Despite the fact that I hate running, I cannot resist big marathon events! I think Botswana has 2/3 that take place yearly, one of which is the Gaborone Marathon. You may know it as the Phakalane, Steinmetz or Diacore Gaborone Marathon depending on which year you took part in it, the name changes according to the sponsor. It is undoubtedly the most popular with over 4000 people registering this year according to Mmegi Online.
The first time I did it, I went for the 4km run and actually trained for it! Makes me laugh now because I remember getting to the finish line and wondering if it was already over. The only reason I broke a sweat was because it was hot. The following year I went for the 10km which was a worthy challenge. I took just over 2 hours to complete it. At the time I was not doing any kind of regular working out so I did suffer a little but not too much. I alternated between jogging and walking throughout and could still walk after it was over.
The year after that I signed up for the 21km but had to give up my place to a friend because something came up that I could not postpone. Just as well that I did because knowing what I know now, it would have been a very bad idea to attempt it! This year I registered for the 21km again and I felt positive about it because unlike the previous years I have been working out regularly since mid last year. I had not done any marathon training but I would run 3kms every now and then during my workout routine.
On Sunday 30th March at 6 am we started off from Grand Palm hotel. I stuck to a reasonable pace and didn’t try to run too fast to avoid tiring myself too soon. I eventually found myself next to a tall gentleman and we ran together non stop for 10kms after which we alternated between running and walking. We had never met before but soon became buddies. We kept each other motivated but we eventually separated at the 13km mark. He chose to walk and fell behind.
At the half way mark, my legs felt like brittle lead if there is such a thing; delicate, painful but heavy. The second half and more especially the last 6kms was literally torture. I had reached my limit but I had to finish the course. Walking hurt just as much as running so it made no difference which one I did. I completed the run in about 2:40 hours. After the run, I could barely walk and had to find a bench after grabbing an energy drink.
Despite the fact that I was barely mobile for 3 days after due to the knee pain, I do not regret the experience. I’ll be first in line to register for the 21km next year. It’s a great way for me to check my fitness level. I did the 10km portion in an hour which I am very happy about, I’ve improved by over an hour! But of course next year I will (and should) train for it if I really want to improve. However, I want to find alternative ways of training that don’t involve too much running, I know highly unlikely but I’ll attempt it anyway!
I got passed by a few of the 42km runners and I must say it was amazing seeing someone run by at such a high speed when you are feeling crippled. The ease with which they took their strides was simply incomprehensible. And they were running twice my distance! Even with all the training in the world I doubt I could be that good!
The event as a whole was well organised, I experienced no problems at all. The stewards were very encouraging, cheering us on as we passed them by. There were also refreshment points were we could grab a banana, water, sweets or a fizzy drink as we jogged past. They had sufficient litter bins along the course too though most of the runners (including me) were too focused on running to actually put litter into them. We all got a medal at the end and though that may sound lame, it gives a sense of accomplishment and serves as proof of your pain and suffering. At the Grand palm hotel grounds there were stalls selling food, some kiddie play areas, some zumba sessions and music playing so even if you just came to support a friend, you could have a good time too.
I will hold off from Focus T25 for a week and do yoga instead to stretch my muscles. Next week I continue with Focus T25. I plan to redo week one of the Gamma calendar then continue as normal. And I will of course put up a review of the Focus T25 Beta workouts soon. I doubt Shaun T can break me after this half marathon, I dare him to try! 🙂