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

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A New Hydration Pack

With the bladder of my hydration pack breaking during my last race I had little time to replace it. I have another smaller bladder at home but needed at least 1.5 liters of water for my long run this past Sunday.

After some thinking I decided it was a good time to look for a new, good quality hydration pack and not just a new bladder. I’ve got some serious trail and mountain goals to meet in the next few months and years and I believe quality equipment is one area where investment is not a waste of money.

I know exactly what I want and need in a hydration pack, so after looking at what was available I finally decided to buy the Animas pack from The North Face.

This pack offers everything I need. It comes with a 3 liter bladder and 9 liter pack space for other essentials. We are required to carry things like space blankets and rain jackets during some races and the ability to carry this in the same pack as my water is great.

Another selling point for me was the two side pouches on the outside where I can carry two 500ml bottles of my favorite energy drink. I’ve been looking for a way to carry my water in the hydration pack plus two bottles of energy drink and this is perfect.

Other nice features are a strong magnet that keeps the pipe in place and also a very effective non-spilling mouth piece. The straps can all be adjusted easily while running which is also great.

I put the pack through its paces on a 28.5km trail run this past weekend and it was awesome! It worked perfectly for everything I need while being super comfortable on my back at the same time.

Do you use a hydration pack? Do you carry more than water with you?

Thanks for reading! Train well my friends! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Two Photos

A friend mailed me these two photos that he took at our trail race on Sunday.

Me starting my race a few seconds late...

Anette finishing her first trail race!

That's all for now! Happy running!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Gauteng Winter Trail XL Race Report

It was cool and overcast when we left home for Hennops River yesterday morning at 06:15. It was not very cold and I looked forward to a great race in good weather. I was happy as I haven’t run a race in a long time. The race was part of the Gauteng Winter Trail Series. This was the second run and the only winter event that included a 20km XL run.

We arrived with plenty of time to get our numbers and some good coffee, we being me and Anette, who was there for her first trail race. Anette ran the 5km short course and finished comfortably, feeling good. Well done Anette! I’m very proud of you!

Just before the start.

Time went by very quickly and before I knew what was what we were on our way. We ran on a dirt road for the first part to help spread out the field. There were about 100 runners in the 20km race. This venue is known for its difficult and testing route. It wasn’t long before we reached the first uphill.

Going up early on.

It was just after the first hill that I realized my hydration pack was leaking. Not a great feeling 2km into a tough 20km trail! The few drops very quickly became a steady trickle and I knew it was a broken bladder. I took it off for a quick look and confirmed it tore open right in the middle on the bottom seam.

Luckily for some reason when I packed my gels and other fuel for the run I included a 500ml bottle of water. I don’t know why I did this but I think the trail fairies were watching over me. So I continued with the 500ml water in my hand. Running with a bottle in my hand doesn’t bother me on the road, but on a trail run it is not great or recommended. I was glad the first part of the race was on very runable road, jeep track and good single track.

Runable road…

jeep track…

and single track.

I can also be glad that the weather was perfect for running and the fact that I had little water was not the end of the world. I also had a 500ml bottle with some energy drink I mixed the night before. I was confident I had enough for the 20km.

After about 10km we reached the more technical parts of the race. I knew there was a very hard and very technical hill up ahead, so I drank all the water and placed the bottle back in my pack. I needed my hands free for the climb.

Reaching the more technical parts of the trail.

The climb is hard with rocks everywhere.

Trail straight ahead...or is it? Beautiful aloes!

The climb is hard and quite long, but I must admit I didn’t feel it as bad as I did when I ran here two years ago. I was a bit surprised at how easily I made it to the top. The view from the top is beautiful.

View with Pelindaba Nuclear Research Centre and a stunning aloe.

The rocks and plants change the moment you run onto the top of the mountain. Different, trees, plants and rocks are found at the top and the southern side of the mountain than what is on the northern side.

Running along the top.

View to the other (southern) side.

The run along the top is fairly flat with some short climbs and descents. There are rocks everywhere and you need to concentrate fully not to take a tumble. I saw many runners fall, some even more than once. My little fall on last week’s training run was a good thing as my concentration was good the whole way.

Some parts were easier to run.

We ran across the top of the mountain and then had a short and steep descent to the river below. We crossed the river on a hanging bridge.

Descending to the bridge below.

Bridge over the river.

My turn to cross.

From the bridge to the right.

From the bridge to the left.

I was feeling really good and happy with my progress. There is one last climb after the bridge and then we had a final climb down to the river bank.

Climbing down to the river.

I took out the bottle with the energy drink here and drank quite a lot of it with one go. I was thirsty! Although I was feeling good I knew I didn’t drink enough and if the race was longer I would have been in trouble.

The run along the river is beautiful. It is flat and a great way to run the last few kilometers of a race.

Beautiful trail!

Lovely run to the finish.

We passed some beautiful rocks next to the river and then we ran the last kilometer through the trees, back onto the road we started on and to the finish.

Interesting rocks.

Anette was waiting for me at the finish and I was so keen to hear about her run I forgot to take any photos there. I finished feeling very good and was really happy with my run. Although my hydration pack was a fail I still had a great race and that was excellent.

Signs of a successful morning on the trails.

Nice medal.

Next up the Num-Num Trail Challenge on 7 July. This is one of my main goals for 2012.

Thanks for reading and have great week everyone!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Gauteng Winter Trail XL Preview

This Sunday’s trail race is part of the Gauteng Winter Trail Series. The series consists of 4 runs and include a short and long course each time. The second race includes the XL race that I’ll be running on Sunday.

It is a 20km run with a few challenges along the way. Nothing too drastic, but very good training indeed. The vertical gain is 550m (1804ft) which will provide a good workout.

I’ve run the second loop of the course (9km to 20km) before so at least I know what to expect in the second part of the run.

I’m running this as part of my training for the Num-Num Trail Challenge on 7 July. So no fast running for time here. I’m just going to get time on the trails in my legs with some hard hill climbing thrown in. Should be great fun!

What does your weekend plans look like?

Happy training everyone!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tribute to a special friend and runner.

One of the people that always inspire me is my good friend Anita Botha. Anita ran her 20th Comrades Marathon last Sunday and finished in a very good time of 10:24. Anita has run hundreds of races over the years including many ultras, 100 milers and 6 day races, some of which she won.

The photos below are a tribute to a great friend and runner. The most amazing thing about this woman is that she always looks good!

Anita in her 20th Comrades last Sunday.

Anita with me - Comrades 1997.

Nike Marathon 1997

Yep, she always looks good...!

Congratulations on 20 Comrades Marathons Anita! I know there will be many more.

Have a super weekend everyone!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Withdrawal Symptoms

I’ve never run as few races as I’ve been doing this year and I must admit that I’m starting to feel some withdrawal symptoms. I actually think my blog followers are starting to feel them as well. They want to read some race reports!

I’m used to running at least one race per month and most of the time two or three. Please note:  I say run three races a month and not race three times per month…big difference.

At least things will change soon and if you look at the counter on the right the days are counting down nicely to my next race. I have a lot planned for the rest of the year and this is motivating me a lot. However, regular races definitely help to keep me on my toes with training and general “live as a runner” things. I’m highly motivated but not running a race for a month or more is really getting to me.

I had less races planned than usual and then I missed my last two. One due to traffic problems and one because of a bad chest cold and cough. I can’t remember when last I had such a long gap between races. It must be more than 10 years.

However, this will be changing soon and I’m really looking forward to some awesome races in the next few months. Here’s a list of what’s to come…

17 June – Winter Trail XL 20km
7 July – Num-Num Trail Challenge (36.5km)
14 July – Springbok Vasbyt 10km (recovery run)
28 July – Rustenburg Mountain Race (25.5km)
18 August – Crazy Magaliesberg Challenge (35km)
8 Sept – Mont-Aux-Sources 50km Challenge
22&23 Sept – New Balance Stage Race
7 Oct – Hi-Tec Waterfall Splendour
21 Oct – Southgate Mall 15km
26,27,28 Oct – Golden Gate Challenge
11 Nov – Warmbad Marathon
25 Nov – Sani Stagger Marathon
31 Dec to 1 Jan – Year to Year 24 Hour Circuit Race

November might change a bit as it depends on what my exact plans will be for the first half of 2013. I’m sure this schedule will take care of my lack of races symptoms.

Do you experience race withdrawal symptoms?

Have a super week everyone!