Drum Roll Please: Comrades 2012

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By Aimee Vandale

The most powerful lesson you can learn in running is you’re capable of much more than you think. -Unknown

The final week before Comrades, I found myself more nervous than before my wedding. As a pre-school teacher, I was trying my best to stay away from the dreaded flu: a sneeze is like the plague for a Comrades Runner. I wrote the quote above on my note board, along with my finishing goal time, created a pace chart for Plan A, B and C, got a final rub and headed to KZN.

The day before the race, I drove the route. It was a humbling experience. The hills and the distance were quite scary. As reality set in, I had to remind myself: “I trained for this. I’m prepared and organized.” I fetched my entrance pack in Petermartizburg to resist any expo temptations. I set out my kit, set my alarm and attempted to sleep.

The morning of the race, I bundled up, got to the starting line, turned on my Garmin to locate satellite only to find that my Garmin was dead. I went into complete panic mode. This race is about pacing. My head started to spin, and I started to a) Try not to cry and b) Figure out what I was going to do. I quickly decided I would take an energy pack every 8km and try to find the Sub 11 hour bus as soon as possible. To my relief, I found the bus easily and knew I had to stick with it until at least the half way point. I quickly got into a rhythm and kept moving forward.

By Drummond, I had popped blisters, desperately needed the toilet, and ended up losing the bus after a port-a-loo stop. I let go of the goal of running under 11hours, since I couldn’t really pace myself properly without a watch. I thought I would just run to how my body was feeling. To my surprise, I didn’t cramp or hit the wall. My legs felt strong. My most exciting moment of the race was when at 16 kms to go, I asked a fellow runner what time it was. With 3 hours until the cut off, I knew I would be completing the race. This was my greatest Comrades moment.

At 7 kms to go, I looked around only to notice that the wheels were starting to come off fellow runners. I could see that people were cramping and even some pukers. I felt fine but made the decision to slow down just in case. The last thing I wanted was to develop a cramp in the last 5 km of a very long day. I came into the stadium, an indescribable feeling, and I looked up at the clock. I was incredibly chuffed with a finishing time of 11 hours 7minutes.

So yes, I am proof pudding. A year ago today, my longest distance was a a Half-Marathon. Anyone can run the Comrades Marathon if of course you stick to a training program. I used the Runner’s World ‘Finishers’ Program. It worked like a charm. It also helped going to the Comrades talks and Club talks. But mainly Enjoy the Journey and Trust the Process!

It was an incredible day and journey. The most amazing part for me was the crowd support. I have never witnessed so many people cheering runners on like this in my life. Families were offering you everything and anything: sandwiches, ice, beer, drinks. I was in complete awe of the way people came together to support us. I was also very lucky to have my hubs and friends support me along the way. It’s always nice see familiar faces.

Thank you to my hubs for supporting me, driving me to races and putting up with my early mornings, to all my friends and family for the love, to Runner’s World for the great training program, to all the volunteers and supporters on race day and the Sub 11 Jackie and Smith bus drivers for doing a great job.

So yes, I have been bitten by the Comrades bug, See you all next year!

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One Response to Drum Roll Please: Comrades 2012

  1. lynne June 16, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    So proud of you Aimee!

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