Strength from the ocean

The Comrades marathon was brutal. A mixture of heat and the relentless pulls of the infamous Up Run found many with unmet/reset goals or heartbreaking DNFs.

For KK, this years race was particularly tough. I caught him at x4 different spots along the route and each time I saw him, he seemed to struggle more and more. 

At one stage, he declared, “I’ve had enough. I’m walking to the finish.” 

I smiled. You see, KK is really strong mentally. He’s never been one to quit during a race. In those moments of darkness, he switches on to plan B. Walking to the finish. He knew he had to finish. Quitting was never an option. 

I was scanning through some old photos of previous Comrades races when I happened to notice something. 

The day before each race, we like to walk down to the beach and relax. KK always spends time dipping his feet in the water. But if you look closely at these pictures, there’s something else going on…

Comrades runner in the ocean

It’s as if he’s looking far away, into the ocean, deep in thought. I’m guessing this is where he has that final conversation with himself while staring at the waves building and crashing around him.

The nerves. The self-doubt. The fears. Taking on a race of this magnitude, only something as big and powerful as the ocean would understand and allow him to soak up as much energy as he needs. 

X4 medals later, the ritual must work. 

This is what I got up to…Selfies on the beach

Selfies on the beach. Notice the beach sand on my elbow. Fail. Yeah, I know. I’m working on it. 

Reflecting on this year’s Two Oceans race

It’s long overdue and regular readers of my blog might have noticed that I haven’t yet published my annual account of my Two Oceans half marathon race.

In previous blog posts, I’ve mostly bitched about the race and vowed (every time) never to return. It’s been a love hate relationship. However this year, everything fitted together like a puzzle and it turned out that I ran the race with very different eyes.

The race was a few days after a friend had let us know about the cancer moving to two parts of her brain. Her regular WhatsApp messages popped in and out of my thoughts sporadically & my mind flashed through what she was going through.

The night before the race, I had said to myself, how can I moan when I know how much Susan loves triathlons and swimming & would love to just get out there and run? So I didn’t moan and woke up on race morning looking forward to the race.

I started in race category D which kinda felt like I had golden circle tickets at a rock concert. It also meant less time waiting compared to category E and loads more room to stand in.

10 minutes before the race started, my mind flipped into panic mode. But instead, I thought, scared? Bron you don’t know what scared is. Susan is scared.

When it hurt near the 17kms mark and my legs were tired, I thought you don’t know what tired is. This is not pain. Not like what Susan is going through.

And when I wanted to quit, I remembered that quitting was not an option for her.
Finally, when I crossed that finish line, I said “this is for you Susan”. But somehow, the message was really for me. I had come through 21.1kms having learnt something quite humbling about myself.

two oceans half marathon medal and photoI moan about my running way to often. I criticize my pace and point out all my weaknesses. I blame the race, the race organizers and my training. It’s the backbone to my blog. But I need to stop. I am a runner and incredibly grateful to be able to cross those finishing lines at road races.

I am good enough. My body is good enough! There are so many people out there who don’t have the opportunities or the health that I have to be able to run. So from now on, every time I don’t feel like running, I’ll think of those that wish they could. I’ll think of Susan. Because what she made me realize, that every time I put my running shoes on, I need to be grateful that I am able to run. It doesn’t matter how slow or fast or even how far. We seem to forget that.

The final (leg) stretch 

After months of intense training, KK is finally tapering for the Comrades marathon.

I wish I could sigh a breath of final relief but no, he’s still got a few more weeks to go. One month actually. 4 weeks. 30 days. 

Until then, we’re still avoiding sick people (ie.: all people), being in a state of hunger 24/7, sleeping as much as we can and being incredibly grumpy! I say ‘we’ because as the wife of a Comrades runner, you have no choice. You’re in it for the long run!

Race qualifying started last year November already. Then it was the UTCT trail run in December, a few marathons in the beginning of the year, followed by x4 (!!) ultra marathons, Two Oceans being one of them. In between that he’s been clocking over 100kms per week. And heading into taper, it doesn’t stop. Now KK starts with fartleks and short (that’s short?) 30km long runs. 

I’m tired. I’m not the one training but I’m tired both mentally & physically. I said to KK earlier tonight that a runner cannot run Comrades marathon every year. It takes so much out of you!
Not only for the runner but also family & friends along side you all the way. 

But for now, it’s taper time. Let’s do this! *cheers*

Tired legs resting

Improvements often happen behind the scenes

When I talk to people about my running, I always slip in the fact that I ‘walk run’. It’s as if I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I’m actually capable of running non-stop for kilometers on end. My pace is slow so telling people I walk means I don’t have to explain myself. 

But I noticed something today about my running pace during the Alan Robb road race that I wasn’t even concentrated on training for. I managed to run almost the entire way for 15kms at a steady consistent pace! I hardly walked!

Pacing road race running

I stopped at one or two water stations and walked on the very big uphill (on a very flat route). Other than that, I ran! 

Late last year, I remembered trying to run 20 minutes non-stop. It took me over three weeks to get it right. But since then, I’ve forgotten about it. 

Something must’ve worked. Was it the exercises from bio Mari? The stretching homework? The weekly runs? Hell, whatever it is, I’m thrilled! 

Quite ironic, I’m happy about something I didn’t even realize I was working on! 

So true of life, we’re often so focused on things that we think matter and don’t realize all the positive progress were making in other areas of our lives. 

Go me! ^5