On Easter Saturday I ran (mostly) 56km. Writing that sounds crazy and a part of me still feels surprised that I do such things. But it is fun. Sore, hard and far but yes, mostly fun. I had a particularly good run even if I ended up being too slow for an official finish and medal.
The race starts in the early morning shadow of Table Mountain and snakes down towards the ocean. The Indian Ocean. This part of the route is busy and noisy with the few thousand of us chilly, eager and bunched together trying to find our pace. Having my feet clipped a few times by other runners, had me cautious, but as the time stretched out so did the space between us.
We ran towards Muizenburg where we caught our first glimpse of the sea. Crowds had begun to gather to cheer and were warmly dressed against the early morning chill. Music played and a festive feel greeted us, as sister and I hung on (sometimes unsuccessfully) to our hats with the blasts of wind between the buildings. Debbie was a few steps ahead when she turned excitedly around waving. I immediately looked for dogs or sights when the tune of my youthful ‘crush’ band found my ears. ‘Taximan’ almost resulted in tears of joy as I tried to find a dance move in my running. What fun.
Just as I turned away from the sea towards Fish Hoek I felt my body shift. Not physically but mentally.
I lost Debbie but was relieved as she needed to do her own race and I needed to face whatever rubbish this was, on my own. Thoughts of getting in the rescue buses were rampant and I scanned my body for reasons why. I was feeling fine but this train of thought happened once before while running early on in a Comrades marathon . Although there was this underlying urgency to stop, I really wanted to see Chapman’s Peak. So I debated that I would just go to there. Many runners passed me by but I didn’t care and for about 8km I kind of disappeared.
My first glimpse of a road sign saying ‘Chappies ahead’ seemed to flick the switch again and I started trundling up towards the magnificent view, this time, the Atlantic Ocean.
I chatted with some foreign runners about the view, their race and some details about other journeys, discovering a shared love of train trips. The climb increased and the wind blasted at us from behind. The runners got quieter as the effort increased and I continued to focus on the view as well as finding the flatter part of the road. Being on a mountain, the camber of the road can be quite severe and painful.
Nearing the 40km mark, I felt myself slump again and tried to manage my internal thoughts. But I only managed to snap out of it again on the next major climb up Constantia Nek. By this time I knew a finish medal was very tight but I felt positive inside and that means more to me than an official finish. I shortened my steps, greeted spectators and smiled a lot. In fact, this is how I ran the remaining 12km. I felt incredible and it obviously showed because spectators seemed surprised.
I passed many limping people, runners looking for somewhere to sit, people leaning over from exhaustion and I offered a word of encouragement as I (probably irritatingly) ran by.
Support tables were being packed up but some helpers remained cheerful after their long day. I tried to thank them all, and joked with others all as a means to keep me positive and it worked.
I thankfully entered the finish stadium and some remaining spectators gave me a special welcome home because by this time I was sprinting. The lack of runners meant my name on my number could be easily seen and cheers of ‘ go Cathie go’ brought tears to my eyes. I felt like a winner and I am one.
I won at joy!
Thank you beautiful Cape for the love, the weather, the views and the welcome home.