Boy, what a week it was… During the days leading up the the Lucy Star Marathon we moved house, I didn’t manage ANY taper runs (although it sure didn’t feel like I was resting), we sorted various car and licencing incidents, traveled vast distances and kept 2 little boys happy during the entire process… so by the time we got to our pre-race accommodation on Friday night with race numbers in hand we were BEAT, to say the least!
Like I mentioned before here and here, the Lucky Star Marathon (and Cycle Tour, since 2015) is a yearly event that has been taking place at the Namibian west coast since 1985. It is a relatively flat and fast race and follows the beautiful coastal route between the towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. This year was the first time that the start of the full Marathon was in Swakopmund, with the Half-marathon and cycle races starting and ending in Walvis Bay.
The Hubs was entered in the 21.1km that started at 7am in Walvis, after my 6am Marathon start in Swakop. Luckily the boys LOVE waking up early for exciting ‘expeditions’, so just after 5am we all piled into the car, donning race attire with last caffeine fixes in hand, on our way to Swakop. I was dropped at the starting line and Nico had to rush back to Walvis, picking up our amazing nanny to stay with the boys while he ran. He apparently made the start with only a few minutes to spare.
The Marathon field was a relatively small one, with a great number of familiar faces, so the pre-race banter was happy and exciting as always. I started my first km a little faster than usual, keeping up the chatting with some Strider buddies, but soon realised that I had to reign in the horses a little and thereafter fell into my own race pace pretty soon. I have to mention here that hardest part of the race was probably the first 3k’s, as we had to make up 7km within Swakop before we hit the main road towards Walvis. The mental effects of running NORTH for 3k’s, when you know the finish line is way down SOUTH, ai, is not a pleasant experience…
This was my first road marathon, so I really didn’t know what to expect after 30k’s. Low and behold, 30k’s struck right on a lovely, extended hill alongside Lang Strand. But there I realised that training on the gravel roads and koppies of the Uis surrounds paid off, and I was able to keep going at the same effort than on the straights.
The race was, once again really well organised, with refreshment tables every 3km or so. This year I found motorists to be more cautious, and truck drivers especially so. This was really heartwarming, and more relaxing, of course, to feel a bit more safe along this usually very busy road.
A wise runner once told me that there comes a time during a marathon when walking hurts more than running, and true-as-bob, I can attest to that now. Your body just wants to keep going because stopping really hurts. I was grateful for having my music with me, and I bagged another handful of fantastic moments during this race, properly amplified by some good tunes. One of those moments that really stand out happened at the 5km-to-go mark. Everything was hurting and I was really tired. I approached the bridge into Walvis Bay and I knew that I was still able to make my goal race time (sub-4.5 hrs), but 5k’s really seemed like a helluva long way to go still… Until this awesome song told me to just…. Breathe… and sure enough, we breathed and got through that as well.
In the true running spirit, one of our Striders buddies, a close friend of mine, who was unable to run this year packed a whole lot of food in her car and supported us along the entire route. She drove up ahead, laid her car’s little white bonnet with droewors and snacks, and cheered us on like you would your family. Because that is what we are and that is what the community of running does. I had to swallow down some tears a few times.
Another moment that I will cherish for a long time came at the very last support table, a mere 1k from the finish. As I approached the station I spotted some orange segments, which at that time seemed like little beacons of hope (hope for a Superboost of energy, or at the very least a little diversion to take my mind of the pain for a second or 3). I plodded along at the same stead pace and reached for a segment on the plate that the friendly guy held out to me… but as I took it the orange slipped from my hand and fell back on the plate! I was devastated, but really didn’t have the energy to stop for a second or two, so I just kept running. And then… another volunteer who saw the whole sad incident stepped over, grabbed me an orange segment and ran after me! It is hard to explain the emotions you experience during times like that, but it was really touching, to say the least. That guy, may he be a runner or not, knew exactly how much that orange meant to me at that very moment. Thank you stranger man!
I managed to finish in 4:28:57 and in 11th place. In so doing I qualified for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon for 1016, so I am very pleased.
The Hubs finished his second ever half-marathon in 21st place with a time of 1:48:57, a more than 20 min improvement on his previous 21 which he ran in February of this year. He also smashed my PB by 4 mins! This is no small feat, and I take my hat off for his huge effort. And this time he didn’t need a few days of bedrest after his Half, which is probably the best sign of overall improvement!