Marathon Date: September 26, 2010
Country: South Africa
My Age: 74
My Finish Time: 4:51 * 2nd in my age group 70 to 80+
My Marathon Rating: Most Beautiful City
Memorable Moment: Meeting with the Mayor of Capetown – Mr Dan Plato
Lessons Learned: If you cannot sleep on long flights or when you arrive at your marathon destination try taking a sleeping Pill [Melatonin]. * Check with your doctor for approval
Marathon selection and registration:
For my 6th continent – Africa- I had 2 choices – the ‘Oceans to Oceans” or the Cape Town City Marathon. I decided on the Cape Town City marathon because I had heard so many people describe the city as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Also the city had done such an outstanding job on preparing for the World Cup in 2010 by building a new airport, new roads and new and efficient trains and buses as well as new infrastructure throughout the city. Also there is so much history in the city with all kinds of museums, parks, and a basically new waterfront. I was also told by my Sports Therapist not to run a marathon with many hills due to the fact that I was still recovering from my very painful Achilles injury that I got in my 2009 Stockholm, Sweden marathon. I was very happy to learn that the race manager [James Evans] would be inviting me to the marathon and would pay my entrance fee. He also pulled some strings and gave me the number 12 to signify that the Cape Town marathon would be my 12th worldwide marathon. Although the 2010 Cape Town marathon only had 1,000 runners I believe in the future it will become one of the worlds largest city marathons because Cape Town is such a beautiful city.
Marathon Training Program:
Due to the fact that it would take a number of months for me to completely recover from my Achilles injury that I received in my May 2009 Stockholm marathon I decided not to do any races prior to the Cape Town marathon. My 18-week marathon-training program started on May 23rd, my 74th birthday, and included 2 days of working weights, Elliptical, stationary bike, and a lot of stretching. I set a Cape Town marathon finish time goal of 4:30 due to the fact that I really did not want to push my times due to the still lingering Achilles injury. On all of my long runs I was able to maintain that pace so I felt very good about my chances of finishing the Cape Town marathon in my planned time of 4:30. My Garmin watch, which I use for all of my training runs and during my races to check my pace and times kept shutting off during week 16 of my training – I had to order a new one which arrived 5 days before I was leaving for Cape Town.
I had to renew my Passport for my trip to Capetown so I sent in the passport renewal application on March 12th and I received my new passport on April 8th. After spending a lot of time searching the Internet for a hotel to stay in while I was in Cape Town I decided to stay at the Adderley Hotel on Adderley Street. The hotel was highly recommended by a number of sites that I went to – it is also centrally located and within walking distance to the start of the marathon, and all of the major areas, sites, etc; in Cape Town. I would be arriving in Cape Town on September 22nd which would give me 5 days to rest after the long flights and to get my body clock reset. I departed for Cape Town on October 6th and traveled to Boston to spend time with my daughter Lisa and her husband Steve for 5 days before returning to San Diego.
I flew to Cape Town on British Airways thanks to Michel Napolitano for donating his Alaskan Airlines frequent flier miles to me. The flight from LAX to London took 11 hours and I had an 8-hour layover in London before flying another 12 hours to Cape Town, South Africa. Both flights were uneventful but the food was not very good on either flight – fortunately I bought some food to eat before boarding the plane. I was only able to get about 2 to 3 hours sleep over the 23-hour flight and 8 hour layover in London.
When I arrived in Cape Town on September 22nd at 8:00 am I was very tired and was looking forward to getting to my hotel and taking a quick shower and going out to get a good meal. After picking up my Luggage I quickly went through customs – hired a taxi to take me to my hotel. The weather was great – in the mid 70’s and the views from the airport to my hotel were beautiful. It only took about 25 minutes to get to the hotel and when I arrived I found out my room would not be ready for about 2 hours so the hotel manager upgraded me to one of the best rooms in the hotel. After I put my clothes away I took a quick shower and went out to find a good restaurant to get something to eat. The hotel manager recommended a very nice restaurant about 15 minutes walk from the hotel.I spent the rest of the day and the following day taking in some of the historic sights within walking distance to my hotel. The areas I went to were table Top Mountain, The Waterfront, Company Gardens, Outdoor Market, and a number of museums that had information about the history of Cape Town.
On Thursday [9/23] the hotel was having an event for all of the workers to celebrate their Heritage – people were dressed up in their native costumes – There was the native food, the workers sang songs and danced. The hotel manager asked me to speak about my worldwide marathons and on September 29th I had the honor of meeting with the Mayor of Cape Town, Mr Dan Plato where I gave him a signed and framed photo of my worldwide marathons. The Mayor took me through the history of Cape Town and showed me a beautiful painting that is hanging on the wall showing Nelson Mandela making his famous speech surrounded by all of the famous South Africans – I thoroughly enjoyed the talk. On the morning of October 6th, John Yeld, a writer for the Cape Town Argus newspaper called me and told me that he heard about my worldwide marathons and he would like to do a story on me. He met me at the hotel later on in the morning and did his story; his photographer took some photos of me, which would be included in the story.
The race route started on Adderley Street and left the city after about 3 miles, the first 13 miles is very flat and goes through some small towns outside the city. At the turn around point in the race the route goes along roads with traffic coming towards the runners and there will be a point in the route where a volunteer will have to stop 2 way traffic to let the runners go through. The route goes along a 2-way highway for a number of miles before entering the city. The route then goes past the world cup stadium and under a bridge – this is where the only 2 challenging hills will be located. The route then goes along the coast for about 2 miles and turns toward the city and the finish line. The last 3 miles are flat and at mile 25 you approach the start/finish line – the finish is at the building where Nelson Mandela made his famous speech. The Cape Town Marathon is still a relatively new marathon.
On September 24th, 2 days before the marathon, I woke up had breakfast and jogged to the marathon Expo around 11:00 am – the Expo was only about 4 miles from my hotel and the weather was great for a run. The Expo was very small with only 3 booths – I picked up my chip and race #12, they gave me two race # 12’s, because the runners had to put their race number both on the front and the back of their shirts. While at the Expo I met the race manager James Evans and thanked him for the race number and inviting me to the marathon. The location of the Expo was along the beautiful coast and next to a very famous lighthouse. After James Evans explained the marathon route to me I jogged back to my hotel around 3:00pm.
Two days before the marathon I was having a bad feeling as to my being able to finish the marathon in my planned time of 4:30 because I did not have a good nights sleep during my flight to Cape Town as well as since I arrived in the city on September 22nd. I have been waking up at 3:00am almost every morning since I arrived and have not been able to go back to sleep. The day before the marathon I had a light breakfast and stayed in my room to try and get as much sleep during the day as possible. I went out at around 4:30pm had my pre-race Pasta dinner at a restaurant 15 minutes walk from the hotel and was back at the hotel at 6:30pm. I spent the next hour preparing my gear for the race and setting up a wake up call at 5:00am after everything was ready I just relaxed and watched some TV- I went to bed at 9pm.
I again woke up at 3:00am and tried to back to sleep but was only able to take a short sleep of about an hour. I got dressed at 5:30am and started walking to the marathon start line it was only about 15 minute walk from my hotel. The weather was in the mid 70’s with no rain forecasted until 4 hours after the race starts. There were only 1,000 runners scheduled to be running the marathon so there wasn’t the normal pushing and shoving at the start of the race, which started at 6:30am. I started very slowly and after the first mile I was on my marathon pace of 10:30. It started to get hot out and we were running in open roads with absolutely no shade, and there no people along the first half of the race to cheer the runners on. I was very happy at the halfway point of the race, as my 13.1 time was 2:14, which will give my goal of a 4:30 marathon. There were no hills during the first half of the race and the 2 hills will come later on in the race.
I was still on pace when we entered the city limits and started going through some very small towns – still no people cheering the runners on. At mile 19 I passed the world cup stadium and went under a cement bridge and then went up a long hill on the highway. After leaving the highway I started running along the coast walkway which was roped off for the runners to run on but when I got to the walkway there were people walking dogs and I had to waste time and run around them. At mile 21 my pace dramatically slowed down as my legs were like cement blocks and at mile 22 I realized that I would not meet my goal of a 4:30 marathon. With just 2 miles to go to the finish line I definitely was not a “happy camper” I was really upset to not make my goal of a 4:30 marathon and I knew it was because I did not get any sleep on the flights and prior to the marathon. I had my head down and thought I was running alone when my frustrations finally got the best of me I just let out some very choice ”words” I normally don’t swear but I was so upset that I just let it all out – when I looked up their was a young female runner running next to me and she just looked at me, laughed and said “Oh Really” and went on her way. Needless to say I was pretty embarrassed and after I finally finished in a time of 4:52 I ran into her again and apologized to her she just smiled and gave me a hug. It started raining about 5 minutes after I crossed the finish line and it was starting to get cold.