Or are you unflappable?
I have a little of both in me...!
Now while I've been racing for over 30 years with something like 1000 races under the belt I know about the pre-race nerves, and I was feeling them on Wednesday before the race! OK maybe I wasn't nervous but a little excited, it would be my 6th race of the year, and the first long trail race. 3 hours of racing (my time form 2 years ago 3h02:48). While with the short trails I've raced I spend the whole time playing catchup and running in oxygen debt, this would be different!
By Friday I was relaxed and because of the early start I was packed and ready for the 04h15 alarm call!
|Time to get ready|
|Are we ready...|
One guy had bolted like he had been drinking jet fuel! but the rest of the field was in a long line with me at the back of the leading bunch. With all of 300m run I decided that 15 places back wasn't the place to be, so I, knowing what lay ahead, started passing people...
Soon it was only rocket man ahead and I had to pick up the pace to pass him before the real climbing started... It was race on with me shaking things up as I hit the front.
Nicholas covered my move as did Morne and Chad... The rest of the field also picked up the pace to stay in touch. The old body didn't feel to bad as we started the climb, I promise I didn't force the pace, but by 3km and the turn to Clovelly and Kalk Bay Peak the 4 of us were away. I was happy with how things were going and the plan was to keep the lead, keep setting the pace, keep control of the race till we crossed Ou Kaapse Weg. I like to lead, it lets me stretch my legs on the climbs and put other out of their comfort zone, I want then playing catch-up when I'm relaxing, I want to see the trail so I know where I hopping over what rocks and how the weave down the single tracks.
The morning views were amazing and I kept thinking about what pictures I would be trying to take if I was alone on a training run, I'll have to be back to watch the sun rise from the top of the mountain... back to the race! After Muizenberg Peak there is a flat stretch and the pace picked up 6:04, 4:37, 4:12... Then it was back to the rugged single tracks... and the car park leg 1 was finished!
Dawn was over Ou Kaapse Weg in the reserve walking the Puppies, who were terribly excited to see me. I had finally slowed and the other 3 had pushed on, I had told them to pick the pace up, so maybe I hadn't really slowed. Either way I let them go. By the time they hit the road they had 30sec on me and they were pushing hard. (I don't know why, maybe testing each other and jockeying for position). I was watching them as I climbed the road, Dawn drove past egging me on, but I didn't fall for it I'm not fit enough to keep the hammer down...
With the tar and the gravel road now behind us I looked at the climb and took a split to the boys time to see if I was going backwards or not! 35sec, no worries we were climbing again and I might just close the gab... it did come down, all the way to 10 sec, but then...
They had disappeared... it took me 2km before I would see them again and the gap was now 90sec and the 3 of them where still together! Right turn and up the gravel road then left onto the single track. Time to up the tempo and close the gap!
Nice Coach still only 90sec I'm back in the game, then over the hill I caught sight of them again, no wait it was only of Morne, he had fallen off the other 2, time to chase!!! I glanced at my watch and started the chase...
...but never got to where he had been the route turn right up to Noordhook Peak and he (and the front 2 guys) had stayed on the Amphitheatre Path cutting out 1.4km with 70m climb. (7:30 my guess with the help of Garmin Connect, will get out and run it time to check).
On with my race, I was now in the front and it was up to me to just not be caught from behind, I had no idea as the what the others were doing, I only found out what they had done later. Before I headed down I looked back to see if I was now the target of the 2nd placed runner, I saw nobody. So instead of tearing down the mountain I controlled my pace till I hit the single track, which started easy before turning into more of a cliff face!
As always I was pleased to have that behind me, and now with only about 2km of single track left before I would cross the road and head down to the finish. I was getting tired 2 and a half hour of hard running will do that to you, and a lot of it I had been alone just pushing myself.
Dawn and the Puppies were there to support me as I headed through the car park and off on the last leg of this race. Lucky for us it's only about 5km and mostly down hill... It wasn't all plain sailing as my left leg decided to have a little cramp! It wasn't to bad and a few seconds of walking and a little stretch and I could run home, finishing in 2h59:04.
I ended up 4th over the line, but.... It was a difficult call and not mine to make, but I was involved in explaining what happened and how I saw the race! I could have lodged an official complaint and then waited for the reports form the official checking numbers up at Noordhook Peak, but why!!! I would never have caught Nicholas or Chad... Morne on the other hand was off the pace and only 5-6 min ahead and wasn't running strong at the end...
They gave me 3rd and 2nd 40+ (Chad was 1st 40+) Morne didn't loss out as he was 2nd 20-39...
|Chad and I fighting over the Bubbly|
|So we climbed a bit|