Thursday, October 27, 2016

African Centurion 2016

I am still asking myself why I entered this event not so much in because its to tough or anything, just why. Let's try and work it out!!

Over the years I progressed in distance I have sought help from various places but in the beginning I learned most from Patty and her merry band of walkers at the walking site. In 2013 I remember this new guy arrived Rob Robertson, and boy did he progress. I encouraged him then no sooner than having to do his debut Marathon on a treadmill at home because of a snow storm cancelling his planned event, the next thing he's eclipsing all my times, after a year of a walking .... then I hear he plans to do 100 miles and I think that's just dof ( dumb for non safricans). And boy he nails it- aha I could never do that so many laps around a wee track.... I feel safe , then he does another.. then he wants to get all 6 except Malaysia does not happen anymore.. guess they not so popular... then some Ozzie joins the walking site guess he met Rob on one of the weird races. next thing I get a message Whats up with this Robben Island Centurion?  I google and believe it or not google does not lie... it appears something is on the go. then lo and behold Rob jets off  meets up with John Killmartin and together they try and get dizzy, 396 laps of lane 3 on a track is 100 miles.... You will never catch me doing that.... Then we hear Robben Island is 20 laps times 8km... my heart says I could do that my head says "Call a psychiatrist!!!!" ....
Speak to Kypie... sounds like fun.. maybe but hey we concentrate on Comrades-- see previous post for that story....

When Entries open I get a message from Rob he's in.. John's next  Kypie not keen.. So I leave it.. but what if we don't get enough response... will they cancel it... In a moment of confusion I enter . but what will my wife do, no ways will she second me by sitting on stool... I know her better than that. So we start agitating people , everyone I walk with hears about African Centurion, but not much interest... About now is when I tried to do some digital canvasing but the official site was not cohesive to that  , Comrades Marathon Face Book Page , no interest ... Comrades Marathon Walkers Facebook page,... not  interest.  Whats this Friends of  page idea.. lets try it. So was born.. This seemed to work gradually we got together various teams.. broken leg apart we seemed top all get there. We had some  interesting planning sessions - talk about the blind leading the blind. The novice giving advice- Why because I am walking further?

So enough background. Liz and I decided to drive down so we could take more stuff.. Tobie Reyneke  the knowledgeable 34 x hundred miler  gave me  some advice, you need good sleep in the days prior -- possibly his biggest cause of baling this time.. Not being the greatest sleeper I though get a mild sleeping pill. In the aisle with Somnil in one hand I ask for stay awake tablets,  the look was awesome! " Not taking those together are you???"  Tobie also said rather have a stay-awake tab and not need it than want it and not have it.. would the bakkie ( Ute) be big enough...   Any way Sunday night I take my Somnil and on Monday we head off for our walk.. Liz thought I was at the end of the Centurion already, I was walking so slow.. I could not get below 8:30 /km I felt like a Zombie all day , I even slept really well on Monday night...

Tuesday we drive past Colesburg to Safari Farm Park about 680km. please the Somnil has now worn off...I had some issue with a big client but trying to logon via edge to terminal server was not easy but I tried various fixes. I had a good nights  sleep again before going through to Protea Farm in Montagu  but we went the scenic route through  Meiringspoort and Ladismith before a quick wine tasting in Barrydale    

As we arrive at Protea farm I discover that the fixes are not working and  .... Oh well carry on looking but no success.. There is no cell phone coverage in the 3 walled room.   We relearned our wind geography with the Anabatic and Catabatics keeping us on our toes.  The next day was a wine tasting day  along with more rusks and dried fruit... Maybe too much dried fruit I am not sure but my Diarrhea started around midnight I lost count of times.  I regretted missing my sleep. but hey we have to take it on the cheek. We made it to collect our numbers after a stunning drive through farmlands and over Franschoek pass. We progressed to the water front to find the Clock tower... Liz had a beer while the boys had some Eton mess dessert at Quay 4.. Then off to Moulle point and memories from Bay to Bay.

We stayed at our friend Rob in Verdehoek , I had a single glass of white wine followed by Steak and Roast veggies followed by cheesecake followed by final packing and prep.

Diarrhea persisted during the night so I managed get some Imodium from Rob and hoped for the best.  As we waited for the ferry it started to rain .. by the time we boarded the rain was over but the wind was up and the sea was choppy. A number of people took sea sick tablets a few more were not so lucky... we arrived to wait for our bus... I got frustrated and just lugged my provisions box , next time wheels or less provisions, I guess wheels are best.

#### Mistake 1 forgot my footpod after my zombie walk on Monday.

It is hard preparing for a race that starts at midday you feel you have so much time but it goes quickly. I taped  my heels with Zinc Oxide plaster as a prevention for blisters.. I nearly forgot my Microspore nipple plasters, but at least I did remember them.. I did forget to take salt tabs the day before but hey no ones perfect.. We set off to the start   Liz came with  and took some pics.. What a start it was Kypie, John, Petro and myself walking in a bunch for almost half the lap. Fundi charged past like she wanted to win the event.. I tried to settle into a good rhythm and keep moving along. first 11km were completed in 1:27 pretty much on schedule, if I could now stay below 1 hr per 7km lap it would be fine. actually I worked out up to 65 minutes would be fine.

####Gripe 1  The Ninja timing only gave us elapsed time, no laps, no last lap time, no pace etc.. So I had to rely on my Garnin.

Up to my 6 lap all was great then the sun said goodnight and the wind was not happy so I guess it chased the sun even further. Boy did it blow. Gauteng Smilers and Pretoria Strollers were excellent in supporting me... Thank you so much..

#### Mistake 2 I stopped to change my top form day tonight, taking off my white top and using a wicking T under a thermal long sleeve. This separated me from my team support.

#### Mistake 3 I did  not change my shorts for my thermal long johns at the same time as I changed my top. so 2 laps later when I was colder I stopped again. these stops were about 4 minutes each, on laps 7 and 9          

#### Concern #1 Being at the coast one expects plenty of Oxygen but I was finding I could not breath deeply.  I tried my various  breathing methods but nothing helped. Almost took up Conita on her offer of an Asthma pump. This stayed like this  to the end and never improved. On though about it well afterwards when I was able to breath normally again anyway.

I was now walking alone and struggling with calves and hamstrings threatening to cramp. I decided to take it as easy as my pacing limits would allow.  It was around this time that Rob Robertson passed me , walking his customary slow but steady pace. As he passed glanced at my watch watch I had slowed to 8:13 which is Robs pace. He said everyone goes through a tough patch and it will improve. I decided  to aanhouwen - just persevere. as long as I could keep my pace below 9min/km I had a chance of success.  At one stage I thought I had become too slow but convinced myself to keep going a bit further
At some stage I  needed the loo and took another Imodium. By now I had eaten from  a wide source of preserved Ginger , Milo bar , Hot Milo, Hot Chicken Stock, Licorice, mars bars, a peanut butter jungle oats bar and most laps I got energade as well as drinking water on my laps.  Funnily I could not eat biltong but did take some salt tabs..   Never touched coke.
I had meant to  recharge my watch but somehow got that wrong and managed to lockup my watch. so that was now useless, thanks Kypie for loaning me your watch, even though the the data fields were different I still got the last lap pace and actual time. This really helped me.   Also the Aleve helped me to reduce the fear of cramping.. not normally one for drugs but in limited cases it is ok. I was peeing regularly showing I was hydrated, on Comrades I never need to pee as I control my input.

During the night somehow Hans waited for me I think and we set off again. He tried to speed me up but I really feared cramps so walked as fast as I could but holding back so as to keep going. It was great to have the support of Gauteng Smilers again and Conita from Pretoria Strollers joined in one lap with Hans. We had numerous laps where every time I came round I was taking 2 laps off- yes I was optimistic!! I watched the moon rise and saw some absolutely beautiful views of Table Mountain, Industrial Cape Town , and some distant views of Bloubergstrand, all these keep me focused on my task.  Walking the  sunrise loop with Liz  was mind blowing. Liz was amazing and did a double loop to support me.


Eventually my team confirmed sub 8:55 to the end and I checked myself and thought actually  9:30 is safe so set out to try and keep going.  It was amazing to say only 35km to go just over a Tough One and actually feel that I could make it.
Unfortunately John Killmartin baled at about midnight with blisters, Liz took the photos. He tried another lap but it was just too sore. Sorry Mate better luck next time, maybe try my two thin socks option.

My Hero Rob Robertson caught me with about 3 laps to go we walked some way together that  was really special. TFOF is a really hard dilemma - the fear of failure  that is-  when Gertrude went past in fear that she was too slow we said easy its safe, but no Rob and Gertude set off on charge.  Maybe Kypie was not as calm as me! Waar is daie donderse Dave nou!
On my second last lap Werner who had baled from vomiting during the night was  down in bottom section near the  sea supporting the last finishers. he gave some energy and a dose of water down my back. Thanks Werner .. on my final lap I was more confident and avoided the cold water and was really chuffed walking my last lap with m,y biggest supporter Liz..

My Diarrhea stopped only in Tuesday night. Guess it was a tough bug!
All I can say is thank you to all who in any way encouraged me , challenged me or inspired me to become a Centurion.
I am the 8th or 9th  South African to become a Centurion. the first was in 1912!!
I am the 18 person to finish the inaugural African Centurion.
Less than 2000 people have become centurions most of these are UK centurions!

Who is gonna join me and become a Centurion?
Thanks to for the pictures more can be found on his page!!! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Comrades 2016

What a day..

So we drove the route, as we did Kypie's eyes got wider and wider, fortunately we stopped just after halfway  we decided a craft beer was in order to calm our nerves poor Kypie only had a diet coke!! These hill are something else, let no one kid you that this is a down only race....

We caught the bus to the start to alleviate stress, except our bus was so slow it was almost in first gear most of the way. Once in Maritzburg the traffic was so bad we abandoned the bus and walked to the start..  Instead of being in  the front of H (the last batch) we were pretty much in the middle.. The atmosphere is awesome, as we move forward when the ropes come down, batch by batch we edged forward. We got to where E batch started off which is about normal.  Out of the blue Heather popped up behind us so great to start with friends around us. We had me met up with Giep and  Leana the night before, and seen them enroute to the pens but could not see them at the start.
I spent much time analyzing times vs hopes and expectations ..  eventually I worked out a reasonably simple calculation. If each 30km leg  took less than 4 hrs we were fine... I started my stopwatch as planned at the gun, and my Garmin at the mat.    It took  8 minutes to cross the line.. We settled in to a comfortable pace and went through 30km in 3:46 from the mat in 7:33/km pace add the 8 minutes in and we were on about 7:40.
At around 19km we caught  Giep who did not look happy and did not respond positively when I motioned him to join us as planned.  
The 12 hr bus passed us at about the 5km , I knew they were going to fast but let them go. At around  25km just before Camperdown we caught them- - my biggest bugbear on comrades is these busses, they block the road and make it "impossible" to pass. We went on the grass to overtake, I think I heard Buks (the bus driver) comment as we went past. We hit a down hill through Camperdown so upped the pace to get away ..   a few km later we met up with Mavis Morris another walker albeit without Ws.. She walked with us for quite a long way just fading a bit on the hills but on checking her splits she was only a few meters behind us.

I knew we had to maintain a good pace so kept going on the uphills and allowing Kypie to catch up on the downs. I am much stronger on hills - note to self Kypie needs to do severe hill work before next year. Kypie complained a bit about shins , piriformis, etc but hey its a long day and we all have pains.  I hurt my left knee a few months ago going toooo fast on a dog run and that was hurting a bit not real pain just a niggle but enough to cause angst.. We settled in to a rhythm and plodded  along.... and along.... My but its a long way. 

I try and maintain hydration to a level that I never need to stop.. Kypie was not so successful, but still managed to keep up. We passed 1000 hills chef school but they were not handing out beers for tasting! oh well better keep going.   
We went through 60km in around 3:53 on my Garmin so we had a few more minutes in the bag. Going up Cowies the last major hill Kypie fell back a bit , but I had told him about the downhill, except for another damn bus, dawdling down ... then they jogged a bit till the road narrowed and tehy slowed to a crawl. We went off passing on the grass again then they started  jogging so we rejoined. Kypie confirmed that sub 8:30/km would get him to the end, and I extricated myself from the bus and shot in front , this was around the 70km, I kept looking back but never saw Kypie.. I got into a nice rhythm  and just kept going. Passed  a friend Peter Bosch who had done Jackie Gibson with me , he was battling but I thought he would make it ( later I found out he baled with 3km to go- it is a tough race) Those last few kms just drag on and on and on ... and on. 

We had seen a friend Pottie  a few times along the way and guessed he was seconding his son , with a less than 2km to go Kobus introduced himself as Potties son, its a small world... I was hoping to at least get a 11:3X but just missed out, 2 years ago i did 11:45:03 now 11:40:06 . Job done for me ..
I enjoyed the race , some niggles but always thought and felt comfortable.
My 3 goals were   
"My Goals for Comrades 2016
1 For Liz to finish her 10th Comrades- hope sjhe achieves her goal time
2 For Kypie , Giep and myself to all finish Comrades by walking it...
3 For me to better my down pb of 11:45 and possibly by overall Comrades PB of 11:27"

My awesome wife did an amazing 9:33 so now has her green number.    

Kypie ( 11:50) and I finished as planned , Giep struggled and baled but maybe we can help him more next year if we train together.

I got my down PB, I maintained my pace the whole way. I am very happy

Interesting comparing our pacing

Now to plan the rest of this years races..

Some ideas
Sani Stagger       
African Centurion

Keep walking

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Comrades 2016 - my thoughts

As I prepare for the daunting prospect of propelling my body from Pietermaritzburg to Durban in less than 2 weeks time, sitting here with a cold front deluging buckets of water from the heavens I wonder what weather we will have on the day. A rerun of the cold 2012( glad I missed that one) or a berg wind resisted 2013( boy was it hot) I guess time will tell.

My mind is ready for this year, every race  has been purpose driven , most training sessions have been rewarding. I have met some amazing people through walking, most have inspired  me to achieve more , to set my goals higher, to strive for that little bit more, to them I say thank you.

One of the toughest parts for me as a walker in attempting Comrades is the qualifier, boy would I like more 60km plus races, much easier for me on the longer races as then the pace required is just a bit slower. Last year  October i attempted revenge on SABS marathon, I did a poor time of 5:15 in  2014 and really wanted a sub 5 , I based my pace on 2014's distance, worked out I could do 7:04 / km on my watch and be safe. It was not to be I missed my qualifier by 19 seconds... finished at 7:04 but the route came out longer this year than the previous year- on my watch that is. I really enjoyed the race but felt very deflated at my mistake...

January we went to Cape Town for my nephews wedding , did the amazing Bay to Bay 30km ( better race than TOM 56 in my opinion) did lots of beach walking and some cycling but felt just under-trained going into Sasolburg 42.. Another route issue as the route had always been a bit short was up to full distance, as I realised this I slowed a bit and came in a 5:04... good training but still not a qualifier.

I toyed with Bergville 52 but decided instead to do the 42 at Cosmos 73.3 as my qualifier.. I knew the route from last year, Kypie (my walking buddy who is doing Comrades this year )  joined us , he picked up an injury doing Sunrise monster the week before ( I had hoped he would push me through my qualifier)   I did not have Jane to pull me either ( she did Cosmos 42 last year as her first ever marathon, 1/2 a pace ahead of me the whole way). Oh well at least i have my Garmin...

My 310XT has one flaw, after  charging when power is removed it sometimes switches on.. I had charged but on the morning of the race.. low battery ... bang another pacer gone.. I just though I will just use my normal watch. Liz and Kypie offered me theirs. but I'm stubborn and  refused. As we started I looked back at Kypie he was not looking happy , ok he won't push me I thought. Then I saw Buks 5hr bus.. I'll use them  I thought... My calculations said they are going too fast so I let them go.   I was trying to do roughly 50 minutes for every 7ks.. and felt good at that . At 25km I thought I was ahead of schedule by 32 I was convinced I was behind.  Your mind's ability to do maths fades with fatigue - dont try complex maths keep it simple...  In the distance I heard Buks voice, ok I
need to catch them I thought.. I tried asking people their pace, both said 10 min/km. I knew they were wrong, but decided that come hell or high water I was going to qualify.. My strength in mind helped me as I truly accelerated to the fastest I could go. .   I managed 4:57:35 ( average pace of 7:03- see SABS for relevance), finishing a dew seconds behind the 5hr bus.. Afterwards Buks admitted to doing some kms at 6:40 which is way too fast for the 5hr bus.. Kypie came in a bit later , I was truly chuffed he finished cant say looking strong but still moving.. We did the 21 and 10 km together at a really slow but comfortable pace..

I convinced Kypie to join us for our IngramsEaster100 ( 42 32 20 20) which includes a bit of VAT. The 42 in Midrand includes Norfolk and Milford , two notorious climbs, Liz Shane and Kypie were not very communicative when we got to the top of Milford... Gerhard on the bike encouraged Kypie  quite a bit.. anyway we all did our 100km+ well done..

The midrand 60 which I did last year as well was Kypie's first Ultra...

Ok so now training is over , where does that leave us.
I am on 1237 as of today  20ks behind last year but missed the Love Run yesterday because of rain, so on a par. 70km behind 2104 but 110 km ahead of 2013 all on the 15th May.
A good year overall I guess.

My Goals for Comrades 2016
1 For Liz to finish her 10th Comrades- hope sjhe achieves her goal time
2 For Kypie , Giep and myself to all finish Comrades by walking it...
3 For me to better my down pb of 11:45 and possibly by overall Comrades PB of 11:27
 My Plan for Comrades 2016
We (the walkers) plan to start together..
I will start my stopwatch at the gun , and my Garmin as I cross the start line, could be 6-8 minutes later.
My goals will be to get our pace to around 7:30- 7:35 per km and keep there to about 60km.
That will leave us 4:20 hrs to the last 30km ie just under 9 minutes per km.. I am sure we can all finish from there. Depending how I feel then either I will speed up a bit or just keep going at that pace.  I need to go below 7:30/km average for a pb...
This is similar to my previous goals so I truly believe it is achievable..
Intention is to do 7:00 /km on downhills  , just below 7:30 on the flats and keep as close to  8:00 /km on the ups as possible. in 2014 my first was 12mins   and 20 of my last 50kms were 8 or above. Only the  56th km was above 9 it apears that is where I met up with a second of mine in Hillcrest. 
From 60km on there were only 7kms above 8 which includes Cowies Mayville and Tollgate..
That section also includes some boring hot freeway walking...
My toughest part of the down route is Halfway to the top of Bothas about 8km of climbing...
These below show best and worse.
I set it a 91km as my watch normally ends around there

Good Luck and enjoy the day