So I joined a new club the 17 September 2017 I became a marathoner.
Running for me is hard but then running for most people is hard the question is ultimately what will win the mind or the body. So why do thousands of us push through the pain and the misery, we do it to beat that little voice in the back of our heads that screams “you can’t do it”.
The Cape Town marathon was celebrating achieving gold status and with that, they decided to change the course to make it, in their opinion, easier to set up a personal best, it did not work out as planned, the course had very little shade along the roads and the relenting sun was baking you into KFC.
The other big hiccup was the drought that the Cape is experiencing at the moment so the water stations only catered for two water sachets per runner, this worked out fine until about halfway where the water supply began to dwindle and in the last 10 you were lucky if there was water at the tables at all, at least there was always coke and friendly faces.
I have to give, no I want to give a huge shout out and THANK YOU to all the volunteers along the route, I wanted to thank each and every one of you in person but alas that is just not possible. Your friendly faces and hard work are what got us over the finish line and I want to apologize for people that were nasty to you and litter… Really? Would it kill you to run with your sachet until you can find a bin?
Also, THANK YOU to all the Capetonians that came out to cheer and feed us, I will be repaying that gesture in kind. Sometimes it is just that one cheer or being popped a potato in the hand that makes the difference between actually making it or not. You guys Rock!
I must admit I was relieved when my husband sprained his ankle on Wednesday before the run; I was torn between “O my God, my poor hubby was so looking forward to this, but on the brighter side now I don’t have to do it.” But like any good wife, I helped him iced his ankle and did everything in my power to get him to the starting line. He finished 4 hours 7 minutes and his ankle is just fine. He shed a tear going over the starting line since he was sure just four days ago he wasn’t going to make it.
I was shedding a tear thinking “O dear God I am really going to run a marathon. What was I thinking!”
The F-pen where I started was full of nervous people, novices mostly and no jokers to calm the nerves. We all had the look of naughty children that got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. This was it, we are really going to run and marathon and hopefully survive to tell the tale. I made two friends that morning and it was with their cheerfulness and chattiness that the first 12 km’s flew by.
Going up Long street we found a person trying to stop the runners by waving a sweater around in the middle of the road (so that the taxi can drive through), the runners treated him like a herd of Wildebeest and just run smoothly around him. Maybe he should have read all those big yellow signs all over town that warned people about road closures.
The much-needed porta-potties at 9Km were on top of a trailer and we weren’t even sure if they were in working orders since you couldn’t get to them except when you channel your inner monkey. My husband actually climbed up on one of those at 36Km and he got somewhat jealous looks (So the brother-hood of three continued to search for a restroom, and finally find one at the KFC in Darling Road, the poor people working at the KFC probably had sore arms pointing toward the toilets)
I made a huge rookie mistake I wasn’t keeping an eye on my pace since me and my new friends were having a great time and at about 12Km it started to catch up with me big time. So I sent the young ones on their way with best wishes started my journey to survival.
On Victoria Road, a broom salesman was trying to peddle some of his goods but the runners were only interested in flying ones and he seemed to be fresh out of those. Even now I wished I didn’t have my compression top on as it was heating up way more than expected.
Finally turning into Maitland we got some shade, it was at this stage where I plopped down on the side of the road to remove the plasters on my left foot that somehow got lose and was irritating the ball of my foot. Getting the sock on again was a bit of challenge as the foot was covered with one big blister and I only managed it the third try, by then the 6:00 buss passed me and all dreams of having a good run was in bits and pieces.
It was here that I started playing tag with Aden Thomas (I felt sorry for him everyone wanted a selfie with him for the competition, I should have photobombed a couple of them just for laughs.)
“Bar Ones! Get your Bar Ones!” The hotel was dishing out emergency happy chocolates! Just what I needed to continue to the halfway mark. I was done for, I was hoping not to make the cut-off so that I can get a nice relaxing ride back to the finish, but Heart Fm gave me the boost I needed with “Way to go Marieta from Fish Hoek.”
And don’t get me started on those liars. “You are almost there!” Dude, we are only halfway, what about that is almost?
My slow paced running went down to a slow pace walk with quads and hams singing their own songs of misery. I have gotten this far might as well keep on going until I am told to stop. I also knew if I am to make it on time I need to run more and walk less, so for the next couple of kilometers, I walked 50 steps ran 100 steps. Counting took my attention off how miserable I actually felt and it worked very well until Voortrekker road.
Turn right into Voortrekker road going over the bridge to the other side and then come back again! Why oh why would anybody think that was a good idea to torture tired runners like that? It was on this stretch that I saw two people at the side of the road and let me tell you I take my hat off to the traffic officers who was extremely quick when someone went down. I heard a bit of the conversation between the officer and the runner slumping at the side of the road. Runner: ‘I can still do it, I just need some rest” Officer: “I am sorry sir but it is just too dangerous” and I was promptly handed his water sachet to make it clear to him that his race was over.
Around the corner was an angel with different colours she stood in the middle of the road with a packet of salt, I thanked her and took a helping. Just before the 30km cut-off was the potatoes but I was so close to being cut-off I let it pass (next time guys and thank you so much for all the trouble you went through for total strangers).
Down towards Paarden Eiland (renamed as Mordor) and I knew I had no more running left in my legs, so I opted for powerwalking, I wasn’t alone, by now only the brave would try to muster up a jog only to give up about 50 meters further. The best part of this area for me was the drummers they had a wicked rhythm going and it put a little bit of a bounce in my step.
By now, I was pretty sure that my toenail came off my big toe and was chewing away my other toes but there was no time to fix it now I just have to endure to the end….
Onto the road to hell, the RED BUS LANE. There was no hiding place from the relentless sun and almost no people to cheer you on, the heat radiated off the high walls and you felt isolated. The water tables were empty but the Coke was flowing, (I considered throwing Coke over myself to cool down but let it pass as I did not want to become a cartoon character.) I passed another three people that were getting help from officers on their bikes. At this stage, Aden was just in front of me and I was slowly reeling him in. If I could be just in front of him they might not cut me off because who wants to cut off a celebrity.
I heard them saying look at her go when I was passing them, what the picture didn’t tell you was that I was in a heap of pain but I had invested too much in this race not to finish now, I would have run, walked, wobbled or crawled over anyone that tried to cut me off at this stage.
All I had to do was keep this relentless pace to the end and hopefully, I will make it.
Walk, walk faster Marieta pass the next person, keep going, you are so close. Thank you for the cheerleader that read names, “you can make it” with the most gracious smiles I can’t imagine how tired you must have been of cheering people on by then.
Over the bridge of hell, it was here that rhino tattoo guy passed me, he was complaining since the red road to hell that he can’t do this anymore even though he seemed to have a much more relaxed stride than mine at a faster pace. We had been playing tag for at least 10Km’s as well.
Two Kilometers to go “you can make it you are so close, push, push, push.” You have to beat the clock otherwise all these months of hard work and this whole exercise would have been for naught. “Push God dammit legs, go faster!”
Passing a lady that was walking and crying, I felt so sorry for her but consoling her at this time would have meant I will not make it. One Kilometre another water station with actual water so I took one for each hand to help my arms pump faster so that my legs would keep up.
“Come on you are almost there!” It felt like everyone was cheering just for me to make it, you have 5 minutes you can make it. With the phrase “I’m late, I’m late, I’m very, very late.” in my head I willed my tired sore legs into a last-ditch effort of what I considered a run, I heard my hubby next to the road (I still had no idea what he shouted out to me it was the sound of his voice that carried me) and slipped over the finish line with 4 minutes 35 seconds to spare.
Finishing I struggled to bite back the tears, even now I am struggling not to cry. I did it, I finished something I knew in the deepest part of my being is impossible and I wanted to cry because I was so glad it was over.
Hugging my husband was such a relief not only did I make it but he was OK with his ankle and I was safe again. Not 10 steps further Heather form the club called out to me. “I didn’t get a finishing photograph and I need one”. If I look back at that photo you could see the tiredness radiating off me. So my husband led me to the club tent, I had the proud walk of a penguin with sore feet.
Here people were full of cheers and congrats and even gave up their chairs (almost cried…again), I was actually scared to sit down just in case I was never able to get up again. It took me almost 10 minutes to open my medal I was just that tired.
What an awesome club we belong to that made me feel so great about finishing regardless of my time and indeed welcoming me to the marathon club.
The worst part of the whole experience is that I must have lost my marbles along the ways as I knew I have to do another one because I can do better!