Category: running

 

Two things I’m most proud

1.Completing the Comrades Marathon
ComradesWeeks before running the Ultra, I’d told my dad that this was the first and last Comrades. I was convinced that I would hate every second of it. I was afraid that I would fail badly; that I wouldn’t make it pass the 20km mark before I would start vomiting, cramping or crying.
Well, I did it. I managed to run 89km in under 11 hours, earning my second bronze medal for an Ultra this year. And I only wanted to cry at the last 5km of the race.

Insert quick rant: To get the start of the race, my peers and I took an official Comrades bus from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Our bus driver got lost IN Durban and we arrived to the race late! At some point my fellow runners and I told the bus driver to stop, we bolted out of the bus and sprinted the last 1km to the start line. By the time I arrived at the start I’d miss the national anthem and the race had already started.

 

2. Hiking Lion’s Head on my own
LionsheadHiking up Lion’s Head is something I’ve wanted to do for ages now, but it isn’t always easy to find a partner in crime. In the end, I simply decided to go up by myself.

 

Two things I’m grateful for:
1. My brother-in-law
He found me at the last 5km of the Comrades, the point at which I finally hit the wall. The point at which I’d decided that I’d simply walk the rest of the damn thing. It was at the point that he delivered some vital information. He told me that I had 38 minutes to do this in under 11 hours. Realising that this was achievable, my body responded positively.
2. My Comrades running partner
On the day of the race, I met a guy who would pace me for 90% of the race. He told me when to run, when to walk and urged me to eat. Unfortunately, I lost him at the last 10km when I stopped to use the portaloo. Without him by my side I found it really hard to urge my body forward.

My intention for June:
To track every kilometre I run during this period.
Try to figure out my next big goal or adventure. I want to hike the Fish River Canyon but I’m not really sure how to make this happen. This isn’t something I’m keen to do on my own. This is something I would need to do with a group.

On 29th May, I’ll find myself in Pietermaritzburg attempting the Comrades Marathon (89km or 56 miles). That’s little over a month away.

early_morningsPhoto taken after a 20km run. 

Friends keep asking me if I’m excited for the Ultra and I’ve been rather tight-lipped about the endeavour. Excited doesn’t describe how I’m feeling. Terrified and anxious is a more accurate description. But I don’t say any of this to my friends. I’m afraid that they won’t understand exactly how worried I am. I’m afraid that instead of listening, asking WHY and trying to understand how I’m feeling, they’ll simply brush away my concerns, offer empty platitudes and advice. None of which I want or need.

 

Right now I simply want to say, I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t complete the thing. I’m scared that my body won’t be able to cope with the distance. I’m scared that I’m not mentally tough enough. I’m scared that I’ve taken on more than I can handle. I’m scared of how crushed and devastated I’ll feel if I fail. I’m scared.

 

Typing this I realize that the biggest truth is that I’m afraid of feeling disappointed. And it is this fear that making me cautious, less hopeful, less willing to dream, less willing to aim higher, less fearless. Instead of aiming to finish in 11 hours, I’m simply hoping to scrape by. TRUTH.

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Random photos

April2016

From left to right:

  1. Milkshakes at The Creamery. I went with Lime Curd. Yummy.
  2. Ships at the Waterfront.
  3. The Big Wheel at the Waterfront.

Respect the distance
A few days ago, my running partner and I started chatting about our first marathons. We’d attempted the Cape Town marathon (in different years) and it was a complete disaster. We’d both failed to meet our goals. Although we had both managed to run the entire distance, we’d failed to complete it in under 5 hours (the qualifying criteria for running an Ultra).

The running partner reflected that this was the best thing that could have happened to her. It taught her to RESPECT THE DISTANCE. And I love this sentiment. I think it’s a profound and beautiful. To me it means that she acknowledges the inherent difficulty of the marathon, recognises the work and sacrifice required to complete the task, and is willing to put in the time and effort to reach her goal. And I love that.

An upgrade
A week ago, I purchased a new car. It was time. Seriously. There has been more than one occasion where I had to gain access to my car by climbing though the boot.

I’m liking my new car. Driving up a hill is no longer a stressful experience. I no longer have to wonder if that burning smell is coming from MY car, even though the handbrake is up and my foot is off the clutch. I no longer feel the need to apologise to the drivers behind me because my car can only go up at 20km/h.

Other changes
I’ve joined a new running club and I must admit I’m enjoying the members’ reaction to me. After running the Red Hill 36km, an old guy from my new club quizzed another member about me.
Him: Who is she? Why have I never seen her before? She runs really well!

IMG_2717

 

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how it was only March and already 2015 was turning out to be a pretty awesome. I talked about how I’d finally obtained that effing sub-2 and how I’ve set new PBs for a 5, 21, 30 and 42km. I also stated that I was about to participate in my first ever Ultra and that there was a chance I might not complete it. And if this were to happen, there would be tears.

Well, I did it! I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:25. I was hoping for sub-6 and up until the 28km I was on track. That is until Ou Kaapse Weg and then it all went downhill from there. Figuratively speaking, of course. Ou Kaapse Weg is a bitch 7km climb.

What else can I say about the race?

Well, for weeks before the big day my father and I planned to run the race together. We trained together – 5 days a week. We talked strategy. Or more accurately, he talked and I tried to absorb it all. On the day of the race, at the 7km mark, he left me. And I wasn’t surprised. Or angry. Or hurt. He’s done this before; so many times that I expected it. At the 37km mark I caught up to him. And then I proceeded to finish the race ahead of him, by 12 minutes. (It’s funny, at the beginning of the year he told me that I would be able to kick his arse in shorter races but I’d never take him in longer events. This year I’ve beaten the old man in a 10, 15, 21, 30 and 56km race. And now I want to do what he’s never been able to achieve. I want to do a marathon in less than 4 hours.)

At the about the 40km mark, there was a radio announcer slash TV presenter. He asked various runners what was the first thing they wanted to do when they got home. Some said they wanted a cold beer. Others said they wanted a warm shower. And I just thought, “I’d like to take a nice, satisfying shit.” Right now several mothers are wishing their sons would end up with someone as classy as me.

Other than wanting to take a dump, I also wanted to cry, a lot. After 42km, running is no longer fun. It’s just this stupid hobby that requires you to move your legs in quick succession. And yet, the very minute I’d crossed the finish line I was so overcome with euphoria that I vowed to run the Comrades next year.

So that’s one of the reasons that 2015 has gotten a little sweeter. The other is that I’ve been awarded a partial scholarship to go to the United States for a few weeks.

Life is good.

medal

I did it. I completed the Two Oceans Ultra (56km) in 6:26. I was secretly (or not so secretly) hoping to do it in less than 6 hours. Anyway, that’s one more thing to tick off my bucket list. Next year I attempt the Comrades.

Thanks to everyone for their words of support, advice and encouragement. You guys rock.

And now I leave you with an extract from the latest book I just completed:

 “The King’s Preserves had almost been hunted out. In these modern days it was rare to find so much as good-sized deer in them, and no one had seen a dragon since time out of mind. Most men would have laughed if you had suggested there might still be such a mythy creature left in that tame forest. But an hour before sundown on that day, as Roland and his party were about to turn back, that was just what they found … or what found them.

The dragon came crashing and blundering out of the underbrush, its scales glowing a greenish copper colour, its soot-caked nostrils venting smoke. It had not been a small dragon either, but a male just before its first moulting. Most of the party were thunderstruck, unable to draw an arrow or even to move.

It stared at the hunting party, its normal green eyes went yellow, and it fluttered its wings. There was no danger that it could fly away from them – its wings would not be well developed enough to support it in the air for at least another fifty years and two more moultings – but baby-webbing which holds the wings against a dragon’s body until its tenth or twelfth year had fallen away, and a single flutter stirred enough wind to topple the head huntsman backward out of his saddle, his horn flying from his hand.”

The Eyes of The Dragon by Stephen King

OMTOM and books

Bali

 Photo taken at the Lynwood City Lodge gym. 

It’s the end of March and so far 2015 has been pretty sweet. I’ve accomplished most of my running goals. I’ve finally managed to achieve that effing sub-2. I’ve set new PBs for a 5km (26min), half-marathon (1:58), 30km (2:53) and marathon (4:27). And in a few days I will be attempting the Two Oceans Ultra (56km).

 

There’s a good chance that I might not complete the Ultra within the seven hour cut-off. I’ve accepted this possibility. This is a new me. I no longer dwell on ALL the things that could go wrong. Keeping a mental inventory of how things could blow up, served no purpose. Instead it only made me anxious, to the point where I was numb with fear and struggled to breathe. Now I accept that things might not go my way and calmly think about remedial measures. What will I do when shit hits the fan?

 

In this case I’ve decided that irrespective of what happens on race day, I will pick myself up. I will take a week (and no more) to cry (and there will be crying). And then I’ll get right back to training. I’ll start working towards my goal of getting faster. I will work towards completing a marathon in 4:15. I will qualify for an Ultra and I will run the Comrades Marathon in 2016. Race day (4 April) changes nothing. Hashtag think like a winner and toenails will be sacrificed.

 

And even though 2015 has been pretty sweet so far, I can’t help thinking what else can I do to make THIS year even better? Well, there would be travelling. There would be adventure. There would be roadtrips, dancing, music, fun, laughter and romance. There would be a blue eyed fellow, a ring, a grey Wizard and a volcano called, Modor.

 

Okay, so I probably can’t arrange for the Lord of the Rings type scenario, but I do have control over the travel/adventure/happiness aspect of my life. I’ve already been lucky enough to spend a few days with good friends in Wellington, celebrating the nuptials of Juan and Dizzy*. And in a few weeks, I’ll be jetting off to Durban to eat bunny chows, check out The Valley of A Thousand Hills and witness one of my craziest girlfriends tie the knot. What next? Well, then I head to Turkey for just under a month. There I’ll have my very first taste of stretchy ice-cream, check out the Whirling Dervishes, the Aya Sofya, and will attempt to take a selfie with every individual who makes me smile. That should keep me busy until the end of June.

Paolo Nutini

Photo taken at the Paolo Nutini concert in Kirstenbosch. 

I finally did it! All those hours of hill training, bootcamp, early mornings and ounces of GU have finally paid off. Today, 21 March 2015, I finally managed to achieve my goal of running a half-marathon in under 2 hours. 1:58 to be precise. And even though it has taken me months (fine, YEARS) to get to this point, I can’t help but wonder, “What else is possible?” Can I possibly get faster? Can I do 21km in 1:55?

Notes about this race:

  • I’d originally started the race with my dad. At the 1km mark I was slightly ahead of him. But it really did take him long to catch up (3km mark). And then he widened the gap. Man, did he widen the gap to the point where I couldn’t even see him. It took me a whole 10km to set my sights back on him and another 5km to actually catch up with him. And the whole time I was eyeing him, watching that gap close, I kept thinking, “He must be crazy if he thinks I’m just going to hand this one to him on a platter. I am going to put up a fight. I am going to make him work for it.” I beat him by 1 minute.
  • I wasn’t entirely sure I’d make a sub-2. At the 19km I had ten minutes to spare. That’s 10 minutes to finish the last 2km. That isn’t a lot of time to play with. But at no time did I think, “You’ll never make it. Just give up.” This is something I think of often on races. It’s the reason you’ll occasionally find me walking during a race. Instead I just thought, “Anything is possible.”

Now what?

  • Complete the Two Oceans Ultra-marathon (56km) within the cut-off time (7 hours).
  • Get faster. Set new PBs. I’ve already set a new PB for 42km (4:27), 30km (2:53) and 21km (1:58). But I’m hoping to drop my marathon time by 12 minutes (4:15).

IMG_1432
Photo taken at the Amber Fort in Jaipur.

At the end of January and February, Nicole from “A life less bullshit” recently sent her no BS club a monthly review template. I had every intention of completing January’s review, but didn’t … Anyway, here’s my review of February.
Thinking back over the month of February, I am …

 

Most proud of: Completing the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) in 4:27. I’d set a goal of 4:20 and missed it by seven minutes. And I’m okay with that. I set a PB of 25 minutes. And I still believe that one day I’ll run a marathon in under 4:20. It just requires work. (In January I set a new PB for 30km. I completed the Bay to Bay race in 3:08.)
Deeply grateful for: My running club. I love how they push me to run further and harder. I love the constant encouragement. And let’s face it, I love hearing the words, “Oh we’re not in her level. She’s does a marathon in 4:27.”
Delightfully surprised by: How willing I am to speak to ANYONE about any aspect of running. You want to talk about how you’ve lost a toenail? Cool. You have advice on which Garmin running watch to buy? Awesome! You want to tell me that a sub-2 half-marathon is totally possible? Stop flirting with me! 
Letting go of: A crush, a fantasy, the idea of someone perfect. I am letting go of this with the firm believe that someone out there will appreciate my sense of humour. (FYI, my WhatsApp status once read, “Does this smell like chloroform to you?” )
Feeling inspired by: The characters in Grey’s Anatomy. (I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it.) I love how gutsy the female characters are. I love how they say what’s on their mind. I love how brave they ultimately are. Here’s a link to some of my favourite quotes from the show.

Books
A few weeks ago, I finished reading “The sex lives of Siamese twins” by Irvine Welsh. At first I found the novel hilarious and engrossing, but I was left feeling dissatisfied in the end. I just didn’t see the need for all the violence.

I am currently reading “The gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson. I am still at the beginning stages of the novel, and I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Note: I’ve already shed a tear or two.

Anyway, here’s an extract from the novel:

“Your car gathers speed down the embankment, bouncing. Your hypothesis is quickly proven correct: it is, indeed, quite painful. Your brain catalogues the different sensations. There is the flipping end over end, the swirling disorientation, and the shrieks of the car as it practices its unholy yoga. There’s the crush of metal, pressing against your ribs. There’s the smell of the devil’s mischievousness, a pitchfork in your ass and sulfur in your mouth. The Bastard’s there, all right, don’t doubt it.

I remember the hot silver flash as the floorboard severed all my toes from my left foot. I remember the steering column sailing over my shoulder, I remember the eruption of glass that seemed to be everywhere around me. When the car finally came to a stop, I hung upside down, seatbelted. I could hear the hiss of various gases escaping the engine and the tires still spinning outside, above, and there was the creak of metal settling as the car stopped rocking, a pathetic turtle on its back.”

Running
I am running the Cape Peninsula Marathon (42km) tomorrow. I am pretty nervous about the prospect. I’ve set a pretty impossible goal for myself (4:20). That’s 32 minutes faster than my personal best – I’ve only ever run 2 marathons. I’ve done the maths, over and over again, I know what pace I need to set to achieve this goal and I am afraid. I am afraid that I might fall way short of this goal. I am afraid of THAT crushing disappointment, THAT sinking feeling, the realization that I’ve given it my best and my best still wasn’t good enough.

Note: Nicole talks about disappointment and running goals here.

Travel
I’m getting really excited for my trip to Turkey. My flights and passport are sorted and I have a pretty good idea of which cities I’d like to tour. I’ll be spending a few days in Istanbul – eating ALL the Turkish Delight, spending ALL of my money purchasing glass lanterns and leather jackets, getting a massage at a haman and checking out the whirling dervishes. I’ll then move on to Goreme (Cappadocia), where I’ll (hopefully) be charting a hot-air balloon. I also plan to check out the hot springs at Pamukkale, the Eternal Flames of Chimaera in Olympos, the archaeological site at Ephesus and chart a boat to the Blue Cave.

All I need to do now is sort out my visa and accommodation.

Books, running and travel

A few days ago, before the turn of the New Year, I publically announced my 2015 goals/resolutions/bucket list items via twitter. Please note that they are all running related goals.

2015 running goals:

  • Set new PBs (Personal Bests).
  • Train for the Two Oceans Ultra-Marathon (56km).
  • Don’t get injured.

New PBs

2014 was a great year (running and travel wise). Much to my surprise I managed to set PBs for nearly every running category (10, 21, 30 and 42km). My improvement was significant. I went from completing a half-marathon in 2:09 to 2:01. That’s a new PB of 8 whole minutes. And it is due to this massive drop in numbers that I truly believe I am capable of more.

And I was right. On Sunday I ran the Bay to Bay 30km and completed it in 3:08. That’s a PB of 11 minutes. Booyah.

Short notes on the race

I was initially anxious about driving to the race. With most races my dad picks me up (and makes me toast for breakfast). I leave the logistics of how and when to get there entirely up to him. This wasn’t happening for this race. I would need to rely on myself. I would need to arrive at the race ON TIME and possibly PARALLEL PARK in a narrow, hilly street. Cue all the nerves.

But I did it. And I picked up Fahiema. Fahiema: “Sid is picking me up at 05:00 tomorrow. I set my alarm for 04:50. I love a challenge.”

The 30km race route started at Camps Bay, snaked down to Hout Bay and then looped back to Camps Bay. The 30km started at 06:00. There was also a 15km which started at Hout Bay and ended at Camps Bay. The 15km started at 07:30. At some point the 30km runners would converge with the 15km runners. For me that point was the 18km mark. And holy crap, did it feel amazing to overtake some of the 15km runners.

 

The non-running related goals:

  • Be a little more vulnerable, open and brave. Do the things that scare me. (Note: Everything scares me.)
  • Dance at Juan and Dizzy’s wedding until my feet bleed.
  • Do whatever I can to ensure that Fahiema’s wedding is a little less stressful.
  • Go hot air ballooning in Turkey.
  • Save up enough cash to go snowboarding in Europe for my birthday.