I did it! I ran my first marathon! All 42.2km of the 2016 Cape Town Marathon! I finished it and I’m oh so very pleased with myself! And you know what? I reckon I want to do it again. I could run another marathon.

Listen, it wasn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t get the time I was hoping to get. However, when I realised that I wasn’t going to make 5 hours, I just decided to enjoy the experience and have fun… it was no longer about chasing a time. That made a huge difference! I ran into the stadium with a smile on my face… not a grimace.

I didn’t slack off completely, and in fact, I ran the last km or two without stopping at all, but it wasn’t about chasing the clock, it became about finishing it. I did however, take the time when I was walking to Whatsapp my family to let them know how far I was, and how I was doing, and I sent them a few photos along the way too. Connor even sent me back a video chanting “you can do it”. It was the best thing for my head at 32km 😉

After my last blog post about running the marathon, I got ill. In fact, until 2 days before the race, I wasn’t actually sure whether I was going to be able to run it… let alone finish it. I had a cold and then a severe ear infection that antibiotics just couldn’t clear. Thankfully, on the morning of the race though, my ear behaved (and the weather gods decided it shall be a windless day), the buff did the trick and kept my ear intact.

The night before the race, we went out for an early pasta dinner at Il Leone in Green Point. By then, I’d already got my race stuff in order! Race numbers were on my club shirt, the timing chip was strapped to my shoes, and my race belt was filled with race bars, panados and tissues.

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Hilary dropped us off before dawn so that we didn’t have to worry about the traffic, and we sat in the freezing cold waiting for the race to start. Karen and Lance started in the D group, and Nick started in the E group so after we took the selfie we headed for our own starting pens.

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There were 8000 runners that took part in the Cape Town Marathon, and amazingly it didn’t actually take very long for us all to get moving. By the time we reached the starting point we were already jogging… this is unheard of in most big races I’ve taken part in. I actually loved the beginning part of the race running along the promenade. Pity I wasn’t wanting to walk a bit to take a few photos then… but hey, at that stage I just wanted to get going.

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When we ran past this gorgeous steam engine, I had to slow down for a walk to take a photo. It was just so gorgeous! This was about 7km into the race.

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I just loved the bands along the way. This was the first one we came across, just after the steam engine. These bands, the singing groups, the drummies and all the groups of running clubs cheering along the runners made such a difference to the race and took my mind off what I was doing.

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We could see Table Mountain for a fair bit of the way, which is not the most terrible sight in the world ;). In fact, the views in general, and the streets we ran down were so interesting to look at.  I mean how amazing are these views?  I loved that the Cape Town Marathon route stayed close to the mountain and you could see it from most spots along the route.

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At 12km, I needed the loo and lost 5 minutes waiting for the portaloos. While I was there, the 5 hour buses ran past me, and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to catch them. So, I decided to have fun. I ran as fast as I could, took in the scenery and the atmosphere. I stopped briefly when I spotted Sally Jane and her kids just before the 21km mark (and got a few Super C’s from them which were a lifesaver)… and then again to chat to Lauren, Ross and their dogs at the Rondebosch Common. It was so AWESOME spotting people I knew along the way!

I was so grateful to the Tsogo Sun crowd at the Newlands hotel who were handing out Bar Ones and Smarties. The random running clubs handing runners raisins, Super C’s, oranges, crisps and snacks were a godsend too. Even though I had racebars, I really did a bit of variety and I was craving something salty to eat.

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The flags along the walkways in Company Gardens were gorgeous, and I was so very thankful for the shade then. My oath, the route is very open… with hardly any shade.

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Then I just had to smile when I saw the firemen close to 40km spraying off everyone. I LOVED it! I think I smiled from then until the finish. No-one complained about the water in their eyes or water dripping down their legs, it was such a relief from the heat.

Just as we turned the corner after this, we went up a ramp and the guy next to me just collapsed. It became real then… really real. And as we got over that little bridge, there were 2 photographers waiting, and I had a genuine smile on my face for the first time. This was where I got emotional. My only thought then was “I DID IT”. It didn’t matter about the next 2km, I’d done it. And I ran from then on, without stopping.

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It wasn’t easy at all. In fact, it was really hard. I probably should have trained more, I know I should have done a few more longer runs. But the training I did paid off, and the hills we slogged over prepared us well. This race was really flat compared to the routes we’d been training on… and in a way the race was harder because we had to work all the way… you couldn’t slack off on a downhill because there really weren’t any downhills!

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And would I do it again?

Hell to the yes!

I’m definitely keen to do the Cape Town Marathon again, it was incredible. I loved every minute of it. The organisation was amazing, the start fantastic, the water points were just perfect, and the marshalls were incredible.

I’m determined to finish it under 5 hours next time, I’m sure I could have if I hadn’t have been so ill.

As for longer distances, like I was planning… the jury is still out. I didn’t make the 5 hour qualification time for Two Oceans as per my original plan, but I’m still thrilled with what I achieved.

Seriously guys, this is BIG for me! Before 3 years ago, I’d never considered running… ever… let alone run a marathon! I’m the most unlikely person to have done this. And I actually enjoyed it! Who would have guessed. Not bad for someone who started running in their 40’s 😉

This has one of the greatest achievements in my life. It’s been a huge thing for me to conquer. And I loved that I got to do it with amazing friends, and to have Hilary waiting at the finish line for us, cheering us all the way. I loved every minute of our race-cation.