Trying again. On my own terms.

I was giving a good friend of mine some advice the other day. I told her, “Pal, you’ve done everything you can do. You’ve given it all you’ve got. There’s nothing more you can do now. It is what it is…” Days later, as I contemplate whether or not to run the Two Oceans half marathon, I started to give myself some of my own advice.

Family and friends know that I hate this race. It overwhelms me. It’s congested, it’s over-hyped, it’s rated by so many runners as “The ultimate race”. But I hate it. It could be largely due to the baggage I carry of not making the 3 hour cut-off a couple of years ago. Even though I came back and ran a PB on this course the next year. But the pressure is intense and I allow it to control me.

But when I think of the advice I gave my friend, the words seem quite appropriate for me too especially when I look at the facts.

I’ve trained hard this year.
I’ve run five half marathons since January with ease.
In between regular interval training at gym, I’ve run on weekends too.
I’m 10kgs lighter having changed to a Banting way of eating.
I’m more comfortable with my running than I’ve ever been.

Am I still slow? Yeah, but it’s not important to me anymore. That’s my pace, deal with it. I have.

The main thing is that I’ve done all I can do in preparation for the race. There’s nothing more I can do. “It is what it is.”

If the congestion with 16k runners causes me to lose precious time, nothing I can do. If this means missing cut-off, so be it. I have to accept that if it takes me longer to run the first km and I lose time, it is what it is.
If it’s windy or it rains, nothing I can do. That’s just Cape Town weather.
A lot of factors are out of my hands but at least I’ve done everything I could possibly do in the build-up to this race. The rest I can’t control.

So ya, let’s see how it goes. Right now my nerves are killing me!


Running alone

When I usually run on my own I feel quite safe because I stick to the busy roads and pass quite a few complexes with security guards who I wave at. I always try and keep visible and before I leave home, KK knows exactly what route I’m running and what time he can expect me home.

But for some or other reason, when I woke up to go for my run this morning I was a bit apprehensive. I think it’s because I had chosen to try out a new route. I headed out the door but kept looking around (just in case) and felt like a bag of nerves at one point.

Suddenly everybody looked suspicious. It was only after I stopped what I was thinking and took hold of the fear that I saw something different.

… A taxi stopping just in front of me – offloading people smartly dressed for church.

… the dodgy cars parked outside on the pavement so early in the morning – bird watchers excitedly entering the Cumberland Bird Sanctuary.

.. My heart stopped! The man who was hiding behind the tree with a box – collecting leaves off a mulberry tree presumably for his kids’ silk worms.

Sunrise running woman

Today was such a beautiful morning and loads of other runners (including women on their own), cyclist and dog walkers decided to step out and enjoy the fresh morning air.

I’m well aware that I live in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. I am also aware that each and every time I walk out the door, be it for a run or on my way to work or to go shopping, that anything could happen. I can only try and do as much as I can and be safe but I’m not about to let my fear take hold of me.

Getting home and taking my running shoes off and dipping my feet in the pool felt amazing! I could feel my feet thanking me.

(Image: Google)

Oh no! This can’t be happening already!

I didn’t want to say anything but I feel this blog is all about my running life stress so I might as well share what happened. I had my first nightmare about next year’s Two Oceans Half Marathon last week. There, I said it. Insane, I know.

Entries opened and within the first two hours, KK had successfully entered me. My heart still froze when I received the email confirmation. I’m in. My name is entered. No going back now. The countdown has begun. The following day, I commented on a running coach buddy’s blog about the confusion around cut-off times. Was it still 3 hours? Or did they cut it down by 10 minutes? This niggled me for a while and stressed me out. I don’t have any spare minutes to waste… 8 minutes per km Bron! What to do?

So of course, with it being on my mind and stupid me stressing about it, I had such a bad dream on Thursday evening and woke up sweating. In my dream, I was running the race. It was raining. I was doing fine. I got to the top of Southern Cross but made a wrong turn. I got lost. I couldn’t find anyone. I eventually ran into some arb person’s house to ask for help. But by this time, the clock was ticking and I knew in my heart, I was never going to make it. That’s where my dream ended and I woke up feeling very stressed out and upset.

What is it about this race that stresses me out so much? I can’t explain it! I’ve run so many half marathons before, but this race just gets to me. The fear is just too great!

This is not the best start to my countdown to Oceans. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve heard me say this over and over again: The race is in my head. It really is.

I need to get my thoughts under control and start telling myself that it will be okay. Because to suffer through another 5 months of this anxiety is not going to be fun.

Living in a world of darkness

I remember when I was a little girl and we used to play this game, “would you rather be blind or deaf.” I think at that young age, I had no idea what I was talking about, it was just something we used to think about at school. But turn the clock forward 30 years and I got the opportunity to visit the Dialogue in the Dark exhibition at Sci-Bono in Newtown which put things into perspective for me and enabled me to give it some serious thought.

In a nutshell, the visitors are led by visually impaired guides through a series of specially constructed and totally darkened galleries, where sound, temperature, wind and texture in the completely dark environment allows one to learn to interact by relying on other senses.

Sounds easy, right? Wow! Nothing prepared me for the experience. In the first few minutes of entering the exhibition, my whole body screamed inside and I wanted out! I was frightened. I panicked. Nothing prepared me for the experience. I was quite surprised how I was forced to rely on my other senses. It was completely dark. Even with my eyes wide open, I could see nothing. Nothing…

It’s an experience I cannot describe. It’s an experience that only once you’ve been through the exhibition, can you really understand what it must be like to be blind. It was an eye-opener (eish!) to see (yikes!) what blind people live with every day of their lives and how we take the smallest things, such as a walk through a park and buying a drink at a bar, for granted. Try doing that as a blind person.

The experience was so humbling too and I have a renewed appreciation for my sight. I learnt something about myself. Being forced into a situation such as that, I realized how quickly and easy it was to rely and trust others, something I don’t typically do. But being blind, you have no choice. I also found a sense of comfort in holding on to someone and constantly hearing their voice – Completely opposite to how I cope.

In future, I’ll think twice when seeing a blind person because their lives are a lot more challenging than what we realise. They’re also a lot stronger and braver than I am. That’s for flippin’ sure!