THE wheels were set in motion in the last week of September when I watched all my friends and fellow runners finish the Cape Town marathon.
I had finished the 10km race just a few hours earlier but my legs were itching to run some more. And when I saw Uncle Ashraf Orrie finish his marathon. The fire inside me started to burn. I just had to do this!
At the training on the Tuesday night I decided that I was going run Winelands marathon.
Everyone told me I shouldn’t do the Winelands Marathon but rather wait for the Peninsula Marathon because I would have more time to prepare and it would be easier.
The seed was planted in my head. But as the weeks went past I was still undecided. I just carrying on training as usual on Tuesday and Thursday nights with LSD’s over weekends.
I spoke to the peple with marathon experience including Comrades runners like Youseff Kannouni and Rafiq Isaacs.
I was getting mixed messages from all of them and I was more confused than ever. So I just carried on as usual as if I was just going to do my usual 10 and 21km races.
I started to pick up my training, running with Mujeeb and Mubeen at 5min/km. They also thought that I shouldn’t do the Winelands Marathon. I just told them I was undecided.
I don’t know if it was in my subconscious, but slowly my diet started to change as well. I watched what I ate because I thought it would be good for my running and my training. My race times started to improve. I ran 50 min for a 10km and sub 2hr for 21km. I felt at the top of my game, but I knew I could do better. I started taking my races easy once I dipped under the 2 hour mark for the 21 km. I ran a LSD with my family up to Signal Hill and was shocked at how my body coped and how easy it felt.
The next thing I knew it was November and the entries for Winelands Marathon Had closed.
The Landmarks Half Marathon was a breeze on the morning of my wedding. I ran 2:05 and I was happy.
But then my running family stepped in. Aunty Roldah and Uncle Ashraf Orrie did everything they could to get me a number for Winelands Marathon.
At this point I still hadn’t trained properly. I had picked up my mileage and pace and time on my feet but it wasn’t anywhere near what I should be doing.
Aunty Roldah told me she got me a number for the 21km. It was fine with me. But in the back of my head I thought I might as well run the full marathon.
I carbo-loaded for two weeks. My running family Uncle Ebrahim Osman, Big uncle Ebrahim “black” Jacobs, Aunty Roldah, Uncle Rifai and Uncle Ashraf gave me plenty of advice.
My stomach was in knots. My wife is supported me and was constantly telling me not to stress because there’s no pressure on me. Nobody is expecting me to do anything special.
I know myself and I ALWAYS push myself to a point that I know I can achieve. The evening before the race I went to my mommy. She could sense that I was stressed. I heard my wife also said that I had not been well for a few days.
I packed in everything that I neede including the big bakkie of salty pasta from my mommy. I stopped off at Sportsmans Warehouse in Canal Walk to get a few things and go home to rest. I only managed to get around get three hours of sleep.
Its Race Day. At 3:30 I’m on the road to uncle Ashraf’s house. I get there and I’m still pacing. I know what I’m doing but I can’t stop myself.
The Orries get ready while I wait. And off we go. We get our club captain. Ebrahim Mohedeen on the road and follow him into “Matieland”, a place I associate with good memories and not nerves and feeling sick.
The start of the marathon at 05:30 comes too soon and the gun goes. Uncle Ashraf and I set off. I’m really sacred not knowing what to expect.
Uncle Ashraf sets the pace and I stick to it like Bostick. The kilometers pass and all the tightness in my body melts away and I start feeling good on the road. What was I scared of. This is easy!
We get our clubmates on the road (Gasant, Boeta Faroukie who was the last person who gave me advice before the race).
The 1st 10km’s pass easily. Uncle Ashraf is still guiding me as we go along. We pick up Ismail on the way and keep going. Rafiq Isaacs and Ishmet pass us just before the 15km mark. They tell me not to look back at all! Now my head is locked in front of me. At 21km I am still feeling fine but 3km’s later I don’t feel good at all and tell Uncle Ashraf to go ahead as I am not going to make it. I decided to go a bit slower because I had a pain on my right side of my body.
This carries on until the 30km mark. I get a myprodol from Mubeen of Topform and I feel a little better. Then I see uncle Ashraf on the other side of the road heading in the opposite direction. I thought I can’t disappoint him like this. I force my legs to start working hard a fast again. At 34km I get Nadia and her family who offers me salty potatoes and Energade which I take gladly. All the Hammer gel, the 32GI, Phedra Cut, Berocca and Mega load that I took prior to this race, did not have the same effect as the two small potatoes and 250ml of Energade!
After that I felt like I had just started the race. Then I started the first of the big three hills on the way to the finish line.
I could see Uncle Ashraf ahead of me at the top of the hill. But my biggest motivation came 10 seconds after looking up at the top of the hill. Right there on the left coming towards me was the Peugeot of our club captain Ebrahim Mohedeen. What a sight is was!
Youseff Kanouni was leaning out the front window and four of my “running mommys” that included my own mother – Ruwayda Tambe, Aunty Roldah Orrie, Aunty Naz Mohedeen and Aunty Shahiema Davids – leaning out of the back window and screaming my name.
I thought the emotion alone that I felt at that point was going to stop me dead in my tracks, but I carried on going.
I the got Siraaj on his bike who helped me up the next two hills. I caught up to Uncle Ashraf and took about 5 strides past him. Bu then I thought I started the race with him and it was only right to finish it with him as well.
Once again I was stuck to his side. Both of us checking on how the other is doing. His knees were finished. My right hand side was numb from the pain. But we kept going. We next saw our ‘pom pom’ crew at the Engen Garage and that spurred us on some more.
The last 6 km’s flew past after that and in the last km I told myself “head down and push”. I saw the stadium. In the sunlight it looked more like the stadium where I used to watch Maties thrash Ikeys.
When I got onto the track I could see my running family in the distance. I pushed hardest at this point. My mommy tried to finish the race with me but her exact words were: Yoh! Tahir this is still fast”. I crossed the finish line in 4:44:35.
I was very proud that I had finished my 1st marathon and managed to run a qualifying time on this gruelling route.
I ran back out to fetch the “Superman” who got me through this race, Ashraf Orrie.. No words can describe how grateful I am for his motivation and guidance on the road. He is a true role model for me in every way. I would like to say a big Shukran to my mother for supporting me through all my moods and the times whenm I was stressed out.
Shukran also to my running family who have been there for me through everything. They were always there for me with warm hearts, open arms and loving smiles. And the biggest Shukran of all goes to my wife, whose loving words and beautiful image in my mind let me run with a smile in my heart.