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Comrades 2011

Natalie Madies

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Natalie Madies, 50055
A DNF tale as told to Nikki Campbell

Me? DNF! I bailed at 15k to go  Just too slow. Had 1:40 to finish and I just knew I wasn’t gonna make it – on fresh legs maybe, but certainly not after 72kays, the last 5 of which I was reaching and hurling and reduced to a mere shuffle on the downhills. I was just behind you at 35k to go, but the wheels came off just before Cato when I felt I had no more run left in me.

I’m sure you will recall the “Energy/Power” mantra that one of the buses was chanting going down Inchanga, as I saw you disappear into the distance… Funny, but for a while the fact that I could see you just ahead kept me going, but then you pulled away and I just couldn’t hold on past Harrison Flats…I told Mike, my partner (you met him in the green number club – was his 21st) to go before I ruined his race too… He said I broke his heart and he had to gap it quickly because he couldn’t stand to see me bail…. He made it in 11h58.35!!  I saw you did 11h39…that was exactly what I’d planned (even told my training partners Nikki stole my time! To which they replied, who is Nikki?) and the sad thing was that I was bang on schedule to Cato, but hit such a wobbly that I lost 20 mins walking to Camperdown and not even my husband running alongside to the cut-off at Umlaas Road and onto Lion Park, egging me on, could make me go any faster…He kept asking me “What’s the problem?” which I couldn’t really answer. The plods?? One girl eventually told him “When you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it.” Ne’er a truer word!  I told him “I’m not trying to piss you off…” but in reality, I knew that my head had just caved in and the will to continue was just not there. Bad head! Bad!

The lesson?  More hill training and more speed work and a better qualifying time – I had done 1357km of training but in my opinion, there were the 3 key factors missing in my prep. Hills, speed work and I didn’t do a Long Club Run as advised, instead I did another marathon cos that’s what everyone else was doing. The furthest I had gone was 2 x 50km races and how uncanny that it was at the 50km mark that the battling started… Almost like my head said “This is as far as I know how to go”…And in hindsight, somehow just 21kays more of “unknown territory” is much more conceivable than 35 to go…. Well, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!

I also think that a borderline 5hr qualifier makes you far too vulnerable when the going gets tough… I needed another 40 mins and I would’ve got in, but Comrades cut off is 12hrs non-negotiable…  Oh yes, and 8 kilos of extra baggage really REALLY isn’t welcome after 10h20 on the road!!!

So… my message to everyone out there – the programme works. But do the mileage. Lose the weight. And do the quality. Everything else you can haul out of your mental goodie bag as and when you get there. Oh, and learn how to work out pacing just in case you go off the pacing charts so that you are able to calculate the necessary speed/effort to make it in…that’s what Mike did. He’s so experienced he knew that as long as he ran 2mins of every kay that he would still make it in…

May the force be with you!

External links: Official Comrades Marathon website

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2011