My foot is still not better. Even though I’ve been quite obsessive with all the treatments, socks, granny shoes, massaging and exercises, it still aches. I was about to surrender my Two Oceans half marathon entry but then spotted on KK’s training program that he was running the Om Die Dam (ODD) 50km race. It got me scheming…
- I had not run a 21km race since last year’s Two Oceans half marathon
- I need to run a 21km race for this year’s Two Oceans half marathon
- If I get halfway and struggle with my foot, I can walk to the end. Time on feet, right?
- The race has a 4-hour cutoff for the half. Ample time!
So off we drove to Harties early Saturday morning. We haven’t run ODD for a couple of years. The congested traffic, the crowds, KK wasn’t running many ultras. It was a race we rather avoided. This year was different. Parking 100ms from the start, well-organised and 24/hr manned spotless port-a-loos in every corner. Always a good sign.
KK and I split up before the start. He wanted to slip into his starting pen early, I wanted to take my time lubing up and getting into ‘the zone’. I had not set a goal time. I was hoping to run under 3:10 but had no idea how under-trained I was. Perhaps 3:20 was more realistic?
My half marathon time ranges between 2:44 and 3:15. But this was the first time I had taken such a long break, focusing instead on 10km distances. Would it come back to bite me? I was also unsure if I would undo months of resting & care of my foot. Only one way to find out. *stupid thinking*
Mentally I had done my homework. In the days leading up to the race, I had envisioned running the distance. I wrote down a few positive statements on my pacing chart that I planned to whip out & read when I hit the dark patches en route. I was ready.
The fish eagle crowed (the start gun!) and off we ran. I had bumped into friends, Billy & Christa, at the start of the race & when she mentioned that she wanted to run 3 hours, I thought, “Okay Bron, stick with them.” But soon found this to be impossible.
In the first few km’s their pace was too fast. I was struggling. I desperately wanted to keep up with them thinking that if Comrades race veteran Billy was pacing, I’d be fine. But they slipped further and further away. Getting to that finish line was all in my hands now.
I slowed down to a more comfortable pace and looked around, trying to take my mind off the run. I had completed 7kms in 1 hour. Was this too fast? Typically, if I can run 7kms every hour, I make the 3-hour cutoff gun. I was on track. I was confident. Was I overly confident? Perhaps. Definitely. I was over-thinking.
Just as I was about to pull out my pacing chart, a friendly face popped up alongside me. My ex-colleague and friend, Thiren. We started chatting away and it was just what I need to take my mind off the run as we neared the 14km mark. 2 hours had passed.
It’s quite amazing what the body can achieve if the mind believes and I declared to Thiren that we would make 3 hours if we pushed ourselves. I started to see that finish line! He was struggling with calf pain and managed to run to the 18km mark together before he trailed off.
I wasn’t done yet. I felt fantastic. I was strong. Hurting, but still strong. As I reached the 19km mark, I spotted Billy’s familiar white Comrades cap. I had caught them! What joy! I was thrilled that we had both achieved the goals we had set out at the start. It was 3 hours.
I crossed the finish line, elated! My foot had survived. It wasn’t sore (YET! The afternoon was hell). But my mind had achieved what I needed it to do – believe that I could manage the distance. The body explodes with feel-good hormones when you finish a race. The best part is that this feeling lingers for quite some time afterwards…and boy was I happy!
Two Oceans, here we come!