This post was meant for New Year’s Eve but after my last blog a few days before Christmas, I took some time off blogging to focus on family fun and holiday festivities. But I’m back and ready to officially close my year of running and blogging in 2021! In 2018, 2019 and 2020, I followed the same prompts to discuss different aspects of my running year. But for 2021, I’ve changed things up a bit with 21 questions to summarise my year in a fun and informative way!
1/ How did your year start? I had so much optimism for the new year. I felt the drama of 2020 couldn’t possibly last much longer and that we would finally experience some semblance of normal. I’d been training for my ultra-marathon since November 2020 and my first run of the year was 20km. I ran past this billboard which I took as a sign that the year would be better.
I had clear goals – to continue my #40By40 List, to have more health check ups, to host the #9×9 Spring Challenge, to run 2021 km and to finish strong at Addo. But very early on, things started to fall apart. First of all, the ugliness of the pandemic finally took a hold of Botswana and with the arduous process of procuring vaccines most of us were left unvaccinated for many months with several casualties, many in my age group. It was a dark time. My marathon training was gruelling and after 550 km, I deferred my entry to 2022 when the race organisers presented this option because of rising Covid-19 cases in South Africa.
2/ What were some of your running achievements? Even with the difficult year, there are still things to celebrate – I set a new 15 km PB, I ran 30 km three times as well as every street in two neighbourhoods – Marapoathutlwa and Peolwane, something I know has never been done here!
3/ What did you most enjoy about the year? My Run Every Street Project brought me so much joy when I was struggling. I also loved organising a team from Gaborone to join a relay organised by an all-women’s running club in Wales, She Runs Cardiff. Running through my childhood hometown as well as other villages such as Oodi, Mochudi and Kasane was amazing. Also, the unexpected opportunity to run in Ghana was an experience I will never forget.
4) What was your favourite running route in Gaborone? It’s hard to choose as I ran all over! But I think a clear winner was my run chasing the Jacaranda Trees in full bloom.
5) What was your favourite new piece of running equipment? In May, I was gifted the Garmin Forerunner 245 by Extreme Brands Botswana for my honest review. Having run with a 35 for a couple of years, the 245 provided so much more and I’ve absolutely loved using it.
6/ What are you most proud of this year? The fact that each time I stumbled or fell, I came back. Yes, I wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked to be and I didn’t always have the fire I had in previous years, but I came back each time I fell. Two examples stand out – fighting my way out of a 6-week running slump in May and returning to running after my toenail ablation.
7/ What are you thankful for this year? I’m so grateful for the strong bonds I’ve developed with runners at home and around the world. I’m happy that we didn’t have any hard lockdowns and that towards the end of the year, many of us were vaccinated. I’m grateful I was able to run throughout the year – yes, it wasn’t smooth but I always had running to keep me grounded.
8/ What’s the best advice you received this year? When I deferred my Addo entry to 2022, my coach and I decided to end my training cycle with a bang – a 15 km time trial. This was a tough run with my husband and towards the end, I wondered whether I could maintain my pace and finish with a PB. He said to me “Give It To The Avatar”! I gave it to the avatar and felt an almost out of body experience as I hurtled towards the end for my fastest ever 15km run, 1:50:26.
9/ Which runner(s) inspired you? The Botswana men’s relay team at the Olympics in Tokyo! We got a bronze medal for the 4 x 400m relay – our second EVER medal at the Games.
10/ What challenges did you overcome? My lack of motivation was a challenge I had to work on throughout the year.
12/ How do you feel you failed? I didn’t achieve many of the goals I had set myself. I hardly looked at my #40By40 List, I didn’t do any of the health check ups I said I would, I didn’t run Addo, and managed only 1, 415 km of my 2021 km target. I wasn’t consistent.
13/ In hindsight, what would you have done differently? I think I should have incorporated more moments of reflection in the year. Time to look at my goals and focus (or readjust) when I needed to. I did this very well in 2020. I need to get back to that habit in 2022.
14/ Did you have any injuries? Thankfully none – at least not in the traditional sense! But I did have my toenails removed which took me off running for about a month.
15/ What were some of your blogging achievements? I won the Afrobloggers Wellness Blog and Blogger of the Year Awards for 2020! I also wrote 49 of the 52 blog posts I had planned which was my highest ever total in one year.
16/ What blog post was the most-read in 2021? My interview with Ebulani who hiked up Mount Kenya quickly shot to my most read post of 2021 and the fourth overall in all five years of blogging. I have a follow-up interview with her soon and I’m excited to share what she’s been up to since we last spoke!
17/ What blog post did you love writing the most? I’ll have to go with A Run Down Memory Lane In Lobatse where I described a 12K run I did in my childhood hometown. Will Our Kids Ever Hike With Us Again?! was the most fun to write as the hike was a true comedy of errors!
18/ What blog post was most difficult to write? Definitely, Was Training For a Marathon I Didn’t Do Worth It? It was tough to put all my emotions down on paper but I’m so happy I did.
19/ Who did you collaborate with on the blog? In March, I did my third We Run The World with great contributions from Peggy in Norway, Nicola in the UK, Tanaka in Germany, Adriel and Sandra in Australia, and Maya in Rwanda. In April, yoga teacher Nana wrote about her yoga journey and Ebulani shared her Mount Kenya adventure in June. In July, my husband gave some tips for running when there are roaming dogs around. Gape shared his run in Asmara in October and I interviewed Matshidiso who is the founder of TishPul, an online store selling specialised running shoes and accessories, in November. I also started a new series called Physio’s Corner with physiotherapist Arifa who wrote a guide for avoiding running injuries as well as some tips to help with involuntary urine leakage.
20/ What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2021? That it’s okay to fall and cry and be upset… but you have to get up, re-focus and move forward.
21/ What about the stats?! I got a new Personal Best for the 15 km distance. I ran 1, 415km in the year, 282 km less than my highest ever total (1,697 km) which was in 2020. My highest monthly average was 168.6 km in July and my lowest was 18.1 km in October. I ran 30km (my longest ever run) three times. And finally, one big blog stat – I had an increase of 8% readership over the previous highest year (2020).
Running and blogging in 2021 had many disappointments but also some notable achievements and lessons. I’m really excited about 2022 – and can’t wait to share it all with you – the good, the bad and the ugly. Will I finally run Addo? Will races finally return to Botswana? Will I remain consistent? Who knows — but I’m certainly going to give it my best shot!
How was your year of running? What are you most proud of? What was your biggest lesson? If you are a blogger, what was your favourite blog to write (if you have a favourite, leave a link in the comments for others to see as well)!
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running. Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.