No, not the one at the top. This one.
Need a clue?
OK…so why don’t we go with something of a vaguely humanoid shape that doesn’t have an ankle that looks like this…
Did I say ankle? I clearly meant cankle. Apologies for the oversight.
Yep. Sadly, despite all by best efforts, my plans for running a third straight Cape Town marathon are officially tattered. So instead of laying out my kit and heading off to bed about now, I’m titting about on the internet, drinking a glass of red wine and generally moaning.
I’ve been very fortunate over the last few years to mostly get sick or injured prior to race season, so I guess I was due a bad day. It’s just frustrating for so many reasons – not least of which is that it was such an innocuous accident that caused my ankle to make some lovely popping sounds. I’d love to be able to say I was descending some technically difficult section of a Table Mountain trail as if being chased by the very Devil himself (his name is Lionel by the way) but sadly the truth is that I was playing in the park with the kids and I landed awkwardly when stepping backwards.
The fact that I managed to train around flu and a bunch of other niggles over the winter months only to be sidelined in the last fortnight is also highly frustrating. My last race out was a PB for 30km and added to the extra hills I’ve been doing this year I was chasing a marathon PB this weekend.
Of all the frustrations though perhaps my biggest is that the Cape Town marathon feels like my race. I’ve entered plenty of other great races that other runners have recommended to me but this has always felt like one that I’ve discovered for myself. The route comes within 300m of my house so there’s always lots of local support for my club colours, but it’s hard to put into words just how amazing it feels when your body is tired and you get to see your wife and kids on the side of the road cheering you on.
When I ran it in 2014 I had pleurisy and bronchitis over the winter and it became my focal point for getting back out on the road. I was underprepared and suffered hugely in the last 10km but when you get to see your son holding this up at the 21km mark…
…how can you not have a good day?
In 2015 I went one better. Pleurisy, bronchitis and sinusitis in the lead up. I ended up with nine weeks to train and taper…and somehow ran a PB of 3:52 (you can read about it here if you’d like a trip down memory lane). That race gave me a sense of belief that I carried through to the Two Oceans (56km Ultra) in March this year, earning my first finish – and hitting the marathon mark at 3:51 despite some interesting hills…
I guess this year it just wasn’t meant to be. In an odd way I’m looking forward to getting up early tomorrow and watching the leaders on TV before marvelling at their speed first hand as they run close to our home. There are plenty more races this season and hopefully my ankle will stand up to three half marathons in three consecutive weekends (the first of which is a scarily-short two weeks away).
More than anything the frustrations of the last two weeks have reminded me of just how important running is to me. It’s crept up on me over the years but particularly this year it’s become something that is integral to who I am and the way I want to live my life. I’m in one of the most beautiful cities on earth with extraordinary places to explore right on my doorstep. I’d be an idiot not to take advantage – and a much bigger idiot to whizz through it all on something stupid like a bike.
I hope one day I’ll get to trot along the marathon route with my kids bounding off into the distance chasing proper times. And if not, I’m pretty confident I’ll have at least passed on some love to them about what you can see in the city we now call home.