It’s world Move for Health Day and in celebration of my goal to go from sedentary to moving over the last two years I thought it would be a great day to write about the Two Oceans Half Marathon… it was a great day indeed. And to ALL of my supporters and followers who have backed me on this journey and encouraged me all the way, I cannot thank you enough. This post is scattered full of little life lessons. The first one is: Don’t Be Afraid To Dream Big… I could never have imagined when I started working out two years ago that I would ever, ever run a half marathon… it was months before I could even run once around the track.
Let’s Talk About The Training
When you enter a training programme that guarantees you a good chance of a finish at the Two Oceans Half Marathon, you have to know that the training is going to be difficult. I never really thought about the training though, my heart was already on the finish line and I signed up anyway. Had I known how hard it would be, I would never ever have believed I could do it. We practiced the route, we practiced the route again… we did hills and we did speed work, we did strength training… I worked harder than I ever imagined I could, and even though I am VERY far from the best athlete, I loved it. I loved it all… the nicest thing was that as we got fitter so we ran more adventurous routes we could run… and by far my favourite run of the entire programme was the run up Chapman’s Peak… my goodness we run in a beautiful part of the world, and it is no surprise why The Two Oceans Marathon is called The Most Beautiful Race in the World.
The whole training journey got me closer and closer to my dream… it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but never impossible. I could actually do it. I learnt about my limits… finding them and then pushing them… creaking the gap between what I think I can do and what I can actually do further and further apart. I love believing I can do stuff… bit my implementation isn’t always on point. But I had a great training plan, I really just had to show up. A lot of the time my head was thinking… “this is way bigger than me…” I let my head run with that… but I continued to show up and let my body do the running.
A ton of people had my back and knew I could do this, and quite a few thought it would be impossible. Nothing is impossible, when you put your mind to it… and if your mind isn’t playing along, Just Show Up Anyway… you will be surprised.
Let’s Talk About the Build-Up
This race has been my dream for so long… an actual dream above all dreams… it was big and I really wanted to be part of it all. I certainly wasn’t going to miss any of the training, or the get togethers and if I had to miss training then I made sure that I caught it up. But that wasn’t all… the week or two before the race a lot started to happen, functions and events and I loved it… could there be anything more exciting than the Fiftieth Two Oceans Marathon… exciting times indeed. But, I could have spent less energy on the build up and a lot more energy on resting.
Let’s Talk About a Setback
As we got closer and closer to race day, I started to see actual improvement in my running… times coming down, chugging up hills was becoming jogging up hills. If nothing else, this programme was going to get me from a chugger to a jogger. It was getting to the stage where I was starting to believe that I could very definitely run this race. And then ten days before race day I had a bad fall. Running in the pitch dark, very close to the race route and my last potentially good run of training… after that I made it through one or two runs… but I knew it was far from ideal. All the ice in the world could not bring the swelling down before race day. Not the best way to start my first half marathon and the race of my life. That being said all the preparations were done and it was time to move…
Let’s Talk About Race Day
It started early, but that was no problem we had trained for that, all our training runs were in the predawn. To say stepping out in “trepidation” doesn’t really cut it. My last two runs before the race were not good runs and I knew it. Also, while I knew I could do it in theory, I was very concerned about the cut-off… I am a slow runner, even the slightest mishap would jeopardise my finish. All the preparation and pre-race mental prep could not have prepared me for the crowds and the noise… honestly I was nervous and felt a bit like I was in a washing machine. And we were off… a very cautious start, and places that I thought I would run, I had to walk – because nerves!!! I never expected that at all… once it started to get light, my risk of falling went away and I started to feel a lot better. I made it, neither graciously or like a speedy gazelle, up the hill of all hills, Southern Cross Drive…
Let’s Talk About Quitting – Never!!!
From there, I had visualised running, flying in fact, all the way to the finish so many times. The exact opposite happened, I made it a km down the hill to Cecelia Forest and ground to a complete halt. I think if all my friends, who have followed my journey had been with me there, they would have seriously been holding their breathe. I literally thought the whole thing through and decided that it was completely crazy… I was “near death and there was no way on earth that I would finish the journey.” BUT, never underestimate the power of kindness. A friend ran past and offered me some jelly babies. We never refuelled during training, we just ran with water, and for some reason on race day – I was having a sip of Coke at the water tables and that was it. I didn’t take into account all the extra nervous energy that I was using… the jelly babies got me very slowly and not so steadily to the next water table and from there I started taking on a lot more fuel… I needed too… I also figured that if I could just keep my head focused on the finish line and jog my way along that the worst that could happen was I wouldn’t make the cut-off, but at least I wouldn’t quit. I felt better and better as I went along and by the time I got to the finishing field I knew I had it and nothing on earth was going to take my smile away!!! Thrilled beyond measure. I made it. By four minutes folks… I did not break any records (!!!), I did not quit, though there was a moment when it was extremely close, I made it… and that was always my goal… Earn myself a Two Oceans T-shirt… this is a race shirt I never want to give up!!!
Let’s Talk About Recovery
Nobody told me about recovery… I thought I would be stiff, I wasn’t at all. I thought I would be tired on the day, but honestly I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. I thought at the very least my feet would be sore… but they weren’t and that is all probably down to the great preparation and training programme. However… dead legs are a thing, and need to be respected!!! The first week I tried to run, but I felt as if I was running through treacle… running backwards even. My legs were heavy and I was genuinely tired. The thing is, I really wanted to want to run… but shew it was so so hard. By the second week, I started to think I might never want to run again but at the end of week two I woke up with renewed energy and I was ready to run. Really run. So this evening I took myself for a run up the mountain… I don’t have a proper goal right now. I do have a goal for the year… to enter a race every month. So I have entered a 10km road race at the end of this month… but otherwise I know something will turn up… maybe a trail run? Could I run a trail run… I know how hard they look? Maybe another half marathon… I know I have run a truly difficult one and anything else will be easier. So I am in decision mode… scouring the internet for races that excite me and continuing with my one race a month philosophy, and trying not to think too hard (just yet) about next year’s Two Oceans Marathon.
Let’s Talk About The Biggest Life Lesson
There is a place in the world for slow runners and lots of them. Yes, it is inspiring to watch the fast runners fly by, but everyone needs to be moving. And most runners, believe it or not… are running next to me, in my “time zone.” I am slow, but I go… and I am definitely not alone!!!
Let’s Talk About the Journey
I can run 21km, I can run up the mountain with my kids on a sunny afternoon, and I can dream bigger… I feel so much better about everything since I first starting exercising. I sleep better, I eat better and I cope better with everything that living a life with eight kids brings. But over the last few weeks of training I have gone from thinking I would like to be a runner, to thinking I am a runner. It’s very different view of the world than the one I was living with for years and years… and without a team behind me I would have most likely given up along the way. Find your support Team and go for it… my goal was just to Move, then Move everyday… there is no way that I am stopping now… it is definitely a case of Onwards and Upwards.
This is not a sponsored post and opinions are as always, entirely my own. I did run the race as part of the OCEANS 4 TEAM and as Brand Ambassador of the Healthy Weight Programme at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, because of that I do receive access to their gym and training programmes.