I have decided to do a different type of blog post about the Kaapsehoop Marathon coming up this weekend. Rather than just doing a race report I am going to write half of the post before the race and the other half after. As this is another one of my completely ridiculous plans it will be interesting to see how my feelings and emotions compare before and after the event, as one of two things will happen. I will either have a fun day with a great outcome or I am going to injure myself to a level where I will be forced to take six weeks off. Either way I am ready for the outcome and again actually look forward to seeing what my body is capable of, as my mind is obviously not going to put a halt to the craziness that is my running hobby.
The past two weeks have been extremely difficult coming back from KAEM. Two weeks ago this exact time I was approaching the finish line, yet now sitting in front of my laptop it feels too long ago and too far away. The post-race blues really took a grip on me and since the beginning of the week I’ve been struggling a bit to deal with the real world, even though my real world is not that bad. On Monday the blues got so bad that I realised I had to do or find something to perk up the situation, otherwise I would either bite somebody’s head off or run screaming into the sunset to destinations unknown. With the prospect of bitten off heads and destinations unknown, I made one of my notoriously bad plans! I decided the thing I needed was to do the Kaapse Hoop Marathon to be held tomorrow on 5 October in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. Of course this idea was met with mixed emotions by friends and family ranging from, ‘No’, ‘Are you crazy’, ‘What is wrong with you?’ to ‘Just please go do it before you hurt somebody.’ and ‘Just get it out of your system’. Each day since Monday there had been moments when sanity prevailed but only slightly because once or twice I considered doing the 21 rather than the 42. Of course on Monday in typical Altie fashion I immediately organised accommodation so even if I came to my senses and decided not to go I could now not back out of the accommodation, so Kaapsehoop is going to happen if my body and very moody Achilles tendon wanted it to or not.
Since two weeks ago my muscles and energy levels have recovered completely after the KAEM but I’ve had a small issue with my Achilles tendon that doesn’t seem to get better as quick as I hoped. Of course I haven’t rested so this is to be expected. I did however decide that if my body wants to get injured it must now go ahead and do it properly. If that is the case, I will then take the 6 week break wearing a moon boot, so people can make fun of me and do the ‘I told you so dance’, playing trumpets and waving banners. Basically there is just no way for me to try and explain why I want to do a full marathon only two weeks after a gruelling 250km journey through the desert, except that I love running and love testing the limits my body puts out there, but most of all that I have a constant case of FOMO. With my group of road running friends going there was really never a way that I was going to stay behind in Pretoria while they have fun on the downhills of Mpumalanga.
The other thing with Kaapsehoop is that it was my first marathon ever in 2011, and all I can say is that it was the hardest marathon of my life and I got cut down to size by the event in one fell swoop. Back then I was still blissfully unaware of what happens to your body with long distance running and as I was relatively fast on 10 and 21km I expected to do a sub 4 hour and qualify for Comrades in one go. This was not to be… I’m not going to elaborate too much. I’m just going to state the very grim facts and they are that the first 21km took me 1h50 minutes, and the following 21km took me a staggering 3h50 minutes. I finished in 4h55 very far off my goal of a sub four hour marathon. It was a disastrous day that was basically made up of me sitting next to the road in the shade, or crying at every water point. It was painful and horribly difficult, and it made me reconsider all the running plans I had made to that day.
Now, five years later I’m a different runner returning to Kaapsehoop, with the reality of how hard the marathon is firmly in the back of my mind. I have no idea what will transpire tomorrow, and I hope to write about the second half of this saga in a few days’ time with more good to report than bad. I did nowever decide that even if the worst happens and I’m written off, it will still make a funny story!