Molebatsi Manzi – preparing for her marathon debut in Soweto
09 February 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto yet another edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. The countdown continues to the 2016 Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, lots of excitement around it. Particularly with the changes to the route, the start and the finish, I think it’s going to be absolutely amazing. If you want to find out more about those, make sure you check out a couple of the episodes that we’ve had with some of the role players from the Soweto Marathon Trust as well as the organising committee.
But right now we’re chatting to someone who is running their very first Old Mutual Soweto Marathon, they did the half marathon last year. They’re making the step up in 2016, Molebatsi Manzi, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us today.
Molebatsi Manzi: Thank you, it’s great to have this chance to talk to you.
BB: Molebatsi, let’s talk about your running career, how long have you been running? Before we get onto the Soweto Marathon and your plans there, how long has running been a part of your life?
MM: I started running last year. I went on maternity leave and when I came back we had moved offices and so after you’ve had a baby obviously you’re body conscious. All of that so then I joined the gym, I was running on the treadmill. This one time, this was in August, I saw one of my friends Facebook feeds that she was going to run a race and I figured why not give it a try. From that first race it’s been, the race is history, as they say.
BB: Are you totally and utterly hooked?
MM: I am totally and utterly hooked, I think it’s all I talk about!
My 2015 half marathon surprise
BB: I love it, you also then decided, it was August last year, so it hasn’t been that long, it’s been about a year that you’ve been running, you decided you wanted to make the step up and run the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon. But instead of doing the 10km last year, sneaky, you decided you were going to run the 21km but not tell anyone, tell us the thinking behind that?
MM: I think I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie but not overtly so, not every knows. I’m very willing to take on a bit challenge and after running a few 10km, it just felt like I needed something to aspire to. Something to take me to the next level as it were. When I saw that the Soweto Marathon was coming up, I had no form of reference for what the race was about. The route, how hard it is or anything like that, I just figured, this is the perfect time to do a 21km.
Because I didn’t want everybody chiming in about how they felt that 21km is a big thing, I decided to keep it a secret. My colleagues and everyone, as far as they knew, because I had been running 10km, they thought I was running the 10km. I didn’t correct them, right up until I finished my race, everybody still thought I was doing 10km.
I got there on race day, ran, finished and then sat down to take a picture and that picture was how everybody found out that I had run the 21km. Because then I had my medal that said 21km, it was kind of crazy with everyone on Facebook going what!!! It was awesome, I don’t think I’d change how that all worked out, it was great.
BB: A year on and you’ve now made the step up to the 42km, you’ve decided to run the big one at the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon. What was the thinking behind that? What drove you to decide, obviously you like being pushed and you’re goal driven, but why 42km this time around?
Making the decision to run the marathon in 2016
MM: I think also because I’ve been running a lot of 21’s, so it’s almost like my go-to race, whenever I pick a race. I always pick the 21 at the moment, but it just feels like, because I’m hugely sentimental, so it feels like to have done my 21km at the Soweto Marathon. It feels like, you know, to create this memory, as it were, then I’d rather do my first 42km at the Soweto. It’s very daunting, I won’t lie, but I’m looking forward to it. I think it will just ben amazing way to start running marathon.
BB: You sound like you’re right on track, you’ve built up really consistently, you’ve done the work and it sounds like you’re well on your way to success, come the first Sunday in November. How are you feeling? How’s the training been going so far? Training through winter particularly up on the Highveld is tough, it’s not the easiest place to train in winter. But are you satisfied that things have been going according to plan?
MM: It’s very tricky for me because I stay alone with my three kids. As I said, the youngest is just over one, so they’re all really young. So it’s very difficult for me to get my long runs in, which I need to build up to that 42km, so that is very difficult.
As much as I can, during the week, I get my runs in and I make sure I eat as much as I need to be eating to build that stamina. To follow my training plan as much as I can. Also, because I have people who are cheering me on and who are willing to step in and help, should I need the help. People who have run marathons who are just in my life. They step in to help me.
So I think because I have that support system, I should be able to pull off the 42km. So now it’s just about following through with my training programme, eating right and trying not to get injured. As much as I can, in avoiding injuries like the plague. I’m hopeful that everything will go according to plan and I’m just going to push until race day, looking forward to it.
Has running been the catalyst you hoped?
BB: Molebatsi, you know that people are going to listen to this and are going to be inspired by your story, you’re a mom of three, you talk about juggling work and parenting duties and being able to run as well. For a lot of moms, they start running for exactly the same reason you said, after you had your last little one. that it was that you were self-conscious, you had body image issues, has that improved? Has running really helped from the mind-set point of view, the way you feel about yourself?
MM: Oh definitely. I used to think, before I started running I used to think it was such a cliché when people would say, when you exercise it affects the way you think. It affects your perception of yourself and of your body. I used think, oh please, come on now! Then I started doing it and it definitely does.
The more you run, because running is about setting goals, setting goals, getting to the next level, doing the next marathon, stuff like that. It has helped me in the way that I think and dare I say, it has helped me in my parenting. Because my girls also, and my little son, are learning from me about what it means to keep healthy and to love your body enough to take care of it.
If I inspire anyone, I’m so proud about that, because it’s not that easy. But I mean, it’s definitely worth it and it’s so much fun and it’s awesome. That crossing the finish line makes my life every single time. There are lessons to be learnt on the course as you’re running, you learn so much about yourself. How much you can push through and how much you can accomplish as a person. It’s been an amazing addition to my life.
BB: Molebatsi, I’m going to set a challenge here, because there’s lots of people who listen to this podcast, Soweto Marathon is still a way away. But for someone who has never run before in their life, they could literally take up the sport today and be on the start line of the Soweto Marathon 10km, without a problem. For a lot of people it’s a time issue.
No time, is no excuse
You’ve proved that where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ve got three kids myself, so I know how busy my life is, and yours is probably very much the same. What advice would you give to somebody who is possibly listening to this going; you know what, I’d love to, but I’m just too busy or I’ve got too many responsibilities I can’t do this. You obviously had challenges along the way, what advice would you give them?
MM: I have a very busy schedule, as any parent of one child or three kids, it doesn’t matter, we’re juggling a lot. We’ve got work, friends, trying to maintain a social life and now you’re trying to add training into the mix. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think, if you think about it as a big thing that you have to do, then it’s overwhelming. You can’t do it.
But if you think about it as, I need to dedicate, even if it’s 30 minutes a day, just build-up from there. Do as much as you can with what you’ve got. I only have 45 minutes to try during the week, which is my lunch hour, which is all I have. I’ve been able to use that 45 minutes to help me with my hill repeat sessions and my speed sessions in order to get that, always achieve more than my PB with my 21.
I know and I’m aware that time is a big factor, especially with us living such busy lives, but I think if it’s really important to you. You really want to do it, you can find a gap, you can carve out time, as much time as you can, not trying to take away from the other responsibilities. But as much time as you can afford to take to do it. It’s an amazing experience finishing the first marathon, I’d advise everybody to do it actually.
BB: How much are you looking forward to finishing in that iconic stadium, in the FNB Stadium, it’s going to be magnificent isn’t it?
MM: Man, I cannot explain to you the excitement I feel about that. Because I did not know, I literally saw a tweet this one time, going through to that, because I didn’t know that they had changed it. I hadn’t seen it on the news yet. I was just so overwhelmed with excitement because I’ve been following the other races, I’ve been watching the Two Oceans and the Comrades on TV. Like any other runner, I suppose, and it’s always that moment when they come in and everybody just feels like, that’s the moment.
Now I’m thinking, because I’ve never been to the FNB Stadium, because I don’t get out much, so this is going to be my first time at the FNB Stadium. I will be doing my first marathon, so it’s just so much going into the 6th of November, it’s a cause of so much excitement for me, I’m looking forward to it.
BB: I think it’s going to be brilliant. Entries are still open, by the way, you can to sowetomarathon.com, the 10km, the 21km and the 42km. Molebatsi, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live. If it’s cool with you, I’m going to touch base just before race day to find out how you’re feeling and get the nerves. We’ll also chat to you after the race, I’d be keen to know how you go, if that’s good.
MM: Cool, that’s definitely fine.
BB: Thanks for your time today, much appreciated.
MM: All right, thank you so much.