What a fun, relaxing, exhausting, busy, sleepy week I’ve had! Traveling from Nigeria to South Africa and back! [Africa is a continent. And it is a big one at that.]
Everything about the trip was pretty darn great. We got to leave work slightly early last week, fly over night, and arrive ‘rested’ in Cape Town Thursday morning!
THURSDAY: ALL THE FOOD
The mister and I took off to explore the city right away and found a fantastic little coffee shop called Truth. Coffee Roasting (of COURSE we found great coffee first). I loved it. It reminded me of Alice in Wonderland (seriously, click the link!), and I geek out over weird stuff like that.
We then got massages (thank you Foreign Service Benefit Plan, 45 free massages a year!)! And met back up with our friends for dinner at a local Brewery, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company. Don’t worry, this wasn’t all for me, I barely had one drink. Beer is yucky.🙂
FRIDAY: SHARK DIVING!
Friday, the mister and our friend ‘BP’ went. . . .SHARK DIVING!!!! No joke! It was, like, the craziest thing I’ve ever done in South Africa (and, believe me, when I lived here in my early 20s, I did some pretty crazy stuff!)! On the drive to the point where we shark dive, our car got in a wreck, though. That was interesting. And, not my first wreck in South Africa. Almost 9 years ago our public bus (‘khumbi’) ran into a herd of goats and sent us flying off the road, creating a gash in my head. Fun! This wreck was minor and nobody was hurt, thank goodness.
There’s me, wearing everyone’s extra clothing on the boat. BRRRRR! Getting in the freezing cold water with Great White Sharks, even in a cage / wetsuit, was SO SCARY COOL! I couldn’t believe I was doing it. Honestly. I HATE being cold. The wet suit was magic, though! And, alas, we saw great white sharks in the WILD. . .in the WATER with them. . .and also a hump back whale! Talk about once in a lifetime opportunity. It was incredible!!!!
That night we went to the race Expo and had dinner with the entire group! We also watched the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, which was TRIPPY because the last time I lived in South Africa I watched the Rugby World Cup with my host family. Time warp.
SATURDAY: CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Saturday we hired a cab and went first to Table Mountain and then out to the Cape of Good Hope, Southwestern-most point of the African Continent. We also met penguins in the wild and had a great early dinner!
Sunday:. . . .THE MARATHON
As you know, I went in to this race injured. My hip had several weeks of rest, but was still not quite right. I went in to the race extremely nervous as a result. I’ve done races where injuries have flared (far too many by my estimation) and know the pain of slogging mile after mile when your entire body feels broken. I didn’t want to have to do that again. Not this race, that we’d trained so hard for, together. Months and months of blood, sweat, tears, crapping behind bushes, running through torrential tropical rains, round and round in circles.
We corralled in our pens and after listening to the South African National Anthem (my favorite!), we were off! I hung back at the start. . . . .waaaaaaay back. I didn’t want to go out too strong and hurt myself because I wasn’t warmed up.
I told myself to ignore the hordes of people passing me, and just go SLOW until 5k / mile 3. I hit mile 3 and felt only minimal discomfort in my hip. So I decided to try and push the pace to see what I could do. I was conservative, though, because I knew there was still a LOOONG way to go. As I started to pick up speed my hip started to throb.
So, I slowed back down.
It was extremely difficult to run that slowly, despite the pain in my hip. I felt AMAZING!!! My body wanted to SURGE. I was ready, trained, prepared. My injury was hobbling me.
I decided then, to keep this slow, plodding, not even breathing out of my mouth, pace until 21k/ 13.1 miles. If my hip can let me run to 13.1 I can finish this beast.
13.1 came and I felt FINE!!! I decided, again, to pick up the pace. And, I did, however slightly.
But, I still simply could NOT open my stride without shooting pain in my hip. I wanted to cry from frustration. My hip just wouldn’t allow me to RUN. Only jog.
I then had a pretty serious mental discussion with myself. I decided instead of focusing on what my body COULDN’T do, today, I should focus on what my body is DOING regardless.
I’m injured, but my body and I have a good enough relationship that I can listen to its nuance and adjust myself accordingly. I’m injured but my body can still RUN MARATHONS. I’m injured, but I have a fully functioning body with no permanent physical limitations. I can move myself across the world on my own two feet. And that is the most important thing. I may be injured, but I am also alive, and healthy, and doing hard things. I may be injured, but I am more than this injury, more than this race, more than my pace, more than my body. What I am is infinite, as is everyone.
And, well, I just decided not to push it at all this race and simply keep the slow pace. Enjoy the scenery, enjoy not having to breath out of my mouth!, enjoy being able to move, being able to RUN A MARATHON like it’s no big deal.
And, that’s what I did miles 18-25! I just trotted along in awe of my body’s ability to soldier through with very limited pain. I can do hard things, but I am more than the sum of the hard things I accomplish.
Of course mile 25-26.2 was brutal. It always is. And, it’s always the longest darn mile of the race! All this personal self-support I’d mustered peeled away and I let dark, negative thoughts creep in.
“You’re pathetic, slow, untalented,” the mistaken beliefs whispered. “You’re a total joke! Why do you do these races?! You’re terrible at them!”
Oh how I suffered that last mile. Truly. So much so that when I entered the finishing area and saw my mister and friends, I couldn’t even smile.
But, I finished that sucker. In 5-hours 2-minutes. An entire hour behind my personal best, to the minute.
But, I finished it. And, as I walked past the finish and met up with my mister, I was so overwhelmed. He was thrilled that I finished, not giving a thought to my time. He was proud of me, for simply being me.
I’d already planned to dedicate this race to my mister. And, in that moment it couldn’t have been more apropro. I dedicated the race to the person standing at the finish line cheering (yes, my mister, cheering!) holding up his camera to snap hundreds of photos of me crossing that line. My mister who was holding my flip-flops and recovery drink. My mister who let me lean on him like a crutch as my hip started to lock and movement was restricted. My mister who was disturbed this morning, and thousands of other mornings just like it, by my 4 AM wake-up time. My mister who’s massaged my blistered feet. My mister who will hug me when I’m sweaty. My mister who tells me I’m amazing every opportunity he has. My mister who supports every ambition, even when it’s . . . peculiar. . . . My mister is amazing and I am so lucky that the universe aligned in such a way so our paths could cross, and cross again, and eventually intertwine.
Perhaps, then, injury, time, distance, frequency aside, perhaps THIS clarity is why I race. I race for the clarity that situates me within my world and strips away idle thinking, reducing me to my most basic.
I’ll conquer marathon distance again. And probably again after that. And probably several more times after that. And, while always a goal, it won’t be about speed. It’ll be about finding that clarity.
TEAM LAGOS!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After the race I went home, showered, and went back out again to have lunch of RAW VEGAN PIZZA (I know, right?!) at the Hungry Herbivore. I ate, or tried to eat, half a raw, vegan pizza, and raw, vegan pie! I’m strikingly NOT hungry after finishing a marathon. Food sounds nasty most of the time.
Alas, after eating the mister and I rode the Ferris Wheel, like you do.
We then had dinner at Bascule which was really swanky and delicious!
That night I slept like I’d never slept before (by the end of the day I’d run 26.2-miles and walked an additional 10-miles on an injured hip!), as is obvious in this photo, I was TIRED!
MONDAY: WINE COUNTRY
Monday we all went to wine country, near Stellenbosh. Oh my goodness it was GORGEOUS and the food and wine was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I’m not much for eating and drinking all day, but if one has to recover from a marathon. . .THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT!!!
Great friends, food, drink, scenery! Great day!
TUESDAY: BACK TO 9JA
Tuesday was travel day. Nigeria and South Africa are far apart! But, we’re finally home.
So, there is it. Marathon #6 in the books! Now to fully heal my hip by re-engaging with yoga, long walks (on my treadmill, I still live in Nigeria after all), and preparation for our next adventure. . . to soon be announced!!!!!!