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The Last Time I Ran a Race by Bonke Simelane

  • Half Marathon

My most recent race was the Durbanville Pharmacy Dan Luyt 15 kilometre night race held at the Durbanville Library. I’m not sure why it’s called a night race because the sun was still high up in the sky. I guess as a Gauteng migrant worker in the Western Cape I’m still getting used to 8:30pm sunsets.

I almost missed the start of the race because of a late departure from the office in Montague Gardens and having to navigate my way through heavy afternoon traffic to join the N7 at the infamous Plattekloof off-ramp off Koeberg Road to find my way to Durbanville through the picturesque Durbaville Hills back roads.

Needless to say I was getting anxious and flustered. I was getting delayed by heavy traffic. I also got lost. I eventually found the place but had to find parking far away because all the early birds had helped themselves to the fattest worms. My waiting friend was also getting impatient having arrived there a good hour and a half before the scheduled start of the race. Literally making hay while the sun shines I suppose.

It is not a good idea to arrive at a race or any occasion like this. We hardly had any time to stretch and were on the proverbial ‘back foot’, no pun intended, from the gun. I suspect this was the reason we fared so badly in this race. I think we could have been the last ones to finish. 6 or so kilometres into the race I started experiencing a sharp sensation at the side/back of BOTH my knees. It was completely unexpected. My friend and I were really taking it nice and slow, as it was our first 2013 race.

Prior to this I had completed my first 15k with a friend in Table View on the 8th of December last year in 1:50. Not bad I thought. After that we did the Gugulethu Reconciliation Day 10k on the 16th of December and finished in a ‘reasonable’ time but I had picked up an ankle injury at the gym between these two races.
I was later told that the sensation I was describing is consistent with ITB. Some say it’s caused by wrong footwear, some say it’s caused by running on an uneven surface while others say it’s caused by insufficient training, stretching and priming of the muscles before a strenuous physical activity. The jury is still out on my case and I can literally feel the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon closing in on me.

This is certainly not going to be my last race but I’m definitely going to stop behaving like a naïve novice before any race or physical activity. I must practice and implement the 5Ps, Poor Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. I think it’s better than the saying “practice makes perfect”. I don’t want to be perfect. I just want enough stamina, speed and endurance to comfortably complete the 2013 Old Mutual Two Oceans Half-Marathon in less than three hours, sub-3 in racing/sports lexicon.

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