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

Monday 31 January 2011

January done and dusted.

I can’t believe the 1st month of 2011 is already something of the past. It was a busy month which obviously helped the time to move along so quickly.

Running wise it was a very good month for me. I started it with the 80km (50miles) Odyssey Ultra and finished it with a 35.5km (22miles) long run yesterday. My total for January is 301.5km (187.3miles). I’m very happy with that.

I also got some new road shoes last week.

For those who might wonder, yes, I did do this to them the moment I got home...

On the work front I am moving to a new project at a different customer. I’ll start there on 15 Feb and I’m looking forward to a new and different challenge. When I get to my new desk on 15 Feb this will be one of the first items to “mark my new spot”. Thanks Molly!

February 2011 awaits! May it be a good month for all!

Thursday 27 January 2011

Throwback Thursday

January 1967. On vacation in Mozambique. Me, my brother and my two sisters on our way to do some fishing.

Fishing is serious business.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday 24 January 2011

Do you like my color scheme?

That’s what my toes look like at the moment. Luckily there’s no pain that accompanies the color scheme. I’ve had this a few times over the years and so far it has never been sore. In time the nails just fall off and usually a new nail will be in place before that happens.

I think the main reason I have the black toe nails at the moment is the sand I had to deal with during the Odyssey Ultra. This is what my shoes looked like when I took them off after the race.

You can also see why I had a painful blister on my right heel. The blister has since completely recovered.

Talking about recovery, I’ve had a few questions and comments regarding my 6 day training weeks I posted last week. In general people want to know how I handle recovery and how do I stay injury free.

I’m an ultra runner and all my goals for the next 3 to 5 years are ultras or other races that will take more than 6 hours to complete. For this I don’t do any speed work or repeats of any kind. I believe that is the key to me being able to run 6 days a week. No speed work, no repeats.

My ultra training is based on distance and recovery between long runs. Being able to recover after a 6 day running week that finishes with a marathon to follow that with a 6 day week that finishes with a 50km is the key to building up for the long ultras. That’s what works for me and that’s how I’ve been doing it for years. The fact that I never push for speed during any of the 6 runs of the week makes this possible.

Have a wonderful week of training everyone!

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Comrades Marathon Training

With recovery from the Odyssey Ultra complete I can now start my Comrades Marathon training. I planned to start this week but this depended on my recovery from the Odyssey, so I am happy that I recovered in time to start my Comrades buildup as I planned. For the next few months my focus will move away from the trails to the road. With all the rain we’ve had my favorite trails are not accessible anyway. I’ve got a few smaller goals lined up, but all of these will form part of my buildup for Comrades.

So what do I do for my Comrades training? Other than adding some extra distance I don’t change much at all. I still run 6 days a week and just make my long runs a bit longer. I have two types of weeks, a long run week and a cut back week. This is what I always do and keeps me in shape for a marathon and 50km. The change I make is to get in shape for ultras of 80km (50miles) and longer.

My typical cut back week:

Mon - Rest (Always rest on Monday)
Tue - 9km
Wed - 16.5km
Thu - 9km
Fri - 12km
Sat - 7.5km
Sun - 15 to 21km
Total - 69 to 75km

My typical long run week:

Mon - Rest (Always rest on Monday)
Tue - 9km
Wed - 15km
Thu - 9km
Fri - 12km
Sat - 6km
Sun - 25.5 to 35.5km
Total - 76.5 to 86.5km

The cut back week remains the same with 15km or 21km as long runs. The long run week gets some extra mileage with the weekend long runs moving up to 42.2 and 50km.

Long run week for long ultra training:

Mon - Rest (Always rest on Monday)
Tue - 9km
Wed - 15km
Thu - 9km
Fri - 12km
Sat - 6km
Sun - 42.2 to 50km
Total: 93.2 to 101km

I will also do 1 x 60km run and a 73.3km day (3 races on one day, 42.2, 21.1, 10km). Easter weekend I’ll be running 100km over three days (Fri 48, Sat 33, Sun 19).

Totals for longest 3 weeks: 111.4km, 110.3km and 116km respectively.

So that’s a quick summary of my planned training for Comrades. Doesn’t look too bad but actually very hard work. I’ll post more details as I progress through the next few months. The training will include lots of hills and also some downhill training. The Comrades route is tough and the 90km includes some enormous hills and downhills.

Happy training everyone!

Saturday 15 January 2011

Style to talk about

A lot of style is going around blogland at the moment and I received the Stylish Blogger Award from Kate at What's on my mind today. Thanks Kate!

Well, just to show you how stylish I am, here's a photo taken the day after the Odyssey Ultra last weekend. Ha, did I receive some funny looks as I hobbled around the beach front on Sunday morning! Must be the style! My toes were actually swollen and I'm sure it was due to all the sand as this has never happened before. 

So stylish!

Other than the sun tan and the swollen toes I ended up with two black toe nails and one nasty blister. I don't think that is too bad at all.

Now on to 7 random things about me as the Stylish Blogger Award requires:

1.) I don't like the smell of certain fruits and won't even allow them in the house.

2.) I am passionate about my work and think I'm very lucky to be in a job I absolutely love.

3.) I don't like crowds and avoid places with lots of people as far as possible.

4.) I'm a good public speaker and presenter although I'm considered a very quiet person.

5.) I don't get time to do half the things I want to.

6.) I sleep 4.5 to 5 hours per night and even if I try I can't sleep more.

7.) Life is fantastic and every day I make sure I say thanks.

Enjoy a wonderful weekend everyone and don't forget to say thanks!

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Odyssey Ultra Race Report

Hi everyone! I’m back from my mini vacation after the Odyssey Ultra and finally I have some time to write a report about this adventure. Yes, it was a true adventure and to keep you from wondering, I did make it, finishing in 13:36. This was one of the toughest races I’ve done so far with lots of sand, seawater, rock hopping, river crossings and a merciless sun.

The week prior to the race the country had lots and lots of rain with floods and flash floods in various places. Nearly all the rivers in Kwazulu Natal were in flood and we were warned about this before the race. For safety reasons the race started at 4 AM instead of 3 AM and we ran on the road up to the first checkpoint. We were not to cross any rivers in the dark and only moved onto the beach once the sun was up.

3:50AM, ready to go!
Shortly after the start at Hibberdene Caravan Park.

I enjoyed the first few kilometers on the road with all the oxygen at sea level, although it was warm from the start and the humidity was extremely high.

The first hour looked mostly like this.
Early days, sweating a lot already.

I was feeling fantastic and before I knew it the sun was rising and it was a beautiful morning with some stunning views.

Just as I was starting to enjoy myself too much I was pulled back to reality when my foot caught a cat eye on the road and I went crashing onto the tar.
Knee bashed again…

Soon after this we turned down to the beach and also the first checkpoint.

1st Checkpoint at Umtentweni Beach. 

The race medic cleaned my knee and I filled my hydration pack and then it was on to the beach. Running on sand is never easy and I wondered how much of this was ahead. I think it’s a good thing I didn’t know so early in the race. It was difficult to decide where to run…soft, dry sand or wet sand with a slope to the left.

Umtentweni Beach.

Where to run…dry sand or wet sand with a slope…?

I soon found most of the time there was no choice and I just ran where it looked the best or easiest.  It was fantastic to run next to the ocean and it was a really beautiful morning.

Dry shoes didn’t last long either as I reached a few small river crossings…small but still ankle deep and no way to keep your shoes dry. It didn’t take long before I just ignored the sand and water and just kept running as normal. There was just no point in bothering with this.

Lots of these small river crossings.

My first goal was to reach Port Shepstone feeling good. I reached Port Shepstone feeling fantastic! Just before I entered Port Shepstone I had to go up to the road again to cross the river there over the bridge. It is a large river and it was flowing strong after all the rain. I was warned the morning before the start not to go into the water here. There was a danger of sharks and even crocodiles here! 

River at Port Shepstone to dangerous to swim through. 

After Port Shepstone it was onto the beach again for another long slog on the sand. I was surprised at how good I was feeling. Things were looking good and my spirits were high. As I went along the rivers became more challenging and there were more and more rocks to negotiate.

Some rivers were getting deeper.

More and more rocks in places.

At some point I needed water and there was nothing but beach and rocks to be seen. I found a small path up to the road. I ran on the road for a few minutes and then I saw a small service station (gas station). I could not believe my eyes when I saw the tap where I needed to get water. How crazy is this…I found a joggers tap!

I took the first road down to the beach again. I was now nearing Shelley Beach where my family was waiting with PB sandwiches and Powerade, my breakfast. My feet was starting to feel the strain of all the sand and water a bit by now. The route was slowly becoming more and more challenging or was it my feet and legs slowly becoming more and more tired?

Shelley Beach in the distance…breakfast was waiting there!

I had to do rock hopping more often and progress was slow at times. I enjoyed my “breakfast” while continuing over some rocks. I was feeling so good I didn't stop completely for breakfast at all.

I finally reached Uvongo Beach and I was relieved that I was feeling much better than I thought I would at this stage. I saw some running friends of mine on the beach here, enjoying their vacation. This was a good spirit booster. Uvongo is another beautiful beach on the South Coast and there were quite a lot of people on the beach. I got a few very funny looks but also some words of encouragement.

Uvongo Beach

The river crossing at Uvongo was deep enough for another swim and when I got out of the water here I found that most of the sand in my shoes had washed to my toes during the swim. I continued and was pondering to take off and clean my shoes or just carry on. In the end I decided to just carry on as any shoe cleaning or sand removing would only help for a few strides anyway.

My next goal was the next checkpoint at Margate. I wasn’t sure how far it was and could not see anything up ahead because of some huge rocks. These rocks were the largest of the day so far and really took a lot of concentration to get over. I was rock hopping and climbing for nearly an hour before I could see the beach at Margate at last. This was not the end of the rocks though, there were more and also some smaller stones and boulders to make my hurting feet hurt even more.

Big rocks for a few kilometers. Really tough and needed lots of concentration.

First glimpse of Margate.

These stones made it just that bit more challenging for my feet.

I was really relieved when I made it onto the sand at Margate. There were lots of holiday makers on the beach and I got a second wind. I ran across the beach feeling positive and with some new energy. I found the checkpoint at the end of the beach where they gave me some cold water. I was happy.

The beach at Margate.

After Margate I went to Ramsgate quite quickly. It was getting very warm. It was 12:00 noon and 30°C (86F). I took a bathroom break at Ramsgate and then sat in the shade for a few minutes to cool down and eat some jelly babies. I stood under the shower that bathers use to wash off the salt water and then I was on my way again. I could feel I’ve been going for 8 hours already.

There were more difficult rock hopping to do and I was really relieved when I found a trail above the rocks at some point.

Trail above some difficult rocks.

The next two hours were extremely hot. I ran where I could and walked and climbed the rest of the way. There were many more rivers and rocks. The sun was relentless and there was no shade anywhere…just open beaches and rocks. Mentally this was the most difficult part of the race. I dipped into the sea a few times to cool down. Most of the salt would wash off again at the next river crossing. My feet started taking a heavy beating and the sun was burning my whole body.
More rock hopping.

Nowhere to hide from the sun.

At some stage I could see running shoe prints in the sand. Was I catching up to another runner? I didn’t know where anyone else was at that stage. We all chose our own route and went looking for water at different beaches and roads.

Running shoe tracks…

This was definitely the lowest point of the race for me. Seeing no one else for hours and the temperature reaching 35°C (95F) with no shade anywhere. The positive for me…I’ve never been this strong in the heat! My feet were hurting and I was tired, but somehow I still had the energy and will to carry on strong.

About 60km done. My low point...hot and tired with sore feet.

Through the rocks I go!

After a few more beaches and more rocks I found a small trail in the foliage above the rocks again. I was still able to run here and again surprised at how well I felt in the heat. As I came round one more “corner” I was surprised and relieved to spot another runner up ahead.

A fellow crazy runner up ahead! (she’s on the top right)

I caught up with her after a while and she was very surprised to see me. She was trying to call the organizers with her cell phone to come and fetch her, she was done…literally and figuratively. She wasn’t able to reach anyone and besides that we had no idea where we were. I encouraged her to carry on to the next beach where we could see where we were exactly and then decide what to do.

Soon we reached Marina Beach and we actually received a call from the RD at that point. He ensured us it was only 5km to the next checkpoint.

The RD’s 5km turned out to be 15km of this…


and this...

We reached the next and final checkpoint 3 hours later. The RD said it would be a 1 hour journey. Way to go for the organizer not knowing the route at all…!

Final checkpoint, 5km from the finish.

During the 3 hour journey I encouraged and pep talked my fellow racer to tough it out. 5km to go and I would stay with her. That did the trick and we started the last push to the finish. I was very tired but feeling good and positive. This was in the bag!

After about an hour we finally made it to Port Edward. I was worried that the river here would be deep by now with the tide coming in, but luckily it was just above the knees. We crossed the last river for the day and then made our way over the beach to the finish.

Emerging from the last river.

Almost there!

To the finish at the end of the beach!

What a day! This was tough and I could feel it. The sand, salt and water took its toll on my feet. The heat and sun took a lot out of my body, but I made it! 13 hours 36 minutes of hardcore running. Yes, after this race I will call myself hardcore.

I’ll show off my Odyssey cap and towel with pride for sure! The 01 was my race number.