Kloof Nek Classic 21,1 km

31 January 2016

This morning was the Kloof Nek Classic 21,1 km. This was meant to be my tapering run after having run the 20-miler last weekend. The 20 miler would have been wedged between two weeks of solid mid-week training.

Neither the two weeks of mid-week training (solid or otherwise) nor the 20 miler happened.

After mom died on Saturday I didn’t much feel like putting in a big, long run on the Sunday morning.

The week that followed involved all sorts of arrangements and, well, I didn’t much feel like running then either.

Yesterday morning was my first attempt in two weeks at any kind of run. And we know how that went.

Getting ready to go this morning was pretty uneventful and not as stressful as it usually is. The Significant Other is not running. An Achilles tendonitis is keeping him off the roads. So I had the bathroom to myself and didn’t have someone constantly in and out of whatever room I was in, filling the space with his noise and stress.

I left on time, found parking easily (without the usual heated negotiation about where to park) and was on the field, waiting for the start gun, with about 20 minutes to spare. I was just so organized and together!

KLOOF NEK START_IMG_2849_LOW RES

Semi-dark. The early morning start. And I am on time for a change!

And then, six minutes before the start gun, I needed the toilet. Badly. Nothing to be done about that, though. The toilets were way too far away, there would likely be queues and I was not chasing the runners as they headed out the gate (the way I had to last year!).

So I stayed put and prepared myself for an uncomfortable ride!

My goal this morning was simply to make cutoff. I trundled along at a slow, easy pace, walked when I needed to and ran again when I felt like it. I ate some Power wafers, drank water at each aid station, got myself into a froth about people littering (wtf is WRONG with people?! Why are they so self-centred, switched off and downright STUPID?)

LITTER_IMG_2857_LOW RES

Litterbugs, litterbugs, litterbugs … fouling the very environment they rely on for their sport. Stupid-stupid-stupid.

17 KM_LITTER_IMG_2860_LOW RES

No! This is a marker not a bin. No, leaving your sachets here is NOT okay. Would you do this at home? Does your garden look like this? Your kitchen? Your laundry hamper? Okay, my laundry hamper does, and it pisses me off.

I didn’t feel as absolutely horrible as I did last year, but I didn’t feel all sprightly and gazelle-like either. I felt fatigued even on the downhills.

HILL_IMG_2864_LOW RES

The hill … it just goes up and up … and up …

TABLE MOUNTAIN_IMG_2854_low res

There is something magical about being part of the world as the sun begins to illuminate it.

I stopped just before the 10 km mark to use the fresh and clean Table Mountain toilets (oh, wow, what a relief!), which gave those whom I had passed on the way up the opportunity to return the favour. I saw their little heads bobbing up and down in the distance and silently said my goodbyes. I wasn’t picking up the pace to catch them.

By the time I made it to the last few hundred metres – a stiff little incline and a turn around a grass field – I was pretty shattered. I stopped, leaned my hand on the wall and bent over, resting my legs and thinking not-so-positive throughts, while those who had already finished and were walking to their cars cheerily called to me to keep going, keep going, not so far now.

I had about fifteen minutes before cutoff. Plenty of time to stroll the few hundred metres to the finish line. I never walk along that last stretch. But today I really just didn’t care so terribly much. My last few runs had all been an effort. As far as I was concerned I was winning just by turning up today. Had I run the grassy distance to the finish line, I may have cut a minute off my time. Had I not stopped on that mean little incline, maybe I would have saved another minute. Had I not gone to the toilet, maybe a few more minutes.

On another day those few minutes would have meant a whole lot more to me. Today, not so much. And tomorrow and next week they will probably matter a whole lot more.

But I’m glad I got out there, I’m glad I did the distance, I’m glad I notched up another Kloof Nek Classic and that I did better than last year (especially with what seemed like much less effort).

I have no idea how I am running a marathon in a few weeks, though!

25 January 2015: 21 km, 8:05/km, 2:50:11

31 January 2016: 22,1 km, 7:10/km, 2:42:16

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