You see this photo below? I’m the girl with the red top and blue cap. The big guy next to me is Dave. He was the pace setter that got me over the 2009 Two Oceans half marathon finish line. This photo was taken of the 3 hour bus coming up to UCT.
I can still remember that day clearly. The relief when I finally caught Dave at the 16km mark. I immediately felt safe. I immediately knew I was going to make it. I knew I’d finish strong. With singing and words of encouragement, Dave got me (and a lot of other runners) to that finish line with 5 minutes to spare and for which I will be forever grateful.
Unfortunately, 2010 was a very different experience. I arrived at the start of the race to find that Dave was nowhere to be seen. In fact, there was no 3 hour pace setter. This immediately set me back mentally as I was planning on running with the 3 hour bus and realised I would need to run the entire race by myself.
So with no Dave to carry me, my race was a struggle. I did not finish in the required 3 hours. I missed cut-off by 6 minutes. There was no t-shirt or certificate to say that I had completed the race. Nothing. I was devastated. I felt like a complete failure. In fact, I was filled with so much anger that there wasn’t a “Dave” to carry me home.
I came back in 2011 to get my medal. But this time, I was a bit wiser. I knew in my mind that if I was to finish in time, I had to rely on nobody but myself. I needed to ensure that the training I did was enough. I needed to ensure my legs were strong enough. More importantly, I needed to know that my mind was in the right place.
I guess in life, we often rely on others and when those people are not there anymore, we crumble. We fail and then we blame others.
I’ve come to realise that in life, I never quite know if there will always be someone to rely on or not. Chances are, there won’t always be a “Dave” by my side to carry me through so I need to be prepared for whatever surprises come my way. Just like my races, I need to know how to rely on my own strength to get me across that finish line.