Endings and Beginnings

Hey hey – it’s the first day of 2017! 


I kept planning to write a goodbye 2016 post – but holiday chill got the better of me and I didn’t get round to it before the clock struck 12 last night!

Social media has been all abuzz about how nasty 2016 was. Honestly though – I see people saying that every year. It was just a year. It had good moments and bad moments. I reckon for us, more good than bad.

I took a look at my resolution blog for 2016 and I’ll give myself a pass mark. I managed to achieve some goals, made progress on a few and flunked one or two. 

My top achievement was finishing the first year of my degree, in one year! It was hard work and very stressful but I did it and now, being one third of the way in, I have no excuse not to carry on and complete my second year. 

I also ran the Two Oceans half marathon and some other half marathons in the first half of 2016. But that all came to a grinding halt in the second half of the year. 

I’ve made some progress in my career plans too. They’ve not gone as quickly as I had hoped but progress is progress, nonetheless. 

We’ve had some amazing holiday and trips and I’ve loved all the photo opportunities! Follow me on Instagram (@inhilshead) to check out my iphoneography escapades. 

My battle with my weight loss was been one of the fails for the year. I lost focus and let the stress of the last half of the year get the better of me. I’ve eaten my stress, my emotions and all the chocolate and it’s been a slippery slope back to where I started. The lack of regular exercise didn’t help either. So in total clichéd fashion, the new me starts today.

I bought a lovely new car this year! I’m absolutely loving driving it! 
As for my family… they’ve all had some amazing highlights too. 

For Ewan, the long anticipated end to Primary school finally arrived. The last few weeks of “lasts” for him and us left us all with mixed feelings. 
It’s a strange place to be in as a mom. Claire will still be at the school so I’ve not said goodbye completely. But I did say goodbye to parents that I’ve known and chatted to for the last 9 years! Some have become good friends and we will continue to socialise, but others remained friendly, familiar faces that I might only bump into again. There’s some sort of sadness in that. 

And on to highschool… I know Ewan’s a little nervous and so am I – there is just so much to get used to! 

Claire has had an exciting year too. It was her first year doing competitive gymnastics and she did really well, achieving junior Gauteng colours and a whole bunch of gold medals! 

Nick ran his first ultra marathon and a whole bunch of other races and just gets fitter and stronger. I’m excited to see where and how far his running shoes take him in the coming years.

This fabulous pic was taken by Jeanette – find her at www.therealjenty.com

Thank you 2016 for some awesome memories, lessons and experiences! 

Onward and upward!   

The Foot Chronicles… or my (chronic) left foot 

I’ve mentioned the foot/ankle/leg thing a few times. If you’re a regular reader (and yay for you!) you’ll know that it’s been the reason for my extended absence from my running club for a few months now. 

I started off with a self diagnosis with the help of Dr Google. It doesn’t take brain (or even foot) surgery to look up “pain on inside of ankle after running” and find a diagnosis that ticked all the symptom boxes. 

My (correct) self-diagnosis was posterior tibial tendonitis. I then went to a physiotherapist who confirmed the diagnosis and did some treatments and strapped me up.

 But while the strapping and treatment helped a bit with the immediate pain, it wasn’t a remedy and pretty much any stretch of walking now leaves me aching for hours. Running is out of the question. 

After weeks of doing the “rest” part of RICE, with no improvement, I finally decided to seek treatment. Even though I knew what was wrong, I wasn’t sure how to fix it. And I’ve procrastinated about going to a specialist of any sort because, to be honest, I’ve had no idea where to start. Physio? Biokeniticist? Podiatrist? Orthopedic? Reflexologist? Craniosacral Therapy? All of the above?

Long story short, after chatting to a sports podiatrist, I decided a consultation with him would be a good start. And I had a very long and in depth consultation with him this morning. 

At the the end of it, I’m left wondering what’s actually not wrong with my left foot. Low arch, PTT, shin splints and tight, crackly, fascia. So where to from here? He’s recommended physio for the inflammation and custom orthotics to support the arches. And I probably need to shoe shop for a new daily shoe wardrobe. I basically need to be in a supportive shoe 24 hours a day. Ok maybe not 24 – I do sleep for about 7 of the 24 hours. 

Right now, the most comfortable shoes I own are a pair of grungy black combat boots. I’m not sure if can build an entire summer wardrobe around combat boots! The best I could come up with is this:

Once the pain is gone, I can start doing some l strengthening exercises and slowly start running again. Baby steps. 

So there’s the story. Hopefully I’m on the right path for my left foot… and that OMTOM2017 is not completely off the table. 

The Injury Edition

Hey everybody!

It has been about two months since I last confessed posted. Two months of exam stress! If I ever decide to try do four modules in a semester again, please feel free to smack me upside my head! It was terrible. Loads of stress, very hard to focus and I am pretty sure I will be redoing one, if not two of the modules! I’m actively trying not to think about the outcome for now. I will deal with the regret and remorse next month when the IMM release the year end results.

It’s also been about two months since I last attempted a run. The ankle issue I mentioned in my last post has now become a thing. The physiotherapist I went to see diagnosed Posterior Tibial Tendonitis – and Dr Google concurs. My symptoms tick all the boxes. The frustrating part is that there’s no quick fix. Walking and running is pretty much out the question for the foreseeable future. My current project is to find the right treatment for the issue.

I had hoped that a few weeks of resting it from exercise would sort the problem, but it’s clear now that there is no improvement. As long as I am mostly sedentary, like a normal day in the office at my computer, then the pain is limited and I am only vaguely aware of the tenderness. As soon as I get a bit more active – and by this I mean walking leisurely around a shopping mall, the pain becomes very noticeable and uncomfortable.

FOMO! 

Today was the big Soweto race. I’d registered to run the half marathon again this year and it was in my first week of training that I discovered that I really had a problem. Facebook was full of memories of last year’s race and this morning, Nick and all our running buds left home at 4 am to run the 2016 race. I stayed home to babysit and made the crew a big breakfast for after the race.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had FOMO. Running is the first form of exercise I’ve ever really gotten into and it sucks to not be able to participate. Running is good for my body, head and soul. I want to try get into the gym thing while running is out of the question. Getting hot and sweaty at the gym gets the endorphins flowing but it doesn’t feel quite the same as pounding out a 5k on the roads. I guess gym will cover the head and body bit. For the soul, I need to try to focus on being creative again… post a  bit more regularly here on my blog and put brush to canvas and every now and then.

So I have a project plan and a plan… now to just keep with it!

Till next time friends!

xxx

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From the other side

I woke up a little stiff this morning, after yesterday’s Adrienne Hersch/Randburg Harriers race. And I didn’t even run. I was there though. My shoulders were a little achy from holding out water sachets for all the runners!

Our Run/Walk for Life branch looked after the 8km water point so a bunch of us crazies woke up early, long before dawn cracked and  a sparrow farted, donned our RWFL shirts to go set up our 10 water tables.

To the non runner, you may wonder why we would get up so early, on Mother’s Day Sunday, in the chilly weather, to hand out water sachets and cups of coke.

Because it’s fun!

We made bacon rolls on a skottel braai and drank coffee from flasks. We worked together. We chatted to neighbours and felt like part of a community. We laughed and joked. We cheered for the thousands of runners as they ran past. Runners who included family, friends and colleagues as well as some of SA’s top runners. We got to see Caroline Wostman speed by, as she tapers before Comrades in three weeks as well as Rene Kalmer, who won the race.

I got to give my hubby a sweaty hug mid-race – he ran the 21k with his brother, Jonathan. And massive kudos to Jonathan who ran and finished the 21 k in a great time, despite having not run further than a 10k training run in months. It was fabulous seeing the two brothers running together.

The kids were with us and loved every minute, hanging out with their mates, cheering the runners on, handing out drinks and stomping on the left over water sachets at the end. Without a doubt, most runners would much rather grab the water from the little ones! I loved my niece’s squeals of excitement every time she “sold” a water to a runner.

Without wanting to sound too precious about this whole running thing, I think that it is really important, if I am to be part of a community, to give back a bit. It’s fun as well as valuable to experience the water tables from the other side. To witness and be a small part of the hard work that goes into organising these events. It gives me so much appreciation  and reminds me that a smile and a joke with the workers and the marshals makes the whole experience more special for all!

And finally, a note on the event organiser, Graham Block. This man is such a hero in our running circles. He organises amazing weekend long runs from Virgin Active Randburg, with refreshments, each and every weekend! He also organises weekday shorter runs from the Boskruin Shopping Centre. He has a heart of gold and never fails to inspire us with his kindness, dedication, humour and warm laugh. Thank you Graham!

So with that, I will leave you with a few photos from the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom day thoughts

A couple of days ago, the company I work for invited staff to submit their definition of freedom, in anticipation of Freedom Day – 27 April – yesterday. I don’t try to write poetry very often, but on this occasion my thoughts formed something vaguely resembling a poem so I thought I’d record the words here.

My Freedom

I close my eyes for a minute and dwell on what I’d be willing to fight for.

 What I’ve fought for

What I haven’t had to fight for, because others have fought the fight.

That is my freedom.

To be treated, regardless of gender, as the equal that I am. That is freedom.

To vote, and for whomever I choose. That is freedom.

To wear a short skirt or a cropped top without fear of rape or abuse. That is freedom.

To wear clothes that cover fully, wear a burka or hijab or niqab. That is freedom.

To not wear them, to not worship at all. That is freedom.

To be gay, straight or anywhere on the spectrum in-between, without judgement or ridicule. That is freedom.

To recognise colour but not judge or be judged based on it. That is freedom.

 If it’s worth fighting for… that which you feel so strongly about.

 That there is FREEDOM.

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Our Wonderful Vacation (Part 1)

I started writing this post on the long drive between dorpies in the great Karoo. The scenery in the Karoo is beautiful in a desolate, African way. Windmills, sheep, greeny-brown vegetation, big sky, dusty towns and long, straight roads. 

I’ve shared some of my favourite photos on Instagram and Facebook already but thought I’d share them  and more in a blog too for some context. 

On the drive down, we overnighted in a tiny town called Victoria West. We have had great luck with food in the small dorpies this holiday! 

This was quite the best lamb pie I’ve ever tasted! We found these pies at a little padstal advertising Pizza Hut and Karoo Fried Chicken! Got to love a good sense of humour!   
 
We had dinner at the Karoo Deli in Victoria West. They weren’t technically open for dinner but we popped in at lunch time and the restaurant owner said that she was cooking for another couple, so she would cater for us to! She laid out the best spread of boere food that only my late Ouma would have been able to compete with!   

Our Capetown accommodation was fabulous – we stayed in a house Nick found via AirBnB in the Marina Da Gama in Muizenberg. 

Below is a photo I took of the kids from the look out tower in the house. 87 steps to get to the top of the tower! The kids counted! 

And the view from the deck!  

A view of the marina from the tower…
 

As soon as we had unpacked we took our first trip And then of course the first trip to the beach!

  
 
After collecting our race packs from the CTICC on day 2, we went to Hout Bay and the best fish and chip lunch at Snoekies.
  

Oh, and a drive over the incredibly beautiful Chapman’s Peak! This was a recce mission before Nick’s big ultra run a few days later!

  On one of the afternoons, I met my friend Elsabe for a coffee and cake at the Olympic Cafe in Muizenberg and took this photo on the railway line across the road. I just loved the bright colours oft the buildings against the blue sky!
 
Of course we spent a fair bit of time just chilling – books and wine… Bliss! 

Credit to Claire for this pic. 
 

Even though us adults considered it to be less than ideal beach weather, the kids still insisted on swimming and boogie boarding. I’m sure our next trip here will involve surf lessons!  

  

And of course Claire posed upside down… #handstandsaroundtheworld  

A highlight I didn’t take any photos of was a lovely lunch last Friday with my cousin Graham and his family.

I haven’t seen him or his wife Careen in years and have never met their son, so it was great to catch up. The kids loved meeting a cousin they didn’t know and spent the afternoon playing. 

Careen ran Two Oceans the next day and it was wonderful to see Graham’s familiar face supporting the runners on the race route! 

The next day was race day, which I’ve already blogged about in my previous post. 

Stay tuned! I will be back soon with part 2 of my my vacation blog post. 
  

Two Oceans!

Last year, Nick got to run the Two Oceans half marathon as part of a work thing and I had such FOMO – even though I hadn’t yet actually run a half marathon! 

I was really keen to experience the race for myself so when entries for the 2016 event opened up we decided to see if I could get an entry for the half. Nick said that that if I managed to get a half marathon entry, then he would enter the ultra marathon! 

As luck would have it, I did get one of the elusive half marathon entries and so the planning began. We decided to plan a holiday around the event with our running friends Lance and Jenty and their boys.

I will admit my race training was a little sketchy. I tried to focus on speed and hill training, but was pretty lazy about doing the long runs and relied heavily on the fact that I’ve done a couple of half marathons now and knew that I could run the distance but I was terrified of not being able to make the cut off time! The rainy weather in Jozi in the weeks preceding the race made tapering very easy – some afternoons running was just impossible! 

  
So now that all my excuses are listed… Here is how the race went down! 

After much guessing about what the weather might do on the day, we decided to take along black garbage bags as makeshift raincoats and thank goodness we did, because it was a rainy wait to start to our race. We left home at the ungodly hour 3:45 am and as we drove into UCT, the heavens started spitting. I’m ever so glad we left early though. A couple of friends got caught in the crazy traffic and one of them didn’t even get to run the race. It is a helluva long way to come to all the way to Capetown for a race and not actually get to run! 

  
The pre-race build up was just awesome! I loved the singing of the anthem and the canon signifying the start of the race. Real goosebumpy stuff. I was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as I had been for Knysna, so I really just tried to soak up the energy and try to commit the experience to memory. 

I managed to somehow to get seeded in the Group D starting pen, which I was grateful for because it meant I had an extra 10 minutes to run the race. I felt better knowing that there was an extra few minutes on my side. I’m still not sure how the seedings actually work because a whole lot of runners I know, who are faster and more experienced than me, started in the E group. 

And so the race… I started off with a good run for the first two kilometres. I was too scared not to run at that point because there were just so many people all around me running and I didn’t want to stop. The third kilometre was a tough one and I had to walk a bit to conserve my energy for later in the race. I was feeling nervous at that point. It was before I had warmed up enough and my the muscles in my legs were not fully cooperative. I gave myself a bit of a talking to about giving this my all and managed to pick up my pace for the next while. All was going pretty well until I hit the notorious Southern Cross Drive. My pace slowed right down there. I felt like I had no choice but to walk those hills. The runners around me were mostly walking and I just didn’t have the strength to try run around them. I drew on my walking training from my early days at RWFL, put my head down, swung my arms and trudged up! 

The rest of the race felt fairly easy by comparison. I managed to run a good chunk of the last few kilometres. I finished with a time of 3:05:50. I had hoped to finish sub 3 hours, but considering how difficult and full the race is, I’m not unhappy with my time. 

  
Aside from the rainy weather as we waited to start, the weather gods were really on our sides for the race – the rain and wind held off for our 21 km run and the temperatures were lovely and cool. 

The wait for Nick’s finish was a bit chilly but he ran in strong with a time of 6:30 – such an amazing achievement to complete an ultra marathon after having only recently entered the world of long distance running! I was super proud! 

Would I do it again? For sure… Now that I have one under my belt, I’d love to run another. I would like to be stronger for my next race. Running a 21km highlights all my weak spots – so it’s time for me to focus. My feet, my glutes (ITB) and my core strength need to improve. And it’s time to shift those last 15 or so kilograms!  

Maybe I will see you next year OMTOM???

I will be back in a few days with a post about our holiday! I’ve got some awesome pictures to share! 

Some more reflections on the year that was…

Most years, I try to sit down and do a little reflection on the past year. This is the first time I’m doing it on a “public” forum. Generally my thoughts are confined to scraps of paper which disappear over the course of the next 365 days. I reckon if I do this here, at least it will be around to look back on this time next year!

2015

Our kids have both grown so much this year. Ewan seems to be taller and more grown up each day and Claire is looking decidedly tweenish and less like a little girl every time I stop to take a look.

Both of their year-end school reports were great. I felt like I spent a lot of time nagging and lecturing after each test result came in, as well as running around at the last minute. In 2016, I would like to be a bit more organised and in touch with what they are up to and avoid the “after the fact” speeches about studying harder next time.

Ewan achieved well at all his Golf tournaments and discovered he can run too – I am hoping he does more of that next year. He’s also had positive responses from two choice highschools, so we will take some time now in this last year of primary school to make some big choices about where he will go in 2017.

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Claire discovered gymnastics and can be found upside down most of the time. She has become ever so graceful in her movements and I can’t wait to see where another year of training takes her.

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About this time last year, we brought our new baby kitten home and we have watched her grow from a kitten to a gorgeous adult cat this year. She adores the kids, especially Claire. Smokey and the dogs have a tentative peace agreement and she spends much time napping in Zuby, the Beagle’s bed, much to Zuby’s irritation.

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Claire also adopted an adventurous hamster named Dumpling. Her recent escapades include falling down the stairs in her hamster ball and escaping from her cage in the middle of the night and being rescued by Nick from the cat litter box.

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We had the best mid year holiday in Sedgefield with a little road trip through the Karoo… The best time!

The kids also went to their first pop concert – Claire was over the moon to see 1D (before they split!)image12

Work has been a challenge – our intimate little company was incorporated into a huge corporation and the move has been quite a thing to adapt to, from the increased travel time to the hundreds of new people to get to know. It has been a little stressful, but it has been a positive change and I have a good feeling about what 2016 may hold for me, career wise. I do love my new surroundings – our campus is a beautiful place to work in.

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My running has really improved. I am over a minute faster per kilometre now than I was a year ago and I pretty confident that I can drop another minute off my pace in 2016 if I stay motivated and consistent. I logged 907 km on Strava, ran two half marathons, made a whole load of new running friends and revived my blog to journal my journey.

Nick just seems to be running further and faster and he has his sights set on the Two Oceans Ultra next year.

I’m around 10kgs lighter than I was a year ago and 20 kgs lighter than I was two years ago. It’s been a slow process and loads of ups and downs, but I’ve kept at it and the results are visible. Less than a kilogram a month doesn’t sound like much at all but I will be thrilled to be another 10kgs down this time next year!

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We enjoyed an amazing few days with Nick’s family, when both his sisters were in the country at the same time. Jenty did a beautiful family photo shoot for us to celebrate the occasion and I can’t wait to have some of the images printed for my walls at home. Green-family-010.jpg

My best girls have been around all year for chats (in person and on whatsapp),whine, wine and loads of laughter. You know who you all are and I thank you for being a part of my life.

All in all… it’s been a pretty good year. We enjoyed all the things that count in abundance and I am hopeful for great things for 2016 – for me and for you! Thanks for reading and for all the encouragement to continue blogging!

See you next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 things about 2015

Yes – believe it… I am writing something! It has been a crazy, busy, stressful few months leading up to the end of 2015 and quite honestly I just haven’t had the time or energy to pay attention to my blog!

I’ve seen a couple of 2015 round ups recently, so I thought that this would be a great prompt to get me typing again!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

I ran races… a whole bunch of them. I ran a number of 10k’s and two half marathons!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m not big on resolutions. Around this time of year, I do try and give some thought to the coming year and how I would like to live it. I think I achieved the objectives I set out to in 2015 and will do the same for 2016.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Probably at home, with a few good friends

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

No overseas trips for me this year. We did have a wonderful midyear holiday in Sedgefield though.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

Time spent well.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

11 July 2015 – the day I ran my first half marathon. The toughest physical goal I have ever set for myself. The awesome moment when my husband met me with a hug at the finish line and I just sobbed into his shoulder and the cheers and tears from my friends and family who were waiting for me at the end.  IMG_0419

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

My first 10k… then my next and my next…. And then my first 21k, and my second. See a theme here?

9. What was your biggest failure?

Spending wasting too much time on my phone. Books I started and didn’t finish. Art I didn’t make.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the occasional sinus flare up, I’ve been pretty healthy.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My running shoes and my new dining room chairs.

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12. Where did most of your money go?

Probably food.

13. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Hello by Adele – because it’s been played on the radio like a gazillion times.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Blogging, reading, sitting outside and enjoying my garden, getting out and about in Jozi.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Messing around on my phone.

16. What were your favourite TV shows?

Shameless, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I probably dislike Zuma more this year than I did last year, but hate is such a wasted emotion.

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18. What was the best book you read?

Shoo… I only read a couple of books and can’t remember any of them right now!

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Apple Music.

20. What was your favourite film of this year?

Not much of a movie person. Nothing springs to mind.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Spent the day with the people I love.

22. What kept you sane?

Chats with my friends and love from my family.

23. Who did you miss?

I missed my work buddy who left for a stint in the USA

24. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a whole bunch of new colleagues when we moved offices and some of them are awesomely interesting and inspiring.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015

That I can do amazing things if I set my mind to them and that I need to make sure I do something worth writing about each year.

 

What’s your reason?

You know you’re a runner when you listen to podcasts and read loads of articles about running. Earlier this week, whilst on my dreary commute to work, I listened to a couple of podcasts by Comrades Coach Lindsey Parrie. You know you’re a South African runner when you know who he is!

The podcasts were about final preparation for the Soweto Marathon. One of the tips that stuck out for me wasn’t about physical preparation at all, but mental preparation. He spoke about getting to a point in a marathon, somewhere around 35 k’s, where you have to rely on your mental strength to push through. He suggested that for this point, that you need to have absolute clarity about why you are doing this crazy running thing and further, you have some sort of tangible, visible reminder of that reason. He suggested a card with the reason written on it, or something written on your arm… something that symbolises your reason for running.

If you want to listen to the podcasts, they’re available here.

So I’m not doing a full marathon, nor am I likely to ever try, but I know from my one little half marathon experience that at around 17/18 k’s, I hit a similar wall where I was so tired and emotional and just wanted it to all be over. I thought that Coach Parrie’s tip would be a useful one to employ for my next big race.

Last night, after our training session, I heard a story from one of the members who is a cancer survivor and is building up her fitness from scratch as she waits anxiously for her one year remission results. She was visibly emotional as she told us about how a year ago, she didn’t know if she would be here today, and what a miracle it is to be around, walking and how we need to just make the most of each day. I got a bit teary, listening to her. I was inspired and so immensely grateful for my health!

I started walking because it seemed like a the right thing to do for my health. “They” say getting exercise is important and the structured RWFL sessions seemed like a good place to start. My reasons are different now.

You know that slow kid at school athletics days who comes last in all the races? The one who never chosen for the team. I was that kid! I stopped doing sporty stuff as soon as I could in high school and opted instead for drama, debating and public speaking. I didn’t suck as much when standing in front of a room full of people as I did on a sports field, so the nerdier cultural stuff was the safer option. As I grew up, I added “fat girl” to the “slow kid” label. Years of overeating, wrong eating, and emotional eating helped the kilograms pile on.

22 months back, when I joined RWFL, at my heaviest weight ever, I identified as slow and fat! It has been months of consistent run/walking and real efforts at improving my eating and my relationship with food and I can finally see visible progress. On a gentle (read not uphill) stretch of road, I can now run a kilometre or more in a go. I have lost a few dress sizes but mostly I’ve discovered that there is joy in pushing my physical and mental boundaries.

I run because I didn’t think I could.

I run to say I can run.

Oh and I run because it  gives me something to write about and I really like writing!

What is your reason?

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