I honestly don't have a lot of words to describe how I am feeling right now...
Frustrated is definitely one of them, sad should be in there, mad, well kinda, but mostly just very disappointed...
After being unable to compete in the Two Oceans event for the 3 years I was gone in the States,(from August 2015-Jun 2018), I finally got my chance to line-up at the start of the Two Oceans Half Marathon yesterday. (In my post 'The Medals Against the Wall" I share my first Two Oceans Half Marathon Experience.) Yesterday the Two Oceans Marathon celebrated its 50-years of running the event.
"The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon has earned a reputation as the world’s most beautiful marathon. The first race was held in 1970 and saw 26 runners line up to face the unknown challenge. Since then, the race has become a national institution and a firm favourite with local, upcountry, and international athletes. Old Mutual is proud to continue its association with this great event, which is the premier event in their road-running portfolio. Participants can choose from various distances – the scenic 56km ultra marathon or popular 21km half marathon and the 5km or 2.5km fun runs. The event attracts close to 30 000 participants across all the distances and provides them with a mixture of breathtaking scenery, a gruelling test of fitness for both the elite and recreational runner, and an unrivalled race organisation and atmosphere. Participants consistently vote it as one of the best in South Africa and it continues to attract strong fields and an increasing number of international entrants. The event has become synonymous with the Easter Weekend in Cape Town, with the pre-race activities at the expo, family day, and fun runs on Easter Friday. En-route entertainment on the race day provides fun, excitement, and a unique experience to runners, family, friends, and spectators alike." - Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon
Less than two months ago, I was booked into hospital to get a back operation. However, I got a second opinion and with the right rehab and treatment I managed to get back in time for the Two Oceans. I lined up with only 8-weeks of running, but that I did everything in my ability to get there and was ready to give everything I had!
MY RACE PLAN WAS SIMPLE
BUILD UP AND FINISH STRONG: Start conservatively, make sure the first kilometer is controlled. I drove the route again to make sure I knew the profile and what to expect. I knew I had to pace myself with the hills, so I can finish strong!
FLAT OUT: GIVE MY ABSOLUTE BEST! No holding back, this is not a tempo run. Run with everything you got!
RACE: Knowing that some of the best women in Africa were running, I knew it was going to be one hell of a race and I made myself ready to chase!
RUN WITH HEART: To me this was big, after everything I went through this year already, this was my chance to make a really good comeback. This was more than just a half-marathon to me, it was an opportunity to race against some of the best and prove I can be one of them!
A light drizzle starts coming down while the national anthem is playing. My legs are shaking, my heart is already racing, waiting in anticipation for that gun to go off... They take away the tape in front of the elite section and they shout: "Only 30-seconds remaining, stay behind the line!" The gun goes off and 16 000 runners run into the dark of the Newlands Main Road. (The half-marathon race starts at 5:50am, while it is still pitch dark outside.)
1K: I am in-control. I started out conservatively with 3:23 for my first kilometer. I am right where I need to be among the top 10 women.
2K: Time to start climbing and chasing...we approach the first hill and I start chasing the women in front of me. One by one, I will work my way up...
3K: I am in the top 5, first Nedbank woman, and nearly at the top of the hill approaching the first downhill. We get to the downhill, it's very steep, the rain is pouring down, the road is wet, there's no street lights...
3.87K... I slip and fall straight back on my lower-back/coccyx bone. It happened so fast, going through the first water station I stepped onto a water sachet someone threw down and slipped.
Race over...after less than 4km!
The helpers took me to the side. Just coming off a back injury, you can imagine how terrifying it must have been to fall back AGAIN! I laid there next to the road at the water station, a dull aching pain in my back, uncertain if I hurt something again...I waited for more than an hour for the medics to arrive! I am very thankful for the kind Two Oceans helpers who looked after me and gave me a blanket to support me until the medical team arrived. Tears rolled down my face as I looked at the clock and realized I would have just finished, if I stayed on pace...
The disappointment was just overwhelming.
It took the medics another 3-hours to get me to the finish with the road closures and traffic. By the time I was finally in the medical tent at the finish line, it felt like I ran the Ultra not the Half! I heard the amazing news that Gerda Steyn successfully defended her Two Oceans Ultra Marathon title running the second fastest time ever ran over this course! I felt so happy, yet so sad that I couldn't even see it happen! What an incredible run! Truly one of my biggest inspirations and one of South Africa's best distance runners ever!
If you have had as many falls in a lifetime as I have had, it is hard not to feel like not getting back up again. I felt so embarrassed. And what are the odds...why me again? But it could happen to anyone! Not only is running races in the dark dangerous, and something I wish Two Oceans could do different with their half marathon is to start a bit later, once the sun has already risen. Not only for safety purposes, but also so runners can see and enjoy the pretty route - by the time the leaders finish the sun only rises.
Aside from racing in the dark, the BIG ISSUE is just throwing down a WATER SACHET anywhere!
Modern Athlete launched the #RunClean campaign in July 2015. Their mission is to promote a cleaner sport to eradicate the litter problems at races and events in South Africa. The campaign targets runners, clubs, events and regional athletics provinces. Awareness for the campaign is driven across various marketing elements such as print media, social media platforms and on runners entry forms etc., with the objective of educating runners to “think before they throw their water sachets".
This initiative encourages runners to commit to:
Think twice about tossing the water sachet!
Carry own water
Wear running kit with a pocket
Promote a no littering rule
Volunteer to help clean up at a water table races/events
I hope people start thinking twice before throwing down your water sachet in a race. It may have serious consequences to someone else. Aside from that, running with your water sachet until you see a bin, will not slow you down. It's really not heavy at all or difficult to carry.
I would like to say thank you for my sponsors: Nedbank Running Club, Nike South Africa, BiogenSa, FutureLife SA, Bavaria, Tsogo Sun for the support to get me to the start line. I appreciate all the time, effort, planning and preparation that went into this event. I am very privilege to be part of the Green Dream Team and the Nedbank Running Club.
Congratulations to all of those running and finishing the race yesterday. Super proud of my athlete, Jana Le Roux, that ran and completed her first Ultra Marathon. As well, as my boyfriend that got a silver medal, clocking Sub-90 minutes, in the half-marathon.
To all of those that sent me messages yesterday and today via WhatsApp and social media, I just want to say thank you! You have no idea what it meant to me and how it helped me to lift my head back up again, and get back up after yet another humiliating fall and setback. You give me new hope...
I promise, I will get back up...