It’s been a good run so far…

Regular readers of my blog know that as much as I enjoy running, I tend to moan and complain about it way too often which is evident by a couple of ‘pity me’ posts. But having run x4 half marathons, x2 10kms and one 5km race since January, I must admit, I’ve fallen in love with my running again.

Here’s why:

  • There’s no pressure. With KK & DSM focusing on their Two Oceans & Comrades training this year, all the attention and focus has shifted to their running schedules. Their half marathons have turned into full marathons which they run in 4 hours or less. So for a change, I wait for them to finish a race, compared to them waiting for me to come in. It allows me to stroll back to the car after my race, get cleaned up & relax in the sun without feeling like everyone is sitting around waiting for me to finish.
  • I haven’t stopped. I try run often, even if it’s a 5km run on the treadmill at gym. I make sure that I make the time to run.
  • I run far. I’ve pushed myself this year to run as many half marathons as I can. The first one I ran was Johnson Crane which hurt like hell. I even popped two myprodols after the race because my body ached so badly and I wobbled around for the next two days. But two weeks later, I ran another half. I’ve kept at it. The wobbling has stopped.
  • I’ve stopped over-analysing what time I finish a race. I realised that this was making me miserable. The fact that I run races surrounded by walkers and those considered “slow” is not what matters. We all cross that finish line and we all get a medal for the same distance. If I have a good day and do well, great. But sometimes it’s okay if I feel like doing a slow run too. I remind myself of this fact often.

Dead last

  • I celebrate small victories. I managed to run a 10km race in 74 minutes. I was over the moon! I also managed to run the dreaded Deloitte half marathon in under 3 hours. Yay! And more recently, I ran Sarens half in 2:54. Go me!

It’s only a few more months until KK takes on Comrades and I’m sure a lot more races ahead. I’m looking forward to them and might even consider running through Winter. OMG! What am I saying? Let me not run ahead of myself! *you see what I did there* 🙂

Here’s to the crazy one… #IM703SA

I’ll be running the Johnson Crane half marathon on Sunday. This particular race holds a special place in my heart. It was my very first 21.1km race. It’s also the race where I ‘hit the wall’ for the first time and had no energy to continue when two friends assisted me in that last stretch of the race (thanks Piet & Rita). Great running memories.

This Sunday will be no different. It’s special but for another reason.

One of my friends @Bohoparadox will be competing in her first Half Iron Man triathlon happening in East London on Sunday. When she first signed up, I thought “OMG, she’s crazy!” But I’ve watched the many months of training, of small victories won and seen her grow from strength to strength.

The bike riding, the laps in the pool and the running. She just hasn’t stopped. She hasn’t given up. It’s a big race and I’m hoping she soaks up each and every second she’s out there! That race belongs to you Bennii!

I know Johnson Crane will be tough on me. I am under-trained and quite nervous about the distance even though I’ve run the race twice before. But my thinking is that in those moments that I doubt myself, in those dark patches of the race where I struggle, I will be thinking of the strength of Bennii and I’ll tell myself that “if she can do it, then so can I.”

But I’m also hoping that when she has any moments of pain or struggle on those up hills and long stretches, that she knows I’m thinking of her and hopefully it pulls her through.

All the best Bennii!

Keep up. This is my race.

It gets to that point of any road race where the elite runners shoot off, the slower runners / walkers start lagging behind me and I find my spot among others who run/walk at the same pace as what I do.

Running a 21.1km race alone is tough. There’s no one to chat to. There’s no one to push you and no one but yourself to keep you motivated. So every now and then, I look around and strike up a conversation with those around me. The thinking is that we must* be doing the same pace so we might as well get to the finish line together. But that’s not always right. I learnt this lesson during the recent Johnson Crane half marathon.

It was close to the 14km mark and I found myself running next to a guy who ‘appeared’ to be running at 8mins/km (my pace). I was doing a run/walk strategy of 800m run/200m walk at the time and he joined in. We chatted away and my spirits lifted as I started to think that we would get each other to the end. It wasn’t meant to be. He started to struggle on the 800m runs and requested we walk a lot sooner. I gave in too easily and we landed up walking 800m and running 200m for about 2kms. But eventually I realized that he was holding me back so I waved goodbye and ran off.Running together

Reflecting on the race (and analyzing as I do), I realized that it was really great to run a part of the race with him. I enjoyed it. It’s the one thing I long for is a running partner. But another part of me acknowledges that he was not right for me and was slowing me down. It just shows how quickly my running strategy changed to accommodate someone else. It was a horrible feeling leaving this poor guy behind, but I had to do it.Running off

How quickly in life we accept situations which are not what we wanted. We get into relationships which are not right for us. We fall in to a comfort zone and make excuses. Sometimes, those we are with are on a different path and will hold us back. Choices we make will either slow us down or get us to the finish line a lot quicker. It’s deciding what you want more that matters.

(By the way, if you run at 8mins/km, I’m looking for a running partner.)

Getting back into the swing of things

In October last year, I made myself a promise that Johnson Crane would be my first half marathon of 2013. I started training in November and kept to a disciplined routine of weekly running, even managing to sneak in a 16km LSD. But it came as a surprise to me when I ran Johnson Crane this past weekend that I struggled so much. Even though the route is quite flat and fast-paced, I did not manage to make 3 hours (story of my life!).

Wait a minute. Why am I so critical of myself. When I sat down and thought about it, I realised that this race is my first 21.1km race since Two Oceans in 2011. That’s almost 2 years since I’ve run that kind of distance. I’ve run a couple of 10km races here and there, but the training and dedication for half marathons was put on hold last year as I rested a foot injury (and a mental block).Start

It was good to experience a half marathon again: The familiarity of the nerves at the starting line, the crowds, the vibe, the discussions I have in my head as I negotiate each and every one of those 3 hours and the absolute joy of crossing the finish line.

However, it did get me thinking and when I do any running analysis, I like to consult my “Lore of Running” bible handbook. This is what I found: there are 15 training laws listed. The very first law says this:

Law 1: Train Frequently, All Year-Round. If you want to be a good athlete, you must train all the year round, no matter what. What is really required is a little exercise constantly; this will benefit you permanently to a far greater degree than single heavy doses at long intervals.

I needed the break. But running does not come naturally to me and while a 10km race is easy, the 21km races requires me to dig a whole lot deeper, both physically and mentally.

The lesson in it for me is that to be good at something takes practice. Constant practice. Not only with running, but other areas of my life too. I can’t neglect certain aspects of my life and come back expecting everything to be the same as it always was. It’s about frequency, all the time.Go run

For now though, it feels great to once again be able to say the words I ran 21.1kms. I’m proud of myself.