And that would be the end of Week 2 of Hal Higdon’s Eight-Week Marathon Programme. I keep clicking on my Strava training log to take a look at that neat row of little green dots – and one bigger, red one at the end. They make me feel quite pleased and almost a little bit smug. Each little green dot hovers above its dotted line, like a helium balloon, marking the correct number of kilometres completed on the correct day and the correct number of days. The line of green balloons is punctuated by a red balloon, slightly bigger than each of the green ones, for my 15 km run on Sunday, when I ran the Hout Bay Harriers Chappies Challenge. It’s got to make you smile.
Today is Monday, rest day, and I can’t wait for Tuesday to get back to the business of collecting green dots on my Strava training log.
Running the Chappies Challenge did mean that I had a 4 km deficit for the day, though, as Sunday’s run, according to the programme, was supposed to be 19 km. The plan was to run the race as a training run; nice and easy, nice and slow, marathon pace, no heroics, and then, once I crossed the finish line and collected my medal, to go for a 4 km run to clock up the distance.
But it’s quite hard, really, to go for another run after you’ve crossed the finish line. A race is a social event, as much as it’s training and an opportunity to push yourself. The Significant Other was there, looking well pleased with his time, and I wanted to wait for Firstborn Daughter and The Boyfriend to finish their 10 km run so that I could cheer for them. So, once everyone was in, everyone had medals, everyone had patted everyone else on the back and said ‘Well done’ and the obligatory selfie had been taken, it seemed like a good idea to go for a celebratory coffee. And then, after the coffee and the drive home, the best thing in the world to do is … no, not go for a post-race 4 km run in the rain.
The Chappies Challenge starts with a flat, 4 km loop and then turns into a steady 5 km climb to the turnaround point. Then it’s downhill all the way home. Or so they would like you to believe. About a kilometre or more from the finish, the road suddenly veers skyward again. A sneaky little surprise ending. The road narrows to a footpath just wide enough for single-file running and it’s here that most people in my section of the race start to walk. If you would prefer to keep running, well, you’re stuck. The ground on either side of the path is too steep and the long grass too wet and slippery. It was here that I had that sharp, excruciating foot pain again – the one I had felt towards the end of last week’s half marathon. It’s a bit worrying. It seems to happen mostly on the downhill and if this pesky pain persists (oooh – note the alliteration mania going on) it’s going to be sheer agony running a full marathon. It’s time to google ‘running injuries’ and ‘foot pain’ and ‘pain in the middle and big toes while running’. The answers are always the same – RICE.
Anyway, by the time I was done, I felt I had done a decent morning’s work, and the missing 4 km would be neither here nor there. But it’s Monday morning and I’m still stressing about the 4 km! Oh well … maybe I can add them to this week’s training runs?
But what a great run. I finished in 1:38, which is not exactly Usain Bolt, but setting a pace that would make me strut about, feeling pleased, wasn’t ever the plan. All I wanted to achieve was to run all the way up the incline to the turnaround point without hating every step, without wanting to vomit and, most importantly, without walking. I was tempted to stop and take a pic of the magnificent view but I resisted. Some kind of pride and work ethic kicked in – just maintaining marathon pace was the goal, which meant that a slow finish was guaranteed; there was no need to turn the finish time into a joke and having to watch the Significant Other compose his face as he tries to say ‘well done’! So I kept going, taking in the views, breathing in the mountain air and maintaining marathon pace more or less all the way, with the final average pace being faster than marathon pace (but I have the lovely downhill to thank for that).
And, apart from feeling very pleased about the fact that I kept on keeping on, I also felt such a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude for being there, in this quite magical place, with the mountain rising up on my left, its peaks disappearing into the low-hanging clouds, and the cliffs dropping down to the ocean on my right. Gratitude for the privilege of being able to run, at whatever speed. And gratitude for having (most of) my family with me, all taking part in doing something healthy, fulfilling, positive and joyous. I still need to find the correct alchemy of coaxing, threatening, bribing and pleading to get The Kid out of bed, laced up and running with us. I doubt I’ll ever see that day but who knows? One day at a time …