Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 1 – 2

I somehow made it through three races this year with no clear “plan” other than to walk/run at least three times a week and to give it my very all on race day. However, I no longer want to simply focus on doing “17 races in 2017“. I want to become a better runner and to work towards my equally important goal of completing a 10 km race in an hour. So, I am now going to be a bit more focused and have special goal races where I hope to PB and then use other races as training runs. On that note, I am very pleased to officially launch my 8-week Diacore 10k Training Cycle. The Diacore Gaborone Marathon (10k) is scheduled for the 7th May 2017 and is the biggest race on Botswana’s race calendar – a quote from their website states, “As an AIMS and IAAF certified event the Diacore Gaborone Marathon is a qualifier for Two Oceans, Comrades, Commonwealth and Olympic games. It is also widely renowned as one of the flattest and fastest routes in the region.” 

I last did the Diacore 10k race in 2015 when I was working my way back to basic fitness after the birth of my second child. With no training, the plan was to take it easy and walk/jog with my dad who was 70 at the time. However, as it turned out my dad obviously had other plans and I ended up playing “catch up” for most of the race! In the end, we finished within a minute of each other and he proudly told people “My daughter is half my age but we finished together!”  He is running it again this year and let’s just say… it is payback time! 🙂

As part of the training for the Diacore and to keep tallying up the 17 races, I have scheduled two races before the Diacore: the Lady K 10k Trail Run on the 9th April and the Palapye 10k on the 30th April. So this is definitely going to be an exciting few weeks of training, racing and blogging! 🙂

Week 1

“Dear Husband, I regret to inform you that your coaching services will no longer be required. However, I will still expect you to run as fast as you can so you can return to the track and take photos of me as I cross the finish line! Kind regards, The Gaborone Runner.”

And that is how Week 1 started! I fired the husband, and got a new coach – the lovely Nicola, from Running Happy. I had not even considered online coaching before, but after my new PB, I explored it as an avenue to improve my running. I contacted Nicola who did a very thorough assessment of me and by the end of the week I had a tailored plan in place. So although I didn’t log any km this week, I found a Coach and some direction!

Week 2

Monday: Having taken the whole week off, I was eager to get back into things. I was a little bit tired from work, but managed an Easy Run, 2.73 km, 7:58/km pace. This was followed by quite an intense pilates session where we did a number of new moves. It was so intense that by Wednesday I still felt some soreness in my abs and leg muscles.

Tuesday: Another exhausting day at work but there is something about having a coach and a plan… not as easy to skip a workout! 🙂 So I begrudgingly put on my shoes and off I went! Look, even my dog seems surprised! 🙂

I did a 25-minute Easy Run, 3.11 km, 8:03/km pace. I struggled a bit as my legs felt super heavy but the feeling of completing those 25 minutes was amazing. When I got back, my kids were very happy to do some stretches with me!

Wednesday: I did a Steady Run with my cousin Tapiwa (5 min Easy, [1 min Steady; 2 min Easy] x 3, 6 min Easy). We managed 2.91 km, 7:47/km pace. I felt really good and we chatted the whole way. This was followed by my one-hour pilates class which I always love doing after a run.

Thursday: I wrote in my post-workout notes to Coach Nicola that had it not been for her, I would have happily taken the day off. But I knew I had to do my Conditioning Exercises (squats, clams, lateral band walks, lunges) to strengthen my glutes and hips and after my little session I felt so good!

Friday: 

Saturday: I started my Long Run in the late afternoon after a busy day with the family so it got dark very quickly and I had stupidly worn black clothes! So I spent half the time straining to see my watch and dodging cars, and the other half getting startled by the barking of dogs that I could not even see. But I managed my 5.05 km, albeit slower than normal, 41.34 min, 8:12/km. I was ecstatic that I had actually gone for my run so I did not appreciate my watch reminding me that:

Sunday: I ended the week by going for my hike up Kgale Hill, 3.94 km, 1:16 hrs, 256 m ascent. It felt so good to touch that pole at the top.

It was a great end to a successful week of workouts. But now the cold that my husband and kids have had on/off for the last couple of weeks has finally hit me. I thought I had escaped and I am praying that it doesn’t disrupt the next couple of training weeks too much. Hope you all have a phenomenal week of training! 🙂

(I am linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run where you will find links to others blogs sharing their training plans this week. I am also linking up with Tricia and Holly for their inspirational Weekly Wrap. And for the first time I am linking up with the Jess’s (Jess Runs Atlanta and Jess @ The Right Fits) for their Week in Review. Reading the blogs on the link-ups gives me so much motivation, so please check them out too!).

Guest Blog: Deloitte Pretoria 10k Race Recap

Ticha has many labels – my bestie’s husband, a phenomenal father of two boys, my friend and brother, and a blogger extraordinaire. He is now also my Johannesburg Race Correspondent and will be guest blogging on “The Gaborone Runner” throughout the year. 

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I’ve been inspired to start running again because of my sister Shathiso. She told me about her plan to run 17 races in 2017, which I thought was a great idea. Shathiso is new to running, has little experience but has determination and organization as part of her genetic makeup. So far, she has completed three 10k races including smashing her personal best in the process! So I figured if Shathiso can do 17, the least I can do should be a minimum of 12 races this year (one per month I figured).

Before I tell you about my first race of the year, let me tell you about my last race. 1 March 2015 – I arrived at the start of the Hyundai Rock the Run 10k race. I arrived early and, as I was by myself, took a couple of pics on my phone and found a decent place near the start line.

I had no race strategy other than “keep running” and as the gun went off we started the race. Now, in most races, if you start in the middle or at the back you spend the first 1-2 kilometres weaving through the fun runners and walkers – as I started near the front, I had a clear road ahead and set off really quick (I didn’t realize how quick until I looked at my GPS long after the race – I ran a 5:36/km, 5:09/km and a 4:43/km! The first 3 kms were flat and downhill but as we all know “every action has an equal, and opposite, reaction”.

From 4-8 km, my pace slowed to a more normal average of 6:30/km as we went into the up hills and then I slowed right down to a 9/km as I started to run out of gas. At precisely 9.7 km, my legs finally gave in and literally buckled underneath me. My race was over and I had to get the medics to take a look at me.

Which brings us to 26 February 2017 and the Deloitte Pretoria 10k. This time I had done some (okay, minimal) training before the race, in running 6.7 km in my neighborhood a week before. The traffic was insane getting to the venue and I finally managed to find parking about 1.5 km from the start, which served as a warm up for the race!

I didn’t manage to collect my race number during the week, so I had to get to the registration tent to collect that. After all that, I was still at the start line with a good 15 minutes to spare. I managed to find a decent spot about 200m from the start line, and then it was a matter of waiting for the race to start.

My strategy this time was to keep it slow and steady – I don’t have a watch to keep monitoring my pace – and make sure I still had gas in the tank for the last stretch of the race. The route meandered through the leafy Pretoria suburbs and was not too bad at all – there were the obligatory hills but nothing as bad as the ones Shathiso and Ditiro encountered in their Mini Monster!

I was feeling quite strong all the way to the 8 km mark, and then there was an undulating uphill until just after 9 km which I really battled through.  When I cleared the hill it was all downhill/flat to the finish line but it was a monumental struggle for me. My breathing was ok, but my legs felt like lead and each step was a gargantuan effort to complete. I focused on literally putting one foot in front of the other to get to the finish line.

I was pleasantly surprised that I finished in a new personal best of 1:05, considering that I battled through that last kilometre. Looking at my splits I had a nearly identical time of roughly 6:30/km for 1-9 kilometres. That 9-10 km was a split of 7:21/km!

So now I need to register for my next race, so I can keep pace with Shathiso who is hitting them out the park at the moment!

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Gabs 1/2 Marathon (10k) Race Recap (3/17)

So… do I start with the part about me running 10 km without walking? Or do I start with the part about me getting a new PB? Or do I start with the part about me having a phenomenal morning with awesome friends all pushing to achieve personal fitness goals?

Yesterday, just a week after completing the Mini-Monster Race in South Africa, I did another 10k race! For those of you who are new to the blog, I am on a great mission to complete 17 races in 2017 and this was my third race. My body was shattered after the Monster but I had a lovely Pilates Class on Monday which helped to stretch things out. On Tuesday I felt strong enough for a run and did  3.02 km  in 23:19 min (7:42 min/km pace). On Wednesday, I ran with my cousin and she upped the tempo a bit so we did the same stretch we had done a couple of weeks ago but increased our pace tremendously, making it my new fastest pace for a short run (2.77 km, 20:28 min, 7.22 min/km). This run was followed by another great pilates class. The excitement started building as the race approached and on Friday we collected our race numbers.

The day before the race I was quite tense. I desperately wanted a PB because I felt that I had put in all the hard work. When I ran 10k in 1.18.41 last year, I had only been running for 4 weeks and I felt that I “deserved” a better time now especially as I am so much fitter. I had some gluten free cheese and tomato grilled sandwiches for supper and then went to bed shortly after putting the kids down.

The Race: This time the race was a 5 minute drive from our house so nothing compared to the 4 hour drive last week! 🙂 We were scheduled to start the race at 05:45, 15 minutes after the half-marathoners. But the gun only went off at 06:07. On the plus side this gave us some time to catch up with friends and shake off the nerves! When we finally started, I had not really warmed up nicely but I got into a very good rhythm early on. I didn’t feel like I was going fast but it turns out the first km was actually my fastest stretch – 7.27 min/km (not counting my sprint finish at the end!). I quickly found a few pace-makers and some I actually stayed with for most of the race. This kept me focused. I had a very steady pace for most of the race, even when going up the small incline I stayed strong and steady.

It was a linear route and mostly flat (A 34 metre ascent; compared to last week’s 286 metres this was a “walk in the park” LOL!) Wstarted at  Airport Junction, then went up  Nelson Mandela Flyover, straight down to Kgalagadi Breweries where we turned around and  headed back to Airport Junction using the same route).  

As it was linear, it was great seeing Ditiro and my friends as they made their way back after the 5 km mark. At the halfway point I was still feeling very strong and was completely aware that I was now in unchartered territory. It was only two weeks ago that I managed my 5 km stretch without walking! So to pass this mark and STILL be running was a feat on its own. But as the race continued, my body went into autopilot. When I got to the 7 km mark, I was certain that I would manage to run 10 km without walking. At the 8 km mark, I toyed with the idea of stepping it up a notch but at this point I was too scared to burnout and have a weak finish. However, when I got to the 9 km mark I pushed, averaging 07.02 min/ km for the final last km. With 500 metres left I threw my water bottle to the ground and just stepped on the accelerator a bit more. I steadied myself at this new faster pace until I could see the finish line a 100 metres away and then I just gave it all I had left. It was one of my strongest finishes yet, with my sprint at the end being 06:02 min/ km. I started pumping my fists in the air, and came through the finish line dancing and smiling.

My time: What a day!! What a PB!! I ran the course in 1:15:11 minutes, a 3.5 minute Personal Best! But for me, what was even more significant is the fact that I ran 75 minutes without walking!

After the Race: It was soon back to mummy duties so I rushed back home to take Kaia for her tennis lesson. She told the coach that I “won the 10k race”. I didn’t exactly correct this minor detail! 🙂 We later had a hearty lunch at Sanitas Tea Garden and I treated myself to a lovely bowl of chips in addition to my main meal!

Lessons/Discoveries: 

  1. I feel like a runner: Ditiro always said if you can run 5 km without stopping, then running 10 km is just around the corner. I didn’t actually believe him. Well… turns out he was right!
  2. My gait needs a lot of work: I need to figure out how to improve my form. Do any of you have any ideas?
  3. My breathing is starting to sound more effective: I felt like I was more in control of my breathing and I used pilates breathing techniques (in through the nose, out through the mouth) when I started to feel tired.

Pros/ Cons of the race:

  1. They provided a route map a week before the race and this really made a difference in terms of mental preparation.
  2. Official times were already up when I checked in the afternoon! Definite plus point for me!
  3. The pre-race package consisted of an old running magazine from October 2016 and the promised t-shirt was nowhere in sight! 😦
  4. It was a very late start, almost 20 minutes after the official start time so on the return leg of the race, it was already quite hot.

Would I do this race again?

Yes, I loved the route. The best part of this race though was celebrating my small victory with these beautiful people. Each one of them achieved something great yesterday, with Ditiro getting an awesome 47:01 minute time.

Thank you to all my friends who ran yesterday, thank you to my friends and family out there who are always cheering me on, and thank you to all the bloggers around the world who keep me accountable every single day.

(Once again I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap!) Click here to link-up and join in on the fun!

Medihelp Sunrise Mini-Monster, 10k Race Recap (2/17)

I have this crazy goal to run 17 races in 2017. However, getting to this number means travelling outside Botswana for some of them. So in my second race of the year, I suddenly went from “novice runner” to “runner with international experience”. 🙂 I chose the Medihelp Sunrise Mini-Monster (10k) in Pretoria, South Africa. My training was far from ideal leading up to the race, but I was still quite excited. In the last week of training, I did two classes of pilates but only managed one run on Wednesday (2.77 km, 20:47 mins, 7:30 min/km pace). On the 4-hour drive to Pretoria we enjoyed the scenic views and happily sipped on our cappuccinos, blissfully aware that we didn’t have kid duties for the next two days 🙂

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We arrived just on time to collect our race packs (bibs and temporary license numbers) and then had supper.

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The Race: I tossed and turned all night so when my alarm went off at 04:30 I was only too happy to get up. We forced down some cereal before heading to the race. There were SO many cars and people. I knew it was a big race but it was a complete shock especially coming from the races we are used to. We only found parking 2 km away so the walk to the start ended up being a nice warm-up session!

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I knew Pretoria was a lot hillier than Gaborone which is very, very flat. However, I too quickly realised why the race is called the “Monster” and why this statement was made about it: This undulating route is not for the faint-hearted”. The course is set in an area where there are only ups and ups and more ups! The first uphill was within the first km and this quite simply defined the race. Every time you got down a hill, another one was just around the corner.

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My Strategy: Ditiro had reminded me before the race that “What goes up must come down” and had advised that even if I have to walk up the hills I should run down each one and run on all the flat bits. This is exactly what I did. Even when I was so out of breath after the climb I made sure I recovered while running down the hill. It was intense. It was painful. But I kept going. My pace on some of those hills was down at 16 min/ km, but I did my best to bolt down the hills and at one stage even managed 06:32 min/ km. In the last 2 km it was relatively flat and I maintained a good pace of between 07:23 and 07:35 min/ km all the way until the end which turned out to be my fastest stretch overall.

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Route: Started at the Harlequin Rugby Grounds and made our way through a pretty and HILLY residential area including the University of South Africa (UNISA) campus. 

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My time: Ditiro has been running for 25 years and confidently says this is the toughest one he has done. He still managed a great 54 minutes. I asked him what he thought when he was waiting for me and he said: “I knew you would do your best to finish because you are a fighter. I knew you would push until the end. But what I didn’t know is whether you would come back on foot or in an ambulance”. 🙂 So he was shocked when he saw me coming through in 1:28:33 hrs, beaten down but still with a little bit of fight left. There will be many more races to come and most (if not all) will be done in a better time. But this one will always be one of my greatest running victories because I had to dig so deep to finish it.

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After the Race: We met up with our friends from back home who were visiting South Africa and we had a great breakfast! When they left, we did some shopping and enjoyed several well-earned cappuccinos and even a slice of gluten free cake! 🙂

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Lessons/Discoveries: 

  1. I have come a long way: When I turned 36 in October, I committed to getting fitter. This “17 in 2017” goal is all part of that bigger picture to get fit. It has not been a smooth journey but this race showed me that I am a lot stronger than I think I am. Those hills kept coming at me, but I kept pushing back. I felt strong.
  2. Secure a place closer to the starting line:  All the races I have done so far have had far smaller crowds. I have never seen crowds of this magnitude and I had thought they would organise us into batches (according to our predicted finish times). However, this was not the case. So in future, I will need to get to big races a whole lot earlier so I don’t end up so far back and having to wade through all the fun walkers.
  3. I still run funny and don’t breathe well: Knocked knees don’t make for glamourous running but hopefully my form will improve as I get even stronger. My breathing still doesn’t sound like what I think it should but at least it is now more rhythmic! 🙂
  4. Temporary license numbers are needed for South African races: Luckily we purchased this online so when we collected our bib numbers, our license numbers were already included in the envelope.

Pros/ Cons of the race:

  1. The registration process was on-line and very easy. The race pack collection was also extremely well-organised. When we arrived, several volunteers were standing next to alphabetised boxes, (e.g. A – C; D – F) so we were in and out in no time.
  2. The marshalls were a huge highlight – cheerful, funny, and encouraging as they tried to convince us that “there will be a surprise at the top of the hill, just keep pushing” and “No smile, no drink!”. 
  3. The distance markers were very accurate. When it said “7 km” you knew that it was 7 km which helped with pacing and just morale!
  4. The runners were phenomenal! Such a beautiful atmosphere and as we got to each hill some would shout: “Up! Up! Up! Monster! This is the Monster!!!” 
  5. No goodie bags!! For the few races I have done in Botswana you always get a goodie bag (drinks, sweets, t-shirts, etc.) before the race. So we were shocked that all we got were our race numbers! At the end of the race though we did get a t-shirt and cap after we collected our medals.
  6. There were no chips/ transponders – so two days on and we still don’t have our official times.
  7. There were no corrals  and with maybe 10,000 people, this was a struggle! A lot of fun walkers were way ahead of us and blocking faster walkers and runners. It took one minute for me to get to the gantry and then maybe four minutes to get through all the congestion.
  8. At the end of the race, we had to go through a very narrow, muddy path to get to the finish line which prevented a nice sprint finish at the end.

Would I do this race again?

I went into this race completely ignorant of the Monster! Would I do it again knowing how gruelling it really is? *long pause* I think so. It is a one of a kind race which can’t really be compared to other races. Even if I never do it again, one thing I know for sure is that I will NEVER forget the day I conquered the Monster!

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(I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap!) Click here to link-up and join in on the fun!