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

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Comrades Entries Closed

Comrades entries were re-opened for a limited number of 2000 spots on the morning of the 30th of January, which were taken only at Mr Price stores nationwide.
The 2000 entries were snapped up in 4 minutes!
This means that all entries for the Comrades Marathon 2010 are now officially closed.
No correspondence will be entered into.

Wow, 2000 entries gone in 4 minutes! This year’s Comrades marathon is really extremely popular. With more than 22000 entries there is a good chance that there will be close to 20000 starters for the 89km race on 30 May. That is a lot of runners for a difficult ultra and I’m still hoping to be one of them. Next year things will be back to normal so this is a year not to miss the race.

My plan is to qualify on 20 March at the Elands Valley marathon. This is a fast marathon with the first 18km mostly downhill. I’m positive I’ll be ready to finish in less than 5 hours to qualify for Comrades. Runners have until 26 April to qualify, so that leaves a number of other qualifying races if anything should go wrong. Up to now things are going according to plan and I’m on track to qualify on 20 March to be one of the 20000 athletes that line up for the 89km journey on 30 May. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

If I could inspire someone to run, who would it be and why?

This post is in response to the 2nd question in Christina's running question challenge.

Running Question Challenge Question 2:

If you could inspire someone to run, who would it be and why?

I'll have to go with Tony on this one. It’s most definitely my eight year old son. If I look at the impact the inspiration from my dad had (and still have) on me, I can only hope I inspire my son in the same way. He did his 1st 5km run at the end of November last year and displays his medal and race number proudly on his bedroom wall. Maybe something rubbed off on him already!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The rain continues, but brings some good rest.

Well the rain is still continuing in Johannesburg and this morning I did my training run in pouring rain. I planned a 25.5km run but in the end ran 22.5km on a route that stays much closer to home. I thought this was safer in case there was some lightning or some other emergency with all the rain. This route also doesn’t cross any streams as the 25.5km route do.

So the weather made me miss my 15km run on Wednesday and I ran 3km less than planned today. Running 18km less than planned for the week sounds bad, but I think it will give my body some needed recovery time which is worth more than the extra 18km would have been.

Tomorrow (Monday) is my rest day and then I’ll start some weeks of hard training with long runs over the weekends including a 25.5km, 2 x 32km and a 35km run before I cut back a bit in the weeks leading up to my Comrades qualifying marathon on 20 March. This I need to run in less than 5 hours to qualify for the Comrades marathon on 30 May. Looking at this I’m feeling much more comfortable with the shorter total distance for this week caused by the rain.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Running six days per week

With scenes like these greeting me every morning for the past few weeks (seems like months), it’s surprising that I’ve only missed one run due to the weather this year.

This is one of the reasons I train six days a week without fail. Somewhere along the line something happens that forces me to take a rest day. Wednesday morning was one of those days. I don’t mind running in the rain and do so often, but running in ankle deep water is not an option for me. This is how it’s been raining in Johannesburg lately. Roads are rivers and rivers are floods. Our pool has overflowed 3 times this year already. The hole beneath the trampoline is 1m deep and filled with water that just remains there.

Water is everywhere and not sinking into the ground anymore. The water table must be filled to capacity. I’m not complaining and know the dams are filling up for the dry season. It’s just weird to see everything this wet. In contrast the Southern part of the country is extremely dry with a lot of areas being declared disaster zones.

Getting back to the 6 days of running per week; I’ve done so for 8 weeks now and that’s why one day missed because of heavy rain doesn’t matter at all. In fact, it must have been a good rest day for my body. Many runners don’t run 6 days of the week, but this has always worked for me. I alternate hard and easy days and my body seems to be used to that. The most weeks I’ve been able to run 6 days without any forced rest days are 11. So I always follow my routine and when something happens that causes a rest day I do just that…I rest.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

What is your favorite running moment?

This post is in reply to Christina's running question challenge here. 

Running Question Challenge - Question 1:

What is your favorite running moment?


I have a few favorite running moments, but the one that stands out is my first marathon finish. This was long ago, February 1985, and what makes it so special is that my dad ran the whole race with me. He paced me for a 6min/km run (04:12) and we finished in 04:12:01! It was really special and I know now how privileged I was to have a dad that could do that for me. He was really proud of me and that added something more to the moment.

I've always admired my dad. He ran his 1st marathon in 1983 when he was 52 years old in 03:34:29. I've never been able to beat that. My best is 03:49:27.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

2010 Dischem Half Marathon Race Report

I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about such a large field for a half marathon. 5000 entries…I had my doubts and I’m not a crowd fan as well. It turns out that my thoughts before the race were all wrong and all I can do is say well done to the organizers…what a great event!

I was really worried about the high number of entrants and decided to collect my race number and goodie bag the day before the race. Whenever possible I do this so that I don’t have to worry about this on race day. I collected my number on Saturday and everything was done quickly and without any problems. The goodie bag was great!

Sunday morning I played it safe and was at the venue by 04:55, well in time for the 06:00 start. Parking was swift and problem free, but I could see that runner’s arriving late might have problems. When I left home the sky was clear and I thought we were in for a hot and humid morning. I was wrong about this as well! By the time I reached the venue thick clouds were approaching from the East and soon it was completely overcast and even a little cool. The weather remained this way for the rest of the day and in the end it was great for running.

The start, which was one of my concerns, was very good. The race followed a new route this year and a big plus for the new route is much wider streets the first few kilometers. This helped a lot with congestion and the field could spread out nicely. I never felt bothered by the crowds and was able to relax the whole way.

I wasn’t racing at all and used the race as a long training run. In fact, my plan was to be out on the road for at least two and a half hours. The first half was fairly easy with no hills to mention and some long down hills. I think we all knew that we had to go up at some point and this is exactly what we had to do. The first real climb started at about 11km and we went up all the way to 15km. The new route was definitely more difficult than the old one. The climb between 11km and 15km was from 3km to 10km on the old route. Running it so much later in the race was a much bigger challenge. This was also my most difficult part of the race. Approaching the water point at 15km I felt tired and needed a boost. The boost never came… From this point to about 17.2km is mostly flat and here I just kept going. Then we made a left turn and were hit with the most difficult hill of the race. The hill is steep and about 1km long. I did some walking here up to the highest point of the race at about 18.3km.

Once here it was downhill all the way! The downhill is very steep in some places and I took it easy to protect my quads from too much damage. I’ve never been a great downhill runner and a lot of people came past me on the descent.

Then, almost suddenly, I was at the turn into the finish. A steep little climb up to the field and then about two hundred meters on the grass to the finish. With lots of people cheering and some shouting my name (no, I don’t know them, they read it from my race number), I felt the boost at last and crossed the finish line with my son shouting and waving. To him I was the winner, even though I was very slow in 02:37. Mmm…maybe a bit lazy somewhere along the route…? Still, I did what I planned. Maybe 3 to 5 minutes to slow, but the main idea was a long run with no after effects. Tuesday morning I was back on the road for an 8.3km run and didn’t feel the race at all. That is good for me at this stage.

A nice medal and a cold Powerade to end a well organized and enjoyable race. Will I be back for my 5th Dischem? If it fits into my training/running/racing schedule the right way, definitely! If not, I’ll probably give it a miss. For those looking for a good half marathon at the beginning of the year, this is a great race to do. If you want to get the feel of and experience a big race, this is a good race to get into all of that.

Friday, 15 January 2010

I’ll be running the Dischem half marathon on Sunday as my first race of the year. That said I’m not treating it as a race at all. The only good time I want from the race is a good time out on the road. This will be my long run for the week. I’ve increased the distance for the week leading up to the weekend by 2.6km from the last few weeks and look forward to an enjoyable run.

Running in races helps me with other aspects of the whole running preparation thing. Fine tuning the rituals of race day is very important to me. With about 20 000 runners expected to run the Comrades marathon this year, getting used to crowded starts, water tables, parking areas, finish areas and so on is a must. These things can really cause a lot of stress so I run some races to “train” for this. With a race like Comrades it’s nice to be able to relax about all these things and use all your energy for the race itself.

So Dischem this weekend will be for “rituals training” as well as getting my long run for the week done. It’s also important to get the body used to the Coke and other goodies you can get to eat and drink on the road. If you want to try a new energy gel or some energy bar or whatever, races like these are the perfect place to do so.

Then there’s the “get out of bed and get ready to drive to the race” routine that needs training as well. Having all these aspects fine tuned makes the race a lot more relaxed and enjoyable. So that’s my focus for Sunday’s race. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun!

Monday, 11 January 2010


Yesterday I did a 25.5km training run and in the process passed my first 100km for 2010. This is the 6th time ever that I’ve reached this within the first 10 days of the year so I’m feeling good about it. The best was 6 Jan in 1996. I also passed 100km on 7 Jan in 1997, 8th in 1999, 9th in 1998 and 9th in 1994.

So why care about this at all? It’s all about milestones. Every year I set myself some goals and with that milestones on the way to reaching the goals. Reaching the milestones motivates me a lot. I might be far from the end goal, but I’ve achieved something already. Distance milestones are very important. These include distances for the year, month, week and so on. 100km for the year, 500km for the year, 1000km for the year, 1500, 2000 and for this year the goal of 3000km. Monthly milestones this year will include 300, 350, 400 and maybe 450km.

Other milestones include things like running a marathon again and running an ultra again with specific races as the goals. Some are just specific races like the 25km mountain race I plan for my birthday. Sometimes it’s just doing a training run on a specific route or trail.

Anyway, these milestones keep me motivated as I continue preparation for the main goals. I’ve got a section in my logs for the milestones of each year and record the milestone with the date I reached it there. I often compare years to get an indication of progress or where I am compared to a specific year.

These personal milestones really help to keep me going. I’m just glad I live in a country where we use the metric system. Reaching all of these in miles…well, the guys from the US will know. Maybe I should rename it to kilometerstones!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Training & Sleeping

Things are back to normal again with me back at work and holidays something of the past. I did some good training during the holidays and never missed a session. My total distance for December was 265.5km and this is really good for me at this stage. I did a few long runs during the holiday and never felt very tired. Overall it seems my body handled the December training very well. In fact, this morning was the first time since the end of November that I felt a bit tired overall on my run.

This made me think of my daily schedule and the difference between training while on leave and training while working. It seems the holidays were better for me than I realize and the few extra hours of sleep per week were really good for me. I also think relaxing through the day is much better for recovery when compared to spending a day at work.

I never slept late during the holidays and was up between 4 and 5 AM every day to run. On my rest days I slept a bit more than normal and was up at around 7 AM. My average sleep per day during my leave was about 6.5 hours. Normally this is about 5 hours. I think the 5 hours aren’t enough and is one of the main reasons I’m more tired overall when working. I run in the morning and get up between 4 and 4:30 during the week depending how far I’m running. Going to bed a bit earlier seems to be something I need to work at.

I try to be a normal family guy when I get home at night. This is usually somewhere between 18:00 and 18:30 and sometimes later as work requires. I just have too much to do during the few hours before bedtime and usually don’t get to bed before 22:30 or 23:00. Not good if I have to be up for the next run at 04:00 again.

Still, I go through the day much better with little sleep and a run than with more sleep without a run. It’s working for me at the moment, but after this holiday I realize I definitely need to try and add a few hours of sleep somewhere each week.

Friday, 1 January 2010

2010…let’s do it!

I’m really looking forward to this year and I’m sure I’ll make it a good one. I started last year on a drip in ER with a severe stomach bug. Later that New Year’s Day we heard my brother-in-law lost his two year battle against cancer so the year didn’t start great at all. This year started well with a 10km run and me feeling extremely good.

So what are the running plans for 2010? I suppose the main event will definitely be the 89km Comrades marathon on 30 May, but I’ve got a lot of goals to reach before I get there. The first challenge for me is to qualify. That means running a marathon in less than 5 hours by 26 April, the cutoff date for qualifying this year. I’ll probably qualify in March at either the Vaal marathon on 7 March or maybe the Elands Valley marathon on 20 March. Maybe I’ll run both these marathons, I’ll decide this during February.

The goal for January is to run about 300km and do the Dischem half marathon on the 17th. This will be a good race to run to become accustomed to large crowds. Comrades this year will be a crowded affair.

In February I’ll move up to 32km and run the Striders and the Bronkhorstspruit 32km races. That should get me ready for the marathon challenge in March. If I feel up to it and qualify as planned I’ll also run the Bruce Fordyce 50km at Suikerbosrand on 28 March.

From there it’s a few long runs in April. I won’t be going to Two Oceans and will do something like the Randburg Easter 100 that weekend. Anyway, this will be around 100km for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Easter weekend. The rest of April will include the 50km Loskop marathon and maybe the Slowmag marathon (42.2km).

At the beginning of May I want to run the RAC long run (60km) and then start tapering off to the big 89km run on 30May.

That’s a lot of running and will be about 1500km at the end of May. I’m aiming to run 3000km for 2010. The second half of the year I plan to run the Rustenburg 25km Mountain race. I love this race and this year it falls on my birthday so no excuses! Then there’s the 50km Mont-Aux-Sources challenge in September and maybe a 100km race in October. I don’t want to plan so far ahead and will take it all as it comes. Another standard marathon in November and then ease off into December and 2011…

Let's do it!