This post was meant to be a first quarter review of my year – I was going to tell you how my marathon training was going, the races I’ve done as part of my #20in20 Race Challenge and all the races I could look forward to in the second quarter of the year. Well… the universe had other plans for all of us! COVID-19 ravaged Wuhan and other parts of China and Asia before making it’s way to Europe, the USA, Australia and more recently Africa. Yesterday Botswana confirmed it’s first three positive cases but with all four neighbouring countries already affected, the Government has been proactive in putting in place similar interventions as others with the hope that we minimise the impact COVID-19 will have on our less than robust health care system.
This means many of us are now working from home and homeschooling our kids. Restaurants have limited opening hours and only allow takeaways; all conferences and workshops have been cancelled; and liquor stores have been shut for 30 days. Of course, all races have been postponed or cancelled and most running clubs have stopped their group runs. Just this morning, the President of Botswana declared a complete lockdown, starting midnight 2nd April and lasting 28 days. In such a short space of time, life has completely changed.
How Far Did I Get With Marathon Training? After my Soweto Half Marathon in November 2019, I started a 60 Day Run Strong Marathon Programme with Coach Nicola designed to build general strength and create a solid base for marathon training. The timing was perfect and I finished the year strong, even achieving a Half Marathon PB on the 29th of December 2019. In January, I started training for the Addo Ultra Trail (44km) in South Africa but when my plan to run Addo fell through (non-coronavirus related), I quickly adjusted my training plan to focus only on the Diacore Marathon which was scheduled for the 3rd of May 2020. Each week, I grew stronger and more confident in my ability. In February, I ran my highest ever monthly mileage, 171.1 km and even topped it in March with a total of 171.6 km.
I cried the first time I ran longer than a Half – 23km. A solo 24km followed and forced me to dig deep. I was so grateful when my husband zoomed by on his bike for a quick hi!
Two weeks later, I managed an even stronger 26km, with my pace faster than my 24km. I was having a dream training cycle, exploring different landmarks and buildings in the city and venturing further afield to Tlokweng and Kanye for some hilly runs. I was also finding creative ways to get my weekly runs done, one day running 11km home from work. I felt victorious.
In Week 14 of 20, the marathon was cancelled. I knew it was coming as the COVID-19 situation across the world was escalating. But actually hearing it… yeah, that hit hard.
#20in20 Race Challenge: In addition to training for my first marathon, I also have a challenge to run 20 races in 2020. I participated in my first towards the end of January, the Y-Care 15K Walk Race, the Phobians Pretoria Half Marathon followed in February and then in early March I managed the Gabane 20K Trail Run.
Blogging: This has been one of my big highlights this quarter and I’ve been really pleased with what I’ve achieved on this front.
Race Recaps: I started the year with a huge race recap backlog from last year but thankfully I’m now up-to-date! If you missed any, here are all the links:
On The Run Series: My main focus this year is to encourage more people (particularly women) to start running. So I’ve tried to share tips on how to get started and how to tackle some of the challenges that come with running and keeping fit. I don’t know of any other Botswana-based running bloggers so I’ve also sometimes kept things quite specific to our local context but without throwing off my international readership. My most popular posts this year have so far been the ’10-Step Guide To Get You Off The Couch’ and ‘8 Safety Tips For Women Runners in Gaborone’. But the post I loved writing the most was actually, ‘Why Coming Last in A Race is Okay’. Anyway, here are all the links so you can decide which is your favourite!
Collaborations: This year I’ve also approached people with specific expertise or experience in certain areas and asked them to blog for me. The three I’ve posted so far have been so well received and I’m really looking forward to getting more guest bloggers on board!
Now What? When my Marathon was cancelled, my friends and I first thought we should continue with the training cycle and run our own marathon on the scheduled date. After all, we’d put in all the training – let’s finish what we started, right? But after a lot of thinking, I opted out. I listened carefully to the quiet voice in my head, and it said no. So did my heart.
This was to be my FIRST marathon and a huge part of me wanted all the bells and whistles that go with that – the crowds at the start, the cheers on the course, the energy of the race and the medal at the end. I felt that if I did our own, I would still want to do a ‘real’ one later on in the year but that would mean giving up more time with family, roping in babysitters for weekend runs and juggling work with all the long runs mid-week. I just felt I couldn’t do it now, and then do it again a few months down the line. So I made the hard decision to pause marathon training and focus on the goals I had in line for after my marathon. Many of these goals are actually from my #40By40 Challenge – a list of things I’m doing before my 40th. I’ve chosen the following:
- Complete a 40 Day Running Streak: Run at least 4km a day for 40 consecutive days. I’m on Day 9 and will complete it on the 1st of May.
- Run a Sub-2:15 Half Marathon: I’ve chosen the 17th May to attempt this! I’ll rope in a few pace makers to help me achieve this. I’ve also signed up for a virtual race so this means I’ll even get a medal for my efforts!
- Accomplish 4 Pull Ups: This is something that will probably take longer than the pandemic. After a week of trying, I can’t even do one unassisted.
- Get Toned Arms
- Complete 40 Push Ups in one sitting: I’m at 8. So…I have a long way to go!
I’ve also started doing other challenges just to keep me motivated, for example, I’m currently doing a 30 Day Squat and Arm Workout Challenge as well as the #19for19 Challenge hosted by Kim and Deborah. Just yesterday I also signed up for a Virtual Race Series called The Un-Canceled Project that Wendy spoke of on her blog. I’m also going to continue blogging and putting out as much content as I can. If you have anything you’d like me to write about just let me know. So that’s it for my first quarter of the year. Signing off with 447.5 km in the bag and at this very strange time in our lives, let me end with this quote:
“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
How have your plans changed in light of COVID-19? What are some of your new plans? What new challenges are you participating in? How are you staying motivated? Are you still able to run?
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy, and Faux Runner! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners on the link-up. Such great inspirational posts from around the world.