My 1st Marathon – Cape Town Marathon 25 Sept 2011
What was I thinking, how did I get myself into this… The adages of “die wat nie hoor nie moet voel” n “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” comes to mind. But these are all in retrospect lying in bed unable to move my legs the day after my 1st marathon.
I was the last person to think that I would be able to run a marathon so soon after literally 10 weeks of no training followed by 3 weeks of (inadequate) training. Ebrahim Abrahams (affectionately known as Braim… At this point I don’t know how much affection is left) sure can be convincing and I should be careful cause next he might have me jumping into a fire on the “whim” of him believing that I can do it.
Prior to the race I had mental images of me crawling across the finish line or collapsing at the end unable to move a muscle. Standing at the starting line I was thinking to myself…. “The furthest you have ever ran was 25km, and the longest you have been on the road was 3 hours”… As a word of caution – If you ever find yourself at this juncture of 3 weeks training for your 1st marathon, DO NOT… I repeat DO NOT go ahead and run it.
I certainly do not believe my first race was an epic failure in fact under the circumstances I feel I did pretty well!
The first 10km was hellish – stiff calves and shin muscles; and what I think was a lack of circulation to my feet. It felt like I was dragging along cement blocks tied to my ankles. That was however all sorted when I hit that first bridge in Rondebosch. Things were looking up from then onwards, however as usual the “flats” on Jan smuts (or anywhere in fact) are usually not my friend.
I was still sticking to the game plan though – Yep there was a game plan!! “Siraj, run at a “comfortable” pace of between 6:30 to 7min per km and you should make it in under 5hrs”. This meant that I had the “5hr bus” right on my heels for most of the race. Not being a sociable runner I opted to run on my own, however “the bus” was quite entertaining – with there singing and shouting!!!
I felt my second wind on my way out of Pinelands and with the added strength I decided to run a bit harder to make up for time I would lose on the dreaded “FLAT” lower Main Road.
At the half way mark I was still on target and was going strong. Lower main road was made so much easier with a few familiar and friendly supporters’ n cheerleaders. I must say that there was lots of encouragement from the side of the road – so a big thanks to everyone, you at least saw me when I was “still going strong” – you guys are awesome!!
At the 28km mark I had to institute a “run walk” method but I had to still maintain my average. At the 30km it all fell apart. This was when the highly energetic “5hr bus” caught up with and easily passed me. I was still optimistic that I had sufficient time (and energy) left to get me over the finish line in under 5 hours, and thus I had to maintain my game plan average. It was from that point that apparently the water points also were non-existent (seriously WPA you need to act into order with regards to the administration and logistics of this awesome route!!!)
It was however not to be… AND it was very disheartening…
The 5hr target was literally falling away by the second. When I reached the 41km mark (just outside the green point urban park aka the finish line) I could hear the countdown to the cut-off (i.e. my 5 hour target). I was close to tears for not being able to achieve my goal… But I decided to build a bridge and get over myself… I crossed the finish-line with huge smile to the sound of my fellow club-mates cheers.
Low-and-behold I was still standing… I was actually able to still stand (and walk!!) at the end of the 42km’s (FORTY TWO) and not feeling “close to death” as I had expected to. So now I can say with certainty I know what it’s all about; and I certainly know the effort required to train for such an amazing endurance event.
Congratulations to all those who participated in the race, and especially to the first time marathon runners. We made it!!!
Also – A special thanks to Braim for believing in me; and convincing me (in my time of madness) to do this – I am sorry that I couldn’t achieve the target and I hope that you are not too disappointed. Next time Insha’Allah
By: Siraj Majiet