Every race runs a different journey

It’s the Comrades marathon this weekend! Eeek! It feels like just the other day that I was waiting for KK at that finish line but I spotted this Facebook memory which reminded me just how quickly time flies! 

Yup, we’re headed back down for KK’s fourth race for which he has trained harder than any of the previous Big C races. Every year has been different with different goals and an entirely different journey to get to the finish line.

2014: The first Comrades race

KK was meant to run with his friend David but injury forced Dave to pull out after Two Oceans. With no coach and following a training programme pulled from a Modern Athlete magazine, KK set out with a goal of just finishing the race before cutoff. He ran a time of 10:37. He always says that with no previous experience and heading into the unknown was perhaps the best run of them all.

The before & after pic.

2015: Year of the pelvis Elvis!

During his training for Comrades, KK started to ache in his groin area. Hours of physio and being instructed to rest meant that he started Comrades with the least amount of training ever. Zero ultras, no long runs and very few kms under his feet, he managed to finish the race in a time of 11:18. The reason for the ache? A cracked pelvis. I know! But he got his back to back medals and that’s all that mattered to him.

Spot the medals.

2016: Training kicked up a notch

KK ran many long hours with Running Junkie Shaun this year. Following a training programme of track sessions combined with weekend long runs, he went in prepared and hoping to at least improve on his 2014 time. He finished strong! His time: 09:51. He was thrilled. It’s realising that he can improve that set his sights on 2017.

That smile! (after 89kms)

2017: Ultras and more ultras

This year has been quite different, training-wise (him) as well as emotionally (me). It’s been much more intense. After many months of training, waking up three times a week at 4am, long runs on weekends, KK is more determined than ever to improve his time and do well. He even took leave from work in order to avoid all the sick people in the building! He has listened to his coach and there’s nothing more he can do now other than rest and wait for Sunday morning to arrive.

I’m nervous, as always. I’m excited too! Supporting is a whole different ball game. Your heart sits outside of your chest for the entire day! But it’s an awesome experience!

It’s time. Let’s run!

The high after the race

It’s been just over a week since KK finished his very first Comrades marathon race. We’ve enjoyed many evenings of analyzing it, discussing the highs and lows, the plans for the up run next year and the sad story of the runner who died just as he finished his race. It’s also been quite relaxing not to have to get up at ungodly hours to run or to plan our weekends around a race calendar.

The most wonderful part for me was running the journey alongside KK as his supporter. The training, the eating plan and the gym sessions. Even completing numerous half marathons while I waited for him to run full ones. But the two highlights for me came as the sun rose and set on the 1st June.Comrades marathon start & finish

As we dropped KK off on the morning at the start of the Comrades race in Pietermaritzburg, he could hardly talk. In the 17 years that I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him so nervous. But the exhaustion & joy on his face when I finally found him on the field at Sahara Park after the race with his medal around his neck is a sight I’ll never forget. I was overcome with emotion and pride.

Comrades marathon bronze medal

So people have asked me if I’ll be tackling the up run with him next year. Um… not a chance! The bug hasn’t bitten and I don’t think it ever will. The Comrades marathon is an enormous physical and emotional challenge which I’m so glad KK has conquered. But for now, I’m sticking to those half marathons thanks.

Don’t stop planning

After enduring a week of extreme heat, we woke up to the most glorious, cool rain. It did not stop KK and his running partner DSM from heading out for their weekly run but I was not that brave and decided to wait it out.

After returning from their run, KK and DSM started discussing their Comrades training schedules. Having run since they were both at Varsity in the late 80’s, it’s the first time they’ve decided to give the “Big C” a try. Printouts lay on the table of various training schedules, Lindsay Parry, Don Oliver, Old Mutual, Modern Athlete… It’s quite surprising at how different they all are. Some demand daily runs, others allow for rest days (which really appeals to DSM).

Race plan

As I sat pondering whether or not I should brave the rainy weather myself and go for a run, it did occur to me that with KK’s extra training, I’d possibly also get to do a lot more running myself this year, especially since there are a few road races earmarked in their draft training schedule.

This is great and I’m quite excited about it. Their dedication and commitment will definitely rub off on me and I’m looking forward to the build-up in the coming months.

When DSM left, KK surprised me by joining me on my run. I had planned the whole week to do a LSD as I have Johnson Crane half marathon coming up and have not yet run many long distances recently.

As we headed up to the 4km mark it started to rain. It was a sprint home and I must admit that I have never run so fast in my life trying to catch up to KK!

Just thinking about my LSD and even Comrades, I realised that as much as you plan, as much as you think things will go your way, anything can happen. But it shouldn’t stop you from just doing it. The outcome is still rewarding!