Posts Tagged ‘ultramarathon’

Two Oceans 2012

This is a running blog and I will do my best to stick to talking about the race and not about the FANTASTIC holiday we all had in South Africa this Easter.


Chapter 1 (Don’t worry these are short chapters): The Preparation


My training this year has been a mere shadow of last year’s. My long run count was down by nearly half (6 runs of 18 miles or over, compared with 13 runs last year). My 12-week average leading into this year’s race hovered just below 60. Last year it had been early 70’s.

But let’s dispense with bland statistics at this point, because, as we all know, we can massage them to tell whatever story we like. The bottom line is that this year I was a lot more relaxed about my buildup and was feeling in great shape. I had my form verified by two performances – a half marathon PB in 77:26 and a 20 mile “marathon pace” race in 2:09. I knew I hadn’t logged the big miles but felt I was in decent shape anyway. I was in a good place.


Chapter 2: The Hiccough


Two weeks before race day I developed a nasty cough. Was it mental? Would it go away? What the hell man. I didn’t go to the doctor. I should have. The cough didn’t go away. In Cape Town, three days before the race my sister insisted I see a doctor. (She is a wise woman, my sister). The doc broke the news that I had bronchitis. He told me not to run, and immediately followed that up by announcing that he expected I would ignore his advice and run (He is a wise man, that doctor). I dosed up on the meds and waited for a miraculous recovery.


Chapter 3: Race time


Rain had been forecast for the day. The forecast was right. But we had a dry first hour, so hey let’s not complain. I set off knowing I needed 4:10 or quicker per km, in order to average the 4:17 required for a silver medal. (Breaking 4 hours at Oceans gets you a silver medal). First km or two I was in thickish crowds working my way through. The splits were 4:50 and 4:20. No problem yet. Once I got into my running I ran a couple of sub 4min kays and settled into a pace ticking off kays in the 4:00 to 4:05 window. It felt incredibly easy and I held back, told myself not to get carried away (bitch, be cool). 10km came and went, then 15. All still good. I saw the family all waiting for me between the 15k and 16k mark. High fives and lots of cheering. They’re awesome and I felt great seeing them.

Around 17k I caught up with the unofficial silver bus. A group led by a guy who could allegedly run 3hr55 to 3hr58 with the reliability of death and taxes. I latched on and patted myself on the back for finding this group. From now on I could relax and not think about pace. These guys were the Oceans experts; they knew how to do this.

I was still keeping track of my splits out of interest and after a few kays in the 4:15 to 4:35 range I asked running buddy Adam (another passenger) whether he thought the pace was right. He wasn’t sure. We waited another few kays. The pace wasn’t picking up. We were now running out of flat kilometres on which to bank time. In a few kilometres’ time we were hitting Chapman’s Peak, a climb that announces the second half of the race. Still, to my retrospective regret I made the mistake of sticking with them. I was second guessing myself now. Have I got this wrong? Maybe this pace is right. Wouldn’t I be an idiot if I set off only to be caught by the wizened heads in two hours’ time.

Finally we went through halfway and I knew I’d screwed it up. 1:58:30. I had exactly 90 seconds of cushion to handle the multiple big climbs in the second half, not to mention general fatigue that would soon set in.

Enough is enough and I set off ahead of the group. I was on my own now and made a big push, far too big, up Chapman’s Peak. The km going up Chappies was my fastest in the last 10. On a damn uphill. It was too much. Going down the other side of Chappies I knew I was done. Adam had caught me and I told him silver was still on the cards, just, if he had anything in his legs. He pulled away and I didn’t see him again until much later.

From 32km to the marathon mark I shuffled along. I tried to keep my legs going at a decent pace but the earlier mistakes were unforgiving. I got to the marathon in 3:04 and resigned myself to a final 14km of jogging. I resolved not to stop at any point, nor to fail to notice the wonderful scenery I was running through.

I caught Adam at the start of Constantia Nek, the final infamous climb in the race, from 44 to 46km.

In the pouring rain earlier on, and with two hours plus of running in soaking wet kit I had chafed on a level not experienced before. I won’t go into details for obvious reasons, but it had got to the point that blood had run all the way down my leg and into my shoe. I hadn’t even noticed until another runner pointed it out to me at about the 50k mark. Pretty embarrassing. I managed to rinse it away with some water at a water point so  it didn’t look too noticeable. Let’s just say the post-race shower was not as pleasant as it could have been. I was still wearing plasters two days later.

Anyway back to the race. I settled in to focussing on proper running again from the top of the Nek and got the pace back down to under 4:20 for the final 5 or 6 kays now. The only motivation being that I might beat my 4hr17 from last year.

I finished in 4hr14, with my awesome supporters, Bec, Jode, Amy and Dianne, braving the atrocious mud and cold rain on the UCT Rugby fields where the race finishes. Dale was also in attendance, but had been assigned the task of looking after our younger support crew members, Abigail and Matt, in the warmer confines of one of the cars.


Chapter 4: Final thoughts


Oceans 2012 was a race I will remember for:


  • what might have been


  • excessive chafing


  • how lucky I am to have such hardy supporters, braving pretty much anything and always with a smile and always cheering wildy as I shuffle past, invariably at a pace far slower than I promised beforehand.



You win this one, Two-Oceans-Silver-Medal. But you will see me again. Oh yes; we have unfinished business.


Read Full Post »