On Sunday I found myself standing at the start of the race where everything began – the VOB Grape Run, known as one of the toughest but also one of the most beautiful half marathons in the Western Cape.
The morning was clear and warm as we went winding up into Groot Constantia then hitting the dirt tracks around the vineyards and through the forests, giving us unobstructed views over the southern suburbs of Cape Town.
This being the only race I’ve ever done twice, I was pretty eager to see how much I’d improved since last year’s run with my mom – in tennis shoes, talk about a beginner 😉
Finishing at a sprint (after really huffing and puffing the last 2 kilometres with my music blaring so loudly I couldn’t even hear what JayZ was saying), I came in at 2:01 – that is 17 minutes faster!!
Another great surprise was bumping into a lady who I’d run part of the Comrades with and who had essentially been the deciding factor in me leaving my mom at half-way. I also happened upon Reluctant Runner readers who, when I caught up to them (they were walking at this stage) were very quick to motivate me to try for the 2 hour mark!
Two and a half full marathons (I didn’t finish the one I started with the flu), a bunch of half marathons and the Comrades Marathon later – I feel like the first chapter in my running career has been written and is drawing to a close.
I would like to dedicate my next year of running to all the wonderful people I’ve met and who have motivated me to reach my goals this year. I also have to warn everyone that I have decided to take a few weeks off from running to give my body a break and indulge in the other things which I love doing and which have taken a back seat (my surfing has been reduced to beginner level and I don’t even want to talk about Yoga) so that when I start training for next year’s Comrades, I’m refreshed and ready to take on the challenges that surround getting my body ready for another 89km race…
On Sunday I do the Grape Run – the first half marathon I ever did – exactly a year ago…
With this landmark coming up I’ve been thinking about the past year (I tried not to because it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long – but I failed) and what I’ve achieved. It’s been a pretty hectic year for me career wise, emotionally and financially and to be honest I’m not sure I would have weathered it as well if I hadn’t had such a massive goal to work towards.
Yes I complained about running monopolising my time, it was the cause of some pretty substantial physical pain and I managed to blame it for everything that didn’t go right in my life – but it is also responsible for my biggest accomplishment.
This is what I have learned over the past year:
- I proved to myself by training, participating and finishing the Comrades Marathon – that I can do anything I put my mind to, which is empowering in so many ways.
- Blogging has been my outlet for running frustrations and indirectly some of my emotional turmoil (which is for another type of blog all together) and has put me on a new career path I hadn’t even considered.
- Fundraising is not only easy but immensely fulfilling and is something I’d like to carry on with into the future.
- The ability to run and motivate others is infectious, and I seem to be good at it.
- Not to take myself too seriously because it forms barriers against having to pee behind cars and bushes in a race – and not care if anyone is looking.
I realize now that I’m not really the “Reluctant Runner” anymore – although I most certainly started out as one and some days still feel like that person, but I’m going to have to shift my focus a little where this blog is concerned.
I’ll fill everyone in on my plan in the next week or so but for now I’m going for a run – coz I want to…
On Sunday I did the Gun Run and decided to see how fast I could actually run 10km if I just pushed a little. I guess this is why normal people run time trials but in order to NOT have running take over my life and in trying to achieve some balance with my career and social life, not forgetting to leave some quality time for myself – I guess time trials didn’t even make my list of “To Do’s”…
A unique feature of this race is that the start is signified by the firing of a canon – at this point I’d like to say this race should NOT be run by people prone to fright or heart attacks since I almost jumped out of my skin, being unprepared for how a canon sounds from roughly 10 metres away.
Pushing hard from about the 5km mark I managed to come in at 51 minutes although I could feel I had pushed it and felt mildly nauseas when I was done, something which hasn’t happened to me since school Physed classes.
After the race I was chatting to an older gentleman who had also done the 10km run and who had come in at 46 minutes, he was 76 years old!! This reminded me of WHY I run and one of my motivations for having started on this journey which has resulted in me loving the sport and trying to persuade other people to start running too.
My next race is the Grape Run which is the first half marathon I ever did. I anticipate it being rather emotional but I’m excited to see how much I have improved in a year, on the same course.
I came across this website the other day.
I would love to think that all you – my loyal and dear readers – ONLY read my musings on running and what it takes to train for a long distance race, but in the interest of giving you a more technical view on things I’m going to say have a look at this site. It is a collection of a few resources which includes a marathon training blog, a triathlon training blog and a few other things.
Check it out
The other day I received my Comrades Marathon race photos in the post… With great excitement I opened the envelope to examine my crowning glory of coming into the stadium – as I recall, alone thinking to myself how wonderful it was to run over the finish line with nobody blocking my way or obstructing me.
This memory of running not only into the stadium alone but onto the field and over the line with nobody else in sight, holding back the tears is still so vivid to me that when I looked at the photo I was shocked to see that, in fact I wasn’t alone…
Isn’t it amazing what the mind can do (keeping in mind at that stage I’d been running for over 11 hours)!! Check it out…
Running over the finish line
Not so alone...