"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Monday, 30 November 2009

Soul City Running Morning

Peer pressure from my eight year old son got me to attend the Soul City half marathon this past Sunday instead of doing a 20km training run at home. The highlight of this very difficult half marathon was not my run, but my son’s first 5km finish. The race started and finished at the Sentech tower in Johannesburg.

This broadcast tower is situated on one of the highest hills in Johannesburg so the start was a steep downhill and regardless to say, the finish included the same road back up to the top. This was the same for the 5km run as well so I’m very proud of my boy for finishing his first 5km on such a tough route.

This half marathon is one of the more difficult ones in Gauteng and the route included some very tough hills. The highlight on my run was running over the Nelson Mandela Bridge while watching a steam train with six passenger cars below as it left JHB station. I’m a bit of a train freak so this was a bonus for me.

All in all it was a very enjoyable morning and a good way for me to get my long run for the week done. This completed a 59.2km week for me as well as a 221.5km month. Next month I’ll run between 250 and 270km and then the serious buildup for Comrades will start in January. Sounds like fun and I must say I’m really looking forward to it all.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

2010 Comrades Entries to Re-open


Comrades Entries to Reopen for 2010!

Due to the overwhelming response from previous Comrades Marathon Runners and Novices alike, the available 20 000 spaces for the 2010 Comrades Marathon were snapped up in record time. Since the close of entries was announced earlier this month, the CMA has been inundated with requests from runners to reopen entries.

After careful consideration and the weighing of appeals from hundreds of runners and interest groups, the CMA Board, after consultation with key stakeholders, decided to reopen entries for a limited number of 2 000 additional entries only. Entries will open on Saturday morning 30 January 2010 at 09h00 and will ONLY be accepted at Mr Price Clothing, Sport and Home Stores countrywide. Entries will close as soon as 2 000 entries have been received. This means that if the 2 000 available spots are taken up within the first hour, entries will then close as and when the 2000 mark is reached. This is the FINAL ENTRY INTAKE and no further opportunities will be created after this period.

In order to work on a fair “first come first serve” basis, NO FAX, POSTAL OR ON-LINE ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. Entries will also not be taken at Comrades House in Pietermaritzburg. The CMA therefore appeals to those runners who still wish to enter for the 2010 Comrades Marathon, to make sure that they are at a Mr. Price Store early on Saturday 30 January 2010. No correspondence will be entered into if runners miss this opportunity.

“This has not been an easy decision for the CMA, as we do not want to send mixed messages and signals to our runners or compromise the decision making process, but we do have an obligation to all the Comrades athletes and CMA stakeholders to ensure that the 85th Anniversary race is a true celebration, especially with the fantastic response to the “early entry initiative”. It is therefore that the decision was made to accept an additional 2 000 entries.” Dave Dixon, CMA Chairman.

The CMA is dedicated to ensure that the 2010 Comrades Marathon adheres to all the required safety and quality standards and we believe that by extending the invitation to a further 2000 runners, this would not be compromised. The CMA Board has taken the following into account when the decision was made to allow a further 2000 runners to enter: based on statistics gathered over the last 10 years we have found an average attrition rate of +-10% from entry to starting line each year. This is primarily due to factors such as when runners fail to qualify or pick up injuries or fall ill before the race. Taking this expected attrition rate into account we expect to see approximately 20 000 runners lining up at the start on Sunday 30 May 2010. The Host Cities of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, as well as the various Disaster Management structures within the local and provincial government structures have been alerted to the magnitude of the 2010 Comrades Marathon.

“One of the main reasons for limiting the field to 20 000 starters, was that during the millennium race in 2000, when 24 500 runners started the race, many runners complained about congestion on the route. As a result, in order for all runners to have an enjoyable and safe race, the CMA decided to limit the participation in the 2010 Comrades under advisement from Disaster Management specialists.” Gary Boshoff, CEO CMA.

The CMA wishes to thank all runners for their patience and understanding, and we look forward to celebrating the 85th running of the Comrades Marathon on Sunday 30 May 2010.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Dedication

A colleague of mine got news at work yesterday that his brother passed away suddenly. The news was a shock and totally unexpected. This got me thinking about my life and everything I’m busy with at the moment. It can all come to an end in a second at any moment in time. It was the old realization of, live every moment to the full. Make the most of each second.

I do this in general and try to make the most of everything I’m busy with. I’ve got a lot of “life projects” going and set myself numerous goals to achieve. This includes numerous running goals as well. The experience of someone’s brother suddenly passing away motivated me to look at my goals again and review my milestones to get there. My reaction: go for it with all I’ve got!

So this morning I was up at 4AM for a 14km run. I dedicated this morning’s run to Eugene’s brother. No, I don’t know your name, but you gave me new inspiration to reach my goals. The run was great, the morning beautiful and I felt privileged to be out there. I started a new day, you didn’t. Thanks for the inspiration and may you rest in peace. God bless you and your family.

Monday, 23 November 2009

There's no letup

Last week we had proper winter weather in Johannesburg where we usually have good summer weather in November. Average maximum temperatures were around 10°C instead of 30°C for this time of the year. With that it was really wet with rain the whole week. I’m glad to say I still did my required training because for me, there is no letup.

I remember Don Oliver using this phrase at one of his Comrades talks and also reading it in his training program. There’s no letup. This refers to the six day running per week in the buildup to Comrades. At the Comrades talk someone asked Don about the six days per week plus the increase in distance for the long runs from 32km, 42.2km, 50km and 64km for that year. His answer was: “Yes we continue with our six days per week, there’s no letup.”

I still do this, not only for Comrades training, that’s how I always run and train. Last week got me thinking about this again. The cold and wet mornings made getting out of bed more difficult, but once I’m out on the road I’m always happy to be there and enjoy the fresh air. I always try to run the six days. From time to time something will happen anyway that make running on a specific day impossible. This is usually some family or work related issue and sometimes really bad weather. When this happens I’m always glad I’ve been running six days a week as the impact of the missed run is then minimal and mostly just good rest and recovery time.

So this week, when the alarm goes off at 4 AM, I’ll get out of bed and onto the road, building up and working towards my next goal, because there’s no letup.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


I mentioned working on my walking in the previous post. To me, as a below average runner, this is a very serious point. I never thought it to be necessary to do any training for walking. After all, I’m a runner. It was only when I started running ultra marathons that I realized the importance of walking. Before that I thought walking was for the weak. I never really thought about it as part of a race, not to mention a part of training.

My big eye opener came some years back when I was seconding (crewing, pacing) friends in 100 mile races quite frequently. What I realized then was “wow, these ladies can walk!” Today I still think the ladies walk better than the men, but that’s a topic on its own.

Running with someone in a 100 mile race was always easy for me. Slow pace next to a very tired runner shouldn’t be a problem anyway. When it came to the walking it was a different story. More than once I struggled to keep up with the 100 mile runners when they decided to walk for longer periods. This was a much bigger problem when I walked with women runners. They walked really fast, still racing, and not taking a break as I used to do when walking. I realized very quickly that if I wanted to do long ultras, I’ll have to learn to walk much faster.

This applies to running Comrades as well. More so if you are an average runner that just want to finish in the best time possible. On Comrades day we normal people do lots of walking. You can save a lot of time if you train to walk faster. For me the problem is to walk, not stroll. I have to concentrate to walk properly and when I’m really tired this becomes difficult. My other problem is while I drink or eat I forget about the walking and end up strolling again. That’s what I work on when I train. Not to stroll. I don’t worry about race walking, but I do try to power walk or walk as close to power walking as possible. It was during one of these walking sessions in a 50km race once that I started the mantra, run tall, walk tall.

So if you’re building up towards Comrades and maybe your first ultra, work on your walking. Don’t leave it for the ultra and then you see everyone flying past when you have to walk. You don’t have to lose a lot of time because you take a walk. Concentrate on this during your long training runs. You’ll be glad you did one day.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Relax and Run

Sunday morning I went for an 18km run and really had a tough time. The first 7km was ok, but after that I really struggled. I did this as a LSD (long slow distance) run so apart from the 2 hour battle I was actually quite happy with my training. I’m a firm believer in the LSD run and feel time on the legs is always good for the longer runs I’ll do in the future. I think these tough training runs also help a lot to get a stronger mind. I do most of my training alone and think it’s good to struggle alone from time to time. I do however try to answer the question of why I battle on some days and other days any training is a breeze.

Sundays are usually my 6th run of a 6 day training week and I often feel the week’s training in my legs. This Sunday’s battle was a result of that and also, I think, a result of not sleeping enough during the week. My average sleeping hours for last week was 5.5 hours per night. Then again, it might have been the result of Saturday’s digging and tree planting in the garden. The reality is there are so many factors that might contribute to how a specific day’s running will go, that I never predict this for my runs anymore. I just get out there, relax and run. I then handle the run, good or bad, as it plays out on the day. I try to take something positive out of each run, even the tough battles like the one I had this Sunday.

I used to worry about these tough runs and always felt it was a negative sign of my progress or fitness. Luckily I don’t do that anymore. There’ll be a good run soon and if there’s another bad one I’ll be ready because I trained for that tough run this Sunday. I also worked on my walking…faster and stronger on the hills and keeping that effort while I’m drinking or eating.

Then there is the stopwatch factor. I start my watch and only look at it again when I stop it at the end of the run. I never look at my watch during a run or even a race, but that’s a different story that I’ll get to another day. I record my total running time in a log for reference, but never worry about it. Not worrying about time also adds to the list of positives that help me to just relax and run.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

OFS Syndrome

My running comeback is still going well and everything is still on target. Luckily I didn’t set any impossible goals as I predicted the progress would be slow. It is actually a bit slower than I hoped it would be. I definitely suffer from OFS syndrome. No, this is not Orange Free State Syndrome. This is Old Fat Slow syndrome. Those of you who’ve been around will know what I mean.

Apart from this I’m happy with my progress and just feel a bit frustrated with the slow part. This is improving, but not very quickly. The fat part wasn’t changing much as well, but since I’ve upped my weekly distance to between 50km and 60km I’m starting to lose weight a lot quicker. I’m confident this will help with my speed as well. Less to carry will definitely equal faster times with the same effort. The old part…nothing I can do about that, but I feel great as not many 46 year olds are out running between 4AM and 6AM 6 days a week! 

Monday, 2 November 2009

2010 Comrades Entries reach 20000!

I’m quite shocked, as I think most people are that the entries for novice runners for the 2010 Comrades marathon already closed with 5000 entries. This is after just one and a half days! Entries opened on 1 November at 09:00 and closed at 14:00 on 2 November. This is truly amazing!

There must be lots of very disappointed runners out there. I’m not sure how the CMA (Comrades Marathon Association) will handle this. What about the people that can’t enter online? Surely they have to cater for this in some way. Maybe if you mailed an entry on 2 November you’ll be accepted…? Anyway I’m just glad I got my entry in and confirmed as processed. I doubt that the CMA ever expected such a huge response. This is surely going to be a great event and I’m very happy that I’ll be part of it!