Thursday, 30 May 2013

Please sir, can I have your keys?

Last night I went to Andy McGibbon's monthly acoustic guitar evening to listen to my friend play (click this link to listen to one of his tracks online) - and the other performers. On this stage it is only music that the performers have written themselves, no covers.

I park and walk down to the venue where I meet up with a chap on the stairs. He says, "I... I... can I... I'm not sure what to do. A very drunk man has just gotten into his car. He can't walk straight. I'm not sure what to do."

I stood with him and we watched, waiting to see what would happen. The man was just sitting in his car and we were hoping that he'd take a nap. The rear lights came on and he started to reverse. Straight into the car behind him.

I walked up to the car - the man was just sitting. He rolled down his window.

"You've just reversed straight into another car and I don't think you should be driving. Why don't you park your car again and I can call someone for you or we can go inside for a while."

He parked and got out. Fortunately neither cars were damaged - not even scratched! Just a bumper bashing and the bumpers all popped out perfectly (memory materials). Not even paint work damage.

We stood around talking and I found out that he didn't want to phone his wife of 40 years (who would be mad that he was late - and drunk), he wasn't keen to phone either a taxi or a 'we'll drive you and your car home' service and that he didn't want to go inside because his friends at the bar would see him and he was now embarrassed.

We did discuss how he was too drunk to drive.

"But I can do all the tests," he says touching his nose.

I told him that I didn't care about tests and that I knew and he knew that he was way to drunk to drive. We're talking standing up straight issues here.

He handed over his keys and followed me into the venue once I'd convinced him that the entrance for the music venue wasn't anywhere near his friends at the bar.

He came and sat with me, we chatted a bit, listened to music, drank soft drinks, discovered that we knew a person in common and two hours later he left to go home.

He's an older man - later 60s. Retired. He met up with old friends for drinks. From back in the day when they were in the army on the SA - South-West Africa border. He lost many friends there and he was quite emotional listening to the music and talking to me about these days out there and how he still so misses friends who were killed.

He was in a profession where you don't often see the best in people. He didn't trust that I was not a scam artist, thinking that I would duck off to the toilet with his car keys in my pocket and that I'd drive off with his car. He promised to stay sitting with me if I'd give him his keys back. I did. He stayed. We chatted.

Well done to the young man (one of the sound engineers) who spotted this guy stumbling out of the building. As a woman, I can get away far easier with being bossy and getting this guy out of his car and persuading him to come with me, than this strapping young lad would be able to.

Bar tenders who keep dishing out drinks to clearly trashed customers are... are... decent vocabulary fails me. And then you let them walk out the door and get into vehicles! There should be some ethics in this industry.

As for the friends who let friends drive drunk... You have no right to call yourself friends. Pieces of...

And if you are the one out drinking, use a taxi service, drink at a pub close to home so that you can walk home, get a sober friend to drive you home... anything except getting into your car when you're so trashed you can barely walk!

I cared for this man who was a hazard to himself and to others on the road. This night could have turned very ugly out there. When he said his wife would be mad that he was late I questioned, "Would she rather you were late or dead?".

I have family members who drink too much and then drive home. I hope someone like me will stop them too. because I care for them and I'd like them to get home safely.

And I care for myself. If I'd arrived 10 minutes later I would have been on the road with this man and maybe I wouldn't have made it home last night.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

On the run coaching & children cleaning up our park

Today, I ran in daylight. Hahahaha. I'm really getting into my night running. Last night I only headed out after 19h00.

I just ran my local loop -  a quick six kilometres - before heading off for our Adventure Racing Club evening (which was AWESOME - talking about Expedition Africa - great crowd, super stories from the speakers and fond memories).

I get to my local park and see a woman in front of me who I saw out running some time last week. I remembered her because I'd commented about her outfit, which was beautifully colour coordinated - shoes and top. "Quite coincidental," she'd told me.

I had to wait to cross the road so I had a fun chase to catch her. I ran with her for a bit and while we were running she said that she was new to running - only been at it - irregularly - for about two months. She's battling with getting stitches and also a bit of an Achilles niggle. She returned her first pair of running shoes and is on a second pair.

I gave her some advice on posture and not criss-crossing her arms across her body when she runs - something that is very commonplace. I think that this is what causes stitches because your wiggling your upper body left and right and 'twisting' your intestines. She was surprised because within a minute her stitch had gone. I also gave her some pointers on other form elements and she seemed to have more bounce in her step. I ran another loop around the park with her before heading off on my own route again. We exchanged names. She lives near the park and I've seen her children out-and-about on their bicycles.

This is the thing with running. We go to coaches for paddling, tennis and golf... but we just hit the road in our running shoes and hope for the best. Instead of learning how to run, we just do it. Good form does not come naturally to everyone.

Before we parted ways, I saw some cars and children at the one end of the park. This is unusual. And then I saw that these wonderful children were picking up litter. Our park has this problem - like others - where people get bags of trash out of bins and they sit on the grass spilling it everywhere and then they leave it all lying there. Constant problem! Well, these children had been assembled and were doing a clean-up. Just fabulous!

One of the moms there recognised me before I saw her... we were in Standard 6 and 7 together. We bumped into each other a few years ago when her husband came on one of my navigation courses and then two years ago I taught her to crochet as my 67 minutes thing.

This was my Day 16 run. A good one.

P.S. This is my 800th blog post!

Monday, 27 May 2013

14 days of '37 Days of running'. Done.

The days tick over easily and already I'm 14 days completed of my annual pre-birthday game.

I've done many runs this week in the dark - I'm just loving the peace and solitude of night.

Ah... I bought myself some running treats this past week. Two new pairs of 3/4 tights (Under Armour and New Balance). I really like 3/4 'cos they keep my knees warm! And also a new pair of long tights (New Balance) for when it is nippy.

I've got a couple of pairs of Capestorm and FirstAscent lycra tights that I've had for five or six years but I'm so sick of the white external stitching (tights from both brands look the same). These tights last for years because they're hardy and I don't wear them that often. I've been craving something new! My old tights are relegated to AR and orienteering races - they stand up very well to being treated roughly. For training and running, I've got new tights now ;) (FYI - it is more expensive to buy local brands than the imports...).

My Google Earth image is getting very colourful.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Running free

A dear friend came over for tea and catch up this evening so I knew I'd be in for a later run that usual. Out of habit and convenience I usually head out while it is still light, rarely returning much after dark. I usually run at night with friends. Safety? Perhaps.

For sure, there are good reasons not to be running around at night. Lone female out on the suburban roads, in the dark... I've never once felt threatened in my 20-plus years of suburb street running and yet there are an abundance of warnings that it isn't safe to be outside after dark. Founded? You can get hijacked in broad daylight (opportunistic?) as much as after sunset so I don't know that this makes a big difference? I do keep to well lit streets and in the area there are a number of security-guard houses that I pass. I saw one other runner, lit up like a xmas tree.

Tonight I left a bit before 7pm, running the whole way in the dark. This, combined with my runny nose on its way out and feeling great, made for just the most energising and exhilarating run that I've had for ages.

One of the racers who was here from Europe for Expedition Africa was saddened by our big walls and fences. He felt sorry for us that we live this way. I totally agree with him and explained that it wasn't like this when I grew up but that the fences and walls went up and we adapted our behaviour to being safety conscious and we got used to it. My running adapts too - keeping to the 'safety' of daylight even though I absolutely love running at night.

Tonight was my night.

It wasn't too late, but it was dark.

The suburb was mine.

There were few cars and fewer people.

This run was swift and strong.

And free.

Pen and *gasp* paper

I'm having really good fun with my FEAT Trade, where people can trade me anything they want to and in return they receive a FEAT-branded flash drive (with green light!) on which all videos from past FEAT events are loaded.

The trades have all been totally different and each is special and thoughtful.

One of the early trades (I'm on six trades so far and I see I've got a post office slip for what I assume will be #7) came with a lengthy hand-written letter. Oh my goodness - what a beautiful thing. I haven't received a chatty handwritten letter for a very long time and it was such a treat. So, I've taken to writing letters - pen and paper letters - back to each trader.

Over the weekend I went to the shops to buy some writing paper. I've got plain white printer paper only. I found no writing paper at CNA. Nothing at Pick 'n Pay either. I bought a fairly plain, pastel-coloured, lined, A5 writing pad from a specialist stationer. This is pretty much all they had in the letter-writing category. The market for paper for hand-written letters is next to zero - his main customers for writing paper are the old folks from the old-age home across the road.

I am so enjoying sending back hand-written letters. The only time I write is to scribble notes for myself. I haven't written a page of writing for another person for a while. Something I've learned over the past few days is that my handwriting has surely gotten worse and that it is very inconsistent and uneven - just out of practice.

In late primary school I had a pen pal. Liz - from Tzaneen. We lost contact when we got to high school. And my friend Allison and I used to write letters to each other - for years - from primary and into high school. Actually, she's on her way over now for tea. Penpals were such a thing in the 80s.

If you're ever inclined to want to write the odd handwritten letter, you're welcome to write to me. And I'll write back.

12 The Cedars, Field Close, Bedford Gardens, 2007. Johannesburg. South Africa.

Monday, 20 May 2013

When you retire...

I know a number of people heading into retirement at the moment. Some have been retired from their companies at 60 yrs or 63 yrs... They're definitely not old and non-functional. They're full of beans and with the programme. And now that they're at home, they've got nothing to do.

I chatted to a neighbour tonight who has just been retired by her company. She hasn't got much to do and spends her days messing around on her iPad. But, you can only do that for some time before it gets old. I mentioned to her about applying her work experience and skills to volunteering for an organisation aligned with her interests - animals, children, the aged, education - there is so much need for manpower and energy and skills. She hadn't thought of it.

When you're working, every week day is about your job. At night you probably crash early to wake up early to get to work. Over the weekends you've only got two days to shop for groceries and stuff, spend time with family, have lunches and dinners with friends, take your dog to the park and sneak in an afternoon nap. When you're presented with another five days to fill - and friends and family are at work - what do you do all day? Especially if you haven't got any hobbies or activities and if you're not involved with clubs and organisations?

I watched my one grandmother go from vibrant and active and involved to 'Elvis-has-left-the-building' within a few years of retiring. No hobbies, no interests... And then she moved countries to South Africa. No friends here. Nothing familiar. Sure, Alzheimer's kicked in but I think her brain degeneration had more to do with too little use and stimulation than the degenerative disease. My dad once asked her, before she got bad, what she had planned to do in her retirement. "Nothing," she answered. Nothing eats your brain cells.

If you've got lots of money, you can travel. Not everyone has lots of money when they retire, and they money they have maybe needs to last for another 25 years...

I can think of five recently-retired people that I know who are sitting at home doing next to nothing. A break for a month or two from the confines of structured work is a good thing but for the next 10-15 productive years of their lives? There's so much manpower rotting at home and so many organisations needing skilled, helping hands. If you have a family member vegging at home, try to encourage them to get involved with something - anything - aligned to their interests. These people are too valuable to have sitting at home watching telly all day.

Then again, if all they want to do is watch telly...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The first seven days. Done.

I'm already seven days done with my annual pre-birthday game. 30 days to go.

I've had a pretty easy week as I've been down with a snotty nose following Expedition Africa. I was a bit spooked on Thursday morning when I woke up as it felt like the simple nose-cold was descending into my chest, but fortunately its progress halted and this morning I woke up feeling mostly normal again - except for a remaining slightly runny nose. I hope I can run away from it this week.

My week was a comfy 43km week with a mix of runs from road to putting out and collecting orienteering controls at my adventure navigation course on Saturday, and two runs with the huskies down the road.

I've also thrown in a '30 Day Squat Challenge' to my mix (I'm on Day 4). I've seen it going around on FB. I'll tell you more about this later in the month as we're going to do it for our AR Club Challenge for June. Fred has added in two other levels for this challenge, especially for squat novices and intermediates.

By my birthday I should have fit heart and lungs as well as squat-sculpted buns *grin*

Tomorrow, Monday, welcomes Week 2 of '37 Days of Running'. Bring it on.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Expedition Africa article in Do It Now

Writing about a race from inside the race is easy. The content is all around you. Writing about a race after the race, especially when you're written thousands of words about it the week before, is considerably more tricky. In the days after an incredible week there is so much to process - even if you're media, and not racing. But, with a tight deadline, I had to decide what to say, what not to say, and to get the article out.

Here it is, in the May 2013 digital edition of Do It Now's dinFO publication.

Read the magazine-view option online for the best experience, with beautiful images from the race by Bruce Viaene. Low-res images below just to give you a feel for the beautiful imagery.

Monday, 13 May 2013

37 Days of Running

Back in 2011 I started a pre-birthday game that has me running every day for the number of consecutive days of the age that I'm turning. In mid-June I turn 37 so this year I'm in for '37 Days of Running'. Those numbers just keep clocking up!

Again I'll keep my daily mileage quota at a minimum of five kilometres. It's a convenient distance, especially on those days where I'm pushed for time and off to other activities.

If your training is flagging during this cold weather, I'd like to entice you to join me for '37 Days of Activity' - any physical activity; walking, running, biking, dancing... any physical activity.

The history of my 'Days of Running'

  • 2011 - '35 Days of Running' - averaged 6.4km/day
  • 2012 - '36 Days of Running' - not sure of average as a number of days were long runs while in Ireland and also included a 24-hour rogaine!

Expedition Africa - an incredible week at a world-class event

Just back from Expedition Africa and what an incredible week it has been. Media writing for expedition events is something that I so absolutely love and so I rolled from one day to the next with a smile plastered across my face.

New friends, spectacular scenery, brave racers and the most wonderful energy from start to finish.

My writings from the event are all on (final wrap-up post here). I was tweeting from @adventurelisa, using the hashtag #expafrica. There are also some photographs in an album on the AR Facebook page. I didn't take that many but there's the odd pic taken here and there.

A really huge congratulations to Heidi and Stephan for presenting a world-class expedition adventure race. They did good. Real good.

Part of Team Media (L-R): Bruce Viaene, Aya Kubota, me, Soren Nielsen and Andreas Strand.

'Adopted' by Merrell Denmark, here I am at the finish with the team. (L-R) Lars, Mikkel, Soren (team photographer), me, Rasmus and Sanne.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sneaking in some Berg running

Being out in the Drakensberg for Expedition Africa makes my feet itch for running in this wonderful scenery.

Yesterday I headed out in the afternoon taking the 'River Walk' sign I saw when we drove in. It took me down to the river but didn't seem to go anywhere else and I couldn't see any trails running along the river.

Fortunately I met up with a local fellow who said that I could cross the river, running up into the local settlement where the trail meets a road. He directed me to follow the road, which would then loop back to the hotel.

Crossing the Tugela. Crystal clear - and very chilly!

The road back to the hotel.
It turned into a lovely run with excellent conditions and a refreshing breeze.

This afternoon I took off on the mountain bike trail, which runs past the hotel. It's a lovely route in the lower Berg. I asked the security lady at the gate whether it loops back. She spoke to a chap on the radio who said that it was the type of route where I'd have to turn around to get back here.

A lovely, lovely route. Smooth underfoot and with only a few climbs. Very pretty with a big, open, blue sky

Climbing up a rise to take a(nother) photo of the Amphitheatre. The teams are going to ascend it tomorrow morning - I'll be driving around to the Sentinal carpark.

Trail. Bliss.
That's the hotel down below. Heading back in time for Leg 1 briefing.
Love. Baby. Cow.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Article on Namib Desert Challenge in Do It Now

I indirectly wrote this article on the Namib Desert Challenge, which I ran at the end of March 2013. It's in DoItNow magazine (May 2013 issue) and the article is available online. The article was compiled by Sarah Kobal from my daily stage posts. The magnificent photos were taken by Hannisze. 

You can read the article online - I just love the digital magazine look. Super layout.

Off to Expedition Africa

The time has come... time for Expedition Africa!

I'm delighted to have my race reporting hat back on; it has been a while that I did on-the-ground reporting for an expedition adventure race.

We drive through to the Drakensberg this afternoon and then it is pre-race stuff on Saturday and Sunday and then the race starts on Monday.

My reports will all go up on and related channels. I've put two posts up on AR already - the one provides resources for following the event online and the other gives you a bit of info on the event, the area, the teams, what to look for on the online tracking and such.

Camera and laptop are packed. Yeee-haaa!

It's an awesome area and it's going to be a hard and competitive race.