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Dis-Chem Half Marathon, Central Gauteng, 13 January

I am a real race junkie and run just
about every race on the running calendar. I wanted to give something back to
running and decided to start pacing local Gauteng races. However, I soon
realised that it is very hard to pace alone, so I roped in my club mate, Leon.
Initially we started pacing 10km races, then moved up to 21km races, then 32km
events, and eventually graduated to the marathon, annually pacing the sub-four-hour
bus at the Wally Hayward marathon.

 

The Dis-Chem Half Marathon has, however,
become our favourite race to pace, as it is early in the year and even my own
fitness gets put under the spotlight. Fortunately, Leon is faster than me, so
it has always given me confidence that no matter what, we will finish within
our targeted time.

 

This year we set out to pace the
sub-1:45 bus, and I thought it would be much easier this year, as I had been
training hard and lost some weight. But in the week leading up to the event, I
strained my calf during a time trial, which meant I had to focus on getting it
repaired in time! I had to go for a few emergency physio sessions, as I didn’t
want to tell Modern Athlete’s editor,
Michelle Carnegie, that I had “retired hurt.” That would just be too
embarrassing for words!

 

The physio seemed to have done her job,
so I decided to run the Akasia 21km race the day before as a test of the now
repaired calf. Unfortunately, it did not go to plan and I pulled up with a knot
in the calf 2km into the run. This clearly was rather worrying! I spent the
rest of Saturday icing and massaging it, and wearing compression socks to
accelerate the healing by race day… but things were not looking good. As a
last resort, I tried some ‘muti’ from a little Chinese red bottle spray, and it
seemed to relieve the tightness just in time for bed.

 

I made back-up plans with Leon and another
club mate, Vusi, as it would be rather obvious if the flag-carrier pulled out
of the race! Then I sprayed the calf at the start of the race and we set off. We
know the route very well from pacing in prior years and Leon also grew up in
the Bedfordview area. The first 10km are quite easy, as most runners are strong
and the course drops down to the river. We got to the 10km mark at 49 minutes,
which was perfectly on pace. There I sprayed my calf again.

 

From the 10km mark the course becomes
challenging as you climb past Eastgate and Bedfordview shopping centres. We dropped
off pace a bit on some of the tougher climbs and reached the 15km mark in
1:13.46, which was slightly behind our target pace of 4:53, but we always give
ourselves a slight buffer for possible inaccuracies in the GPS and also for the
course, which might be slightly longer than the 21.1km. We kept pace at around
5min/km and got to the top of the hill at the 18km in Dawnview in 1:28. This
meant we were left with 16 minutes to complete the last three-and-a-bit kilometres,
which are relatively fast and downhill.

 

Last year we got to this point two
minutes behind schedule and had to do a few sub-four-minute kilometres to break
1:45, but this year we cruised down the hills with our Breakthru team and
finished in 1:44:25. Our GPS did show the distance as 21.3km, which shows we do
need a bit of spare time to ensure we don’t miss the cut-off.

 

I would like to thank my Breakthru team
who made the pacing so much easier. I am already looking forward to next year’s
Dis-Chem Half Marathon. It is a fantastic race and I hope our pacing bus helps
a few people achieve their targets on the day.

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