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The day before the day

Seems like this week has taken a long time to get to Saturday. Tomorrow is the Comrades and it looks like we’ll have very light breezes and a 31˚ high at midday. That’s about 6˚ warmer than I was hoping for, but I’ve made the heat part of my race plan. I wrote myself a list of what to prepare for on the route last night, where the hills are, what to look for and the temperatures every 10km. I’ll read it again before bed tonight.

Went out for a 15 minute jog this morning to test that everything is functioning okay and it is. Obviously 2km isn’t much of a test but I’m not going to overdo it now. I’m also going to scale back on the breakfast this morning, just my Weetbix and toast, then I’m off to Pietermaritzburg.

If you want to track me tomorrow text my race number 49268 to 39174 (South African phones only).

I’ll endeavour to type my race report tomorrow evening, in the meantime take a look at my previous runs here:

> Comrades Marathon 2011 (up)
> Comrades Marathon 2010 (down)

I’ll see you in Durban tomorrow night.

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The breakfast of champions

I’ve just stuffed myself at the guesthouse where I’m staying in Morningside, Durban. Might have to have a lay down:

6 x Weetbix, milk and sugar
1 banana
3 scrambled eggs
4 baby tomatoes
3 rashers of bacon
1 sausage
1 decorative rocket leaf
2 slices of brown toast, butter and marmalade
1 glass of salt water

Carbo loading or eating anything your eyes land on sounds like fun until you actually have to do it. Sometime in the next 10 hours I also need to eat the following:

1 dinner sized portion of pasta for lunch
1 sandwich or some other bread based thing
1 bag of crisps
2 bananas
2 glasses of salt water*
2 Energades
2 Jungle Oats bars
Dinner

Yes I feel disgusting. If you aren’t full to bursting constantly for the next 48 hours then eat more. Nobody failed to finish the Comrades Marathon because they ate too much, but many people bail because they haven’t eaten anywhere close to enough. Carpenter’s Rule: See it, eat it (that means on the race too).

*Takes practice and combats muscle cramps

 

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115,700 steps (which didn’t include the queue at the expo)

According to the board at the Comrades Expo, that is all you need to take to get to the finish line. I don’t know if that sounds easy or ridiculously hard. What I do know is that when I went to register yesterday it was an absolute dog show. I was standing in the queue so long I actually counted the people in front of me. Now at Two Oceans their system works, there are a number of mini queues according to your race number so, for example if your number is 49268 (as mine is) I get in the queue for runners 49,000-51,999. That means you might have 5 people ahead of you and you are out before you can say ’12 hour bus’. Not here, oh no. No let’s all get in one snaking queue (that will stretch out of the building and around the block by Saturday lunchtime) and wait. There were ten terminals with about 3 people fussing round each one and one of those unfortunates fetching the race number from giant stacks of boxes and then collecting the right size t-shirt. So they walk from one side, say if you were number 500, to the other if you are extra large. MOVE THE TOAST CLOSER TO THE TOASTER PEOPLE! (That’s Kaizen if you don’t know what I’m on about). I waited an hour and 10 minutes to scan my chip when the wifi went down. When the wifi reappeared my chip didn’t register, ‘please can you get in that queue over there and talk to Championchip’. The man behind me went bat-shit crazy as runners started queue jumping and I turned into an ugly thing that you see on those airport programmes on TV. ‘I WILL NOT QUEUE AGAIN OVER THERE, I JUST QUEUED FOR AN HOUR OVER HERE!’ I must have looked like I meant it because the lady took my shoe (with my chip attached) and went over there herself. After 5 minutes I started to panic I might not see my shoe again, when she started waving at me to join her. Now apparently it is scanning, but my details weren’t coming up, so who knows if I’ll even get a time on the race. Panic building, I calmed myself by dropping a thousand bucks on Comrades souvenirs (beach towel, hooded top and a present for my sister) before I get sucked in by the man selling Gu and spend more money at random sock stalls.

Breathe.

When I do finally make it home I sneak a peak at my Comrades t-shirt. Not only is it bright pink, but they gave me a ladies medium, when I asked for a men’s medium (I only ever run in men’s t-shirts), this thing won’t even reach my belly button let alone stretch over my chest. Stopping the traffic on Kloof Nek Road as I jiggle to the top is, not what anyone needs to see. Ever. With the tears building, I drive back to the expo to ask if they will change it. They will not (I knew this when I got in the car). The tired manager-lady told me they were surprised when they opened the boxes in the morning and discovered ladies t-shirts and that she was very sorry. Every bloody year unisex t-shirts and they bloody changed it. Now I have a pink rag that is only good for cleaning the kitchen.

My sister said that if this is the only thing that goes wrong on Comrades weekend I should be pleased. She’s right, and a good cry definitely released some tension. Today I will pin my numbers onto my AAC vest and I will lay out my stuff and I will forget about the offending pink article and I will eat my carbs and I will have a good day.

 

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PT Session No.24

Last one today. Feeling a bit sad about it, Justin gave me a pep talk. No weights, no exertion, a bit of work on the foam roller followed by 30 minutes of assisted stretching. Dream session. Packing tonight, Durban tomorrow.

Training notes:
360 training

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Control the controllables

I’m reading this awesome book on ultra endurance psychology at the moment. With a week to go to the big day, there are quite a few nuggets in there that are definitely helping me focus and prepare. ‘Controlling the controllables’ is a good one. For instance, the weather on race day is outside of my control, but the way I approach it is not. I can control my mood and my own positive reinforcement (self talk) during the hours out on the road. For me the Comrades Marathon is 50% training and 100% mental strength. One of my rules on ultras is that I will never ever admit to having a bad day whilst I am out on the course, I might say it afterwards, but when I am out there I tell myself I am ‘looking good’ whatever happens. Once doesn’t help, a hundred times generally does the trick.

Running notes:
Distance: 2.5km
Route: Gym

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5km Park Run

I checked this blog for my training notes in the last week prior to the race in 2011 and I see that I didn’t run for 10 days before the race. I ran this morning and I’m also planning a short run tomorrow which means I will only have 6 clear days before the start. I was intending to do a short run on Wednesday and a 15 minute leg stretch on Saturday, but I think I’m going to ditch the Wednesday run. It was damp and misty this morning in Green Point at the Park Run but there was a good size crowd and I’m hoping to run this for a few Saturdays post race. The site sent me a congratulatory email on my first Park Run and recorded my slow 29 minute 5km as a PB 🙂

Running notes:
Route: Green Point Athletics Stadium – Somerset Road – Green Point Park – Green Point Athletics Stadium
Distance: 5km

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First run in 5 days, that’s the longest break I’ve had in 6 months

I started my training in December and during this period, the most time I’ve taken ‘off’ is two days. Tapering like this is hard especially as you can feel the weight gain and the heavy legs at the start of the short runs you are doing. Finally after 3 weeks of slowing down, the legs felt great this morning, I bounced up the hills and they felt like they were leading me for a change.

9 days to go.

Training notes:
Route: My house – Camp Street – – Buitengracht Street – Wale Street – My house
Distance: 5km

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PT Session No. 23

Was supposed to be an easier hour this afternoon, but as I discovered, a ‘lighter’ session is not the same as an ‘easier’ session. One minute side plank with my feet on a bench, led to some creative collapses.

Training notes:
360 Training

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Two weeks to go

Just need to tick over now and stay sane.

I’ve been having a look at the watch this morning wondering, calculating, guessing where I might be, how I might be feeling. I’ve also had a glance at the long range weather forecast. To be honest I don’t care what the weather does if I can get to the start line 100% healthy. After my last Comrades it could snow and I wouldn’t care. I said yesterday that particular Comrades outing was quite possibly the worst day of my entire life. When I’m asked why I would put myself through it again I can also say it was one of those rare great days when you emerge from a difficult experience a better person. That’s why we do it.

Running notes:
Route: Kloof Nek car park – Signal Hill – Kloof Nek car park
Distance: 7km

 

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‘Comrades is not a race’

Said Paul at our club pre Comrades breakfast. He should know, he’s run 14 of them.

I tend to get a lump in my throat when I think about the dark part of the race, the last 20-25km when it ‘all goes black’, when there is nothing left and all you can do is hold on. Paul referred to this as ‘the bit where you don’t want to run anymore’ and in my experience the pain is so intense you’re only running because walking is worse. He also told us that what you do and how you approach this section after 70km is what makes this the day you’ll remember for the rest of your life. You can fight it, or you can embrace it. I know which one I’m going to choose.

Running notes:
Route: Hamiltons – Promenade – Swimming pool – Promenade – Hamiltons
Distance: 8km

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So I worked out that I have just 30km to run before I line up in 16 days

I’ve got just over two weeks, but in running terms it feels like tomorrow.

I’m seeing reminders everywhere. Old Comrades t-shirts sported by other stupids out on the road, Durban on the news, Drummond is the surname of the copywriter I sit next to. And so on.

Every morning I wake up and think one day closer. Getting harder to keep the nerves in their box.

Running notes
Route: Gym
Distance: 4km

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Time trial No.8

Pretty tight hammies after the PT session yesterday. Ran into a big cloud of flies by Rocklands Beach, I could actually feel them hitting my face. Disgusting. Something must have been very, very dead on the beach tonight.

Running notes:
Route: Wakame – turn around point – Wakame
Distance: 5km plus a 1km warm up
Time: 22:23

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PT Session No.22

‘So are we doing the bleep test today?’, ‘Er no, I don’t think so’. Poor Justin looked crestfallen, but made it up by treating me to 24kg kettle bell repeats (again). I was also made to do some weird squat, bicep curl combo that would have made Miley Cyrus proud.

Training notes:
360 Training

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Races

Race No. 8: Slave Route (10km) All aboard the beginner’s bus!

I wanted to run the Slave Route today as the start is less than a 2 minute jog from my front door. It’s also a great race. I decided not to do the 21km as I didn’t feel I needed to and instead opted to accompany five Atlantic beginners on their 10km race. We averaged 8 minutes a km which gave me plenty of opportunity to chat to them, not over do it and soak up the vibe. I do love this race for the lung-busting hill up Bo Kaap where you are rewarded by a koeksister (or two like I had today) at the top for your effort. My new friends asked me how I could breathe, eat and run to which I responded ‘I’m practicing’ between mouthfuls. The koeksisters were great and so was the sunrise over a chilly city this morning.

Running notes
Route: Grand Parade – Keizergracht – Roeland Street – Company Gardens – Wale Street – Bo Kaap (Bloem Street) – Wale Street – Grand Parade
Distance: 10km

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