Comrades 2013 has left a mark on my soul, it’s now 3 weeks after the race and I still don’t know if it is a positive or a negative mark. My previous 3 Comrades’ were all positive and I could take and learn something from each of them.
This year on Comrades day, I just don’t know what to think. The year was my best year in terms of training, lots of kilometres logged, no injuries, personal bests on a 56km, a 42km and on a 4km. Everything was going so extremely great, the rain at Loskop, the wind at Two Oceans, nothing could stop me. Everybody was telling me that this is the year I’m going to run a sub 10:30 – I know it sounds like a horrible time to other people but for me that is a dream. And then I would’ve bettered my brother’s time on Comrades – not that I’m competitive or anything J
And then Comrades day arrived and it all went so wonderful, I was ahead of schedule according to my pace chart for a 10:30, I was holding back all the time and hydrating and eating carefully and I thought wisely, I knew it was hot and I drank more water and more Energade, can’t stomach Pepsi so no cola for me. Lots of gels, chia seeds and Rehydrate – all according to my adjusted race plan to compensate for the heat.
I went through halfway and I was still on target for a 10:30. And then I hit Inchanga and my wheels came of completely, however I know this can happen and you should just persevere and get through the wall and I would be fine.
But this wall? This wall didn’t go away, it stayed, I continually mentally scanned my body to find the problem but there was just nothing, nothing I could put my finger on, except the nagging pain in my lower left leg that I had since Fields Hill.
At Camperdown, where our friends were waiting for us, I was finished, I told them I want to bail, they pushed me back on the road and I started to walk, more friends from our club more encouragement and as I do I tried to please them and to continue on with this hellish nightmare of a race.
I looked around me and I got scared, nobody was talking, none of the laughter, teasing and chattering, just people walking with their heads down, or puking next to the road or laying down or falling down. And then an even bigger silence from behind, the eleven hour bus, I could actually hear their silence. It was frightening. I tried to stick to them but I then realised that eleven hours is not on the cards for me today.
The rest of the day a blur of tears, pain, physio tents, water, ice and more tears.
Until Polly’s – I flagged down a bail bus, the pain in my left leg was beyond anything I’ve experienced and I just wanted to lie down and sleep. Runners pulled me away and assured the bail bus driver that they’ll help me.
After about 100m’s I told them to leave me, I think they could see that I was beyond help.
I walked and then looked at my watch and realised that I have to do 11 minute km’s to finish, I was doing 12. I slowed down and slowed down and slowed down and just went and sat down in the dust next to the road with my back to the runners. I cried some more, watching the tears make little dust bombs in the sand.
I was praying but all I said was help, I didn’t know if I wanted help to finish, help to stop or help to get away from the pain and agony. And help did arrive in the shape of two experienced runners, one to shake me out of my haze of self pity with her angry words and the other to get me up out of the dust with kind words and advice on how to change my style to alleviate the pain in my leg.
They stayed with me until the end. People talk about the Modern Athlete smiles tables and the Pink Drive and the painted rhino’s on the tarmac, I can’t remember any of this.
I finished in 11:45 – my worst time ever and this was only thanks to my two angels that helped me through.
And now I can’t stop obsessing about this run. What went wrong, did I train too hard, was I too self-confident, was all the PB’s to my own detriment, did I peak too quickly and then why did I keep going? What is it in my personality that will not allow me to get out when things are really bad? Is it a good trait or a bad trait?
I’m obsessively looking for and reading blogs about this year’s Comrades to justify my bad time and my bad day, I want to ensure myself that other people felt like this as well and intellectually I can see it was a bad year but emotionally I can’t accept it and move on.
I don’t want to run Comrades again but I can’t allow my last run to be this horrible. So I’ll be back to ensure that my memories of Comrades will be positive again and not this confusing mess of emotions I have at the moment.
And just a footnote – I tore a muscle in my lower left leg and that was the reason for the sore leg.