I just got back to the flat in Port Elizabeth Central after a 30km run out in Seaview with Robyn, who I work with at the hospital and a few others from her running club Charlo. It was supposed to be 30km, but I only managed 28km. We went out quite fast I felt, for a long run, doing about 5 and half minutes per kilometer for the first 15km. The second half of the route was quite hilly, and I did a lot of walking. I just didn’t have the juice in my legs today, struggling from about 21km onwards. The last bit was a winding gentle uphill that went on for about 4km, which isn’t far by anyone’s standards (I don’t think) least of all a runner (I think I can call myself that 😌) but my state of mind at that point, having been running for over 2 hours with the sun bearing down almost directly at us (so it felt like) was not conducive to any sort of gritty put-your-head-down-and-work-it strategy that one would normally employ at that stage, in desparation. It had been dark cool and quite foggy at 6am when we’d started earlier…
The previous day I ran a 10km road race at Lake Farm, not far from Seaview. I did it in 48mins which isn’t too bad. I have definitely run faster 10km races before but this too was quite a hilly bugger.
As you can probably tell hills are a problem for me. In road running, as in life though having to go uphill every now and then is inevitable. It’s all about one’s approach isn’t it? It makes sense that if you just put your head down and give it a good hard go you’ll get over it (the hill that is) faster. It’ll hurt (like a female dog!) obviously, but you’ll definitely be stronger for having gotten through it, as in life. All of this is very easily said, of course and I sound like I know what I’m talking about but that is so far from the truth that it is actually depressing and somewhat soul-destroying (if you will allow me a little hyperbolizing 😋) In real life (or do I mean in a road race?) when I see a hill coming up I put my head down sure, but when I get to the hill a mental switch goes off and no matter how good I’m feeling or how hard I’ve been pushing I then proceed to put one leg in front of the other with the sole intent (it seems) to survive the hill rather than own it as my above described bravado would suggest. This makes for a slower pace, more akin to the resigned shuffle I have spoken about before.
Seaview is absolutely beautiful and even after almost a year here in PE, and getting out there every other weekend I still can’t get over that. The greens, browns and greys that make up the surrounding scenery are so vivid it is almost surreal. The never ending road on a long run though is somewhat less awe-inspiring methinks “Some people are lucky enough to actually live out here!” I often exclaim to myself. So if anything when one of the other Charlo club guys picked me up in his car at the 28km mark I was miserable because of how I felt physically and because I didn’t finish the planned distance but I was inspired (sort of) by the surroundings.
I spent the last 30 minutes of the run fantasizing about buying a Vitamin Water after the run at the petrol station not far from the start/finish point. But when we finally got there (by car and not on tired but triumphant legs as initially planned) I bought the sweetest coldest drink I could see in the fridge, a Fanta! Not exactly the drink of champions but there you are. This along with the biggest bottle of ice cold water on sale and a chocolate, also the biggest one I could find. There are no rules and there is no conscience (at least not one I’m willing to acknowledge, guilty or otherwise) when you’ve been running for 3 hours!
The author of The Oatmeal, a blog I read sometimes (theoatmeal.com/blog) is a keen runner. In an old post he talked about getting home after a great race and wanting to tip over the fridge and devour everything that fell out. I can certainly identify with that urge. When I got back a little while ago I had half a pizza left over from yesterday and having composed this latest post, the plan right now is to have a wee sleep before hitting the books for a couple of hours. I have to go in to work later, I am on call at the hospital tonight.