Category: travel

Training for an ultra-marathon (anything over 42km) is tough. It requires dedication, commitment, sacrifice and TIME. Boy, does it require time.

 

Training for the Two Oceans Ultra (and the Comrades) is a big time suck. My week days consist solely of working, running, and sleeping. Lather, rinse, repeat. My weekends are spent leaving parties early (22:00 for the latest), because I have to wake up at the crack of dawn the very next day to pound the streets and think about my life choices. Weekend runs can last anywhere between two to five hours. Naturally my run is followed by SLEEP. Three to four hours of glorious SLEEP.  I normally awake from these epic slumber events completely listless. So listless that I often hope that there’s food in the fridge and I won’t be forced to put on pants and venture outside in search of sustenance. (Spoiler alert: There’s never anything in the fridge).

 

One of the ways in which I’ve decided to make training (and all the accompanying sacrifices) easier is by making the most of my rest days. This means spending it with people I love; people who make me laugh; people who support my endeavours. It also means doing something special; something out of the ordinary; something other than sitting on the couch and watching TV.

 

This is why I’ve compiled the not-so-bucket list. It’s a list of achievable things I’ve always wanted to do in Cape Town, but never make time for. One of those things was swimming at the penguins at Boulders.

Here of some of the photos I took at Boulders.

Boulders

Entrance fees from 1 Nov 2015 – 31 Oct 2016
R65 for adults
R35 for children

Operating Hours: 7 days a week
Dec – Jan: 07h00 – 07h30
Feb – April: 08h00 -18h30
May – Sept: 08h00 – 17h00
Oct – Nov:  08h00 – 18h30

 

You can read Part I over here.

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It’s round about this time that I lose track of time. I no longer keep track of the days.

I regret not hiring a kayak while in Wilderness National Park. I’d seen the shape of the waves and been afraid.

I walk elephants. I hold an elephant by it’s trunk. At one point it hits me, I walking a fucking elephant, an animal large enough to trample me to death.

I meet a Canadian, who plans to walk from Cape Town to Cairo. The journey will take him two years.

I share an eight-man dorm with a snorer. His snoring isn’t consistent. There are long pauses between the roaring noise. His snoring wakes everyone up. At one point, one of my roommates jumped from the top bunk bed and screamed at the snorer, “Jy snork poes erg!”
Translation: You snore fucking badly!
The snorer does not wake up.

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I’ve just finished reading the book, “Into the Wild“. Below is two of my favourite passages. It’s on ice climbing.

All that held me to the mountainside, all that held me to the world, were two thin spikes of chrome molybdenum stuck half an inch into a smear of frozen water, yet the higher I climbed, the more comfortable I became. Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your moments tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control.

 

By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-today existence – the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison from your genes – all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.

I wish I could attempt something this scary. I want to be brave and strong. 

I’ve spent the last few days traipsing along the Garden Route. Here are some photos and a brief account of my trip.

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Day 1: Wilderness National Park
Epic sunset. Pizza from Pomodoro’s. Hummingbirds. Afternoon swim in the river. Sleep desperately needed.

Day 2: Tsitsikamma National Park
Hike across suspension bridges. Lone dassie. Too much time spent in the car. Wishing I’d brought my iPod along. I can’t stand anymore reggae.

Day 3: Tsitsikamma National Park
Alex’s laughter as we sped to the waterfall on a boat.

Nature’s Valley.
Lots of cheese. Close run-ins with baboons. Secluded waterfalls and rock pools.

Day 4: Wilderness.

Overheard at garage store:

Guy: Do you have any Peaceful Sleep for mosquitoes?

Store clerk: No, but we do have Doom.

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It the second week of November and I feel compelled to put fingers to keyboard, compelled to recap these last few weeks, compelled to tell you that I still exist.

 

The thing is, since being back from Cali I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much. I haven’t booked a one-way ticket to Japan. I haven’t mastered the art of Python scripting or HTML5. And I most certainly have put an end to world hunger. I’ve spent the 3 months getting back to my pre-travel fitness level and training for the Winelands Marathon.

 

Pre-travel fitness

Getting back to my pre-travel fitness level was easy enough. It took me 5 weeks of consistent training. 5 of hill repeats, 5 weeks of leaving parties early and repeating to myself that “This is the life I’ve chosen”, 5 weeks of consuming GU for breakfast. Easy enough!

 

Insert humble brag here. A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Landmarks half-marathon (21km).It’s a tough route. I did last year and was completely gutted. I just walked so much. No matter how hard I tried to will my body, my legs simply wouldn’t comply. I ended up finishing the race in 2:11. This year? This year I managed sub 2. Redemption, baby!

 

Winelands Marathon  

Where do I even start with this one? There was definitely fear, and anxiety, and despondency.

 

I have not been able to keep up with my partners’ running pace. I have been lagging behind, and have not clocked in as my kilometers as they have. This had made me feel panicked and uncertain.

 

The result is that I may have asked strangers on Twitter to break my foot IF I did not finish the Winelands Marathon in less than 5 hours (qualifying time for an Ultra). All they had to do was drop a sledgehammer on my right-foot, since it already felt like it had a stress fracture. (Side note: That foot only hurts when I walk. It’s TOTALLY fine when I run.)

 

With less than a week to the marathon, I’m no longer feeling this way. I’m feeling calm. I’ve told myself that I don’t need to finish this marathon in sub 4 hours. There’ll be plenty of other marathons. All I need to do for now is qualify for Comrades. And set a new PB for a marathon … Easy. No pressure.

 

AND now for a random quote:

“I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it. I saw you and made up my mind.” Toni Morrison

Can we just take a second to acknowledge the fact that San Francisco has some of the most beautiful buildings in the world? That is all.

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Photo taken in Turkey.

I’ve just finished reading, “Best White and Other Anxious Delusions” by Rebecca Davis.

My favourite extract from the novel:

“Then Desmond Tutu really set the cat among the pigeon by proposing that white South Africans should pay a ‘white tax’, to which many white people responded with fury that they already paid a ‘white tax’ called ‘tax’.

It’s cute how many white people genuinely believe they are the only ones who pay tax, as if whenever anyone else gets to the Shoprite till, the checkout lade presses a secret button marked ‘No VAT FOR DARKIES’.”

*

Did you know that they pay a tampon tax in the UK? Coz tampons are a “luxury” item …

Days after arriving back home, a friend asked me if I wanted to spend a couple of days on Table Mountain in October. My initial reaction was to say, “No.” I’d just spent a month in Turkey, followed by 5 weeks in California. And although 90% of my Californian expenses was covered by work, there was that other 10%. One night’s accommodation in a 4 bed dorm (without a bathroom!) in San Francisco, set me back R800. For those of you who are unfamiliar with South African currency, R800 is a month’s petrol. But after agonising over the idea for several hours, I reasoned that if I wanted ensure that 2015 would be my BEST YEAR EVER, I would say, “Yes.” And if money ever became an issue I could always sell a kidney. Not necessarily mine …

I’d love to rhapsodize about the incredible people I met on this trip and the things I saw along the route, but I’ve just run 14km and I am exhausted. So I give you photos. Enjoy!

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We stayed in the Overseers Cottage. For more information on the accommodation prices, visit the SANParks website.

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Photo taken in Turkey.

If you’re a romantic (or simply a lover of beautiful words), do yourself a favour and READ THIS! That is all.

Read this!

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  1. Google Earth map, with the yellow stars depicting the different cities and towns I visited.
  2. Smug cat in Ephesus. (Demarked by the yellow star beneath Izmir.)
  3. Snail. Heybeliada Island, off the coast of Istanbul.
  4. Fish braai on a yacht. Kaş, Turkey (Yellow star below Fethiye).
  5. Art gallery in Istanbul, Turkey.
  6. Umbrellas in the sky. Antalya, Turkey.
  7. Catholic church in Istanbul, Turkey.
  8. Ruins close to Olympos. (Yellow star below Antalya.)