You’ve Got A New Story To Write

“You’re slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter.”

Note to self: As broken as you feel, you are still strong. Maybe not physically, and the reality of that situation is taking its toll – the shattered dreams of returning to the distance running I love and all my stage and fitness adventures, now treasured memories, probably never to be repeated.

After two years, hope to slowly return to the road in a small way, but it will look very different, and that has to be okay.

The journey is often not pretty or graceful. I remain grateful and positive, but will also allow myself days to grieve. We all have to learn to embrace the messy bits of life, hold ourselves together and keep moving. I’m looking forward to the future, even though right now things are not great, I believe what is yet to come will be amazing.

Good thing I love peanut butter!

Follow Your Butterflies

Don’t compare your struggles to anyone else’s. Do not be discouraged by the success of others. Make your own path and never give up. Whether I am running on the road or competing on stage, it is not about being perfect or like anyone else. It is about being the best version of myself and confident in my own skin. 

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A few weeks ago, I was chosen to represent my province, KZN and take part at the IFBB South African Bodybuilding Championships. This weekend we were in Rustenburg to compete and it was an experience I will never forget. It was incredible to connect with old friends, who have become like family, while building new relationships too. We had so much fun!

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It was an honour to be on that stage and I am beyond happy to come home with a medal and memories to treasure always.

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At times I still battle to be vulnerable in this way and overcome the self-doubt, but the support and encouragement I received during the show and now after since being home, has helped squash my fears and lift my spirits tremendously.

“The strongest action for a woman is to love herself, be herself and shine amongst those who never believed she could.”

Behind every tan and sparkling bikini there is a story and I am grateful to be able to use mine to encourage others, while being inspired by the stories of fellow athletes too.

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I am humbled to have stood alongside some of the top competitors in our country and wish our World’s teams all the best, as they prepare for the international stage later this year. We are behind you every step of the way!

Bikinis And Butterflies

Wow it has been a crazy year. Lots of hard times, tears and fighting fears, mixed with good memories and growth. After overcoming injury and managing to run my strongest Comrades yet, I was again reminded how blessed I am to be able to enjoy my sport and despite the obstacles that this body of mine keeps throwing at me, I will never give up and keep fighting.

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After Comrades I had no intention of stepping on stage, however, on Saturday I competed in the IFBB KZN Bodybuilding Championships. Listening to my heart and not my head, I made this drastic decision, took a big risk and knew no matter what happened, I was doing this for the right reasons.

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I was humbled to place 6th in my Fitness Bikini division and after many years of competing, I finally earned a medal at this prestigious show. It still feels surreal.

However, it didn’t end there. At the end of the night the team was announced to represent KZN at the South African Championship later this month. When my name was called, I shrieked in disbelief. My fake lashes hung on tightly, as my eyes welled up and I made my way onto the stage to join my friends.

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I am proud to have been awarded my KZN colours and honoured with the opportunity to compete at this level. Although it leaves me feeling vulnerable, as I am not as strong as I would like to be, I will always give of my best and am grateful for everyone who supports me, through the ups and downs. Let the adventure continue!

No Turning Back – ASIJIKI

 

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To The Novices

As novices, the Comrades Marathon is something you are yet to embrace,

And I’m sure you have learned a lot about nutrition, tapering and pace.

It is an experience you’ll never forget and will require you to give your all.

The determination and commitment you show will leave your family in awe.

I’m about to run my 6th Comrades but felt like a novice with the previous five.

It never loses its unique appeal and is a race that makes me feel alive!

Running became my outlet, to help overcome personal heartache and despair,

And it is healing to be able to run every week, with people who truly care

I used to know only a handful of athletes running this Ultimate Human Race,

Now at every turn and up every hill, I’m able to recognize a familiar face.

You too will make many new friends and even strangers will cheer as you run by,

Trust me, at times you will wave and smile and then suddenly just want to cry!

By now you have conquered a marathon or two and done the club long run,

Hopefully you remember the lessons this taught you but also had some fun.

In January you didn’t know how you’d do it, but it has worked out well,

Juggling work, family and training, despite the struggle, it all seemed to gel.

Remember these last few days must involve lots of recovery and rest,

To ensure that come Sunday, 10 June, you can do your very best.

Soon you will be entering Moses Mabida Stadium, to cross that finish line.

And believe me, you will be back next year, to do it a second time!

Hot Off The Press

This week I had the honour of sharing my story in our local newspaper:

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Place of pain motivates Comrades runner 

Westville resident, Debbie Ivins, is preparing for her sixth Comrades Marathon this year and hopes to inspire others through her passion for sport. The runner supports the #IMoveMe campaign, which encourages the community to get moving and living a healthy lifestyle.

For Ivins, her passion for sport grew from a place of pain.

“I have battled infertility for many years and suffered several miscarriages, which caused extreme heartache and depression. It has been a long, hard process, but I do my best to maintain a good attitude and enjoy my life. From a place of pain I found a love of sport, which started with running and I have now completed five Comrades Marathons,” she said.

Sport became a way to uplift and empower herself, said the athlete.

“When I am running or training in the gym, I feel strong and empowered and it helps me be the best version of myself, both physically and mentally. I am passionate about encouraging others and do my best to use my story, combined with my love for sport, as a platform to inspire others.” she added.

Ivins has competed as a body-builder previously and has chosen to shift her focus back to running this year. For Ivins, training should be balanced and rest time should be incorporated.”

Generally training, I run five days a week, always have one complete rest day and on the other day, incorporate a gym routine with strength training to support my running.” said the athlete.

Being an athlete is a part of a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, said Ivins.

“Keeping active and eating healthy is a lifestyle for me, however with Comrades, especially with the longer training runs, it is important to make sure you fuel your body correctly and learn what works for you. I am famous for my love of peanut butter and it is always a part of my daily routine. Oats and peanut butter is my favourite meal before a run,” she said.

Sharing from her experience running the Comrades, Ivins advised first time runners to pace themselves. “My best advice for the day is to hold yourself back and go slowly, especially the first half. You can always make up time later. Don’t get caught up going too fast at the start. Also, never stop. Keep moving forward. Walking is fine and beneficial too.” said Ivins.

 

#AsicsFrontRunner

I enjoy being outdoors, which is one of the reasons I love to run.

My biggest motivation is inspiring others, while still having fun!

It’s not only great for my body but also helps relax my busy mind.

The runners are like family to me, this community is one of a kind!

 

The people I have met while running, have helped change my life.

This journey has shaped me into a better person, friend and wife.

ASICS is the brand I have always trusted to run in, right from the start.

I am a loyal fan and believe in what they stand for with all my heart.

 

The FRONTRUNNERS are passionate athletes, many are friends of mine.

Some of the incredible women include Charmaine, Jani and Caroline.

The guys are great too, Quaniet, Admire, Nicholas and the rest of the team.

Movement is in our blood and if chosen to join them, it would be a dream.

#IMoveMe

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You’ve Got What It Takes

I get a lot of enjoyment from running and sharing my journey with others. While social media can have a negative side, one of the positives is that it provides a great platform to impact people (which is far better than wasting time and energy trying to impress them!)

Although many people admire ‘famous’ people, just as many, if not more, look up to everyday people too, those they can relate to and connect with. After over a month of not running, I was worried I may not get my ‘mojo’ back when I returned. Supporting friends, sharing photos and chatting to others definitely helped motivate me but there is nothing better than actually being back on the road or out on the trails to lift my spirits.

The year has only just begun but I am already inspired by my running family who are training towards their goals and the sense of belonging and community is something I don’t take for granted. I have found that loving acceptance and being a healthy example if far better than preaching or criticizing others when we are trying to encourage them, especially those new to our sport. In running, like in life, we need to respect other people’s motivation for doing things and their reasons for taking on new challenges.

We all have the ability to inspire others. It’s contagious! Whenever you feel like giving up, remember there is probably someone who is watching you. “Accidental inspiration” was a phrase I heard recently and I love it. By simply being real and telling your story, you may be inspiring someone. You’ve got what it takes!

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A Tribute To KZN Trail Running

KZN Trail Running does a lot of good, so I wanted to give some heartfelt thanks and praise.

So far this year, with races run, an incredible amount of R174 345.00 has been raised!

Andrew Booth and his team are an asset to the community and deserve this humble applause.

They are donating the money towards various nature conservation projects, all for a worthy cause.

Not only do they give back to the beautiful environment we enjoy but to the local people too.

When you arrive at a trail run, Andrew and Lauren always have a welcoming, friendly smile for you!

They are a kind, generous couple (with two of the cutest kids around!) full of life and energy,

I am still a newbie on the trails but already am full of gratitude for what this family has done for me.

Trail running unexpectedly came into my life a few months back, at exactly the right time.

I was a little down and even my joy of running was starting to wane, which was an early warning sign.

For someone who often battles to fit in, when I was around the trail runners, it instantly felt like home.

I took time to reassess, go back to basics and it was in the forests that I felt alive, yet never alone.

I’ve had to let go of many dreams in the past and when life becomes painful, my running helps me cope.

Meeting new people and seeing others overcome their obstacles too, continues to give me hope.

My technical skills on trails are lacking (I have fallen several times!) and even cried because it really hurt,

But I echo what John Muir said: “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

Crunchy Courage

I had a delicious spoonful of crunchy, homemade peanut butter at a farmer’s market on Sunday, which inspired this title. There is no deep meaning (although if you give me a few minutes I’m sure I can come up with one!)

Too often I have not done something out of fear but I am not letting fear decide my future anymore. Even something as simple as driving an hour by myself to a race used to scare me, especially when I had never been to the area before. However, this is exactly what I did on Sunday and the risk was worth it. I spontaneously decided to participate in a 12km trail race, which was being hosted in conjunction with the Eston Agricultural Show. It turned out to be a fun-filled morning, with highlights including winning the ladies race and having an ostrich run alongside me for a few metres in the game reserve!

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Winning races is new to me. I have run for years and never stepped on a podium, yet I have been humbled by that honour lately. However, I have never pursued this kind of success and prefer to value each day and think that if we are working towards our goals, and becoming better version of ourselves, we are already successful now, not only when a podium or promotion shows up.

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I have to fight fear, anxiety and self-doubt daily and often I do it publicly in my blog or in the conversations I have with the people I meet on my journey. It isn’t easy, however, this vulnerability is necessary in order for me to grow and in turn this enables me to have more to give others, because you can’t give away what you don’t have. I do my best to relate and listen to friends who trust me with their pain and this month have been humbled by stories of addiction and recovery that have been shared with me.

The consequences of being open and no longer living behind a mask, are that you will be attacked by critics and those peanuts from the gallery will hurt. (I think I just found a deeper meaning to my title!) In the future, instead of dodging the peanuts thrown at me, I will simply wave my arms around and catch them, stuffing fistfuls into my mouth and enjoying every bite (this may not seem as effective if you aren’t a peanut butter fan like me, but I hope you get the idea.)

The truth is we are usually our biggest critic. Be kinder to yourself this week and in turn you’ll be able to be kinder to those around you too.  Stop hiding who you truly are and know deep down that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

From Pain To Purpose To Podium

On Sunday I joined 620 other runners as we made our way to Nagle Dam for the 1000 Hills Challenge. This is an epic, tough event and for many (like me) it was the first time visiting this hidden gem, tucked in the upper reaches of the Valley of 1000 Hills. It has become one of KZN Trail Running’s premier races and a highlight on the trail running calender. With 5km, 10km, 20km and 38km options, there was something for everyone.

With the picturesque rural setting of Msinsi Nagle Dam, the unspoilt bushveld and the breath-taking beauty of the route, we were able to endure the tough terrain and steep climbs, because the joy of absorbing your surroundings, made the challenge worthwhile. I felt privileged to be there. Wildlife like zebra were around too and gave another unique experience to the event.

From an adventurous river crossing to running through the tunnel under the dam, these new experiences are ones I will treasure forever. An unexpected highlight was winning the 20km ladies race and it is a moment I will never forget. My trail family made me feel so welcome and we all had a great morning relaxing in the sunshine afterwards, enjoying the festive atmosphere.

Running the trails has helped me overcome an emotional last few weeks and it reminded me that every season of life has a purpose. For some reason I have been drawn to the wilderness and dirt roads and found them to be the perfect metaphor for this stage of my journey. Like the terrain we run on, you go through mountains and valleys, get caught in currents and often need others to help you through those difficult patches, until you find yourself on dry land again. However, just when you think it is going smoothly, you hit another rocky road and have to reassess your game plan.

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Many years ago, I wrote a book entitled “Whole Pieces”. Through my infertility journey I realized if you trust God with the shattered pieces of your life, He can make something good out of it. Not everything is good. There is so much we all endure that is plain awful! But in time, God can take the very thing that you are battling with and turn it around to use for good as He intends. I have seen this happen in my own life several times and want to encourage you to never give up and know your pain can be used for purpose.