Cape Town 12 One Run…

I haven’t written much about my running for a while. As many of you know I’m an avid runner with a passion for the sport. However, I’ve fallen prey to a number of injuries along the way and had to practice patience, downscale my goals and build my form from scratch.

13244851_792763484188499_6327613172355314773_n[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Off we go 🙂

Speak to any injured runner and they can attest to how devastating it is to let go of your racing dreams or even accept one might not attain their former glory. As much as I love running and feel I’m flying high as a kite at times, it’s always short-lived and easily forgotten after a terrible run.

13173788_792761980855316_1725269304597464139_n[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Carnival performers 🙂

And non-runners would ask – why do it, why bother, why waste your time pursuing a sport that breaks you down (literally), drags you out of a warm bed at unholy hours , makes you all sweaty and miserable when you can’t run? For me, it’s simple – running is my escape, joy and nemesis whirled into one!

13174172_792766380854876_3833217902394458244_n[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Mermaids cheering us on 🙂

This year has seen me take on a number of 10km races. It took many setbacks to finally accept my body works best with consistency and improving my time rather than increasing the mileage. Neil and I have been spoilt for choice, running a race almost every weekend in Cape Town. Having a partner who shares my love of running is priceless ❤

13239449_792766074188240_6517869775180012909_n[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Sophia Town dancers 🙂

A race that stood out for me was the Cape Town 12 One Run. It launched its inaugural event in May last year to mass participation and was voted the best race of 2015. I missed it and had serious fomo! When I saw it being advertised early in 2016, I knew I had to take part. I immediately entered Neil and I to run the 12km distance. Up to this point we’d only run 10km races, so the additional 2km’s seemed rather daunting!

13178808_792763844188463_4335804160541452893_n[1]

Cape Town 12 One run pic: drum majorettes 🙂

Setting off to collect our race numbers a day before the race, I was already hyped up. The Green Point athletics stadium was abuzz with runners waiting in line. We kept each other company sharing who’d run it before and what to expect. Some were even saying they were aiming for personal bests as it was a relatively flat race. All this talk of running and racing was music to my ears and I couldn’t wait to line up.

13248387_792655240865990_8415568613429856333_o[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic: Carnival Performers 🙂

From the moment I opened my eyes on race day, I was awoken by a lovely sms from the organisers saying it was time to rise and shine and I needed to catch a bus to the start. As the race commenced only at nine, we had sufficient time to get to town, seek parking and make our way to the Grand Parade to catch a Mi-city bus to Milnerton. I’d never travelled on the vamped up busses before and Neil and I were like two school children giggling in our seats.

13221242_792660427532138_2862829010380886888_o[1]

Cape Town 12 One Run pic

Everything about the race spelt fun and fabulous. From the carnival performers in their colourful ensembles, the marimba bands, the minstrels, drum majorettes, DJ’s, African dancers, firefighters and so much more. Each kilometre marked a different group performing and cheering the runners on. I didn’t feel the distance whizz by as I was loving every moment, taking in the sights and sounds.

2016-05-15_11.34.41

Yay we did it 🙂

Races like these remind me why I love the sport. It’s never about beating the next person, rather challenging yourself to do better, to soak in your surroundings and appreciate the countless people who give up their weekends to ensure your safety and cheer you on.

Congratulations CT 12, you’ve outdone yourselves 🙂

Advertisements

An Injured Runner…

I have been quiet about my running due to picking up two dreaded injuries. These mishaps prevented me from competing in the 21km Gun Run and I was gutted.

Recovering from bilateral bunionectomy last year where I was booked off from running for six months – the one thing that kept me going was the hope that I would return stronger and full of drive. When I finally received the go-ahead to return to my beloved running in May, I was elated.

I started off slowly and got back into the swing of things. A friend of mine wanted to train for a ten kilometre race and even though I knew it was too soon for me, I decided to train with her. I managed to run that race with plenty of walk breaks, which didn’t result in a great time, but I was glad I’d challenged myself. I went on to run another 10km race and a 15km race in quick succession. This is when I picked up something was terribly wrong with my right leg. It would go numb a few kilometres into a run, it felt like I was pulling a lead pole and I was placing immense strain on my good leg. I was expending so much energy getting through training runs, it was starting to mess with my mental belief in myself and I was becoming worried.

I consulted my Podiatrist on the numbness and he diagnosed it as compartment syndrome. This happens when pressure inside an enclosed space impedes the flow of blood to and from the affected tissues resulting in bleeding and swelling after an injury. I researched the condition and tried everything under the sun to warm my muscles before and after my runs, wore compression sleeves to alleviate the symptoms and stretched my calves religiously. Some days it would allow me to run pain free, whilst others it would torture me over a good few kilometres and then vanish as soon as it appeared.

I knew that I wanted to compete in the Gun Run. It was one of my favourite races and I needed to redeem the awful performance I encountered last year when I was injured with plantar fasciitis and struggled to cross the finish line. So I soldiered on, despite a rain cloud hanging over my head, intent on working hard towards my goal. At this point, we were incorporating hill work as the race itself had a treacherous incline which could make or break your performance.

I’ve never been a fan of hills and probably never will. Races are peppered with hills and one truly cannot escape them in Cape Town. We settled on Plattekloof which is notorious for its monster hills and you’re guaranteed a heart-pounding workout. I worked hard running those hills and when I felt I couldn’t tackle some, gave it a miss and walked up instead. All in all I thought I was doing pretty well in terms of my training and truly believed I would be race ready.

I was mistaken. During my final long run of 18 kilometres, I felt a stabbing pain in my right hip. Every step I took caused excruciating discomfort in my hip – but I refused to back down, wanting to bag the mileage and get the run over and done with. When I arrived home my hip was screaming and I was on the verge of tears. I knew something was horribly wrong and I needed to rehab it as soon as possible.

Once again I researched my symptoms and it pointed in the direction of trochanteric bursitis. This is a condition characterized by tissue damage and inflammation of the bursa (a small fluid filled sac located at the outer aspect of the hip) causing pain in the hip. This typically occurs due to repetitive running or walking (especially up hills or on uneven surfaces), placing strain on the bursa via the gluteals.

When I got out of bed the next morning I was limping and in agony and had to seek medical attention. I called numerous Orthopaedic Surgeons for an appointment without any luck as many were fully booked. I finally found one in the City and rushed to his office. Upon examination he diagnosed my injury as trochanteric bursitis and proceeded to administer a cortison injection in the affected area. Immediately I felt relief from the symptoms and thought it would be the end of it. He then gave me the devastating news that I shouldn’t compete in the Gun Run and booked me off from running for six weeks with physiotherapy to strengthen my weak hip.

I walked out of his consulting room shattered, my hopes for running the race crushed and I couldn’t see the silver lining in this situation. Receiving this news during the week of my party placed a damper on my mood realising I had to come to terms with this development. Yet I couldn’t – I bawled my eyes out and called Neil who tried to assure me everything would be okay and we would get through this together.

When one realises you have an injury and the goal that you worked so hard to attain is out of reach it is hard to understand the process, let alone accept your fate. Running is my passion, it is what I clung to when I was overcoming my alcoholism, it has always been my saving grace. For it to be snatched away from me again, albeit for 6 weeks, felt like my body was failing me and my goals were unreachable.

It was incredibly difficult to break the news to my training friends as it hurt so much talking about it. I also found it hard to remain positive and to be my happy self when I couldn’t get the endorphins pumping as I wasn’t allowed any cardio. It seemed like I was sinking into a deep dark hole and I didn’t know how to get back on track.

What made it harder to deal with was that the race took place this past weekend. I knew it was going to be tough to handle, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as punishing. My husband and friend ran the race and as much as I wanted to support them, I couldn’t find the courage to cheer them on from the side lines or shut off my emotions. I was glad they’d done it, they trained hard and deserved the victory. But it was hard to be joyful as that was my goal and one I couldn’t achieve.

Now in hindsight, I did not allow myself enough time for my body to grow accustomed to the kilometres and the training I was pushing it through soon after my operation. It needed time and space to condition itself, I should have followed a conservative training program from the onset – but I didn’t and now I am paying the price through injury.

I believe that every setback we encounter teaches us a lesson. I’ve tried to comprehend what mine is and I guess it boils down to patience and listening to what my body is saying. I’ve had to downscale my goals and open my mind to other possibilities of building a stronger me.

I will never give up on my running goals, it might take me longer to get there, but I know I will succeed, maybe not in my time but in God’s time.

801e134f4104bfda8e972ec74dad698f[1]

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.

Why I love Running …

I was never one of those people who took a liking to fitness at school. As a matter of fact I abhorred anything sporty. Even after finishing school and starting my own family, I still refused to do anything physical. As time went by, my lifestyle became more sedentary and coupled with bad eating habits, drinking and smoking, my weight fluctuated. I was terribly unhappy with my appearance, my lifestyle and the example I was setting for my children.

About four years ago, I decided to turn my life around, heading on the path of changing my eating habits, quitting drinking and smoking simultaneously. This complete overhaul was incredibly hard to incorporate all at once, but it was now or never and I took it ONE day at a time.

With all the newfound energy I felt, I resolved to start exercising. I joined the gym and started walking on the treadmill. I was fascinated by all those FIT people running effortlessly on a treadmill for minutes on end. I wanted to be exactly like them and set a goal to follow a 5km training plan. I started slowly, with just one minute of running followed by 3 minutes of walking. I struggled to even run for a minute – I was sooo unfit, my chest burnt, my legs felt like lead poles and thoughts clogged my mind I was wasting my time.

But I refused to give up! I went to gym three times a week and persevered until I was able to run 20 minutes non-stop! That’s when I when I fell in LOVE with running. I found I was looking forward to training more, pushing my body to limits it couldn’t conceive. An incentive was that I was losing weight and getting fitter and stronger.

I joined Run Walk for Life Milnerton in February 2011 and it was where my running took off. I learnt how to breathe properly, how to pace myself to run longer and not feel intimidated by the faster runners. Being part of a club instils comradery and affords one the motivation to train and compete in races.

My first race was the 10 km Gun Run in 2011.  It was FANTASTIC!!! Although I didn’t run the entire distance, took plenty of walk breaks, I still managed to finish in a good time. Receiving my first medal is a moment I’ll never forget. That’s when the RUNNING BUG bit! Finally I’d found a hobby I was proud of. I continued to set goals, was disciplined in training, followed a balanced diet and didn’t allow fear to control my destination.

Running outdoors is a delight! Yes one has to deal with inclement weather at times, but the mere fact you’re in nature soothes the soul. I get to witness the most breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, run along the shore as the waves lick the sand. I’m blessed with the company of singing birds when I don’t feel like talking and want to zone out. Running is my solace, my escape from reality, my ME time to find peace in a stressful world. The endorphins released is an amazing feeling and a runners high at the end of a run is always GUARANTEED 🙂

Races get me EXCITED. Those pre-race jitters of getting up at the crack of dawn, donning your gear, butterflies floating inside, praying you’ll do well. Huddled together with other runners at the start, the shot goes off, the frenzy to break free from the herd. Then adrenalin sets in and steely determination takes over and you know you’re going to finish because you trained for it and you want it badly. As you approach the finish, you find a fresh wind, power in your legs and you run like your life depends on it. A moment of sheer glory!

I strive to encourage others to exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle. The benefits are ENORMOUS and SATISFYING in the busy lives we lead. Running, of course is my favoured choice, but it can be any form of exercise that gets you moving, jolts your heart and makes you HAPPY. When you find a sport you LOVE, it ceases to be work, you become PASSIONATE and it makes you smile. If I can do it, ANYONE can!!!

Always remember… a journey of a thousand miles begins with ONE STEP ~ Lau Tzo