This is a race report that I haven't looked forward to writing.
This lack of enthusiasm, I think, is caused by the fact that I sorta drew blank from this year's Ndakaini Marathon. Blank. Nada. Or maybe a refusal to face the facts that the Ndakaini race spread before our feet in broad daylight. Before my feet.
Lets get it done anyways. We can twiddle our thumbs and wipe our noses later.
So as agreed, we met in town and drove to Thika. It took about 1 and a half hours. GK and Mutwiri arrived shortly after us. The race was better organized but lacked adequate toilets. I had to use the bush, like many others. The parking was good, the bibs were excellent. The vests were of good quality but all too small in size.
Ogutu was good enough to be there for us just to take photos. Here I am enjoying the stretching.
We stretched and warmed up. I made sure I got both a good warm up and adequate stretching. Here is myself and Mark and Sikuku after warming up, just before the race.
Then we moved to the start line where I met GK, some elite runners (several) and some American runners.
As we waited and chatted, GK said we should not hold back because its disheartening to complete strong and know you could have done better if you gave it your all and didn't hold back. I agreed. The weather was excellent. We were good to go. I was confident of doing a 1:45-1:55 time. Here is the start line. Thin but dense.
Abel Kirui, the world marathon champion was there to give us some pep talk which he did. I didnt hear what he said. I didnt care. I was there for the gun. Then some politicians waffled out the customary dung and we couldn't wait for them to be done with the manure they were educating us about. And finally, the gun was fired. And we were off.
GK surged ahead but was within view. Sikuku, Mark and myself followed. I maintained a steady pace - nothing too crazy but fast by my standards.
I didnt want to lose sight of GK. After about 3k, I thought I lost Mark and Sikuku and I caught up with GK when I approached the 5k mark on the first hill and I passed him. When I looked back, I found my bro Mark on my shoulder. Wow, this dude is strong, I thought. On his Ndakaini debut and he is doing this great?
So Mark pushed me and I surged. He hung on. GK later came and passed me but stayed within sight. I passed him again after 12K and he passed me again when we were at about 14K. And at about the same time, there came a guy in a white top gliding easily while holding aloft a bottle of water. I tried to hung onto him and I did up to about the 18th K then I lost him and GK and some lady. On the heartbreak hill.
After 45 minutes, I felt fresh and strong and I surged. I dropped off some people and passed some and widened some gap between myself and Mark. After about 1:15, I felt even stronger and I surged. Some hamstring pain came and went. A stitch threatened but disappeared after floating around for a while.
I was running a good race! Everything was perfect. The humongous, sould-destroying hills were steep but I climbed everyone of them even though I had to slow down to near-walking pace. But the slight slopes or flat places I sped up and enjoyed it. At the steep downhill parts, I let myself go and avoided wasting too much energy braking.
GK finally passed me at the last hill at about the 16th Km mark. The steepest, longest, meandering, soul-destryoying hill. Two guys passed me on the hill and I passed three. After that hill, I gave myself about 100mins jog for recovery then realizing that we were approaching the end of the race, I decided I wasnt going to finnish the race strong and return a poor time. So I gradually let go and sped up. I passed several people including the ones who passed me at the hill, some two ladies, some guy who ran like he was jumping and the lady who was with GK and the gliding chap. But I never caught up with GK and the gliding chap.
But I ran well. I felt good and strong and I didnt conserve energy too much. I passed one last guy with 50 metres to go. Here is me Mark, Sikuku and GK after the race.
Which brings me to my puzzle.
After running so well, how come I returned a 1:56 time? GK did about 1:54 and Mark came at about 1:58. I just dont get it. Sikuku had a problem with his ankle and returned a DNF.
So again, what happened there? I dont get it. The winner won in 64mins. And not 60 or 61mins. That should tell you how tough Ndakaini is.
I told GK we are too slow. And I think I am right. And GK is right too that we need to work on speed sensibly or we invite an army of injuries to make us kiss running goodbye. Here is Ogutu and Mark & GK after the race.
Like I like asking, What are YOU going to do? Because I intend to run a sub 1:20 half one way or the other.
There are two things I will do in the short term: up my mileage and increase my speed runs. Our endurance is good so I will maintain the weekly long runs. The tweaking is to be done between Monday and Friday.
At any rate, I have just got a baby so training is off this week. I am getting a garmin that will help me rack my mileage and help me structure my tempo runs (based on my heart rate). Then I get some serious shoes. Then we continue chopping wood and carrying water.
And oh, it never hurts to lose some weight.
I am asking myself, can I gas out? How because in training, I recover from high speeds. I need to take one 21k training run and go almost all out (like 80%) and see what happens.