If I haven’t mentioned it before, I will take the opportunity to do so again — I like running a lot. Even though it’s still a struggle! I keep hoping that someday it will become easier.
Some runners run with a training group others with a club and then there is me, I just run on my own. I have on the odd occasion had company whilst running, but that’s more the exception than the norm.
In my infancy as a runner, the sport (at least what it means to me) has changed as time has gone by. At first happy then sad, then injured then happy then sad. So it is fair to say it has been a love-hate relationship.
This weekend I had yet another 10km training race, in a neighboring suburb of Pretoria. After a slow, bunched-up start to the race, things started to be going just fine. Here I was running a race on my own, as I usually do in the midst of hundreds of others, but still very alone. I was relying on my own stamina and encouragement to keep on putting one foot in front of the other and finish the race.
Just after the second water point, about two-thirds of the way, I could start to hear the loud noise of a bus approaching. Not a real public transport bus, but a running bus. These buses usually have three things in common:
- Consist of a number of charged up runners of about 10+
- They sing and chant for others to join them.
- They have a leader with a tambourine counting out pace. As the runaway bus caught up to me, I was faced with a choice, on or off the bus? As I was feeling rather broken by the increasingly frequent hills, I decided, why not!
At the stage before joining the bus I running at about 7min/km. After joining the bus, I was running at 5:55min/km. It’s like a caught a second wind!! As I never run with people this alteration in performance is totally foreign to me. May I add that this increase in pace was up hills all the way singing!
The old adage that there is “Strength in numbers” had become so real to me. In the time that I was running with the guys, it was like we could go on forever. The individual sport that I knew suddenly had become a team effort! After a quick 3kms with the group, we split into our respective routes, as they were doing the 21k and I the 10k.
I was alone again…I had lost the kick in my run, my pace suffered, alas my support had left me. Thankfully, I only had about 2km to go and I finished the race in good time!
The whole bus experience reminded me of the community that I have in my friends and family. Without them, I am able to function, but not flourish. But with them, I am nearly unrecognisable in my ability to perform in the race of life. Their support up all the hills and turns of life is worth gold.
What I learned from the race is that we ought to never underestimate the power of a community! If I could have caught that bus earlier in the race, I surely would have.
From now on I won’t even think about joining the bus during the next race!
Cheers, thanks for reading!