A journey to remember…it didn’t kill me, it made me stronger.
If life was a smooth path with no obstacles, WOULD WE FIGHT AS HARD to “prove we can” even when everything shouts “you cant”?
Obstacles are hard, they suck, they knock us down but man do they make that victory just that much sweeter.
My last year has been nothing but a rocky road, I’ve had blow after blow and there has been many times I’ve sat on the fence wondering if this is for me or if I’m over the hill, an old mother hen passed her sell by date grasping at far off dreams. I ran an Olympic qualifying time at Nagoya Woman’s Marathon in March 2016 and since then, a year later, I have been knocked down over and over again but something inside of me just wouldn’t give up.
I am a distance runner. Ive been trained to keep going even when its hard. When it hurts. When it sucks. When I don’t want to. I push past it. Relentless forward progress to the finish. Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up and its always worth it in the end.
In May last year, I could no longer walk my knee was so badly injured. I had no choice but to operate. Surgery is the last resort for any athlete, the doctors love to tell you how quickly you’ll be back to normal but it never quiet works like that. 24 weeks, yes a full 4 months is how long I was off running, it felt like a life time.
To cut a long story short, it was tough, it wasn’t pretty and it was a slow come back but I was running and that in itself was enough to spark my flame that it wasn’t over yet. I took it slow, set myself a goal which was Dubai marathon and set out to smash this race (for myself that is, not to smash any Ethiopians or Kenyans because lets be honest that’s not going to happen just yet).
I trained so hard over December Christmas holidays, much to the disgust of many people who just couldn’t understand why id choose to go run instead of sip cocktails on the beach with them or join late night family functions. Choices are choices, I was determined to come back. It was an honour to be invited as an elite to this amazing race and I wanted to give it my all.
I was so excited I got myself to the race healthy and fit but little did I know…another hard knock and big wake up call was on its way. I started feeling very nauseous and weak 3km’s into the race but said to myself “It’s ok, I’m trained to push through the tough times,” by 11 km I was vomiting and continued to do so until 25kms where I eventually stopped. Up until that day I had never bailed a race, it was the hardest thing to do but I had nothing left in me. I had to make a call for my health and the year ahead. Sitting on the side of the road in a heap with no one around to help was absolutely awful and something I never want to do again. I couldn’t understand what went wrong until I started thinking back.
I had eaten a take away chicken salad from Starbux the night before and then the penny dropped and it all made sense.. Food poisoning.
I came back to SA very sad, heart sore and very sorry for myself but on the bright side I wasn’t uninjured, I had recovered from the food poisoning and I was ready to run again. Such is life.
It’s not how you celebrate the victories that defines you as an athlete but rather how you overcome the disappointments.
Charging forward, ready to prove I was fit and should have raced well in Dubai I made a very rookie mistake. I went and entered a 25 km downhill race. I flew through the km’s at 3.15-3.20/km and smashed the bone on the top of my foot. This resulted in a bone stress and 4 weeks off running with no pressure on the foot at all. Could it get any worse? Im really not telling this to be dramatic or for sympathy, or for any accolades but rather to share my story so people can see elite athletes are human, we also get injured, nothing comes easy but it is always “possible”. Sometimes I wish people spoke out more so that when I was going through this tough time I could hold onto a little hope that I wasn’t totally alone.
FOUR weeks off running…6 weeks until The Two Oceans marathon. I had let it go, it wasn’t my year and running 56 km…whaaaaaattt how could I even consider that now. I started running…or rather jogging again for 2 weeks then slowly got back into proper training. I went to run 37 km training run of which I incorporated a 25 km race in the middle of this run. I ran 6 km before, the 25 km race and the final 6 after I went through the finish shoot. I suffered in that run like I’ve never suffered on a training run before and then had to carry on running an extra 6 km when everyone else stopped at the finish line. I just had no rhythm, no voomoo, no go…nothing. I felt like I had never run a day in my life. I remember my poor husband on the bike and Stephen, my running partner, coming along for the last 6 km and I was such a brat, I just threw my toys out the cot properly, said there was no way I was going to run Oceans and they must stop this crazy idea. Needless to say both Brett and Stephen backed right off and let me run ahead alone… to cool off, hahaha…Good Call guys, good call.
This year just wasn’t going to plan. THREE weeks to Two Oceans, my coach had reasoned with me. I had only ever run to 42 km three times in my life, he said I had to run a 44 km training run and then make a final call. I agreed thinking I knew the answer but if it would make him happy then so be it.
Off I went… 44 km’s, just like that and I loved it. Mmmmmm the flame was lit, was Oceans a possibility??
After that run, I decided I would give oceans a go but my race plan was to run super conservative, well within myself and to experience this thing everyone calls “THE WORLDS MOST BEAUTIFUL MARATHON” and I did…and the rest is history.
All I can say is it was a dream race, one ill cherish forever, I loved every single second of it, even those deathly last 2km’s and I’m so grateful for pushing through and stepping up to something I thought was an impossible challenge , I did it and I am so proud. It’s not the position I’m proud of, although that was an awesome cherry on the top, it’s the way I felt and how much I loved the ultra that made me so happy, I could have come 10th and felt that great and been just as happy. It certainly is an amazing race with incredible support and breath taking scenery. I re live it every day in my head and find myself smiling every time I do.
Big shout out to “MY TEAM,” you know who you are… you rock my world and to my club, KPMG, Pierre and Dana for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to race “The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon” in the Mother City.
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