The journey: Day 10 ‘The Testing day’

Today should have been a rest day, the last few should have been running days but sometimes life simply doesn’t go according to plan. An uncomfortable Achilles tendon made walking uncomfortable and running down right unpleasant. After two visits to the doc, Johan Taute, being poked by sharp objects from which I usually steer clear, and rest prescribed and executed, I was ready to hit the road again and follow the doc’s orders to the T.

A rather windy and chilly morning couldn’t keep me from heading out and have a go at running. The first kilometer was spent walking, doc’s orders, followed by some stretching and then onto a slow, very slow jog.

I was pleasantly surprised by the road surface; I could run barefoot without effort. Thus the minimals went into the backpack and I set off to see how far I could get. Running and walking was intermixed and when I finally called Maretha to come and fetch me 11 kilometers lay behind me. I covered another 2 before she reached my and I could get out of the chilly wind into the comfort of our trusty steed.

The run went well enough however it was accompanied by moderate pain and a fair amount of stiffness. Not quite there as hoped. This was soon confirmed when all my muscles cooled down back at Poelanie’s Guesthouse. It seems a little more rest, stretching and meds are at the order of the day.

For the rest I am feeling great and frustrated at not being able to run. The primary objective is still Comrades and rushing the recovery to get back on the road might put this in jeopardy. So for the moment I am biding the time, doing everything I can to get back on the road as soon as possible.

So what ever you do, don’t follow my lead. Stay injury free and on the road and just keep on going.

The Journey: Day 5

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

A little moment of beauty next to the road.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Quickly becoming a best friend on the road. A gift amongst gifts. Thank you Karin Wessels.

Today was the start of a new week and the second running week. Day 4 were spent at home resting with the rest of the gang and enjoying Janno’s company. The morning started out a blur; the final cleaning up of the house, dropping Janno at school, packing, buying a few last supplies, dropping the house keys (how lucky can one get with a friend like Alexandra, we are so grateful), dropping the last dvd we tried to watch from the video store, before we finally headed out of Jozi and onto the open road at elevenses.

Yes you guessed it; for the third time in four I started my run around noon. With this in mind I think it is appropriate to thank Karin Wessels for organizing the very generous Annique sponsorship with a special mention of the sunscreen. And like Baz Luhrman said in 1998, trust me on the sunscreen. After three days of hours spend in the sun with very little protection other than Annique’s Rooibos sunscreen, I can say without a doubt in my mind; it works! So if you are faced by the possibility of going for an extended time in the sun, choose wisely choose Annique.

The day’s running was split into two. During the first part, with the sun beating down on me from above and the black top returning more of the same from below; I covered a little more than 17 kilometers; all of it barefoot with a different levels of comfort or discomfort. After a quick break and a late midday lunch I started the second part of the day to complete the day’s assignment and to make up some ground on the lost kilometers of the first and second day. The second run of the day took me to 27.5 kilometers for the day and 4 kilometers gained back on ground lost.

So tomorrow I will be running into and through Villiers, out of Mpumalanga and into the Orange Free State, where there are no oranges, nothing is for free and their football is in a terrible state (hat tip Leon Schuster). Maybe, as a Stormer supporter, I should keep very quiet about the latter.

The thought for the day and one that kept me busy for kilometers on an end; how often do we see the beauty next to the road we travel? The long kilometers, the slog, the hard work, and the lonely hours are easy to spot and so often fill our vision. But amidst all of that, if we are willing to slow down and take a look around, beauty is to be found.

So remember, slow down; stay on the road and just keep on going.

The Journey: Day 3

Today the road is where pure mathematics and theology met and it was beautiful. The alarm woke us at 06:00, Grant Hayward phoned me at 06:05 and by 06:07 he was heading in our direction to join the day’s run. And what a day it turned out to be.

Grant is a fellow time-trialer at Pirates even though he belongs to Kudus. He is not only that; he is also and ardent believer in minimal running and choose to spend thousands on his synthetic barefeet, Vibram Five-fingers. Courtesy of the support team we were delivered to the starting place somewhere between Jozi and Heidelberg. Together we tread many a kilometer in the direction and finally through Heidelberg on the way to the N3.

It was at the N3 that things went from great to excellent. Suddenly there was a road shoulder to run on and the surface as a baby’s, well almost. The moment we hit the highway I could say adios to my minimal shoes and revert to my preferred way of running, with naked feet.

The next 11 kilometers was spent musing on a number of things. Amongst others the possibilities that –infinity equaling infinity creates, the likelihood of a neutron hitting you in the back of the head, and the chances of our support vehicle meeting us under the next bridge that was up ahead. And you guessed it, about 50 meters before we reached the bridge Maretha, Janno and Marhané came roaring past us to stop under the aforementioned bridge. Maybe the true prophets amongst us are the mathematicians.

After a little rest and a welcome meal we continue heading towards Mpumalanga, finally crossing the last river in Gauteng, the Suikerbosrand River, and up the hill into the second province of the journey. We finally came to a stop at the De Hoek tollgate; certainly a day that will be fondly remembered.

Remember: stay on the road and just keep on going.

Grant Hayward leading along a worn out single track next to the black top somewhere close to Heidelberg

Grant Hayward leading along a worn out single track next to the black top somewhere close to Heidelberg

Saying good bye to my shoes for the next 11 kms. Not my first choice of running attire :)

Saying good bye to my shoes for the next 11 kms. Not my first choice of running attire 🙂