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! 🙂

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 7

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 5th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of that vibe! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

Equipped with my new gym membership card, I felt like I new person this week. Work was also a lot easier, and although I had some deadlines, I had much more time to breathe and to think and to plan (and do) my workouts! A very successful week of training and I recorded my highest weekly mileage this cycle! 🙂

Monday, 23rd October: Easy Run (30 min; 3.75 km)

I say Easy Run but this run was pure torture. I struggled and luckily I was with Tapiwa otherwise I may actually have quit half-way. Remember last week I boasted about my body being “in flow” and feeling so light on my feet? Haha. Today’s run was the exact opposite – I felt like my shoes were laced with lead and every step took a lot of effort. I don’t think I have ever been so glad to be done with a run! It was also extremely hot so this may have contributed to how I was feeling out there!

Tuesday, 24th October: Boot Camp Class (50 min)

The last time I went for a gym class was probably 8 years ago… maybe even 9 or 10… So doing this class was big. First things first, I booked my class using an App — that had me laughing out loud. There was no such thing a decade ago! Secondly, even in my gymming days, I NEVER did an early morning class. But today I was up at 04:40 and by 05:15 I was in a room with many others warming up for the class. Who knew so many people go to the gym at that ungodly hour!? The place was buzzing with people. I think that alone was enough to shock my body into action! The actual class was really good – we did a circuit moving from station to station every minute. I did well on the rowing machine and the bike, and some of the leg workouts. I struggled with the exercises involving my upper body and I definitely have a lot more work to do. The instructor was tough but he did say to me towards the end that, “Yeah, even slow motion movements like that are okay!” I wasn’t quite sure whether to smile or to roll my eyes! By 06:05 the class was done – we were all exhausted and sweaty, but remarkably cheerful. I was home in five minutes, just in time to see my 5 year old off to school, and to get my 3 year old ready for nursery school.

Wednesday, 25th October: Rest Day

Yay – for rest day! My upper body was really sore from Tuesday’s Boot Camp Class! But sore in a nice way – I felt aches in muscles I didn’t even know I had! I was so grateful not to be running today – it must have been around 40°C out there!

Thursday, 26th October: Run (30:14 min; 4.01 km)

I decided to go for a run around 20:10 when it was a lot cooler (28°C as opposed to 40!). After Monday’s awful run, I redeemed myself! A much faster pace, and a lot more comfortable.

Friday, 27th October: Rest Day

Halloween was not big in Botswana when I was growing up but over the last 5 years or so, the tradition has slowly worked its way in! We were invited to a Halloween Event and the kids had a fabulous time trick-or-treating for the first time! 🙂

Saturday, 28th October: Race Day (2:42:18 hours; 17.6 km)

I participated in my 13th Race of my 17 Race Challenge with Tapiwa! I love trail races but I don’t think they love me too much! For the first one I did this year, I missed a turn and ended up very lost! In another trail race, I got mugged with 5 km left to run. And then there was Saturday’s race… It was supposed to be a 15 km trail race, but they had obviously not measured it well because it ended up being 17.6 km. We were told the only water stop would be at the 9 – 10 km point and it was actually at the 15 km point (?). As we were at the back of the pack, we spent so much time trying to figure whether we were lost or not especially when we reached 12 km and the water-point they had said was at the 9 km mark was nowhere in sight. The good thing though is that this was my longest run ever and it was brilliant preparation for the Soweto Race! 🙂 Here is the race recap!

Sunday, 29th October: Blogging Day 🙂

Mileage this week: 25.36 km

Mileage this training cycle: 82.22 km

What do you do to celebrate Halloween? Have you run races where the distance was completely off? How was your week of working out? 🙂

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 6

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 5th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

After a disastrous three weeks, I was determined to do better this week and although I still struggled with my workload, my mileage for the week was HIGHER than it was for the previous three weeks COMBINED! LOL! I say that is a win!

Monday – Wednesday, 16th – 18th October: Unplanned “Rest Days”

Same old story. The new project at work meant long hours at the office on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I chose to re-group and catch up with a friend instead of working out.

Thursday, 19th October: Easy Run (Treadmill, 36:25 min; 5 km)

In the morning  I started toying with the idea of doing 5 km. Usually my weekday runs are around 3/ 3.5 km. By the time I got home and changed, I was determined to do 5 km. I put on the Moana DVD for the kids and then hopped on the treadmill. It was such a good run – I felt like my body was “in flow” and I was so light on my feet. I remembered to pull myself upright when I started feeling tired towards the end and before I knew it, I was done! Yipppeee!!

Friday, 20th October: Legal Rest Day.

Saturday, 21st October: Long Run (1:20:40 hours; 10 km)

Runfession Time! So my plan was to do around 6 km but on Thursday or Friday my friend Elisa said she was doing a 16 km Long Run. Tapiwa said she would join, and then Polelo hopped on the bandwagon… so I slowly started convincing myself that waking up at 05:00 am wasn’t so bad after all and having a group would be good for me. Kind of forced hubby to join in too. So we all assembled at the Builder’s Warehouse parking lot at Airport Junction and by 05:50 we set off. We started at the Airport Lights and headed towards Phakalane. Tapiwa, Polelo and I stuck together for most of the run as we were doing 10 km and we maintained a good conversational pace. The route was quite nice as there were some gentle ups and downs, but I didn’t like that there was so much traffic! The last 2 km for me were tough but I pushed through and was overjoyed at the end. Once we were reunited in the parking lot we went for breakfast at Cappuccino’s. There must be some perks for getting up at that time and going for a run, right?!? Lol!

Once we were done with breakfast… I joined the gym and signed a contract for TWO years! What an awesome induction I had – I’ve got my online account now, I have downloaded the app with all the class information, etc., and on Monday I am going to register the two kids for the Kids Club so I can bring them along on some days! I am feeling nervous but mostly excited and motivated!

Sunday, 22nd October: Blogging Day 🙂

Mileage this week: 15 km

Mileage this training cycle: 56.86 km

Do you prefer running on your own or with a group of friends? Do you enjoy going to the gym? Have you found gym classes that complement your running? 

Road to Soweto: Training Recap, Week 2

I am training for the Soweto 10k on the 4th November 2017. The Soweto Marathon is one of the biggest races in Africa and I am really looking forward to being a part of it! I am also doing a #17in2017 Challenge where the goal is to run 17 races this year! To keep myself accountable I am linking up with the inspirational Holly and Tricia this week for their Weekly Wrap! Be sure to check out what they and others have been up to this week.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 19th September: Rest Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Count the fingers!

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

Mileage this week: 17.14 km

Mileage this training cycle: 34.69 km

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

End of Winter Training/Racing Season

I’m going to take a moment to sit back and reflect on the last few months of training and racing! I wrote quite an emotional post back in June where I discussed my injury time-out and put down in black and white my determination to continue with the 17 in 2017 journey despite the setback. I drew comfort and strength from one of my favourite bloggers Wendy, who once spoke of the importance of focusing on finish lines and not finish times. I returned to running with a 3 month winter training plan that was cautious but focused. Unfortunately, my training was quite interrupted with several life and work changes, and sometimes just the gloominess of winter! My blogging also took a bit of a backseat for a while. But I am very pleased to say that of the five races I had planned for this winter, I managed four, bringing my race tally to TEN this year. All my race recaps are now up and here is a short summary:

  • 08 July: I did the Kgale Cross-Country/Trail with my cousin Tapiwa. This was my first 15 km race and unfortunately one where we got mugged on the trail at knife point. It was an awful experience, but we finished the race.
  • 29 July: I participated in the epic 30k Desert-Bush Walk in Jwaneng, taking over seven hours to complete it and emerging from the desert, battered but undefeated!
  • 20 August: I was the 5k trail “sprinter” in the Time Team Challenge in Mokolodi that I did with Elisa and Ditiro. One of my favourite races yet and I shaved 13 minutes off a previous 5k Trail PB.
  • 02 September: To end my Winter Training Cycle, I did the Rustenburg Mountain Race (10km) with my husband on our way back from our holiday in South Africa. It was a tough race but I survived and felt stronger for it.

I emerge from winter, proud that I achieved so much but also extremely excited for what summer has to offer. My winter goal was to keep running, keep rehabbing my knee and to turn up for races, which I did. However, I think I am now ready to focus a little bit more on speed and I’m so excited to launch my training plan for my next goal race, the Soweto 10k in South Africa. The Soweto Marathon is one of THE biggest races in Africa, and I am really looking forward to taking part in the 10k and being part of that vibrant atmosphere. My 8-week Soweto training plan looks like this:

  • Three/four runs a week (with a long run every Saturday)
  • Pilates Classes on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Conditioning/ Strength Exercises at home
  • Joining Virgin Active Gym – my first gym experience in 8 years!
  • Fortnightly weekend hikes up Kgale Hill to try and build some stamina for the Johannesburg hills

The #17in2017 Challenge continues and the next races on my calendar are as follows:

  • 16 September, the Gaborone City Mayor’s 10km
  • 23 September, the Botswana Independence 10km
  • 29 October, King of Africa Race 10km
  • 05 November, the Soweto 10km (GOAL RACE)

I feel ready, I feel excited, I feel optimistic. I will be returning to weekly training recaps, which I have not done all winter. So expect to hear from me every Sunday/Monday on how my training has gone. I find I am a lot more focused when I am forced to blog about my training! Looking forward to sharing the next stage of my journey with you! Let’s do this! Soweto, The People’s Race, I am taking that leap and coming for you…smiling, if a little bit scared!

Ziplining with my boy in Hazyview, South Africa

I am linking up with Courtney from Eat Pray Run for the Weekly Training Recap and really looking forward to linking up every Sunday/Monday to stay accountable and focused! I’m also linking up with Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run! Please check them out too, brilliant reads!