Category Archives: Races

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 10K Fun Runs

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I’ve been doing some crazy stupid but oh so much fun (trail) running in the midst of training for the Soweto Marathon. I am glad that I have survived all the falls and calf cramps and could continue with my marathon training as if nothing exciting ever happened! Having a looooong term plan in place helps to keep me motivated and training with purpose. I am not running all these silly races for fun (well, scary to say…it is all for fun!). This is about the most fun I’ve had since starting a family. I keep asking myself why haven’t I done this sooner? I could have made the elite running team by now with all the time and energy I’ve poured into my “fun runs”. 🙂

My running has evolved into something much more than just trying to see how fast or how far I can go. It has become a part of my life, it gives me a lot of joy and excitement. One of the little joys was being selected as blogger for Ultrarunner. I am super excited to be part of this community of runners promoting ultra and trail running! Yes, running makes me happy and I am really excited to see where my running journey will take me next.

For now I am stuck on the road to getting faster. I’ve taken a 4 week break after Comrades to recover. When I got back to training in July the focus was on speedwork which I have completely fallen in love with. I love pushing myself hard and going to the track is fun. At first I was intimidated by the paces and the number of reps but now I confidently attempts whatever is thrown my way!

My goal for this year to break 60mins for the 10K. I tried to do that last year, but because finishing Comrades was the main goal training was focused on longer slower runs. With Comrades bagged nailing that sub-60min 10K is back on the cards and with all the track work I’ve done I feel ready to race hard!

I’ve planned to do the Tswane 10K race, described in Runnersguide as fast and flat. I checked the Runnersguide for venue and noticed that the race was CANCELLED! I was disappointed but was so psyched about racing that I felt I was ready to run any 10K, hills or no hills! The next race was the infamous Old Ed.s 🙂

Old Eds (10km)

This race have a few hills – so no fast and flat! I arrived early and made sure I warmed up properly. I started a bit too fast and completely lost it by the time I hit the fourth kilometer (the 1st hill). I struggled to recover until 7km (walked a lot in that km) but started to push from there on. I was so focus on getting up the last little hill at 8km I didn’t noticed I was turning off onto the 5km route and had to turnaround, up another little hill and then finally in the last kilometer. I pushed hard in the last kilometer and finished feeling strong with 61:29. I was a bit disappointed at first but when I saw I made it into top 20 I was beyond myself from excitement – this was not the easiest 10km race!

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 New goal: top 15 or top 10 for my age category? There is more to running than just chasing time! This is so exciting 🙂

Irene Villages Mall (10km)

I didn’t know what to expect at this race, just made sure I was there early and warmed up properly. I waited too long to get to the start arch (so many eager beavers). It felt like ages and lots of energy wasted to free myself from the walkers. To top things up the first kilometer was uphill with a long pull until about 4km. I was struggling all the way but did not walk even though I wanted to. The pace was slower than I hoped but just kept going. At about 7km it started to look like we were turning back. That’s when I had my ‘AHA’ moment. It was going to be down hillish and told myself to be strong and not give into the urge to walk. I started using other runners to pull me along. I now look at runners thinking “I must pass you, you don’t look like you training harder than me” or “She looks about my age, let’s pass her” or ” She is running my pace comfortably, I must stick with her”….all of which helped! I read an article about “road kill”. Apparently you’re suppose to start “road killing” from the 8th kilomoter in a 10km race. The concept relates to spotting your target and hunting them down (passing them). It worked! I don’t think I have ever killed so many men and ran a new PB 60:10!!

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Seriously, I couldn’t  run 1s/km faster? 

Andre Greyling (10km).

Those two races set the scene for my next race. I noticed during training that week that my left foot kept going numb when I ran at faster paces. It happened twice during my training runs that week, but I wasn’t thinking too much about it as I did not have any pain and it also comes and goes.

Again the Runnersguide said fast and flat but believe me in Gauteng there is no fast and flat. I again struggled to find my way to the front amidst all the walkers up a hill in the first km. I had no idea what to expect from this race. There are two types of races that I don’t like. The one is “double lappers” and the other is races that snakes from one street up the next through a suburb. I don’t like to see peoples houses when I run, I don’t mind running on bigger open roads with cars but the suburb scene is not for me and this race was going from one street up into the next street. I think I was a more upset about the “going up” as this meant I was not able to comfortably hit my paces (I expected a fairly flat race!). The cherry on top of the cake was that in the second kilometer I started to feel my toes going numb and by the seventh kilometer by whole leg was numb. I didn’t know what to do. I stopped and started to walk. This seemed to help a bit and I started running again. By the 8th kilometer we were heading back to the start and it was down hill and I pushed very hard (leg still numb with pins and needles sensation, but no pain). I finished the race with the clock saying 62:00!

If that is my time under the “worst” conditions, imagine what I might be capable of in the best! 🙂

Jozi South (10km)

The next race I had on my calendar as part of the build-up to my marathon was a 21km but with the leg not playing along opted for an easy 18km run that weekend and the leg was fine with going slow :-). The following week I had to do my 30km long run (ended being 34km!) and the legs and feet behaved superbly! So this weekend I decided to do another 10km – Jozi South (which I ran last year in a thunderstorm and I finished in about 65 mins) well that was what the Garmin said. This is a really nice route, starting at the Apartheid Museum and going out to the FNB stadium and then back. Slight down hill the first 3km, but then you obviously hit the up on your return. It also have nice long stretches that you can run and push hard and that is what I like in a race. I knew I could run a PB on this route but was worried about my foot. I didn’t want to be stupid and do more harm!

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Apartheid Museum

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FNB Stadium

As usual I started way to fast and when I hit 3km the foot went numb! I was so disappointed. I wanted to quit right there. I had to walk quite a lot. If it was not such a beautiful day and running with one of our club members I would have bailed right there!  But I pushed through and by 6km I was starting to pull myself together. My whole foot was numb but I decided to ignore it and ran through the numbness which then turned into that pins and needles feeling and then finally only at 9km I could could feel the blood flowing through my toes again. What a relief! I finished disppointed but happy with my time of 61:40! 

Highlight of my race was a photo with Comrades Legend Frith Van Der Merwe!

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The one thing I’ve learnt running this race is that you have to be absolutely focused on the task at hand. I still faff around way too much in races! I have managed to fight the urge against walking but with the foot issue now I’ve decided to play it safe rather than sorry (so took it easy and walked quite a lot) but you cannot run hard and think about other things. The whole time I was thinking about my foot and “what if”. I did not focus on anything around or in front of me. There was no sign or strategy of “road kill” this time….so obviously I was not racing!

I am at peace with where I am with my take 10k goal and training for now. I don’t feel this dire need to chase 10km PB anymore, I know I can do it! 

I obviously need to sort the issues with my foot. I might have to reconsider running the Soweto Marathon. It is going to be a difficult decision, I don’t want to even think about it. I’ve trained so hard and I know I am ready to race hard and run my marathon PB. Not quite sure what to do…I will give it a week of rest and easy running and see how I feel by the end of the week.

Quote: “I don’t worry about what I’ve run. I worry about what I’m going to run. To be successful, you’ve got to keep moving”. Ray Baymiller