Tuesday 3 February 2015
Training for Rome Marathon (for real this time)
Week 4 of 10: Day 20
46 days to go
The Kid is sick. She has the flu. Firstborn Daughter and I are walking around with garlands of garlic strung around our necks and our compulsive handwashing with anti-bacterial soap would do Lady Macbeth proud.
Neither of us will come within touching or breathing distance of The Kid who, in turn, is trying her utmost to be close to everyone. She has stationed herself in the lounge, from where she can call for service and spread her germs as efficiently as possible. She sits propped up on pillows, surrounded by used tissues and half-drunk glasses of water, sniffing loudly and groaning continually.
We will not be sick and we will not be injured. Even if it means hiring a private nurse to come and see to The Kid.
Well, of course I’m doing nothing of the kind. Of course I was up in the middle of the night, delivering glasses of water, snapping Panado tablets in half and waiting patiently while she gags and chokes on each piece. And of course I slept on the one couch while she slept (and groaned) on the other. Slept. Yes, well. Maybe saying I slept is a bit optimistic. I did also have a cat on my chest, a puppy wedged between my butt and the backrest of the couch, and a heavy black dog on my legs. And there was groaning going on. Lots of groaning.
Lack of sleep, fairly vigorous exercise, a ton of work and a sick kid. This is a good combination – not – for someone who is trying to get herself in a reasonable condition for an overseas trip and a sporting event of some magnitude.
Today’s Embark Training Two Oceans Half Marathon training schedule tells me I will be running a 5 km time trial. I have been looking forward to this time trial since the beginning of the training course, keen to see if I have grown stronger and faster. But, for some reason, today I suddenly start dreading it as if it were a half marathon. I feel almost as if I’m going to be writing a test and I really should have gone over my work a few more times, studied a bit harder, just to be sure that I know enough to pass.
The Kid has to get to the orthodontist first, though, sick or not, and then I need to get back home, get changed and get back to Camps Bay. All the while I am secretly hoping that there will be a delay at the orthodontist, that I’ll be too late to go to training, that I’ll miss the warm-up, at least, and maybe even the whole session, including the time trial.
The orthodontist appears to be running late, and I spend quite a long while sitting in the waiting room, alternating watching the magnificent outfits being worn by waiflike creatures gliding down slippery runways on Fashion TV and reading Philomena on my iPad. Time ticks by and my chances of missing training are looking good. I’m already anticipating how disappointed I’m going to be about missing the time trial and wondering how well (or badly) I would have done. Such rotten luck having so much to do all the time …
But we’re back in the car in no time, the kid feverish and sweaty, her head thrown back against the seat, dozing, and holding her plastic bag of orthodontic goodies. Even the late-afternoon traffic is conspiring to get me to training on time.
Back home, Firstborn Daughter is already home from work and dressed in her running gear. She’s going to attempt an hour’s run instead of doing a time trial and, given the number of hours she’s racked up recently, it’s probably a good idea.
No amount of faffing about can make me run out of time and so, there I am, back in the car and heading back to Camps Bay. I can’t figure out this apprehension. If anything, I’m able to run a little 5 km distance by now. I mean, I ran a half marathon up hill and down dale just a while ago. And that wasn’t even my first half marathon in the last number of months. I’m being ridiculous and I know it. And I’m boring even myself with this nonsense. Good grief!
The warm-up is an easy run from Maiden’s Cove into Camps Bay and back up the little incline called The Fairway (a killer at the end of a long race, like the Bay2Bay, for example) to where we started from, before we do some plyometric warm-ups to fill half an hour. I always worry about the warm-up. I think all the energy I would have had for the run is being expended on the so-called warm-up. Tonight feels not too bad, though.
And then we line up and set off on our time trial: 2.5 km along Victoria Road to the Ambassador Hotel, turn around at the pedestrian crossing traffic light, and back to Maiden’s Cove. A nice and neat 5 km stretch of road winding along the coast. Windstill patches of blazing sun give way to cool, shaded areas where sea breezes bring some relief. Although the road seems flat, it has a slight gradient, and Strava shows an elevation of 142 m.
I set off feeling heavy and slow. I knew those two hotcross buns with cheese were a bad idea. There’s something about the sulphur in the raisins, I think, that always wipe me out. I remind myself that I always feel this way for at least the first ten minutes of a run, and that some of those people passing me now will be walking soon. I keep to my pace, which feels really slow and arduous, and am surprised when my Garmin tells me that I had run the first km in under six minutes – 5:38, to be precise. No, this is no Olympic standard, but it’s a bit of a big deal for me.
And here is the fascinating thing about running (or any endurance sport) – no, this is not new, of course it’s not new, but it reveals itself to me in each and every run: how much of how you run depends not so much on your physical abilities but on your mental state. How much you believe in yourself, how much you’re prepared to push yourself, how much you’re able to tell your head to just shut up and your body to just run.
I knew I was feeling fine. I knew I was running well – running well for me, I mean, not running well as in leading the pack – and yet in my head I would caution myself to just ease off for a few hundred metres, just recover for a bit, just take it easy on this incline, don’t push too hard, there’s still quite a way to go. Even at the last 200 m, when I could see the end, I seemed to be throwing out tiny little anchors, for fear of embarassing myself when I run in – you know, that end-of-race vomit in front of spectators …?
My Garmin tells me I did the time trial in 29:02. ‘Best time!’ it said on the screen. Best time. Wow. I’m all grins and feeling pleased.
But it could have been better. Had I not allowed that mean-spirited, sabotaging Negative Mind in those few times, had I been more forceful in telling it to shut up, had I just pushed on, I could have run so much faster.
And even that is something to feel pleased about: I ran my best time, and I know I had more left inside. I could have gone further and I could have gone faster. It’s probably time to stop harping on about how I can’t even run 5 km. It really is getting tired.