Chaussures, Sapatos, Schuhe, 鞋, Scarpe, oбувь, Shoes…

It doesn’t matter where you come from… Shoes! A universally understood female language. A language I never really understood, until now it seems. This was mainly because I have man-sized feet, pretty and narrow but man-sized nonetheless. I’m the kind of girl who has 3 or 4 pairs of multifunctional shoes that I wear until they are dead, because it’s hard to find shoes to fit me, so I’ve never been able to get excited about them and sure as hell was never at risk of amassing an expensive collection.

Until now that is…

Less than two years ago I didn’t own running shoes of any kind, now I own three pairs (four if you include the original impulse purchase that I can’t actually run in, but I’m about to hand those over to a newbie runner in need, so we’ll stick with three for discussion purposes)

We all remember how I got my Adidas when ‘The Boyfriend’ won a shoe voucher at the Spur Trail Series last year (and gave it to me because he’s the BEST boyfriend in the World) and I got such wonderful service from these guys.

Fast forward to November 2015 (yes yes I know it’s taken me forever to write about this… Christmas, laziness, writer’s block, blah blah…) and a new Specialist Running store was about to open called RUN. They posted a Facebook competition to work up a bit of hype and get their name out there. They were giving away a pair of Saucony’s, I’d had my morning coffee and was feeling up to the challenge so I entered. The brief? What does RUN mean to you? I was the first to respond and nobody managed to knock my answer off the epic scale… So I won! Yay!

I went into the store when they had only just opened, the poor guys were still dealing with building snags and dust. I arrived an hour before closing and left almost an hour after they should have locked up. When Grant sent me this he wasn’t kidding

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They literally tried every possible shoe on me. Obviously they fitted and tested the Saucony’s first, but it was clear from the start that they weren’t the shoe for me 😦

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Grant and Erin spent almost 2hrs focusing all their attention on me and on making sure I left with the perfect pair.

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That's just one of the piles...

After many a fitting and many a spin on the treadmill, it came down to these two

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I tried really hard to get them to make the choice for me, but Grant was happy for me to take either. I knew I could run in Adidas, they worked for my feet, so they were an easy pick. However, as Grant said, how often do you get to test a new brand for free? So decision made, I left with the Asics… Nothing to lose right?

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And I luuuurve them! Thank you guys!

So practically drowning in free road shoes, I decided it was time to put a bit of that Christmas bonus to good use and treat myself to a pair of Trail shoes…

I started doing research and was seriously considering a pair of Salomons, I’d even contacted Grant at RUN and he had agreed to track down the style and size I was looking for (that’s how awesome they are over there, go pay them a visit!). But then I headed off to this year’s Spur Trail Series and BAM! I found my shoes! They had a small selection of Adidas trail shoes on sale and not only did they have a pair in my size, they were a women’s size9! Not a men’s, (story of my life!) an actual pair of women’s shoes…. That FIT ME!!! I could hear the Angels singing as I put them on. But I was aware of my impulsive tendencies, so I asked them to keep them aside until after the race and decided to mull it over and take ‘The Boyfriend’ past the merchandise tent afterwards to get his opinion. He wasn’t sure, until I called Sean over (he reviews shoes for Modern Athlete Magazine, so he knows his stuff) and he not only gave them a rave review, he attempted to buy them, I practically had to beat him off with a stick when he realised I was holding the last pair 🙂 so with ‘The Boyfriend’ now thoroughly convinced too, I could trust my urge to hand over my credit card.

Aren’t they lovely?

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So now I can run downhill with less fear of falling on my bum!

Shoes!!!
Turns out I have the girly shoe gene after all, it has just been hiding in the running shoe aisle for the last 36yrs. Who knew?!

Happy Running Folks!

Heroes & Disappointments

Hohenort… Easily one of the toughest races on the calendar. It’s a beautiful race, hilly as hell, but beautiful and very well organised and efficiently marshalled… Maybe that’s why we keep going back? Because it can’t be because we love the hills!… But this year was my last.

The reason? Not the hills, because as much as I despise hills, I will sooner or later learn to conquer them (although I doubt it will be with a smile). No, the reason is those socks, or in this particular case, the lack thereof.
They advertised 2000 pairs but ran out before that. But even if they had reached the promised 2000, I’d still take issue with it.

I’m a back of the pack runner, I’m slow, I spend longer out there and put a fair amount of effort into finishing. Run faster you say? Sure, yes, I will get faster sooner or later, but there will always be beginners, there will always be slow runners… And those beginners and slow runners deserve the medal/socks. It’s insulting and not a little soul destroying to those of us who paid the entry and finished the race only to be presented with a nonchalant shrug at the end. If you sell a certain number of entries, supply the same number of medals/socks/whatever at the end.
In this particular case it’s even worse, because unlike medals, that have a year engraved on them, these socks are generic, the club hosting the race would not have been out of pocket because they could just have used any surplus the next year… Beginners should be encouraged and rewarded for their efforts and the organisers of this race just don’t seem to care!

Now that I have my rant out of the way, on to a special moment from the day…

VWS (Volunteer Wildfire Services) traditionally man a water station at this race. They actually get involved with a few local races, it ups their profile and exposes them to the general public. What these guys do as volunteers is just awe inspiring, they put their lives on the line to fight horrendous fires saving lives, property, wildlife and protecting our natural fynbos heritage. It was really special seeing them out on the route…

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It became a lot more meaningful later that day when a number of incredibly serious fires broke out in the mountains across the bay.

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As I write this 2 days later, those fires are for the most part, still raging. A lot of these guys haven’t slept or eaten properly and are out there fighting tooth and nail, through the night, in the middle of a heatwave to prevent the destruction from spreading. Many a property has been wiped out, orchards have been decimated and thousands of animals are dead 😦

I was supposed to run the 2nd race in the Spur Trail Series on Sunday morning, but the fires put a stop to that too, by 21h49 on Saturday night when the organisers made the decision to cancel, the fires had entered the lebanon forest…

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HEROES! All of them!

So we all pray for rain and hold the firefighters (not just the VWS guys, but the many different departments and crews who are working together to get it all under control) in our prayers. And when those fires are out, I’ll start praying for wind, because as pretty as the blood red sunsets have been, it’s hard to breathe with all this smoke chocking the City and only the good old Cape South Easter can clear the air…

Until next time, run safe, be safe
Happy Running folks

Confessions and Kinesiology Tape

First of all, confession time…
I bailed on the 30km.
Before you judge me, know that I’m judging myself. Not because I bailed on the race, it was the right decision, but because it’s a decision I shouldn’t have had to make. I should have been ready, I should have trained properly (or just trained, full stop) but I didn’t, so when I woke up on Sunday and I was stiff from helping the homeless guy down the road push a neighbour’s car, and my period had started and the wind was HOWLING… I took stock of my reality. My reality turned out to be an untrained recipe for disaster and with 5 more races ahead of me after the 30km, it just made sense to call a stop to my stupidity.

So I got up, had a shower, woke my houseguest PJ with a cup of coffee and headed out with my supporter pants on.

Bay2Bay is a there and back 30km, but the 15km is just the ‘back’ part, so those runners are faced with the conundrum of transport post race.

We dropped PJ off at the 30km start and then we headed to the halfway point so ‘The Boyfriend’ could do the 15km. Here’s where me bailing came in handy. I could now drive the car back to the start/finish and be there to cheer them all home with a conveniently placed car for an easy return home.
Easier said than done…
There was NO PARKING!
I had to do a number of 3-point turns, had to reverse the car up a hill and basically drove myself in circles until I was a teary wreck! Remember I’m a new driver with questionable parking skills.
But just as I was about to give up… (queue Angels singing) a space appeared that didn’t require much skill and was only about 3kms from the finish.

So I dragged my sorry bum to the finish, having missed both men coming in (including a sprint finish for top 50 from ‘The Boyfriend’) and placed myself firmly next to the finish shute to wait for Amanda to come in… She had trained, we were supposed to do our first 30km together and now this Rockstar was doing it alone, I was damned if I was going to miss that finish!

She came in grinning, so proud of her achievement, only to discover that the over prescribed race had run out of medals! How soul destroying is that??!!
Enter PJ who gave her his, triggering the funniest ugly cry I’ve ever witnessed.
That’s one medal I know she’ll cherish forever!

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So yes I bailed, but it meant I had the strength and the legs to take on race #1 of the Spur Trail Series and give it my best shot…
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The Boys

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That View!!

Race 1 was on Wednesday, it was a night race and it was tough. The course was an old nemesis that nearly broke me last year and true to form it nearly broke me again… I have the worst luck with night races, I’m clearly not meant to do them. Last year my first ever night race resulted in my foot injury that took MONTHS to heal and this time I twisted my ankle, not once, but twice. The second time was so bad that I nearly went down, if it hadn’t been for the runner next to me being within easy grabbing reach I may well have been a lot worse off… I really hope my nail marks don’t leave scars on her arm… Sorry random stranger and thank you for keeping me upright. I was then held up by two other runners while I limped painfully down until I reached the road and the home stretch. Ladies, I owe you the world of gratitude, you saved me from having to call for rescue! I don’t know your names but I will never forget your faces!

I crossed the line running and headed straight for medical. They strapped me and doped me up and sent me on my way…

I made myself feel better like only a woman knows how… I bought shoes, but that’s a topic for a whole other post.

Home to an ice pack and a good night’s sleep and in the morning it was stiff and uncomfortable but not swollen. Unlike last year when my foot looked like a cantaloupe the next morning.

Seeing as I have another race tomorrow morning followed by race #2 of the series on Sunday, I decided that a little intervention was called for, so I hit Google and watched a couple of tutorial videos on self strapping.

Et voila…

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All ready to take on Hohenort tomorrow, the infamous ‘sock race’…

Happy Running folks and don’t forget to always #RunClean

I’m about to get a 30km kick in the pants…

I’ve had a very lazy festive season.
I last ran a race on the 28th of November, it didn’t go well, my feet hurt the whole way through the 10km route because my work shoes had caused rather uncomfortable calluses. So I spent a lot of money buying fancy pedicure gadgets and testing various old wives tales regarding skin softening.  I found that Vicks Vaporub worked really well, but requires that I wear socks to bed and considering we’ve been experiencing a ridiculous heatwave here, socks aren’t really a good bedmate at the moment.

Then of course there’s the fact that it was December, work starts to get crazy buzy as you wind down for the year, social engagements increase, family commitments crop up, you go on holiday and be lazy and eat too much, the heatwave takes a hold and the next thing you know you’re back in the office, it’s January and you’re a day away from your first 30km!

I’ve managed to remain sane up to this point by adopting the ostrich technique, but reality catches up with you eventually, no matter how deep in the sand you shove your head.

I’m not ready, it’s going to be a tough one, but the kick in the pants will be a good lesson. Hopefully it will teach me to make time for my training NO MATTER WHAT and it will give me a small taste of what’s to come in September when I run my first Marathon.

Bay2Bay is the traditional calender opener, it’s a biggie, but it’s also beautiful race, so at least I can enjoy the view while I try not to cry in public. I’ll also have Amanda with me, so she can scream at me if I attempt to chuck in the towel, but I’m sorely tempted to run with my hydration belt and fill the damn thing with wine 😉

It’s going to be a jam packed January, I have 6 races between now and the end of the month. One of them is an old foe, we have unfinished business and the other is a scary new challenge… The dreaded Kloof Nek Classic, a race I was in total awe of last year when I watched ‘The Boyfriend’ power through it, just have a look at that route profile…

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Not only am I willingly putting myself through that (when I don’t do hills) but I already know that I won’t get a medal, the booty for this delightful torture-fest is a beer glass.

So I will be finishing off the first month of the year with 6 races under my belt but only 2 medals because the stupid ‘sock race’ is coming up (remember that one?) and the other three races are 1-3 of a series and you only get the medal after completing a minimum of 3 of the 4 races.

Yay for a month of minimal bling and maximum sore muscles!

Happy New Year and….
Happy Running folks 🙂

The day I swam a Half Marathon

Last year I entered the 6km fun run at the annual Landmarks race, because I wasn’t ready to tackle a 21.1 yet. It was one of the worst runs I’ve ever had. I had a complete meltdown because of a variety of factors both physical and emotional and the resulting blog post was one of my most soul baring and emotionally raw to date.

This year I had something to prove to myself.

So having seen Amanda through her first Half Marathon, I struck while the iron was hot and convinced her she needed to go for number 2. She took a lot of convincing and tried a couple of novel ways to back out once she had said yes… But I wasn’t taking no for an answer.

Race weekend arrived (1st of November, yes yes I know this is late… Life, writer’s block etc…) and I convinced ‘The Boyfriend’ to let me take the car, even got him to do a day before travel recce with me so I wouldn’t get lost and could focus all my energy on working out where and how to park the car (not my strong point) and arranged a meeting time and place with Amanda. He handed over the keys, I dropped him at his place and headed home for an early night. The parking fairies were on my side and the perfect spot had opened up outside my building. I climbed in and out of bed 3 times that night to go and check that I’d locked the car, the paranoia was huge!

Race day dawned, my alarm went off at 03h30 and I awoke to the sound of pouring rain. The urge to roll over and go back to sleep was strong, but I had something to prove, so quitting before I had even started was not an option. So I jumped in the shower and waited to see if Amanda would bail because of the rain. I was doing the jump/wiggle/jump that is getting my running tights on, when my phone beeped “leaving soon, see you shortly” yes! She hadn’t succumbed to the rain.

By the time I’d left my place the rain had stopped and Amanda and I had a pain free drive to the venue, I opted to park 3 blocks away so the car would be less of a target for ‘race day’ break ins, and because I knew I could actually park in my chosen spot… As I said, parking isn’t my strong point, and we trecked back to the start. It was cold and a little breezy but it was still dry, the clouds looked ominous so I wrapped my phone in a plastic sandwich bag and we were off.

It was good going in the beginning, we even stopped to take a celebratory pic at the 7km marker, proof that I’d kicked last year’s race demons to the curb

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A little over a kilometer later we hit the base of the double back at Rhodes Memorial, the hill everyone talks about, the hill we had decided upon entry that we would walk with our heads held high… No shame here! We eventually got to the top and turned right towards the turn around point and…. To say the heavens opened would be a bit of an understatement! It started bucketing down, a literal wall of water. In seconds we were drenched, water sloshing out of our shoes at every step. What does one do in a situation like this? You’ve been soaked through in a matter of seconds, you’re 9kms in to your race… Turning back would be pointless, you’re almost at halfway!
So we kept going, blindly in my case since I couldn’t see through all the water on my glasses… But we kept smiling

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As Amanda said, at least your socks are too wet to slide down anymore… Silver linings folks, silver linings.

We laughed and trudged on, the finish line had coffee…

I suffer from a case of occasional vanity, in order to make myself feel better on race day I often put on mascara, ‘The Boyfriend’ thinks this is weird, I say it’s a confidence boost, he doesn’t have ovaries hence he doesn’t understand. Anyway, I’d recently starting using some fancy imported ‘can’t believe they’re not fake’ awesome mascara, that involves seriaaaas elbow grease to remove, the stuff budges for nothing! Except torrential rain apparently… 10mins of water continually running down my face and I’d succeeded in wipping it all off on Amanda’s top… Waterproof my a*&!

On we ran, through puddles deeper than our ankles… Not really caring anymore about the amount of water in our shoes, it wasn’t like we could do anything about it.

4kms from the finish the wind and hail and relentless rain started to get the better of us and the cold started getting to us, but we were still running, still happy and we could almost taste the finish line coffee.

2kms to go and Amanda nearly dissapeared down a broken manhole, if I hadn’t just stepped onto the edge at the exact same moment, she would have gone right through. Hearts beating extra fast from the shock, we hit a park, ran past a group of ladies attempting to sing “I will survive” rather badly, we joined in, realising we were just as bad at remembering the words. The lot of us must have been quite the sight!

On we swam, we could hear the finish.

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The hardest earned medal ever, but the most fun either of us has ever had at a race.

I’ll be back next year, rain or shine

Before I go, a very BIG shout out to the marshalls, they braved that storm with cheerful smiles, with loads of encouraging words for the cursing runners passing by. Many a motivational joke was cracked by many a drenched gent with a flag. Thank you! You made that race a very memorable one 🙂

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Happy Running folks
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Bucket List races… part 2

Sunday.
Race day.
Woke up before the birds and headed out to the start line before the sun was properly up…
It was finally here.
The Gun Run.
A race that gets talked about a lot
A race I needed to experience for myself, to see what all the fuss was about. Problem was, it’s my Club’s race, I was supposed to Marshall, but I really wanted to experience it as a participant. In the end I was too chicken to run in my Club kit, so I purchased a temp licence and went under the radar… for a good cause mind, I decided to run it for Luca. Well, seems I’m not the only Club member who opted to run, I passed loads of AAC runners, and I had friends marshaling on my behalf, so I don’t feel too bad…

So, back to the point…
The Gun Run was to be my 5th half marathon, but it was to be Amanda’s 1st. I met Amanda exactly a year ago today, when I helped her get through her first 5km and then she returned the favour a few months later when I had a rather bleugh 12km. She’d been so excited (and nervous) about this race, constantly asking me advice and tips. I kept assuring her she’d be fine, she was just over thinking it all. As I headed to the start line I sent her a message, she responded that she was almost there. I looked up and spotted two runners walking ahead of me, the girl was telling the guy about a running blog she follows, then she turned her head and I realises it was Amanda! I was so relieved! Big races like this make it near impossible to find people because of the sheer number of runners. I had been really hoping to spot her and potentially run with her and here she was 🙂 The runner walking with her was someone she’d just met, after reaching out to other runners on Facebook and he’d offered to walk to the start with her for safety. His name was Neal, and he’d prove to be our Angel that day.

I’ve only ever managed to run one of my half marathons faster than my debut at Two Oceans. I was going to try and get myself a massive PB at Gun Run, but that would involve finding the 02:30 bus and the crowd was huge! Neal was seeded A, but had decided to stick with Amanda and he was determined that the two of us would run a sub 02:30.

For an A seeded runner, this is a huge sacrifice, especially when you have just met the girls you are doing it for.

The race was set to start at 06h00, but at 06h04 we were still standing around taking selfies…

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But then this happened…

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Photo credit: Cape Argus

Yes, that’s an actual Military gun… now I know where the race got its name! We nearly peed our pants we got such a fright, but it definitely got our attention! We were off!

I yet again had to do a damn pitstop, but running through the City doesn’t exactly offer many bush squat opportunities. Luckily we ran past a Vida outlet at around the 4km mark and they kindly let us use the bathroom. Back on the road and it was run girls run, Neal was in full drill sergeant mode. If we stopped for a walk break he let us, but we had to walk faster. Not only was he pushing us, he was doing the same for many other runners around us.

He was good at it though, and more than once I found myself running uphill… yes! Uphill! I was just as flabbergasted.

When Amanda and I finally reached the top of the biggest and last hill at around 12km, Neal had run ahead and promised to wait for us at the bottom of the hill. We took advantage of this lack of scrutiny to take our GU and snap some pics of the view…

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Made it to the top!
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The ever colourful and smiley Michelle

We found out later that Neal had reached the bottom and was muttering to himself about how long it was taking us to reach him… his face, when he found out about us faffing, was priceless. But it was important for Amanda to document as much as possible of this, her first! You never get your first back again.

Downhill we headed, at which point I hit a traffic cone and was heading face first towards the road when a fellow runner grabbed my arm from behind and yanked me back into an upright position. My poor heart nearly stopped. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude, had it not been for my guardian Angel in ARD kit, I’d have ended my race in an ambulance.

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I caught up with her later for a memory snap

Amanda had never run further than 16kms, so watching her cross that milestone was awesome. But it also marked the start of the downward spiral. I could see the wall lowering itself down in front of her, the mental game was going to get the better of her. But she pushed on. She gritted her teeth and forgetting all hope of 02:30 finishes, it became all about just finishing. She demanded a pic with the 19km marker…

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That's her 'happy face'

Those last 5kms were tough for her, but she didn’t give up. There were moments were I was literally dragging her, by the arm, but she didn’t give up! She tried to get me to go ahead, but this race had stopped being about me a long time ago and had become Amanda’s race, nothing was going to get me to leave her behind. Same goes for Neal, he was still there, still urging us on, still motivating the runners around us.

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We eventually crossed the line in just under 3hrs, hand in hand, Amanda had completely lost the ability to smile, but she’d done it! She’d conquered her personal mountain, she’d run a half marathon!

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The look a runner gets when she spots a marshall she knows

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Again with the 'happy face'

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She’s obviously forgiven me for yanking her home those last 5kms… because she’s signed up to run the Landmarks Half Marathon with me on the 1st of November. I have unfinished business with this particular race, but together we’re going to run the hell out of it, and we’ll have a blast doing it!

Happy Running folks!

Wait! I’m not done!
Neal, if you are reading this, THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, I don’t think you will ever understand how much of a difference you made on that day, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Bucket List races… part 1

I’ve always wanted to run a race along Chapman’s Peak Drive, who wouldn’t? It’s gorgeous!…

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There are two annual events that include this iconic road. One of them is the Two Oceans 56km Ultra, and who are we kidding? That’s never going to happen!
The other is the ‘Chappies Challenge’ starting in Hout Bay, it goes all the way to Noordhoek at the end of the coastal drive and then turns around and goes back to Hout Bay. Problem is, it’s predominantly uphill… and we all know by now that I don’t do uphill.

So when a co-worker asked me a few weeks back if I was entering Chappies, I laughed and said “No” but then he told me the route was not 21.1kms this year, instead it was going to be 15km. You see, Chapman’s Peak is a notorious rockfall zone, it’s claimed a fair number of lives over the years, and because of the devastating fires that hit Cape Town in March, leaving the ground unstable and at risk of shifting, the City Council wouldn’t allow the race to follow the usual half marathon route. For safety reasons they’d decided that the runners could only go as far as the main lookout point and would then have to turn back.

Hmmm, a Chappies Challenge medal and I’d only have to do half the hills? Sign me up!

So off we went, got our pre race coffee in hand, only to realise that the race was about to start and we’d got the wrong time in our heads… maybe it was just me, details… so I didn’t do a portaloo pitstop, instead I found myself standing on the start line chugging down my still rather hot coffee. So naturally I needed to hit the bushes at around 3kms! I’m becoming quite good at the runner squat, despite vowing I’d never be one of ‘those runners’

It’s a gorgeous run and I rather enjoyed it, I walked more than I wanted to due to the damn foot, but I’m not dwelling on that. I can also say that this race had, hands down, the best water table I have ever encountered, manned by the staff from Tintswalo Atlantic, the enthusiasm and vibe was infectious!

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The best part of the day was that I had cheerleaders with me, Katrina and PJ came along to support us even though they weren’t running, so it was great having someone to cheer Zelda and I along the way and loudly welcome me across the line.

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Oh and the medal doesn’t have the distance on it, bonus! So other than the 5 of you who read my blog (hi Mom), nobody needs to know that I didn’t have to earn it the hard way 😉

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Happy Running folks!

Sometimes the biggest achievement is finishing

Yesterday I ran my 4th half marathon, but instead of being proud of myself I was gutted. I was beating myself up psychologically about just making it before cut-off, focusing purely on my time. Then last night as I sat on my bed rubbing Deep Heat into my thigh, it dawned on me… I’d just run another half marathon! Before most people had finished their brunch and before some had even contemplated getting out of bed. I should be proud, at least I did it, I almost finished last, but at least I wasn’t on my couch eating a donut… last year this time I could barely run 10km… now I have four halves under my belt!

Yesterday was an incredibly humbling experience. It was another lesson in the power of running friendships and it was tough… bloody tough. I had my first experience of ITB spasm, it kicked in around 4kms into the race and didn’t go away until I was lying on a stretcher being massaged by a medic. Coupled with the weather, which gave a good showing of all the Cape Town extremes (Gale force winds, icy rain and scorching sun), it was no picnic.

Enter Fundiswa… I met Fundi a week ago at the Cape Town Marathon weekend, she also runs under the Running for Luca banner. She’s a pint sized dynamo! She has boundless energy, a permanent smile and despite her compact appearance, is an incredible runner! The day before the half marathon she ran the 100km race, coming a very respectable 10th place, then demonstrated just how amazing she is by staying till the very end to make sure the last runner finished safely, even running the last loop with him to encourage him. This meant she only got home after 11pm on Saturday night. But she was back with a smile on Sunday morning and showed no signs of having pulled off an Ultra the day before. We ran together pretty much from the start, she encouraged me to run up a hill, tricking me into going further than originally challenged, and then the ITB struck and the bad weather kicked in.

Despite only having met me once, despite having nothing as yet in common other than the fact that we both run for Luca, Fundi stuck with me. She kept me focused, encouraging me all the way, she walked when I couldn’t run and pushed me when I could. Then with 8kms to go (longest 8kms EVER!) We picked up a third, Tessa, who was suffering from exactly the same injury as me. She refused to leave Tessa behind either. So the three of us slowly inched our way to the finish, two of us grimacing, the other constantly smiling and encouraging. The last runner was, as Fundi put it “breathing down our necks”, so she pushed us harder, pole to pole, until we put 4 more runners between us, giving us a little more breathing space.

When we were about 500m from the finish we were informed that we had 2mins to make cutoff, not the 17mins we originally thought. So Fundi took our hands, I closed my eyes, bit back tears (hell I’m doing it again as I write this) and she pulled us home.

I couldn’t have done it without her, I know this for a fact, she was fundamental in me finishing, and I will ALWAYS be grateful.

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The reason we were alerted to the change in cut-off time was because as the 3 of us hit the home stretch and could see the tents and crowds in the distance, we also spotted a lone figure running towards us. It was PJ, he’d been worried about me since passing me at around 10km, he knew I was injured and struggling and as he’d watched the clock tick he started to worry that I’d bailed on the race. Then off in the distance he spotted my socks, he said it was my socks, but it could also have been the amusing combination of Fundi’s 4ft something frame next to my 6ft plus, we made a rather striking combination silhouetted against the sea view 🙂 The look of sheer relief on his face as he came sprinting towards us was priceless, it was also enough to set me off, but I managed to suck back the tears until I was alone at home doing my emotional self flagellation

Running friends… they’re a priceless bunch, they really are!

I have this terrible habit of comparing, but I shouldn’t, my achievements are enough, I’m enough! Sometimes enough is just finishing, and last place is better than not trying… as Anastacia likes to say “a finish is a win”…

Happy Running folks!

“Next Year”… a lesson in thinking before I speak

Two years ago a friend had a panic attack on the way to the start of the Two Oceans Half Marathon, she never made it out of the car. When consoling her I told her I’d run it with her this year. At that stage I didn’t even own running shoes, had never run 5km… how on earth was I going to live up to that promise?

A year later, kitted out, trained up and in disbelief I found myself on the start line of the ‘World’s most beautiful race’. That friend never did get around to running it, but I did! I’d kept my promise, and I suprised the hell out of myself doing it.

I’ve done a few more half marathons since, less than I’d like to have done but that’s the nature of the beast when dealing with running injuries. However 42.2km just seemed like something alien to me. How does one get to 21.1kms and know that you have another 21.1kms to go? It just boggles the mind…

Yet in the 3 weeks leading up to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, I found myself uttering the words “next year” more than once when asked if I was running the marathon this weekend. It’s like my mouth and my brain have some sort of disconnect and my mouth is on a mission that my legs are going to regret.
So here I am, I’ve just watched most of my running friends finish their first full marathon and I know that it’s my turn next year… because despite that disconnect, I have to honour what I blurt out.

I’ve had a phenomenal weekend of running hype. Last year I knew only one person crossing the finish line and that was ‘The Boyfriend’ doing his first. Marathons were still a totally foreign concept to me. Hell I had just walked my 10km because I was sick and had yet to experience a half marathon of my own. Total foreign concept. This year it was different. I had colleagues, friends and even a house guest crossing the line, so I was fully immersed in it.

But as I said, weekend…

I took a leap of faith and opened up my home to a running friend, PJ (who I’ve previously written about here) it was just the most logical thing to do really. We were both running races at the same places on Saturday and Sunday, I lived near the venues, I had access to transport, he didn’t. I also have a sleeper couch.  So much to the disgust of my youngest cat, PJ and I played housemates for the weekend… and it was awesome! We went from two people who met through running, spent a weekend talking, sharing and bonding and I can now say that I am better off for it. It’s also a really good thing it went well, because we will be repeating the exercise over the next three weekends, as we have a half marathon together on Sunday, he has an Ultra Trail next Saturday that starts 2 blocks from my place and then we both have another half marathon the weekend after that! He’s going to be so sick of me by the middle of October 🙂

You might have noticed that I said we had races on Saturday AND Sunday… because apparently we are both mental. Him more so than me. I did an 11km trail on Saturday and a 10km road race on Sunday, he pulled off a 22km trail followed by the marathon on Sunday… 64.2kms in 1 weekend… mental!

The best part of all of this was that we did it all for Luca. On Saturday we even pulled off an absolute PR coup and managed to get ourselves interviewed by the National broadcaster for their Sports channel’s Marathon festival coverage. You can view the TV interview here, scroll to 03:56:20 to see our spot. I can’t believe how well it came out, I remember nothing about the interview, all I knew was that Luca and Katrina’s message needed to be out there and I had one chance to do it… I like to think I did the cause proud, and I’m honoured to have been able to spread the message. If what I said can make the difference in even ONE young, promising life, then the jelly legs will have been worth it.

So I started the first race of the weekend on a high, but what goes up must come down… oh boy, must they come down! I have never encountered such formidable downhills, I even contemplated going down one of them on my bum! But, I decided to trust the traction on my shoes, well not my shoes technically, I was wearing ‘The Boyfriend’s’ S Labs, which he kindly lent me because I don’t feel confident bomming downhill in my road shoes. I can tell you, they’re damn fine shoes! If they hadn’t been a size too small for me he wouldn’t have gotten them back.

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Saturday night I went to bed with sore feet and stiff knees, I’m not a natural on trail and knees were not meant to be used as breaks.

Sunday I lined up on the start reaking of JointEze but rearing to go. I didn’t expect to get a good time, I was after all rather stiff, but by 7kms in it became apparent that I was on track for a PB. So I pulled away from Yaya, a fellow Luca runner who I’d been running with from about 1.5kms in, and pushed ahead. Approx 500m later it started to feel like I was running through syrup and my energy levels totally tanked, despite having a more than decent breakfast. I made it to the finish in an okay time of 1hr22mins, glad that I was still in one piece, enjoyed a rather torturous sports massage and then had to fight with a security guard to use the only portaloos on the field, apparently they were for VIPs only. Dude, I’ve just run a race, I don’t see any VIPs queueing, I’m going to the toilet!… oh! That’s why I started feeling so horrid… stupid ovaries! Why??? Aaargh! Well on the bright side, at least it won’t happen during my half marathon next weekend.

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Then I went to enjoy my well deserved post run beer and a delicious RUSH Bar before heading to the finish to cheer all my crazy marathon running friends home. Whilst there I got to witness so many highs and lows, I watched the full gambit of emotions play out on that home stretch, cementing in my mind that next year I’M DOING IT!!

One of the best moments for me was witnessing this

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Photo credit: Wordsource Photography and Copywriting

He collapsed about 20m from the finish and if the officials assisted him he would have been given a DNF, so despite the fact that they were chasing a sub4, two other runners assisted him to the finish mat before dropping him so he could crawl across on his own steam. That was running comradery at its best! A total goosebumps moment!

PJ finished strong in 4hrs (Rockstar!)

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and then the highlight of the day…

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Katrina crossing the line with Luca & Charlie
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I was doing the ugly cry at this moment

A fabulous end to a fabulous weekend!

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My favourite pic

So I guess I need to start training for that marathon…

Happy Running folks!