When I was at school I did a lot of sport but none of it conventional school sports. That might have had something to do with the fact that I have ZERO eye hand co-ordination and cannot hit, catch or throw a ball. As we had to do at least one winter and one summer school sport I did swimming and cross country but I was not very good. I did not like to practice and as most of my other sports did not involve endurance I could not run very far without stopping. Swimming was bit better (natural talent) but running…. Oh I hated it! The races were 4 km every second Wednesday afternoon at a different course. I would show up, run/walk/wheeze then go home muttering and moaning that I was not a runner.
After school I did nothing for many years. I loved walking and rollerblading and did that a lot while overseas. When I returned to SA I figured I really needed to do something again. I took up paddling (canoe and surf ski) I was unfit and always last but it was fun. The people there were all very fit though and spoke of running and races and things. It was infectious and I decided I was going to enter the Spar Ladies 10km race. My first run was not good. I managed less than 1 km before I turned around and walked back home. Thankfully the race was over 9 months away. I remember a conversation with 2 girls at the canoe club, both multiple time Comrades finishers. I was seriously impressed and mentioned that I had just started running, that I was hoping to run the Spar ladies, but it seemed sooooo far and I doubted I could do it. They just laughed (thankfully not unkindly) and told me that that was how it started. First a 10km, then a 15 and so on. My words were “I will NEVER EVER go further than 10km”. At that stage I seriously doubted I would even make that. Their parting words were “we will see”.
Well, they were right. I did a 10km, and signed up for the Knysna half marathon in 2005. In the end I did not do it that year due to injuries, but I did Two Oceans Half 2006. Then in 2007 I completed my first Ironman. Yes, I had only done 1 half marathon, and a lot of people did not think I would manage. In fact a couple of them have come to me since and said they would have bet their house that I would not have finished. Well, finish I did. I managed to squeeze in a few minutes before the midnight cut-off.
Since then I have run quite a bit more. I have done Ironman again, taking over 3 hours off my previous time. I have competed in a quite a few triathlons and open water swims and have recently gotten into trail running. I love it!
I am always enthusiastic and positive when somebody wants to try something new like running or triathlon. I am a firm believe that if I could finish an Ironman then just about anybody could. I was not athletic, I was not a runner, I was not a triathlete. I did not even own a bike. I would probably be last, but I knew that I would finish it and that is what counts.
For people that are just starting out with running, my main bit of advice. Take it slowly. Walk when you need to. Look around. Keep it fun. Do races or something for the social aspect and so what if you come last – somebody needs to. More often that not it has been me. Mr OL likes to joke that I get full value out of my race entry fee.
But most importantly just get out there and do it!
And for the girls – get a good sports bra. When I started the one I used was too tight, and I could not breath. Except I did not know it was the bra, I thought it was just because I was that unfit. Tight is not always better –support is what counts.