I always focussed on time management with exams. A mentor once taught me a technique. Most of our exams were 100 marks in three hours. I allocated 1.6 minutes per mark which left 20 minutes at the end to check the paper. It also meant I didn't spend 30 minutes on a three mark question. Three marks gets five minutes. Five minutes up, and you move on. Ruthlessly.
When I got back from the Comrades on Sunday, I got to read through the whatsapp messages from various friends and family who had been tracking my progress. I kept them on the edge of their seat because I hadn't left the '20 minutes for checking'. To be fair, I had tried. Up until 16km to go, I had pushed to keep ahead of the sub-12 hour bus. They aim to finish with that little margin for error.
I fell behind that bus in Drummond just after the half way point. I then saw a veteran of several races muttering that we were all done. I had been running within myself, managing my energy right from the start. More shuffling than running. I had gone through the half way mark at 5 hours and 58 minutes. That was not the plan. The hill up to the half way mark was longer than expected and everyone was walking. So I walked. I should have done the walky runny thing. I was caught by surprise when people started saying that the cut-off gun was going in just 10 minutes. I heard it fire behind me. I didn't know I had been cutting it that fine. So I picked up the pace and got in front of the Sub-12 bus at around the 48km in/ 41km to go mark.
The last cut-off was with 7km to go, but I had a little wobble with 16km to go. A wobble in my head rather than in my body. Cowies Hill got the better of me and I felt shattered. When the bus caught me, I didn't have the wits to push on. This also meant that I had to manage my time on my own. The problem is I have laughed off wearing a watch. I don't like the stress of being so military about time management any more. I had a rough sense, but had stopped giving any margin of safety. The last 500 metres before the Sherwood cut-offs was an all out sprint. I was the last one through, and had to do some dancing and shoulder dropping as the gates closed around me.
My family watched my dot grind to a halt on the tracking app. That sprint took a little toll and I walked for a couple hundred metres. I then cracked on. Unfortunately I didn't quite make the next cut off. I was about 300 metres from the end when the final gun went.
Exams aren't just about what you know. How you plan is just as important. Next year, I will have trained a bit more (I ran my first marathon a month ago), and I will be wearing a watch!