31 May 2010

Comrades Marathon 2010

The day did not start particularly well, with a massive traffic snarl at the Marianhill Toll Plaza. For a start the credit card lane was "broken" and then they had a couple of the other lanes which were just not open. As a result the enormous stream of traffic was funnelling down to just a few lanes. It took forever to get through. Once we were on our way again, the volume of traffic was absolutely insane. It was just so much busier than last year. Obviously, because the numbers were much larger, but there was no police presence to make sure that the traffic flowed easily into Pietermaritzburg. Everyone was just left to get on with it, which I suppose, is what we have come to expect from the police force. I had to jump out of the car and run to the start because there was just no way that Claire was going to be able to drop me off nearby in time. By the time I got to the seeding pens, C batch was already busting out of the gate. Somewhere before "Chariots of Fire" began to play, the whole crowd shifted forward and I was able to worm my way into the pens. I didn't notice too much else about the start because I was still so stressed about getting there in time and missing my trip to the delightful porta-potties. The cock crowed, the gun went off and we were on our way.

The different route out of maritzburg seemed to take quite a bit longer, but I suspect that was just in my head. Just before Polly Shortts I had to make a dash for the bushes because my stomach was feeling awful. I subject a tree to something completely inhumane as I watched the field trot on by. Felt a little better afterwards. I made sure to run carefully down Polly Shortts, going with a short stride and conserving my quads. Up and down Little Pollys and then the long pull up to Lions' Park, where Claire was waiting for me with my first bottle of juice. Was lovely to see her and she was easy to spot with her fairy alice band. Did a bit of walking from there up to Umlaas Road while drinking my bottle. The ratio of Energade to Rehidrat was better this time and the combination was not half as nauseating. Was playing a bit of catch-up at this stage, having lost so much time in the bushes. I got into the back of what we assumed was the 10 hour bus and trotted along with them for a while. The pace was a bit too slow and the density of the pack was quite irritating, with lots of stop-start (or at least fast-slow) running. Coming down into Camperdown my stomach was feeling bad again, so I once again found a secluded spot on the side of the road in a massive patch of weeds, from which I could watch the race go by while sorting out my issues. Felt a lot better after that and it was my last serious stop of the race.

Going through Camperdown I passed a father running with his two sons. Very cool! Then across the N3 and into Cato Ridge where I found Claire again with my second bottle and 1/3 of a hot dog. Under the N3 again and into Harrison Flats. This bit actually went very quickly and we were soon at Ethembeni School and then going around to the bottom of Inchanga, where my faithful second was again, this time with juice, hotdog and a bunch of flowers. I reckon that if dropping a flower on Arthur's Seat gives you a good second half, then carrying those flowers all the way up Inchanga and down the other side has got to give you an even better finish. Walked a lot on the way up the hill. Then started running on the descent down into Drummond. Walked up the far side all the way to Arthur's Seat, which by this stage was absolutely packed with foliage. The next bit past Alverstone to the top of Botha's Hill is quite hard, but I was into a good run/walk cycle and I was feeling fine.

Hit the Athletics North table at the bottom of Botha's Hill and picked up my sachet of tuna, which I ate with  my hands coming up the far side. Was very thankful that I had a wet wipe with me to get the fishyness off my fingers. I had been dreading the bit from Hillcrest through to Kloof since I really suffered there last year, but since I was going a lot slower this time it did not seem to bad. Up until this stage I had not taken anything, but I started to feel pretty sore so I took a Myprodol around Kloof station. Crossed back over the highway and then through the beautiful tree-lined section going into Kloof village. Feeling pretty good at this stage. Onto the highway and started down Field's Hill. Legs feeling quite fine and the descent was not too bad. Scrupulously avoided making the error of looking up and seeing the sea at this stage. I had planned on running to the bottom of the hill and then taking a walk. But when I got to the bottom I was feeling rather fine so I ran a bit further. I had been trying to do the maths in my head but, since I was actually finding it a little difficult to focus my eyes on things on the side of the road, this was not working out too well. I concluded that there was no way that I could run the remaining 20 km in 1:45, so a Bill Rowan was out of the question. Once I had resigned myself to a Bronze (not a big surprise since I had been taking it rather easy), I felt a lot better since the pressure was off. The run through Pinetown went very quickly. I had my sights set on seeing the Family on Cowie's Hill. It was amazing to have Mom, Dad, Storm and Emma there supporting me and I LOVED getting a hug from my kids. Picked up another juice and a delicious slice of quiche and kept on walking to the top of the hill. Ran down the other side. When I got to the bottom I settled back into the run/walk routine. Saw Yvette just before Westville and then Claire again a little later with another bottle of juice and the tail end of the hot dog.

The long slow descent from Westville to the bottom of 45th Cutting took ages and I was feeling damn tired, but still running about 4/5 of each km. Walked up 45 Cutting and just as I started running down the other side I came up behind Brad, who by this stage was just walking. I had planned on doing run/walk to the finish but I stopped and walked with him for quite a while and caught up on his race. After we got up onto the N3 we did the occasional bit of running and slowly made our way up and over Toll Gate and down the N3 into Durban. The city was not nearly as crowded as last year, probably because it was a Sunday. This made a huge difference because that insane throng was just a bit too much! Finally turned left and ran towards the stadium. Got onto the grass right next to Brad and we ran through to the finish line together.

The "new and improved" Comrades medals are bloody disappointing: they look like the same cheap crap that you get at other races, nothing like the special small Comrades medals that we have received in the past.

29 May 2010

Restlessness & Anxiety

I have had the crappest two nights' sleep. The day before the race and I am up, in the kitchen, eating instant porridge at 04:00, having just spent the last hour trying to get back to sleep. Mildly hungover from the few extra glasses of wine that I had last night just to feel sane at bed time. My plans for having afternoon naps the last two afternoons did not come to fruition: no naps. Somehow the afternoons just slipped away. I had better get in a serious nap this afternoon. I have been taking it very easy since wednesday. Thursday I spent most of the day coaching Storm with his Maths. Yesterday I had all to myself. Mostly. Spent the morning lying on my bed working. Went through periods where I would suddenly realise that I was almost panting and that my heart rate was thundering... and I had to actively calm myself down. Did two trips to uShaka yesterday afternoon, ferrying Emma. The second trip took about two hours because of the road closures for the World Cup "practice". Today I am going to get totally selfish: it's going to be about me and the race. Everyone else had better sort themselves out.

25 May 2010


So, only five days to go to Comrades 2010... deep in the middle of my taper. Last night when i got into bed I had a bad case of the sniffles. Maybe I was coming down with something or maybe it was the dust from the duvet which I finally had to drag out and dump on the bed (winter seems to be finally arriving, but without too much enthusiasm). This morning when I got up at 04:00 I was feeling a little bit under the weather. Not sick. But not particularly well. And not at all enthusiastic about running. So I managed to persuade myself that it would be better to run in the warmth of midday than to go out into the cold and dark. So I stayed at home and worked a bit instead.

I got back into bed at around 06:00 and snuggled up to Claire. I had had too much coffee by that stage to realistically think about going back to sleep, so I lay there and tried to do some race visualisation. Went through the whole thing in my head. Amazing how you can memorise an entire route. The only bit I am a bit sketchy about is the first bit through Maritzburg, otherwise I can see the whole route. The thing that worries me is that the whole thing fills me more with dread than excitement right now. I kept on worrying about how tired and sore I would be feeling by the time that I got to Kloof. I need to work on setting up some positive thought patterns there.

13 May 2010

Sleeping and Running

Just had two of the most appalling nights' sleep in succession. Too many other things going on upstairs... Anyway, so this has meant that the last two morning runs have been called off. This is damn frustrating and i am imagining the kg's piling on and my aerobic capacity plummeting. No matter how much I tell myself that these thoughts are rubbish, there they are, niggling away at the back of my mind. If I can summon the energy I will go out and do the Hill Run route around midday today. That should keep the daemons at bay for a while.