Allow me to pay homage to my hood.
As you know by now, I am a Tshwanetorian born and bred. But from my last name you would have also worked out that I am of Limpopian extraction. So every now and then I need to travel north for some or other family event – weddings, bride receptions or funeral – but more recently, weddings.
I have to say this. There is something about going through the Kranskop toll plaza in Limpopo that showers my heart with a calm that is unmistakable. It does not matter if I go there in fulfillment of ecclesiastic canons, or if I am going there for a family occasion. Somehow when I go to Limpopo my heart is adorned with peace.
Except for this one thing that happens at every shindig. If you have ever attended a happy occasion in some parts of the province you will know that there is a line-dance that they do. It kind of looks like a cardio-intensified version of the electric shuffle (aka. CODESA). It’s quite nice. When that song about “a kicking donkey” or about “finding a wife in Limpopo” booms over the speakers everybody, except the Tshwanetorian, knows what to do. So on my last trip up north I was determined to learn the dance, just so I could stop feeling like that the white person at the SAMA’s.
It was so much fun. I was dog tired by the time I eventually got to bed. But the next morning, my running knee woke-up before me. I had been struggling with this sharp pain in my knee since I started running. So upon my return I thought I would do some research from other runners, and find out how they have managed this recurring injury.
First it was Mpho, and he told me it could be one of three things. Either the muscles or ligaments around the knee aren’t used to the strenuous exercise, I might be using the wrong shoe for my running style. Or it could be something more serious, in which case he suggested I do a Gait Analysis. This is an analysis conducted by a qualified professional at the High Performance Center, to not only determine what was wrong, but also determine a suitable remedy for this discomfort.
I also sought the advice of the three people who have been running for as long as I have known them – 20 years is a good estimate. Sgongo, Mozamunda and Master. What? Those are all nicknames. Where I come from, it is customary to give people a nicknames for a nickname.
Sgongo is short for Sgongothela as in “a small axe.” He is not the tallest man in the world. Mozamunda, as in “resident of Zambunda.” He used to lift weights when he was younger. People used to say he looked like one of James Earl Jones’s bodyguards as King Jaffee Jaffer – King of Zamunda in “Coming to America.” And off course Master. Well, as you can tell, that’s a football name.
Anyway, they all independently told me to do more hills. “Hills are good for a bad knee” they all said. They all gave me an explanation of some sort. From the strength of the muscles, to the angle of the road vs. the weight of the body, and it made sense. I suppose everything makes sense to a novice.
Not wanting to judge any of the advice I was given, I decided to follow both. For a few runs I did a couple of four km runs of just hills, and it worked. My knee gave me absolutely no issues. In fact I realised that I did more damage to myself running down-hill.
In any case this one time I needed 7km to make up my mileage target for the week. And I decided to take the hilliest route closest to my house, Fologa-Mpeto. I kid you not, that’s what the section is called. It is a name shortened from the name loosely translated – “get off the bed, the owner of the house is here” (fologa mpeto, mong’wa ntlu o tlile). I am not sure where the name comes from. But I suspect since the area was a new development (25 years old new) with most houses mortgaged to members of the Police and Correctional Services who are shift workers. The name may very well have to do with a few incidents which were reminiscent of Can Temba’s “The Suit.”
LINK: Obzeva’s horse encounter
So, off I went. From Blackrock, through Deep-Six, via Oustad and Matebeleng all the way to Fologa-Mpeto – all different sections in my hood, each one with a different story. You can call us “binne-plaas”, but you can’t call us boring.
Anyhow logic dictates that if you go up a hill, at some point you are going to have to go down-hill. So there I was 5km into it I found myself at the corner of Makhisane and Mofokeng streets (on the Sabona-end), which happened to be highest point on my route. This meant I had to do 2km down-hill to get home. I tried to turtle downhill for few 100m, but I could tell my knees didn’t like it. And so I had a choice, either I go backwards to go forward, or I hurt myself going downhill. Never in my life have I ever thought I would choose a route because it is steeper, but there, Ronnie Maswangani Str came to my rescue (as opposed to Mofokeng Str, because it was not steep enough). Granted I had to negotiate access past a few K9 street committees as they held their debrief sessions after their nocturnal hustle and bustle. But you will not believe me when I say the last 2km was my fastest.
And so I dealt with my troubled knee. Oh and I did go for the Gait Analysis. But I will tell you all about it when I get my results.