In general, my experience of how people react when I tell them I’m running the KAEM this year has not been very different from Cobus’s (you can read his account here to get up to speed) though one incident does stand out. An assistant at Cape Runners listened patiently as I explained that I’ll be doing the extreme desert marathon, hence my buying proper shoes there. His face, very genuine and engaged at first, turned to shock and disbelief when he realized this will be my very first marathon. To account for this oddness, he asked me if doing the race was on my bucket list. I was really humoured by this question! I’d never looked at the race as a means to the end but more as the beginning of something very special in my life.
Apart from the people that think I have lost my mind, there are those who have really encouraged my decision and have shown great support. I have had suggestions on routes to run, races to compete in and even things to think about while running. The advice has been so sincere and the concern, genuinely though it is, puts me in a difficult position at times as I struggle to satisfy their enquiries sufficiently. I suddenly feel apprehensive to tell people I ran only 6 km’s this morning, that I have days when I just don’t feel like it or that sometimes I think participating at all must be insane.
The truth of the matter is that the past 3 months have been a series of ups and downs. I had weeks where I would hit good mileage and really feel positive about myself and the race. Straight after that, I’d be disengaged again and fall back into old habits. It took me a while to understand that I needed to get out of my comfort zone if I wanted to be properly prepared. Yes, I’d accepted this challenge and I was prepared to see it through, but running 17 km in the mountains wass daunting!
Things finally began to shift when I started applying everything that Cobus taught me in order to get my mind in the game. I made the countdown to the race visual: I drew the number of days still to go on a white board in front of me at work. I started setting concrete goals and I asked myself who I had to be to be able to achieve them. The phrase that consistently came to mind was “I AM AN ENDURANCE ATHLETE”. I started to change the way I talked to myself and my perception and beliefs changed along with it. Once I had this set in my mind, my routine became more consistent and it no longer felt like an effort.
I now look forward to the race. I still get my down days but I’m learning to lean in to the teachings of LifeXchange in order to prove that it works. Being the first ever Xhosa person to participate in the race, I’m excited to this through to the end and change the way I look at myself forever.
by Lumko Velapi