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

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Throwback Thursday for Friends

This week’s throwback Thursday is dedicated to two of my best running friends, Anita & Seugnét. We’ve run many races together over the years and when I looked at this photo from the 2011 Om Die Dam 50km I went searching for some older photos of us running together.

Om_die_Dam_2011-032011 Om Die Dam 50km – this photo inspired today’s post.

With Seugnét at the Om Die Berg in 1996.

Kellogs 32km in 1998. The runner in the middle is Bonny, another friend of ours who also ran Om Die Dam this year.

With Anita in the 1997 Comrades Marathon. Look who’s taking some strain…

Nike Marathon Challenge in Pretoria, 1997.

Isn’t it great that after all these years we can still run ultras together? I think it is!

Happy Thursday everyone, keep it going!

Monday, 28 March 2011

2011 Jackie Gibson Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday I ran the Jackie Gibson Half Marathon in the Southern parts of Johannesburg. This is a great race with a full marathon as well. It is known as one of the tougher races in Gauteng with lots of testing hills. Luckily most of the bad hills are in the first part of the race. Many runners use this race as hill training for the Comrades.

After my tough run at the Om Die Dam 50km the previous weekend I was sure to take things very easy at this race. Having said that, I still had it in my mind to maybe do the full marathon and not only the half. However, I woke up to the sound of rain and decided it was a good day for a half marathon.

The race venue is only about 10km from my home and I arrived with plenty of time to do the usual rituals. It was misty with some fine rain, but by the time we started (6:30) it was wet and misty only and we had no rain during the race.

As I mentioned above the first part of this race is tough and testing. Right from the start there are some long and steep hills and it is wise to take it easy for the first 13km of the half marathon.

Some tough hills right from the start…

The race goes through Mondeor, the suburb where I grew up and where my parents still live in the same house today.

In the 1980’s these roads were my training grounds…

The weather was great and I’m sure the runners in the full marathon was grateful for the cloudy and cool conditions. The hills did make me sweat though…

I ran very comfortably and was happy that I didn’t feel any discomfort or tiredness from the previous week’s 50km. I was very happy as I confirmed my strength on the hills. I also confirmed again that I suck at downhill running. Luckily this year is an up Comrades…J!

I took the photo below just for Sandal Girl (Staci). A barefoot runner just for you! The area on the right is part of the nature reserve where I do most of my trail training.

After a nice, long downhill there was another steep tester to take us to 14km. Then it is gradually down and even to just before 19km. The last 2km is up and many runners find this tough. This is not an easy finish for any race and the marathon runners didn’t enjoy this at all.

One last tester.

Gradual climb the last 2km

I ran comfortably the whole way and never pushed very hard. I finished in 02:19 which is good for me a week after a very difficult 50km race. I was still feeling strong at the end and recovered almost immediately. I feel this was a good hilly training run.

Some loot…

…and the medal.

A happy week to you all. Keep it going!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Foto Friday

Today’s Foto Friday is inspired by my biggest and my favorite fan, Rohann.

A while back Rohann found two sunflower seeds on the floor of the local supermarket where they sell the bird seed. He took them home and planted them between some other flowers. He watered and nurtured them with great patience. This is what they look like today.

I remarked how amazing it is for these two small, almost nothing, seeds from the supermarket floor to become this big and beautiful. His answer: “just like your running dad. You started with almost nothing and look how far and strong you run now.” That made my day and inspired this post.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’m running a half marathon on Sunday as part of my recovery from last weekend’s rough run.

Happy running!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

2011 Om Die Dam 50km Race Report

Let me start by saying I had no easy day. I had a very tough run and actually finished the race with cold/flu symptoms. I’m still not exactly sure what went wrong but my son was in bed with flu last week and it seems this actually got to me as well and only showed itself during the last 20km of the race. Anyway I did finish within the cutoff time by 11 mins and still had a good time overall at this great race.

The day started early as the start was at 06:00 and we left home at 3:30. There was a very big field but I can’t fault anyone or anything with the organization. All went smoothly for me from home right up to the start.

Waiting for the start with my favorite supporter.

The start was a noisy but festive affair with music, the call of the African Fish Eagle and then the gun. While talking about the gun, there is one thing I want to mention here. In South Africa there is no such thing as chip time….only gun time. There are serious cutoff times at most races and this, including the Comrades Marathon, applies only to gun time. At Comrades I will lose about 12 – 15 minutes at the start…it is just that, lost. That’s how we run here in SA and no one complains.

It took me about 2 minutes to cross the start at Om Die Dam.

Just before the start I suddenly felt a scratch in my throat and couldn’t speak. I took a sip of water and forgot about it. It came back at about 35km and I finished the race with a sore throat...not good!

The first few kilometers run down to the dam wall and are very easy and pleasant. I was just making sure I don’t fall in the huge field.

First glimpse of the dam.

There is a tunnel that takes the road over the dam wall. It is always very festive here. Everyone feels great, the road is slightly downhill and the scenery beautiful.

Into the tunnel…

…out onto the dam wall.

Above the dam wall.

Below the dam wall.

In/on the dam wall.

Once you cross the dam wall things get more serious as the first climb of the day begins. I was not feeling as comfortable as I would have liked and just tried to relax and run. I felt a bit nauseous from 2km onwards and I never felt 100% comfortable at all.

Kommando Nek
We climbed Kommando Nek and then went down towards the dam again. This part is beautiful and mainly flat. The view from the bridge where the road crosses the dam was spectacular.

Great early morning view.

Over the bridge.

The road on the opposite side of the dam is flat at first, but after a few kilometers there are some serious hills to contend with.

Some hills to remember for next year.

I was feeling OK but knew I wasn’t 100%. It was as if I was not firing on all cylinders. Just after 21km the heel of my right shoe gave a click and a poof and collapsed! This was not great with 29km still to go and me not feeling 100% already. I stopped to check and there it was, a collapsed heel! Luckily I’m not a heel striker but as I sit and type this I can still feel the effect that this had on my lower right leg. I adjusted as well as I could but knew the collapsed shoe would not make the day any easier. The shoe has only done 448km so I am really upset with Nike.

A little further on we crossed the Crocodile River and I took a moment for some photos.

Crocodile River.

From the river it was a slow but steady climb for a few kilometers. I was still OK but could feel I was going to have a hard day.

Another hill towards half way. Note how tall the grass is.

At 27km I had my first gag of the day as I battled to get a GU and water down. I was now feeling very nauseous and was just glad the weather was nice and not very hot as is common for this part of the route. At 31km I had to rush into the tall grass next to the road and won my first Pukie Award of the day! This was not good timing as I was approaching the famous Saartjie’s Nek, a very long and very steep monster of a hill at just the wrong distance in this race.

I shuffled along to the fantastic water point at the bottom of Saartjie’s Nek.

Saartjie says good morning.

Look out for Saartjie.

Red carpet treatment.

As I came into the water point I had to take another trip into the grass for Pukie Award #2. Needless to say Saartjie was very tough after this.

Moving up Saartjie’s.

Almost at the top.

At last! View of the dam below.

The downhill after the climb was good but still not easy. I had zero energy left by now and my right shoe was starting to hurt my leg as well. To top it all my nose started running, my ears became blocked and I got a sore throat. Talk about hitting the wall! This wall fell on me!

At this beautiful shop and restaurant I fed the flowers again for Pukie Award #3.

Let’s just say pizza here will never be the same…
I was really drained now and walked/shuffled on. I planned a LSD but this was now survival.

Onwards through the neighborhoods.

I was really feeling bad and when I hit the last hill with about 2.5km to go I just walked all the way to the top. This last hill is a killer even if you feel good and I can’t remember when I was last so happy to see a 1km to go marker.

1km to go!
Finally I shuffled onto the field…

…and was very relieved to finally reach the finish 11 minutes before the cutoff.

A nice medal and t-shirt, although I would have preferred the cotton 21km shirt. Their's have a beautiful picture on it! Check it out at Sandal Girl's report.

I now know I ran this with a slight flu/cold in my system. I didn’t know I was a bit sick when I started, but this shows how carful we must be when we do feel a bit sick. I've taken 3 days rest and will not do more than a half marathon this weekend. Let's hope this was my last survival trip for a while...