Remember my #40By40 Challenge? When I turned 39 last year, I decided to come up with a list of things I wanted to achieve by my 40th Birthday. The list is specific to fitness and running with a huge dose of travel and adventure, friendship, giving back and personal development. I gave myself two years to get it done which I thought was plenty of time! Of course, I never could have predicted a global pandemic that would wipe out all my travel and racing plans! But in today’s post, I want to update you on the five things I’ve managed to check off my list so far.
Run a Sub-30 5km: When I started running, doing a sub-30 5km time was a far-fetched dream. But when I suddenly got a shocking PB of 30:34 at a race in September, I knew it was within reach. I set the date for 15 December 2019, challenged my friend Kitso to a race, roped in my husband as my pace-maker and my cousin Ndiye and sister NJ joined in for moral support. I chose a familiar 5K route in my neighbourhood. What a tough run! It was a furious fight to the end and with Kitso chasing me down and Ditiro urging me to keep going, there was immense pressure on me the whole time. Just when I felt I had nothing more to give my watch buzzed 5K with 8 seconds to spare, 29:52! I was under 30 minutes for the first time in my life.
Complete a 40 Day Plank Challenge: As I was training for my 5K, I had also started a 40 Day Plank Challenge. The rules were simple, a plank every day for 40 consecutive days. This was such a daunting task but I started to have so much fun with it – planking in different locations and even in Botswana’s traditional gear on the day of my cousin’s wedding. I gradually worked my way up from 20 seconds and made it all the way to 4 minutes (which was a separate goal of mine!). I completed the challenge on 29 December 2019. A few weeks ago, I posted some of the benefits of planking and why I’ve made planking a part of my fitness routine.
Hold a Plank for 4 minutes: On Christmas Day after a whole lot of food, I got to 4 minutes! As my brother-in-law was visiting from Australia and is pretty handy with his camera, I asked him to record it a couple of days later. I was so nervous that the first time had been a fluke and I wouldn’t manage a second time with the cameras rolling. But I did and have this video as proof!
Race in Shorts: It’s not that I didn’t wear shorts or skirts outside of running. For some reason, I had it in my head that running shorts were for “real runners” with “runners’ bodies”. But in October 2019, after 3 years of running, I finally ran in shorts and wondered why I hadn’t done it years ago! I also started thinking, “What if I did a race in shorts?” and that’s how this made it onto my list! So on 23 February 2020, a month before the wave of race cancellations, it happened at the Pretoria Half Marathon surrounded by thousands of runners. It felt amazing and liberating. If you run, you are a runner and you have a runner’s body. Full stop!
Complete a 40 day running streak: My longest running streak up to this point was 10 days. For the last two years, I’ve taken part in the annual Gaborone Striders 10X10 challenge where we run 10km a day for 10 days. I thought it would be fun to extend this to 40 days with a minimum of 4km per day. Initially, I was going to do this after completing my marathon. But when that was cancelled, I decided to suspend training and do this running streak challenge instead. The first 11 days were smooth-sailing but then we were hit with heavy lockdown restrictions with no running allowed outside the yard! So I ended up running the remaining 29 days in the yard, either on my wonky treadmill or in tearful circles in my yard which I’ve spoken about here.
It wasn’t the way I had expected the challenge to go but at the same time I think it is what kept me running at such a difficult time. In total, I ran 202.61 km with my shortest run being 4 km and my longest 12.15 km. 127.45 km counted towards the Mzansi Lockdown ULTRA Marathon Challenge and 8 runs were done as virtual races for The Un-canceled Project which I blogged about here. Both challenges come with medals and I can’t wait to show them off!
So that’s FIVE of 40 done. I was well on track to achieving my first marathon in May, I’d reached 7 of 15 Half Marathons, my ticket to Norway to run in my mum’s hometown was booked for August and my 20 Race Challenge was well underway. Sadly, that wasn’t to be. HALF of the remaining 35 things on my list involve racing or travelling. Realistically, those things won’t happen this year. Am I disappointed? Terribly. But life must go on and I’m focusing on the other half of things on my list that are within my control. The biggest goal I’m working on now is a sub-60 10K time. My first attempt will be on 11 July and hopefully I’ll manage some of my shorter-distance speed goals along the way. The rest will happen, just not now. And I’m okay with that.
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” Zig Ziglar
I’m joining two amazing 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!