My name is Claudette.
I’m a 33-year-old mom of 3 beautiful children under 10y and have been married to my best friend, Simon, for 12 years.
I studied physiotherapy, although I don’t have many years of experience in practice in the field. After giving birth to my first daughter, Giorgia, in my 4th year of studying, my focus turned quite radically from my career to raising my children. And I loved it.
I am currently working as an administrator & events co-ordinator at Common Ground Church (I know… you must be wondering “How’d you get from physio to admin?!” Well, it’s amazing what you discover about yourself while raising children and trying to earn a living! I surprised myself with a new skillset and passion!).
Growing up, I was never a sporty kid, and always thought that I’d missed the boat in the athletic department. It was only when my youngest was 2 that I decided to give running a bash (I was inspired after watching my husband, who’d also not really been sporty at school, complete his first 2 Oceans half-marathon). I trained, on and off, and attempted a few races here and there. But I never really considered myself a runner. That was 3 years ago.
Then, around April this year, I got to know a mom at my son’s school and she invited me to a run with their club, the Carbineers (“Carbs” for short - and here I thought carbs were the enemy!!). I was very nervous and hesitant as I felt I had been “out of the game” for too long and feared I couldn’t keep up. Well, to my surprise, I could keep up. They were such an amazing group of people of all ages, shapes, sizes and running abilities, and all just out on the road for the sheer enjoyment of it. The thing that changed my perspective though was the difference in their running strategy - something called “9/1”- you run for 9min, walk for 1min (which even the elite athletes in the club apply). This was an absolute game-changer for this newbie back on the road again. It allowed me to slowly build up my endurance again, without feeling like I “couldn’t do it” (which was constantly in the forefront of my mind the last time I attempted running) and made running totally do-able (instead of feeling like my chest was going to explode!).
I soon became very attached to this group of runners and started training with them regularly. As a mom of 3, working fulltime, making time for myself has always been a challenge, but the great thing is that there are a few people from the club who run in my area in the evenings. We start at 7pm and only run for an hour 3 times a week, so it became do-able in terms of making it home after work and getting supper and so on sorted for my family. We call themselves the “Midnight Runners” as now, especially in winter, it is pitch dark when we run! During these cold winter months, it’s been all headlights, beanies and gloves, but boy what a fun way to keep warm and have fun!
I was enjoying getting back out on the road again, slowly building up from 6km to 10km. Then, on one of our “midnight runs”, the folks started talking about their training for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. I just kept quiet as I had NO intention of EVER doing a marathon. I had participated in 2 half-marathons a few years back and that was all I was working towards. I mean, why on earth would you ever run for SO long?? Isn’t that why cars were invented?!
Well, by the end of our run that evening, after hearing some of their stories of how they got into running (struggles with diabetes, back surgery, multiple TIAs -transient ischemic attacks, similar to a stroke) I was positively inspired! It was amazing what these people had overcome and how they’d trained their bodies to get healthy again. That night, I signed up to run my first ever FULL MARATHON! I didn’t have any health issues that I needed to overcome, but what I did want to do was focus on getting healthy and strong again. Yes, I am a busy mom, but that’s even more reason why I needed to make some changes in my life. I wanted to be a healthy mommy for my kids, and also show them the importance of making time for themselves. They’re still young, so at this point they’re not 100% sold by the idea of me running as much as I do (my husband is amazingly supportive so he helps with the pep talks when they moan when I need to go for a run). But I trust that one day they’ll be able to look back and see that exercise and self-care is important and valuable, and that I am a better mommy for it.
That was 4 months ago.
So now, with less than 3 weeks to go to race day, although I’ve never attempted anything this physically daunting in my life, I’ve been diligently putting in the training and I am up for the challenge! I have run 2 half-marathons (Festival of Running 21km, and a 21km training run), one 30km race (Metropolitan John Korasie) and multiple long distance training runs, and I am now slowing down my training, focusing on strength and rehab to ensure I have no injuries on the day.
The biggest hurdle at this point is a mental one. The unknown is always a scary place and self-doubt can often creep in a cause panic. Many people along my running journey have spoken quite negatively about this goal that I’ve set, saying that I’m crazy to attempt such a long distance in such a short time (they’re probably right!), but I am so incredibly grateful for my supportive family and the amazing team that I run with (my husband has also recently just joined, so that’s a double bonus!). They have become friends who encourage and motivate me every step of the way (even if I am chasing their dust at times). The women that I run with have shown me that true strength comes from a woman who lifts another up instead of pulling her down, and when one of us is feeling weak, will not get left behind because in the end, it’s not about getting ahead, but making sure we all finish the race! What a beautiful metaphor for this journey called Life. Running has taught me so much; how not to give up when it feels like you can’t anymore… how to push through the pain… how to know when that pain is enough to be damaging, that it’s ok to call it… and that it’s important to run the race with people at your side.
I am Claudette; wife, mother and soon-to-be-marathon-runner, taking it one step at a time.