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The view from my office. 

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Somewhere in Kalk Bay. 

IMG_2915Slacklining above the pool at Brass Bell

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Last week I ran the Milkwood half-marathon (21km). I’ve rambled with this race several times before and have been disappointed on each occasion. (One year I injured myself so badly, I had to sit out for 6 weeks. That was pure torture!)

 

This year, while slowly crawling up the hills, I kept thinking of the narrative I wanted to tell. I kept telling myself that “today I was out for retribution; today I was out for blood.” I didn’t worry about going out too fast in the beginning. I didn’t worry about whether or not my body could hold this pace for the entire duration of the race. I didn’t listen to my jagged breathing and think, “You’re pushing too hard. Your body won’t be able to withstand this stress for 21km.” And when there were doubts, and there were doubts, I didn’t let them linger. I didn’t mutter anyone else’s mantra to get me through the tough parts. I didn’t have to tell myself to dig deep; to ignore the pain; to keeping putting one foot in front of the other. I simply remembered that I was a girl on a mission, I had come out with the sole goal of proving myself and that there was nothing more dangerous that a girl with something to prove.

 

Last week I ran the Milkwood Race, and for the first time in years I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Not only need I manage to achieve my goal of sub two hours, I managed to surpass my expectations. 1:52 – 5 minutes faster than my previous PB. I was so giddy that for days afterwards I resisted the urge to walk up to complete strangers, point to my chest and say, “1:52.”

 

Anyway, my goal after the Comrades Ultra is run a half in 1:49. Let’s go!

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Some random photos (left to right):

  1. Tortoise spotted at work
  2. Protea
  3. Sunset over Sea Point swimming pool

I am currently reading Jazz by Toni Morrison.

Here’s an extract from the novel:

“Dorcas has been acknowledged, appraised and dismissed in the time it takes for a needle to find its opening groove. The stomach-jump of possible love is nothing compared to the ice floes that block up her veins now. The body she inhabits is unworthy. Although it is young and all she has, it is as if it had decayed on the vine at budding time. No wonder Neola closed her arm and held the pieces of her heart in her hand.

So by the time Joe Trace whispered to her through the crack of a closing door her life had become almost unbearable. Almost. The flesh, heavily despised by the brothers, held secret the love appetite soaring inside it.”

And if you’re looking to kill more time at work, may I suggest the following articles:

  1. A modern proposal by David Sedaris.
  2. The racist gatekeepers of Hollywood
  3. To anyone who thinks they’re falling behind in life
  4. Bad blogging in Turin, my favourite city in Italy

I generally spend my Friday evenings swimming at a public pool, but after learning that rain was predicted this Friday, I decided to tick one more thing off my not-so-bucket list.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition

Here of some of the photographs I snapped at the exhibition. WildlifeExhibition

Middle photograph: A wide aperture lens was used to focus on the two butterflies and blur the flowers in the background. The female butterfly is more transparent due to an unexplained tendency to rub their wings more.

I absolutely LOVED, LOVED this exhibition. I absolutely admire the amount of patience is required to take photographs of wildlife. Not only did I get to see some amazing works of art, but I also learnt a great deal about climate change. Did you know that jellyfish numbers are increasing due to climate change? (If you go, DO read the notes beneath each photograph.)

This exhibition runs until 15 April 2016.
Where: Chavonnes Battery Museum, V& Waterfront
Time: 09:00 – 20:00
Price: R50p/p – R240p/p (depending on whether you’re a student or pensioner).

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

 

Respect the distance
A few days ago, my running partner and I started chatting about our first marathons. We’d attempted the Cape Town marathon (in different years) and it was a complete disaster. We’d both failed to meet our goals. Although we had both managed to run the entire distance, we’d failed to complete it in under 5 hours (the qualifying criteria for running an Ultra).

The running partner reflected that this was the best thing that could have happened to her. It taught her to RESPECT THE DISTANCE. And I love this sentiment. I think it’s a profound and beautiful. To me it means that she acknowledges the inherent difficulty of the marathon, recognises the work and sacrifice required to complete the task, and is willing to put in the time and effort to reach her goal. And I love that.

An upgrade
A week ago, I purchased a new car. It was time. Seriously. There has been more than one occasion where I had to gain access to my car by climbing though the boot.

I’m liking my new car. Driving up a hill is no longer a stressful experience. I no longer have to wonder if that burning smell is coming from MY car, even though the handbrake is up and my foot is off the clutch. I no longer feel the need to apologise to the drivers behind me because my car can only go up at 20km/h.

Other changes
I’ve joined a new running club and I must admit I’m enjoying the members’ reaction to me. After running the Red Hill 36km, an old guy from my new club quizzed another member about me.
Him: Who is she? Why have I never seen her before? She runs really well!

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The next night I share a dorm room with the snorer again. This time a German friend jumps out of his bunk bed and screams at the snorer to wake up. The snorer continues unabated.

The next day we will have an in-depth discussion about the snorer. We discuss the rhythm of his snoring, the fact that the snorer is still sleeping at 10:00 in the morning, while some of us had to retreat to the safety of the hammock outdoors in order to get a couple of hours sleep. At some point, someone will pipe up and claim that the snorer is actually quite a nice dude.

There is French toast one morning, a kayak down the river and a hike to the waterfall. There are discussions about the latest book I’m reading, “Into the Wild”. There is swinging from a tree, underneath the stars, while a guy strums his guitar. There is an unwillingness to pack our bags and leave the very next day.

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.

SeaPointOn Sunday something weird happened – weird enough for me to want to put my fingers to keyboard and blog about it.

 

Let me start by setting the scene.

 

It’s 19:00 on a Sunday. I’ve just been dropped home after having a rather eventful day. I’d spent the afternoon at the Root 44 Market in Stellenbosch, where my friends and I hustled for seats in the shade, mocked each other mercilessly, and after eating delicious ice-cream, declared that we’d made some good life decisions. It was a good day.

 

You’d assume that after spending hours in the sun, I would want nothing more than to climb beneath the covers. But I wasn’t tired and the sun was still out. I wanted to see what else life had to offer. So grabbed my iPod and my car keys, and headed to my favourite place in Cape Town.

 

Once at Sea Point, I immediately plugged in my iPod and gracefully glided down the promenade. Fine. There’s nothing graceful about the way I walk. I bounce. Perpetually. I give the impression that I am completely unaware of ISIS, Donald Trump and the consequences of global warming.

 

So there I am, bouncing along the promenade listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Ocean, when I notice a woman taking a photo of a guy. The guy is approximately two meters in front of her. Two things come to mind.

  1. She should be pointing her tablet in the other direction to bathe him in the pastel shades of the setting sun.
  2. I better move fast to avoid accidentally photobombing the guy.

 

And just as I’m busy scurrying away, the woman beckons towards me. I’ve got Frank Ocean blasting in my ears, talking about forever, and I can only assume that she wants me to take their photo. I graciously agree. And just as I’m walking towards her, right hand outstretched towards the tablet, the weirdness happens.

 

In lightning speed the guy is besides me. He wraps his arm my shoulder and smiles. She snaps a photo. I’m dumbfounded. Did that really just happen? And before I can react, the guy smiles at me and points both index fingers towards my face. It’s a friendly gesture; there is nothing sinister about it. The type of pose you’d strike with your best friend. I smile awkwardly. The woman snaps another photo. My instincts FINALLY kick in. Flight or fight? I hightail it out of there. A million thoughts whirl through my mind. The movie, “Taken” comes to mind. I check my handbag to see if my belongings are still in place. I wonder where my photo will land up. Will he tell his family and friends, “This is what women in Cape Town look like?”  I tweet about the moment.