Feature in Runner’s World…

I started running in 2010. It was my go-to when I decided to abstain from alcohol, seeking a healthy lifestyle. I’d never done any form of exercise before, so breaking into the sport wasn’t something that happened overnight.

Being overweight and unfit didn’t help either. I recall how tough it was to run for a minute. It felt like my chest was going to burst and I’d faint from exertion. But I didn’t give up. Before long I was able to run for three minutes and walk breaks became shorter. Soon I was able to tackle a 5km, much to my delight. That’s when I joined a running club and started taking it seriously.

In conjunction with a healthy eating plan, the weight melted. I entered races, loved the thrill of competing and became smitten with running. It taught me discipline, perseverance and setting goals I could conquer. In return I appreciated my body, challenged myself to push past mental limits and felt blessed to run in a beautiful City.

I wrote a piece on why I love running in 2015. It was published in Runner’s World and Modern Athlete. This was a huge accomplishment for me, gaining exposure not only for running but intertwining my passion for writing.

Although I was riding the wave in running, I was plagued with many injuries. I was training for my first marathon in 2015 when I fell prey to plantar fasciitis, crushing my goal. I soon underwent a double bunionectomy that saw me side-lined from running for the next six months. This was torturous as I’d become dependent on it and couldn’t find anything to take its place. The only thing that kept me going was the hope of returning healthier and stronger to the sport I adored.

And I did. Taking time off makes one appreciate running even more. It didn’t matter that I had to start from scratch and gain fitness back. My muscles remembered how much it loved the road, my mind opened to new goals and I never stopped believing I’d conquer the next big race.

Sadly the injuries didn’t abate. The more I trained, especially on hills, my knees cried. I was soon diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a degeneration of cartilage in my joints . It broke my heart for I knew I’d never be able to run the way I used to and accepting this wasn’t easy.

In February, I underwent bilateral knee arthroscopy to clean out the knees and inject good blood cells, aiding the healing process. My recovery was painfully slow and once again I was forced out of running for two months. This time I questioned whether I’d be able to run again, whether it was time to call it quits on a sport that means everything to me.

Then in March I got a message from Lisa Abdellah, Deputy Editor of Runner’s World asking whether I was interested in featuring in the Run it Off story. I was gobsmacked – why was I given this opportunity when I was on the verge of stopping. It was as if the universe was saying running wasn’t ready to let me go.

My journey has taught me not to have expectations where running is concerned. Not to compare myself to others, to always listen to my body and afford it time to heal. The joy of running isn’t how far I run or how many races I do. It’s being grateful for the body I have, for the time I spend on the road and the glory running evokes in my soul.

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Runner’s World feature 🙂

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Trusting Intuition…

Much has happened in the past two months. Last year I was diagnosed with early signs of osteoarthritis in my knees. As a runner, it spelt disaster. It wasn’t easy to accept I may never be able to run the way I used to. With that came a host of emotions I couldn’t deal with.

When I was ready to slip my running shoes on again, I found I couldn’t run more than two times a week. My knees were sore and I was forced to take time off to rest. I’d also decided to change my running club. This wasn’t an easy decision to make as it’s where I took running seriously and turned it into a success. Yet the time felt right to move on, to shut the door on the past and look to the future.

Little did I know that further setbacks were waiting when I decided to join another club. I made an appointment to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon said to be the “bee’s knees”. Upon studying the MRI scans, he confirmed that although they looked bad, he could “fix” them. This meant performing arthroscopy on both knees to clean the fragmented cartilage and inject vials of ACP, my own healthy blood to boost the healing process. He said it was a minor procedure and I’d be out of work for two days and be back to normal again.

I didn’t like undergoing another procedure and didn’t have a good feeling about it. However, it seemed like a quick fix, exactly what my knees needed to get back to running. I didn’t take time to think it through, instead setting a date for the first week in February. I had a jam packed month with Neil’s birthday, two Romance Writing Workshops and a busy period at work.

As the date drew closer, I started to panick. The procedure entailed going under anaesthetic. I loathed it’s side effects of nausea and weakness. When I informed people within my circle of the pending op, I didn’t hear positive stories. Yet I’d already committed to the date and felt I couldn’t back out. I told myself it was normal to feel jittery about an op, that other’s experiences wouldn’t be mine. I’d be fine and before long, would be running again.

On the morning of the op, Neil and I rushed to the hospital to check in. We were taken by surprise when the hospital informed we needed to pay in a hefty amount that the medical aid wouldn’t cover. I was taken aback. I’d never had to do this before. I lost my cool and said, “What happens if I die on the operating table, would we still be responsible for the bill?” Neil calmed me down and said not to stress, that he’d pay and everything would be fine.

But I wasn’t alright. I was angry and scared. All I had was Neil assuring he’d stay by my side and be waiting when it was done. He walked alongside me as they wheeled me into theatre, saying how much he loved me. The anaesthetist was waiting to insert a needle in my vein and before long I was out. I came to when I was brought back to the ward and found Neil waiting as promised.

I drifted in and out of sleep. Nausea was setting in and I battled to have something to eat before I was discharged. My knees were tightly wrapped in bandages and I couldn’t feel a thing. The Surgeon came by to say the op was a success. I enquired whether I needed crutches to walk or had to see the physio before I left. He said not at all, I’d be able to move around when I got home and further treatment wasn’t necessary.

Neil helped me to dress, put me in a wheelchair and took me home. When I got home I jumped straight into bed to sleep off the rest of the anaesthetic. Awaking the next morning to go to the loo, I couldn’t get down the two stairs leading to the bathroom. My right knee was locked, it felt like the patella was raw and every movement I made was punctuated with pain. I sensed something was wrong. This wasn’t merely the aftereffects of surgery and anaesthetic, this was serious.

I tried to contact the Surgeon’s office but since it was a Friday afternoon, no one was answering. I was in a state, sobbing thinking the worst. Neil tried to allay my fears saying the pain would settle and I needed to give it time. I wasn’t buying it. I removed the bandages as they were suffocating me. I was shocked to see how swollen my knees were. The right even more so. The wounds were covered with transparent plasters. They were caked in dry blood and were a hideous sight.

Even though the surgeon didn’t tell me to ice my knees or elevate them, I did so religiously. I knew what was needed to get the swelling down. I couldn’t sleep comfortably for every movement brought on a fresh shot of pain in the knees. I was living on pain meds, numbing myself.

By Sunday evening, it was clear there was no way I’d be okay to return to work. I could barely get around, let alone drive. I informed my Boss that something was terribly wrong and I needed to see the Surgeon. I called the Surgeon the next morning and relayed my symptoms. He didn’t seem taken aback by my condition, saying I needed rest, to keep icing the knees and see him on Wednesday. I was livid. Here I was, in agony, unable to get around, not recovering the way he said I would and he didn’t care.

When Wednesday rolled around, my condition hadn’t improved. Neil took me to the hospital and we walked to the Doctor’s room at a snail’s pace. Sitting before the Surgeon, I spoke my mind. I asked whether he’d worked more on the right knee as it couldn’t bend. He said yes, as it had more damage. I questioned why he omitted to mention this and also why he hadn’t said that it would take longer to recover. He said in most cases patients heal quickly. Then there was the 10% who took longer. Obviously I fell into that bracket. I said he should have alerted me to this, that I shouldn’t have been given false hope I’d be fine. He apologised and seemed to take me serious thereafter. He said I should see a physio and cycle as soon as possible to strengthen the knees. I looked at him dumbfounded… now I had to fork out more money to see a physio to fix my knees due to his doing. And how was I going to cycle when I could barely walk!

To say I was disappointed in the procedure and the Surgeon would be an understatement. I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s been a long and frustrating road to recovery. I was booked off for the rest of the week recover. During this time my anxiety spiralled. I didn’t have faith in physio’s either, yet I had no choice but to find one desperately. Through sheer luck I found a physio who answered all my questions on the phone and seemed to know her thing. I immediately set up an appointment with Wendy Snyers. After a brief examination she picked up that the patella on the right knee had run off track. The muscles along the entire leg had stiffened thus not allowing any movement. She said I was probably weak on my right side heading into the op and since the main aim was to fix the knees, my muscles caved in. She had to release the fascia throughout the leg. This was done by pressing deep into the muscles, emitting a pain that was unbearable. The result was I could bend my knee and had some movement. For the first time since the op, I had hope that I’d turned the corner and would heal.

But it wasn’t a quick recovery. I had to see her four more times for my knee to gain full mobility. Walking around was an effort as I’d become slow. I had to go to gym three times a week to cycle. I found the more I cycled, the patella stayed on track and the muscles surrounding the knees grew stronger. I had to learn to climb stairs again. I’d lost count of the many times I cried out of pure frustration.

I took so much for granted when I was healthy and fit. I thought I was invincible and my body would remain this way. It’s only when one has an op or gets older, does it sink in how precious the human body is. It carries one through the storms of life and demands protection and care.

From this dilemma I learnt to trust my instincts. They are like whisperings of unease bubbling around. They shouldn’t be underestimated for they hold power and speak truth. When I ignore them, terrible things transpire. I’m trying to be more receptive to them, to listen carefully, not to make hasty decisions, affording myself the gift of time and patience to figure it out.

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Cape Town 12 One Run…

I haven’t written much about my running for a while. As many of you know I’m an avid runner with a passion for the sport. However, I’ve fallen prey to a number of injuries along the way and had to practice patience, downscale my goals and build my form from scratch.

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Off we go 🙂

Speak to any injured runner and they can attest to how devastating it is to let go of your racing dreams or even accept one might not attain their former glory. As much as I love running and feel I’m flying high as a kite at times, it’s always short-lived and easily forgotten after a terrible run.

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Carnival performers 🙂

And non-runners would ask – why do it, why bother, why waste your time pursuing a sport that breaks you down (literally), drags you out of a warm bed at unholy hours , makes you all sweaty and miserable when you can’t run? For me, it’s simple – running is my escape, joy and nemesis whirled into one!

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Mermaids cheering us on 🙂

This year has seen me take on a number of 10km races. It took many setbacks to finally accept my body works best with consistency and improving my time rather than increasing the mileage. Neil and I have been spoilt for choice, running a race almost every weekend in Cape Town. Having a partner who shares my love of running is priceless ❤

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Sophia Town dancers 🙂

A race that stood out for me was the Cape Town 12 One Run. It launched its inaugural event in May last year to mass participation and was voted the best race of 2015. I missed it and had serious fomo! When I saw it being advertised early in 2016, I knew I had to take part. I immediately entered Neil and I to run the 12km distance. Up to this point we’d only run 10km races, so the additional 2km’s seemed rather daunting!

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Cape Town 12 One run pic: drum majorettes 🙂

Setting off to collect our race numbers a day before the race, I was already hyped up. The Green Point athletics stadium was abuzz with runners waiting in line. We kept each other company sharing who’d run it before and what to expect. Some were even saying they were aiming for personal bests as it was a relatively flat race. All this talk of running and racing was music to my ears and I couldn’t wait to line up.

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Carnival Performers 🙂

From the moment I opened my eyes on race day, I was awoken by a lovely sms from the organisers saying it was time to rise and shine and I needed to catch a bus to the start. As the race commenced only at nine, we had sufficient time to get to town, seek parking and make our way to the Grand Parade to catch a Mi-city bus to Milnerton. I’d never travelled on the vamped up busses before and Neil and I were like two school children giggling in our seats.

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Cape Town 12 One Run pic

Everything about the race spelt fun and fabulous. From the carnival performers in their colourful ensembles, the marimba bands, the minstrels, drum majorettes, DJ’s, African dancers, firefighters and so much more. Each kilometre marked a different group performing and cheering the runners on. I didn’t feel the distance whizz by as I was loving every moment, taking in the sights and sounds.

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Yay we did it 🙂

Races like these remind me why I love the sport. It’s never about beating the next person, rather challenging yourself to do better, to soak in your surroundings and appreciate the countless people who give up their weekends to ensure your safety and cheer you on.

Congratulations CT 12, you’ve outdone yourselves 🙂

An Injured Runner…

I have been quiet about my running due to picking up two dreaded injuries. These mishaps prevented me from competing in the 21km Gun Run and I was gutted.

Recovering from bilateral bunionectomy last year where I was booked off from running for six months – the one thing that kept me going was the hope that I would return stronger and full of drive. When I finally received the go-ahead to return to my beloved running in May, I was elated.

I started off slowly and got back into the swing of things. A friend of mine wanted to train for a ten kilometre race and even though I knew it was too soon for me, I decided to train with her. I managed to run that race with plenty of walk breaks, which didn’t result in a great time, but I was glad I’d challenged myself. I went on to run another 10km race and a 15km race in quick succession. This is when I picked up something was terribly wrong with my right leg. It would go numb a few kilometres into a run, it felt like I was pulling a lead pole and I was placing immense strain on my good leg. I was expending so much energy getting through training runs, it was starting to mess with my mental belief in myself and I was becoming worried.

I consulted my Podiatrist on the numbness and he diagnosed it as compartment syndrome. This happens when pressure inside an enclosed space impedes the flow of blood to and from the affected tissues resulting in bleeding and swelling after an injury. I researched the condition and tried everything under the sun to warm my muscles before and after my runs, wore compression sleeves to alleviate the symptoms and stretched my calves religiously. Some days it would allow me to run pain free, whilst others it would torture me over a good few kilometres and then vanish as soon as it appeared.

I knew that I wanted to compete in the Gun Run. It was one of my favourite races and I needed to redeem the awful performance I encountered last year when I was injured with plantar fasciitis and struggled to cross the finish line. So I soldiered on, despite a rain cloud hanging over my head, intent on working hard towards my goal. At this point, we were incorporating hill work as the race itself had a treacherous incline which could make or break your performance.

I’ve never been a fan of hills and probably never will. Races are peppered with hills and one truly cannot escape them in Cape Town. We settled on Plattekloof which is notorious for its monster hills and you’re guaranteed a heart-pounding workout. I worked hard running those hills and when I felt I couldn’t tackle some, gave it a miss and walked up instead. All in all I thought I was doing pretty well in terms of my training and truly believed I would be race ready.

I was mistaken. During my final long run of 18 kilometres, I felt a stabbing pain in my right hip. Every step I took caused excruciating discomfort in my hip – but I refused to back down, wanting to bag the mileage and get the run over and done with. When I arrived home my hip was screaming and I was on the verge of tears. I knew something was horribly wrong and I needed to rehab it as soon as possible.

Once again I researched my symptoms and it pointed in the direction of trochanteric bursitis. This is a condition characterized by tissue damage and inflammation of the bursa (a small fluid filled sac located at the outer aspect of the hip) causing pain in the hip. This typically occurs due to repetitive running or walking (especially up hills or on uneven surfaces), placing strain on the bursa via the gluteals.

When I got out of bed the next morning I was limping and in agony and had to seek medical attention. I called numerous Orthopaedic Surgeons for an appointment without any luck as many were fully booked. I finally found one in the City and rushed to his office. Upon examination he diagnosed my injury as trochanteric bursitis and proceeded to administer a cortison injection in the affected area. Immediately I felt relief from the symptoms and thought it would be the end of it. He then gave me the devastating news that I shouldn’t compete in the Gun Run and booked me off from running for six weeks with physiotherapy to strengthen my weak hip.

I walked out of his consulting room shattered, my hopes for running the race crushed and I couldn’t see the silver lining in this situation. Receiving this news during the week of my party placed a damper on my mood realising I had to come to terms with this development. Yet I couldn’t – I bawled my eyes out and called Neil who tried to assure me everything would be okay and we would get through this together.

When one realises you have an injury and the goal that you worked so hard to attain is out of reach it is hard to understand the process, let alone accept your fate. Running is my passion, it is what I clung to when I was overcoming my alcoholism, it has always been my saving grace. For it to be snatched away from me again, albeit for 6 weeks, felt like my body was failing me and my goals were unreachable.

It was incredibly difficult to break the news to my training friends as it hurt so much talking about it. I also found it hard to remain positive and to be my happy self when I couldn’t get the endorphins pumping as I wasn’t allowed any cardio. It seemed like I was sinking into a deep dark hole and I didn’t know how to get back on track.

What made it harder to deal with was that the race took place this past weekend. I knew it was going to be tough to handle, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as punishing. My husband and friend ran the race and as much as I wanted to support them, I couldn’t find the courage to cheer them on from the side lines or shut off my emotions. I was glad they’d done it, they trained hard and deserved the victory. But it was hard to be joyful as that was my goal and one I couldn’t achieve.

Now in hindsight, I did not allow myself enough time for my body to grow accustomed to the kilometres and the training I was pushing it through soon after my operation. It needed time and space to condition itself, I should have followed a conservative training program from the onset – but I didn’t and now I am paying the price through injury.

I believe that every setback we encounter teaches us a lesson. I’ve tried to comprehend what mine is and I guess it boils down to patience and listening to what my body is saying. I’ve had to downscale my goals and open my mind to other possibilities of building a stronger me.

I will never give up on my running goals, it might take me longer to get there, but I know I will succeed, maybe not in my time but in God’s time.

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Hello September…

Spring has to be my favourite season of the year! I love the sweet sound of birds serenading me awake, an early morning sun rise, the crisp air, colourful flowers on show and the promise of a glorious day.

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In Cape Town, winter is still clinging on for dear life, not wanting to let up. However, as the days roll by, I can feel its clutches weakening as the sun makes its appearance and spring beckons.

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I’ve been earnestly in training for the Gun Run looming in October. As it’s a 21km race, I’ve been increasing the distance steadily hoping to pack in all the training. My long runs over weekends have been marvellous and exhilarating in the company of my husband and friends. They motivate me to train harder, stick by me when the going gets tough and rejoice when the run is in the bag.

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I submitted my fiction story I wrote to my Writer’s Review Group this week. I polished and preened it and every time I read it, couldn’t help feel a surge of joy. It has to be the most rewarding experience I’ve felt in a long while, realising I was able to deliver a gem through hard work and determination.

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September happens to be my birthday month and I will be turning forty. Throughout my thirties, I’ve always dreaded this moment, thinking it would mark the death of my youthful days and kick start the beginning of the end. Yet in this year alone I’ve learnt how harsh life can be losing a parent and how resilient I became with each passing day. I’ve learnt to say no and not have to explain myself to anyone. I’ve learnt that I don’t need to impress people, those who love and respect me already see my worth. I truly hold the key to my happiness and my future looks bright.

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I hope September stays around longer and works its magic on my big day. I want to revel in the fun with my family and friends and pause to take in the moment. I wish all my readers could experience this celebration with me – but not to fret, I will snap plenty of photos and document everything as if you were right there with me 🙂

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I wish you all a splendid spring 🙂

Ten reasons why I love winter running…

  1. I know, the weather can be downright erratic – however my rule of thumb is, unless it’s pouring with rain, winter truly is the best season to run in, set goals and build fitness.
  2. Running yanks my butt out of a seated position and gets me moving.
  3. I warm up nicely, my breathing stabilises and I find a rhythm.
  4. It clears my head of pent up stress and frustration.
  5. I don’t need to lather on the sun screen, my complexion is protected and to an Indian that’s priceless.
  6. It doesn’t matter how tough the work-out is, when I’m done I feel like I’ve conquered Mount Everest.
  7. I get to run with passionate runners who love the sport, chat and laugh along the way, taking my mind off the distance.
  8. I’m fortunate to witness the most breath-taking winter sunsets in Cape Town, a pale sun sinking into an amber horizon, saying farewell to the day with a promise to return.
  9. I can hop into a hot shower; wash all the tiredness away, feeling refreshed and satisfied with myself.
  10. Oh and that biscuit or block of chocolate I crave – I can savour it and not feel a shred of guilt 🙂

First race of the year!

A friend of mine, Jaya shared with me her goal running a ten kilometre race. We had previously run a five kilometre race together a few years ago and I knew she had the potential of realising this aspiration with a bit of training.

I decided to take her under my wing, offer guidance and train with her. We selected the UWC Fast and Flat ten kilometre race in Bellville. We had less than three weeks to prepare for the race and even I felt a bit overwhelmed, considering I’d only resumed running after a six month lay-off!

I worked out a program for her to follow during the week as she trained in the gym on a treadmill and I attempted to clock in as many kilometres as I could at the running club. Training during the week is demanding as I try to run on three days after work. I am always scurrying to change into my gear, to make it on time to my club, the onset of winter making itself known as daylight disappears earlier. Nevertheless, I persevered and was getting back into my running swing, building consistency which is key to effective training.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who is supportive of everything I undertake. The icing on the cake is that he enjoys running just as much as I do and I can count on him to train with me over weekends. On the first weekend of training, Neil and I met up with Jaya to tackle the longer distances. We ran a slow and steady seven kilometres, taking short walk breaks to alleviate the strain placed on our legs, affording us the ability to increase the distance without feeling fatigued.

During the week I continued to build on my consistency. I ran time trials at my club, which are meant to push you out of your comfort zone, aiding you to become faster and stronger in races, affording you the edge of improving your pace.

The second and final weekend of training consisted of running a full distance of ten kilometres. We decided to take our run out to Mouille Point, jogging around the Waterfront, careening pass Cape Town stadium, dashing into Green Point Park, trailing off to Sea Point and finally returning to our starting position. It felt mighty grand realising we ran the full distance and could comfortably look forward to the upcoming race.

The subsequent week brought on frosty temperatures meshed with unwelcome rain clouds, threatening our plans. The weather predicted a shower in the morning of the race and Jaya was become antsy. I reassured her that it probably wouldn’t rain and if it did, might only drizzle which would be easy to run through. Little did I know what was in store for us!

Springing up at the crack of dawn for a race is always my pet peeve. I moan and groan all the way until I get out of the house and then switch into race mode. It was an icy morning, however it wasn’t raining and I was optimistic we were going to have a great race. When the gun was fired and runners were zipping past us, I was settling into my running pace and started to warm up nicely, when it starting raining – first softly and then like a waterfall! I struggled to compose myself, battling my mind to continue running despite the elements. I was starting to freeze from the inside; my hair was dripping, my clothing soaked and my running shoes sloshed as I ran along the road, dodging puddles. Try as I may I couldn’t get warm and this was hampering my performance.

Luckily for us, the rain ceased after a while. At the first water stand, I slowed down and grabbed something to drink and repositioned myself. Jaya and Neil had pushed off, running their own race while I gathered my thoughts and put plan B into action. I decided to take it in my stride and run at a comfortable pace in order to get through the race. As the second refreshment station came into sight, I grabbed a powerade, downed it and pushed forward to tackle the last three kilometres of the race.

Finally I had found my rhythm, my body had warmed up and I felt I was going to make it. Although I was running slowly, I was making steady progress and that benefitted me greatly. I could hear the loud speakers in the distance, the sound of the crowd and I knew the end was near. Crossing the finish line was an ecstatic moment, a medal placed in my hand, an accolade of triumph.

Spotting Neil, Jaya and my club friends at the finish was a delight. Hugs, big smiles and high fives were in full swing. I was incredibly proud of Jaya for completing her first ten kilometre race under trying conditions to reach her goal. I patted myself on the back realising the training and effort I’d put into running the race, revelling in the joyous moment of the sweet fruit of my toil.

Running remains one of my most treasured hobbies. It drives me to continuously better myself in ways I couldn’t believe possible. I have made huge strides in overcoming many obstacles in my life and running has been my saving grace. No matter where my journey leads me, I know for sure that running will play a monumental role in powering me to achieve my aspirations.

On the Road Again…

After six long months of recovering from a double bunionectomy, I was finally given the go-ahead to run again!

I returned to my running club, Run Walk for Life in Milnerton, bursting with excitement to see all my fellow runners, walkers and friends. Hugging and chatting was the order of the day and I was delighted with the warm welcome I received.

Heading out on the road had me feeling a tad nervous for it would be the first time I would attempt to run after a long lay-off. Countless thoughts overwhelmed me – would I be able to run without any pain, would my feet be able to sustain the impact, was I going to be so unfit I wasn’t going to manage a minute of jogging!

Our Coach, Anne Műller accompanied me on the road and we started off walking for a while and then jogged for a bit, very slow at first, getting the grip of placing one foot in front of the other and attempting not to over-exert myself. I stopped to take a walk and I could already feel how flustered and unfit I was. We continued in this fashion for about four kilometres. My left knee started wobbling every time I attempted to run and this upset me somewhat and played on my mind. We managed to finish our walk/run in thirty-nine minutes and although I was glad to be on the road again, it felt like an anti-climax.

Travelling home I felt rather despondent. My first day wasn’t what I expected at all. I started having all sorts of crazy thoughts that my knees were acting up and I would need to take time off again. But that would be ridiculous – there’s no way I was going to consider that! I cannot possibly let a little knee pain derail my efforts of returning to a sport I adore and missed terribly.

As luck would have it, I picked up the latest issue of Runners World and my eyes fell on the segment “essential guide to strong knees”. I greedily read the advice, attempting to identify my problem, scrutinizing the exercises I could follow to strengthen my knees. I rummaged through my running accessories and found my trusted patellar knee strap I would use on my next run. Yip, the next time I get on the road again, I will be equipped and ready for any knee pain – yeah bring it on baby!

On my second day of running, I was hyped up and ready to tackle the road. It was a breath-taking evening, a warm summer breeze caressing the air, the magnificent mountain show casing its natural beauty, the sky beaming with blazing streaks beckoning the sunset. We were running along the Milnerton Waterfront route that meanders along the serene lagoon, merging with the pristine beach.

Hitting the road, I chose to run on my own. I always tend to run better left to my own devices and I didn’t want to hold anyone back. I started off with a gentle walk and then as I turned the corner, began a slow trot. At first the left knee wobbled and caused slight discomfort, but soon the patellar strap worked its magic and held it firmly in place and I was able to run pain-free for quite a distance.

That’s when I felt it – the familiar rush of belonging, returning to a lover I missed far too much, a singing in my soul, my breath taken away but not completely stolen, endorphins rushing to my brain and a runner’s high of note!

Oh how I’ve missed you running, all the sacrifice, all the pain I endured, all the lost runs, all the races I had to forego was forgotten. I’m back and I’m here to stay!

Book Review

Writing down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg

A friend of mine, Alison Smith recommended this book to up and coming writers. It was on my got-to-buy-book-list and when it arrived from Kalahari.net, I skimmed it and placed it on my to-be-read-book pile.

Since undergoing my op I’ve steadily worked down the pile and hauled it out hoping it would bring on some inspiration. My experience gaged from reading writing books has not been very promising, for as much as I sought encouragement – these books ultimately left me hollow inside and sadly lacking a desire to write.

This book took me by surprise for it proved to be entirely different and unbelievably refreshing. Natalie Goldberg writes in simple (not over the top let me grab the dictionary) English, the chapters are concise, getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing based on her teachings. Her writing is colourful, thought-provoking and wonderfully stimulating.

This book truly resonated with me as the advice passed on doesn’t only apply to writing per se. It can be utilised in any venture one wishes to pursue in life. She compared writing to running and I honestly felt she was personally talking to me. This is what she had to say:-

”Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run. It’ll never happen, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. But if you run regularly, you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. YOU JUST DO IT. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop. And you stop, hungry for the next time.”

Upon reading this tantalising paragraph, I had my A-HA moment for I’ve always compared my running to writing. When I started out running I couldn’t even run for a minute, however with steely determination, constant training, eating, dreaming, thinking running – I became a runner! With writing I’ve followed the same winning practice – and hey I’m a Writer:-).

Another concept that caught my attention in the book was writing practice. Even though I’ve applied it in the Writer’s Circle I belong to, I’ve never really incorporated it into my everyday writing. Natalie Goldberg convinced me to write every day – not to think about what I was about to write – not to write a masterpiece every time I put pen to paper – merely to write whatever thoughts were swirling around in my head struggling to find its voice. Since grasping this treasure I’ve written every day and I’ve surprised myself with the amount of repressed emotions I had bottled up inside. I have written pages and pages, not thinking about whether it made sense, not caring how it looked and not limiting myself to length!

Natalie Goldberg has ignited a flame within me to holiday in destinations I’ve never dreamt of visiting, to be a tourist in my own country, to set the wheels in motion of travelling if only to relay these adventures through my stories. My interest has been piqued to not only confine my writing to the solitude of my study – to ship myself to quaint coffee shops or quiet restaurants – to sit on my own with the company of my notebook and just write, write, write.

It seemed such a huge co-incidence reading this book at this time in my life when I’ve embarked on meditating and discovered to my delight that the Author studied meditation with a Zen Master for many years and found her true calling through this medium. In the book she marries her vast knowledge of Zen meditation with writing which I BELIEVE is the secret to her success in understanding the human mind and conveying the message passionately.

I relished this book in its entirety and wished it wouldn’t end, wanting Natalie Goldberg to continue revealing her pearls of wisdom. Writing down the Bones is a must-read to all aspiring Writers wishing to exercise their writing muscles. Not only will it leave you enthused – it will awaken your senses and compel you to write:-)

Week Five

Recovery after Bunion Surgery

My feet are healing nicely and I feel they are getting stronger by the day. I walk around the house quite a bit and have resumed some kitchen duties like washing dishes, much to the delight of my family! Although I have to be careful not to overdo it for I’ve noticed that I cannot stand longer than ten minutes before my feet start nagging me to grab a seat.

Bathing is still an issue for me and I truly cannot wait for the day to arrive when I can finally take a shower on my own without the ridiculous moon boots holding me back! However my appointment to see my Doctor is only on 23/12/14 which means soldiering on until then.

Although I must admit that I’ve been enjoying my time at home. My life is ridiculously stress free – no traffic, no urgent deadlines, no calls from the public, no Boss breathing down my neck, no meetings to organise, no minutes to type (ABSOLUTE BLISS). I’ve felt as if I’ve been living in a bubble where my time is mine to do as I please. If I feel tired I take a nap, if I don’t feel like doing anything – I DON’T, if I want a off day – I take it! These are the gifts I’ve received during this period and I honestly feel like I could get used to this lifestyle. However, all bubbles burst – and once I’m given the all-clear to don normal shoes and drive – my life as I know it now will sadly come to an end:-(.

I’m glad to say I’m still MEDITATING! I practice it religiously – sitting for ten minutes staring at the dancing flame of the candle, swaying thoughts aside, concentrating as best as I can. I cannot say it’s become easier for it doesn’t feel that way but what I can say is I look forward to it everyday – if that’s any consolation! I’ve incorporated it into my life and the one thing about me is that I love to keep up with whatever I start. I hate throwing in the towel for it means I’ve failed, so I persevere to see where it takes me and this is the principle I’ve followed in life which has helped me to succeed in many of my goals. So I have no doubt meditation will remain a constant in my life.

I was delighted to receive news from my Running Coach that my “I love Running” story appeared in the December issue of Modern Athlete. I was aware they were going to use the story, although they had not given me an indication as to when it would happen – so I was pleasantly surprised when it was published. Coach Muller dropped off a copy and it was great chatting to her about the article. They presented my story over an entire page even inserting a picture of me running the Two Oceans Half Marathon this year which I hadn’t seen before – I was DELIGHTED of course (this being my second published story in the past few months – YAY!)

I finally got around to posting some of my poems to a website called “All Poetry” and the response from other Poets has been positive. I tried my hand at poetry a few months ago and although it’s not my strongpoint, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with it. It’s much easier than fiction writing – well the obvious reason is the length of course – but what I truly find enjoyable is throwing all your raw emotions into a pot, allowing your words to waft the air, patiently waiting to taste the feast of your work!

I’m still reading “Writing down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg and again I have to rave about this Author and her writing. I savour every word she throws at me, sometimes getting lost in the beauty of her sentences, having to sit back and read them again and again! Her advice is sound, the tips are valuable and she has planted a seed within me to frequent quaint restaurants if only to sit at a table and write! The other reason why I’ve taken my time with this book is that I’ve also started another, “One Day” by David Nicholls. I’ve had this book for ages – never getting around to reading it and I resolved it was now or never! I’m always sceptical reading the work of Male Authors, not that I have anything against them of course – but I find their writing so different to Female Authors – stronger, daring, less emotional with complex plots thrown in for good measure. I struggled to get into the book in the beginning, but I buckled down and found that I’m enjoying the characters and flow of the storyline – another surprise!

On Saturday Neil and I decided to venture out to Hout Bay. I had a craving for Fish and Chips so we took a slow scenic drive along the Cape Peninsula stopping off at Snoekies to buy the local fare. It was mouth-watering – battered deep fried hake with steaming hot chips drizzled in vinegar and peri-peri sauce *just-what-I-needed*. We found a quiet parking spot between Llandudno and Camps Bay, catching sight of the sparkling azure sea, while eating and chatting. It was a humdinger day in Cape Town – pleasantly warm with not a wind in sight. We sat there for some time, observing a fiery sun – streaks of orange, gold and red mesh into clouds rapidly dipping into the horizon bringing along the night sky.

All in all, the week was tranquil yet surprising at the same time. I’m truly grateful for the lifestyle I have now – taking full advantage of the free time to improve my frame of mind, incorporating advice coming my way through friends or family or the lovely books I immerse myself in. My writing is growing in leaps and bounds, something I’m extremely proud of and look forward to what’s in store next year. Right now the future seems bright and colourful and I cannot wait to see where my feet will lead me too!