First race of the year!

A friend of mine, Jaya shared with me her goal running a ten kilometre race. We had previously run a five kilometre race together a few years ago and I knew she had the potential of realising this aspiration with a bit of training.

I decided to take her under my wing, offer guidance and train with her. We selected the UWC Fast and Flat ten kilometre race in Bellville. We had less than three weeks to prepare for the race and even I felt a bit overwhelmed, considering I’d only resumed running after a six month lay-off!

I worked out a program for her to follow during the week as she trained in the gym on a treadmill and I attempted to clock in as many kilometres as I could at the running club. Training during the week is demanding as I try to run on three days after work. I am always scurrying to change into my gear, to make it on time to my club, the onset of winter making itself known as daylight disappears earlier. Nevertheless, I persevered and was getting back into my running swing, building consistency which is key to effective training.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a husband who is supportive of everything I undertake. The icing on the cake is that he enjoys running just as much as I do and I can count on him to train with me over weekends. On the first weekend of training, Neil and I met up with Jaya to tackle the longer distances. We ran a slow and steady seven kilometres, taking short walk breaks to alleviate the strain placed on our legs, affording us the ability to increase the distance without feeling fatigued.

During the week I continued to build on my consistency. I ran time trials at my club, which are meant to push you out of your comfort zone, aiding you to become faster and stronger in races, affording you the edge of improving your pace.

The second and final weekend of training consisted of running a full distance of ten kilometres. We decided to take our run out to Mouille Point, jogging around the Waterfront, careening pass Cape Town stadium, dashing into Green Point Park, trailing off to Sea Point and finally returning to our starting position. It felt mighty grand realising we ran the full distance and could comfortably look forward to the upcoming race.

The subsequent week brought on frosty temperatures meshed with unwelcome rain clouds, threatening our plans. The weather predicted a shower in the morning of the race and Jaya was become antsy. I reassured her that it probably wouldn’t rain and if it did, might only drizzle which would be easy to run through. Little did I know what was in store for us!

Springing up at the crack of dawn for a race is always my pet peeve. I moan and groan all the way until I get out of the house and then switch into race mode. It was an icy morning, however it wasn’t raining and I was optimistic we were going to have a great race. When the gun was fired and runners were zipping past us, I was settling into my running pace and started to warm up nicely, when it starting raining – first softly and then like a waterfall! I struggled to compose myself, battling my mind to continue running despite the elements. I was starting to freeze from the inside; my hair was dripping, my clothing soaked and my running shoes sloshed as I ran along the road, dodging puddles. Try as I may I couldn’t get warm and this was hampering my performance.

Luckily for us, the rain ceased after a while. At the first water stand, I slowed down and grabbed something to drink and repositioned myself. Jaya and Neil had pushed off, running their own race while I gathered my thoughts and put plan B into action. I decided to take it in my stride and run at a comfortable pace in order to get through the race. As the second refreshment station came into sight, I grabbed a powerade, downed it and pushed forward to tackle the last three kilometres of the race.

Finally I had found my rhythm, my body had warmed up and I felt I was going to make it. Although I was running slowly, I was making steady progress and that benefitted me greatly. I could hear the loud speakers in the distance, the sound of the crowd and I knew the end was near. Crossing the finish line was an ecstatic moment, a medal placed in my hand, an accolade of triumph.

Spotting Neil, Jaya and my club friends at the finish was a delight. Hugs, big smiles and high fives were in full swing. I was incredibly proud of Jaya for completing her first ten kilometre race under trying conditions to reach her goal. I patted myself on the back realising the training and effort I’d put into running the race, revelling in the joyous moment of the sweet fruit of my toil.

Running remains one of my most treasured hobbies. It drives me to continuously better myself in ways I couldn’t believe possible. I have made huge strides in overcoming many obstacles in my life and running has been my saving grace. No matter where my journey leads me, I know for sure that running will play a monumental role in powering me to achieve my aspirations.

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