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

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Sabie Xperience Trail Race Report – Stage 1

The story of this race starts with me thinking I will not be able to run. Yes, on Friday evening I was still about 80% sure I won’t be able to run. I was flat on my back, literally, the whole Friday, with a weird stomach bug. Anette stayed positive and assured me it was a 24 hour bug and that I would be ready to run on Sunday morning. She was right!

I felt better and better through Saturday and by the time we arrived in Sabie I was about 88% myself again.

Sabie is a beautiful town in the eastern lowveld of Mpumalanga, one of the most beautiful provinces of South Africa. The town is a favorite tourist destination and one of the main hubs of the wood and paper industry of the country. It is surrounded by plantation after plantation of pine and blue-gum trees. It was between these trees that we ran most of the race.


Stage 1

The morning started with registration and packet pickup and judging by the quality of this we were looking forward to a first class event. Everything was perfect and this eased the nerves of those who were a bit worried about what to expect.

Beautiful venue!

Registration and the best goody bag I've ever received!

I was entered for the pro race (16km, 11km, 18km) and Anette for the lite race (8km, 11km, 11km)…her first stage race. I will let her tell her own story, but believe me, she did great!

Ready for stage 1. Me with new sun prevention cap.

After some standing around the race briefing was done and we were ready to start stage 1. I was very excited…stage races are growing on me very fast. I think they are my new favorite type of race.

Race briefing.

Ready to start.

With little hoohaa the countdown was done and we were on our way. The field was quite small with this being the first time the race was held. Runners sped off into the distance very quickly, leaving me and a few back of the packers in their dust.

About 500m into the race we had a water crossing…these seem to follow me around where ever I race. I love water crossings and don’t mind wet shoes so I was happy and feeling great as I completed my first kilometer of the stage.

Water crossing. I love water crossings!

We ran along a dirt road for a while and the field spread out very quickly. By the time we turned onto the single trails there were not many runners close to me.

Dirt road for the first 2km.

Onto the trails!

The trails were fantastic and we were in the pine forest soon. Running between the trees was unreal and I definitely felt some magic. The magic stayed with me for the whole stage.

Into the forest!

Magic between the trees...

There was a water/check point at 3km and after this I didn’t see another runner for the rest of the stage. I was in runner’s heaven and the forest/plantation was spectacular. There is something very special about running or just being among the trees like that.

The trails were all runable and we followed some forest roads every now and then. There were two climbs of note in stage one. I certainly felt them, but they were very manageable. The spirit of the race was to give runners the chance to complete the event but still keep the relaxed holiday feeling at the same time. Perfect for December!

In the second half we got a glimpse of some waterfalls in the distance, trademark of Sabie. It was beautiful!

This is a beautiful place to run indeed!

As we turned back towards the finish we followed the Sabie river. The trail on the river bank is great and I was really feeling super. I was very happy that the stomach bug did not influence my first stage in any way.

Trail along the river.

About 2km from the finish we ran into the Merry Pebbles resort. It was packed with campers as there was a very big mountain bike race happening at the same time as our race. Everyone was super friendly. We ran on the outer boundary of the resort and once through the resort it was only 500m to the finish.

Merry Pebbles Resort.

Trout fishing in the Sabie river.

Anette was waiting for me, having completed her first stage feeling strong as well. I crossed the line with a smile and was looking forward to stage 2 that evening. Stage 1 was a perfect run for me.

Friendly RD at the finish.

Stage 1 completed!

I am enjoying a great holiday and had a wonderful Christmas with my family. Stage 2 will follow soon.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Some Elephants and a Stage Trail Race

We are not many running bloggers in South Africa and that goes for the rest of Africa as well. I know one of the things I love most about the blog world is seeing and learning things from other parts of the world. I think I'm correct when I say all bloggers are like that. We love to share and enjoy what others share.

So I hope you enjoy these photos from South Africa. They were taken at Glen Afric during the yearend function of my company last week.

Close encounter.

I loved touching "Three" the mother.

"Three" in the water.

Mother with her two daughters.

Fun in the water!

Let me tell you...

I’m getting ready for this weekend’s Sabie X Trail Race. This stage race takes place in Sabie, Mpumalanga. It is a 2 day, 3 stage race.

Sunday morning 16km, Sunday evening 11km, Monday morning 18km = total 45km.

Sabie is a beautiful town in the Eastern Lowveld of South Africa in the province of Mpumalanga. There are numerous waterfalls in the area. I think I can look forward to another beautiful race I can share with you all.

The beautiful town of Sabie.

Did you know Blog is the short for Weblog? I didn't!

Happy running everyone!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

10km A Day Challenge or rather 70km Per Week...

I am still proceeding with the 10km per day challenge and I have reached the halfway point already...can't believe it!

I changed the name to the "70km Per Week Challenge" because that is what I'm actually doing. It's going well although there were a week or two with very low mileage. At least there is less km to go than km done! As you can see I am still averaging 70km per week.

Weeks done: 26 
Weeks to go: 26 
Km done: 1840 
Km to go: 1810 
Ave per week done: 70.77
Ave per week required: 69.62 

Week 1: 84
Week 2: 80
Week 3: 83
Week 4: 69
Week 5: 56
Week 6: 54
Week 7: 80
Week 8: 71
Week 9: 80
Week 10: 86
Week 11: 89
Week 12: 70
Week 13: 60
Week 14: 55
Week 15: 49
Week 16: 76
Week 17: 79
Week 18: 87
Week 19: 81
Week 20: 63
Week 21: 84
Week 22: 29
Week 23: 80
Week 24: 43
Week 25: 78
Week 26: 74

26 weeks done!

Happy training everyone!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Summer Trails = Green Trails!

Summer is here and that also means our rain season is here. That means my favorite tails are getting greener and greener by the day. Beautiful and awesome!

I went for a trail run on Saturday and can you believe it...I forgot my camera! I took a few pics with my phone but my phone's camera is really very bad.

Anyway, I had a great run and enjoyed the green, lush trails that were still dry and shades of brown when I ran there the previous time.

There were also lots of other colors to be seen...

I also saw lots of this yellow parasite plant, growing and feeding on the plants in the area. I think this is an alien and hope they will get rid of it soon. It looks like Dodder to me.

The trails are beautiful now and there are also hundreds of birds and other wild life to be seen. I will not forget my camera when I do my trail run this Saturday.

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Running Logs

In my previous post I referred to my running logs of the past 9 years. I log very detailed information about every run I do and I've been doing this since I started running in 1981. Unfortunately I don’t have my logs of 1981 to 1993 anymore. They were mostly in small diary style log books that we used to get at running and sports stores.

I do however still have all my logs from 1994 to 2012. I logged all my runs and races in A4 size exercise books from 1994 to 2000. I still have the books and they make for very interesting and entertaining reading.

My running logs from 1994 to 2000.

Towards the end of 2000 I made the transition to MS Excel. I created a very good log that keeps stats for anything you can think of. This log evolved into a huge maze of spreadsheets and graphs over the years, including detailed training plans as well. I also captured every run from my 1990’s books in this log.

My very detailed MS Excel Log

Earlier this year my wife bought me a Polar RS800CX watch with GPS and heart rate monitor and this added a new dimension to the stats and details I can log.

The Polar came with good software that uploads run data and produce graphs and other statistics. It also has good planning features and I am in general very happy with this.

Polar ProTrainer Software

However, I am a stats geek of very high proportions…J  I also log my training on dailymile. This is mainly for my virtual life as I use it to feed through to my blog and FB. I also enjoy all the friends I connect with on dailymile.

Dailymile is another great log!

Still, my stats-geek-ness  (no there is no such word) reaches a lot further than this. I keep extremely detailed stats of my races. I have run 1369 races since July 1981 and have the time, race time, date and every detail of each race logged. I can pull stats for any race related query in seconds. How many at what distance, PB’s for all distances and basically any race related query I may have.

The Polar ProTrainer software is not great for race and shoe history and stats. Having my runs logged in Polar ProTrainer and Excel is OK but far from ideal. I want all the info in one place.

So I’ve been searching the Internet for the best running log that can keep all the stats I want plus the info from my Polar watch…all in one place.

There is one more requirement I have. I must be able to access all info while offline. I want the info on my Laptop, not on the Internet. Living in Africa means Internet connectivity is not very reliable and usually quite slow.

I have tried many programs and I’m still experimenting. There are many good ones.

SportTracks is brilliant and there are many plugins available. Importing data from the Polar model I have is however a bit of a problem including many steps. I need some plugins but will certainly experiment with these.

SportTracks is very good but not the best for Polar.

TrainingPeaks have everything, but the offline version (WKO+) is not as great as the online version. It is expensive in comparison to the others as well.

TrainingPeaks is good but expensive.

Then there is Runner’s Studio…

This is a great app and with a great user interface. It is perfect for keeping and pulling my race stats from all the years and there is nothing my spreadsheet does that Runner’s Studio can’t do.  Runner’s Studio gives me everything my spreadsheet has as well as the info from my Polar.

Runner’s Studio is currently on top of my list.

I am trying Runner’s Studio at the moment and I am very impressed so far. The only thing I can’t view in Runner’s Studio is a route profile with altitude as this supports Garmin only at the moment. I view my route profiles mainly with Google Earth anyway as it gives all the information needed.

Google Earth is perfect for routes and profiles.

I am almost sold on Runner’s Studio and if I buy it I will do a full review as soon as I feel comfortable with it.

Do you keep detailed logs? Which application do you use?

Keep it going!