Friday, April 11, 2014

3 WEEKS of TRAINING

After African-X, like any other good Athlete (and by good I mean well behaved) I took the week off... OK I took 3 days off, OK I still ran but easy, only running 6km on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was a really beauty of a day so I headed up to the Block House...

That's Nic, don't think Usain Bolt would have made it up there!!!
I think the legs must have recovered or the brain had stopped working, because with Friday a holiday I had time to head up the mountain... It was perfect up there, not a breath of wind or cloud, and early in the morning I was alone!

Maclear's Beacon

Now with the weekend behind up, and the rest week over it was time to start build-up to Oceans. While I am aiming at the 22km trail race most of my boys have the half in their sights, so the program would focus on them...

WEEK 1: with Monday's easy run behind us Tuesday had us on the road for 3-4 x 2km (90sec rest). (3 for the guys doing the half and 4 for the rest of us.
Wednesday I sent the boys off to run an easy 15km with a couple of long hills, while I ran 15km on the mountain following the Oceans trail route.
Thursday and it was time for the next session... HILLS, Oceans has plenty of hills and the boys need to be able to run up and down! The entrance to Rhodes mem has a long unforgiving hill of almost 500m... I called it a day after 7 reps, I must be getting old in the 90's I would be 10sec faster and run 10 of them...
Since there was a 30km race on Sunday I took Saturday easy only doing 16km (OK I popped up Nursery from home, a 750m climb). As for Sunday's 30km, well it was really just a training run and I was fine until the last 5km (which is all down hill) when my legs got tired so I couldn't pick up the pace and run with Eddie who had run with me till then...

WEEK 2: We changed the 2km reps for miles, and moved to the grass. I was running a little quicker and while I should have done 5 I stopped with the other at 4. (Lazy)
This week I joined the boys on the road, and while they only did 12km I did the full 16km.
Thursday was another long hills session, but we moved the hill to Boshoff Ave. and since it's not as steep the boys were flying on the way down watching their style... I've seen a lot of guys run a hilly race and after hammering the downs they haven't had the legs to run on. My boys should be ready!
I didn't want to drive out to the half on Saturday morning, so I headed for the mountain again. This time over Vlakkenberg, Manganese Mines, up Blackburn, through Silvermine, and back along Level 6 through Tokai Forest.

Love the sunny days
Half way up Blackburn
With over 1000m of climb on Saturday I went flat on Sunday taking Dawn with me, she was on the bike, and had to keep turning back for me!

WEEK 3: We again shortened the reps and this week it was 8 x 1000m (the half boys only did 5, but were flying). Wednesday's 15-16km run was run to 13km and Thursday's hill session was changed to 60sec fast up. I had planned on 15 of them, but number 10 was so slow I called it a day... OK I changed the rest of my session and just add 2 x long hills running them the way I would run them in a long race... (slowly on tired legs)

I'm please this week is over and week 4 is a taper week up to Oceans, I would not have made 4 hard weeks this time round.

Now as for the weekend? Well on these tired legs I'm going to line up for the 10km race and see if the legs will work, before running leg 2 of the cross country relay in the afternoon...

Friday, March 28, 2014

AFRICAN X 2014

I am one of the lucky trail runners here in Cape Town that have a sponsor, Thank you Contego. Now with 2 teams already entered, I wasn't razing my hand and shouting for a 3rd team. I had run last year and we, Ian and I had had great fun so I didn't mind not lining up...

 Then Chad called me, and all that changed, I had a new partner and he wanted to take on the big boys! Chad was a brilliant tri-athlete back when I was training hard and coming no-where on the Cape Town Road Running circuit. Now, 20 years on we looked like a good team.
 
Ready to Go
We packed the car and headed out on the Thursday afternoon, destination Houw Hoek Inn to sign in and meet my partner. After dinner and race briefing I followed Chad home (he lives in the area and we, Dawn and I, were going to be staying with him for the weekend) to meet his wife, his son, his daughter, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 7 chickens, 4 horses, fish, and the snake that was sharing a room with us... OH boy it was going to be an interesting weekend.

Day 1:

32.8km with 840m climb our time 2h29:05

As to plan I took the lead... more to ensure we were in the mix and ahead of the pretenders. With the route starting the same way as last year I didn't want to be at the back of the pack 500m in when we hit the first single track. Plan one had worked well and while it took a couple of km to settle, the top 3 teams had moved to the front with the 3 vets teams (40+) and a 4th men's team hanging on. The pace up front was hard and while this is a trail race, the footing was easy and the going was fast. We were all in it through the first water table at about 10km 41:00.

No slowing these boys

Then, while the pace didn't slow we hit the mountain bike single tracks and we start a little climb.... the top teams pulled away leaving us to fight for 4th overall. It's funny what one starts to think 11km into a 3 day race!!! I could see that the other 2 vet teams were taking a little strain, and I thought, yes we can. Chad was looking strong and I let him set the pace, it was no problem for me.

3 days and almost 90km is a long way and what training should one be doing? that is a post for another day. We now had a gap on the 2nd vets team, by my call about 60-80sec, and in front was the 4th place men's team... At the last water table I grabbed a drink and Chad also drank and then off we went, it was flat, but our pace had slowed, Chad had run out of steam. I could feel Nic and Tsungai catching. Then after leading the 40s for almost 20km they past us. I was pleased Chad could go with them, because, the truth be told I might have broken it I had needed to push the pace.

One hill to go, and the boys were gone, Chad was walking now and looking for energy in his pack... I looked back for the next team, but we were safe and the hill was over! Yes energy was there and off we went down to the finish, 3:30 behind Nic and Tsungai, while the young guns had finished in 2h16:14 miles ahead...

Day 2:

35.5km with 1045m climb our time 3h09:29

To run our own race, sounds easy, but I knew we would be stronger than the other vet teams on the opening hill. So while the young guns set off in a fight of their own the old men settled down to a private war... The plan was good and on the climb we pulled away and climbed up the old wagon trail ahead of the 'old' pack of chaser... Now as we ran through the forests of Grabow to the Country Club the plan wasn't to be caught to early and not to let 'then' if they did catch us pull to far ahead. The plan was going well, we took turns in setting the pace and not for one moment did I think we were running slowly (we weren't) but then the team of Derick and Noel caught us not passing, but letting us take the pace... I could feel Nic and Tsungai behind us. Maybe our pace had dropped and it didn't take long for them to catch and then pass us.

Chad went with them and as much as I wanted I was flat and stuck in 2nd gear... Chad slowed, and while I talk a good game about the hills are coming in the last 10km and they should be toast by then and that is where we make our move...

But the writing was on the wall, as we ran though the water point I stopped for water and a banana!!!! I was up for trying anything... Over the dam wall I took a split 90sec (that was the last I saw of them!) The race was still ours, we were going to run / climb them down. But then we hit the hills and I had nothing, it's one thing to be flat in a race and have to walk to the end, but in a team event... I had to put on the gloves and start fighting. Moving forward was what was important, it was down to damage control and hoping that they had also died. Chad was as strong as Mother Russia, and took my pack to lighten my load. finally we left the mountain and while the down hills were OK the flats seamed ever so long. OK moving at that pace were took ever so long!!!

The last 2km were flattish and the legs cramped (well wanted too) so I slowed and walked a couple of steps, grabbed a drink from my pack (still on Chad) and kept moving...

He ain't heavy he's my brother (taking a drink)
Getting up to speed so we wouldn't get caught...
The finish didn't come soon enough and with 500m to go we were passed by the next vets team, and then on the little single track down to the finish the first mixed team caught us... Now as much as I would have liked to stepped aside and let them pass I couldn't, so I said: I will cramp up it a leave the path please find a way round... They did, she was like a little rock rabbit and bounced passed...

On the finish line I started downing drinks one, two, three, four, then I sat down with 2 more before heading for the grass...

Left it all on the trail to keep the team in the race!
I spend the rest of the day recovering by drinking red wine and putting my feet up... With the bottle finished it was time for bed...

Day 3:

21.1km with 591m climb our time 1h41:14

We were still in 2nd place vets, but 13min behind, so without disaster we couldn't win, but a win on the day would be nice, so we talked and planned our attack!!!

This was a stage more suited for us, 10 km downhills then 10km up hill mostly single track, not easy mountain bike trail, but hiking trail... The first 10km was fast and while the leader were under 34min we passed 10km in 38:06...

In blue today and flying

Nic and Tsungia were 30sec ahead, but then we left the farm roads and headed home, up the trail...

I had legs and took the pace with Chad close behind. We passed and dropped the 4th place open team and caught Nic... Tsungia, and started to open a gap, it was great to be running again after yesterday. It was a good day out and both of us were still running at the end...

1st old men on day 3!
In the middle at last..
We had taken 3 min out of the leading vets team, but that just cleared day 1's loss, we were still 10 min back from the time we (me) had lost on day 2...

It was a good race and I would run again with Chad, but next time I might even try and get into shape...

Thank you Chad and Xpedient for getting me to the start line, and thank you Contego for letting team up with Chad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

LAST WEEK OF TRAINING including ARGUS

No not the last week of training, just the last week of hard training before African X... with one week to go it's time to taper and let the legs recover from what I have been thowing at them!

With this last hard week being full of the exciting things that us runners do I had sessions of 1000's on the track and 2 min hills at Rhodes mem, then for good measure I run for over an hour mid-week and then unlike other weekend which would find me spending half (if not all) of the morning on the mountain, I was on the road...

Saturday was the VOB 15km race and for therecord I ran with a friend and finished is 55:03, I did surge to chase a couple of 40+ men, but felt my calf, so backed off...

Sunday I cycled the Tandem down to the start of the Argus to join 35 000 other cyclists for a little ride around the Peninsula. My 15th tour with Dawn on the back. It was great fun and I will be back for more.

Dawn took the car to the start..


With the weekend behind it was time to rest / taper, or just plain old take it easy..

Friday, March 7, 2014

THE DATE

With African X only 2 weeks away my partner thought it was time for the 2 of us to get together... We have never run together, and only raced against each other a couple of times and the last was over 2 years ago!!!

We had to be careful, this friendly run to get to know each other could become a clash of testosterone, two alpha males going for it on the mountains:


We met at UCT and headed off on the gravel roads to Kloof Neck through Deer park... When I planned the route I thought the gravel roads would be a good idea as a start so we could run next to each other and chat about the up coming race! This only work to some degree as neither of us would let the other lead, or even be half a step in front. This I like to think was our way of showing each other that we were up for the race that lay ahead. I can tell you now I don't normally start a 3 hour run that fast, but... This was my mountain...

From Kloof Neck, we took the Pipe Track to Kasteels, Single track, so I took the lead. To lead the way, this was my route, way would I take the lead to slow the pace!!!

The bottem of Kasteels was half way in distance, but with the mountain still to cross we would need more than the 75 mins it had taken us to get there. The glove were now off as we climbed the 440m to the top of Kasteels:


Smiling after hearing that was the top
Now we needed to get back to UCT, so we headed straight over the top with Nursery Ravine in our sights. Things were civilized on the road next to the dams, so I decided to show Chad why I run on the mountains, and it's not to race...



It was a date, we had to look at flowers!
After a slow run walk along the aqueduct we turn right onto Smuts track and headed for Nursery

Top of the world
Then is was a knee breaking decent to the contour path before the run back to UCT...

Things had gone well and after 3 hours on the mountain we were still talking and running, maybe this African X thing is going to work... Are we going to win? well I think the kids are going to keep the old men out this year, but if one teams slips up we will be there to pick up the pieces! what about the old mens race? That my friends is going to take 3 days of hard racing to lift that crown, it looks like all of us are going to find ourselves on the start line Zimmer Frames and all!!!

With Chad back home and Sunday morning on us I found myself at the start of the Milkwood Half... I was putting in a weekend of training to see if the old body was us to 2 hard days before the race... After a beautiful on the mountains it was road, road and 21.1km of road, but not just any road, the wind swept roads of Kommetjie and Scarborough:

Note my hair... (Good Picture Peter Kirk)
The four of us ran together till about half way when Richard and Byron (my athletes tucked out of the wind behind us) dropped off... I won't ly I know I had run the day before, so I let Warren take the wind most of the way back and we finished 8th and 9th (2nd 40+) in 83:11...

This weekend is easy on the legs and then it's time to TAPER (yes that swear word) and race...

Friday, February 28, 2014

WHAT'S NEXT, a BLIND DATE

What Peninsula behind us and Oceans ahead of us it's time to look ahead and see when is on the program for the next couple of weeks:

Now I know every good program has a couple of easy weeks after a marathon, and so they should, but while it was 42.2km it was really just a long run, I have other races to run. AFRICAN X is the first one in the radar, a 3 day 90km pairs trail race... and Chad my Blind Date!!! Yes a blind date, I have never run with him and it's been about 2 years since we even raced each other, so things should be fun. He's run a couple of races this year and been up front mixing it with the kids, and winning the geriatric class... His time on the long Slivermine trail was faster than my last years, but was I racing, I had raced an 11km trail the day before and had a marathon to worry about the next week, so who knows...

I've run a number of team (pair) events and while it's fun to have some-one to run with it can be scary, very scary if your team mate is stronger than you, while if he's just faster than you it's only day one to worry about. These things I don't know, so with African X a little over 2 weeks away I need to get fit.

A lot can happen in 2 weeks and while I up the mile this week I also plan to line up for a 10km road race to see where the legs are...

Friday, February 21, 2014

PERMANENT NUMBER



A journey that start back in 1990 when I lined up for my first Peninsula Marathon but unlike other races I haven't always been drawn to run this race...

It a point to Point marathon, so if you drive to the start and leave your car there, every step you take takes you a step closer to the finish and further from your car...

With Dawn not running she dropped me of at the start and left me to run. I wasn't racing, but just looking for an easy sub 3. A sub 3 was easy in years gone by, but as much as I run, I do fall short on a couple on long runs, so the easy sub 3 isn't as easy as it should be.

My friend Candyce was looking for a sub 3 and joined me at the start, Damian just wanted to finish, but the idea of a sub 3 bus had him joining us. After the heat of the last couple of days the 05h15 start wasn't to early and it was just fine as we set off down the Main Road. The simple aim was 21min for each 5km of the race and then FINISH STRONG...

I took the split at 5km 21:08 close enough, but Candyce needed a quick stop and I didn't see her again, I think the weeks before 27km race was still in her legs and the sub 3 wasn't going to happen this time round. I was sort of on my own as Damian seemed to slow a little. I had also wanted to run with a couple of other friends, but they had taken off like a bullet, and I had to start slow or risk falling to pieces... I was warm now and passed the 2nd lady slowing for just a moment to wish her well. I also passed the 1st lady and went through the 10km board in 41:35. So even though we had climbed a little hill into the wind I had run those 5km in 20:24. I could now see a big group of guys just ahead and a km later I joined their bus. It wasn't any bus, it was my friends who has started fast..

The next 5km passed in 20:24 and as I looked around to see who was there and you bus was over 10 people strong... The km was passing easily and 20:22 and 20:16 took us to 25km the next 5 was still good 20:51 and yes the group was still 10+ strong, but then with a little wind and a few bumps (you can't call them hills)  was slowed to 21:22.

There were 5 of us left, and unlike years in the past I was the week link, and was hiding at the back. 40km down last 5km split of 21:53, the wind and heat had slowed us down a bit and I wasn't going to push the pace... Then with 2km to go I decided to call it a day and jog home alone... My Hip Flexors which haven't worked since September were tired and I needed to look after myself, this was only a training run!!!

The last 2.2km took me 11:32 taking me home in 2h58:18, I would like to have stayed with the boys, but what would have been work and I have to look at the bigger picture. I still had my sub 3 and I would live to fight another day...

Wait... Dawn had cycle through watch us and after chatting to a couple of friends she got a lift home leaving me with her bike to cycle the 25km home!

What's another hours exercise between friends?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SO MANY CHOICES and THE HUNT FOR THE RED DISA

This weekend passed the race calender was full... There were 3 races I would have like to have run:

The 27km Freedom Challenge, near Franschhoek. A flattish 27km race from the prison that once housed Nelson Mandela, and you get to run a km for every year he was incarcerated.

Top Forms 10km race. If I had found myself on the startline I would have set about seeing if the legs still had a bit of speed in them, always good to line up at a fast and flat race!

Silvermine XL, a 35km trail race, and one I was looking to run... really enjoyed the ran last year.

But sometimes Dawn says: Please can we do something else.... So

I've had it 20 years
I dusted off the old bike (we have a 110km race coming up and 1 training ride should be enough) and we headed out...

25km turn around point
It was a perfect morning for cycling without a breath of wind. Don't get me wrong cycling isn't my thing and I did find myself looking up at the mountains looking for the guys racing Silvermine's 35km...

At 14h00 I found myself alone at Constantia Nek about to set off on a little run. Now, because I had 50km of cycling in my legs I had 2 route choices, but as I started that first climb it was clear that I was going all the way to Maclears Beacon. To say I am competitive would be an understatement, and as I took a split time at the turn off to Nursery Ravine 24:52, I pushed on...

The old body didn't feel old today, it was working and the steep rocky climb and winding single track didn't slow me down as I seemed to have bounds of unused energy, the splits to Nursery and Skellie were good. I finally stopped my watch at Maclears 57:48 my fastest time by over a minute. it was now time to enjoy the run back.

On Top of Cape Town
It was down hill from here and while I could have chosen many different routes, it's February and that leaves you with only one choice:

THE HUNT FOR THE RED DISA

It didn't take long and after 10min I was off the main trail and..

The Hunt Was Over
I've never see so many....

All the way alone the river

It was the heat of the afternoon, so I decided to take a quick dip before running on...

The water was lovely
I stopped so many times on the way back, an hours run took almost 2 hours...

So while I missed a trio of races, I think I had the best run!