That time I signed up for a full marathon

If you’re hoping for a super motivating post about achieving the impossible… I suggest you turn back now! This isn’t that sort of post! This story is about changing my mind and deciding not to go for a particular goal.

A couple of weeks ago I had this crazy notion to sign up for a marathon. A full 42.2k race. Even though I said a gazillion times to all that would hear that I was never going to run further that a half marathon. The reason for signing up was honestly a bit loopy. My friends had signed up for the Capetown Marathon (see Jenty’s blog for her story) and Nick signed up too… and I suddenly felt massively left out and grumpy about it. FOMO x 10000. Grumpy because I suddenly felt like a useless runner again. I felt like I used to feel when I trudged behind the last of the pack whenever I walked. Gradually, my grumpiness gave way to an inkling of an idea – what if, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I tried to join them. I tested the waters by throwing the idea out to a few running friends and the responses I received were mixed, to say the least. Some agreed that the idea was crazy and others said if I put my mind to it, I could do it. I’m grateful to both camps for both the honesty and the faith. I went with the latter opinion, paid the entry fee, signed up for a full marathon. I did some research and convinced myself that even if I walked the entire race at 10 minutes per kilometre, I could still finish it. I found a 12 week training plan, which seemed sort of doable. Although I told my close friends about my decision, I couldn’t quite bring myself to post about it here or talk about it to too many people because even with the plan, it seemed like such a far fetched idea! 

I loved the idea of feeling the elation that I felt when I finished my first half marathon and doing what I never believed I could, but the reality of running that sort of distance was scary as hell!  

A couple of weeks have passed since I completed that online entry and I’ve had some time to think about the idea and why I wanted to attempt the run and honestly, FOMO is just not a good enough reason! The truth is, right now, I’m not physically strong enough and three months is just not enough time for me to build that strength. 

Even if I somehow managed to get my legs and lungs fit enough, I really don’t think that my feet can cope with that sort of distance. The commitment to training is another issue. I’ve signed up for a bunch of modules for my degree course and they have to take priority. Training to run a marathon whilst trying to complete my assignments, study for year-end exams, work full time and be a wife and mom just seems like more than I can deal with. 

This past weekend, I ran the Northgate 10k, and it was a pretty good race. I enjoyed the run and I realised that having made the effort to run more regularly in the last weeks felt awesome but that I was completely okay with deciding not to run the Capetown Marathon. Although it felt good to have a goal which gave my running some focus, it didn’t feel great to have a goal so huge that I got palpitations everytime I gave it any serious thought. Deciding not to do it felt more right than trying to do it. I’m no longer saying never to anything longer than a 21k, but I am saying not right now. 

Maybe knowing my limits is winning in its own way? 

Those Crazy Comrades Runners!

I was an 80’s kid and my dad was a runner so each year, in my home, round about this time, there would be a bit of excitement building around the upcoming Comrades Marathon. When I think Comrades, I immediately think of the name synonymous with the race, Bruce Fordyce. Oh and the Chariots of Fire theme. And people crawling over the finish line.

I’ve driven from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and back a couple of times. It’s quite a drive but I don’t think I ever had any appreciation of just how long the run is until I started running myself. A kilometre feels a whole lot longer on foot than on four wheels… so almost 90 kilometres – well that’s just insanity. The other thing I have learned since starting this running journey, is what sort of crazy pace you need to be able to keep at for no more than 12 hours in order to cross that finish line. As a novice runner who is desperately just trying to stay comfortably at 8 and a half minutes per kilometre, I am in awe of those people who manage to keep going at a pace of just over 8 min/k to finish before the cut off. Not to mention those athletes who finish in faster times – seriously, they are just super human!

This year, I’ve felt the familiar sense of excitement that I felt as a kid in the 80’s. This post goes out to our great friends, Carmel and Deon, who are running Comrades for the first time, as well as our friend from RWFL, Samson – also running for the first time.

When Carmel told me that she was planning to run Comrades about a year or two back, I thought she was a bit crazy, to be honest. Ambitious and crazy. But if I know anything about Carmel, it is that she can do anything she puts her mind to, so I didn’t doubt her for a second. It’s been amazing to watch her and Deon go from strength to strength, and from half marathons to full marathons and then ultra marathons. Their determination has been such a huge inspiration for me and their constant words of encouragement for my efforts mean the world! It has also been loads of fun bumping into them at races in the last few months.

Good luck guys… we will be tracking you the whole way on the big day!

Just go go go – and have loads of fun!

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An Event-full weekend!

I’ve mentioned before that I have discovered goal setting really helps me keep with this running thing. I have challenged myself to enter a race at least one race a month. Although I would be letting no one down except myself, I have discovered that I am a pretty hard task master and I don’t actually want to let myself down.

Although I procrastinated terribly about actually entering race, and literally entered just before the online entries closed, enter I did and the race I chose for March was the Denel 10k, which took place in Irene, Pretoria this past Saturday.

I panicked a whole lot less about this race compared to the races from a few weeks back. I knew I could do the distance. What worried me about this one was whether I could do it in a better time (which meant running at least a part of the distance) and do it on my own as I wasn’t going to have a partner distracting me from the distance like at the V-night race or setting the pace like the Gift of The Givers race. It also meant another ridiculously early start to the day, so another night of no sleep in anticipation of a 3:30 am alarm.

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Sunrise over Irene
Sunrise over Irene

The race itself, once I was up and dressed and out the house, was great! Extremely well organised, good parking, nice route and of course, my rider for any race : a medal at the end (albeit one that is shaped like an army tank)

I coped really well with the distance and managed to run parts of the route with relative ease. I managed to knock about five minutes off my previous PB.

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I think that the confidence in knowing I could finish helped, as well as the fact that I made a point of eating beforehand and making use of the water points for a little Coca-Cola boost. Although I try to bant the rest of the time, I gave myself a little leeway for some sugar then.

I spent the rest of Saturday recovering by napping and just generally doing as little as possible and although a little stiff, by Sunday I was ready to party the night away at the One Direction concert with my kids.

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I am definitely getting stronger and I am starting to set my sights on doing longer distances… maybe a 15k, if I can find one and then perhaps… a half marathon???

 

 

 

 

 

Racing Stripes – Part 2 – All about the bling!

I mentioned here that I participated in two races in February. The second race was quite a different experience to the first. It was the Gift of the Givers 10k walk. The deciding factor for entry for me was the fact that there was a medal and a cool goodie bag. After being awarded a mug at the KFC race, getting a medal was my main requirement for my next race.

The race took place in Eldorado Park and we had to leave before the birds to get to the race venue in time to pick up our race numbers. I seriously questioned my sanity on the night before the race, when I realised I would be setting my alarm for 3:30 AM. As it happened, I did not need the alarm because I did not sleep a wink that night. After realising I was okay with the distance in the previous race, I had replaced that concern with a whole new set of worries, like would I be holding back the walkers in my team especially since this was specifically a walking race and I pictured everyone doing that funny speed walk thing that I am yet to try. Yep – Miss Defeatist has an over-active imagination!

Despite my misgivings, I did get up at 3:30am and drove off in the dark of the night to meet my team mates. The hardest part is getting out of bed – once we were all together en-route, it became fun. While waiting for the starting gun, they played the Chariots of Fire theme and I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a tad teary. I can be such a sappy girl at times!

Sunrise Over Eldorado Park

I walked the race with a friend from the club, Kathy. She is a whole lot stronger and faster than me and I am ever so grateful for the fact that she pushed me all the way. I was amazed by how consistent our pace was. We finished in 1 hour 35 minutes, a whole 10 minutes faster than the Valentine’s night race and I felt quite emotional for the second time that day, as we approached the finish line.

Aside from receiving the medal and shaking hands with Dr Imtiaz Sooliman (the founder of GOTG) at the finish line, the highlight of my day was undoubtedly the iced coffee stall in the stadium. Never has anything tasted as amazing!!! Iced coffee will now be my go-to drink after a race!

I was very grateful to get back home and collapse into bed for a few hours after a hot bath and although I hobbled around for the rest of the day, it was all worthwhile as I had achieved my first precious race medal. It was all about the bling!

All about the bling!

Fabulous February (or All about a Sticker)

After a slow, not very active December, I went back to RWFL with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. What I discovered over the period where I wasn’t exercising was that my body missed moving. I think I was actually craving exercise. I was also thrilled by how quickly I was able to pick up where I left off in December. After a session or two, it felt like the muscle memory took over and my pace was back.

At the end of January, I decided it was time for some goal setting. I had a bit of an epiphany about what was missing in the programme for me. Where the elastic bands had been a motivation on the field, I didn’t really have the same motivational tool for the road. Or rather the tool was there, but I just wasn’t using it.

At the back of our log books, we have a page dedicated to distance awards for each month. For some reason, I honestly never gave much thought to trying to achieve any of the distance shield stickers until late in January when the penny dropped. I overheard one of my fellow walkers talking about squeezing in an extra walk for January to get her 55 km shield. It got me thinking about whether I should be striving for stickers too. It seems so juvenile, but hey – if sticker charts work for my kids, maybe they could work for me too?

I did a quick calculation and set my sights on the 70 km shield. It was an ambitious goal considering I had only ever achieved a 55 km shield once in the preceding ten months. I worked out that strict session attendance and an additional 10 kilometre session or race might do it.

On the 1st of February we did an LSD. Not the drug (although admittedly, the drug may have been more fun!) An LSD is a Long Slow Distance. The idea is that you get your body used to being out on the road and moving for a longer period of time, and you add some distance to your training. It is meant to be a fun and non-competitive event.

You have no idea how much I over-thought this thing. I worked myself up into a frenzy about whether or not I could manage 10km with my fellow walkers, all of whom are faster than me. During a LSD, we are meant to stay together as a group and I hate the idea of holding the faster members back.  What constantly amazes me is just how encouraging and non judgemental my fellow runners and walkers are. There is so much caring and kindness from the more experienced and stronger athletes. I’ve noticed this over and over again and I am teaching myself to just be open and accept. And hopefully pass on the kindness to those who are newer and slower than me (although I find it hard to believe anyone is slower than me!)

As it happened, we covered just over 11kms that day. I found the walk tough and towards the end, I was exhausted! Even lifting my legs to mount a pavement felt like a challenge in that last kilometre. I was so, so happy to get back to our meeting point in the Northgate parking lot, 110 minutes later! That ecstatic feeling is one of the reasons I keep stretching myself. We followed the walk with a endorphin filled Wimpy breakfast and although I could barely move for the rest of the day, I was incredibly proud of my achievement!

There were more highlights to my February which I will save for another post, but suffice to say, I reached my goal of a 70km shield
and I will be receiving a sticker in the back of my log book. Yay me!

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