Find the Hard Pack

We’ve been starting each day of the Eastern Cape project with a period of reflection. It’s been my task to orchestrate these moments of reflection.

Wednesday, I told a story.

Mid-October, I’ll be running my 8th marathon.

Because of this, I need to keep training whilst I’m on the ground over here. As many of the locales where we’ll be working aren’t necessarily safe for a lone foreigner out on a run, I’ve been taking advantage of each location I can.

The venue here on South Africa’s “Wild Coast” is safe(-ish).

Wednesday, I set out before the sunrise to run along the beach.

Whereas Gonubie was a little resort town situated right on the beach, here, we’re much more middle of nowhere. The beach is expansive and I had it to myself.

Living in Florida taught me about running on the beach – you stay close to the water on the hard-pack sand. Otherwise, you’re running in mush.

The first mile-and-half of my 6-miler was great. Still dark, light breeze, waves crashing.

Then, I lost the hard pack.

It was mush.

It was whatever the morning equivalent of twilight is and I was running in mush.

I pushed through.

“I’m a marathoner. A little soft sand won’t get me down.”

It didn’t end.

I’d stop and rest and run again and stop and rest and run again. No end.

I was fatigued.

I turned around half a mile short of my set halfway point.

Beaten.

As I took another walking break, I spotted the two people I’d passed about a quarter of a mile before turning around.

This was their beach.

They’d left a path.

I started to run again – in their tracks – ignoring my own footprints.

This was their beach.

The way back was easier than the way out.

I was following those who knew the path and I was pretty certain were so used to walking it they thought nothing of it.

Pace-wise, my time was horrible.

As far as all the other reasons long-distance runners do what they do, it was superb.

This is the story I told the e-Personnel Wednesday before a day-long workshop where we asked them to create lesson plans in which they incorporated Information Communication Technologies to serve as examples for the thousands of teachers they work with. They’d never done what they’ve been asking their teachers to do for two years now.

It was arduous and confusing and jargon-splitting, but it was so good.

If we’re going to ask others to go there, we must first go there ourselves.

It’s up to us to find the hard pack.

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