Altitude Schmaltitude

I had no right to show up for this 32km road race in Springs. Ever since I came back to Johannesburg work has been insane! My work hours and load are disturbingly similar to how things were when I was an intern (having to write that makes me a little depressed). So while I’m generally not the type to put in 5 or 6 runs per week I have noticed myself tending more toward the I’m-too-tired-from-work-I-can’t-run/work-out-this-evening type. Obviously that just won’t do, so I’ve had to force things somewhat.  There’s nothing quite like an 18km evening run through the city after being on your feet all day. Patient to patient, ward to ward, walk to radiology to book scans, walk to the lab (which is literally or at least feels like 2km away on the other side of the hospital!)

I’m not being fascicious when I say that one of the first things that popped into my head when I found out I was coming back to Johannesburg was: I’m gona have to figure out some new running routes! (insert quizzical emoji here), and map out a training plan for the new year. Within a week of having moved back here I found myself on a street in Kensington not far from where I stay doing hill sprints. Now Johannesburg is at about 1500m above sea level, higher in some places. The air is thinner out here and oxygen is literally not in the abundance that one finds down in heaven (I mean Port Elizabeth!  :-P) at sea level, and therefore one cannot simply go about trying to engage in the insane athletic endeavours that one is used to doing down at 0 meters altitude. At least not within a couple of days of having arrived. No, not without feeling an acute sense of nausea and being momentarily convinced that one’s lungs and other essential intrathoracic organs are going to project out of one’s mouth onto the road for all to see. That is how I felt after the third of my 8×100m uphill sprints and after everyone therafter, on that particular day. 20 minutes after I got home from that session my body (yes my entire body, not just my legs) was still shaking. Witness the fitness, or rather the lack thereof!

A few days after my sprints session up the hill-from-hell-in-Kensington I ran the Wits Kudus 15km race, in 1hour 20minutes. This is a good 10 minutes or 45 seconds to a minute per kilometer slower than I would normally expect to. I consoled myself thinking: At least you got out there you know,  you could’ve slept in… A familar mantra of mine. That  was then, (early January). Today, roughly a month later, feeling a little undercooked after one or two weekly longish runs and a repeat hill-sprint session in which my internal organs only once or twice threatened to start suggesting the idea of exiting my thoracic cavity via the oral route, I thought I’d get up just before 5am and make the drive across to Springs, East of Johannesburg and give this 32km race a bash. I finished in 2hours 49minutes, beating my previous personal best for 32km by about 3 minutes, completely surprising myself!

It has been good being back in Johannesburg, the best part of course is that I get to see my girl EVERYDAY. Most days I finish at work and drive over to Sandton City to pick Meryl up from work and we have impromptu dinner dates and it almost feels like the last one year and 8 months of doing the long-distance thing never happened.

I am working at Helen Joseph hospital in Auckland Park as a medical officer in the department of internal medicine. It’s rough going as I’ve described, my typical day/work load is triple what I was doing down in Port Elizabeth. I am loving it though, it’s busy I feel stimulated and I’m eager to soak it all up. The plan is to work my way into a registrar post eventually, become a physician and go on to change the world (insert semi-serious sarcastic/fascicious emoji here, just for that last part!

There is a lot more to say regarding what’s been going on with me lately and especially with Meryl and I but I will save it for the next time I am inspired to sit and pen out the goings-on in my life (as in-frequent as those ocassions arise), but the overall theme of how I am feeling lately is that I am exceedingly happy to be back home. Quite frankly I wouldn’t be anywhere else right now, for anything!


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