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! 

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Weeks 3 – 5

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 5th 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! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

What a disastrous three weeks for me – we have a new and very big project at work so my weeks suddenly went from normal 40-hour weeks to crazy 80-hour weeks. It has been extremely intense and is likely to continue like this for a few more weeks. As a result, I am struggling to get the runs done. But for the record and to keep accountable, these are the few runs I managed to squeeze in.

Week 3:

Monday, 25th September: Easy Run (30 min; 3.49 km) + Pilates (1 hr class)

After my race on Saturday, I had a beautiful 30 minute “shake-out” Easy Run with Tapiwa. It started out tough but we slowly eased into it and felt great afterwards. Pilates with Oliver was brilliant and I felt so upbeat on the drive home. At that point I didn’t realise that this would be the last workout I would manage for the week!

Tuesday – Sunday, 26th Sept – 1st Oct: Unplanned “Rest Days”

All my planned runs went out the window. Life and work really took over in every way and I just could not get a run in. I felt awful but at the same time I tried not to be too hard on myself as there really was so little that I could do. Sadly, this was also my last week of training under the guidance of Coach Nicola at Running Happy. I am really going to miss having someone telling me what I need to be doing when!

Mileage this week: 3.49 km

Week 4:

Monday – Sunday, 2nd – 8th October: Unplanned “Rest Days”

Nothing! 16 hour work days, gave me just 8 hours to eat, sleep, and catch up (as in hi and bye) with my kids and hubby. It was that intense. But my head and body just felt yuck, and I was determined to see if I could squeeze one or two runs in Week 5, even though my schedule would be pretty much the same.

Mileage this week: 0 km

Week 5:

Monday, 9th October: Easy Run (30 min; 3.72 km)

I set off for a late run (7:56 pm) but I just really needed to start the week off with a run. At this point, the stress of the long days was really getting to me and I was desperate to start running again. It wasn’t the nicest of runs. It was too dark and I took a while to find my groove. But on the back half, I picked up the pace, and managed to finish nice and strong. This stolen, unlabelled meme from Facebook perfectly describes how I felt afterwards!

Wednesday, 11th October: Easy Run (Treadmill: 25 min; 3.45 km) 

I got home just in time to squeeze another run on the treadmill. I am not a fan of the treadmill but it served me well tonight. It felt a lot better than Monday’s run and I was very chuffed with myself.

Friday, 13th October: My Birthday!!

On my birthday last year I announced to my family that I would start running and would do 12 races before my next birthday. This birthday goal was actually there before my #17in2017 Challenge was set this year! And on my birthday I could say with the hugest smile on my face that I didn’t just manage 12, I managed 15! Now that is something I am super-proud of. Surrounded by good friends on my special day and knowing I had achieved the one goal I had set for my birthday last year, it felt like a very lucky Friday the 13th! 🙂

So… not the greatest three weeks! But I am quite happy that even though work conditions and hours were pretty much the same as the first two weeks, in the third week I managed two runs. And next week will be even better.

Mileage this week: 7.17 km

Mileage this training cycle: 41.86 km

Have you ever had not one, not two, but three dismal running/ training weeks? Do you set birthday goals?

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 2

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! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

This week I managed all my planned workouts plus a race! I was quite focused during the week and emerged feeling a lot stronger. I really hope I can keep up this momentum because in the recent past I have had a few “down” weeks that have set me back in terms of fitness. But with Spring here, I just feel a lot more energised!

Monday, 18th September: Pilates (1 hr class)

My pilates instructor Oliver worked us hard today! I knew we were in for it when he made us do extra warm-up stretches using the ring. But I absolutely loved it! After Saturday’s race, this was exactly what I needed. I love the power that pilates gives me to really use my mind to push my body. I also find that when I start my week with pilates I am a lot more committed to doing my runs. Probably no scientific basis, but I’ve definitely noticed the trend!

Tuesday, 19th September: Rest Day

I was actually supposed to do a Fartlek Run today but pushed this to Wednesday as I felt I needed a partner in crime for this run!

Wednesday, 20th September: Fartlek Run (25 min; 3.13 km) + Pilates (1 hr class)

Before the run I carefully read through my coach’s instructions on Fartlek Running. This was my first attempt and I roped in my cousin Tapiwa to try it out with me! We were initially quite intimidated but we ended up having so much fun with it! Our sprints between poles/trees were fast with my heart rate clearly showing the work I was putting in! The easy runs in between helped to give us the energy needed to do the next interval of Fartleks. By the time we were done, we actually felt so exhilarated! It was so hard to believe how painful it all was when we were doing it! Once we were done I went straight into my Pilates Class and unfortunately Oliver decided he wanted to push us even harder than he had done on Monday. Coming straight in from a Fartlek, I must admit I struggled!

Thursday, 21st September: Easy Run (30 min; 4.01 km; 07:30 min/km) + Conditioning Exercises

After Wednesday’s Fartlek Run it was nice to keep things easy. 🙂 I was alone with the kids so once I had put them to bed, I hopped onto the Treadmill. Not my favourite kind of running, but I managed a solid run so I was very pleased. I also did my scheduled conditioning exercises (4-point hip extensions/ squats/ clams/ planks).

Friday, 22nd September: Yay! Legal Rest Day!

Saturday, 23rd September: Race Day (The Botswana Independence Race – 1:13:59, 10 km, 07:24 min/km)

This was my second race in two weeks and you know what that means, right? Number 12 of 17 is in the bag!! As last week, this was a training Long Run for me but this time I wanted to increase my pace a bit more. I also hoped to shave off 3 minutes (!) from last week’s race which I almost did! Race Recap will be up shortly!

Count the fingers!

Sunday, 24th September: Blogging Day and a beautiful outing with my gorgeous girlfriends at a “Vintage” themed event 🙂

Mileage this week: 17.14 km

Mileage this training cycle: 34.69 km

What is your experience of Fartlek Runs? Are they part of your routine? Do you enjoy them?

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! 🙂

Jwaneng Desert-Bush Walk 30k, Race Recap (#8/17)

I am on a crazy but wonderfully fulfilling mission to complete 17 races this year. Here is the story of Number 8 – a gruelling, exhausting, intense, and dare I say just plain UGLY 30 km walk through the desert!  

Road Trip:  On the 28th July 2017, I set off for Jwaneng which is a 2 hour drive from Gaborone and is home to the richest diamond mine in the world. My hubby was still in the US so my mum volunteered to join me on the trip for moral support! We set off around 15:00 on Friday and arrived just after 17:00. After checking in to the Hotel, we had a lovely dinner and then collected my race pack which was at the same hotel we were staying at. After dinner, we chatted for an hour or so, and then went to sleep. I was very excited albeit a little bit nervous as this would be my first event without any of my friends or family on the track! But I was also proud of my independence and my decision to take on the desert alone.

The Start: After a gluten free muffin and banana, I set off to the starting point of the race. The event this year attracted a couple of thousand people and when I got there, the place was buzzing with excitement. Some people were well-kitted out in boots, gators, backpacks and walking sticks. I made sure I looked the part of a “desert-hiker”, and having learnt my lesson from last year’s event, I bought myself a proper pair of trail sunglasses to protect my eyes from the glare. I also invested in a nice backpack where I carried my drinks and snack supply, as well as sunscreen lotion, tissues, a whistle, headache tablets and lots of packets of re-hydration salts.

It was fun to see big South African and Lesotho groups dismounting buses, waving big country flags with smaller ones perched neatly on their hats. There was a big aerobics warm-up session that I didn’t participate in though it looked like fun. After some welcome remarks by the organisers, we hit the road and within 300 metres we were in the sand.

The Route: The track was extremely sandy and the surrounding areas varied between barren expanse and thorny shrubs and bushes. There were also some cattle posts along the way. 

The Race:

1 – 5 km: This was a solo race for me but I wasn’t alone. I was always surrounded by people and in those first 5 kilometres, the walkers were loud, excited, enthusiastic, and full of energy. I didn’t actively join in on the conversations but I enjoyed the banter.  The thick sand took a while to get used to and the effort put into walking didn’t correlate nicely with the distance covered! I remember looking down at my watch and being so disappointed that I had only walked 2.7 km. At the 5 km mark, there was a drink stop and those doing the 10 km walk separated from us at that point. My splits for the first 5 km were (min/km): 14:42/ 12:31/ 12:19/ 13:08/ 16:17).

5 – 10 km: There was still quite a bit of banter in this section of the walk and when someone from Botswana made fun of those from Lesotho (who are not used to sand), they quickly responded with, “You guys must come to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, and we will see who struggles then!” As we approached the 10 km mark, people started getting quite concerned with the sand which was becoming increasingly harder to navigate. For some sections, we chose to battle the thorny shrubs just to get a break from the sand.

But the fear of snakes and scorpions always brought us back to the main track.

Close to the 7.5 km mark, two wild horses crossed our path with great speed. What a majestic sight they were!

“Find your happy place”

Looking at my splits, this was actually my quickest section of the whole race: 11:38/ 11:30/ 11:27/ 11: 14/ 12:31.

10 – 15 km: I started this section strong but around the 12.5 km mark I started to have some discomfort in my upper thigh area. It almost felt like cramps waiting to happen so I consciously slowed down a little bit. My splits for this section were: 11:50/ 11:41/ 11:43/ 12:20/ 17:20.  I was so happy to get to the 15 km stop and even felt brave enough to ask a fellow walker to take a photo of me! 🙂

15 – 20 km: After the short break at the 15 km mark, I felt motivated to continue. But around the 17.5 km mark, I started feeling blisters forming on my left foot and all I could hear was my husband’s voice, “Make sure you wear two pairs of socks” which I had purposefully decided not to do. Gggrrr! I didn’t want to stop as I felt I wouldn’t want to get up. I also didn’t want to start falling back. So I continued but could feel my blisters getting bigger and bigger.

I was generally good at listening to my body. When I felt dizzy or just weak, I mixed re-hydration salts into some water and felt better almost immediately. Sometimes all I needed was a cookie or a couple of sweets to feel energised again. The last thing I wanted to do was to get dehydrated so I made sure I kept sipping water.

20 – 25 km: This was the 20 km sign – how amazingly appropriate!

This is around the time I started to struggle. My back was sore from carrying my bag, my legs were aching from trudging through that thick sand, but even more – my mind started to play games with me, and I reached a point where I wondered whether I would finish. It didn’t help that this was around the time when we started getting casualties. Many people could not go on, either because of cramping, blisters, or sheer exhaustion. And that’s when the pick-up trucks/ medics started to come through and for the remainder of the race more and more people were carted off. That was tough to take. I remember passing a guy who was writhing in pain and seriously cramping. He was gutted that his race was over, but he just realistically could not go on.  It must have been at the 21 km point when I met a radio presenter who asked to interview me live for Duma FM, a local radio station. I must have really looked awful because he asked me, “Are you defeated?” I answered somewhat courageously that, “This race is tough. It takes everything – heart, mind and soul. But I still have 10 km left in me.” My pace was painfully slow though. It took everything to just put one foot in front of the other. I then decided to play a game, counting down from 10 as I did each km… 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 but when 1 km takes 15 – 16 minutes, it is tough… LOL! It was great to see the next two signs:

My splits for this section were: 19:09/ 16:07/ 16:13/ 15:50/ 14:56.

25 – 30 km: My mum called me just after the  26 km mark and I had run out of water. I sounded horrible. I just wanted to cry. I grabbed some salts and mixed it with the last bit of water I had left. It was a good pick-up. But I was overjoyed to see another water stop just around the 27.5 km mark.

What a relief. My lips were sunburned, my body was tired and I just wanted out. I told myself that I would never do this again. It didn’t help that we got to 30 km with no end in sight! The course ended up being 31.39 km according to my watch. When I emerged from the desert onto the tarred road, my mum was waiting for me. She later said I looked so dishevelled as if I had been at war and had narrowly escaped to freedom. If that’s how I looked, I most certainly felt it. The transition from walking on sand to tar was awful. Those 300 metres took forever, but as I passed other finishers who were sitting on camp chairs, grilling meat, I knew the end was near. Some of them cheered me on, and the radio presenter from Duma FM shouted, “You did make it!” I said to him, “I told you I would!” I shouted at someone else who had a medal, “How far to go? This is taking too long!” She laughed and said, “You are almost there!”  My splits for this section: 19:04/ 16:17/ 15:57/ 13:50/ 14:45/ 15:23.

My time: After 7:25:39 hours in the desert, I walked through the gantry to claim my well-fought medal! I sat down on a curb-stone and put my head in my hands. My mum was so excited and wanted us to take photos, I simply said, “Give me a moment!” We then took a couple of photos. How beat do I look? And I am not sure if you can see it very well, but the eight fingers I am holding up are completely swollen!

Lessons/ Discoveries

  1. After 8 races I am beginning to see that my 17 in 2017 Challenge is more than just a physical challenge. It is a mental challenge too. I am learning so much about myself and who I am as a person. One thing that I know now more than ever is that I don’t quit. I just don’t. Out there in that desert, there was ample opportunity for me to throw in the towel, but I didn’t. So long as my legs could carry me, I was determined to push through until the end.
  2. Listen to your body: I did well to listen to what my body was telling me out there. That helped me to know when to eat or drink something or when to take a little break.

Pros of the Race

  • This event was really well-organised. It was easy to buy tickets, and t-shirt distributions started long before race day. This is only the third time this event is being held, but they did so well. Well-placed water stops and cheerful and enthusiastic marshalls at each one of them.
  • The distance markers were fantastic – and the motivational messages were so clever – it was always just what you needed to hear at that specific time!
  • All the money raised goes to fantastic projects dedicated to children and their education. That just makes all the blisters and pain so much more worth it. 🙂

Cons of the Race:

  • No porta-loos! Unfortunately for women, squatting in the open desert is not quite a feasible option! Even if there were just a couple at the 10 km and 20 km mark, I think this would have made such a difference. Many women probably got dehydrated as they were trying to avoid having to go to the toilet.

Would I do this race again?

Yes. But not alone. I couldn’t do it alone again. The sheer will power that I needed to get through those last 10 km which took me around 3 hours… It was just too mentally exhausting. I have proven to myself that I CAN do it alone but next year, I am bringing my crew along!

I’m linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! This week they have the lovely Ponder ‘N’ Wonder as a guest host! I’m also joining Courtney at Eat Pray Run which is such a great place to get motivated about your training! Last but not least, I am linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. So please take some time to read some of their stories. You won’t regret it!

Diacore 10k, Race Recap (#6/17)

On the 7th May, 2017 I ran the Diacore 10k Race – my Goal Race and the 6th Race in my “17 in 2017 Challenge”. It was the first race where I found myself looking around and really enjoying myself… it was the first race, I felt I wasn’t faking it… I felt like a runner… in a sea of strangers I felt like I belonged. But I am getting ahead of myself…let us take a few steps back…   

Eight weeks ago, I had just run my 3rd race of the year. That 10k race was the first I did without taking any walking breaks. That in itself was a victory and the new PB time I set of 1:15:11 was the added bonus. With my new found confidence, I started an 8 week training cycle to get me prepared for the Diacore which is Botswana’s biggest race and a qualifier for Two Oceans, Comrades, Commonwealth and the Olympic games. In those 8 weeks, I got a coach, Nicola from Running Happy, and I ran two races – the Lady K 10k trail run and the Palapye 10k which gave me a huge (self-timed) PB of 1:08:02. Going into Diacore I felt nervous but prepared.

I enjoyed a relaxing Saturday minus the kids who were at my parents’ place. In the evening we enjoyed a nice pasta meal before heading to bed. In the morning, I had my usual shower to warm up the muscles and my cereal before we headed out at 05:20. On the drive to the venue I made a mental note of the Route:

The Route: They call it the flattest and fastest race in the region and aside from a gentle incline at the start, it really is. Grand Palm – Right onto the A1 – Left at the Rainbow Circle – Left at the Nokia Lights – Left at the CBD Lights – Grand Palm.

The Race: We only found parking about a km away from the start of the race. We tried waiting for Tapiwa but with all the crowds we quickly realised it was a futile exercise. So I walked Ditiro over to the Half Marathon Start and then headed for the loos where I found a long queue of runners. Knowing that I had to warm up my knee to ensure a good start, I started vigourously stretching in the bathroom. I swear, the others must have thought I was one of the elite runners! LOL. With just a few minutes to spare, I took a slow jog to the Start and my knee felt okay. Unfortunately, the long wait at the bathroom meant that I started quite far back. At exactly 06:30 the gun sounded and it took me 3 minutes to get to the Start Line.  After that I had to wade through several walkers so my first 3 km were not the most enjoyable and I struggled to get into gear (Splits, min/km: 06:51/07:41/07:29). However, just after the 3 km mark I found my stride and really started to enjoy myself. I felt truly happy to be out here doing this. I looked up and saw a man holding a banner, “Run it like you Stole it” and I burst out laughing giving him a thumbs-up. I waved at the cheerleaders on the track with their pompoms and as I started having fun, I started feeling stronger and my Splits for 4 – 7 km reflect that: 07:04/ 06:50/ 07:05/ 06:49. As I headed into the last 3 km, I turned it up another gear and remembered my pilates breathing to get me through the final stretch:

As I saw the finish line, I still had enough energy for my final sprint and despite some pain in my left knee I just pushed it until the end. I was elated and on the longish walk down the “passage” to get my medal, I truly felt like a runner. It being such a big race I didn’t see anyone I knew at this stage, and Ditiro still hadn’t finished his Half Marathon so it gave me some time to reflect and enjoy my moment. As I got my medal, a guy tapped me on the shoulder from behind and said, “You ran such a good race. You had such a consistent pace and were my pace maker for most of the race”. And that my friends was the cherry on top!

My time: I ran the course in 1:10:24 minutes (07:01 pace) according to my watch which I started at the Start Line, 5 minutes faster than my last officially timed race. Unfortunately, when the official race results came up, they had recorded our times from the gun start (and not from when we actually crossed the Start Line). So the 3 minutes it took me to get to the start are now included: 1:13:11. 

After the Race: I found a good place where I could watch the Half Marathon and Marathon finishers. Thankfully, my cousin Tapiwa soon found me and we chatted as we waited for Ditiro and our friend Elisa who were both doing the Half Marathon. At 1:42:12 Ditiro came through at a blistering pace and we started screaming, “D!! D!! D!!” and then we waited for Elisa who had such a strong finish and a 20-minute personal best! We were later also reunited with Polelo and were all so happy with our personal journeys. The Half Marathoners had some entertaining stories of Concert Goers who had decided to go straight from the Concert Venue, drunk as ever, to some parts of the course to cheer on racers with their camp chairs and cooler boxes!

Lest we forget – this was NUMBER 6

Lessons/ Discoveries

  1. Start closer to the front of the race: I must admit I was very disappointed that the 3 minutes it took to reach the Start Line are included in my official time but I have learned that in cases where there are no corrals I just have to hustle a little harder to get to the front of the line.
  2. A good warm up is essential: In Palapye and for this race, I really made sure I warmed up and in both races I felt stronger than I had in previous races. I am a little bit worried about my left knee at the moment but I will just make it a habit to warm up even before short training runs.

Pros of the Race

  • Extremely well organised (registration was easy, the race pack pick up was very efficient, website provided all the information including route maps, all races started exactly on time!)
  • Fantastic vibe and atmosphere – on the course there were cheerleaders with pompoms, there was a stage with people dancing and singing at one of the water stops, cheerful marshalls). As a Gaborone resident, this was a very proud moment as we hosted people from across the country and 38 different countries! I saw on Facebook that there was an American couple who are on a mission to run a marathon in every single continent and they were ecstatic for having chosen Botswana and this marathon to represent Africa.
  • Our race bibs had our names on them! I have seen this on other running blogs but this was a first for us! That really was something special 🙂

Cons of the Race:

  • You know what I am going to say right?! For the 10k race which had the highest number of participants, they didn’t record the time we actually started. So I took 3 minutes to get to the start of the line which was included in my final time. Not fair.
  • No corrals/ seeded groupings meant that walkers/ people with no timing chips were in front and once we were through the start it took so long to pass people.
  • Apparently there were several porta-loos but in the dark and with no clear signs I couldn’t find them so I used the hotel loos!

Would I do this race again?

Oh yes!!!  For any Gaborone Resident this race is so much more than just a race. I am so proud to have been a part of it this year and to have run such a strong race. I will definitely keep coming back!!

Once again I am linking up with the awesome bloggers HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap! I am also 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 and link up if you can!

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.