The weight of the wait

I spend a lot of my life waiting and it doesn’t get any easier. Hang on, with the advent of smart phones, it has -a little. Now I can play games, check social media or check where my waiting ‘subject ‘ is. In this case, I know exactly where that subject is- 12 days away. I am talking about the Comrades marathon- a 89km road run between Durban and Pietermarisburg in KZN. This wait requires a patience different from other waits and all the best training in the world doesn’t really prepare me for the wait.

I have been here before in the pause before race day, eight times to be precise, so one would think that I should be used to it. However this year is a little different because I didn’t run it last year and the previous year I made it only to the 80km mark. So there is an element of curiosity again but not the same feelings of the novices. I know what the race entails and have experienced it in many different ways. I have a ‘Did Not Finish DNF, Did Not Start DNS due to both injury and choice, and 4 successfully Finished. But every year I have to pace myself through the waiting period.

This is called ‘tapering’ which means that the heavy mileage training is done and short easy runs should be undertaken. Note, I mentioned should. I have not run much at all, but I can validate my ‘reasons ‘ why not.

  • It has been cold
  • It has been dark
  • I am too tired
  • I am too lazy
  • There are germs out there

So instead of destressing myself with a short run, I am thinking about how I am training my mind during the waiting period. I go over my race season and thanks to my sister’s 100 miler race coming up after Comrades, we ended up racing a lot more than previous years. The six months of training have been really interesting, with races that I have never done before.  We visited Pietermarisburg for my successful qualifying marathon, Benoni, Pretoria, Bronkhorstspruit, Sasolburg, Secunda, Irene and the mother city-  Cape Town. I go over the successful moments as well as the crappy bits and try to understand it all. This has been a good training season overall and I am changing the mind shift into one of ‘ I can’. A freeing mindset -but it does have a touch of fear with it.

I think about all the great support I have from runners, family, friends and I realise how fortunate I am to be able to do this. Gratitude can get me a long way and on Sunday 4 June, I know that the day is filled with it. Many people say ‘but what about the pain?’ Yes, there usually is huge amount of pain, but for me the race is about gratitude for the opportunity to experience the magic of the day. But right now I am grateful for my training season, my friends and my awesome coach/sister who has helped me get out of my negative thought train and be ready for another week of wait.

I can wait.

Surrogate mums

In my part of the world, Mother’s day is fast approaching and it is always a good time to reflect and honour the special women in our lives.  For half my life, I haven’t had my mum but I have been blessed with having many stand-in mums in my lifetime.

Recently I got the chance to catch up with one of these special ladies who now lives in England.  Aunty Ann holds a dear place in my heart for many reasons and I want to express a sample of what she means to me. 

I was about 11 when I first met the Kondals, a large immigrant family much like my own. Catholic, but half English and half Polish meant that there were some unusual differences for me but Aunty Ann welcomed me ( and some other sisters) into her home like there was no financial pressure and plenty food, time and energy to go around.

Unlike my own mum, Aunty Ann seemed to enjoy cooking and I loved sitting round her kitchen table and laughed at all our stories to which she took a genuine interest in. Somehow she never seemed under pressure and it helped that she laughed at my jokes. We would sit late at night and chat about anything and everything and I think back with fondness for those times.

Wimbledon was exciting at their house as all us extra bodies would find a strip of carpet to lie on and cheer MacEnroe or Boris on. Dallas was also an overnighter, even though it was a school night. We would double up in single beds and I loved experiencing early mornings at my friend, something I still enjoy because it really shows a lot about people.

Aunty Ann was always an invisible presence in my later years because she returned to England after I left school. I visited her during my gap year and once again returned to tea drinking around the kitchen table in her home that was spookily over the funeral parlour in a darling little town.

Nowadays it is easier to keep in touch through virtual kitchen tables and on my recent visit she praised my writing skills and told me know much she loved it. It brought a surprise tear to my eye yet I felt really glad that we can still connect in this small way.

Thank you Aunty Ann for the doughnuts, the Polish cabbage mince leaves, the gallons of tea, toast by the bucket full, lifts in the Anglia, pushing the Anglia, laughter, tears, the use of the dart board, long summer swims, Dullstroom camping and secret Trout fishing, Slap chips on a buttie, brick building, puppy birthing,  lifts to scout hall discos, all the laughter and many other forgotten memories and now, the modern love…

Love you x