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Monday, September 13, 2010

Mwea Classic Marathon - Race Report

Me and Sikuku before the MweaClassic Marathon. I did a 6Km recovery run today. Lactic acid has not completely left my muscles.

On Saturday I went for the MweaClassicMarathon. I went with Sikuku and my lovely wife. We arrived late. Sorta. While we were still exchanging pleasantries and thinking of warming up, we saw a group running past. We rushed toward them. We saw Gachanja in the crowd of runners and asked him which race it was. "21Km", he roared back. We looked for an opening in the fence and joined them. We were in the race. No bib, no stretching, no warm up. Just like that.
So anyway, we started and caught up with Gachanja. Sikuku stayed with me for about 400m then he surged forward with Gachanja. I want gonna chase them. I decided to go slowly until my body asks me to go faster.

I had just travelled from Malaba the previous night and slept past 2am. Against my wife's persuasion, I woke up at 6 to go for the Marathon. Plus I have been ailing from something I don't know (I suspected Hepatitis but the doc said it wasn't Hepa) and I had just cleared antibiotics on Thursday. Nonetheless, I wanted to test myself. After all, you have to pass out first before you can die, right?

So here I was. Lethergic, flooded with malaise, alone, slow, in a dream like state. Was I gonna make it? I knew my mind was strong even though my body wasn't ok. I trusted my mind. There were plenty of crowds, yelling some unintelligible stuff. I didn't even spare them a glance. Me and the distance.
I looked behind me. There was a mzungu woman about 200m back. Ahead of me was someone 300m ahead. I have never been so alone in a race. I usually have people on my left and right and just behind me and just ahead of me. This was weird. Where was everybody?

At any rate, I started slowly and in my mind, believed I would power up after 40mins. But it never happened. I struggled. My lungs felt full and extended. My feet were fine but there was no energy to propel them faster. So I just maintained and relied on my mind to carry me through the race since my body was clearly screwed by one thing or the other.

After about 30 mins, I saw a girl struggling ahead and caught up with her. She was panting heavily as I came up alongside her. There were some cows coming toward us so we made space for them.

"How far?" she breathed.
"21Kms" I answered easily. glanced at my watch and knew we ere at about the 7k mark.
"I mean where are we?"
"Seven Kms"
"What? Only 7 Kms, kwani how far is this 21Kms?" She panted. Crowds urged her on.
"You have done a third of the work lady. But dont worry, you will start overtaking people after 40 mins." I assured her. But she wanted to scream. She sighed heavily and started walking. Eloi Eloi Lema Sabathchani, I thought.
As I chatted with this girl, the mzungu caught up and advised her to slow down. She stared running again. I left them behind. Then the sun penetrated the clouds and started baking us as we ran through the rice fields. WTF? Luckily I had my cap on.
I accelerated and widened the gap between us. My shoulders ached. My back ached. I even had a stitch but it didn't last more than 3 mins.
Where is the turbo? Where is my energy? I couldn't move faster. Am I this wasted? I made a mental note to go to hospital on Monday.
I reached 10K in 46mins, which wasn't bad.
So I did a quick calculation. If I did the next 10K in 56mins and the last 1K in 10mins, I would finnish at about 1hr 52mins.

So I tried to maintain speed. I passed some other guy in 12K, another lady in 13K, Gachanja in 14K, Sikuku in 15K. And I was passed by some guy in Green with headphones at the 13th K. Then what really took me aback was a woman who passed me at the 14th K. She looked quite heavy. But she strode past me quite easily, while holding a bottle of water. She was steady, didn't have the best running form but she was okay.
That shook me and I realized I am truly out of form. It simply meant I hadnt practiced as much as she did. But anyways I was not well. I wanted proof. Here it was, clear as daylight.

The organizers placed the third water point about 10K apart from the second one. This was bad for business. And Sikuku was dying of thirst when I passed him.

Afer I had done about 18Km, I met a board saying 5Kms. This discouraged me. I do 2Hrs long runs and I vowed I would not walk before 2hours are done. But after seeing that 5K was still left, I was passed by another lady and at 1:56, I started walking. I mixed the walks with the runs until Sikuku caught up. I cleared in about 2:15. Wasted. Baked. Incredulous. Humbled. Pensive. When my wife showed up I gave her one advice: Never, ever, under any circumstances, go for a marathon. And if you hate someone so much and you want them to suffer, tell them to go for a marathon.

Anyways, this is what I learnt from the race:
1. Weight isn't really a big issue. Just work out well. That woman was proof.
2. I need to do 2:30 runs for my long run. 2 hours simply cannot do.
3. I need to up my mileage for Stanchart.
4. I can be sick so I should not only worry about injuries but illnesses too because disease can screw a runner too.
5. Once I am okay, I will work on my speed.
The organizers can't handle 42, 21 and 10K at the same time. I will probably never go for Mwea marathon again. I would rather do Ndakaini. They don't care about the distance. They can give you 23K and call it 21K. Jipange.

Here are pics we took with Sikuku after the race. We could still smile so I guess it wasn't so bad. I drove back to Nai. Tired as hell and with a king size headache.


gachanja said...

Correction: If you hate someone, tell them to go for the mwea marathon!

gachanja said...

Correction: If you hate someone, tell them to go for the mwea marathon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jack,
Thank you for your prompt report. I felt you in the report and your 10k time of 46mins was fairly good.
I chose to skip Mwea Classic in favour of Ndakaini. I sincerely hope that Ndakaini 21k starts by 9am and not 11am as is the tradition. I hope race organisers can learn from Stanchart marathon where the races start at 7am with the longer races being the first. I will give you an update next Monday.
George Karimi

Jacob Aliet said...

Thanks Gachanja. But however hard Mwea is, its not even half as hard, tormenting and soul-destroying like Ndakaini. Ndakaini has hills like you will never see on a marathon route. I guarantee you that you will start walking by 8k. Guaranteed.

GK, all the best. I envy you but next year I will be in Ndakaini come fire, water, food, devils, the army, the devil, heaven or hell.
Remember to start easy. After the first hill, kama nguvu iko, ponyoka! I hope you are set.

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious man but so spot on. Envious!!!!
Keep it up.

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Shiundu said...

Hahahaha! Pole jamaa! You must be a strong one. 21km when convalescing.Hope the traffic on your way back didn't make your headache balloon.

jacob said...

Thanks Shiundu. I hope to get well soon.

jacob said...

By the way, while driving back, I had to stop for a break in Juja. I was almost falling asleep at the wheel!

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