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Comrades 2013

Kenneth Colin

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Kenneth Colin, 54513, Novice
Ignorance is bliss!

The Comrades Marathon for 2013 was, as you know, a very challenging one for most runners.  For me as a first time novice, I did not know anything better and thought that the intense heat was “normal” for a Comrades day.  What would one expect if its your first Comrades.  But as for most runners on 2 June, it was a very hard and tough day for me as well!  As mentioned - this was my very first attempt as a novice, and I am very proud to say that I have managed to get that bronze in 10 hours 56 minutes.  Despite the heat and the immense challenges of the day, I noticed that I was slipping behind on my sub 11 pacing chart from around Cato Ridge.  In fact, at some stage I gave up (in my mind) on getting that bronze, although I knew I would finish the race.  My suspicion is that most runners slipped on their time and was way longer on the road than anticipated because of the heat.  Well that is what the statistics are saying.  I just would like to share with you, in short, how I managed to do this.  Because its such a lekker story to share:

From the start in Durban – everything was going according to plan.  I started off very easy, without any major effort of running or pushing myself in the first half.  In fact, I had bit of an advantage with being allocated a CC seeding pin as I raised some funding for World Vision – so that helped me over the start in less than 2 minutes.  I kept with my pace spot on all the way up to halfway at Drummond with maybe an extract 2 to 3 minutes to spare, and knew that everything was going according to plan.  Inchanga was a very tough hill, but I pushed through and walked most of it.  At that stage it was getting quite hot.  My first real setback of the day was when I missed my club tent (Randburg Harriers) at the 60km mark (about +/- 28km to go).  At the club tent, I was looking forward to a few last treats to take me to the finish, including few energy gels/gu’s, and a protein shake to balance hydration and supplement those already sore legs.  With much disappointment, I passed the club tent unnoticed (with no option to run back) and then I realised that I will have to go without the goodies I was so looking forward to.  So I kept moving forward.  At Camperdown I saw my wife for a third time (what a relief!!) and she motivated me to go on and not despair, but I was not sure how I would manage another 23km on only water and pepsi.  But I knew I just had to.  So I kept on running/walking/running/walking, knowing that I am slipping on my pacing.  And then at around 2km after Camperdown, the Comrades sub 11 bus came passed me, and then I decided to cling to them for as long as I could, because I knew that if I had some assistance with my pace and some motivation/teamwork from other fellow runners, this could help me tremendously to keep on and still have a chance in getting to the finish line under 11 hours.  And so I kept on running with them.  The group had a very good balance between running and walking, and I was thankful to be part of the group.  In fact, I knew I was doing better by sticking to the sub 11 group at that stage rather than going off by myself.  Having said that though, as we were going along, I could feel my energy levels diminishing rather quickly without having any backup plan.  And then, perhaps out of a little desperation, I then did something unplanned and completely outside of what I would have ordinarily done – I asked within that group of runners for anyone with a “Gu” to spare.  The first reaction was pure silence.  Then I asked a second time, and to my surprise, a lady just behind me gave me a much needed Gu.  At that moment, I knew that this extra energy gel should be just enough to fill the energy level gaps to end which I then can top it up with Pepsi at the water tables.  And that’s what I did.

The other challenge for me was keeping a balanced hydration.  Due to the heat, a lot of people suffered from dehydration or over hydration. I was scared of both, and with the heat on 2 June, this was a real concern as I was noticing runners giving up on the race due to inadequate hydration.  My experience was somewhat weird - I experienced that my belly was full (and somewhat heavy) which would then tell me to guard against too much fluid intake, yet I experienced consistent thirst.  So in order to balance these “contradicting” factors, I took a small cup of pepsi at every water table from Camperdown onwards, as well as 3 sachets of water – 2 of them to wet my head and body, and 1 that I would keep with me and sip sip until the next water table.  And somehow, this kept my adequately hydrated.  At the top of Polly Shorts, I nearly gave up on the sub 11 bus as I was very tired, but then pushed myself to the limits because I was simply not prepared to miss a bronze by 1 or 2 minutes because I could not keep up the pace (which was already very slow).

And then finally, I we got into the stadium, with a great sigh of relief, I went over the finish line and received that bronze which I was working so hard for.  That was such a good feeling!!!

So all in all, race day went well.  I trained according to Don’s program for novices (thank goodness for that), I ran the sub-11 pace as I should, and still I only slipped by my pace by about 11 minutes from the originally planned 10h45, but perhaps with reason.

So Don – I just thank you for your amazing support and advice.  I have already decided to do the down next year (how could I decide otherwise after having such a wonderful first Comrades Marathon).  I am sharing this with others, because for me there is good parallel with the race of life and how we handle challenges we are faced with.

Warm regards.

Kenneth Colin
Johannesburg


Internal links: day before, driving the route, squeezies, wall of honour, Arthurs Seat, splits,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2013
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