On the 8th of September 2019, I ran the Botswana Life Half Marathon in Gaborone – it was my third Half of the year, and my FIFTH Half overall. When I started writing this recap, I followed my usual format, describing my training, the route, my splits and performance, and the pros and cons of the race. I didn’t really want to discuss my mum, but given that this race was just a week after her funeral, it was difficult not to. So I ditched the normal race recap format, and decided to write about how I managed to finish a race I almost didn’t start.
How I Got Through My Fifth Half Marathon
Running with Friends: My friends and I have one rule when racing, – “own race, own pace”. We usually meet up in the morning for our selfie and then wait for each other to finish at the end. But we’ve always said, we never want to hold each other back in a race. Once the gun goes off, it’s one man for himself. So I didn’t expect or ask anyone to run with me but as I prepared myself the day before, I did question whether I would manage to run alone. I think my husband Ditiro sensed this underlying worry because he suddenly said he would run with me just so he got even more time on his legs ahead of his big 50 km Berg Challenge which was at the end of September. His offer settled me a bit. When I woke up on race morning, I felt sick to my stomach. Not race sick. This had become my norm. I took a deep breath and got ready. Once at the race venue, I started to feel a bit better and was glad my first goal had been achieved – to get to the Start.
My friends Elisa and Polelo were also running that day, and Elisa’s brother Joshua joined us for his first race. I made peach ribbons (colour of uterine cancer) for everyone before the race, and we pinned them on. We also saw and greeted other friends and runners. Having run 35 races at this point, the familiarity of the race crowd, the crisp morning air, the buzz of excitement, all had a nice calming effect. Things felt ‘normal’ for a little while.
At 06h53, we started. Joshua took off quite fast and Elisa said she wanted to run with us which I was really happy about. We started at what felt like an easy pace, but when I later checked it was a lot faster than my usual start, 06:31/ 06:38/ 06:48 min/km for the first 3km. As we ran, we chatted comfortably, covering various topics but keeping things light. I fell into an easy stride and for the duration of the race, I didn’t feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Around 15km, we met up with Joshua again. It was really nice to run with someone who had never raced before, and his big sister and I, happily dished out a few tips!
A New Route: I’ve run in most areas of Gaborone so most elements of the route were quite familiar. The only new bits for me were around the Fairground area, but as the course was overall new, it still felt quite refreshing which I think helped to keep my mind occupied.
We made our way out of the Fairgrounds Office Park and joined the Tlokweng Road heading into town. Around 3 km we turned right onto Mobuto Drive which took us to the University of Botswana circle. It was on this section, that some of the faster 10km runners caught up with us, including our friend Malcolm. At the circle, we turned left, passing Princess Marina Hospital on our right and we eventually made our way through the Main Mall and onto Khama Crescent where we took a right. Our splits were still very solid, 06:50/ 07:08/ 07:09/ 06:51/ 06:52. At around 8km, we headed into the CBD passing the Three Dikgosi Monument and then out onto the New Lobatse Road. We ran all the way to the Rainbow Circle, a total of 6 km, 07:05/ 06:51/ 07:07/ 07:01/ 07:08/ 06:55. We turned left at the circle and made our way over the flyover (a gentle incline) left at the BURS Office and then onto the Old Lobatse Road, this time meeting Khama Crescent from the other side, 06:47/ 06:52/ 06:47.
I Am Strong: Throughout the race, I just focused on getting to the finish line with some good conversation. I hardly looked at my watch. But around the 17/18 km point, I looked at it and said to the others, “So guys, I know I said this isn’t a PB race… but it looks like it might well be…” As we got off Khama Crescent and right onto Kaunda, all conversation stopped…I was shocked that this would be a PB. But when I think about it now, it was probably always going to be. I am a much stronger runner than I was last year, or even when I did the Diacore Half in May. I’ve put in the work. I’ve followed the training plan. And although this was not a goal race, I guess it was testament to all the work I had done preparing for the Berg. Even though my head and heart were heavy, my legs were clearly strong enough to get me through the race. We laughed after the race about how quiet we were those last 3km. Well, for good reason, our splits were 06:23/ 06:20/ 06:09! My total time was 2:24:01, a 04:45 min PB. How about that!?
I’ve Been Consistent: Every time someone talks to me about starting a fitness routine, I always have this to say, BE CONSISTENT. And my performance in this race, with everything I was going through, just exemplifies this point. Be consistent, and you’ll get results.
#RunForAstrid: But to be consistent, you often need a reason to keep getting out there. “Finding your why” is a term that is often bandied about in various settings, but it can certainly be applied to running. I started running to get fit and healthy. That was my why. Then it became so much more. It started being about rediscovering myself after marriage and motherhood. And then it became reaching out to others who were struggling with fitness and also promoting general fit families. But now, running just helps me show up for life every day. I started this hashtag, #RunForAstrid as a reminder that I need to keep running so I keep showing up. Showing up for work, for my kids, for my husband, for my father and sister, for myself. That’s my why for now. And that’s probably the biggest reason I got through this race.
What’s your why?
I’m joining two fabulous runners, Kim from Running on the Fly and Deborah from Confessions from a Mother Runner for their link up, the “Weekly Run Down”. Hop on over to their blogs and others, and be inspired!