“If you start to feel good during an ultra, don’t worry, you will get over it.” - Gene Thibeault
In less than 24 hours the 2012 Comrades (Ultra) Marathon will commence and my second attempt in 2 years will be underway. Those novice runners who complete two Comrades Marathons in two sequential years get the opportunity to earn the special back-to-back medal. This will be my one and only shot for this medal and my first attempt at a bronze medal to go with it (last years finish earned me a brass Vic Chapman medal).
The final preparations are underway. Yesterday I spent hours laying out my “uniform”, attaching bibs, arranging gu gels, putting everything in place so I don’t forget it at 1am in the morning when the alarm goes off.
What do final race day preparations include for a race of this magnitude?
- I couldn’t find a Rose. Last year they were on the course, so I’m hoping to get one there for “Arthur’s Seat”
- Breakfast was omelet, fruits, and tea.
- A short walk/run to the store for souvenirs
- Chillin’ and watching Rifftrax.
- Drinking lots and lots of water and tea, but not so much that it’s too much.
- One hour of stretching, p90x “x-stretch” style
- Developing my final nutrition plan. The key is to keep the electrolytes and calorie intake at an optimum – that’s a personal determination, but for me 200-300 calories an hour works well. I like food and I like to eat, even when I run.
- The forecast for tomorrow shows a chance for rain in the afternoon. This should keep the temperatures cool, and I’m grateful for that. Depending on the forecast, there is a 10%-40% chance of rain in Durban at the end of the race, but I’m not changing any of my clothes or plans, except a) I’m cutting my toenails, and b) I’m adding another pair of socks to my “tog bag” (post-race bag).
- Verified the batteries in the Garmin and GoPro. Fully charged.
- Lunch was penne pasta alfredo. Not really a carb-load intention, but it was yummy. Regretting the decision afterward, mostly because I hope it’s not too heavy. Should have stuck to the fish and rice from yesterday, but it will be a very light (if any) dinner. Breakfast will be light, also.
- Mentally, I’m moving from apprehension to “What will be, will be.” Preparations are done. Anything I forgot, or anything that happens now, will simply have to be taken with a shrug and the attitude of “adapt and overcome.” Whatever challenges lay ahead, I’ll just have to face them one at a time. Nothing else is left to be done. Well, except for one thing.
- Set the alarm for 1am.
Notes from Comrades Marathon and Durban, ZA.
- It’s called “Take Away” not “Take Out”
- The South African accent sounds like an Australian accent to an untrained American ear.
- Smartphones are not commonplace here. Cell phones are, though.
- People actually stand patiently when in line.
- People are friendly. During a short walk today, I encountered 3 other Comrades runners. We chatted and laughed. Spirits are high now.
- When you come to Comrades, you find yourself surrounded by others who think like you. You’re the common place crazy person so you feel normal.
- There is always someone better than you. Of the three I met, two were from South Africa (doing their third, sixth, ninth Comrades), and one was from North Carolina (doing his ninth!). One fellow I met finished at the same time I did last year, 11hrs and 11min! How crazy is that? I meet two people who finished within seconds of the time I did last year.
- I’m going to take a lot of ribbing for my Nathan vest, because most here wouldn’t want the weight. I call it my “safety blanket”. But when I explain “I trained with it, I need it with me,” I get a very knowing nods.
- There are amazingly beautiful women everywhere in the world
- There are a lot of fat people of every ethnicity in Durban.
- It seems many South African men consider the Comrades event much the same way Americans consider a trip to Las Vegas.
- The trials and tribulations of married men are the same the world over.
- Traffic drives on the left side of the road, the same way the Brits do. That means before crossing the street, look both directions.