Or the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon to give it the full beans.
Two Oceans weekend is almost upon us. It’s dubbed The World’s Most Beautiful Marathon and it’s a reasonable claim. Aside from the early kilometres along Main Road there is some truly breathtaking scenery to behold – which is a good thing because it has some fairly killer climbs to negotiate.
56km of wonderfulness.
Or so I’m led to believe.
When I attempted it I only negotiated one ocean and had to pull out at the 30km mark with severe stomach cramps. It was a cold, miserable day and I saw the scenic parts of the route in a combination of agonised walking and the failure bus of shame.
I can’t quite fathom that it’s been two years since my one and only race dropout. There were some mitigating circumstances. In the week leading up to the race this person arrived:-
She’s now two and is utterly beautiful (if somewhat bonkers):-
I also turned 40 two days before the race (and celebrated by bringing the aforementioned small person home from hospital).
With 24 hours to go the stress and the sleep loss and the general mayhem of the week started to catch up with me (not that you’d guess it from this chipper little 5am selfie):-
I had stomach cramps, very little sleep and to be honest if I hadn’t spent most of a year training for it and wasn’t running it with a friend I would have stayed in bed. In the end I chose the “suck it up” option and headed for the start line. Other than some sporadic stomach pain I was fine for the first 21km or so. The next 9km were slow torture and by the time I got myself onto a medical bus (the worst one on the route it seems as they had no blankets and apparently no medical team) it was as much as I could do to stagger to the back, curl into the foetal position on the floor and ride out the cramps and the shivers.
It took me a long time to get over that race. In fact I will only truly get over it when I manage to complete it and 2016 is my target. I know that even without stomach issues I would have had to slog and battle to get over the line, but I also know I had put in the hard yards, the early mornings and enough endless hills to know I could make it – and that’s what made it all the more painful. The only bright spot in the day was that my training partner completed it in six hours and I could take some comfort in the fact that our many hours on the road together had helped him over the line.
This year’s race is another major event affected by the serious fires that devastated huge swathes of fynbos and forest last month. The iconic Argus cycle race was reduced to a 50km sprint and Two Oceans now has to revert to Ou Kaapse Weg rather than Chappies which means the climbing will be even tougher.
I will take a walk out on Saturday morning and cheer on the brave souls going for the big one, and give a wave to the 16,000 or so that will be tackling the half marathon. Given the start is a short walk from home I probably should be doing the half but to be honest we are blessed with plenty of better, more interesting half marathons in Cape Town and with a lot less people to negotiate. That said, I’m sure I will feel a pang of regret as I watch the sea of faces roll by and I hope that each and every one who makes it to the start has the race of their life.
It’s funny, but when the failure to complete the ultra weighs heavy on me it’s the half marathon that shows me how far I’ve come. Four years ago at about this time I had just completed a 16km training run, of which the last kilometre was a stumbling, limping mess. I was preparing for my first crack at the Two Oceans half and I was convinced of two things:-
– I wasn’t ready, and
– If I could just find a way to finish I’d be happy forever (and probably give up running)
Even in a crap running period these days I can just about get through a half marathon on any given day. Two weeks ago I did my DIY Half which had double the climbing of Two Oceans and was off the back of very little running in about the same time as my first Two Oceans experience. The idea of not being a runner is no longer a thought I can entertain.
So perhaps I should look to next year with confidence rather than fear.
A chance to lay some demons to rest, and to run a truly amazing race.