A month ago you may recall
I set myself a goal
To place upon my sickly bod
A most exacting toll
From pleurisy and medicine foul
And sinus pain of note
A training plan for marathons
In Excel fair was wrote
And from that day come rain or shine
My running shoes have trod
Five mile runs four times a week
‘Cept Sundays when I plod…
For miles and miles and miles and miles
And miles and miles and miles
And miles and miles and miles and miles
OK enough. You get the picture let’s move on.
So I’m on to week five of my Let’s get over a month of feeling like shit by training for a marathon in nine weeks plan. Since the 20th of July I’ve run a cumulative total of 204km (about 126 miles). It was supposed to be 212km but I had to abandon plans to run my 8km last Thursday as I failed to get out of bed in time. And then I got stuck in traffic on the way home. And it was really windy and rainy and horrible. And stuff.
Why do I get these stupid ideas in winter?
The Sunday runs have been tough to keep ramping up. For week one it was 16km, week two it was 21, week three was 25 and week four – that’ll be yesterday – was a 30km race in Simons Town.
I had been partly talking myself out of the race the whole of last week but after missing my Thursday run I committed to doing it. I figure what else is there to do at 4.25am on a Sunday?
At face value race day seems loads of fun. And it is. When you get to the start line. Before that it’s an endless parade of self inflicted torture.
Congratulations! It’s 4.25am and you’ve successfully awoken from your sleep. You will be feeling disoriented and perhaps angry. Don’t worry! This is perfectly normal and you’ll be feeling much better once you turn the light on. Nothing says I’m truly alive more than the feeling of your eyes being burned out of your skull by a sixty watt bulb while you stand around in your underpants.
Still angry? Don’t worry! You’ll be feeling much better once you’ve force fed yourself some oats and choked down an espresso and a glass of water. Reward yourself with some quality vaseline time for those chafe-prone areas and…what’s that? You’ve got vaseline over the nipple plasters and now they won’t stick? You’ve got vaseline in your eyes because you forgot to scrub it off before attempting to put in your contact lenses? It’s all part of the fun!
If you haven’t already done so now might also be a good time to start worrying about whether or not you need a poo and to perhaps run some nightmarish scenarios in your mind about being stuck on a random mountain in the south peninsula when your bowels finally wake up. Don’t worry! You’ll be returning to this train of thought many times over the next few hours so there’s plenty of time to embellish – and remember, when you reach the finish line several hours later your fellow runners will not mention the missing sock.
All of that happened before 5am.
By the time I completed the forty minute drive to Simons Town, parked, braved the wind and rain to register and got back to my car it was 6.15 and I’d been up for nearly two hours. A small part of me very nearly convinced my body to accidentally fall asleep in the driver’s seat and wake up tragically mortified at about 8.30 but I fought it down.
And once I got to the start line basking in the collective warmth of several hundred other lunatics I remember why I do these things at ungodly* hours.
* in theory all hours are ungodly when (like me) you’re not much of a believer.
The race itself had plenty of wind and rain especially on the descent from the first of the two big climbs but it did get a bit more pleasant in the second half. At the 20km mark I detached myself from the sub-three-hour bus and struck out on my own. Normally this means I fell off the back of the bus and finished ten minutes behind it but not this time. I figured with the marathon looming now would be a good time to run hard when my body wants to slow down so I gutted it out and finished in a shade over 2:50.
My elation appears to have turned into lactic acid today and my legs are very unhappy. Can’t say I’m looking forward to covering 62 more kms by Sunday night but hey, I didn’t even think I’d get this far.
Two more tough weeks and then a taper…I might just get this marathon done…