Monday, April 13, 2015

OCEANS



With Easter and therefore Oceans part of history there are a couple of things we can do:

1) forget it happened and move on. ..
2) live in the past 
3) hate the past and set about making it your life's work to break it down.
4) know what happened in the past and use it to build a better future. 

I might know what happened,  but I don't know why it happened... So let's tell you my Good Friday Story! 

We were up early and even with the cold winter weather settling it was far from cold. The cold front would only brush the Mother City on Saturday. 

All too soon I found myself on the start line listening to the race briefing. The start was different this year as we set off in the opposite direction!  It was a nice start and I soon found myself setting the pace! 

Maybe I set out a little hard but as they say: Fortune favours the brave...

Look if the big names were not going to take it out I wasn't going to hold back. Up past Rhodes Men and onto the gravel road I lead. I wasn't racing Thabang or Eric (they would fight in out to the finish with Thabang winning by less than a meter!) I was racing Nicholas for the 40+ prise and while the going was good I had to go for it. There were 4 guys just off my pace and we had a gap on the rest of the field. 

Surging for the front at the start of the single track
I had been working hard so I slowed the pace on the next single track but the guys would have none of it and they took control of the race after that.
I wasn't out of it I was still in the pack at on the long climb up to Tafelberg Road it wasn't it the single track that I let them go. As we crossed the road I was all of 10sec back,  and had planned to make my move after the next bend...

So much for my plan, the legs had stopped working and fighting the wind wasn't fun anymore.  I passed 2 caps and a pair of glasses on the path they had been lost to the wind.  I now had sweat and dust in my eyes and in wiping them I lost a contact lens! Not good for trail running. 

Fighting the wind
I took a split to the leaders, they had 30sec on the next 2 and I was 50sec back. Time to up my game and go for 3rd... 

Having rounded Devils Peak it was time to climb to the saddle and close the gap... I didn't! Knowing the rest of the field was chasing I pushed on dropping of the saddle and taking the upper contour back round the mountain. It wasn't easy going for me I wasn't seeing 100% and the legs seemed tired! Then it happened I was caught... no not Nic maybe I still had it I was aiming at the block house then maybe I could get into race mode and keep him at bay. Christian was next catching me in the same place as last year,  and the just before the downhill Nicholas pull up behind me... maybe I should have taken the vertical decent first and put a bit of pressure on him but the race was out of me... 

Yes it's that vertical and Nic is getting away
We were now above Rhodes Men again and while I was running hard someone else caught me... I wasn't letting him past so I pushed on down the single track but once on the gravel road I couldn't hold him back anymore.  

He didn't fly away. .. so on the next climb I took him again through most of Newlands forest this would happen,  it was good to be racing again and not just out for a casual trail run. 

He got away in the last km leave me in 9th (2nd 40+).

Garmin called the race:
23.4km
2h07:36
With 1500m climb

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

HOW'S YOUR TRAINING GOING?



So with the weeks disappearing each one faster than the last. Oceans is almost upon us and if we haven't been doing the work we are going to be found wanting. 

The question is am I going to be found wanting or have I done enough? Then again I could have over done it and I could be lining up with heavy legs, only time will tell! 

So let's have a look at the log book... as they say hind sight is always 20-20, and the log book is just that! 

So just how far back am I going to look?  Well I ran a marathon February 15 and after a recovery week it was time to start the Oceans buildup. 

Week 1:
Was really just getting back into running and the most important sessions came on the weekend with 2h20 on the mountain on Saturday and 21km of tempo on Sunday. 100km logged! 

Week 2:
Started well with 2 session,  one of 30 x 200m and the other 2 x 5km.  But because of the Argus cycle tour I only got one decent run of 2h25 on the mountain. ( I did sneak in a couple of hills 2 x 1km hill with 130m climb! ) 80km logged!

Week 3:
First full week.. 2 session, first 3 x 3km and a set of 35 x 200m then I rounded the week off with 2 hours on the mountain and 30km tempo on the road. (I also snuck another trail hill session of 3 x 1km with 130m climb) 112km logged!

Week 4:
This is week 4 and with 25 x 400m last night and a hill session planned for Thursday I might get though another good week. I just need to not be lazy on the weekend! 

Week 5:
The last week of training and I have sessions of 1000m's and hills lined up so maybe things are moving in the right direction. 

Watch out Oceans I'm racing ready or not... are you?
TRAINING ON THE MOUNTAIN

Monday, March 9, 2015

SHOES

I've run in a lot of shoes over the years...

The first shoe I can remember is a very old pair of New Balance that I joked with my running partner I could feel the ground through. (that wasn't a good thing for that pair of shoes!)

Then from about 1986 I mostly ran in Nike, (Pegasus, Pegasus Racer, Skylon, spikes...) I also had a pair of Reebok and Asics. I don't remember all my shoes, but that more or less takes me to 2006! I was now running in Montrails (still have a pair of Streaks and Rockridge that I take out from time to time). I even owned a pair of Salomons (hope they've learnt something about shoes since then...)

But now it's 2015, so what do you see if you look at my shoes?

Dawn's shelf in the middle


I have been very lucky over the last 10+ years and haven't had to buy a lot of the shoes I run in, but the question is would I buy any of the shoes I own? and how do they run, might they work for you?

VIBRAM TREK PRO
These have 1400km on them..

Now not everyone is into Fivefinger, but as a kid I use to run around barefoot, and then at the end of school I had a pair of spikes. Zero drop has never been a problem for me and I liked the idea of 5-fingers so this is my 2nd pair. Other than the struggle one sometimes has in putting them on I enjoy running in them. I must say that while the 'shoe' was new I thought the nobbles felt funny when walking in them (but not while running), but now with a couple of miles on them they feel great. I would be lying if I said they were still perfect after all those miles, the fabric between the big toes has worn though! I really like running in them and run my last Marathon in them.

NEW BALANCE MR10v2
Only 570km on these..

This shoe is a little like the racing flats of the 80's and 90's but with only a 4mm heel toe drop. This shoe has a some cushioning so as you hit the ground it has a little give, but not too much. Have run a couple of Marathon in this shoe and it's still good for a couple more miles...

VIVOBAREFOOT STEALTH
These are new only 60km
This is a new shoe to me and not really like any other shoe I've run in! Now Nike's got "Air", Asics have "Gel", New Balance have "Fresh Foam", so what have Vivo got? Well, in short nothing... or should I say 3mm of rubber.

Now this is a barefoot shoe, so things are going to feel a little different as you run, let me explain my feelings:

Let's start with just standing there, you're not on stilts or standing on your bed about to run, you are firm on the ground, well 3mm of rubber, so you feet are protected. So off you go on a run: While the shoe bends with your foot and as you push off there is no give, all your power is used for pushing you forward... you fly through the air and hit the ground. If your foot is out front it will feel hard as you bang your heel into the ground... I like to think I run like a champ so my foot is striking the ground under me! This shoe is make for this style of running. Now the shoe isn't fitting my foot like a glove, but in a barefoot shoe you want your foot to move like it would is it wasn't wearing a shoe. my foot hits the ground again and it's like landing on a rubber carpet it's like someone has rolled out a rubber mat the whole lenth of my run who wouldn't run barefoot if that was the case?

I know I've only run 60km in these shoes, but I want to have a guess that I will not only reach 1000km but 2 or even 3000km before I need to toss them! (no Air to pop, no Gel to move, or foam to crush!)

NEW BALANCE 610
420km of on and off road

They say this shoe is good for road and trail, and for a "normal" it works well... But I've been running is minimus shoes and my body has become more responsive!

I can feel that I'm balancing on a high heel, and I have even started to feel the shoe "give" as I push off steeling my forward motion. But this is me, and if you like a heel and all the cushioning there is nothing wrong with this shoe.

NEW BALANCE MT10
This Pair 300km

This is the trail version of the MR10's. I love this shoe it looks great and feel nice on the foot, this is 2nd pair I've had, the first pair I put on 2217km. I've run every type of trail in them and as they wore thin I ran lots of road in them. Now I'm a softy so while I have raced a couple of trail races in them I feel the rocks too much, so... (enjoy racing cross country in them)

NEW BALANCE MT1010v2
100km of racing
Only use this shoe for racing as while I really enjoy wearing them I don't want to destroy them... the first pair I only got 635km in them, and in that time they needed a bit of shoe patch!
I don't think any shoe is perfect! The problem is the grip, while is works well and you can go anywhere in them sometimes they (the knobs) can break loose!

NEW BALANCE MT00v2
0km run!

I haven't run in these shoes and I might never get to run in them... I've done a couple of walks with them on, so let me tell you why I don't think I can run in them!
They are a zero drop, which I like, but the shoe is to deep to it cuts into my ankle bone. Now I still like the look of the shoe so I put in a heel raise and that solved problem one. But I have a 2nd problem, the toes are just to tight for me. Now I've only walked a couple of times in them, but I feel my toes are crushed and after a 30min walk my feet need to rest. (after running a marathon in 5finger my feet feel fine!)

VIVOBAREFOOT TRAIL FREAKS
40km 4h45 on the mountain

You don't get a pair of shoes like this and not take them up the mountain. I had been chatting to a friend who had owned a pair, but didn't enjoy them to much because when the shoe bent it bent on her toe and she would pick up blisters! So before I went for a run I took the dogs for a walk in the Green Belt. I had no problems, so the next day I looked to the mountain and headed up...
Now to test a pair of trail shoes I like to head to the manganese mine, but with that side of the mountain burnt I had try something else... Maclears beacon via the Valley of the Red Gods.
The shoe fits your foot like a glove and the shoe almost molds to your foot. I climbed straight up from the Nek and for climbing it's good to have a light shoe. The next week while climbing up Platteklip I noticed that the studs bent and slipped if you caught the edge of the rock you were climbing up or down, but if you've 'slipped' a couple of times it's ok as you know you aren't going to fall, it's just a little fright at first. But not all the running was climb, I also had a could of single tracks to run on... If the ground isn't pointy rocks or loose stones weeving along the tracks are great. with a thing sole you do get to feel the ground which slows me on the rocky ground, but they are fun to run in. Now both weekend runs had a bit on road in them...

Tafelberg Rd heading back to UCT
I know this is a trail shoe, but in most trail runs you are stuck on the road for a bit... and this isn't made for road it feels more stable on winding through forest trails.

So there you have it a look at a couple of the shoes I'm currently running in...

Monday, February 23, 2015

PUSHING IT TO THE EDGE



So the question is did I push it to the edge today?  Can I still push it to the edge. .. can I push the body all the way? 

When racing on the track you have to live on the edge, push yourself to the limit.  Running marathons is very different: it's about setting out at a good pace and winding it up till you finish or blow!  Or like me last week... setting out at an easy pace and hoping you can hold it to the end.

I didn't I fell to pieces at 34km and while I held on for a sub 3 it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Maybe the 33km trail race the week before had something to do with that. 

With the marathon out the way it was time to recover and get ready for the 4th race in the Cape Summer Trail Series. One week wasn't really enough time to shake the miles out of the legs! 

Oak Valley was a hive of activity when we got there at 06h30 just in time to see the guys in the 25km race heading out. 

The hour to our start didn't take long... Dawn set out for her run 15min before us so she would be out on the course to support! 

Tsungai (my 40+ competition) took off like a man possessed.  We let him go. The someone chased and the Bernie and Raydon followed. 

I was 5th with 4 other guys with me. Trails aren't all slow technical climbs some are flat smooth windy paths... the km's ticked by at road speeds and we passed Dawn at 3km before the first forest. 

through the forest
2.5km of single track later we popped out on the gravel road and Dawn was playing marshal! We crossed the road and started toclimb the single track through the grass meadow to the next forest there were only 3 of us left chasing the top 4 (and one was coming back to us). We chewed him up and spat him out on the hill. I was trying to break the 2 guys hanging with me… But, maybe I wasn’t good enough, or maybe I’m just wasn’t prepared to push hard enough!

I had done it one of them broke… before the next open section of trail which took us to another forest section and this was down over the river and up for the climb to the top again I pushed, but not hard enough to break the 18 year old as he only lost 5m to me and once the climb was over I could run away from him.

He wasn’t giving up and even though I opened the 5m gap again on the last hill, I again didn’t capitalize (or couldn’t, too old, injured and slow!) I really needed to be red lining it on the flat run in to the finish. Then with the finish in sight and a little downhill he made his move and was gone! I couldn’t chase I don’t have that turn of speed anymore, Well done Tim!

My team mate Tsungai had won with Raydon and Bernard (another team mate) a full minute behind, and us another 3 minutes down!

40+ guys...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

NO TIME FOR A SELFIE

Do you get nervous for a race?
Or are you unflappable?

I have a little of both in me...!

Now while I've been racing for over 30 years with something like 1000 races under the belt I know about the pre-race nerves, and I was feeling them on Wednesday before the race! OK maybe I wasn't nervous but a little excited, it would be my 6th race of the year, and the first long trail race. 3 hours of racing (my time form 2 years ago 3h02:48). While with the short trails I've raced I spend the whole time playing catchup and running in oxygen debt, this would be different!

By Friday I was relaxed and because of the early start I was packed and ready for the 04h15 alarm call!

Time to get ready
The start area was busy with people, but it didn't take long to get my number and find my way to the start line... Race on!

Are we ready...
Why do they start so fast? I was 10-15 place back in the first 20m of the race, but then things settled down...

One guy had bolted like he had been drinking jet fuel! but the rest of the field was in a long line with me at the back of the leading bunch. With all of 300m run I decided that 15 places back wasn't the place to be, so I, knowing what lay ahead, started passing people...

Soon it was only rocket man ahead and I had to pick up the pace to pass him before the real climbing started... It was race on with me shaking things up as I hit the front.

Nicholas covered my move as did Morne and Chad... The rest of the field also picked up the pace to stay in touch. The old body didn't feel to bad as we started the climb, I promise I didn't force the pace, but by 3km and the turn to Clovelly and Kalk Bay Peak the 4 of us were away. I was happy with how things were going and the plan was to keep the lead, keep setting the pace, keep control of the race till we crossed Ou Kaapse Weg. I like to lead, it lets me stretch my legs on the climbs and put other out of their comfort zone, I want then playing catch-up when I'm relaxing, I want to see the trail so I know where I hopping over what rocks and how the weave down the single tracks.

The morning views were amazing and I kept thinking about what pictures I would be trying to take if I was alone on a training run, I'll have to be back to watch the sun rise from the top of the mountain... back to the race! After Muizenberg Peak there is a flat stretch and the pace picked up 6:04, 4:37, 4:12... Then it was back to the rugged single tracks... and the car park leg 1 was finished!

Dawn was over Ou Kaapse Weg in the reserve walking the Puppies, who were terribly excited to see me. I had finally slowed and the other 3 had pushed on, I had told them to pick the pace up, so maybe I hadn't really slowed. Either way I let them go. By the time they hit the road they had 30sec on me and they were pushing hard. (I don't know why, maybe testing each other and jockeying for position). I was watching them as I climbed the road, Dawn drove past egging me on, but I didn't fall for it I'm not fit enough to keep the hammer down...

With the tar and the gravel road now behind us I looked at the climb and took a split to the boys time to see if I was going backwards or not! 35sec, no worries we were climbing again and I might just close the gab... it did come down, all the way to 10 sec, but then...

They had disappeared... it took me 2km before I would see them again and the gap was now 90sec and the 3 of them where still together! Right turn and up the gravel road then left onto the single track. Time to up the tempo and close the gap!
Nice Coach still only 90sec I'm back in the game, then over the hill I caught sight of them again, no wait it was only of Morne, he had fallen off the other 2, time to chase!!! I glanced at my watch and started the chase...

...but never got to where he had been the route turn right up to Noordhook Peak and he (and the front 2 guys) had stayed on the Amphitheatre Path cutting out 1.4km with 70m climb. (7:30 my guess with the help of Garmin Connect, will get out and run it time to check).

On with my race, I was now in the front and it was up to me to just not be caught from behind, I had no idea as the what the others were doing, I only found out what they had done later. Before I headed down I looked back to see if I was now the target of the 2nd placed runner, I saw nobody. So instead of tearing down the mountain I controlled my pace till I hit the single track, which started easy before turning into more of a cliff face!

As always I was pleased to have that behind me, and now with only about 2km of single track left before I would cross the road and head down to the finish. I was getting tired 2 and a half hour of hard running will do that to you, and a lot of it I had been alone just pushing myself.

Dawn and the Puppies were there to support me as I headed through the car park and off on the last leg of this race. Lucky for us it's only about 5km and mostly down hill... It wasn't all plain sailing as my left leg decided to have a little cramp! It wasn't to bad and a few seconds of walking and a little stretch and I could run home, finishing in 2h59:04.

I ended up 4th over the line, but.... It was a difficult call and not mine to make, but I was involved in explaining what happened and how I saw the race! I could have lodged an official complaint and then waited for the reports form the official checking numbers up at Noordhook Peak, but why!!! I would never have caught Nicholas or Chad... Morne on the other hand was off the pace and only 5-6 min ahead and wasn't running strong at the end...

They gave me 3rd and 2nd 40+ (Chad was 1st 40+) Morne didn't loss out as he was 2nd 20-39...

Chad and I fighting over the Bubbly


Garmin Connect
So we climbed a bit


Monday, February 2, 2015

TRAIL RACING

Wednesday night I lined up for my 40th Trail Series race, and while things on the ground have change since 2008 it's still good to get out there and put your body on the line.. OK not everybody there is running in the red line but up front the "Kids" are turning on the afterburners!

It's had work racing these short races, right from the gun you have to go or get left behind... 100m down the track I'm out of breath and ready to blow! The lead group has opened a gap, I'm not chasing them I'm only chasing the 2nd group. I feel I can beat them all but I'm a long way off my best (20 years) never the less I'm not giving up!

The mad pace has slowed (or have my lungs just caught up? ) so as we climb the green belt to Cecelia Forest I take a few places but want more. I don't know the history of these guys but it's not about history it's about today and my legs seem to be working, the climb in Cecelia is as steep as it gets.  I pass a couple more guys and reach the gravel road still running! 1.5km -2km of climb ahead and a pack of hungry wolves behind!

Yes I turn the corner without getting caught... I can see Tsungai miles ahead and Bernard's out of sight leading the way. (My Contego Team Mates) The legs are turning over at a rate of knots but one, two, three, four people pass me before we leave the forest!

Looking to overtake!

Make that three as I threw caution to the wind on a technical section. .. but he won't drop. I close the door on him a number of times and lead him into the green belt. Like 2 F1 drivers we weaved through the green belt... I was pushing too hard and had to let him pass... with my foot off the peddle and only 2.5km to go I didn't even fight to keep my place to keep my place letting the next guy pass.

But once over a tricky river crossing, Dawn and the Jacks were there to cheer me on, the legs came to life. I was running again and hunting in my own green belt. (We do walk the Jacks here most weekends) I don't know where the energy came from but I pulled back one place, then another. .. was a third possible?

Yes...

I was running fast but could I hold them off I had 3 guys chasing hard... dam why was he running so fast... I need to pick it up... I couldn't and with 30m to go I was passed..

The Start of Race 3

Sunday was race 3 in the Trail Series and while I ran the first half well I couldn't take the down hill single tracks like an F1 driver so lost a couple of places for my worst finish of the series!  Hope to be back for race number 4...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE

Without a race planned for the weekend I started thinking of where to run, and the mountain was calling, I ran enough road last weekend...

It's been hot this week and my thoughts turned to the dam for a swim. Silvermine or Table Mountain... With so many paths open to me I kept an eye on the mountain as I rode to work and while I sat in the office (yes I can see the Front Table out my window).

I started to think, start at UCT and head up Newlands Ravine, pop over the saddle and follow the contour path across the face of the mountain before dropping down to the Pipe Track which would take me to Kasteels, the Dams for a swim and down Skeleton into Kirstenbosch before heading back to UCT.

On paper it sounded amazing so I mailed a friend to join me, but while writing the mail I thought it might be a little long (4hours + of running) so I mentioned in the mail that maybe a trip up India Venster and then through The Valley of the Red Gods to the Dams... I was getting excited.

I was going to be alone... My friend was running a race: Run The Roodeberg  so I looked it up and thought maybe I should run on a new mountain (To Boldly Go Where I Haven't Run Before...) After an e-mail or two to the organizes I found out I wasn't the only person thinking it would be a nice mountain to run on, in fact the race was full, so I wasn't getting in!

Never might I still had my mountain and I didn't have to race, so I could enjoy the route.

Starting at UCT I looked up:

Early morning sun
That's where I was heading, up through UCT to Rhodes Mem and then up to the contour path...

A bit of flat on the Contour path
15min later it was time to head up Newland Ravine... 1.2km and 380m climb later I was in the saddle!

The saddle is a little over grown in places and as I made my way across to the otherside I decided that my shortened route was still going to require just too many hours away from my lovely wife, so...

I did the next best thing, headed up the Devil! (leaving the other route for another day!)

It only 1km to the beacon at the top, so I hit the split button and started to climb... I wasn't moving like a champ, but more like a three-toed-sloth and it took me all of 16:53 to reach the top (another 314m climb) some 80min since I had left UCT. I wasn't the only person up there and I had to move away from the beacon to get some alone space:

Should have been up an hour earlier to watch the sunrise!
A group of school kids (about 30 boys) had been eating breakfast as I got there and then left before I could, so I sat for a bit to give them a head start before I took off...

Not wanting to have to overtake them on the downhill I stopped at the lower beacon:

Cape Town...
Table Mountain
Cape Town

Then it was time to head down...

Head to turn back for my phone!!!
The down hill took another 16min I wasn't taking any chance as I was alone and safty come first! I wasn't going to drop straight down Newlands, the way I had climbed up, but I turned right and headed round the Devil on a couple of the path I will be racing on come Oceans Trail.

Last picture
From there it was on to the King's Block House and down to my car at UCT...

OK so lets see what Garmin said about this run:

Distance:           15.14km (not long for a long run!)
Time:                 2h20:57 (that's not very fast!) I also spent another 65min taking pictures and sitting around!
Elevation Gain:  1540m

P.S. I ran a flat 15.5km on Sunday that only took an hour!