This last weekend I took part in the first race of the Cape Winter Trail Series. The first race was 10.2km (for the long course) and took place at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve, which has to be one of the most beautiful spots in Cape Town.
I arrived as the sun was just starting to rise and although it was icy-cold I soon warmed up on the long walk up the hill. To say it was breath-taking is putting it too mildly, it was amazing. The sun rose in an orange ball from behind the distant mountains and shone golden rays through the tall trees on top of the hill, leaving a blanket of misty warmth over the valley below which covered the dozens of houses where the rest of Cape Town still slept.
At the top of the hill it was even more beautiful – one the one side there was quiet, suburban Durbanville scattered with a few wine farms, and on the other lay Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean and a quietly buzzing highway that never seems to lie alone even in the quiet hours of a Sunday morning.
Watching the sun continue to rise and light up a bright blue sky it suddenly made getting up so early on a Sunday morning much less of a chore! I did take some pictures, but hubby absconded with the camera before I had a chance to download them (hint hint hubby dearest...)
The race began at 9am, by which time lots of people had arrived and everyone was pacing around – either anxiously or because it was still freezing cold despite the bright sunny morning. I love this part of a race – everyone equally full of energy and anxiety, it fills the air with an electric buzz of anticipation.
I hadn’t had a chance to view the race profile beforehand so was a little disheartened to hear the organisers announce that there was a monster hill fairly early on – if they described it as monster I could only imagine how huge it must be. So I was feeling a little apprehensive by then…
A few minutes later we were off. It started with a run up a tarred hill which I ended up walking for the second half cause my calves do not like hills at all (I really need to strengthen them, it’s very annoying -tips anyone?). But after that it was all good. We ran around the hill on a very uneven off-road single track which brought us around to the monster hill after a few kays.
And OMG. What. A. Hill.
However, not only was the hill very steep, and almost impossible to run up unless you’re part Duiker, but this is where the long course joined up with the short course, so all of a sudden there were loads of people huffing and puffing up the hill – the hill that WOULD NOT END.
My heart rate monitor showed my heart rate was at about 172 going up the hill, which is very high. Higher than when I’m actually running! It was THAT long and that hard.
But that wasn’t the worst part. Just when we got to the top and my legs were starting to quiver, I realised we were back at the start, which meant we were finished- right? Wrong. So, so wrong… I think it was kind of cruel but they made us run through the start/finish area again and then sent us back off down the other side. I know!!!!
This time it was all downhill, and I think I made up a lot of time that I’d lost before on the hill although at the bottom I ended up having to walk again because there was lots of loose rock which was covered in moss and that made it a bit slippery. And being the delicate flower I am (or rather, the clumsy one..) I thought it was better to walk it rather than risk falling. It was a long climb back up the hill and doing that with a sprained ankle would not have been ideal at all.
Anyway. Long story short I made it to the end. My time wasn’t great (1 hour 29 mins) but I finished it.
Thanks also to Ellie from Cape CrossFit who also ran the race and waited for me at the top of the hill to encourage me on the last little stretch towards the finish. Don’t think I would have had the energy to run it if she hadn’t been there so BIG THANKS to you my dear!
One thing I have learned from this race is that I need to eat something more substantial beforehand – halfway through the race I was completely drained of energy. It was a struggle to even put one leg in front of the other and climbing all those hills sapped what little energy I had left. I’m not sure what I should eat or if I should take energy gels with me, so any suggestions are welcome. I really don’t want to feel like that again, it really hampered my performance and by the end I was actually trembling.
My legs are not too bad, although the bottoms of my feet are a bit tender, but for some reason my bum muscles are very einah.
So far I’ve had two hot baths with Epsom Salts, muscle relaxants and I’ve stretched as much as I can. But it’s still a bit sore. I did read afterwards – the beauty of hindsight – that immediately after a run an ice bath is much better than a hot bath for aching muscles. But an ice bath – in winter? Guess I’ll have to try it and see.
Anyhoo, I have not been to CrossFit since Friday and am missing it, we have had a work conference on which has thrown us out of routine. But I will be back at it from tomorrow.
As they say, no rest for the wicked!