San Francisco Women’s Half Marathon

HOLLY MEADOWS,ASSISTANT EDITOR DIGITAL, runs the San Francisco Women’s Half Marathon ‘I can’t take a jot of merit for entering the San Francisco Women’s Half Marathon. It was all done for me, after I was invited to run on behalf ofand represent the Nike South Africa team. Some 18 months later and I haven’t entered my lazy legs into a single running race since, but that tells me something… Half the journey of all of this marathon malarkey is getting your registration sorted. Setting yourself a goal, having the guts to put your name down and the courage to commit is one big feat not to sco at. After you’ve ticked the first box, it should all be method over matter. First step? Treat yourself to stylish new running kit, because no one wants to be that girl working out in a pair of battered old takkies minus a sports bra… Fitness has never looked more fashionable, with sports apparel seeing a major surge and the global market set to grow to $178-billion by 2019. A new kit will boost your confidence and maximise your performance. Take the financial knock – a quality investment is key. Once you have your fashionable foot forward, you follow a training plan.

For a 21km race, a four-month programme of four days a week is recommended, beginning with a 3km run and building up to 16km in the final month. A combination of easy runs (jogging while talking), hard running (150-plus pulse rate, no talking), time trials, hill relays and rest days will prep you to run a 21km with ease. That said, my training consisted of two months of haphazard running jaunts along the mountain, with an occasional 12km thrown in at the weekend. The result? Days of excruciating leg cramps and long hot baths to massage out the pain post-race.

San Francisco Women’s Half Marathon Photo Gallery

I learnt the hard way that if you don’t train properly and prepare your muscles for the stress of a race, you’ll suer serious lactic acid build-up and your body will go into shock. In hindsight, my training might have been more successful had I joined a local run club, or found myself a partner to motivate, encourage and overcome hurdles with. As anyone who’s entered a race will tell you, the highlight has to be the overwhelming roadside cheering. Those times when you think your legs are going to buckle, or when your mind is fighting every urge to walk a little, it’s the banners and the crowds and the constant shouts of encouragement that keep you going.

At the San Francisco Women’s Marathon it was all about the astounding strength of the female spirit coming together for a cause; some on a personal level, some to raise funds for a charity, and others to honour a loved one who had passed away. The sense of determination, willpower and energy passing among tens of thousands of women was utterly phenomenal and unexpectedly emotional. Running a marathon, or even a half, is something to be deeply proud of; a moment you will forever look back on with a happy heart and the knowledge that yes, you can do it. LOUISE BIRKNER,BUSINESS MANAGER, braves the Cape Town Cycle Tour ‘My overzealous spirit has completed the Cycle Tour many times, but physically I have never even climbed on a road bike or gone up Chapman’s Peak, other than by driving a sporty cabriolet with my hair windswept and my entire self looking fabulous.

The Cape Town Cycle Tour idea was birthed early in January 2015 and I soon realised that there was more to this race than met the unsuspecting eye. The preparation is immense, from acquiring a road bike to getting into a fitness and nutritional regime well ahead of time. Failure to plan properly will result in leaving the road with a safety vehicle or, even worse, in the back of an ambulance! So what does one need to participate? A healthy dose of courage is a prerequisite, followed by a reliable bike, helmet and cleats, Camelbak, puncture kit and at least three months’ training. A valid, detailed training programme and sensible diet are critical to ensure your body is refuelled as it starts preparing for the 109km ride. Phillipe van der Leeuw, head of Swimming at Waterborn, Brightwater in Randburg, created a five-week programme for me. The mileage increases weekly.

Two weeks before the race, the training has to taper o; two days beforehand, your body must rest so as to be able to tackle the whole 109km. The intention is to have a good ride on one of the world’s most beautiful scenic routes without hating every minute of it. I personally had to do twice the work, as I began training late. I’d recommend that you start well ahead of time to build up your fitness levels. At the thought of not being ready, panic will set in, especially when you hit a couple of hills, and you will ask yourself why you even contemplated the race.

Fitness is not achieved in one day and it takes dedication, but the rewarding feeling once the race is done is unmatched. Little treats such as a nice meal, a reflexology session or a favourite massage have been vital to keep me motivated and to even celebrate incremental milestones throughout the programme. My rule? Work hard and with commitment, but always be gentle to your body and know your boundaries.’

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