Monday, March 05, 2012

Strange days indeed! Accommodation shifts and a cyclone promise meant that at the last minute our planned trip to Nelspruit became unplanned. These things happen. It also meant that in order to do the 42km distance, I would have to return to the town of my roots, and my marathon nemesis, the Vaal. It has been a love/hate relationship with that race, being my first ever (worst) marathon, as well as my best ever marathon.

The morning of the race, we left the city lights of Jozi behind and headed for the familiarity of the industrial town. The highway heading southwards was filled with red taillights all heading to the same place, and as we neared the stadium, I remarked that we had brought the Joburg traffic jams with us. It was still dark as we parked up, and as we stepped out of the car an icy breeze slapped us rudely in the face. We hustled down to enter the race, and shuffled back to the car to wait for the sun to rise. The car park filled rapidly and as the sun broke on the horizon we reluctantly went to find the others at the start. Hubby had signed on to do the half marathon, and a few other smiley faces wished us well on our long journey. I was feeling surpisingly upbeat, and was looking forward to the run. Four of us stuck together as we concentrated on not tripping up on sluggish feet, as we waited for the crowd to thin out. Around the 3km mark the faster runners had pulled away, and we were feeling good. I became memory-lane-tour-guide as I pointed out the disco hall, sister's old houses, friend's current houses, and albino guinea fowl on the small holdings. We passed my old house and pointed it out, and noticed that the fancy neighbours homes, no longer seemed so fancy. It seems like the wealth has moved around in this town. My memory expected the grand houses, but now they are offices or rather run down, and the old scruffy ones have been refurbished! Even the roads that seemed potholed last time, ran better and it looked overall lush and green.

The familiar angle of the early morning sun, reminded me of my icy toe-crunching walks to school. As we neared the school, memories came flooding back of planting grass, housecraft classes and booby-trapped cross country runs. I recalled the stories to my very patient friends and I had a flash that maybe I was boring them! We trundled past the open veld, where some springbok were grazing and I wanted them to run and jump as I have never seen that in person. Some of them started to move, and I got excited, and started cheering 'jump, guys, come on' just as a fellow runner ran past. At 15km's people can get nasty and he looked at me in horror. I realised that he may have thought that I was shouting at him, so I pointed out the bokkies in a feeble attempt to explain myself. We ran past all the large houses with park-like stands, and admired some of the motorboats having an early morning cruise. 

I spotted my schoolfriend doing a grand job at marshalling the traffic and I dashed over to say hello. 
'Clunk, crash, bang' 
That was the sound of my wheels falling off.  I slowed down and ate some sweets trying to correct, what felt like, my sugar dropping. My friends hung back a little and I pointed them on, but they were keeping me in their eyesight, as we would be passing the halfway mark soon, and were concerned that I may turn in. I stayed within 10 meters of them, as we past the turnoff point, and to be honest, I didn't really have any desire to stop then. This desire only happened later. I waved my friends onwards as they were looking too good to slow their pace for me, I needed to sort this out on my own. I did the lampost running, three run, one walk, for the next few km's and at the one waterpoint, a friend recognised me and I stopped, briefly. I needed to do the distance, so I fought back the desire to stay and carried on. 

It took a lot longer to correct itself and by now my friends were nowhere to be seen, but I kept inching forward. I had deliberately not worn my watch, so I had no idea of how much time I was doing and it was only at the 32km point, where I asked someone what the time was. We still had an hour and 20 minutes to do 10km's, completely within reach and this seemed to snap me out of my sugar low. I started jogging again. I caught sight one of my friends who looked like he was struggling, and after a while of him just being out of reach I caught him around 36km. We chatted and walked and when I tried to run again, everything hurt, and my head spun. So I stayed walking with him and watched as the people passed us. The sun was beginning to melt everything, but luckily there was lots of shade and I chatted to distract him, even though it probably only distracted me! With about 2km to go, my dizziness caught me, and I slowed right down. I knew there was shops up ahead, so decided I would go find a bathroom, which was great. Then I remembered my emergency taxi money. This was an emergency, so I bought an ice lolly! We crossed the last main road and I was enjoying the different taste and texture. Someone offered us a lift to the stadium, but we declined, and kept our steady pace to complete the distance.

Hubby was very bored with waiting, but he was kind enough to applaud us coming round to the finish line, at least it was faster than my worst ever marathon at the same grounds. Just about everyone else had left, but I was just so thankful to be sitting down and not have to move, that I didn't care! So now it's back to the drawing board, and I have to figure out what to do about my sugar levels, with 2 weeks before our 50km, I better come up with something magic!


1 comment:

Johann said...

Well done for hanging in there Cathie. I've been there often and no how hard it can be. For me the only way to not go through this is plain and simple hard training to get fitter and in better shape. I've never found a magic formula. I hope you do so I can try it as well. All the best!