"

Over training is over rated, rest better so that you can train even more" - Nick Yster Bester


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2011 Om Die Dam 50km Race Report

Let me start by saying I had no easy day. I had a very tough run and actually finished the race with cold/flu symptoms. I’m still not exactly sure what went wrong but my son was in bed with flu last week and it seems this actually got to me as well and only showed itself during the last 20km of the race. Anyway I did finish within the cutoff time by 11 mins and still had a good time overall at this great race.

The day started early as the start was at 06:00 and we left home at 3:30. There was a very big field but I can’t fault anyone or anything with the organization. All went smoothly for me from home right up to the start.

Waiting for the start with my favorite supporter.

The start was a noisy but festive affair with music, the call of the African Fish Eagle and then the gun. While talking about the gun, there is one thing I want to mention here. In South Africa there is no such thing as chip time….only gun time. There are serious cutoff times at most races and this, including the Comrades Marathon, applies only to gun time. At Comrades I will lose about 12 – 15 minutes at the start…it is just that, lost. That’s how we run here in SA and no one complains.

It took me about 2 minutes to cross the start at Om Die Dam.

Just before the start I suddenly felt a scratch in my throat and couldn’t speak. I took a sip of water and forgot about it. It came back at about 35km and I finished the race with a sore throat...not good!

The first few kilometers run down to the dam wall and are very easy and pleasant. I was just making sure I don’t fall in the huge field.

First glimpse of the dam.

There is a tunnel that takes the road over the dam wall. It is always very festive here. Everyone feels great, the road is slightly downhill and the scenery beautiful.

Into the tunnel…


…out onto the dam wall.


Above the dam wall.

Below the dam wall.

In/on the dam wall.

Once you cross the dam wall things get more serious as the first climb of the day begins. I was not feeling as comfortable as I would have liked and just tried to relax and run. I felt a bit nauseous from 2km onwards and I never felt 100% comfortable at all.

Kommando Nek
We climbed Kommando Nek and then went down towards the dam again. This part is beautiful and mainly flat. The view from the bridge where the road crosses the dam was spectacular.

Great early morning view.

Over the bridge.

The road on the opposite side of the dam is flat at first, but after a few kilometers there are some serious hills to contend with.

Some hills to remember for next year.

I was feeling OK but knew I wasn’t 100%. It was as if I was not firing on all cylinders. Just after 21km the heel of my right shoe gave a click and a poof and collapsed! This was not great with 29km still to go and me not feeling 100% already. I stopped to check and there it was, a collapsed heel! Luckily I’m not a heel striker but as I sit and type this I can still feel the effect that this had on my lower right leg. I adjusted as well as I could but knew the collapsed shoe would not make the day any easier. The shoe has only done 448km so I am really upset with Nike.

A little further on we crossed the Crocodile River and I took a moment for some photos.

Crocodile River.

From the river it was a slow but steady climb for a few kilometers. I was still OK but could feel I was going to have a hard day.

Another hill towards half way. Note how tall the grass is.

At 27km I had my first gag of the day as I battled to get a GU and water down. I was now feeling very nauseous and was just glad the weather was nice and not very hot as is common for this part of the route. At 31km I had to rush into the tall grass next to the road and won my first Pukie Award of the day! This was not good timing as I was approaching the famous Saartjie’s Nek, a very long and very steep monster of a hill at just the wrong distance in this race.

I shuffled along to the fantastic water point at the bottom of Saartjie’s Nek.

Saartjie says good morning.

Look out for Saartjie.

Red carpet treatment.

As I came into the water point I had to take another trip into the grass for Pukie Award #2. Needless to say Saartjie was very tough after this.

Moving up Saartjie’s.

Almost at the top.

At last! View of the dam below.

The downhill after the climb was good but still not easy. I had zero energy left by now and my right shoe was starting to hurt my leg as well. To top it all my nose started running, my ears became blocked and I got a sore throat. Talk about hitting the wall! This wall fell on me!

At this beautiful shop and restaurant I fed the flowers again for Pukie Award #3.

Let’s just say pizza here will never be the same…
I was really drained now and walked/shuffled on. I planned a LSD but this was now survival.

Onwards through the neighborhoods.

I was really feeling bad and when I hit the last hill with about 2.5km to go I just walked all the way to the top. This last hill is a killer even if you feel good and I can’t remember when I was last so happy to see a 1km to go marker.

1km to go!
Finally I shuffled onto the field…


…and was very relieved to finally reach the finish 11 minutes before the cutoff.


A nice medal and t-shirt, although I would have preferred the cotton 21km shirt. Their's have a beautiful picture on it! Check it out at Sandal Girl's report.


I now know I ran this with a slight flu/cold in my system. I didn’t know I was a bit sick when I started, but this shows how carful we must be when we do feel a bit sick. I've taken 3 days rest and will not do more than a half marathon this weekend. Let's hope this was my last survival trip for a while...

17 comments:

Staci said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your awful run. It's especially worse 'cos I enjoyed mine and because I know how horrid it is to puke and walk and puke some more. Fortunately the weather was favourable and you didn't have to contend with burning sun. You really need to take it easy - maybe even for more than 3 days. I don't generally dish out 'medical' advice but ... Vitamin C might help. Hope all is well real soon.
Your pictures are great and really show off what a scenic run this is. You also get to see the killer hills ;-)

Black Knight said...

You made a very good job for many reasons: the sore throat and the flu (in those conditions I must stay in bed and you ran 50 km); the early time; the long distance and the uphills.
Now take care and 2 or 3 days off.
I remember something about the gun time and the chip time complaints....
Beautiful photo of beautiful places.

Scott Keeps Running said...

Wow, an amazingly beautiful course!

I do want to get back there someday. :)

Anonymous said...

Great report, Johan.
What exactly do you mean by "heel collapsed" - did it break off, just disintegrate? Also, what model?
I have been running in Nike Vomeros since they were first launched, and my current pair of Vomero 3s has 1600km and still going strong!

Johann said...

@Anonymous: The heel has zero support left on the inside. It is totally flat. This is Nike Pegasus 2010 model. I usually get 1200 – 1500km out of my Pegasus. I've been running with Pegasus for many years and have never had a problem like this.

Liz said...

Wow, tough race. The medal looks great though, and at least you had some beautiful views!

chris mcpeake said...

Way to stick with it. I ran a 50k last year with the flu it was horrible. Very cool medal. Tough races and adversity always make for great stories

Molly said...

oh Johann! Sorry you were so sick! Huge kudos for not stopping. Congrats, hope you're feeling better now!

Jess @ Blonde Ponytail said...

Has BDD seen this report?!!! Holly Pukie Awards!

The scenery looks amazing--but probably not as breath taking when you feel awful! :(

Thank you for your kind comment on my blog! Coach appreciates it too!!

Rad Runner said...

OMG GREAT JOB! and with all these pics to top it off?! You rock!

HappyTrails said...

Can't believe I missed this. Sorry for the rough day out there - I can't believe you ran 50k, all while sick!! Great job on a rough outing. And the photos....Let's just say that scenery might tempt a dirt lover to run a wee bit of asphalt :-)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

WHooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! 3 pukies in one race!!!!!! First congrats on having the mental fortitude to finish a race in such a bad state, that speaks volumes of your toughness.

I will have it up next Friday

Amy said...

Wow. What a tough race you had. But I am so admiring that you toughed it out, despite everything, and finished. That is really awe-inspiring, and I can certainly understand why your son is so proud of you. It takes much more character to finish a race in those conditions than one in which you feel great and everything is going well. So congratulations! And I must say, that is the first time I have ever heard of a shoe collapsing!

Small Town Runner said...

You are a SURVIVOR. That is a horrible way to have to run a race. So sorry you had to go through that. :(

What in the world?!?! I would have been steaming mad about the shoe. I hope your other leg is not injured after that ordeal. Still- you persevered and it sounds like you did with HONOR.

Absolutely stunning photos- really makes me want to see it in real life! =D

Adrienne said...

That is a long way to go when you aren't feeling well. Hopefully you puked it all out of your system. You are definitely a survivor. Beautiful pictures.

Lauren said...

I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU FINISHED THIS RACE!

Beautiful pictures, really enjoyed them.

Interesting facts about chip times & cutoffs in SA. I think I was able to subtract 10 min. off my gun time in the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon because of chip time. That race had 22,000 people and we would certainly complain if we had to rely on gun time only. But we are kinda complainers here. In S. California nearly all road races have chip times. Very few trail races have chip times. We don't have cutoffs on road races (but I haven't run a road race in a while) and most trail races are extremely lenient on cutoff times.

Lauren said...

I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU FINISHED THIS RACE!

Beautiful pictures, really enjoyed them.

Interesting facts about chip times & cutoffs in SA. I think I was able to subtract 10 min. off my gun time in the San Diego Rock n' Roll Marathon because of chip time. That race had 22,000 people and we would certainly complain if we had to rely on gun time only. But we are kinda complainers here. In S. California nearly all road races have chip times. Very few trail races have chip times. We don't have cutoffs on road races (but I haven't run a road race in a while) and most trail races are extremely lenient on cutoff times.