“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss
I entered 2018 with a handful of goals but they all tie into one big resolution- to be more brave.
That includes being brave enough to seek new adventures, to explore new trails, to love, to laugh, to be kind to myself and others, to push my boundaries and do what is required to be my best possible self… It’s going to be a good year.
I am taking a new approach to training in 2018- I always thought time spent training physicaly was enough- now I am incorporating additional factors and emphasizing aspects such as nutrition, recovery and the mental side of things.
So my focus this week is all about growing mental strength and grit- and what better way than to do it with snatches, which Rhain (my awesome strength and conditioning coach) of Paragon Fitness/CrossFit Ried insists are perfect training for speed, power, strength and stability-
I am looking forward to seeing this translated on the trails.
I’ve been so absorbed with training and trail running, so much so that this post is way overdue *cue dramatic sigh*
Still, better late than never right?
The bulk of my year has been focusing on training for my first Skyrun, 50km ultra trail and stage race- three things that have been on my bucketlist for ages.
Words alone are not going to do much justice describing the emotions leading up to and following these momentous occasions but what I can say is that it has been the most incredible, revealing, trying and wonderful journey.
If I could use one word to capture my 2017 I’d go with raw.
Raw because the year kicked off on a heart breaking note. Raw because I went into the new year mourning my old life and dreading massive change.
Raw because that is how I felt: broken, bleeding, tender.
Raw because I was so far out of my comfort zone already that it seemed like the perfect time to tackle the things I had always wanted to do but feared.
Raw because I quickly realized how that independent girl I once was had disappeared, I had lost my identity and sense of self over the years, and that was probably the hardest pill to swallow. But running has always been my saving grace and it led me back to that former self.
That first sky run was where it all began.
I was petrified to make the trip alone, then to go run a distance I have never run in mountains I have never been in and add to that the fact that it was pouring with rain, it was freezing, I didn’t really know anyone… I was scared. So conquering something like that, it was the most empowering gift the universe could have delivered. I found a bit of myself in those mountains.
Doing that 50km was another moment that defined me- but it was also raw. A different kind of raw.
Training for that run was intense and I found myself out on the trails alone for hours on weekends. That kind of solitude will strip you down emotionally and mentally. It forced me to visit some dark places and learn some hard truths about myself but it also forced me to build up a different kind of strength- one that I would need on race day, which is exactly what my coach, Clinton Hunter of RacePace Coaching, knew.
He always seems to sense exactly what I need in order to be a better athlete, which is why he is so phenomenal. He and my strength and conditioning coach, Rhain Hoskins of Paragon Fitness/Crossfit Ried have this uncanny ability to see parts of my mind that I don’t let anybody see, which is how they know automatically what I need as an athlete, and how they can also cut past my bullshit.
They see the insecurities, the strengths and weaknesses, those self-limiting boundaries and help you past them- THAT’S what defines a good coach.
Their guidance has been instrumental, not just in me achieving my goals, but in helping me realise so much about myself as a person! All the training, all the hard days, the blood (literally!), sweat and tears really helped me on race day.
This run was in aid of Child Welfare Durban and District (CWDD) and thinking about those children really pushed me through the hard moments. Everytime my energy started to drain I thought about their beautiful, smiling faces, I thought about the amazing work CWDD are doing to help these kids- it was enough to elevate me.
I finished that run feeling so happy, relieved…emotional! And it’s weird but something changed in me that day.
There has always been this little girl somewhere deep inside my heart who has been afraid: of being alone, of failing, of life, the future. But that day I felt that fear drain away. I cannot really explain it but I have heard athletes say it before, that a single experience can change you.
For me, I think I found my inner strength in that run, and it was only magnified when I finished my first stage race.
Strangely enough, I found that run the hardest of the lot, something I was NOT expecting. I probably went into the event cocky and over confident that it would be a breeze compared to a 50km trail run. How silly.
That race was RAW.
Day 1 was hot as hell and day 2, the last few kms were really testing. I fought back tears that last km: I was tired and sore.
Then I fought back a different kind of tears when I crossed the finish line and saw all the familiar faces of people I had met this year, some who have become my closest friends, and my heart just filled with so much love for these crazy people.
This race was a different kind of lesson. I realised how lucky I was to have such incredible people in my life, to have such wonderful, supportive friends, and to be able to feel such overpowering love for them, it was humbling to be able to feel that kind of real human emotion again.
That day I realised that life had put me on this insane journey this year and it may have shaken my world up, but it also allowed for me to meet the most important people in my life who I love with all my heart. Interestingly enough these relationships were all forged on the trails or through trail running, which goes to show how special this community is.
Trail running is often defined by its camaraderie and greater sense of community, with like-minded people from all walks of life come together to support one another on the trails. The 1000 Hills Challenge, which took place at Nagle Dam over the weekend, captivated this essence perfectly, featuring an incredible atmosphere and keen display of togetherness amongst the trail running communities.
This premier trail running event is renowned for its tough routes, incorporating undulating climbs, sharp descents and a tricky river crossing or two across the various distance options. Yet it was in the face of these challenges that the spirit of trail running truly shone, as participants cheered one another on and assisted each other through the tough times.
Commenting on the event, photographer Graham Daniel noted that, watching and photographing the river crossing, there was no sign of division.
“Everyone was working together and putting their own advancement aside to make sure their fellow runners got across the river fine,” he said.
The 1000 Hills Challenge, now in its sixth year, proved to be a massive success, with over 600 runners flocking to the beautiful, scenic Nagle Dam to participate in either the 38km, 20km, 10km, or 5km runs.
“Someone commented that it wasn’t 1000 Hills but 2000,” laughed Lauren Booth of KZN Trail Running (KZNTR), the event organisers behind the 1000 Hills Challenge, as well as KZN’s other prestigious trail events. “The smiles and grimaces of satisfaction on the finish line told a story of achievement.”
The atmosphere was jovial at the base of Pietermartizburg’s Table Mountain on Sunday, as runners lined up at the start of the second leg of the popular KZNTR Winter Series event. The clear, crisp winter morning set an idyllic scene and, as the sun rose above the glorious mountain, it cast its rays upon the beautiful trail that the athletes were about to embark upon.
Table Mountain is shrouded in folklore and considered to be a sacred place by the local community. Being able to access this venue and run through the sweeping trails is a special privilege for runners.
“We are very lucky to be allowed access to run on the mountain, which is a sacred place for the locals,” said Lauren Booth of KZNTR.
Andrew Booth, also of KZNTR, added his thoughts on the event, stating that PMB’s Table Mountain was a trail event like no other on the calendar.
“It’s all a great coming together of the trail running community and the local Maqongqo community at Mcoseleli Secondary School, once again showing how sport can unite,” he said.
The event, which featured a 7km, 12km and 20km route, proved to be a massive success, with runners, and walkers, from all walks of life coming together to enjoy the vibes and scenes. Adding to the festivities, WESSA were on hand once again, providing delicious bacon and egg rolls to hungry athletes, as part of their ongoing fundraising initiatives. Exploring Coffee also celebrated it’s one year birthday and there was much cake to be eaten.
Adding value to the series, KZNTR has partnered up with Thirsti Water and West Coast Fish & Chips and have also introduced a Kidzone with experienced child minders and fun activities so that parents can enjoy a run knowing their kids are safe and having fun.