On The Run

Like Seriously, Will I Ever Run A Marathon?!

Where do I even begin to tell this story?! In January 2020, I started training for my first marathon. The pandemic happened, the race was cancelled. I thought about continuing to train and running the distance on the day but decided not to as I wanted the whole package – the vibe, the crowds, the medal. In November 2020, I was ready to train again for something big and put my sights on the Addo ultra-trail. I really struggled during training – my body and mind were all over the place and I almost felt a sense of relief when the race was postponed a few weeks from D-Day, with an offer to defer to 2022. I deferred. I then ran aimlessly for a few weeks before hitting a major slump. Six weeks in, I realised only a Big Hairy Goal would bring me back. I signed up for the Kazungula Bridge Marathon. Would it be third time lucky?

I started training in June and felt energized and enthusiastic and by the end of that month I’d run a total of 163.9km. After an easy June, July was a reminder that training for a marathon is serious business but I pulled through with 168.6km (my highest total for the year) with my longest run being 25km. Every time I sensed I was slipping, I found joy chasing other goals. For example, I completed the #RunEveryStreet project for a second neighbourhood – Peolwane.

I also lead a team of 15 runners in the She Runs Cardiff Summer Relay Event which was an amazing way to connect with others. Donning our blue, black and white colours, we passed a virtual baton to each other for 12 hours.

I also found happiness in the smaller things – catching the sunrise when I ran from Mokolodi home, chasing beautiful churches, temples and mosques, and enjoying art around town.

In August, my total was slightly less with 157.5 km, but this included two 30km runs – my furthest distance ever! The first time I ran 30km, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride – I just ran 30km. My body did this!! I am strong, powerful, amazing, fearless…

And then I collapsed… for a week! I think my body felt THIS was the marathon! The second time I took it slower and felt more comfortable when I was done… and didn’t have to take a week off!

In fact, I jumped straight to my annual #9X9 Spring Challenge – a 9 day running streak where I encourage runners to look for signs of spring all over town. Let’s press pause on this story, just for a moment, to admire the most magnificent purple bougainvillea I’ve ever seen! It sits majestically in one of the yards of a quiet, unassuming street in Central Gaborone.

It was during this Challenge, on the 7th September, that we got news the Kazungula Bridge Marathon had been postponed. It felt like such a shock, given just a couple of days prior to this, we had seen on social media that the merchandise had arrived. I always knew there was a possibility of a postponement or cancellation – we are living in a pandemic after all. I just didn’t see it coming at this stage. In fact, when the news came in, things were looking more positive – schools had re-opened, the alcohol ban was lifted, curfew time had been extended, and active cases were steadily declining. But of course the race organisers have more information than I do and it must have been extremely hard for them to make this call to postpone.

But after 15 weeks of training, I’m extremely disappointed. I always said I would run the marathon even if the event was postponed. But it’s easy to say that when you are sure your marathon will go ahead as planned, right? 😉 So the question is – do I run 42.2 km without the crowds, the race banners, the medal? Faced with this dilemma in March 2020, I said no. Faced with it again in March 2021, I said no. Now? My answer is… Yes. I will get up. I will lace up. I will run 42.2 km. It won’t be over the Kazungula Bridge but rather on the trusty streets of Gaborone. So, my friends, the show will go on – just minus the bells and whistles 😉

Have you run a marathon even when the race was postponed/ cancelled? Would you run 42.2km without a medal for your efforts?

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”.

37 thoughts on “Like Seriously, Will I Ever Run A Marathon?!

  1. The show must go on! You’ve got this, Shathiso!!
    I know you will rally your family and friends to support you. You kids will create banners for you. A talented friend will make a medal for you. And we will be your virtual crowd cheering you on!
    If I was in Gabarone, I would totally run this with you.
    Do you have a date in mind for your marathon?
    And what is the new date of the Kazungula Bridge Marathon?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Kazungla Bridge Marathon has not given us a date which leaves it up in the air and kind of forces a decision to be made. So I will just ask for a refund. The Marathon was to be on the 2nd October – we won’t be able to do it on that date as we have booked all our accommodation/ travel to Kazungula. With elephants and buffaloes in the area, we can’t run a marathon without proper police/ ranger support otherwise we would have done it on the date itself. So we will go on the trip as planned – and then run it on the first Sunday we are back – which is the 10th October.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I’m so sorry. But yes, I would do it and I have done it – when I couldn’t do the Manchester Marathon because I was sick, I did it, with a support crew covering different stages, a few weeks later. I’ll share my link if you haven’t seen it already, as it might give you some strength to do it. Oh, and let me know the date and I’ll run “with” you from over here!! https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/not-the-manchester-marathon-report/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Shathiso, we are (again)) twinning with our marathons (and their doom LOL). I have decided to not run my virtually, though. I did register for the virtual 10K (and ran that earlier this week). For me, since mine was the Air Force Marathon, I really do want the full package…the race course (on the Wright-Patterson Air Force base) with all the fanfare of crowds and air craft (call me high-maintenance) and a real finish line. Also, I was dealing with a weird hip/groin issue, so this cancellation actually was more of a blessing (though I was initially disappointed when I received the email). But go YOU!!!!! I look forward to hearing more as your training continues!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Marathon twins indeed 🙂 With the good and the bad. To be honest, I am with you 100% – I want the whole package. I openly admit I am high maintenance, so you and me both my friend! LOL. I guess, I just feel so tired of training for one that never happens – so I need it out of my system. But really sad that it’s not the whole package.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To be honest, I don’t run for the medal, never have come to think of it. When it comes to road races, I find myself only running in road races that are for a cause or charity. Trail runs are a different story. I run these not for the metal, most I run don’t give them anyhow, I run trail because of the type of people you meet and because of the sheer beauty you experience during the run. No cars, no noise, solitude, beauty, and being in and with nature. Hey, you should come run the Shadow of the Giants 50K with me; no medal is given, but you will get so much more from seeing the majesty of the Sierras!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good for you.

    I could never do a marathon without all the fanfare. But that’s me. I have a hard time running alone.

    I did run SIX virtual half marathons when they got cancelled. I’m glad I did. But I’m glad that’s over. Now I will only run race-to face ones.

    Let us know when you are running it. We will cheer you on virtually.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so sorry that once again, your race was postponed. I know it’s frustrating. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon last year “virtually.” It was my 8th marathon. I ran with friends, we had support from other friends on our “course.” It wasn’t perfect, but we got it done. I’ve been able to run 2 half marathons on real courses with real crowds this year. They were fun! Contemplating my fall race choices now. We will see what happens with the pandemic. I’m running the miles. I should run a race, whether that’s in person, or on my own. I’m cheering for you on your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry, Shathiso. I don’t know what I’d do, but that really doesn’t matter. All that matters is what YOU want to do, and having peace with that decision.

    We’ll be here to cheer you on!


  8. Sorry to hear this! I’m honestly not sure what I would do. Last year I would have said no way, but now that I’ve put in all the training for a marathon I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. We will all be cheering for you virtually as you run your race!


  9. Oh, that is disappointing Shathiso, but you have such a great attitude. All this additional training might make the whole experience even “easier” on your body. I’m excited for you!


  10. I’m so sorry about this. I agree with what Jessie said–your body will adapt to all the extra training so if you decide to postpone and go again next year, it won’t be quite so tough. Hippos and buffalos, huh! That is a whole different reason not to run!


  11. Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear that 😦 I know you have to be so disappointed about this. A few Fall races here are either giving runners the option to run virtual or defer to 2022. It’s just so hard because things with Covid will be “okay” for a few weeks and then another surge happens.


  12. I’m very, very excited for you!!! This will be your first marathon and an amazing adventure. Honestly, i haven’t been running any races lately but have been enjoying my own private adventures. When I read about all the interesting runs you’e had this past year I thought “that’s what running is all about!” I’m sorry your “official” marathon was canceled, but you’ll have an incredible marathon experience. I can’t wait to hear all about it.


  13. Oh, I am so sorry the marathon got postponed again! If anyone can power through a virtual marathon, it’s you. Just make sure you pamper yourself afterwards the same!


  14. That’s the spirit! It won’t be easy, but with the right crew around you, it’ll be fun. I have done a couple of virtual half marathons, and have seconded mates on a full virtual marathon. Can’t say I loved my runs though…


  15. “Every time I sensed I was slipping, I found joy chasing other goals. For example, I completed the #RunEveryStreet project for a second neighbourhood – Peolwane. ”

    This is so important a message. It can’t only be about one thing. I LOVE that purple tree.
    SO disappointed for you about the race cancellation but glad you can see the up side. Alcohol ban? We went a total 180 and they briefly legalized to go alcohol sales.


  16. The pandemic has seriously thrown us all for a loop…. I am sure most of us can relate to rearranged training plans and canceled races. I applaud you for saying YES this time and honoring all the hard work you put in. I am cheering for your first marathon – that’s amazing!


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