I have been so scarce with both running and my writing, that the perceived effort of both seemed to keep me hiding in Winter. But seeing that the earth is tilting in our (Southern hemisphere's) favour, I have broken through my invisible barriers. It is strange running at this time of the year, because Comrades is over 200 days away, so the goals feel so 'loose'. Running friends have been training for off-road runs, or they are injured, wounded, or somewhere else, so having no goals has left me a bit aimless.
With thoughts of possibly doing the Two Oceans next year, I have had to look at my plan. The plan needs to be readjusted, because in order to run the Oceans Ultra, we have to qualify in a standard marathon in under 5 hours. So this made me start contemplating my next move. There are a couple of marathons coming up in the next few weeks, and I have been toying with the idea of doing one of them. But my twice a week running hasn't felt sufficient enough to really enter any marathon.
I had a mid-week run at our club, and some of the runners were talking about how nice the upcoming Saturday's 32km in the Vaal is. This was one of the races I had been toying with, because I would use it as a test. By my 7 km mark on the clubrun, my mind was made up- almost! Then I heard that my running buddies were definitely doing it, so I got hold of them on the Friday and made arrangements.
Getting up at 3am was unusual, because when my alarm went off, there was one solitary bird chirping, and for a split second I thought I had overslept. But Springtime seems to chase some birds out of bed, so I carried on readying myself for run. At the shopping centre which was also the start, there was only a few cars, and this alarmed us, as we didn't want to come stone last in the race. Plus the runners that were already there, looked all lean, and springy! By the 6am start, the sun was already on it's sudden climb, and the people had filled up the road. This route was an out and back, which meant that the 5, 10, and 21km people all started together, and would turn at their points along the route. I like this kind of route, as it gives me a chance to see the front runners moving past, instead of only seeing them standing waiting for the prizegiving when I come limping in. After the 21km turn around point, I was surprised to still see many runners on the route, which meant it wouldn't be too lonely. There was some zigzagging of roads, and at one stage my sense of direction got very confused, but the route was very well organised.
I was feeling remarkably good, and it was great to catch up with my friends and have a good chat. A fellow runner said to us ' you are looking good, and you keep chatting, that is great'. I laughed at this, because when I first started running, that was my goal, to be able to chat and run at the same time, like my sister and her friends who always laughed and chatted way ahead of me. So it was nice to know that I'm still fit enough to be able to do this! The route took us past small holdings, and lovely gardens. Dogs barked a friendly hello, and there was the cutest lamb jumping over the grass to 'meeah' at his mum. The trees were lovely and full of green leaves providing much welcome shade, while the cool breeze from the north (or was it south?) kept us comfortable. I was surprised to see so much development in this area, because years ago, when I lived in the Vaal, this area was pure countryside.
At around 27kms, my body started to complain, and the lampost option of 3 to 1 was becoming difficult. My friend said she was on her way to a best time for a 32, so I urged her to carry on, as she was looking very strong, but she wasn't leaving me. I kept trundling onwards, and trying to distract myself, but I noticed that the chatting had also slowed right down too. We crossed over the motorway and I knew that the finish was nearby. The marshalls were now seated in camping chairs, as their morning had been equally long waiting for us, but they were still very supportive and enthusiastic with us plodders.
We ran in the back entrance to the mall and dodged the now busy carpark, and crossed the finish line in a respectable 3 hours and 45 minutes. We were given a very nice goodie bag and a medal, and we sought out some shade to rest before the road home. All in all it was a lovely morning, and I am surprised at how good I felt considering my lack of training. My recovery was also quick, and I had just a teeny bit of stiffness the next day while trying to get out of my chair! As for the marathon? Well, that's still under debate!