Waking up at 4:45 on a Sunday morning is not something that happens very often. In fact it doesn’t happen at all. But this was no ordinary Sunday morning. It was a Gun Run morning! And I had entered. And I had committed to Damian being pushed by Graeme. Despite my dread of the week leading up to this, these two factors got me to the stadium by 6:20 (OK, I had agreed to be there by 6:00 – but I was there!) Let’s go back to where it all began…
Sometime before the Two Oceans marathon I was introduced by e-mail to Graeme, who asked if Damian could join him for the half marathon. Two Oceans was however rained out and they did not go. On 7 September I got an e-mail from Graeme asking if he could take Damian on the Gun Run half marathon, and if I was up to it, why not enter myself and he would do the pushing. Now, I don’t know if it is the wiring in my DNA that is faulty, or if I took a blow to the head in all my horseriding falls when I was younger, but somehow I cannot say no to a new adventure. So, I thought (and I emphasise that) I had enough time to train. I had just carried Damian up Table Mountain – that is a 3km climb with 17kg on my back – so how difficult could running 21km be? Ahem… Deirdré logic.
Graeme came to introduce himself and discuss Damian’s needs etc. I was eager to give it a try. So I got out the ricksha that week and Damian and I went for a 5km run. Ok, run-walk. Run 100, walk 50. I did it again a few days later. I can walk forever. I have done plenty 5km and 10km walks, but running is a different story. Then again, I didn’t know if I could cycle before the Argus.
I took Damian to meet Graeme and try him out in the special jogger to make sure he was comfortable. And then it rained. I thought I still had time, but somehow amid all the hustle and bustle of our life, it just didn’t happen. When I did make a determined effort to go running shoe shopping with the intent of putting in some serious training, I didn’t find what I was looking for. A couple of days later I had the flu. Training was just not meant to be for me. I had conflicting opinions… the men telling me if I wasn’t running at least 10 to 15 km before race day, I wouldn’t be able to do it. The ladies, Sara in particular, telling me not to listen, that I could do it.
The next thing I knew the Gun Run was upon us. I couldn’t back out of Damian going as I had made that commitment. I also knew that Damian would be nervous for his first time doing an event with someone else, so I knew I had to at least be at the beginning.
So there we were… 6:20 on Sunday morning the 14th October 2012. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Having only ever run 5km I had no reference points. I had gone with the idea that I would be there for Damian to make sure he was comfortable. That I would at least start and see how the first few kilometres went and then probably stop and wait for Graeme and Damian. Sara insisted I would do it. So I decided I would at least try. Another runner had brought his son, also in one of the special joggers, so Damian was happy to have a buddy, which I think also eased his fears. Damian is terrified of loud noises, so he was dreading the gun going off. Graeme was still checking the time as we couldn’t hear if they had begun the countdown when the ground shook and we all nearly jumped out of our skins.
We started off and I felt surprisingly good. We got to the 3km mark pretty quickly and I didn’t feel any sense of being out of breath or tired so I carried on. Damian was looking really happy and loving it so all my concerns were eased. At around 4km I told Graeme he didn’t need to wait for us and so he and Damian went ahead. We waved on the first loop and then I didn’t see them again.
I was going really strong until the 12km mark, which really surprised me. It was already the furtherst I had ever run. Sara caught up with me at that point and then overtook me on Kloof Street. At that point I could no longer run, especially uphill. I ran a bit more on the downhill and level. I got an sms from Graeme to say they were doing well – I was at the 14km mark at that point. The next I heard, they had got their medals – I was at the 17km mark – I sms’d “4km to go”. And they were the hardest 4km ever. I couldn’t run at all anymore. I walked those last kilometres and with 1km to go I saw Graeme and Damian coming to meet me and they walked the rest of the way with me. We met up with Sara who had also finished some time before me. I walked across the finish line and got my medal. Sara impressed me – she is so super fit and ran all the way!
It was a memorable day. The weather was lovely, the vibe was good, the marshalls were friendly and helpful and the route distances were clearly marked. There were ample refreshment stops (although one recommendation would be toilet facilities). The medals are super cool and I will proudly display evidence of our first half marathon!
Damian was so happy. He really had a good time and was confident and comfortable. The hardest part was the 5km walk back to the car! Everyone had a giggle at me – while they were picking up littered water packets, I couldn’t even bend my legs to pick them up.
By the time we got home I was in agony. I could barely move. Damian was laughing at me trying to walk and told me I must use his wheelchair. Trying to turn over in bed that night was quite a challenge too… I had to actually pick each leg up and move it gently to where I wanted it. It also felt like someone had taken a hammer to my knees and ankles.
Damian told me next time I must stay at home and he will go with Graeme. I take that as proof of a thoroughly enjoyable day for him as I wasn’t there for most of the way to gauge it.