Running is never a destination. The road that unfolds before you is your journey towards personal physical, mental and on some level spiritual strength.
I am runner number 3983, Indian female 45 years young. My journey began a year ago. A 10k run seemed daunting and far fetched. I’m referred to as being crazy obsessive fanatic and anot “adrenalin junkie “, I Am A Runner. In my attempt to challenge myself breaking the 5k barrier , I enlisted the help of a local running club Jozi X Training. In a relatively short period they had taken me from a 5k to a 20k runner.
20th Gift of Givers Township Marathon. I was up for the challenge. A “township” marathon conjured images of streets riddled with potholes and strewn with debris from the evenings street parties, drunken drivers, vicious dogs left to scavenge the streets all this I assumed. Lending for an unpleasant first experience.
Pleasantly surprised we were welcomed by a cacophony of sounds and smells, warm friendly smiles from people who lived there, roads free of potholes and debris. A seemingly well organised event . A rainbow of cultures in true South African spirit lined the streets.
Typical to my personality type my “runners high” kicked in at the Start line. The atmosphere revved with euphoria. The gun sounds and approximately 3 thousand comrades a mix of the social runner as well as your serious athlete take to the streets. Jozi X colours quite visible in the crowd. Race profile was relatively flat with an occasional slight incline. Marshals were quite visible and water points at every 3 k a welcoming sight . As we pass runners young and old courteous greetings echo the streets. Weather conditions lending towards a pleasant day for a marathon. At 8k mark still feeling strong and maintaining an average pace of 61/2 minutes a k I realised my anxiousness was really uncalled for. Passing runners on my left actually felt good, yet trying my best to maintain humility. Just when I felt indestructible at 13k with the sun pounding on my neck and the soles of my feet burning my legs felt exhausted and ready to surrender . Was I slowing down or were all the other runners picking up pace with such ease and grace? With heart pounding and lungs exploding I was ready to surrender to defeat. As I turned the next bend, there few metres ahead I see a small frail old lady who looked at least a hundred years old . With such admiration I then realised if she’s here goal in mind to complete this run, there’s no reason why I’m not capable as well. Steadily approaching the lady I respectfully utter “good morning gogo” as she turned her head to reply I was faced with the most amazing sight . She may have had the frailty of an old woman but her eyes revealed the heart sole and determination of a racehorse. At that moment I found my second wind and my will to complete my challenge over rode all my doubts and limitations.
Easier said than done . With the last two kays yet to conquer my legs and my mind were on two different journeys again. Every stride I took was dreadfully difficult. Reality check forced me to a halt catching my breath and succumbing to my pain I decided to walk to the finish. Low and behold out of the woodwork come two club members and in team spirit pace me to the finish. I am convinced that regardless of how many races one complete the sense of accomplishment and exhilaration is heightened each time.
Obstacles encountered in life or on a race are larger in our heads than the reality. Setting goals, focusing, working hard with unwavering determination are certainly the key ingredients to meeting the challenges and accomplishing goals. The transition from human to runner should be a gradual steady process but once it’s over there’s no turning back. I am runner 3893.