Mandy’s story: ‘It was my walking and my wonderful friends that kept me going’

At the end of 2017 I was feeling very down. It had been a year since my youngest daughter had left for university, and the empty nest syndrome had not eased. My husband was putting in long hours and only coming home at 18:30 every night. I was lonely and disheartened, and I was also feeling fat and unhealthy.

One Sunday we went to a braai at my friend Vee’s house, and I told her that I needed to find an interest, and that I needed to do something for me! Vee started talking about the Fourways RWFL branch, and I suddenly decided that this was what I would do in the new year. So, in February, once my daughter had gone back to Stellenbosch, I braved a visit to meet Beth.

I took on the walking with dedication. Beth helped me get through the first field sessions, and I really enjoyed my field sessions when Francois and I started pushing each other to do as much as possible on the field so that we could get onto the road. I remember our last session dancing around the fountain on the field.

Finally, 5 April came and I was on the road – hooray! It was then that I really started enjoying my walking, and I started to develop good friendships. Aldene was the one that pushed me to start racing, and it was in June that I did my first race. I am grateful that she pushed me to race, because I can often back out of these types of things for fear of failing. In 2018 I did 10 races, and I absolutely loved it.

2019 began with difficulty. I had been feeling terrible pain in my feet and was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, but I decided to continue going to walking, as I wanted to see my friends and I did not want to get into the habit of not going.

I volunteered to help Beth with whatever she needed. It was frustrating not to be able to walk. I had not walked for five weeks and my feet did not feel like they were getting any better, so I decided that I needed to give up walking. I resolved that I would go one more time, and that would be it. On that Wednesday I arrived to the session early, and before I could say anything to Beth, she asked me if I would be a road leader. This was my saving grace – I had purpose and I knew I did not want to give up something that I enjoyed with all my heart. Thank you, Beth, this was what I needed.

Interestingly, it was after this Wednesday that my feet started to feel better, and by the end of March, I was on the road again.
2019 wasn’t an easy year, but it was my walking and my wonderful friends that kept me going. Even when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it was Beth and others from walking that helped me to look on the brighter side and keep going.

Thank you, Fourways, for the fun and friendship. I can’t wait to get back to walking once life gets back to normal. Be safe, everyone.