I had a list of super scary goals at the start of the year. Believe it or not, running a 56.6km race was not one of them. Yet here I am, on the eve of my first ultramarathon, feeling nervous, excited, and most of all extremely blessed and grateful at the prospect of lining up at that start line tomorrow. I will save the part of when and why I decided to do it for the post-race report 😉 It was back in late-2009 that Fadeelah and I started training for our first 5km (yes, we trained for it, quite hard actually). We couldn’t run 2km at the time, and after that race, I told myself that if I ever had to run that far again in my life, it would be too soon!
But as fate would have it, it was going to the 2010 Two Oceans Marathon to support, that got us badly bitten by the running bug. That vibe was so electric! And to this day, we have not been cured of that venom. In fact, the grip is only getting tighter, and we are loving it!
My running journey has been a roller coaster of highs and heartbreaks. The picture below was taken at the start line of the Two Oceans Marathon in 2013. It was in less than ideal circumstances that myself, Fadeelah and Quaseem would be there. Instead of lining up to run, all 3 of us were injured and had to sit out the race.
I was so badly injured that I could not walk and had to use crutches. I didn’t run for about 6 months, my ankle was busted. Being in that state for so long, having to hop around on one leg or crawl on your hands and knees just to get to the bathroom, it is really tough to keep the faith in your future abilities. I couldn’t even imagine getting back to my former fitness levels again, even though so many people told me I would come back stronger. Turns out the break did me the world of good, and with employing smarter training strategies, as well as adding cross-training, I did come back stronger… A LOT stronger. That injury was the best thing that could’ve happened to my running.
My type of story is not unique, yet it doesn’t make it any less special to me. Every runner has their story. The stories that you don’t know when you only see the glory of them crossing the finish line. But when you see the tears in their eyes, the joy in their step, the huge smile between the fatigue, and the sobbing of almost-lifeless bodies strewn across the grass in the finish area, know that they too have a story. And that this very moment is merely part of a chapter in their book.
I’m going to be very brave and put my plan out there. It would help that I am accountable to you for it. I will, of course, adjust on race day depending on the conditions, but this is it for now.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to wish all my family and friends a great race, no matter which distance you are doing. I know you will go out there and give it everything you have got on the day. To all my supporters… THANK YOU!!
And a very special mention goes out to my sister, Fadeelah. Sis you are amazing and you’ve got this! We’ve put in all the work, done the hard training and respected the effort that this distance and course will demand of us. Two Oceans is very special to both of us, and has always been. I am so happy that we are going to be doing our first ultra marathon together and lining up side-by-side. We won’t be running together, but I know we will be together in spirit. We’ve got this!