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!

Shame on YOU!

I had 2 hours and 4 minutes to myself during Sunday morning’s 15 km Colgate running race and during this time, two topics crossed my mind: the pair of skinny jeans I had purchased the day before and the YOU magazine cover featuring Kate vs. Kim.

Trying to find a new pair of jeans on Saturday had put me in such a bad mood. I could only find jeans that were either skinny or bootleg. Nothing in-between. In my mind, this means that you are either fat or thin. There’s no middle ground. I consider my body to be more of an in-between kinda shape. I resent the name ‘skinny’ for an item of clothing! It’s no wonder women have such issues about their bodies. 

To that point, the second issue is with YOU magazine. Last week’s cover page is shocking. YOUTo compare two very different pregnant women’s bodies using the wording waif vs. whale is disgusting. Love her or hate her but I feel sorry that so much negative attention has been focused on Kim Kardashian’s body. Why do women not stand up and support one another? Then again, it is the YOU.

The ironic thing is that as I thought about these issues, I looked around. The female runners passing me during the race where either thin or large. Some of them were tall, others were short. Each had a very different but uniquely shaped body. More importantly, all of them were strong, fit, healthy and beautiful! Trust me, there’s something to be said for running next to a chubby woman pushing a pram for 15kms and not being able to keep up!

These are the inspiring stories we need to be focused on as women. Regardless of the size of our bodies, majority of women are great role models. We should not be defined by the name given to a style of jeans or what a trashy tabloid considers acceptable.

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.

Thoughts while running through a zoo

This morning KK and I ran the Gerald Fox 10km and 21.1km race at the Jo’burg zoo. We’ve run this race twice before and every time we’ve run it, the weather has been miserable. It was no different when we arrived at the zoo with the temperature hovering on a nippy 9 degrees.Okay, so let me cut to the chase. How’d it go?

The good:

  • I felt strong. This must be due to the weekly spinning sessions as well as the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon runs.
  • I kept to my run/walk strategy.  Ironically, it takes my mind off watching the kilometres.

The bad:

  • KK and I forgot our running chips at home so our race times were not recorded. Pity for KK who did a PB! 1:41 minutes for 21.1kms.
  • My Garmin died on me at the 8km mark. Dead. I need to get it fixed. It seems my satellite doesn’t switch off which drains my battery.

The ugly:

  • The race was tougher mentally than physically. I did not want to get out of bed this morning. I did not feel like running in the cold. I struggled running whilst being surrounded by walkers who kept passing me. In fact, the last 1km was hectic. I’m racing against people who are walking. WTH!
  • At around the 6km mark, I thought about running a half marathon again. Just the thought of it scared me and I was filled with self-doubt. I need to work on this. *what’s new*

So to end off on a postive note, my training for the 2013 running season has started early. Last year, I only started in November with the Irene race but already I’ve completed Old Eds, Wanderers and Gerald Fox.

This is good. Now just to keep going…