16 December is more than just a public holiday; it also happens to be my grandmother’s birthday (happy 88th birthday, Ouma!!).
And yesterday, for the first time in many years, I missed my gran’s birthday party to participate in two races with her on my mind.
Race 1: Gugulethu Reconciliation Day 10km Run
“Wanna come and run the Gugs 10km with me on 16 December?” Sofie enquired a few weeks ago.
It certainly sounded like fun, but the idea of spending more money shortly before Christmas left me a little underwhelmed.
But Sofie would have none of my indecision. “Think about the kids!” she said. All the runners bring sweets and hand ’em out along the route. Plus, she said, it’s a really fun race.
Boy, was she right! It was hot (at 7am)! There were hordes of people out on the streets of Gugs cheering us on. And hundreds of little children lining the road – some with bags and some holding out their little hands excitedly – waiting for the motherload of sweeties due to accompany the few hundred runners participating in the race.
The majority of runners had bags of sweets with them, and some even arrived with push baskets filled with the promise of a sugar rush.
While the race itself is flat and fast, this wasn’t the place to chase a PB (although some runners did achieve theirs), as many runners either stopped and chatted to kids and parents, while some walked to control the hand-out a little better.
At 1:13 my 10km time was a lot slower than usual, but definitely worth the occasional walks and water point chatter.
And Sofie was right – I had tons of fun!
Highlights of the morning:
- Meeting Radesh’s parents & brother
- Seeing the “learn to earn” concept being practiced at the water points – the kids helping there were not allowed to ask for sweets, but were rewarded with their own goodies after spending their morning helping to hand out water sachets.
Race 2: Reconciliation Day 1.6km Swim at Clifton 3rd Beach
If you had told me a year ago that I would willingly enter and participate in a sea swim – and have fun doing it – I would have laughed in your face, snorted somewhat derisively and cracked open another slab of chocolate.
So you can imagine how surreal it felt to drive straight from a 10km running race to Clifton, where I queued to enter an open water sea swim, hopped into my wetsuit and enjoyed the most fun swim I’ve ever had.
OK, so starting the actual race was totally unglamorous. It all started when Radesh stood poised to take another one of our “bending-down-and-grinning-through-our-legs” photos (becoming a little tradition) and I simply tipped over and fall flat on my face in the water! Then, when it was our turn to start, I was a little scared of the rocks on the beach, so I waited until the water was perfectly flat before I went in – by which time Sofie and co had already done more than 50m of swimming!
Despite feeling quite nervous earlier, I had a lot of fun in the water and was really calm. Except when I suddenly heard the lifeguards blowing on their whistles and I asked where the shark was, only for them to tell me that I had gone horribly off course and was swimming so skew that my course towards the 800m buoy was more of a triangle than a straight line!
Because of the swell, I had some trouble sighting on the way back and I couldn’t see the beach. Which resulted in me making a straight bee-line for 1st Beach instead! Anyway, it took some extra effort to get to the finish, due to my skew swimming, but I felt remarkably fresh on my way out. And as soon as I was able to stand without risking being dunked by a sneaky wave, I quickly pulled in my stomach, adjusted my posture and flashed a winning smile in the general direction of Radesh’s camera, only to lose my balance and – yes, fall flat on my face AGAIN!
Highlights of the swim:
- Feeling happy and free in the water and not hearing the Jaws theme tune for a change.
- Feeling fit and fresh at the end of the 1,6km swim, which was a massive confidence booster.
I wonder of Steve’s faith in me making 70.3 has increased a little?
On the subject of sea swims, my training buddy Chanel (not to be confused with the other three Chanels!!) posted the following on my Facebook wall, which I thought was profoundly beautiful… and especially appropriate after experiencing a rather spiritual moment (which I don’t want to elaborate on right now) during the swim yesterday.
And… how’s the foot?
I’ve been struggling with my achilles tendon since doing a recent track session and it’s been getting worse. So I had it strapped up and have been told to stay off my feet today. Hopefully I’ll feel the difference at tomorrow’s track session.