Consideration vs Toleration

I saw a recent post by Runner’s Wold Magazine SA on their Facebook page asking this question, “What’s the one thing that annoys you most about running races?

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I started to read through the posts and I was shocked to see how some people responded, in a way looking down on those who are maybe not as advanced or talented at running, in fact a lot of comments were directed to “walkers” and the frustration and irritation they seemingly cause to so many people. I also reacted to the question. I must add, I was not totally surprised about this angle because I have seen it a million times on social media, the battle between runners and walkers.

To me, when reading these comments, one word came to mind and that word was “consideration” or lack thereof. People must just be more considerate and the other half, more tolerant.

We must remember that every person has a story to tell and we all have our own reason why we do what we do. If you take some time to pause for a moment and listen to why people are walking, running or Park Running, everyone has a story and everyone started somewhere. You might find that most started off by in the gym, later added the odd walk around the block, maybe challenged themselves later at doing Park Runs. Some might stop there, others might go on and be tempted to do short distances at races like 5 km and 10 km races and maybe go on building up to longer runs like doing half marathons. Others will get really hooked and decided to push those boundaries a little further and take on marathons, ultras and yes, the “crazy” ones, like me, will take on “The Ultimate Human Race”, Comrades Marathon. Fact is, we all started somewhere.

My running came only two years after I started to loose weight and ultimately allowed me to join the Bible Society of South Africa ( BSSA ), running for Bibles, but ultimately lead to the birth of my own charity, Run4BibleRands ( www.run4biblerands.co.za ) and this is now my motivation to inspire other runners to join me to make their miles and moments count for something more than just a medal or sore legs, but concerting race kilometers to rands and donating that to the BSSA. To date, since I started in 2015, we have made it possible for the BSSA to give away for FREE 1564 Bibles to those who need it most. This year only so far we have donated R 37 963.82 to the Bible Society, making available 643 FREE Bibles. All this made possible because for others it is about running for a cause, running for more than just themselves.

I must be honest, I am admittedly also one of those who also never understand why non competitive runners & walkers always have to push their way to the front knowing that they will not be under the top ten or so. You will always find those who will have total disregard for the requests to fill up from the back, they will always be late and always push and shove to get to the front but ironically you will never see them on the podium. There must be some reason why people do that, but that is their problem and prerogative, but yes in the process, and according to many posts in response to the question asked by Runner’s World Magazine, without doubt, these individuals are causing a great deal of irritation to many.

For me personally the races just became too large and this for me started to create a negative overall experience. Because I am happy that people are going out and doing their part to get fit and enjoy a morning out, I must say I now prefer running on my own, or go out with a friend and do a buddy run. I enjoy it more and it leaves me with a better overall experience. Maybe the effort is not as intense as one will get at races, but that is fine too. On the other hand it has a great deal to do with self discipline when you do the runs on your own and not in race format. This however has nothing to do with others. If races are your thing I say, enter, get up early and go do your race and build a better you. Kudos to you and everyone else.

There is a down side to doing your own thing. I miss a lot of familiar faces and times of fellowship at races, but I guess everything in life has it pros and cons but this is what works for me now. I am doing a few hand picked events I like throughout the year and the rest of the time I am doing a combination of gym and road work.

There were also other comments, but I am not even going to comment on littering, ridiculous increase in the cost of races and things like that because this is something I can’t do anything about. Ultimately it comes down to accept the things you cannot change, have courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.

Breaking other people down and being all negative about everything has no positive outcome anyway so no need to go there. To those who like to “race” – enjoy. Those who don’t, enjoy what you do too. Whatever you do, do not stop doing what you love because that is all that counts. Work towards a better you, no matter what it is.

Happy running everyone.

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God will make a way

I want to start of this week by making a closing statement : “He always does.”

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The past few weeks I was confronted a few times with moments where I had to make decisions. I was facing choices which I knew were going to have a definite impact on me and my life. I was constantly in front of God and the other night, literally begged Him to please give me guidance because I did not know what to do.

I got this clear answer from Him, a scripture I read a zillion times before, but this time round it has special meaning and I turned to the The Living Bible where it said, “I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.” ( Psalm 32:8 ). How special is that last part, that He will advise me and watch my progress. That in itself is such a clear assurance, He will help me to make the right decisions.

How do we know what God’s will if for us ? How do we know that what we do is His will or when a door opens for us, that is “our door.”

Well, first of all, whatever we decide to do and whatever happens to us as a result of our decisions will never contradict His word. Simply said, God will never lead us toward an opportunity that contradicts what He clearly says in his Word.

Is there a test for this ? For sure there is. Whatever it is that we do will never cause us to compromise on our values or beliefs and or walk in disobedience to get what we want or go where we need to be.  Let’s face it, we as humans are prone to sin and we find ways to justify those actions of disobedience to get what we want, but that us not God’s way, not at all. When He opens doors for us, we will be able to walk right through knowing that He has made the way, often where there seems to be no way. Like 1 Peter 5 says, we have to cast all our anxieties on Him, because he cares for us. Maybe you are a little like me where I do the casting but also do the take it back’ing. Impatience to allow God to do what it is that He does best, taking care of me and all my needs.

I am also a firm believer of confirmation, that God will always confirm His will and ways for us through circumstances and through people, often through strangers. It is through prayer, discernment and seeking godly counsel that we will know what His true and divine is for us and through this He will help us to make the correct decisions in our lives. Let me give you and example. There is something, a really heavy burden on my heart this past few days and I honestly do not know what to do with it but I feel God says, “Wait”. For those who know me, this is not advice I like to hear. I am a doer, I am all about taking action and now, now I have to wait.

Is it all that bad you might ask ? Well for me, yes, but that is until I realised that waiting on God is like a build up to that moment when he will instruct me and guide me along the best pathway for my life and He will then continue to advise me and then the best part, watch my progress. That right there us God’s perfect will and purpose. You see when we learn to wait, we learn to rest in him, we learn to experience total peace, we show that we are humble and declare our dependency on God and these become the moments when we are often the most aware of His presence. We can also use the times of “waiting” to grab the opportunity to like May also just sit as His feet and spend quality time with Him and this is also when we get a better and deeper understanding of His Word and His will for us and this will lead to that very moment when the time of waiting will be over, the silence will be broken and God will show us what to do. All this makes the waiting all so much worth it.

The best part of waiting on God and then receive a word for us to do something, to make those decisions, it also bring along something very special, it brings us closer to Him. God will never lead us on a path that will alienate us from Him, it will always but always draw us closer to Him and that there us the final test, if you need one, if the decision you have made has done that; opened the door for you to do what it is you had to do but at the end of the day bringing you closer to Him. Let me take you back to Psalm 32, for God to “watch your progress” required for Him to be there. How amazing is that. So, the test will be basically this. If you find yourself saying something like “I can’t do this unless God goes before me,” or “I can do this, but only with God’s guidance and blessing” then I am pretty sure that it is very likely something God is calling you to do, so go, and do it.

Friends, remember, open doors are there for a reason, it is for us to live out of dreams and grow as a people but many times an “open door” from God is one that allow our faith to be stretched and strengthened. Is that not after all God’s objective for us: to grow in faith and Christ-likeness, so yes, God will make a way, he always does.

“Forgiveness: It is about fact and fiction”

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Forgiveness; it does not change the past, but it sure does change the future. Some people get so caught up in the grip of forgiveness that is paralyses not only who they are but also who they ought to be. A full fruitful and happy life is not possible without forgiveness.

Anger, unforgiveness and bitterness are the three things in life that will stop you from living a full, happy and free life. To live our lives to the fullest we need to deal with these “three giants” sometime in our lives, that is if we want to be free.

Have you ever heard of the medical term “Rigamortis”. Well, I am not going to get into the medical explanation of this, but basically it refers to muscular stiffening following death and it can last for up to 5 or six days and then decomposition of the body begins. You might think, what on earth does this have to do with unforgiveness? Well, let me tell you.

When we are hurt, when our trust is betrayed or we are hurt spiritually or emotionally in any way, while nothing has physically been done to us, our brain literally tell our body the pain is real and that is why we sometimes experience that pain so intense. In a a medical study it was also established that the area of your brain that lights up when you’re hurt physically is the same area that lights up when you suffer “social rejection.” That makes the term “heartbreak” so much real doesn’t it.

Recently I had to deal with this, the act of real and honest forgiveness. Friends, believe me when I say, this is tough. If you want to do it right, if you want it to be lasting and not just a habitual act, then it is tough. In John 20, verses 22 and 23 I found the very foundation of forgiveness. Jesus breathed on the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” His next instruction was about forgiving people, when He said, “If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief]” (Amplified Bible) Friends, only through the work and the help of the Holy Spirit is this action possible. We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to help us with this because it is so hard.

I did a lot of reading and Bible study about forgiveness because I knew in my own power this was not going to happen. I remembering thinking one day that forgiving in itself felt more painful than the hurt I suffered, but was also reminded about the fact that there were not going to be any peace without forgiveness. I was blinded by anger and feelings of betrayal and at time I found it really hard to even read about this and what is expected of me, yes “me”, not the other person. I was reminded that forgiveness was not really about the other person; the act of forgiveness does not in any way justify the other person’s actions against you, but it sets us free. We do it for ourselves, to get well and to move one, to create that moment in time where we create the opportunity and space for new beginnings. When we talk about forgiveness, it means letting go, not excusing the other person or even reconciling with them or even condoning their actions or behavior, it is just an action, a moment in time, where you decide to let go of your own suffering.

I got all this. I was ready to take that step of faith and let the Holy Spirit guide me through this, but this was where I had one of those aha-moments. I knew what I was experiencing, I knew what I felt in my hart and I also understood why it was so hard for me to move on, it was not only because of what I knew, but more about the stuff I did not know. When we can pin point an issue or a incident it is easier to address it, but it the uncertainties in our lives that the devil use against us. God clearly show me that forgiveness was not only about what I knew, but it was also about that which I did not know. Thát is where I came up with the statement, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction, in other words, “fact”, what we know, “fiction”, what we think we know. Fact is based on true happening whereas fiction is based on imaginative happenings.

The latter is dangerous because we have no concrete evidence or basis for this, it is just something out there, and we can change our mind and interpretation of what we think we know as often as we want and to whatever we want, fact remains, it is a non-truth, unfounded. The devil will continue to use these fictional thoughts and ideas we have to try to convince us that they are true. It consumes our minds and start to poison our whole being. Just think about the multitude of bed time stories out there starting with, “Once upon a time”, what followed that was fiction. Sometimes parents will change the story as they go along. Fiction.

So, God clearly showed me, when you forgive, forgive for both what you know to be fact, but also to what you think you know, and this is what I did. I repeat, Forgiveness is about fact and fiction”.

Friends, this conscious action of forgiveness, when you do it right and for the right reason(s) will set you free and give you the ability to start afresh and begin to shape a better future for you. It is however important to know what forgiveness is and why it matters, and for this there are endless resources available. One thing I can tell you is make sure that you exercise the act of forgiveness when you are ready, don’t just do it because it is demanded from you. The Greek word for “forgiveness” literally means “to let go” and when you do this, letting go, you need to be sure that you are willing to leave behind “fact and fiction” and move on.

One last thought. Ben Greenhalth wrote these powerful words, Forgiveness is a sign that the person who has wronged you means more to you than the wrong they have delt.”

“GO FORWARD OVER THOSE MOUNTAINS LIKE A SOUTH AFRICAN RUNAWAY TRAIN”

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Comrades Marathon 2018, the 93rd edition of The Ultimate Human Race, a down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.

COMRADES 2018 “I AM IN”

So where does one start? I guess at the beginning. Oh, not talking about the race but referring to my experience of this iconic race.

I certainly won’t go back to the beginning of time, though I need to shed some light onto the build up to race day which takes me to the day I decided that I will indeed do the race. The truth is, when I committed to line up for this year’s marathon, I was very aware of two things; it was going to be a tough day on the road and a finish or a tough day on the road and a fail.  It was my intention to opt for the finish, but the DNF (Did Not Finish) was as real as the first year, and this year, even more than ever before.

My training for this year’s race was the worst ever.  I previously had never done so few kilometers for Comrades before, not even when I was injured in 2015, so I was painfully aware the odds were stacked up against me.  I had so many setbacks over the past few months that the probability of failing was ten to one bigger than that of finishing.  When one faces personal challenges, a relationship breaking up after 16 years, relocating to a new home a few months later followed by urgent surgery due to some serious medical issues, you are humanly derailed and led to a place in your life where you don’t want to be.  The reality was, I was in that dark place and getting back on track was my responsibility and mine alone.

I looked at the down run profile of the Comrades marathon and recognized landmarks and names; Polly Shortts, Little Pollys, Lion Park, Umlaas Road, Cato Ridge, Inchanga, Botha’s Hill, Hilcrest, Kloof, Fields Hill, Cowies Hill, Westville, 45th Cutting, Tolgate.  All these have a significant and special meaning for athletes attempting this iconic race. I cannot help but think how they also symbolise the landmarks and special places in our lives where we are challenged with the harsh and very real realities of life, and yet, with all the odds stacked up against us, we push on and find a way to manage these odds.  We find a way of dealing with it and through whatever it is, we then find our wisdom & strength.  We somehow manage to beat the odds, maybe not always, but most of the time.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

This year’s Comrades to me was one of those races where the odds were stacked so high against me that I could not even see the other race day challenges of the Comrades so called “Big Five” before me ( Polly Shortts, Inchanga, Botha’s Hill, Fields Hill and Cowies Hill ).

RACE DAY

On the 10th of June 2018, I stood at the start of Comrades and I remember not having the slightest feeling of fear for what was lying ahead. In hindsight, I think this was because I knew that it was going to be a tough day anyway and adding fear and uncertainty would just be two more odds to have to fight later that day.

I remember singing “Shosholoza” with the other twenty thousand runners and thought about the translated English words of this song, wondering how many runners actually knows it. Roughly translated it means, Go forward, go forward on those mountains, train from South Africa. Go forward go forward, you are running away, you are running away, on those mountains, train from South Africa This song is an Ndebele folk song that originated in our neighbouring country Zimbabwe that later became popular in South Africa. I knew, all I had to do was trust myself, trust my own pacing, my will to finish and then do as the song says, “Go forward over those mountains like a South African runaway train.” One step at a time, left, right, left, right, and repeat to the end. A grueling 90.184 kilometers of torture was lying ahead and the plan for the day remained, “Just finish”.

On the back of this there was also the #Comrades4Bibles charity drive which I planned to do for the third consecutive year supporting the Bible Society of South Africa. This is another leg of my own charity “Run for Bible Rands” and money raised through #Comrades4Bibles goes towards the grand total for this charity at the end of the year.  I also decided to dedicate this year’s Comrades to all those runners who were unable to run because they were sick, injured and/or because of other personal reasons and for those who were themselves were dealing with personal issues, challenges and hardships in various areas of their lives.  I wrote down all these names and placed it in an envelope that was pinned to the back of my race number, so I knew, although this was my Comrades, my 5th attempt to finish the Ultimate Human Race, it was also for Bibles and it was in solidarity with those who faced tough times.  For one day I was going to carry their names with me and symbolically carry their burdens as well on that day. Some may think this is silly and even corny, but that was fine, I knew this was what I wanted to do, and I did.

From the start, I reminded myself of how extremely important it was to break the race up into ‘bite-sized chunks’ and that is what I did.  The terrain changes during the course of the day and the various stages of the race need different approaches and should be run differently.  This is a golden rule that many athletes forget, sometimes even those who have been on this route far more times than I have.  If you have a good day it does not mean you can just go out and be reckless. Comrades coach Lindsey Parry says this, “It is vital that your Comrades Marathon pacing strategy is well thought out before you start. Too fast and the Comrades route will slow you down later.”

I ran my first half of Comrades conservatively and felt great when I met up with our support team just before the half way mark.  I have to say the severe drop into Drummond is always a personal  highlight of the down run because I know just ahead,  our amazing support team is waiting for us to give us that well deserved injection of positivity and encouragement.

NO AVOIDING THAT SO CALLED “SOLID BRICK WALL”

At around 80 km, a few steps into Cowies Hill, was the point where I hit my solid brick wall this year. I pulled off to the side of the road and leaned against a rail, just to take a break and refocus. This is where I my hand reached back to the envelope pinned to my race number with the names of people I was running for, saying, “God, I need your help, this is not just for me, this is for all these people fighting their own battles AND this is for the Bibles…” I was tired. I was sore. Field Hill already did its damage. My legs were heavy and hammered and I knew on the other side of Cowies the pain would get even more intense and real as we drop down towards Westville. I knew this was where the mental bashing would start.  This was where Comrades became real.  This is where Comrades gets real for most of us, because it is now no longer about the eighty odd kilometers we have already completed… it is about the next ten we still have to do.  Runners often say your legs will get you to around eighty kilometers, your mind will then take you to the end.  So true.

I got back on the road, struggled through the next thee kilometers and then the worst part of the race started, the last seven kilometers.  I had no idea how far we were from the finish because the distance signs counting off the final kilometers were nowhere to be found.  Apparently they were blown over by the wind earlier in the day and no one thought it was important to put them back up so we were literally running blind.  I asked a few runners around me for their distance (on their watches) and everyone gave me a different figure so I knew the distance was not accurate.  The route was in fact further, well according to our watches anyway.  The only thing I could count on at that point was the actual time of the day so I switched my watch to that setting because I knew at 17.30 I needed to be at that finish line. It is horrible to run blind like this, not knowing what’s ahead. It was also a new finish venue meaning a new route to the end, so one could not even draw knowledge from any previous memories or experiences.  Horrible.

THE FINISH IS NEAR, YET SO FAR

My first glimpse of the Moses Mabhida Stadium left me with even less hope that I was going to finish in time. It was already getting dark and that beacon seemed so far away. At that point, I just focused on slowing down my pace slightly, but keep running.  I knew from my planning that an average pace of 07:55 min/km was going to be a close call, leaving little space for error, so I decided to make 07:40 min/km my aimed average pace.  I ran at 07:39 min/km so in fact, I was according to my planning, still safe for a finish but the inaccurate distance info I got from everyone made me nip a bit. Was this going to be enough? Well, I decided to trust my own instinct, stick to my plan and hope it will be enough.  Basically, I ran the last seven kilometers with the odd brisk walks at the water points, but no stopping, every step forward towards the finish. This was where the true meaning of “Asijiki” became a reality, “No turning back”.

I was overcome with relieve when I spotted the beginning of the TOYOTA red mile. I actually remember thinking to myself that there is just about 1.6km to go and then I am home. Entering the well-lit Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban stirred up a whirlwind of emotions in me and I was filled with pure relieve when I saw the first clock.  I was safe!  My race plan paid off, my pacing was spot on and I was going to bag that medal and I did.  Again, I reminded myself of Lindsey Parry’s words, “It is vital that your Comrades Marathon pacing strategy is well thought out before you start.”

I crossed the finish line at 11:57:31. Mission accomplished. Fifth consecutive Comrades Marathon done.

THE TRUTH FOR ME ABOUT COMRADES 2018

Honestly, this was my most difficult Comrades Marathon ever. This race challenged me on so many levels, leaving me vulnerable to whatever race day was going to throw at me. Lining up at the start with a mere 534km on your legs was ten to one the silliest thing I could do, but I was determined to get to that finish in, in time, and I did it. Obviously I would not recommend such little training to anyone, ever.  Comrades Marathon is more a mental thing than anything else, I can now vouch for that. You have to be fierce, strong willed and focused otherwise you will not survive This Ultimate Human Race.

LIFE HAPPENS

Friends, in our lives we will encounter our very own Polly Shortts, Little Pollys, Lion Parks, Umlaas Roads, Cato Ridges, Inchangas, Botha’s Hills, Hilcrests, Kloosf, Fields Hills, Cowies Hills, Westvilles, 45th Cuttings and Tolgates, but know that how we approach these, how we see them as part of the bigger picture, that will determine if we will make it to the end. Sometimes life gets tough and you are faced with real life obstacles, challenges, and have to make life changing decisions that will forever change the course of your being.  Just do it and focus on that beacon that is looming in a distance.  Fight and push forward towards that goal so you can ultimately conquer and taste the victory. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t let anyone else define your destiny.

One of my all-time favourite quotes is from Nelson Mandela who said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The seemingly impossible is something you can accomplish. Maybe you’ve tried it before, maybe not, but it’s important to remember it can be done, and that very thoughts should drive you.

RUNNING FOR A CAUSE

I also once again realized the difference it makes in your motivation levels when you run for a cause. It makes you more stubborn (yes I said it) and also more focused, because it is no longer just about you, it’s about others, in my case, those who so generously gave towards #Comrades4Bibles and those names in that envelope pinned to the back of my race number. This elevates your wanting to get at that finish and all the doubt, the pain and suffering and even moments of self-pity, and let’s be real, even the thoughts of taking the easy way out and quit, disappears into thin air as you refocus and remind yourself why you are actually doing this.

In closing, again the words of Shosholoza”, Go forward, go forward on those mountains, train from South Africa. Go forward go forward, you are running away, you are running away, on those mountains, train from South Africa

THANK YOU

I want to thank my family, friends and even strangers who have so faithfully supported me over the past few months but more so during the last few weeks, days before and on race day. It was you believing in me when I didn’t and I guess even the unuttered thoughts and moments of doubt, that made me push myself to limits that I did not even know existed. To God, all the glory, all the honour, all the praise and my deepest gratitude for allowing me to continue on this 2018 Comrades journey, for using it as a tool to not only make a difference in people’s lives through Run for Bible Rands and #Comrades4Bibes projects, but for using it also as a tool in my own life to bring healing and a better understanding of who I am as a person with God compared to who I am without Him. Today, more than ever before, as I sit here typing this document, I cannot imagine my life without Him.

Comrades foor Bibles Final Amount

Final amount raised for Bibles during 2018 #Comrades4Bibles charity drive. Thank you.

MESSAGE TO FELLOW ATHLETES

Last but not least, to every single athlete who have conquered Comrades Marathon 2018, The Ultimate Human Race, congratulations and well done. Whether it was just a finish, like me, a personal best or personal achievement like a green number or even double green, way to go, you’ve done it. To those who did not finish or maybe not achieved their planned goal, for whatever reason, it does not matter. Congrats to you for making it to the start and for pushing yourself to places you’ve never been before. If it was a tough day on the road, and it certainly was for me, then that is what Comrades brought to your day.  Please remember though, whatever it was that prevented you from not achieving your goal or not making it to that finish line does not define you. What defines you is the fact that you stayed true to yourself and you had the mere guts to line up for this iconic race. It was Colin Powel l who said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure”. Ten to one, not reaching your race day goal or not finishing, had nothing to do with you not preparing and or not putting in the hard work.  The fact is and remains, race day is always unique in every possible way. Learn from this experience and do it different in 2019.

Editorial support : Karen Clouter, Madoc, ON, Canada

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OTHER

You can still use this link https://form.myjotform.com/81141565181553 if you want so send me a personal message, or if you supported the #Comrades4Bibles cause then please tell me why you did. Get in touch, I love to hear from you guys.

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Run for Bible Rands continues and we as athletes, runners, walkers and Park Runners, will continue to make our miles and moment count for more than just a medal as we donate R1 for each kilometer we do in official races every month to the Bible Society of South Africa.  So far we have raised R 9, 076.10 though this charity and this will make available a total of 153 FREE Bibles to those who needs it most. You can join us in making a difference. Just follow the link above and sign up.

 

Comrades4Bibles2018 – Let’s Go !

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QUICK LINKS: [ PLEDGE HERE ] [ DONATE HERE ] [ MESSAGES OF SUPPORT ]

It is official. Comrades4Bibles2018 is happening!

Even the most fortunate of us can face setbacks every now and again. I am no different than anyone else. Since July 2017, I have been dealing with major disappointments, dissolving a 16 year relationship and the pain and heartbreak that came with it.  In November, some health issues resulting in a serious operation stopped me in my tracks as far as running and training was concerned. Starting over has challenged my limits and beyond on so many levels.

Often, when struggling, we can feel overwhelmed or powerless.  I did.  It’s true, there are many things in life we can’t control, including big challenges such as redundancy, broken relationships or bereavement. Taking small, positive steps in any area of our life can have a ripple effect, increasing our sense of self-efficacy and eventually enabling us to move forward, and that is what I did. I took what I had and channeled my energy towards the one thing I still could control, my running. Bouncing back after so much time off was not easy, but I knew I had to do what I could with what I had if I wanted to make this work. Baby steps indeed, but they were all forward, towards my goal, #Comrades4Bibles2018

I stayed away from doing too much too soon because if I didn’t, the risk of injury was almost guaranteed.  I knew I’d benefit from paying more conscious attention to what was going right. It was about making an honest and balanced perspective.  I knew the best way of distracting myself from what was going on was to keep on training because any kind of exercise has a physical impact on our brain, helping us to think more clearly and to focus with intent.

So far this year, I have literally done three official races, Monster 32km, Om die Dam 50km and last weekend, Loskop 50km. Obviously, this is not all the training I’ve done.  I did what I could on the road and in the gym to get myself up to par again. This was, and still is no easy journey, but was never promised to be. Every road to Comrades is different and has its own challenges.  This one is no exception. So, I have been tested emotionally, spiritually, mentally and definitely physically as well. In the end, it’s up to me and me alone.

Friday morning, 27th of April, after my 24 km solo run, I made the decision. I’m happy with my progress and I am going to Comrades 2018. This year will definitely not be a run for a time, but a finish and making sure each step embodies the slogan for Comrades 2018 : ASIJIKI – No turning back.

Comrades4Bibles2018 is an extension of my charity drive #Run4BibleRands and that is why, as in past years, all proceeds from this years Comrades run will also go to the Bible Society of South Africa. My web page for this year’s Comrades4Bibles2018 is now live at the link below.

www.run4biblerands.co.za/comrades – Visit my page and please donate !

QUICK LINKS: [ PLEDGE HERE ] [ DONATE HERE ] [ MESSAGES OF SUPPORT ]
Progress - 21 June 2017Last year’s final amount received as donations
Final Editing : Karen Clouter ( Thank you )

“When the going gets tough”

Friends, long time not chat, so here I am, back with a message to hopefully inspire someone somewhere.

life happens

Some of you might remember the words of the hit song “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” from the Michael Douglas film, The Jewel of the Nile. Well this is all about that, when the tough gets going…

It is a fact of life that it is not always smooth sailing. There will be ups and downs and we will experience amazing highs and challenging lows. Life will sometimes treat us well and sometimes, well, not so well. This is the reality of life I guess.

But I have learned that it is not always about the here and now, it is about the journey. As we journey through our personal and professional lives, there will inevitably be periods of incredible frustration and despair. It is during these times, these tough times that we will hit our all-time lows and if often feel like nothing or no one could possibly motivate us to move onward in the direction of our dreams. But sometimes it takes a call or a single message from a friend, a post of Facebook or a post like this to lift us up and steer us back on track again.

Friends, when we hit those lows and the going gets tough, one thing we have to do is trust in the journey even if we are feeling really down or discouraged. We have to let go of what lies behind us and focus on what is ahead. The past is just that, the past. It was Bil Keane who said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”  So, we have to remember that life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. Living live forward means we have to start over again, exactly where we are, use what we have and do what we can to get back on track to continue on the journey. Forward.

I’ve experienced some personal difficulties and challenges recently and so many people told me that one day I will understand why things happened the way they did. Obviously at the time I wanted to strangle every single one of them who kept on repeating that to me, not because I did not want to hear it, but because where I was, I could not see it. In the eye of the storm things look pretty dim when you look from the inside out.

So when the going gets tough, we have to search for those outside sources of hope and inspiration to help us focus again. Friends, remember also, sometimes it’s the journey itself that teaches us a lot about our destination. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, are all part of this life we live and the here and now is all we have, so take it and live your life to the fullest. When the challenges come, embrace them, learn from them. The road of life will always twist and turn and no two directions will ever be the same, but the lessons we learn, the wisdom we acquire, comes from the journey itself, not from the destination.

Go out there and live your life to the fullest. Take it one step at a time, and remember the words of Lao Tzu that the journey of a thousand miles began with one step.

“I expected more from you, but you let me down.”

Open letter to a friend

“Dear friend. Here we are, the last day of 2017 and I decided to write this letter to you because I do not intend to take any of 2017’s baggage with me into the New Year.

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Some of you might know that I have had so much to deal with since July this year; the break up after 16 years of commitment, moving into a new place, which I hate, on 1 November, then my health issues and ultimately the operation that followed on 9 November 2017. The latter pretty much left me confined to my flat for weeks because I could not do much for myself.

Fact is, you were not there when I needed you most. Your promise of “Don’t worry; I (or we) will be there for you all the way….” did nothing but create expectations in within that lies the disappointment. You not coming through for me plunged me into profound sadness and enormous disappointment. When I needed you for the first time really in my life, more than ever before, you were not there. I this time I really just had a need for company. I expected more from you, but you let me down. I sank further down, into utter sadness. The one question I asked myself repeatedly was if this was now the time for me to change my view of others or dig deeper and rid of the expectations I had from others.

I think we have all been in that space before, where we needed someone, maybe because we were not feeling well, faces some challenges or dealing with some heartache of some sort, times when we needed nothing more than just a shoulder to cry on. However, what happens when no one is there, when no one give us that much needed attention? I thought about this long and hard during the past few weeks and the same question repeatedly; why is it that suddenly, nobody comes around to give a hand that we cried for in silence?

Friend, if you have not experienced this extreme boniness before, then blessed are you indeed. Be grateful. Believe me though when I say, there is no worse sensation than when you need someone more than anything else, and that that someone is not there for you.

For me the worst thing I realised in this time was that for someone, for that person that we consider a close friend, that individual we wanted to rely on, we needed to rely on, we simply do not exist. These negative feelings were the worst I ever had to deal with. It left me feeling abandoned and rejected.

My “therapy” through these hard times was to blog and to continuously putting my thoughts down in writing and this became my saving grace. One of my realisations was that there would come a time in life when we will be alone. Fact. It is as if other people have a limit in your life, they only reach a certain point. After this point, you will go on alone. Sad but true.

This is a difficult moment, a moment that many of us even try to delay, but believe me, inevitably, it will come. Nobody will or even can accompany you, nobody will be with you. You will be alone and you will walk alone. Nobody will need you, nobody will call you. This will be your worst time, your sense of abandonment so strong as to seem unbearable. I met this moment during the past few months, but especially the past few weeks.

Friend, stranger, whoever is reading this, since we were little, we have gotten used to doing certain things with friends, even with family, but what happens when we find ourselves alone one day? Although most of us know that we have to eventually learn not to depend on anybody to follow our path, do the things that we love to do or just be there for us, it is a fact. Fuelled by feelings of loneliness and an awareness of abandonment, survival mode will kick in.

The tough lesson learned through this time was that I cannot in any way continue to depend on others for company and support, but I have to find that strength and emotional crutches within myself. My self-esteem and happiness can also not depend on others, I had to dig in and find it deep within myself, within the stuff I love to do.

Friend, your absence during this time was loud and clear and although it brought about a lot of disappointment and hurt for me, I have learned to become friends with solitude. I realised that solitude is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Solitude in this case rather allowed me to learn more about myself, because I became my own company in those dark lonely nights when I tossed, turned, and could not fall asleep.

Just one more though regarding happiness. I learned that I could not depend on anyone to be happy. My happiness does not have to depend on anybody, because when I do rely on others and they fail me it only puts me on a roller coaster of emotions that leaves me frustrated  and totally unhappy.

Friend, you failed me, you left me abandoned when I really needed you the most, so I learned that I have to learn to say goodbye. This is something life often does not teach us because it is seen as negative and sort of cruel and unkind, but it is very necessary. I have often heard this statement, “People will come into your life and they will also go out of it, they will hurt you, they will let you down. They will only be there for a season, for a reason.” Well, saying goodbye to them is something that is difficult, but something that we must learn, starting today. I will not reject you and I will have no animosity towards you, but that door to the inner me is now closed and shut. You or anyone else will not have the opportunity or pleasure to hurt me again in this way, unless I decide to open that door again and take a chance on humanity again. Time will tell.

I have chosen to not expect anything from anyone. In my case I know that often my expectations are too high regarding others and that is my mistake, I realise that, but it is because I am someone who always give completely. There are a multitude of images online with these words, “…expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.” I can vouch for that. The only way to avoid being let down, is to not expect anything from anyone

To you, friend or stranger who reads this, if you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed someone who was not there for you, learn from my experiences and free your mind of the thought, “when I needed you the most, you were not there.” The only one you can really rely on is you. You will never miss yourself and you will always be there for yourself. That is the only given.

Do not look for any hand to help you, if it is there, grab it and appreciate it, but otherwise, resort to this, reach out and grab His hand, He who said “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Through all this I still believe that God uses people to minister to people, God use ordinary people in extraordinary ways to attend to our physical and emotional needs. However, we as a people are not always obedient and or sensitive to His call to service, an in that we often find our disappointment, not because God failed us, but because people did.

Come to think about it, much of this has to do with the fact that we very loosely go about to use the word ‘friend’. Often you call me friend but I have never been to your house, or you to mine, we never shared a meal of coffee – just the two of us because you are important to me and me to you. You call me friend but do not know what has been going on in my life, do not know the challenges I face or the hardship I deal with. You often call me friend yet a visit or a call is conveniently avoidable because we have Facebook, WhatsApp and all other forms of social media fall back on. You call me friend but do not know my likes, dislikes, fears or even what makes me happy. The title of ‘friend’ should be earned rather than claimed or just grabbed out of thin air. Friendship lies deeper than just the occasional message on WhatsApp or Facebook. We became so impersonal because of social media and modern tech that we lost the real human interaction. This is a sad but brutally true reality. The last thought, someone said, “…it is not about not having time or being too busy, it depends on where you are on someone’s priority list. When someone or something is important to us, we will make the time and become un-busy”

My last words before I draw a line in the sand for 2017; I pray that when you are in a time of need, when you need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to emotionally bail you out, that you will find that hand to be there. My wish is that you will not experience what I have during the past few months and weeks because we all, yes and that includes you, deserve so much more.

It will be super unfair of me to let the opportunity pas by to thank the handful of people who did promise to be there for me and actually kept their word. Even if I try, I do not think I will find enough words to describe the gratitude I have. You know who you are and mentioning names is not necessary because I will show my gratitude by sharing it with you, on a personal level and not in an open letter. I thank God for you !

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best for 2018.

Sincerely yours,