Those who didn't turn up, I am happy for you because it was a fast, gruelling race. I don't know how you would have fared but considering I was back-pedalling in the 15k run in order not to leave the team too far behind, it would have been something akin to gazelles running with Buffaloes. At any rate, my weaknesses showed and I didn't fare very well even though that is the best run I have had this year because it pushed me. I was tested immediately the run started. And before halfway, it was clear I had fallen short of the glory I thought I deserved.
Gachanja was at the assembly area early, kitu 5:30am. GK arrived at about 5:50am. We stretched and chatted a little. Gachanja was saying we shouldn't leave him behind because he has not been training for a while and I was thinking baby-sitting is not what we want to do today but I told him he is the one who will probably leave us behind. Of course I didnt mean this. This was my route. I had ran that distance twice. I owned this route.
At any rate, at about 6am, we were off. We hung on together for about 800 metres then GK started floating away with his feather touch gait that I usually see in elite runners. I didn't want to push too hard, lest poor Gacho gasses out so we stuck together behind GK and let him be the pacemaker. I sped up a little and Gach hang on with me. By 2.5K it was clear GK was not going to babysit us and Gach could hold his own quite well. So I sped up and Gach sped up. The gloves were off and GK was within sight but going and going and not looking back to check on how his babies were faring. Between 4 and 6Kms, we sped up and kept GK within sight. I tried using a fast tempo and couldn't shake Gach off so I used surges. I was not closing the distance between GK and myself and Gach was now ahead. I had been systematically dragged out from my comfort zone and now I was in a strange territory and I didn't know what would happened next. Would my lungs and throat overheat? Would lactic acid accumulate in my muscles faster than my body could clear them?
And I was clearly running faster than I have ever run this year. Much much faster. I watched the trees and buildings rush past. I let my feet go.
Yet Gach was ahead and GK was disappearing from sight. Is this for real?
But then I thought, well, slow down. This is 19K, not 10K and not 15K. We still have a distance to battle it out. So I relaxed and these guys slowly drifted out of sight and I ran after them. I sped up after TMall and by the time I reached HighRise, we were 10 mins faster than we were at the speed we did the 15K run. I took the High Rise hill slowly and just after I had cleared it, while approaching the Mbagathi junction flyover, I saw GK and Gach at the opposite side of the road coming back!
And I was like 1Kms from the turning point!
Okay, so then it dawned on me that I was the underdog and these guys were handing me my ass. Royally and without ceremony. On a bright Sunday morning. Clear as daylight. And there was no card I could pull from any hat to alter this outcome.
So I slowed down and adopted my slow pace. I reached the turning point at the bridge in Ngumo at 55 mins, which is ten mins faster than my training pace.
I wished I had a stitch or an injury to use as an excuse for being outclassed. No. In fact, I was feeling strong. I was just a slow runner. And, yes, heavy. And Gachanja had successfully pulled what Nderitu tried to pull on me and Sikuku in 2007. Nderitu of course, failed. In retrospect, when Gach said he had been off training for a while, he probably meant off for two days.
Gachanja's tank was empty after about 15Kms but I was too far behind to catch up so, even though he walked and I didn't, he still cleared 10 mins ahead. So GK cleared in 1:37, Gach in 1:45 and I in 1:55.
And that was that. We stretched, swapped stories, did a post-moterm of the race and had breakfast.
That was a fabulous run and it has made me a better runner. I consider myself tested. I am more motivated to work harder and to improve my speed. I learnt quite a bit from GK. Thanks Gach and GK. Now we need to plan for the next run. 12th June 2011. Any proposals for other routes? Joram? Gachanja? Sikuku unahama ama auhami?