Smelling the roses on the run

I’ve always had such a complex about my running pace. (I mean, just look at the name of my blog!). So as I stood at the starting line of Sunday’s race, I was terrified. A running friend asked if I’d like to run a race with her and I jumped at the opportunity. No one had ever asked me to run with them before! I was overcome with my usual insecurities; would I be able to keep up? Would I cramp? Would I slow her down?

At about the 4km mark, we slowed down quite a bit as she started to take strain. She had been struggling with a nasty flu bug from the week before and had misjudged how weak she still was. It had knocked her hard and she was not herself on the day. It happens and so we ended up just taking it easy.

Unbeknownst to her, I was tackling a lot of my own demons. It was only the second race that I was running since starting my running training with Coach Dave so I had no idea what my pace would be. But I felt super strong and confident. This is new.

This is what really mattered on the day:

  • I’m able to run without having to stop and walk every 500m.
  • I am definitely getting stronger.
  • I don’t have to be terrified anymore.
  • A day came when I was the strong one for a change.
  • I don’t care what the finishing time was. To me, what mattered was running with my friend.
  • Runners are a different breed. Why was I worried that she would leave me out on the course? Because I would never have done that to her.

PartnerLong road

 

 

 

 

 

 

My running priorities have definitely changed over the weeks since I’ve been attending track training. I signed up to run faster but as the weeks go by, things that I never thought of before make sense to me now. Such as managing to run and not walk as much as I used to. Such as finishing a race feeling strong. And knowing that some days it’s not about the time on my watch that defines what a great race is all about. Sometimes, it’s all about the company and facing those demons head on. Thanks Denise!

Unprepared for what lay ahead.

I remember running the Jackie Gibson Alan Ferguson half marathon a few years ago. A tough race which starts off very hilly but which ends on the most glorious downhill stretch all the way to the finish line. That’s the route I remember. So when KK decided not to run (manflu), brave little me said I’d still like to race and so off we drove to the South on Sunday morning.

The night before, I had tweeted the Johannesburg Harriers Athletic Club and inquired about the new route. The reply from the Club sounded positive, in fact, it’s what convinced me to run:

JHAC

There were thousands of runners at the start, thousands! The announcer even commented that almost 3 times the number of runners had pitched to run the marathon and almost twice the numbers of runners for the half. Awesome! This was going to be a goodey!

But what awaited me was nothing I could ever have imagined. The new route shuffled us through some fairly flat roads and I was doing fabulously. I had started the run with my running friends, Carmeni & Kerry and our street pole strategy was working nicely. Until around the 12km mark…

From here, the race started to climb. And climb. And climb. I was hot in the sun, the water tables were spread out too thinly and still… we climbed. The old route had us do most of the hard work at the beginning of the race, this had us working to the end. It was relentless and sapped all my energy.

There were times when I wanted to plonk myself down on the pavement and cry. I came close to quitting many times. If it wasn’t for Carmeni and Kerry pulling me along, I would have!

This year, I’ve run quite a few half marathons and feel I am better trained than in previous years. Physically, maybe. But nothing prepared me for today. Toughest race I think I’ve ever run. I still managed to come in under 3 hours, but mentally, Jackie Gibson, you killed me. Never again. (Well, until next year, maybe…)

Today was ALL about me!

As the thousands of cyclists came rushing passed me riding the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge race, I only realised today that making the decision not to ride the race weeks ago was finally a decision that put ME first. A decision where I selfishly thought about what I wanted to do and chose to ignore that niggling voice in my head that always tries to convince me otherwise.

Months ago, when everyone around me was deciding to ride and buying kits, the pressure to enter the race was immense. I know people meant well when they encouraged me to do it and I kept saying I was undecided and was thinking about it. I truly was. I religiously joined KK at every Monday and Wednesday spinning class at gym. I also entered two 40km cycling races and finished them feeling fresh and invigorated. I learnt that cycling is easier than running and was something I could do!

But what I realised seeing the brave cyclists with their red faces zooming passed me today is that I had made the decision based on what I wanted and not what I thought everyone around me wanted me to do. I am the type of person that often does what I think people expect me to do. I tend to be obsessed with doing things because I am afraid of what people will think of me. But not riding 94.7 was my decision. All mine.

In my heart I knew I would finish. KK had already worked out that I would comfortably finish in just over 5 hours. Besides, I LOVE my bike. (I’m a massive fan of the 29’incher MTB). So the odds were on my side. But is this one of my goals? Is completing the 94.7 something I wanted to do? Nope.

So sitting on my deck chair, sipping on iced tea, chewing on my jelly belly beans, I smiled and for a rare moment, felt at peace and content that I was doing something that made me happy and that I enjoyed. For a change, I was not riddled with guilt and FOMO (fear of missing out) but cheering on others and supporting them reach their goals in my own way.

Running ‘Om die Dam’

There’s nothing better than using the excuse of running to go away for a long weekend and that’s exactly what we did to go run the ‘Om die Dam’ race this passed weekend.

It’s one of my favourite races on the race calendar – run from the Hartebeespoort Highschool it is well-organised, with quite challenging routes and there’s a fantastic vibe at the start of the race. Yes, I’m talking about the sound of the fish eagle that gets played followed by chariots of fire.

This year, I decided to run the 10km. I started with KK and the gang of other 21.1km runners but we split at the 4km mark. What followed was a relentless 4km uphill stretch which forced many runners to walk. Ironically, I got stuck with a Walker from Irene Running Club. I gave mini bursts of running but when I stopped to walk, she would catch up to me and pass me. I’d sprint off again, passing her, but knew that at the next walk break, she’d catch me. So she did and laughed saying, “Kom meisie kind! Moenie laat ek jou stop nie!” When it got to the last 500m, I was shagged and she beat me.

Thank-goodness the weather was cool for the run but it turned into a scorcher of a weekend which was great! If we thought Winter had arrived, we were wrong and we spent the the rest of Saturday and Sunday re-charging our tired legs at the Caribbean Beach Resort near Harties.

It was an awesome weekend of going for lazy walks, long afternoon snoozes, snacking on sinful food, braaing while the sun set and just chillaxing…