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Category Archives: Events

From Mom to Machine – The Big Day has Arrived!

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I’m not sure where to begin, it feels a little like I’m in a confessional; it has been many months since I last wrote an article on my training. But documenting my training each week got boring fast, I can just imagine how dull it must have been to read about it, except for a few sadistic friends who find their amusement in my discomfort – and fair enough. It’s laborious enough to actually do the training, writing about it every week seemed a little self-absorbed, and quite frankly lacked the passion with which I have tried to tackle this training journey. When I began all of this I wanted to give you a run down of what it takes to get an everyday mum to the point of ‘race ready’ for a half iron man, but you are going to have to settle for a nervous account of where I am instead… 2 days from the start line. I can tell you no amount of training takes away the nerves! Every niggle and twitch of a muscle begs for further inspection. And every free minute has your brain obsessed with logistics, nutrition, transitions and gear. I am all consumed.


But I will save you from my brains anxious misfires. There are things I have learned along this journey that might mean something to you. So instead of blabbing on about my current state of mind, here are my points to ponder and my lessons learned… Maybe some of it will resonate with you. Maybe even inspire you…


“We will never be as young as we are now.” These lyrics (from a song called ‘As We Are Now’ by Saint Raymond) rang more true than I wanted to admit. If we don’t grab today, and use it, we’ll look back on this time and say, “why didn’t I do … when I was young and full of energy?” I don’t always feel full of energy, but I am wise enough to know that’s not going to improve as I get older. This is probably the best I’m going to feel for the rest of my life. Scary right? So grab this moment, and the next, and do something you’ll be proud of when you look back.


Overcome the scary things; don’t let them stop you. “You swim 2km in the sea?? But aren’t you scared of sharks?” … I can’t tell you how many people have asked me this question. And the answer is YES, I most certainly am! But I am also scared of vehicle accidents and I still drive a car. It’s about focussing your attention on what matters. You can’t control everything, and this has been a great lesson for me. I was a nervous wreck the first time I swam any distance in the sea, to the point where I thought I would vomit from the nerves. The second time, it was better, much better. I panicked twice while I was in the sea and chuckled at myself when I looked at my heart-rate graph after the swim. There were 2 notable spikes and I know exactly what I was thinking when they happened. My third sea swim was better again. The spikes this time round were from pushing hard, not panicking hard. It’s about getting into a rhythm, almost a meditation while you swim. You focus on what you know will get you to the end, when doubts creep up you silence them by focussing on what matters. It’s an incredible exercise in silencing your thoughts.


It’s easier than you think to turn into a hypochondriac. I’ve always liked the fact that I have a pretty level head. I’m a good person to have around in a crisis; I don’t panic. When it’s not a crisis however, I know just how to get myself into a knot. Shaun has documented my transition from nonchalance to quivering wreck over something as commonplace as a shin splint. This little terror that took hold of my leg was enough to send my once chilled mind over to the dark side. Fear can creep up on you when you’re not looking, and most of us aren’t. Recognising your fears for what they are, giving them due thought and then dismissing them is an important part of the process. Letting every ache after a training session throw you into a fit of worry is unwarranted, and needs checking at the door.


It’s embarrassing to admit, given my age, but I have never really tried this hard or trained this much for an event. I am as much afraid of failing as the next guy, and for most of my life I have let this stand in my way, not wanting the judgement I thought trying might bring. What I’ve realised is when you start trying, and you actually get into it, the journey becomes enjoyable. It doesn’t make race day any easier, and I still feel compelled to ‘race’. I’m not sure exactly who I’m racing, I’m certainly not going to win, but I feel like I’m racing an idea I have in my mind of what I should be able to do. But what I’m trying to say is there is so much enjoyment around trying; in the preparation and the camaraderie, that despite being fraught with nerves, and having a stomach made of jelly, the experience is exhilarating.


Having said all the above, I might say something very different on Sunday after the race! But I’m hoping not. I’ve put a lot of myself into this training, but not more than I had to give, and I think that’s made for a balanced last couple of months, and a positive outlook on the experience. Here’s hoping the weekend is as fun as the training has been! …. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

From Mom to Machine – Learning to Overcome

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When you’re a mom, mid-night wake up calls are inevitable. I wouldn’t list it as my favourite past time, but they are part of the drill. They hamper recovery, test your patience and have you swearing repeated oaths to throw away all the lego!
Monday night had me swearing for different reasons though, while wandering down the stairs with Lincoln I realised I had a shin splint from hell! Curse them bloody downhills!

So, week 3: …Despondent.
How am I suppose to train properly when my body keeps telling me to get knotted! Injuries are seriously demotivating.

Monday was a rest day after my 15km road run on the Sunday, so I chilled, while noting some pain in my shin when I walked. I rested, and waited. I wanted to see whether my leg was a twinge or something more serious. So I iced, used Traumeel (I’m thinking of buying shares in the company) and cursed a lot.

The expletives got worse Tuesday mid-night when I wandered down the stairs to the blatant realisation that my leg was getting worse. Dammit all to hell. I had done a gentle session in the pool Tuesday morning and kept it short, only half an hour. Clearly I had done something wrong.

Using all the customary grace I apply in all aspects of my life, I threw myself into an hour swimming session on Wednesday so I could mope in silence. With a rare moment of resourcefulness I contacted my physio before my session to find out the do’s and don’t of a shin splint injury. A self diagnosed injury and an hour of ‘internet treatment options’ left me discomposed and needing the guidance of a professional. So armed with the facts, I hit the pool with no fins and a pool bouy to encourage leg resting. No kicking left me feeling rather lazy but I am told my upper body is working harder. I’m not so sure about that though, I’m convinced I’m just going slower. But treatment is treatment and I am determined to kick this thing, so if laziness is required, so be it. The good news is that I swam the half iron man distance (2000m) with relative ease, without the use of my legs.

With my physio session lined up for Thursday eve and the go ahead from her that cycling was ok, Shaun and I headed out for a 50km bike ride. I’m loving being on the bike again! Even in the rain. Pushing it up the hills and cruising the flats is exhilarating. I’m not sure my legs agree with me yet but they’ll get there… I hope.

Friday was gym day. But no legs! They are protesting. Shaun doesn’t believe in climbing hills slowly on your bike so every hill is a killer. My legs have been murdered on every bike ride with him. But arms are ready to go. Time to get these swimming muscles strong.

Saturday was rest. Every muscle in my body needed it after this week. Despite my shin splint this was probably my hardest week in a long time. About time too. I need to start upping my mileage. (mild panic attack #1)

Sunday was exciting! I saw the day in with a 1 hour ride on a Watt bike at gym – with a friend. Thank goodness for friends or I would have been dizzy with boredom! The wind was howling outside and despite the craziness of training for this race, I have maintained my scruples about foul weather training – it’s for the birds.

Sunday afternoon had us travelling to Big Bay for what was to be our very first open water swim. (mild panic attack #2)

After decanting yourself into your wetsuit, with heart rate at about 180 beats per minute (that’s almost my limit), you head for the frigid water with the greatest of hopes that all the sharks in the vicinity have already had their lunch. It was absolutely terrifying!! I think the only reason I climbed in the water was because my wetsuit was blocking off sufficient blood supply to the brain as to render me mentally incapacitated. But so be it, I was in, and it did a lot to quell my nerves and make the bile retreat back to my stomach. Thankfully, being with Shaun, my fearless cousin and 2 of her mates, made my transition to ‘seal’ fairly simple. We did a pleasant 1200m swim without so much as a “hello” from a nearby shark! I cannot share my elation with you as we made our way out of that water.

I am not naïve enough to think it will be plain sailing the next time, but I do hope it will be a little easier than this first time was.

Thoughts on conclusion of week 3:
This whole exercise so far seems to have been one in learning to overcome things. Bending and moulding with the process. The road is not the straight one I envisaged when I signed up. Only 3 weeks in but already I am seeing why this journey is a gruelling one. One step at a time. Each corner as it comes.


From Mom to Machine – But Still a Mom Too # week 2

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After commencing my training program with all the finesse of a rhinoceros, I tentatively stepped into week 2 reminding myself not to get carried away. After all, this isn’t a sprint. And thank goodness for that, because after seeing what my sprinting legs had in them, I was in for a rather rude awakening!

Week 2: Entered into feeling pumped and ready for some harder sessions.

Monday saw a weights session at the gym, but it was short and fleeting. Spending the morning working and the afternoon driving the kids around doesn’t leave much time for a long session of anything.

Tuesday was just as busy, and when Shaun and I finally managed to leave the house and head for the gym it was 5pm. With kids in tow and a swimming session lined up, we got them in their swimming togs too and stuck them in the pool with us. We didn’t have many options. We had to fit in a session, so arming them with boards for kicking, we set them adrift on the edge of our lane and the 4 of us went about our evening training. Despite the distraction of having them darting in between us and playing porpoise in the pool, we had a great session. It was fun with the kids, and it takes the seriousness out of the training, which I always enjoy! Stopping for a hug and a smile reminds me what’s most important.

Wednesday was biking. First day back in the saddle since the Argus in March! It hurt. My muscles weren’t accustomed to the churning of the peddles and the hill sprints left me doubting why on earth I was undertaking all of this. Every time I watched Shaun shoot off ahead of me on a sprint I cursed that I wasn’t a male. It’s frustrating to always be left in his wake, even when I am training as much as he is. I cannot compete with my husband – he is a poor choice in competition partner. But I can’t help myself. I’m constantly comparing apples with pears.

Thursday I hit the gym hard, doing a weights class that leaves me with the distinct impression that I have legs made out of jello. The instructor (think Demi Moore in G.I. Jane) leaves no muscle un-touched and walking down the stairs after her class is always undertaken with much care and attention, lest my legs crumple beneath me. Unless you’ve been in this position yourself it’s hard to comprehend the exhaustion you are faced with when doing something as mundane as washing your hair. I had to assume a position with my head somewhere near my naval so my hands only had to reach shoulder height to accomplish the task.

Friday. Rest day. I needed it.

Saturday had me ambling around the school field for the kids mini-walk at school. I can hardly call 2km’s training, but I suppose it was a bit of a leg-loosener, and in Shaun’s wise words, your body only gets stronger when you rest it.

Sunday was run day and it was awesome! I hit the hills for a bit of stamina and endurance training, and I sang my way through 15km’s before meeting the family at the beach for a leg icing session in Llandudno’s frigid waters.

Thoughts on conclusion of Week 2: I’ve got to own that I’m female, and forget the injustice of having to train twice as hard to go the same speed as a male. I have hips, boobs and significantly less testosterone. I’ve got to be proud of my own times; I’m doing this race for me.

From Mom to Machine – But Still a Mom Too

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My Dad used to warn me that music was dangerous. It took me a long time to understand what he meant. Three weeks ago I was reminded. After listening to what can only be describe as an emotionally punching song, resonating with undiluted inspiration and leaving me vibrating with determination, I felt sufficiently pumped to commit to my first real sporting challenge in years. No, this might very well be my first real sporting challenge ever.

* The Half Iron Man *

For those of you who don’t follow triathlons, this is a 1.9km sea swim, 90km bike ride and 21km run … in a row! Just one song, at the perfect moment; that’s all it took to break my vow of sanity. Shaun had me signed up before I had a flitting change of heart, and here we are…

Three weeks into my decision and I would be lying if I said I haven’t doubted myself, had those moments when I think; what on earth am I doing?! But I knew they would come, they are inevitable. So are the bad training days. It wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy. So that’s what this column is for, a place where I can bare my soul and share my journey. Some of it may amuse you, some of it may bore you to tears, but I hope some of it inspires you, even if just a little, to undertake something resonating deep within your own soul…

Week 1: Entered into with power and determination. Also a lot of naiveté. 

After the excitement of signing up and getting my mind around what I was about to undertake, I launched into my training by getting flu in the first week. I woke up Sunday (2 weeks ago) with a tickly throat. To hell with getting sick I thought, and charged off in search of a mountain path to run on. Boy was I glad I did, it was sublime, and peaceful, and energising, and I felt wonderful! After 13km’s of letting myself loose on the mountain, I felt like a new person… Until roughly 2 o’clock that afternoon. The sneaky sore throat reared its ugly head and added a side of headache and fatigue for good measure. Can’t say I was surprised, but I was hoping for divine intervention. Alas, I dived head first into flu-ish oblivion for 2 days, lingering lurgies for another 2 days, and then found myself in desperate need of some exertion. You would think 4 days of rest when you’re looking at 4 months of hard training ahead of you would be welcome, but I can tell you all it did was stress me out and fire up the panic boosters.

Keeping a low profile and gingerly testing my strength, Thursday afternoon I found myself pottering around the weights section in the gym, desperate to do something to quell my nerves. I didn’t have much strength but it felt good to try.

Feeling ok that afternoon I decided I would attempt our swimming training session on Friday morning with our coach. It was a first for me since high school, and I was keen to see what had transpired in the last 16 years. All stokes being equal, was I able to glide through the water, or was I the pebble that refused to skim the surface, glugging beneath the water on the first bounce, never to return?

As it turns out, I have no problem staying on the surface of the water, my rather ample rear-end ensures I bob to the surface with a lot more ease than Shaun (at least there is one thing I can beat him at). I enjoyed the swimming and found I wasn’t as backwards as I thought I would be. Three heavenly cheers for that!

Throwing in some extra resting time on Saturday so as not to invite those lurgies back, I waited until Sunday morning before throwing myself onto the mountain again for a soul satisfying trail run with Shaun and a friend of ours visiting from Joburg. We all took it easy and enjoyed a peaceful 7.5km’s perusing waterfalls and breathing in the freedom.

So week 1 round up:

Awesome 4 days of sleep!
Thursday – 1 super mild gym session
Friday – 1500m swim session
Sunday – 7.5km run

Thoughts on conclusion of the 1st week: Being sick blows! I’ve got this, plenty of time to train – 4 months to go.


Being a Competitive Mother to a Non-Competitive Daughter

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This struggle is real. There, I’ve said it. I’ve said what mothers aren’t supposed to say about their kids, or about parenting. But I am owning this difficulty. I don’t see being competitive or non-competitive as a failing, I just see them as being un-harmonious exercise partners, and I have reason for my sudden outburst too. We’ve just done a Parkrun with the kids. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a 5km timed, free event, done around the world every Saturday morning. We decided to go and do the one in Stellenbosch where you wind through the vineyards, views of the misty morning mountains in all directions; it’s nothing short of exquisite. Hard to think of something I would enjoy more on my Saturday morning. Couple that with being with my family and I’m thinking this is the best possible start to the weekend. But let’s put that thought on hold.

I worried that Lola wouldn’t want to do it fast, so I said I’d go with her and we could do it at her pace, while Shaun and Lincoln ran ahead. I did N.O.T. realise what I was committing myself to.
The kids are stellar in the mountains, they can climb, they can run, they have endurance, and they usually love our adventures. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing, but Shaun and I generally know what will get them fired up. Today was a different day – we don’t win every outdoor adventure with the kids.

I have written many articles about the kids and their differing personalities, Lincoln’s double speed, and Lola’s gentle calm nature. I know who she is, but I guess I don’t always know who I am. Sometimes I surprise myself.
I wasn’t always like this you see. If you ask my parents, they will probably paint a very different picture of me as a kid. Fun loving, happy-go-lucky, always up for an adventure, but not if it meant too much effort on my part. I preferred to be the cheerleader at cycling races where my mum and brothers raced competitively, always there to support, but I found the pressure of my racing with the intention to win, too much. Every time I got to a serious level in my sport, I caved. As soon as the pressure was on I stopped enjoying it. I know this about myself, and I recognise this in Lola. Sure, she may only be 7, but some attributes present themselves early, some fights we have already fought. She is sporty, she is a fast runner and she can do anything she puts her mind to. The problem is she doesn’t like putting her mind to it very often. She gets upset if she doesn’t come first so she often opts not to try. This I understand very well, because it is a carbon copy of me. A genetic blue print if you will. It is also why I struggle to parent her through it. I hate that quality about myself, and it has taken me 34 years of growing up to talk myself through it. She on the other hand only has 7 years of growing up behind her, and many frustrating sporting years ahead, learning that failure is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. If you give it your all, that’s all anyone can ask.

The problem is, after all this time I have come to enjoy healthy competition, and even though I don’t like being beaten, I’m a little more mature about it now. That is, until a middle aged male looking like he hasn’t run further than from his tv to his fridge in the last 30 years shuffles past me, while Lola and I are walking at a snails pace down a flat road because she doesn’t feel like running. That is when maturity and I part ways. It is also when I bend down very calmly and tell Lola that if she doesn’t pick up her pace I am going to leave her behind.
Now if you know Lola, you know this threat would mean nothing, not because I don’t follow through, but because she does nothing unless she wants to do it. Threats are a vapid string of words to her; it’s like whispering into the wind. She will hold her head high, and with the dignity of the queen mother, dare you with her eyes. She has terrified many an adult with this look. It’s a challenge I always feel compelled to accept, the only problem in a situation like this is that I got 100meters down the road and stopped to wait for her because it’s not entirely safe leaving her alone. While I waited for her to catch up, two sweet old ladies walked past talking about her being like a fairy in a forest. Not half a kilometre up the road we had to stop while Lola had a ‘quick’ look in a forest we were walking past. Their description couldn’t have been more prophetic.

Lola - the fairy in the forest.

Lola – the fairy in the forest.

While I stood and watched Lola gazing into the forest, I remembered what I had said to her, we could do the race at her pace. What kind of mother am I if I don’t stick to my word? I knew the answer, I didn’t have to think about it. After a few deep breaths, I decided on a new approach. We would actually do the race at her pace. This meant not trying to make her run, not threatening to go ahead if she didn’t run, and not telling her that her brother and dad were probably already finished in the hopes she’d hurry up. None of which are proud parenting moments for me, but sometimes we mothers slip up too.

I am pleased to say that after that point, we skipped, we galloped, we stopped to smell the flowers – literally, and we walked, even when we were the absolute last people on the course. Ok in all honesty, I did do a bit of encouraging to get her to pass another 7 year old boy and his family so we didn’t come absolutely stone last. That, and the smell of the coffee proved too much for me, and I may have dragged her a little on the home stretch so I could drown myself in a large latte for my sins.

It would be an immense exaggeration to say that I enjoyed the race. For the duration of the event that I was ‘racing’ in my head, I was frustrated, annoyed and ready to throw in the towel. With every glimpse of a short cut home I had to practice good parenting and lecture about perseverance and not giving up. I’m not sure if the lecture was for her or for me. But when I changed my intention, and realised if we were going to finish this thing at all, I had to do it the way I told her we would, at her pace, it suddenly became fun and happy time together. It would be grossly misleading of me to tell you I could do this every time though. I enjoy pushing myself, I enjoy taking up a challenge and seeing what I’ve got, and it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to convince Lola that it’ll be fun. I want her to enjoy it like I do. But then I remind myself what I was like as a youngster, and I remember the wise words my mom shared with me after another rant I was having about the kids.

She said, no matter how much I might want to, I cannot wrap up my experience and give it to my children as a gift. They will make their own mistakes.

Who knows, maybe Lola won’t look back with regret; maybe not competing won’t bother her in the slightest. Maybe, like her mother, she will wish she had taken on the challenge a little more. But it is ultimately her path to forge, and her choices to make. All I can do is encourage, offer opportunities, and watch who she becomes. Keeping my competitive nature to myself will be a challenge, but if this race taught me anything, it’s that I had better stick to my word, because telling her we can take it slow while my every intention is to convince her to run, makes for a very unpleasant morning. And if I multiply that out a little, it will make for one unpleasant childhood as well. And that simply, isn’t fair.

We collected wildlife.

We collected wildlife.

We played in the flowers.

We played in the flowers.

And we all finished.

And we all finished.

Cape Town Carnival 2015 - Somerset road

Cape Town Carnival 2015

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The 2015 Cape Town Carnival exploded into the packed city streets in a flurry of feathers and swirling, glittering, streamers. Not only were the woman wearing little but crop tops and hoop dresses, but the men kept pace in loin cloths and headdresses too. Even the firemen did their bit by arriving in rather a hurry as they only manage to get half dressed. All this in support of the Elemental theme for this years Carnival, celebrating fire, water, earth and air.


We decided to attend this years Carnival as we have run out of excuses not to. We went expecting a half baked show with floats resembling those out of our varsity days, made in a stupor of alcohol and sleep deprivation, but boy were we wrong.

We stood face to face with life size elephants complete with elegantly moving parts, larger than life swimming fish and protea’s with dancing girls inside. Throngs of skateboarders cruised down Summerset road while a bevy of belly-dancers jangled along after them. Beautiful woman adorned with tails of feathers, others with skirts of ivy and choreographed dancers kept rigorously in check by well-camouflaged marshals, entertained us for over 2 hours.


Our kids were in heaven. With their disregard for anything regarding safety, we stuck them directly behind the railing in a sort of ‘caved out’ area from which they could not escape, be nabbed, or get into any serious trouble. With our bases covered we were able to stand back and enjoy the show from our tippy-toes as we peered over other onlookers shoulders, while our children sat in comfort, snacking on pre-packed treats and being entertained with hand shakes, high fives and fist pumps from dancers and musicians on their way past. If I was able to squeeze myself into the hollowed out area behind the railing without getting my head squashed between the bars and my rear kicked by countless onlookers, I would have wedged myself in there with them – they really had a prime spot.


The show was delightful and the atmosphere filled with all the ‘gees’ we South Africans have come to expect from our local entertainment. It was vibey and bustling and filled with Capetonian tang. There were plenty of food trucks lining the fan-walk providing everything from Columbian cuisine to soft-serve, and the restaurants lining the road were humming with excitement. All in all, this is a real Mardigra in the making, with a large dollop of South African flavour.


Would I do this again? Absolutely. Probably not every year as I believe they reused some of the floats from last year. But I think it would be fun to do with just grown ups too so we can join in the street party afterwards instead of racing to get the kids home. It’s a great party vibe.

What to be aware of? A lot of people, especially those with children, made a mad dash for the exit points after the parade. We needed to carry our children to keep their heads above the crowd. Either hang back and wait for the masses to leave, or make sure you can carry your kids if you intend on leaving in a hurry. Although it is possible to take a pram, I wouldn’t recommend it, you will find it difficult to negotiate the crowds and the pram will prove cumbersome. Consider taking a baby pouch or child carrier for young kids.