This post is a continuation of My Two Oceans Half Marathon 2017 Experience: The Build Up. If you have not read it,I suggest that you first read it and then continue with this one.
Run Odette run
It took my brother and I about 1 minute to cross the starting line. Being fitter than me and having longer legs, I always knew that he would be faster than me, and have a stronger chance of finishing the race. About 20 metres across the line, he was already a few metres ahead of me. He slowed down, turned around and glanced to see where I was, and I signalled to him.
“Don’t wait for me.”
Off he went. It was still dark and with thousands of people milling around me, he soon disappeared into the crowd. That was the last time I saw him during the race.
The first few kilometres flew by. Quite literally. I remember thinking, this is quicker and better than I expected. Or that’s what I thought.
While journeying through the the twists and turns of a darkened Cape Town, the streets looked like home. I could have been running through Kabega Park or the inner parts of Summerstrand. The road was quite crowded for the first few kilometres and for some reason, large groups of people were sporadically stopping all at once, then continuing to jog. It was quite annoying, as it meant that everyone behind them would have to stop. Nevertheless, the race felt fine and I thought as if I was off to a good start. That was until we got to the first hill.
Constantia is not in the winelands…
I was told that the race course had rolling hills and of course of the notorious Southern Cross climb. On the site I glanced a few times at the map, but never really paid attention to the elevation. With races in PE, I’ve never looked at a race map, let alone read about the elevation of the races. So I never really considered it. Granted, I’d never attempted a 21km in PE.
The first hill it started gradually. It was no big deal, I’ll be able to take it comfortably. Or so I thought. I jogged for a bit up, determined to power through without stopping. But these legs of mine had other plans. The hill got steeper and I slowed down. The road curved ahead, it looked like the hill ended at the curve. Kanti, the hill got steeper around the curve. I started doing intervals of jogging and walking. The road kept winding and kept getting steeper. After the race I learnt that this was Constantia Nek and apparently everyone except my brother and I knew that it was a steep hill. I was not prepared for this hill so early on in the race. And there I still had to go up Southern Cross in the next 10kms. I didn’t want to completely tire myself out, so I walked up the rest of that hill.
Let’s get on the bus
At the top of the hill, I got the last bus. Which was okay, because I was aiming to get on it. I was keeping an eye out, but I didn’t see any of the other buses. There was a lot less people on it than I expected, but they were a jolly bunch. I ran with them until we got to the 6km water mark. I think it was the 6km mark. At this point I began breathing really heavily, so I slowed down to drink some water and catch my breath. And it’s a good thing I did. About 20 metres in front of me, a woman slipped on a water bag and wiped out in the road. Fortunately she wasn’t injured, but this told me to be more cautious at the water station. The bus leader didn’t stop for water, he powered through in order to keep the pace, and left a handful of us behind.
For a bit I ran behind the bus, telling myself I would catch up. I could catch up right?
Decisions at 7km
As I approached the 7km I began to get comfortable with my pace.When I got to the 7km mark I checked the time on my phone. I was 10 minutes behind the pace I set for myself. This is why it’s important to wear a watch when trying to make a cutoff time. With another 14km ahead, and in that, Southern Cross hill, I knew that I would not make it past the 18km cutoff in time. I basically had two options, stop here and give up or keep going until I’m forced to stop. Only problem is, I am probably the most indecisive person in South Africa, in not the world.
But I asked myself, did I really come all the way to Cape Town to just do a 7km? It took me another kilometre to decide. I would continue till at least 10km. Or until they take me off the course. Which ever is first.
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” – Charles Bukowski, Factotum
But truth be told, when I saw that I was behind my pace, I was so disheartened. I had already given up on the race. After that point, I barely tried running at all.
A friend on the road
Just after the 8km loop I meant a Capetonian runner in his 40s who injured himself earlier in the race. We had a conversation and he shared with me that despite having done various marathons and other challenging races, he never completed the OMTOHM as he somehow always seemed to injure himself on the course. We chatted for a while. Before I knew it, I was past the 10km mark, where I told myself that I would stop. We walked/jogged while chatting for about 4 to 5kms. Truth be told, I probably slowed him down (well he was injured and shouldn’t be running anyway) but if it weren’t for him, I probably would have given up. He left me behind at the 13km mark, but I found other participants to chat to.
One step closer to the end
As I got closer to the 18km cutoff, there was a lot more supporters at the sides of the road. There weren’t a lot of participants around me. Some of them looked like they came straight from Long Street to park at the side of the road and continue their party while watching the race.
Eventually I reached the 18km cutoff. It was not far after Kirstenbosch (the only area I recognised because I love Kirstenbosch). They took my back number and directed me to the bus, which would take us to the finish line, down an adjacent street.
It took all of the energy in me not to cry. I finished 18km of hilly terrain and my feet hurt like crazy. I do not know where I found the energy to not cry. When I got on the bus everyone cheered. Every time someone got on, we all cheered. We found solace in one another. We joked about the race with one another. The people on the bus were comforting. The bus ride itself, not so much. I have no idea where it was taking us, but it was not the race finish. I eventually up getting off at UCT’s Lower Campus and walking up to the race finish at Upper Campus to meet my family. My brother finished with a good time, but I knew that he’d do well.
I’ll be back to conquer the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon. Maybe next year, maybe the year after. Who knows, but one day I will get that medal.
Images via Pixabay.