Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A wee run, big decision

It was a fresh Autumn Saturday morning and a comfortable energy spread across us 400+ runners as we waited for the start of the 52km run from the foothills of the Drakensberg into the town of Ladysmith. It was my second start of this under-rated race, and I was a touch nervous at the enormity of the task. I needed to get to the town in 6 and a half hours, so I could confirm my entry into this years Comrades. The sun hadn't gotten up yet when the starter gun went off, and we spilled onto the long tarred road. Manure lay on the ground and some 'eu de farm' bid us g'day as we started to spread out in the long snake-like motion with the faster guys running on ahead. I remembered from last time, to keep turning back to admire the view as the sun cracked the horison and spilled it's pink light on the majestic mountains. Mist hugged some lower valleys as the beauty dazzled in its display. Marlene ran comfortably beside me for the first 15km's, but I could feel myself pull back while she maintained her pace and I begged her to go and not worry about me. I had to sort this internal running dilemma that was beginning to show itself again to me.
The distance stretched out while the runners passed me by and we growled about the tables running out of water. I could feel myself slide more and more as I began to start doing the maths in my mind.
The Drakensberg's mesas and buttes, towers and turrets enveloped me in a berg hug, that I almost missed because I was so distracted by the loud 'tick-tock' in my head. Butterflies crossed my path, while kosmos twinkled across the landscape shining greenly in the early morning sun. Smiling, cheerful kids, high-fived us with a bright 'good morning' while the high school kids walked their teenage way to extra classes. Curious cows, and unaffected horses dotted the landscape. I had forgotten how pretty this route is, and as I listened to my inner debate, I heard a very clear question
'Imagine how I would be enjoying this, if it wasn't a timed event'.
I let the thoughts wash back and forth, all the while counting lamposts, and monitoring my body. I heard my hubby's voice mentally interrupt me
'why do you always analyse everything?'
I smiled, and knew that I have to go through every thought carefully, as that is how I come to my decisions.It looks to people on the outside (ie hubby) that I procrastinate. Meanwhile I am gathering information and going over it better than a rubik's cube (it still eludes me though).
I was huffing up a long winded hill, when I heard a 'real' friendly voice come up beside me and not from inside my skull
'so tell me, what is going on?'
I glanced at him and admired his buff over his ears for sun protection and admitted to him that I was questioning my reasons for being on the road today. He smiled, said gently 'you will figure it out' and then ran off. As I saw the back of him, I saw his age badge. 70 years old. A part of me wanted to trip him up but the other part smiled. Later I discovered that he was in fact 76 year old Barry Varty who was on his cheerful way to complete his 41st Bergville Race, a new record.
Not long after this encounter I started testing myself about why I want to do Comrades. I love the race, sure, and nothing ever comes close to that feeling of participating, but this year I was just not feeling up to par. My 'why' didn't feel strong enough and after much imaginary thought, I asked myself how I would feel if I didn't run this year. My body responded with a surprise feeling of glee. So I asked myself again. 'how will I feel not qualifying, and then not running again?' Same response. I tried to argue again, 'but it is a down run, Durban finishes are awesome'. Nope, I still felt excited at the prospect of not doing it. This felt completely different to the year that I couldn't take part because of injury. That was sadness, disappointment, and envy as I had qualified and everything. As the advantages of me not running began to stockpile up, I started looking for my friendly lady who was stopping at waterpoints in a car waiting for a loved one. I now needed a lift! At 34km, I stopped my watch and my road to Comrades ground to a halt. I climbed in the back of a bakkie, with three other runners and headed for the finish feeling confident that I had made the right decision.
The past few mornings I immediately 'scan' myself on waking, to check if I have any regrets and all I feel is a huge inner smile. I know this is the best decision for me this year. Now I can start my game plan on my 800km walk in Spain in July. That is another long beginning to a story... watch this space

Monday, October 19, 2015

Loch Ness Marathon

A year ago a Facebook friend posted some lovely photos of a race taking place in Scotland. Being the land of my birth, my curiosity was prickled and I went looked at the 'Loch Ness Marathon'  online and saw lovely sunny photos with happy faces plastered all over it. 'Could this be real, sun in Scotland?' I thought. After years of being 'rejected' by the London Marathon lottery I thought that this would be a nice option of a race and started working on a plan to get fellow runners on board. Five of us from South Africa and three UK-based ex South Africans all signed up.

The year slipped past and we found ourselves all ready and packed at OR Tambo Airport.

Standing at the flight check-in, I saw Comrades and running legend, Alan Robb, and I wondered out loud if he would be running the Loch Ness. I bounced over and blurted out my question to which his excited travelling companion said 'Yes, we are'! Chuffed to know that we would be running in the presence of greatness, we went through Customs and saw Alan talk to none other than Bruce Fordyce on the the other side of the strict customs officials. But later found out that the Comrades 'king' was going to Ireland instead.

We arrived in a sunny but cold Edinburgh and picked up our hired car. We had planned to stay with family as much as we could to soften the blow of our horrendous exchange rate so we made our way to our cousin who lovingly housed so many extra bodies in her home. She gave us a short tour of her pretty town and the following morning, we headed North to Inverness. The scenery was beautiful and green and the road got narrower, the further north, we drove. We turned off to our accommodation and arrived nice and early. We were staying at a hostel and it was interesting to see the different travellers that visit the the small town of Fort Augustus

We drove through to the finish area to register and had a quick walk round the small expo and tried not to gasp at the prices converted 21 times over. We spotted Alan Robb and Maritjie who had run the local 'parkrun' and we posed for a photograph.

I met up with a delightful friend who had travelled by motorbike to meet us, so we chatted in the rather chilly breeze before meeting up with my extended family. We met at a mall in the traffic-locked city and spent some time wandering around the shops before a leisurely walk along the River Ness. We joked at the amount of time we were spending on our feet unlike the day before Comrades when we try our best to 'rest up'. This was 'only a marathon'! 

Finally the morning of the race arrived and we all got ready in our SA flag tops and longs.

I was geared up with gloves, ear muffs and double layer clothing, taking no chance on this temperamental Scottish weather. We stepped outside the central heated rooms and gasped. The wind felt icy, but at least the sun was shining as we made our way for the bus to take us to the start. Two more of our 'party' joined us and we all climbed the bus eager for this delightful adventure to start. The bus climbed up some steep hills and dropped us off at the start. In the middle of nowhere there was speakers, toilets, huge trucks for our togbags, queues for free coffee, thousands of people rubbing and lubing and stripping down as the weather stayed kind to us. We huddled together in our designer dustbin bags to break the cold breeze and we saw Alan and Maritjie also in their SA flag tops. We chatted and felt honoured to be starting this unique race with a legend. 

The young pipe band started playing their bagpipes and walked through the throngs of people rousing up the heartstrings and leaving me teary eyed. This signalled that the race was about to start.

We were standing in the sub 4 hour starting pen, but it wasn't strictly controlled and everyone moved towards the start as the countdown began. The gun went off and we moved slowly forward. This is it. My first International Marathon start. Team SA ululated as we crossed the timing mats and our actual clock started. Our small group began to spread out and Marlene and I settled down to our own rhythm. We noticed how quiet the runners around us seemed and wondered if it was because we were still with the 'faster' group, but it turned out that is the way people run there. So Marlene and I chatted and took photos, greeted the few spectators, and generally had a great time. 

About half way, I started to feel two things differently from what I had expected. I was hungry and hot! This marathon only started at 10am and even though I had eaten a peanut butter sandwich on the bus, I began to crave real food. There was no coke on the road, only a sports drink and electrolyte sweets and the water was in bottles. I had my own supply of sweets but had forgotten biltong and crackers. The bottles proved quite useful due to the heat, and I made a point of keeping one in my pouch for the 3 miles in between tables. I contemplated taking off my top layer but then we would run through a shady area and I would feel a chill, so both layers stayed put. The views were magnificent when the trees cleared as we ran alongside Loch Ness for about 30km. The Urquhart castle ruins could be scene across the water and try I did to find 'Nessie' which had a £50 000 reward if spotted in a 'selfie'. But Nessie remained shy from our running eyes and the reward stayed sadly intact.
 At around 35km I saw my husband up ahead, walking upright. I was relieved as any leaning would have meant a problem, but he had suffered from cramps from early on and was walking rather briskly to the finish. We stayed with him, for the remainder of the distance, taking more selfies and greeting the spectators as we entered the city. With about 4km to go, the water table had a small packet of salty crackers and I asked if they could open them. They gave them to us and Marlene and I immediately wolfed them down, thankful for some solid food. We crossed the bridge of River Ness and waved as the 'Go South Africa' cheers gained momentum. All too soon we crossed the line in a rather slow time, but felt like we could still run on for longer. We collected our t-shirts, huge medals, soup and food and made our way over to our relieved family and shared our race stories

An absolutely fabulous race, perfect weather, beautiful scenery, no pain and great company, we can't ask for anything more. I will be back!

Och aye I will

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I know I said I wanted to get faster, but gosh it is hard work! We went out to run some hills. Sister Coach and bouncy hubby are fan-tastic supporters of mine and I know they mean well, but I could have used my arms to cause (their) bodily harm instead of bring my hands up to my chest!

On the uphill I was told ‘lift your knees’. At first I couldn’t hear them because my heartbeat was too noisy in my ears, but then they pointed to theirs and said ‘do this’ To which I cursed. They couldn’t hear me naturally as it was in internal curse, as I didn’t have the energy or breath to say it out loud. My one leg felt heavier than my sister’s whole body, I’m sure, mind you the other leg is a big as hubby too, I think! My chest was heaving and not in a sexy way but in that any-minute-now-I’m-going-to-collapse kind of way and I was beginning to reconsider my goals. Why don’t I take up chess rather? 

I wondered how the super athletes do it for so long and so fast but I took comfort knowing that we would be making our way home any moment. My heartbeat eventually returned to normal when we were one kilometre away from home. I knew I was feeling better because my chat was returning. I complained to hubby that I don’t feel fit at all. He said ‘it will get better’. But a part of me disagreed. I ran 80kms only a month ago, did I feel fit then? 

My body slips back into excuse mode very quickly and there is still that part of me that yearns for the couch. However I got a bit of speed going downhill and the clever part of me said ‘see, you are fitter than you think’.

We turned in at home and I was thankful that I can actually run, but was more thankful that we were done until sister Coach said ‘stretch’..... 

Hupblerry hup

Monday, June 22, 2015

Winter Running

Running is a very strange phenomenon. Three weeks after Comrades, I found myself back on the road with a new race in mind. But three weeks of ‘rest’ means that my mind reverted back to ‘default’ thinking. Ten kilometres is far! But that is what my program says and hubby is my biggest driver at the moment, almost forcing me out on the road.  Ten kays. My inner voice starts screaming at me. ‘Are you mad? What the...’ Anyways, I recognise this tune so I keep my head down and plod. Everything felt heavy and sluggish. The cement bricks in my legs groaned and creaked as my body began to unwrinkle from the winter slumber.

Around 5 kays my breathing quickened and not because of a mean uphill. I needed the bathroom. NOW! We hadn’t gone out of our area but I knew we were still too far for a dash home, so I contemplated my options. Hubby offered the garage, but I remembered there is a pub closer to us. I told him of my plan and I think he saw the desperation in my eyes so we cut up towards the pub. We aren’t drinkers so going into the pub in the middle of any day was rather strange and all the men stopped their chit chat and watched as I ducked to the back for the toilet. Hubby stood a respectful distance away outside. I was too desperate to care. Nature’s call answered, we headed back out weaving through streets trying to make up the distance. It felt like we had been running for hours but in reality was only one (and a bit).

Sunday’s program said another 10kays, so I thought I would try out my running pants that I had bought for our upcoming marathon. Loch Ness marathon is in September in Scotland so I am preparing for any kind of weather, but long trouser running is new for me. I pulled them on and we set off. 30 metres down the road, my new trousers had their own plan. They had started to roll down my bum. Hubby and sister laughed and gave me a few options of rolling the waistband but this didn’t help. 50 meters away I realised that my 10km would be extremely long if I was fiddling with my trousers the whole way, so I turned back to change. Immediately lighter, my run felt better and my cement legs were a thing of the past. We set off in the mid-solstice sun to run through the ‘hood. It was a much nicer run for me than the day before and I actually felt good. So with a rest day today it’s back to the drawing board to find myself 'troosers' that stay on!
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Comrades 4 and 3 quarters

The long weeks after Comrades. Sigh. Cranky, delightful, irritated and peaceful- yup that sums me up right now. The past 16 days have been rather trying for my hubby as he tries to figure out if I am really okay after my most recent Did Not Finish (DNF) on the 90th Comrades. I truly am - I think!
The race this year pointed out some serious internal beliefs that I am in the process of neatening up and hey, what better place to find them? On the (very) long road surrounded by other runners in the same space with no phone access, no internet access and no hubby driving a getaway car. 
The difference in this DNF as opposed to my previous one in 2010 was that I did not feel at all negative. Quite the opposite. I was charming all the spectators, barking at the dogs, and waving like royalty when the thought popped up. 'get into the bus, go to the tent and watch the winners come in while having lunch'. Huh? It felt like someone had flicked an internal switch. This was somewhere near the top of Fields hill, which is a misnomer, because 'fields' are usually flat. This hill ain't no molehill. I had managed to dodge away from my strong running partner as she shuffled up the hill looking over her shoulder to try find me, as I hid behind another walker. I did not want to affect her race. I took this strange foreign thought and started to work with it. Why is it here? There is no injury (loud panting aside) no real discomfort, and certainly only sunshine in my skull, so why this thought?
I then went through the many 'tests' that most long distance runners go through and the usual question is 'why am I here?' I looked around at the thousands of smiley, cheering spectators and knew that they are a big part for my being there. Then I considered that I actually enjoy it, and yet I found my eyes scanning the roads for those 'bailer buses'. I chatted to my usual 'helpers' in my heart and I then I spotted a familiar lean of an old running friend, unseen for the past five years. I felt delighted, although a little concerned to see Louis, who I found was struggling with stomach pain. I silently thanked Joe for this 'angel' he sent and then tried to encourage Louis to burp long and loud, which I demonstrated so he could get back to his faster pace. But he said he was 'paste'. I stayed with him for a long time and enjoyed just taking it easy, considering the ride back in the bus with company. The clock sped up as we slowed down and I felt that the halfway cut-off would give me my answer. 
The spectators thicken in places, and I was running behind a 'Westville' runner which made the local crowd roar and cheer specifically. I would complain as I ran past them shouting 'what about me' which usually made the spectators laugh in surprise. In one swollen crowd I spotted a familiar redhead, but before I got there, the small group screamed 'go Westville' to which I again lamented... 'what about me?' Ex cricket captain, gentleman, and hero of my moment, Shaun Pollock retorted in delight 'Go Lady Go'! I thanked him by name and thought 'wow, Joe you really are pulling out the stops'. Louis looked at me and said 'Wasn't that...' I grinned and nodded my head. 
We inched closer to Halfway and I caught another club mate who was having a really tough morning and was crying. I hugged her but couldn't really find the right words and suddenly my switch flew back and I started to run. Okay it was mostly downhill, but I began to motor. My thoughts kind went 'okay? let's just give it a try'. I didn't even say goodbye to Louis, I was so focussed. I crossed the cut-off point and wasn't really sure how I felt about another 40-odd kilometres to go. I managed to catch up with the dreaded 12 hour running bus that had passed me earlier, and I took comfort in the thought that I could just keep them in sight, I'll make it. So the next few hours were uphill and downhill, some drinking coke out of cupless bottles and keeping track of my thoughts. I knew my pace was still a tad slow, but I no longer panicked. I bought ice-cream, woke up the bored spectators and generally trundled along. 
I spotted some of the big (real)buses which I figured could have been my transport and I spotted some people I know inside them. I passed water through the windows and generally played with them for a while and as they drove further away I felt the switch begin to slide again. The dreaded 21km in 3 hour mark hit me and I started doing the maths in my head. Cutting it way too fine I thought. But kept trundling all the way to Polly Shorts. Another misnomer as it ain't short and polly is far too cheerful a word. I spotted many people I know and I saw some casualties and people began to lean. My head still felt clear but as the hill stretched out further for us, so did my hope for my fifth medal. I watched as people dashed to the last cut-off point and considered my options. I had to be absolutely sure that I was okay with this and I realised I was. The nice people on top shouted and encouraged us to 'do it' but I saw myself on TV afterwards and even then I could see that my mind was fine with missing it. Bam, gun off, roads closed, my race done. 
Quite a few runners ran round the back of where we were supposed to wait for the bus and continued on, but I knew their chances of medals were slim. We waited and waited as the sun sank lower to match many spirits around me. I still felt surprisingly okay as I borrowed a team mates phone to let hubby know I was fine to stop his worry. Eventually we got back to the stadium, got given a much needed space blanket and made my way through a very congested, limping crowd to find my friends. Their eyes checked me out to make sure I was fine and I could visibly see their relief when I tried to reassure them that I was.
I need to speed up. Simple as that. No excuses, no injuries, no nothing. If I want this, I need to speed up. The great thing? I know I can! 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Running 2015 BC

In 2008 I lined up for my first ever Comrades, a couple of weeks shy of my 42nd birthday. I was going to 'try the Comrades'. I had trained well, had lots of guidance, my good running friend was with me, I was all set to try. I never realised how much that mind angle would affect me. There is no 'try' in Comrades. I needed to 'do it' much like the advertising slogan says. Fast forward to current time and I am a few days away from my fifth(hopefully) medal!

As the years have ticked swiftly by, I realise that my life now has been divided into six month cycles. Before Comrades (BC) and After Comrades (AC). 2015's BC season has been rather stress-free. Last year I was coming back from foot issues and a non-start on Comrades in 2013 which happened to be really good timing for me to have an injury. The race that year was an 'Up-run" from Durban to Pietermaritsburg, and had one of the worst cases of 'berg wind' weather conditions on the races history. Intense heat accompanied by a dusty hellish wind made the road look more like a battlefield as people wearily tried their best. My last 'Up run' was in 2011 and I had a great day. I have realised that in my running career, missing out on this race makes me very determined to get back to taking part in it. There is nothing like it, so this year's training has made me really look forward to 'running the other way'. I did 3 Ultra-distances and ran 2 marathons, all rather sluggishly slow, but it all helps in the mental preparation for this race. The panic over my foot injuries is long gone and with regular exercise classes and massages I now know that it is not 'just about running the distance'.

BC running has been calm and enjoyable for the most part. My mileage is a little on the low side, but I am hoping to stay calm enough to do some mental training closer to race day. I am now realistic. Having run the race a few times I understand that there is no way I am suddenly going to start running a 6 min-a-kay speed if all my other running has been closer to 7 minutes. But I looked at my times from last year and saw that they were rather consistent, so I am hoping to be able to do something similar this year. I read all the talk about timing and marker boards on social media and a teeny part of me wants to join in the panic, but the other part of me knows.

On race day, nothing is the same, not the running, not the distance, not the pain, not the support, not the waterpoints, not the road, not your friends, nothing! Strangers stand for hours to catch a glimpse of me, to applaud me and offer me food, support and chirps. I don't get that on other races. I love catching the eye of a supporter and thank them, or give them a smile, or a thumbs up- depending on my energy level. They are the magic of this special day. With their bored dogs, yummy smelling braai's, loud blasting music, kids who would rather be anywhere else, hands red from clapping, eyes sore from trying to read our names and throats sore from screaming, these are the people I am coming to see. KZN throws the best party, and I am lucky enough to be able to run through the province to accept their invitation to make myself a better person!

The thing I dread now is the AC, once the afterglow has waned and I face the bleakness of a dry Winter. But now that I'm aware of this we try to get things in place to help us look forward. This year we are going to run the Loch Ness marathon in September. This takes place in my birth country and it promises to be a great run. It also means that I can't hibernate for too long and it will drag me out of my AC slumber and get me back on the road. But in the meantime it's 'hurry up an wait' for that long party on foot on Sunday!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Run, walk, run

Run, walk, run

In the wonder full sport of long distance running, I have learned many things. Things about people, life, exercise, and myself. I know that I continually surprise myself, and yet I get confused because my hubby doesn't understand me! I experienced a new aspect of myself this past weekend while doing a long run round a dam.

I have learned that if my body is resistant longer than 30 minutes, I should really pay attention. It started early in the year, when my friend, Marlene, told me of her running plan for Comrades. She mentioned the 50km 'Om die Dam' race, which I have had a love/hate relationship with. I only remember two runnings of it, but I have three medals, so I think the one run must've been so bad I have wiped it from my memory banks. I stammered out loud, 'No, I don't want to do that one' and let her tell me the rest of her races. I came home and frantically searched for a different option. Great! The same weekend there was a 52km in a nature reserve on the calendar. I looked it up and told Marlene, and we decided to register there. We had done this one only once before, and loved it, for it's toughness and beauty, so we were keen to get another chance to run it. A month went by and the training built up, and then the bad news altered our plans. The Suikerbos race was cancelled, but 'Om die Dam' had been kind enough to extend it's entries, so reluctantly we changed plans. The silent body screams were muffled out by the thoughts of needing to do the long distance, and I entered the race online. The weeks sped by and the week of the race was staring me in my face.

Hubby had asked me why I was actually doing these races if it made me so tense. I argued that I wasn't nervous, so he quietly asked 'Why are you pacing?' I stopped in my tracks and checked my body. No, I wasn't nervous, just heavy, and I couldn't figure out why. I normally analyse myself to the point of distraction, but this time I decided I better get an early night and force myself to sleep. Anyone who is a light sleeper knows that 'forcing sleep' does not work. But I did manage to dream, so I know I must've slept and around 3am I got up and got ready.

The traffic to this race brought our car to a standstill at 4.30am and knowing that there was only one road to the new 'Start' we sat and sighed in relative silence. We turned off the stalled traffic road and finally found the back road, which we recognised as part of the 50km route. We stumbled on the shops via a back road and quickly got out the car to look for bathrooms. Sister was doing the half marathon and I was secretly jealous of her as she watched my 6am dawning start. We had lost Marlene and Willem in the traffic, but I knew that they would catch me on the race so I relaxed and listened to all the chit-chat around me. I think I may have started out a little too quickly, but I felt physically okay and deliberately started to hold back when I saw some runners who I knew are faster than me. The new start route had a nasty little steep hill just to wake us up and get the heart beating faster, and then we turned onto the familiar part along the scenic dam and started our climb.

At around 10km's I started to feel odd, but not in a physical way, but in my head. Yes, I know there are degrees of 'oddness', but this felt different. I walked uphill, and was told to walk on the side. I silently cursed the man, as I always check over my shoulder before I suddenly stop and the runners had been far behind me when I stopped, so the internal growling ignited what was to become a very negative mind frame that I am not used to having and keeping for seven hours! Marlene and Willem passed me around 15km and I could see that they were both very strong, so I shooed them away before my negativity spilled out of my mouth. I saw another club member who runs a similar pace, but I realised something was very wrong when I didn't want to chat. I asked her how she was doing and she also complained a little, so I told her it's best for me to run behind her and not make her more negative.

At around 25 km's I was surprised that the distance markers seemed to be turning over very quickly, in spite of my reluctance, but this marker board meant the beginning of my worst part of the race, the Pelindaba road. I popped in at the kiosk and bought an ice lolly, hoping that the glorious orange ice would freeze the negativity in my brain. I know that mind blocks like this happen while running, but usually they shift. This one just got deeper and deeper in spite of my usual distractions and brain tricks. I noticed many runners sitting on the side of the road and I'd seen the full bailer buses go by. Surely we aren't supposed to feel this bad at such a short distance? I trundled on, silently cursing the dust turned up by very fast speeding cars, and cursed- out loud- the rushing trucks as they swooped by. This was not helping my mood. I started planning my escape route. This distracted my brain for some time and before I knew it, I had stopped to help a man who was cramping. I told him to gently walk with me (yes, I was a regular walker by now) so as to prevent the cramps from stalling him completely. I rummaged in my pouch for something to help while he told me that this was his birthday gift to himself as he turned 61 today. I laughed and said 'this is no birthday gift'. We chatted for a bit and got separated by the waterpoint so I mooched on, ready to hail down a bailer bus.

I stomped up the notorious 'Saartjie's Nek' where the tired helpers, now weary from waiting for us, where trying to juggle luke warm water sachets, and limited cups. Usually a very festive point in the road, even the helpers seemed ready for us to finish. They fed us food and some perseverant cheering to try lift my spirits almost helped. At the top I saw a familiar face who reminded me to look at the view. I was not charmed by the mountain glow, nor watery haze, I wanted the keys to his car! The trundle down the hill made me take stock of how I was feeling physically and I wasn't bad. Not sore, no pains, no niggles, just a huge reluctance to run and desire to get off my feet. I turned the corner towards the marathon mark and I saw more familiar faces WITH a car, but they were busy loading up so I shouted on the top of my voice 'KIMMMMYYYYYY, WAIT'. So they promptly did, but Sharon was having none of me jumping into their oh-so delightful-vehicle. She poured cold water down my neck which took my breath (and words) away and told me to keep moving. Shell-shocked I reverted to my plan A, my older sister at 'Ouma's' house. I knew the route goes right past their front garden, so I started to bargain. If her car was there, then I would definitely go in. I turned in and had another 'hosedown' by a kind resident supplying a sprinkler for us weary, hot runners. Then I saw the house and the car, and the locked front door. Argh, they must be out!! Almost tripping over my lip, my planning went into overdrive. I asked patient onlookers if they had a car, I asked a young parent to sell me their kids bmx bike, I asked for a lift on another bicycle, but no takers, only smiles.

At around 3 to go, I saw a familiar sight. Hubby had teased me saying he would come and park in the bushes and pick me up and then drop me off again and I had brushed that off laughingly, the night before. Now our rather rare, white car came into my vision and my heart sang as I was about to shout 'loveeeee' and I realised that it was the right car, wrong registration number. I could almost hear the universe laughing at me sarcastically, as I can be a touch sarcastic sometimes and the quiet reasoned voice in my head went 'you get what you give out'. By this time, I was really fed up so started to try run again. At less than two to go, I saw a young chap start to lie down on the pavement and when I reached him, I asked him what was wrong. He complained 'pain' but I told him 'no ways, your people will worry, just walk slowly' and pulled him up. He was complaining that he didn't want to miss the cut-off by seconds to which I laughed and told him we were way too slow to miss it by seconds. Once on his feet I told him to keep gently moving, and to stop stressing when I saw another chap plan a nap on the pavement. Once again, I complained, telling him that his people will worry and he complained about cramp. I argued that we were less than 1 km away so he just had to keep slowly walking, so I told the two men that they were now responsible for each other and they just had to walk slowly back. I started running off, when I remembered I had salt in my pouch, so I gave it to him and said take this for your cramp. I know the wonders of the placebo effect and sometimes that is all a person needs to just get through the moment. I turned the corner and finally my heart beamed, the finish line, right there! Spectators told me they had extended the cut-off time, but I didn't really care, I just wanted it done.

The good thing about this training run is that in spite of my negativity, my head, sugar and BP stayed clear and level, so I wasn't feeling dizzy or ill, just negative and I started to understand once again that the power of the mind can affect a person's 'game'. I put it down to a very bad run, but glad it happened on a day that didn't 'matter, and now I can thankfully say that the only way I will see 'Om die Dam' again is by car!