#3:06:31 #Cuboidbone #RUNASONE
The week before 26 March was marred by butterflies in my stomach, but for all the wrong reasons. Due to the now infamous pesky cuboid bone injury, I was still not sure if I would be able to run the race of my life. On Wednesday 23 March, with our head coach, Kathy’s, advice and blessing, I went for what I termed “The stress test”; which was actually just a 3km run to see if this foot of mine would hold up. I honestly did not feel 100% after it; I did, however, manage to talk myself into giving Saturday’s 21.1km my best shot. My reasoning for starting OMTOM without knowing if I could complete it, was that I had to try. I owed it to myself and all those that had supported me. The thought of possibly not being able to complete the race, due to pain, paled into insignificance compared to living with never trying and therefore never knowing.
Resolute, I woke up at 4am on Race Day and got kitted out to take on #OMTOM2016! When I arrived at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa to meet my teamsters for the race, I was a ball of nerves and honestly did not know if I had made the right decision. Twenty minutes before race time, I answered nature’s call. And whilst standing in the loo queue I heard, “Hey, aren’t you the OptiFit lady that has the blog…yes the one with the cuboid injury? I have enjoyed reading your blog and am so glad you are running.” It was that moment I realised that the universe has quite a sense of humour; now how was I going to let the cuboid bone rob me of my glory – I certainly couldn’t jeopardise my street cred. #GameOn!
As we huddled at the start of the race in the rain, the energy was electric. It felt like a family gathering…that annual Christmas lunch when you get to celebrate and catch up with all your cousins. As I chuckled and chatted away, I heard my name being called. In that crowd of thousands of people, my friend Babalwa had managed to spot me. The saying “it takes a village to bring up a child” could not be more true! What had got me out of those starting blocks - was the “the village” comprised of encouragement from husband Duncan, my friends and family, my OptiFit coaches my OptiFit teamsters, the unexpected surprise from Babalwa and the stranger that recognised me in the bathroom. Without all these people, I may have not even started this journey. It was not an easy first 4km! I am not sure what is worse - wading through the thousands of runners - or the first uphill stretch onto the M3? If it were not for my running teamster Cheryl N, I would not have made it up that hill. The downhill stretch towards Kendal Road turnoff was a welcome break; it was the first time I looked up and took in the view; appreciated the weight of the goal I had set for myself and the tough road I had ‘run’ to even get to OMTOM2016. I am not sure if it was the adrenaline or my Guardian Angel, but my foot behaved itself for the most part.
My goal for the next few kilometres was to stay ahead of the “Cut-Off bus” because I sure was not going to miss out on my medal. Then suddenly…enter the main actor of the OMTOM half – Southern Cross Drive! How is that people run this race year in and year out knowing that Southern Cross Drive awaits them? The end was nowhere in sight!!! It was at this moment that the Cut-Off bus caught up with me – I had to give in. Southern Cross Drive was undoubtedly my moment of truth; I had to ask myself whether I was a woman or a mouse; whether I was going to give up after all of my hard work and effort or not? I am proud to say that perseverance won. As with most challenges in life, once I conquered that mountain, I was able to build momentum again and take back the lead from the Cut-Off Bus. I had to chuckle to myself at one moment, because at some point I felt as though he (the bus), was racing me – like I was his mark.
After Southern Cross Drive, I remember seeing so many well-wishers and it was honestly hearing random strangers cheer me on by name that got me through those last kilometres. These encouraging strangers were only topped by familiar faces cheering me on. Thank you Jenni and Angie; seeing you two meant the world to me. With a steady lead on the Cut of Bus and his crew, I took on the final stretch up to UCT. Now I have a question for the route planners, ‘’Why on earth does the race end off with that gruesome uphill stretch??’’ At that stage of the race it surely rivals Southern Cross Drive?
No words can describe the overwhelming feeling as I entered UCT, the crowd was cheering and I was there… ALIVE and with my foot in tow. I made it past the finish line with 4 minutes to spare. After collecting ‘my precious medal’ aka MY OMTOM MEDAL, my anxious husband was there for me. That pesky foot had let me finish my race…and I had done it within cut off time. I am officially an OMTOM half marathon runner. I did it…it’s confirmed, I am truly a runner! I really should have put money on this. I will cherish this experience for a lifetime and yes I will continue to run.