I did it!
I run the Standard Chartered Nairobi
Marathon 10km race on 25th October 2015. It was my first official (and chipped) race 🙂
::Long post alert!::
During my last week of training, i went for a 3.2km run (on Oct 20th) and then the next day i went on a 6.93km run. I never quite hit the 7km mark and that was my longest distance at that point. I had planned on going for one last long run the following day to hopefully surpass 7km (playing catch up because i had skipped so many runs) but it rained that morning and there was no way i was going to run in the rain. And just like that, my training had come to an end.
The following day, which was Friday the 23rd, i received an email saying to go and collect my Marathon Kit from the Expo at Nyayo National Stadium. I got there at 4pm and the pick up was quite quick. I was in and out of that place in less than 5 min!
On Saturday night, i laid out my race gear along with a few other things i thought i’d need post-race. My excitement about the next days’ race kept me up till around midnight. I just couldn’t fall asleep!
I had set multiple alarms because i was afraid i’d oversleep and miss the race. However, when the first one went off at 4:45am, i was up in a heartbeat (but i stayed in bed till 5am). When i finally got out of bed, i made myself breakfast (a cup of tea and 2 slices of bread with peanut butter spread). I wanted to have that first thing in the morning (3 hours before the race) because i tend to get nauseous if i have anything too close to my workouts or running (even 1 hour prior is too close).
Since i was going to use public transport to get to the venue (Nyayo stadium), i left home at 6. I didn’t want any surprises on that front, what with the traffic diversions and there being few vehicles available because it was a Sunday, and very early in the morning at that.
When i arrived, there were some potta-toilets outside the stadium so that was my first stop. Afterwards, i went into the stadium to drop off my bag at the left luggage centre before fastening my bib (race number). Assembly time was at 7:10 outside the stadium so i went back outside. I was at the very front (where Elite runners assemble) just so i could take in everything that was going on there. Random announcements were blaring through the loudspeakers and there were some dancers doing their thing. There was a lot of standing around going on…yay me for being early
I hit the potta-toilets yet again and got to watch this band parade on that other side of the street…
I made my way back to the assembly area. People were getting moved back to make room for the Elite runners at the front so i went and stood near the back of the assembly. I don’t remember hearing the gun go off signalling the start of the race, but it did (at 8) and everyone started shuffling towards the start line. I started the GPS recording app (on my phone) at the start line.
There were so many people there! Ours (the 10km race) was the 5th wave so you can imagine how many participants had gone on before us. About 5 minutes in, i could see ahead pretty well without a lot of obstruction due to a slight incline on the road and thats when it hit me just how many people were in the 10k race.
Taking the above pic caused me to inadvertently stop for a sec (it also stopped my GPS). I had initially decided not to take any pics during the race because i knew that would mess with the tracker but that sight was surreal and i just had to take a pic. The pic doesn’t even do it justice.
There were kilometer markers along the course and at 1.2km, we got into town. I was surprised! I hadn’t realized just how close Nyayo stadium was to town (on foot, that is). There were a lot of people walking which was fine, but that meant that i had to weave through them to get ahead. At around 2km, i heard someone ask, “Why are people running? Like really”. And another asked, “is this really a 10km race?” 🙂
While at the 3km point or thereabouts, i could see the participants at the 4km point (there was a turnaround ahead and they were on the other side of the street from me). I noticed that the crowds had thinned out on their side because more and more people were now walking. I wished i was on that side. I could have sped up, but i didn’t want to tire myself so early in the race…i mean, i had 7 more kilometers to go. Next time i’ll avoid starting near the back of the assembly. Lesson learnt.
At the 5km point, the crowd around me had thinned out significantly. There were instances where there was no one about 5 or so meters ahead of me. I didn’t have a watch with me and i didn’t want to mess with my phone and stop the GPS again (my phone is on the verge of dying – phone problems). I was relying on the City clocks around town to pace myself. I knew my pace was slow. Slower than usual. I guess that wasn’t a bad thing because i was able to run comfortably for the majority of the race.
After the 7km point, i started to struggle. All along, i had known that was coming. Not that i was being negative, I had never run that distance before and i knew it wouldn’t be easy. To make matters worse, there was an incline coming up ahead. It seemed like everybody decided to walk that part of the course and i really wanted to join them. But one of my goals going into this race was to run all the way to the finish line…without stopping.
I know about the fight between the mind and the body and at that point, it was real for me. Shaun T talks about it in Insanity max:30, and he goes on to ask, “which one will win?” My body wanted to stop but i knew i had to keep going. Aside from wanting to meet my goal of not stopping, i was just 2km away from the finish line. And so i pushed on.
At the turnaround point, i went down the same route (a decline this time) and that was relatively easier. I don’t remember seeing the 8 and 9km markers. I do however remember seeing the finish line at a distance. I had planned on sprinting the last 100 meters or so but my body wasn’t having it, so i maintained my pace. A few (very few) meters to the finish line, i just took off and sprinted to the finish. I heard the announcer over the speakers say something like, “Yes! Go! GO! Finish strong!” I assumed he was talking to me. It had to be me. I mean, no one else around me seemed to have picked their pace, and i was passing them. Well, thats what i keep telling myself 🙂
I crossed the finish line and paused my GPS as i made my way past the crowd of other finishers. I felt a little woozy. I wasn’t walking straight. I slowly “staggered” to the water station and grabbed 2 bottles of water. Then i proceeded into the stadium. It never occurred to me to stop, maybe sit down or even ask for help. My mind wasn’t working right i guess, but thankfully, whatever that dizzy spell was, it passed quickly.
*Am yet to receive my official results*
In the stadium, i first went and picked my bag from the left luggage centre then made my way to the terraces where i sat down to rest. I watched the half marathon participants cross the finish line from there. The full marathon participants were finishing on the other side of the stadium so after a while, i walked over there to see them too. Completing a half/full marathon is no mean feat and i wanted to see the finishers. I saw the massage centre and surprisingly, there weren’t that many people there. I skipped the massage.
At around 10am, i went to the food court to get some food. I was hungry and craving real food; not sodas or hot dogs or biscuits or pizzas. I had planned on stopping by Subway for a sandwich on my way home but that plan changed rather quickly after the race. I ordered Pilau (rice), greens and soup. There were all sorts of foods available. There was entertainment on stage not far from my table.
I had a change of clothes with me (jeans and a top) so after freshening up best i could, i wore the jeans. I decided to keep the race shirt on (i was so proud of my achievement…i wore it like a badge of honor…10k finishers don’t get medals, they get certificates 😦 ) I had removed my race number though.
I stuck around the entertainment area for a long time even I surprised myself. I was so full of energy, so happy. There was a mini concert of sorts going on with local artists performing, music from back in the day and the like. I was on my feet till 2pm when i left for home.
Once in the house, i took a shower (hot followed by cold) and then i went and made myself a protein powder-yogurt-chia seed-flax seed and ground almonds mix. I don’t know what to call that. I just mixed stuff up. I was hungry again and so i warmed up some leftover rice and chicken from the night before. After eating, i made some green tea but fell asleep before i could drink it. Talk of a 2 hour power nap! The rest of the night, after i woke up, was spent binge watching this seasons’ tv shows.
And that was race day for me.
Extra: Going into this race, i had 3 goals. 1) to finish the race 2) to do so without stopping and 3) to complete the race within 1hr 10 minutes and 1hr 20 minutes.
Am tempted to say i met all my goals. Yes i stopped for a sec to take a pic 5 minutes into the race…i’ll let that one slide. I made it to the finish line on my own (there’s a stragglers bus that picks those who opt out of the race) and i finished in the anticipated time frame.
I usually run at an average pace of 7 minutes per kilometer which meant i could finish in 70 minutes. However, seeing that i’d be running at 8am and not my usual 5am, and that this was a different course for me and also that there’d be people i’d have to shuffle past and weave through during the race, I gave myself an extra 5 minutes, to finish at an hour and 15 minutes. I really didn’t want to finish at 1hr 20 minutes.
One more thing, i ran with my phone in my hand and after getting water at the halfway point, I decided to run with the bottle of water as well. That was totally unnecessary because my hands got clammy and numb yet i only took a sip of the water and run with the rest to the finish line…thought i’d need it. I’ll need to buy an arm phone case so that i don’t have a repeat of this in the future.
Okay. Ending the post here 🙂