A week on from the Comrades 87k “ Up Those Hills” -9th June 2019. Still thinking about what was achieved and what could have been…. From Durban to St Pietermaritzburg.
Training early part of this year 2019 had gone very well with setting a new 50k PB, running the Barry 40 in challenging conditions but respectable time. Additional to that a few low-key races with some decent performances. Sadly, though mid-March developed a virus that took close to 8 weeks to shift and impacted my build up races and the ability to find speed. Not being deterred once over the illness hit back at the last few weeks of training, again was covering the distance and training.
However, a week before the Comrades and a few days after the Vitality 10k I developed chronic back pain. No idea on what caused this but looking back now believe it could have been a combination of lifting heavy things in the garden, dancing away in stilettos and too much static sitting for work. It started to get painful on the Wednesday 29th. After a few days and no subsidence in the pain frantically looked at getting treatment on top of aqua jogging, so I had chiropractor work aswell as a massage preflight to Durban in South Africa.
12hrs of sitting very uncomfortable for many of which I sat there worrying about how I was going to make the start line. Fortunately, the Team Management from Nedbank who were supporting all the international runners were providing massage on the Friday within the hotel. I was blessed that both the consultants doing so were experienced with both physio and massage. Sadly, it was still very tight after and I had decided to get into the best position for the race to visit him at his clinic and had a taxi to the stadium rehab unit. It was a whirlwind 24hrs of trying to fix myself with last chance hopes. To top this off my roommate who had a horrendous flight with many changes had come down with a heavy cold worryingly, so I was doing a wide birth.
The team itself managed by Nick Bester was mixed with South Africa /UK/ Ireland/Poland/America/Canada/Sweden/Finland/US to name just a few of the countries being represented. We had a great experience of being looked after, time to share experiences for the Debutants like myself and others more knowledgeable. Our obligations were to attend some meetings, talks, number/chip pick up / press conferences and ensure on race day we were ready to rock the bus/Combi at 3.15am sharp… Yep you heard 3.15am……
Up until race day it was a lot of counting down “time” as you cannot really relax knowing what is ahead of you and also being around other athletes although not intended its another added stress. I also struggled in South Africa for sales/ vegetarian/vegan food, and ironically the attached reference was named the “ Butchers block”. The nights before the race they provided a lot of carbs, so I had to adapt to make sure I found something to eat, it wasn’t however my best memory from visiting South Africa.
Back to race day and team mates, well it was made up of marathon runners, some of the best ultra-athletes including the main lady from South Africa Gerda Steyn who had recently won in a fast time the Two Oceans 56k marathon and tipped as one of the favorites. There were around 10 leading ladies potentially fighting for the podium with Gerda, Camille Herron and last year’s downhill winner Ann Ashworth. Truth be told I would have loved to make the top 10 which was more than feasible pre- injury, but sadly had to change my goals. I very rarely moan about injuries/pain but the back was causing me serious problems with restrictions and lack of pain free and also limiting the gait/biomechanics to run comfortable.