Tuesday, 28 October 2008

26th October 08

Date: 26th October 08
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Weather: Overcast in the morning then sunny afternoon…perfect! 32°c
Status: Tired but very happy to have completed another challenge!

So this is it, the day of another challenge and its time for the Nairobi Marathon. I feel good and ready for it and if the weathers right I may even have a go at setting a personal best!

Up at 5am to pack the tent away as I intend taking the Colonel down to the start area and depending on how cheeky I feel, hopefully getting him parked right in the think of it! Went through the usual pre-race protocol of getting into my kit, applying vasaline to all of those potential ‘chaffing’ areas, stuck plasters over my nipples just in case and double tied my shoe laces!

Had a light breakfast of weetabix and yoghurt, forced down a couple of energy bars and prepared to leave for the race start. Drove the few kms down to the stadium and managed to get past the first few closed roads by chatting with the police and explaining our situation, sweet. Thought we’d have issues getting through the security checks at the main gate but there wasn’t even a guard there so we just drove through and found a parking space in between all of the PR stands, sweet again!

We started to assemble around the start line, a division between the 10km’ers, the half and the full marathon runners with the wheelchair entrants at the front of us all. There’s such a difference between the chair they use here compared to the London marathon….home built welded monstrosities which weigh a ton and cost next to nothing to make!

Bre had come down with me to the start area and as I shoulder barged the other entrants to try and get towards the assembly area she was doing the same with the spectators!! In fact better than me…..there she was beaming a huge smile at me in the distance from inside the VIP area….how’d that happen!!!??! Good photos though!

The start gun fired on time at 7.05am and the pack of elite runners sprinted off into the distance, and I mean sprinted. I promised myself from the start I’d run at my own pace and not be effected by the speed of those around me; but its much easier said than done as everyone races off into the distance! The circuit wound it way through the city initially passing the main financial area and parks offering a great spectacle and tour of the city. We wound up and down some of the main streets and by the time I’d got to the first of these the elite runners had already completed them and were looping back around and heading out of town….how depressing!

I felt good though considering the lack of real running I’d been able to do in the last few weeks, my training had been limited to the two mountain ascents which whilst being good for short term stamina only extended to periods of five hours at a time and at walking speed!

Staying at my own pace however was difficult, the lack of km markers or signs on the entire route made it nearly impossible to keep tabs on how my own race was going, how I should be pacing myself against the clock or even which other runners to try and use as pacemakers. Yes I knew I wasn’t at my most fit and would expect to struggle towards the latter stages of the race but having no means of keep tabs on my speed meant the inevitable happened and I ran along just a little too fast, something which would start to affect me in the final few kms!

Once we’d left the confines of the city it was out onto the Mombasa Road……unfortunately! It’s a single straight road which runs for nearly 8kms south through the industrial parts of the city to the airport and is tedious to say the least, a badly surfaced dual carriageway with few supporters which tests the mental mettle in a huge way. I’d studied the map of the circuit before the race and took into account I’d have to run up and down this same piece of road four times!!! ARGHHHH, boredom central….

To deal with these mentally zapping stretches I adopted the numbers game which helps me through the tough parts….nothing technical, basically I just count my breathes which happen around every four paces….from one up to 1000, sounds soul destroying but it does help honest! The downwind stretch took 1500……

As I came back into the city for the return leg of the first lap I passed the stadium where I’d be finishing and there were Bre, Mum and Dad were facepainted-up and cheering as I went past. It was excellent support and just what I needed as motivation for the worst part of the race; the last 16kms back down the Mombasa Road!

The half marathon runners had all left the circuit now so the road was fairly empty and it gave me a chance to start counting again. Nearly 45 mins later I was approaching the city again and finally caught sight of the floodlights which tower over the finishing stadium and signalled the end of another challenge.

As I entered the final state three little local boys started running along with me, I took a photo and they held my hands all the way to the final section of the race as I entered the stadium, awesome! As I entered the arena there it was the finish line…and after one lap of the circuit I upped the pace to a final sprint, turned and took a photo of myself heading to the line and crossed in a rather sedate 4hrs 12mins!

I collected my certificate (amazingly printed within 5 mins of finishing!), my finishers medal and a big hug from my group of four painted supporters! The legs felt very tired and the heat of the day had meant I’d sweated much more than usual with salt all over my legs and arms……

We headed to Carnivores restaurant in the evening with Patrick and Sarah who’d arrived that evening, awesome to see them again, stuffed ourselves full of ostrich, crocodile and other exotic meats and headed back for a luxury nights accommodation in the tented camp at Wildebeest! I fell asleep instantly!

End of day location: Nairobi, Kenya
Distance covered: 42.2kms! Leg powered of course!

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