I was standing outside Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital yesterday, affectionately known as Groen Dakkies, wearing my tights at 06:30am and I thought about how apt the whole situation must have seemed to those locked inside, looking out.
I was feeling good, positive & motivated. I had my friend Matthew Wentzel next to me which was fun since it was his first race. We’d spent 2 months worth of Sunday mornings in testing winter conditions preparing in the cradle for this race, so it was a good feeling waiting for the announcers send off.
I explained to Matty during our half hour stint in our group pen that usually when you enter races you get a “race pack” which is full of sample stuff like bottles, creams, bars and other bits. Also that there were often sunscreen people, music and general good vibe activities going on at the start. I guess I was feeling guilty that his first race was starting out very flat. And that it had cost R300 per entry.
Come to think of it, the 3 water points were just a table with polystyrene cups. Not exactly Cycle Challenge (which costs less to enter if I’m not mistaken). Anyway.
At around 20km I was getting real fatigue in my legs, but I told myself it was just the flu, which I had recovered from a week earlier, working out of the muscles. At 25km I told Matty I was fighting serious nausea and was having cold sweats and by the 44km water point we started to realize we weren’t going to be riding together.
At 50km I start vomiting. I got back on the bike and started riding. Felt much better and said to myself “you can make up time now that you lost”. At 65km I pull over again, this time I lost myself a little. I found myself on my hands and knees, tears streaming and sweat dripping from my nose, I started having negative thoughts. Somewhere between Carltonville & Krugersdorp I considered the trouble I was in.
I got back on the bike. My mind started focusing on the wind. And the heat. And what every kilometer felt like. After 3 very painful km a man in a LandRover who I can only guess had seen and grown tired of my stomach show racked my bike up said “get in” and drove me to the finish.
What a mensch. He was supporting his wife on the ride, like a champ. I wasn’t in the mood to chat but he was, and I wasn’t complaining. Even in the car those last 35km felt like forever.
I got back to the car. No medal. Waited for Matty to finish his first race, which he did brilliantly around 4h30, and drove home.
I was feeling very dejected and wondering about whether I’d been soft for not finishing. Playing with my daughter I developed a numbing headache and then around 17:00 I was still puking & had to call my mother to help me with Emily – I could barely move.
Thank god for moms.
She carted us back to her house. Made me drink glass after glass of RE-hydrate, water & flat coke. I slept from 7pm – 7am.
It dawned on me as I woke up just how precarious a position I was in when Mr Landrover picked me up. I have no doubt I would have been hospitalized in the very least had he not been such a guardian angel.
Feeling grateful for how things turned out, albeit disappointed with my first DNF. Also, very proud of Matty on his first medal in a cycle race 😉
His advice to me; “you’ll always remember this as the worst ride of your life, everyone has one.”
Next event? Freedom run in Cape Town on 21 September. See you there in two weeks kids 😉