I attended a Comrades Marathon race briefing by Runetics. I was in two minds whether I should attend the briefing or not as I’ve studied and lived The Ultimate Human Race for the past three years, attended all the seminars by all the Comrades legends in my first year, read the books, surfed the net, read the blogs, listen to the podcasts, followed and stalked people on Facebook and Twitter (lol!), got myself a running coach and have run the race twice (UP and DOWN)…and in the process became obsessed with ultra running.
So, after 3 years of training with the primary focus on conquering this grueling race I feel like someone that’s about to graduate with a B.Comrades degree!
It’s not that I don’t find these Comrades talks useful; I do. There’s always a question or two or some advice given by the experienced that makes you think and sent you back to the drawing board! One of the things I love about ultras other than the challenge of pushing my physical and mental limits is the uncertainty relating to the outcome on race day. This will drive you nuts in the days leading up to the race. I suppose it goes for any race distance, however it feels like the odds just multiply ten fold for an ultra. You can have the most perfect build up, taper and race strategy but when race day comes you work with what you have, embrace what gets thrown at you, enjoy the ride, accept the outcome (PB, goal achieved or lesson learnt) and hopefully emerge stronger for that next crazy adventure!
Running is my hobby. I shouldn’t be spending so much time dwelling on this (hehehe…addict!) but with months of hard training and your race outcome still a bit uncertain what do you do? You plan, strategise and prepare for…every single thing that is going to help you get through race day (including pre-race strategy, pacing and nutrition). Well, that is what I’m doing and I am sure so is every other Comrades looney, which is why I initially thought of not attending the briefing session. I have my plan, my race day and my pacing strategy clear in my head. I must admit not as detailed as the previous year where I had the route dissected with gradients and paces (lol!). So at this stage I really don’t want to listen to or be influenced by others’ views and opinions but I decided to attend and to just keep an open mind.
As soon as Ray (from Runetics) started to talk about pacing there were lots of questions. I suppose everyone came prepared with their own strategies from the Race Start to the Finish; even for that extra 800 and something meters added to this year’s race distance…but then Ray said “Look, at some point you got to let the race happen” …and that’s when the penny dropped (for me).
My goal for this years Comrades is clear. It will by no means be easy with it being an UP RUN but I’ve put my heart and soul into my training. I really wanted to see how far I could push myself both physically and mentally (and I need to be fit and strong for all the trail running waiting for me in the second half of the year). However, I’ve become a little obsessed with this sub 11hr goal – what my splits should be, where I need to be at what times and strategising (i.e. WORRYING) what I am going to do if I fall off pace; it’s now just starting to stress me out. Absolutely crazy to think you can plan everything for a race this long. There is only so much planning and preparing one can do and then you have to let the race run itself!
So, I am going to relax – not at all saying I’m going in unprepared and without a plan (to be unraveled in my next blogpost) but I won’t be wasting any valuable energy over the next 10 days trying to out-think every eventuality :)