My third Two Oceans Half Marathon turned out to be my worst so far! Even though I felt better prepared physically at the start than the previous times.
It all started with a slight groin injury a few weeks previously, but that ultimately wasn’t the main cause of my bad race.
I arrived at the start with lots of time to spare. So went for a toilet break. And then picked my spot amongst the many thousands of runners, soaking in the atmosphere. It was amazing standing there when the anthem was sung and then listening to the excited, nervous chatter.
Out of absolutely nowhere came the urge to go to the toilet again! I say out of nowhere because I drank the same amount of liquids at home about an hour before my run as I usually do ! Even on long runs I am able to run easily without needing a toilet break! Obviously I am not usually nervous before a training run!
Anyway, I stupidly (in hindsight of course) thought, there are portable toilets along the route.
At around 3km I felt a slight tinge in my groin area. So now I had two things on my mind. Toilet break + groin injury. I could do something about the heavy bladder.
Then the portable toilets appeared in view. The line looked quite short from the road.
But then the waiting started. I thought of going into the bushes…but the line moved. Slowly it turned out.
I refused to look at my watch. Eventually my turn came and I went about my business as fast as I could.
When I joined the road once again, there were only a few runners left! What the heck! And a combi with Sweep 1 in a large font on a hardboard label.
I knew I was in serious trouble!
Now I had to run harder and faster to just stay ahead of that combi! And I am not exactly a rast runner. Gone were my race plans. Disappeared! Poof!
It was survival mode, baby! I could not let my race end at 11km.
Worse was when I saw the 3 hours bus disappear into the distance.
Quitting is not something I am familiar with, but I would be lying if I did not say that it crossed my mind. But it wasn’t really an option – medal or no medal – although I wondered what in heavens name possessed me to run another Two Oceans Half Marathon! Why, Abby, why!
Southern Cross drive was never ending torture and the finish line was an eternity away. But I ran and walked the last few kilometres; fortunately always ahead of that sweep combi.
I knew 3 hours was gone. My legs and breathing, for that matter, was too heavy. The awesome people along the way calling out encouragement pushed me forward.
At last the finish line appeared showing 3.13. What agony! Later an sms arrived showing my provisional time as 3.03.
I received my medal gratefully and then spent the next few hours at the finish catching up with an old school friend. No time for race dissections right then.
I’m left to wonder what might have been.
At the same time I learnt a lesson about who I am when the chips are down. And of course never to stop again for a toilet break during the race.