Post-marathon and new goals

Being post-marathon has left me in a weird kind of space. I’ve been for a few short runs – and by ‘short’, I mean really short. The first little run I took to test out the old legs was only 3 km. It wasn’t great. I didn’t love it. Okay, actually, it was quite crap. I had been home only about two days and was still feeling a bit leaden. Trotting out there along my old Fan Walk, it felt as if running a full marathon had been easier than running those3 km. A day or two later I headed back out for a little 5 km run and, a day later, another 5 km. And I did some short bursts of running when taking the dogs out for their walk. But that’s it.

Mostly I’ve been eating and drinking, not sleeping enough, nor well enough, not exercising much at all, and making some half-hearted attempts at getting AfrikaBurn ready. The clan burns in just 13 days and I have so much to do. I decided – at the last minute – that standard-issue, dung coloured gazebos are way, way too boring to take to the Burn and that the soft, floaty curtains I decorated them with last year are just not good enough for this year. I need vibrant colour and crazy patterns. I need to reconstruct the entire gazebo cover in happy cloth, I decided, and I need to create covers for the sides as well, to keep the sun and wind off the tutu makers – because making tutus is what my space will be used for.

So, instead of doing the parkrun or taking myself off on a nice little ten day, I shuttled myself off to the fabric shop on Saturday morning – the best day of the week to get trampled in a stampede of passive aggressive women. This is my umpteenth trip to the fabric shop. So far I have been working on trying to create the biggest, fullest, most diaphanous skirt that will billow and swirl and float on the slightest desert breeze. The quest has been unsuccessful so far. I’ve made a number of skirts but none of them do what I want them to do.

During this Saturday morning’s trip I came across some bright cottons in mouth-watering colours (some might say eye-watering) and wonderful patterns. I bought metres and metres of the stuff and hurried home to get stitching. I need to make eight huge triangles for the gazebo tops (there are two gazebos) and at least four 3 m x 3 m squares for the side and back walls. That amounts to literally hundreds of kilometres of stitching … I might go for a world record here.

I held some fabric up against my body, just to fully appreciate the awesome colours and patterns I had carried home in those green plastic and, just like that, the diaphanous skirt project was replaced by the big African skirt project. I had spent three weeks measuring and cutting and stitching soft, slippery and disobedient fabric into massive circle skirts, and now I stood all glittery-eyed at the prospect of creating box-pleated maxi skirts in bright blues, yellows, reds, pinks, purples … And, of course, I still need to magic together the gazebo covers – a project that got pushed a little bit lower on the urgency scale.

Also on the Burn list of things to do is creating camp decorations from all those plastic bottle caps I keep picking up on my walks (my Take Three Things project) and from plastic bottles. The bottle caps have been sorted into colour groups and washed, and some have had holes pierced in them. They need to be arranged into some kind of order and strung on thread to create a bottle cap curtain. The plastic bottles are cut and melted and reassembled into giant, somewhat scary looking flowers. I need at least 60 of those to create a forest of strange and colourful flowers. And there are still the CD flowers to make and a host of things on my shopping list that must be hunter-gathered.

Colourful fabrics and plastic bottle caps: the raw materials with which to create our AfricaBurn camp decorations.

Colourful fabrics and plastic bottle caps: the raw materials with which to create our AfrikaBurn camp decorations.

Upcycled plastic bottles: giant flowers for our AfrikaBurn theme camp.

Upcycled plastic bottles: giant flowers for our AfrikaBurn theme camp.

There are so many other little tasks sketched out on my various mind maps and bulleted on my numerous lists in my multitude of little notebooks that are lying all over the place, that I feel almost paralysed by it all. And what do I do when I have way too much to do? Get a good night’s sleep so that I can be up at five and get cracking! Right? Wrong. No. Of course not. No, I stay awake. I lie staring into the dark mulling over in my head all the things I need to do tomorrow, and prioritise and re-prioritise the tasks – in order of importance, in order of complexity, in order of ease … in any order that makes the most sense at two in the morning.

Mindmaps, lists, calendars - where would I be without Moleskine?

Mindmaps, lists, calendars – where would I be without Moleskine?

On Sunday, after spending the morning feverishly sewing away, sweatshop style, at my gazebo cover, the Significant Other and I strolled down to the Taste of Cape Town Festival that was being held on the Green Point Cricket Club grounds. It was a perfect autumn day in Cape Town. The temperature was mild, the sun was smiling on the peasants and a light breeze played about in the air. It was a great day for tasting good food and sipping some excellent wine.

Five hours later we returned home with six new best friends in tow – people we had never clapped eyes on before and whom we will never see again, but who simply had to come home with us for more wine, more food.

Needless to say, Firstborn Daughter has grounded us. We’re not allowed out until we learn to behave like adults.

But I have been feeling edgy without a proper training programme, with no running goal to work towards. The days seem fuzzy, somehow, kind of blurred at the edges, without a run to punctuate them at either one or the other end. Sure, I should go for a run, just for fun or for the general wellbeing it brings, but other stuff is also fun, like staying in bed a little bit later – with the dogs, in that patch where the sun has made a warm rectangle – to read a book and sip a mug of coffee, or like spending some time with my kids or the Significant Other, eating and drinking what I feel like without worrying about how it’s going to affect my training. Besides, I need to organise and negotiate my running time. It needs to fit in with everyone else’s schedules and needs. And without a serious goal, like a marathon, to work towards, my running requirements seem frivolous and unnecessary. The effort of getting worked up and resentful about being last in the queue when it comes to selfish time seems excessive if the only reason to go running is ‘for fun’.

So it’s time. I need to get back with the programme. A structured programme, that is. This eating, drinking and general goofing off has been good but it’s enough. The song says one should visit California but leave before it makes one too soft. And it’s the same with the couch. It’s a good place to be but too much time spent there will make you soft.

I start back with the programme this evening. The session will involve mostly just the coach telling us to stick with the programme and not give up and then he’ll probably send us off on a light run. The work starts on Thursday, with hill training. But turning up is a good beginning. The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is on 20 September this year. That gives me five months to train. The goal: to come in under five hours (by more than just a few minutes!) so that I can qualify for the 2016 Two Oceans Ultra Marathon, a 56 km (34.8 miles) route that takes the runners through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It’s right here, on my doorstep. I have two healthy legs. I should run it.

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