Thursday, June 5, 2014

Comrades 2014

We stayed with really good friends in PMB on the Friday having collected our goodie bag and numbers. It is really nice shirt so that means I will have to complete the race so I can wear the shirt. Also nice we get a different Male and Female shirt. 
On the Saturday we always drive the route even though it is not advised it works for me. We have decided that we will always spend the night before and after race at the same place as we  feel it alleviates some stress. Liz was not in a good space the 2 weeks before Comrades so we toyed with a DNS and a DNF and a finish bearing mind that she baled last year. My mind could not get around the benefits of a finish and we therefore both decided that doing the race was the right thing.
We had a member of our club staying at our hotel in Durban who's second would take us to the start, another possible stressfull situation alleviated. Not sure if I was nervous or scared or still asleep but hey it was 4AM. Martin and Liz at least looked happy!!

The start of Comrades in PMB for me is amazing somehow the atmosphere is amazing, singing Shosholoza and Nkosi sikelel iafrika our National Anthem is very emotional. A really good build up to the start of such an iconic race ...
I managed to get quite far forward as the pens were opened , but still my feet did not move until 90 seconds after the gun and I managed to cross the line in 6:53 even though it was only 228m. 14622 people started  the race from the 20000 odd total entrants a 30% fall out before the start. 

My goal was to get average pace to below 7:38/km and then attempt to get a bit lower and keep it as low as possible  for as long as possible. The biggest problem with this whole idea is that essentially you have a hard 60 odd km  route which is pretty undulating and then follow that with a a tough 30km down hilll. I do find it interesting that my Garmin seems to add distance on the down run but its distance is pretty spot on on  the up run! This affects my ave pace so even though my Garmin said 7:40 at Lion Park the official time was on 7:50.  

From the above you can see that the section between halfway and Winston Park is my "slow section", there is a long 7 km long uphill which is pretty tough. I need to include some long uphill climbs in my future training. I really liked the fact that I could  could lower my pace as I got near the end.

Overall I found the first 20ks and the last 20ks great but struggled through the middle 50kms. I guess it may have had something to do with trying to keep updated on Liz's progress via SMS which never seems to work properly! No SMS's came through till 58 ks so I was bit worried but then a friend said that Liz had been through at about 64ks and was looking strong.

I had various  small niggles in the middle 50ks, from tight calves , cramping arches, sore hamstrings and tight quads, the thing that got me the most was my abs and chest that got quite sore. This could  have been a consequence of the downhill and the need to stabilise by using my core.  I did struggle in the middle section but remembering we start an hour before sunrise and end at around sunset it is a long day!! With the year I have had I guess the stress also had a bit of an influence on my day.  

I do find it interesting how many participants I keep on meeting along the way who I either know from other races or this one. Runners tend to go quite fast downhill and then slow down uphill so we do seem to pass each other quite often. Comrades is a race where I doubt more than 10 entrants actually attempt to walk the whole way, I only know of 3 walkers who attempted it this year, Geoff was 5 minutes ahead of me and he was trying for 10:30 or to average 7:00/km and Gayle who normally just makes it but missed by about 8 minutes.

The most impressive part for me was that I ended strong, I was able to accelerate at the end and really felt good. It is amazing walking along with all the green number club, many who were in their mid 20s, one doing his 27th consecutive race, these are the guys who inspire me to continue, maybe I will still try for my ten, I  have done 4 now, Liz is on 8 so she will definitely do 10 to get her permanent number. 

When I finished  and went up to the  club suite and Liz was not there I realised she must be in  the medical tend and sure enough her she was on a drip as she was dehydrated from nausea and vomiting again! She could not drink the last 10ks or so and was very dehydrated at the finish. 2 hours after finishing Comrades she walked the 1km + back to the hotel with ease. Overall it was a successful day 2 more medals accumulated and some confidence restored.
You can view some photos here as they are uploaded Photos
There are also some videos here which give an idea of what it is like on the route. Note by blue cap, it makes it easier to pick me out! Video

Comrades Training 2014

What can I say about this years Comrades training?????
When 2013 ended I was so pleased and really expected 2014 to be an improvement, can one ever be more wrong. The only thing that has gone well for me this year is my training, but other parts of my life have not been as successful as would be nice. My 85 year old mom broke her leg in December, she never walked again eventually passing away in April, just ten days after Liz's Aunt who was 93, having also fallen and broken her leg and passing away from complications a few weeks later!! My work has not produced enough income this year I am working on some new ventures so hopefully it will improve, Liz's job situation is not easy mostly personnel issues but.... I suppose just a normal year?

Anyway this is supposed to be about my training... I achieved a 10k pb on my only 10k race of the year , getting closer to the 65 minute. I will continue working on speed  for the rest of this year. This year we tried to do more back to backs, we did Tuks 21 followed by Pirates 21 in Feb. These are really good as you walk on the second day on tired legs but you do not suffer the same effects as a marathon/long race. In March I did my first Om die dam 50k which was  my longest walk since Comrades 2013 having only done a 32 in the interim!! It was a toughie but it did help build strength. We also managed to do the Ford 21 followed by the Harcourts 32 as back to backs , the Ford was fast and flat and the Harcourts was pretty hilly but not too bad. I still managed a pb on the 32 which was great.

Our April training was really great,  managed  401km for the month, that was a well achieved goal. We like to do some strange or different races so did the Bergvillle to Ladysmith 52. It was a good race but the profile seemed to downhill near the end but had a slow poison from 42 to about 49 which was quite hard. Liz and I both finished well followed by night at Tendele in the Berg where we did a 16k hike that in my mind I thought was about 7ks, that hurt a bit but helped the recovery. We managed our usual 100km over the Easter weekend, there are organised routes for this but we just do our own thing, I carry a day pack with drinks and food which alleviates seconds and makes us pretty much independent.

In May we did our usual Wally 21 where I had sore shins for the first 7kms but I did manage to accelerate through the race which was good. 4 days later we did Colgate 32 normally the coldest race of the year but this year was warm, I did a  7 minute PB which was very satisfyimg. Liz is struggling with nausea and did not feel great after this race. We are now trying biltong as a stomach stabiliser which seems to help.

So in the end I had done 1421km in training for Comrades, Liz did 1550kms and neither of us actually missed any training day this year because of injury or colds/flu. That is quite a record.