Standing at the start line I always have a feeling I describe as “nervously excited”. Sounds funny but its true. I’m excited to be able to run the race and at the same time, nervous as I’m not sure of what the finish line outcome will be. Never failing, this feeling was there on Sunday at the start of the Sarens Edenvale Marathon (42 km).
I had the pleasure of being a pacer, along with Stanley-Carl, to Nathalie who was running her first marathon. This was also her Comrades 2014 qualifier. The plan was to finish the marathon in just under 5 hours. So I was not necessarily running my own race. No pressure, you think. Well no! This was going to be the longest I’ve run since June 2013. I decided to go the whole race preparation route as its been a long time since I ran a race. This involves carb loading and taking gels during the run. On Saturday evening we had our final race prep session which was discussing the race pace, target time, race plan and counting out the required gel sachets. I was tasked with keeping our 10 km splits. If you know about me and memorising numbers, yes you are right! The splits were written down on a piece of paper and tucked away in my running pouch. Finally, making sure our race numbers and licences were pinned on properly, timing chips secured onto our laces and that our running kits were all laid out, we went to sleep. Sunday morning we were up at 4 am to get dressed and leave before the mad rush of the traffic to the start. It helps being early and getting to the start with some time to do a few stretches and to get the mind focused and final prepped for the 42 kilometers that await you. The gun went off at exactly 6 am and we were off……….
The start felt a little fast and we passed the 5 km marker ahead of our plan. 10 km down and we were still going and feeling good. 15 km down, 18 km down and extra time still in the bag. 21 km down and starting the second lap. Now the race would get interesting as we knew where all the climbs were. Watching the markers as we passed 25 km, 28 km, 32 km. Finally down to single digit kilometers left to go. This is the point where it starts getting hard, when your legs are tired and you have to dig deep within yourself to hold on to the pace and just keep one foot ahead of the other. I remember at some point around 35 km, the words ringing in my head ‘… you’ve got to fight, fight, fight!’ from the song Burn by Ellie Goulding. This helped me push through this patch and to the finish. Unexpectedly seeing my hubby Shane, and niece Rebecca just before the finish line, gave us that extra adrenaline rush we needed. Feeling the grass on the last few meters toward the finish line, was great knowing it was all over. All aches, pains and tiredness are temporarily forgotten. We finished in 4h39, 6 minutes ahead of our planned time. All race goals were achieved and surpassed.
I have to give mention to Nathalie for such an awesome run. A good time for a first marathon and, qualifying for Comrades! It wasn’t an easy run for her, not the least. But she held on, fought and pushed through all the aches, pain and tiredness she felt. She was strong and determined throughout the 42 km never losing sight of the goal. All the hard training and time trial runs come into effect. I was super proud of and, for her. I did mention to her that this race indicated the ‘point of no return’. Welcome to Marathons Nathalie.
Also, a high five to Stanley-Carl for time-keeping splits and the gel intake and, for keeping us to the pace and motivating us. Being a pacer is a tough task as besides keeping tabs on all these things, you are also running a race yourself.
I read the most fitting quote the other day “Only the afternoon knows what the morning suspected”. This sums it all up very nicely – the feeling of sore, tired legs and feet and also the feeling of elation and sense of achievement when you cross the finish line. This is a wonderful feeling that no other person can experience for you nor can it be take away from you.