“We rise by lifting others”

“We rise by lifting others” are the words of Robert Ingersoll.
I must say this is a rather powerful statement, but sometimes the concept is misunderstood by many, and not intentionally I think. Let me explain.

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I think we will all agree that the basics of this statement, of these words, are that by lifting others we will also lift ourselves, but the crux of this is to do good, to always seek out opportunities to reach out and do good. Often we think that we have to do something big in order for it to be meaningful. Wrong. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind work, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring or kindness, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

On the road I have experienced this on many occasions. Often, when I have a bad day on the road, and yes, I do have bad days on the road, do I turn the bad day into a great day by just changing the focus, away from myself and my bad situation, to reaching out to someone else. When I meet up with someone on the road and help them along it is like an instant remedy for my bad day and it lifts me up and out of that bad place and this is then where I truly live out my motto, “Making miles and moments count”. Obviously I don’t always need a bad day in order for me to support someone; sometimes this is totally pre-decided, and then, even those runs are great, memorable.

I want to encourage you, to always seek out opportunities to make a difference, to focus outwards and to reach out and change a life. Remember, it is that small act of kindness that has the power to change a life. When you have the opportunity, on or off the road, take a moment to encourage someone. Make it an expression of hope and believe. Maybe there is someone who needs you just to listen, make time for that. Remember always that wisdom and understanding goes hand in hand. Be an active and attentive listener. Another thing you can do is to share your knowledge. Learned something ? Share it. By sharing your knowledge we all learn and grow more. I’ve said to a friend over the weekend, we can always listen to what people have to say, but it is true wisdom to sift through it all and take from it what we need and learn from that. Discard the rest and move on. With all this said, always remember to do whatever you do out of humility. Stay humble and approach all you are and all you do from that angle. This way you will stay grounded and chances are good that your intentions will then also be pure and genuine. Always remember that a humble and dignified person always accomplishes more. Stay true to who you are.

Earlier this week I posted a though image on my Twitter profile. It said, “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it.” ( Knute Rockne )

So, whether it is out on the road, at work or wherever you are, always seek out that opportunity to lift someone up and see how it will also positively affect your life. This is how we all should live our lives, do good and expect nothing in return.

Have a blessed week everyone.

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Why run for a charity?

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I think this question is asked a lot and people will without doubt have different answers to it. Here is my take on it.

I have been part of the 1000km Challenge for three years now and have already entered for the 2015-2016 Challenge cycle too. This year at Comrades I joined another charity, the Run Walk for Bibles initiative, driven by the Bible Society of South Africa. Both these initiatives support a charity in some shape or form.

The 1000km Challenge in the past supported The Salvation Army, Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre, Meals on Wheels, Stop Rhino Poaching and last year, the SA Guide Dogs for the Blind. The Active for Bibles initiative driven by the Bible Society of South Africa enables athletes to be just that, active for Bibles, and in my case I joined, Run for Bibles.

First and foremost for me it is about the athlete who commit to the challenge, so I believe the biggest motivating factor behind running for a charity is to help an athlete to stay motivated; there is a level of obligation on your part to get up and go out for a purpose, for your charity. The motivation factor can be a huge help just at the times when your training is getting tough and you’re thinking of slacking down a bit. Fact is, at the end of the day, your effort makes a difference, a real difference, because money raised by runners at hundreds of races throughout the year provides invaluable funds to their chosen charities. This brings me back to my own motto, “Making Miles and Moments Count”. To support your chosen charity is also a way for you to say “Thank you” for what they do, in a more personal and tangible way. It is not always just about raising funds, that is definitely a big part of it, but it is also about creating awareness for your chosen charity in your community.

Whatever your charity, make your every step count and help a charity in need to reach their goals. Here is a quick recap.

The 1000km Challenge is about the joy of running and walking as many races as you can or want to attain a set goal. You will have fun, meet new people, see beautiful places and experience great races. This is a message from the page, “If you are ready, step over your boundaries into the future!” Also, each challenge season a charity is chosen and will receive a R10.00 donation from each entry received for the 1000km Challenge. This is a great way to support a worthy cause. This year The African Pangolin Working Group will benefit from the 2015-2016 1000km Challenge.
Run for Bibles is my second charity choice this year. I have joined them at Comrades and now have a member number which people can use to make donations to the Bible Society of South Africa and this money will go towards the very important mandate of the Bible Society of South Africa to fulfil its task of making affordable Bibles available for everyone.

I want to encourage you to make your runs count this year. Join a charity of your choice this year and help them make a difference in your community and beyond. Join thousands of athletes in this beautiful country and make a difference by being active for more and some and something bigger than yourself. Show your gratitude for being healthy and fit and touch a live somewhere today, tomorrow, this week, next week, this month, this year.

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Join me and #Run4BibleRands and make your races count !

You can still support the Bible Society of South Africa by using my fundraiser number for the Run for Bibles & Run4BibleRands, if not running yourself, but by matching my donations every month or whenever you feel like it.

BANK DETAILS
Bible Society of South Africa
ABSA Bank
Branch Code: 632005
Acc Number: 4058269909
Use Ref #: 684851

[ 1000km Challenge ]

Slow down but don’t stop !

We are well on our way to the end of November and then it is that time of the year where we all take that well deserved break during the festive season, and I say “well deserved” because for many it is.

After a busy year of running, doing a lot of kilometres in races and training, many runners hit a running low when the December holidays creep up on us. I have learned a valuable lesson though and that is to slow down but not to stop. Like in the past few years I will cut down on the kilometres but I will replace that extra time on my hands with some cross training; do some gym work, fit in a few spinning classes.

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Reflecting on the past year I certainly had my challenges, my fair share of injuries, well, basically only one nagging plantar fascia that almost stopped me in my tracks – well it did for a while, but I managed to deal with it and managed to overcome that one big hurdle, Comrades 2015, my back to back medal. It was TS Eliot who once said, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are” and I can now comfortably say “I know how tall I am” because I sure was in over my head, way over my head. But with the help of my doctors, physiotherapists, mixed with the supports and encouragement of my friends, I was able to rise above the challenge(s) and make my dream happen. On the 31st of May, after a gruelling almost 12 hours on the road, I crossed the finish line in Pietermaritzburg and received my Comrades back to back medal at the 90th edition of the iconic Comrades Marathon. This was one of the proudest moments in my life but also one of those moments that brought utter relieve. On a negative note, I know of at least one person who wanted me to fail, who wanted me to not make it, but I was on a mission to prove this person wrong and my commitment and dedication outlawed her negativity and bad karma and life once again proofed to me that when you believe and when you put your trust in your Maker, good will outdo evil and at the end, He will be glorified and that was the first thing I did when I crossed that finish line, give glory to God, because without Him and without his strength my Comrades race was going to have a very different ending.

I have done some 1200km in races this year, between January and now, and I am happy with where I am right now. The past few weeks was a bit though, doing three full marathons in less a span of a month and two weeks, but it is all good, they were all successful in their own way with basically two highlights; Cape Town Marathon when I had a welcome early qualifier for Two Oceans and Comrades and shortly after that my run in Toronto, Canada, when I did the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, an amazing event with so many wonderful highlights also during that whole trip.

This brings me to one of my often quoted mottos, my very own motto, “MAKING MILES AND MOMENTS COUNT” and I can certainly look back on awesome memories with amazing people, not only focusing on my races and runs, but also to the breakthroughs and milestones some running buddies had, first half marathons, first marathon and first ultra-marathons. It is just amazing to see how people grow and become better and better and also to see how they grow as individuals and start to also inspire others to do the same. It is about paying it forward and letting others into our lives and help them excel and become better. I am a big fore stander and supporter of this truth: “In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others.”

Friends, as we enter this downwards spiral towards the festive season, manage your time well and make sure that you just slow down but not stop. You do not want to start over in January, believe me, I tried it once and it is a big no no.

Wishing you a great “rest of November” and will chat to you soon again. Happy training.

This is my take on the Rudamans Kaapsehoop 3in1 Race weekend.

We left Pretoria Friday morning, all excited and amped up for the race weekend ahead. This was going to be my fourth Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon.

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A few given facts. I knew this was not going to be an easy run. Reason number one – This was going to be my third full marathon in less than one month and two weeks. Reason number two – The weather was not going to be favourable at all, expected 36°c and humid. Reason number three – It is a new venue ( start ) and new venues always present teething problems. Reason number four – The running field on the 42.2 promised to be the biggest in the history of the race, 3000 plus runners.

Well we arrived at registration at Mbombela Stadium just after 12:00 on Friday and the race pack pick up went smoothly with absolute no need for queuing. Awesome. We met here with Cornelia and Clive also so I could finally give her her Run for Bibles badge.
Next stop was Ilanga Mall for a quick lunch and pick up some grocery items for the weekend.

We arrived at Protea Hotel Nelspruit later that afternoon and received a real VIP welcome back. This has been our Lowveld home away from home for the past three years and here we were, back for year number four. Mr Garrick Grabe and his team really went out of their way to give us the warmest possible “Welcome back”. Like always the room was spacious, really comfortable and ideal for a weekend breakaway. We were off to bed early because we had to be up very early Saturday morning.

Race day I think can be described in short as a “Successful Disaster” If it does not make sense, then read on.

Woke up Saturday morning with a severe stomach flu bug thingemagic. I felt awful. Well we left the hotel just after three, picked up Paul from the Town Lodge and then arrived at Mbombela Stadium shortly after 03.30. We caught the next bus that left for Kaapsehoop to take us to the start. We arrived at the start around 04:40. This is where things started to go horribly wrong. The nausea and severe diarrhoea ( sorry for the details ) had me in and out of the bushes three times before the race started. At this stage I knew that this was going to become a long long day, and I was right.

The new venue, although it is a really pretty location and added a special ambiance to the start of the race, also had its challenges. One of the busses completely missed the start and went to turn around at Ngodwana. Not good. Secondly, when the race started, we had to do a short section of the race on gravel road and this caused a lot of thick dust for the runners that followed the start pack, and the further you were to the back, the worse it was. This was not a clever move. I fail to understand why the organisers did not spray or sprinkled the road with water just to try and limit the amount of dust. Lots of people complained about this and I think this is about the only negative I have for this new venue. Anyway, the rest of the route was the same as before.

Bu the time I reached the 9km mark I already had to pull off three more times because Mother Nature was calling me, loud and clear. By this time I was already running on empty. To add insult to injury I forgot my drink mix in the car, so I knew I had to now start hydrating otherwise this race was going to be over shortly after it started. I was so annoyed with the whole scenario, but I knew this was race day and I had to deal with it.

At around 14km I had to make a decision – I realised that the nausea and severe diarrhoea was not going to stop, so I had to rethink the whole day and this is when I decided to change from plan A to plan B. Plan A was to run my race and see if I can get close to 04:15’ish and plan B was, well to let go of plan A. This is when I decided to carry on and continue with the race, but to slow down and to switch to my favourite gear, “survival gear”; this is when I change the focus from me to others and try and help others get to the end, this way I don’t have to think and or deal with my own predicament. I really felt bad, really weak and drained, but quitting was not an option. I continued on towards Nelspruit and got to meet really awesome people on the road. Most runners were struggling because of the extreme heat and I saw a few runners being picked up by ambulances and many just pulled out of the race, and with good reason. It was a tough day. When I crossed the finish line at 05:13:47 I was so tired but when I looked at my running belt, I realised I had a “successful run”, my plan B paid off – I have handed out every single sachet of Rehydrate I had, I shared every single Vitrace I had and gave away all my Race Food and Power Bars – I shared it all with someone who needed it more than I did. Mission accomplished. Almost.

Although I had completed one of my worst races ever, I had one more thing to do. I passed a friend, Mercia, close to the end and she was in real pain, dehydrated and cramping severely. She was walking, unable to run at all. When I left her behind on my way to the end I decided I was going to go back for her, and I did. I took off my running belt and as a friend to keep my belt and medal and I got back on the route and ran back to look for Mercia. I found her less than two kilometres from the end. When I got to her another lady was with her and her hubby also just got to her. We walked hand in hand to the end and although I knew that nothing I said was going to make any difference to how she felt, I just tried to keep her focussed; the end was around the corner and she was going to finish her race, and she did. I am not sure about the time, but I think we crossed the line around 05:40’is, definitely under the dreaded 06:00 cut-off. I was so proud of Mercia, for not quitting and for going on to the very very end. I salute you girl !!!!!

Well, there you have it, Rudamans Kaapsehoop 3in1 – A “Successful Disaster” !
I shout out to every single person who took on this race, who made it or who did not make it, who ran a personal best or a personal worse, who have done their first marathon or ran just another marathon – This was a tough day and I am sure everyone had their own race day challenges to deal with, whatever your race day story is – well done for being there. Always remember, dead last or not finishing at all always trumps did not start. So if YOU started the race, credos to you for that !

See you next year at Rudamans Kaapsehoop 2016 ! Happy running everyone !

[ View some of my pictures here ]

I say, “Spread the Vitality wherever you go!”

When you hear words like liveliness, life, energy, spirit, zest, sparkle, dynamism, passion, fire, vigor, drive and get-up-and-go, that is when you are walking in the footsteps of Real Vitality.

When I decided to take this trip to Canada one thing was cast in stone, not negotiable – it had to be different and it had to matter. Little did I know that this trip was going to be so loaded with awesome memorable moments and it was an honor for me to be able to do most of these in my TeamVitality gear. I was proud not to only call myself a TeamVitality SA member but to also in the name of wellness and vitality grab every moment I could and act as true ambassador not only for TeamVitality but for the general idea of living life to the fullest. I honestly got to live out my motto – MAKING MILES AND MOMENTS COUNT.

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Here is just a quick sneak peak of what I was up to. It is obviously too much to cramp into one post, so I will try and keep it short and to the point.

First of all, I wanted to do something for charity while in Canada and that is how I got involved with The Steve O’Brien Foundation. Steve is currently busy with his Cross-Canada Relay for Youth and I decided to make his cause my charity of choice. The goal of the CROSS-CANADA TOUR is to encourage kids to persevere in the pursuit of their dreams and to raise funds to help schools and youth organizations make those dreams come true. Steve also wants to leave a positive message for the youth; to become active and live healthy lives.

I got to do a 15km training run with Steve and then later that week I got to spread some more TeamVitality love when I did a run with Steve into Fredericton, NB. Our run ended in front of City Hall where we met with some supporters and was welcomed by Councillor Eric Megarity, the Deputy Mayor of Fredericton. An interview with the press followed and Steve received a donation from Rosalie Soutar. With this money the foundation will support her charity of choice, Autism Connections Fredericton. Check out their newsletter HERE 

On the 11th of October I was also proud to be the 11th person to be honored as recipient of the very special Steve O’Brien Foundation Shirt. Only people who make a real difference in and show real support for the Steve O’Brien Foundation receive this special shirt. It was a great honor for me as TeamVitality member to receive this amazing token of appreciation making me an official team member now of the foundation team.

Back in Toronto later that week I got to show off my TeamVitality gear again at the RunningRoom International Friendship Run in Toronto. This was the pre-race friendship run of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This was a lot of fun and we got to meet some really cool international runners. The next day it was the biggy – my official charity run for the Steve O’Brien Foundation, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. This was a proud run for me; the only South African doing the race, the only TeamVitality runner doing the race and the privilege to do this also in support of the Steve O’Brien Foundation, all in my TeamVitality colours. The marathon was awesome, well organized, a great route and awesome support and what a moment it was when I pulled out my South African flag and finished the race in 04:24:41 ( look at all the fours ) 🙂

The last TeamVitality moment I had was the day after the marathon, the 19th of October, when I was invited to be guest speaker at the Wild About Wellness Network Group in Hamilton, a town about an hour’s drive south west of Toronto. My friend Karen was the other guest speaker. What a great evening and what a privilege to share my journey with such a wonderful group of positive and inspired people. This is a monthly networking and relationship building event for health & wellness practitioners & coaches, product & service providers. They’re working through issues ensuring optimal well-being. It was so great to meet Simone Usselman‐Tod and all the awesome members of this group.

This was really a trip where I was able to proudly represent TeamVitality and it was an honor for me to show support and make a difference more than 13,000 km away from home. It is important to me to live life to the fullest and to encourage others to do the same, to find and kindle the fire and drive in themselves and live the best possible lives they can. It is all about paying it forward and for me it was important to embody, to live out and share the vision and passion of the brand I love so much, Discovery TeamVitality.