My journey to Two Oceans 2012
My journey to Two Oceans 2012 started at Two Oceans 2011. My children Ziyaad and Yusra ran the 300m toddlers race and 56m nappy dash respectively last year. This was when I decided that it was time for me to run and I made a tentative commitment to finish Two Oceans 2012 the following year. At the time I didn’t really think that I was being very realistic because if you ask anyone that knows me, I was always a cricketer and could never run. It just so happened that a few weeks prior to Oceans 2011, I ran into an old varsity friend (Bijean Jacobs) at the Green point Urban Park, who had joined Itheko and told me to come and try it out.
Well, needless to say I was there on one fateful Tuesday evening, all scared and with no confidence in my non-existent running ability. It rained a lot that evening and after a 5km run with coach Farouk, soaked to the bone, I felt like I had conquered the world. This was all it took for me to become addicted to this great sport we all love so much.
Four weeks after joining the club, I did my first 10km race (UWC Fast and Flat). It was anything but fast for me, and from the gun I thought I was going to die. Yassien Salie assured me I wasn’t going to die even though at the time I really didn’t believe him. I eventually finished the race, in the rain (see a trend starting here?) and was totally elated at doing so.
With my new found confidence in my ability, or lack thereof, I started falling more and more in love with running. There was numerous training runs in which I was close to giving up as I had a problem with my legs. They just downright HURT, which was a combination of me being overweight and the fact that I was very unfit.
Training continued and someone convinced to do my first 15km race. It was the Elsies River 15km and even though I wasn’t ready, I entered. In hindsight I wasn’t exactly ready to tackle anything longer than 10km just yet, but I decided to give it a go and there I was 2h10 minutes later, finishing my first 15km race, IN THE RAIN (yes it rained on that day too).
As my fitness and confidence grew, I entered race after race and probably ran everything on the calendar. This was when I decided to enter my first half marathon, the 94,5KFM Gun Run. This is a race that has a 3 hour cutoff and with my 10km times not being fantastic, I was not confident in completing it under the allotted 3 hours. Well, I can proudly say I finished the race in last place. I know I was in last place because the emergency ambulance was behind me, and the paramedic offered me a lift to the finish line on more than one occasion. I flatly refused the ride “home” determined to at least finish the race. I crossed the finish line in 3h09, after the cutoff gun and totally exhausted. However on this day it didn’t rain, in fact it was very hot and my lack of fitness combined with the heat, didn’t help.
Entries for Two Oceans 2012 opened and there I was, probably one of the first people to enter on that Wednesday morning. I sat in front of my computer about 10 minutes before the lines opened and had all my details ready. That morning I wrote my predicted finishing time in my work diary (2h55). It was a place where I was able to see it every day. My second half marathon was Winelands, which was run in 35 degree weather in Stellenbosch. I eventually finished in 3h16, slower than my first one. Another 2 half marathons later (Mitchells Plain Titans and Peninsula Half Marathon), I had still not broken the 3 hour mark. This was a matter of concern as I knew that for me to obtain that Oceans medal, I needed to be able to run a half marathon in under 3 hours. This prompted a serious rethink in terms of training, and for me to break the sub 3 mark, I knew that I needed to do more lsd’s. I knew this because during each of my previous half marathons, I seemed to hit the wall at 17 or 18km. This was an indication of me not having the endurance to go the distance.
Roll on February 2012 and the Itheko awards evening. What a spectacular evening and for me the highlight since I joined the club. To my surprise I was nominated and won the “most improved senior road runner” award. This really inspired me as just a few months prior to this, I couldn’t run 1km, let alone win this award. The award made me realise that I could do anything I set my mind to and really focus on the goal. I started doing the weekly lsd’s and even did a few training runs on my own as by this point I had just over a month to Oceans (remember my 2h55 goal).
The morning of the Plexus Tyger race, I had the option of entering the 10km or the half marathon. Faradieba Petersen, Khadeeja Samsodien and I decided we were going to run the half marathon and use this race as an lsd and run it slowly with no pressure to break the 3 hour mark. In fact we were guessing we’d finish around 3h15. Shahieda Toffar hopped on our bus and we set off. At the 15km mark, we realised that we could break the 3 hour mark and went for it, eventually finishing in 2h52. This is by no means earth shattering pace, but what made it significant was that it was the first time I had gone sub 3 and with that, brought the confidence that I could now do it again come Two Oceans. I knew however, that Oceans would be a much tougher race as we had done the route as an lsd before.
The Friday night before Oceans I hardly slept as I was nervous as hell, but also quietly confident that I could make my target time. During the national anthem, I closed my eyes and said a private prayer only to be disturbed by the thousands of cheering runners at the completion of the anthem. The gun went and off we went. I felt surprisingly good and I did not suffer from my usual “first 3km’ pain in my legs. I made a pace band which I stuck around my wrist so that I could see whether or not I hit my targets during the race. It was so detailed that it gave me km for km split times. I was ahead at 10km but slightly behind (by 2mins) at the 15km mark. I put that down to the brutal weather on the day.
Coming into the finishing straight, I could hear so many club members shouting and cheering, which was probably the highlight of the day for me. When I looked up at the clock, it read 2h55, the exact time I had envisioned for myself some 5 months prior to this day. Dripping wet, our club captain Ebrahim Mohedeen was one of the first to congratulate me. My wife and son were also at the end waiting for me in the storm. To my friends who had stood out in the rain at the 18km, you guys were priceless and have no idea of how much that meant for me on the day. The irony of the story is that my first training run was in the rain, my first 10km race was in the rain, my first 15km race was in the rain, and my first Two Oceans was in the rain (ok make that a storm), but I loved every minute of it.
To everyone who supported me, believed in me and encouraged me, I say a heartfelt thank you. Your constant words of encouragement and motivation will always be appreciated.
In closing all I really want to say is that if I can do this, anyone can if you have faith in yourself and have a tangible goal to work towards. Bring on Oceans 2013!!!!!!