Monday, August 25, 2014

ULTRA-TRAIL CAPE TOWN

I grew up in Newlands at the foot of the mountain and as far back as '83 you could find me running in the forest. My first run to the top of the mountain was in '88... Now-a-days you can find me up there most weekends! So when I first heard of the Ultra Trail Cape Town my ears pricked up... sounds like fun!  

Cape Town and surrounds are blessed with a couple of the countries best and oldest trail races, and with this in mind the organisers of the UTCT thought they would capture the world market with a 100km. I hope they do, it would be great to have the best of the best taking on Table Mountain.

What utra trail runner wouldn't want to run / race on my iconic Mountain!!!  
 
Come run
A lot of my friends have asked if I'm running... First answer is: No are you mad 100km is a long way! But now a couple of months later I'm starting to sing a new tune... the 100km is still madness and I have mad friends who will be on the start line..  But I can get my head around the 62km. That's just a long mountain marathon,  a really long marathon!!!

So were does that leave me? I will be on the mountain that day, but will I be wearing a race number or a camera? 

I can't make the call just yet 62km is still a long way and I didn't know if my body is up for it.  
I'm also away for a couple of weeks in September (that's another story on it's own.)
 
Special place...
I had a little look at the route 'they' have put together and you will get to run on some of the best trails the mountain has to offer, but without making us run round is circles you are going to have to join me for a run to experience the others...
 
If I'm on the start-line I hope to see you there, if I don't make the start-line, I hope you do... I'll be on thee mountain with my camera...

Friday, August 15, 2014

100 000 km

I've always run...

 From the age of 3 or something I was saying: Mommy, Mommy time me, I'm running around the house!!! and off I would go - out the kitchen door and through the gate onto the street, up the road and over the little picket fence. Round the back of the house jumping over flower beds and cats (trail runner in the making). Leaving dirty hand marks on the walls as I turned the corners. Under the loquat tree and back to the kitchen! I'm Back, I'm Back what time did I do? Again, again, I'm going round twice...

At Junior School I did athletics, rugby and cross country... But it wasn't till High School, standard 8, that my then coach (and Science teacher) Norman Davies said I should keep a log book!!!

Oh Dear...

My first logged run; Jan 2 1986 and already running to UCT
 
28 years later...
No they aren't all there, some are lying around at home and not with these... It's fun looking back at the types of sessions you did years ago! While some have changed, some haven't: There is one in that book from 1986 (note I was at school, std 8) and it reads: 15 x 400m 68-75.6sec at UCT!!! it could have been 2 weeks ago when we did the very same session!!!

My biggest week ever? Well that would be the week of 15-20 Oct 2007 and The Cape Odyssey a 5 day trail race of 211km. Now I don't really look at that as a weeks training, so then it would have to been 18-24 Dec 1995 and a week of 166km. I know there are big mile runners out there, but really... looking at that week, and other weeks I've had up at 160+ I can't see how running more would fit into your training with going over the top...

1995 was my biggest year at 5163.6km I was trying for those extra 36.4km to take me to 5200km but... the body wasn't up to it!!! Did all the miles that year work? Well yes, but it was only when I was running less in 1996 did the results come and I ran PB's over every distance 10km - 42.2km!

What next? I hope to put in another 100 000km before I have to hung up my shoes!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

INJURIES

The other day a friend (who is also injured) asked how I could keep running even with an injury, so this is my answer:

  • It really depends on what injury you have...
  • PAIN learn to know what pain is injury related...
  • Warm up your injury before you start..
OK so with those things in mind legs have a look at a couple of injuries that I've had and how I've managed them: I've had ITB and a couple of my athletes have had ITB, and yes you could pop off to the physio for treatment and rehab, but why stop running? You don't have to, but Coach my knee gets sore after 5km and I can hardly walk!!! So only go out for a 4km run then... and run twice a day if you need more running, I once ran an 8km race with my leg straight (maybe not a good idea) but it was sore if I bent the knee!)

Now onto this injury I currently have: Adductor Tendonosis!

Please note I have spoken to the Sports Doctor, the Physio, and the Bio, so I do have the green light to do this, but I was doing this before I saw any of them just don't tell anyone!

Firstly warm-up the injury, and not by running, and not by stretching, stretching is really just pulling the injury and how can that help... So get the blood flowing, maybe you could walk a bit or rub the injury, I use this before most of my runs:
good stuff

and then I also an running in compression tights to help the blood flow!

Now with a lot of injuries it's a muscles or tendon (some with some bones / stress fractures) so you can normally feel if you are doing more damage. OK I can run without pain... so I run without pain, the problem is I have to run slowly and I don't like running slowly. I like to be on a track running reps, or intervals on the road. You see, too run fast you need to lengthen your stride, and that stretches (puts strain on) the tendon. So I only run slowly, I've been running hills on the road, I can run slowly and hills are slow and good for you!

The other thing I can't really do is long single track and technical downs. Both require core and stabilising and as things stand I don't have much of that!!! so I tire and the tendons start to fall apart again.

Would you believe it if I told you I have hardly been on my mountian in 3 months!!! (we won't count the couple of races I had to run!!!)

Good Luck in managing your injuries as it looks like mine is slowly coming right!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HBTC 2014



So it was Hout Bay this weekend and I found myself on the start line... Now I know I should really have spent the morning in bed, but... 

Was a little injury and a cold... going to do to stop me!!! (being unfit and fat was the least of my problems)


NO

That said I wasn't racing and as we started I found myself setting off with one of the ladies!!! 

A rose among the thorns
Leg 1: I would have loved to run the whole race with her,  but after the first short-cut, once we were back on the road, I pulled away up the mountain. After about 1.5km you leave the roads and hit the trails.  Last year I was setting the pace this year I just sat behind a group of guys watching my HR I didn't want it to go over 160 on that first leg.  (It did, but when I saw it I slowed.) 

The climb up isn't a clearly marked trail with lots of little paths leading to nowhere so one can lose time if you take a wrong turn. We didn't take the best route but walking the steep bits were good for me. At the top we do a little out and back loop to check point 1 and it was good to see the leaders fighting it out, I was in about 15th place.

On the way down I kepted having to step aside the let the guys pass me. Candyce was the only lady to catch me and she was in a relay team so my ego wasn't taking to much of a beating! I was very slow climbing down the mountain, but better safe than sorry, as I heard later that one guy wasn't safe and did his ankle in and had to call it a day! I closed up to Candyce again as we climbed the 2nd bump of leg 1... We finish leg 1 in 87 min her team shot off while I had to wash mud, from the bushes, out of my eyes. I had run the last km with one eye close.

Kane, the race winner climbing up Llandudno corner!
Leg 2 started with the loop round Suikerbossie before the climb up Llandudno corner. I have a split I time up there and while I was walking  most of the up I was walking faster than the guys ahead of me... I must have past 7-10 people on that climb!!! One of them was Derrick, my friend and competition for the 40+ guys! Taking my time at the top I noted that I had made good time!

With the climb behind us it's along the 12 Apostle (back table) to the turning at the dams. I just set an easy pace and slowly closed in on another couple of guys. Nic was having problems and that moved me into 1st 40+ what a bonus!!!

I could talk about the weather but it wasn't that bad it was holding. Yes the paths were wet but nothing like last year, and the rain was holding off. I caught Damian and went past... he then caught me on a little down hill. Oh to be young and injury free! We yo-yoed with me pulling ahead on the ups and Damian catching me on the downs. 

When we hit the dams and ran the service road together till the single track to Nursery, I tried to drop him on the climb, but it wasn't all climb!!! I could only watch as he danced down the rocks while I clambered over them like an old man (wait I am an old man!) Another guy past me and I watched as they hit the service road down and off the mountain. I took a 70 sec time split as they turned taking the short cut on the single track. I stayed on the road and pulled back 5 sec instead of loosing time! 
1h59:23 for leg 2. Dawn was at the Nek to meet me. With 3h27 of running done I had one leg to go.

Leg 3: I've never run this leg well and with only 4 weeks of run easy under the belt Vlakenberg was going to bite. Even with my long stop to chat to Dawn I caught Damian on the first climb. Not wanting to let him back into our little contest I pushed on, but running (if you can call what we were doing running) the short flat didn't work!  My left ADDUCTOR cramped a bit! Lucky it was only a bit and I could walk it out. I would have to be careful!

The single track kicked up again and I was power walking with the best of them over the top. 

DOWN

oh dear this wasn't good for me and with the adductors still thinking about cramp I wasn't going to be a hero! 

Now only the climb up the Constantiaberg and the manganese mines lay ahead. It wasn't going to be easy as the Cape of Storms was now living up to her name as the heavens opened and the rain joined the wind I had been fighting for the last 4 hours! 

As much as I love running on the mountain it was getting a bit much and Damian past me leaving me to eat chocolates and soldier on alone.

It felt like the turn of Mother Earth was against me and I was running on a giant treadmill getting nowhere! Finally the climb down started and with the fort on Chappies now in sight leg 3 was mine for the beating!  It was nice to saw Dawn in the car cheering me on as I clipped the last check point and headed for the beach. 

stopping to say Hi the Dawn, who was in the car out of the rain!

Not a day for swimming!
5h00:00 I was finished in more ways than one 38.4km with 2000m climb had been hard work for this sick, injured, fat,  old man... but I had come home in 10th place claiming the first 40+ prise!!!

out of the rain!
 The run was good and my injury is still under control!!! a rest / easy week lies ahead of me, I've earned it!

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