This is the second in an occasional series about my preparations for the 2016 Comrades Marathon in South Africa. The first installment is here.
Eleven months from today, I hope to be among 20,000 runners pounding the 90 kilometers (56 miles) of pavement between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa in Comrades Marathon.
Lest I put the cart before the horse, I assure you there is a tremendous amount of logistics to be sorted in the coming months. Before undertaking such an adventure, there are a million important little details that must be considered. There are also several really big details to determine, and those are the ones I’m working on ironing out right now.
First up is the financial commitment. While it may seem obvious that a trip from Austin, Texas, USA to South Africa is expensive (and it is!), I’ve begun plotting the expected costs. From airline tickets– both international and within South Africa– to lodging to on-the-ground activities, the budget is coming together. Here’s the deal: I am unlikely to go to South Africa again. This means I’m going to take advantage of being there, visiting the sites of Cape Town and going on safari are non-negotiables. These aren’t cheap adventures, but if I’m going to go all the way to South Africa, I’m going to enjoy myself.
The secondary aspect of the financial commitment is the length of the trip. In order to take advantage of all that South Africa has to offer– and the travel time of the 9,000 mile (as the crow flies) trip– the trip is likely to be at least two weeks. May and June are my high season for work, as my swim lessons are in full swing. This means that not only will I be spending a lot of money on the trip, but I’ll be giving up a meaningful amount of income while I’m away. I have this figured in to my budget as well.
And then there’s the question of whether I’m going to go on this adventure by myself or if my husband will come, too. I’d love to have him with me to experience this unknown-to-me part of the world, but an already expensive trip times two….
While the financial hurdle is considerable, perhaps my greatest obstacle to Comrades is childcare. I have three kids. My three kids go to three different schools. They participate in after-school activities. They require things like transportation to school and events, decently nutritious regular meals, and thoughtful attention. If my husband comes along, we now have to find someone to to watch the kids for the duration of my/our trip– without incurring tremendous additional expense– and that is highly unlikely. One set of grandparents (my parents) will be in South Africa, as my dad is also planning to toe the line at Comrades. The other set of grandparents (my awesome in-laws) would likely love the chance to be with their grandkids for part of the time, but two weeks is a really long time to ask. So I’m exploring options, including time swaps with friends who are also keen to do some couple travelling and hiring a friend for a few days. As for now, I’m going to trust it’s all going to come together.
The good news is, I have plenty of time to work these issues out. I also have time to prepare myself emotionally for missing out on a pretty big family milestone: our final kid’s final day of preschool. We have a kid at this beloved school on-and-off since 2007, so saying goodbye is going to be hard. I’ll also miss the boys’ last days of school, which will likely include the big 4th grade Texas History Pageant for my middle kid. These are the highlights of parenting young children, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter that I will miss them.
Of course, preparing for a 90K race also requires a fitness plan. I’ll cover that plan in my next Comrades Marathon Update in a few weeks. Stay tuned!