We were early and so I had adequate time with the
I changed to my biker tights. Yes, yes, I know I should get running tights.
Some guy spoke in a megaphone and told 21K guys to go to the start line. It was about 8:20 and I said there is no way they were going to start the race so early.
Nonetheless, we started walking to the start line. We were noting how good it felt to walk as warm up as opposed to jogging and were chatting with some Parklands "marathon" (15K) runners.
When we were about 50m to the start line, the gun went off and the race started!
We stood aside and let the stampeding sprinters fly past, carefully avoiding being hit by the storming wave of runners. Then we joined in from the side, warming up and taking in the unexpected start of the race. This is good, I thought - we would end early! I started my timer.
I couldn't see where Mark was but I settled into a comfortable pace and let the group split up and scatter.
I couldn't feel my feet but I saw that I was running at about 14Km/hr which was a high speed by my standards, so I knew my legs were fine - no cobwebs. My HR was at about 176 but I was not worried. It felt easy.
I started looking for a rabbit.
I saw a blond mzungu. He glided past, powerful, muscular legs carrying him. It was too early to start chasing any rabbit, I thought. This was warm-up time. So I watched people run past and just enjoyed being there and soaked up the scene. Most of the runners were at the same pace with me so we settled in.
There was a short muscular woman in small tights who looked like a professional athlete. She kept surging and slowing but stayed within eyesight. There was another lady in ankle-long tights who was slightly ahead. For her size, she was running very impressively. Very. In fact, I was worried she was killing herself.
Good but a little fast. Need to slow down. I looked around and Mark was some 30m behind.
Definitely not good. Too fast. Gotta slow down.
At this point, Mark caught up and when he was at my shoulder, our guy also breezed past me. Mark told me "here he is" and I took a glance at him. He was in blue today, well kitted as usual. Designer shades, cap, shorts and proper shoes. His neck was wet with sweat and I was surprised because I had not even started sweating. We were on a downhill and from my POV, we had not started doing any work, so I was surprised he was already sweating. Maybe he had done a thorough warm up?
4:23. Okay, thats better.
They hung next to me for a while then I passed them and ran on. Mark hung back with him so I thought his strategy was to use him as rabbit.
I had decided I couldn't run any slower as I was because it felt pretty easy.
Then we hit the first hill.
I passed Mrs ankle-high tights at this hill plus about another eight runners.
Mark glided past me. Should I worry?
I looked back.
Our guy was nowhere in sight!
Too early to celebrate. Last year, he glided past me at about 12Kms so I braced myself for a battle ahead.
The hill had taken its toll but not bad. No water at the 5K mark. There were bottles scattered nearby and a fallen table. Some runners picked bottles of water off the road and pitifully drained their contents. I was well hydrated so no worries.
Mark seemed to be running quite easily, just like our guy was last year. I maintained my pace. Nothing too crazy. We were now on an extended hill, about 2Km long. I passed some people and some passed me. The short lady in micro-tights kept surging. There was also another thin lady in micro tights. They kept passing each other and conversed at some point.
And there was a guy in a red UAP vest and black short. He was also within view. And the old man in black.
My HR was high - about 170 so I decided to hold it there and maintain. I could start working after 12K.
I caught up with the ladies and the guy in a red top. There was a pain in my left shoulder blade. It lingered and went.
Mark was just there running easily. I looked back. Our guy was nowhere in sight. This guy in a red vest - where did I see him? He looked so familiar!
I was now speeding up. I noticed that the guy in red was good with uphills. I decided to drop him on the downhill.
I dropped him and also passed Mark.
Then another uphill. He passed me. He actually made a point of passing me. It leveled out. I passed him. He hung behind me. We hit a downhill. I accelerated and opened a gap. We reached an uphill. He passed me. etc etc.
There was a woman in a weave and baggy shorts who kept running and walking and looking back. I passed her. And the old man in black.
Then a stomach cramp hit me at 11th K. Wa wa wa wa. WTF? I can't lose this race. Not now, not like this. I breathed heavily. Deep in, extended out. Lungful in... out...
I slowed down, taking deep breaths. It went on for about 500m. Mark came up close. I pressed on the painful area - near my pelvis. For some time. Hoping for a miracle. And it disappeared! I got excited!
I ran past the guy in red and some two thin athletic-looking fellows.
Now it was all systems go despite the hills. 6:06, 5:27, 5:02.
The we hit the mother of all hills at 15.5K. Mafa! 6:35. By this time, I had passed the two ladies in micro tights.
Then after the first hill, the hill of hills. I realized that walking and jogging were the same so I decided to walk.
The guy in red came and passed me. I took note. Most guys were now walking even when I looked back 80 metres, nobody was running. Mark was somewhere 50 metres back.
When we were about to reach the top, I looked back and saw the guy in blue, our guy, some 50 metres behind Mark and I shouted to mark that the guy was catching up!The hill was over!
The time for that Km was atrocious: 7:08!
I slammed my feet on the gas pedal. I passed about seven guys in quick succession. I was now at full flight and even ran my fastest Km in the race - 4:07. Where was the guy in red?
I saw him about 400m ahead.
This was good! He looked back and saw me gaining on him. Now this is what I call a race. 4Km left? Piece a cake. No holding back.
In short order, I caught up with him and passed him. I looked back - Mark was also passing people.
We hit a short uphill. The guy in red caught up but I quickly passed him. For good this time. I only saw him at the finish, which was a mess of crowds and no signs or directions. Last Km in 5:15. Our time, 1:49:39. I will take it!
We finished strong this time. In terms of 5k splits: 23:41, 27:00, 25:58, 27:30
While refueling, we found GK who had finished in 2:10 - he hadn't run for sometime due to a knee injury. I would have wanted to meet the guy in blue and thank him for inspiring us but we never saw him.
We noted that there was no half-assed idiot in trucks like we were wearing last year. No wonder we bonked. So even our gear improved showing we are improving. Were we better or our guy was just having a bad day? Hell yeah! we improved. In fact, our guy seems to have maintained - I bet he probably finished in 1:54 or something.
Now its all about Stanchart which is in five weeks. For me:
- No more mileage - just intensity.
- Lose 3-4Kgs.
- Better and focused speedwork.
And oh, I did a 9K this morning - the search for that sub 1:35 in Stanchart is on!