Liehann and I finished the Race Across South Africa on July 1, and returned to California on July 5. We'd given ourselves a buffer in case it took a few more days to reach Diemersfontein, and also so Liehann's girlfriend Trang could come out and spend time with him and his family in Somerset West. Those extra days near Cape Town were a whirlwind. With Trang and Liehann's friend Evelyn visiting from California, there was lots of touristing to be done. And of course Liehann wanted to visit his friends in town. I struggled with the rapid shift back toward civilized life and mostly just wanted to escape into the mountains, but I was happy to spend a few more days in this beautiful country.
It had been stormy and cold during our entire first week we were in South Africa, and then we enjoyed sunny, mostly dry weather for the three weeks of the Freedom Challenge. Then, true to the pattern, our final days in Cape Town were stormy and cold. Two days after the Freedom Challenge, I stole away from the house for my first recovery run in the Helderberg Nature Reserve. I couldn't bear the thought of climbing anything, so I just ran along the friendly trails in the valley below the mountain. The day before we left, there was a major storm. Downpour, flash flooding, snow on the peaks. Liehann and Trang planned to visit a farmer's market, giving me an opportunity to run in Jonkershoek.
This valley is directly behind where Liehann went to school and is close to a house he still owns. One of my first thoughts was why would Liehann ever leave this place to move to California? (Liehann has a great job and girlfriend, so I make this statement in jest, mostly.) Of course, I missed California, too. I missed Beat, my cat, Diet Pepsi, just sitting down and writing, riding my bike up Montebello Road, and going for runs on the dusty, poison-oak-lined trails that have worked their way into my heart. It had been a long journey, and I was tired, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.