Christmas Dash 15k, #17/17 (Mission Accomplished)

The write-up of my 17th Race in 2017 is a little bit late – some of the details are a bit hazy but the emotions I felt as I crossed that final Finish Line are still so fresh. Quite by coincidence, my 17th race ended up being on the 17th December 2017! Here is the story of Number 17…

A Few Days Before the Race: “Doctor, I’ve had a runny stomach for four days. I challenged myself to run 17 races this year and my 17th is in a few days. I have to do it. Just make me better… please? Make it happen.” My usual doctor was not in, and writing this now I’m embarrassed to think what this new doctor must have been thinking when I told her all this! I ended up with a course of antibiotics. My last pill was to be taken on the morning of the race so I was definitely cutting it close. I missed out on the last week of training. Coach Nicola and I changed our strategy. No more time goals. The only goal now: FINISH! Finish what I started.

Road Trip: With no more races scheduled in Gaborone, my husband Ditiro, my dear friend Polelo and I travelled down to Irene, South Africa (about a four hour drive from Gaborone) for the Red Barn Christmas Dash. Polelo had also been battling a stomach bug and was still quite unwell. Fortunately, the journey was uneventful and as always there was lots of laughter. We stopped in Rustenburg for lunch and some shopping before heading on to Irene.

We had booked accommodation at the African Pride Irene Country Lodge which was a bit pricier than we usually would have gone for but we figured that some luxury was well deserved after 17 races! The hotel didn’t disappoint and our room looked out onto a beautiful lake with ducks, lush greenery with lots of rabbits and some guinea fowl, as well as a paddock with some farm animals.

As we started thinking about dinner options we realised that I had forgotten my gluten free cereal at home. By the time we tried the Irene Shopping Centre it was already closed so we headed to Menlyn Park which we were all familiar with and was only a 20 minute drive away. We got our breakfast stuff and then headed to one of the restaurants where we enjoyed a lovely meal.

Race Morning: The race was scheduled for a 7 am start and we arrived at around 06:15 to collect our race numbers. There was a Tom Tom Sports Watch up for grabs for the best dressed person, hence our very Christmassy outfits!

Number 17!

We looked out for our friend Karin who lives very close to Irene and who had been inspired by our 17 journey to run her first ever race! What’s even more exciting is that she didn’t tell her husband that she was training for the race and simply came back home later that morning with a medal around her neck! I was so proud of her and ecstatic that she was there for the last race!

The atmosphere was buzzing and the Christmas Carols in the background complemented our outfits!

The Race: After the prize was given to the best dressed runner (not us?! how?!), the gun went off at 07:06. Polelo proudly wore the Team #17 t-shirt she had made for our 4th race back in April! How appropriate that it be worn for the FINAL race!

We all started together but there were 3 different distances, the 5 km, 8 km and 15 km. Ditiro and I did the 15 km distance together. He was my coach, motivator, punching bag and photographer all in one! Our route was well marked and we were never in doubt of where we were going.

1 – 5 km: With the excitement of the crowd, the first km turned out to be the fastest of the race. The track was nicely padded with forest tree leaves and running among the trees kept us cool for long stretches. There were some long hairpin bends and even though the paths were often narrow, there were always some “overtaking” sections. There were a few ups and downs but not enough to slow us down too much and my overall splits for the first 5 km were: 07:51/ 08:17/ 08:11/ 08:13/ 08:35. In those first kilometres, I was a little bit nervous but also committed to doing this – I am here now. I am going to finish this race. My 17th race.

6 – 8 km: As the race progressed, there were fewer and fewer people with us. Some were way ahead, but those doing the 5 km and 8 km distances soon turned off to complete their races. My energy levels started waning and I walked for a little bit in one section even though it was quite flat. When we reached the 8 km turn-off point, I was disappointed that I hadn’t changed my distance when I still had the chance! My splits (min/km) were not too bad though: 08:43/ 08:23/ 08:33.

9 – 11 km: Things got a bit more adventurous after 9 km. We started jumping over logs and climbing up some steep bits. I was struggling a bit but the obstacles made things easier in the sense that I didn’t feel so guilty for going slowly.

The change in terrain was lovely and in this stretch we found ourselves running alongside a river. The weeping willows were a sight to behold against that beautiful summer sky. My body was taking a beating though and I was soon forced to take some hydration salts. My splits (min/km): 09:26/ 11:10/ 11:26.

12 – 13 km: We had been alone on the track for so long that we were surprised to hear voices behind us. Two older men passed us and one cheerfully said, “Is it still Good Morning or should we say Good Afternoon?!” A lady wearing a very colourful wig soon overtook us too. There were so many pretty flowers and quite tall reed-like plants. I mostly walked even on the flat bits. I was starting to feel a bit defeated. My splits (min/km): 10:24/ 10:19.

14 – 15 km: Those last kilometres were a bit faster as I ran more, 09:26/09:18. But they were tough because I was extremely emotional. At one point I cried. Not because I wanted to stop but rather because all I could think of was, I set out to do what seemed like an impossible task for a “non-runner” and here I am on my 17th race, not 100% well, but here I am. There were so many emotions – I felt happy that I had come this far, disappointed that I was sick, sad that the journey was over, but also relieved that I had done it. As the Tom Tom banner came into sight, I mustered up what last energy I had and put on my bravest smile as I made a dash for the finish. We could see Polelo jumping for joy as she held out her camera. Thankfully, she had survived her race too! The organisers were packing up and asked if there was any one else out there! We knew there were definitely four people but simply ignored their next question – “Did you guys get lost?”

My time: I ran the 15 km course in 2:18:34 (09:15 pace).  I would like to say I was overjoyed that my 17 Race Challenge was done. But that feeling only came a few days later. Of course, I felt proud. Really proud of what I had done. But I also felt exhausted. Battered. I think my comment on Facebook immediately after the race speaks volumes: “There was so much I was going to say. So many pearls of wisdom I was going to share. So many thank yous to give. But all I can think of right now, at this moment is, “I did it.” 17 races in 2017. Mission accomplished. Over and out.”

17 races. I did it!

A Lovely Photo-Bomber

After the Race: Karin (a proud new runner) and her husband Modibedi organised a fantastic lunch at a restaurant in Centurion. We were also joined by our lovely friends Taffy and Tich who are based in Johannesburg. It was great to celebrate with them – all of them had followed the journey so closely and supported us through it all. It was heartwarming to sit there and say: Mission Accomplished.

Acknowledgements: We ran. We ran again. And then just when we thought we had had enough, we ran all over again. To my running squad, I owe you my sincerest gratitude. Without your encouragement and commitment to the cause, I would not have crossed all those finish lines. Each one of you contributed so much to this journey and I drew so much strength and power from you. To all my friends and family around the world, thank you for your kind words at all times. To my parents for all the babysitting they had to do even on days when they had their own commitments, thank you for everything. To my kids who had to put up with, “I just have 7 minutes left on the treadmill, can you just wait on the toilet a little bit longer?” I thank you and I love you. To my husband, who had to put up with 2 am wake-ups to discuss whether my knee would be okay or whether the race strategy I had suddenly come up with was okay, thank you! To Coach Nicola, you have been my guide and the voice of reason, you have handled all my random challenges with absolute calm and wisdom. And finally, to all the blogger runners out there, thank you for your advice and your motivational comments when I really needed them. 

Even though this is a “throwback” Weekly Wrap, I am still linking up with Holly and Wendy as they followed so much of the journey last year! I am also linking up with Marcia, Patty and Erica for Tuesdays on the Run! Be sure to catch up on what all these fabulous ladies have been up to!  

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Weeks 5 – 6

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018.

After two weeks struggling with malaria, I returned to training with some walking and easy walk-run interval sessions. But just as I was starting to feel myself again, I caught a cold. I guess my immune system was quite low and with kids just having started back at school again, it was to be expected. But still… ggrrr!

Week 5:

Mon – Sun, 29th Jan – 4th Feb:

Monday was my first day back at work from sick leave and I was sent for a week’s assignment to Windhoek, Namibia! At first, I thought the timing couldn’t have been worse but it turned out to be exactly what I needed – lots of work but I had a lovely hotel room to myself, room service if I wanted, and no whining kids! We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel with a really nice restaurant downstairs that even had some gluten free dishes on the menu. Although not much, I’m glad I managed one walk during my stay – my colleague (and lovely friend) joined me for a walk downtown when we were on a break. It was great to see the town on foot and I felt so refreshed afterwards. Stats: Walk, 38:25 min, 2.82 km.

Week 6:

Monday, 5th FebruaryOutdoors, Walk-Run Intervals, 20:03 min, 2.44 km

Back home again, I was eager to get back into things. I set off for a run at 20h00 with Ditiro and was glad my coach had me doing walk-run intervals as it was tough getting back after having been out for so long. My legs felt good!

Tuesday, 6th February:  Unplanned Rest Day

There was an open day at my son’s school so unfortunately I had to miss my evening gym class. But I was a little bit glad as my throat had felt funny all day.

Wednesday, 8th February: Outdoors, Walk-Run, 30 min, 3:69 km

Still had a scratchy throat but decided to risk a run with the whole family in tow! Ditiro and the kids hopped on their bikes and they cycled while I ran. It was the first time the kids had been out on the sidewalk by the big road so they were over the moon! Kaia was a pretty good pace maker for me and I don’t think I have had so much fun on a run in a while. It was a brilliant experience for all. As she gets stronger on the bike she may even be good company for me on my longer runs!

Thursday, 9th February: Unplanned Rest Day

Sore throat had transitioned to a full-blown cold so decided to take a break from the gym and rest.

Friday, 10th FebruaryRest Day

Saturday, 11th FebruaryBlogging Day

I finally wrote my race recap from my 16th race last year! If you love race recaps as much as I do, you can read all about it here! I loved this race because it was in my husband’s home village so although it was terribly disorganised, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, 12th February: Outdoors, Run 41:03 min, 5 km

My nose was still running like a tap, but my chest and throat felt good. So after a 2-hour nap in the afternoon, I drove out to the Agricultural College with the whole family for a cycle and run! I loved it so much on Wednesday, I figured, “Why not do it again?” As we drove out there, it started raining and there was a spectacular rainbow. But thankfully when we got to the place, we just had to wait 5 minutes before it stopped raining. Ditiro stayed back with Thiwa while Kaia accompanied me for the whole 5 km. She is becoming such a pro on her bike – while I was huffing and puffing, she didn’t even break a sweat! It was a lovely run – my coach had said I could break for a walk if I needed to, but I managed the whole 5 km running!

I might not be going very fast, but I am certainly putting in a lot of effort if this chart from the GPS watch is anything to go by!

Mileage last 2 weeks: 13.95 km

Mileage this training cycle: 44.32 km

Gym Classes last 2 weeks: 0

Grade: B- (I’m quite pleased with what I achieved. Disappointed that I got a cold but glad that I was able to assess myself and stick to all my runs. I think I could have done a bit more walking in Windhoek and maybe this last week done something like pilates on one of the days I wasn’t feeling too good)

To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the lovely Courtney from Eat Pray Run and as usual with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and fabulous Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – you always walk away with a lot of knowledge.

The Ga-Maila Race 10k, #16/17

In 2017 I set an ambitious goal of running 17 races in the year. I was a complete beginner but by the time I got to the end of the year I didn’t feel like such a fraud any more! However, end-of-year deadlines, Christmas madness, New Year chaos, a stint with malaria and work travel meant I never got round to sharing my last two race recaps! So here goes – the story of Number 16…

Road Trip: As I approached the end of my 17 Race Challenge, I was becoming acutely aware that I was running out of races in the Gaborone area so I was forced to look further afield. As luck would have it I found the Ga-Maila Race scheduled for 19 November in Kanye, a week after I had run my 15th race. Kanye is an urban village located 83 km from the capital and is the administrative centre of the Southern District. In terms of topography, it is very different from flat Gaborone as it lies on a series of hills which form a natural protective barrier against the sands of the Kalahari Desert”. It is a picturesque place and more significantly it is my husband Ditiro’s home village. Also joining us on this adventure were Elisa and Tapiwa. We set off around 15h30 on Saturday and enjoyed a lovely and chatty drive to Kanye. We arrived around 17h00 and headed straight to the start venue to get our numbers. We then drove to our place of accommodation, Motse Lodge, and shortly afterwards went to Makgodumo Dam to see where Ditiro spent many weekends growing up.

We then set off in search of food! This is where it got very interesting for us “big city” dwellers! The only eating place we knew was shut for the day and after asking around we found there were no decent restaurants open on a Saturday evening…

So… Plan B! Remembering that we had a stove in our units, we found a grocery store and bought some cans of tuna, mayonnaise, potatoes and some vegetables. After supper, we went straight to bed. It wasn’t the most restful of nights as there was a High School Leavers Function at the lodge which went into the early hours of the morning. In fact, when we set off for the race, we found some revellers still at it!

Race Morning: If I remember correctly, we were told the race would start at 05h30. But when we arrived it was deathly quiet so we stayed in the car for quite some time. Slowly, people started arriving and once we had a bit of a crowd (very small though – we can’t have been more than 60) we started warming up. We then hunted for a toilet but the one we found was temporarily out of order so we ended up squatting behind some bushes! All of a sudden, all marathoners, half marathoners and 10 km runners were called to the start line and we were given detailed directions for the different courses. Given that we were not from the area, the directions were not much use! At that point Ditiro was still undecided about whether he would run his own race or with me, but I quickly turned to him and whispered, “I am not running this alone”. With such a small crowd I knew I would be bringing up the rear so having my personal local guide made me feel a lot more comfortable.

The Race: We set off at 06h49 (so much for the 05h30 start!) and I had the most amazing start to a race. Knowing that Kanye was very hilly I was nervous, but the first 5 km were a breeze! I set off much quicker than usual but was really comfortable simply admiring the beautiful scenery. My splits (min/km) for kms 1 – 5 tell the story quite well: 07:01/ 07:02/ 07:08/ 07:15/ 07:25. It was lovely having Ditiro with me as he shared great tales of places we were passing – the ever dusty showground and the Kgwakgwe manganese mine tailings; King George V Hall where Ditiro went to his first science fair and Fairways, which was only one of two grocery stores in Kanye at the time. It was great to see him thrown back in time to his childhood. I am glad he ran with me. And then in those peaceful moments, I dared to dream, I dared to imagine the possibility that I could equal the 1:08:02 PB I had set in PalapyeBut then the infamous hills arrived and things got tough, really tough… remember my Soweto Race? Yeah, things got Soweto tough!

My beautiful pace dropped drastically in kms 6 – 8 (min/km): 08:20/ 08:16/ 09:06). Ditiro forced encouraged me to run up the first incline but when he wanted me to do it again I snapped back, “No, I am walking – my race, remember?!” Yes, things got a bit tense, LOL! But things slowly eased off again and I gained strength for what I thought was the last 2 km, with my splits hitting 07:29/ 07:13. Unfortunately, the course was a kilometre too long, so I recorded a final split of 07:45 for the 11th km. For once I couldn’t care less about the course being long. I was just glad it was all over. There was very little fanfare as I crossed the invisible finish line so I was grateful for the cheers from Elisa and Tapiwa who had finished earlier!

My time: I ran the 11.06 km course in 1:24:37 (07:38 pace). That would have been approximately a 1:16 time for the 10 km. But all I really cared about at this time was that Number 16 was in the bag and my last race was so close I could almost touch it! 🙂

After the Race: The medals were not ready when we finished the race! So we decided to go back to the lodge, have a shower, check out and then return to get them later. It actually worked out quite nicely as we got to see some of the sights of Kanye and even stopped at the side of the road like “real tourists” to take some selfies and scenery photos.

Kgosi Bathoen II of the Bangwaketse

Once we got back to the venue, we claimed the bling we train and run for! 🙂

On the way out, we stopped for brunch at Ko Gae Cafe and had some lovely traditional food! My craving for seswaa (pounded meat) was satisfied!

Would I do this race again? As disorganised as this race was – late start, no working toilets, no clear direction markings, too long, delayed medals… I would do it all over again, just for that beautifully blue sky, peaceful panoramic views, rolling hills and Ditiro’s smile as he was swept over by happy childhood memories.

I am so excited to be linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Be sure to check out their blogs! 

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Weeks 3 – 4

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018.

Considering I am summing up two weeks, this will be a shorter blog post than usual, BUT with good reason. Yesterday I said to my coach, “Why aren’t things ever smooth sailing?” After two weeks of smiling workout selfies, this happened

Week 3:

Monday, 15th JanuaryOutdoors, Easy Run, 43:30 min, 5 km

The only thing I have been worried about since my training started is my niggling knee pain. But with help from other runners I realised I needed to put quite a bit of time into warming up my knee before running and then foam rolling afterwards. When I set off on my run on this particular Monday, I knew something was wrong almost immediately – my knee was okay, but my body was exhausted. In the first 200 m I was almost shuffling but I figured I was still tired from the 8 km run I had done the previous day. By the time I got to the first km I was exhausted and wanted to give up. The only thing that kept me going was the fact I had no actual pain. I was just tired. Should I stop because I am tired? I thought not – so I kept pushing, dragging my feet across that tarmac. When I got back, I checked the temperature and realised it was 37°C. Too hot and not temperatures I should be running in! I then felt better about the bad run and chalked it up to the heat.

Tuesday, 16th January:  Unplanned Rest Day

I woke up in pain – aching all over. Every muscle in my body was sore. I thought, Gosh! How unfit am I? Really, muscle pain from this very sloppy 5k run? I went into work as usual but by lunch-time I had to throw in the towel. The only way I can describe this exhaustion is the one some women experience in their first trimester of pregnancy, where you just can’t keep your eyes open. By the time evening set in, I knew something was wrong when my body temperature was 39.3°C. I had a terrible night, shivering and freezing, shaking and just aching all over.

Wednesday, 17th January: Unplanned Rest Day

I am one of those people who doesn’t like going to the Doctor’s. I haven’t had any bad experiences but I just feel there are some things the body can work through on its own. My husband was quite annoyed at my stubborn behaviour and said very clearly that in all the years he had known me (and we have been together for 15 years) he had never seen me this sick. Even brushing my girl’s hair for school was a struggle. But I still said, I’m sure it’s some 48 hour bug.

Thursday, 18th January: Unplanned Rest Day

I had no choice. I didn’t even complain as Ditiro helped me into the car and we went to the Doctor’s. Then came the most unexpected diagnosis – Malaria! Huh?? I have never had malaria before and I am very careful when visiting malaria zones but it would seem I got it when I attended my cousin’s wedding in Francistown (North-East of the country) in early December – mind you, this area has never really been considered a “malaria-area” so it was quite the shock. They started me on medication immediately which led to some awful side effects, nausea and migraines. At least the fever abated and the muscle pain subsided.

Friday, 19th JanuaryRecovering from Malaria

I couldn’t hold the medication down. I was now getting really dehydrated – so I went in for a drip and anti-nausea medication so I could at least continue with the malaria medication.

Saturday and Sunday, 20th – 21st January: Recovering from Malaria

Week 4

Monday – Sunday, 22nd – 28th JanuaryRecovering from Malaria

I had the whole week off from work – I was definitely a lot better but just extremely exhausted. The first few days I spent most of my time in bed, but by Wednesday I was actually doing work from home. I think Thursday was the first day I didn’t have to take a single nap during the day. By the time I got to the weekend, I was even able to take the kids for tennis practice and I was starting to feel my normal self again. What a debilitating illness. So… back to the business at hand! This has thrown my Half Marathon Training Plan off a bit… Coach Nicola has adjusted things a lot. I will start walking this week and then the following week I will do some run-walk intervals as I get back into things. She is confident that I will be ready for the Half Marathon – and that makes me confident too. So I am not going to allow negativity or doubts to creep in – I will do my best to stay positive and just get on with it.

Mileage last 2 weeks: 0 km

Mileage this training cycle: 30.37 km

Gym Classes last 2 weeks: 0

Grade: Ungraded. (I was going to give myself an F as nothing was done, but after lots of thought I think I am just going to settle with “Ungraded”. Fair?)

To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the lovely Courtney from Eat Pray Run and as usual with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and fabulous Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – you always walk away with a lot of knowledge.

Journey to My First Half Marathon, Week 2

After running 17 races last year as a complete beginner, I am now training for my first Half Marathon on the 13th May 2018. To keep myself accountable I will be linking up with the inspirational Holly from HoHo Runs and her fabulous co-host Wendy from Taking the Long Way Home every week to make sure I stay on track and keep motivated! Be sure to check out their blogs (as well as others on the link-up) – there is always so much to learn! I love it!  

Monday, 8th JanuaryTreadmill/Outside, Easy Run, 40:30 min, 5.78 km

My knee was sore the whole day. It kept “clicking” and it felt so uncomfortable going up stairs at work and even walking from office to office. So I didn’t think this run would happen. But then I read a comment from Wendy from my last blog post where she asked whether I had a foam roller. I actually got a foam roller for mother’s day last year but had used it once. So when I got home I dusted off my foam roller and used it as part of my long warm up routine. I then hopped on the treadmill and started out nice and slow. I was pleasantly surprised that my knee felt good! Holly also suggested I Google some proper techniques for foam rolling which I have started work on already. So hopefully I can sort my knee out in this way. It just needs so much patience! Anyway, back to Monday’s run – with 300m to go, my treadmill just stopped working! I couldn’t bear to end the workout short of the 5 km I was supposed to do. So I quickly ran outside (temp was down to 27 °C so it felt a lot better) and I did 1.06 km bringing my total for the day to 5.78 km!

Tuesday, 9th January:  Gym Class (Shape)

Shape is a body conditioning class using a variety of equipment in the studio. Tapiwa and I found the class jam packed. As it was so full we only used dumbbells but we certainly made good use of them! I kept a close eye on my knee which wasn’t thoroughly warmed up and I’m really glad I used manageable weights (1.25 kg each). A woman in front of me used 4 kg dumbbells. I was in awe!

Wednesday, 10th JanuarySteady Run, 30 min, 3.79 km

Coach Nicola had scheduled a Fartlek for today but given my temperamental knee, we decided to change this to a Steady Run. As we had an event in the evening, I set off for my run around 06:30 am which is very unusual for me as I hate morning runs! My legs didn’t feel like lead as they had last week after my hard gym session. Progress! My knee was not 100% comfortable but I managed to run quite well.

In the evening, my running squad and I went out to Table 50 Two which is the highest restaurant in Gaborone to celebrate our #17in2017 achievement! The views of our little city were so beautiful! When I refer to hiking up Kgale Hill, that’s the hill I am referring to!

It was an amazing night out where we looked back at 2017 and what we had achieved. Of the 17 races I did, at least one of these friends was present at 16 of them and without a doubt they helped to get me through all those finish lines. It was a truly amazing year of running and friendship, one that needed to be celebrated in grand style! Our dress code was “Show them legs you worked for!”

Thursday, 11th January: Gym Class (Spinning)

The only class available at 6 pm today was Spinning! So I had my first go at a Spinning Class with Tapiwa. Quads and glutes, hello!! It was fun but tough and I love that there was very little impact on my knee. I was quite confused at the start of the class but in the end I kind of got the hang of things.

Friday, 12th January:  Rest Day

Saturday, 13th JanuaryGym Class (Pilates, 1 hr)

After Kaia’s tennis lesson, I went to a pilates class. It wasn’t the usual class I take and the instructor had a different approach to my usual instructor. We used the fit ball for the whole class which I have never done before. Although I struggled a bit in parts, I still had a good workout. It was exactly what I needed after all the tough gym classes and running I have been doing. A few days ago I joined Kelly Roberts’ #badassladygang which is all about setting and making impossible goals possible with the love and support of like-minded women! On Saturday I got my special announcement photo from her! How cool is this? To join just go to her new website, http://www.shecanandshedid.com

Sunday, 14th January: Long Run, 8 km, 01:07:30 min

This weekend was so hot again and I really didn’t feel like running. I failed to run on Saturday as planned and on Sunday I had a million and one excuses NOT to. I also kept coming up with unrealistic solutions – maybe I can squeeze the run in first thing Monday morning? Yeah, right! So once things had cooled down around 18:30 on Sunday, I set off for a run with Ditiro. We started with a walk and then stopped for some warm-ups. Once I started running my knee felt okay but I really struggled with this run. It was tough and my average heart rate was 166 beats/min. So you can tell I was working hard! Ditiro’s was 115, LOL so it would seem while I was working my heart out, he was more or less on a leisurely stroll! I’ll get there! Of course, once I was done I was so glad I did it but boy, was it tough!!

Mileage this week: 17.57 km

Mileage this training cycle: 30.37 km

Gym Classes this week: 3

Grade: A+ (A great week. I had a few challenges but for the most part stayed focused and kept going. Even if I struggled with my Long Run, I got it done in the end!)

The Soweto Race 10k, Race Recap, #14/17

On the 5th November, 2017 I ran the Soweto Race (10 km) in neighbouring South Africa – probably one of the most vibrant and exciting races I have participated in.  This completed my “Road to Soweto Training Plan” and was the 14th Race in my “17 in 2017 Challenge”. It was a fantastic and well-organised race. I didn’t break any personal records but I fought very hard for my medal! Unfortunately with end-of-year work deadlines, more training and more races, nativity plays and Christmas shopping, I haven’t had time to sit down and gather my thoughts. But here it is at last and a huge THANK YOU goes to my friend Tich who took most of the photos and helped write parts of the blog (the race expo and some sections of the race). His input really helped to make this blog a lot richer. Enjoy Number 14. I sure did! 🙂 

Race Expo: Tich who is based in Johannesburg collected our race packs on our behalf and reported: “The Soweto Marathon has been running for a number of years, and one can tell that from the efficiency of the organisation. During the build up to the race, there were constant email reminders about the race itself, stories about some of the competitors and important messages about practical matters, like collecting race packs. The collection started on Thursday 2 November from 10h00, and I arrived there just after 11h00. There were plenty of signs and it was easy to navigate into the stadium basement where I spotted the 10 km area.

I’d carefully collated all the required documents (authorisation letters, copies of runners IDs and copy of my ID) to collect race packs on behalf of the Gabs crew and myself. Imagine my disappointment when the lady simply took the race confirmation letter, scanned the bar code and then asked me to check the runner’s details on the computer screen! All that admin for naught! But in about 3 mins I’d collected the race packs. Over to the 21km collection, and no problems there. I estimate I spent a total of 10 minutes collecting the race packs. 

The exit from the collection area took me through the expo zone. The race organisers had set up various stalls for all running-related companies. Everything from apparel (Totalsports, Cape Union Mart) to nutrition (Futurelife) to supplements and medical supplies to registration for the Comrades and Two Oceans Marathon was on display. There were a lot of enthusiastic stall holders trying to get people to check out their products/services and it was working as I spotted quite a few runners leaving with full bags.”

Road Trip: With the race packs safely in Tich’s hands, the rest of us in Gaborone prepared ourselves for the big trip! Those of you who are regular readers know this running crew very well as they have featured in several of my posts. We travelled down in two cars – Elisa joined Polelo and Paul in theirs; Tapiwa was with Ditiro and I, and Thuna navigated between the two cars! We arrived at the border around 06:30 in the morning but border inefficiencies meant we spent two hours at the border post which really threw a huge spanner in the works. But being in each other’s company kept us in high spirits.

Once we were through the border, everything ran quite smoothly. We stopped for breakfast in Zeerust and as we approached Joburg we stopped at the Mall of Africa where I bought a new pair of running shoes. We then proceeded on to Taffy and Tich’s place around 4/5 pm where they had made a phenomenal welcome dinner. Once everyone had eaten and gone to their respective places of accommodation, I had a fantastic catch-up session with Taffy. Our catch-up sessions usually take us to around 04h00, but because of the race we had to keep it short and by 22h30 I was safely in bed! I was a lot more restless than usual, but settled down after Elisa sent a message that she had managed to collect her race number from the person who had collected it on her behalf.

Race Morning: I was up at 04h00 and by 04h30 Tich, Ditiro and I were out of the house. We met Paul, Polelo and Elisa at our designated meeting spot and then in two cars drove to the FNB Stadium. As we approached the Stadium we were met with a very long queue…

Fortunately, we had plenty of time and once we had parked the cars, we took a beautiful photo in front of the FNB Stadium, also known as Soccer City and The Calabash as it resembles the African pot/bowl. The stadium underwent a major upgrade in time for the Football World Cup hosted by South Africa in 2010. With a capacity of 94, 736 it became the largest stadium in Africa.

We quickly rushed to the toilets where there was quite a long queue and no toilet paper! However, being the expert runners that we now are, we made a plan! Once we were done, Elisa and Ditiro ran quickly to the start as their 06h30 Half Marathon start time was fast approaching. Tich, Polelo and I took a slower walk and soon met Tapiwa who had arrived earlier. She also reported that she had seen Elisa and Ditiro make it into the relevant 21.1k crowds!

We tried to look out for them as we made our way to our starting pen but with all those people our attempts were futile!

We tried to find our relevant starting pens but in the end we just joined any crowd. What a comfort to know there would be mat-to-mat times!

The music was pumping, the energy was high, and we literally danced to the beat as we approached the Start Line. As people made it closer and closer to the start, the race commentator shouted “You are a hero”; “You are amazing”; and “This is your race, go for it”. And on that note, we were off!

The Race: The race started on Stadium Avenue just outside FNB stadium and then made a left turn onto the Nasrec Road, which led to a slight incline (nothing like the real hills later!). There were crowds and crowds of runners but I never really felt like I had to battle to get through them. Miraculously, in that crowd and with that incline the slow pace suited me and I always managed to navigate passed people where needed (1 km Split: 08:36). We took a right turn onto the Rand Show Road over the N1 highway and into Diepkloof suburb. Diepkloof is the home of Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital which is the main medical centre in Soweto and the third largest hospital in the WORLD! The route meandered through the houses and shopping areas, and there were some spectators out and about cheering the runners on. I felt so comfortable and happy. I was pushing hard but at the same time my body felt strong. My splits for km 2 – 6 were solid: 07:41/07:04/07:01/ 07:20/ 07:05. Just after 6km, the road turned right onto the Soweto Highway and the start of the hills that humble you! Oh boy, did these hills humble me! I pushed and pushed, but at one point like Elisa said, “There is no shame in walking” and I walked for at least a km. A police officer actually came up to me and said, “Lady, keep moving, keep moving lady, keep moving!” And I told him, “I am moving. I am moving!” It was also so hot and I remember thinking, “You are from Gaborone. Why are you struggling in Joburg heat? Come on girl, you are better than this!”

This seemed like a never ending hill, but eventually we were greeted by the glorious sight of the FNB stadium – at least we now knew the finish was almost there. My splits for km 7 – 8 show that the struggle was real: 08:47 (!)/ 07:43. I then started pushing again and my km 9 split was: 07:24. It was at this point that Tapiwa came up from behind me and shouted my name and some encouraging words, “You’ve pushed Shats. You’ve really pushed” and tapping her head she said, “Follow my cap. Just follow my cap” and off she went. I tried to keep an eye on her cap but she was going for her trademark sprint finish and was just too fast. The final kilometre was a gentle descent into the stadium, through a tunnel and then into a cacophony of noise that made us feel like football players about to kick off for a cup final! Coming through that tunnel was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – I used what little energy I had left to stand up tall and just sprint home like a champion, like a warrior coming home! Last split: 07:20. Thankfully, we didn’t have to complete a full lap of the track and then it was over the finish mat!

I found Tapiwa and then held onto a rail struggling to catch my breath, demanding a drink! I felt so nauseous but held it together. We soon found Tich, or rather he found us as he had been keeping track of us on the app so he knew as soon as we were done. Ditiro was soon done with his Half Marathon, and when Polelo and Elisa came through our running team was united again. We took in the glorious atmosphere, shared our individual war stories and made our way out of the Stadium where we soon met Paul.

My time: I ran the course in 1:16:36 (07:40 pace). Oh my word, I was so happy for two main reasons, 1) My watch reading was the same time as the chip reading! Those of you who have been following me for some time know that this has been my biggest issue with races I have done! Thank you Soweto!!! 🙂 But even more importantly, 2) My time was almost the same time I recorded for the GC Mayor’s 10k race (1:16:09) in mid-September – one of the flattest courses in the region! So for me to have done hilly Soweto in the same time was a monumental achievement.

After the Race: We had such an amazing time after the race – once we had washed and changed we all headed to this beautiful restaurant where we were joined by our chief supporters Taffy and the kids, Thuna and Tumi! We wined and dined in style and it was the most special way to end such an amazing day.

We hit the road at 16h00 and after another long wait at the border, we were home around 23h00. By far, one of my most amazing race experiences ever. Thank you to my friends – the whole experience was made that much more special by the fact that you were all there.

Would I do this race again?

What do you think?! YES! YES! YES! And next time, I think I may just take on the Soweto Half Marathon! 😉

I am so excited to be linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! I am also linking up with the Wild Workout Wednesday crew – Annmarie froThe Fit Foodie Mama and Nicole from FitFul FocusLinking up is such a great way to get motivated and to get to know other bloggers! So please take some extra time to read some of their stories and link up if you can!

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 8 (Final)

For 8 weeks, I trained for the Soweto Race (10 km) which was held on the 5th November 2017. The race is now long done and dusted, and when work and life took over, I never got round to summarising my final week of training! This is LONG overdue but for consistency’s sake, here is my last training recap for the Soweto Race! 🙂

The Soweto Race in South Africa is huge and in the week leading up to it I was excited and nervous. Excited for many reasons – running in Soweto, even if not in the Marathon, is a sensational, electric experience and I was so looking forward to being a part of that vibe and to be among 27, 000 runners from several parts of the world! Excited also because I would be going on a road trip with my hubby and friends; and that I would be visiting our close friends, Taffy and Ticha who are based in Johannesburg! I was nervous because of the hilly terrain. Coming from Gaborone – probably one of the flattest cities on earth, hills scare me! 🙂 Throw in all the admin that goes with  travelling, I was a little bit anxious… but I stuck to my training plan and when Race Day came I was raring to go!

Monday, 30th October: Rest Day

I felt after my 17.6 km race on Saturday, I deserved an extra day of rest! So although I had not planned it, I took the day off and didn’t even feel guilty about it.

Tuesday, 31st October:  (Treadmill, 36:30 min; 5 km)

This was a good solid run and I was quite proud of my 07:18 min/km pace. My legs felt good so I was glad I took an extra day’s break on Monday.

Wednesday, 1st November: Rest Day

Thursday, 2nd November: (Treadmill, 2.82 km; 20:34 min)

This was the day I decided my last race of the year would be a 15 k Trail Run to redeem myself for Saturday’s disastrous race. It was also the day I decided I wanted to try doing a Half Marathon in May 2018. So I contacted Coach Nicola at Running Happy and I am so pleased we are back working together! Meanwhile in Johannesburg, our friend Ticha was collecting our race packs on our behalf!

Friday, 3rd November:  (Treadmill, 2.54 km; 20:03 min)

Another short and easy run – my last before the big day!

Saturday, 4th November: Travel Day

I will write lots more about this when I put the Soweto Race Recap up! But just to say we had a fantastic drive down to South Africa – we took two cars and divided ourselves between them, but stuck together for the whole trip.

We also visited an Asics Store in the Mall of Africa where I had a mini-assessment done, and bought a new pair of shoes! The thing that really surprised me is that I need a whole size bigger running shoe… this seemed to be common knowledge, so it shows I still have a lot of running basics to cover!

Sunday, 5th November: Race Day!

I participated in my 14th Race of my 17 Race Challenge, the Soweto Race (10 km) in South Africa! What an epic race – I didn’t break any personal records but I fought really hard for my medal and had a brilliant time with all my running friends! It was one of the most amazing experiences ever. Here is the Race Recap!

Mileage this week: 20.36 km

Mileage this training cycle: 102.58 km

This now officially ends my 8-week Training Plan for the Soweto Race! 🙂