I AM AN ULTRA MARATHONER!

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It has been 3 weeks since my City-2-City 50km race. The ULTIMATE in ENDURANCE activity – For most of the race I was fine, but those last few hills took every bit of will power to keep me moving forward. So close and yet so far! The race sucked all of my energy. I am still recovering and probably will be for a while, haven’t had the energy to set foot in the gym or on the road :-).

ALL WORTH-IT!

All I can say, reflecting on the race after a few weeks…”What an experience, just a pure sense of accomplishment and pride. It was hard, at the same time easier than I thought. If you would have asked me a year ago if I would have ever thought that I would run 50km race, I probably would have laughed out LOUD!”

Quote of the Day – “Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip“. Dean Karnazes

The Start

It felt like I was coming down with flu the day before. I was so depressed and was in bed for the whole day. I read a whole bunch of articles on the internet about running when you feeling sick with flu and basically it boils down to if your cold is more below your neck, in your chest, you coughing, fever, body aches etc, it is a NO-NO. If it is just a head cold, with runny nose etc..It is up to you. Not as simple as that, but that’s the guideline. I could not see myself after months of training not to run on the day. You could say that I have started to become obsessed with the race. This was a big event for me and I could not see myself waiting a year to do it. I was ready NOW :-).

I have trained hard and wanted to benchmark myself in order to prepare myself for my first marathon – which if you ask me is much harder to run than this ultra-marathon, (because of the generous cut-off time allowed for this year’s City-2-City race – which was a good enough motivator for me to enter this ultra marathon race with confidence!)

When I woke the morning of the race, I felt better. I did not even think twice, everything was automatic from there on. For breakfast I had 2 whole wheat rolls and a cup of coffee . I left home early…and from there on I was IN THE RACE!, with everything!

The atmosephere at the start was electric. There was so many runners, all as mad as me, some even worse :-). My race strategy was starting strong and then keeping to a specific pace from halfway

Halfway Mark

Still Looking STRONG at 25km!!!

The halfway mark took a while to come. From about 18km it was all uphill. I was on a high and running strong. I almost set a PB for the 21km. Did it in 2hr33, I think. Everything was going according to plan.

But then…from 21-25km was up hill. It just took what felt like forever to get to the halfway mark. The sun was up and it suddenly became an extremely hot day:-). I did not put on any sunscreen. Needless to say I was burnt so badly. What was I thinking!…Running for 7hrs without sunscreen :-). Of course will there be consequences!

The Next 25km

I studied the course well and I knew that there would be some relief after the first 25km mark which is what kept me going. Downhill!!!! For about 4km!!! Yes, I can do this! I think I went out too fast with the downhill. At about 29km I suddenly felt cramps in my left leg. I tried to ignore it, but I started to panic. I did not know what to do, I have never since I started running a year ago had any problems with cramps. I was not sure should I walk, stretch or keep on running and hope it was gonna go away. I was almost in tears as all the other runners who suffered with me for the 1st 30km was leaving me behind.

The Good Samaritan….

I did a bit of stretching hoping the cramp would disappear, but nothing…and then suddenly out of the blue, one runner decided to turnaround (after he passed me :-)). All he said was “Do you have salt tablets” to which I replied, NO. He gave salt and magnesium tablets..luckily I had water with me at that stage! And then the good samaritan said ” Keeping moving”. I was so greatfull for his good gesture, really felt my race was over. Now that I am reflecting on this, he could have given me “any” tablets and I would have taken it…SCARY! But, it seemed to have worked. At that stage the aid vehicle came checking on me, but I just waved and indicated that I was PERFECTLY FINE :-). There was no way in hell I would take a lift to the finsh line!!!!

Digging Deep

After that I was never as confident in my running as  I was during the first half. Running with the fear of cramps returning is not nice. So much stress with 20km to go… I was so disappointed at that stage knowing that I was not gonna make my 6h30min goal I set for myself.  I wanted to use this race as my qualifier for the Two Oceans, but it was not gonna happen..at least not on that day. All I could think about was that I had to run another 20km. I knew I could do it. Despite the cramps, I still had the energy to run for hours, I could feel it in my legs :-).

Training for this event was hard. During winter mostly! I was so dedicated and committed.

Running the race is even harder. No amount of training can really prepare you for what’s gonna happen on the day.

All I could think about was that I now had to run another marathon to qualify for the Two Oceans Ultra. How on earth am I gonna be able to that after this race. I dont have the speed at this stage to run a qualifying marathon …I eventually settled for just finishing the race. That made more a bit more relaxed and I actually started to enjoy the race, joining other groups, moaning along with them. The strangest thing happen – as I relaxed started to enjoy myself…I started running comfortably again, not at race pace, but running!

The last 6km

The last 6km was tough! The day was getting hotter and the pace was getting significantly slower, almost to walking :-). What were the organisers smoking? Hills all the way!!!!!

If it was not for my GPS watch I would not have been able to push myself the way I did the last few kilometers. I was literally power walking. I was so tired, I could not run, I could feel a major cramp coming the minute a start to jog, I did not want risk retiring from the race with only 2kms to go, NO WAY…It was going to be walking all the way to the finish, and running onto the field to collect my medal 🙂 !

REWARD FOR: Early morning runs 🙂

THE IMPOSSIBLE...DONE!

“I finished in 6hr50min!..With 10mins to spare before cut-off…What a race!”

About Moerieda Mackay

Late to running and absolutely loving it! I'm married to my soulmate, Adam and blessed with 3 beautiful children. I am a Business Transformation and Innovation Professional and holds a MSc (Eng) in Industrial Engineering. Yip, a bit of a workaholic. I became addicted to ultra running whilst searching for that elusive “work-life” balance at the age of...40! I have no sporting background and with zero athletic ability running is by far the most challenging thing I've taken on but it has put me on a path of self discovery and serious transformation both physically, mentally and spiritually...and I love it!

4 responses »

  1. Good to see that you turned out to be so good at Running. Congrats! Keep it up and make me jealous with your achievements.

  2. well done Moerieda! Congratulations! How these races become an obsession – I know too well. Had been sick that well as well so opted for the 21km…… now that I’m wiser 🙂

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