Saturday, September 3, 2011

Petrosa Diaz Half Marathon - Nick Cuthbert

Saturday 3 September - The day was a potpourri of emotions for me, from the thrill of competition, to the despair in locking my father's keys in the car, to waiting anxiously for results, this day had it all.
It began, as races so often do, with a rudely early start. Snatching a bite for break fast, my father and I dashed off to make the 07h00 start in Mossel Bay. Just prior to registration, I saw a teacher I knew from Montessori Adventure Racing School (MARS). A veteran to the race, he offered me the following advice:

"Don't start the first half too fast. It's a there and back race and the second half can be demoralising."
In the chilly dawn, this was a fairly sobering statement which I mulled on for only a few seconds before getting caught in the excitement at registration. Marathon runners certainly enjoy being tagged and numbered and it took some minutes (with assistance) before I could confidently stride up to the jam packed start line on the main street; with the gargantuan sum of prize money at stake, there were many runners and most of them were not racing for the joy of it.

At promptly 7h00, the mad dash started, and I'm ashamed to say that I was blown along with it. I was not going my own pace, and I was to suffer for it later on. The route took us first through the town's shopping district, then looped back past the start line, continuing along the sea side for some time before heading into the less pleasant industrial area and the suburbs. Countries of the world broke the monotony at the water tables, where from spirited Scotland to sanguine Samoa competed for the reputation as the best service provider. It was a fast but flat race and my footsteps was synchronised with my heart rate, which rarely dropped below the 80% mark.
It was also a fairly lonely race, with the only real interaction with other runners coming in at about the 6km to go mark, when another junior came up from behind, as I'd stopped at a corner, unsure where to go. Those last 6km were brutal, as we diced one another. Finally at the finish line, however I managed at last to break free and cross the line before him. It was a matter of pride for me at this point, as I had no way of knowing my position in the race. I finished in a time of 1:27, thanks in a large part to GU.

Falling to the grass after downing a bottle of cooldrink, I stared up at the sky, until I noticed a stickiness upon my left leg. This is where the fun really commenced. My running style combined with the shoes I was wearing, had opened a small old wound upon my leg, which had as a result bled a lot. A Motion Pixel cameraman had evidently having noticed my situation, and drawn like a fly, smelt footage. So I was treated to an interview after which, the cameraman took some close-up shots of the gore. A few minutes after this, I made a trip to the first-aid van, where a couple of bored ambulance men wrapped the small wound in an enormously disproportionate bandage.
The wind outside the van was cold and having chilled after the run, I found my teeth literally chattering. I looked about for my father, but he was nowhere to be seen, so I took shelter in one of the tented around the finishing area at the campsite. During this time, I felt in a strange sense of Limbo- perhaps becuase of cryogenic temperatures and the lack of a jersey. Thankfully I found a school friend who was kindly willing to lend a phone and warm company until my dad could arrive. Thank you :)
Some minutes after this, after having pulled on a warm top and jeans, I managed to lock the keys inside the car, which neccessitated the call out of a locksmith. It was frightening how fast the smith could open a car door. I went to check my results, I was the third placed junior and thirty-sixth overall and by the time I walked (or rather limped) back to the vehicle, he had turned the drum and had the keys out.

My dad had to leave then and left me behind so that I could attend prize giving but he left the image burnt into my mind behind of scraping a pole as he drove off. So it was a day of disaster and clumsiness. The race was fun though. Thank you Pennypinchers Ar Team.

What I (re)learnt:

  1. Pace yourself, even in a road race.

  2. Carry your own fluids, I feel you have more control over intake and products (e.g. GU Brew electrolytre mixture rather than water, etc.)

  3. Train Harder :)

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