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My Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon 2017 Experience: Running the Race

May 11, 2017

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.

Healthy Lifestyle

My Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon Experience: The Build Up

April 24, 2017

It’s been a little over a week since the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon so an update is in order. I needed the time to mentally go over everything and get some work off my plate before sitting down to write this post. I was really hoping to fit everything into one post, but it is already long and I haven’t even gotten to the race itself. This race is the result of months of preparation, so a sparse post just stating the facts won’t do.

Let’s begin

On Friday morning I jetted into Cape Town, my stomach a mixture of nerves and excitement. My first agenda for the day was to get my race pack at the ICC asap! My aunt had advised that I go early to the ICC to get my race pack, as the queues would be long. Fortunately the queues weren’t that bad (by Cape Town standards, if it were PE it would be declared ridiculous). I managed to get my pack and navigate to the exit  in about 30 minutes.

My best friend picked me up from the airport, so once we were done with at ICC, he took me to nearly every chocolate shop in Cape Town. I’m not kidding.

I’m not normally one to say no to chocolate. I mean, the chocolate industry in South Africa would collapse if I had to give it up. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do eat a lot of chocolate. As the saying goes, “A chocolate a day keeps the nerves away,” or something along those lines.

But on that Friday, I was so anxious that I said no to multiple offers of chocolate, cakes and ice cream. I missed my only chance to taste Crumbs and Cream (we don’t have one in PE) because I was so anxious that I experienced intense nausea from the store’s aroma and had to step outside to get fresh air.

That evening we went out for pasta (cause carb-loading) and I got home just after 8PM, which was later than what I would have liked. Nevertheless I packed my bags and prepared my kit for the morning.

It was such a struggle to fall asleep and probably took me about an hour. Around 12 I woke up and struggled nearly for an hour to get back to sleep.

My nerves were shot.

02:50AM

My alarm was set for 03:00AM but my brother woke me up at 02:50AM. Actually the entire household woke up then, even though he and I were the only ones participating in the race.

As mentioned in my previous post, I’d been struggling to get short tights. I eventually found a pair that met my length requirements, but hadn’t worn it before race day. After putting them on, I realised my mistake. They needed to be worn in! I was so uncomfortable that I put on a pair of long tights that I had brought along. The fact that I forgot my watch in PE, didn’t help either.

We all got done and neither of us could finish our light breakfast. By 04:00AM we were on our way to Newlands. Would you believe that once we got close to the parking areas, we hit traffic? Our parking spot was roughly 1km from the race starting line. The walk to the starting line felt so quick. It took about ten minutes, but it felt like ten seconds.

After well wishes and hugs, my brother and I went into the runners only section and waited by a tree to shield ourselves from the breeze. Fortunately I decided to take some money with me (just in case), and I was able to get a cup of coffee at a cafe.

The buildup

When you’re standing under a tree in the middle of Autumn in Cape Town at 04:30AM, clothed in only a thin shirt and tights, you really get to reflect on your life choices. Like what was I thinking entering this race?

Being in Group E, our start time was only at 06:20AM, so we had a lot of time to kill. The starting line quickly began filling up, there was literally thousands of people. Nervous excitement began to fill the air, as people paced up and down, doing stretches and other things to warm up. Before we knew it, the countdown for the elite athletes began. The loudspeakers, blasted a nervous heartbeat as they got closer to the start. Who of the organisers thought that this was a good idea? As if people *aka me* weren’t nervous enough.

The first gun went off. Suddenly the energy in the starting line amplified. I was too deep in the line, to dash to the toilets to have one last nervous pee. Fortunately the 20 minutes between Group A and Group E literally flew past. In no time, we were walking to the starting line to wait for our gun to go off.

The last bang for the half marathon went off. There was no turning back. I was in too deep.

All images of Cape Town via Pixabay.

Healthy Lifestyle

Run day dread

April 11, 2017

It’s a little under a week until the Two Oceans Half Marathon, and with each passing day I am filled with more and more dread. I don’t feel ready for it at all.

In all honesty, I’ve not been on the road as often as I should have been. I’ve still been working out with my trainer twice a week (with the exception of one week, as I had issues with my sinuses for 3 weeks). My booster pack with my trainer has completed and I’ve since signed up for more sessions with him. We’ve been working on strength and endurance, and I’m definitely a whole lot stronger than when I first signed up.

Although I’ve actually trained for the race, I’m finding myself googling, “how to run a half marathon without training for it”. My biggest concern is not the distance, I believe I can cover it. My biggest concern is that I won’t be able to finish within the cutoff time.

It’s too late to back out now

Although I don’t feel ready I’ve invested so much time and so much money on it. It’s not only the entry (I got a substitution so I had to pay extra), there’s the new running trainers I had to buy because my current trainers are not actually suitable for running, flights, gym fees and the personal training sessions, and the list just keeps growing. This half marathon is costing me a whole lot more than what I budgeted for. Our country has just gone into junk status, can’t let money go down the drain and give up before the race has even begun.

Also there’s the issue that I haven’t found running tights yet. At the moment I’m wearing long tights, but I don’t like jogging in long tights. It’s just not 100% comfortable. There’s so much that needs to be done. Where has the time gone?

Then there’s the fact that I overslept on my last long-ish race before OMTOHM. Saturday I was supposed to do the 10km at Lady Slipper/Greenbushes and like most of the last two weeks, I slept through my alarm. The race started at 6:30, I woke up at 06:20.

Let a light shine

That being said, I’ll fight the dread and remain optimistic. The marathon and the half marathon have what is called pace setters, which is basically people who lead runners (called a bus) who want to finish a certain time. So I’m going to join a bus and pray that I don’t fall behind.

Healthy Lifestyle

Still standing, still moving

February 27, 2017
fitness rock

It’s been a while since there’s been a fitness post in these parts of town. And although I not yet ready to share the reason why I temporarily stopped writing fitness posts, it’s time for them to return to the blog.

Back to the gym

Firstly, I joined a gym. Virgin Active in Port Elizabeth to be exact. So far I’m quite happy with them and hopefully will get an opportunity to share why I joined VA. I’ve also gotten a personal trainer.

On the road again

Secondly, I signed up for my first half marathon. The Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon. Late last year, I flirted with the idea of signing up for the 2017 half marathon, but managed to miss the application period. I discovered that my brother signed up for it, and managed to get an entry. I then decided, come hell or high water, I will get a substitution entry.

The competitive side of me came out full force. At university I belonged to an amateur athletics club. More about that can be read here, as well as my failed attempts to do the Knysna Half Marathon, here and here (whom I kidding, I didn’t even enter). Long story short, I couldn’t let my brother who has never been a runner before, complete a half marathon before me. In order to ensure that I’m prepared for the race. I’ve enlisted the help of a personal trainer.

Not a walk in the park

Thirdly, I’ve completed my first parkrun and it was the toughest race that I ever competed in. I participated in the first Lady Slipper parkrun on 11 February 2017. I knew the race would be tough as it was the first trail run that I participated in. It was tougher than I expected and the heat didn’t help. The route is set at the foot of the Lady Slipper Mountain. It is beautiful with gorgeous views. The route has a number of ups and downs. One of the inclines was so steep that I was tempted to lay flat and roll down to my car. I’m glad I participated in it, and despite the difficulty, look forward to completing it again.

Are you following a fitness routine? Let me know in the comments below.

Image via Pixabay

Healthy Lifestyle

Move More: I will exercise

November 7, 2016

It’s been quiet on the blog, but not because I’ve fallen off the exercise bandwagon, well not completely at least. It’s been three weeks since I’ve last posted and for the most part, I’ve been sticking to my routine. The first two weeks I met my goals, but this past week was not that great.

Week ending 23 October 2016 in review

Last week has been interesting. In terms of exercise, I’ve done quite well and reached my goal. I aimed to cover a distance of 15kms, and I covered 17.98kms. I’m quite happy with this. My eating has however been terrible, but d

This week I do not aim to increase my distance. Instead my goal would be to once again cover a distance of 15kms.

Week ending 30 October 2016 in review

This week my study load began to pick up again. My final portfolio for one of my modules was due, but despite this, I completed 20,82kms. On Saturday a few friends and I participated in the Algoa FM Big Walk for Cancer and it was really nice. I also won a cellphone from the organisers, which is really motivating. Winning stuff shouldn’t be the only motivation to exercise, but it is really a good perk.

Now that my body is beginning to get comfortable with the distance of my regular route, my new aim is to increase my speed. For the most part I’ve been walking and occasionally jogging short distances. As long as I covered the distance I set out for the day, I didn’t care how slow I was going or how long it took me. (This piece I wrote at the end of week ending 30 October 2016.)

The past week

This past week I did not meet my goal. In fact I haven’t met my 10 000 footsteps per day goal at all this week. Things were busy at work and I had my final law exam. Basically I came home, rested for a bit then studied. On Saturday I completed a whopping 2km on the treadmill. I didn’t want to go out because it was Guy Fawkes and kids were up to no good in the area, so I decided not to risk it. One may think that not exercising for a week doesn’t make much of a difference to your body, but honestly it doesn’t. I could feel my hips getting tighter from the lack of movement.

This upcoming week my goal is to cover 15kms. If it were not for the fact that I hadn’t exercise for the past week I would have increased my km goal.