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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cons of the race:

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

Pros of the race:

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

Would I do this race again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Race:

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

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

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

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

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

How cool that my dad was a race marshal!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons/ Discoveries

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

Pros of the Race

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

Cons of the Race

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

Would I do this race again?

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

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

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!

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!