JOHANNESBURG - I had clearly underestimated the impact Comrades 2018 had on me. But boy am I scarred! I realised this on Sunday during the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon where I had a pretty good run despite not finishing in a sub-3 hour time as I’d hoped.
Granted I had not trained well enough to achieve the goal, a niggling toe injury ensuring that much. And so I had to be content with a 3:06:57 finish. But I ran with fear, because thanks to the scary experience from the KwaZulu-Natal ultra marathon that saw me end up with an electrolyte replacing drip in my arm deep in the bowels of the Moses Mabhida Stadium back in June.
The nurses then told me I’d suffered from dehydration, my electrolytes having been depleted due to my poor nutrition en route of the 90.1km race. “If only you’d taken some energy drink on the way,” the nurses had told me.
Of course 42.2km is not that long but I went to the Mother City prepared not to suffer a similar fate. And I had no less than two 250ml bottles of energy drink at separate support points (22km and 36km) as well as one of tomato juice at the 30km mark.
But as I flew through the initial stages of the race - I always start fast - I found myself looking for energy drinks at the official water points. That they only had water got me developing a strange fear that had me wondering if I’d make it to our club’s support mark.
Memories of that Comrades experience where I found myself feeling so cold and shivering on the side of the road came flooding back. Try as hard as I could to block them out, I just could not and at one stage I got tempted to ask one of the elite runners - Rene Kalmer - for a sip of her drink. She incredibly took just one sip and threw the bottle away, and that I did not pick it up after her speaks volumes of my discipline.
A happy birthday to my very good friend Ernest. May you have a great run. I will be waiting at the finish line with a PB as your gift pic.twitter.com/PBkfU4JBco
Whereas us social runners have about three, if not four support points - and that is if your club is as organised as ours, and some runners enjoy no such backing - the elite get support at much more regular intervals.
As luck would have it, a local Spar had a support point just before the 20km mark and lo and behold they had energy drinks. So pleased I was at the sight of the drinks that I literally stopped to take the cup. But I had to ask what energy drink it was.
Our club chairman Bongani Bilankulu, who ran an incredible Fat Cats AC record of 2h46, passed me at that point. Normally I’d have quickly flew to catch up with him, but I took my time in replenishing, concerned that I do not have another cold episode ala at Comrades.
The sub 3 did not materialise but 3h06 for @CTMarathon ain't too shabby. Happy with the run. @fatcats_ac runners ran PBs galore with chair @Bilankulu_B leading by example with a magnificent 2h46. #RedSkippa rocks
Still, I left that spot in anticipation of our support point where I’d get my own energy drink. The bottle acquired, I sped away taking intermittent sips and still sure I’d make the sub-3. Of course deeper into the race my pace slowed as it always does.
But the wheels came off in the last four kilometres and not even an encouragement from Asics Front Runner Wandisile Nongodlwana could get me digging deep to up the pace. I simply dragged myself to the finish line. Still, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon was a beautiful race - my Comrades demons notwithstanding. Gotta get rid of them fast if I am to clock up that new PB.