The race is still the same no matter how fast we run. #dischem21

Compared to other running races, the Dischem half marathon unnerves me. It’s a tough course. It starts out with 10kms of undulating road before you get hit with a gradual pull which last from around 11kms to 18kms. The next 3kms to the finish line is a massive downhill drop which can be rough on the knees and quads.

Given what I’ve just described, it remains one of the most popular races on the race calendar and sells out pretty quickly with a field of over 6500 runners.

I knew I had to pace myself carefully. Go out too fast and have nothing left for the uphill pull. Go out too slowly and miss the 3-hour cut off. It’s a daunting task! I decided to use the run to get the time on my legs and not overdue it. I had pushed quite hard the week before at the Wits Kudu’s 15km race.

But as a race review, there’s something to Sunday’s race that goes beyond the fantastic organisation, the ice cold water stops, the brilliant marshalling on the busy streets or even the teams of photographers along the route capturing runner’s faces. It’s the vibe that reminded me of what running is all about.

Dischem Half Marathon tweeted a picture of the last lady finishing the race. Alongside her is a crowd of supporters, cheering her on, running the last km with her. That tweet was followed by so many well wishes and words of encouragement from so many people, including one from Jenna Challenor, who finished the race in 2nd position. It touched my heart! What an awesome message!    The winning time was 1:06. The last runner finished in 4:07. Both runners would have felt nerves at the start, both would’ve experienced pain heading up those steep hills and both would’ve been absolutely elated crossing the finish line.

It doesn’t matter how fast you run, or what your finishing time is, the race is still the same. The victory just as sweet!

medalWell done to all runners!

See you next year Dischem.

 

Pirates 10km race review 

I love the Pirates 10km race in Jo’burg. To me it feels like all the Comrades runners come out of resting and the race is always well supported and organised. I’ve run the race twice before and in my mind, I recognized certain sections of the route but had no idea until Sunday morning, just how hilly those first few kilometers were.

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Sharon and I started out, hoping to warm up as quickly as we could. Even with gloves, it was freezing, although not as cold as I remember in 2013. The first few km’s “appeared” deceptively flat but in reality, it was quite a gentle pull. By the time we reached 4kms, I was shattered. My race goal was to try maintain an average pace of 7:41 but I was running the first few kilometers in over 8 minutes per km. Eeeek!

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I mentioned to Sharon that I really needed to speed up. I wanted to report back to my Coach better times but in those few moments, all energy was being sapped as I started to doubt myself and be really despondent. I started to plan the conversation I would have with him in my head. “Am I wasting my time? Why can I not pick up my pace? WTF Coach?”

Once we got over the 5km mark, things started to look better (aka downhills arrived). We started to pick up speed. I started to feel better. Stronger. And in that last km, I really pushed myself remembering the key words I’ve learnt at track training: slow poison. 6:41 min/km pace. Niiiice!

As I over-analyse review the race, I see that I’ve improved from previous years. 2011: 78 mins; 2013: 80 mins; 2015: 75 mins. I’m thrilled.

Lessons learned:

  • I know that I start slow. I need to be patient because I’m usually faster once I’ve warmed up near the end of the race.
  • Once I allow my thoughts to control me, my race is over. All strategy goes out the window and I use more energy pulling myself out of that negative dip than concentrating on tackling each kilometer as it comes.

There are some great races coming up and so far, my training though winter is going well! See you next year Pirates!