Johannesburg - I look back to the start of May – my birthday month.
Back then, anyone who asked me to join them for a run would be met with a stone-faced me exclaiming: “Running for what, exactly?”
I had no inclination to run. For me, the abs and strength training at the gym were enough – and at a very rare chance maybe an 8km walk. That was it.
But the constant invites to this and that race slowly worked on me. My curiosity grew and, instead of the face that said I wasn’t interested, there were more engagements about running.
In the absence of many of those who wanted me to join them for a run, I would take on the treadmill – and walk. The walks developed into small jogs and then began the running. And since then, I haven’t stopped.
The People’s Race in Soweto last Sunday became my second half marathon in three weeks.
Initially, I registered for the 10km race. By September, I was convinced by colleagues Timothy Molobi and Kgomotso Mokoena that I could easily tackle the 21km run.
I doubted myself. After all, I’ve been a sprinter all my life – those I went to school with can tell you a thing or two about my younger days (although their stories could be laced with some jealousy).
But then I got more encouragement and heard about the SABS Jacaranda City Challenge on October 14. I took the chance to register and the plan was to use that marathon as preparation for the Old Mutual Soweto marathon.
After two hours and 21 minutes in the hilly streets of Brooklyn, Pretoria, I was done. My morale levels were boosted, but the pain in my legs was unbearable.
I couldn’t run for a week after the race and I was heartsore, uncertain if I would recover in time for the Soweto run. Eight days later, I could start with small runs on the treadmill and eventually I took to the road and I felt fine.
Getting to the FNB Stadium on Sunday morning was something else.
There were 25 000 runners who had gathered for the marathon.
After the gun was fired signalling the start, there was no going back, and forth I went. I ran, walked and drank lots of water – it was a very hot day. Then I ran some more and walked some more.
When I ran into the stadium towards the finish line, my legs were dead. The 29°C sun had dealt with me and tanned me against my will, but I persisted and the cheering crowd made me run some more. I gave it everything I had left in me and finally crossed the line after two hours and 18 minutes.
I was happy ... no, I was excited. I was ecstatic because my time was three minutes better than that of three weeks earlier, but, above all, I had done what I’d told myself I could not do for the longest time – I had conquered the fear that I was not a distance runner. But it was done, and now I’ve got the next 12 months to prepare for next year, when I will be joining the full marathon.