Run, walk, run
In the wonder full sport of long distance running, I have learned many things. Things about people, life, exercise, and myself. I know that I continually surprise myself, and yet I get confused because my hubby doesn't understand me! I experienced a new aspect of myself this past weekend while doing a long run round a dam.
I have learned that if my body is resistant longer than 30 minutes, I should really pay attention. It started early in the year, when my friend, Marlene, told me of her running plan for Comrades. She mentioned the 50km 'Om die Dam' race, which I have had a love/hate relationship with. I only remember two runnings of it, but I have three medals, so I think the one run must've been so bad I have wiped it from my memory banks. I stammered out loud, 'No, I don't want to do that one' and let her tell me the rest of her races. I came home and frantically searched for a different option. Great! The same weekend there was a 52km in a nature reserve on the calendar. I looked it up and told Marlene, and we decided to register there. We had done this one only once before, and loved it, for it's toughness and beauty, so we were keen to get another chance to run it. A month went by and the training built up, and then the bad news altered our plans. The Suikerbos race was cancelled, but 'Om die Dam' had been kind enough to extend it's entries, so reluctantly we changed plans. The silent body screams were muffled out by the thoughts of needing to do the long distance, and I entered the race online. The weeks sped by and the week of the race was staring me in my face.
Hubby had asked me why I was actually doing these races if it made me so tense. I argued that I wasn't nervous, so he quietly asked 'Why are you pacing?' I stopped in my tracks and checked my body. No, I wasn't nervous, just heavy, and I couldn't figure out why. I normally analyse myself to the point of distraction, but this time I decided I better get an early night and force myself to sleep. Anyone who is a light sleeper knows that 'forcing sleep' does not work. But I did manage to dream, so I know I must've slept and around 3am I got up and got ready.
The traffic to this race brought our car to a standstill at 4.30am and knowing that there was only one road to the new 'Start' we sat and sighed in relative silence. We turned off the stalled traffic road and finally found the back road, which we recognised as part of the 50km route. We stumbled on the shops via a back road and quickly got out the car to look for bathrooms. Sister was doing the half marathon and I was secretly jealous of her as she watched my 6am dawning start. We had lost Marlene and Willem in the traffic, but I knew that they would catch me on the race so I relaxed and listened to all the chit-chat around me. I think I may have started out a little too quickly, but I felt physically okay and deliberately started to hold back when I saw some runners who I knew are faster than me. The new start route had a nasty little steep hill just to wake us up and get the heart beating faster, and then we turned onto the familiar part along the scenic dam and started our climb.
At around 10km's I started to feel odd, but not in a physical way, but in my head. Yes, I know there are degrees of 'oddness', but this felt different. I walked uphill, and was told to walk on the side. I silently cursed the man, as I always check over my shoulder before I suddenly stop and the runners had been far behind me when I stopped, so the internal growling ignited what was to become a very negative mind frame that I am not used to having and keeping for seven hours! Marlene and Willem passed me around 15km and I could see that they were both very strong, so I shooed them away before my negativity spilled out of my mouth. I saw another club member who runs a similar pace, but I realised something was very wrong when I didn't want to chat. I asked her how she was doing and she also complained a little, so I told her it's best for me to run behind her and not make her more negative.
At around 25 km's I was surprised that the distance markers seemed to be turning over very quickly, in spite of my reluctance, but this marker board meant the beginning of my worst part of the race, the Pelindaba road. I popped in at the kiosk and bought an ice lolly, hoping that the glorious orange ice would freeze the negativity in my brain. I know that mind blocks like this happen while running, but usually they shift. This one just got deeper and deeper in spite of my usual distractions and brain tricks. I noticed many runners sitting on the side of the road and I'd seen the full bailer buses go by. Surely we aren't supposed to feel this bad at such a short distance? I trundled on, silently cursing the dust turned up by very fast speeding cars, and cursed- out loud- the rushing trucks as they swooped by. This was not helping my mood. I started planning my escape route. This distracted my brain for some time and before I knew it, I had stopped to help a man who was cramping. I told him to gently walk with me (yes, I was a regular walker by now) so as to prevent the cramps from stalling him completely. I rummaged in my pouch for something to help while he told me that this was his birthday gift to himself as he turned 61 today. I laughed and said 'this is no birthday gift'. We chatted for a bit and got separated by the waterpoint so I mooched on, ready to hail down a bailer bus.
I stomped up the notorious 'Saartjie's Nek' where the tired helpers, now weary from waiting for us, where trying to juggle luke warm water sachets, and limited cups. Usually a very festive point in the road, even the helpers seemed ready for us to finish. They fed us food and some perseverant cheering to try lift my spirits almost helped. At the top I saw a familiar face who reminded me to look at the view. I was not charmed by the mountain glow, nor watery haze, I wanted the keys to his car! The trundle down the hill made me take stock of how I was feeling physically and I wasn't bad. Not sore, no pains, no niggles, just a huge reluctance to run and desire to get off my feet. I turned the corner towards the marathon mark and I saw more familiar faces WITH a car, but they were busy loading up so I shouted on the top of my voice 'KIMMMMYYYYYY, WAIT'. So they promptly did, but Sharon was having none of me jumping into their oh-so delightful-vehicle. She poured cold water down my neck which took my breath (and words) away and told me to keep moving. Shell-shocked I reverted to my plan A, my older sister at 'Ouma's' house. I knew the route goes right past their front garden, so I started to bargain. If her car was there, then I would definitely go in. I turned in and had another 'hosedown' by a kind resident supplying a sprinkler for us weary, hot runners. Then I saw the house and the car, and the locked front door. Argh, they must be out!! Almost tripping over my lip, my planning went into overdrive. I asked patient onlookers if they had a car, I asked a young parent to sell me their kids bmx bike, I asked for a lift on another bicycle, but no takers, only smiles.
At around 3 to go, I saw a familiar sight. Hubby had teased me saying he would come and park in the bushes and pick me up and then drop me off again and I had brushed that off laughingly, the night before. Now our rather rare, white car came into my vision and my heart sang as I was about to shout 'loveeeee' and I realised that it was the right car, wrong registration number. I could almost hear the universe laughing at me sarcastically, as I can be a touch sarcastic sometimes and the quiet reasoned voice in my head went 'you get what you give out'. By this time, I was really fed up so started to try run again. At less than two to go, I saw a young chap start to lie down on the pavement and when I reached him, I asked him what was wrong. He complained 'pain' but I told him 'no ways, your people will worry, just walk slowly' and pulled him up. He was complaining that he didn't want to miss the cut-off by seconds to which I laughed and told him we were way too slow to miss it by seconds. Once on his feet I told him to keep gently moving, and to stop stressing when I saw another chap plan a nap on the pavement. Once again, I complained, telling him that his people will worry and he complained about cramp. I argued that we were less than 1 km away so he just had to keep slowly walking, so I told the two men that they were now responsible for each other and they just had to walk slowly back. I started running off, when I remembered I had salt in my pouch, so I gave it to him and said take this for your cramp. I know the wonders of the placebo effect and sometimes that is all a person needs to just get through the moment. I turned the corner and finally my heart beamed, the finish line, right there! Spectators told me they had extended the cut-off time, but I didn't really care, I just wanted it done.
The good thing about this training run is that in spite of my negativity, my head, sugar and BP stayed clear and level, so I wasn't feeling dizzy or ill, just negative and I started to understand once again that the power of the mind can affect a person's 'game'. I put it down to a very bad run, but glad it happened on a day that didn't 'matter, and now I can thankfully say that the only way I will see 'Om die Dam' again is by car!