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

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The reward is worth the pain…

This past Sunday morning I ran some difficult trails and the first 7km or so were really tough. I battled with tired legs (it was my 7th day of running for the week) and the one really difficult climb was hammering me.

I kept telling myself it will get better once I reach the summit. I pushed on through some pain and I was not disappointed when I reached the top. I recovered quickly and started running a lot more relaxed.

In the end the view was worth the pain…

I also realized that it is certainly true…it does get better once you reach the summit. So keep pushing people, the reward is worth the pain

Happy running!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sweat Your Thorns OFF Virtual 5km Race Report


I decided to take part in Adam the boring runner’s virtual 5km race even though it is winter here in South Africa now. The race is called “Sweat Your Thorns Off 5k” because of the heat experienced in the USA at the moment. I could not have had a more opposite experience than this morning’s.

A very strong cold front moved over the country yesterday and this morning was the coldest so far this year in Johannesburg. The low was -2°C (28.4F) and when I went out for my run it was 0°C (32F). There is also a very annoying and freezing wind blowing today. During my run it was no different.

I’ve never run a 5km race but this was my second virtual 5km race. I had 7.5km planned for today and decided to run the first 5km as the race. I have a nice 2.5km loop from my front gate through our neighborhood and decided to run three of the loops.

The wind was really cold and quite strong, but other than that I had a good run. I pushed a little towards the end of the second loop to complete the 5km virtual race in 28:20. Not fast in most books, but for me that was more than fast enough.

I completed another loop for my 7.5km and then went for the prize giving.

Post race photo. I did sweat (a bit) even though it was zero degrees.


The race swag was all home made in my garden. A lovely ice medal from the bowl of water I put out last night for the race and a lovely branch with thorns from the thorn tree I planted 4 years ago. Maybe I didn’t sweat the thorns off, but they were handpicked just for this race.


Thanks Adam, for hosting the race! Maybe I’ll do a proper sweat one when you host a freeze race in your winter.

Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Are you strong enough?

I recently got my hands on the book “Extreme Running” when Natalia posted it to me from Cape Town. She is from Boston and visited her family here in South Africa and was so kind to bring me the book from the USA. Thanks again Natalia!


I love the book because it covers some of the most extreme races out there and I’ve been following most of these races for many years. I mentioned to a friend of mine that the book made my bucket list a little longer.

He was a bit stunned and asked if I would actually attempt those races. I’m not keen on doing all of the races in the book, but there are a few I would really like to do if it was ever possible. I told him which one’s I would really like to do and it was then that he asked me: “are you strong enough?

I wasn’t very happy about his question but I knew it came from his knowledge that I had the toe problem at Comrades. My answer was a very simple “yes, I’m strong enough.” I’ve been thinking about this question since then and I must admit I really do think I’m strong enough. With the correct training and preparation these races are certainly doable.

I think it is necessary for all of us to believe we are strong enough. It doesn’t matter what for,  as long as you believe you are strong enough to do it you will.

So my message today: believe in yourself, you are strong enough! Run strong everyone!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Back on the trails!

This morning I went for a run on my favorite trails at the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve south of Johannesburg. It was fantastic to get back on the trails.

I chose one of the coldest mornings of the year for my return to the trails after all the months on the road before Comrades. Frost covered the grass at the entrance to the reserve where I parked my car.

Frost covering the grass at the entrance to the reserve.

It was 2°C (35F) when I started my run. Frost covered the edges of the trails that were in the shade. It almost looked like snow in some places and was really beautiful.

Frost on the edges of the trail.

The first 3km was really cold and my toes and fingers were numb, even though I wore gloves. Once I reached the areas where the sun was shining it was really pleasant. I was in my element and a very happy trail runner. I knew this is where I belong.

Nice to be back on the trails.

I chose an easy route as this was my first trail run in a long time. I ran only one technical stretch but was happy to feel the good fitness base I have after all the road running.

Fitness makes a huge difference when running trail like this.

I had a great run! During the last part I ran through some very tall grass. It was two feet and more above my head in some places.

Running through very tall grass.

All of this made me very excited about the great trail season I have ahead of me in the next few months. I’ve entered some fantastic races and will post about that soon.

Happy running everyone, I know I will be!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Fractured toe…I might have found the culprit!

After running with and testing all the shoes below to see if I could find what caused my fractured toe during Comrades I might have found the culprit. The weird part is that it is not any of these shoes or the ones I wore on race day, but rather an older pair I wore the days before the race.

Not guilty...

I wore these shoes when we drove down to Durban and also the Saturday before Comrades at the expo and uShaka Marine World. It probably sounds strange but if you consider that I spent about 19 hours in these shoes the Friday and I wore them again for about 14 hours the Saturday, it maybe makes some sense.

Guilty! (I think)

When I put them on this past weekend I immediately had great discomfort of my toe and I had to take them off. I’m not saying this is the cause but it does look like it might be. I ran 1621km (1007miles) in these shoes before I retired them and have been wearing them a lot since then. In the 1980’s I got marching fractures (hairline/stress fractures) in two toes on the same foot from running with shoes that were probably too old already. So this is not impossible at all.

The main thing is for me and anyone that read this to take a lesson away from this and never wear too old shoes the days before an important race. You might end up with some weird injury. I might be wrong but certainly won’t wear those shoes again.

On the bright side: training for my fairly hectic trail season starts this week as planned and it seems the fractured toe won’t have any influence on my plans. That makes me a very happy runner indeed!

Train well everyone!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Throwback Thursday…Inspired by a Legend

This is me finishing the 1982 Wally Hayward Half Marathon.

See the red socks? They were inspired by 4 times Comrades winner Alan Robb, who always runs in red socks.

Alan is one of South Africa’s running legends. He has the most Comrades gold medals of all runners (12) which means he finished in the top ten 12 times, including 4 wins. Just as famous as Alan are his legendary red socks. I ran with red socks for many years in the 1980’s, inspired by Alan Robb.

Now for the best part…!!!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know all about Staci (Sandal Girl).

Guess who is Staci’s dad…? Yes, none other than Alan Robb! How cool is that! Read her post here to see some photos of Staci with Alan at this year’s Comrades Marathon expo.


Friday, 3 June 2011

Foto Friday

Hi everyone! Happy Friday! Below a few photos from the first half of the Comrades Marathon.

Just after 4 AM. Runners already at the start.

Sitting on the road between 4 and 5 AM.

Waiting for the start. I rate this the best start on the planet.

On our way in the dark.

Beautiful morning!

Bottom of Cowies Hill


Not much running on Fields Hill

The road is long…

Botha’s Hill, another tough climb.

Comrades wall of honour.

Flowers at Arthur’s seat.

Inchanga just after half way. A real monster.

More than a marathon done…a marathon to go…

That’s all for now! Have a splendid weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Broken toe = DNF!!!

Hi everyone! I’m sorry this took so long but I’ve had a short holiday and now I’m back at work where things are crazy.

Early days and gritting my teeth already!

Comrades did not go or ended as planned for me. I started feeling some pain in my left toe (one next to the big toe) after 15km of running. This got worse and worse and eventually it just felt as if I was running with a broken toe. Turns out I was…! Had to give it a stop after 67km with the pain by then really bad…DNF!!! I was also starting to feel pain in my right hip because I was compensating for the sore toe.

Legends (at expo)

I went to the doctor yesterday and he confirmed a fractured toe. I have no idea where this came from or what caused it. The doctor didn’t really believe me when I said the toe was fine at the start.

Doc: “but your toe is broken…”

Me: “I thought so. It did feel like a broken toe while I was running.”

Doc: “but why did you run with a broken toe?”

Me: “I didn’t, it started to hurt during the run.”

Doc: “but you ran with a broken toe”

Me: “it was fine when I started”

Doc: “you mean it didn’t hurt when you started?”

Me: “yes because it wasn’t broken when I started”

Doc: “that doesn’t sound right, your toe is broken”

Me: “is it a stress fracture?”

Doc: "I don’t know, it looks like a normal fracture…you sure it wasn’t broken before?”

Anyway that’s how it went for a while. So the toe is fractured and I’m more concerned about what caused it than the toe itself.

I’m obviously disappointed but I must say I am more concerned about the trail season that starts now. Hopefully this won’t put me back much. The fracture is at the front of the toe, below the nail and shouldn’t be a huge problem.

I’m going to test all my shoes while it still hurts to see if any shoes might be the cause. I’ll also take a look at all my work shoes. I think this was just waiting to happen on my next run and because the start of Comrades was all uphill it maybe came a bit sooner.

Men's winner trophy

Anyway, I still had a blast! The race is just awesome and nearly impossible to describe. However, it did confirm one thing for me…I was made for the trails. This road training and racing and all the masses of people just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not taking anything away from Comrades and agree, this is the greatest road race on the planet, but trail season is here for me now and I can’t wait!

Women's winner trophy

I’ll keep you posted on the toe and recovery and if I do find a specific cause you will know for sure. In the mean time I’m fine tuning my plans for the rest of the year with some big trail and off-road races approaching fast.

Route - Durban to Pietermaritzburg

I’ll post some photos of my run later this week.

Happy running everyone!