This week has been a bit quiet on the walking front, after last week’s marathon. I decided that I needed some more strength and flexibility, and so have been going to yoga, callanetics and abs classes at gym, and working with some weights. I did a little leg stretch of 5 km during the week, and yesterday decided to brave the Cape Town Classic Half Marathon.
I say ‘brave’ because it’s a running race with ‘walkers welcome’. What that usually means is that hordes of fit runners and a small handful of super fast walkers turn up at the start line. The gun goes, and everyone disappears, leaving me standing, wiping their dust from my eyes … or would that be my tears that I am wiping from my eyes?
I turned up at the start and thought ‘ooooo … bad idea’. The field was quite small, which usually fills me with dread, as a small field means that only the serious runners have turned up, and there won’t be enough people slower than me to spare me the humiliation of coming stone last. Being a walker in a running race takes some steely resolve and self-esteem untrammelled by self-doubt and worries about what other people will think.
But I need not have worried. There were enough slow runners and walkers for me not to be conspicuous. I have also found that hills work to my advantage, especially if the hills are early in the race. Many runners underestimate their fitness and set off too fast. When they get past the first few paces up a hill, they start to huff and puff, slow down to a jog, a shuffle and then a walk. This is when I can come breezing past, still keeping my same walking pace, but feeling so much faster by comparison.
The weather was perfect, not a breath of wind, clear blue skies, and still cool once the sun was quite high. I felt strong, certainly stronger than last week. It’s great to feel the changes in my body, as it grows stronger (and lighter) with exercise. I did a bit of jogging on the downhills, and felt strong enough to run the last few hundred metres across the finish line, bringing my time to about 2 hours 54 minutes.
I still haven’t figured out what to eat during the race, though. I took the Energade sweeties along again, and ate a few at about the 15 km mark. By 18 km the stomach cramps started setting in. They work a bomb for my husband, and they did give me a boost of energy, but I could do with something that works better with my digestive system. Next week is Walking the Daisies, and I’ll give the raisins and goji berries a try.
One thing that still drives me flying bat crazy, though, is the littering. I can’t comprehend it! Why?! Why can someone not put a little plastic sachet in a bin? Why must it be tossed a few metres before or after the bin or, worse, further along the roadside, away from the refreshment station, which makes it less likely that it will be picked up by the volunteers? This morning a woman a few metres ahead of me unwrapped a sweet and tossed the wrapper on the ground. Why? The sweet must have come from a pouch or a pocket, and so why could the wrapper not go back where the sweet came from? I stopped and picked the wrapper up and put it in my pouch. I couldn’t spend the morning picking up everyone else’s litter, though, but I do think athletes should become less self-centred. What is this sense of entitlement that people have when they take part in a race? What leads them to believe that other people must clean up after them? We live along a windy coastline and so there is a good chance that the plastic could be blown into the ocean before someone has had the opportunity to pick up the mess you’ve left behind. And to get an inkling of what happens to plastic when it ends up in the sea, take a look at this Tim Silverwood video: