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? 

From the other side

I woke up a little stiff this morning, after yesterday’s Adrienne Hersch/Randburg Harriers race. And I didn’t even run. I was there though. My shoulders were a little achy from holding out water sachets for all the runners!

Our Run/Walk for Life branch looked after the 8km water point so a bunch of us crazies woke up early, long before dawn cracked and  a sparrow farted, donned our RWFL shirts to go set up our 10 water tables.

To the non runner, you may wonder why we would get up so early, on Mother’s Day Sunday, in the chilly weather, to hand out water sachets and cups of coke.

Because it’s fun!

We made bacon rolls on a skottel braai and drank coffee from flasks. We worked together. We chatted to neighbours and felt like part of a community. We laughed and joked. We cheered for the thousands of runners as they ran past. Runners who included family, friends and colleagues as well as some of SA’s top runners. We got to see Caroline Wostman speed by, as she tapers before Comrades in three weeks as well as Rene Kalmer, who won the race.

I got to give my hubby a sweaty hug mid-race – he ran the 21k with his brother, Jonathan. And massive kudos to Jonathan who ran and finished the 21 k in a great time, despite having not run further than a 10k training run in months. It was fabulous seeing the two brothers running together.

The kids were with us and loved every minute, hanging out with their mates, cheering the runners on, handing out drinks and stomping on the left over water sachets at the end. Without a doubt, most runners would much rather grab the water from the little ones! I loved my niece’s squeals of excitement every time she “sold” a water to a runner.

Without wanting to sound too precious about this whole running thing, I think that it is really important, if I am to be part of a community, to give back a bit. It’s fun as well as valuable to experience the water tables from the other side. To witness and be a small part of the hard work that goes into organising these events. It gives me so much appreciation  and reminds me that a smile and a joke with the workers and the marshals makes the whole experience more special for all!

And finally, a note on the event organiser, Graham Block. This man is such a hero in our running circles. He organises amazing weekend long runs from Virgin Active Randburg, with refreshments, each and every weekend! He also organises weekday shorter runs from the Boskruin Shopping Centre. He has a heart of gold and never fails to inspire us with his kindness, dedication, humour and warm laugh. Thank you Graham!

So with that, I will leave you with a few photos from the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Oceans!

Last year, Nick got to run the Two Oceans half marathon as part of a work thing and I had such FOMO – even though I hadn’t yet actually run a half marathon! 

I was really keen to experience the race for myself so when entries for the 2016 event opened up we decided to see if I could get an entry for the half. Nick said that that if I managed to get a half marathon entry, then he would enter the ultra marathon! 

As luck would have it, I did get one of the elusive half marathon entries and so the planning began. We decided to plan a holiday around the event with our running friends Lance and Jenty and their boys.

I will admit my race training was a little sketchy. I tried to focus on speed and hill training, but was pretty lazy about doing the long runs and relied heavily on the fact that I’ve done a couple of half marathons now and knew that I could run the distance but I was terrified of not being able to make the cut off time! The rainy weather in Jozi in the weeks preceding the race made tapering very easy – some afternoons running was just impossible! 

  
So now that all my excuses are listed… Here is how the race went down! 

After much guessing about what the weather might do on the day, we decided to take along black garbage bags as makeshift raincoats and thank goodness we did, because it was a rainy wait to start to our race. We left home at the ungodly hour 3:45 am and as we drove into UCT, the heavens started spitting. I’m ever so glad we left early though. A couple of friends got caught in the crazy traffic and one of them didn’t even get to run the race. It is a helluva long way to come to all the way to Capetown for a race and not actually get to run! 

  
The pre-race build up was just awesome! I loved the singing of the anthem and the canon signifying the start of the race. Real goosebumpy stuff. I was nervous, but not nearly as nervous as I had been for Knysna, so I really just tried to soak up the energy and try to commit the experience to memory. 

I managed to somehow to get seeded in the Group D starting pen, which I was grateful for because it meant I had an extra 10 minutes to run the race. I felt better knowing that there was an extra few minutes on my side. I’m still not sure how the seedings actually work because a whole lot of runners I know, who are faster and more experienced than me, started in the E group. 

And so the race… I started off with a good run for the first two kilometres. I was too scared not to run at that point because there were just so many people all around me running and I didn’t want to stop. The third kilometre was a tough one and I had to walk a bit to conserve my energy for later in the race. I was feeling nervous at that point. It was before I had warmed up enough and my the muscles in my legs were not fully cooperative. I gave myself a bit of a talking to about giving this my all and managed to pick up my pace for the next while. All was going pretty well until I hit the notorious Southern Cross Drive. My pace slowed right down there. I felt like I had no choice but to walk those hills. The runners around me were mostly walking and I just didn’t have the strength to try run around them. I drew on my walking training from my early days at RWFL, put my head down, swung my arms and trudged up! 

The rest of the race felt fairly easy by comparison. I managed to run a good chunk of the last few kilometres. I finished with a time of 3:05:50. I had hoped to finish sub 3 hours, but considering how difficult and full the race is, I’m not unhappy with my time. 

  
Aside from the rainy weather as we waited to start, the weather gods were really on our sides for the race – the rain and wind held off for our 21 km run and the temperatures were lovely and cool. 

The wait for Nick’s finish was a bit chilly but he ran in strong with a time of 6:30 – such an amazing achievement to complete an ultra marathon after having only recently entered the world of long distance running! I was super proud! 

Would I do it again? For sure… Now that I have one under my belt, I’d love to run another. I would like to be stronger for my next race. Running a 21km highlights all my weak spots – so it’s time for me to focus. My feet, my glutes (ITB) and my core strength need to improve. And it’s time to shift those last 15 or so kilograms!  

Maybe I will see you next year OMTOM???

I will be back in a few days with a post about our holiday! I’ve got some awesome pictures to share! 

I’m still running! A little round up of the last few weeks.

It’s been just over a month since I last posted about running… and how I’d lost my mojo. Since then, I’ve had loads of encouragement and questions as to whether or not I’m still doing this thing. Yes… yes I am! I have been regularly doing my 5 – 7km run/walks in the weeks and some longer ones on weekends. And it has been going better. A couple of things have stuck out for me in the last few weeks about this journey. And it is a journey… never a destination!

  • I did the Gerald Fox/Sasfin 10k and despite a rainy, cold start, it was a fun, well organised race, with an awesome t-shirt and medal at the end. The kids also got to enjoy a great outing at the Zoo. Bonus! Definitely one for next year’s race calendar.12036559_10153081838651611_7612544898814052723_n
  • I marshaled at race for the first time a few weeks ago… it was a tiny little community race but fun to be on the other side of things for a change! 11988294_935368259881007_8883865066624325570_n
  • It’s okay to not be fast, as long as you’re moving. I’m so inspired by my friends at the club, but one particular conversation stuck with me. One of the ladies runs marathons – yep, the 42.2 km races and she is all about having fun and finishing within the cut off. She attacks them with a plan and sticks to her plan. She is not all about the final time, just the finishing. That is where I need to be.
  • Try a different strategy. The lady I’m speaking of above… she runs for four minutes, walks one. This struck me as a novel way to approach my running. The first time I tried it, I ran for three minutes and walked for two. The next few times I tried the strategy, I ran for four (long) minutes and walked for two (ridiculously short) minutes. My pace was steadier and I felt stronger at the end. It’s a hard discipline, but wherever possible, I need to try and stick to this plan. It does however mean that I may have to run up some mean hills and walk down some where I would rather be running. It’s a good learning experience for pacing myself.
  • After a year on the cards, we finally moved offices in the last two weeks. The new commute has thrown a little bit of a spanner in the works with regard to getting to some training sessions, but I’m pretty determined not to let not getting to a session be my excuse to not run. So if I haven’t made it to a session,  I’ve run alone. And that’s not a bad thing. I sometimes enjoy the time out alone in my head, and I get to try out different strategies like 4:2 without having to involve someone else.
  •  I change my mind on a daily basis about whether or not a I can actually do the Soweto half in two weeks time. I haven’t been putting in the same long runs that I did for Knysna so I’m worried I am not fit enough. I guess I won’t know unless I try. I’m going to get in another long run this weekend, and see how I manage. It would be awesome to get to the finish line on 1 November and know that I did two half marathons in a year when I was never intending on ever doing any!
  • And speaking of the Soweto race, I’m constantly in awe of my awesome husband who is training for his first full marathon which will be the Soweto Marathon. He’s been running his ass off for the last few weeks and he is so dedicated and motivated and I have no doubt that he is going to rock the marathon on 1 November.

Till next time!

Hil. x

Just when I thought it was all going so well!

Is it normal to just hit a wall? Where you go from feeling to like you’re flying to feeling like you have legs of lead and every run is more a chore than a pleasure?

Everything was going brilliantly well, until a week or three back where I suddenly started feeling miserable. A weekday run where my heart and legs were in protest, followed by a not.very.fun.and.never.to.be.repeated Clearwater Mall race. The entire route felt like an up hill run and I felt incredibly slow and trudgy. When I got to finish line, they were all out of medals and (crappy) goodie bags and tears literally welled up in my eyes. I can’t really explain it sensibly except to say that I felt like a complete failure. Not receiving a silly little piece of metal at the end of the race felt a glaring symbol of my slowness.

Fortunately, when I uploaded my run to Strava a little later that morning, and I actually analysed the run, logic prevailed and I recognise that I have come a very very long way in a short period of time. I could never have run the race I did at the pace I did, a few months back!

I think the problem is that my runner’s brain is streaks ahead of what my body can actually do!

In the week that followed, I did my normal training run on the Tuesday and then went out again on the Thursday for a session. I ran the first kilometre, walked the next and then just decided there was no way I could go any further. I switched off my watch and strolled the last 500 metres back to the school where we run from.

I took the last weekend in August off from running entirely and dragged myself back last week. On the last day of August, I took a real look at my running for the month and to my surprise, I had run 97 kilometres! Ninety seven!!! That’s a lot of mileage (for me) – and I think that maybe I was just tired. That maybe the constant running together with a hectic few weeks at work had just caught up with me!

I’ve taken the last few training sessions pretty slowly, catching my breath and working on finding my mojo again. I’ve decided not to run the half marathon that I was planning to run later in September and rather stick to a 10k that day and focus my attention on getting ready for the big Soweto race in November.

And that is where I am at right now!

Have you ever just completely lost your running mojo and what did you do to get it back?

Our (tog) bag of tricks

Yesterday morning I got back from a long run with a couple of friends from our club, tossed my stuff on the dining room table, and went straight into the kitchen for food and coffee and then upstairs to soak my tired legs and feet in a hot bath. Two things to note here:

  1. Our big square 8 seater dining room table is a dumping ground for EVERYTHING in our house. Keys, wallets, handbags, homework assignments, dirty dishes that didn’t make it as far as the kitchen, running paraphernalia, a sport kit bag, unopened post (seriously, who sends mail anymore?) One day, when I am big, I am going to be super organised. For now… if you can’t find it, check on the dining room table first!
  2. I love our double storey house except for after a run. I actually had to momentarily pause and psyche myself for the stairs after my run! Knees, feet and ankles… ouch!

When I hobbled back downstairs to face the day, I caught sight of the mess I’d left on the table…

Running mess 1

The route map, cap, water bottle and jacket were all dumped, unceremoniously, on the table as I went in search of food and caffeine! Just outside the frame of this picture, is the tog bag that Nick and I keep packed for our sessions at RWFL and any races we participate in. In the tog bag is the following:

Running mess 2

From the back, and left to right:

  • My Nike visor… I love this cap because it’s soft, light, keeps hair, sun and rain out of my face and washes in the washing machine beautifully.
  • Mutual & Federal branded tog bag – yay for corporate gifts!
  • Handy triangular shaped water bottle – perfect for gripping while you run. Just don’t use cold water from the fridge when you head out for a midwinter morning run… you WILL freeze your fingers off!
  • Beanie… this was actually a remnant from our Knysna run. We bought cheapy beanies which we figured we would donate during the run. I landed up wearing my buff on my head and donating that instead.
  • Buff… I do love the versatility of these little scraps of fabric
  • Moov – because my muscles and joints need all the help they can get!
  • Pen – for completing the info on race numbers
  • Reflective arm band – for running in the dark – which happens a lot in winter!
  • Reflective Staff bib for RWFL sessions – Nick and I are “road leaders” at our branch, thus the “staff” thing
  • Boost energy gel – I have never used, or even tasted an energy gel – these were samples given in a goodie bag at one of the races and I’ve always just kept it in the bag – just-in-case. Nick uses the gels, but favours GU gel.
  • Waist pouch with cash – My waist pouch is one of the most important items in my kit. I use it for carrying my phone, tissues, lip ice, cash… can’t be out on the road without it!
  • Loobit – because things chafe. ‘Nuff said!
  • GU Brew electrolyte tablets – I sometimes use this for long runs. This particular one is low in sugar, which is ideal for my low carb eating plan. It tastes pretty nasty though!
  • Head lamp – same as the reflective arm band – although a pain in the ass to wear when running so it stays in the bag most of the time. I should really take it out the bag.
  • Clip on light – these were cute little goodies given out at the end of one of the races we did. I particularly like it because it clips onto shoes or shirt or my waist pouch and is not uncomfortable to wear, like the aforementioned headlamp is.
  • Gloves – cheap and nasty – but a life saver in winter!
  • Lip-ice – must apply before I run. And I love this particular tube because it doesn’t make my lips feel icky. But it’s a non branded tube I picked up at a corporate gig I attended, so I probably won’t be able to replace, lol!
  • Sunglasses – I never wear these when actually running because they just steam up… I should probably just take them out.

Not in this photo but often lying around:

  • Some very handy little sample sachets of wet wipes… because, you know.
  • Tissues, because noses run.
  • My Tom Tom running watch.

Whoever said all you need to run is a good pair of shoes lied!!!

Do you have a similar bag lying around? What is in yours?

A rambling update…

It has been just over a month since THE BIG RACE and a couple of weeks of back-to- normal. Normal being work, eat, sleep, run, rinse repeat. And it’s been hectic, which would account for my lack of recent blog posts. This particular post has been in draft form for days now!

I mentioned in my story about the race that I had some thoughts about my performance on the day and my future adventures with running. As much as I was, and still am thrilled with the achievement of having stayed upright and moving forward for 21.1km, I wasn’t all that thrilled by the amount of time it took me to finish. When I signed up, all I had wanted was to finish within the cut off, but as my training progressed and I was starting to feel stronger, I began to hope for a finish around the 3 hour mark. Three hours came and went and so did 3:10 and very nearly 3:20. The competitive, harsh inner critic within me absolutely hated that I was just running to finish and that I wasn’t up there with my fast friends. Miss Defeatist was kind of embarrassed by just how much of a plodder I really am. But I’ve a had a few weeks to contemplate things and I know that I was being a little hard on myself.

As always, I need to remind myself that the only person I am competing with is myself and that I have achieved so much more than physical fitness by doing this. I have proved to myself that I can indeed set and achieve a goal, hard work pays off, and I do have staying power. I have also learned that I have amazing supportive, loving friends who don’t judge me and that I have the power to inspire.

So where to from here?

I very quickly realised, once back from Knysna, that without another goal to move towards, my running would stagnate. I needed to find something else to look forward to and I want to be faster and finish stronger. So it was time to sign up for some more races. I started with the Totalsports Women’s Race this past weekend. It was loads of fun, well organised and lots of atmosphere. And there was a whole bunch of my running friends doing it too – that always makes the races more fun. My time was okay too – it wasn’t quite a PB, but considering the difficulty of the route, it very well could have been. And I just loved the gorgeous purple bracelet all the finishers received. So pretty! The inscription is “Women run this city

I’ve also signed up for two more half marathons for the year. When I went race hunting, my only real criteria was that the cut off needs to be 3:30. I am not confident that I can finish sub three hours yet. The first race I signed up for is the Gerald Fox/Sasfin race in September. When submitted my entry, I did it with much trepidation. Did I really want to commit to all that training again? Did I really want to put myself through that sort of challenge again? Could I even do it. Each press of the “next” button on the online entry was done with a bit of a grudge and a grumble, but once I hit submit, I felt relieved and a little more focused.

The other half marathon is the Soweto half, on the 1st of November. I’m really quite excited about this one. I think it will be a biggie and when I originally started thinking that one day I would like to do a half marathon, this was the one I had in mind.

So there we go… back to early weekend runs… watch this space!

I did it… And got the medal (and t-shirt)

Nick had a little idea, a few months back to run a race in Knysna, and his little idea somehow turned into a whole bunch of us traveling down to do this together, with supporters!

The runners:

  • Me
  • Nick
  • Jonathan (Nick’s brother)
  • Jeanette (RWFL friend)
  • Lance (RWFL friend)
  • René (our RWFL branch manager)

The supporters

  • Ewan and Claire
  • Jessica (Jon’s wife) and their kids KD and Rachel
  • Bradley and Connor (Jeanette and Lance’s kids)
  • Nick’s mom, Denise
  • Belinda (Nick’s sister, all the way from Dubai)

We arrived in Sedgefield on Tuesday after an awesome overnighter in Nieu Bethesda. The drive through the Karoo was beautiful!

 I was determined not to overthink the race and just enjoy my holiday. We did all sorts of touristy things in Sedgefield and Knysna for the next few days.


For the most part, I succeeded in not thinking about the race , but the nerves caught up with me on Friday and I spent loads of the day very much in my head, stressing. I was hoping that the excitement would start to build once we collected our race packs, but I think I felt even more scared once we were registered.

 

There was one very funny moment when we were out to lunch with everyone. I received a whatsapp from my friend Debbie, asking how I was feeling about the race. I replied, except it was out loud instead of by text and everyone heard a random declaration of “terrified!” from me.

Friday evening was all about prepping for the race. We ate pasta for dinner and pinned our numbers to our shirts and did lots of pottering around, checking and rechecking that we had everything ready for our trip into the forest the next morning.

At bedtime, I had a cup of chamomile  tea in the hope that it would induce some sleep. I actually managed about three hours of uninterrupted sleep before I started waking at regular intervals to check my watch and make sure we hadn’t missed the 3:15am alarm.

At 4am, we headed off to Knysna, where we parked our cars at the taxi meeting point. Lines of white minibus taxis were waiting to ferry the 8000 odd participants into the forest. I can’t quite imagine the logistics that an exercise like that must take!

We were dropped off in the forest at about 5am, where it was pitch black, but surprisingly not terribly cold, yet. An enormous pile of furry red blankets was available for the first few thousand runners in the forest and we each grabbed a blanket in anticipation of the chill. We were most grateful for them as the temperatures seemed to drop in the few hours that followed.

I did think that the sight of hundreds of people walking blindly into the dark, dank forest, cloaked in red blankets would seem just a little creepy and cult-like to the uninformed onlooker!

After our dark trail walk to The Glebe, we were greeted with bonfires, Toilet Town (a flush of portaloos) (Yes, I just made up a collective noun) and an incredible snack station, sponsored by Pick ‘n Pay.

Knysna half! Crazies together. Cold but warm under our blankies sponsored by Momentum #running #RunRevolution #knysnahalf

A post shared by Sam Curley-Young (@curley_young) on

We huddled and chatted for the next few hours, trying to get comfortable and stay warm and dry. The forest floor was a wet, muddy mess and we were thrilled when we remembered that we had a roll of black garbage bags in our tog bag. We had packed them to wear if it rained, but they turned out to be extremely useful for sitting on!

By this time, the nerves were replaced by excitement and I was looking forward to getting going and the euphoria that I knew would follow once the race was complete. 

Finally, at around 7:30, it was time to make our way to the start line and take loads of start line selfies. Photos clearly are a very important part of the whole experience!

Just look at all those people! It took at least 5 minutes to get under the start banner!

People were clothed in a crazy assortment of old and tatty clothing which was discarded in the skips at the start line or tossed to the people along the road side, chanting “Knysna Mara-tonn”. For the first while, the chanting seemed fun, but by kilometre 3, I thought I might strangle the next person who I heard chanting anything!


The race started with a couple of hilly but very manageable climbs. I was feeling optimistic about how things would work out. That optimism lasted for about 9kms and then things got tricky. My plan was to take it easy for the first half of the race and speed up for the second half but the race got decidedly more difficult as we got further along. The road was narrow and rocky and there was absolutely nowhere to just run for any decent stretch.

Between trying to find the side of the road where the camber wasn’t too hectic or too many stones or the sand wasn’t too soft, it wasn’t a fun run. And when we finally got out of the forest, we had a very short patch of decent running and then the Descent-from-Hell as we ran through the Simola Estate. Words cannot describe that downhill. No matter what I had heard about it, I naively thought that a down hill meant I could gain some time. I was so wrong!  The only way I could manage was by going really, really slowly!  I can’t remember the exact point but somewhere around kilometre 16 or 17, I became really emotional. I was tired, it was damn hard and the end was still a long way away. I talked myself out out of the tears and promised myself that I would have a good cry if I actually finished the damn thing. Right then, I ran past a water point where orange quarters were being handed out – they were quite the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted! I’m not sure if it was my little pep talk to myself or the energy boost from the oranges and water, but  I had the strength to continue.


The last few kilometres were a blur of sore feet and excitement that the end was in sight. I was eagerly looking out for my family and friends. As I crossed the finish line, I  saw them and simultaneously, burst into tears. Nick and the kids were waiting to hug me and I buried my sweaty head in Nick’s sweaty chest and sobbed and apparently swore a little 🙂 And then I had to reassure the kids that I really was okay, just extremely emotional!

Apparently everyone got a little teary when they saw my exhausted tears. I’m so grateful for my awesome running family and their amazing support!


I was also amused to find out that Ewan’s friend Bradley had set a countdown timer to the cut off time just to create a touch of drama!


After the race, I went on a hunt to buy the race shirt which I had not ordered when I entered the race and then we all went home for showers and food. And naps. Oh my word, quite possibly the best nap I’ve ever had! And we rehashed the race over and over and over again. And rehashed it some more the next day.

So that was the story of the race. Three months of preparation, anticipation and excitement and all over in 3:19:51.

I do still have some thoughts on my performance on the day, where I’m at with my running and where to from now, but I will save that for my next post.  For now…  I did it. And it was something I never ever thought I would be able to do!

It’s been a while!

Jenty reminded me a few days ago that there has been very little blogging activity from me in a few weeks, so I am back 🙂

I’ve been quiet for a couple of reasons. Firstly because life in general seems to have become really busy lately and between work, home and running, I just haven’t had time or energy to put fingers to keyboard. I decided to take today off and make this weekend a lovely long four day weekend and I feel like it’s been just the break I needed to regroup. I’ve slept late, read an entire book, eaten out a couple of times and just generally relaxed.

The second reason for my silence is because I have felt a little uninspired. There are only so many times that I can write about how I wasn’t a runner and now I am and that it is just the coolest thing ever. But since it is so very cool, I am sure you will forgive me for mentioning it a few times more in the future. But since I don’t want to become too repetitive, I think I may expand the subject nature of my posts to include more than just my running updates.

Speaking of updates, here is where I am at. I am going into week 7 of my 10 week half marathon training plan and I have been quite diligent about my training over the last few weeks. I won’t tell a lie… the long runs are hard hard hard and even though I am getting better at them but I do question my sanity and ability while I am at it. And I really have to talk down Ms Defeatist and her very vocal criticism. I do this all very silently though… I don’t want anyone calling men in white coats to collect me.

In other news, I’ve been running on my own a few times over the last few weeks, due to various work functions coinciding with the Run/Walk for Life sessions. What is interesting is that I discovered that I run more than I walk when I go off on my own, compared to when I am at a RWFL session. I think  that it is a bit of a habit thing. A mental shift is required on my part. I have become used to the routes and associating certain parts of the routes with my previous mental blocks about my abilities. I think I need to make a point of pushing myself in the segments of the routes where it has become my habit to walk (and moan about how much I hate hills!)

Oh and before I sign off, a race update. Last weekend, I did the Run/Walk for Life Soweto 10k. It was a bit of mission to get up early and drive out to Rockville, Soweto (then again, all those early morning starts feel like insanity) but the race itself turned out to be loads of fun. Such great community spirit with kids high-fiving  the runners and neighborhood folk shouting encouragement from their gardens. I was kind of amused by how, just after the race started, some young man shouted “Go Sissie” and near the end of the race, I heard another young man shouting “Run Mama” – apparently I aged visibly over the 10 kilometres!

My other amusement for the race – I thought that I was the only person who sets a competitor a few paces ahead as a marker for keeping up and hopefully passing. I had spied a young woman a few metres in front of me when we started running and I decided to try to speed up and pass her. I did pass her relatively easily, but not long after I passed her, I realised she was next to me, and then ahead of me again. We swopped places a few times and I heard her pant “I am not going to lose you!” Apparently, she had decided I was her marker. Eventually we exchanged names and pleasantries. To my delight, it turned out that I was a bit stronger than her and I left her behind on one of the hills and didn’t see her again. Me, competitive? Never. LOL!

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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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