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

Monday, 30 August 2010

Joe Stutzen Half Marathon Race Report

Sunday morning I ran the Joe Stutzen Half Marathon at the Wanderers club in Johannesburg. This was a very well organized race and I enjoyed everything about it. There were a lot of runners as there was also a 10km race, a 10km walk and a 5km fun run. The venue was busy early on and runners could even enjoy a Bokomo ProNutro breakfast before the start.

There were a lot of runners waiting at the start. The half marathon and the 10km started together and we ran the first 9km with the 10km runners.

Getting ready for the start.

Lots of runners the first few kilometers.

This is not considered an easy 21.1km and there are quite a few testing hills on the route. I just wanted to run at a comfortable pace as this was supposed to be my first cutback week before my mountain race on 11 September. With this in mind I settled into a nice pace, not pushing myself at all. I planned to finish in about 02:20.

After a few kilometers I realized I’ll have to make a pit stop for a “P” break at some stage. I was a bit surprised as this hasn’t happened in a long time. I know from experience to just look for the first best spot and get the pit stop done with. The problem was that the streets in this area are all lined with very high walls around some very up market residences.

No place for a quick pit stop.

Nothing I could do, so I carried on longer than I hoped for before I could do the “P” break. Eventually I saw an electricity substation on the pavement and dashed behind it. I did look for any open wires before I did the “P” thing…

My “P” break savior, the substation.

After this I could really relax and I was having a wonderful run. I was pleased at how strong I’m feeling and the hills were no problem as well. I saw a few runners with this t-shirt and loved it!

Great t-shirt…2 run is gre8 :)

When we came to the split where the 10km runners turned away I realized I haven’t seen any distance markers. I never look for these on a race like this but usually I would see a few anyway. So I decided to look for the next one…and there it was, bright and big, 10km done. How did I miss the previous 9…? Some suggest I was concentrating on the runners in front of me…I say I was just concentrating on my pace, running form, heel & toe strikes, shoes and so on…

Between 11km & 12km we ran through a park which was a nice break from the streets through the suburbs. We ran on some grass and then onto a paved walkway. The park also included a steep little hill, but at least it provided a nice view over a dam from the top.

Onto the grass in the park...

...up a testing little hill...

...to enjoy a nice view from the top.

Then it was back onto the road and we joined the route of the 1st lap at about 13km. I was still feeling great and just kept going at my relaxed pace. I could definitely have gone faster, but kept reminding myself that this was a taper run. I’m not interested in any kind of speed or time at the moment. I have to survive a 50km mountain race in two weeks time. That’s the goal.

There are a lot of trees in this area and I was pleased to see many trees already showing off their new leaves after the winter. Spring is in the air! I could smell it and feel it. The rest of the race I just enjoyed a comfortable run in the lovely sunshine between all the beautiful trees. It was great!

Before I know it we were past 20km and turned towards the finish where the 10km turned away earlier. The last km went quickly and then I was at the cricket field where the race finished. My son was waiting for me but wasn’t ready for a photo. He only got me from behind.

I planned a 02:20 taper run for this race and finished in 02:20:05. I never look at my watch during a race and never looked during this run either. My pacing was spot on!

After the run…ready for another lap.

Medal for the effort.

This was a great race and Wanderers can be proud of the organization and the event overall. I’ll certainly be back for more runs here.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. I’ve run 218km in my new shoes now and they are great. However, the right shoe still gives me a small blister when I run more than 20km so I decided this morning to give it a small modification. This is the same place where I’ve cut both shoes of the previous three pairs, but the cut needed is a lot smaller. The left shoe is 100% without any modification needed.

2. I watched an interview with champion desert runner Ryan Sandes last night. He said he runs 20 hours per week; 14 hours on trails and 6 on the road to keep his speed up. He also spends many hours in the gym. He also said after a multiday desert race he spends two weeks just resting and eating. He carries 2000 calories of energy supplements with him on a day, but burns 5000 to 6000 calories per day.

3. On my run this morning I got a beautiful view of the ISS as it moved passed Orion’s Belt. I wondered how many other people were able to see this. I’m sure when I’m out running between 4 and 6 AM I’m often the only one to see and experience certain things.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mountain Race Dress Rehearsal

I did my last long trail run as part of my training for the upcoming 50k race on Sunday. I’m happy to say that all went well and I didn’t fall again.:)) My injuries are more or less healed with only my chest still a little uncomfortable while running. I still can’t lift heavy objects but I’m not complaining too much about that. Thanks everyone for all the well wishes and encouragement, I really appreciate it.

I used this 28.5km (17.6mile) run as a dress rehearsal for the race in the mountain. I do this from time to time and what this really means is…

…I wore the clothes I’ll be wearing in the race…

…carried my water…

…fuel, food, camera…

…extra clothing and treats as I plan to do in the race. Yes, that’s chocolate milk, I’ll take two of those up the mountain.

The carry bag will be in the middle and folds underneath the hydration pack. It also contains a first-aid kit.

I also ate and drank exactly as I plan to during the race. I had a great run and I’m feeling very confident about the race. Nothing didn’t work and I’m close to perfecting the way I carry everything I like to have on long runs and ultras.

I now start a cutback/taper phase. This week I run on the road only to give my legs a break from the tough trails. Sunday’s long run will be in a race. This will be a slow, take-it-easy half marathon to give me a week total of 72.6km (45 miles).

Have a fantastic week of running everyone!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

I’m in prime shape and so are you!

I went for a physical checkup yesterday and mainly to get an idea of the injury to my chest during my fall on Sunday. My chest is by far the worst of all the injuries and I still can’t lift my left arm above my head. Yesterday it was both arms so there is improvement already!

In the end it is not that bad…nothing broken or cracked. They actually checked me for a cracked sternum, but it is just badly bruised with some damage to the cartilage in the area. It isn’t too serious and I have done two 9km runs this week without much pain but it hurts like hell when I tie my shoes.

The red area shows where I have some damage.

Anyway, I decided to do a complete checkup while I was at the doctor. His verdict: I am in prime shape and in much better condition than 90% of the people 20 years younger than me that he sees. Go me! He also added that I am in prime shape mentally as well, strong, positive and happy. He then made my day. “It’s all because you run. Running keeps you in shape physically and mentally” was his wise very well accepted by me words. Yes, of course he is a runner himself, I won’t go to a non-running doctor.

I posted about this earlier in the year. We runners are in much better shape than we think or realize we are. You can read that post here.

So, today I salute all of you (and myself), because you are in such great shape! Hats off to us all!

Monday, 16 August 2010

A really tough workout

Yesterday I did a 33km (20.46 miles) trail run as part of my training for the 50km mountain run in September. I ran on my favorite trails in the nature reserve close to my home. I decided to make this a LSD run on some of the most difficult trails in the reserve. I planned a really tough workout and I got just that plus a bit more.

The trails were very rocky and technical in places.

Rope to help you up the slope.

Trail next to the fence.

The morning went well and I really enjoyed my run. I was certainly getting the workout I wanted. I saw a few people that came for some hiking early on, but after about 24km I realized it’s been a long time since I last saw anyone. I think I was almost alone in the reserve and certainly alone on the tough trail I was on. It was so great being out there in nature with no humans in sight.

My mind dwelled on this and that was my downfall…literally. I was dreaming about being alone out there and lost concentration. Down I went! My foot caught a rock and I knew immediately I was in trouble. I hit the ground real hard, but the worst was my chest that struck a rock full on right on my chest bone. I also felt pain in the little finger of my left hand.

I rolled on my back and just lie there for a while, trying to feel what the damage was. Nothing too serious I thought and got up. At least no one was around to see me take a dive.

It didn’t look to bad although my chest was really stiff and sore.

My little finger was totally numb and started swelling almost immediately.

I was at a point on the trail where the shortest way back to my car was the 9km left of my run. Not much of a choice there so I pushed on. Things weren’t too bad except for my chest that was really sore. My finger stayed numb for a long time.

The last 3km includes a few tough climbs and I must say I battled up these. At some point I stopped to rest for a few minutes. The wind was blowing hard and I noticed I was full of salt as the wind was drying my sweat.

I was tired and sore, look at the salt on my face and cap.

I made it to my car and looking at the picture above I understand why I got some strange looks from other people at the parking area.

I went home and took a long bath. By the time I finished the bath my finger was turning blue.

This morning the finger is purple but not swollen too much. My chest bone is so sore and stiff I can’t raise my arms above my head or lift anything heavy. Other than that I’m fine and have no injuries that should interfere with my running this week.

Have a great week of running everyone and please stay upright!

Friday, 13 August 2010

A Foto For Friday

With my recent birthday and a lot of blogs with back to school related posts I decided on this photo for my “Foto for Friday”. Can’t believe my 1st year at school was 40 years ago!

Have a wonderful weekend and run safe!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Alberton Rietvlei Country Run Race Report

On Sunday I ran the Alberton Rietvlei Country Run. I think the name says it all as this was a very pleasant run and a real family event. It is a trail race but I think “Country Run” describes it much better. The race was about 14.5km and there was also a 4km fun run.

Ready to run…the kids enjoyed the 4km fun run that was also run on trails.

The weather was perfect and although it was a little cool at the start it wasn’t cold. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Waiting for the start I was a little bit worried as I ran a very tough 28.5km training run on very difficult trails on Saturday and I was wondering how my legs would feel during the race. The back to back trail runs are part of my training for the 50km in September. I wasn’t sure about the route and decided I would take the run real easy.

Waiting for the start, lovely morning.

The race started at 08:00 and there was a big field for a trail run. A lot of road runners do this race and I think it is perfect for someone that wants to get some exposure to trail running. Luckily the first few kilometers are run on a path that is fairly wide and smooth which helped a lot to spread out the runners before the single track started.

Nice path for the first few kilometers.

We zigzagged through some tall grass and the course was flat until we reached the first single trail. We went through a few patches of trees and finally got to the hills. I kept it slow but was surprised at how good I felt after Saturday’s tough run. My legs were feeling great and I was very happy about this. My training is working well. Even on the steeper climbs my legs felt good and I couldn’t feel that I trained hard the previous day.

The climbs weren’t very steep or long, just right.

The route followed a single trail with a few climbs and descents up to halfway. The trail was moderate and never very technical or steep. There was a big board to show where halfway was. It said ±7.5, so ±halfway.

One of the steeper, more technical parts of the route.

I was very surprised when I caught up to our sandal wearing runner from last week’s half marathon. Here she was…sandals and all on the trail! She said it was more fun in the sandals, but I'm not so sure...

Although we never went very high the scenery was still beautiful and the sky as blue as you’ll get.

Beautiful scenery, beautiful blue sky.

During the second half I was still feeling very good and enjoyed running through the trees and also crossing a small water duct several times. I was having a ball and pushed a bit harder towards the end.

Running next to the water duct...

…through the trees…

...and finally out in the open for a flat run to the finish.

I’m really happy with my run, but even more about my legs that are feeling 100% after my back to back trail runs that totaled 43km for the weekend.

We received a medal and some stickers with motivational messages from one of the sponsors.

This is a great race for anyone who wants to get into trail running or would just like to experience a trail run. The route is moderate and just gives you a feel of technical trail running, nothing difficult or impossible. The kids or not so fit family can enjoy the 4km fun run on trails as well. A good venue and race for the whole family.

I reached 2000km for the year while running to the finish (Yeah!), still on track for my 3000km goal for 2010 (Yeah!).

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Three Things Thursday

1. A while back I posted about the new running shoes I bought and also about cutting my shoes to be perfect. Well, I’ve now run 184km with the new shoes (Nike Pegasus 27) and so far I don’t need to cut them. The longest run was last Sunday’s half marathon and I had no problems at all. I’ll see when I up the long runs in these shoes if they’ll remain uncut.

2. I’ll be trying out New Balance trail shoes during this weekend’s trail race. They are incredibly comfortable and I hope this means they’ll be great for the trails. Saturday I’ll run my 28.5km long trail run in my old shoes and try the new ones in Sunday’s 14.5km race.

3. I’ve been asked about water sachets a few times so I decided to post something about that. We get our water in sachets at our races and I like that a lot. There are two main reasons I like the sachets. They are easy to carry and they are great for drinking while you run. Byte a small hole in one of the corners and you can regulate the water flow into your mouth or even squirt your body wherever you want, all while running. Some of the bigger races sometimes give energy drinks in sachets as well.

That’s all from me for now. Happy running!