I know what you thinking. “Hold up, hold up, you can’t just be writing a year in review when the year is not yet over! Its not even Christmas!” But let’s be honest guys, as a South African the year officially ends on the long weekend of the 16th December and the new year begins after the 2nd January, maybe only officially the 8th January. The two week period in-between is neither the old year or the new year, filled with the haze of balmy summer nights, sweet over-indulgence, instagram posts and stories and travel to local or exotic destinations; all the while surrounded by dear family and friends. We should really start a petition to get the South African Government to make the 16 December to 1 January summer leave for everyone. So, for me at least, the year ended a few days back already unofficially and therefore I can just! So here are my two highlights of 2017…
Music always has the power to transport you back in time, to memories associated to a specific summer tune or the place you fell in love with a certain song. Unfortunately for me, the last few years I’ve been listening to the same 6 CDs (yes CDs) in my car as I drove up and down the long lonely roads that span the Karoo and the distance between Johannesburg and Cape Town. So if you ask about what comes to mind when I hear Mumford and Sons it probably is a muddle of multiple road trips taken in my Kia. But 2017 will be different in that it will be marked as the year I was introduced to Ed Sheeran.
Of course I had Ed Sheeran before the beginning of this year, I mean who hasn’t wanted their legs to not work like they used to before. My uncle actually asked me to find Thinking Out Loud for him when it first came out and I’ve loved the song ever since. But for some reason I never listened to any of his other music at great length since then. Until earlier this year when he released Divide that is. I got the CD as a birthday present in March and have not stopped listening to it since. Every time CD 2 starts to play I smile all over again. Eraser, Castle on the Hill, Shape of you. Galway Girl, Happier, which ironically is a really sad song filled with heartache and unrequited love and then on to Supermarket Flowers and the associated tears. The album was simply Perfect. And the additional songs not being on the CD didn’t stop me from playing them on repeat on Youtube. Nancy Mulligan became my grandmother as well and when Ed said he has got to save himself I thought he was talking directly to me!
I got to listening to some of his older songs as well. I cried a few times when I listened to the words to A team. And watching the video to Photograph leaves me amazed and sad at the same time. Every where I went there was an Ed Sheeran song in my head this year. So 2017 will be the year of Ed. Hopefully he tours SA in 2018 and 2018 will then be the year of Ed extended edition. I swear would be first in line to buy tickets! And to imagine, not so long ago he was busking in tube stations and village squares and any passer by could have stopped and listened to one of the most talented performers of the last few years for the cost of spare change. Goes to show that your value doesn’t change because other people don’t recognise it right away. And on the flip side, the rest of us just need to slow ourselves down every now and again to appreciate the beauty that may sit right in front of our eyes.
Most of the second half of the year was spent getting ready to run the Soweto half marathon. In the run up to the race Chandini joined the Nike+ Run Club to help her preparations for the race. When I worked in Rosebank I would see these seemingly insane people running through the busy streets of the Rosebank CBD in peak hour traffic and I was convinced that they were insane. So when Chandini asked me to join her after the first run my immediate answer was no. It would mean running on a Tuesday after work so would disrupt my own morning running schedule and would also come with having to dodge evening traffic that I felt was just easier to avoid altogether. But Chandini was insistent and I yielded and joined her on the third week.
Immediately after the first run I felt sheepish for having resisted because almost from the first warm up I knew I would become addicted. We’ve become solid regulars at the Tuesday evening runs now. So much so that in the last few weeks with the constant threat of rain on the Hiveld I found myself running with the pacer almost in one on one coaching sessions. The home runs are 4 different distances from 4km to 12km at 4 or 5 pace brackets for each distance so offers something for all types of runners. The home runs are alternated with different runs such as hill training and High Intensity Training (HIT). I have never been very fast so have run mostly the slowest pace bracket for the 6km. But I have in the last few weeks of the year noticed the difference in my running in that I can better keep up with the pace and keep running for most of the distance.
With time I hope to get myself first up to running one pace band faster (7:00 to 7:30min/km) and then up to the 8km group. I think given another month or so and I will be ready for the first step up. Almost without thinking Tuesdays have become Nike+ Running Club days. And Saturday mornings might soon become the same. It has taught me that I sometimes need to put aside my preconceived ideas of pursuing new and different things and I will be pleasantly surprised. And that to improve you have to become more consistent in how you push yourself and sometimes you alone cannot reach the level you are capable of and need a little nudge in the right direction from someone who can see your potential. Often people who may not even know you will have more faith in you than you have in yourself and sometimes they help you find your faith again.
2017 came with its own set of challenges, highs and lows and days that I have already done well to forget. It has also come with smiles, laughter and some sweat and tears and days that will forever be etched in memory. And in-between is a blur of Ed Sheeran songs and running along the streets of Rosebank in the rain. Whatever 2018 brings, it has a lot to live up to. With good friends, good food, travel and more running, it may just though…