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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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 )

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 !

“There are no mistakes”

In one of my previous posts I mentioned the name of a lovely lady I met, Jennifer Monteith. A quick recap. I met Jennifer at the Exhibition Place when I went there to register for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Here is a quick recap.

I was walking around at the exhibition centre looking for a WiFi spot. One of the volunteers at the expo directed to a shop just outside the exhibition hall. She told me the lady working at that shop is there every day and she would know best. So that is where I went and this is where I got to meet Jennifer. She gave me directions to where I was able to connect to WiFi and after I send the message to Karen I returned to the shop just to thank Jen for her kind assistance and this is when we started to chat.

Jennifer was born in Kingston Jamaica and hailed to Canada in 1964. She started out in the fashion industry and was the first black model to appear in the Eaton’s catalogue in the 60’s. Later, she appeared in other catalogues such as, JC Penny, Sears & Roebuck, King Patters and Bride & Groom Magazine. Jennifer also enjoyed a successful runway career doing Eaton’s Young Toronto Shop shows across Canada.

We ended up talking and sharing the wikipedia version of our own stories and I realized once again, we all have a story to tell, sometimes we are just in too much of a hurry and or don’t care enough to listen to people.

Anyway, I am flying back home tonight and am spending the last day at Karen’s work before we leave for the airport later. I was on Facebook doing some catching up on everything and everyone back home and I ended up on Jennifer’s Facebook page and as I glanced over to the right top part of the screen I noticed something, “Born on December 21”. This is my mom’s birthday too and there, at that moment I had an aha moment.

When I met Jennifer the first time, she said goodbye and we shared a hug. That hug was different, it was special, it was somehow personal and connected. I actually do not have a better word to describe it as being “familiar”.

Anyway, I boxed that and thought I’m being silly. Well, suddenly, when I saw Jen’s birth date, I recalled that first and second hug and I realized, Mom was here with me; she found an angel in Toronto, Canada to deliver a hug from her, a hug I so longed for, for so many years since her passing in 2000. Now I know that Mom is watching my every move, she is with me, wherever I go, and I now know she rejoices with me in every moment of joy and excitement, but also shed her tears with me when I am sad. After so many years Mom found a willing soul to deliver this very important message to me, 13,300kms from home.

I shared this with Jen and this is what she had to say about it in her reply to me this morning:

“Thank you for that share, December 21st ! “Wow” I do remember that hug very well, and can say I wondered how different it felt, to hug a stranger with such comfort and familiarity.”

This just underlined that what I felt was different and that connection was indeed there. I firmly believe that the sign I saw that morning was part of Mom’s plan to lead me to the angel she had lined up for me to deliver the message; the hug and the assurance that I am never alone.

I did some digging into the meaning of Jennifer’s name and look what I found. I think this is so awesome and true.

“From a Cornish form of the Old Welsh name Gwenhwyfar (Guenevere). Jennifer’s are an extremely rare beauty inside & out. They are loyal to friends & family & will stand by you as long as you will let them; very supportive. They know how to love no other way than hard. Jennifer’s have a deep passion for life & the things that are important to them. Sometimes their passion can be mistaken for attitude but, let it be known, it’s only because they are misunderstood by some; their passion is real & for no other purpose. Jennifer’s are naturally beautiful – making some green with envy of their natural features; so it is only fitting that they have keen interest in the nature around them & preserving natural beauty. They were born with it & are wired to love & care for things in their natural state as well as all creatures big and small. Jennifer’s will be there through the good times & the bumps along the way. Their friendship does not thin, it is not a fair-weather friendship. It is as real as the Jennifer you encounter. Strong & supportive; beautiful & timeless. Should you come across a Jennifer make them your best friend and hold onto them forever; I know I will.”

A last thought. The other night at the “Wild about wellness” event in Hamilton, Karen Schmutz said, “There are no mistakes” This statement lingered in my thoughts for a few days, and now I know why. It was part of the bigger plan, I just did not know it yet.

I made a promise to Jennifer to stay in touch and I will because there is a reason why we met and it is about more than just the here and now. I am excited to see how this will unfold. All I can say is be open to what life throws at you and embrace every day, grab every moment and make the most of it, because like the sign said, “My life is all I have