Dear Running, It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Recently I’ve been in the most fortunate position to be introspective. I hate introspection. Introspection for me is always the question, “Why did I react so strongly to that.” All of the reasons for my current instrospections are the same. I hate being labelled. Which, when one does the full Ishikawa diagram leads to “Labelling me takes away my freedom to change.” If you tell me I’m a girl, you take away my freedom to leave my washing lying all over the floor and not giving a shit about the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. If you tell me I’m skinny, you take away my freedom to lose weight or to put on weight. If you tell me I’m a runner, you take away my freedom to become a pole dancer. If you label me a project manager, you take away my freedom to become a singer. You get my drift, right. So I really hate labels. Not because I hate labels, but because I love my freedom to change.

I love love affairs. I love intense, passionate, SHORT love affairs. Commitment has always been a problem for me. So much so that the one time when I bothered to place myself in a committed relationship, I ended up with depression and a subsequent eating disorder. Commitment is another way in which one’s freedom can be eroded. And relationships are sneaky in that you’re filled with euphoric endorphins which make you think that you’re having a good time, when in fact, your freedom is slowly being usurped by this entity called a relationship.

And so I find myself re-evaluating this love affair I’ve been having with running. This label “runner” that I’ve been wearing.

I like running. I really do. We have fun. Sometimes. Running has been good to me. I have great friends because of running. There are a few special friends who have been able to transcend talk about running and Tim Noakes to be more than “running friends”. Running has made me healthier. Running has shrunk me a dress size or two. But running requires commitment. And I just don’t know if I have that commitment in me. I keep telling myself that running is good for me. That running will teach me commitment. That running will give me a goal. That running is the reason. I’m just not so sure any more. But I’m addicted to running now and being fit and healthy and fitting into size 8s instead of size 12s and challenging myself to run every race a little faster than the last time.

So essentially, I’m screwed! I’m in this relationship with an entity I’m not sure I even like any more, never mind love. I’m suffering abuse (the recent 15 day lay off due to a stupid injury that no other working women get from work shoes, only running women, being case in point) at the hands of my lover. Running makes me cry at least once a week. The relationship is now a stale and routine and somewhat less than passionate love affair. But I’m stuck with it!

Oh my word! I’m married to running! How did this happen? I didn’t even get a fucking diamond ring. I feel like someone married me without my permission. And I didn’t get the diamond ring or the sex!

So now I have to do what every married couple has to do at some point in their marriage, I have to either get divorced. I’ve had my eye on pole dancing for a while now. Or I have to find the love I once had and rekindle the fire. I’ll start where I started 3 years ago this month, not injured, but by getting up early and doing my glute and hamstring exercises. (Minus the scoffing a tray of caramel horns. Hey, I’ve learned something from this abusive relationship.) And then I’ll look at running again on Wednesday and see how I feel. I might try out the pole dancing too, just to be sure.

Yours in the love of the slow burning passion of commitment to running. Blech!


The Chinese Gave Me a Pain in My Ass

“This isn’t chicken,” said Frantz. “Of course it’s chicken. Don’t be ridiculous!” I told him, knowing full well that I had made the better choice by buying sushi for my pre-marathon supper, while he had turned to Ye Olde Chinese Shoppe next door to the sushi place for his supper. Unfortunately for him, he ordered beef chow mein but got pseudo-chicken something or other. I felt so sorry for him, that I let him have the sushi and I took over the pseudo-chicken something or other. (By the way, the best sushi in Joburg is to be found 5 blocks from my house at an insignificant fish delicatessen called My Fish on Gordon Rd. The worst Chinese food in Joburg can be found at the Chinese restaurant next door to My Fish.) Not a good idea to eat something foreign the night before a marathon. A marathon? Yes! I had planned to run The Lifegain Wally Hayward Marathon today. This being the last qualifier before Comrades. At Slow-Mag I came to terms with the probability that I would not be running Comrades this year and I’ve been okay with that. A little disappointed, but I’m a big girl. But I still wanted to try and The Wally was my last chance to achieve that.

You’ll remember that two weeks ago I was limping through the latter part of a 21km which you can read all about here. Yeah. So my physio (and best friend – Clare-Anne Kilroe) said it was an overuse injury so I was to diligently rest. She didn’t advise against The Wally. She didn’t tell me to run like the wind at The Wally. So I used my initiative and entered The Wally. But then I ate the pseudo-chicken something or other and a new journey began.

I wasn’t only looking forward to my first Wally because it was my first Wally, but I was also looking forward to running my first marathon with my running buddy Chrissie and, best of all, my beautiful son, Frantz, was going to come and support me. (it was easy for him, he had the sushi!) Jacqui, Jess and Tasha were also going to be there, cheering Chrissie and me on while they cheered on their hero, Daniel.

Jess and Tasha out early with Mom to support Dad, Chrissie and me

Jess and Tasha out early with Mom to support Dad, Chrissie and me

Centurion is miles away. I left home at 4.20am. 4.20am! That’s ungodly by any measure. My son would agree! I was worried that there’d be traffic and, having started Slow-Mag neurotically because of traffic, I didn’t want the same for The Wally. We arrived there at 5am and I realised that Centurion is the exception to the “Pretoria is always warmer” rule. Sheez! It was frikken freezing there. I collected my number and went back to the car for a warming power nap before I was due to meet Chrissie.

The Lifegain Wally Hayward is a 42.2km, a 21.1km, a 10km, a 5km and a 1km race. Masses of people descended on the start to be part of this and soon after the start, those masses were in front of Chrissie and me. Obviously that was my doing! Chrissie is like a damn pitbull. She just doesn’t let go once she starts. The Couch Potato, however….I’ll admit that I did quite well this time. I went 4kms before I felt the need to walk. I was quite surprised and I was happy. It was lovely to have a friend with me that I knew had no objective other than to spend some time running with me. Chrissie took, what has been described by those who witnessed it, a spectacularly Ninjarly fall at the Two Oceans Marathon when she encountered a legendary catseye. She broke a couple of ribs in the process. Although she seems to think it’s really just bruised muscles, but 4 weeks on she’s still in pain and can’t cough or sneeze or, as I later found out, laugh without discomfort. I’m no doctor, but that sounds like something more than bruising. So she was coming back from injury and I was doing my first Wally and half-heartedly trying to qualify for Comrades 2013. I hadn’t given up altogether, but I am a realist. We kept ahead of the sub-5hour bus for a few kilometres, but at 8km, that Chinese food reared its head and I got a pain in my ass akin to that which I experienced at Birchwood 21km two weeks ago. Okay, so maybe the Chinese food wasn’t to blame for the pain in my ass, maybe just the wind! At 9kms I did a good stretch which had a similar effect to a hip replacement (I’d imagine). I felt much better and could run a bit without limping. Chrissie was doing plenty of patiently waiting. At 9kms I got my usual grumpy self. I’m not sure if particularly irritating people always happen upon me at 9kms and then I get grumpy or I get grumpy at 9kms and then ordinary people just irritate the crap out of me. 2 assholes came running up behind us telling everyone to get a move on and gloating about how they had started so late and it felt great to be passing all the slow coaches at the back. I hope they get cramp in their toes tonight. Shitheads! At 10kms I wasn’t grumpy any more, but I was sore and the sub-5hour bus motored past us as I limped up a hill. This was a really pleasant route. The pain in my ass (and I’m not married, so I’m talking about the real deal here) was making the race unpleasant. Oh ja, Chrissie is also not the pain in my ass. And I say it reluctantly, but the Chinese food wasn’t the pain in my ass either. It was something else.
My brain was a bit slower in the second part of the first lap because I only started crying at 15km instead of my usual 13km. I wanted to run the marathon, but I knew this time, there could be a will, but I’d do long term damage if I did two rounds. And I knew that Frantz had got up at a ridiculous hour to watch me run a marathon and I was going to disappoint him. That spurred me on a bit, but I was very sore. I was making Chrissie and I go so slowly that Mike passed us and then, horror of horrors, even Dean and Myer passed us. Holy shit! Was I going backwards here? At the split for the marathon and the end of the 21km, an apparition appeared in the form of my Frantz and Jax and the girls, cheering us on. I had managed to muster up a pathetic limping shuffle so it looked like I had been running. We stopped to talk to them and I confessed that I was going no further than the 21.1km. I felt a bit tearful as my son gave a somewhat disappointed smile (although I think he was relieved to not have to wait for Chrissie and I to shuffle around the 21 again which would probably mean his having to wait for another 7 hours, the rate I was moving.

And then I was going backwards! That’s because at the end of this rather pleasant little course, there’s a sonofabitch of a hill. About 1 kilometre of 60° hell. (lol! My brain just typed hill, but my fingers typed hell!) hahaha! I was in so much pain that I ascended the hill backwards to give my butt and hamstring a break. The pain in my ass had descended up and down my body into my lower back and down into my hamstring and my calf was starting to complain too. Chrissie was so underworked for the day that she was going up and coming back to fetch and going up and coming back to fetch. Ag! How humiliating! And then we were finished. Not a metre too soon. My ass was on fire and the pseudo-chicken something or other was ready for an encore. Blech!

My body is slowly metamorphosing from a couch potato into an elite athlete (my easy to impress chiropractor – Clifford Mead – claims that I am already an elite athlete. And the crowds fell down laughing!). The pain started in my foot and toe. Then it moved to my ankles then my shins got it. Then my knees got it. My hamstrings and quads. Now my glutes. Clare-Anne, the physio says I can look forward to pain in my back next. Yay! The pain medication has progressed from Panado to Mypaid. By Comrades 2014 I’ll only have my head to worry about and of course the heroin addiction! Lol! Just kidding. I know I can’t take heroin if I want to win Comrades.

Hey! I’m a realist, but a girl can dream can’t she?

Lots of love from the slow coach.

Always good to remind myself

Always good to remind myself