22 December 2006

Run with Maryann: Race Day

Maryann has done it! This novice runner has completed a 10km race. Find out what you can do to achieve the same.

On Monday, we did the 2,4km fitness test again, so that we could see the improvement in our running fitness.

I ran as fast as I could, but not pushing too hard so that I could finish strong. I did it in 11 minutes and 49 seconds – 2 minutes and 12 seconds faster than the previous time. On such a short distance, I think this is pretty good.

I was starting to psych myself up for the Gugulethu 10km race we were doing as a group and I found myself struggling to sleep, feeling fluey, and generally panicking. I was so surprised as I did not realise that this race was such a big deal for me.

On Wednesday, we just did a slow 5km run. It was a very hot day, and I started to feel dizzy after a few kilometres. I walked some of the way, and was not sure if I was psyching myself out of this run on Saturday, or just really not feeling so good. We did not run on Thursday or Friday.

The Gugulethu race was amazing. My run was not great, which I will explain in a bit, but I have to comment on what an incredible vibe there was. People lining the streets all along the way, children holding out their hands wanting to high-five all the runners, a few shouting "run, sister run" and even a "hamba! (go)".

Of course, there was also the insight we got into the conditions that some of our fellow Capetonians have to cope with. During one section of the race, I was struggling to breathe. This was partly due to the stench of sewerage.

More about the run: I made the mistake many novices do – I ran out too fast, and was struggling along by the 4km mark. It was so hot, I felt like it was midday.

I walked some of the way, which is not that big a deal, but I just felt uncomfortable during the entire race. I finished in 70 minutes, which was very disappointing considering I was aiming for less than 60 minutes.

I just wish I went a bit slower and enjoyed it, rather than worrying about my time. I was running with a watch for the first time, and was so aware of my goal slipping away. By 6km, I was just concentrating on surviving and finishing.

I had some great support along the route, with a previous Two Oceans Superstar, Debbie, talking to me for a good ten minutes and helping me, and the Optifit trainers that ran back and forth between us with words of wisdom, helped me at critical stages where I was struggling.

It is now the Thursday after the 10km race, and I did an 8km run on Monday and last night did an 11km run with big hills. I am feeling much better about where I am in my training, and will concentrate on enjoying it while I build fitness and stamina to take on the Old Mutual Two Oceans half marathon next year in April.

For most of us on the Optifit programme, being able to run 10km is a huge achievement, and hopefully we will all be staying on the road and maintaining the healthy lifestyle we have developed over this 12-week experience.

Thanks to Kathy McQuaid, who developed this programme at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and Juliet, Simone and Alexi, who were there at the thirty-something training sessions we had, pushing and supporting us every step of the way.

Follow our online programme to run 10km in 11 weeks. Start with week 1.

Don't forget to stretch. Here are the 12 best stretches.




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