RAC City Lodge Tough One 32km
I did it!! My longest distance!
The week leading up to the race consisted of a 4.5km slow run on Tuesday and an easy Fartlek session of 30 minutes on Thursday and rest until 4am Sunday morning.
I woke up to do my meditation, got dressed (had set out my stuff the night before) and met Alan outside at 4.45am. We drove to our VIP Parking, a block away from the start, courtesy of Norman who gave me a remote to open his gate. There is such a large number of people who take part in this race and parking is usually a mission so I was really pleased to have the offer from Norman. We parked under his carport and this poster was stuck up on the wall in front of us.
There was another one stuck near the gate that reminded us to go slow and have fun. A great way to get us to smile and relax. Norman wasn't at home - he had started the race at 5am as the Walkers are allowed to do. (He completed his 10th Tough One and received his permanent number - Well Done Norman!!)
I was feeling okay, quite looking forward to the race, confident that I had done enough training to complete the race comfortably and with a 4 hour finish in mind. I found Karen at the RWFL tent and walked with her to the start where we stretched and chatted. A couple of people came over to talk to me about my running sandals and a lot more people pointed to my running sandals and spoke about me. I actually started feeling uncomfortable seeing that people were looking at me or pointing at me. I have been running in my sandals for almost 6 months, have done more than 10 races in them and thought people were used to seeing me in them but obviously not. Running shoes are still the norm and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.
The race started promptly at 6am. I commented to Karen that there wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was already warm and I thought it would get quite hot later. Little did I know how hot ...
The runners filled the streets right up to Malibongwe Drive - the marshals were great in keeping the cars out of our way and it was a real treat to run on the roads I usually drive. The other bonus about so many people was that you don't see open space in front of you so you don't see the uphills. The runners only opened up at about 5kms and we stopped at a garage to use the toilet at 6kms. After we crossed the highway I braced myself for a long uphill slog but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. At 9kms we joined the route that we ran on our training run and both Karen and I were feeling good. It was also quite comforting to know that we had done this road already.
At 12kms, Nichola was on the side of the road to offer her support and Karen and I happily shouted to her that we were doing fine and only had 20kms to go. She was at the 20km mark with an energy drink, ice cubes and sweets for us too. I really appreciated her support on the road, in training and the build up to the race.
Karen's husband was offering his support from his bicycle and her sister-in-law was driving along the route with cold water and bananas for us approx. every 5 kms. My husband joined the seconding crew at 20kms, with an energy drink, water and bananas. It was a great help to have them along the road to offering the food and moral support. Sonja was also there and I saw her 3 times in 10kms and she always had an encouraging word to say. Thanks to all of you!!
I stopped to use the toilet at 21kms and didn't catch Karen until about 28kms. In that time, I vomited twice and walked alot. And I missed her. Running on my own had my mind running in wild directions and I was really questioning why I was doing this and I decided I will not be running a marathon anytime soon. It was also incredibly hot! I put ice cubes under my hat to cool my head and the water sachets that I picked up at the watering points was used to cool my legs, arms and back. When I did join Karen, I felt better as we happily walked and shared a big ice block that I had picked up at the watering point. We walked and ran and got excited as we neared the end. It was really special to finish with her after training together for the last few months. We crossed the line together in a time of 4:03:24. Bruce said to me at the finish - "couldn't you find 3 minutes?" and I do feel a little disappointed that we didn't do sub-4 hours. Now, I'll have to do it next year to better my time !
* Apologies to those runners who wanted to discuss my sandals while I was running - I just couldn't talk and run at the same time during the second half of the race
** Thanks to all those that supported me before, during and after the race - it really made a big difference