What ever you do, Keep Moving Forward

It has been a couple weeks since completing my second 70.3 in Durban on the 2nd of August. I have taken some time to reflect. Again it was an unbelievable journey to get to the start line, this time round I did things slightly differently to the first one.

After the high of my first Ironman 70.3 in January I decided to join a triathlon training squad led by the ever smiling Vicky van der Merwe. I was very hesitant at first to join, but was made to feel welcome from the get go by her and the other squad members who I can now proudly call friends.

Doing the first one on my own taught me a lot about discipline, commitment and focus which I needed at that time in my life. However training in a group has made the tough days that little bit easier. A lot of people have asked me which route to go down and my advice is to give both a try and find what works best for you. I know that the inspiration I get from the likeminded individuals who I am privileged to train with is priceless and on the other side I still do some of my training on my own. It is the balance I need and works for me.

The second change for me this time around was training during winter. Apart from it being a little bit cooler, wetter and lot less lighter, it was the same set of rules just in different circumstances. A life lesson in itself; focus on what you can control and do not worry about what you cannot. I know exactly why I do what I do, it is my why reason and because of it, it does make getting up in the morning that much easier to live the life I love.

What I love about Ironman is the weekend; the emotions and feelings that you go through are electrifying. One moment you are cool, calm and collected and then you are nervous, anxious and the butterflies kick in. Ironman is not a race; it is a journey to the start line. The time, dedication, hard work and sacrifices to get to the start is what it is all about. Anything can happen on the day, that’s life and it is what it is. For example my swim was good but not the best, I turned too early and then struggled to get out of the water because I was caught in a rip. The bike was amazing, I pushed hard and went beyond myself, but did manage to get a glimpse of the dolphins on the way back in. Pushing too hard on the bike caused me to cramp early on the run. I am actually thankful for this because it taught me so much about myself and what I am capable of achieving, even when the cards are not in my favour.


Always Keep Moving Forward

A picture tells a thousand stories and you can see from this one that I was in some serious discomfort and pain. However all that was going through my head at the time were the words of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” No matter what happens in life, we are so strong that if we keep moving forward we are able to achieve anything that put our minds and bodies too.

On the second of August 2015, the finish line at Ironman 70.3 was filled with great emotions; mixed emotions. Finishing brought elation and celebration with a mild sense of relief, but it also brought about a sprinkle of disappointment in that I know I could have done better. The beauty of it all is that it left me hungry for more, to grow and keep on pushing my boundaries.

Looking back over the past 6 months, I have definitely grown as an individual. But the real victory of crossing the finish line is not a time or medal but being privileged enough to share the road with complete strangers, family and friends.

As always, thank you to everyone who has been a passenger on my journey without you this ride would not be as amazing as it is.

Today my life really does begin

I have just received confirmation that my entry into the 2016 edition of the Tour d’Afrique has been received. Never have the words of Lao Tzu rung so true; “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

It is literally going to be a journey of many a thousand mile across Africa. I know there are going to be many moments when I question my sanity, but I also know that those moments will be outweighed by the memories created, people met and experiences lived.

I have already experienced and learnt so much by, just, getting to this point. One thing that has stood out, and it saddens me, is that even though we live in a free world we are so trapped. We are trapped by what society deems correct in her eyes.

In the last couple of days, I have learnt the following;

  1. We are constantly fighting to survive tomorrow that we forget to live today.
  2. We do not celebrate and drive enough people to fulfil their dreams because we are so worried about what is best for ourselves.

Moving forward, I am making the decision and taking the action to live more in the present and less in the future. To stop, take note and enjoy the present moment. I am also going to, where possible; help others to believe that they too can make their dreams a reality.

Bob Moawad said; “the best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours – it’s an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”

Today my life really does begin.

Why do I do triathlon and endurance sports?

I have been blessed and fortunate enough to be provided the opportunity and ability to swim, bike and run over long distances. I am not the fastest nor am I the best, but that does not mean I cannot celebrate my own victories on my journey.

When I embarked on this journey about 8 months ago, my friend and bio said to me that my life would change, which I agreed with, but what I did not realise was how big a change it would be. How right he was (again).

I am most free when I race or train. My friends have jokingly remarked that I have gotten into a relationship with this gym person because of the amount of time I spend training and racing. In the past these remarks would have gotten to me, but now because of the joy that it brings, I don’t actually care what anyone remarks because I know that I have inspired others by my actions.

Originally when I started out on this journey, my goal was to start Ironman 70.3 and finish it. I am very proud to say that I did it along with a number of other challenges along the way like finishing a marathon. I was in a dark space in life and I needed to be the change. Endurance sports and triathlon gifted me this opportunity to change. Through my transformation I have realised that anything is possible. All you need is some determination, hard work, dedication and a smile on your face and then anything is possible.

Now I have achieved my goal of completing Ironman 70.3, I have realised that my purpose in this sport is not to be on the stage at prize giving, but rather to be the inspiration to those whose lives I cross to go out and achieve their goals and dreams. No prize money, medal or media spotlight will ever make me as wealthy as receiving a message like the one I received from a friend today.

Craig – You have assisted in changing me and the way I think about challenges and difficulties. You have helped me so much to put some belief back into what I do and why I do it. Because of youI entered Die Burger and completed it. Because of you I have found strength and willingness to get back into my training and I am so happy and so hooked with all the training I am doing.
Because of you I can almost call myself a Triathlete and can’t wait for the day that I cross the finish line at ITU in a pretty good time and feel amazing that I have achieved a proper Tri. I never would have thought that I would be doing Triathlons although I often thought as a kid that it would be a cool bucket list thing to do. I am fit again and I thank you for pushing me and encouraging me to enter and achieve even when I thought I couldn’t. Even with a torn ACL I am running and feeling good. I can’t wait to do more and achieve more. I have you to thank. So thank you.

A couple of weeks ago I received a message from a long lost university friend. She contacted me regarding some help with her journey that she was embarking on. Its been great to get back into contact again with friends from the past, another reward that money can’t buy.

We were all born to be great, so don’t let your darkness hold you back. Step up and shine. Be your own hero!

Afrimat Tour De Worcester – Race Report

The Afrimat Tour De Worcester is the signal that spring is here and the start of the summer cycling season.

Worcester is a town in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is located 120km north-east of Cape Town through the Huegenot tunnel or by driving over the Du Toitskloof pass. The drive is quite spectacular and with its peaks and waterfalls flowing into the Breede river.

The Afrimat Tour De Worcester is a 94km race, which is fast and predominately flat with two very manageable climbs. A great race to start off the season!

I was extremely excited for this race as I have dedicated a large amount of time, energy and sweat, training over the winter period. Conditions were ideal to cycle in with a gentle spring breeze, blue skies and the sun beating down. My legs were feeling a little heavy, but mentally I was feeling strong and ready for the challenge.

My main goal for this race was not a physical or time goal, but more of a mental goal. I have a great tendency to give it horns too early in a race and head off on my own tangent which means enjoying my own company for too many kilometres. My race goal was to stick with my new seeding group. I had been bumped two seeding groups from last season.

3, 2, 1 – Go! We were on our way. Our group took in a civilised manner and the open roads awaited us. The first climb came a couple of kilometres after the start, which separated our group a bit, but we managed to re-group on the decent and on the long flat section into the wind towards Rawsonville. We were moving at a rapid pace and covering ground very quickly. I was comfortable and going through the motions, with the high pace came a high level of concentration.

I was very lucky coming into Rawsonville as a fellow cyclist came unstuck just behind me and crashed taking out some other cyclists in the process. The main road that goes through Rawsonville is terrible and more suitable in the Absa Cape Epic than a road race. Luck was on my side as I managed to get through the town safely and unscathed.

Still feeling strong, it was time to take on some nutrition before our next little climb. Our group managed to split over the climb and I made my move just at the right time to stay with our leading group. The leaders in the group decided that this was the time to drive the momentum forward and the pace picked up considerably. During this next section we were witnesses to the result of a nasty motorcycle accident and pedestrians deciding to take over the road. Luck was on our side again and we got through unscathed.

My legs were now starting to feel the burn, but I was still feeling strong. We were averaging over 33km/h and settling into a nice rhythm. At 49km my \luck decided to turn and I got a puncture in my rear wheel. 20 minutes later and covered in grease I was back on the road, but on my own. Knowing that a number of groups had passed me I decided to give it everything and try and catch up. It was only with about 20kms to go that I managed to catch up with a small group but I lost them on our final climb (over the gravel section) because I had a no middle range of gears.

On the decent I decided that I was going to give it everything and push hard to the end, but also try and help as many cyclists along the way to end. I dug in deep. I went to a place I had never been before and found another set of legs. I helped carry a guy to the flat finishing section, he thanked me which took me off guard because it was so unexpected.

With 8kms to go I realised that I could still reach my goal of under 3 hours (mechanical time not included) so I put my head down and gave it one last push to the end. I would love to say that I made it, but I missed it by just over a minute. My ride time was 3:01 and official time was 3:19.

A lot of positives came from my ride, but the best thing I realised is that I am my worst own enemy. My mind overthinks and prevents me from achieving anything I want to achieve. I limit myself. I am working on this and in time I will be able to achieve anything because anything is possible.

Get up and chase your dream!

We have entered a team into this year’s Coronation Double Century cycling race which takes part in November in Swellendam, South Africa. The Coronation Double Century is a 202km team race and last week we had a meet and greet dinner to allow our team to get to know each other in a social environment.

The beauty of the evening was that everyone who was able to attend had their own “Everest” that they were climbing. Some mountains were bigger than others, but each member had their own personal reason to climb their mountain and chase their dreams. Most of the mountains were physical endurance challenges from running and cycling to actually climbing mountains.

The evening was extremely refreshing. It was great to be around like minded people who are on a personal journey to reach their summit and overcome the obstacles that lay ahead whilst celebrating the small victories on their journey.

Unfortunately we are currently living in a world where there are so many people trying to live someone else’s dreams. Thanks to modern day propaganda, we live in society that has forgotten the true value of wealth. Wealth has unfortunately become materialistic.

Look at people who are genuinely happy. They are not the ones with the latest fashion trends, the biggest houses, the fastest cars etc. they are the ones living fulfilling lives by chasing their dreams.

You have a choice every morning to get up and chase your dream or lie in bed and dream about it. Take the first step and chase your dream by getting out of bed. Since I have started to chase my dream I have been far more happier and live a life I love instead.

Be a Better You

We live in a cruel world. We live in a world where we are constantly trying to be better that everyone else, we have been pre-programmed in this way and unfortunately it only leads to unhappiness.

As you might have gathered I live my life through quotes. I came across the following quote a while back, “the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were today.” Something about these words stuck with me and I have been working hard to try and live by them daily. Some days I win and some days I lose, that is just life. However since taking on this personal challenge, I have found that I have become a far happier person and enjoy life to the full.

Gone are the days where I try and compete against others, I am not them so why should I try and be a better them. We were all made differently to shine in our own light, but thanks to the modern day media we are being brainwashed to be a better someone else. Don’t do it. Make your own stars and shine in your light. Be a better you.

Reflections – The 1st Edition

With less than 6 months to go until the big day. I have taken some time to reflect what I have achieved and learnt since taking on this challenge. It has been fun to say the least, even with the ups and downs along the way. The start of this journey has been remarkable for me personally and I wake up each morning looking forward to the next challenge and the opportunity that it brings.

This entry was spurred on from a review that I had at work. Our CEO mentioned in the review that I was a frustrated bully, but that I have turned this around and have become more of a thoughtful leader within our organisation. Our SVP mentioned that I had improved on my single mindedness in a positive way to further develop and challenge staff, customers and suppliers. Two things I have worked hard on and they had been recognised. Both these compliments have made me feel proud and make the hard work well worth it.

Let me go back 6 – 8 months to a very dark patch in my life. I was very despondent and fed up with life. I didn’t like who I was and the direction in which I was heading, but I carried on down this path. However I realised that drastic change was needed and fast when I went for my yearly medical at the end of last year. If I carried on this path of self-destruction I would be shortening my life significantly. It was then and there that I decided to make some positive changes to my life. It was action time!

My review got me thinking. When did I notice the change? I am not 100% certain I know the answer to this question, but I do think part of it came around 14/15 km’ s into this year’s 2 Ocean Half Marathon. I had what I can only describe as an outer body experience. It was at this point in the run that I had conquered my fear of running. I understood that I had overcome a feat that festered in my mind for so long. It was my tipping point, especially on the running front!

I was now in a space that was not only new to me, but excitingly terrifying to me. I now knew that what the mind can conceive the body can achieve. It was at this time that the bar needed to be pushed and pushed high. I got some professional help and guidance and three months down the line I have learnt some valuable life lessons.

Listed below are some of the lessons I have learnt in the last couple of months;

Patience – The true rewards in life don’t come from instant gratification. They come from working towards a number of goals and achieving them through failure, blood, sweat and tears. Great things come to those who are willing to work hard for what they want and don’t stop until they get it.

Confidence – I did not realise it consciously, but as my body has transformed my confidence has improved. Thank you to everyone who has noticed this change and made me consciously aware of it. Your actions have given me more confidence to carry on living my dream.

There are no limits – The biggest lesson I have learnt from this experience so far is that there are no limits to what you can do and achieve in your life. No dream is too big! I have even considered doing the Comrades Marathon – something that I would never have given a second thought in the past.

We have just enough time – We waste a large amount of time daily, but with proper planning and discipline there is more than enough time each day to achieve what you set out to do. My work days have never been more productive and I spend less time at work all because I have realised how precious time is and that I cannot afford to waste any.

Using negative energy as a positive drive – Being told that; I cannot do something, I am mad, wasting my time, it is pointless etc. has given me the drive and energy to push on through and hush my critics. The best part of this observation is that majority of them have become my biggest supporters. What a world we live in!

Self -Control – Learning to control my circumstances and accept the uncontrollable in my life has definitely had the biggest impact on my health. I now rarely get upset when I understand that it is out of my control and work through it.

Enjoy life and live a life you love.

Learning to Adapt

Last week was a difficult week for me from a training perspective. Even though it was a recovery week I lacked the energy and motivation to get the job at hand done. Even though I was tired, I was more frustrated about my mind-set and for the first time questioned my ability.

As it was a recovery week, I had a rub scheduled on Friday evening, which managed to re-ignite the missing light from the previous few days. Feeling good and ready to tackle everything that was thrown at me, I set out on Saturday morning for my run and managed to knock a minute off my best time.

With a renewed confidence back in my stride, I set out this week to give it everything I had in all my training sessions. It was my week to push borders and boundaries. Monday through Wednesday I managed to achieve this, but when I woke up on Thursday morning I had managed to wake up with a common cold.

Now normally this would not stop me from doing what I was supposed to do, but something inside told me to nip this cold in the bud quickly so I refrained from training yesterday and instead something I would not normally do, I went to get some medication.

However, I am even more frustrated and annoyed today than I was last week because I did not train yesterday. I know that it would have made no sense to train yesterday and that I can adapt and get in another session once I am clear of the flu, but it still bugs me that I have gotten sick.

Life is full of lessons and I know everything happens for a reason and that this is part of my growth and preparation for the future. Being able to adapt and control my weaknesses is what is ultimately going to get me to my final destination.

Until then, it’s all about embracing the curve balls that life throws at me.

Face your fears and live your dreams

I have been trying to write this entry now for a couple of weeks. No! I mean months. It has been sitting patiently and staring at me waiting to be finished, so no more procrastinating. It’s time to face my fears.

The dictionary definition for fear is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.”

So what am I “truly” afraid of?

First off, that is a very good question and the truth is that I do not actually know. How do you not know? I hear people ask. Well, to be honest, in the past I have swept my fears under the carpet and moved on instead of actually dealing with them head on.

A word of advice, from me to you, is not to take this path – it stammers your personal growth instead of helping it.

Taking a critical look at yourself is never an easy thing to do because it is very easy to avoid and deflect from the topic. I know this from experience because I have been doing it for years and have become quite the master. The time has come for me to dig deep and find out what scares the shit out of me. By no means was this an easy exercise, in fact, it was the opposite and during the process I touched many a nerve, got frustrated and was highly pissed off but ultimately I have grown.

My ultimate fear is failure but because of this fear I also fear commitment.

My biggest fear in life is failing. It is that simple! My fear is so great that I would rather not attempt to do something than try and fail. In recent times it has been more prevalent than it was in the past. I know that it has led to a constricted lifestyle and prevented me from attempting certain activities over the last couple of years. How stupid this now seems, it has actually been a reality for me. I am not sure why or what causes my fear of failure because I know that when I do fail I am more committed, than when I started out, to succeed second time round. There is no better feeling than seeing your hard work pay off, especially when you have stumbled along the way to get there.

I know now that I am never going to be the perfect individual and that I will always have many flaws, but since I have been more open minded to the concept of failure I have regained my confidence in my abilities to try things outside of my comfort zone again. I cannot and will not be able to ever control all elements of life, but those that I can control will allow me to best prepare for success.

Commitment scares me beyond belief, hence the fact I have never been able to have a long term relationship, stay in one place long enough to settle down or why I am constantly looking into the future and forgetting about the present. The reason I am scared of commitment is because of my fear of failure.

In the past I have blamed it on other things, but at the end of the day the only person I can blame is me. Moving forward I am working on making a conscientious effort to make the choices that are best for me at that specific time in my life and reaping the outcomes of my choices. Good or bad. Who knows I could end up having a long term relationship and staying in one place for longer than a couple of years.

The following words ring true to me and are a source of inspiration to helping me grow into a better person today than I was yesterday.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”

Face your fears and live your dreams.

Greyton Classic – Race Report

On Saturday morning I headed out to Greyton, a small town in the Overberg area in the Western Cape, to compete in the Greyton Classic. It was to be my first 21km trail run and most probably not my last.

A lot of my friends and family did not and could not understand why I was sacrificing my Friday night festivities to wake up before the crack of dawn on Saturday in the middle of winter to go and run up and down mountains, through rivers and farmlands.

The reason I was doing it, was because I wanted to! Being outside in one of the most enchantingly beautiful places I have visited is something that money cannot buy and I will always be enriched by. I would try and describe the place to you, but my limited vocabulary would do no justice to if I tried to explain its beauty. I therefore urge everyone who has the opportunity to visit this quaint little town in the Western Cape to head out and be amazed at its natural beauty that surrounds the town.

The trail run was run in conjunction with the third and final leg of the Pennypinchers Classic MTB Series. The 21km route was the same route as the 21km MTB route which headed out from the magnificent Oaks Estate along the gravel farm roads before turning right into a cow pasture. I was taken back at this time at how close I was to nature with the sun beating down on my back, cows to the left and right of me and no civilisation in sight. It was me, my running shoes, camelback and nature. At this point in the run, I was reminded for the first of many times that I am truly a very lucky individual and that it is the small things in life are what mean the most.

Mother Earth and her elements did however remind us that no matter how beautiful her landscapes and natural architecture is, as with life there will always be challenges to face. In our case a head wind. I now had two options as I do in life, carry on through hell or give up. I chose to carry on which meant digging deep and pushing forward. I would like to say that it was easy but I would be lying. It was tough!

Head down and moving forward at what seemed a snail’s pace took me through some amazing farms littered with streams, tree lined driveways, cow pastures, alpacas and a hill which at the time felt like Everest as I muscled up it. Feeling fatigued and wondering what I had got myself into I got to the crest of the hill to be greeted by the most awe inspiring view. It was breath-taking! Another lesson to be learnt; never give up the view at the top is amazing.

Revived by the view and with a new sense of energy I carried on across the mountain, and then headed down and into some beautiful trail before heading back up the mountain through the trail and out into the open mountains again. At this point I had created a little group of runners which was now going to be my team to get me the end. As my initial goal for this race was to go out and have fun, I was not worried about a time. We headed up the mountain in hot pursuit of two MTB riders who were ahead of us and would eventually finish alongside us after much passing by both parties. However Mother Nature was once again out to give us a lesson, making the climb extremely difficult into the wind.

Back down the mountain and with the sight of the finish line we headed back up the mountain. Seeing the finish and being sent back up the mountain was a bit of humour failure but getting to the top and seeing a dam nestled between the mountains made it ever so worth it.

Back down and onto the homeward stretch we met up with the 47km MTB riders for the first time. Whilst dodging between them and the loose gravel it was homeward bound and decided that we were going to finish as a team. Pushing each other through the final kilometres is what makes the sacrifices worthwhile. Another lesson learnt; you do not need to attempt everything on your own, crossing the line with someone you have worked towards a common goal is far more rewarding than crossing it alone.

Thank you to all the organisers, sponsors, volunteers, fellow competitors and the hospitality of locals. It was a truly amazing day. Greyton I will be back.