Nerves grip Bonani Zuke as Dream Chasers D-Day looms

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19 August 2019 - 09:49
Bonani says a highlight of participating in the Fedhealth Dream Chasers programme is how she feels.
Bonani says a highlight of participating in the Fedhealth Dream Chasers programme is how she feels.
Image: Supplied

With less than a month to go until her Sanlam Cape Town Marathon D-Day, Bonani Zuke has reached the stage where her mind is playing tricks on her regarding the state of her readiness.

“I think I’m about 90% ready,” says the Fedhealth Dream Chaser. “There are days when I wonder if I’m really ready, and there are days when I’m really confident that I’m going to do it. It doesn’t help that I’ve just recently got the flu because it’s messing with my mind.

“But it’s not physical (the uncertainty) because I can still manage my long runs, so it’s mental. I think between all the challenges at work and the running, things have been hectic.”

As one of three Dream Chasers – a campaign aimed at encouraging Fedhealth members to make their fitness dreams a reality by competing in the 10km and 12km trail runs and the full marathon – Bonani has chosen the last option to celebrate her 40th birthday, which will be on the same day as the race (September 15).

Despite the cold feet, Bonani says the experience has been incredible. For starters, finding herself having to put in many more kilometres than she did in the build-up to her maiden and only marathon to date hasn’t been a case of the loneliness of the long distance runner.

“It hasn’t been lonely at all,” she says. “I’ve got a good rhythm going. I hum to myself when I run – it’s therapeutic.”

A big part of why the running hasn’t felt lonely is that a friend, upon hearing she was running the Cape Town Marathon, was inspired to also enter. Now they’re running it together, meaning they’re also training together.

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“It’s been a positive experience for me, from the support I get from Fedhealth Dream Chasers to the team of coaches around us and my family. When you’re not sure what’s happening to your body there’s always someone to talk to.

“The changes to my body have been nice. Some friends have told me I’m inspiring them to go to gym after seeing my pictures on Facebook.”

Bonani said the highlight of the programme  is how she feels: “When I run or walk my legs feel very loose. They’re not heavy even though I have thick thighs. Having to put more mileage on my legs has given me more energy in general.

“I’ve learnt a lot from doing the programme. I’ve learnt to listen to my body when I’m running. I’ve also learnt not to give up. I’ve got a strategy of slowing my pace, as opposed to walking, and using my core to get over difficult parts of my runs, like going uphill.”

The proof of Bonani’s progress lies in the times she clocked in the two half-marathons she has run to check on her improvement. She ran them in two-and-a-half hours and two hours and 22 minutes, and hopes to complete another two before tackling Cape Town.

Having started the Dream Chasers campaign hoping to celebrate her birthday by running under the six hours she clocked in the  Soweto Marathon last year, Bonani, with encouragement from her training partner, has her eye on an ambitious sub-five hour run.

As soon as her mind stops vacillating about whether or not she is ready.

Follow the Dream Chasers’ individual progress by keeping an eye on the following channels: 

Fedhealth on Facebook and Twitter; TimesLIVE on Facebook and Twitter, and the hashtags #Fedhealth #DreamChasers

This article was paid for by Fedhealth.