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2011 Stanchart Nairobi Race Report

“Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough.” – Hal Higdon

Another year and another StanChart Nairobi marathon gone! I arrived at 2011 Nairobi marathon with a goal of running a sub 3 hours marathon. I had previously done two sub 3 hours marathon, in 2008 (2.52) and 2009 (2.56) but in 2010 I had a real back sliding, and finished in 3.23. A very poor performance by my high standards. This year was all about getting my pride back.

The eve of the marathon was perfect. No anxiety, plenty of rest, plenty of food, plenty of hydration. I woke up at 5.00 am, took a very hot shower just to warm up my body. I made sure the hot water ran down the key running muscles: the hip and the calf. The hotel breakfast starts at 7.00am so I had made my own arrangements. My pre race breakfast consisted of half a litre yogurt and six slices of bread.

With roads closed, the only way to get to the starting line was by walking. Every one was walking from Nairobi City center to the start at Nyayo National Stadium. I think Nyayo stadium is almost 1.5Kms from Nairobi City center and that walk alone is enough warm up!

The full marathon started at exactly 7.00am. My routine is to avoid the crowd in front and start from behind. I started well and when I got to the 9 Km mark I started feeling my body was not responding well. I was pushing but I was lacking the endurance to maintain apace of 4 mins per Km. Thoughts of my body may have peaked and I might never run faster again started crossing my mind.

The White Knights

At 11Km mark a man and woman team caught up with me. They seemed to be working together and they looked good at what they were doing. The guy was pacing the lady. I asked the guy what was their target and he told me, sub 3 hours. I couldn’t believe my luck! My job now was to stick with them.

I stuck with my White Knights, shadowing their every move. We crossed the 15 Kms mark at exactly 1 hour. If I maintained that pace I knew I would be on target. Nairobi marathon is a real budget race, the runners are only given water. I was drinking water at every water station. As the day got older, the sun came out and the temperatures started creeping up. I started taking an extra bottle of water and poured water on my body to cool off.

At the 25 Km, my white knights started pulling back and I raced in front. I thought I was leaving them behind only for them to catch up with me at around 28 Kms mark. We crossed the 30 Kms mark at 2 hours 8 mins. It was clear to me if I was to hit my target of sub 3 hours I would need to do something special in the final 12 Kms.

I Hit The Wall

At the 35 Km mark, my white knights took their team effort to the next level. The lady asked the guy to hold his hand and they sprinted off. I tried to chase them but my body refused. I couldn’t flip my legs faster, I had peaked. I was still running but I was not racing. ( I caught up with my white knights after the race and they informed me they crossed the finish line at 2.59)

When I saw a sign showing 3 Kms to the finish line I looked at my watch: 2.50. There was no way I could do the last 3 Kms in 10 mins. My new target now was under 3.05. To cut a long race short, I did the final 1 Km in 5 mins and finished 2011 Stanchart Nairobi marathon in 3 hours 6 minutes. Very Satisfying!

I never hit my target but some how I was very satisfied with my performance. I live to fight another day. You win some, you lose some. That’s life!

 

 

Race Report : 2009 Stanchart Marathon Results

2009 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon. I finished in a time of 2:57:29, one minute slower than 2008…..a rather disappointing race.

Pre Race

I travelled from Embu to Nairobi on Saturday. When I arrived in the city I realised I had forgotten my racing short back home and I had to buy a new short. Luckily I had arrived early and I had time to go shopping and buy a new Reebok short.

A friend of mine was working at the marathon secretariat and he invited me to the offices. The lifts at the building were not working and I was forced to walk up nine floors.(what a waste of my energy)

Instead of staying in a hotel I stayed at the home of my childhood friend Alex who lives a walking distance from Nyayo Stadium, the start and finish area of the marathon. Alex and his girlfriend Miriam were running the half marathon.

The Race

The first kilometres were fast. I had trained to run at a pace of 4 minutes a Kilometre. I had hoped to see a 5K mark and calculate whether I was within my pace but I never saw any markings of distance. In the runners guide it was indicated there would be markings every 5K but this was lacking on the course.  SHAME ON THE ORGANISERS! Without markings I just followed the fast moving crowd and made my own mental estimates.

As usual my breathing was hard at the start but I knew things would get better and easier the longer I kept running. After 1 hour of running my breathing never got easier, I guese I was running faster than my planned pace. After 1 hour 15 minutes we hooked up with the half marathon crowd and the course now got more crowded. I found myself weaving from side to side trying to overtake the half marathon runners.

I got back at Nyayo stadium at 1 hour 35 minutes, at this point the half marathon runners headed towards the finish line while the full marathon runners were supposed to repeat the circuit. After parting with the half marathon crowd, I looked ahead of me and shocked to see an almost empty road, it was clear many of full marathon runners had decided to drop out of the race at that point. The idea of repeating the circuit was too bitter to swallow for many runners!

Doing the second circuit was hard because I was running alone. It is at this point when it started raining and I remember at one time I thought………this sucks am done with marathons!……… Although my legs were feeling fine my chest was having a harder time. Make no mistake, I wanted to go faster…I would look at my watch and say ok legs, lets speeeeedup! and I would think I was going faster, but then I would check the watch a little while later and, nope, no faster!

After 2 hours and 10 minutes of running I got at the final turning point and I was now on the home stretch. At this point I could feel the smell of fresh bread from a bakery on the route. The smell of bread induced a feeling of hunger. I started having this imagination of eat a post race meat pie. I guese I was getting delusional!

As the clock hit 2.40, the finish line was out of sight and it was clear my goal of 2.45 finish was way way out of reach. My target now was to atleast match my PB.At this point I met up with Miriam, my friend’s Girlfriend. The half marathon was proving too hard for her to handle. As I overtook her she tried to run after me begging me to wait for her……….I just couldn’t…nothing personal!

Luckily for me a determined young lady who had an elite badge on her chest caught up with me at this point. I chased her tooth and nail. Although it was physically hard on me she kept me on my toes. She was my white knight, she pulled me to the end. We crossed the finish line together at 2 hours 57 minutes 26 seconds. Uh! what a relief. At least I stayed under 3 hours.

After The race

My recovery has astonished me. Two days after the race and am feeling like I can run another marathon next weekend.

With the 2009 Marathon gone I can’t wait for next year. 2010 I will have another opportunity to get a crack at it. 2.45 is my target.