My December Challenge: From Malls to Park Runs, Overcoming My Fear of Crowds – by Annie Francis
So Henrietta set me 2 challenges for December. The first was to write a blog about the flood and working whilst dealing with repairs and to get more than 500 words and have it in early, task one done, tick! The second task was to conquer my fear of being in a large crowd. I have a serious problem with being in a large crowd and having absolutely no personal space. So, with the challenge set. December is the perfect time for crowds. I decided that the shopping mall on Christmas Eve would be a good place to start. So armed with my daughter and a large bag of courage I ventured into the seething mass of last minute shoppers at the Watercrest Mall. After an hour of pushing and shoving and sizzled nerves, we ventured home with knocking knees to have a large cup of coffee and a mince pie. Realizing that I cannot be defeated in this challenge, I decided that the Shongweni Park Run would be the next stop in my great adventure. My reasoning behind this was fresh air, physical exercise and the ability to out run the crowds. To my amazement there were more than 300 people ready to run. Little did I realize that this 5km run would be fought out on dusty roads, bridges, paths, up hills, down dales and through water. Much to my satisfaction I completed this part of the challenge, filthy dirty and relieved that I had finished the run without feeling hemmed in. The gauntlet had been put down, 2 more park runs in large crowds to be completed before the 11th of January 2018. I read on the Park Run website that they host a run on the Durban beach front every week. So on 30th December I climbed in my car and headed down to the beach, my jaw dropped, there had to be at least 1000 people there. Jostling into position the whistle was blown and off I set, striding out and chatting to lots of people along the way. It was not long before I found myself in the thick of the crowd and not feeling claustrophobic at all, who would have guessed! The highlight of my day was, after the race, when people were sitting on the promenade socializing, I noticed 3 elegant ladies sitting on their deck chairs wearing large hats and sipping gin and tonics, to my amazement they asked if I would like to join them. I was very flattered but thought that an ice cream would be far better than a gin and tonic at 9am in the morning. I have now come to the conclusion that I could handle crowds in small doses. Not only has this exercise been beneficial for my well-being, it has also helped me maintain my weight over the festive season and paved the way for me to pick up my distance training once again. Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone!