It was quite a busy few days away. We were off to the West Coast National Park again, so I could run the half marathon for the third time. Why? I really don't know, except that I am determined not to let the Black Mamba hill beat me indefinitely!
Thursday 18th, after dropping the dogs and cats off at the kennels, we stopped off at The Grand West in Goodwood as we had managed to get tickets to watch Michael McIntyre. We were lucky enough to have front row tickets and thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We stayed at the hotel there overnight, then continued on to the West Coast National Park the next day. A nice start to our break away.
The chalet was ready for us when we got there (early), and found that we had the same chalet as the one we had stayed in last year, and the year before that too! So we felt quite at home. After dropping off our bags, we drove up, through the park, into Langebaan and bought some food, stopping off to register and pick up my number and goodie bag for the half marathon the next day.
We were up (bright? Well, early anyway) at about 5am - so dark and so cold - and we were in Langebaan at the Start by 6.15am. Not much to do other than queue for the toilets, and wait for it to get light. Brrrr, still very cold!
The run started at 7.10am and over 1000 runners were off! I know the route now, having done it twice before, and we were up the road for about half a kilometre, and then on to the gravel track. There is approximately 8km of off-road running, which makes it interesting (rock, gravel and sand) but the tracks are quite narrow and with very uneven ground. I haven't run on gravel since I rolled my ankle three months ago, so I took more notice of where I was putting my feet than the scenery.
The weather had warmed up a lot, but there was quite a strong cross-wind. It didn't seem to matter which way I was running, the wind was in my face! The temperature was in the low 20's by then, so not too hot by South African standards, but quite warm enough!
It did get rather congested at times along the track, once with an 'unofficial' bus of people running at a much slower pace than me. I had to follow them for over a kilometre! There were quite a few people getting held up by them as well, and it wasn't an option to simply run round them because of the high fynbos at the sides of the track. Eventually, a few at a time, we started to ask them to move to the side so we could pass. It also does get me riled when walkers decide to start at the front of the race and won't move to the side, or groups of runners just run next to one another so no-one else can get past! Grrr! OK, rant over!
At last, we ran out on to the tarmac, and the rest of the run was only on tarmac roads, although very undulating roads. I tried to make up some time then, and was doing ok (I think) until the bottom of the Big Hill! Yes, the dreaded Black Mamba was still there, as it had been the previous two years. Just what you don't really want at 16/17km of a half marathon! I could see this hill from some distance away, and no-one was running, or even jogging up it. It is HORRIBLE! But we all staggered up it anyway, with the knowledge that there was only another 3 or so kilometres left to do, and that was mainly downhill! I really stretched out then, desperate to make up some time.
In the end, my time was 2:31:30, and I was not entirely happy with it! I would have liked to have taken off a few more minutes at least! Still, it was not to be. My own fault for having a couple or so weeks off from running in February/March to do other things, probably. However, the medal was worth having and, also, the ice lolly they gave you at the end!
Position: 34/102 (Category: 50-59 women)
Position overall: 761/1170
While I was running, Steve had a long wait, so he took some pics of the lagoon:
After the run, we still had a couple of days at the National Park, so were able to enjoy some more good weather and nature. One lunchtime, while sitting outside the chalet when Steve was inside cooking himself a sausage and egg sandwich, I looked up to see several Eland munching on the fynbos of the neighbouring chalet. They are MASSIVE animals! I didn't realise how big they actually are until I saw them up close.
There were lots of ostriches around:
Another day, we saw some puff adders sunning themselves in the middle of the road. Ugh!
It is also the time of year that Flamingoes come to the National Park as well, and there were so many of them. We had a lovely time there, as in previous years, but being there a month later meant we were able to see the Flamingoes this time. Well worth it.
And if you have a chalet where you can see the floor mop hanging on a wire through the backdoor window, but actually think that someone is there, what else are you supposed to do with it but give it a face? At least, then, it can REALLY look as if there is someone peering through the door!
Of course, in the evenings what else could we do but braai:
On Tuesday, we were due to go home but were stopping off to see Dad and Celia for a couple of hours first on the way. However, they invited us out for a meal in the evening, so we rang the kennels to ask them if the animals could stay for another day. Luckily, they could, so we were able to enjoy a bit longer at Brackenfell. The meal was lovely and I think we all really pigged out! It was my birthday that Friday, and Celia arranged that the staff sing "Happy Birthday" to me at the table! Excellent! lol! And I got extra ice-cream with some sparklers in it, so it was all worthwhile! :)
Well, the next day we really did have to come home. We had done all we had set out to do, and more, and had spent far too much money at the 'big shops'! The dogs were delighted to see us though, and the cats just complained all the way back from the kennels!
Next race up: The Hermanus Wheels & Runners 10km in a couple of weeks.
Also, nearly time to enter the Cape Town Marathon!