Inspiration and Motivation

Small steps and small goals

By: Gerald Van Wyk 

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If anyone had told me that I would ever run a 21km, I would have told them they were crazy. I have now been running at Stella for nearly 3 years, and loving every minute of it. (Well most of the time). When I started I could not run more than 2km without stopping. I trained hard and ran my first Hillcrest 21km that year. I did the South Coast 42km last year, which I was extremely under prepared for, but determined to do the run and finished!! I entered the Comrades this year but due to an injury never quailfied for it. I have been injured for a large part of this year.

Eventually I’m back on the road and recently did the South Coast 21km and did a PB. Last week I ran the DHS Oldies 10km and did a PB again.

So my advice to all new runners is not to try and do too much too soon, as this can only cause injuries.

I would like to thank Sandy, Amanda and Louise for all their encouragement they have given me along the way.

I’ll leave you with this thought….. small steps, small goals, Big Rewards

See you on the road.

Running my own race- The Mandela Half Marathon

By: Sarah- Lee Naidoo (21 years old)

5324cfde-6901-4a8e-9b02-280bfb868cd7.JPGAs a new member of Stella my fitness levels have steadily improved.

Thanks to the club’s weekly training schedule, which includes various training routes, my running techniques have improved, and I am definitely feeling fitter and stronger.  I have completed three 21km races and my latest achievement was the 21Km Mandela Marathon, which was the toughest race to date.  My finishing time was 2h24min. It was a challenging race which consisted of many up hills. However, in the weeks leading up to the race, Stella’s hill training equipped me well making the race manageable and enjoyable.

Stella has taught me to run my own race and do it to the best of my ability. The camaraderie amongst club members definitely motivates one and prepares you for the next challenge.

Cut at the Knees

By: Nokuthula Dubazane

A colleague asked me about my experience of running Comrades. I responded and said it is like going into war and seeing your fellow soldiers fall without knowing how to help, it’s the most painful experience I have ever felt but yet the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. One thing I know for sure is that Comrades challenges everything you think you know about yourself.

Pietermaritzburg 04:00 – 05:30

The morning felt like first day of school, I had never been so nervous and emotional in my life. Standing in that seeding pen, alone, I immediately noticed a lady who like me was standing on her own, she had tears in her eyes, and I gave her a hug and assured her that we ‘team novice’ would be fine. She responded and said “I just want it to be over”, that was an emotional moment which brought tears to my face as I could relate.

Lion Park 07:24:41 – Drummond 10:58:59

I got to 20km with the most excruciating pain in my calves, luckily I saw friends, got teary, sprayed my calves. I pushed for 10km to another friend who massaged which relieved the pain for a bit. When I got near halfway I just cried, I wanted to quit I was not sure I could do it. I pushed through and just after 50km had the physiotherapist strap my one leg, a relief to push for about 10km until the pain came back so did the tears.

Pinetown 14:22:50

With 20km to go I resisted getting another massage and I told myself, I had to get over it and push through. I knew I had lost time and had already been passed by the first 12 hour bus. At that point I was depleted, going up Cowies Hill I pulled my buff over my face and cried as I saw my Comrades dreams perish. Until a little voice within me said “You have been strapped, sprayed and massaged, get over it and push through.” I did just that, the vision was clear, first go past 12 hour bus then get to Moses Mabhida. After that, I pushed through and finished strong.

Durban 17:04:04

I finished Comrades with tears in my eyes, it was surreal. I closed my eyes briefly took it in and thanked God for carrying me through. I felt so much pain on that day, my mind bailed and can never thank my friends and the club enough for the support, hugs and food along the way. The highlight of all this madness, has been my lovely mother who said while she doesn’t understand the things I do ‘uyaziqhenya ngami’.

Rejoicing in the exhilaration of climbing up two summits in 46 days

By: David Mohale

Few weeks ago, I wrote a long post on Facebook about the parallels between a PhD journey and running the Comrades Marathon. For me personally, there are so many parallels. Notably, I did not register for the two voluntarily. My former supervisor at Wits University submitted my Masters’ dissertation at Unisa. The rest is history. I joined Stella AC either in late August or early September. Our own legendary Pat Freeman coaxed me to register for Comrades Marathon as a precaution. By that time, numbers were fast approaching 20000. At the time we had this conversation, I had not even run my first marathon. Again, the rest is history.

I will not get into the details of my post. However, it is important to try to bring the reader into my shoes. Motivation is not always innate. My greatest challenge was, therefore, to overcome the mind lethargy that resulted from my involuntary registration of these two envious summits. And this was not a stroll in the park, especially as the experienced in these two fronts tend to be boastful. I do not think they are aware so they could be forgiven.

I ran my first marathon in Vaal on the second weekend of September. Luckily, Pat Freeman had cautioned me about the effects of altitude. Had she not, I could have easily considered quitting. Be that as it may, completing the first marathon in 4:05 is apparently not bad. Soon after that I joined Stella’s Saturday long runs. I still remember that my first was 24km run to Westville. I ran with Kevin and Tawanda that day, keeping quiet while listening to their conversation, with topics ranging from their past runs, the economy and politics. I had to pretend that I was enjoying the run although it was tough for me. The second long run was 32km run up to Cowies Hill. I ran with Justin and Mark on the day and they also shared their Comrades Marathon experiences. Listening to them, I was convinced that I would not achieve the feat of completing Comrades Marathon in a lifetime.

Organisational studies emphasise the importance between organisational culture and individual behaviour. In this respect, individual attitudes and capabilities are not enough; they are a subject of the dominant climate created through formal rules and informal behaviour of its members. I am proud to say that Stella’s organisational culture is so positive that many of us, as novices, never experienced the kind of negative welcome that some novice runners would speak of elsewhere. I suppose this explains why the membership of the club seems to be on exponential growth. With the warm welcome of almost everyone at the club, the mind started to believe in the reasonable prospect of completing this ultimate human race.

From the bottom part of my heart, I wish to thank everyone at the Club for making me believe in my running capability. As I said before, running is more than just that; it somewhat epitomises what humanity should be about. This became evident on the day of the race when I woke up with an unbearable pain on my left knee. Alex Haddad helped me to forget about the pain until 25km. Later on, I caught up with Darren Smith, and they clearly looked bushed. Darren had the best words ever: “This is my 5th Comrades; it’s your first. You deserve a good time. Go and have fun”. In one of the many last short runs we did as the Club, Darren also shared tips on eating times on the day of the race. For the first time I accepted advice without a modicum of doubt and his advice worked perfectly for me. The support and words of encouragement from Stella Stars at our tables and along the road made the weight of running lighter.

In closing, the medal may be recorded in my name but I wish to dedicate it to Stella AC for being so professionally organised and for being a home for me, personally. I will forever be eternally indebted to the Club for making this personal historic feat possible. 2018 has, without a shadow of doubt, been my best year, with my graduation in Phd on 25 April and another PhD in running on 10 June 2018. It was not easy but it was done.

Mandarin Teacher and His Running Stories- The Rising Sun Chatsworth Ultra

By: Chuanwei Wang (Smile)

Joining Stella Athletic Club is probably the best decision I have made this year. Running with the club always highlights my day. That is why I make all my efforts to run with the Club.

One of the running mates Darren, who became my coach now, promised to arrange a lift to Chatsworth Marathon. Darren, Mark, Candice, Alex, Dimitri and I would be running together. Therefore, I gave up my original plan to run Durban City Marathon, which is too flat and boring. Chatsworth Marathon is famous for its numerous hills. The moment when you climb to the top of a hill, a downhill is waiting for you to conquer. Since we all had qualified for Comrades, we agreed to run Chatsworth as a training run for Comrades instead of a race.

As instructed by Coach Darren, I was up early on the morning of 22 April and battled to eat the last three toasts left in the fridge. Worrying about getting hungry at the end of the race, I grabbed another three handfuls of jungle oats and I could eat no more.We met up by Darren’s apartment after Mark fetched Dimitri and me. We all went in Alex and Candice’s car. We were off in the direction of Chatsworth, Alex driving and Mark directing.

Alex parked his car by the finish, the Chatsworth Stadium. While we were heading to the start, one Stella member was jumping and clapping his hands above his head to warm up.  I thought he was waving to us, I embarrassedly waved to him.

The start was simply decorated. My friends in China are always fussy about how casual the start is in South Africa. A banner with the name of race was hung up by a machine, no year printed. The Chatsworth Athletic Club probably reuses the banner for years, which is environmentally friendly and should be encouraged. So far, not many participants had arrived. A bunch of Stella members were gathered for a group photo.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000042.jpgThe South African Anthem was played and sung at around 5:20am. At 5:30am the start siren went off, and everyone immediately began to run. Many ran so fast. “If you go first, you lost.” Remembering what Coach Darren told me, I just stuck with  him. The first part of the route went through the residential areas of Chatsworth, but there wasn’t lots of crowd support as it was described in the event description.

The sun started to come up around 6:30am when we were running a downhill. Amazed by the view, I took out my phone, trying to take a rising sun photo. “Smiley, really?” I heard a sound from behind. I recognised  it as the voice of Nana from Stella. I knew what she meant is that I shouldn’t take photos while I am running.  Embarrassed, I put my phone into my waist bag and kept running. By the next downhill, I saw the sun rising above the horizon. I was thinking that the marathon is called “Rising Sun Chatsworth Freedom Marathon”,  how can it be done without a photo of the rising sun? Hence, I couldn’t help taking out my phone again and stood still for a second to take a quality photo of the rising sun.

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Coach Darren, Mark, Candice, Alex, Dimitri and I were running together. Dimitri was ahead of us from time to time, and finally out of our sight. The rest of us slowed down the pace if there was a big hill and picked up some pace afterwards. The ones who went ahead would slow down to wait for those who were left behind. “Whoop whoop” is often shouted, which I was told that it means here comes the hill.

The sun was climbing higher and higher. We drank water or coke at every water table to avoid dehydration. Salted potatoes and oranges were served as well. Candice and I both could not have salted things when we were running.

At around 28kms, Mark felt it was very hard to pick up his pace if he waited too long. Candice thought it should be fine if Coach Darren and Alex were running together. Therefore, the three of us ran at our pace, leaving Coach Darren and Alex behind us.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000044.jpgA special treat for the ultra marathon is to run through the scenic Silverglen Nature Reserve. At the beginning of the reserve, an uphill with about 75 degrees slowed down every runner. Nobody ran up to the top of the hill. The rest of the route in the reserve is relatively easy with lots of downhills. A snake was spotted by Mark and Candice in the reserve. We were running at an easy pace so that I got a chance for sightseeing and taking photos.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-000000512018-04-27-PHOTO-00000048When we went on to the hilly highway from the reserve, Mark dropped his pace. Candice and I were running a little bit ahead of Mark. I invited Candice to push ourselves for the last three kilometres. She said she would definitely push herself but after me and she asked me to go by myself. Feeling lots of energy left, I picked up my pace and started to sprint.

At the 51km sign, a marshal saw me running fast and said “It is like your last kilometre in a 10km race!”  I passed everyone in front of me and managed to move my way into the Chatsworth stadium. Crowds were lined up by the two sides of the entrance and shouting for every runner. Getting excited by seeing the track and field ground which I used to race at for years when I was still in university in China, I pushed myself even harder to cross the finish line. Everyone by the finish line was cheering for me. A warm welcome was given by a lady from Stella who finished her 21k.

Later Candice, Mark, Coach Darren and Alex arrived successively. Another group photo was taken afterwards for some Stella finishers.

2018-04-27-PHOTO-00000046.jpgI felt that Chatsworth Ultra Marathon was the easiest race I had ever done due to easy pace. However, some thought that it was the toughest race and even harder than Comrades. Completing the ultra marathon did make me happy and gave me a certain amount of confidence, a distance that is closer to Comrades.

Many thanks to Coach Darren, Mark, Candice and Alex for their companionship, guidance and encouragement. The next training run before Comrades will be the 55km route tester on 5 May. I am looking forward to running with my mates again.

“I run not because I want to live longer, but because I want to live life to the fullest. ” says Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer and runner, and I agree with that.

Smile has written a longer version of this article in Chinese.

You can read that article on his own blog here

Fun at Parkrun

By: Roger Bailey

29983423_10216054104805340_5616207277103332316_o.jpgI suppose racking up 50 Parkruns (which I achieved at North Beach on 14 April 2018) is a minor milestone of a sort and I must admit to a small glow of satisfaction on eventually “earning the T-shirt”.  I now no longer feel like a novice when mixing it with the literally hundreds of runners and walkers who sport 50s or 100s on their running shirts on the promenade on Saturday mornings.

Stella members might have noticed that I have not exactly been a regular at Gillies runs on Saturday mornings over the years; coffee and the newspaper in bed in the morning have long exerted an irresistible pull. But with advancing years making their presence increasingly felt in the shape of steadily slower training paces and race times, it was time for action. So, from April last year Parkrun has filled my need for a regular, short, sharp race to keep my pipes open and heart pumping.

North Beach Parkrun has a lot going for it.  It is probably one of the fastest Parkrun courses anywhere, the promenade is wide, flat and made for racing, and it regularly attracts the largest number of participants; more than 2000 most Saturdays and a worldwide record of over 2500 a few weeks ago.

And it is very well organised – off we go at 08h00 sharp heading south from Suncoast, down the gentle slope past Circus-Circus and on to the hairpin turn-around point at South Beach, then the fun of trying to maintain pace on the return leg, where we old dogs usually make up places and time against the field, then the final sprint for the line at Suncoast.  Of course, one doesn’t have to race – there are plenty of joggers and walkers, lots of family groups, and plenty of dogs taking their owners for a stroll.

After a while it gets in the blood, and most of the regulars turn up most Saturdays.  From Stella, we have Pat Fisher, with well over 200 runs to her name and Pat Freeman with more than 100. Therese Hurly, also with more than 100 runs, usually shows me a clean pair of heels these days and Arthur Zimmerman always ranks highly in his and my age-group category.  And there are dozens of long standing acquaintances from other running clubs, as well as more than a handful of new friends made at Parkrun, all doing our best to bust each other’s guts.  In fact the element of competition is remarkable.

Is it doing me any good?  It must be. And I no longer have any problems getting out of bed early on Saturday mornings.

Running a ‘PB’ at the Two Oceans Ultra

By: Debbie Wessels

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With my 4th Two Oceans done and dusted, I thought I would share a few of the highlights of the day to hopefully encourage and inspire someone who may think it’s too big a  challenge  to consider.

I started running in the mid 80’s and thought I going to die after my 1st 4km time trial!

I moved on to 10km runs (Spar ladies run etc.) which I thought was about my limit until I tackled my 1st  half marathon (Mandene HM I think it was called) –  the one that started at  varsity and went up and down Ridge Road! Some of you may remember it! I will NEVER forget it, coming in last as people were packing up their braais and going home!

Then I heard about the Two Oceans marathon!!! It sounded amazing, not that I ever thought that I could do that, – that was for real runners!

Fast forward a few years to 2010 after being away from KZN for 16 yrs I was introduced to Stella, joining in 2011 and meeting real runners who had run Two Oceans and Comrades! With their ongoing encouragement and support, I found myself on the start line in CT (2012) for my 1st TOM on a very wet, windy and freezing cold morning but the atmosphere and excitement was something that has to be experienced to truly understand! (that’s why you have to put it on your bucket list).

Standing on the start line this year, in  almost perfect weather conditions (wind can’t be avoided lol), training that had gone more or less according to plan, I was hoping for a PB, just maybe!

The national anthem is always goose bump stuff, no matter how many times I hear it, we are about to run a beautiful race, in a beautiful part of the country, with beautiful people from all over the world!

It takes a good few minutes to cross the start line but when I do, then I feel the tears flowing! Don’t be daft girl, save them for the end I tell myself! And so we are off! The months of training, getting up early, all the sacrifices every runner has made, are about to be put to the test. We are running as ONE!

The first 28 kms are generally uneventful except when suddenly before me I see two Stella Stars!! Aka Amanda and Warren! In races far from home, it lifts the heart and the legs to see a familiar, smiling face!  Thanks guys.

Chappies is meant to be a challenge but I always forget how breathtaking the views are! It is a good enough reason for a few walk breaks, me thinks!

Up and over we go, calves protesting and quads letting us know they also feeling sorry for themselves. Toenails are joining the party too, all the while trying to ignore the unhappy knee!

The crowd support through Hout Bay carries us to the marathon mark where, even though I am feeling stronger than I had expected to, I realised a PB may not be on the cards but that didn’t damped my enthusiasm, in fact I decide to focus on another PB to get me to the end.

P for Privilege

The privilege of being able to run, something I never thought I could do, and certainly not in my 50’s! It’s not a right afforded to everyone so yes, Constantia is tough on tired legs and it does hurt, a lot actually, but God in His goodness has allowed me the privilege to be part of this beautiful race!

B for Blessed.

Blessed to have a family and friends who support me, let’s be honest, without their support and belief in us, we may be tempted to throw in the towel when the going gets tough!

Blessed to belong to Stella, where there is always some Stella Star to encourage, wipe away the tears, listen to our tapering aches and pains, and then to celebrate/console with us when the race is over!

The last 6kms of the race are the best! They are not easy, but knowing that the field is close definitely helps to put some vooma in the legs! And the crowd support literally gets you there!

Receiving that beautiful BIG medal and knowing that after a shower I can proudly wear my beautiful orange shirt, helps me hobble the loooongest 3kms back to my accommodation! LOL

So you see, I got my PB, it may not have been the one I had planned on but it is a PB nevertheless!

P.s. a little foot note :  a real runner is someone who gets out of bed when they really want to stay there, and puts on running shoes! And then greets other real runners with a smile, ok maybe not every time!

To all my real runner club mates, you are all stars! Thank You!!!!

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Debbie running ‘back in the day’

My First Two Oceans Half Marathon

By: Belinda Cresswell-George

18920405_10160258472415603_511053123278252057_n.jpg I had always thought that the TWO OCEANS was for serious athletes or other people. So had never really given it any thought until an old walking friend invited me to join her to do the Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2018. After a bit of consideration I thought WHY NOT!

We began planning towards the end of 2017 and started to train. I got input from experienced athletes on training and what races to do on route. Unfortunately along the way I picked up an ITB injury about 6 weeks before the race, not ideal. I was very frustrated. But I got through it.

Arriving in Cape Town was super, there was such a buzz.

The race day had officially arrived it was a cold, dark and daunting morning. Daunting as I was still unsure if I was going to be able to complete the race ahead of me.  We arrived at  4.15am and made our way towards the front of E Batch, which is the last batch to be sent off. It was fantastic watching thousands of athletes getting ready to run their races. I saw a chap who was doing the race on crutches. Later I googled to see if I could find out who he was and how he did. Well he finished with the help of fellow runners. His name is Ipeleng Khunou. That’s the spirit of the Two Oceans.

When the cannon boomed and it was our time to get cracking I actually got quite emotional and had to tell myself to get a grip. It’s an awesome experience running with soo many people, it truly was a privilege. Don’t underestimate the race it’s a toughie. Train hills. Along the route I’d asked someone “Does this hill ever end?” to discover it was the famous Signal Hill which went on and on. I was very glad to get through the 18km cut off. I think there were a few more hills before the end, my legs were finished but just soo chuffed to have finished the race. I’d love to do it again with more training.

I want to thank Dave and the Newbies for all your input I wouldn’t have been able to do it and Cindy for flying the STELLA flag was super seeing a familiar face.

 

 

Persevering through my first marathon: The Deloitte Challenge

By: Bongeka Cele

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I loved my first marathon. I went into it with an injury (which was not a good idea, it was awful), but I really wanted to run, and I don’t regret it. Even though I was still elevating and rubbing and stretching over a week later.

I started feeling pain early on, before the 10km mark even, but I had told myself that no matter what, I was going to finish. Once that decision was made, although I was in a lot of pain for most of the race, I really enjoyed it.

The race was eventful and fun! There were the stunning views along the way, which I took in. The weather was amazing, and I loved the little bit of rain that come down along the way. There was also the confusion around which bus was the real sub 5 bus, because the 4:30 bus was lagging behind! Lots of laughs, cheering and random conversation. I think though, one of the most enjoyable parts of the race is running with people you know! The first 18-19kms or so, I ran with some awesome people from the club. Marie-Claire, Kwenza and Mbongeni really made that part of the race awesome.

At some point obviously, my knee eventually started to really affect me, and I had to slow down considerably at around kilometre 25.I don’t really remember much between the 25km and 32km marks, except cramping and a lot of pain. But then I hit the 10km-to-go mark and I told myself home-stretch. That was hard, the whole time I kept thinking, this is crazy, why am I still doing this? I should just stop running!

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t stop running because in my mind, I was GOING to finish! That was the agreement I had with my legs, my body, my heart and my mind! I’m pretty sure I looked crazy giving myself pep talks in that last stretch. But that’s what needed to happen. And I wasn’t alone either. There were so many people along the route in the last 10km who were walking, hobbling, limping and mumbling like me. But the determination to finish was intense. Medics would stop, and they would be waved off with “I’m fine thanks, I just need to stretch it out”. That was cool. I loved the fact that at the end it was a few people, in pain or not, just wanting to finish. I didn’t get my sub 5 this year, but next year, I’ll smash it!!!

The Deloitte Challenge: My first half marathon

By: Jasmin Borstlap

Jasmin Borstlap

On the 18th of March 2018 I completed my first half marathon at the Deloitte Challenge.

Two months ago I joined Stella Athletic Club. At first I just wanted to run and get some cardio in, little did I realise how addictive running is. After a month of running with Stella and having members push you to do your best and give you the  best advice to improve your running, I decided to enter the Deloitte Half Marathon – 21 km. I must say my expectation to finish in 2 hours 30 minutes wasn’t very high. As I spoke to more members, friends from other running clubs and even family members the more they encouraged me and told me I could do it.

The morning of the Deloitte my heart was racing, I had never been so nervous. Walking to the start and seeing so many people I become anxious, am I going to finish on time, will I be okay, can I do this? I began to doubt myself. We started all cramped up and many people pushed past you to get to the front. I just reminded myself to start slow and ease into it, as many Stella runners have told me to do.

After about 20 minutes of running, I started to enjoy it, with people spread out and having room to run, to the ocean views to your left, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Having so many supporters on the side of the road telling us “we can do it”  or “GO Stella” was that extra bit of motivation to get us through the next 5 km or however long we needed to get that extra boost to keep going.

Stopping for a short walk, a lady ran past me and said come on we nearly home. I decided to push through – running the best I have ever run. With about 5 km to go, this energetic lady tells me “we have 30 minutes, our bodies can do anything in 30 minutes”, as she over takes me, I repeated in my head “we are capable of anything”.

Getting to Suncoast and knowing the amphitheatre was a mere 2 km away, I was excited to be at the finish line soon, running so fast past my family that they didn’t even see me, until I phoned them to see where they were. They were more shocked to know that I finished in 2 hours 13 minutes, a whole 17 minutes before my expected time.

Seeing all the Stella runners, I have never been more proud to be a part of such an amazing and supportive group of people. Wearing our Stella uniform with pride.