naval Hill parkrun in SA stars its friendly resident ostrich, Anderson parkrun's briefing features a group of graceful swans. The latter of which, I can assure you, is a lot less intimidating than the former...!
       
The finishing chute.

The route consists of two-and-a-bit laps around Anderson park.

It was a cold and very windy run, with the rain thankfully staying away until later in the day. And while I struggled on the up-wind, the change of scenery did me a world of good. I was in my element! 

Where's Waldo? [Photo by Caleb Arrowsmith.]

Happy mama! [Photo by Anderson parkrun volunteers.]

I surprised myself by clocking a sub-26 for the first time in almost six months... I clearly need to travel more often! The concrete path no doubt played a role in the increased speed, but I do think that the new surroundings also had a lot to do with it. I'm a big believer in switching things up in order to remain motivated. 


Another highlight of the trip for me personally, was a quick post-parkrun visit to Hapi Clean Kai (Food) Co-op before heading back to our motel. Maaaan! I've been itching to try their smoothies for ages, and it certainly didn't disappoint. The Gentle Green Smoothie was delicious, refreshing and exactly what the doctor ordered to extend that parkrun high.


Thank you, Hawkes Bay, for a brilliant family weekend away. We will most definitely be back!


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Staying Strong

Like many (or most?) middle-of-the-pack runners, I suck at doing strength training. Or, while we're being honest, let's just call a spade a spade: I'm too lazy to do proper strength training. There. I said it. Sure, I do a few air squats here and clamshells there in order to strengthen my glutes and improve my running form. But am I consistently immersing myself in real, honest-to-goodness whole-body strength training? Nope. I'd rather run (for the hills).

It hasn't always been that way, though. Back in my late teens and up to my early thirties, having a gym membership was high up on my priority list, and with that came unlimited access to boot camp classes galore. I loved doing those and, once or twice a week, I'd squat, grunt, crawl and lunge my way to an endorphin high with either my dad or bestie by my side. We loved suffering through those torture sessions together, and while we admittedly spent the majority of our days battling delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), we were fit, strong and ready for anything.


Circa 2004-ish, with my bestie, Tanya, before one of our pre-dawn sweat sessions.

Fast forward ten years to my early forties and so many things have changed. Will and I have been blessed with two beautiful children, and while that in itself is reason enough to keep up the strength work, I just don't have the energy. Because being in charge of an energetically willful and determined five-year-old is so much easier when every inch of your body isn't silently screaming out with DOMS.


Ain't nobody got time for DOMS!

But here's the thing: Entering my forties has also taught me the real reason why staying strong is so important. Not to supplement running or to help improve my running form. And not even to stay in shape or have some much-needed me-time. (Although all of these things are, of course, wonderfully positive and important.) I'm slowly but surely starting to realise that staying strong now will be vital in enabling and allowing me to get the most out of the next phase of my life. I will need to be strong in order to optimally enjoy my sixties and beyond. 

How do I know that? By noticing, as the years tick by, that I'm slouching just a little bit deeper than I have before. By hearing my joints creak just a little bit louder when I get out of bed. And by watching my arms and upper body become softer than it's ever been. 

So, for the sake of my future self, I'm once again starting to squat, grunt, crawl and lunge my way to happiness - albeit on a less intensive scale. DOMS be damned!


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Random Pieces Of Running Gear That (Unexpectedly) Stood The Test Of Time

Will used to have a pair of ragged old rugby shorts that he would slip into every night after work. Dating back to his high school glory days, the shorts were about 20 years old, and, trust me, it showed. Its edges were frayed, its once bright green colour had faded to an unappealing khaki shade, and it had a strategically placed, gaping hole that some would regard reason enough to deem its wearing completely inappropriate. But to him, even after two decades of wear and tear, those shorts were like baby bear's porridge: Juuuuuuust right. It was comfort personified.

And while I teased him endlessly about being stuck in the 80s (he firmly believes that I had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of those shorts when we emigrated to New Zealand three years ago...), I completely get it. Sometimes, either through chance or a hefty price tag, you come across a piece of clothing or gear that just keeps on going no matter what. And so it is for me too.

Back in 2009, at the race expo of my very first half marathon, I bought a bright pink New Balance running jacket completely on a whim. I paid something like R90 for it (NZ$9!) and didn't even give a second thought to either its quality or potential durability. But looking back now, I realise that it was the buy of the decade. It's the jacket of eternal youth! And unlike Will's beloved green PT shorts, the jacket (genuinely!) still looks brand new: No fading, no fraying, and no gaping holes. I should have bought ten.


The hot pink jacket of eternal youth.

Another piece of running gear - if you can call it that - that has (unexpectedly) stood the test of time, is a leather Endorphin Warrior mantra bracelet that I received in a Secret Santa-type runner's gift exchange back in 2011. I fell in love with it the moment I set eyes on it, and today, 8+ years and a bazillion sweaty, rainy runs later, I still love it just as much, if not more. The clip is still in perfect working order, the wording hasn't faded one bit, and the leather strap is well-worn but sturdy. The perfect Secret Santa gift if ever there was one.


Five hard-earned Kalahari kilometers... The mantra was very necessary that day!

Last, but not least, special mention has to go to my trusty little Samsung YP-60 MP3-player. At the risk of sounding like my dad, who only switched to a smartphone because his beloved old push-button Nokia phone started leaking battery acid into his pants, I love this little gadget to the point where I feel no need to upgrade to something more modern. Yes, I realise that MP3-players are so yesterday. But this little beauty is compact, light, rechargeable and didn't cost an arm and a leg. What more does a girl need? And, best of all, it's still going strong after 15 years of use. Sure, these days I have to apply constant pressure to the earphone socket in order for sound to be distributed to both ear pods instead of just one (which, admittedly, puts it in the same category as Will's dilapidated green shorts), but who cares? It's my MP3-player and I'll play it until it dies. 

Juuuuuuuust right.

... or at least until it mysteriously disappears or starts leaking battery acid into my hot pink running jacket! 



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