I sit here contemplating the week and what should have been the final countdown to the Challenge Cape Town on the 6th November. I wouldn’t think so much about it but I still bump into people that remind me “weren’t you supposed to be taking part in that Triathlon in Cape Town that was cancelled recently?” and my personal favourite “Such a shame about that Triathlon being cancelled, how do you feel about all that time you have wasted?”. So let me take you back a bit and share with you how the cancellation of Challenge Cape Town has affected me and how I feel about it now.
The 18th October turned out to be quite a torturous day for me. It started off fabulously with my usual Tuesday morning recovery run as I was firmly in taper land and some positive work activity. I had to go out to the southern suburbs that afternoon so I decided to take @redearthgallery (Eric Tollner) up on his offer and recommendation and swing by Uniforms Unlimited in Observatory to chat to them about getting my kit inked for The Sunflower Fund. I had a great chat with Steve Morkel from UU and was quite excited when I left as my kit for Challenge Cape Town would display The Sunflower Fund logo and essentially I would be in black and yellow on the day also.
I was heading back to Noordhoek when I decided to make a quick stop at Hammer Nutrition (@hammersa) in Diep River and take them up on their twitter offer of a sampling of product and a general chat about race nutrition. When I arrived we started chatting and then they asked what event I was doing so they could discuss my nutrition on the day and offer some advice (always welcome). I replied I was doing Challenge Cape Town at which point the conversation took a decided turn for the worse.
It was at this point that they told me that they had been informed the race was being cancelled and that a press release was being issued the following day. Needless to say I thought it was a cruel joke at first but as I listened I knew deep down that it wasn’t and that it was true. I was absolutely devastated and probably looked visibly distraught. The @hammersa staff was enormously supportive and did their best to lighten my spirits but I decided to make a quick exit and get a 2nd confirmation that the event was cancelled. It was a short time later I got the confirmation and felt utterly deflated. I immediately thought of the sacrifices I had made during the past 5 months, the missed occasions with my wife, friends and family to be properly prepared for what would be my biggest sporting challenge yet, an Ironman distance triathlon. It was a very bitter pill to swallow and I drove home in a very depressed state not wanting to speak to anyone including replying to the numerous tweets about my “suicidal state of mind and general unhappiness”.
It was on the way home driving along Main Road through Muizenberg that I looked out at the Ocean and watched as the clean 4 foot lines pushed through to be ridden by the multitude of Surfers gathering at Surfers Corner. I suddenly thought of my good friend Rob in London whose birthday it was that day and wondered if one of our favourite surf spots Danger Beach in St James would have waves also. I drove by Dangers slowly and watched as a set approached. It looked really fun and surprisingly there were only a handful of surfers out. I thought to myself “Rob would so be all over these waves if he was here!” So I decided to go home grab my board and wetsuit and catch a couple of waves for my friend in celebration of his birthday.
There is a saying I have repeated on several occasions this year and one that has rung true so many times in my life. It’s a simple one but one of my favourites and I believe it resonates amongst so many of us everywhere. It is ‘The cure for anything is Saltwater – Sweat, Tears or The Ocean. When I arrived back at St James I parked my car and ran down to the water’s edge. I put my board down on the sand and warmed up as I watched the other surfers stroking into some mini bombs with barrel sections and open faces to work. I paddled out giving an excited hoot and left my disappointment, depression and angst behind me. It didn’t belong out there in the line-up with me as it was effectively baggage I was carrying and this was an opportunity to move on, have fun and put into perspective why I devote a great deal of my time towards staying healthy and fit. Needless to say I had a fantastic time and shared some thrills and spills with the other surfers in the line-up.
I came in and walked to my car with a grin like a Cheshire cat. I was a little tired but ultimately stoked! When @beanker arrived home that evening she seemed to be more upset than I was at the cancellation of Challenge Cape Town. I was keener to share my surf session with her than discuss the day’s earlier disappointments. She was certainly determined to see me jet off to some foreign land to take part in another Challenge event or Ironman rather than not being able to fulfil my goal. It was yet another amazing act of support by her but I had left my disappointment and depression at the beach and was ready to move on.
I read a blog post and great summation of how I was feeling that week by top Cape Town Triathlete @raouldejongh aka The Urban Ninja. His words ‘Be the Journey’ definitely struck a chord with me. Read the post here
Over the past 5 months I have pushed my body to new limits and enjoyed seeing notable improvement in my running, cycling and swimming along the way. I have met amazing and inspiring similarly minded people during this time and shared the highs and lows of the amazing sport of triathlon. I don’t think I had ever imagined how much I would enjoy it when I first started out as a newbie in triathlon just 1 year ago. Now I don’t know what I would do with myself if I were not tri-ing!
So when I have been asked of late “such a shame about that Triathlon being cancelled, how do you feel about all that time you have wasted?” I answer confidently and perhaps a little incredulously with a smile. “Wasted!, no way I’m in the best shape of my life and there is so much more that I can do now and also look forward to doing!”
Be the Journey, love what you do and revel in your body’s ability to do incredible things!
As the Aerosmith song goes “life’s a journey not a destination!”