Avert your eyes Marguerite!

On the reasons I run…

If you know me well enough or for long enough you will have probably had the misfortune of seeing my with my shirt off.  It’s not a pretty sight I am told, and should come with a warning.  However I have never been one to shy away from owning my own body shape, choosing rather to show it off, waxing lyrically about my lovely legs or  my hairy chest which should actually just be waxed! I would argue its confidence while classical psychology would put it down to overcompensation.  Classical psychology would win, but not without a fight.

I started running to lose weight…

Part of the reason I need to compensate is that all my life I have been the fat kid.  My mom says that for a while I was not, I just had an oversized head.  But for as long as I can remember, I have always been on the larger side.  And it was not for the lack of activity. My brother and I played almost every sport that we could our hands on.  Cricket was always the firm favourite with epic games on the road in front of the house or around the corner in the Urnfield dead-end or at the Wadfield grounds.  Soccer if we could get a ball and enough players. Rugby, tennis, table tennis, golf random running around.  Unfortunately all that activity came in second to a voracious appetite.  Typically, 8-10 slices of bread in day was par for the course.  It helped that my dad worked for a bakery.  Or maybe it didn’t.

The activity slowed down in university and then even further after I started working.  Late in 201o I weighed about 105kg and was wearing size 44 pants.  It wasn’t the heaviest I have been but was pretty close to it.  It was then, encouraged by my friends, that I decided to lose some of that weight as my new years resolution for 2011 and become fitter, which entailed eating healthier and exercising more.

The exercising more came easier because anything is better than zero.  I began by walking around my neighbourhood in Sasolburg using a step counter to measure my distance. Initially going 2km in the morning felt like a lot of effort and 5km on the weekend was a real challenge.  But I began to see results and I began to go further.  I walked my first 10km race in February 2011 at the Sasolburg Marathon in just over 90 minutes by my watch.  I was pretty much dead the rest of the weekend but I felt quite accomplished and kept on going from then on, slowly switching from walking to jogging and including some cycling as well. By the beginning of 2012 I was down to 82kg, some 23kg lighter than when I started.  I was also running much better and faster even and entered the Sasolburg Marathon 10km again, finishing in under 80 minutes.  The time was not important, it was finishing and still being able to walk comfortably afterwards.

The eating healthier was and still is a struggle.

I run because it is simple…

Running is probably the simplest of all sports.  It’s just a 3 step process; Step 1 put one foot forward, Step 2 put the other foot forward and Step 3 repeat.  Now there’s techniques to help you run faster, to run further that you can put before step 1 or between step 1 and step 2 but I feel that the most important step is step 3.  Repeat.  I try to get out 4 times a week, 3 short runs and a longer run.  Every week, 4 weeks in a month and 12 months in a year.  Since I started using my GPS watch to track progress I have completed over 3000km.  But when I started I could not even manage 1km.  The trick I found is going out and doing that first 1km.  Because once you have done that first one every time you step out afterwards you can be confident in the fact that you can have done 1km and therefore can do more than 1km.  1.5km perhaps, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10km and suddenly you ready for your first half marathon.  And each time you achieve a new milestone, literally and figuratively, you lay the platform for the next one.

The road is my therapist…

I am a overthinker and the road is where I do most of my over thinking.  Runners speak about getting into the zone, where you suddenly eat up the kilometers without even noticing.  My zone is when I am thinking the most and I am sure that most of my best ideas have come while running.  Many of the blog posts on my site are on the list for sure and I think the final decision to actually get the blog started must have come while running as well.  I have worked through disappointment, anger, despair and some of my lowest lows on the road, shedding my fair share of tears as I ran.  And I have run with a silly grin on my face, joyful to be out in the sunshine or the rain.  I have laughed, I have sung my favourite songs, I have run in silence on cold mornings watching my breath create mist and I have built up the courage to make the hard choices.  I guess Step 3 comes back here as well.  I have faced everything I have faced to this point so tomorrow I can go out and face it again with the confidence in knowing it can be done.

To run is to be one with nature…

Waking up in the summer and getting out on the road while the air is still crisp to watch the sunrise as you run is probably one of the best feelings as a runner.  That’s why races start at 6am.  I’ve been asked many times how do I get up so early to get and run when everybody else still sleeping.  Besides being a morning person in general I think my body craves that feeling of being out there on the road as much as the next person craves that extra half hour of sleep.

I have also learned to slow down and appreciate some of the urban nature that would normally go unnoticed.  Flowers in the spring time including the much awaited but short-lived cherry blossoms, followed by the purple rain of the jacarandas in the early summer, butterflies and bees as the days get longer, the dying leaves in the autumn and the stark beauty of the dry and cold winters.  More recently it has been the birds, at first only by sight but now also by their calls.  The group crackling of the resident green wood hoopoes, almost always heard but seldom seen and the melodic morning serenade of the double collared barbets that live in a tree at the end of my road.  Even the short sharp call off the masked weavers are reason enough to slow down.  But if you run like me, any reason to slow down will suffice!

Runners are my people…

Over the last few years, any time I see someone running I feel there is an immediate connection.  We are of the same tribe, cut from the same ilk.  I may not run as far or as fast but the connection is always there.  I think the running community will embrace you almost equally, drawing you in and making you one of their own.  I think mostly it’s because anyone lining up for a run early in the morning knows what took to get there and what torture you may be putting yourself up for.  But mostly they know what it takes to do it over again.  And I don’t think there any rules, except perhaps know your space and run your own race.

I have mostly run and trained alone, but take great joy in meeting and running with every body on race days.  You are almost certain to find someone running at your pace to accompany along the route.  And if you don’t there are always words of encouragement to be had as you are passed.  I almost always get passed by the race leaders and cheer them on, taking my own encouragement from their achievements.  I have also been overtaken by a race leader who then hit the wall with two 2km to go in his 50km race and watched his heartache when he realised his body would do no more.  I get beaten regularly by young kids and I put it down to the exuberance of youth.  And I get beaten by older folks which I put down to years of experience.  Then I get beaten by moms with their strollers and I have no excuses.

You meet all sorts on the road and almost as many reasons for running.  Maybe it’s to win, to run under 5min/km, to get fit like me or because someone they know convinced them to just try it.  Every now and again you meet someone whose story moves you deep down inside you.  This weekend I met  a mom and her 22-year-old daughter with special needs Cher, at the start the FNB Joburg 10k  race  in a crowd of more than 12000 people.  We got to speaking to Cher’s mom (we didn’t get her name but we should have) and she told us they run to get out of the house because Cher loved being on the road.  She got a little fidgety as we waited to get going, probably expressing the frustration we were all feeling, but as soon as we started moving her face lit up and you could see the absolute joy it brought her.  Maybe we will run into her again very soon.

At the back of the start of the FNB Joburg 10k City Run

Running has become who I am…

Running has defined who I am in the last few years as much as I may have let my issues with my weight define me growing up.  After photography it is probably one of my enjoyable pursuits, often even taking precedent to having the camera in my hands.  Its helped me through a few really tough years, and brought more joy just to be up and out and with the people who love the same, not matter their own reasons.  Give my 5 minutes and it will probably come up in conversation.  Maybe to say how far I went that morning or I’m planning to go tomorrow, or how I have this niggling pain in my hip when I bend just so.  And if you don’t leave immediately after that, take this as fair warning, you are probably going to see me with my shirt off shortly after!


3 thoughts on “Avert your eyes Marguerite!

  1. Pingback: ‘Tis the season for reflection… – Passion Fruit

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