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Om-die-Dam Ultra Marathon - 20 March

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I had a bad week last week…my computer started giving me trouble (it’s not seeing my modem) and I spent most of the week unsuccessfully trying to sort out the problem. Luckily we have an old laptop which I am now using although it’s very slow.
Worse still, I sadly had to euthanase both my dogs in the space of 2 days.
On Thursday my beautiful Weimaraner, Sylvie, who had been suffering from advanced stage mastocytosis, collapsed at her water bowl.
When we arrived home in the evening she was not at the gate to greet us, wagging her tail as usual, and I found her lying upright by the water bowl not wanting to get up at all. And then I knew it was time for her to go. I didn’t want her to suffer as her organs started to fail and her system started shutting down.
And then on Friday morning I made the dreadful decision to take my beloved old Dobermann, Nina in to the vet to be put down as well. She had deteriorated badly over the last week and had started coughing and struggling to breathe – symptoms of heart failure. I just could not bear seeing her suffering any longer, wheezing with her swollen chest heaving, and standing at the gate waiting for Sylvie to come home…
Nina would have been 13 years old in June this year. She had been my faithful running companion for most of those years.

So I approached the Om-die-Dam (literally translated as ‘around-the-dam’) in a teary emotional haze, and hadn’t had the time to stress about it too much.
It was a case of ‘get on with it and just do it!’

We packed up the family and left at 4AM in the morning for the long drive out to Hartbeespoort Dam which is to the west of Pretoria. We arrived there at around 5 and it took us half an hour to get to the parking area in the heavily congested traffic.
I left the family in the car and made my way to the start and joined the portaloo queues, and thankfully didn’t have to wait too long.

The 50 K race got under way at dawn at 6AM with around 3600 runners lining up for the ‘long one’.
(This was the 20th running of the Om-die-Dam and there were 18 runners present who were running their 20th one!)

The first half of the race passed by pretty quickly in a blur and I just remember enjoying the beautiful scenery of the dam and the sun lighting up the majestic Magaliesberg mountains. I stopped at every water point (spaced 3 Ks apart) for water sachets and the South African favourite sports drink - Coke.
At around 15 Ks the route ducked around the back and away from the dam and headed towards Broederstroom. This was the tough part of the race ….never-ending rollercoaster hills. You’d slowly run up a hill just to be confronted with another one waiting for you at the end of the downhill…and then another and another…
And then just when you think the hills are finally over you get confronted by Saartjie’s Nek (at around 38Ks) – the mother of all hills! I managed to a slow jog all the way to the top so did quite well. After that it was a long downhill run (with sore legs) to the flatter section of Meerhof.
I passed through the 42 K mark in a time of 4 hours 28 minutes.

After that I started struggling. The sun decided to eventually make an appearance and it became blazingly hot. I just kept on, running slower and slower and taking a longer time to walk through the final water points. Finally in Ifafi the last 2 Ks were straight up hill and I capitulated and walked - my legs were just too sore and too tired to carry on.
Blessedly the last 300 metres of the race were downhill and runners (including myself) could restore their dignity and sum up enough remaining energy to run around the stadium and across the finish line!

I finished in the time of 5 hours and 28 minutes.

The long drive home was agony. My legs were incredibly sore but amazingly after a nice long bath and a rest, I felt ok again and had less stiffness than after my marathon last month.
On Sunday I felt great once again and the only sore and stiff part of my body was (and still is) my shoulders.

Yesterday was a public holiday and I ran the ‘Right to Run/Walk’ Race in Pretoria. I did the 10 K and had a good run (despite my heavy legs) finishing in just under 56 minutes.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD4358804
    Belated condolences regarding Sylvie and Nina. They were obviously good and loyal friends.

    Your race report is fantastic. I sooooo admire you taking on that incredible distance.
    4050 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5915724
    You are doing fantastic with your running, and although the course sounds tough, it sounds like it would have been an interesting run. Congratulations on your achievement!
    4054 days ago
  • CINDYC53
    Just read this after leaving a comment on your page. SO sorry about your dogs. I have been there; I took my dear 14 year old lab to be put down a few years ago, and it was heartbreaking. Losing two in one week - can't imagine. It took a lot of courage for you to move on to that big run (was it 50K?) !! Very inspiring! Thinking of you -
    4064 days ago
    Firstly , reading your blog reminded me of childhood fun at the dam!
    secondly I am so sorry about your doggies! Sorry about your pain!
    thirdly , I want to congratulate you on an awesome race and run! WOW!!!
    That is not easy terrain and you did it , well done!

    CONGRATS and sending hugs!!! emoticon
    4066 days ago
    emoticon emoticon

    emoticon about your dogs. I had to put my dog down in Swaziland and it broke my heart.

    God Bless.

    Heila emoticon
    4066 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4811290
    Sorry to hear about your dogs, that must have been a though decision to make. Even knowing its the best you could do for them!

    WOW, I am so amazed by you! I really think its incredible that you finished a 50k is such a great time. And a few days later a 10k, wowie! Maybe someday I will run those distances too, but for now I stick to HM's. Congrats and you truly are an inspiration!!

    PS. Love your family, joining you with going and for supporting you with the races!
    4066 days ago
  • SHEILA1505

    and well done!
    4066 days ago
  • SPUD1226
    So sorry about your pets, they are so much a part of our lives
    Great job on the 50K!!
    4066 days ago
    Wow, I so easily could write a blog like this verbatim - only I wish my times would be so good. I raise dogs and have a kennel that is a little top end loaded with elders. I have lost a couple of my older dogs this year and can so relate to the pain that you feel and the feeling of just having to plow forward. Good for you for doing so. As painful as it is, you just have to. Better to run and cry than to sit on the couch and cry. I have had many a run where i have found myself lost in their memory and in tears. Be assured in knowing they lived a good and long life with you and that you were there for them in the end.

    And I was excited to read about your 50K. I am running a 30K this weekend, a full marathon May16 and a 50K on June 19. I am kind of freaked but mostly excited.

    Congratulations on your impressive time and accomplishment during such a difficult time. You are my new inspiration.
    4066 days ago
    Sorry about your dogs. Like an old couple they were.

    Fantastic 50k, you are doing so well. You are really doing it.
    And the 10k just after - I'm speechless. I looked back to your New Year Series and wow, all those miles gave you more speed also on shorter distaces.
    Keeping my fingers crossed for the next 9 or 10 weeks as well.
    4066 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6755914
    Really really glad that you are back, Afrisam..
    I am sorry about that hard decicion about your dogs- you did the right thing.
    Well done! 56min for a 10km after that marathon is flying!
    Will be thinking about you.
    4067 days ago
  • MUSIC66
    sorry to hear about your two dogs sorry you had to put your two faithful dogs down, dogs are mans best friend.
    4067 days ago
    I'm sorry about your dogs.They sounded like lovely dogs and I'm sure you will remember them fondly.
    emoticon on finishing the marathon and 10K. That's amazing that you did them both within days of each other!
    4067 days ago
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