Parkrun Playtime

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I was wondering for a while what everyone was going on about. I mean really…a 5km race?

Parkrun organises free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. My programme said parkrun the week before the Durban City Marathon so I decided to go for it!

Woodlands Parkrun was a “double lapper” with short steep hills. Yes, even in parkruns you get double lappers! I started off way too fast and blew it with a numb foot and tired calf by the 2nd kilometre. I had to run/walk the rest of the race (so frustrating). To make things worst my husband who has been recovering from a kidney transplant passed me on the 2nd lap with a huge smile on his face and for the 1st time in 3 years beat me! I don’t compete with anyone but my husband…so it was game on!

The next weekend we were off to Durban and he made a point to go run the North Beach Parkrun. I was doing a happy dance…my running buddy is back! I am sure if my husband had any idea his wife was going to turn into a running addict he would have never encouraged me to started running…water under the bridge!

The week after Durban City Marathon I had parkrun on the schedule again so we decided to go and check out the Modderfontein Parkrun. At least it would be a full 5km lap. Arriving there I was pleasantly surprise with all the facilities.

However it’s starting to appear that I don’t learn from my mistakes! The race was a physical and mental repeat of what happened at Woodlands Parkrun. Hubby passed me in the 4th kilometer and he had that smile on his face (he knew better than not to wave or talk to me). He got the win but only by 18s this time. I LOVED IT…this might just be that little bit of healthy competition I need to learn how to push myself in races!

I came 7th in my age category and 44th female. I look at my time (struggling through a race) and I feel I have the ability to even finish top 20 female on a good day! So I will keep trying – even looking forward to our next parkrun! :)

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Time to Focus

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I started my running journey in 2011. Whilst reading the Runner’s World Magazine my eye caught a picture of a guy dressed funny carrying a backpack and it looked like he was running. The picture showed off all of his gear and a list of mandatory equipment that he has to carry with him including an anti venom kit.

This picture started a dream...

This picture started a dream…

His running shoes were covered, looked like running boots! I was completely baffled with the intricacies. I think it was the anti-venom kit that scared me, what was he doing? Well, he was running the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self-sufficient multi-stage race in the Moroccan Sahara Desert. I knew then already that it was something I wanted to do.

Every day I run, I think about running in the desert. It is funny…I’ve never even been to a desert, closest I came to 43 degrees celcius was in the Karoo. I am not sure why I have this burning desire to run in the desert, for know let’s just say it is “the challenge” :)

I was dreaming big in 2014, hoping to get a place for the 30th Marathon Des Sables (MDS) but all available entries were snapped in less than 4 minutes or some ridiculously short time. I was disappointed and depressed that entire week!

Trans Arabia (Jordan 2016)

I then heard about another desert race whilst sulking about my MDS disappointment to fellow ultrarunner who told me about Trans Arabia – a 300km non-stop race crossing Jordan from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea via the Wadi Rum Desert.

I immediately did some research and let’s just say the rest is history. I’ve fallen head over “hills” in love with this race and entered the next day! I will do the Marathon Des Sables in 20xx :)

What drew me to this race was the concept of running from “sea-to-sea” crossing a desert!

Dead Sea

Start at Dead Sea

Wadi Rum

via Wadi Rum Desert

Red Sea

Finish at Red Sea

The Wadi Rum Desert is one of the most impressive desert landscapes in the world situated in south Jordan.  It is famous for its high mountains, charming rock formations and colour-changing sand. It’s also known as The Valley of the Moon.

It’s absolutely beautiful and I’ve become obsessed with running…ok…. shuffling it!

Wadi Rum, South of Jordan

Wadi Rum, South of Jordan

Wadi Rum Desert Camp

Wadi Rum Desert Camp

I have started planning the road to Trans Arabia – 15 months to train to run 300km carrying all the things I would need to survive 6 days in the desert. I am so excited to be training for this race and learn more about the country and all the historical and biblical places I’ll be running through I thought it fitting to create a separate blog dedicated to my training and preparation for my epic “Journey through Jordan”.

My Theme for 2015 is “Focus”

My goals for 2015 is simple…

  1. A sub 11hr Comrades (bronze medal) – I would like to get much faster at the shorter distances as well but first need to get to the bottom of my foot issue.
  2. However, all I think of everyday is Trans Arabia! This race is going to consume me – I am more worried and interested in preparing for this race, getting onto trails and experimenting with gear and everything that goes with training for a non-stop or multi-stage desert ultra marathon in a foreign country. So 2015 is all about exploring and  experimenting…no point doing anything or taking anything with me that is not gonna work for me in the desert.

I guess the biggest challenge for me this year is not to get too overwhelmed with training for Trans Arabia but to plan appropriately and to FOCUS on the immediate next steps only…. a journey of a thousand (in my case a million) miles starts with a single step :)

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My Ultra Amazing 2014

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If I didn’t know any better I would have thought I was suffering from writer’s block. This is the longest I have gone without posting any updates to my blog (whilst there were lots happening). I am having so much fun with my running and other running related activities at the moment I sometimes have to just sit back and laugh at myself…never in a million years would I have thought running would make me this happy!

The past 2 months have been hectic though; the “work-life-running” balancing act is becoming increasingly challenging! I ran the Soweto Marathon and resume training a week after that. I signed up for the 2015 Comrades UP RUN so it goes without saying….training never stops!

My Journey

My theme for 2014 was ‘JOURNEY’…and what a journey it has been! Anyone following my blog would know that I have been on a “runners high” for pretty much the whole of 2014! Without a doubt my best year yet in running. I could not have done this without the support from my family and my running coach…forever in debt to them!

So many great experiences and memories, too many to mention. I love my running journey and celebrate and cherish all my races. I might not always achieve the ambitious time goals but with each race I grow into a better and more experience runner. That’s the reason for my blog, its a reminder to myself of how far I’ve come.

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It is not all smooth sailing though. I’ve been experiencing some numbness in my left foot the last few months which could be due to some muscle weaknesses and imbalances caused by my left leg being a longer than my right leg! :-) The frustrating bit is that the numbness only affects my running when I try to run at faster paces. I’ve worked hard post Comrades to improve my speed. I enjoyed going to the track and nailed all those speed sessions, but I’ve noticed that every time I tried to run faster than 5:00/km my foot just goes numb. It is the strangest thing. There is no pain or “pins and needles” feeling…it just goes numb. If I ignore the feeling and keep on running my whole leg will go numb My leg feels like a block of cement that I’m pulling along. :-) I have to slow down and walk it off. I suppose you could get away with that in ultras where the pace is a bit slower and walking is more “acceptable” but that’s something you can’t afford to do in a 10K! I am now seeing a Bio and also focusing on incorporating more strength exercises into my training so will have to see how it goes.

UltrarunnerZA Blogger

I also blog for UltrarunnerZA and I’m really enjoying interacting with the elite ultra and extreme endurance athletes; very interesting to hear everyone’s story and to learn how they’ve progressed in the sport. Here are some of the blog posts I have written…hopefully there will be more this year.

1. Interview with Lucja Leonard, MdS Finisher and 2nd lady at the 2014 KAEM

http://ultrarunner.co.za/interview-lucja-leonard

2. Interview with SA Trail Champ, Thabang Madiba

http://ultrarunner.co.za/qa-with-thabang-madiba-retto-2014-and-world-champs

Runspiration

2015...HERE I COME!

2015…HERE I COME!