I sit down for the first time all morning and begin eating my bowl of kale and avocado while catching up on one of Ben’s latest vlogs. “How did I get here”. A song merely used to highlight a moment of adoration for the landscape that surrounds them. A sentence that still penetrates through my mind. How did I get here?
Two weeks today I fly to Durban for Comrades, a 90km run. I’m in a mild state of panic at how much planning I have to do and how much I am relying on a higher being for everything to just ‘fall into place’. I’m also ridiculously excited!
I can’t help but think back over the past two years; how much change has happened. I was once content with a life of Monday to Fridays because it’s all I knew. I’m not sure what exactly to write: Whether to admit I’m starting to feel the nerves; Whether to admit the challenge is so much greater than I. Or whether to admit that, I do sometimes look back and wonder what life would have been like. There’s no path of another I can follow. That comes as both an exciting mystery and a modest wonder that the route I choose may well lead to a ditch too great to jump, or a wall to high to climb. That is, I think, the beauty of living and I will continue one foot in front of another: The serenity in the sound of my footprints as they hit the turf that I have now trod so many times. It’s so close now. If I can complete this, I can complete anything!
It’s crazy (and damn right terrifying) to think in just 2 weeks time I will be running Comrades. When I registered back in September, it felt like years away. It’s only now that I can truly realise the extent of my journey. From running little over 10km in August 2015, I made it my mission to run a Marathon by the end of November that year.
For me, it’s never been about the running; never about the competitive aspect of racing and yet my love for the sport grew and grew. Comrades appeals to me for two main reasons. Firstly, It’s a physical and mental challenge like none other. I’ve enjoyed the discipline of training, of fighting against the instinct to stay in bed and press snooze. Comrades training not only gave my days structure and routine, often lost in the freelance lifestyle that I have chosen but more so, it’s given me purpose. It’s about so much more than a run.
Unogwaja and the Red Love Train is about running as one. Running not for the sake of running but to unite and draw together people across a country that I love. So, when the alarm goes off at 5:50am for another 4 hour Sunday training run, you get up and you get out of bed because it’s not about you. It’s not about how much sleep you got the night before or how busy your day is. In this ever self absorbed world we live in, where we are compelled to share every second of our lives in the vein hope someone cares, it’s so refreshing to experience something that’s so much greater than ourselves. I’m getting out on this run because I can’t let my team down. I’m putting on my shoes, tying my laces because we are making history. We are running for those who can’t, along with those who can to inspire a positive change.
I must admit the last few months have been physically and mentally exhausting and I have absolutely LOVED every single second of it. The pain, the grind, the sweat and the tears. The feeling of giving up and not being able to carry on but doing so anyway because we can do so much more than we think we can.
Running a 50km training run through Forest Park was an incredible, beautiful experience: feeling the soil under my feet and tasting the fresh green forest air in the breeze. But 50km is a long way. I remember looking down at my watch after I’d completed a marathon and realising I had a couple of hours still to go. It takes total control over your mind to forget everything and become totally fixated in the moment. Legs screaming but you zone out. Moments of bliss pass as you focus solely on the sound of each foot hitting the forest floor, in time with each breath. Nothing else exists but that moment. After that run I was totally and utterly drained and yet, the sense of achievement overpowered any such pain.
I keep thinking more and more of standing on the start line, early on Sunday 29th May. The chanting of Shosholoza and the camaraderie of the Unogwaja team with John, the most humble yet inspiring man I’ve ever met, leading us into the light of the day.
I wonder how I’ll feel, when it’s all over. It’s been such a focus and I think I’ll feel quite lost without it. Comrades has been a huge part of my life these past few months, something I really wasn’t expecting.
“What I realise now is that, Comrades isn’t the end. It’s the start of such a powerful movement of people. People who now know how much they are capable of. That’s pretty exciting!”
Izokuthoba. Comrades, you’ve already humbled me. Two weeks until race day. Two weeks until this beautiful, crazy and extraordinary journey begins, not ends. I wouldn’t wish to stand on that start line with anyone but the Unogwaja team and the 20,000 runners that will surround me. It’s nearly time, I can feel it.
Thank you for supporting and sharing this journey with us. Being able to share my passion for this cause has been so great. Here’s to 90km…and beyond.