Adam and I registered for the 2012 Two Ocean Half Marathon in November 2011 for the race in April 2012. I think we were one of the first to register for the half as we literally sat in front of the PCs waiting for the clock to strike 10am :-). We decided to both register for the half and if I qualify for the ultra before March 2012 I would then do an upgrade. I wanted to do the ultra marathon; I don’t understand the logic of running the Two Oceans if you don’t even see the ocean…the route for the half marathon take your up some mountain but you never even get a glimpse of any of the TWO OCEANS :-). Even so, entries for the half is so popular it was gone within just 1 week. The half is still a good race to run, it would only be our 2nd Two Oceans Half – too good an experience to miss out on! We were super excited and I started training for my ultra.
Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned. In March 2012 Adam had to undergo a kidney transplant. Life was hectic and so we could not make the trip to Cape Town over the easter holidays. We had our whole trip booked and planned. I then decided that it might be not be such a bad idea to run the Cape Town Marathon in September 2012. The race was an early Comrades and Two Oceans 2013 qualifier; enough motivation to keep me running throughout the winter months :-).
It was 6 months after Adam’s kidney operation. I knew I was going down to Cape Town under trained. In hindsight I should probably have not registered for this race but I was so disappointed about not being able to run Two Oceans that any race in CPT would have been a good race. I heard that the Cape Town Marathon was a flat and fast course and thought it be a good opportunity to give it a another go at a sub 5hr marathon. I knew that it was going to be a tough call, at the end settled for…”I just want o run a good race in a beautiful city and fun!”… and so we were off!
At the start
There is nothing like having accommodation right at the start of a race. You easily give yourself another 2 hrs of sleep and you can have a relaxed breakfast. We stayed at the Cape Sun in Adderley street where the Cape Town Marathon start. I could see the runners gathering from the 30 something floor. I swore I will not do an out of town marathon again if I can’t stay within walking distance of the start. It is just so stressLESS! You can even go back to your hotel room if you need urgent facilities. Damn… that is pure LUXURY!
The atmosphere at the start was VERY relaxed. Capetonians are just a different breed. I miss living in Cape Town. I was feeling good unfortunately could not say the same about the weather. It was raining the whole week and the weather forecast for the day was “Rain…100%”. Sucks! Someone made a joke saying…you better finish running by 10am or else. I was not going waste energy by worrying about something I had know control over. I was just worried about getting to 30km in 3:30min; from there I will see what’s left in the tank and give it my best effort. I studied the course so I knew it was an out and back for the first 30km and then 12km to the Seapoint Promenade (the never ever ending Promendade; you will soon know why) and then back to the beautiful Cape Town stadium for the finish.
I spotted the sub 5hr bus. I thought my best bet would be if I ran with the bus from the start. In Joburg, the crowds are so big, I never even get to see any of the buses. I only know they all finish before me; how is that even possible! The pace was easy I thought to myself…and THEN…I realise THIS pacer is not gonna follow a run walk strategy like I do :-(. After running with them for about 3km I started to feel this urge to give myself a walk break. I was feeling good, the legs was fine, I just needed to take my walk break. I am sure if Adam was there he would have laughed and said what de hell do I need to walk for. But I listened to that little voice and walked, not for long, was not even 1min, but enough to see the white sub-5hr flag pulling away from me. I let them go; they just need to stay insight. But it started to rain and I completely lost them after the 2nd waterpoint. From there on I was on my own, running strong…but on my own.
The first half
I hit my 10k mark in 1:04 mins..well within my target. I was feeling good! The rain came pouring down just after 10km and there was wind!!! I have never ran in the rain before that. All I could think of was that the cool temperatures would keep me fresh for longer; the problem is your muscles never get to warm up and I struggled to get into my zone where I could just fly. I ran behind a bunch of people cos the rain just came pouring and with the wind right into our faces I used them as screen :-). Lots of comrades people running, so I thought they are used to doing this and if I can stick to the pace it would be good but it is such a struggle to maintain a certain pace if you use to a run-walk strategy. I hit the half marathon time in 2:25. I was still OK and knew I was within my target range for 3:30 at 30km. I felt good. If the rain could just stop and the sun can get out and I could see the mountain and the sea it would have been perfect!
The second half
Like always it was a struggle between 25-30km. We change course and at least the wind was coming from the back and it was only light rain now, so I manage to somehow stay on target for 30km. I could see us getting closer to the city again, closer to Adderley street. Adam was waiting for me in Adderley street. I did not initially see him as it was raining. I was feeling sorry for him, running in the the rain was fine for me but for him standing there, not knowing when I will pass. Yip, I am lucky! I saw him at the Cape Town Metro, I think it was 28km or 29km, not yet 30km. I was only able to smile and wave at him for a photo. That 29th kilometer seemed FOREVER! I was so close and I think I wanted to get there faster than I was running. Finally, just as you turn-off Adderley street, I saw the 30km board! OK I was on target but I had know idea howI was going to get myself to running the remaining 12km.
The profile of the course changed a bit after 30km with a small uphill section and then coming back that same bloody road running downhill. So you only see all these runners passing you in the opposite direction. You have no idea where they turning around. I did not care, I was tired and wanted to walk. I could not run that silly stupid uphill little section; probably the only challenge in the course. I walked, I was gonna run the downhill section.
There is only one thing worse than running hills and that is running flats on tired legs. You have to work hard all the way all the time. It is you against the road..32-42 km was slow. SLOW!
Running Seapoint Promenade
I desperately wanted to run faster, I just could not. It was raining again, I got closer to the Seapoint Promenade; the section I was dreaming of running for months! Except is was not like in my dreams. There was no sun, there was no mountain; there were no people walking the promenade; there was no crowd cheering you on…just the rain, wind, the sea making big white waves splashing all over the promenade. All I could think of was that I still had get through that! To top things, that’s when I spotted the sub 5hr bus again; they were passing me…IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION! I was so disappointed. I was so close and yet so far. They were gonna make it in 5hrs and I was not.They all looked so happy and relaxed, bloody singing and celebrating. I was jealous. I wanted to be on THAT bus!
I still had 7km to go with about 45mins left. I still hoped and kept pushing forward hard for the next 3 kilometers; well it felt like that for me. If you do the numbers, it was not an impossible to still run sub-5hrs. All I had to do was run the last section and not walk and I could bag the race! But running the promenade was hard. Apart from the rain, I got so many seawater showers from the splashing waves. I was soaking wet…seawater soaking wet! That’s when I gave up my sub 5hr marathon dream. It was just too difficult. I have never run 7km in 45mins, not even the the best conditions. What on earth made me think I could do it under the worst!!!
I now just enjoying running in the rain. I have never done it before. Running the Seapoint Promendade, pass the Light House, towards the beautiful Cape Town stadium. IN THE RAIN! If it meant that I had to come all the way to Cape Town to experience running in the rain for the first time, then so be it! I finished in 5hrs 21min. Disappointed? Of course! But what a learning curve for me..what an experience!
Steve Jobs “There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going”.
I was so unprepared for the Cape weather, still don’t know how I pulled it off to run in wind and rain for almost 5hrs! Felt great just finishing – no doubt I have met and conquered my fear of the elements!
The 42.2km Route
16 Week Training Programme: September 23rd…I can’t wait! Trying to get back into my training programme, not easy with all the cold icy weather we’ve experienced over the last few weeks. 3 Long runs of between 25-35km still waiting for me; how am I gonna get through that? Wish I had more time. From here on its all about about ‘discipline’, ‘self motivation’ and ‘mental toughness’. JUST STICK TO THE TRAINING PROGRAMME AND YOU’LL BE FINE… Easier said than done! 🙂