Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 7 – 8 (Final)

My 8-week Diacore Training Cycle has now come to an end and my goal race (and Number 6/17) is tomorrow. It has been a great 8 weeks where I have learnt so much about myself, my body and running in general. I am looking forward to starting my next training plan, “Winter Trail Training Cycle” which will take me through the cold winter months ahead. There will be a lot of trail running with some new distances and I am happy to still be working with Coach Nicola from Running Happy. But before we get into that, let me summarise the final two weeks of my Diacore training and then look at some of the goals I have for the big day.

Week 7

Monday: I started the week with an Easy Run, 3.57 km, 27:21 min, 07:38 min/km. As usual I did this run with my cousin Tapiwa but as we hadn’t warmed up and started out quite fast, it was not the most comfortable of runs. My body felt as if it was struggling to move. Our run was followed by an intense pilates session – my core is most definitely getting stronger and I survived all the hard leg work-outs. When I started pilates in January, I actually never knew I would love it this much.

Tuesday: Easy Run3.37 km, 25:02 min, 07:26 min/km. I really didn’t want to run but I’m glad I did. I found a nice new route around the neighbourhood.

Wednesday: I loved today’s run – we started out at a nice easy pace and then did “steady-easy-steady-easy” before finishing off easy. Overall, it actually felt slower than usual but it turned out to be our fastest pace yet, 07:18 min/km. 3.58 km, 26:08 min. This was followed by pilates and our instructor pushed us hard.

Thursday: I forgot about my scheduled Conditioning Exercises, so this ended up being an unplanned Rest Day!

Friday: I did Thursday’s Conditioning Exercises (squats, lunges, clams, lateral band walks) today. My knee felt quite sore especially when I was doing the lunges, so I did one set of those instead of two.

Saturday: Excitement and nerves started building up as we packed for our trip! We then set off on our 3-hour journey to Palapye for my 5th Race of the year.

Sunday: What a disorganised race but a phenomenal result. I was aiming for a 2 minute PB which would give me a time of 1:13:11. However, I completely smashed my previous PB and came home in 1:08:02 – a 7:09 minute PB! It was such an incredible feeling. My body felt like a well-oiled machine and even though I started out at a much faster pace than I am used to, it didn’t feel fast, I felt comfortable. If you are like me and love reading race recaps, jump here for a blow by blow account!

Week 8

Monday: This was a Rest Day like no other! I rested and rested and rested! Bliss!

Tuesday: I had a run scheduled but just felt exhausted so this ended up being another Rest Day. Not as blissful as I felt a bit guilty!

WednesdayEasy Run with my cousin Tapiwa that was actually supposed to be a Tempo Run. However, when we started out, my left knee felt so sore, excruciatingly painful at one point, so we kept it quite slow for the first 10 minutes. After that, it seemed to loosen up a bit and we had a good run – 3.60 km, 28:03 minutes, 7:47 min/km. As usual, this was followed by pilates which was very gentle today.

ThursdayEasy Run – from Wednesday’s experience I made sure I warmed up a lot more and although my knee still felt a bit tender, it was much better than the day before – 2.60 km, 20:01 minutes, 07:42 min/ km. As soon as I was done I did my usual Conditioning Exercises and had a good stretch.

Friday – Saturday: Rest Days – Ditiro collected our packs on Friday and Paranoia hit in a big way! Are my knees okay? I feel a bit dizzy? Should I eat that? Why does my eye feel sore? Do I have an infection? etc. etc. etc…! I then happened to read a good blog article and felt a lot better afterwards – it reminded me to have fun and not be so focused on numbers and pace. I’m really glad I read it.

Goals for Diacore 10k Race

  1. Goal A: My goal all along was to do 1:12 for Diacore! But now that I got 1:08:02 last week, I have had to change things a bit! As my new PB was not officially timed, I would be more than happy to get the same time for the official records.
  2. Goal B: To get a 1:10 time – I would still be very happy with this.
  3. Goal C: To finish my 6th race of 2017, strong and smiling and have a great day at the Biggest Race on Botswana’s racing calendar!

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.

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 4 – 5

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

Week 4

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

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

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

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

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

Friday – Saturday:

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

Week 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Week 3

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

The Gaborone Runner 0 – 1 The Common Cold

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

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

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

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

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

Diacore 10k Training Recap: Weeks 1 – 2

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

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

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

Week 1

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

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

Week 2

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

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

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

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

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

Friday: 

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

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

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

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