Favourites, Races

Race No.3: Peninsula Marathon (42km)

So I surprised myself again this morning with a faster time than anticipated. After the initial euphoria of finishing the race and posting a good time wore off, I slumped into a mild state of panic. For the second time in a week I’ve underestimated my ability and done considerably better than I thought on a race. This could be one of three possibilities a) I’m peaking too soon and will be ‘over the hill’ by the time 1 June rolls around, b) I’m not capable of sticking to my race plan, and c) I’m not pacing myself well. Either way, it’s not good news. I need to give myself a hard talking to or rather as the South Africans like to say ‘pull myself towards myself’.

The forecasters estimated we were on for a 35˚ scorcher today. For the first time ever the race organisers warned us about staying hydrated, and the runners were buzzing with talk of a nightmare race. Everybody expected to post a crap time and to have to slog through temperatures that would have cancelled European races. It makes me laugh when I hear my mother tell me that the London Marathon is going to be the hottest ever at 24˚ and that they are bringing in tankers of water/more ambulances/the army/ in case someone keels over. Here, you just get a text message telling you not to forget to drink and you’re sent on your way. As a side note, the 2011 West Coast Marathon was run in 40˚ and a few people were forced to walk due to the heat, now that’s what you call ‘hot’ here.

Anyway, the gun goes on Somerset Road in Greenpoint at 5:15am, we trot off in the dark and by 4km in it’s so humid that we’re collectively leaving a trail of sweat on the tarmac like a snail with 2,000 pairs of legs. OMG, I’m not sure I can do another 38km like this. Luckily the heat that was trapped in the city bowl dissipated by the time we got to Woodstock. The wind kicked in and so did James Medcalf (an ex Quirk colleague of mine), he’d never run under 4 hours before so thought that the Carpenter bus was probably a safe bet. I’m not a huge fan of running with anyone on a race even if I’m taking it easy. I prefer listening to my own body, focusing on the distance and getting into the zone. Having to hold a conversation with someone for over 3 hours can be a bit much, although its a great fitness test in itself. If you can jabber on for an entire marathon it means you are working in your comfort zone which is where I needed to be.

Main Road, Lakeside, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek arrives. Temperature is climbing but the sea wind is masking the heat, I’m drinking more than usual, but i’m not suffering, in fact I’m feeling better on this race than any marathon I’ve run before. If you are having a shit day or racing for a PB it’s the equivalent of bleeding through your eyes (or any other orifice) it hurts that much. I’ve gritted my teeth and sworn my way around this precise marathon course before, it’s not fun, and I’ve scored my PW on it (4:29). Today though on my 5th outing, it felt like a training run. I loved it. James started walking through the stations and catching me on the other side. I didn’t see him after the 38km water table, and I coasted to a 3:50:15 finish. It was deceptively and worryingly easy today. Running psychology is fascinating. I spent years not getting close to my PB of 3:51:59 because I didn’t think it was possible. I smash it at Cape Town in September last year in 3:43:17 and now that I know I’m capable of it, I can cruise 42km inside my comfort zone nearly two minutes faster than I thought possible just a year ago. 45km done / 55km to go.

Running notes:
Route: Greenpoint – Woodstock – Wynberg – Lakeside –Muizenberg – Kalk Bay – Fish Hoek – Simonstown
Distance: 42km
Time: 3:50:15

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