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

Thursday, 28 August 2014

So what happened to the genes?

I've often been asked if my dad passed any of his running genes on to me. I suppose people wonder why I am such a slow runner compared to him. What happened to the genes?

Well, I did get some of them. In the mid 1980's my dad was tested by the sports institute of SA. They did some muscle strength tests and also the VO2 max tests and so on. He was called back not once, but twice, because they thought something was wrong with the tests or their equipment. He tested that high...

"Your dad has numbers Fordyce can only dream of..." was the comment. The reference was to Bruce Fordyce, the Comrades king. Apparently the test results were incredible. So they did test me as well.

Bruce Fordyce

My muscle strength and endurance was very high. Higher than my dad's but I was young then... :) Apparently I have very strong leg muscles and my endurance is also very good. Where I fall off the bus is the V02 max and the reason is somewhat scary.

I was born with a very mild case of Pectus ExcavatumPectus excavatum, also known as sunken or hollow chest, is a congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a concave, or caved-in, appearance in the anterior chest wall.

Although mine is very, very mild it is still enough to give me limited lung capacity and therefore a very low V02 max. My heart is also pressed flat by my sternum and is a flat, round shape.

All of this explains why I always had to train 100 times more and harder than others to reach a specific fitness level. It also explains why my best times could never match those of my dad.

I am a very dedicated runner and always put in the necessary effort in my training. I train harder and more than most. But I will never be able to run very fast.

My best times (when I was in my 30's) compared to my dad's (when he was in in his 50's):

Me (when I was in my 30’s)
Dad (when he was in his 50’s)
10km – 47:13
10km – 37:15
15km – 01:11
15km – 57:19
21.1km – 01:41:07 (half marathon)
21.1km – 01:22:45
32km – 02:45 (20 miles)
32km – 02:15
42.2km – 03:49 (marathon)
42.2km – 03:09
50km – 04:54
50km – 03:46
56km – 05:23
56km – 04:10
Comrades – 10:41
Comrades – 09:08
100km – 11:34
100km – 10:32

The above numbers say it all. I had to work just as hard and sometimes even harder to achieve my PB's. I am very proud of my times in the table above.

My endurance is great though and I can definitely thank my dad for that and the good leg muscles. I think I did get some of those genes...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Friendly Face For Friday

After the sad post of Wednesday I just have to end the week with a friendly face good news story.

Most of you saw Smiley on FB and that is also where I saw this little stray the first time. Something told me this was a dog I had to rescue.

So I did and was that a great choice or what?! He is fantastic! Smiley and Spiral have become best friends and are always together.

Until the little fellow clutches out after a busy day...

A truly amazing dog!

Have a super weekend! I will be running trails...yay me!!!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Another day then... for Mr Brown

I had great plans to write the follow-up post to my Super Runner Dad post today. Yes the story continues with what happened to his genes...

But this morning I arrived at work to the sad and shocking news of a colleague that was shot and killed in a car hijacking last night. I am sad and shocked.

Gordon Brown was the nicest person I have ever worked with and respected by everyone for always being so kind, humble and good mannered.

Rest in peace Mr Brown, you will be missed but will stay in our hearts forever.

My follow-up post will wait for another day then...

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My Dad The Super Runner

If you know me or have read my blog for some time you will know that my dad is the greatest inspiration for my running. I'm lucky that I grew up with a super running dad!

This past weekend my dad and I browsed through some of his running logs, results and other stuff and I was reminded again why he is such a huge inspiration. He was a running machine!

It's a pity he started running races so late in his life. His first road race was also my first road race. The SABC TV Road Race in 1981. It was a half marathon. I was 18 and my dad was 51.

Even at this race the signs were already there that dad was no average runner. He finished more than 30 minutes before me.

But this is only where his racing started. Dad started running in 1970 because he suffered from low blood pressure. We can all learn a lesson or two from his training. He literally ran 6 or 7 days a week all year round just because he enjoyed it so much. It was only 11 years later that he decided to train for a race.

He didn't keep detailed logs but I can tell you that he puts most of us to shame when it comes to training. I found good and regular log entries for 1985 to 1988. For these four years he averaged 440km (273 miles) per month. That is and average of 5280km (3281 miles) per year.

He mostly ran 7 days per week with a few 6 day weeks in between for reasons not mentioned. He was very serious about his running. In 1982 he completed his first marathon at the age of 52. His time was 03:34. This was the start of some amazing performances.

1st Marathon in 1982 - 52 years old.

JSE (City to City) 50km

Dad's PB's as we could find in his results:

10km - 37:15 (55 years old)
15km - 57: 19 (54 years old)
21.1km - 01:22:45 (56 years old) One of his best records I think. That's a fast half marathon!
32km - 02:15 (54 years old)
42.2km - 03:09 (55 years old) Not a bad marathon for that age!
50km - 03:46 (55 years old)
56km - 04:10 (56 years old)
Comrades (90km) - 09:08 (58 years old)
100km - 10:32 (57 years old)

I just wonder what these times would have been if he ran these races 20 years earlier when he was in his thirties...

If you look closely at the photo below you will see he finishes the Comrades with two bottles in his hands. They were filled with corn syrup. At the finish they were still full. I asked him why he didn't use the corn syrup. His answer: "when you run this slow you don't need anything except water". The corn syrup was just in case something went wrong.

To this day I have not come across anyone who runs 90km on water only. Dad did. He never used anything else on a race. He was just that fit. The only thing other than water I ever handed him during a race was Vaseline.

I remember he once took some Coke on the Pick 'n Pay marathon. What did he say about it...? "It's too sweet and it didn't make any difference."

Dad is now 84 years old. He still works as he doesn't feel ready to retire yet. He is an Ophthalmologist (eye specialist). He is not only my super runner, but also my super hero.