Skukuza Half Marathon Start – sharing my happy place with special people
How hard can it be?
Last year I developed sports induced asthma out of the blue. I suspect my body was saying WTF after no exercise for so many years and I was telling it to do more than it had ever done. I was like the little train that could but I couldn’t. So I went to the doc and got some asthma pumps and it seemed to settle down. I then broke my ankle and undid all the hard work!
In January this year whilst getting back into the swing of things I was so focused on protecting my ankle and concentrating on what was happening to my feet that I never even noticed that I couldn’t breathe! I had been frustrated that I wasn’t making progress but I had complete blinkers on. It wasn’t until after I was feeling very down in the dumps and was summoned to the trails by Coach Fred that I realised my asthma was back. We were running up a tiny incline and I had to stop at the top because I was wheezing so badly! You would think this would be obvious! Fred immediately told me to get it sorted which I promptly did and went back onto the pumps.
Whilst it has improved in terms of wheezing, I am still really struggling to breathe while running. One of my awesome running buddies Riana is an OT and she picked up on some issues whilst we were away in the Berg. She has given me some exercises which I am starting on Monday. I couldn’t do them with the spider bite. She did an assessment on me and it appears, if I have this right, that one of my primitive reflexes from childhood has not integrated fully i.e. the Morro Reflex. This reflex just happens to have a lot to with breathing. So whilst I am going to go for a chest x ray next week, I am really hoping that the exercises that Riana has given me will do the trick. We live in hope.
Last weekend was one of my favourite races of the year in my happy place – the Skukuza Half Marathon. The Kruger National Park is where I go to recharge my soul, I absolutely love the place. And when I started running and heard about this race, it was a no brainer. To run and contribute to conservation – wow! This year was my third run and I am planning on doing this every year.
We spent the most amazing weekend in the bush with awesome fellow Randburg Harriers who just happen to be awesome friends. One was a newbie and now she is hooked – that’s you Miss Linda 🙂
The mandatory pre-race selfie – this is a keeper
The actual race is deceptively tricky. It is undulating with no major climbs but these steep little inclines that kill you. On last years run I came across a gentleman from Irene who had formed a little bus and was counting us up all the inclines. It is a technique I have implemented quite a lot since then and it is very effective.
I thus decided that this year I would do this on every single hill before I walked. My Bubbly Linda decided she would stay with me (after I tried to convince her otherwise as she is much faster than me). I always feel so guilty when people stay with me as I know I am holding them back but flip we had a good time. I loved every minute (except the one part….).
So the plan was to slay the hills. Well I think I did it a little bit too effectively as by the time I got to 7km where most of the hills are done, I was starting to feel a little green (the one part…). It is the first time I have felt remotely nauseas on a race. I have always secretly thought ag I don’t get that!! Super proud of myself! Well I had clearly not pushed hard enough. So I told Linda that I was feeling a little “groen om die kiewe” and I had to walk a little.
We slowly got the rhythm back and off we went. We had to dodge some creepy oke at one stage who kept looking at our legs… we eventually shook him!!
Once we hit the tar road, we met a lady from Bedfordview, Dalwyn I think her name was, who was doing her first 21km. She was taking a bit of strain. This is why I love running and for about 4km I forgot about myself and Linda and I helped her through a tough part of the race. We got her to run for almost 2km without stopping. By focusing on her, I forgot about myself and we just enjoyed the park. We showed her our hill technique and she did so well! She even caught up to us when we were walking. She finished her 21km and came and gave me a huge hug afterwards! That is what I love about running. I am certain she will be back!
My friend Natalie met us at the 19th hole aka the 19km mark with the SAB tent!! She had had three beers and was feeling merry. She had been waiting for me which I thought was so flippen awesome!! Just shows you how slow I am though! LOL. Linda and I skipped the beers. She ran in with us and we finished together, three Harriers in a row! So cool!
As much as I loved the race for all the other reasons, I was heavily disappointed in my finish time especially after putting in so much effort on the hills. I was 4 minutes slower than last year. The hill running was definitely a victory for me so I need to focus on that but I need to get this breathing sorted out. My legs were fresh at the end but I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my lungs on the last km of the race. I was huffing and puffing like a locomotive. It is beyond frustrating at the moment. I really feel that it is holding me back! The ebb and flow of emotions that I get while training is quite ridiculous! One minute you feel amazing and UTCT feels doable and then next day you think you never going to make it!!
On the plus side however and never one to dwell on the negative (even if it is driving me nuts) I got the spend this long weekend on a beautiful game farm in White River with fabulous friends. To hike and run in nature is just such a privilege and we took full advantage this weekend. My friend Peggy and I spent most of the weekend out on the trails and the kms just faded away. Peggy is a very keen hiker and you can follow her on Facebook as “the Backyard Hiker”. We plan on doing a hike in Kruger together next year. I can’t wait. I wish we lived closer together because we run very similarly. But it just means I have to come to White River more often. Going to be so tough.
Peggy and I on our morning trail run
Giraffe, Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra & Nyala all within 100m