WNS – WILL NOT START.
It’s like a DNS but with the benefit of foresight.
Wow. It is sad seeing those three words laid stark on the page. Especially after the hard training I’ve put in since January, and even further back, in working towards what would have hopefully been my first Bill Rowan Medal on my 4th attempt.
Having felt sick since Sunday and visited the doctor for some hopefully miracle curing treatment on Monday – the biq anxiety causing question in my mind as the week raced inexorably towards raceday, was when and how would I be able to make a final decision?
And yet on Thursday evening, as I still didn’t feel well enough to even consider making a start, I slowly started to make peace with the idea of not running. I booked an appointment with the doctor I saw on Monday to give me a ‘final’ opinion, but on waking on Friday morning with the same nagging cough, a ‘heavy’ feeling in my chest and a general malaise severe enough to cause me personal doubt, I finally decided this year is not to be.
It’s been a complete rollercoaster ( see Rollercoaster post from earlier this week) working through the myriad of emotions that have plagued me this week, but in doing so (quick sidebar chuckle at the silly comedy movies that have the main protagonist work through various emotions as they hit him very quickly in succession), I feel I’m at peace with my decision and now really looking forward to a very different weekend as a virgin supporter.
There’s obviously sadness at the fact I’ll miss out on another finish, but even more so because I won’t be able to test out what I’ve put in.
This year I’ve been feeling as fit and strong as I ever have in running terms. Added strength training seemed to help considerably with gait and posture and coupled with my new shoes – see Shoe post – the right Achilles and calf issues of last year’s build-up were a complete non-event.
I had a fantastic coach in Mark Wolff who gave me an interesting, varied and challenging program and I nailed every single planned session, seeing (metrics) and feeling the resulting improvement at the end of each important period.
I also ran a great marathon qualifier and had a fantastic loading week – more details below – all of which pointed towards a good run for Comrades 2019.
So it is definitely sad that I won’t be able to test that form on the prize for which it was developed.
Adding a little more to the general sadness quota is the fact that my Mum and Dad and my two daughters were going to support me for the first time. If I do ever run Comrades again, which is somewhat doubtful given my 4 finishes to date and the plethora of other running and cycling events I’d like to do, there’s a distinct chance they won’t be able to make a support effort work again.
JOY – WHAT A GREAT YEAR
Counteracting that sadness though, are the amazing running experiences and achievements I’ve had during the journey towards that goal.
In my marathon qualifier I posted my 2nd best time ever, a respectable 3hr37 (missing my best by just one solitary minute) at the tough Jackie Gibson marathon in Johannesburg.
I followed that up with the most incredible running experience in my life to date in Mad2Run; a relay-style charity fundraiser run from Johannesburg to Cape Town, personally finishing a monster 275km’s in 7 days and my fundraising efforts contributing towards a R1.2 million paycheck handed over to the amazing Make A Difference Learnership Foundation.
Shit, if you’d asked me at the beginning of the year if I’d take those two experiences / successes in a running year I would have given you a loud HELL YEAH.
EXCITEMENT – FUTURE PLANS
I already had a few vague possibilities as plans for future running events after Comrades. Now those vague possibilities are exciting opportunities to be pursued. I can’t just let my current good form go to waste. This finely tuned instrument needs to be tested in come capacity fairly soon.
Things tickling my interest are:
- An attempt at breaking that 3hr36min marathon PB at Cape Town Marathon (one I haven’t run) in mid-September. It’s always been on the bucket list to break that 3.30 marathon mark and after April’s marathon time I think with a flatter course at sea level, that time is probably doable.
- A long-overdue return to ultra-trail
running for either:
- The 65km version of the stunning looking new MaxiRace in the Franschoek / Stellenbosch region in October, or
- The “grail of trail” – Otter Run – an all-time bucket lister that now comes into play
- An exciting personal event / project I’ve been thinking about for a while that I’m now going to try and bring to fruition. More details to hopefully follow in the coming months.
FUN – ROADTRIP, SUPPORT AND QT WITH GABS
Having heard my lovely wife recount to me her experience of supporting me in two of my Comrades finishes, I’ve always wanted to come and watch a race as a supporter. So, when I’d wrapped my head around my withdrawal, I quickly decided that with accommodation booked, there may never be a better time and a roadtrip was in order.
With my family sensibly pulling out of the trip, I thought I’d make it alone, until my wife suggested I maybe take our younger daughter Gabi (aged 7). My initial thoughts were of an entirely selfish solo project, but after Nina had run me through a not entirely convincing plan of what the weekend would look like with Gabs by my side, I decided it may prove to be the type of unexpectedly magical weekend together we’d remember forever. At the very worst, she would be a little bit of admin.
I took the plunge and Gabi and I had a fantastic drive down. Instead of the N3, I decided to take the road less travelled in the form of the Bergville route after Harrismith, watching a beautiful sunset over the Sterkfontein dam and chatting and singing while the kilometres whizzed by.
And so as I pen this last part from a hotel bed on the Durban promenade less than 24 hours before the start gun goes a mere kilometer down the road, with a beautiful sun rising over the sea, I feel incredibly fortunate to be safely in Durbs on a unique adventure with Gabi, ready to watch my first Comrades Marathon from the sidelines, with my hacking cough adding comfort that I’ve definitely made the right decision.