If at First You Don’t Succeed

27 Jun
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I’ve always wanted to run the Comrades Marathon.  My father, who is 81 years old, completed his 40th Park Run last year and my stubborn determination definitely comes from him.

We are certainly not a family of natural runners, my father has always said “One day I will run Comrades” but now has severe osteoporosis, and my mother – who also still exercises regularly – has a condition called lumbar thoracic tremor (so she can’t stand for any length of time), my sister has 2 vertebrae fused together in her neck, and I have pelvis symphysis dysfunction – Oh, and apparently my biokineticist says my left leg is shorter than my right!

What on earth would make me want to run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg?  Th fact that it is regarded as The Ultimate Human Race – and Comrades is definitely not a respecter of persons.  Comrades runners come in all shapes and sizes.  On the plus side, I am tall, slim and in spite of my asymmetrical pelvis, clicking hips and the fact that I’m a heel striker – I still have the belief that I WILL be able to complete this race.

I attempted my first run in 2015 and missed the cut off at Cato Ridge.  Then in 2016 I was diagnosed with DCIS (early stage breast cancer) and had a bilateral mastectomy.  Even though I completed a Get Fit Challenge during my surgeries, I couldn’t put in the hours of training needed to complete the race.  This year, I gave it my best shot, and in spite of my best efforts, did not make the Umlaas road cut off at 70kms.

I caught the bus back to the stadium with hundreds of other runners who had not made the cut.  A lovely gentleman sat next to me who was attempting his 20th – a double green number!  A British athlete who was thwarted by nausea, and an African man who told me he felt like screaming when he heard Chariots of Fire playing which signalled the end of his race.  His eyes brimming with hot tears.

My friend told me to hang up my running shoes and pick a new hobby… But how boring would this story be if it said “I ran Comrades” The End.

The best stories are fraught with highs, lows, disappointments and victories.  The victory is so much sweeter when the struggle is real.

Friends, family and strangers on the road all told me I looked great – but it’s amazing how false eyelashes, a good foundation and painted nails can mask the pain that was shooting through my hips.  But at least when I fail – I fail forwards.  I will train again and again until I make it, and finally, late one afternoon a nameless, faceless volunteer will put the smallest, ugliest, but most respected medal around my neck.

I am the Marketing Manager for eDeaf and so I am privileged to work amongst a significantly marginalised community group.   I am an eternal optimist.  I believe in second chances, and I believe that nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be so.

Keep believing,

Nicky

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