2017 is around the corner…

facebook

Are you ready to welcome the New Year ?
Are you ready to step out and take a new chance on life ?
Are you ready to push your boundaries and challenge yourself to living your best possible life ?

People, this is probably going to be my last post for 2016 and I want to take this opportunity to first thank everyone for being part of my life and my journey throughout this past year. Thank you for your love and support and for believing in me, even when I didn’t. It is so amazing to always feel the love and support form everyone, whether it is in person or via social media, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I really appreciate all the support.

This year was a good year for me with so many wonderful moments and experiences and the good definitely outweighed the not so good. Thinking about all the races I did, it all went well and I was blessed not to have too many injuries or stuff holding me back.

I did my third Comrades Marathon this year and it was an honor to do it this year for the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run For Bibles project and Cornelia Hutchinson and I managed to raise more than R14,000 for this awesome charity. We were so blessed with the awesome support we received. This was also my best Comrades run to date – it was just a really good day on the road.

I also won the Discovery Vitality #MyVitalityPB competition during September and the trip I won to Athens Greece made it possible for myself and Pieter Venter to not only travel to Greece but also to run the Athens Authentic Marathon, celebrating 120 years of the marathon as we know it. What an awesome opportunity ! Feeling so blessed !

There were many other races, Two Oceans, Forever Loskop, Cape Town Marathon and many more – all wonderful events where I was able to share the road with my awesome running family and friends. Part of the highlights of all these events are always the people we get to share the road with. Thank you guys for making each event a special one.

14064247_10154488694368993_7316573166484087384_n

#Road2Comrades2017

During this year, a very special individual also entered into my life in the form of Christo Kris Lourens. I single this out because Christo has entered for his first Comrades Marathon and I will be his wing man during this special event. The #Road2Comrades2017 has started and you guys will see us on the road at around 40 official races as we train together in preparation for the big one scheduled for the 4th of June 2017. Together we will take on Comrades 2017 and I trust that we will be blessed with a great race, Christo’s first Comrades and my fourth. Also once again looking forward to share the road on that day with so many other passionate runners from all over – turning ordinary into extraordinary !

This year will be another year of #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount and I cannot wait to share it with you all; lots of races, loads of early mornings, traveling, hundreds of traveling and running kilometers and off course lots and lots of photos !

People, as per my previous post, I hope it will be a year of growing, evolving, taking on of new challenges and pushing on to make dreams come true. Always remember this – this means we will have to make mistakes, we have to fail sometimes so we can succeed later. Don’t be afraid to try new things, don’t be afraid of challenging yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because this will make the difference between staying where you are and rising from above the rest.

Here is to wish everyone a blessed 2017 !

Visit [ http://myownjourney.co.za ] to link with me form there on all social media platforms
Advertisements

Athens Authentic Marathon : DONE !

banner

Here is a quick look back to my 2016 Athens Authentic Marathon. Funny I use the word “quick” in a post about a marathon I did. Ha ha ha.

Anyway, running this race was such a blessing, a trip back into history, 120 years back into history to be precise. Sometimes during the build up to Athens 2016 I sometimes could not believe I was actually going to run it.

According to organizers interest in “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” was again high this year with around 50,000 runners expected to participate in all of the events’ races over a range of distances. But my focus, and the focus of around 17,000 other runners, was on the premier event, the international officially measured marathon (42.195 km) scheduled for Sunday morning, the 13th of November at 09.00am when all of us were going to follow the footsteps of the legendary Pheidippides from the town of Marathon to the finish line at the 1896 Olympic Stadium, also known as the Panathenaic Stadium also known as Kallimarmaro. Like I mentioned, this year marked , celebrated, 120 years since the first Modern Olympic Games of 1896 and the first ever Olympic marathon finished in the same stadium where we were going to finish and we were going to be part of it.

First thing Pieter and I did after checking at the YES! New Hotel in Athens was to find our way to the Athens Marathon EXPO & Registration Centre, which is hosted in the Faliro Indoor Hall & Exhibition Centre of Athens. We found other runners on the tram and together we found our way to the registration centre. Picking up our bib numbers, timing chips, and race packages was quick and efficient and the expo was really huge. We decided to make the most of it and walked through the whole expo, twice. I had to go back to by the 120 year souvenir and limited edition t-shirt. I only decided I wanted it when we were already at the exit.

expo

Saturday was just a day of lying low, we did some exploring close to the hotel and the rest of the day was really just focusing on the task at hand, to get the most out of this amazing opportunity to run one of the most sought after marathons in the world, and not only that, also the only “authentic” marathon in the world, measured at 42.195km. Well, I managed to do it in 42.74km. Ha ha ha. They just never work out quite right so they ?

Race day. 13 November 2016. Our hotel was located literally just around the corner from one of the bus pick up points at Syntagma Metro Station, line 2 & 3. Getting there took us minutes by foot and the whole process there was so well organised and handled to the point, the best I have seen actually at any race. About an hour later we arrived in the village of Marathon and had ample of time to soak in the whole vibe of this iconic event. We were able to also take some great pictures before the race and one specific highlight is the pictures we took at the Marathon Flame Tower and another with our South African flag that was also hoisted along with the flags of all other participating countries.

poses

Just to interrupt myself for a minute. You guys might know that I have decided to sit out on the Kaapsehoop marathon on the 5th of November, just before we left for Athens. That was a really tough decision for me because I love Kaapsehoop and it was also my first marathon ever, but when I stood there at the starting line of the Athens Authentic, I knew that that was the right decision. The rib injury I suffered two weeks before we left was still very present and the pain was still there, intense but bearable. I was still worried about the marathon and how the day was going to play out, but I was determined to ride this wave to the very end, no matter what. I was determined to start and finish this race, no matter what.

start

We started in batches and the first group of elite runners started at 09.00, sharp. After them the groups were moved forward and started in groups one after the other. I have to say what really stood out for me was that there was no pushing of shuffling or people trying to push in because they were late – the typical South African race start scene was not present. Everyone waited, patiently, for their turn. Maybe it is because the race was a mat to mat and not gun to gun event, but still. It is really nice to start like this where everyone is just calm and disciplined, enjoying the moment.

From the village of Marathon the route replicated the route followed by Pheidippides to announce the victory of Athens in the Battle of Marathon.

From the start we headed south for around 17 kilometers, offering a rather flat profile with little graduate climbing here and there, and then we turned in a western direction where the serious climbing started – not too steep but steep enough to test and try the legs. The first descent only starts at around between 32km and 35km and then we entered the valley where the city of Athens is located in front of us.From there the run was easy and rather effortless.

race

The spectators along the route were amazing. We passed through various small villages and eventually suburbs of Athens until we reached the city of Athens, and one word echoed through the air all the time, “Bravo”. It is my guess that Phinnepeades carried an olive branch with him when he did this route because the locals came out in their numbers to hand out olive branches to the runners to carry with them to Athens. It was a lovely touch and yes, I carried mine all the way to the end and I am glad I did. It even shows on my pictures.

Along the route water stations were very frequent but boy, did they waste water. Unlike at the races we do where they hand out cachets, we were given bottled water and one can only drink so much water, so the rest goes to waste. Obviously they do not have problems with water like we do and every time I had to throw a bottle of water away I thought of SA and how much we need that water. Anyway, when in Rome do as the Romans do I guess ( in this case, when in Greece… ) so I had to make peace with that. I have to add to this though that I have read that they were going to recycle an estimate of around 25,000 kg of plastic, so not all that dim and grim I guess.

Friends, the whole race was amazing, from beginning to end, but nothing could prepare me for the moment when I made that left turn towards the Panathenaic Stadium and saw the banner that said, “250m to go!” and then the full view of the stadium was suddenly in front of me and I knew, “Athens Marathon – The Authentic was done and dusted! I crossed the finish line at 04.34.01. Happy. No, ecstatic, grateful and really blessed ! When I threw my arms in the air I saw the olive branch I carried all the way with me and this is when I welled up. Yah I am a softy, sucker for “a moment”. I suddenly missed my mom and wondered what she would think of me, doing all this; me changing my life, losing all the weight, started to run, marathons, ultra-marathons, Comrades, international marathons ( this was my third one ) and now, the one and only authentic marathon in the world where it all started 120 years ago, the Athens Marathon. I think she would be proud of me.

stadium

The moment I’ve been waiting for, entering The Panathenaic Stadium, Athens

Looking at that medal in my hand, the medal I have been dreaming of since I started to plan this trip, was suddenly lying in the palm of my hand. Mission accomplished.

finish

Pieter and I both had good runs ( he did 04.14.39 ) We were 44 South Africans on the starting list, 32 finished the race. Pieter finished in 13th place out of the group and grabbed the 17th spot. This was definitely not about racing, but rather to have and enjoy the experience. Both of us were going to have better times, but we took a lot of pictures, so that definitely wasted time, but with this event not time was wasted. It was just plain awesome.

medalandshirt

We also extended our time in Greece for another ten days, and believe when I say, the experience was magical. We have seen and done so much and got to be around the most amazing people; they are friendly, helpful and so respectful. Greece is a stunning country, disciplined, clean and despite of the challenges they face as a people and as a country, things are still working in so many ways and when I say that I immediately wonder, “What is South Africa’s excuse?”

It will not be fair for me to boast about this wonderful even without thanking the people who made this possible. I want to give a BIG shout out and thank you to Discovery Vitality for making this trip to Athens possible. If it was not for me winning the #MyVitalityPB competition, none of this was going to be possible. I had six months in which to make use of the prize, and when I saw that the Athens Marathon was on, that instantly convinced me not to let this opportunity pass, and we entered, and then booked the trip around those dates. To Discovery Vitality, “Efcharistó polý” ( Thank you very much )

Everyone ask me, “Will you go back?” The answer to that question is easy, “…next year this time you will ten to one be reading my review on my second Athens Authentic Marathon” So YES, I want to go back and not only that, I intend to take a few friends ( specially running friends ) with. This is a MUST RUN marathon !

collage

Making Miles and Moments Count

img_7664

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 !

Greece is calling !

athens

Acropolis, Athens Greece

In the beginning of September I was informed by Discovery Vitality that I was the winner of the competition they run during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the prize, a trip for two to Athens, Greece. The prize includes flights, accommodation for six nights, seven days, transfers and a full day city tour including a visit to The Panathenaic Stadium also known as Kallimarmaro.

So, right now, excitement is building as I count down the days to 9 November 2016 when I will jet off to Athens, Greece for this amazing trip. I have decided to also extend my time in Greece with a few days and will only return on the 26th of November 2016.

Like a typical runner, when I started to look at possible dates of travel I consulted “Doctor Google” for some help in this regard and saw that the Athens Authentic Marathon will happen in 13th of November 2016. Needless to say, even before my dates for the trip were confirmed I was entered for the marathon. Pieter and I will run this very iconic marathon between Marathon and Athens on the 13th of November 2016 in the colors of TeamVitality. We are so excited about this. We will run this race with tired legs because the week before we will be in Nelspruit for the Kaapsehoop Marathon, but hey, maybe this will force us to hold back and take in all aspects of the Athens run. Many runners describe The Athens Marathon as the ultimate Marathon experience; recreating each year the incredible run that started it all 2,500 years ago. This year we will be part of this amazing experience.

During my trip I will definitely keep everyone updated and you will be able to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As a last thought, during the Cape Town marathon two weeks ago I managed to qualify for Comrades so that one is also ticked off the list. Now I can just hope for a better seeding sometime, somewhere. Kaapsehoop is a good opportunity for that, but will see what happens there on 5 November 2016. During Cape Town marathon I was once again reminded of two realities of running. Firstly, you should always run your own race, and secondly, race day will look after itself; you can be well prepared and in top form and have a terrible run and you can be uncertain and in doubt and not so prepared and have a great day on the road.

Friends, I will touch base with you all again soon. In the meanwhile, be inspired to live your best possible life and make every moment count and have no regrets !

Reflecting on 2015: A year On The Road

As the Christmas holiday will soon give way to a New Years, I am reminded that 2016 is right around the corner. This causes me to stop for a moment, and quietly reflect on 2015 as it nears its end.

For myself, in 2015, there has been a definite shift from the life I led prior to it, and as I “turned the pages” of my photos I am filled with so much gratitude for a year made up with so many wonderful moments. I am glad that the great moments once again outweighed the less great ones and I still feel blessed for the life that I have lived this year. If you look at this collage it reflects on yet another year on the road and it is embroidered with a golden thread called “friendship”.

It is impossible to capture all the moments, so these are just some, but they are all equally important to me as are the people adding colour to it and meaning to my life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has been part of my life during this year. Thank you for your love and support and for believing in me when I and some others didn’t.

Those who fell by the wayside are history and belong to the past, and that is perfectly okay, because they made way for more meaningful and precious relationships. I have always believe in this – “Regardless, life goes on !”

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New year. See you all on the road as we start yet a new chapter, 2016 and I will then continue living out my motto, “Making Miles and Moments Count”

2015-collage

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.

blog

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 ]