Sunday, September 30, 2018


Back in 2014 I was lucky enough to be on holiday in Croatia and ended the trip running and winning The Ston Wall Marathon! It's a small marathon (about 20 people that year) and the prize wasn't €250000 it was a painting by a local artist and a small trophy.... and they said; if I returned the next year they would give me a free entry and 2 night accommodation!

Wanting to see more of Croatia and it's neighbour, Slovenia, we started saving!!! 2015, 2016, 2017, all passed... All this time I kept in touch with the Marathon with the odd comment of FB. Roll on 2018 and we were heading back. I contacted the organizers and wait for it... 4 years later they still honoured the prize!

Having had time off for an injury I started training from zero in March!
Over the last 6 weeks I had built up quite well and if I had been lining up for one of the fast City marathons I would have set my sights on stealing a sub 3... Ston is not fast!
• You don't go there to run a PB
• You Run for the challenge of the marathon
• You Run it because of The Wall
• You Run because of the salt pans
• You Run because of the small towns
• You Run because of the Adriatic and it's views.
The Wall is waiting for us
With registration and a pasta party on the Saturday we cycled into the old town.... pasta, yes with mince / Bolognese and wait for it mussels (grown locally)

Spent some time catching up with old friends, the organizers, and 2 guys who had run it 4 years ago with me! Antonio from Spain, this would be his 5th run. And a guy from Split in Croatia this would be his 10 run. (It's only the 11th running) And making new ones... an English lady and her husband, Bikers! Next time he says they'll cruise down on their Harleys! While in Skradin we met a runner, Mikael, organizing an ultra for diabetes awareness. Having told him about the race he decided to pop down and run. Then there was Dion (great name for a runner) and Australian who had travelled to Croatia for the world 100km champs but had a small injury and didn't want to race 100km and get properly injured! So after watching his team mates race 100km he was now on holiday and with the injury coming right thought a little marathon would be a good idea.

With Ozzie Dion in the field my hope of a 2nd win was off the cards, but never say die!!!

7h30 found us on the startline ready to go. I set off at sub 3 pace... the first km is easy as you head down the main road to Ston. Dion joined me with Antonio and a Frenchmen behind. I wasn't running smoothly but I was running ok as Dion entered Mali Ston and started the climb up the wall. I was not far back.

The wall runs from Mali Ston to Ston, half over a mountain! We climbed 120+ meters over the next km only to climb down again... before running round Ston on the wall (more climbing as the wall also served as a lookout!). While Antonio had caught me I had caught Dion and the 3 if us left the wall together... race on!
Dawn didn't get a picture of us coming off the wall, but this is me running past at about 25

Dion showed his youth and 2h24 marathon pace by pulling away as we hit the flat. I couldn't find any rhythm in my running... was it the heat that was climbing and would almost reach 30°c, was it the humidity that had been draining the life out of one through the European summer? Or was it the 1500km of driving I had done while having my amazing holiday? I will never know.
Stopped for a drink in the shade
The Frenchman caught Antonio and I before the next hill and while I thought I could go with him I didn't, saving the legs. I was planning on running him down later. With the Frenchman pulling ahead in 2nd Antonio and I traded places till on the way back at about 18km when I stopped to walk a bit of the hill and take a Turbovite! I was melting so I took off my shirt and with a new lease of life I set off the pull back the guys ahead.
Dawn was at the top of the hill on a bike so I tossed her my top and got focused for the job at hand... hunting! It was easy to up the pace to 4min/km on the down hill, but once on the flat again reality set in!

It was going to be a long 42.2km...

At about 26km we passed Ston for a stretch down the other side of the peninsula. The beautiful views and picturesque small villages did nothing to spur me on. Goals had changed and staying in 4th and staying under 4 hours now took priority... Dawn was taking more pictures of the views than me.
35km and the turnaround finally came, it had taken forever!
The front guys were all taking strain:
• Dion would win in record time 3h07
• The Frenchman 2nd in 3h21
• And Antonio 3rd in about 3h31
Me... I run in, yes I was running, slow but running, crossed the line in 3h49. It wasnt my best marathon and while I was thinking I should have run about 3h20, I'll take it... I made it through in one piece and while I didn't enjoy all of the race. I enjoyed the fact that I have it in me to fight to the end.

And then there is the rest of the race weekend... mussel pasta and beer for us finishers, great medal and an atmosphere to top it all...

We then met the organizers in the evening and they invited us to join them for a drink and a bite to eat... If you want to eat local best you join the locals...

Who knows, maybe I'll make it back... would love too.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

4% faster... I wish

So the other day my friend Grant from RUN asked my if I wanted to give his Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% a test run.... hell yes... I grow up running in Nike!

Now before I go on I must tell you that now a days I run in barefoot shoes... (Vivos) Shoes with zero drop, zero cushioning, and a wide toe box...

This was going to be an interesting run... not only because of the reasons above, but his feet are a full size smaller then mine! Knowing I would never get another chance at trying this news making shoe I squeezed my feet in and... walked around the office. It was Friday, rest day and it was raining, so my run would have to wait till Saturday.
I'm training for a marathon and had a longish run planned for Saturday, so because I could never run 20+ km at marathon pace in shoes that small I would run 20km first in my normal Vivo's then head out in the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%....
Good plan...
Some 90 min after I started I found myself squeezing into the Nikes... my run wasn't going to do them justice! Such a pity... I turn and headed I turned back after 1km. Tried on the way back to run freely but the shoes were just to small.

(Is someone else willing to lend me a test pair for a 20min run? Ok really I would like to test them proper, but 20mins will do!)

So what can I tell you about this shoe:

Should it be band? As much as spikes should be band on the track!

It, like a number of other shoes on the market had quite a bit of cushioning... but not marshmallow soft. I wasn't sinking into the shoe like I had some other shoes, making running fast impossible. So it looks Nike is one up on those shoes. 4% faster... I don't know... Now as for the run: it's not easy for me to tell you much but there was a hint that the shoe would run well. I can tell you this: with my big foot squeezed into the shoe I was feeling pressure on the ball of my foot. I wrote it down to the size of the shoe and the fit, but then, my wife, now back from her run. Thought she would take them round the block. Her foot went in easy the shoe a couple of sizes too big. But with the laces tightened off she went.
Short answer, what colours do the ladies come in she wouldn't mind a pair! But they feel a little hard under the ball of her foot! (Interesting)

I couldn't run fast enough or long enough to let you know if the shoe really works magic with the way it's put together. Maybe I'll get hold of a pair that fits one day and let you know.

Monday, August 20, 2018

5 Weeks to go!

I've always said it only takes 4 weeks of training to run / race a marathon or any race for that matter... so with 5 weeks to my marathon it's time to put that to the test.

4 weeks training and 1 week taper / rest and I will be standing on the start-line of a marathon for the first time in a couple of years (Nov 2015). And yes I'm a little afraid...

I've been running again since 1 Feb, started with 2km! By May I was running 10km and I was ready to start building a base. 

The last 4 weeks I've built up to 90km.

Now I hope that base is big / fast enough for my goals...

This last Sunday I lined up for John Korasie 30km, not an easy race, but a nice route. I wasn't there to race, but to run easy to 9km (up Red Hill) and then MP to the end. 21km in sub 90, or more importantly still be running well in the last couple of km.

The first 5km from 9-14 took us down Red Hill and down the road in the direction of Cape Point. 19:53 it was easy, and we had a nice little group going... about 1.5km into the next 5 and the road starts the climb to the top of Smitswinkel. I felt the pace drop, so I moved to the front of the group to take the pace... and I found myself out front on my own with only Mark trying to stay in touch. It wasn't easy and I lost a couple of sec in the 5th km (to km mark 19). But 20:55 for the 5 was fast enough and now I had a couple of easy km as we headed next to the ocean to Millers Point. 24km done and those 5 down hill kms had ticked by no worries in 20:05. I had been caught by a young guy in a temp number about 500m earlier and had upped my pace to stay with him. I would need help for those last kms as the North West wind had picked up and they start with a nasty little hill...

He stopped, right in front of me I almost had to stop in mid stride and then start up again, on a hill into the wind... I was on my own!

The 4:15's I was looking for weren't going to happen, and with a 2nd hill outside Cape Times Fresh air Camp, I had to settle for 22:54. I could have pushed the last km, but my sub 90 for the last 21 was in the back... 88:07, so I happy with my run...

Now, no cheating in these weeks as the log book never lies! I have a little base, something to work with, let's see what my marathon holds.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


How can so little training make one so sore...

One of the biggest problems with a comeback is getting the, now soft, body accustomed to training!
After the doctor gave the go ahead I didn't waste any time and jumped straight into training...

Day 1: 15min on the Bike! I want to say that was easy, but having not really bent my leg for the last 3 months it wasn't easy to peddle without my seat as high as it would go.

Day 2: 35min on the bike and the knee has started loosening up.

Day 3: and I went big ... a full hour on the bike!

Day 4: Monday back to work and on the motorbike for the first time in 3 months. Sitting back a bit and I can get my leg bent enough to put my foot on the brake!
An evening cycle up to the club and then while the guys set off running I followed. Good to be out.

Days 5 and 6 pretty much the same as Day 4!

Day 7: still cycling up to the club... but today I was ready to run! The guys left for their warm-up and I headed down to the track for a couple of laps. The week of cycling had loosened the legs up enough for my first run! (Or had they?)
I hit the go button on Ms Garmin and off I went. It wasn't easy... the track didn't slide under my feet... I didn't glide through the air inbetween strides. There was almost no knee lift, but I was running. The knee cap felt loose the quads felt tight but I was running... my senses were  heightened to every niggle on every step I took! My head was working overtime deciding if the niggles were because of lack of running / training or the injury wasn't healed.
2km later I stopped enough for the first run.

Day 8: Friday and I was up early... not to run, but the swim... I wasn't heading to the gym / pool I was heading to the Waterfront and the canals. I squeezed into a wetsuit (great to keep the wind off you on the bike) and looking more like The Michelin Man then an IronMan I took to the water with the guys and girls from ATC.
Enjoyed it and I didn't die... will be back!

Ok the truth be told they were long gone before I hit the water and that's a good thing! Ms Garmin was ready and had started counting the seconds before I had time to think about what I was doing.
Swimming is like riding a bike you never forget... my brain just takes longer to figure it out, to remember what to do. Good thing I was wearing a wetsuit... because if I wasn't I would have be crawling on the bottom of the canal, instead of doing crawl on top of the water!

Under the first bridge (I almost swam into one of the pilings) and my arms were hurting and I was thinking I would be turning early... then NO! I own Batman socks I can do anything! (I wasn't wearing them at this stage!)

After what seemed like an eternity I could see the landing jetty and I swam on straight up... I wasn't going very fast so I didn't get very far up! I had no strength left in the arms but I still managed to pull myself up and slowly I inched my way up, like a walrus beaching on the ice!
Day 9: Firgrove Half no I wasn't running but on the bike to watch...
This wasn't the easiest ride.
The quads still burning from a 10min run two days earlier, 10min are you sure I didn't run a marathon! Then my arms ... never felt my arms before and now I could hardly lift them...
Oh boy I love training I love feeling like that... I want more... I've missed it!

Monday, January 1, 2018

GOALS 2018

January 1 and everybody is setting goals and resolutions for the New Year...

Over the years I've set many running goals but they have seldom been made on January 1st! They get set after reaching the last goal or when coming back from an injury.

My comeback may only be starting on 1 February but I'm excited and scared, 4 months of no exercise has left me fat and unfit (by my standards). It's going to be a long road back.

So the question is: What is this old body still capable of?
I'm looking at running a marathon in September so everything I do from 1 February will be building to that.
1. Goal 1, to finish
2. Goal 2, to be running well at the end.
3. Goal 3, sub 3...
So in talking this through with my coach he says: first we'll need a 21min 5km (marathon race pace)

No problem I said... Park Run here I come! That said it will take at least a month before running 5km is easy so maybe come March we'll think about the first test!

Next goal will be 10km in 42min and then a sub 90 half.

I know I should be able to run sub 3 for the marathon again, but can I do it off 8 months training?

Make that 9 months training... I'm starting today! No I won't be running but I'll start with a couple of slow walks with the puppies and a push up or two should help! Ok I'll also throw in a couple of planks and some calf raises! And then when I can bend my knee enough I'll start turning over on the bike (I've also got Argus on the cards.)

Now let me get training...
2018 here we come

Friday, December 1, 2017

With 110 244km logged the body is in for repairs!

I've been running for a couple of years now... in fact I ran my first road race in 1986 (A 10km out in Belleville).

Over the those early years I don't ever remember being injured... maybe a rolled ankle, but nothing bad enough to stop me running.

Then in 1994 while racing my first marathon  (hadn't run 1 in 4 years and the first 2 had been for fun!) I tore my one hammie. With about 5km to go it felt is if something jumped up out of the tar road to Bredasdorp and stuck it's cat like claws into the back of my leg... (yes I was running Voet) It wasn't a monster tear so I could run slowly while receiving treatment.
So the question is why?
And while one can only really guess, with hind sight it's a good guess... so I would say I had raced too hard the week before and because I really didn't know anything about racing marathons I wasn't really ready to race that fast. So the weak muscle just couldn't take it any longer!

I might have had a little calf trouble in the next couple of years but nothing to worry about. And nothing to remember, that said I didn't race Cape Town marathon in '97... I did run fast but with tight calfs racing wasn't on. (moving to racing flats, now called minimums shoes can do that!)

Role onto '98 and a stress fracture of the patella! When one gets knocked with an injury you always find yourself asking: Why Why Why... and while I should just say over training that isn't the full story! I would say it was the long hard run lots of them on steep cambers. Of cause it didn't help that I kept running for months while my knee get worse and worse...

Over the next 15 years I only had a couple of calf tears. The calfs were strong but didn't have the elasticity for speed! Then in 2013 I tore both abductors!
All these injuries I would say are because of dehydration! And not from not drinking during a race, but not ready drinking my 8 cups of water that we're told too drink on a daily basis! (A normal day would have me drinking about a large glass of milk with breakfast and then nothing really till a couple of glasses of wine in the evening!)

Think of it like this: think of your body as a piece of Boerewors. You can bend it no worries. Now take the water out of it... turn it into a piece of droewors, then bend it! That's an injury waiting to happen!

2016... smashed my knee and that lead to a meniscus tear!
2017... now favouring the other leg I tore the other meniscus!
Shandy doesn't run with me but when I'm not running she's my best friend!

So the simple things learnt are:

Keep hydrated (drink your 8 glasses of water and more when training)
Keep balanced (cross train, small things help. Don't train while injured!)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Marathon Trail Lake di Como

No race really starts on the start line, and this was no different! 

Dawn came home one day and said fights to Italy are on special... next thing I knew the tickets were booked and I was looking for a race! My Italian is as good as my Latin so it wasn't easy to find something that could fit into our travel plans, but Lake Como looked like a good detour!

119km sounded exciting but having to leave for Venice the next day and the fact that I had spent most of last year not running I looked at the other options. 
30km or 60km for reasons unknown to me, I went for the 60km (maybe the 4000m of climb excited me and I thought I could put enough training in!)

The training was coming on and I was getting fit but about 3 weeks before we left I picked up a couple of niggles... Downgrade said Dawn, No said Dion. It's only 60km and there's lots of walking involved I'll be fine! The last week of training was done walking the sights of Rome, Siena, Florence as the holiday unfolded. (This walking was the best training ever, easiest way to spend up to 8 hours on your feet)
After the cops had told me to put my shirt on!
Lake Como is amazingly beautiful and the perfect setting for a trail race (or a training holiday). We joined the other runners in the town square of Menaggio... me on the start line and Dawn watching. 
I was on the 2nd row when we started and was looking for a chance to move up as we started down (up) the little streets of Menaggio... some Italian had taken the lead and with a Englishman following him I thought it a good idea to add an African to the mix.

With only 200m or so done the climbing started and wanting to hold myself back I stayed in 3rd place even looking to walk the first stairs!

It took about a km of town running for the 3 of us to come together and while I would close the gap on the flatter sections the other 2 would open up a meter or two on the steeper bits. While there were a couple of little trail sections in the first 3km it was mostly through the old villages stretching up the mountain! I found myself passing the Englishman  and pulling alongside the Italian at about 4km and then...

I took the lead! I promise I wasn't racing but... there was a lovely looking single track and well it was time!

Time? Yes time to climb... ok we had been climbing already to get there!

I was loving it feeling great (this surprised me a bit after the last 2/3 weeks before leaving on our holiday didn't go to my training plan) and enjoying the lower slopes of the mountain. 
Laughing as he was asking how I had time to take pictures
I was first to the first check in (about 10km and the top of the first climb 1500m) I left before the others arrived and set off on a bit of downhill! Thinking the others would catch-up I made sure I kept a solid pace on the smooth bits... I had set my sights on getting to the top of the mountain first and I didn't want to be playing catch-up. It was the Englishman chasing but while he was, I hit the climb first and started to open the gap again...

We weren't on a real path but on a steep grass bank not smooth but chewed up by cow hooves! No running here just power walking following the route flags. At the top, the path became viable... only problem was I wasn't at the top I was now following the ridge line and climbing to the highest point. 
The views from the top were amazing and would have been even better if the haze below was clear. 15km and I had reached the highest point 2h32 after starting... not my fastest 15k but with about 1900m climb I'll take it!

Time to recover I was hoping for nice Alpine trails to wind down the other side ... I was wrong we were too high for nice trails as only a few hard core hikers ever get that high! 

I'm too old and fragile to fly down steep rocky trails so the lead I had would not last. That said we had now been going for 3 hours and my lack of training was about to show!

1, 2, 3 and 4 passed... they reached the lower slopes and then I did... didn't think the gap was that big and the trails had eased so I could start running!
Into the forests I went chasing the front guys (and leading lady yes she was one of the 4 who had passed me!) but my chase was slow and they disappeared in the trees, I was alone enjoying the trails... the enjoyment didn't last! With about 20km done so was I! We had to climb up to the 10km mark check in... approaching it from the other side we had run 22/23km and would head off in another direction. 
Didn't think the support team would mind!
The path ahead looked amazing but I didn’t have any bounce left in my legs. 4 hours of running on not enough training will do that! (Maybe I should have downgraded to the 30km) too late I had 60km to get through!
A couple more people caught me
That said I had been thinking I would finish in 8 hours and with Dawn waiting for me I didn't want her worrying so I start thinking about pulling out and taking a shortcut back... (holiday more important than the race!)

With most of this down finished and the villages above the lake now coming into view I saw her... yes Dawn had walked (jogged) up to watch us run past! I didn't run past  I stopped to chat! Changing my finish time to 10-11 hours. (That's a long time) I was no longer racing I was out for survival! This is not a game I normally play. Finishing has never been a problem... I like to be up front fighting for top positions. Today's race was turning into a fight to the end. 

I was now running thought the top end of the town / outlying villages and while I could run the downs those ended! I had another mountain to climb... I was jogging as the climb started, but we left the village and entered the forest! While this should have excited me I was stuffed and instead of thriving on the climb I was broken.

7.5km lay ahead of me 1100m of climb would take me to the top of the mountain... 2h08min of fighting gravity and my legs that were just getting heavier and heavier with each step! All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep! I was looking for a way to pull out, I had had enough it was no longer fun! (Not I wasn't even taking pictures anymore!)

Finally the trees thinned and the top was close I put on a smile and walked into the feed station. The food was great and I tucked in bagging a couple 2 chocolate cookies for pudding later! I mentioned that I wanted to pull out that I had had enough, but the guys at the feed station would have none of it! Telling me 2 hours easy down hill all the way back. I said no let's aim at 3 hours I slapped my legs (to wake them up, it didn't really work) I said let's try this...
Look at that trail

I started walking then I tried running and it was easy the legs worked... I picked up the pace and got into a happy place, running on a mountain! The gravel road became a single track and I was flying sub 10 was happening. The path was now steep and the legs were still working! Loving the trails again I didn't even mind the bit of downhill scramble. 
Was wishing it was like this to the end! (but it wasn't)
What an uphill... walk! Legs still to heavy to run up (or I was just lazy)! 5 or 6 km to go and we headed through a thick jungley forest when my leg almost gave way! A sharp pain shot though the leg and it didn't want to hold my weight... (felt like someone had stabbed me)
5km to go 1-2km of fun forests downhills to still get through... a 5-6min weave down the single track turned in 22mins sharp pains with with every step.

I had never been so happy to be out the forests and on the road... I could walk... race walk the straight leg thing was working and as long as I didn't wobble I was moving 12min (not the 6min km I can do when racing) 

500m to the finish line...(I tried to jog in, but no the leg would not let me!). 10h27 that's a long day, but I'm happy I fought through and finished! Not happy I'm injured, it looks like I've damaged my peroneus and there could be more damage in that leg! (Hope not, going for a scan this week!)
that was hard work!

I looked exciting, I should have looked scary!