Do not allow others to snatch your dreams from you

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It is really a sad day when other people start to dictate to you how big or how small you should dream.

A few years ago no one would believe me if I told them that I was going to take up running, not to mention the crazy idea to take on the world’s toughest ultra-marathon, the ultimate human race, Comrades. You can imagine the reaction I got from my friends and family. I must say, the support was next to nothing, amazing, unselfish, in most cases. In general people never understood what I was doing, well, what I was trying to do, but they still supported me.

Well, this was my decision, my dream. I followed my dream, I trained, prepared myself and I did my first Comrades and now we are four years down the line and I am heading for Comrades number five. This will be a down run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on Sunday, the 10th of June 2018. The 2018 Comrades slogan is fittingly, “Asijiki – No Turning Back”

This brings me to the matter at hand today; when you don’t have that support and people don’t support you.

I know someone who gave up on her Comrades dream and decided to pull out of Comrades. This was also going to be her back to back. I was saddened when I heard this and I am convinced that this is not because she does not want to do Comrades but because she had to let go of this dream because of someone else’s selfishness and as a result of that, non-support. What a sad reality. Maybe you know someone like this.

It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!”

In this process, in her case, the strong and fighting character we got to know on the road in some way will die a slow and selfish death and we will miss her fighting spirit and support especially on those long, trying and defining races, but as we continue on this journey that we are on, we will continue to follow our own dreams and give it our very best shot to make it become our reality.

When we follow our own dreams, I think it is only human that we expect support and encouragement from the people we consider close to us; instead some sadly experience only rejection and criticism, making the journey even tougher.

We have to learn not to care so much about what others think.

Remember that your passion is the priority. Try to avoid that “What if…” moments. A lot of people go through the motions in life, not doing what they love or dream about. They end up looking back with regret at the things they dreamt about but did not do.

Whether people support you or not, please try to avoid that moment when you look back with regret at those dreams you never followed. Your dreams are the most important things in your life. Follow your heart and do what is right for you and avoid a life lived to please and live up to other’s expectations or a life lived to avoid other’s negative reaction or jealousy. It is just not worth it.

Remember, life is short and we have but one life to live, but if we do it right and to the fullest I guess once is enough.

Living the life others want you to live makes you nothing but a puppet on a string. This is plain wrong. It is important to live your life; just to live out your dreams but also to bring you to the place where you can reach and fulfil your own full potential. Again, life is short, make the most of it. Live your best possible life.

It is also important to know that people often don’t support us just because they do not want us to fulfil our dreams but merely because they just don’t understand us and they do not see what drives us. This often make them seem dissenting, bit it is not the case.

I personally try not to take it to heart when people discourage me. I realize that they are uninformed and often it is best just to ignore them.

Another fact is that people often do not support us or do not allow us to live our dreams because they have their own insecurities and difficulty to focus on and live out their own dreams. This is sad but true. Often this is a major obstacle couples have to overcome, where the one dreams big and the other not at all. Unfortunately the reality here is that this could be as a result of plain ignorance or even stone cold jealousy.

I have used this quote a zillion times before, even in the video I did with Discovery on Medical Miracles. It was Madiba who said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”, so remember, anything is possible. I am living proof of this.

We cannot predict the future, no one can, but please do not get caught up on the doom and gloom of what others believe is possible or not. Dream big and do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true. Don’t let objections from others become your truth and limit you from creating what you want in life. Fact is, anything is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard.

You have to believe that you can realize your dreams without those who do not want to support you. Yes, it is natural to want support and encouragement from those close to us, but it is possible to do what you want to do without it also. It is fact that many successful and inspiring people took the road less travelled. The potential to realize your dreams is locked up inside of you and you have to believe that, make it your own and then don’t give up. Pursue your own dreams, live your own life and become the best version of who you were meant to be.

Let me share this last thought. Another life lesson I have learned is that we cannot please everyone. It is virtually impossible. So, keep your focus on what you want to do and know why. In an ideal world, I think, we all would love to be constantly surrounded by positive people who will support us in everything we do, but this is not going to happen. Reality dictates that there will always be those who will want to drag us down with them to their graveyard of unaccomplished and unfulfilled dreams and where negativity reigns. Let’s not go there!

Friends, dream big and optimize your talents. Our lives are filled with timeless opportunities, we need to seize every opportunity and make it great. Please, do not allow others to snatch your dreams from you

— Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @myownjourney_sa

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Be Inspired

As we build up to the three big races coming up, Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, Loskop Ultra and then Comrades Marathon, I am sharing various inspirational images on my Twitter and Instagram account. Follow me on @myownjourney_sa and enjoy these.

If you have a special short quote you like to share, please comment below and I can maybe include it in the collection.

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Comrades 2017 for Bibles – and more…

We are less than 80 days away from the running of Comrades marathon 2017. This race over the past four years became an integrate part of my life. After I managed to shake off 53kg I found myself on the road, became a runner and in 2014 lined up with thousands of runners to take on my first “Ultimate Human Race”

Over the ninety something years Comrades became part of a South African tradition and over years became one of those items on any runner’s bucket list, one of those must try items. Comrades Marathon definitely is, without doubt, an ultimate human race, the ultimate test of one’s character, challenging the human spirit, which explains why complete strangers from local and abroad and from totally different backgrounds help each other to conquer this hilly course.

This year’s theme is ZINIKELE, It takes all of you.

It does.

My Comrades journey, the decision to do it, started with a t-shirt I bought at the 2014 expo in Durban and the words, “Don’t promise, commit” sort of snookered me. I was a supporter that year, but when I left the expo in Durban I told my friends that I will run the down run in 2015 and the rest is history. Conquering that first Comrades, I remember coming into that stadium in Durban overwhelmed with a mix of emotions and with tears in my eyes and that indescribable feeling of achievement. That year I hang on to a favourite quote by Madiba, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Since then I’ve gone back for more and this year I will run my fourth Comrades Marathon. The first one was special but really tough, so much so that I was one of those who said, “Never again” just to find myself back at the start line in 2015 to try to secure my back to back medal, and I did.

To me Comrades never comes easy. Getting to the start line takes all of you, hours of training, endless early mornings, races, places, dealing with injuries, fighting off the flu, sometimes more than one attempt to get qualified and get your seeding right. Preparing for this iconic race requires hard work and ultimate commitment, just to get to the start. On race day, before you can experience and enjoy the moment you cross that finish line before the 12 hours cut-off, the long road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg is often lined with pain, discomfort, desperation, confusion, questions without answers, uncertainty, fear, self-doubt. But it is not all doom and gloom, there are also moments of sharing, solidarity, encouragement, comrade and even humor and laughter as runners navigate their way towards the finish line. It is the encouraging words from fellow runners and total strangers that push you forward towards the end.

The fourth of June is going to be another tough day on the road. It is again an up-run and this is a real challenge for me. I prefer the down run, but this is part of the magic I guess of Comrades, to always challenge you on some level. For us, the so called “normal” and non-elite athletes, this is not a race, and if it is, it is only a race against time, a race against that clock that “seize to work” at twelve hours, when the final cut off gun with sound and determine whether you made it or not. I have learned over the years that a Comrades runner can only claim success when success is achieved.

During every run so far I met my runner’s wall between 60 and 65 kilometer. This is where I go into mental overdrive where it becomes all about mind over matter, the will to carry on and finish what you’ve started arguing against your body that wants to stop. Fact is, the battle now becomes more with your head than your body because your head refuses to believe that you can make it. This “battle” also drains you mentally, emotionally and saps your body of what is left so I try to get this battle over as quickly as possible so I can carry on with the business of the day, getting to that finish line, in time.

In 2016 I started to run for charity when I joined hands with the Bible Society of South Africa and ran my first Comrades for Bibles. I read a lot about people supporting charities through their sport and I decided to give it a go, and this was without doubt the best move I could ever make. That runner’s wall again came at around 60 kilometers, but the battle was short lived. When the going got tough, I reminded myself why I was doing this, so someone somewhere can get a free Bible and then suddenly the tough got going again and I had my best Comrades ever. I really think this is a tradition we as runners need to make part of your running journeys, running for something more than just a medal or personal achievement, but to also support a local charity and bring change to people’s lives.

This year I will again run Comrades for Bibles – run the 87 kilometers raising funds for Bibles – sowing my support for Bibles, one kilometer at a time.

However, there will be an added challenge. I have committed to run Comrades 2017 with a friend to try and ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Lourens will be by my side on race day. The special challenge here is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. For fear of damaging the sensitive and expensive transmitter unit, Christo chooses to compete in his runs without it. When he runs, he is thus literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world. The main challenge for hearing-impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners have to be aware of their surroundings constantly. This includes not only motor vehicles but pedestrians and other runners as well. It all revolves around safety. For this very reason I have committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside him – hopefully all the way. Although Christo and I will be taking on Comrades together and hopefully navigate our way to the end together, both of us will run our own race and we as individuals we will have to get to that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg. [ …read more ]

People say what I do is very noble, but to me this is all about Ubunto, meaning, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” Running for a cause and this year, also for a friend, is a real blessing to me and means so much to me that it is not just about me, it is not just about my medal, my personal goal, dream or challenge, but it extends over boundaries and horizons much further than that.

My Comrades for Bibles charity drive is now open and you can show your support by donating to this cause. Every R50 donation will make available one FREE Bible to someone who really needs it most and goes to the poorest of the poor.  It was Paul who said, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” ( 1 Corinthians 3 :16 ) Each Bible we can place in the hands of the Bible Society of South Africa and ultimately in the hands of a stranger somewhere will not only bring a single person, but potentially a whole family, one step closer to a living relationship with God.

Today I am so glad that I am not forced to support one of the official and accredited charities associated with Comrades, so I decided to dedicate my kilometers to the Bible Society of South Africa. I have a dedicated web page for my Comrades for Bibles charity drive and I invite you to visit this page to learn how you can support this cause. I tried to make the process a little easier and hopefully we can top last year’s R14,323.40 ( 311 free Bibles ).

Thank you for your support and for being part of my journey to Comrades 2017 !

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As a Team – We will tackle his dream!

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I (me Douw) was more walking than running when I survived my 5 km race way back in January 2011. That experience was, however, enough to convince me to lace up permanently and develop into a full-fledged runner. I loved it. Here I am, six years later and still enjoying this wonderful sport.

Throughout my running years I have learned that runners and walkers are not made from a single blueprint. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, sexes, ages, colours and abilities, each one having his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

During Comrades 2016 Cornelia Hutchinson and I ran for more than our own medals by supporting the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run4Bibles charity drive. We were overwhelmed by the love and support we received from our friends, family and even strangers. In the process we managed to raise a stunning R14,000 plus for Bibles.

This year my journey will be somewhat different. I have committed myself to run Comrades 2017 with a friend and to try ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Kris Lourens will be by my side on race day. Our special challenge is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. When he runs without the transmitter unit, he is literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world.

The main challenge for hearing impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners always have to be constantly aware of their surroundings and watch out for traffic, not just cars, but pedestrians and other runners too. It is all evolves around their safety. For this very reason have I committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside with him – hopefully all the way.

Due to many factors, first and foremost the length of the events and the resultant exposure to numerous hazards, disabled athletes comprise a small minority in endurance sports. Christo and I decided that he can use this opportunity to inspire and motivate others and afford him the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for this minority group. It’s a role he shied away from at first, but he now understands that having overcome the odds for himself, he now has the added responsibility to defy stereotypes that exist about deaf people in endurance sports.

Christo is such an inspiration to me, because he is living his life to the fullest while he just happens to wear a hearing aid along the way. He has successfully completed various road races, half and full marathons and he has also hiked the Fish River Canyon trail twice.

Sport is a great equalizer. We may not all finish at the same time, but our efforts and the end results are often not far apart. Our times may differ considerably but that is not the final benchmark. We have to embrace and respect the diversity of everyone’s own challenge, and refrain from judging other athletes by ingenuous criteria alone. When we truly find out about the other person’s challenges, the chances are that they may just surprise you.

Christo runs all his races without wearing his transmitter. Cochlear implants are sensitive pieces of electronic equipment and they are at risk of breaking if they fall out of the ear during vigorous activity. Furthermore, it is not only the transmitter that can be damaged, a sportsman with a cochlear implant is always at risk of suffering a blow to the head on or around the site of the internal package – which may damage the internal package or external parts or the skin around the area. This can happen during a fall or a collision with another person. These risks may seem small, but they are certainly real and any injury would have severe consequences.

I met Christo through mutual friends and we ran our first race together at the Castle Walk 10km on the ninth of August last year. Little did we know how our friendship would develop and what was lying ahead. That single certainly led to an amazing journey towards Comrades 2017. Another proof of the unique ability of this wonderful sport to create meaningful friendships.

When the entries for Comrades Marathon 2017 opened last year, I told Christo that if he entered for this iconic and amazing race, I would commit myself to be at his side and assist him in any way possible on this journey to make his dream come true. And here we are in 2017, Christo has entered and we are on our #Road2Comrades2017. The TeamVitality and Magnolia Road Runners duo is now pushing forward towards the forth of June 2017.

To date we have run various races together, most of them half-marathons – but we are literally only days away from our first joint marathon, the Johnson Crane 42.2km on 29 January 2017. Needless to say, it is important for us to get the qualifying race out of the way first so that we can then start working on the finer details of seconding someone. As a running duo we have to work on our communication, figure out how we will get one another’s attention, how to keep eye contact while communicating, work out brief and simple instructions and start using pre-agreed visual signals to navigate our way safely though the massive crowd on the road. On all the races, but more so on Comrades race day, I have to be sensitive in order to pay attention to many aspects: how we run as a pair, our pacing and running conditions, and the physical and emotional state of my running partner. The responsibility rest firmly on my shoulders to get Christo safely over that finish line in Pietermaritzburg and I am determined and motivated to do just that.

Our running together is based on commitment and dedication but as we got to know one another better and started doing longer runs, I have noticed how the bond of trust has grown between us.  I realised that Christo entered Comrades on the basis of this trust and if it wasn’t for me he would have not done so. I am feeling blessed and so fortunate to share this amazing journey with him and to help him achieve his Comrades dream.

Meeting this amazing individual has forever changed my life and in the process added a new dimension to my own personal passion for running. Last year was a special Comrades Marathon when Cornelia and I ran for Bibles, this year will be double the blessing, running for Bibles again and helping a friend to realise his Comrades dream.

It seems that the above account carries two very important messages for everyone out there. When I started my own journey way back in 2008 I never thought to be living the life I do now. I literally afforded myself a second chance, gave myself a new lease on a happier and healthier life; started to run; lost 53kg; completed various half- full- and ultra-marathons, including three international marathons; and I will line up for my 4th Comrades this year.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The impossible is possible! Through my running I also hope to inspire others to improve their lives. Sharing my humble wisdom and experiences through my own personal web page www.myownjourney.co.za and other social media interactions is aimed at achieving this. Christo also has a simple, but powerful message: “I love challenges and nothing needs to stand in your way to make your dreams a reality. I’ve been dreaming about doing Comrades for a long time, and this year I am going to do it with my friend and wingman Douw next to me.”

You will be able to follow our journey through my web page at www.myownjourney.co.za or find me on social media, Twitter and Instagram ( @myownjourney_sa ) You can find Christo on Facebook and Instagram

Written by DOUW PRINSLOO
Edited by DIETER GLOECK

PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race 2017 : My Six Year Anniversary Run

This morning’s PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race marked my six year running anniversary. This is where my running journey started, on the 29th of January 2011.

Let me take you back to that day real quick. There were more than 3000 athletes lining up that morning for the 10km and 21.1km races, but there was also the walkers and more specific, the 5km fun run group; I was lined up there. Although I was already two years into my weight loss journey, I have never done a single race in my life, and there I was, hoping to make the 5km with a combination of running and walking, hopefully no crawling. Well, I did finish with an ‘accomplished’ time of 00:30:20. For me the time was not important, I was just very happy to finish. I loved the whole vide of this event so much that I joined the Running Inn running club, bought my first running shoes, got my first ASA license that very day ( after the race ) and I guess I could then call myself a ‘runner’.

That morning Pieter Venter was also there, doing his first 10km race and also he never stopped. That day marked the beginning of new chapter for the both of us.

Following this event I started doing races on a regular basis and looked forward to every weekend because it meant, like I called it then, ‘races and places’. That gave birth to my current slogan I love to use – ‘Making Miles and Moments Count

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This morning, lining up for this very same event, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude, feeling so blessed, that I can still do what I love and love what I do, running, sharing the road with so many awesome people and maintaining my healthy lifestyle and in the process encourage others to do the same, to live their best possible lives. Standing there at the start of this morning’s race I was taken back in time for a split moment to thàt first 5km fun run just a few blocks away from where we were this morning ( back then the race started at the back of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre ) and then an announcement by Pete brought me back to this morning’s event. I looked at Christo Lourens standing next to me and immediately thought of the #Road2Comrades2017 we are on, the road to his very first Comrades Marathon, my fourth. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, six years down the road of my very own running journey and in a privileged position helping a friend to realize his very own Comrades dream.’ On the 4th of June I am determined to cross that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg with Christo Lourens next to me.

My message to everyone reading this is simple, ‘Let no one ever tell you that something is not possible, because it is.’ My favorite quote, the quote that carried me through my very first Comrades, are these words by the late Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ If you dream it, chances are pretty good that you can achieve it. With hard work and commitment the impossible is very possible. It is always within your reach to achieve extraordinary things. Believe it. Always remember, there are always something out there to help you achieve your goals, you just have to find it. For me, joining Discovery Vitality made a huge difference, helping me to stay focused, committed and determined to carry on and then also rewarding me for doing so. Never was it so simple to work out and get rewarded all at the same time.

Let me also take this opportunity to just thank everyone who was and still is part of my journey for your love, support and encouragement. No, it was not always easy and no things did not always worked out as planned, but, I never gave up, never quit, never opted for second best, I worked hard, pushed on, set new goals, leaned forward and reached out for what was ahead. All of you made that possible for me. If I had to do this alone, I am not sure that it would have played out this way at all. I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a friend of fellow runner, because they are the people who lift us up when we need it most, when we are tired, discouraged and weary.

Happy running everyone and have fun chasing your dreams !

[ Read more about my journey here : http://www.myownjourney.co.za ] and follow me on Twitter or Instagram @myownjourney_sa ( links on my web page )

2017 – Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.

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I have just updated my Facebook banner ( above ) and this is my motto for 2017 and also my wish for each and every one of you out there.

Make this year a year of dreaming bigger than ever before ! Have a dream, set a goal, whatever you do, just #challengeyourself to do something extraordinary this year. Remember the word extraordinary means exactly that – something other than the ordinary. For this you will have to leave the safety of your comfort zone. So set that goal, then believe in yourself and then go out and do it. Make it happen. Achieve it. You might even want to revisit 2016 – have a little glimpse back of what lies behind and see what target, goal or dream you have NOT realized last year and make that your challenge for this year. Whatever you do – go out and be awesome, go out and be EXTRAORDINARY !

Feel free to share your dreams and goals with me by commenting on this blog. I welcome your chats and feedback.

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Making Miles and Moments Count

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I’ve been using this tag on social media for quite a while now and I still appreciate the value it adds to my life and to the lives of others.

#MakingMilesAndMomentsCount obviously refers to my running, but it involved more than just running, it represents the whole “package” if you will; races, places, people, medals. It is about getting there, the people you meet, the event itself, the medal. There is always a story to tell after every race we do and these are the memories, the miles and moments we get to remember. I also love taking pictures and sometimes going through the pictures it fires up lost memories and rekindle stories almost forgotten.

[ Click on the images below to enlarge ]

Today, a year ago, I was in Toronto Canada for the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and this morning when I went through my photos to put together a Tweet to all runners, to wish them well, it brought back so many memories. The interesting things about going through these pics don’t just bring back memories about the marathon, but also about days preceding the race, the days before, on and after the race. I remember so many wonderful moments with new friend I’ve made, places I have seen and the city of Toronto I got to explore by myself for three days. My pictures tell a story of so many wonderful moments. For me also to get to share this event with my friends Karen and Chris, who for the first time attended a marathon event like this and because I was there and I was part of this, they also got to make memories of their own. This to me is what it is about.

In a few weeks I will jet off to Athens Greece. I won a trip for two, a competition run by Discovery Vitality during the Rio Olympics, and the prize, a trip for two to Athens Greece. Winning this prize opened the door to new opportunities to go and gather more memories. When I started to plan for this trip and was busy on Google and searched for races in Greece and I discovered that the Athens Authentic Marathon was coming up in November and better even, entries were still open. I was entered for this race even before we had any flights and or accommodation booked and confirmed. I just had to do this. So this means that Pieter and I will be in Athens for the 34th Annual “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” which will take place on November 13th, 2016 – marking 120 years from the first contemporary Marathon race, an event inspired by the ancient course of the legendary Athenian soldier hemerodromos (courier in Ancient Greece who would run for a day) after the Battle of Marathon. This will definitely be another awesome #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount opportunity.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we have to live life to the fullest, savour every moment and make every moment count. Today is all we have and it the gateway to tomorrow; make the most of it. And yes, if you can, take pictures, lot of pictures. These become so important later; when we go through them they trigger so many memories.

Have fun making memories !