Journey to My First Half Marathon, Week 2

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018. To keep myself accountable I will be linking up with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and her fabulous co-host Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home every week to make sure I stay on track and keep motivated! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – there is always so much to learn! I love it!  

Monday, 8th JanuaryTreadmill/Outside, Easy Run, 40:30 min, 5.78 km

My knee was sore the whole day. It kept “clicking” and it felt so uncomfortable going up stairs at work and even walking from office to office. So I didn’t think this run would happen. But then I read a comment from Wendy from my last blog post where she asked whether I had a foam roller. I actually got a foam roller for mother’s day last year but had used it once. So when I got home I dusted off my foam roller and used it as part of my long warm up routine. I then hopped on the treadmill and started out nice and slow. I was pleasantly surprised that my knee felt good! Holly also suggested I Google some proper techniques for foam rolling which I have started work on already. So hopefully I can sort my knee out in this way. It just needs so much patience! Anyway, back to Monday’s run – with 300m to go, my treadmill just stopped working! I couldn’t bear to end the workout short of the 5 km I was supposed to do. So I quickly ran outside (temp was down to 27 °C so it felt a lot better) and I did 1.06 km bringing my total for the day to 5.78 km!

Tuesday, 9th January:  Gym Class (Shape)

Shape is a body conditioning class using a variety of equipment in the studio. Tapiwa and I found the class jam packed. As it was so full we only used dumbbells but we certainly made good use of them! I kept a close eye on my knee which wasn’t thoroughly warmed up and I’m really glad I used manageable weights (1.25 kg each). A woman in front of me used 4 kg dumbbells. I was in awe!

Wednesday, 10th JanuarySteady Run, 30 min, 3.79 km

Coach Nicola had scheduled a Fartlek for today but given my temperamental knee, we decided to change this to a Steady Run. As we had an event in the evening, I set off for my run around 06:30 am which is very unusual for me as I hate morning runs! My legs didn’t feel like lead as they had last week after my hard gym session. Progress! My knee was not 100% comfortable but I managed to run quite well.

In the evening, my running squad and I went out to Table 50 Two which is the highest restaurant in Gaborone to celebrate our #17in2017 achievement! The views of our little city were so beautiful! When I refer to hiking up Kgale Hill, that’s the hill I am referring to!

It was an amazing night out where we looked back at 2017 and what we had achieved. Of the 17 races I did, at least one of these friends was present at 16 of them and without a doubt they helped to get me through all those finish lines. It was a truly amazing year of running and friendship, one that needed to be celebrated in grand style! Our dress code was “Show them legs you worked for!”

Thursday, 11th January: Gym Class (Spinning)

The only class available at 6 pm today was Spinning! So I had my first go at a Spinning Class with Tapiwa. Quads and glutes, hello!! It was fun but tough and I love that there was very little impact on my knee. I was quite confused at the start of the class but in the end I kind of got the hang of things.

Friday, 12th January:  Rest Day

Saturday, 13th JanuaryGym Class (Pilates, 1 hr)

After Kaia’s tennis lesson, I went to a pilates class. It wasn’t the usual class I take and the instructor had a different approach to my usual instructor. We used the fit ball for the whole class which I have never done before. Although I struggled a bit in parts, I still had a good workout. It was exactly what I needed after all the tough gym classes and running I have been doing. A few days ago I joined Kelly Roberts’ #badassladygang which is all about setting and making impossible goals possible with the love and support of like-minded women! On Saturday I got my special announcement photo from her! How cool is this? To join just go to her new website, http://www.shecanandshedid.com

Sunday, 14th January: Long Run, 8 km, 01:07:30 min

This weekend was so hot again and I really didn’t feel like running. I failed to run on Saturday as planned and on Sunday I had a million and one excuses NOT to. I also kept coming up with unrealistic solutions – maybe I can squeeze the run in first thing Monday morning? Yeah, right! So once things had cooled down around 18:30 on Sunday, I set off for a run with Ditiro. We started with a walk and then stopped for some warm-ups. Once I started running my knee felt okay but I really struggled with this run. It was tough and my average heart rate was 166 beats/min. So you can tell I was working hard! Ditiro’s was 115, LOL so it would seem while I was working my heart out, he was more or less on a leisurely stroll! I’ll get there! Of course, once I was done I was so glad I did it but boy, was it tough!!

Mileage this week: 17.57 km

Mileage this training cycle: 30.37 km

Gym Classes this week: 3

Grade: A+ (A great week. I had a few challenges but for the most part stayed focused and kept going. Even if I struggled with my Long Run, I got it done in the end!)

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Week 1

After three weeks of indulging (more like OVERindulging) the first thing I noticed  this morning is that the dress I am wearing on my first day back at work is very snug! 🙂 So it is back to work in all senses of the word! I hope you all had a great festive season and that this year is filled with lots of love and laughter for you and your families. I have not blogged in a few weeks and there is just SO MUCH to say – first of all, I owe you the final two race recaps from my 17 Race Challenge in 2017! Yes, I am ecstatic to say I did accomplish my goal of running 17 races last year! It was such an epic journey and when I was in the last few kilometres of my 17th race so many emotions washed over me, at times making it hard to breathe as I ran.

So it will be important for me to take some time to analyse what I went through last year and what I gained from the whole 17 race experience. I also want to take some time to talk about my Goals in 2018, one of which is running my First Half Marathon! So in January I will dedicate a lot of time to looking back and charting my way forward, both in my head and on paper. But in that process I don’t want to lose focus of what I am currently doing so I will continue to write my weekly recaps. To keep me accountable I will be linking up with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and her fabulous new co-host Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home. Both these women have inspired me with their pearls of wisdom as well as their grit and determination to get stuff done. Be sure to check out their blogs too!  

I never thought a Half Marathon was on the cards for me. Me? Run a Half Marathon? Not likely! But after a year of reading others’ blogs and seeing myself grow as a runner, the idea really started to take shape. A lot of people kept asking if I was going to do an 18 Race Challenge and although I toyed with the idea, in the end I wanted to focus on quality over quantity. Sometimes in checking races off my list, I lost track of actually working towards becoming a better runner. Once I was certain that I wanted to do a Half Marathon, I contacted Coach Nicola from Running Happy and we agreed to start my 19 week training plan on the 1st January. My goal race is the Diacore Half Marathon which will be held in Gaborone on the 13th May 2018. I did the Diacore 10k last year (recap here) and I am so thrilled that I will be taking things up a notch! I am nervous but also extremely excited as there is nothing right now that I would like to be working towards more. So… let’s do this 🙂

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Monday, 1st January: Treadmill, Easy Run, 30 min, 4.28 km

I always dread my first run after a bit of a break but this one felt really good. I ran my final race of 2017 on antibiotics so I think the break away from running was a good move.  On New Year’s Day, I woke up rather late and it was already 30°C by the time I had put on my shoes. So I was forced to use the treadmill with a fan blowing directly at me! The run went really well and my legs were on top form.

Coach Nicola has also introduced some little daily exercises to do each week that work on some of the fundamental movement skills (Agility, Balance or Coordination). This week it was balancing on one foot, left and right, for 30 seconds each and then doing it with my eyes closed too. Those went really well and towards the end of the week I was hardly wobbling!

Tuesday, 2nd January:  Gym Class (Grid)

The Grid “is a brand new offering from Virgin Active. We will teach you how to push, pull, squat, bend, twist and lunge. Six movements you’ve done your whole life, probably incorrectly”. Today the 6 stations were: squats with a kettle bell; bench press; lunges with weights; shoulder press sitting and standing; walking high planks; and transferring a cone from corner to corner.

Seemed simple enough but my friend Polelo had warned me that it wouldn’t be easy… It wasn’t easy at all. I am pleased to say I survived! I loved it because it was a proper strength and conditioning class using simple but effective movements. The photo below was taken just as the class was done but that was the last smile I had for a few days! The pain that followed was intense…

Wednesday, 3rd January: Easy Run, 30 min, 3.52 km

I had scheduled an early morning run with my cousin Tapiwa. She got to my house around 06:30 and we were off shortly after. I wasn’t yet sore but my legs were as heavy as lead and I was super slow. Thankfully, it was a beautifully cloudy day so we didn’t have to contend with the heat as well.

Thursday, 4th January: Rest Day

What a disaster. So the Grid workout on Tuesday killed me. I am so glad I scheduled a 06:30 am run on Wednesday because after that run I was just in a state of pain and shock. My kids were laughing at me because I could hardly walk. Bending down to sit was a struggle and bending to pick something off the floor was a no-no. Thank goodness for my little ones, they became my extra hands and legs. In the evening I was forced to take an ibuprofen and I sprayed arnica on the back of my legs. So… the gym class planned for this afternoon didn’t happen. This pain was such a huge wake-up call. I must admit I was disappointed – after all, I have been running for a year, how unfit can I be? But sadly many of my muscles seem to have been dormant and Tuesday’s gym class was a rude awakening.

Friday, 5th January:  Gym Class (Core Conditioning, 30 min)

Pilates classes hadn’t resumed after the holidays so I did a Core Conditioning Class (30 min). I dropped the kids at the Virgin Play Centre and did my class. It was quite an intense ab workout. I got through it but have a long way to go. I did my best though. Just looking forward to my best being even better! My body as a whole felt so much better but my left knee was a bit sore. Knowing I had a 5 km run scheduled for Saturday I iced it and “arnica’d” it before bed.

Saturday, 6th January: Easy Run, 5 km, 41:38 min

The Meteorology Office and the Ministry of Health issued warnings about a heat wave between the 6th – 8th January. It was already boiling hot before then so we knew we were in for it. I aborted my first run in the morning because it was insanely hot. At 8:33 pm it had only dropped to 33°C! At least I didn’t have to worry about the sun! A tough run but very glad I did it. Also, my pace was a bit quicker than Wednesday’s run. However, my left knee was not comfortable throughout.

Sunday, 7th January: Rest Day!

Today was meant to be a spinning class but Sunday classes had not yet resumed… I must confess I was slightly relieved about that! *hands over face*

Mileage this week: 12.8 km

Mileage this training cycle: 12.8 km

Gym Classes this week: 2

Grade: A- (Overall, I am very pleased with my first week. I am a tiny bit disappointed that I am so sore… have I really not been working on these major muscle groups?? Oh well, better late than never! I am glad that I did 5 of the 7 planned workouts and that I went for Saturday’s run even if I had to do it at night because of the awful temperatures.)

How was your first week of training this year? Do you also get excited about New Years that start on Mondays? Any major goals for the year? Are any of you in the Southern Hemisphere and struggling in this heat? 

 

Friday Five: FIVE Things Kaia Loved About Her First 5k (#15/17)

Once again I am excited to be linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0! Please hop over to their blogs and others for some great inspiration.

In 2017 I have had ONE mission and that is to run 17 races! My fifteenth was so special. I ran with my five year old daughter Kaia. Kaia has been asking to run with me since I brought home my first medal in February. My friends and I then decided to bring all our kids along for the Airport Junction Race on the 12th November 2017. It was a lovely experience and we have decided to make it an annual event.

Instead of the usual Race Recap, I thought it would be really fun to ask Kaia:

What five things did you love about running your first 5k race?

1 – I loved getting my medal and winning the race: I was not surprised that this was her first response! Every time I come home from a race, Kaia asks me if I won. And each time I tell her that I didn’t come first or second or even third. In fact, I am usually at the other end of the spectrum. But because I do my best out there, I get a medal and that makes me a winner. I think she finally got what I meant when she sprinted through that finish line! She was ecstatic about her medal and “winning the race”. With very little training (just school PE, swimming and tennis), Kaia did her first 5k (which turned out to be 5.9 km) in 1:04:39 hours. What a champion!  

2 – I loved seeing Daddy and hearing people shouting Kaia: Kaia’s dad managed to catch us out on the course. She was absolutely overjoyed to see him and her younger brother Thiwa.

He was also at the end of the race and saw us as we came sprinting through. She also had a phenomenal welcome from some Peace Corps volunteers who started cheering for her as she came down the final stretch, “Go Kaia! Go Kaia! Go Kaia!”

3 – I loved that they made us run longer: Okay, this one had me stumped. In my first year of running I have been so disappointed at how often the courses are too long! Recently, I have complained about it here and here. When I asked Kaia why she loved the course being longer, she said, “Because it’s fun”. LOL. I guess that answer is good enough for me and maybe I should adopt that mantra the next time my race is too long!

4 – I loved running with my friends and playing afterwards: What really surprised us all was the energy these kids had after the race – they were jumping all over the place and when we had breakfast at Cappuccino’s we couldn’t get them off the playground to come and eat! I am so knackered after my races that all I want to do is relax! Just looking at them playing had us tired!

5 – I loved wearing our purple outfits: Yes, she is my daughter! Something that has motivated me on this running journey has been all the running outfits! I love planning my race outfits and weeks before Kaia’s race, we chose our outfits together! She decided on the purple and it was so much fun to share that with her. I have my very own partner in crime now as my hubby stubbornly insists on wearing his ONE orange race shirt for each race. LOL!

Number 15!

Thank you my little Kaia – it was an absolute honour and privilege to run this race with you. Looking forward to a lifetime of running together.

What age did your kids start running? Have you ever run with your son or daughter? What do you love most about running with your kids?

The Soweto Race 10k, Race Recap, #14/17

On the 5th November, 2017 I ran the Soweto Race (10 km) in neighbouring South Africa – probably one of the most vibrant and exciting races I have participated in.  This completed my “Road to Soweto Training Plan” and was the 14th Race in my “17 in 2017 Challenge”. It was a fantastic and well-organised race. I didn’t break any personal records but I fought very hard for my medal! Unfortunately with end-of-year work deadlines, more training and more races, nativity plays and Christmas shopping, I haven’t had time to sit down and gather my thoughts. But here it is at last and a huge THANK YOU goes to my friend Tich who took most of the photos and helped write parts of the blog (the race expo and some sections of the race). His input really helped to make this blog a lot richer. Enjoy Number 14. I sure did! 🙂 

Race Expo: Tich who is based in Johannesburg collected our race packs on our behalf and reported: “The Soweto Marathon has been running for a number of years, and one can tell that from the efficiency of the organisation. During the build up to the race, there were constant email reminders about the race itself, stories about some of the competitors and important messages about practical matters, like collecting race packs. The collection started on Thursday 2 November from 10h00, and I arrived there just after 11h00. There were plenty of signs and it was easy to navigate into the stadium basement where I spotted the 10 km area.

I’d carefully collated all the required documents (authorisation letters, copies of runners IDs and copy of my ID) to collect race packs on behalf of the Gabs crew and myself. Imagine my disappointment when the lady simply took the race confirmation letter, scanned the bar code and then asked me to check the runner’s details on the computer screen! All that admin for naught! But in about 3 mins I’d collected the race packs. Over to the 21km collection, and no problems there. I estimate I spent a total of 10 minutes collecting the race packs. 

The exit from the collection area took me through the expo zone. The race organisers had set up various stalls for all running-related companies. Everything from apparel (Totalsports, Cape Union Mart) to nutrition (Futurelife) to supplements and medical supplies to registration for the Comrades and Two Oceans Marathon was on display. There were a lot of enthusiastic stall holders trying to get people to check out their products/services and it was working as I spotted quite a few runners leaving with full bags.”

Road Trip: With the race packs safely in Tich’s hands, the rest of us in Gaborone prepared ourselves for the big trip! Those of you who are regular readers know this running crew very well as they have featured in several of my posts. We travelled down in two cars – Elisa joined Polelo and Paul in theirs; Tapiwa was with Ditiro and I, and Thuna navigated between the two cars! We arrived at the border around 06:30 in the morning but border inefficiencies meant we spent two hours at the border post which really threw a huge spanner in the works. But being in each other’s company kept us in high spirits.

Once we were through the border, everything ran quite smoothly. We stopped for breakfast in Zeerust and as we approached Joburg we stopped at the Mall of Africa where I bought a new pair of running shoes. We then proceeded on to Taffy and Tich’s place around 4/5 pm where they had made a phenomenal welcome dinner. Once everyone had eaten and gone to their respective places of accommodation, I had a fantastic catch-up session with Taffy. Our catch-up sessions usually take us to around 04h00, but because of the race we had to keep it short and by 22h30 I was safely in bed! I was a lot more restless than usual, but settled down after Elisa sent a message that she had managed to collect her race number from the person who had collected it on her behalf.

Race Morning: I was up at 04h00 and by 04h30 Tich, Ditiro and I were out of the house. We met Paul, Polelo and Elisa at our designated meeting spot and then in two cars drove to the FNB Stadium. As we approached the Stadium we were met with a very long queue…

Fortunately, we had plenty of time and once we had parked the cars, we took a beautiful photo in front of the FNB Stadium, also known as Soccer City and The Calabash as it resembles the African pot/bowl. The stadium underwent a major upgrade in time for the Football World Cup hosted by South Africa in 2010. With a capacity of 94, 736 it became the largest stadium in Africa.

We quickly rushed to the toilets where there was quite a long queue and no toilet paper! However, being the expert runners that we now are, we made a plan! Once we were done, Elisa and Ditiro ran quickly to the start as their 06h30 Half Marathon start time was fast approaching. Tich, Polelo and I took a slower walk and soon met Tapiwa who had arrived earlier. She also reported that she had seen Elisa and Ditiro make it into the relevant 21.1k crowds!

We tried to look out for them as we made our way to our starting pen but with all those people our attempts were futile!

We tried to find our relevant starting pens but in the end we just joined any crowd. What a comfort to know there would be mat-to-mat times!

The music was pumping, the energy was high, and we literally danced to the beat as we approached the Start Line. As people made it closer and closer to the start, the race commentator shouted “You are a hero”; “You are amazing”; and “This is your race, go for it”. And on that note, we were off!

The Race: The race started on Stadium Avenue just outside FNB stadium and then made a left turn onto the Nasrec Road, which led to a slight incline (nothing like the real hills later!). There were crowds and crowds of runners but I never really felt like I had to battle to get through them. Miraculously, in that crowd and with that incline the slow pace suited me and I always managed to navigate passed people where needed (1 km Split: 08:36). We took a right turn onto the Rand Show Road over the N1 highway and into Diepkloof suburb. Diepkloof is the home of Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital which is the main medical centre in Soweto and the third largest hospital in the WORLD! The route meandered through the houses and shopping areas, and there were some spectators out and about cheering the runners on. I felt so comfortable and happy. I was pushing hard but at the same time my body felt strong. My splits for km 2 – 6 were solid: 07:41/07:04/07:01/ 07:20/ 07:05. Just after 6km, the road turned right onto the Soweto Highway and the start of the hills that humble you! Oh boy, did these hills humble me! I pushed and pushed, but at one point like Elisa said, “There is no shame in walking” and I walked for at least a km. A police officer actually came up to me and said, “Lady, keep moving, keep moving lady, keep moving!” And I told him, “I am moving. I am moving!” It was also so hot and I remember thinking, “You are from Gaborone. Why are you struggling in Joburg heat? Come on girl, you are better than this!”

This seemed like a never ending hill, but eventually we were greeted by the glorious sight of the FNB stadium – at least we now knew the finish was almost there. My splits for km 7 – 8 show that the struggle was real: 08:47 (!)/ 07:43. I then started pushing again and my km 9 split was: 07:24. It was at this point that Tapiwa came up from behind me and shouted my name and some encouraging words, “You’ve pushed Shats. You’ve really pushed” and tapping her head she said, “Follow my cap. Just follow my cap” and off she went. I tried to keep an eye on her cap but she was going for her trademark sprint finish and was just too fast. The final kilometre was a gentle descent into the stadium, through a tunnel and then into a cacophony of noise that made us feel like football players about to kick off for a cup final! Coming through that tunnel was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – I used what little energy I had left to stand up tall and just sprint home like a champion, like a warrior coming home! Last split: 07:20. Thankfully, we didn’t have to complete a full lap of the track and then it was over the finish mat!

I found Tapiwa and then held onto a rail struggling to catch my breath, demanding a drink! I felt so nauseous but held it together. We soon found Tich, or rather he found us as he had been keeping track of us on the app so he knew as soon as we were done. Ditiro was soon done with his Half Marathon, and when Polelo and Elisa came through our running team was united again. We took in the glorious atmosphere, shared our individual war stories and made our way out of the Stadium where we soon met Paul.

My time: I ran the course in 1:16:36 minutes (07:40 pace). Oh my word, I was so happy for two main reasons, 1) My watch reading was the same time as the chip reading! Those of you who have been following me for some time know that this has been my biggest issue with races I have done! Thank you Soweto!!! 🙂 But even more importantly, 2) My time was almost the same time I recorded for the GC Mayor’s 10k race (1:16:09) in mid-September – one of the flattest courses in the region! So for me to have done hilly Soweto in the same time was a monumental achievement.

After the Race: We had such an amazing time after the race – once we had washed and changed we all headed to this beautiful restaurant where we were joined by our chief supporters Taffy and the kids, Thuna and Tumi! We wined and dined in style and it was the most special way to end such an amazing day.

We hit the road at 16h00 and after another long wait at the border, we were home around 23h00. By far, one of my most amazing race experiences ever. Thank you to my friends – the whole experience was made that much more special by the fact that you were all there.

Would I do this race again?

What do you think?! YES! YES! YES! And next time, I think I may just take on the Soweto Half Marathon! 😉

I am so excited to be linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! I am also linking up with the Wild Workout Wednesday crew – Annmarie froThe Fit Foodie Mama and Nicole from FitFul FocusLinking up is such a great way to get motivated and to get to know other bloggers! So please take some extra time to read some of their stories and link up if you can!

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 8 (Final)

For 8 weeks, I trained for the Soweto Race (10 km) which was held on the 5th November 2017. The race is now long done and dusted, and when work and life took over, I never got round to summarising my final week of training! This is LONG overdue but for consistency’s sake, here is my last training recap for the Soweto Race! 🙂

The Soweto Race in South Africa is huge and in the week leading up to it I was excited and nervous. Excited for many reasons – running in Soweto, even if not in the Marathon, is a sensational, electric experience and I was so looking forward to being a part of that vibe and to be among 27, 000 runners from several parts of the world! Excited also because I would be going on a road trip with my hubby and friends; and that I would be visiting our close friends, Taffy and Ticha who are based in Johannesburg! I was nervous because of the hilly terrain. Coming from Gaborone – probably one of the flattest cities on earth, hills scare me! 🙂 Throw in all the admin that goes with  travelling, I was a little bit anxious… but I stuck to my training plan and when Race Day came I was raring to go!

Monday, 30th October: Rest Day

I felt after my 17.6 km race on Saturday, I deserved an extra day of rest! So although I had not planned it, I took the day off and didn’t even feel guilty about it.

Tuesday, 31st October:  (Treadmill, 36:30 min; 5 km)

This was a good solid run and I was quite proud of my 07:18 min/km pace. My legs felt good so I was glad I took an extra day’s break on Monday.

Wednesday, 1st November: Rest Day

Thursday, 2nd November: (Treadmill, 2.82 km; 20:34 min)

This was the day I decided my last race of the year would be a 15 k Trail Run to redeem myself for Saturday’s disastrous race. It was also the day I decided I wanted to try doing a Half Marathon in May 2018. So I contacted Coach Nicola at Running Happy and I am so pleased we are back working together! Meanwhile in Johannesburg, our friend Ticha was collecting our race packs on our behalf!

Friday, 3rd November:  (Treadmill, 2.54 km; 20:03 min)

Another short and easy run – my last before the big day!

Saturday, 4th November: Travel Day

I will write lots more about this when I put the Soweto Race Recap up! But just to say we had a fantastic drive down to South Africa – we took two cars and divided ourselves between them, but stuck together for the whole trip.

We also visited an Asics Store in the Mall of Africa where I had a mini-assessment done, and bought a new pair of shoes! The thing that really surprised me is that I need a whole size bigger running shoe… this seemed to be common knowledge, so it shows I still have a lot of running basics to cover!

Sunday, 5th November: Race Day!

I participated in my 14th Race of my 17 Race Challenge, the Soweto Race (10 km) in South Africa! What an epic race – I didn’t break any personal records but I fought really hard for my medal and had a brilliant time with all my running friends! It was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Here is the Race Recap!

Mileage this week: 20.36 km

Mileage this training cycle: 102.58 km

This now officially ends my 8-week Training Plan for the Soweto Race! 🙂

Kgale X-Country Trail Series, Race Recap #13/17

On the 28th October, I participated in the Kgale X-Country Series (15 km) Trail Run. What a tough race this was – physically, but more mentally! For those of you reading my blog for the first time I am a newbie runner on a mission to complete 17 races this year! Enjoy Unlucky Number 13! 

Some of you may recall that the last time my cousin Tapiwa and I did one of the Kgale X-Country Series Trail Runs we got MUGGED on the course with 5 km left to run… It was a horrific experience and I concluded my blog post by saying, “It was a beautiful trail run. I will choose to remember it for that. I will choose to remember it for being my first 15 km race. I will choose to remember it for bonding with my cousin. But I think it will be hard for me to return to this same place at least not without a team of bodyguards, police helicopter, maybe even some armed forces!” So when another race in the series was advertised I had no desire to sign up. But as I am fast running out of races to complete my 17 Race Challenge, I felt I had little choice but to participate in one of the Kgale X-Country Series races again…

What was comforting this time round is that they changed the location to a much safer area – the Mokolodi Nature Reserve where we did a relay event in August. Tapiwa and I arrived at 05:45 to collect my race pack for what I thought was a 06:00 start. As I am a bit nervous driving out of town, Tapiwa volunteered to drive me to the venue and then do her own workout while I did the race. But when I realised that manual registrations were still on, I somehow forced encouraged Tapiwa to do the race with me. In hindsight, I am so glad she agreed! We quickly warmed up and got ourselves ready for the race which ended up only starting at 07:00.

The Route: A beautiful trail run through the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, alongside a lake through some dry river streams, and in the bush that’s now turning from brown to green.  

The Race: We had such high temperatures (35 – 40°C) in the days leading up to the race but race day was cloudy and very cool. So much so, that we waited in the car as the race organisers were setting up. There was a very small group of runners (maybe around 30) and the race announcer said there would be one water-stop at World View which he said was between the 9 and 10 km point. He also said that if we were still on the track after 2 hours, we should starting looking out for the cyclists who may start passing us at that point. But given that we finished our last 15 km race in 2:05:18, I was not too concerned about this. At 07:00, we set off.

1 – 5 kmSplits (min/km: 08:15/ 08:49/ 08:42/ 08:10/ 08:18). After we had shaken off the usual first 2 km yuck feeling, we found a comfortable, conversational pace. There was a bit of elevation at the start but after that it was quite flat and the dirt path was smooth with only a few loose stones and rocks. It was lovely to see how green everything is becoming now that Spring is here and all the impala droppings along the path was a nice reminder that we were in a nature reserve. We went slightly off track when we misread one of the signs but quickly found our way back.

6 – 10 kmSplits (min/km: 08:15/ 07:50/ 08:07/ 08:34/ 08:20). Although my splits are not too different from the first 5 km, I remember this is where I found my groove. We missed a turn but soon realised our error and only lost a couple of minutes. For most of this stretch, Tapiwa was ahead of me and at one point asked “Are you okay?” to which I responded, “Feeling good. I can comfortably do the 15 km”. And indeed at that point I did feel comfortable. However, two things happened here that show I need to work on my mental game: 1) When we got to 10 km (which is my usual distance) all of a sudden I felt like my race was done; 2) We were nowhere near World View water-stop which they said was between 9/10 km. At that point we had been running for 01:19 hours so technically we were well on track for a 2 hour finish. However, those two factors seriously played with my mind and I wasn’t quite the same after the 10 km point… My race fell part after that.

11 – 15 kmSplits (min/km: 09:30/ 10:24/ 09:50/ 09:22/ 11:57). I slowed right down and did a lot of walking in this stretch. Tapiwa was still quite strong and I told her to push ahead. I struggled to keep up and then I started feeling slightly disoriented, like we were going around in circles. After a while, Tapiwa walked back to me and assured me that we weren’t going around in circles (looking at the route map after the race I see now that we were definitely on track). But it just felt like it was this never-ending road with bush that looked exactly the same. And I kept repeating –“Where is the water-stop?” We had enough water on us, but the big worry was that as they had said the water-stop would be at the 9/10 km point… this made us wonder whether we had lost our way and that’s why we hadn’t seen it. Tapiwa said we should only worry when we get to the 12 km point… and then we got to the 12 km point, and there was still no water-stop and we got a lot more worried.

I think this is around the time we became trackers looking for fresh foot-prints in the wilderness. “Look at these Shathiso – these are fresh ones.” And then I would ask, “But are they facing in the right direction?”. Oh dear, I can laugh now… but oh dear! All the while, the time kept ticking away. At the 13 km point, we met a marshal! Such a good feeling but then he pointed us up a path that he said would take us to World View. World View??? How was this even possible??? He then told us that other runners before us had already complained about the distance. Around 14 km, we met another marshal and we asked for some of her water. After a bit of a climb, we were finally on top of World View and there we found lots and lots and lots of water bottles piled up high in one giant stack… The distance done… 15 km!! How did they get the measurement so wrong!? The guys with the water then said we probably had around 6 km still to go…

16 – 17.6 kmSplits (min/km: 09:55/ 11:09/ 10:44). 6 km to go?? That would make this our first Half Marathon then!?! Thankfully, we didn’t have 6 km – “only” 2.6 km more but on this stretch we had to keep jumping off the path as mountain bikers came through. We had been warned… we just didn’t think we would still be out on the trail. Walk – jog – walk – jog to the finish line and that was that. We hunted for someone to give us our hard-earned medals! We were the last to come in and it most certainly wasn’t the usual “feel-good” finish but Number 13 was in the bag and we still had energy to laugh as we drove home. What a crazy morning!!

My time: 2:46:17 – not my finest hour, not my best race, but hey! Still got my medal!

Learning:

  • I need to work on my mental game. Race problems aside, I should have stayed a lot stronger between 11 – 15 km. I really let the external factors get to me. At 10 km, we were sitting at a healthy 01:19 time … I am glad Tapiwa was there to push me, but I didn’t dig deep enough on my own. I allowed things to fall apart… Yeah, I did…
  • I need to work on my endurance. I was disappointed that my body started feeling like giving up after 11/12 km. My mind played a role, yes. But my body also needs to get stronger, I need to get a lot fitter if I am to do a Half Marathon next year.

Pros of the Race

  • Beautiful trail run – just enough elevation here and there to get the heart pumping; lovely streams and a beautiful dam. At one point, we also saw a warthog scurrying into the bushes as we ran past!
  • Nice executive toilet at the start/finish of the race
  • Free burgers at the end of the race

Cons of the Race:

  • I am beginning to sound like a broken record – this was not a very organised race; the online registration system was erratic. I emailed them to say it was down, and then they fixed it. But by the time Tapiwa was registering, it was down again which is why she ended up doing a manual registration in the morning. A lot of the information said that it would be a 07:00 start but in an email I got the day before the race, they said it would start at 06:00. But it ended up being 07:00 after all. What if we had had the temperatures of previous days? They were just lucky it was a rare cool and cloudy day.
  • I know I need to work on my mental-game but it doesn’t help when you are told there will be water at 9 – 10 km and then it is only at 15 km. As I said earlier, I did have enough water, but because of that information I kept thinking we were lost when in fact we were never lost.
  • The race course was too long – over 17 km and not 15 km. The 15 km distance was already a tough ask for me, so adding over 2 km didn’t help matters.

Would I do this race again? 

No – although the trail itself was amazing. I am just tired of disorganised races. Once my 17 Race Challenge is over, I am going to be a lot more selective about races I choose.

I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for the exciting Tuesdays on the Run! I am also linking up with the Wild Workout Wednesday crew – Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama and Nicole from FitFul Focus

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 7

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 5th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of that vibe! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

Equipped with my new gym membership card, I felt like I new person this week. Work was also a lot easier, and although I had some deadlines, I had much more time to breathe and to think and to plan (and do) my workouts! A very successful week of training and I recorded my highest weekly mileage this cycle! 🙂

Monday, 23rd October: Easy Run (30 min; 3.75 km)

I say Easy Run but this run was pure torture. I struggled and luckily I was with Tapiwa otherwise I may actually have quit half-way. Remember last week I boasted about my body being “in flow” and feeling so light on my feet? Haha. Today’s run was the exact opposite – I felt like my shoes were laced with lead and every step took a lot of effort. I don’t think I have ever been so glad to be done with a run! It was also extremely hot so this may have contributed to how I was feeling out there!

Tuesday, 24th October: Boot Camp Class (50 min)

The last time I went for a gym class was probably 8 years ago… maybe even 9 or 10… So doing this class was big. First things first, I booked my class using an App — that had me laughing out loud. There was no such thing a decade ago! Secondly, even in my gymming days, I NEVER did an early morning class. But today I was up at 04:40 and by 05:15 I was in a room with many others warming up for the class. Who knew so many people go to the gym at that ungodly hour!? The place was buzzing with people. I think that alone was enough to shock my body into action! The actual class was really good – we did a circuit moving from station to station every minute. I did well on the rowing machine and the bike, and some of the leg workouts. I struggled with the exercises involving my upper body and I definitely have a lot more work to do. The instructor was tough but he did say to me towards the end that, “Yeah, even slow motion movements like that are okay!” I wasn’t quite sure whether to smile or to roll my eyes! By 06:05 the class was done – we were all exhausted and sweaty, but remarkably cheerful. I was home in five minutes, just in time to see my 5 year old off to school, and to get my 3 year old ready for nursery school.

Wednesday, 25th October: Rest Day

Yay – for rest day! My upper body was really sore from Tuesday’s Boot Camp Class! But sore in a nice way – I felt aches in muscles I didn’t even know I had! I was so grateful not to be running today – it must have been around 40°C out there!

Thursday, 26th October: Run (30:14 min; 4.01 km)

I decided to go for a run around 20:10 when it was a lot cooler (28°C as opposed to 40!). After Monday’s awful run, I redeemed myself! A much faster pace, and a lot more comfortable.

Friday, 27th October: Rest Day

Halloween was not big in Botswana when I was growing up but over the last 5 years or so, the tradition has slowly worked its way in! We were invited to a Halloween Event and the kids had a fabulous time trick-or-treating for the first time! 🙂

Saturday, 28th October: Race Day (2:42:18 hours; 17.6 km)

I participated in my 13th Race of my 17 Race Challenge with Tapiwa! I love trail races but I don’t think they love me too much! For the first one I did this year, I missed a turn and ended up very lost! In another trail race, I got mugged with 5 km left to run. And then there was Saturday’s race… It was supposed to be a 15 km trail race, but they had obviously not measured it well because it ended up being 17.6 km. We were told the only water stop would be at the 9 – 10 km point and it was actually at the 15 km point (?). As we were at the back of the pack, we spent so much time trying to figure whether we were lost or not especially when we reached 12 km and the water-point they had said was at the 9 km mark was nowhere in sight. The good thing though is that this was my longest run ever and it was brilliant preparation for the Soweto Race! 🙂 Here is the race recap!

Sunday, 29th October: Blogging Day 🙂

Mileage this week: 25.36 km

Mileage this training cycle: 82.22 km

What do you do to celebrate Halloween? Have you run races where the distance was completely off? How was your week of working out? 🙂