Hi, I’m Peppadew, how do you do?
I am a ultrarunner from Durban, South Africa, the home to the 89k Comrades Marathon, the biggest and oldest ultra in the world. I am also a mum of two small people and four doggy furbabies, a wife and a lawyer in one of the biggest firms in our city. I have described our life as frenetic and full-on but it is also fun. Our Peppadew family tends to work as a solid team and while it makes life fairly chaotic there is a definite rhythm in the way we move together through our days. Everyone has their function, their task, their quirk and it all works in beautiful mayhem.
Although I dabbled in a bit of running at school, I will have to admit that my teenage years were spent chasing boys rather than chasing records… and the older I got the more slothful I became. Every now and again I would have a rush of extreme motivation to become fit and active and plod around the block, only to realize that running is not kind to those who are not consistent. As with everything in life, what you put in is what you get out, and I did not put enough effort into physical activities to reap any real rewards.
My dad has always been extremely active and was a sub three-hour marathoner in his prime. I think it broke his heart to see his daughter indulging in every unhealthy activity students are renowned for: smoking, drinking, junk food and general laziness. Yup, I was a prime example of the “freshman fifteen” except I was not a freshman anymore! One Sunday afternoon he came into the lounge where I was sprawled out on the couch in front of the TV and told me to get on my exercise clothes and running shoes.
My dad is also a lawyer; we have been known to argue vociferously with one another. That day in 2003 I did not even put up a fight. I pulled on my aqua blue cotton track suit pants and Nike cross trainers and awaited my fate. He took me to the horse racing course that happens to be in our neighborhood. On the inside of the race track there is a hard dirt road that measures 2 miles in distance. He led me to the starting line and pointed in the distance with a walking stick and said “its three kays around. Run”.
Off I went. By mile 1.5 i dry retched on the side of the road. I could only be described as a blubbering mess. But I was exhilarated. And I became accountable to my Dad who did not mince his words about the quality of my running performance that day. Slowly but surely the miles built up and I started to see small improvements. Soon, instead of running 2 miles, I was running 3 miles and 4 miles and eventually my first 10km race. The smoking ceased. Hangovers were not conducive to early morning running. Lazing in the afternoons became justified after logging the miles on the road. And I finally felt strong and capable.
Fast forward ten years, a busy career, a happy family and lots of running and I find myself searching for that feeling again. This year my husband and I have done A LOT of running. I have done 3 marathons, one 56km road ultra (Two Oceans), one 89km road ultra (Comrades) and many more smaller trail races and road races. But I feel as though it is not enough, or at least that it has not been done well enough. And so, after deciding to scratch a goal race from our calendar last week I think it is time to go back to basics. Lots of ultra training and long slow distance has made me a little weak and ponderous. The season of speed has been earmarked and I am determined to run a fast 5 km before training for next year’s ultras begins.
I am interested to see whether this new approach will reap rewards down the line and I hope that I can bring all the Salty Runners and readers along for the journey.
You can read Peppadew’s first training log here!