Monday, July 14, 2014

BASTILLE DAY the short story

My injury is still a long way from healed but Franchhoek and the celebration of Bastille Day was calling... A long time ago I had entered the 35km race, but there was no way my body was going to hold out that long, so I downgraded to the 25km race, a run I had done the year before.

Napoleon and his French Maids put on a great race!
On the start-line I looked around and didn't see any of the big names, I was the only big name and I am injured with almost no training over the last 7 weeks... The race was open to the 'pretenders' and the new kids on the block.

No gun, no siren, just a: You can go now!"

I let the guys go, but as I warmed up and start running at a pace I know I could handle I joined then at the front, then on the first climb I passed them. 3 guys stay with me as we headed up the worst gravel road you have ever seen... OK some of it was single track and the rest was eroded! The real climb starts at about 3.5 with the last 200m up through the gum trees climbing 100m (yes that's 50% ave gradient).

We dropped Christo and set off on an amazing single track along the contour to the saddle. I was really enjoying the run there is something about just running within yourself and not pushing it into the red line...

At about 7.1km we reached the saddle and the guys passed me on a very slippery gravel road as we headed down into the valley they were about 10m ahead as we turned of the 'road' onto a freshly cut path. the 'path' was about 2-3m wide and I found myself on the left side looking for better footing as I can't stretch out on tracks like that... Maybe 250m down I followed the path to the right and then I started to notice that I couldn't see the other guys! and wait, there were no foot prints in the sand, I was wrong or were they?

I was me!!! I had head there was a little change to the route but I thought it was further alone... I'm guessing that they had gone down the right hand side of that new path and see a board telling them to turn. I had missed it and was out of the race. Dam, I was running well and enjoying being out there without the pressure of racing. I slowed down and ran on, I didn't really feel like turning round and running back up 500m or was it 1km!!! Then I saw Christo... he hadn't seen the arrow / marking and had caught a glimpse of me so he followed. I still hopped I was on the right track, but at the next turn (marked for the 15km race) I know I was wrong. But we were on last years route, so if we just stuck with it we would rejoin the race!

12.8km into the my race we rejoined the route, ok maybe it was a little before then, but that is where I stopped to chat to a marshal. We were in the lead!!! and had clearly not only run a different route, but a shorter route!

From here the race follows the Berg River as it heads to the dam. It's not the fastest section of trail as we cross the river 4 or 5 times...

Melted snow from last week
it wasn't all the deep...

My team-mate was winning the ladies!
Mean while at the next crossing was a gorilla jumping in and out of the bushes!!!

Great fun...
Dawn had come out for the day and had taken her only little run round the mountain to watch the race... She was on the other side of the river on gravel road, so I stopped again and told her what had happened before heading off. Oh I also stopped for Hot Chocolate!!!

Christo didn't stop but walked on up the 'road' I caught up and we ran on together round the dam. Then he got tired leaving me to run on... there's one last single track down to the dam and a last river crossing before the last 1.5km to the finish.

The water of the Berg

I was first over the line in 2h07:13 (with 5min chatting time and no racing) about 3 min ahead of the winner, but then I had run 2km short, I was disqualified...

Could I have won? Yes...
Would I have won? I can't say, but 3rd was up for grabs and I really wish I had been there to answer those questions. That said I had a really nice run out there and don't really mind the body had held up and I think I can get over this injury and back in the game.

Friday, July 11, 2014

INJURED !!!!!

This in not a work we like to hear, and when we do, we don't believe it...

Now if you think you are bad, I'm worse!!! Oh I don't like the idea of being unable to run!!!

But let me tell you this, you really should listen to your body... My wife says I'm a little deaf, maybe I am, but then again maybe I just think I'm tougher than anyone else. That said here I sit with a broken body doing what I can to fix it and get fit again. (Do note I say: what "I" can, there are others out there who could do more!!!)

Let's first go back to Oceans 1998, yes that is a long time ago, but I lined up with a sore knee and tried to run a silver... losing 15min in the last 8km because my knee was now too sore to run! Do you think I stopped running and saw a Doctor? No, I went on running for 4/5 months.... When I did finally see a Doctor I was booked off running for a couple of months, it ended up being 9 months of 0 km weeks. I had a stress fracture of the patella.

Yes I've had a couple of calf problems over the years, but always been able to run. I like to think that while I run a lot, there are really mad people out there who run twice as much as me. I might run up to 50 races a year, but really I only put the hammer down a couple of times, I don't like pain. I'm good about taking the rest weeks and cutting back the miles...

Enough back ground:

August 20 2013, it was wet and I had a bit of an upset stomach. I remember running back to the club and thinking: these contractions are getting a little close for comfort... I made it back to the club!!! All was fine, that was till I was heading home and I climbed on my bike!!!

I don't remember if getting on the bike was hard, but some evenings after a hard run it's hard to do anything! So sitting there I kicked the stand up and started the bike... Left foot up to change gears, NO THE LEG DIDN'T MOVE!!!

Well almost not at all, it wasn't sore or anything, it just wouldn't listen to me I had no power. I remember thinking, I don't really know how I'm going to change gears. That evening I could do a sit-up, in fact I couldn't lie on my back and the stomach muscle couldn't hold the "middle-aged spread" up, it felt as if it was crushing me! There was something wrong with me, I was injured!!!

Maybe I should have taken the next day off (not running, WORK) and gone to a sports Doctor... but I didn't! It took till May before I went to see a physio and the Sports Doctor!!!

After a ultra sound it was confirmed that I wasn't pregnant!!! but I had adductor tendonitis !

Maybe it was something like this?
OK so where does that leave me? Well I've been resting for 5 weeks (not your resting my resting)!!! I ran short, slow, and flat... Now I'm fat and unfit, but the rehab might be working and I think I might get fit again one day!

So how does something like this happen?

They say it's an overuse injury, but I think there is more to it than that!!! This is my take:
  • Yes I run a lot and maybe there is a bit of overuse!
  • I don't drink water... In a normal day I have a glass of milk with my breakfast, maybe a glass or 2 of coke in the day, run in the evening (no drinking of water or sports drinks, even in summer) home for dinner... I drink with dinner, a couple of glasses of wine. Normally red and up to 3 glasses!
  • upset stomach
  • Now add those all together and I am always dehydrated... and more so on that day!!!
OK we all know that water is good for you, and I think I've been a naughty boy and now I'm in trouble!!! I think of my tendons as dry as biltong, so while I've used them a lot, because I'm dehydrated they were more prone to tear and the micro tears the us athletes cause everyday while training have been taking longer to heal...

I think I'm on the mend now but there is a lot of scare tissue and the tendons are still very tight so I still have a long way to go...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Marathon du MONT-BLANC 2014 - Skyrunning World Championships

This weekend saw the running of:



I wasn't in the SA tream on the start-line, that hounor went to Landie Greyling and
Lucky Miya!!!

This isn't their story but my story from when I was lucky enough to stand on the starting line. Now back in 2008 we had great weather, but these guys no so, in fact the route was changed at the end and the last +_6km instead of climbing up into the bad weather they dropped back down to town. (I don't know if there were any other changes.)



2008 a French Odyssey ‘The Mont-Blanc Marathon’

Not every race is just sign up and run, for some it is a journey getting to the start. My French Odyssey started in October 2007 when I teamed up with Will in a 211km stage race over the mountains of the Western Cape. After 5 days we were crowned the champs and our trip to France had began… (Linda had won the ladies race and was joining us, her partner had other plans!)

That was a long time ago...
After running up to the Mast in Tokai, Platterklip Gorge, Nursery Ravine, and the Bridle Path the Cape Mountains were no longer a challenge… So we packed our bags and started the 25hour trip to our hotel in the mountain village of Chamonix. After 3 flights, 4 airports and a car trip via the Salomon Head Office in Annecy is all it took. From my bed I could see the 4000m peaks of the Mont-Blanc, but after all that travelling I needed to stretch my legs, so we walked into the center of town to have a look around. Friday was also spent looking around the valley (mainly for chocolate for Dawn). With the race on Sunday we took Saturday easy and spent the morning watching the ‘Cross’ (The half, which is 23ish km)

Not wanting to be too keen I lined up in the 3rd row with Will, while Linda was further back in the field. As the gun set us off I took to the streets of the town like a finely tuned running machine!!! OK I didn’t really start that well, but I wasn’t swamped by the other 1400 runners in the race.
I saw Will take off and weave his way through the field on the left. I was running at close to max (not in speed but in effort) and it wasn’t till I could see Will up in 3rd place that my old body started to work! By 1.5km I was up with Will tucked in behind 2nd place. Caught up in the moment of a big International Marathon I thought the pace was a little slow, so I allowed myself to pass Will and move into 2nd place. Running freely I soon closed the gap on the leader. After thinking about going straight past, I opted for the sensible thing and tucked in behind him to let him do the work. I planned on destroying him on the hills… That plan didn’t last long as after a couple of km’s I decided that I was working to hard for a race like this, and eased up just a touch. That felt a whole better… but it did mean that Will and the 3rd placed guy soon past. In fact about another 7 guys came past, but they didn’t seem to power on. They formed a group 50-100m ahead of Will who was only 10-20m ahead of me.
At 10.3km we hit the 1st water table. I had put in a little effort and caught Will, well closed the gap to a couple of meters. This water table came at us all to fast; we had just dropped out of the forest on the lower slopes of the mountain and into a small village. I had to slow to take water and was dropped again. The climb out of the town was a little taste of what was to come, and I was able to get back into our little group. I know it was early in the race, but I was already thinking about just trying to stick with Will, and as in Odyssey finish together. It wasn’t long after that as we climbed to the next town, Montroc, I moved up into what was 9th place. A friend Stuart called out our positions as we past 9, 10, 11. After climbing 644m in the 1st 14.7km the next couple of km’s taking us to 18.3km was easy down hill and I was starting to really enjoy the race. By the 2nd Water, Fruit, Cheese, Coke, Cheese, and who knows what else table, we had dropped to 1280m (Altitude) and things were about to get scary!!! Over the next 6.1km we would climb to the highest point of the day 2200m. I can’t work out what my splits were as there where no km markings, but I wasn’t flying. As we zig-zagged up the side of a very big mountain I was on the hunt… Turn after turn I closed the gap, and as we left the mountain bike downhill track and headed for the ski lift on a gravel road I past him and made a move to catch the next guy. The ski lift wasn’t the top; we still had over 200m of single track over snow to climb to the summit. With 24.4km behind us it was down hill time. We started down a rocky knife edge then zig-zag through the forest and back to the town of Montroc. I had lost a couple of places taking it easy as we dropped 720m in 3.7km!!! It was good to see Stuart and Charlotte counting positions as I came past, 12th

Yes it was a long way up...

At the bottom of the hill
At the next water table I stopped to take a drink and gather my strength/energy for the last 12km. With 3hr of ‘running’ already behind us I thought the last leg of the race would be easy… Boy was I wrong!!! It took just 20 more minutes to turn my running into walking and my walking into just standing there and waiting for the Earth to turn…

Always time for a smile
The last water table was at 36.8km it had taken an hour to cover the last 6km, and with another 6 to go it was going to be a long day at the office. After sitting down to admire the snow peaked mountains around us it was time to hit the track for the last time… It felt as if I was in the Death Zone of Everest edging to the summit one step at a time.
After fighting off cramp as I tackled the last descent I could see the finish banner 2km away. Like all marathons you need a dramatic finish, and with 200m still to climb there was going to be no sprint for the line…
I finished with 4h44.52 in 25th place. In the last 10km I had lost 15-20min and 12 places, at times I thought I would never finish I was walking so slowly… But step by step I pushed through. It was a fantastic race and I now long to head back to the Alps to tackle more of their great mountains. 

At the end of our race

Friday, June 20, 2014

25 x TABLE MOUNTAIN

Is there a race on the calender that you alway find yourself lining up for?

Well for me it is the Table Mountain 16km, a simple race up from Constantia Nek around the dams and back down, as easy as that... OK there is the little word "up" about 500m in the first 5km!!!

Now let me paint the seen for you:

It was a dark and stormy night... as a cold front rolled into the Mother City. Dawn decided to stay in bed as she thought there was a good chance that the race would be called off! (I would still run up) I left the house in torrential rain with the wind blowing it sideways!!!

On the drive up to the nek the rain abated... But that didn't make the drive any easier, it was dark and the road was wet, and then... lucky I was driving slowly, there was a tree across my half of the road! 200m on there was then a tree across the other half of the road!! There's more, another couple of 100m up the road was another tree in the road, this time almost across the whole road!!! I think I was the first person to drive around (I don't have a big car). 2 of those trees had fallen in the last 30min!!!

The brave race officials and Cape Nature people drove up the route to see if the race would be run, The call came through: GAME ON... the wait, we can't get down a tree has fallen down and blocked the mountain road!!!

30 min later, with the road now clear, the gun set us off, and like years gone by I moved to the front joined by 3 other guys...

200m into the race!
It only took about 1500m to break 2 of them... Pumlani, a 2h19 marathoner, didn't want to die!!! We were fighting the hill and I was fighting the wind! Then about 3.5km into the race he snapped and I was along for the last and steepest bit of the climb. That is not the top, and after about 1km of flattish running the road kicks one last time to The King Of The Mountain: 28:33, 5.3km down (or should I say up)

I was still in front about 45sec but slow (last year I was up in 26:40). I pushed on thinking I was running faster and maybe for me it was I didn't have another gear... Round the dam I looked back and I still had a lead, maybe just maybe the wind was hurting the other guys! The race was on and to open the gap more I didn't slow on the 200m single track over the dam wall, I was heading back.

Oh dear I wasn't the only one on the wall!!! At this stage we join the up route and start back.

Pumlani catching me...
I kept my lead to the King Of The Mountain, 21:03 around the top (last year 19:11 another slow split.) Now with only 5.3km of downhill it was race on...

NO it wasn't... my body is broken and won't let me run fast, I can't stride out without pain, and pain isn't good... One by one they past me and I finished 6th in one of my slowest times 69:51... I'll be back next year and God willing my body will work and I will be back fighting for a win...


I've been to the physio (2 of them), I've been to the Doctor (2 of them), I've been for a scan, and I'm due back at the doctor next week...


Monday, June 9, 2014

FISHERMENS 2014



Only a few stars lit the early morning as we picked Derrick up. Derrick, I've been racing him for 30 years now and the rivalry is as strong as ever. 

The start line!
Having checked our gear we headed to the beach for the start. This year Fishermens was run from Fishhook Yatch club and the route was slightly changed as we headed over the mountains to Hout Bay. 

It didn't take long for the changes to take effect!  While Derrick had the early lead it didn't last long as he missed one of the first turns!  I was on his tail and a couple of us last 10m. A new face took the lead (new to me that is!) and we followed. I was 2nd as we hit the mountain the race was now on...

50m from the top we turned left it took us about 100m to discover that we had turned early!  I wasn't going back so I turn up and headed for the right path.  I didn't look back but know a number of the top guys were all scrambling up after me. We joined the race 15m behind the new leaders. 

On the climb up to the caves I took the lead taking Ben, Dom and Mat with me. It's a big climb almost 300m in the last km... 

When I say climb I mean climb!!!
Rrom there I pushed on but soon would look at a wrong path and let Ben lead from there. Mat called out directions as we reached the amphitheatre.  I was happy with how I was going as we flew down the single tracks. 

On Top at last
At PC 2 I took the lead with Matt now behind me. It was just a short section before we reached the gravel road and Ben and I eased ahead. Before the road crossing. Having to wait for a couple of car didn't help our lead. And the 4 of us were back together again. 

Ben again took the lead on the next single track with me chasing hard. While I was pulling ahead of the other 2 Ben still got away from me. I lost sight of Ben and wasted a few seconds at the next junction before setting off again. 

Not wanting to be caught I ran on hard and at times could see Ben. Through the CP at the dam wall I saw Ben again and followed as we ran on... While he ran on round the dam I turned at the rest room... but I was on the wrong path and it only went to a picnic sight! !! Dam!!! 30-60sec wasted! !! Dom and Matt had moved into the lead... Ben had lost about 60 sec running to far round the dam. On the next climb I took Mat and Ben joined us again. It was Dom leading but only for a short time. .. Ben and I had to drop the others before the decent!!! 

Hout Bay Below us.
Blackburn and I didn't even try and get the lead letting Ben go his young leg have a lot more bounce in them! Bounce oh boy Dom's got bounce in him he could even be half rock rabbit! He closed the gap passing first me and then Ben! I was over a minute behind as I left the ravine but my body was broken and the rocky downhill to the fort was going to be slow... (I hear Dom got 60sec ahead, but Ben was able to run him down for the win!)

Derrick has descended like a hawk and was the next guy to catch me then Anda (he would catch Derrick and take 3rd) and lastly Bolalani. He reach Chappies just before me amd I took him on the road down to the beach. With tired legs I didn't have much left in me to fight the sand and seaweed.  As another guy past me leaving me in 6th and 2nd 40+.

Garmin called it a little over 20.3 km and I finished in 1h59:05. (fastest km 4:00 slowest 10:54!!! total climb 887m)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NO PAIN NO GAIN

I know I was talking about retirement but it's not retirement that I need, just a rest and a visit to a Physio... Yes I have been running these last months with a broken body and it is crying out for repairs!

So after my run up to the mast I popped into the local physio to have my body beaten back into shape. Now you must know that I was born in the 60's ('69) and grew up in the 70's & 80's now, back then it was all:

'NO PAIN NO GAIN"

Now there are times when this philosophy works, but with a torn/strained muscle... Not a good idea... as pain normally means the muscle is put under strain and could be tearing again!!! I don't know how much rest I need, but I've got 3 weeks before my next race so let's see if I can get this fixed...

But before my 3 weeks starts I have a taper week and a little 26km race... I promised the physio I would run slowly and I did... (over 8:00 min/km)

With a week of easy and doing the couple of exercises I was given I was ready to race (slowly) OK we didn't start that slowly with the first 3km under 5min/km but the running was easy mostly on the gravel road below the mountain... Then, yes we went up!!! I was still mixing it with the kids, but I didn't have my climbing legs with me as we climbed to the saddle...

In the saddle
From there we turned left and climbed the West Peak (yes climbed). With 6.5km done (52:30) I was at the top 5min off my fastest time up and 1 min off 2nd pace, couldn't see Bernie in the front. While I was moving a lot better that a couple of weeks earlier at JMC I was still scrambling down like a pregnant woman! (no offence to pregnant woman, but I was being careful and going slowly). I lost 1, maybe 2 place before we started up to the saddle again:

watching my every step!
This time we turned right and headed up to conquor The Dome.

it's gets a little steep at this point!
This was an out and back section and it was amazing to see Duncan (he had taken Bernie who's ankel didn't let him bounce up and down the mountain) hopped down the mountain. (OH to have young legs!)

The views up there are amazing, but there was no time to take them in as...

Katya was kicking butt in the Ladies!
It wasn't only the ladies chasing, the old men were also on their way up. The 2 guys I had been holding onto on the way up were running away from me on the down. Okay running isn't really the right word as I was really sliding down on my ass!! One of the old men, Derrick,  took a tumble and after cartwheeling was able to get up and keep running! Last year and the year before some-one had been airlifted off the mountain after a tumble!

On my second West Peak ascent I run into one of the rocks I had run into on the first loop, you think you would learn!!!

The second loop was great as while I was been caught buy a couple of the Kids I was catching guys running the shorter 15km loop.

With over 3 hours of running under the belt I was happy to still have a little running in the legs!  I really thought a couple more guys would run me down,  but it was me who ended up catching a couple of the guys who had hopped past me on the vertical rocky decent...

Race done 3h32 for the 26ish km  (over 2000m climb) Now it's time to rest, and listen to the physio!!! It's 3 week to my next race and being only 20+km I should be fine with 3 weeks rest!!!
Perfect morning on the mountain!



Thursday, May 15, 2014

TIME TO RETIRE or NOT

4 May 2014, it was early Sunday morning with the threat of rain as drove out to Stellenbosch and through to Jonkershoek for the 36+km Mountain Challenge. I knew I was up for the Challenge, but was I up for a race!!!

We ran over that!

With the clouds heavy on the mountain we set off down the gravel road with Bernard setting the early pace. I found myself in the chase pack with 3 youngsters and 2 other old men... The race was on!  I had a great plan and round one was to back off and be running well at the end.

On the start line with Bernard

I let them go on the last 'flat' of the gravel road as they sped up but I found myself closing the gap on the climb. I was feeling great and full of running. We were now on the single track and the guys were flying... Easy does it Coach we will run them down in the 2nd half... Andrew came by in his 5 Fingers, mad I tell you my New Balance 1010's were great for grip and protection!.

Back to the race, and with about 12km gone I had taken one of the kids and it was time to venture into the clouds!!! The climb is only about 2.2km long with 500m climb, now the make things exciting the visibility was dropping with ever meter you climbed. The Kid didn't come with me and it wasn't long before I could see Derrick (a gorilla in the mist!) I past him and set about hunting down the next guy... But I couldn't see anybody! I don't think they were miles ahead, they were just out of sight.

Down load from Garmin

The top of the mountain is anything but flat and we had a couple more tops to reach. I wasn't tired and my legs were sore, they had just stopped working!!! So instead of flying along the flatter bits like the years of old, I run along like an old man. Derrick was running again and caught up again, I let him go knowing that I would catch him on the next climb... (OK I didn't) I was still climbing like a goat, but I could run down hill, and with most of the remaining 17km down hill I was in trouble!

I struggle down to the contour and thought I would pick up the running then, but that didn't happen, all the time guys were catching me. We had now dropped out of the rain and wind. Did I tell you it was like an Arctic storm up there? Well the wind was so strong I had to take off my hat at times! Back to the contour, and while it looked like I was out for a Sunday jog (I hate that word). The short route joined us and they were also passing me at will...

While it was lovely on the mountain enough is enough and I was ready to sit down and call it a day bring on the end. 4 hours 16 min later I was still running (not walking) or should I say jogging as I crossed the finish line!!! I had lost up to 45min in the 2nd half...

Are my days of racing over, is it time to put this old Goat out to pasture?

Now it's the middle of the year and I have lots of races still to run, they have been ended and I have a sponsor to make happy, so one week later I was back in my CONTEGO gear lining up for another Mountain race!!!

The Mast Challenge... 10km 800+m climb, a simply race up. Just how you get down is your problem!

Just Up

Big Steve, and some Kid took off at the start, so AJ, Craig and myself set off after them... AJ soon joined the guys at the front leaving Craig and I too our own battle. We started together till about 3.5km when there is a flattish bit and his leg speed took him clear of me... (the boy is really quick 3:57 for 1500m)

I pushed on up the Monster Hill...

Only half way
Got away from him
Up into darkness

After leaving the Monster behind I saw 'the kid' who had gone to fast and was paying big time...

The 2nd half of the race is tar and through the mist I took a split to Craig and called it 35 sec, but 5km and 400m climb is a long way... He disappeared as we climb higher into the clouds, the cap wasn't coming down I wasn't going to catch him!

Then I rounded a corner and saw Big Steve...(caught him) and I was now closing in on Craig, The road was running out, I needed another km of climbing to catch him, I had worked my way into 3rd (1st 40+) but was still 10sec off 2nd... AJ, well he had miles on us!!!

Fighting to the end
Time to rest before heading down

Steve made it up
After a run down, which in my case turned out to be an adventure on it's own... But I've said enough for one day...

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