I begin this blog with a lie. There are, in fact, 79 days of training (including today) left before the Two Oceans Marathon on April 3 2010, but I started my training in earnest yesterday and that's the direction this blog will take until the race is over.
Whoops, my last paragraph was misleading. I'm not running the Two Oceans Marathon, I'm running the Two Oceans Half Marathon. The Half (as she shall now be affectionately known) is a scenic 21km run starting in Main Road Newlands and ending on UCT's main rugby field. She is extremely popular, fielding about 11 000 runners annually and widely considered to be the toughest half you can run in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
San Tzu advocates that you know your enemy and I know her well. Here's her profile:
You're looking at a rather twisty warm up climb for the first three kilometers, which makes for some excitement (there's nothing more dull that beginning a race on a dead straight). We even out near Wynberg and into Constantia. Around the 11k mark there's the 3km steady incline climb known as Southern Cross. It's here where the men are separated from the boys (I'm not trying to be sexist - I've had grannies beat me up that hill). Many will walk, many hit their 10k training wall, many lose their breathing rhythm and their pace. If you've never run a half before and decided on the Two Oceans 'just for the hell of it', this is the point where you start thinking 'baaaaaaad idea'. Once over, you're rewarded with a refreshing downhill at Kirstenbosch but don't be fooled, Union Avenue holds one last teasing climb before you ease into the finish. Anyone's whose run this race will tell you that, at least on the first try, that last climb caught them completely off guard.
So training for this race you need to bring your artillery. Pacework to take full advantage of the first 10ks, hill training for Southern Cross, and overall distance training to get the body acclimatised (so to speak) and the mind ready for a long haul.
Although the picture is not pretty, let it be said that there's an aweful lots of pleasure mixed in with this pain. An incredible sense of comeraderie amongst runners in the field, unwavering and enthusiastic support from the crowds, the beauty of our mountain and our city and, of course, the high that comes after the work is put in and the fruits of labour are yours.