Christmas Dash 15k, #17/17 (Mission Accomplished)

The write-up of my 17th Race in 2017 is a little bit late – some of the details are a bit hazy but the emotions I felt as I crossed that final Finish Line are still so fresh. Quite by coincidence, my 17th race ended up being on the 17th December 2017! Here is the story of Number 17…

A Few Days Before the Race: “Doctor, I’ve had a runny stomach for four days. I challenged myself to run 17 races this year and my 17th is in a few days. I have to do it. Just make me better… please? Make it happen.” My usual doctor was not in, and writing this now I’m embarrassed to think what this new doctor must have been thinking when I told her all this! I ended up with a course of antibiotics. My last pill was to be taken on the morning of the race so I was definitely cutting it close. I missed out on the last week of training. Coach Nicola and I changed our strategy. No more time goals. The only goal now: FINISH! Finish what I started.

Road Trip: With no more races scheduled in Gaborone, my husband Ditiro, my dear friend Polelo and I travelled down to Irene, South Africa (about a four hour drive from Gaborone) for the Red Barn Christmas Dash. Polelo had also been battling a stomach bug and was still quite unwell. Fortunately, the journey was uneventful and as always there was lots of laughter. We stopped in Rustenburg for lunch and some shopping before heading on to Irene.

We had booked accommodation at the African Pride Irene Country Lodge which was a bit pricier than we usually would have gone for but we figured that some luxury was well deserved after 17 races! The hotel didn’t disappoint and our room looked out onto a beautiful lake with ducks, lush greenery with lots of rabbits and some guinea fowl, as well as a paddock with some farm animals.

As we started thinking about dinner options we realised that I had forgotten my gluten free cereal at home. By the time we tried the Irene Shopping Centre it was already closed so we headed to Menlyn Park which we were all familiar with and was only a 20 minute drive away. We got our breakfast stuff and then headed to one of the restaurants where we enjoyed a lovely meal.

Race Morning: The race was scheduled for a 7 am start and we arrived at around 06:15 to collect our race numbers. There was a Tom Tom Sports Watch up for grabs for the best dressed person, hence our very Christmassy outfits!

Number 17!

We looked out for our friend Karin who lives very close to Irene and who had been inspired by our 17 journey to run her first ever race! What’s even more exciting is that she didn’t tell her husband that she was training for the race and simply came back home later that morning with a medal around her neck! I was so proud of her and ecstatic that she was there for the last race!

The atmosphere was buzzing and the Christmas Carols in the background complemented our outfits!

The Race: After the prize was given to the best dressed runner (not us?! how?!), the gun went off at 07:06. Polelo proudly wore the Team #17 t-shirt she had made for our 4th race back in April! How appropriate that it be worn for the FINAL race!

We all started together but there were 3 different distances, the 5 km, 8 km and 15 km. Ditiro and I did the 15 km distance together. He was my coach, motivator, punching bag and photographer all in one! Our route was well marked and we were never in doubt of where we were going.

1 – 5 km: With the excitement of the crowd, the first km turned out to be the fastest of the race. The track was nicely padded with forest tree leaves and running among the trees kept us cool for long stretches. There were some long hairpin bends and even though the paths were often narrow, there were always some “overtaking” sections. There were a few ups and downs but not enough to slow us down too much and my overall splits for the first 5 km were: 07:51/ 08:17/ 08:11/ 08:13/ 08:35. In those first kilometres, I was a little bit nervous but also committed to doing this – I am here now. I am going to finish this race. My 17th race.

6 – 8 km: As the race progressed, there were fewer and fewer people with us. Some were way ahead, but those doing the 5 km and 8 km distances soon turned off to complete their races. My energy levels started waning and I walked for a little bit in one section even though it was quite flat. When we reached the 8 km turn-off point, I was disappointed that I hadn’t changed my distance when I still had the chance! My splits (min/km) were not too bad though: 08:43/ 08:23/ 08:33.

9 – 11 km: Things got a bit more adventurous after 9 km. We started jumping over logs and climbing up some steep bits. I was struggling a bit but the obstacles made things easier in the sense that I didn’t feel so guilty for going slowly.

The change in terrain was lovely and in this stretch we found ourselves running alongside a river. The weeping willows were a sight to behold against that beautiful summer sky. My body was taking a beating though and I was soon forced to take some hydration salts. My splits (min/km): 09:26/ 11:10/ 11:26.

12 – 13 km: We had been alone on the track for so long that we were surprised to hear voices behind us. Two older men passed us and one cheerfully said, “Is it still Good Morning or should we say Good Afternoon?!” A lady wearing a very colourful wig soon overtook us too. There were so many pretty flowers and quite tall reed-like plants. I mostly walked even on the flat bits. I was starting to feel a bit defeated. My splits (min/km): 10:24/ 10:19.

14 – 15 km: Those last kilometres were a bit faster as I ran more, 09:26/09:18. But they were tough because I was extremely emotional. At one point I cried. Not because I wanted to stop but rather because all I could think of was, I set out to do what seemed like an impossible task for a “non-runner” and here I am on my 17th race, not 100% well, but here I am. There were so many emotions – I felt happy that I had come this far, disappointed that I was sick, sad that the journey was over, but also relieved that I had done it. As the Tom Tom banner came into sight, I mustered up what last energy I had and put on my bravest smile as I made a dash for the finish. We could see Polelo jumping for joy as she held out her camera. Thankfully, she had survived her race too! The organisers were packing up and asked if there was any one else out there! We knew there were definitely four people but simply ignored their next question – “Did you guys get lost?”

My time: I ran the 15 km course in 2:18:34 (09:15 pace).  I would like to say I was overjoyed that my 17 Race Challenge was done. But that feeling only came a few days later. Of course, I felt proud. Really proud of what I had done. But I also felt exhausted. Battered. I think my comment on Facebook immediately after the race speaks volumes: “There was so much I was going to say. So many pearls of wisdom I was going to share. So many thank yous to give. But all I can think of right now, at this moment is, “I did it.” 17 races in 2017. Mission accomplished. Over and out.”

17 races. I did it!

A Lovely Photo-Bomber

After the Race: Karin (a proud new runner) and her husband Modibedi organised a fantastic lunch at a restaurant in Centurion. We were also joined by our lovely friends Taffy and Tich who are based in Johannesburg. It was great to celebrate with them – all of them had followed the journey so closely and supported us through it all. It was heartwarming to sit there and say: Mission Accomplished.

Acknowledgements: We ran. We ran again. And then just when we thought we had had enough, we ran all over again. To my running squad, I owe you my sincerest gratitude. Without your encouragement and commitment to the cause, I would not have crossed all those finish lines. Each one of you contributed so much to this journey and I drew so much strength and power from you. To all my friends and family around the world, thank you for your kind words at all times. To my parents for all the babysitting they had to do even on days when they had their own commitments, thank you for everything. To my kids who had to put up with, “I just have 7 minutes left on the treadmill, can you just wait on the toilet a little bit longer?” I thank you and I love you. To my husband, who had to put up with 2 am wake-ups to discuss whether my knee would be okay or whether the race strategy I had suddenly come up with was okay, thank you! To Coach Nicola, you have been my guide and the voice of reason, you have handled all my random challenges with absolute calm and wisdom. And finally, to all the blogger runners out there, thank you for your advice and your motivational comments when I really needed them. 

Even though this is a “throwback” Weekly Wrap, I am still linking up with Holly and Wendy as they followed so much of the journey last year! I am also linking up with Marcia, Patty and Erica for Tuesdays on the Run! Be sure to catch up on what all these fabulous ladies have been up to!  

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Weeks 5 – 6

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018.

After two weeks struggling with malaria, I returned to training with some walking and easy walk-run interval sessions. But just as I was starting to feel myself again, I caught a cold. I guess my immune system was quite low and with kids just having started back at school again, it was to be expected. But still… ggrrr!

Week 5:

Mon – Sun, 29th Jan – 4th Feb:

Monday was my first day back at work from sick leave and I was sent for a week’s assignment to Windhoek, Namibia! At first, I thought the timing couldn’t have been worse but it turned out to be exactly what I needed – lots of work but I had a lovely hotel room to myself, room service if I wanted, and no whining kids! We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel with a really nice restaurant downstairs that even had some gluten free dishes on the menu. Although not much, I’m glad I managed one walk during my stay – my colleague (and lovely friend) joined me for a walk downtown when we were on a break. It was great to see the town on foot and I felt so refreshed afterwards. Stats: Walk, 38:25 min, 2.82 km.

Week 6:

Monday, 5th FebruaryOutdoors, Walk-Run Intervals, 20:03 min, 2.44 km

Back home again, I was eager to get back into things. I set off for a run at 20h00 with Ditiro and was glad my coach had me doing walk-run intervals as it was tough getting back after having been out for so long. My legs felt good!

Tuesday, 6th February:  Unplanned Rest Day

There was an open day at my son’s school so unfortunately I had to miss my evening gym class. But I was a little bit glad as my throat had felt funny all day.

Wednesday, 8th February: Outdoors, Walk-Run, 30 min, 3:69 km

Still had a scratchy throat but decided to risk a run with the whole family in tow! Ditiro and the kids hopped on their bikes and they cycled while I ran. It was the first time the kids had been out on the sidewalk by the big road so they were over the moon! Kaia was a pretty good pace maker for me and I don’t think I have had so much fun on a run in a while. It was a brilliant experience for all. As she gets stronger on the bike she may even be good company for me on my longer runs!

Thursday, 9th February: Unplanned Rest Day

Sore throat had transitioned to a full-blown cold so decided to take a break from the gym and rest.

Friday, 10th FebruaryRest Day

Saturday, 11th FebruaryBlogging Day

I finally wrote my race recap from my 16th race last year! If you love race recaps as much as I do, you can read all about it here! I loved this race because it was in my husband’s home village so although it was terribly disorganised, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, 12th February: Outdoors, Run 41:03 min, 5 km

My nose was still running like a tap, but my chest and throat felt good. So after a 2-hour nap in the afternoon, I drove out to the Agricultural College with the whole family for a cycle and run! I loved it so much on Wednesday, I figured, “Why not do it again?” As we drove out there, it started raining and there was a spectacular rainbow. But thankfully when we got to the place, we just had to wait 5 minutes before it stopped raining. Ditiro stayed back with Thiwa while Kaia accompanied me for the whole 5 km. She is becoming such a pro on her bike – while I was huffing and puffing, she didn’t even break a sweat! It was a lovely run – my coach had said I could break for a walk if I needed to, but I managed the whole 5 km running!

I might not be going very fast, but I am certainly putting in a lot of effort if this chart from the GPS watch is anything to go by!

Mileage last 2 weeks: 13.95 km

Mileage this training cycle: 44.32 km

Gym Classes last 2 weeks: 0

Grade: B- (I’m quite pleased with what I achieved. Disappointed that I got a cold but glad that I was able to assess myself and stick to all my runs. I think I could have done a bit more walking in Windhoek and maybe this last week done something like pilates on one of the days I wasn’t feeling too good)

To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the lovely Courtney from Eat Pray Run and as usual with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and fabulous Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – you always walk away with a lot of knowledge.

The Ga-Maila Race 10k, #16/17

In 2017 I set an ambitious goal of running 17 races in the year. I was a complete beginner but by the time I got to the end of the year I didn’t feel like such a fraud any more! However, end-of-year deadlines, Christmas madness, New Year chaos, a stint with malaria and work travel meant I never got round to sharing my last two race recaps! So here goes – the story of Number 16…

Road Trip: As I approached the end of my 17 Race Challenge, I was becoming acutely aware that I was running out of races in the Gaborone area so I was forced to look further afield. As luck would have it I found the Ga-Maila Race scheduled for 19 November in Kanye, a week after I had run my 15th race. Kanye is an urban village located 83 km from the capital and is the administrative centre of the Southern District. In terms of topography, it is very different from flat Gaborone as it lies on a series of hills which form a natural protective barrier against the sands of the Kalahari Desert”. It is a picturesque place and more significantly it is my husband Ditiro’s home village. Also joining us on this adventure were Elisa and Tapiwa. We set off around 15h30 on Saturday and enjoyed a lovely and chatty drive to Kanye. We arrived around 17h00 and headed straight to the start venue to get our numbers. We then drove to our place of accommodation, Motse Lodge, and shortly afterwards went to Makgodumo Dam to see where Ditiro spent many weekends growing up.

We then set off in search of food! This is where it got very interesting for us “big city” dwellers! The only eating place we knew was shut for the day and after asking around we found there were no decent restaurants open on a Saturday evening…

So… Plan B! Remembering that we had a stove in our units, we found a grocery store and bought some cans of tuna, mayonnaise, potatoes and some vegetables. After supper, we went straight to bed. It wasn’t the most restful of nights as there was a High School Leavers Function at the lodge which went into the early hours of the morning. In fact, when we set off for the race, we found some revellers still at it!

Race Morning: If I remember correctly, we were told the race would start at 05h30. But when we arrived it was deathly quiet so we stayed in the car for quite some time. Slowly, people started arriving and once we had a bit of a crowd (very small though – we can’t have been more than 60) we started warming up. We then hunted for a toilet but the one we found was temporarily out of order so we ended up squatting behind some bushes! All of a sudden, all marathoners, half marathoners and 10 km runners were called to the start line and we were given detailed directions for the different courses. Given that we were not from the area, the directions were not much use! At that point Ditiro was still undecided about whether he would run his own race or with me, but I quickly turned to him and whispered, “I am not running this alone”. With such a small crowd I knew I would be bringing up the rear so having my personal local guide made me feel a lot more comfortable.

The Race: We set off at 06h49 (so much for the 05h30 start!) and I had the most amazing start to a race. Knowing that Kanye was very hilly I was nervous, but the first 5 km were a breeze! I set off much quicker than usual but was really comfortable simply admiring the beautiful scenery. My splits (min/km) for kms 1 – 5 tell the story quite well: 07:01/ 07:02/ 07:08/ 07:15/ 07:25. It was lovely having Ditiro with me as he shared great tales of places we were passing – the ever dusty showground and the Kgwakgwe manganese mine tailings; King George V Hall where Ditiro went to his first science fair and Fairways, which was only one of two grocery stores in Kanye at the time. It was great to see him thrown back in time to his childhood. I am glad he ran with me. And then in those peaceful moments, I dared to dream, I dared to imagine the possibility that I could equal the 1:08:02 PB I had set in PalapyeBut then the infamous hills arrived and things got tough, really tough… remember my Soweto Race? Yeah, things got Soweto tough!

My beautiful pace dropped drastically in kms 6 – 8 (min/km): 08:20/ 08:16/ 09:06). Ditiro forced encouraged me to run up the first incline but when he wanted me to do it again I snapped back, “No, I am walking – my race, remember?!” Yes, things got a bit tense, LOL! But things slowly eased off again and I gained strength for what I thought was the last 2 km, with my splits hitting 07:29/ 07:13. Unfortunately, the course was a kilometre too long, so I recorded a final split of 07:45 for the 11th km. For once I couldn’t care less about the course being long. I was just glad it was all over. There was very little fanfare as I crossed the invisible finish line so I was grateful for the cheers from Elisa and Tapiwa who had finished earlier!

My time: I ran the 11.06 km course in 1:24:37 (07:38 pace). That would have been approximately a 1:16 time for the 10 km. But all I really cared about at this time was that Number 16 was in the bag and my last race was so close I could almost touch it! 🙂

After the Race: The medals were not ready when we finished the race! So we decided to go back to the lodge, have a shower, check out and then return to get them later. It actually worked out quite nicely as we got to see some of the sights of Kanye and even stopped at the side of the road like “real tourists” to take some selfies and scenery photos.

Kgosi Bathoen II of the Bangwaketse

Once we got back to the venue, we claimed the bling we train and run for! 🙂

On the way out, we stopped for brunch at Ko Gae Cafe and had some lovely traditional food! My craving for seswaa (pounded meat) was satisfied!

Would I do this race again? As disorganised as this race was – late start, no working toilets, no clear direction markings, too long, delayed medals… I would do it all over again, just for that beautifully blue sky, peaceful panoramic views, rolling hills and Ditiro’s smile as he was swept over by happy childhood memories.

I am so excited to be linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Be sure to check out their blogs! 

Friday Five: FIVE Fabulous Green Juice Recipes

I am linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0! This week the theme is “Healthy Foods” and I am so excited to have my lovely friend Polelo guest blogging for me today! Some of you may remember her last guest post was on her Boot Camp Experience a few months ago. Today she is back and talking about her experience with Green Juice and Five Recipes she absolutely loves! Enjoy 🙂

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2017 was a remarkable year for me on so many levels. From personal growth and spirituality to family and friends. The most significant quality change was to my health. I ran 10 races including 2 international races, I completed a 3-month Boot Camp and attended a Green Juice Workshop hosted by international nutritionist and health mentor Carla Zaplana. It wasn’t until a month after the workshop that I actually made my first Green Juice, having seen what went into them I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to try one out. Now that I’ve been drinking the juices for close to two months, I wish I had started straight after the workshop!

Why do I enjoy them so much? I found, despite my skepticism, that from day one I felt “clean”, I felt fuller and didn’t need to snack much before lunch. I also found that I had increased energy throughout the day.

So, what exactly are Green Juices? Green Juices are a blend of green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, parsley, cress, etc with some fruit. The base for most Green Juice recipes is cucumber and celery to which one or more of the leafy vegetables mentioned above are added along with one or more pieces of fruit and other ingredients such as ginger for added kick and added flavour.

As there is so much more to Green Juice than what goes into them; I encourage you to research the most common ingredients of Green Juice and their properties, as well as positive effects of Green Juice, how to prepare them and what equipment to use. Given that you’d be doing this to improve your health, it’s important that you align everything to benefit you in the best way possible so that’s why, I believe, you should consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

With that said, today, I’d like to share 5 Green Juice recipes I love from Carla along with some variations of my own.

1 – Tropical
2 slices of pineapple
0.5 cucumber
2 celery stalks
2 handfuls of spinach
1 green apple
1 thumbnail-sized piece of ginger

Peel cucumber, unless you’re using an organic one, then wash, drain and blend all the ingredients. Drink immediately.

2 – Tropical (my variation 1)
2 slices of pineapple
0.5 cucumber
2 celery stalks
2 handfuls of spinach
2 green apples
1 handful of raspberries or blackberries (for antioxidant properties)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
125ml and 250ml of pure, unsweetened coconut water

Wash and drain all the ingredients, peel cucumber and apples, unless you’re using organic ones, then blend. Drink immediately.

3 – Tropical (my variation 2)
2 slices of pineapple
0.5 cucumber
2 celery stalks
2 handfuls of spinach
2 green apples
1 banana (for added sweetness)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
125ml and 250ml of pure, unsweetened coconut water

Wash and drain all the ingredients, peel cucumber and apples, unless you’re using organic ones, then blend. Drink immediately.

4 – Anti-Aging
1 grapefruit
6 carrots
1 handful of spinach
1 thumbnail-sized piece of ginger

Variation: I always add a tablespoon of chia seeds to my juices and a couple of pure, unsweetened coconut water ice cubes. Wash and drain all the ingredients, peel carrots, unless you’re using organic ones, then blend. Drink immediately.

5 – Kiwi Express
2 kiwis
1 apple
2 handfuls of spinach
0.5 lemon

Variation: I always add a tablespoon of chia seeds to my juices and a couple of pure, unsweetened coconut water ice cubes. Wash and drain all the ingredients, peel apple, unless you’re using an organic one. Blend and drink immediately.

To help your body to flush out toxins, remember to drink plenty of water throughout your day. Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I’ve done!

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Thank you so much Polelo for sharing your experience with green juice and for these wonderful recipes. I am really looking forward to trying them out! I know Ditiro is already a huge fan! 🙂 

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Weeks 3 – 4

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018.

Considering I am summing up two weeks, this will be a shorter blog post than usual, BUT with good reason. Yesterday I said to my coach, “Why aren’t things ever smooth sailing?” After two weeks of smiling workout selfies, this happened

Week 3:

Monday, 15th JanuaryOutdoors, Easy Run, 43:30 min, 5 km

The only thing I have been worried about since my training started is my niggling knee pain. But with help from other runners I realised I needed to put quite a bit of time into warming up my knee before running and then foam rolling afterwards. When I set off on my run on this particular Monday, I knew something was wrong almost immediately – my knee was okay, but my body was exhausted. In the first 200 m I was almost shuffling but I figured I was still tired from the 8 km run I had done the previous day. By the time I got to the first km I was exhausted and wanted to give up. The only thing that kept me going was the fact I had no actual pain. I was just tired. Should I stop because I am tired? I thought not – so I kept pushing, dragging my feet across that tarmac. When I got back, I checked the temperature and realised it was 37°C. Too hot and not temperatures I should be running in! I then felt better about the bad run and chalked it up to the heat.

Tuesday, 16th January:  Unplanned Rest Day

I woke up in pain – aching all over. Every muscle in my body was sore. I thought, Gosh! How unfit am I? Really, muscle pain from this very sloppy 5k run? I went into work as usual but by lunch-time I had to throw in the towel. The only way I can describe this exhaustion is the one some women experience in their first trimester of pregnancy, where you just can’t keep your eyes open. By the time evening set in, I knew something was wrong when my body temperature was 39.3°C. I had a terrible night, shivering and freezing, shaking and just aching all over.

Wednesday, 17th January: Unplanned Rest Day

I am one of those people who doesn’t like going to the Doctor’s. I haven’t had any bad experiences but I just feel there are some things the body can work through on its own. My husband was quite annoyed at my stubborn behaviour and said very clearly that in all the years he had known me (and we have been together for 15 years) he had never seen me this sick. Even brushing my girl’s hair for school was a struggle. But I still said, I’m sure it’s some 48 hour bug.

Thursday, 18th January: Unplanned Rest Day

I had no choice. I didn’t even complain as Ditiro helped me into the car and we went to the Doctor’s. Then came the most unexpected diagnosis – Malaria! Huh?? I have never had malaria before and I am very careful when visiting malaria zones but it would seem I got it when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Francistown (North-East of the country) in early December – mind you, this area has never really been considered a “malaria-area” so it was quite the shock. They started me on medication immediately which led to some awful side effects, nausea and migraines. At least the fever abated and the muscle pain subsided.

Friday, 19th JanuaryRecovering from Malaria

I couldn’t hold the medication down. I was now getting really dehydrated – so I went in for a drip and anti-nausea medication so I could at least continue with the malaria medication.

Saturday and Sunday, 20th – 21st January: Recovering from Malaria

Week 4

Monday – Sunday, 22nd – 28th JanuaryRecovering from Malaria

I had the whole week off from work – I was definitely a lot better but just extremely exhausted. The first few days I spent most of my time in bed, but by Wednesday I was actually doing work from home. I think Thursday was the first day I didn’t have to take a single nap during the day. By the time I got to the weekend, I was even able to take the kids for tennis practice and I was starting to feel my normal self again. What a debilitating illness. So… back to the business at hand! This has thrown my Half Marathon Training Plan off a bit… Coach Nicola has adjusted things a lot. I will start walking this week and then the following week I will do some run-walk intervals as I get back into things. She is confident that I will be ready for the Half Marathon – and that makes me confident too. So I am not going to allow negativity or doubts to creep in – I will do my best to stay positive and just get on with it.

Mileage last 2 weeks: 0 km

Mileage this training cycle: 30.37 km

Gym Classes last 2 weeks: 0

Grade: Ungraded. (I was going to give myself an F as nothing was done, but after lots of thought I think I am just going to settle with “Ungraded”. Fair?)

To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the lovely Courtney from Eat Pray Run and as usual with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and fabulous Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – you always walk away with a lot of knowledge.

Friday Five: FIVE Lessons from Running the Berg

I am so 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.

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you know who Tapiwa is. She has featured in several training and race recaps! We often start our races together, have a good chat before she pushes off for her powerhouse finishes. We have a great running partnership and if I am to define it, I would say we bring out the best in each other. We have had some great adventures and mishaps – getting mugged in one race and spending half the time thinking we were lost in another. But we always come out stronger… and laughing! Tapiwa was a top athlete at school, excelling in the 100 and 200 metre sprints. In her adult years she has made the transition to longer distances. She mostly does road races but her heart is most content when she is out in the wilderness on some mountain trails. In September 2017, she did the Runtheberg which is a 2-day stage race in the Drakensberg, Africa’s premier mountain range, stretching from the Western Cape to the Limpopo in South Africa. This challenge was in the Northern Berg, between the Highveld and the Indian Ocean, 300 km out of Durban. There are two options for the race, the “Challenge” which is 15 km per day and the “Extreme” which is 25 km per day. Tapiwa did the Challenge and for this  post I asked her: What FIVE things did you learn from Running the Berg? This is her phenomenal answer.

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1 – When anxious I find ways of calming myself

I don’t usually get a good night’s rest the day before a trail race. I lay awake, trying to convince myself that it is going to be fun. Even after completing the first 15 km on Day 1, I have to prepare myself psychologically for the next 15 km the following day. I tell myself I am going to complete the race. I tell myself that if all else fails I will just walk to the end. Waking up is not a problem. That weekend the mornings were clear, sun was out but it was cold. Looking up into the majestic mountains simply takes one’s breath away. Looking up, it was CALMING.

2 – I am privileged to have a healthy body and sound mind

Day 1, the first 6 km is uphill. This is when my ability to zone out kicks in. I take in the views and listen to my breathing. Weaving between forest trees and climbing rocky cliffs. At this point in the race I tell myself to just keep running, just run this minute, just clamber up the next rock outcrop, just don’t stop. On Day 2, it’s harder to keep running when your toes hurt. But that pain was not enough to hurt my race. I just kept going.

3 – The Power of the Human Spirit

On Day 2 the terrain changes from the first days of rocky cliffs to an open savannah type of grassland. With 5 km left to completing my 30 km challenge, I had a mantra, I DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS; I GET TO DO THIS. I was among the slower trail runners and I connected with other people who needed encouragement. We were all helping each other. We were just those ordinary people being extraordinarily courageous. We were not elite athletes. We just didn’t want to fail. The amazing power of the human spirit…

4 – No one reaches their full potential without learning from others

On both days there was a lady out on the trail, Mbali. For the last 2 km of Day 2, she helped me find ways to keep moving at a decent pace. I actually ran fastest in those last 2 km! I could even jump and pose for a picture. I wanted to live up to the role I had set myself – that I had the audacity to try something great and inspire people in the process. In doing so, I faced my own fears, I faced the fear of pain.

5 – I just don’t quit and I am always up for a challenge

No matter how much things hurt, not once during the race did I feel like quitting. The only person I was racing against was myself. The goal – to finish. And I finished what I had started. After crossing that finish line, 30 km completed through such treacherous terrain, there was no big clock to remind me that I was slow. There were only cheers, a beer truck and wors rolls. I met up with my crew of Zulu maidens and we planned our next trail. We were all ready for an ULTRA TRAIL. And indeed, the Cape Town Ultra Trail in December was our next race….but that is a story for another day.

Thank you Tapiwa for taking the time to reflect on your journey and some of the lessons you took away. I think we often forget what great things we are capable of, what phenomenal challenges we can accomplish, and what obstacles we can overcome if we put our minds to it. The resilience of the human spirit. I for one have always been inspired by your determination to get the job done. My daughter Kaia reminds me of you – you face each challenge with a quiet confidence and formidable strength. It leaves the rest of us wanting to push ourselves even more. 

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!)