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

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Throwback Thursday and some more...

This post was inspired by Christina (rugby) and misszippy (barefoot). Here I am, second from the left at the front, in my under 10 rugby team, 1973. Barefoot of course. I grew up barefoot and my son goes to school barefoot as well.

and some more...

This is what we have at work tomorrow...Barefoot Friday!!!

Monday, 21 February 2011

International Running Flag of Friendship

I have this little South African flag that I carried with me during the Odyssey Ultra at the beginning of January. You can see it has a few battle scars from that race.

I’ve been thinking about a big flag with small flags from various countries on it for some time now and decided I can just as well start it with this little flag. I then decided as this flag went through a race with me why not cover a big flag with small flags that were carried through races?

My idea is to create the International Running flag of Friendship. This would be a white flag covered with small flags that were carried in races by anyone that would like to get their name on the flag like this:

The idea is to create a flag that look something like the example below.

I will still work out all the details but basically I will send the flag on its way around the world from South Africa to runners who would like to carry their country, state or province flag in a race and then attach it to the big flag signing their name beneath it. You will then send it to the next running friend to do the same. When full, the flag will be returned to me (hopefully) :) and I will then carry the International Running Flag of Friendship in a race of my choice to honor our friendship.

At the moment this is still just an idea, but I have a few plans to for the project. I’m thinking about a blog of its own to keep track and upload photos of the flag on its journey, a Facebook page, EPA and maybe some other places to keep everyone up to date. I will think about and post the rules and details over the next few weeks. In the mean time, please give me your feedback and thoughts about the idea.

After reading the first few comments I just want to add this: See red text above...you will carry a small flag and attach that to the big flag. You will not carry the big flag. I will carry the big flag once it is full and returned to me.

A happy week of running to you all!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pick 'n Pay Marathon Race Report

On Sunday morning I ran the Pick ‘n Pay Marathon in Bedfordview, Johannesburg. This is one of my favorite marathons because of good organization, a pleasant route and because it was my first marathon way back in 1985. This was the ninth time I ran the full marathon and I’ve also run the half seven times.

It was an overcast morning after some rain and thunder during the night. I arrived early and was glad I did as the field was rather big with about 5000 runners. This is South Africa so 5000 runners means at least 4700 cars traveling to the start, each with one runner on board.

Waiting at the start.

06:00 start...early for some...

The start was a bit congested but we moved quite well as the road was fairly wide. I ran this as a training run and it was my 6th run for the week. The plan was to make it a LSD run to help me with the transition from trails to road for my Comrades training. I had a comfortable 04:45 marathon in my mind.

First hill at 2km

Just after 7km, lots of runners way up front. 
I was taking it really easy and made sure that I conserved energy during the first half. It was still overcast and the weather was perfect for running. Just after the water table at 9km I was very happy to see Sandal Girl (Staci) from She Runs In Sandals ahead of me. If you’ve been reading my blog for some time you’ll know that I took photos of Staci in her sandals and posted them on my blog only to find that she has her own blog later.

Staci (Sandal Girl) just after 9km
This was the first time we formally met on the road. The marathon was a double lapper and Staci was planning to run to the 24km mark and then backtrack to the finish, giving her about 32km for the day. It was great to meet the very friendly Sandal Girl at last. We chatted about running and blogging and also about what we’ve learned about running in other countries via Blogland.

Getting some photos for her race report.

We ran the first half in 02:23 and I was pleased with that. Everything was good and I had no problems or anything that caused concern. I said goodbye to Staci as she reached the 24km mark, her turnaround point. The sun finally broke through the clouds at about 26km and it warmed up almost immediately.

26km done, getting a bit warmer now.
I carried on at the same pace and listened to the runners around me. There were quite a few trying to qualify for Comrades by running a sub 5 hour marathon. From 30km onwards we could feel the sun and the runners became quieter and quieter as we moved along. 

30km done, runners now quieter and looking more serious.
Between 35km and 37km I had a slight bad patch and also had to run into some bushes for a sudden and very unexpected pit stop. I’m still not sure what happened but I had no time to look for the best spot and just had to get to the nearest bush as fast as I could. The stomach was obviously the reason why I had a bad patch just before this as well. After the pit stop and bad patch I was way behind my 04:45 goal. I didn’t worry about this as it was a LSD run but I still wanted to finish in 5 hours if possible.

Just after 37km I passed the sad site of paramedics working on a runner that was lying on the road.

Paramedics working on a runner...never good to see.

We all thought the runner collapsed in the road but we heard later he was hit by a car. His injuries are very serious and he was airlifted to hospital with possible brain damage. I read in the news this morning he was hit by robbers that were making a getaway after robbing a local restaurant. The driver was arrested but the others ran away.

By the time I passed the accident scene and felt my bad patch and stomach problem were over, I realized I had to get a move on to make the 05:00 cutoff time. This is where the long hours on the trails and high mileage weeks come into their own. This is where I could get the strength to pick up the pace for the last 4km of the marathon. People always ask me why I train 6 days per week and why I put in such high weekly totals. Well, here I could show them why. I was able to run the last 4km at a much faster pace than the first 38km and recovered completely from the bad patch I had.

In the last 2km I tried to convince a first time marathoner to stay with me to qualify for Comrades but he just didn’t have it in the legs (or mind) to stay with me. I ran onto the field with about 2 minutes to go and finally crossed the finish line in 04:59:10. I was surprised and happy to see Staci and her husband waiting for me at the finish. I felt a bit embarrassed that they had to wait so long for me. Thanks for waiting Staci, I think that was just awesome!

With Sandal Girl (Staci) after the marathon.

All in all I am happy. I reached my goal of 80+ km for the week with 84.5km and I reached my goal of a sub 5 hour marathon with 04:59:10. Cutting it very fine towards the end but good for a long run and Comrades qualifier.

The swag…medal, long sleeve t-shirt, some breakfast bars, multi vitamins, arnica ice and a magazine.

Marathon number 124 in the bag! Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Walking as part of your training

Jennifer at The Running Artist wrote this post about walking as part of her ultra and trail training. This reminded me about a post I did shortly after I started my blog about working on my walking. I thought it would be a good idea to post it again now that more people read the blog. So here it is…


I mentioned working on my walking in a 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, but to walk! 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 that is now the title of my blog.

So if you’re building up towards Comrades or 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 on race day.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Tuesday Tidbits

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and wishes for my dad’s 81st Birthday. He read them all and was totally overwhelmed. We had a nice family party for him this weekend and it would be just wrong if I don’t share a pic of the cake we got him.

That is dad in the 1985 Comrades Marathon. He loved the cake but then didn’t want to cut it. Eventually he gave in and did the honors.

If you might wonder about the name “Pille” on the cake...that is a nickname that he has had for as long as he knows. “pille” is the Afrikaans (our home language) for pills. So he’s been Pille (Pills) since he said at school he is going to study medicine.

Other news is that work is very busy with me moving to a new project at a different customer next week. Handover and finishing off some tasks are keeping me busy, but I’m excited about the change and looking forward to a new challenge.

Running is going well and my training for Comrades is still on track. I’m running a marathon this Sunday and this will be my first road marathon in a long time. I’m treating this as my long run for the week so the marathon will be a LSD run at the end of my normal 6 day training week. I’m getting used to the long runs on the road but I miss the trails already. I’m running the Pick ‘n Pay Marathon. This was my 1st marathon in 1985 so I always enjoy going back to run it.

Have a wonderful day and rest of the week everyone!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today my dad turns 81. He is the main inspiration behind my running. He ran his best marathon of 03:34 when he was 52. My best marathon is 03:48 and I ran it when I was 34. Here is my dad in 1983 finishing the JSE (now City to City) 50km in 04:46:33. He is my hero. Happy 81st dad!