I took a gamble on Om Die Dam & it paid off

My foot is still not better. Even though I’ve been quite obsessive with all the treatments, socks, granny shoes, massaging and exercises, it still aches. I was about to surrender my Two Oceans half marathon entry but then spotted on KK’s training program that he was running the Om Die Dam (ODD) 50km race. It got me scheming…

  • I had not run a 21km race since last year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • I need to run a 21km race for this year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • If I get halfway and struggle with my foot, I can walk to the end. Time on feet, right?
  • The race has a 4-hour cutoff for the half. Ample time!

So off we drove to Harties early Saturday morning. We haven’t run ODD for a couple of years. The congested traffic, the crowds, KK wasn’t running many ultras. It was a race we rather avoided. This year was different. Parking 100ms from the start, well-organised and 24/hr manned spotless port-a-loos in every corner. Always a good sign.

KK and I split up before the start. He wanted to slip into his starting pen early, I wanted to take my time lubing up and getting into ‘the zone’. I had not set a goal time. I was hoping to run under 3:10 but had no idea how under-trained I was. Perhaps 3:20 was more realistic?

My half marathon time ranges between 2:44 and 3:15. But this was the first time I had taken such a long break, focusing instead on 10km distances. Would it come back to bite me? I was also unsure if I would undo months of resting & care of my foot. Only one way to find out. *stupid thinking*

Mentally I had done my homework. In the days leading up to the race, I had envisioned running the distance. I wrote down a few positive statements on my pacing chart that I planned to whip out & read when I hit the dark patches en route. I was ready.

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The fish eagle crowed (the start gun!) and off we ran. I had bumped into friends, Billy & Christa, at the start of the race & when she mentioned that she wanted to run 3 hours, I thought, “Okay Bron, stick with them.” But soon found this to be impossible.

In the first few km’s their pace was too fast. I was struggling. I desperately wanted to keep up with them thinking that if Comrades race veteran Billy was pacing, I’d be fine. But they slipped further and further away. Getting to that finish line was all in my hands now.

I slowed down to a more comfortable pace and looked around, trying to take my mind off the run. I had completed 7kms in 1 hour. Was this too fast? Typically, if I can run 7kms every hour, I make the 3-hour cutoff gun. I was on track. I was confident. Was I overly confident? Perhaps. Definitely. I was over-thinking.

Just as I was about to pull out my pacing chart, a friendly face popped up alongside me. My ex-colleague and friend, Thiren. We started chatting away and it was just what I need to take my mind off the run as we neared the 14km mark. 2 hours had passed.

It’s quite amazing what the body can achieve if the mind believes and I declared to Thiren that we would make 3 hours if we pushed ourselves. I started to see that finish line! He was struggling with calf pain and managed to run to the 18km mark together before he trailed off.

I wasn’t done yet. I felt fantastic. I was strong. Hurting, but still strong. As I reached the 19km mark, I spotted Billy’s familiar white Comrades cap. I had caught them! What joy! I was thrilled that we had both achieved the goals we had set out at the start. It was 3 hours.

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I crossed the finish line, elated! My foot had survived. It wasn’t sore (YET! The afternoon was hell). But my mind had achieved what I needed it to do – believe that I could manage the distance. The body explodes with feel-good hormones when you finish a race. The best part is that this feeling lingers for quite some time afterwards…and boy was I happy!

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Two Oceans, here we come!

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It’s (mostly) all in your head #quote

My Coach has managed to teach me that yes, running is all about consistency and discipline. On the days I get home from work and crash on the bed, I know that heading out that door for a 30 minute easy run will do my body and mind a whole lot more than a half an hour snooze.

I’ve come to realise that it’s my mind that needs the extra training some days, not so much my body. Running, home-life, at work. Believing in myself. Pushing myself out of comfort zones and stretching myself. I know I can do it. I need to train my mind to believe it!Your mind

Surrounding myself with greatness in 2013

I did not start 2013 off with a bag of New Year’s resolutions like I always do. I decided that this year, there’s only one thing which I will focus on: It’s to ensure I surround myself with positive people, those that want to see me succeed and those that encourage me to reach my goals.

Let me tell you a quick story…

In 2010, I did not make the Two Oceans 3 hour half marathon cut off time. I missed it by 6 minutes. I can still remember the route clearly and the sections where I struggled most and desperately needed that extra push. But instead, I was surrounded by “supporters” who let me down. You see, running at my pace of 8mins/km, I’m typically at the back of the pack surrounded by the backmarkers and walkers. It’s not usually a big crowd but stragglers who are huffing and puffing. On this particular day, as I was running along, desperate to make up time, I passed many people standing along side the route who did not realise that whatever they said was heard by every runner passing them.

  • “These guys will never make it, they are too far behind.”
  • “Oh no, look at these so-called runners. Why bother if you can’t run at a decent pace?”
  • Shouts of “Stop walking, run. This is a running race, not a walk!”

I let it all get to me and it was very difficult to push myself being surrounded by these negative statements. I allowed myself to believe what they said, and I gave up. By the time I reached University Drive and KK came running down to meet me, I did not have enough energy to give it that extra push and try beat the clock. I just cried. I did not make it. No medal. DNF.

When I look back now, I realised that it was my own fault. The lesson for me is that I should not have listened to them. I should’ve believed in myself and pushed myself. I should’ve drowned them out with the supporters that were cheering me on, wanting me to have a good race. But in life, how easy is to allow the naysayers to break your spirit. How often do we listen to people who are negative and do not believe in us? We allow them to plant those seeds of self-doubt. We end up not believing in ourselves.Surround yourself

So in 2013, at work, at home and especially during the races, I will seek out those ‘supporters’ who cheer me on. The ones who believe in me and get me to that finish line so that I reach my goals! Here’s to a fantastic 2013!

Sticks and stones (and words) can break my bones

It is amazing how one person can make such a difference to how you ‘see’ yourself and what you believe you can accomplish. That person can either build you up or break you down – if you allow them to.

When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist. I wanted to write, to tell stories, to find out and share information. The path I landed up taking was into librarianship and so I found myself surrounded by books and information, unfortunately not written by me. But I found happiness.

In 2002, I started working in a financial institution where one of my tasks was to write a monthly report. From day one, I struggled. I was not used to working with Word and I was constantly beaten down by my manager. Even after attending a course on report writing, I was still not getting it right and up to ‘her’ standards.

I still remember her words to me, “I made a mistake in hiring you because I thought you could write. But you can’t. Perhaps you should just focus on research instead.”  Ironically, this is what I did. Fast forward 10 years and through friends who believed in me, I started a blog. I’ve loved every single minute of it. The feedback is not so much about my writing skills, but about what I’ve been writing about.

No one criticizes the occasional spelling mistake. No one tells me I don’t know how to use styles properly. I don’t get red pen scratches all over my posts. The comments and feedback are always positive and always telling me how my posts have hit a mark or touched people in a certain way.

That’s powerful and humbling at the same time.

I was chatting to a friend recently and he was expressing concern that in life, majority of people can not articulate what the want to do. People just don’t know. He went on to explain that it’s not about what ‘job’ you want to do as much as a simple ‘thing’ you want to accomplish in life. It’s up to each one of us to know what that ‘thing’ is.

It’s then that it hit me. I know what I’ve been enjoying in the last couple of months. I know what has made me happy, what has overtaken my time and fuels my thoughts all day long. I know what I want to do.

I want to write…