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Conrad battered but not beaten after debut marathon
- Updated: April 30, 2014
By Mark Etheridge
Former national track steeplechase champion and 10km road champion Nolene Conrad may have had a horrendously hard marathon debut at the weekend but true to form she’s already ready to bounce back.
Little Conrad found the going extremely heavy, despite finishing fourth in the Hannover Marathon in Germany and finished well below her expectations.
Twenty-eight-year-old Conrad told Road to Rio 2016: “One thing i can say that I have learnt from this is experience is that I am tougher than I ever imagined. Throughout the race my mental state is what got me through, so now I know I can handle anything.
“I was targeting a 2hr 37min time and ended up with a 2:54:59. I was surprised by my fourth position as I had thought I was sixth.”
Starting the race well-rested and ready to go, Conrad was confident she’d done all the training although she was obviously scared of stepping into the unknown in terms of distance.
“I knew it was going to be hard and get tough at some stage and often wondered how bad and what type of pain it would be and let me say it was the worst type of pain I have ever experienced!”
The Gauteng athlete ran comfortably according to schedule, although it didn’t help that she was isolated from before the 10km mark and didn’t have the sanctuary of a bunch to run with.
“I remember feeling so special with the crowed cheering and encouraging runners.”
Cheerful changed to challenging at 15km though. “My hamstrings started to cramp and then my quads followed.” To her credit she refused to panic and assumed it was a rough stage, to be expected, and went through halfway on her target pace.
From 28km the challenge turned to crisis-management. “The cramps got worse and also in my stomach. The bottom of my feet started to burn and every muscle felt under strain. I got to 32km and wanted to stop but told myself that I didn’t come this far to quit.
“I was still on target until 34km and then my body just couldn’t take more, I stopped looking at my watch and just focused on finishing and all that kept me going was my mind.”
She says the last 6 kilometres felt like the longest 6km in her life, became disorientated and even started running skew.
“I reached the finish line and passed before waking up to medic trying to stick needles in my hand. Apparently my blood pressure was only 70 instead of 120 so it took them about 50 minutes to get it back to “normal.”
Conrad is a fighter though and the marathon spirit has not been entirely squashed. “A few hours later I thought to myself that it can’t get any worse than this and I should try another one. I’m not easily deterred but I’ll get back up and try it again. I’m proud that I was tough enough to complete a marathon. I’m not sure when, it might only be next year.”
Her next assignment is already looming large though.
“My body is still very sore, I had a hard time travelling, and can barely walk! I’m still in pain (muscles still in spasm). And guess what, I have to run Spar Ladies 10km in Port Elizabeth on Saturday! But I’m just going to take it easy though.”