Ironman – What they can’t tell you…

That even though you’ve been on the sidelines for the past year of training, where you’ve pretty much been an onlooker at the amazing sense of commitment and drive of your Ironman-to-be, your involvement is huge.

That every minute of the race is rife with worry and excitement at overwhelming levels. That even though you try to make the most of this ‘alone time’ you’ve been looking forward to – you are constantly aware that your athlete is competing in the race of a lifetime. His thoughts, his emotions, his anxieties consume you.

You track his every move, as if by so doing, it will make it easier for your athlete – that you are right there with them – you can do this together. But you’re not…. You are here and he is there, and the melodramatic side of you thinks he’s fighting for his life. His pain you cannot fathom. His stress unimaginable, and his anxiety – probably just as intense as yours.

You message your family and say you’re ok. The Pinot Grigio is cold and refreshing, the cool breeze is putting you to sleep – you are relaxed and unconcerned. Far from the truth.

What you really want to say is that your third glass of wine is calming your nerves.  You’ve chatted with hundreds of supporters just to get some stress off your chest. You’ve asked different people the same question over and over, just to have some sort of conversation hoping that they too are just as anxious as you are – and you are consoled that indeed they are.

This is a big deal !!!

It’s ok to want to cry when the damn tracker says he should be out of the water and he’s not. It’s ok to want to cry when the damn tracker estimates his finish time as longer than expected. It’s ok when the damn damn tracker stops working and you want to attack every volunteer that ever existed. It’s ok when he finishes each leg with a smile and you were worried sick. It’s even ok that the sweet waitress senses your stress and checks in on you more than anyone else with the concern of a best friend.

It is all ok because you, too, are running the race of your lifetime. You have a vested interest in the outcome of this race.

You. Are. An. IronSupporter.

Enjoying the beauty that is Cape Town…

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. Like Sydney (which captured my heart a few years ago), its location on the coast affords the city amazing views, great opportunities for outdoor activities, and, as you can imagine breath-taking sunsets. Both night and day its seafront restaurants and commercial centre are bustling with activity, and at night the local budding artistes serenade you with sounds of African music, reminding you that you are indeed in South Africa. In stark contrast to Johannesburg, Cape Town isn’t typical of what you would imagine to be South Africa.

We explored the city and its surroundings in just three short days, revelling in the first instance in the scenic drive to Cape Point. Cape Point is in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve within Table Mountain National Park. And as you drive along the western coast from Cape Town, you are greeted time and time again with beautiful valleys, bays and beaches. You find yourself stopping more frequently than planned just to gasp for a moment at the beauty of the rugged coastline and the flora and fauna that surrounds.

On the return drive up the eastern coast, the coastline and small, busy villages, tempted us to stop and relax at one of the seafront restaurants, to enjoy the local cuisine, with the sun setting at your back and the sound of the waves crashing against the shore line.

Up next – our visit to Table Mountain, possibly the world’s oldest mountain, which was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. Looking up at the mountain from the town below, you would never imagine the scope of walking and jogging trails, viewing points, wild flowers. Table Mountain is many things to many people. To Capetonians, in particular, it is the geological and spiritual heart of the city, and it’s easy to see why.

The vistas from atop are mind boggling and probably some of the most captured views in the world. We witnessed many a form and fashion of picture-taking. From selfies, to dare devil stunts at the edge of rocks, all trying to create the most exciting pose on what seemed like the top of the world.

And, my favourite part – the end of any given day in Cape Town. We drove to a vantage point on Signal Hill and sat quietly as we watched couples, friends, families arrive one by one, with their picnic baskets, to witness one of Cape Town’s most spectacular events – their daily sunset.

We were entertained by the para-gliders who carefully attached their victims and ran off the mountain sailing, peacefully to the beach below. Not more than a 10-minute flight, but one which provided a wonderful thrill for all who sat there waiting for the day to end in all its glory.

And glory it was. Wine glasses clinked, birthday cakes were cut, hugs and kisses exchanged, selfies galore – all in celebration of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed.

Yup. Cape Town. A beautiful city. Not to be missed.

In search of the sunset…

What better way to spend your Sunday afternoon than following your son in his search for that perfect sunset. With the rain beating on the road as you climb the mountain, you anxiously anticipate the clarity and beauty of the setting sun as the rain dissipates. You hope for clouds as they always add interest and mystery. You look forward to the serenity of the view and the peace and quiet that such beauty brings. You capture the changes in the sky as the sun sinks ever so slowly into the depths of the horizon. And you very secretly thank God for such precious moments.

You never …..

At times I over-use the phrase “you never…..”. And that’s being very kind – I probably use these words to lash out more often than I care to admit. And most times it’s when I’m in a mood – any mood other than my happiest – tired, overwhelmed, feeling sorry for myself.  “You never do this… You never do that…”

But really, don’t we often overlook the smallest signs of affection, caring, love. So focussed are we on the bigger things that everyone else can see. The bigger things that are probably not as heartfelt or meaningful as the really small things.

When in fact the simple hugs in the kitchen while you’re washing dishes. Remembering to bring your helmet for you when you go for a ride. Turning off the light so you can sleep. Telling your sons in a round-about way that you’ve worked hard and deserve your rewards. The unexpected smile and a wink that still make you blush. The quiet moment admiring the sunset together. And the list goes on.

These are the moments that you should really cherish and keep tucked away in your heart. The moments that will keep you going when you are tired and overwhelmed. The moments that will keep you from feeling sorry for yourself.

For these are the moments that are real. The ones you can take with you wherever you go.

Listen to the sun set…

It’s kind of silly I guess, but whenever I’m watching the sun set, I imagine its warm rays opening the day in another part of the world. I think of what my day was like, with its ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and I wonder what the person on the receiving end of the sun – what their day will be like. It’s almost as if we have a connection.

Can I send you a warning, I wonder. Can I tell you to stay calm, to stay focussed, to enjoy the moment, for we don’t really know what the day will bring. Can I reassure you that there’s someone on the other end thinking of you and wishing you well. And in response they are saying thanks – thanks for the thoughts and guidance. Thanks for being there. And they too offer some words of wisdom and consolation.

I always awake with a smile knowing you are thinking of me, for I too was dreaming of you – experiencing your day as if it were mine. I laughed when you laughed. I cried when you cried. And I too was looking forward to watching the sun rise, as I knew you were on the other end thinking the same thoughts.

As the colours of the sunset intensify our thoughts are connected and come to life. My day darkens and my friend’s day brightens and the days blend one into each other. We move on with our lives looking forward to that special moment of sharing.