It’s not easy

Wow. I don’t know what’s harder: blogging regularly or training regularly. Both require a healthy dose of what we call ‘vasbyt‘ – which, in direct translation, is to bite down hard and keep on biting. Kind of like biting the bullet, but for an extended period of time. Luckily, though, the last time I blogged is not the last time I trained.

The last time I was about to blog was on the morning of a ballroom and Latin dance competition. I sat on my bed with my stomach and my heart melded into one leaden lump, and started to write something. I forget what. But it must have been something to do with focus – focusing on one goal at a time, maybe, since practising for the dance competition certainly threw me off my walking training. And getting back into walking training after dance training was harder than I had thought it would be. I felt completely out of whack. Slow, heavy. And the road seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. Without music.

And so I would be lying if I said all is on track for the New York Marathon. It is exactly two months away, and I’m behind. I am. A mild panic is setting in.

The usual excuses reign, the most popular one being that the weather has been miserable – as it is again today. But I know well enough that New York in November is going to be as miserable as Cape Town in August, so bundling up and hiding indoors is going to be of very little use to me when the time comes. But getting out there and training is about more than being ready to do a marathon. It’s also about feeling good. And, really, after a few days of avoidance tactics, one starts to feel pretty ugh! And when you feel ugh, you reach for stuff to make you feel, if not wow, then at least less ugh. These things are usually short term, immediate gratification type solutions, like a cup of hot, sweet tea, a latte, a glass of wine, maybe even an evening of some rubbish TV. They do work, of course. But only in the short term. The effects of my last cup of tea are already wearing off, while the guilt gnawing at me, telling me that the day is marching on, and it’s time to get those shoes on, doesn’t abate. If I don’t get out there soon, by this evening I’ll be like somebody with multiple personality disorder – the one me telling me to get out there, that I’ll feel better if I do and sorry if I don’t, the other me telling me it’s too late now anyway, and I may as well put it off for tomorrow.

And we all know what happens to things that are put off until tomorrow: they swell up and grow enormous overnight, and by morning they are even harder to accomplish than they were yesterday. Nah. Tasks put off until tomorrow don’t become easier. They just become more urgent and harder to do.

But, to get back to some of the training that I did manage to do:

Two weekends ago I walked the Blisters for Bread. It is an annual family fun walk in aid of the Peninsula School Feeding Association. The nominal entry fee of each participant goes towards providing meals to school children who do not have access to proper nutrition. Their slogan is ‘You cannot teach a hungry child’, which is so true.

I am sorry to say, though, that I didn’t enjoy this year’s event. The event encourages thousands of people who would normally not walk to the shop, to muster up their courage, gather  the family together and walk 5 km, 10 km or 15 km. The more serious walkers attempt the 15 km, while the fun walkers do the shorter distances.

This year, however, there were groups of runners.  I have no idea why someone who is fit enough to run 15 km would want to enter a walking race, especially since there are numerous running races to choose from every weekend. Almost 16 000 people, of all shapes, sizes, ages and levels of fitness take part in the Blisters for Bread. The track is a fairly narrow space and must accommodate those setting out as well as those heading to the finish. So, as a fast walker, trying to beat the clock, you are continually frustrated not only by the slow walkers in front of you, but by the hordes of even slower walkers heading towards you, many of them pushing prams or carrying children. Why would you want to run through that? The runners, I felt, made the walk unpleasant. I was bumped twice by runners, once quite hard against the hip – and the last time I got jolted like that while walking, I ended up almost immobile and needed a month of physio. They ran in packs, with no regard for other walkers, oncoming traffic or even the ‘No running’ signs along the pedestrian tunnels at construction sites.

But enough moaning about the Blisters for Bread. It got me out on the road, and that’s all that matters. The temptation to ‘walk tomorrow’ was great. But, because I had signed up for it, I got up, got dressed, pinned the number to my t-shirt, and got my tochas on the road.

Last weekend, the Cape was battered by storms. Again it was huddle down weather, pour a glass of wine weather, don’t go out there weather. Sometime in the late afternoon, though, as the sun squeezed a few rays through the dark clouds, I talked myself up and headed out for a 20 km walk. And it was exhilarating! All that wild weather and rough seas, the cold against my face, getting rained on twice, the marvelous light, the huge clouds – ah man, it sure does waken the senses!

I managed another 20 km walk on Monday, and felt quite grimly satisfied with myself. There’s a new Endomondo challenge, and so the competitor in me is stirring from its slumber.

I should have clocked a few 30 km walks by now, though, and so my ‘pretty pleased with myself’ levels have not reached the smugness mark yet.

And today? Today I am trying to talk myself up to getting out there and walking 25 km. I thought I would have a cup of tea and write this blog first, though.




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