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                 http://www.sanistagger.com/
African Centurion        http://www.africancenturion.com/raceinfo.html

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