ROAD RUNNING... it is my newfound passion and source of inspiration... and a true testament to the amazing machine that is the human body!

Being a bit of a fitness junkie, I have always had a very intense love of gym and sport in general. But the one piece of equipment that was never my friend was the treadmill. I hated running. The treadmill was something I used when I needed to warm up and didn't feel like using any of the other cardio equipment, and I never stayed on it longer than 5 minutes. Road running was even less of a consideration. I could not imagine myself doing the same thing for close to an hour at a time or more. The very thought of it made me cringe with illusions of agonising boredom.

Then, late last year, my sister and I decided to take part in a 5km women's road run just for the heck of it that took place on Women's Day (9 August). But because I had never run that distance before, I was forced to confront and overcome my long-lost hatred of the treadmill, get my ass on it and train. I had to run baby, run! My gym sessions became almost exclusively running sessions, and I had to force myself to fit in other activities for strength training and conditioning. After the race, I felt a tad lost in the gym, because suddenly I felt that my sense of purpose for training was gone. I now no longer had any tangible goal to work towards.

So in October we (my sister and I) ran another 5km race... this time the KFM Gun Run. A tiny shift happened in me that day. I started to enjoy running, and everything that came with it. I told my sister that next year we HAD to do the 10km version of the Gun Run.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2010, we discovered that one of our friends (Naasief Mohamed) is an avid runner and was in fact running half-marathons regularly, and was even starting to run marathons too. So we started running some regular races with him. He left us coughing in his dust and was nowhere to be seen while we were running, but nonetheless we took part in the same race. I was falling more and more in love with it as the weeks went by. On 28 March 2010, I reached a milestone when I completed my 1st race which had a cutoff, within the cutoff time. The race took place at my alma-mater, UCT. It was 10km and the cutoff time was 1h30. Here's proof of my feat...



A week later, Naasief was to run the Two Oceans marathon. It was to be his very first ultra-marathon. The very thought of Naasief running 56km around Cape Town left myself, Fadeelah and Quaseem (his brother) in awe! Just studying the course made my head spin and my jaw drop. We were so excited for him and couldn't wait for race morning to cheer for him on the route and at the finish. We became his self-appointed cheer-leading squad. Whatever happened that day, we were already so very proud of him! I had to stop myself from sending excessive amounts of good-luck messages, I mean I didn't want to freak the poor dude out before the big race  ;)

Race day came and we first went to cheer for Quaseem at the finish because he did the 21km half-marathon. By the way, Quaseem did this without any training and still finished more than 20min before cut-off... Well done dude! :) After that we hit the road to find Naasief and do our wild and crazy cheering thing, shouting our lungs out in the streets of Hout Bay...

And WOW... that turned out to be one of the most inspiring days I've experienced in a long time... the spirit of the Two Oceans half- and ultra- marathons is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

The MUSIC, the CLAPPING, the DANCING, the CHEERS, the TEARS, the JOY, the CAMARADERIE, the STRENGTH, the PAIN, the DETERMINATION, the FIELD OF DREAMS - the place where dreams are both realised and shattered, the bang of the CUT-OFF gun, the HEARTACHE we feel for the runners that don't make it, the runners that make it with all sorts of DISABILITIES, the SPURRING on of the crowd, the mere ENERGY of the crowds...

And most of all...
** THE TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT **

It is something that can never, ever be experienced by sitting at home and watching it on TV. You have to be there, and when you are, you have to have a heart of stone to not be touched and utterly blown away by the experience. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been a tiny part of that.

Here is a picture of our champ just before stepping onto the "Field of Dreams"  - the home stretch! He made it in an excellent time of 6h34m34s. And yet he still had the strength to smile and run to the finish line with the SA flag I handed him...


(picture taken by Fadeelah Kenny)

I have been inspired to run the Two Oceans half marathon myself next year. In fact, later this year myself and Fadeelah don't plan to run the Gun Run 10km like we agreed last year... NO, we will be running the full 21.1km!

And I am right on track to achieve that, because on Saturday past I shaved a cool 7m37s off my previous best of 10km by running a time of 1h14m35s at my other alma-mater, CPUT Bellville.

I've put it out there, please hold me to it!

To all the runners that crossed the finish line on 3 April 2010, whether it was before the cut-off gun or after, you are truly brave souls. For the preparation that you had to go through beforehand, to the seeds of greatness that you planted by running the course... the world is a better place because you are in it...

To my dear friend, Naasief, your personal achievement has made a mark on many people's hearts, and made all who know you extremely proud. Do continue to make a difference by shining your light. Because as Marianne Williamson says: "...As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same..."

As you go from running the World's Most Beautiful Marathon (the Two Oceans Ultra) to the World's Most Gruelling Endurance Race (the Comrades ) on 30 May 2010, we wish you everything of the very best in the remainder of your preparations. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU...