My Journey to Marathon des Sables

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It is two weeks into the new year and already I am feeling like I am on a rollercoaster ride! After two years of thinking and dreaming about I believe I am ready to take on the Marathon des Sables. Yes, like only…. THE. ONE. AND. ONLY…”world’s toughest footrace”. Yes, the same race that double olympic gold medalist James Cracknell did and screened by the Discovery Channel.

I’ve pre-registered for Marathon des Sable 2015 so now it is fingers crossed!

WARNING: The video footage below contains some graphic content designed to inspire passionate runners to do crazy stuff…like signing up for a 250km, 6 day stage race in one of the hottest deserts on earth!

I am by no means fast.Those who have been following my blog over the last 2 years would know that I am just an ordinary back of the pack runner. I ran my marathon PB a year ago in 4hrs and 55 mins. Yes, that’s how slow I was! Then again it is all relative, isn’t it? I’ve been training quite a bit over the last few months and hoping to cut mins off that marathon time when I run my Two Oceans qualifier this March.

My theme for 2014 is…JOURNEY.

For me this means DREAMING BIG; understanding your own capability; appreciate and celebrate what you have accomplished thus far; understand that Rome was not build in a day, so patience…patience….patience; to be brave and take risks;  to not be scared of failing; to learn from mistakes.

One of my favourite quotes to guide me on this journey comes from basketball player Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. There is just something about this quote that says it all! No doubt the journey is not going to be a walk in the park but I know in the end it will be worth-it…E-P-I-C to say the least!

Goals for 2014

My running goals for 2014 is simple – TO PREPARE AS BEST AS I CAN. That means I will train hard but smart (do the work); start eating clean and get through 2014 injury free (listen to my body and attend to any niggles) so that I can finish MdS 2015 with as little damage to myself as possible

Yes, I have only pre-registered but the next 15 months will see me prepare and train for this race as if I have a confirmed place already. I will experiment with EVERYTHING! Taking care of my feet and blisters myself, shoes, food, kit. No point taking anything to the desert that will not be used.

Building a good running base in 2013

I’ve been training hard the last few months; following my training programme to the T and now have built a good running base. My minimum mileage over the last few months were:

  • September – 99km
  • October – 140km
  • November – 160km
  • December – 130km

I’ve done quite a bit of 10K races during Sept-Nov and I’ve managed to cut 6mins off my 10K time to 62mins, so no doubt that I will break sub-60mins soon!

December training was a bit more relaxed with the holidays however I managed to do quite a few nice runs in the Karoo and Cape Town. Running at sea level does have it’s advantages, so nice to run easy and feel “fast”. I have found a little gem in the Karoo, the last year I’ve really started to appreciate and enjoy the peace and beauty of the Karoo. This probably goes hand in hand with my desire to run in the desert but I think it is a great place to use as training ground for the MdS. In the summer temperatures get in high 30s, even 40s. This summer we saw 43 degrees. Another upside to training in the Karoo is that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE TO DO! You almost feel like a full time athlete…RUN.EAT.REST.RUN!

I did my 1st hike up Table Mountain with my family, turned out to be so much fun. I don’t think I will ever take the cable up again, so many new trails to explore!

My journey to the sands

This year holds a lot of “1st” for me whilst training for MdS2015. My first Two Oceans Ultra Marathon; collecting my Comrades medal :-); running a close to 4:10 marathon towards the end of 2014; experimenting with ultra trail and multistage races. The 2nd half of 2014 my focus will change towards more trail and off road running. I have to learn to run with a 10kg bag on my back and be able to do that for days on end. The MdS is only 6 days long, equivalent of 5 marathons and 1 ultra marathon (something like an off-road Comrades Marathon in distance). My million miles…

There is a lot of information on the internet and social media sites on the MdS. I’m currently following a few of the 2014 competitors on twitter. I am in awe how much training and preparation everyone is putting into this challenge, they definitely not taking this lightly.  I can’t wait for April to come so that I can follow them all live! I am just grateful that everyone is sharing there experiences so openly, I have learnt so much already…not just about training for the MdS but how to improve my running in general.

Excited to embark on my journey to the sands!

About Moerieda Mackay

Late to running and absolutely loving it! I'm married to my soulmate, Adam and blessed with 3 beautiful children. I am a Business Transformation and Innovation Professional and holds a MSc (Eng) in Industrial Engineering. Yip, a bit of a workaholic. I became addicted to ultra running whilst searching for that elusive “work-life” balance at the age of...40! I have no sporting background and with zero athletic ability running is by far the most challenging thing I've taken on but it has put me on a path of self discovery and serious transformation both physically, mentally and spiritually...and I love it!

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