Today I scored a ‘PW’. A PW in running parlance is the opposite of PB. A PW refers to ‘Personal Worst’ and means in the words of my sister (sent via SMS from London) that I’m a loser. Oh yes, the Red Hill Marathon is a wonder of scenic beauty, but also the provider of wake up calls that come neatly packaged in a fat 15 minutes slower than my previous worst which was also my first marathon ever and therefore doesn’t count. I literally swore my way round the course this morning. At 15km I was finished – yes really. Usually on marathons (which is my favourite distance), I’m still feeling pretty good at the halfway point, and ready to nail the last 21km. Oh no not a chance today, this morning the climb up Misty Cliffs and Scarborough ate me up and spat me out. The rest of it was hell-on-a-stick, the only highlight was running down the torturous hairpin bends of Red Hill which I will be running up on the Peninsula Marathon on 21 February. Oh sign me up for that because I can’t wait.
I’ve discovered during my two years of marathon running that every hill has two sides. What goes up must come down etc. If you are running down Red Hill, then you have to run up the back of it, and that’s called Black Hill. During that particular hell, I invented a new term, the word is ‘foamer’, as in ‘*@#* me, what a foamer!’ Its not nice and its definitely not pretty, but for any of you out there stupid enough to have run a marathon in South Africa, in summer and in the Table Mountain National Park, you’ll know what I mean. A foamer, I’ve decided’ refers to what happens to your mouth as you’re desperately trying to haul your arse up yet another hill that you think just might kill you at 27km. On the Richter Scale of magnitude I’d say this was definitely a 9. The sad thing about my new term is that I know there is one worse out there. This ‘hill’ in question is called Polly Shorts. This is the nemesis in Comrades running. Grown men cry on this hill, and I’m sure naughty South African children are sent to bed with threats by their mothers, not about evil ogres, but by the words ‘I’ll make you run up Polly Shorts’, the said children are then heard to whimper ‘Please Mum anything but that, I’ll be good for the rest of my life’. Polly Shorts occurs at 80km on the Comrades ‘up’ run, it is neither the toughest or the steepest hill, just the most sadistically positioned. With 9km to go, I’ve heard it will suck the life out of your body, that’s if you’ve got anything left. Comrades alternates between ‘up’ runs and ‘down’ runs. This year its Pietermaritzburg to Durban (down) which means I will run down Polly Shorts near the start, but if I’m dim enough to attempt the race again in 2011 I’ll be crawling up it.
So anyway, I finally reach the end and repair to the club gazebo which is pretty much full of people that finished in decent times, when Kirsty mentions ‘Are you okay, because we were worried that something had happened to you?’. Sadly nothing happened to me, I was not attacked by a puff adder, nor run over by an over zealous cyclist, no I was just *@#*. As any runner worth their salt will tell you, never admit the truth. I did of course blame my exceedingly poor performance on the ‘evil plan’, and having to work late this week. However I did not mention the intervention of Beelzebub himself. Whilst I was faffing in Fish Hoek Athletic’s carpark this morning at 5am (I was there early on account of always being everywhere early) I happened to glance to the car parked next to mine. The door opened and behind it appeared a women from the Tygerberg club wearing the license number 666. I kid you not.
Route: Start Fish Hoek, Kommetjie, Scarborough, Simonstown to Fish Hoek
Height climbed: 420m
Time started: 06:00
Total time: 4:29:29
Total distance: 42.2km
Average pace: 6:25 min/km
Weather conditions: Sunny
Runner’s condition: Is that a trick question? See above
*@#* Since I’ve discovered my sister printed out my blog to share with my mother I’ve got to be careful with the colourful words.