Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Archive for running

The Two Oceans Marathon

…ok, so here goes. If you aren’t a runner, you can look at the pictures and look away, it’ll be painful for you to read through this.

My race day dawned on Saturday, 15 April. It was also my brother’s birthday, but that’s an entirely different story. Since my qualifying marathon I had tried hard to stick to my coach’s programme, but I’d found it tough and I’d been exhausted. Had I done enough? I was anxious. And taper week had made me super grumpy. (Apologies to Charlie, Thandi and the Germans.)

I woke up early – before the dawn in fact, so that I could eat breakfast and ablute timeously. The things us runners worry about – will I poop properly before my run? Will I need to go during the run? (some of the lesser spoken about parts of running) Anyway. Suffice to say that all went according to plan – the breakfast of champions (or rather, just finishers) was a hot cross bun, an apple and some yoghurt, chased by coffee. I put on my kit, and cursed the lack of a throw away – it was colder than I had anticipated; and before I could really think about what I was about to do I was out the door, walking down to the start with Charlie.

After a wait in the shadows, it was time for a quick good luck kiss and to head into my seeding corral. It’s a scary and lonely place amongst 11,000 other runners, knowing only about 10 of them, and knowing that I would be running on my own for the day. With my big brother’s advice and pacing chart fresh in my mind, I queued up, sang the anthem, and all of a sudden, the starting gun was fired and then the slow struggle to cross that start line began – 4 and a half minutes is what it took for me to start running. Bearing in mind that it’s a gun to gun race, ¬†it is a tough ask for those of us in the E seeding (the end of the starting line up) who will cut it close to the wire to sacrifice 4+minutes to get going. Oh well, them’s the rules.

Conditions en route were quite tough – it was quite windy – not Argus cancellation windy (thankfully) and quite cool, but in the end, the wind blew in the right directions, and kept us cool, so that things like dehydration were not high priorities.

The first 20km went according to plan – flat, cool fairly easy running. I went through the half marathon mark in about 2:15, so I was definitely holding back a bit, as I was warned. Turning towards Muizenburg the wind was a lot tougher, but once we turned to run next to the coastline it felt a bit better and the beauty of the sea was possibly a little distracting. I found the stretch from Fishhoek through to the halfway mark at the base of Chapman’s Peak a bit of a struggle. I think I was so focussed on the challenge of Chappies, that I was impatient to get to it. Once I was there I was surprised at how the hill was manageable. I was able to walk/run it, and I was very happy to see the summit! Thankfully I had been warned about ‘Little Chappies’ with it’s false summit, so I wasn’t surprised to have to continue climbing after a welcome little descent. The descent from the peak down into Hout Bay was tough, I was starting to feel a little sore, so I was able to heed the warning not to go too fast down that hill.

From the base (on the Hout Bay side) through to the marathon mark seemed interminably long. I really felt like it was never going to arrive – again, I think the anticipation of Constantia Nek was getting to me – I just wanted to run the beast now, and get onto Rhodes Drive. Anyway, as I went up that hill, again using a run/walk strategy, the 7 hour bus passed me, and my heart sank. Surely this wasn’t how it was going to end? I studied my watch, looked at my splits and my pacing, and just continued to believe I had it in me. It was at this point that I heard a little chant happening behind me – 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-1, ok, let’s go, run 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, ok walk – and so he went, I decided to try his strategy and it really worked – sometimes I ran more than the required counts, sometimes I walked a bit less, but I made it up, and felt like I still had something left in me. as I crested this hill I was a bit shocked to see people collapsing into the gutters, frozen in cramped poses and vomiting up all their nutrition. I was also rather relieved it wasn’t me! I managed to find a once rhythm and get going again – I ran some of my fastest km’s here in fact. (and passed that 7 hour bus agin!) Rhodes Drive is beautiful – the forest on the left, the homes and then more forest on the right. Coming up to Kirstenbosch, with another lovely leg stretching downhill and I knew I was going to make it!

Then that damn turn onto the M3, with it’s little hill that felt like a mountain – rude, I tell you! But with 2km to go, nothing was going to get me down. I so badly wanted some company at this point, but there was no one to really talk to, no one to share the line crossing experience. But, as ran down the little slip road into UCT and hit the grass none of that mattered anymore – I heard the triumphant shout from my family, Charlie had Thandi on his shoulders, so I could see her and with arms raised I whooped with joy and made my way down that grass to the finish line!

In an incredible feat, I had done it – 6:48! (less 4)

A coke, some water and a lie down on the grass, big hugs from family and friends, ¬†followed by a delicious Flying fish, and I was ecstatically restored. And so special to see all my friends achieve their goals – a gold medal for SS, a sub 6 for JD and a finish for me. I’m still battling to really comprehend it. I did it!