Yep there I was, in the dark being rained on. I’d got a sweet spot right up the front (well about twenty bodies back, but that’s at the front considering there was at least 8,000 peeps behind me) from my seeding from my super quick September marathon. This made me more nervous because I wasn’t planning to run fast and I’d be pushed and elbowed as the other runners tried to get ahead on a slippery road covered with the typical detritus (plastic bin bags, old t-shirts, water bottles, balaclavas – yes the man in front of me had one on) of a mass race.
We all set off after the ‘pop’ of a rather ineffectual gun, a rousing rendition of Shozaloza, the national anthem (which I can still only mumble) and a dull speech by the mayor of Cape Town. The fascinating thing about a large race is the noise, you never hear it on a race when there are a few hundred participants, but on a big race the noise I’m referring to is the ‘swishing’. Its not the sound of takkies hitting the pavement that you hear, but the movement of people’s clothing around you. Its wierd.
As expected I’m swept away in a sea of poly shorts, and I can feel I’m running too fast. Chris Readman and I are jogging together by this point, and we’re both looking for a 6:30 finish. Last year I came in at 5:30:31 which was a great time for a novice. This year Two Oceans is not my race and I have to hold myself back, I need to stay injury free, feel great at the end and most importantly be able to train next week. We plow on down Main Road. As we clear Newlands the rain stops, thank the Lord, because to run for 6 hours in wet clothing would have been grim not to mention painful.
I move into ‘bite size chunks’ mode. A lot of people ask me how I can run for 6 hours. To be honest I can’t, I run from landmark to landmark (or chunk to chunk). My chunks are not even, some take two hours to achieve, others 30 minutes, but mentally it breaks the race up into parts that are easy to complete and give you a sense of success as you go along. This is especially important when you hit a bad patch, if the wheels come off 20km into a 56km race there is no way you can picture getting to the end, and when it gets worse as it invariably does you will look for an excuse to bale. However, if your next chunk is 2km round the corner then ten minutes later you’ll be on a high, refocussed and ready to chew on the next challenge. I’m telling you, bite size chunks work every time.
In amongst the supporters and tons of Joburgers is the odd smart-alec who thinks he’s helping by telling you ‘you’re looking good’ and ‘nearly there’ when you’ve got 35km to go. Or then there is always the porta-loo scenario. Picture this – you see the loo that you’ve been needing for 30 minutes and OMG there is no queue, you approach and as you are reaching your hand out to open the door a rather rotund middle aged man gets in first. The agony of watching hundreds of runners pass before you can get in (3 minutes later), is enough for me to commit GBH. Yes I nearly reached inside and grabbed his throat.
Chris and I bump into a lot of the AAC crowd on the road and some slacking by the side of it. He makes me walk, I make him run. We discuss the relative merits of the orange and blue Energade sachets, we have leg rubs, we laugh at Barry who keeps getting ahead of us and is now sitting on the pavement. We have a great time and the kids in Hout Bay make me smile so much I can’t breathe. They hold out their hands for runners to tap them as they go past and the energy you get from that is amazing. We make it up Constantia Nek and down to the M3 sweeping up Nadia who is now walking 2km from the finish, I’ve had such a great run I am grinning ear to ear as the three of us enter the UCT sportsfields. Chris has completed his 22nd Two Oceans and now I’ve done two, and you know what? I could have run all the way home.
Route: Start at Main Road Newlands, down to Muizenburg, through Kalk Bay to Fishoek, across to Noordhoek, over Chapman’s Peak, through Hout Bay, up Constantia Nek, down to the M3 and then along to the finish at UCT
Height climbed: 395m
Time started: 06:25
Total time: 6:13
Total distance: 56km
Average pace: 6:32 min/km
Temperature: 20˚ Drizzle at the start, then light cloud with a light breeze
Runner’s condition: Fine