The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-412 – Maryro does Comrades

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Link epi4412.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Hello, my friends and welcome to episode 4-412 of the RunRunLive Podcast.  You’ll have to forgive me an episode incongruity here, a non-linear scrap of publishing.  I had a couple interviews stack on top of each other, like the way you stack your hips in a yoga pose, and, apparently, in the race to you ears, episode 4-412 won out over episode 4-411. 

Confused?  Don’t be.  It will be fine. 

Today, this week, you will get episode 4-412, an interview by my friend Alex, long time participant of the RunRunLive podcast experience, of another long-time friend of the show Maryro Mendez, who ran Comrades this year. 

I’m always fascinated with Comrades.  It seems such a foreign place, an extreme adventure.  Both Alex and Maryro are world travelers.  I have yet to make it to Africa.  Except, maybe through enjoying a good read of “The Heart of Darkness”. 

In section one I’m going to give you the run-down on the cow-pasture race.  I got some positive feedback on the uncertainty essay from last show, thank you for that.  I certainly appreciate it. 

I struggled to write that last episode.  I felt too jacked up about other things.  I need a certain amount of alone time and contemplation to get the creative juices flowing and I couldn’t get settled. 

That has been solved!  I am took Vacation!  Yes, just my wife and I down on Cape Cod enjoying the beautiful weather.  Soaking up the sea breezes.  Very peaceful.  No internet.  Just reading and relaxing.

In section two I’m going to piece together a vacation story for you. 

I took 5 days off from running and riding due to a sore knee.  It was one of those things where I probably tried to do too much too fast.  In this case the too much part had to do with going mountain bike riding with Anthony. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Anthony. Anthony has taught me an un-repayable number of useful things about bikes and riding over the last decade.  But, for my second ride in the woods in two years he overestimates my ability.  And, I on my part feel compelled to keep up, like a boy trying to please his Dad. 

I ended up bleeding from 4 different wounds at the end of the night.  Nothing life threatening.  Just those slow speed, slow motion crashes that stalk you when you haven’t got the miles in yet. That little bit of uncertainty, that spoonful of tentativeness as you go into an obstacle those few millimeters off your line that find you wide in the turns and stuck in the bad spots. 

You might call it ‘anti-flow’ 

On one of these slow speed crashes I couldn’t clip out and took the full weight of mass times acceleration (due to the force of gravity) on a pointy rock with my left knee.  It hurt but didn’t feel consequential at the time. 

Over the next week it just ached a bit as I kept up my running and cycling.  Finally, with the race in the cow pasture Wednesday night,  going hard on uneven ground and the knee seemed to be more sore than it should be after a week, so I did the smart thing and took a few days off. 

I was a bit worried I might lose fitness, but I managed to get over myself, and do a little core work and yoga instead.  Still a little sore, but I think it’s on the mend.  We’ll see.  I guess I don’t heal as fast as I used to. 

But, I feel pretty good and it’s summer time, and the days are long and what can be wrong with that?

On with the show!

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Section one – Lonely Cows -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Alex Cooke Interviews Maryro Mendez

Comrades Marathon 2019(up run): The other big 5

People always come to Africa wanting to see the big 5, Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhino and Buffalo, but I came here with the mission of not just seeing but conquering the other big 5. The nerve wracking 5 famous hills along the Comrades route, Cowies Hill, Fields Hill, Botha’s Hill, Inchanga and Polly shorts. What ever people can say about this race, they would be falling short but I will just describe my own experience here.

On our way to Durban, Andrey had a packed itinerary. We spent 2 days in Johannesburg and 5 days in Kruger National Park, chasing the animals and we were rewarded with amazing sightings. That on its own is worth a different write up.

We arrived in Durban on Friday afternoon, went straight to the expo, picked up my race pack and wonder around a bit just to feel the vibe but not too long. 

The city was filled with incredible energy. The people were amazing from day one.

There is no hiding that I was scared, scared of failure, of not finishing. I knew I had put it a lot of work but also knew I had not been feeling quite right, mentally and physically. I also knew even when I was creative trying to do hill work, living in Rotterdam, NL I lacked that part.

I felt excitement, fear and pure joy to be there. It was the fact that I was stepping in to the unknown but actually knowing that it was going to be the hardest race I had ever done that made this so especial. It was actually being part of a race that it is so important to a nation and you can feel it as soon as you land in Durban. Less than 10% of the 25000 runners are international runners, the rest are South Africans whom are very proud of their race. Only 20% are women.

On Saturday Andrey went hiking up Royal Natal Park and also drove on the route while I stayed in the hotel resting. When he got back, he said “if you see those hills, the first 40km are the most difficult, you have never done anything like it. Even by car they look horrible” ok that scared me even more.

“I got the belief, I will embrace the experience that I have earned after 5 months of hard training when conditions weren’t ideal. I got the belief that I am enough, good enough to be here but I will be patient and cautious because no medal will come easy tomorrow” I said to myself on Saturday. 

I woke up at 3:15, had some Ucan and almond butter, had a shower and we left for the start at 4:30 for a 5:30 start. Luckily our hotel was just in front so I was in my corral before 5. The atmosphere was incredible. I was next to a South African guy doing his 11th comrades. He started talking to me with a very zen like tone. He told me to be patient, that his first was also the up run and he did it in 10h15min. Even when my ultimate goal was to finish, on a good day I thought I could do 10h (A goal), my B goal was to finish under 10:30 but I thought “maybe my first can be close to this guy’s 10:15”. I also wanted to finish before sun set (5:15 pm)

The start is just amazing, very emotional no point describing because you have to be there to live it. Never felt such an emotional start in a race.

I started my watch as soon as the gun went off because this race is gun time and all the cut offs and different medals are awarded by gun time. I was seeded in corral C so took me a few minutes to cross but not too long. I had my watch in overall time and average pace, this time I didn’t want to get distracted  by mile splits that made no sense. It was very humid and I was sweating like crazy even when the sun was not out yet and I started to worry but tried to just keep it together. The sea of people in front and behind was incredible to see thinking we had 87 km to go. I followed Bruce Fordyce’s advice and ignored the distance markers that go in count down mode. 

I was running by feel and just checking my total time and average pace every now and again specially when I passed the cut off points (there are 7 in total) that would give a good idea of how much I was slowing down or not. I realised very early on that running up the hills in such a slow pace felt very inefficient, just didn’t feel natural to me so I decided to power hike up the hills. This was not a walking break this was very intense walking. I was passing people running while I walked up the hills, felt just like Killian Jornet  . However I did not train my body to do this so every time I was changing from walking to running my calves would rebel against me. I could feel my lower back too. But I just when over the initial transition discomfort and continue and as soon as I was in running mode it felt good again.

“do not stop” that was my other strategy, no matter what, I was not stopping for anything. And I didn’t.

There is no doubt as to when you are going up the big hills, they are relentlessly brutal. I was scared to ask anyone if we were at any of those hills in case I got NO for an answer.

All along the route the atmosphere is delightful, the locals set up tents full of aid for people apart from the official 43 water stations and they do it every year. People singing, dancing, bbqing. Going pass the wall of honour was neat, thinking my name could be there once I finished. When I reached Arthur’s seat I touched it out is respect and moved on. When I reached half way at 43km to go I knew I had just done the hardest marathon (a bit over a marathon) I had ever done in my life and I still had more than a marathon to go. I was supposed to see Andrey there but nothing. I struggled a little, but I said The only way you are not finishing this is if you do not make any the cut off point and you are forced to stop and get on a bus. 

The 10h bus passed me. They are amazing to watch. You can hear them coming, it is like a pack of horses trotting and singing. I felt a little disappointed that there would be no sub 10 for me but I was clear by that point I had underestimated the course so I just continued with my mission.

Suddenly with like 37km to go a familiar voice when I was not expecting “Moni, Moni” it was Andrey. That was my only stop. Maybe for just a minute or two. I grabbed a ucan bar and the hotshot anti cramp, which saved me because my calves were alive and kicking. My lower back was sore again for the power walking I am guessing. That gave me a second wind. 

The10:30h bus passed me and I was between 1h30- 1h20 ahead of the cut off time at the check points every time. I caught up with the 10:30 bus again. I was going to stay with them but I felt good so left them behind. 

The Coca Cola station is amazing and this kid starting calling, “my lady get a coke my lady” I grabbed a coke (never ever I drink real full sugar coke) and boy that felt good, it was iced cold. He said “I knew you wanted a coke my lady push on continue” and that my friends is reason 1568 I loved Comrades. With 20km to go I decided it was time to start counting down the km and noticed every km board. A runner with a green number that had done 13 Comrades started talking to me, he asked about my shoes, he congratulated me for my first comrades finish to which I thanked them but said that there was still 20 km to go. He said you will finish I know.

With 17 km to go I saw Andrey up on a bridge after I went under it, again great surprise, I waved and continued.

I reached little pollys, she is like The hiena, not part of the big 5 but her presence doesn’t go unnoticed in the wilderness. When I hit the 10km to go mark, I started feeling for the first time that I had it in the bag. Now my aim was to go sub 10:15. Then Polly shorts shoes up, and there is no need to ask anyone, I knew this is the famous mighty one that stretches along for 2km. 

Last 7 km I felt strong and full of joy. The down hills were hard, my toes were completely wrecked or so they felt. And the uphills even though shorter in comparison really sneaked up on you.

5 km to go and there he was again, I saw Andrey and I said “see you at the finish” saying that felt so good. I have say the performance of the day goes to him. Driving around with road closures it was messy.

4 km to go I kept checking my watch, 3 km to go and suddenly I felt it was taking too long for the 2k mark but then I saw 1km to go!!! I had missed the 2 km mark. 

I was there, I got chills. Yeah and because it is Comrades there is one final mini climb a few meters to the finish.

I crossed the line 10h 13 minutes and 55 seconds after the gun went off and got my bronze medal. 

The different colour bibs depending on if you are national or international, the number of medals on your bib, the different medals depending on your finish time, the people oh the people and how passionate they are, all that make this race extra especial.

With regards to nutrition I had 2 chia gels(low carb) and almond butter during the first third of the race. Then I started taking maurten gels I had 5 in total. I also had half a bar of ucan and some coke (I still can’t believe I drank full sugar coke but the even had ice cubes!) in the second half. I think probably consumed about 1000-1200 cals. I never felt I needed to eat but I forced myself to have something every 30 mins or so. I also had high5 zero electrolyte tablets. I grabbed 2 water poaches in maybe 40 out of the 43 water station, they were always cold so one to drink and one for my head and neck. All races should have those.

I realised now why this race was unique for me. I normally enjoy the training, the process more that the races themselves. Races are always an excuse for me to train. This time for the first time was the other way around, I enjoyed the race more than the training, the race was a whole process in itself that was changing me for the better as I went through. The race was a whole new experience. 

From a performance standpoint I could say I am a little sad I didn’t get a sub 10 but I am actually very happy my splits were consistent, I finished strong and I learned a lot. In the end it is only running so the time itself is nothing in comparison to what you gain as a person through running. But the type A person I am is already looking at what to improve 

Comrades you are much more that people say, I will be back for the down run but next summer is already committed for other adventures so will be tight. If not in 2020 I will be back for the 100th Comrades in 2021 which will be another down run as it was the original...and maybe for my second I can properly aim for a better time 

I am a runner because I run, I run because I am a runner 

We carry with us, deep inside, the knowledge that we have faced our fears and conquered challenges, and with that brings confidence, peace of mind and self-belief.

Section two – Puzzle Pieces -



Well, my friends you run the uphill course to the end of the RunRunLive Podcast episode 4-412, see you in Paradise City.

Got a couple nice long runs and rides in this week down the Cape.  I did my traditional long run on the beach in Chatham.  I went on the 4th itself and it was jammed with people.  Usually once I get a mile or so down the beach I’m pretty much alone, but on the 4ht of July people come out by boat and hang out all over the place. 

At one point there was a seal on the beach injured, probably by a Great White Shark.  Some guy was yelling at me to, I guess, not run by it.  Chill out there Ranger Rick, it’s a seal, not a unicorn.  When I came back the other way they had the seal EMT’s there working on it.  There are a lot of seals and a lot of sharks now on the Cape. 

I ran out of beach almost exactly at 5 miles.  Which gave me a nice tidy 10 for the outing.  I timed it well too.  I got out just after high tide. That means the tide is going out and you get a nice strip of hard sand.

I got out this weekend for an 18+ mile trail run.  Felt ok.  It was a little hard at the end, but it’s supposed to be.  I have to bring my volume up for the races I’m running this summer. 

All in all I got a good mental rest.  I read a couple books.  The best one was a Bradbury collection of short stories from the 70’s.  Great writer Bradbury.  The better read among you will smell a bit of Bradbury in my writing this week.

One of the books I’m working my way through is ‘the happiness curve’ by Jonathan Rauch.  He basically says that the science shows everyone’s life arc is about the same.  You’re happy when your young, you’re miserable when you’re in the prime of your life for the most part and then, in the last bit, the middle age forward, you get happy again, because, I guess you just don’t really care anymore? 

A couple things you can take form that.  One is that your happiness is different depending on what phase of life you’re in.  Another is that it’s, on average, the same experience for everybody. 

There ya go.  Hang in there and it gets better. 

And I’ll see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


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Direct download: epi4412.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:09pm EDT





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