Compared to other running races, the Dischem half marathon unnerves me. It’s a tough course. It starts out with 10kms of undulating road before you get hit with a gradual pull which last from around 11kms to 18kms. The next 3kms to the finish line is a massive downhill drop which can be rough on the knees and quads.
Given what I’ve just described, it remains one of the most popular races on the race calendar and sells out pretty quickly with a field of over 6500 runners.
I knew I had to pace myself carefully. Go out too fast and have nothing left for the uphill pull. Go out too slowly and miss the 3-hour cut off. It’s a daunting task! I decided to use the run to get the time on my legs and not overdue it. I had pushed quite hard the week before at the Wits Kudu’s 15km race.
But as a race review, there’s something to Sunday’s race that goes beyond the fantastic organisation, the ice cold water stops, the brilliant marshalling on the busy streets or even the teams of photographers along the route capturing runner’s faces. It’s the vibe that reminded me of what running is all about.
Dischem Half Marathon tweeted a picture of the last lady finishing the race. Alongside her is a crowd of supporters, cheering her on, running the last km with her. That tweet was followed by so many well wishes and words of encouragement from so many people, including one from Jenna Challenor, who finished the race in 2nd position. It touched my heart! What an awesome message! The winning time was 1:06. The last runner finished in 4:07. Both runners would have felt nerves at the start, both would’ve experienced pain heading up those steep hills and both would’ve been absolutely elated crossing the finish line.
It doesn’t matter how fast you run, or what your finishing time is, the race is still the same. The victory just as sweet!
As the New Year kicks onto high gear, there are typically three things which signal the start of the running calendar for me:
I’m rather spoilt. KK does almost triple the distance on his running shoes and each January buys new ones. Mine can still go a few more kilometres but I always get a new pair. This year, majority of the women’s asics shoes were pink (which is so not me) so I opted for the men’s blue in my size (thanks for your help, Craig @ Dunkeld Sweatshop). I adore them!
Buying of the Tom Cottrell Nedbank Runner’s Guide
Even though we download the app, one of our favourite dog-eared books must be the green running guide. Ironically, it’s the same info every year and after years of running you kinda ‘know’ the races. But we love paging through it and analysing upcoming races to enter.
The first big race of the year, Dischem offers a 21.1km as well as a 5km run. I had to give my half marathon entry away this year as I was not yet fit enough, but was satisfied to manage the 5km distance. It’s riddled with all types of people and I just love how the kids make the water stops a fun part of the race and splash one another while being consumed with giggling fits. It really makes it a ‘fun run’.
Okay, so (I think) I’m ready. Here’s to a fabulous 12 months of fitness and running!
New Year’s resolutions look differently when you’ve had the rough December I’ve had…
On the 17th December, I lay in a hospital bed with a drip in my hand in the Sandton Medical emergency room feeling absolutely miserable. Just a week away from celebrating Christmas, I realised that the last three months have been the worst I have ever felt battling a disease I have tried desperately to hide from majority of those around me. Managing the actual disease has been fine but the extra-intestinal manifestations of Ulcerative Colitis have really taken its toll.
Excruciating arthritis attacks on the joints of my hands and shoulders; painful eye infections due to the arthritis which caused my whole cheek to seize up; a revolting rash (and another late night hospital visit) which turned out to be Urticaria; constant mouth ulcers and now something new… Crippling pain in the right hand side of my abdomen shooting up into my shoulder.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time reflecting on my health during December. Being an utter control freak it’s difficult accepting that there is absolutely nothing I can do to control an auto-immune disease which at the moment seems to be attacking me on all fronts. Ironically, the worst part is that I’ve not been able to run.
I had planned to do so much running while I was on leave during this time, especially training for the Dischem half marathon which would kick-off my 2014 running year. But with the pain and no energy, all I managed was a 5km run at the gym.
My blog has always been focused on my running speed. My slow pace and my insecurities about my running. But sitting on that hospital bed, all I wished for was that I was healthy and able to put on my running shoes and head out for a run. I thought, who the hell cares how slow I run. I don’t even give a damn if those walkers come past me. I just want to be healthy and fit enough to run.
Running means I’m strong. Running means I am healthy. Running means I am able to conquer my fears. Running means I am in control of my body. I’m sure I’ll be fit soon but for now, my New Year’s resolution wish is for a healthy body.
I’ll be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy the Dischem 21.1km running race. I find it quite challenging. In 2010, running down A.G. De Witt Drive hurt like hell and I almost died injured myself. So every year, I commit to at least doing the 5km Rehidrat Dash (don’t you just love that word – Dash!)
At the starting line of the race this year, I looked around and was amazed to see such an eclectic mix of so many different people. The serious runners fiddling on their running watches trying to locate satellite, the ‘fun run’ gang who kept promising each other that they’d stick together and not go too fast, the moms with prams already feeding kids with sticky snacks, and the walkers with headphones and backpacks full of …stuff (I never know what they’ve got in there).
In that huge crowd of what must have been over 2 000 runners and walkers, the ages ranged from as young as 5 years old to over 85 years. It reminded me that running is truly a sport for everyone. To say you’re a runner doesn’t necessarily mean you do the Comrades every year. Often, running means just putting on your running shoes and getting out there, enjoying yourself with other runners, regardless of the distance. Everyone can do it!
And so having completed my third Dischem Rehidrat Dash, my 2013 race year has officially kicked off…