Comrades training this year has not been ideal. I managed to sustain my base training through the three months in Norway, going out for short but intense (well, intensely cold!) runs pretty much every day. Things started to fall apart a bit when I got home and life did a quantum leap in complexity. Then I came back from the NDC with a hobbled left leg which left me out of action for the three weeks prior to Two Oceans. So I ended up doing the half instead of getting in my long training run. Not ideal. Then, at the beginning of May I left for a week in Spain... without my running shoes. Also not terribly ideal. So no long run and a break in training during this critical period. Right now I am paddling in a puddle of stress. Despite the physical setbacks, I think that my biggest problem is lack of mental preparation: I know my training is not what it should have been. So I am just not feeling confident in my ability to klap it on the day. Normally about now I start to run through the race in my head every couple of days. But I am finding that every time I come to a hill in my mental rehersal my heart sinks. For pretty much every hill on the route. One hill in particular is my little mental nemesis. And it is not a terribly imposing hill. Rather an innocuous one, actually. More of a gentle incline. It's the one just before Harrison Flats. For some reason that is looming large in my mind. It's like an enormous hurdle that I need to push myself through.
You will have noted that I am paddling and not wallowing in that stress puddle. So I am by no means resigned to having a kak race. This evening I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns. I went and did three repeats on Clark Road. If you live in Durban then you probably know Clark Road. I ran the steep bit between Manning Road and Cato Road. This starts out steep, gets steeper, then a little more steep and finally, just when you think that it should have encountered some sort of physical or geographic or moral limit, it gets a bit steeper still. Three repeats of that with a gradual trot around and down again. Each time I got to the top my heart was thundering along at around 175 bpm, my legs were burning, I was breathless, but as I turned the corner and it levelled out I found that it all came back together again and withing a few strides I was getting my breath back and the heart rate was cooling off to something a little less like "near death".
Three repeats. No stops. And I probably could have done another one. But good sense prevailed: wine, dinner and my sexy fiance were waiting for me at home. I feel a lot better now. And that is not just the wine talking.