Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My maiden OMTOM

Right so this is almost a month late, but I have been far too busy recently and so blogging took a major back seat. Do you also find that somehow going on holiday always makes life that much more hectic as you juggle to schedule responsibilities a few weeks before and after...? It's like getting that well deserved break comes at quite a heavy cost! Anyway - totally worth it!! But I digress...

I have always been scared of the Two Oceans. Even though I had done around 6 Half Marathons already the fact the the OMTOM (Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon) is on the Easter week-end, starts at 6am, and is a pretty tough course just added up to both intimidate me and put me off. So I never considered actually doing it. But there are several running folks at work, Tim had planned to do the Ultra (in prep for Comrades!), and I have run most of the route and cycled it extensively in the past year or so. Suddenly it didn't seem that bad any more, and with having already entered the Argus, when people started entering the OMTOM I thought 'Heck why not!?'. It's always felt like one of those bucket-list must-do things and so I entered. I was chuffed that I had even managed to get seeded, which helps hugely in races. I hate starting at the back and fighting through throngs of walkers and slow joggers. Sorry, but I do! The thing is I like to compete (against myself) and achieve MY personal best, so I want to be able to run as fast as I can from the start to the finish. Anyway, so I was thrilled that I was seeded 'C' which seemed pretty good.

About a dozen people from work (yes I work in the OM Building) had entered including the CEO of OM, and then our CIO entered and decided to run, and do it in support of my colleague's charity. He pledged money to her NGO  ROCKSTARZ (which is an amazing cause helping several under-privileged children to get educated, check it out and support it if you can!). Then after a while we got an email at work saying the focus of this year's race was on 'Run For More Than Yourself' and that for anyone else in our division running the race they'd donate a further R500 to Rockstarz. Of course I was all over it and signed my name up immediately...

But then as as it happened our super-duper fabulous holiday very nearly clashed with the race, but not quite in the end. So here's how it worked. We did no, and I mean NO exercise besides walking for 2.5 weeks while we were away. We ate like pigs kings, drank, relaxed and generally made merry all over South East Asia. Then we packed up at 13:00 on the Thursday when we left Cambodia. Travelled for 3 international flights over 30-hours and across a 6-hour time difference. To arrive back in Cape Town at 13:00 on Good Friday after almost no sleep and with a very dodgy stomach (I had spent nearly the whole lay-over in Dubai airport on the loo). I then proceeded to collect my car at home and went directly to the OMTOM Expo to register - which took several hours as there was a huge queue. I then had to shop, make dinner for the boys and unpack. I passed out, totally buggered by 21:30. By which time it was cold, raining and windy. Much rain was forecast for the next day too. Oh joy! Seriously, I would have thrown in the towel then already had I not committed to run for Rockstarz.

I then proceeded to wake up at 04:00 - yes 4AM!!!!! To get up, dressed and drive myself to the start in the pitch dark. I parked a good kilometer away, on my side of the railway line, and ran up the the start. Figuring I wouldn't be able to get closer in the traffic, and although I was a good 5k from the end point I was sure I could arrange a lift back later...
Thanks to jet-lag I actually felt reasonably chirpy even though it was 04:30am!
So never before has anyone ever been more unprepared. (Ok, I m sure people have, but I am never that unprepared ok!?). Anyway the atmosphere at the start was pretty exciting and huddling in our starting pens in the dark was quite an experience. I was just glad it was not raining and wasn't too windy either. Before long 6am arrived and off we went! I was well seeded and managed to set off quite quickly and got into a rhythm quite easily. So far so good. There were loads of people around (16000 ran the Half Marathon!) but we were all moving steadily, so it was great. It was very dark though so I concentrated and was very careful not to trip or slip. Soon the feared Edinburgh Drive arrived and although it was tough it really wasn't that bad. The descent down the M3 towards Constantia on the other side was great. I loved that part. I felt like I was doing really well. I was chuffed. Then the road leveled and we took the Ladies Mile off ramp. At about 8km I started feeling a tad tired. By 10km I really was tired. My buddy Rob passed me and I waved him onwards, knowing I couldn't speed up to stay with him.

The dreaded Southern Cross Drive was a beast but I persevered. However by then it was raining and getting cold and my legs were starting to feel stiff. As beautiful as Rhodes Avenue is, I can't say I was enjoying running at that point. It started raining HARD and I was cold, sore and tired. I was wondering what the hell I was thinking, and that I would never do that again (run under those circumstances, tired, untrained, and and and). I just kept repeating in my head 'Run for more than yourself!'. I also loved the posters en route, especially the one saying 'It's a hill - get over it!'. So on I plodded just wishing for the end to come quickly.

Finally, I rounded the bend at Kirstenbosch top gate. I love cycling down there and usually get up to 50-60km down there and past the main gate. It is exhilarating! So I took off the proverbial brakes and just went for it down there. Barreling down as fast as my legs could carry me, kicking up sprays of water, puffing and panting, and passing loads of people - who I am sure thought I was demented! LOL

I knew there was a last long slog to go, and much as I wanted to stop and cry (or die, frankly), I pushed on. Newlands Avenue quite simply SUCKED. It was freezing cold, super-steep, raining torrents of cats and dogs, and blowing a gailing head-wind. Gee thanks! But I was determined to finish that damned race! The sub-2 hour pace-setter 'bus' had passed me by then, and I had given up hope of being able to catch up with them, but I really didn't want to be too far behind. So I pressed on, knowing I had to just get it over with. I took the off-ramp and rounded the corner up into UCT, ran around the field, and somehow managed to finish in under 2 hours after all. I was thrilled that I'd finished in 1:58:29! Really not bad, all things considered!
Can you see how relieved/buggered/tired/finished I was!?
I was so tired and cold and stiff that I didn't really know what to do with myself. Little did I know we had a corporate hospitality tent at our disposal. With warm showers, blanks, hot chocolate and food. D'OH! Super bad planning on my part!

There was no shelter and I had no money, phone, jacket or anything with me. So I ended up walking hobbling all the way back to my car by which time I was so cold my hands no longer worked and I couldn't get my car key off my waist band! Seriously. But the time I managed to get myself home I looked such a sight that when Quinn threw the back door open to say 'Hi Mom how was...' he took one look at me and said, 'I'll go run a bath!' and Griffin went to make tea.

I spent the rest of the day in bed and my legs were stiff and sore for 10 days afterwards!

But even though that was a major example of how NOT to do it, I am pretty sure I'll be back next year!

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