Magaliesberg 22km Challenge

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Running the Crazy Store Magaliesberg Challenge has been on my mind for a while. Hubby did it last year and it sounded like a lot of fun. So this year was my turn. I’m very selfish when it comes to my running but sometimes feel guilty spending Saturday or Sunday mornings at races so whenever there is an opportunity to turn a running event into a family affair I do! With trail and track it is easy. My kids love it, even my teenager. Not much of a choice tough…new places and outdoor adventures vs TV or iPad games? I hate getting to events late so the challenge with taking the whole family to races is getting everyone up and ready in the morning to be on time.  It basically comes down to sacrificing an hour of sleep to ensure everyone is ready, but I’d much rather prefer everyone comes with me and we all have a good time. I’ve since learnt to organise everything the night before so that everyone is ready at least one hour before I would have left if I was going by myself. Must say that strategy has been working well. We arrived at the venue on time and very relaxed! We had coffee and muffins and then I went to register.

Out of My League

I was seeded with the A batch. Let just say I was a bit optimistic with my finish time. The start was very exciting to say the least with the helicopter hovering around and then following the runners as the A batch sprint off. What de hell was I thinking. I did not even warm up! The adrenalin rush just to keep up and the feeling of running fast is amazing! Needless to say I could only keep up that performance till we disappeared into the bushes and out of helicam sight :-).

I was dropped by the A-batchers! I started to relax and ran my own pace. Finally, I could breath again…

Pushing My Limits

The first 5km I ran faster than planned (blame A batch runners), but then the terrain became a bit difficult to run with some big loose stones and hills to climb. I didn’t plan on racing this event. It was going to be an easy “hike” or run/walk. But I was feeling so fit and full of energy I decided to run as much as I can of the course. I felt so strong. All I could think about was how much I am enjoying it! I was really proud of myself.

There were a lot of fast steep downhills and short steep uphills and the only way I could get my body up the hill was to run the downhill section fast. At some point I was thinking I am a mountain bike – insane! Then there were the longer steep uphill sections (the once that would make me stay away from trails…) but everything was moving so fast, there was no time to think…just do! I literally had to tell myself don’t think about how you going to get up there just get up there. Grab grass, a branch, the ground…just grab something, get your footing right and get your butt up there! OMG. If I had to get stuck or slip and fall. Hilarious – opened my eyes to the importance of core and upper body strength!

The Desert Bulldozers

Everything went really well – I was running the race. I now understand the importance of having the right shoes! I ran with my Brooks Cascadias. I’ve done a bit of research on the shoe. Suppose to be “the trail shoe” for medium and long distances trail running.

My “don’t think…just do” strategy worked because I trusted my shoes. They are not yet perfect (for me), but they have grip! Loved that feeling of landing on an incline and not slipping. Not once did my ankle roll. The shoe is a bit heavy and is feeling a bit hard on the upper (reminds me of safety shoes) – it’s a real desert bulldozers. But I like the cushioning and the support plate to protect your feet from sharp edges. I had a look at some of the other trail running shoe brands and felt soft (flexible) and I am now playing with the idea of getting other shoes but if this is going to be the conditions I run in all the time than it’s probably better to stick to the Cascadias for now. I have Mont-Aux-Sources coming up so I better make friends with my shoes.

Keeping my longterm goal into perspective…everything I am doing must prepare me for my race in the desert. I can see now it is going to be lots of experimenting….that goes for shoes, clothes, food and a whole bunch of other stuff. No point taking anything with me that is not going work or that I wont need. But first the shoes.

The Epic Fall

So while everything was going so well I started to notice at 12km that my right calf wanted to go into a cramp. I backed off with the running and started power walking uphill. Terrain was also very rocky so everyone was walking at this stage. at 13km we started the descent – I was happy about that! I started to run easy again. I can’t run downhills, not even on road. So was happy to just move along and felt good. At 15km I was on a runners high….such a beautiful day, we’re descending what more could I ask for…and then out of the blue a massive cramp attack in both calfs…at the same time! I was still flying through the air (in the zone) but the minute my foot touched the ground I went for a dive! The difference between falling from a slip or tripping over something and falling from losing your balance because of calf cramps is that when you fall you can’t move…at all! Trust me, any attempt trying to move will result in extreme sounds. Crazy Store Magaliesberg Challenge had me screaming like a women who was about to give birth on a single track! So embarrassing…but amazing support from all the trailees to the rescue! I had two ladies each massaging a calf…halarious! Finally I was able to move the legs and got up. Manage to walk the next 3km, but from there on my “race ” was pretty much over. It was still another 5km to go. Do you have any idea of how slow 5km go on trail when you too scared to run? Finally managed to just relaxed and started running easy again…no pushing thinking I am some ultra trail elite runner!

River Crossings

Close to the  finish there is a river crossing with a flimsy, dodgy wooden bridge. I made myself as light as possible running over that bridge as fast as I could (no way I am falling into that water!), but almost ran into the arms of the gorilla! Then another river crossing, no bridge…so no thinking, just walk through the water with your shoes on. So refreshing!

This was a 22km trail race that ended up being 23.5km…1.5km of turns and ups and down and river crossings can get a bit much after you’ve already run 22km!

I must admit though, I don’t remember when last I had so much fun running. I absolutely loved everything about this race. Yes, I had a real scare with my fall (lucky that I was not injured) but it is all part of the trail running experience. Hope I am forever cured of my fear of falling! What amazed me most was how brave I was to challenge myself to do things I thought I was not able to do…must have something to do with the fact that I decided not to “over think” things too much…. Just Do It! Will take this atititude with me to my next road race :-)

But first, Mont-Aux-Sources, a 50km trail race in the Drakensberg – BEYOND MYSELF FROM EXCITEMENT!

Quote of the day: “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity “- Louis Pasteur

Navigation 101 – A basic introduction

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Moerieda Mackay:

Great post…one of many vital skills I need to master before I head off to the desert!

Originally posted on Ian Corless host of Talk Ultra podcast:

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Navigation with a compass is not something that is difficult to grasp. In reality, it is as simple as 1,2,3.

In a new series of Navigation 101 tutorials, we are teaming up with Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run to provide a simple series of articles in conjunction with audio interviews to help guide you to safe navigation.

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If you are heading to any trails, mountains or if you are in a new area looking to explore, a detailed map of the area (1:25.000) and a compass should be part of your all important mandatory kit. More importantly, the knowledge of how to use a map with a compass is essential.

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A compass is a magnetic needle floating in liquid that responds to the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s amazingly simple but equally amazing. Several options are available when purchasing a compass, for running (or hiking), an orienteering compass is ideal.

 

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Practice Running Faster Paces

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No doubt I am having fun with my running right now. I have big dreams but it is going to take time to get to where I need to be…biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far is that THE JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY. EMBRACE IT!

6 weeks into training and if I didn’t know any better I would say I am still on a Comrades high – that feeling that nothing is impossible? I still have it!

Training has been going well. The workouts are getting tougher – definitely being challenged on all different levels but I can feel I am getting stronger and faster, ran a 1min PB for my recent 10K race at Old Eds. Progress…1min closer to sub-60mins!

Track Sessions

By now my weekly trip to the track has me psyched for the whole week! Track sessions are not that hard once I get going but at first glance it is an “OMG…I have to do that?” I did feel a bit intimidating going to the track in the beginning with all the other runners there but I’ve decided I really don’t care who knows how slow I am. Like everyone else I am there to work on getting faster and that is it.

Now I am a regular at the track, excited and very comfortable going there, even training with the SA Masters Champs!! They’ve even made me ran an unofficial 200m and 300m PB already! It is great to see “elite” and faster people in action, love the way they move and learning so much just by watching them.

I love the track sessions. I know I should not say it but I find running on the track much easier than running on the road, maybe its because I am absolutely focus when I am there or maybe because there is no hills! Just feel like I can run in circles the whole day. I’ve done 32 laps in 2 of my sessions already – that is 8miles (12km) on a track! Yip, that never in a million years feeling :-)

My Playground - UJ Track

My Playground – UJ Track

The best thing about the track is that I am running at paces I can never run on the road during my training runs (I really try!) but it is very hilly around where I stay (excuses!). I need to run quite far out to find a decent stretch of road with not a lot of traffic. I never feel I practice running fast, which is why I like going to the track. I know the pace that I need to run, and when I am there…that is what I practice. The interesting thing is I actually managed the faster paces quite comfortably so now to put it to practice on the road!

Another advantage of running on track that I have found is that I focus on my form. It’s probably due to watching some of the faster runners, they are so upright and they look so strong. Let’s just say when I’m running on the track I pretend I am Paula Radcliffe or Kara Goucher. It helps, it is starting to feel like I am actually running…not shuffling…and I love-it! :-)

Nike Soweto Marathon

I was planning on doing Kaapsehoop as my 10th marathon but when I saw the Soweto Marathon backed by Nike I signed up immediately!

Soweto Marathon is special on so many different levels – for me because it was my first 10K race and now 4 years later I feel ready to tackle the full marathon. Make no mistake – this is a tough course, very hilly and not to mention some of the challenges on the day from what I’ve heard and know from my 10K race experience – no water and refreshments at water tables (Note to Self: be prepared…for anything!)

Most runners say just go run the Soweto Marathon for the “experience” and find another marathon for your PB. I probably would’ve had it easier running Kaapsehoop Marathon, but who needs easy, right? I will train harder!

I’ve never been so excited about training for a marathon, to be honest my marathon training has always evolved around training for an ultra as the goal race (and that goes for both my Rome and Paris marathons, they were just qualifiers and training runs for Comrades) which meant I was too scared to just run it flat out as I kept thinking of the next week’s “running on tired legs” I had lined-up!

This time I don’t have any ultras planned for a while so I am 100% focus and committed to achieving my Nike Soweto Marathon goal! I’ve embraced the “We Run Soweto” spirit – with NIKE as title sponsor the Soweto Marathon promises to be the EPIC race it deserves to be!

Quote of the day: ” Listen to your body, believe in your training and obsess over the training and end goal.” Rock Creek Runner