I really seem to be only get my mileage up on weekend runs. Last weekend I slogged my way through the Township marathon and finished with one of my worst marathon times ever, another free ice-cream and more real estate lodged in my knee after a fall. Wait, it must have looked more like a somersault by the strange location of bruises. No real damage done other than my ego, once again, after one of those deep guttural roars on my way down to mother earth.
I picked up a very sore heel/foot though and after a visit to my physio she said it was because of my calfffff. (That's the kind of noises as I was making as she kneaded her spindley fingers to demonstrate.)
She told me not to run, and she almost shook her head when I told her I wanted to do a half marathon on Sunday. I am beginning to realise that it is indeed March and my distance logbook looks like it is on some kind of diet. I think she saw the panic in my eyes and gave me exercises to do. I rolled my foot and did what I was instructed and agreed to travel down to the Vaal for Sunday's race.
Promptly waking up a full hour before I needed to, is getting rather annoying, so I eventually turned off the unrung alarm and went in search of breakfast. Ouch, ouch, ouch. My foot seems to be at it's worst when getting up after a time of sitting, or lying and I thought it was plantar fascitis, which I self diagnosed years ago. Hobbling around excited dogs, my 'awake' when supposed to be, goes much faster then when I lie there willing sleep to visit.
We set off at 4am and immediately found a long red tail line of traffic on the highway. Sister and I looked at each other.
'Are these all runners?'
Turned out they were. The traffic flowed a little slower near my old home town and we contemplated some back roads. We stuck to the usual route and got there with plenty of time for pit-stop, entries and chats. I was actually feeling very excited for this half marathon.
I have a love-hate relationship with this marathon. It was my first ever 42km, my best time and my worst time. Last year was one of my worst. So this trip down memory lane had memories that included my running past, and not just my school days.
The gun went off and I was watch and running-partner free. Marlene and Cerlest had other weekend obligations so it was strange not having the weekly dose of catch-up chatter to distract me for the early kilometres. I did see another running friend who is looking fabulous and she was doing the marathon, and though sad to see her leave me, was delighted knowing that I wasn't putting myself through the torture of the marathon.
I decided to see if if I could only walk at the water points which are every three km, just to see if I could. This is a very flat route, so my usual 'resting' up a hill wouldn't be my excuse here and I needed to get some running confidence back. Apart from one 'hill' lampost I stuck to my plan, even though my foot was squealing at me to walk.
Knowing the area very well, meant that my grey matter was open to any memories that popped in as I jogged past the 'Hills, Lows, Lucas' cafe; Gerald Bosch; Murphys and then directly up to my old street. We had a long stretch of field or veld behind our childhood house, which may have been farmland, and being Vereeniging and very dry I would never have considered the area pretty. On this morning however, sunrays streamed through cloud remnants over the moisture haze just above the golden land and I felt nostalgic. A forgotten memory of newspaper and bamboo kite crashing flowed in, and I laughed at how much I had to run to will the heavy thing into the air. I saw the power lines in this stretch and laughed as my kite could never have reached them.
I slowed down as I passed our old home and as usual, thoughts turned to mum who died there, now so many years ago. I'm sure I heard her cough gently as I thought that maybe the prettiness of the light was her 'doing'.
All the way up the dreaded long road that I walked to school and memories of crunchy toes due to the freezing mornings hideously teased my memories. I passed the house I did my only ever 'illegal' bunking and smiled at the memory of Mrs Els telling us knowingly that she had seen us in our school uniforms walking there, the day before. We crossed the 'busy' road to our school where there was a water point and took a little stroll. The biggest hill was up ahead, and as I trundled up it memories of cross-country routes now fully' grown up' where shown to me. The next section of town, I only know from my running days as it was still being built when I left town 30 years ago. Did I just say 30 years???
As we ran past the lovely reserve, next to the river, I spotted buck. And to my delight some of the Springbok started springing. I have never seen them jump before and I was delighted to finally see it. I am so used to having Marlene run with me that I turned to runners beside me and gasped
I forget that not everyone looks at the view, and gets excited by dogs, houses, gardens, flowers or in this case Springbok. Plus I also get a few quizzical looks when I speak. This could be for 3 reasons.
I speak to strangers
I speak really fast
I may be misunderstood as I have a very strrrrong Scots accent, exaggerated while running. (This may be because I pant more !)
My morning was turning into a delightful run, apart from the niggly foot. A motorboat quietly broke the still surface of the river and I wondered how I was doing time wise. I didn't feel like getting neurotic so decided against asking someone and just kept moving. I knew by now that we were getting close and not only because the distance markers told me. I forgot that we took an extra loop up past the old route and it took me a minute or two to get my mind back into my mellow mode.
Shuffling along the road, I weaved a bit and then I heard the megaphone voice. Yippee, the split, the moment I'd been waiting for. I almost cheered out loud, but spared a thought for those soles going 'straight' while I kept left for the finish. A very well organised race by my old home town, and was delighted to hear my sister had done a sub 2 hour race, and enjoyed herself too. We sat and watched in awe at all the shapes and sizes of the runners coming in for the marathon and cheered for them
( and us who may have made 'peace' with the Vaal Country Meander - this year anyway!)
Spring bokkie spring!