Last week Sunday my day began freaking early! I was up just before 3am just so I could get to the start line of the Johnson Crane Hire Marathon. The drive down to Benoni felt long, perhaps more from my anxiety than actual distance from home.
Until we reached the stadium where the race would start and end I was fine, it was only when I got out the car that the nerves that normally hit me pre a new distance hit me. Last minute tips and guidance points from the seasonal runners and we were at the start. The start line was busy! There were 7000 people roughly at the start, a mix of 21km runners and 42.
My running buddies are seasonal runners, with a number of marathons under their belts and some even have the Comrades Marathon to count as success stories! Although we’re all from different running clubs, some virtual while others from clubs with club houses etc. Over the weekends we tend to meet up and go for long easy runs.
From the group some made their way to the front of the starting group so that they could get caught up by the “fast vibe” – those going for PBs while the rest of us remained towards the middle of the crowd, just happy to be there and to hopefully finish within the allocated time … if not earlier.
It took Thelma and I exactly 3 minutes and 14 seconds post the start gun going off before we actually began to move from where we were standing. First time I’ve ever experienced it! I was told that if I decide to go through with the Comrades, it would not be much different .. if not a longer wait. WOW!
The first 21kms went by in a blur. The leader of the group I run with on weekends pushed me .. yes just me hard. The other runners in our group all went on their own. I should have taken this as a hint .. but didn’t. Needless to say at the 26km mark I began to serious feel the race and tire. At this point I began my run a pole .. walk a pole, this got me to the 33km mark. From this point onwards my race collapsed! Yep! First the cramps started .. then they felt like lead .. towards the 36km point. When I tried to have some of the race food I had on me .. my stomach turned. WTF!
At 40kms and with only 2kms to go, my mind and I started having conversations like ….
MIND ” why don’t you just stop”
ME “NO! I will persevere through the pain”
MIND ” you not gonna make it, there are 7 minutes left”
At this point one of the other runners from our group catches up to me. He is suffering as much as I am, less cramps. We run together to the 41km point. There isn’t any water here sadly, but he sees his wife and that just gave him the boost he needed, because one second he is standing next to me the next it’s “There’s Giselle ….” and he was gone! His wife mentioned later that just before the last 400m and with 1 minute to go before the 5h00 cut off time for the marathon, he decided to walk, but the smacking of the side boards around the field accompanied by the screams and shouts of the spectators that time was running out pushed him all the way to the last mat in 4h58. Well done mate! Five minutes later I crossed the line too, at 5h03.
I was filled with mixed emotions.
Part of me was thrilled that I’d not given up and ran the full 42.2kms … and the other part was a little disappointed I’d not made the 5 hour cut off .. so I thought! A few hours later I read a message from my friend Kristian, you may recall I profiled him here, here mentioned that I should check the official results. I did and discovered that as the race was mat-to-mat, the organisers took into account the time I actually crossed the first start mat, and not only the time the gun went off! I had just made it in a time of 4 h 57, 3 minutes to spare that I had clearly not wasted at the start 🙂
More mileage is required from me legs though, if I’m to attempt the 89 odd kilometres in the Comrades!
At home my left big toe was bloodshot and extremely sore! My legs ached, my arms ached, my feet ached but I was super happy that my back did NOT! Yep, I had relaxed my shoulders during the run, something I have worked on for a while now and it seems I’m finally getting it right.YES! Focus now as hubby keeps drilling is to get more mileage on my legs. So more hills, yes starting to love them hills, more longer easy runs of 10, 21+kms. I have to run another marathon and an ultra distance run before even thinking of being at the starting pen come May.
My legs were already feeling ready for a run last Tuesday, but my big toe is only today feeling a little better.
Will attempt another run over the weekend and some swim mileage for my arms. Midmar Mile swim isn’t far off .. another bucket list item to tick off 🙂