One marathon under the belt.
It may have been a slow one, but it is a completed one.
The point was simply to do the distance. Get out there in the early morning biting cold, line up with about 2 000 runners, try to keep up with them for as long as possible – while walking, not running – be left behind very quickly, and exercise the mind-control I’m going to need to get me through 42,2 km of no-man’s land without giving up.
I was in no-man’s land from about 18 km … that stretch of road where the people up ahead are too fast to catch, and the people behind are to slow to wait for.
But it was a glorious day in Cape Town, and the Cape Town Marathon was excellently organised: loads of refreshment stations, lots of friendly, encouraging marshals, even friendly, joking, encouraging traffic officials. It was cold to start with, and there were shady patches that were quite chilly, but overall, it was a wonderful, sunshiny day with not a breath of wind – a perfect day for a personal best, if that was your goal.
The New York Marathon is six weeks away. Doing the Cape Town Marathon was a gamble: I could either injure myself and ruin the NYM for myself, or be so undertrained that I hit the wall, become discouraged (and ruin the NYM for myself), or it could be a good way of getting some extra time on my legs. The Cape Town weather had been horrible for days on end, and I didn’t manage to get much training in. I’m not a believer in treadmills. I think they give you a false sense of confidence and there is something about the mechanics of it all that hurts my knees. So, although I had been to gym, my walking training had suffered a bit.
All-in-all it went pretty well. I had been on an online nutrition (and exercise … but I’ve not been very present on the prescribed exercise) programme for about three weeks, and was feeling slimmed-down (No muffin top bubbling over my sweat pants! Yay! No jiggly mounds in my sports bra!) and ready. The 36 km mark was at the end of my road, and I briefly pictured myself bailing; taking a left turn and going home. Then I pictured myself walking into the house, everybody saying ‘Have you finished already?!’ and me having to say ‘No, I bailed.’ I carried on.
And it paid off. This morning I’m a bit stiff and a little bit fatigued, but it’s a good stiff and fatigued … a healthy one. I slept well and feel wide awake this morning. I’ve not made it to the gym yet, but will at some stage today. I have only a few weeks to go; I can’t slack off now!
My biggest problem is finding out what nutrition to take during a race. I find everything, so far, ends up giving me stomach cramps. I have learnt to avoid the sugary, fizzy drinks, and stick only to water, but I need to replenish my body with something, especially if I’m going to be walking for six to seven hours.
This time I tried Energade jellies. Having been on a strict diet of no sugar, I think my body rejected the sugar and there I was, biting through stomach cramps for more than half the marathon. I had better figure out what to eat and drink during the next six weeks, or the NYM is going to be less pleasant than I would like it to be. The 360XBT nutrition guru suggested raisins and beetroot juice. I’m going to give those a try on my next long walk … which will not be today!