Saturday, June 8, 2013

Comrades 2013.....

What a race, up to 52ks I was feeling great, then the wind almost blew me off my feet. My legs got really tired walking into that wind, the dust dried my mouth out.... I normally  would have a sachet at every other table, from about 60 ks  I was taking an Energade and a water , and was thirsty and dry halfway to the next table.
At 72ks I met us up with Liz, the first thoughts were, "wow shes finished and come back to second me" however I soon realised that was not possible - she had baled, she been puking for about 10ks this has never happened to her before, after a race yes but not before.
The number of pukers and passed out going up Polly's was really scary.
Finished with a PW of 11:54.

Ok so summarising this years training, we missed too many long races - Long tom cancelled - :Loskop rain, possibly also my dislocated toe, stress with Max, work issues etc. But there again how do you train for excessive heat and wind.

We left Joburg for our 6 hour drive to Maritzburg to stay with Nikki and Myles as is our custom. They have a really great house and a re a most welcoming family, on the way down we decided to go to get our numbers on Friday to save some time, we also went to the finish area so as to familiarise ourselves with where to go and what to do on race day. We had Liz's cousin Joe with us from the UK so we showed him the International tent, and our club tent. He though the trip down was quite short, as he fell asleep as soon as the car was moving  We then went to a spot called Worlds View its really beautiful, with amazing almost 360 degree views. Had a nice relaxing meal followed by a good sleep, probably the first of the week. An amazing Omelette was followed by a drive down the route, this may be a bad idea but it is good in some ways to know whats coming. One problem was we did the route on the way down, which tends to hide some hills.

We checked in to our hotel a mere 15 minute walk to the start the 15th floor!

We walked to the expo as Joe had selected  Durban as his pick up point. The normal queue was taking about 2 hours, Joe had an International pickup which was really quick. We browsed a bit then left a few tonics with various sponsors/charities with spots along the route went to see the start area, and timed our slow walk back to the hotel. This took 20 minutes, there was a short cut we could take so 15 minutes was allowed. We spent the afternoon preparing everything, then took a short walk along the beach. A friend Gerhard  joined me with a Guinness and we went off to dinner. I had peri-peri Chicken breasts, they being Durban were nice and hot, Liz also had chicken, Joe being a youngster had a Pizza and a Pasta!.  

The alarm went off at 3:45, what an ungodly hour, at least the Durban start is warm, no sub  5 degree starts here. Joe headed off for breakfast, I munched a muffin, Liz never eats before a race. We set off for the start around 4:30 and I took an appletiser to drink along the way, I had a  consciously hydrated well over the last few days, but then I stopped drinking so much on the evening and morning of the race, this was a definite decision as I tried to limit my pee stops.

Got to the start and H batch at the back was already about 6-8 rows deep. Liz (C) and Joe( D) went forward to their batches. I met up with a few club mates, shared some stories....Just before the start a lady a few meters from me collapsed, it was very stuffy and hot for 1 hr before sunrise. They managed  to move her off the route, you never find out what happens in cases like this. The National Anthem was sung with gusto, as the enormity of the race starts to dawn...

As the gun went off , I  started my watch, 2 minutes later a guy next to me asked when the gun was going to go off! no movement yet. slowly we moved on and got mobile. Out of Durban is ok as the road is quite wide and  although it is up hill, I actually tried to think of the race as one long uphill....
 In the past I have always struggled with busses as they keep over taking me then stopping and up setting my rhythm. They generally have a run walk statergy, but there were no 11:30 busses, so no one trying to emulate my pace. I passed the 12:00 bus at 2ks and never heard or saw them again. I felt really good as I went along just trying to get my my average pace down to  7:50 region. My first k  having taken 13:36, I achieved my goal at 20ks, just as we started up fields hill, which was hill number 2, yes you are right this year I hardly noticed  Cowies which is hill 1. It was around I here I passed a "lady" with as WALKER tag. a while later she was in front of me, I then discovered she was running the downhill- I voiced my severe disapproval of not covering up or removing her walker tag.  I met up with Carmenn at 34ks within 30 seconds of my estimated time 2 seconds out from my previous up walk. . Got a tonic water and some dates along with a  chocolate coated nougat... Liz was 40 minutes  ahead, Gerhard  was 30. Liz was therefore a bit behind her goal.... My dates got me up Bothas hill which was a real ba$tard 2 years ago  I lost a lot of motivation on this hill. By 42ks I was 3 minutes faster than last time, by 52 I was 6 minutes faster, I at this stage thought i could maybe do a 11:20!!   At around 40ks they had a tv on and were cheering on the leading runner, I joked to someone next to me, they say its downhill all the way now, this was met with a stare as I walked past. At the half way i caught up with as walker Edward and I thought great at last I can find out more about him, as I was about to draw level he stopped with his club tent, he passed me right near the end on my first Comrades. He baled after Polly Shorts this year.

At 51ks we started a nice downhill, as I turned the corner the wind almost blew me off my feet. I was struggling to walk downhill, as it was a berg wind, ie coming down the mountain and heating up along the way, it was hot, being about 1pm it was at its hottest.. it was really hard work into the wind, my legs started aching from the exertion. over the next 20ks till I met Liz I lost  5 of those minutes, I did get another tonic from the Breakthru tent at 59ks which helped a lot, quinine being an anti-inflammatory. I did take a Norflex around here as my legs were understandably getting a "little" tired. As I started off after the BreakThru table I saw Geoff who is a really strong walker, he normally gets faster the longer he goes- his goal was a 10:30  so I knew he was in trouble, as he appeared to be puking. I passed him, as he stopped to get some magic spray on his hamstrings. He almost caught me going up a hill but appears to have baled somewhere as he did not finish.

I did not know what to do when I saw Liz, I knew it was really tight for me to make it, if i tried to help her, we probably would neither have made it. Not an expert on the subject but puking says your body has had enough, she was probably dehydrated, could not keep anything down. Not sure what to do I respected her   decision as the wise one. We have  gone through it a few times, neither of us have ever baled a race. My one consolation is she recovered quickly, and over the next few days added the 16ks to her weekly total, feeling absolutely fine, She could have ended up in hospital.
To quote from a news report

"833 runners were treated at the Finish Venue at the Pietermaritzburg Cricket Oval; 366 were attended to at the main Medical Tent while 427 sought R&R, rub-downs and mild treatment at the St. John’s Tent. The majority of the patients were treated for dehydration and exhaustion.

35 patients were treated at Durban’s St. Augustine’s Hospital while 61 patients were treated at Pietermaritzburg’s St. Anne’s Hospital. Of these, four patients were admitted to the ICU at St. Annes Hospital while one patient was admitted to the Medi-Clinic.

The Comrades Marathon’s medical provisions for Race Day have been described as ‘possibly the world’s largest temporary medical facility outside of a conflict zone’.

Dr Boulter says, ‘The main Medical Tent usually sees an average of 250 patients on Race Day but this year was different and more demanding in that we attended to 68% more patients."

I hang on till the end roughly losing 30 seconds per km to my previous UpWalk. I passed some people I knew, many lying motionless on the side of the road, I was really hoping the medics got there fast but not much one can do! I basically felt that I could make it so tried to walk conservatively, not forcing the pace, but still going fast enough to get complete the race. I was drinking 2 sachets at every table, 4 times my norm, I did not have to stop for a pee break, normally I have stopped twice.  The wind dried my mouth and removed all sweat. I was thirsty for the last 35ks of the race, 2 sachets hardly wet my throat. 
There is no better feeling than hearing the stadium announcer telling you how little time you have but knowing      that you are "safeish" Its not over till the fat lady sings.. Going in to the brightly light stadium, suddenly you realise a day has passed since you left Durban, and once again you will be rewarded  with the smallest medal you will ever receive. I guess its reminiscent of the old war medals, not the modern day Dictator medals and I suppose we do this race to honour those who have died in defence of their countries. The fact that it was a PW of 11:54:52 has no bearing, I am enormously proud to have finished this race. I was bone dry when I got to the finish, it normally get cold very quickly in PMB but I did not need to even  change my clothes.     

The queue was toooo long at the energade/soup tent so I set off for the BreakThru tent. Liz was looking a bit distraught for not finishing,  but at least hour family has 10 medals. Will there be more? I guess there will.....
Gerhard finished his 10th Comrades what an achievement, I've known others achieve this, but to have a friend and  training partner do it was really very special.  He did 10:59 which gave him a bronze medal for finishing within the old (but not original) cut off.   Joe did a very comfortable 9:47, he says with lots of walking.  

We set off to find Carmenns car she parked outside the parking area but traffic is a real pain as so many seem to wait until the last finisher finishes. We went to Steers and most had a double thick Chocolate Milkshake which was eaten with a spoon....
5 of us got our tired legs into the car, at least its as Auto as Gerhard (I think) had his legs on the gear lever, being the tallest I was in front, my quads were in a cramp for half the journey.... Thanks Carmenn for the excellent service! dropped off at our door, we went to our rooms to analyse the day. It was really hard for Liz, but I suppose it could have been worse. 8 years ago she watched comrades from her bed while recovering from DVT. 
The next day we treated ourselves to breakfast and then off to uShaka Market  to buy some spices  and a bunny chow for Joe, this is curry served in a 1/4 , 1/2 or full loaf of bread with the dough being taken out to make room for the curry. Having promised to order a full, he settled on a 1/4!!
We now had a date with 6 others from Liz's family who we were meeting at fairways in the berg for the week.
This was a really enjoyable week with list of wine whisky and no song. I played 8 holes of golf on Tuesday   
 Liz did a 8k run, I did 12 holes on Wednesday and felt much better for it.  Debbie introduced us to PNF stretching which helped my hamstrings and calves recover. No injury just over work tiredness. A  number of the family went for a tour up Sani Pass ( reminds me must enter Sani Stagger on 1st August . ) 
Then on Thursday the 4 youngsters went up the Rhino, a 18k hike with about 1200m elevation gain. Jono struggled a bit but the other three had started comrades so were much fitter. It is a tough hike but its the 3 rd time I've done it and I enjoy it every time.  Joe ended up running up the last section with hot on his heels. On the way to the start the temp in the car said -6degC. I doubt the day temp went much above 15..  

Liz and I both felt rotten on Friday while driving home, headaches flu or something. My calves are a bit tight now and I can feel my quads a bit from coming down the Rhino. We both still have headaches but hopefully a few days rest will cure all..

We survive to race another race!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Suikerbosrand Done

We were invited by the mountain club of SA to a presentation by Nepal Tourism on a group of Nepalese woman who have set out to climb the 7 summits see for more. We could not turn this opportunity down, having been in the Kumba last year. So Namaste's were brought out of the closet, it was a great evening although they served us dinner around 9pm. A bit late for the night before race!! We ended up going to bed around 11:30pm. No Guinness this time!

The alarm sounded at 3:30, we got ready hoping to leave before 4:00am, I was not exactly sure where the start was but we entered the entrance gate I found on my gps and off we went. There are tow entrances, this was not the right one. I managed to find the other one on the GPS and off we went, a bit of dirt driving was fun but a shortcut none the less. The road in the reserve could not cope with cars parked on either side and traffic both ways so it took some time to find parking, then to sort out our entries,Liz wen to the loo and I said  to meet back at the car. About 100 in front of me with mere minutes to the start, the helpers were struggling, many people could not find their numbers but they kept on searching. I saw our names on an envelope, being tall helps sometimes, grabbed them and  gave them to the guy handing out our T shirts. I ran back top the car, it was only a few minutes before the start, got our numbers on, I have printed some labels without details on to save time. As we were leaving the car we heard the announcer I guessed the start was delayed. Others were still coming in to the car park. We made our way to the  where we though he start was, where are all the runners?  I stopped to tighten my shoes as my feet were moving around in my shoes. In the distance we see the leads runners nearly a 1km down the road.. no delayed start, start the watch and off we go. When I got to the 1k marker my watch was close enough to 1km to be happy I found the start.

 This the profile, other than the up and down it has no correlation to the profile on the entry. Having some severe misgivings about the race , the organisers etc, by 5km I was really enjoying the race. I set out to do the downs at or below 7.00/km and to try and keep around 7:30 on the ups.   I did however decide to keep it comfortable and not push too hard. I ended up going a bit slower than I hoped- my hopes were actually way too fast for this route. I find it amazing when doing a 52 how going through 21 or 32 or 42, which are normal race distances, does not feel like the end of the race, but just an achievement of a distance marker. I go to 21 in 2:34 which was good, 32 in 3:55  and 42 in  5:14, I was really happy with these times, but up to    35ks my average was still 7:22. It was from here onwards that my pace slowed. The hills contributed but also the lack of long distance training had an impact. I suppose that's why we do these longer races, to build up the required stamina.
It was encouraging to be able to leave many runners behind over the last 10ks, even when we drove out after finishing I saw numerous runners who I had passed during the race. Next major race is Loskop 50 on 20 April, there is the possibility of a 50k training walk on the 7th April, maybe a slow  LSD there would be a good idea.
I really struggled with my shoe laces today, they were way too tight, I did not want my heels moving up and down. I tried  stopping to loosen   them and release the double know but then a few ks later the knots came loose, but were still tight over the top of my foot. I could feel they were really tight but did not want to loosen them too much.The tops of my feet, directly under the laces knot were pretty swollen after the race, they have gone down today but are still a little tender. I think these shoes are a narrower fit than my other pair of Kayanos. I will need to sort this out before my next long one as these are intended as my Comrades shoes...

Another race down, 248ks for the month so far can I get to 400? Time will tell

Monday, March 18, 2013

52k @ 52

This race should be fun on Thursday

Sunward Fordyce 52 km, Half Marathon & 10 km

Online EntryFlyersClub Contacts
Date:21 March 2013
Organisers:Sunward Athletics Club
Distance:52; 21.1; 10; 5;
Province:Vaal Triangle
Start:Kareekloof Facility
Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve
Contact 1: Cheryl Gould
(W) 011-5249502
(F) 086-6503503
(C) 079-5907259

Contact 2: Brian Gould
(C) 078-4576893
Entry Details:
Pre-entry Closing Date: 14 March 2013
Pre-entries close on 13 March 2013. Entries are also accepted at the start from 04h30 but are limited to 1 200 entrants for the main race.
Route Description:
Difficulty Rating: 4. Route Type: Circular
The route winds along a tarred road through the scenic hills and valleys of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, and finishes at the Kareekloof picnic resort. The organisers promise a tough but unusual run as a variety of animals can be spotted along the way. This route is always challenging but rewarding with excellent pre-Comrades hills to negotiate. This race has been described as "not for the faint-hearted" by participants.

Suikerbosrand Marathon
Prizes and Give-Aways:
Gold medals to category winners and silver medals to all finishers in all three events.
Course Records:
MenJ. Teffo03:13:062006
WomenL. Folsher03:57:102012
Editor's Notes:
The race takes you away from the demands of urban traffic as only official organisers' vehicles are allowed along the route. A number of clubs are using the event as a pre-Comrades long run because of its timing on the calendar. The route offers everything Comrades has and possibly a little more! Because of environmental and logistical sensitivities it is imperative that you arrive early for this race.

The half marathon starts at 07h00 and has a 3:30 hour time limit. The 10 kilometre race also starts at 07h00 and has a 02:00 time limit.
Finishers: 812

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vaal Marathon

As noted previously this years race planning  has not worked out like previous years. I like to do  my long races about a month apart to allow for recovery between races. I am essentially now 1 marathon behind what I had planned, but missing a marathon is not a real problem as I prefer longer slower races.

With the disastrous month of Feb behind us- Sasol cancelled, Holiday gone wrong, near disaster with Max our precious dog.... March looks set to be a much better month for me anyway.      
In the the last few weeks we have not been able to train as regularly as we normally do, but I still got some good sessions in, Liz however needs her daily fix and without she gets grumpy, loses focus and .... enthusiasm.

We were up at 3:30 to head off to Vereeniging for the start of Vaal marathon, the fast and furious route promising a good time for all.   I had hoped to leave  just before 4 so as to get to the start around 5, to allow enough time to stretch the legs , enter and hand in Liz's tog bag. We were only a few minutes late but the traffic build up was starting as we got within 2km of the stadium, the trusty GPS got us a back route to the parking.
Entries were simple, the air was a lot cooler than expected which could be due to the presence of 3 rivers in the area, even by the start at 6 am it was warm enough.
My goal was to follow my pacing chart from fellrnr, get my ave pace to 7:00 and then keep it there as long as possible, knowing my max pace should be around 7:08.  This was a big race so my first km ended up taking 7:46, there were wide enough roads to allow the field to spread out I soon got into a comfortable stride.By 6kms I was at 6:59 and feeling good, I was wary of going to too fast as I have done a few fastish 21s lately and did not want to overdo it, I was trying to walk within 10 secs of 7:00 /km, a feat which I achieved  until lap 23 which was fine but after lap 12 I never got below 7 until the final km...
There was a sub 5:00 bus which was led by Vlam  I was never more than about 500m ahead of them, I knew I could not allow the bus to overtake or I would be in trouble. At one stage around 35km the leading runners caught up with me as they started a walk cycle. I seriously got tired of hearing the singing and breathing instructions right behind me. The lack of longer walks was causing me the fear that maybe I was not going to make ...  ks 30- 34 were my slowest of the race, i slowed to 7:35 on two of those laps. It was around then that I knew i had to dig deep, a increase my speed a bit. I managed  a few 7:15 ks and kept the bus at bay. I really had to dig deep, but the thought of having to do another marathon for my qualifier was like a real kick in the backside. I know we need to do some ultras and was not sure of qualifying on a tough Ultra like Suirbos- where I am only hoping to average around 7:30 for some good time on my legs.  These thoughts spurred me on as I raced for the stadium. The bus was bearing down on me as we came in to the stadium, I could almost hear their feet landing behind me....        I held on beating the bus by a few seconds, 4:59:04 on my watch. My second fastest 42 on my watch, I did 4:58:59 at Kaapsehoop in 2011 and my third sub 5:00 after 4:59:30 at Elands Valley in 2010.

The day before the race I hydrated well , took some salt tabs, and carbo loaded with a Guinness.

How did I feel aftewards?
My left hamstring cramped as I stopped after crossing the finish line.
I felt much better after about 15 miuntes at the club tent after the race- this was a real blessing as I was not expecting a club tent. The muffins were great thanks so much to Kebu  for organising the eats.  I had about 2 L of energade  before leaving the  car park..
We stopped for Tonic water on the way home, a great after race drink, the chocolate milks were finished damn.
I drank more energade at home along with a rehydrate. I did have a few calf cramps but they were not as bad as after Tuks and Pirates back to back, the legs felt much better after drinking more.
This morning my hamstrings are a bit tight and my calves feel like I've done a 10k.
So hopefully the good recovery continues, I think the extra fluids after the race have helped with my recovery

I do not like marathons, but looking forward to Suikerbos 52 on the 21st March.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Comrades 2013

What a year this is turning out to be training for Comrades, normally I set out my races well in advance and things work out, not this year ......
Long races planning.

Sasolburg Marathon 2 Feb  Cancelled due to unrest and funerals
Township Marathon  24 Feb can't do because doing vaal
New  Vaal Marathon 3 March  I was confidnet of qualifiying at Sasolburg now for a new race...
New Fordyce 52 21 March to replace long tom
Longtom 56 30 March moved to 6 April then Cancelled due to finances and possibly indecision re date
Elands valley 13 April last resort to qualify?
Loskop 50 20 April possible last resort to qualify? or just a good long walk.

Comrades 2 June

Let see what pans out