Friday Five: FIVE times I didn’t QUIT

I am so excited to be linking up for the first time 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 new to my blog, I am a newbie runner from Gaborone, Botswana. To keep me going, I (bravely or stupidly) set myself the challenge of running 17 races in 2017! So far I have done four of them (a 5k trail run; the Mini-Monster 10k in South Africa; a 10k race in Gaborone where I set my current PB; and a 10k trail run in fancy dress)! I am having so much fun doing this but there are days when it seems easier to quit! So to keep me motivated, I decided to look back at FIVE TIMES I DID NOT QUIT! 

1 – Ballroom Dancing Competition (1989): Let’s take it way back! I was 9 years old and my mum had enrolled my sister and I in ballroom dancing classes. I lived in Lobatse, a small town about 72 km from Gaborone. I am not and was never a natural dancer but even at that age I was so determined to work hard and be good. I ended up being chosen for a big Ballroom Dancing Competition held in Gaborone. Going to compete in the “big city” was scary enough, not to mention that the competition was to be aired on TV! The event was scheduled to start at 8 pm, but we only got on at midnight. I was so nervous waiting that I ended up with an awful headache that I had to sleep off before I got on. Don’t ask me how as I still don’t know… but my dancing partner Mompati and I placed FIRST in the Tiny Tots Category! I stopped dancing shortly after that, but I can always claim that victory in ballroom dancing! Lesson: Hard work and a great partnership pays off. 

2 – Climbing Table Mountain (2003): I was doing some volunteering work in Cape Town. I was very fit at the time (no running, but lots of gym classes) so I felt ready to conquer Table Mountain. I set off one Saturday with another volunteer Chris. I don’t remember many details but I do remember the number of times I wanted to quit… the climb was like going up a never-ending steep staircase. It was so unbelievably painful and with each step I took I was completely and utterly disappointed that all my fitness classes had not prepared me for this mountain. But we did not quit. I will always be thankful to Chris that he stuck with me the whole way and had several encouraging words even at times when he too was struggling. Lessons, 1) the right kind of preparation is needed for any challenge. Yes, I was fit but I had no experience climbing mountains; 2) taking it step by step will get you there in the end.

3 – Walking the Bibbulmun Track (2005): My boyfriend (now husband Ditiro) was studying in Australia. On one of my visits to him, we decided to walk 120 km of the Bibbulmun Track which runs from Perth to Albany (around 1000 km). We planned to walk 60 km and then back again over 7 days. We carried backpacks each weighing 15 – 20 kg with all our food supplies and camping gear for the week. It rained as soon as we set off and within 5 km we were drenched, tired and wanted to quit. The terrain was torturous, the flies were relentless and doing about 20 km took us the WHOLE day. You couldn’t just stop and set up camp at any time – you had to get to the designated camping spots and preferably before nightfall as there were snakes about! Every day when the sun set and we were still far from camp, I cried. Lessons, 1) Canned food tastes so good after a day of hiking, 2) Don’t pack canned food if you have to carry it for 7 days!; 3) Distraction gets you through physical pain. We did our fastest 20 km when we were in a heated argument!

Notice the natural Nike Sign – just do it?

4 – Victoria Falls Bungee Jump (2010): This was on my Bucket List of “30 things to do before turning 30”. It was actually not my first attempt at bungee jumping. In 2003, I walked the bridge to do the Bloukrans Bungee Jump in South Africa. However, when I saw those guys coming back up with such blood shot eyes, I changed my mind. But 7 years later, I didn’t chicken out even when the big, LOUD, know-it-all guy in front of me did. Would I do it again? No. Do I regret doing it? No. Lesson: It takes leaving your comfort zone to realise what you are truly made of. 

5 – Jwaneng 30 km Desert Walk (2016): Shortly after my son turned 2 in May 2016, I was feeling quite frustrated that although I had lost a lot of baby weight, I was no where near fit. I was struggling to balance work, being a mum, and getting fit. When I signed up for this walk, I felt it would force me to get fit again. But as the time drew close, I was terrified as I had not really trained much. Thirty kilometres through thick desert sand is no joke! I did it with Ditiro and my friend Elisa and as people dropped out one by one, we kept putting one foot in front of the other. We completed it in SEVEN hours! Lesson: Setting a goal is always the best starting point. This walk gave me the encouragement and the resolve to reclaim my fitness and ultimately gave birth to the “17 in 2017” Challenge!

So I will NOT quit no matter how hard it gets. 

Thanks for reading! Have you ever really felt like quitting? 

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Week 6

How did we get to Week 6 of my 8-week Diacore Training Cycle? I have been so lucky to work with Coach Nicola from Running Happy who has put together a great training plan that makes my job a whole lot easier. My main task has just been to get up and make sure I get those runs in!

Monday: I enjoyed a really nice Easter Hike up Kgale Hill with Polelo. We set off at 06:30 and took our time, doing it in 1:44 hours, 260 m ascent, 3.91 km. It was a lovely cool morning and there were many hikers on the trail. Afterwards, I did 20 minutes of yoga.

Tuesday: Today I had a Steady Run scheduled but… I rebelled… and if that was not bad enough… I stole four (yes four!) marshmallow eggs from my kids’ stash… Shameless!

Wednesday: After my illegal day off and and Easter egg feast, I hit the road with Tapiwa for a 26 min, Steady Run. Tapiwa was on fire today and started us out at a very fast pace. We tried a new route and it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop my watch and only realised when I was driving back from our post-run pilates session. I was so disappointed… some run for fun, others run for health, I run for the STATS! Without that, what’s the point of the run?! LOL! After my disappointment had worn off, I was very happy with our solid run and estimated it must have been approx. 3.5 km.

Thursday: I did 20 min, Easy Run, 2.71 km, 7:22 min/km. This was followed by some conditioning exercises (clams, squats, lunges, lateral band walks). I was so pleased to notice that my clams were a lot wider than before! My 3 year old find squats hilarious and calls them “The Toilet”. 🙂

Friday: Rest Day 🙂

Saturday: Today’s Long Run was 6 km – so shorter than last week’s 8 km which made it easier to get out of bed! I was very pleased with my time, 44:46 min, 7:26 min/km. The last 6 km distance I did was on the 4th Feb and I did it in 53:53 min so this is a huge improvement in just 2.5 months! That made me really smile!

Sunday: So I was supposed to go up Kgale Hill this morning but I ended up at Mosha Beauty Spa for a facial and FULL body massage… Mosha Beauty Spa is very close to Kgale, so does that make it count as a workout? It does, right? 🙂

Goal for my Next Race (Palapye 10k)

Next Sunday I am doing my fifth race of the #17in2017 challenge and for some reason I am particularly excited about this one!

I have some tentative goals:

  1. Goal A: To shave 2 minutes off my current PB which would mean finishing in 1:13:11 – a 07:19 min/km pace. Looking at the last few runs I have had, I don’t feel I am that far off from achieving this. I’m quite optimistic. I am also pulling out my “Ditiro Card” to help me. (Ditiro has promised to run 4 of the 17 runs WITH me this year and sacrifice his usual lightning speed races!  I feel like his presence will give me the extra push I need at this point in my journey). My main worry is Palapye is a lot hillier than Gaborone is…
  2. Goal B: To PB – anything better than 1:15:11. 
  3. Goal C: To finish the race with a huge smile. To tick Number 5 off the “17 in 2017” Challenge. To remain positive for Diacore the following week!

(I am linking up with the lovely Courtney at Eat Pray Run. I am also linking up with Tricia and Holly for their inspirational Weekly Wrap. Be sure to read these blogs and link up if you can! It’s such a great way to stay accountable).

Lady Khama, 10k Trail Race Recap (#4/17)

My fourth race of my ’17 in 2017′ Challenge was the beautiful Lady Khama 10k Trail Run held on the 9th April, 2017. The organisers promised that this race was “not just about the RUN, but about the EXPERIENCE” and I think they delivered. 

The Lady Khama Trail Run is in its fifth year and it just keeps getting bigger in terms of runner and spectator participation. In 2013, there were only 200 runners but this year there must have been over 2000! There was a Lady K Wellness Area with various fitness and health exhibitors. There was also an iPad up for grabs for the fanciest dress! Once we heard that, my friends and I quickly started thinking of outfits to wear! 🙂 I finally decided to go as a Ladybird and my friend Polelo also organised fabulous Team #17 t-shirts for her family and mine to support my 17 in 2017 Quest! The t-shirts looked absolutely amazing!

I am usually quite tense before a race but this time I felt slightly better maybe because 1) I had no real expectations as I had just recovered from a cold, 2) A trail run is a different experience from a road race, 3) I was in fancy dress, 4) There is no luckier race number than 888, right?!, and 5) I was so pumped and inspired after watching “Remember the Titans” starring Denzel Washington. 🙂

The Race: The starting point of the race was the National Stadium. It was really exciting arriving in Fancy Dress, but also disappointing that there were so few of us! In our small team we had a moth, Nala from the Lion King, the Easter Bunny, Girl Power and a pirate! We really stood out and people commented so positively.  The vibe and energy was fantastic and aerobics instructors helped to warm us up. At 06:39, the gun sounded and we set off!

It was a really nice route, a combination of tarmac, uneven dirt track and some grass. We also ran along the fence of the Gaborone Game Reserve and those doing the Half Marathon were lucky enough to run inside the Game Reserve with all the antelope, warthogs and other wild animals. It was a relatively flat course with a a slight uphill section around the 3 km mark. There was also a special bridge that had been made for the race.

Photo Credit: Run 21 – 2017 Facebook Page

Towards the end, the course went through parts of the University of Botswana campus and then back to the Stadium. The uneven terrain made it seem like quite a tough course. There was also a lot of congestion at the start of the race. I almost sprained my ankle at one point, but luckily recovered quite quickly. I had a very steady pace for most of the race with my last km being the fastest at 07:15 min/km. My slowest pace was around the 2/3 km section.

I felt strong for most of the race. There were also some interesting comments thrown in my direction, “You are doing quite well ladybird, keep going!” or “Wow! The ladybird is managing!” I guess ladybirds are not expected to do too well on a 10k trail run?!? LOL! The last km seemed to take forever, but entering that Stadium was a fantastic feeling and I had a nice sprint finish, with my signature move – hands up in the air and a big smile!

My time: I ran the course in 1:16:44 minutes. My pace of 07:34 min/km was actually faster than my average in the last race, which was 07:38 min/km but because the last race was a slightly shorter 10k course (9.84 km) and this one was slightly longer (10.1 km), it didn’t work out to a PB even though the pace suggests it should have!

After the Race: As usual, I don’t think I could have done this without the support and camaraderie of my friends. We all went to High School together. We have studied, lived or worked in other countries, but at this point in our lives we find ourselves right here, getting fit together and having so much fun doing it. We truly make a great team!

All of us in Fancy Dress had to get on stage and put forward an argument as to why we should win.

Sadly, we lost out to the “Chocolate Cinderellas” but I got a hug and a picture with Vincent Crosbie! Vincent Crosbie became a national hero this year when he became the first motorbike rider to take the Botswana Flag across the finish line at the Dakar Rally.

Photo Credit: Vincent Crosbie Facebook Page

This photo is WORTH ten iPads in my books! 🙂

Pros/ Cons of the race:

  1. Very well organised (map routes out early, structured pre-race package pick up, very clearly marked routes)
  2. Brilliant atmosphere and spirit – such a great vibe in the Stadium and brilliant warm-up aerobics session
  3. The route was quite congested at the start
  4. It was a very late start even though everything else was so well-organised (06:39 instead of 06:15 because of some problem with the timing chips)

Would I do this race again?

Yes, yes, yes! I loved the atmosphere. But next year, I am bringing home that iPad! 🙂

Once again I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap! For the FIRST time, I am also very excited to be linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Linking 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.

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 4 – 5

What an exciting fortnight of earthquakes, birthday parties, a 10k race in fancy dress, tonnes of work deadlines, Easter Egg hunts, and yes, lots of training too! 🙂

Week 4

Monday: After a week off training because of my cold, I was eager to get back into things! So although a run wasn’t scheduled for today, I went for an Easy Run with my cousin: 4.19 km, 34:57 min, 8:20 min/km pace. It was a much longer one than usual, but a nice conversational pace and before we knew it, it was time for our pilates class. It was later that evening though that things got really exciting… I was reading the kids their bedtime story when we heard something in the ceiling. First, we thought it must be a rat, then it sounded more like a cat, but when it started to sound like there was a cow up there, we knew something was wrong! Earthquake!! We quickly ran outside, and it sounded like there was a huge truck passing through the house. It turns out it was the second strongest earthquake recorded in Botswana (6.5 on the Richter Scale) with it’s epicentre around 250 km from Gaborone. Tremors were felt as far out as Zimbabwe and South Africa. Thankfully, there was no major damage so we could enjoy the little “excitement” while it lasted!

Tuesday: Today was my dad’s birthday so we had dinner at a lovely Portuguese restaurant. The kids were in extremely high spirits and we all had a fabulous time!

We got home around 9pm but I knew I had to run. So I grabbed one of the dogs Sadie and went for an Easy Run, 3.59 km, 28:46 min, 8:00 min/km pace.

Wednesday: My daughter had her first play at big school so I missed both my run and pilates session. It was a fabulous production and I was so proud of my little girl on stage!

Thursday: I made up for my missed run and did a Steady Run, 2.64 km, 20:42 min, 07:49 min/km pace. It was quite “exciting” at the beginning because I got charged at by two dogs – a Rottweiler and a Rhodesian ridgeback. But I immediately stopped and after a few seconds, I slowly walked away. Pheeeww! I then changed direction and headed out to the main road for a less exciting run! This run was followed by my conditioning exercises.

Friday – Saturday:

Sunday: Today was the fourth Race of my “17 in 2017” Goal! It was the Lady Khama 10k Trail Run and I did it dressed as a Ladybird! My final time was 1:16:44, 07:34 min/ km pace. This was not a PB time but what a wonderful day we all had!! Check out the Race Recap here.

Week 5

Monday: After a brilliant race, it felt so good to go for my pilates class! It was a very intense “cardio” session.

Tuesday: Today was my daughter’s FIFTH Birthday! I organised a lunch with the family and we had a lovely afternoon. She is ecstatic to be five and I am so excited that I have been a mum for five years! 🙂

Later in the evening I did a tough but good Tempo Run, 2.95 km, 22:03 min, 7:28 min/km. 

Wednesday: I was exhausted from work, but managed a Steady Run, 2.80 km, 21.18 min, 07:36 min/km pace. As usual, this was followed by a great pilates session where the instructor focused a lot on exercises for running.

Thursday – Friday: On Thursday, I was supposed to do some conditioning exercises, but I felt so tired and found myself slumped on the couch after the kids were in bed. Friday was a “legal” rest day. 🙂

Saturday: I was so nervous about my scheduled Long Run. The longest run I have done (excluding the races) is 5 km so I worried that I wouldn’t manage 8 km without the adrenaline rush of race day. I was supposed to make it an easy run, but I wanted to experiment a little bit with pace. In my last two races, I have found that in my quest to finish the race, I have held back a bit, for fear of running out of steam at the end! So I did the run at a faster pace than my last two races, 59:49 min, 7:28 min/km. Definitely a PB pace!! I followed this with the conditioning exercises I had missed on Thursday.

Sunday: Rest Day and an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids in the garden! The last two weeks have been so challenging as I have been pulled in all directions with several personal and work commitments… BUT… what a great feeling to have actually succeeded with most of my training. I am feeling a lot stronger than two weeks ago. Diacore is only three weeks away, but before that I have the Palapye 10k where I am *secretly* hoping to PB! Sshh…!

(I am linking up with the lovely Courtney at Eat Pray Run. I am also linking up with the two Jess’s (Jess Runs Atlanta and Jess @ The Right Fits) for their Week in Review. Be sure to read what they and other bloggers have been up to this week!).

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Week 3

What a disaster – in summary, “cough, cough, splutter, splutter, sneeze, sneeze” – REPEAT! 😦 Boy, oh boy! Confession time: when my kids and husband were sick, I didn’t really take them seriously. I may even have muttered the term “man-flu” in the direction of my husband a couple of times. But this week was definitely:

The Gaborone Runner 0 – 1 The Common Cold

Monday: I was still in denial and put on a brave face for most of the day. I had a parent-teacher consultation at my daughter’s school in the afternoon, and once I was done, I grabbed a cappuccino, and headed for my 1-hour pilates class as planned. Now, let me be very honest… I am not the most elegant person on the pilates mat on a good day… but one thing my instructor knows is that I always give it my best shot. 🙂 But on this day, I felt exhausted, my legs were shaking, my breathing was chaotic; when we did the plank my nose was dripping onto my pink mat; I was just one big mess! But when I tucked my kids into bed that night, I still had some hope that I could fight this bug off.

Tuesday: This is the day when anger crept in… anger that I was sick. Anger that I couldn’t prepare for my next race on the 9th April. Anger at this whole “17 in 2017 Goal”. Anger at my very happy (and loud) kids for bringing this bug into the house in the first place. Anger at my fully recovered husband who excitedly shared his running and cycling stats with his mates on Strava. Anger at the whole medical fraternity who do not seem to have figured out the common cold. Anger at my mum who had to go out of town for work. Anger. Anger. Anger at the whole world.

Wednesday – Saturday: I must admit I did some bargaining, “Please let me not be sick now. I can be sick on the 10th April when my race is done and that will still give me enough time to train for Diacore”. Later I was just plain down and finally I reached acceptance. Acceptance that my goal here is to get fit – this is a long term LIFE goal, and sickness will happen, life will happen, and that is just that. But you get up again, and you keep pushing. Once I got to this point, things felt a lot easier…

Sunday: I woke up to find Ditiro all dressed up and ready for his early morning hike up Kgale Hill. He then asked, “Do you think you will manage to join me?” I actually felt good. Really good. I would love to be a hero and tell you that I jumped out of bed with excitement. But in reality there was that little pause and then that voice – “Noooo… you are still sick. Say no!!” However, I did muster a “Yeah, sure” with a slightly strained smile. But… I am so glad I did it (1:20 hrs, 3.94 km, 256 m ascent). I am back in the game people, back in the game!! 🙂

(I am linking up with the lovely Courtney at Eat Pray Run. I am also linking up with Tricia and Holly for their inspirational Weekly Wrap as well as the two Jess’s (Jess Runs Atlanta and Jess @ The Right Fits) for their Week in Review. Be sure to read what they and other bloggers have been up to this week!).