The first look went outside: The weather forecast predicted light rain from 8.00 am and heavy rain from 11.00am, but you never know. Looking outside was promising - just a few clouds.
"Maybe I'm lucky" I was guessing. It was good that I did not know what was prepared for us...
My birthday gift is taking part at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (56 km) in Cape Town for the 4th time. The best about it: I'm not running for myself - I'm running as a PUMA Pacer pacemaker for runners, who are dreaming about finishing in less than 6 hours.
|Food for my race|
Some 30 Minutes before the Ultra start, I went into the seeding batch "C", where I met my second "bus driver" for the sub 6h bus. In South Africa the pacemakers are called "bus driver" and the group is called "bus" - even if we are running all the time ;)
The second busdriver was very excited, because a sub 6 was a challenge for him as well (and he made it!). I was quite relaxed, since my personal best from 2011 is a 4h 54 min which is almost 1 hour faster than the time I was supposed to run today. I was scheduled as the first bus aiming for a 5h 50min finish.
More and more runners arrived at block C and joined me. One of them was Kathrin from Germany, who I met at the Expo, and she was keen on running in my bus as well. It was her first time and so she was very excite.
The tactic did work to 100%.
For the first real uphill section to Chapman's Peak (km 29 - 33.5) we were able to run a modest pace without killing ourselves. After reaching the summit I reminded the runners every few 100 m NOT to push on the 4 km long downhill section. Because there were still 20 km to go and the worst climb was yet to come. Most of my group members followed this advice.
After this section I was preparing everyone for Constantia Nek. And I tried to make it very seductive - by announcing a very long uphill walk instead of a run up to Constantia Nek. They were all amazed and kept going, waiting for the walking section.
Folks, you were great!
These boots are made for walking...
After reaching the marathon mark at 42.2 km we did a first walk for a few minutes on the first uphill section. Then it went downhill and we started running again, very slowly. I seduced the group with the second walking section, telling them that we are just about to reach a point where we will start walking for the next 20 minutes. This kept them going.
Eventually we reached km 44 and the walking section started until we reached km 46 and the summit of Constantia Nek after climbing for 2km with up to 10%.
I reminded the group that we are perfectly on schedule whenever anyone started running uphill. We were all safe and did walk at a 10 min/km pace until we reached the Nek. On top of the Nek we had 10 km to go on an undulating downhill route. This was 4h and 48 min into the race.
This last section can be quite tricky, especially in the heat if you are already worn out and you are running downhill too fast. This can kill your legs and destroy a good finish.
Well, the heat wasn't a problem at all, since it was still raining cats and dogs. But I kept reminding my group about our perfect schedule and not to push when running downhill.
At km 53 we hit the last tricky part - the last some 300m long uphill section just before heading towards the finish. The group got another reward, because we were able to walk up this hill as well, and I heard several "Thank you" for this well deserved last break.
As an additional reward the sun came out for 30 seconds...
|At the finish area|
|Yes, it was wet...|
|These socks were white|
|My respect to all spectators facing this weather conditions|
|Eventually in a dry area at the "International Tent"|
|The soaked bib, the medal and my pacing chart|
|The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon 2012 Bronze Medal|
Many thanks to all of the running vocalists singing a "Happy Birthday" and for making this an unforgettable birthday...
...and an extraordinary "Thank you" to my wife Silke, since she is very supportive, even if I am out for very long runs and we can't see each other, especially on the weekends.
Dear Silke: I'm glad and I feel blessed to have you on my side and I'm so happy that you support me and share my passion for running.
Distance: 56.0 km
Time: 5h 51min 59sec
Pace: 6:17 min/km
Average Heartrate: 153