The time has come.
Mid year is an appropriate place to have the biggest running event of the year. It means that we reflect on the past 5 months in terms of kilometers, races and goals reached. This reflection can result in niggles, fears and downright sleeplessness. Reflecting can be traumatic, but for me this past 5 months has been very very positive. (Apart from the recent short 4km's around my house!)
Very few runners ever feel totally prepared for the 86,9km, and that is the good thing. We go into this race with a reverence for the distance, the journey, our bodies. Yet, we still go out there before the first cock crow and stand in a very long line in front of Durban City Hall and wait for the challenge to begin.
The last week drags slowly into hours and minutes and seconds like a cruel rehearsal for our clock watching on race day. There is almost a hasty urge to speed up the week and get the race started. Yet father time doesn't alter for anybody or anything. The last few runs make us feel like we are nowhere near fit enough as the 'phantom' pains wreak havoc with the imagination. Anti-social behaviour of instinctive ducking past a passing coughing stranger takes over. I even chatted to my neighbour from the safety of my car to enquire about the recovery of my dear sick neighbour, who I was too cowardly to visit. But as the time gets closer, my excitement is rising as to what this day means to us.
Everyone has a different story, a different reason for being one of the 15 000. The stories are fascinating and diverse and would make for fascinating TV. Instead, I listen and chat and pry to get samples of fellow Comrades. On early morning runs, when spotting fellow runners, greetings are friendlier, and the unspoken camaraderie is written all over our faces. We all share a common goal and that is to set out on the morning and do our best.
My reflections show a rather small log book, but thinking about my past races, I feel comfortable, because I have enjoyed every one of them. Perhaps it was the cooler weather, but I have a feeling it is an attitude shift. I realised that I don't need a 'plan' for a half marathon, but I now acknowledge that such a big undertaking of the Comrades, needs a plan. I looked in different places, yet felt intimidated with nutrition tips and 'rules', with training plans and expected goals, but all they did was confuse me. My goal came from my usual circle. My positive running friends and sister. Go slow in the first half, and make it to halfway, regroup and focus on the finish line. My goal this year to get my first Pietermaritzburg medal. It will taste sweet, as I have waited 3 years since my novice 'did not finish' in 2008. I know that my focus is clearer this year and next week I will be writing about my victory.
I can't wait!