It has been several weeks since I last wrote, but I am pleased to say I have still been running! It seems as if the year has gone whizzing by, and I am still wanting to wish people 'happy new year'! Yet when I think of all races run, and miles done, it has been a steady year.
Five weeks till we run the Comrades, and the 'fun run' fever is hitting the running community. By now most of the big long distance runs are over, and we enter into the tapering stage. I did my last extra long run this past holiday weekend. 60km's round Johannesburg and I must say I live in a lovely city. There may be no mountain, nor sea but there are millions of trees and being Autumn, it meant the landscape was an incredible display of colour.
Our 5am 'training run' had an informal start, which meant that people set off when they were ready. It also meant that I somehow didn't make clear plans with my running friends, and missed them at the start. There was loads of runners, so if I didn't catch my friends, I wouldn't be running on my own. 5am this time of the year is still pitch dark, as we made our way through the suburbs street lights lit our path. The cooler weather meant the outer layer of clothing stayed on for some time as people kept their running pace slower than races, like a dress rehearsal for the big day. I spotted my friends after 10 minutes, and was grateful to catch them and settle into our familiar pace. Chit chat was predominantly about Comrades, as most people here this early for this far, would surely only be Comrades runners. Why would any other runner do 60km as a training run?
We passed the Johnannesburg zoo, the military museum, and weaved our way back onto Jan Smuts road through Rosebank. It seemed like we were doing a 'mall to mall' run, my friend Marlene remarked as we passed many of them in the city. At Northcliff mall, we stopped for the toilet and it was nice not having to panic about taking our time, as there was no cut-off, no pressure and no official finish. We made our way to my own residential area and I was still feeling pretty good, so there was no temptation to turn in home. The suburbs had begun to wake up and the traffic on the roads began to increase. The one rather narrow road was rather taxing as we had to really concentrate on the weaving fast cars, and negotiate the dragged out uphill. This road seemed to never end as we made our way to a main road and cross over towards the next mall, Northgate. The main roads have shoulders which means we can still squeeze onto tar, plus there is the added benefit of garages and shops. We popped into a local fish and chips shop for some salt to help with any cramps and we made a second pitstop. By the time we came out it looked like all the runners had left us behind, but as we joined the road, a runner shouted, 'how many behind us?' It seemed like we were not the only ones concerned about being the last ones home.
The waterpoints had run out of water sachets as well as cups, so it meant we were having to re-use some of the paper cups for our water and coke. Marlene reminded me about my past comment that 'the longer we run, the less we care about hygiene'. At one point we had to rummage through garbage bags for our own cups, rinse them out with sometimes not so clean looking water, and fill them up ourselves. This was the only complaint about an otherwise pleasant run. The breeze stayed cool, which I was really grateful for. At around 51km my blood pressure seemed to start dropping again, and Marlene had to be very patient with me. She tempted me talk of ice-cream at 56km and sometimes it was only that thought that kept me moving forward. Good to her promise on the main road in Randburg and close to the finish, she bought me an ice lolly. We walked gently through the orange flavoured kilometer and I seemed to come right again. I think the nice long downhill may also have helped!
It was strange coming into the gate without having to run round the irritating grass of the final 200 meters, and we could grind to a halt as soon as we spotted our speedy friend who had finished a half hour before us. I shuffled to my car and realised that getting into it was rather tricky! Driving home, I passed some of the route that I had been running 7 hours earlier, and I could feel my weary body slumping.
The strange thing for this non-drinker is that after long runs nowadays, I seem to crave a beer shandy. I knew I would not be able to manage to get out of the car at any shops so I was thinking about the possibility of having beer in our fridge, and decided to take the chance. I was very pleased to see we had a 0%beer as well as some 7UP, so I could make the shandy after all. I didn't check the expiration date of the beer, I thought if the dirty drinking water on route hadn't harmed me, a stale beer couldn't do any damage. I poured myself a drink and headed for our chicken-less-verandah-swing. It was strange to sit there drinking on my own, with hubby working away, I had to contend the stares of the dogs as I sipped away any guilt of not taking them on their afternoon walk.
A few days of rest feel so decadent, and I must admit I am enjoying not having to set the alarm for the closer side of midnight!
Five weeks- gulp!