The One Where I Broke up with Marathons

Break ups are hard
I’m Ross. Marathoning is Rachel.

Salties, break ups are hard to do. But sometimes even your favourite relationships become unhealthy and destructive and turn you into a crazy person. I became a crazy person. So this last week, in the middle of the Durban Marathon, I broke up with marathons and ultrarunning, so that I could become less loopy and more mellow. I think my family needs it. Who am I kidding? Hell, I need it!

I ran my first marathon of the year on Sunday 1 March 2015.  I say it was my first marathon but realistically I think it will be my last marathon of 2015. And I just feel relieved. I don’t want redemption, I don’t want to get back on the road and smash another marathon. I am just relishing the thought of a break.

I’m thinking I may cheat on long distance running and try to dabble in some speedwork, or maybe spend some time breathing deeply in a yoga class saying “ommmmmmm” or even take my husband up on his offer to teach me to surf.

Cooking instead of Track
Since the Durban Marathon, I’ve been cooking with kiddies instead of track

Seriously, it is impossible for me to give up running completely; I love it far too much. But at the moment there is just far too much going on in my life for me to devote the kind of time and mileage required to excel in ultra distances.  This year I have felt as though I have been hitting my head against a rather large brick wall. My times are not getting better and I am feeling worse and worse. They say that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result:


So I am mixing it up completely and doing an experiment of one. But that is a post for another day. Back to my story…

Usually I become somewhat obsessive about marathons in the days leading up to them. I plan each and every detail and split, write lists of times and places that I will take my fuel, discuss my race plan ad nauseam with Greg.  This time all of my attempts at planning were a bit half hearted. Most of the calculators were saying that I was going to run slower than my goal (3:29:59), and in my heart of hearts I knew they were right but I was hoping for a miracle.

On Friday I bought my race fuel and instead of going with my usual gels I decided to use chomps that I had only used a few times before. Yes, rookie error, but the gels are also a dicey option for me and my gut and the times I have tried the chews I have not been racing to the nearest porta-loo. So, I figured the chews would be a better option and planned to “drip feed” myself the chews in small amounts more frequently.

The plan was to go out at 5 minutes a kay (8:00 per mile) and just hold on until the end when I would kick for a sub 3:30 and hope like anything that my Garmin did not measure long! The course was pancake flat. Literally. I would say that speedbumps could have been regarded as significant obstacles.

I went through the half in 1:46 after a quick stop at the portaloo and although my tummy felt a bit dicey I was fine. I had been eating my chews and had drunk my diluted sports drink which Greg had handed me at mile 11 and felt ok.

2 miles down the road I started to feel extremely nauseas.   I kept drinking water because it was very humid and my tummy was starting to bloat so I was taking little sips to try and dilute the sugar in there. My pace was dropping off about 15 seconds per mile but I kept on going knowing that I would see Greg soon. At mile 17, just before I saw Greg I was feeling so nauseas that I was just trying to get to him as quickly as possible so that I could get into the car. When I saw him he made me walk with him and absolutely refused to let me stop.  I begged briefly but he was pretty hardcore about it. He knew that if I dropped out the feelings of regret would be worse than a missed time. A group of runners came past including two of my running club mates and they encouraged me to run with them. I rallied and went, and I definitely felt a little better for a while, but another 2 miles down the road the nausea was back.

2015-03-08 16.06.38
I’m looking forward to spending time with this guy in our new garden instead of epic long runs. 

I kept trying to eat little bites of food and sip water. The nausea would come in waves and then dissipate. I made bargains with myself that I would walk at the next water station or when I saw Greg. Somehow he seemed to get lost somewhere and instead of seeing him at mile 20 he only appeared at mile 23. I had a sip of the drink that he had for me and promptly vomited. I heaved on the side of the road and sat down for a while. At that stage he offered me a seat in the car but I was 3 miles from the finish and vomiting had made me feel slightly better so I decided to jog in the rest.

It was a hard slog. I finished in 3:46. 17 minutes slower than my goal. It was not meant to be that way. I should have been able to run better than that.

Perhaps it is cowardly of me to allow a bad race to put me off marathons and ultras for the year, but I don’t think so. The sacrifice and  reward ratio is out of kilter and I need to get it back into line. That is what the rest of 2015 is now about.

An ultrarunning gal from sunny South Africa... I'm a mummy of two kiddos under 5, wife, runner (and attorney) from the balmy shores of South Africa. Although I am definitely a mid-packer I have the soul and aspirations of an elite athlete, sadly without the pedigreed legs! But every day I dream and work towards loftier goals... maybe a sub 20 5k to start?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. This is an old story as us veterans and pensioners well know .At the time of Moses and the bulrushes ,it took a mere 16 km race to realize that training for my first Comrades was a pastime for lunatics and the unstable and therefore a matter for early retirement .Did i recommence after a week for reflection?Well,that can be related at another time .Peppadew has run Comrades ,she has completed a full Iron Man.Everest has been climbed .Her decision is without doubt a very good one.

  2. Peppadew is the most determine lady I know! If she is going to rest, I respect that when she is ready to return, she will do so with bells on. Peppadew was my inspiration to start running. Whilst I am not an accomplished runner, like Peppadew, I have high aspirations.