We arrived back in Jozi yesterday and even though a week has past, I am still on a total high after completing my first ever Two Oceans half marathon. What an amazing experience from start to finish!
We did our race pack collection on the Thursday before the race and wow, it was so incredibly well organized! The lines were extremely long, stretching out the doors and down the road outside the CTICC and I anticipated a long wait but was so surprised. Within 20 minutes of getting in the line, we were at the front and collecting our race packs. We also spent a bit of time at the exhibition, checking out all the cool stands and I got to meet Pamela from SA Medal Hangers (I’m so ordering myself a custom #fatgirlslim one) and also making time for a bit of horsing around at the Runners World stand…
Clearly I have no problem acting like a chop and Runners World have shared this picture all over their social feeds! *blush*
Walter and I also made time to get in one run before the race, just to keep everything loose and also I wanted to test my coastal running legs as we’ve been training at altitude and the last time I ran at the coast (Durban) I nearly died, my legs had felt like lead! I did start to panic a little about the wind as I hadn’t factored this into my race day prep and Jozi rarely experiences windy days like Cape Town so I’d had no practice or experience with it and was suddenly terrified of how the wind and weather in general would impact my race come race day.
Everyone had warned me before the time to not try for a personal best at Oceans, it’s far to busy with too many runners and a lot of congestion at the start of the race and to be honest, up until that point, I hadn’t even considered a PB, I was just concerned about making the cut off and was stressed about how I’d feel if I didn’t make it.
But then, the day before race day, while I was getting my kit ready, I started taking a good look at the two pacing bracelets I’d collected at the expo from the Old Mutual stand and I realized, I could do it. I could do a PB. Given that I’d only ever run one half marathon before and I’d been poorly prepared for that one and very naive on my first attempt, I knew I was going into Oceans far better prepared, much fitter and better conditioned and after looking at the pacing bracelets, I knew if I gave it my best shot, I could run a PB, given that my previous half marathon time was officially 3h02minutes.
I’d taken lots of advice from experienced Oceans runners and we had a strategy in place for the race, get into the starting pen EARLY so that it didn’t take us 10 minutes after the gun went off to cross the starting mat and inadvertently lose valuable time. A couple of weeks before, I’d signed up to join Team Vitality which means that I’m not officially a registered runner and club member and Team Vitality organized some great benefits for Oceans, including parking at the start, access to The Sports Science Institute for complimentary coffee’s and refreshments before the race, as well as TOILETS (and not the portable kind either) as well as access to the hospitality tent at the end of the race.
We enjoyed a lekker cappuccino and the rest room facilities before heading into our starting pen and this is when the nerves started to kick in. So much excitement I was convinced I needed to pee, even though I’d just been and it turned out to just be nerves and excitement. We got into the starting pen about 40 minutes before the race started and the atmosphere was amazing. When the national anthem played and all the athletes sang, I had goosies and wanted to start crying. We were there, we were doing this… me… the fat girl that couldn’t even walk down the road a little over a year ago!
And then the starting gun went off and I don’t know what happened but I literally powered off! I ran so strong on the day, I ran hard, I ran fast (for me) I literally powered through the race. Of course the weather really helped too. It wasn’t windy, was overcast and there was a light rain, which really helped keep me cool and keep me going.
I won’t lie, Southern Cross Drive did nearly kill me. It just goes on and on and on and every time you think you’re at the summit, the road bends and as you turn the bend you see another steep incline stretching ahead of you. But still I stuck with my strategy and I ran my arse off.
The camber of the road was really intense, especially nearing the top of Southern Cross Drive and passing Kirstenbosch Gardens and I started getting really bad stabbing pains in my right knee which stressed me out but I still managed to keep going. And thankfully these have since gone after a good rest.
Crossing the finish line was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry! I couldn’t believe I’d done it.
And checking my progress was incredible. On race day, I broke 3 of my personal records, I ran my fastest 5km, my fastest 10km and my fastest 20km! I finished the race in 2h46min! That’s 16 minutes faster than my previous half marathon time!
I also ran at one of my fastest average paces ever.
Running a half Ocean was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life and I cannot wait for next year to do it all over again!!!!
I’ve literally saved all the mementos from my race, my race number, my medal and the Sunday Times that shows I completed the race and my time. This was a dream come true. I dream I could never have imagined a little over a year ago.
My #fatgirlslim journey has been life changing but I am no longer the #fatgirlslim, I’m an athlete, I am a half marathon runner! I am my own champion!