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! 

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 1

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 4th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! 

I felt overwhelmed this week. I had some difficult clients at work, my hubby was away, and the kids started back at school after the winter break. But in terms of workouts, I don’t think I did too badly and here is a quick recap. I am going to be linking up with Courtney at Eat Pray Run every week to keep myself accountable. Be sure to support Courtney’s blog as well as other bloggers on the link up!

Monday, 11th September: Pilates (1 hr class)

I had such a great work-out! I have missed quite a few classes over the last couple of months, so although my legs felt strong, my core definitely felt a lot weaker. But overall, I pushed hard and managed to stay on top of things.

Tuesday, 12th September: Rest Day (unplanned)

On Tuesdays I have a teleconference lecture/class from 19h30 – 21h00 at the Office. So that morning I packed my running stuff and the plan was to go for a run just after 17h00. But there was a major issue with a client that needed my attention so I just couldn’t get out. I was so disappointed.

Wednesday, 13th September: Easy Run (30 min; 3.87 km; 07:45 min/km) + Conditioning Exercises

I can honestly say that in 9 months of running, this was my worst run. I set off at 16h45 which was the first mistake. It was just too hot. My second mistake was starting out way too fast. I had not run in a week and with a race on Saturday I felt the need to go a bit faster than usual so I didn’t focus on the fact that this was supposed to be an easy run. With 15 min left on my run, I wanted to quit. I felt nauseous, weak and my average heart rate was high. Towards the end I was just shuffling along trying to make it look like I was jogging. By the time 30 min finally elapsed, I ground to a complete halt and contemplated cancelling Saturday’s race. 😦 Fortunately, I still managed some conditioning exercises (squats/ clams/ lateral band walks/ calf raises) when I got home.

Thursday, 14th September: Steady Run (30 min; 3.68 km; 08:10 min/km)

I felt like I needed to redeem myself for Wednesday’s debacle! So even though it was quite late (around 20h00) I set off for a run. I paced myself much better interchanging Easy and Steady paces. I kept the easy pace, really easy. In the end, it ended up being almost the same distance covered as Wednesday’s run. But so much more comfortable.  I am so glad I did this run as it gave me the confidence to continue as planned with Saturday’s race.

Friday, 15th September: Yay! Legal Rest Day!

Saturday, 16th September: Race Day (The GC Mayor’s Race – 1:16:09, 10 km, 07:32 min/km)

This was an official race, but I used it as a training Long Run and my goals were simple, 1) To run at a comfortable pace, 2) No real time goals but I was hoping for around 1:15/1:16, and 3) To run without my knee support. I am so pleased to say I managed all three goals and had a beautiful run. My pacing was on point, I feel like my form is improving, my knee was good and most importantly I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Plus of course Number 11 of 17 is now in the bag! Click here for the Race Recap!

Sunday, 17th September: Blogging Day 🙂

Mileage this week: 17.55 km

Mileage this training cycle: 17.55 km

Have you had a really bad run that shook your confidence? Do you use races as training runs?

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! 🙂

Palapye 10k, Race Recap (#5/17)

For those of you reading this blog for the first time, I am on a mission to complete 17 races this year! Yesterday I ran my 5th race in Palapye which is a 3-hour drive from Gaborone. This race also served as part of my training for my goal race next week – The Diacore. 

We left Gaborone at around 15:00 on Saturday afternoon, picked up our good friends Polelo and Paul, and had an enjoyable drive to Palapye with lots of chatting and dodging of crazy bus drivers. Palapye is a fast growing town, situated about halfway between the two big cities, Francistown and Gaborone. Its strategic position makes it a convenient stopover on one of Southern Africa’s principal north–south rail and road routes. The Morupule Colliery coal mine is located here, and supplies Morupule Power Station, Botswana’s principal domestic source of electricity.

It is also home to one of Botswana’s largest universities, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Our drive was uneventful and we arrived at the Majestic Five Hotel at around 18:00.

We had a lovely dinner before heading off to bed. For some reason I had put a lot of pressure on myself for this race, so I had a restless night as well as a headache which fortunately had worn off by the time I got up at 6am.

The Race: The starting point of the race was at our hotel so there was no big rush in the morning. After eating some cereal and getting dressed, we headed down to the Start for our warm-up. Unfortunately, this race was so poorly organised. I don’t want to be too scathing in my attack because I know a lot of work goes into preparing for a race… but… it was a huge disappointment. Race bib collection was from 6am – 7am on race morning but by the time we got there at around 06:30am, they had run out of race bibs and t-shirts stating that they had only made enough for 93 participants. Did they not know how many tickets they had sold? There was no attempt at an apology and we were simply told that we should run with our tickets and then show people our tickets as we finished. To make matters worse, we were supposed to start the race at 07:30 but only set off at 08:11, 41 minutes late.

The Route: Majestic Five Hotel – onto the A1 (big motorway) – over the Lotsane River Bridge – towards Cresta Hotel – turned left into the Palapye Bus Station – and then back to the Majestic Five Hotel. 

The A1 Road

Bridge over the Lotsane River

Clock at the Palapye Bus Station (Around 5k mark)

Ditiro was running this race alongside me and in the week leading up to the race we had “talked race strategy”. I knew I wanted a 2 minute PB which meant running an average pace of 07:19 min/km. This was a slightly faster pace than I had done in training so I was a bit sceptical that it could be done. We agreed that as I always do the second half of the race faster than the first half, I should aim for 37.5 min for the first 5km, leaving me with 35.5 min to get back, to finish in a time of 1:13 hrs. The plan was clear. However, I started the race around 07:00 min/km and Ditiro even said to me, “This is a bit faster than we are supposed to be going”. At that point I thought to myself – “Well, this is really a training run. I feel so comfortable. I am talking nicely, my breathing is okay, my body feels good. So let me stick to this.” And stick to it I did! When we passed the clock at the station we were at the 5 km mark, and were 1.5 minutes faster than we had planned for. My slowest pace (per km) was on the incline where I did a 07:17 min/km pace, still faster than the average pace I had planned for.  With 1.5 km to go, I turned it up a notch and headed for the finish with a pace of between 06:53 and 06:04.

My time: I ran the course in 1:08:02 – a remarkable 07:09 minutes Personal Best, and smashing my Goal A which was to do it in 1:13:11! I was in complete and utter shock that in just 1.5 months I have improved so much. This was not my goal race and because of the complete chaos of the race, there were no official times, but I am claiming this “unofficial” PB! And of course, there were not enough medals to go around so these photos next to the race banner will have to do! No race bib, no medal – I promise you I did actually run and PB! LOL!

Pros/ Cons of the race:

  1. There were not enough race bibs/ numbers/ t-shirts to go around
  2. No timing chips or proper timing method that I noticed
  3. Not enough medals to go around
  4. 41-minute late start – and we were only saved by the fact that it was a cloudy day, otherwise the heat would have been ridiculous at that time
  5. No distance markers on the roads
  6. Completely dangerous route – we were running on a very busy route, with no safety measures in place – too few marshals and no police officers at key points where we had to cross roads. No orange cones along the roads; no warnings for drivers that there were runners on the roads. Some of the 21.1 km finishers, sprinting in at the end of their long race, were almost knocked over by a taxi.

Would I do this race again? NO – for a race that had so much potential, it was a complete disappointment. But I will choose to remember it for my 7 minute PB and the phenomenal time I had with my friends!! 🙂

Some Shout-Outs: I am still one of the slowest athletes on the track but I have a phenomenal team behind me – Thank you to my dear friends Polelo and Paul for putting aside so many things to join us on this trip. Thank you to Paul for the great photography. Thank you to Ditiro for sacrificing his own race to run alongside me. Thank you to all my friends, those who run and those who don’t, for all your support and encouragement. Thank you to all the runner bloggers for your advice and kind words. Thank you to my parents and in-laws for taking care of the kids so we can participate in these races. Finally, thank you to Coach Nicola from Running Happy for giving me such focus, guidance and clear direction.

Once again I am linking up with the amazing Courtney at Eat Pray Run for the Training Recap and the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap. I am also joining Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. Linking up is such a great way to get motivated and to stay accountable! So please take some extra time to read some of their stories.

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.

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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