I’m looking back at my Half Marathon journey to remember how far I’ve come, to build back some of the confidence I lost in my ninth Half a couple of weeks ago, and most importantly, to look ahead at what I want to achieve going forward. My first four Half Marathons showed me that I have what it takes to go the distance and that with continued hard work and effort, I can get even stronger and faster. I left you at Half Marathon No. 4 where I ran a very confident race in a time of 2:28:42, achieving a huge, 09:46 min PB! Let’s continue from there…
My Half Marathon Journey
5/ Botswana Life Half, Sept 2019: There were only four months between my fourth Half Marathon and this one, but in that time my mum was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. This race was a week after her funeral. I debated not doing it but supported by my husband and friends, I lined up. We all wore peach ribbons for uterine cancer. Throughout the race, I focused on getting to the finish. I hardly looked at my watch. But around the 17/18 km point, I turned to Elisa and Ditiro and said, “So guys, I know I said this isn’t a PB race…” We finished so strongly in a time of 2:24:01, a shock 4.45 min PB for me. When my mum got sick, I used running to show up for her, my family and life. So even though my head and heart were incredibly heavy on this day, I understand now that my body was physically stronger than it had ever been.
6/ Soweto Half Marathon, Nov 2019: With its pulsating township route, positive vibe from 40, 000 runners, upbeat energy from supporters, and the epic finish through the tunnel of “The Calabash”, nothing quite beats the Spirit of Soweto and this is why we keep coming back. In 2019, race organisers called for runners to “Lace Up. Conquer Your Hard” and I did. I ran most of the course alone but towards the end I found Luzibo who was doing this race for the first time. As we approached the tunnel, I said to her, “Get ready, this is our moment”. The race was definitely easier for me this time round and I finished in 2:33:02 which was a 14-min course PB and according to the race stats I was in the Top 14% of women compared to 45% in 2018!
7/ Phobians Pretoria Half Marathon, Feb 2020: This was my last Half Marathon before the pandemic hit and I wanted to use this as a training run as I built up to my first marathon (which never happened). I loved the route as it was designed in a way that gave us the opportunity to see so many attractive and historic buildings in Pretoria (South Africa). The climb up Klapperkop was tough but the panoramic views at the top made it worth our while. The traditional music bands, both at the top of Klapperkop and at the entry to the High School, were a real treat and a unique touch. I ran the course in 2:34:31 and was very happy with the overall experience. I kept things steady and was never tempted to go off my plan and race it. I felt strong.
8/ Orange Phikwe Half, July 2022: With the pandemic, came a long hiatus from Half Marathons, so you can imagine my excitement to do this Half, almost 2.5 years after my last one! Started in 1985, the Orange Phikwe Marathon is the oldest in Botswana and its IAAF accreditation means it also attracts international athletes from around the continent. When I started running in 2017, this was one of the races I bucket-listed and although it took me 5.5 years to #RunPhikwe, I finally did it! Even though the last third of the race was tough, I kept things steady and pushed through with a smile on my face running the course in 2:35:47.
When I look back at these eight Half Marathons, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment – I never intended to do more than one, and here we are. And when I look at these last four, I’m proud of setting a PB during an extremely difficult time in my life, running a 14-minute Soweto course PB, and returning to the Half Marathon scene after the pandemic. But reviewing my journey has also made me realise that in the last few months, I’ve become complacent and my dismal performance at my ninth Half (which I’m yet to blog about) is a result of that. Because I know I can do the distance, I’ve been coasting and collecting medals but not working to become better, stronger and faster, which has always been my goal. With that said, I’m setting my goal race as the Jacaranda Half in Pretoria on the 12th November 2022 – just over eight weeks away.
How many Half Marathons have you run? What lessons have you gained? Have you ever found yourself slacking when it comes to running?
I’m also joining the link-up, Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Running on Happy! Hop on over to their blogs and others, and be inspired!