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!

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

Botswana Independence 10k, Race Recap (#12/17)

On the 23rd September, I participated in the Botswana Independence Race (10 km). I had a great run but struggled to contain my emotions afterwards. 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 Number 12! 

The Race: The mornings of my races don’t really change much – I wake up at 04:30, hop into the shower, get dressed, and then have some cereal in the car. This morning was no different. When we arrived at the University Stadium, I used the toilet one last time (very clean) and then found Ditiro and Tapiwa in the aerobics crowd! We soon spotted Elisa and Kuma who were doing the Half Marathon, and we later saw Polelo with her hubby, niece and nephew! So once again we were all united on the race track! The aerobics was fun but dragged on a bit; I think we all just wanted to get started! The good thing though is that my legs got a great warm-up. We took some photos at the start, and we were beautifully coordinated in our Botswana Flag colours – even our caps by complete coincidence were blue, black and white! The Half Marathoners took off first and at 06:37 we were off!

The Route: University of Botswana Stadium, right at the UB Circle, then left at the Maru-A-Pula intersection, left at the Bull and Bush Lights, left at Attorney General’s Chambers, along the wall of the State House, back of Princess Marina Hospital, to the Hospital Circle, through UB Campus and then back to the Stadium.

My main goal for this race was to go 3 minutes faster than I had at my last race. I started the race with Tapiwa and we were together for at least 8 km. As usual, I felt sluggish in the first 2 km (splits, min/km: 07:30/ 07:43) but I felt a lot better by the time we got to the 3 km point (07:12 pace). I didn’t realise when I was running but my watch suggests that the very slight elevation for kms 4 – 6 reduced my pace a bit (splits, 07:44/ 07:35/ 07:30). After that I picked up the pace (07:16/07:23 for kms 7 and 8). As we approached the 8 km point, I could feel Tapiwa’s engine rearing to take it up a notch so I told her, “Girl! Take it home”.  She set off but I tried to make sure I always had her white cap in my sights and it helped as my splits for kms 9 and 10 were, 07:03 and 06:55. So I got to km 10… with no end in sight. I was now on the University Campus but I knew I was still very far from the Stadium. At that point, I stopped my watch so I had an accurate 10 km time. But of course the race needed to be finished so I continued running but was getting increasingly tired. I met others who were also struggling and grumbling about the fact that we had long done 10 km! As I approached the Stadium Gate, there was a Running Club cheering for us! Someone knew my name so I heard, “Go Shathiso! Go! Go Shathiso Go!” I entered the Stadium and sprinted hard for a very strong finish! I even took some time to turn for my hubby’s camera! (He works hard for this blog! LOL!) 

And then Polelo managed to get this AMAZING photo! One of my favourite running photos and I was so pleased to see how much my form has improved!!

My time: I ran 10 km in 1:13:59 hours for my 12th medal of the year. Goal almost achieved! I debated with myself whether I should use the 11.4 km time (probably around 1:24) but have decided to stick with my time for 10 km which I think is fair.

Pros of the race:

  1. A nice flat course 
  2. Lovely and vibrant atmosphere in the Stadium
  3. Good warm up and cool down aerobics sessions
  4. Clean, lockable real toilets 🙂

Cons of the race:

  1. As my dad-in-law who is a Maths Teacher said, “14% error! Totally unacceptable!” I agree. It was so demoralising to get to the 10 km point and to look around and realise the end was not even close!! I had started pushing at the 8 km mark knowing that I only had 2 km left, only to find that in reality I had 3.4 km left. I read in this article that you should expect a 1% error with GPS watches… but 14%, I don’t think so!
  2. Not enough water at the 10 km stops. Marshals told us point blank that the water was for the Half Marathoners. Hhhmm.

Would I do this race again?

Probably – although still a bit irritated by the distance error.

After the race: I was so emotional. Not immediately after the race. It all started in the afternoon. I was a weepy mess! I think it finally hit me that I have gone from zero fitness to completing 12 races this year. I have had great races and so much fun even in the most disorganised ones. But until this race, I don’t think I ever stopped to think “You know what… this is big.” So I was just quite emotional – even overwhelmed and I think a little bit race fatigued! My training since this race has been erratic and inconsistent because of work/family load. But I think there is also a small part of me that feels a bit tired. So I am going to work hard to get my motivation levels back up to complete the five races I have left!

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

Gaborone City Mayor’s Race 10k, Race Recap (#11/17)

On Saturday, I participated in the inaugural Gaborone City Mayor’s Race. I chose the 10 km distance and after a very disorganised and rocky start to the day, it was such a brilliant experience! Here is the story of Number 11… 

The Race: The hype around this race was amazing – the huge billboards, exciting social media posts, and several interviews with our charismatic mayor! However, we started getting a bit worried when we picked up our race packs and there was no information on start times. The promised timing chips also appeared to be missing. Around 22h00, a start time (06h00) was given on their Facebook Page. On this same post, we were also told that timing chips could be collected at 05h00 from the National Stadium (starting point). When we got to the race around 05h30, a huge crowd had gathered in the hall where timing chips were being handed out. After standing in the room for 30 minutes, we decided it was just not worth the hassle. We then went into the Stadium and started warming up. There was a great aerobics session with fantastic music, but I chose to take a nice slow jog around the stadium instead. We then made our way to the Start Line.

The Marathoners took off first and shortly afterwards at 07h10 we set off.

The Route: What a lovely route around Central Gaborone! We started at the National Stadium, ran onto Botswana Road, then headed to the flyover by the Bus Station, behind the CBD, right onto the flyover, through the Bull and Bush Lights, right at the Maru-A-Pula intersection, passed Gaborone Avani Hotel/ Golf Club and back to the Stadium.

My goals for this race were simple – this was a training run and I wanted a nice comfortable pace; I was hoping to do it in around 1:15/ 1:16 hours; and I wanted to run without my knee support. After my disastrous training run mid-week, I was also very keen to make sure I started out slow and then gradually increased my pace after the halfway mark. I managed to do exactly that – my splits (min/km) for kms 1 -4 were: 07:46/ 07:51/ 07:45/ 07:40. As I approached the 5 km mark I was feeling really strong (07:19 pace) and around the 5.6 km mark the best thing happened! My cousin Tapiwa who was at work in the CBD came out to cheer me on! My first ever mid-race supporter!

This gave me such a boost of energy and my splits for kms 6 – 8 were 07:12 (!)/ 07:24/ 07:30. With 2 km left, I started to feel a bit tired and my split for km 9 dropped to 07:42; but as the excitement started building again, I increased my pace as I headed towards the Stadium (last split: 07:16)! With 500 metres to go I spotted Polelo and Ditiro who were standing outside the Stadium’s entrance.

I then entered the Stadium for the last 400 metre stretch!

As I turned the bend, I took it up another notch and had a very solid sprint finish at the end… that wave of energy, excitement and happiness as I crossed the finish line was phenomenal. Another race in the bag!

My time: I ran the course in a comfortable 1:16:09 hours and claimed my 11th medal of the year.

Cons of the race:

  1. It was completely disorganised – most of the stores/ outlets that were listed as ticket sellers didn’t know anything about the race. Ditiro was buying our tickets and he had to see three people in Choppies before he found someone who knew something about the race. Polelo was sent from pillar to post, from JB Sports to Liquorama to the Shell in the Main Mall, and eventually got her tickets at Rail Park Choppies. The actual registration process was also lengthy.
  2. Information on start times provided too late.
  3. Chaotic timing chip collection process that left most of us without chips by the time the race started.
  4. A 70-minute delayed start to the race… hhmm…
  5. No toilet paper in the National Stadium toilets (but thankfully I had some toilet paper in the car!)
  6. No distance markers on the road.

Pros of the race:

  1. Running in the oldest part of our city was such a great feeling. It was a beautiful course. Polelo summed it up beautifully: “The race itself was fantastic! Great starting point; the National Stadium has such a fab vibe. Awesome route; love love love my city!”  
  2. Although the race packs didn’t have much in them, they did have a route map and I was able to visualise exactly where I would be running.
  3. Hats off to the Botswana Police Service! They provided great support on the course ensuring that runners were given priority at all times. I overhead one police woman tell an impatient driver, “You can swear at me if you want, you just stay put!” 

Would I do this race again?

Polelo’s answer is “Would definitely do it again” and Ditiro’s answer is, “I enjoyed the race and I will do it again. The GC Mayor’s Marathon has the potential to be the best race in Gaborone. They just need to get experienced race organisers to help them out”. My answer? I know the cons seems to outweigh the pros! I know there was complete chaos at the start… But my answer is YES. Are we crazy? Maybe… But there was something so special about this route. Something that stirred something deep inside of us. Something that really gave us a reason to be proud to call this city our very own. So yes, they get one more chance!

Once again I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap! I’m also linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for the exciting Tuesdays on the Run! 

Rustenburg Mountain Race 10k, Race Recap (#10/17)

Last week the family and I (including my parents) went on vacation! After months of intense work schedules/ challenges, we all really needed the break and we had a fantastic time exploring the beautiful Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Mpumalanga’s literal translation is “The place where the sun rises” and what a stunning place this was. It took us around 8 hours to drive from Gaborone, Botswana to Hazyview, the quaint little town we would be staying in. We had a fabulous week zip-lining with the kids, going to the spa, visiting some historic national heritage sites, and exploring the stunning natural wonders and beauty of Mpumalanga.

Bourke’s Potholes, Blyde River Canyon

God’s Window

It was a well-deserved break for us all, and I am ecstatic that we were able to get time to do this. I squeezed in three training “hilly” runs, a Long Run on Sunday (50 min), a Steady Run on Tuesday (22 min) and an Easy Run on Thursday (20 min).

With my mind always on my #17in2017 Challenge, I organised a stopover in Rustenburg on our way back from holiday so that I could compete in my tenth race of the year! In my search for races, I landed on the Keystone Milling Rustenburg Mountain Race (5k, 10k, 25k). Not the ideal race to choose considering I am from a very flat city, and most of my training does not involve any inclines! But I felt up to the challenge and we signed up for the 10k race. Some of you may remember that in my second race of the year, I tackled the Sunrise Mini Monster (also in South Africa) which had a 286 m ascent and was quite a tough introduction to hill running! With a few more races under my belt, I felt a lot more confident going into this one. Enjoy Number 10! 

The Race: We arrived in Rustenburg on Friday evening, just in time to collect our race packs (and our temporary license numbers which are compulsory in South Africa). On Saturday morning, we got to the Rustenburg Kloof (Gorge) around 06:30 and the race MC was already calling for the 25 km runners to come to the Starting Line. At 07:00, the 25 km runners set off – the crowd was not very big but runners included some of the running greats of South Africa, so it felt great to be there with running royalty! After some stretches, a last trip to the bathroom, we took our positions at the Start Line.

At 07:12 (3 minutes early), the gun went off! Although it’s called the “Mountain” Race, I didn’t quite expect us to start on an incline! But yes, we did! Before we even got to the first km marker, I told Ditiro (who was pacing me as he is nursing a hip injury) that I was out of breath, uncomfortable and just felt blehh. When I later looked at my Splits for the first 2 km (min/km: 07:42/ 06:57) it is no wonder I was feeling a bit out of sorts. I was powering up the incline at a faster pace than I usually do on my normal flat runs! I think I got intimidated by the other runners and went out too hot. So I reminded myself that this was my race/ my pace, and slowed it down a bit in the 3rd and 4th km, Splits: 07:45/ 08:13. But after passing the 4 km mark, I felt awful and did what I haven’t done since my 2nd race of the year… I walked. It was a strong walk, but I was initially disappointed in myself.  So it was great to hear Ditiro say that all we have done by walking is “adapted to the conditions and downshifted to save ourselves from burnout and collapse.” That actually made me feel tonnes better. My splits for km 5 and 6 are, 09:21/ 09:16. The more manageable pace gave us a chance to look at the beautiful cliff as we approached it, before turning around.

The last part of the race was so much better! It was a nice gradual descent, and not hard on the knees. I went from, “I am dying. Get me outta here” to feeling like I was floating on air! For km 7, 8 and 9, my Splits were: 06:59/ 06:55 (hello!)/ 07:32! With a km to go, I started feeling a slight niggle in my right hamstring, almost like a cramp was coming, but I stayed positive, drank more water, and kept going. Ditiro then set off with 750 m to go so he could get some photos of me as I pushed through the finish line! There was an unexpected climb at the end of the race which slowed me down so my last split was 07:52 min/km. As I came through the finish, I happened to be alone at the time and the MC cheekily announced “Here comes another runner. Very fast, she must have taken a short cut!” I ignored the possible sarcasm and laughed out loud as I hopped across the Finish Line, like I was born to do this! 🙂

Route: It was a straightforward route but with an ascent of 177 m. We started at the Rustenburg Kloof  and headed into the beautiful Kgaswane Nature Reserve. Our route was almost tarred the whole way, but as we were in a nature reserve, the scenery was beautiful and there were even a couple of bridges over quiet streams.

My time: The only race I can really compare this one to was the Monster I spoke of earlier which I did in 1:28:33. I did this one in 1:19:20. Nothing spectacular and most certainly not a PB, but for me a whole lot better than I did on a similar race 7 months ago. It gave me such a confidence boost!

Lessons/Discoveries: 

  1. My knee is ready to rock n roll!: When I injured myself back in May, it took physio and a lot of self-talk to keep my eye firmly on the goal of getting to 17 races. Since I returned from injury, I have done four races. I have been careful to stretch before and after all my runs, no matter how tedious I find it. I think this has helped. I have been patient and maybe even too cautious. But I think I am now ready to step it up a gear and I am optimistic for a 70 minute 10k finish time in the next race or two!
  2. I am no longer a toilet snob:  I just go. LOL. I used to struggle to use public toilets/ porta-loos! But since becoming a runner, I. Just. Go. I’m in and out in no time. 🙂
  3. I am ready to add more to my regime: I would like to start doing more cardio, strengthening and toning exercises. There is a Virgin Active Gym very close to home, so in the next couple of weeks I think I will sign up.
  4. The importance of adjusting to race conditions: Although I didn’t have any race expectations as such, I did expect to run the whole way as I have done since March! But I had to walk for around 1.5 km of the race… and although initially disappointed, I really see that this was what needed to be done to finish the race. I could have stormed ahead, and then simply burned out before time. This was an important learning for me.

Pros of the race:

  1. I do admire the South African race organisers for their overall efficient and well-organised races that START ON TIME!
  2. The marshals were also very cheerful and enthusiastic.
  3. It’s not an over-crowded race. A big race with a small crowd if that makes sense!
  4. A beautiful route through a lovely nature reserve.

Cons of the race:

  1. A lovely medal, but with the wrong date! “2015” – oh well, I believe in recyling and not wasting so I wasn’t too bothered to be honest!
  2. There were no chips/ transponders – so I’ll use my GPS watch as my official time.
  3. No bibs – we just had our temporary license numbers at the back and then a small tag with our details on the front.

Would I do this race again?

If I lived in South Africa (or was in the area again), I would definitely do this race again. However, with so many races cropping up in and around Gaborone, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to do this. But a lovely race all round!

I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap who are today joined by Pretty Lil Mudder as guest host) Please join in on the fun! You will find so much useful information and many inspiring running stories! 🙂

Time Adventure Team Challenge, Race Recap (#9/17)

My ninth race of the year was on the 20th August 2017. It was my first ever team event and I earned myself a nice 13-minute PB on a 5k Trail Run! What a fun and exciting day we all had! Enjoy Number 9…

The Time Adventure Team Challenge is a four-stage event held at the beautiful Mokolodi Nature Reserve, a 20 minute drive from Gaborone. It is home to a variety of species, including rhinos, giraffes, zebra, warthogs and various antelope. It also has an abundance of gorgeous bird life. Stage 1 of the Challenge was a 10 km Trail Run, Stage 2 was a 15 km cycle, Stage 3 was another 15 km cycle, and Stage 4 was a 5 km Trail Run.

Our Team: We had three members – my friend Elisa was our 10 km runner, my husband Ditiro was our rider for both Stages 2 and 3, and I took on the 5 km Trail Run. We arrived at the race, excited and READY for action! Our team’s name was “Trail Attack”. How fabulous do we look in our green outfits!?!

The Race:

Stage 1: At 08:30, Elisa set off into the wild bush. Standing on the sidelines, we felt so excited that our little adventure had begun!

In Elisa’s words, “The Time Team Challenge was a very tough and challenging trail run but at the same time incredibly enjoyable. The surroundings were beautiful; savanna bush, hills and lakes. I didn’t come across any animals but the sound of hippos as we ran past the lakes was a lovely reminder that we were running in a game reserve! The time just flew by in this race. There was a lot of focus on many things which distracted from the actual activity of running. You really had to watch where your feet landed so as not to break your ankle on the abundant sharp stones along the paths and in between your eyes had to keep darting up to check the markers to ensure that you were on course and did not veer off and get lost! The trail was fairly flat until 6 km where there was a sudden and steep ascent to the top of the hill, which they call World’s View. Just when we thought we had made it… we were confronted with stairs to take us all the way up. After finally making it to the top, the descent was such a relief and a chance to make up for the slow ascent. From there it was home free, with a sprint finish at the end!”

Stages 2 & 3: Ditiro was determined to do both riding stages, meaning that he would ride a total of 30 km on the somewhat unforgiving terrain.

In Ditiro’s words,“I found a place in the line-up where Elisa could easily spot me, and once she did we had a smooth baton handover.”

“The first bit of the track was hard but slightly rutted and within 3 minutes of the race, I lost one of my water bottles. After a few minutes of solo riding, I caught up to a few riders who I passed. The track varied from beautiful winding single track to extremely bumpy bits to thick patches of sand. There were some hills and two dry riverbed crossings. I maintained a brisk pace but was slowed down a couple of times where riders couldn’t move out of the way or where I had to negotiate obstacles. It was beautiful scenery although I only saw one impala. After finishing the first leg, I was quite tired but also anxious as the second leg had a big climb. About halfway, I felt my left quad starting to cramp slightly. I quickly sucked on my electrolyte gel and tried to increase my water intake which I had forgotten to do in the first leg. I also spent a few minutes helping a guy fix his bike. I managed to do the big climb with the cramp still niggling and I stopped to get more electrolytes and water at the top of World’s View. I also took a selfie with one of the marshals who just happened to be my dad-in-law!” 

How cool that my dad was a race marshal!!

“I then blazed down a very bumpy downhill. I nursed my cramp slightly using lower gears but just as I got to the dismount area, my left leg caved in! Shathiso came running and the marshal helped to transfer the batons.”

Stage 4: At 11:30, under a beautiful blue Botswana sky, I set off like a bullet. Don’t laugh! I really did set off quite fast. But then 30 seconds in, huffing and puffing, I thought, “Hold on! Relax. Run your race!” So away from the crowds, I slowed right down and found myself alone in the quiet bush. I made sure I focused on where I was stepping to avoid any loose stones, but I also made sure I looked out for the bright pink markers on the trees as on my first race of the year (also a 5k Trail Run) I ended up getting so lost, finishing in 53:53 minutes! Within the first km (07:40 min/km pace), I had caught up to two runners who I overtook quite comfortably.

The Route: I was very happy that my section was quite flat. Compacted sand and not too many loose rocks and stones. Sadly, I didn’t pass any wildlife on the way! 

There was a slight elevation in the second km and my pace slowed to 08:18, but after that I stepped it up and hit a 08:02 pace in the third km and 07:39 in the fourth! I know I was working hard because my average heart rate was 170 bpm! I remember looking down at my watch and seeing 4.1 km and thinking, “Okay I am almost halfway” but then realising that this was a 5k and not a 10k run! That jolted me into action and I took it up a notch, hitting an average pace of 07:33 for that last km! Ditiro says he was pleasantly surprised to see green emerging from the bushes. I could hear the crowds cheering… and the MC shouting “Team Trail Attack!”

That’s when I lifted my arms, held up nine fingers to signify my ninth race and came storming through the finish line! Oh, what a beautiful day! What a special moment.

My time: I did my 5k stretch in 40:05 minutes, a massive 13 minute PB on a 5k Trail! I was beyond ecstatic!! Our Team Time was 03:42:17 hours and we placed No. 67 of the 102 Teams/ Individuals who completed the race! Just look at our beaming smiles!!

Lessons/ Discoveries

  1. Team Events add a whole new dynamic! I absolutely loved it – it’s not about individual performances, it’s about what the team does. We had so much fun, rooting for each other and hearing how each of our races had gone! There is also a bit of added pressure because you don’t want to let the team down. But what a fabulous time we all had.
  2. As I am slow and steady, I do prefer the longer distances, but having said that – it felt good for the race to be over so soon, especially in that heat!

Pros of the Race

  • Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! The setting, the natural surroundings, the stunning blue skies, just everything.
  • The brightly coloured markers were fantastic – there was no chance of getting lost this time! I kept chanting in my head, “Follow the Pink on your Left”. It was always clear where I needed to go and what direction I had to take. The marshals were also strategically placed in the ambiguous spots!
  • Executive porta-loos with sinks and even air-fresheners. Big plus!
  • Very clear instructions on how to do the “baton” exchange
  • A kids’ play area with lots of activities and childminders. We didn’t bring our kids along, but now we know we can for next year’s event! A HUGE plus point for people with small kids.

Cons of the Race

  • No medals! I was looking forward to adding one more to my growing collection! 😉

Would I do this race again?

Oh yes! Most definitely! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I’m linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! This week they have Finding Fabulous at Fifty as a guest host! I’m also joining Courtney at Eat Pray Run who is busy training for the Berlin Marathon!