Thursday, October 2, 2014

STON WALL MARATHON 2014



With our tour of Croatia well underway and my trail race a thing of the past... I was in taper mode for my next race, a marathon, and was only running easy...

Around the lakes at Plitvice...

OK this was on a walk
 
There was a lot of water there!
Along the coast of Sibenik, 

The Sun was out after the rain!
on the island of Hvar. 

Didn't head inland.
I was ready to take on the walls of Ston.

We picked up our race numbers as we drove past on our way to Dubrovnik. This was Friday and with the race on Sunday we would miss the pasta party on the Saturday night, next time...

Race day and the small field gathered on the main road. I was standing on the 2nd row with Dawn, who was running the 15km.  The guys in front were all running the 4km! 

With a clash of cymbals we were off, the kids in front all bolted like someone had let a wind-up toy loose! But like a wind-up toy their energy didn't last long as we left the Little Town of Ston heading to the sister town of Mali Ston! With the juniors now walking I moved through the small field...


I'm in the middle there next to Dawn
Out front was an Australian setting the pace then a triathlete and a tall skinny youngster whom I passed as the 1st km flew by in 3:37... That would be the fastest km of the race as things were about to change!

On entering the old town we turned straight for the wall, up the stairs and through a small 'door' and headed for the stairs that would take on onto the wall and back to Ston...




           



Dawn showing us the way later in the day as we went for a walk to look at the view!





 She didn't like the stairs, but I had no problem... I didn't hammer the stairs as 42km is a long way and I would need my legs for later! 

Ahead of me was the Triathlete (had seen his half Ironman bag at the start) and the Aussie was way out front setting the pace. There is something special about being on a wall, built over 500 years ago. I was walking hard and saving energy, that was till the top when I got back into my running... With my trail running background I danced along the narrow wall at the top weaving round the towers like a seasoned rugby player. Without missing a step I passed the Triathlete and flew down into Ston...

Came down from the right on the wall then across the pic and off the wall in the left corner...
The small town watched as we ran by... The 4km route would turn into town for the finish, while the rest of us headed out past the salt fields (no salt this year with the floads in the area!)

The Aussie was still flying, and while I wanted to chase (yes I'm mad...) I was running a marathon and he was only doing 15km... The Triathlete and tall guy soon joined me as we ticked over at 4:00/km till the small town of Broce when we left the water's edge and climbed over the peninsula. The Aussie was now heading back and soon the other 2 guys would turn leaving me on my own...

The route map did nothing to tell me just how rolling the rolling hills were!!! I was alone and eating up the km just enjoying the unspoilt nature and the Oceans views. The lady manning the water table offered me food and water, I just grabbed a bottle and headed down a rough gravel road (more 4x4 trail!). I was loving this... and as the km slipped away I wondered when they would turn us. Then there on his own was a young guy who turned me and sent me back. Looking at my watch I took a quick split to see where 2nd place was... about 5min back and not enjoying the gravel! (3rd was with him as well)

The small field was spread out and I greeted the runners as I headed back, all seemed to be enjoying the run! Now I knew why the going out was easy, it was rolling hills alright, the they were rolling down... I was now climbing again! That last hill about 1km long had 101m climb in it! I wasn't making up any time on a sub 3 marathon today... I grabbed another water bottle on the top and and headed down to Broce and the waters edge!

The road was damp in places and then while opening my water the unthinkable happened! My right leg disappeared under me and I hit the tar... HARD... I sat there thinking my race was over, my lead had counted for nothing! I climbed to my feet picking up my water and sunglasses before heading off again, Thumb, elbow, leg, back... yes there was blood mostly running from my elbow down to my Garmin! Slowly I started up and the running came back...

Dawn was at the 24km mark, she had finished the 15km and was now watch on the road as we started on the next loop...


Dawn would stay there till I got back, but I had many km to go! By 25km we were running on another gravel road through the farmlands. I kept my work up thinking about building as big a lead as a could while the running was in my favour. That said it was nice to get back on the tar after 2km. for the first time I had a little support! The organizers were out to see what was happening.

The last turn was at about 36km and again I took a split... the 37km mark was coming up when I saw the 2nd placed guy, he was look better than I felt but with almost a 2km lead I just had to keep running. 5:35 up the hill, but the speed didn't come back as I headed down! The legs were shattered and I wasn't running freely, the Town didn't want to come any closer...

It doesn't matter how many marathon you run, it always seems to be a long way...

There was Dawn waiting for me... and she still had time to pop through town and catch me finishing!

HOME
Ladies and mens winners...

The atmosphere after the race was great, but that is a story for another blog...

This race is no Berlin, London, New York or Boston, But I will be back before I ever run one of those over-crowded fun runs!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

 UCKA TRAIL 2014

Where does one start with a race report for something like this:


We landed in Zagreb on the Wednesday before the race, hired a car and drove 200km in the poring rain to Opatija, on the Croatian coast near the race.It was still raining on Friday as we registered.  I had entered on line and was unable to pay! But I had emailed the organisers and it was no problem to pay at registration! With my race number (38) I was ready to rock and roll,  bring on race day...

Ready to run
3, 2, 1 and away we went, the long (41km) and the short (25km) races started together... down the beach I slotted into the 2nd group of runners,  Garmin was telling me we were hitting 4:00/km. The fast pace didn't worry me as before long I know we would start the climb... 750 stairs would take us up and over the road and then on to the trails of the UCKA...

The lead group had disappeared up the single trail. I wasn't pushing hard and the 2 guys I was didn't want to die, so together we climbed through the forest...

Then at about 6km the trail flattened and the 2 youngsters running with me flew off the front.  I looked at my Garmin to see we had already climbed to 800m!!!

Now with hardly a trail to follow the vegetation opened up and ahead I could see the guys following the red ribbons over the rocky ground. On a last bit of downhill I was caught... I didn't let him get away as we ran into a "ghost town", a few overgrown ruins wasn't what was scary, it was the gradient! Garmin was telling me we were at 1000m with another 400m to climb and only about 2km to do them in!!

The guy we had been chasing turned right on and short course and without thinking I followed him... I wish, my race was far from over I still had a mountain to climb before my decent . I just followed the guy I had been with, he set a good pace and I was happy letting him do the work... (Ok in running you all work there is no getting away from it...) Though a forest and up into the clouds...

still climbing
I thought we were moving fast, but I must have been wrong as some guy caught us! Don't worry we didn't really let him get away. 250m of climb done... I didn't close a 10m gap on a flattish section before the last push to the top, instead I took out my cell and took a couple of pictures!
What!!! was someone else chasing us? I wasn't worried I wasn't racing, I was on holiday, out on a hike...


Not the only one there!
That was the top 1400m, time to head down... The couple of 100m were on the road,  but that was all...The road turned right and we went straight, back onto the trails through the forest!  Remember I told you it had rained the last 3 days, well asked any local and they will tell you it's rained for the last 3 months... The ground was wet and slippery. I would like to be telling you how my feet danced over the ground without even leaving a footprint,  but like the 7 guys ahead I was leaving skid marks with almost every step. Had I packed the wrong shoes? I know I have the perfect shoe for the type of ground back home in my cupboard... but New Balance had only given them to me a week before I left and I did have time to take them for a run. And there was no room in the case for another pair of shoes!

Ready for some trails...
I was running in the MT10's and they had been great for the climb and I love running in them... also remember the race has a few short road sections!
With the sun out (except on the high slops of the mountain) and all the rain they had had it was very humid so I stopped at the 2nd of 3 water tables to drink, the water I was carrying still had 23km to last. I left the water table refuelled and full of running... 20, 21, 22 the km were easy and I was happy with my progress... Oh dear another hill, aren't we meant to be going down. My legs were flat I had nothing, so I had to walk!!! (Maybe the sightseeing of the last couple of days was in my legs?)

2 guys past and then a 3rd,  but the hill was over and I had been eating my race food,  so it was race on again.

Look at the view...

One of the pictures
So I stopped and took another picture...

Holiday Dion remember you are already out of the top 5 so why race? Just see enjoy it...

28km and I finished my water!!!
2km to the last water table. While I fulled my pack I was joined by the next guy!  Then another guy pulled in as I was leaving. ..I shot off, the race was back in me, it wasn't about a good position or time, I had 12km to keep those guys at bay... Stop taking pictures, NO just one more too show Dawn.

Don't tell anyone, but I love racing and winning and this little race from 30km to the end was mine!!! We now followed a contour into a valley. I could see the town where we would finish down below, but it was still a long way off...
Came you blame me?
While we ran in the sun and the Adriatic showed off it's colours below I could see the storm clouds on the horizon... but I couldn't see the guys chasing,  so when I left the trail and headed down a tar road I stopped one last time for a picture of a medieval town we were heading too. ( Ok I didn't stop again as the view got even better. )


We ran into the town and left the road to slide down the river (yes the trail was that slippery) and under the road. This was the most amazing km of trail and while I was really only walking and sliding from tree to tree, I loved it!

5 hours had past and as has 41km (the advertised distance) but I was running again along the sea to the finish. 11th place in 5h06:57 Garmin called it: 42.5km with 2150m climb.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

1000 Days

I've always run in the week resting on a Friday then race on the Saturday and a long run on the Sunday.  I've followed a very typical style of program. Yes I've mixed things up and the mountains have called me most weekends and public holidays.

So after a couple of public holidays fell on a Friday I ended up with a 3 week running streak and then it was January...

2012 I decided to make a running year and see if I could run every day! The summer was easy as getting up at 5 to fit in a couple of runs when needed (like every Friday) was no challenge as the morning sun was out... roll on the Cape winter and those 5 am runs in the dark cold and hail ment rolling out of a warm wife filled bed to brave the elements. She thought I was mad... (ok I am! She's not often wrong)

2012, 2013, and now 2014 Sept and still going... last Thursday was day 1000! Now while I think this is amazing in the big picture it isn't. ..

Englishmen Ron Hill started his streak in Dec 1964 and will reach 50 years at the end of this year! Not that I could log a 1 mile 'run' he once did with the aid of a crutch taking 27 minutes!!!

Enough of that I need to pack as I'm flying to Croatia this afternoon!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE RUNNERS HOLIDAY!



Everyone needs a holiday... And while some of my work colleges and friends will take a couple of weeks off and sit at home doing nothing, that's not me! Others will take a couple of weeks off and hit some DIY project, that's not me... Then there are the poor folk with children, they take leave in school holidays to look after there kids, that's not me...

This is one of the reasons my wife and I get on so well, when it comes to holiday time we like to "take a holiday"! Now with a little money saved and my wife having a birthday this year. (You guys must know by now that ladies don't have birthdays every year and that is way they always look so young!)

So how does all this happen:
  • We decide it's time for a holiday, 2014 will be the year... (don't have money for yearly holidays, feel free to sponsor my next holiday if you have some free cash!)
  • Where do we go, France would be nice, from Dawn's English years she still has a couple of friends on the Mud Island with holiday places over the Channel... OK that's not working :(
  • What about Switzerland? I have a best friend from school now staying there... Kids, work (new job) means more date planning to tie in with them. An idea but what else... (Next time even if I have to go alone!)
  • Then some-one said: What about Croatia, I hear it's nice...
  • With month ends and dog sitters to think about mid Septemberare the dates we are looking at...
  • With Dawn not only being my wife but our travel coordinator she starts to look for flights and places to see...
Now from the moment she said: How does Croatia sound, I popped onto Google and asked him a very important question: Marathon Croatia? Answer, Ston-Wall Marathon  21 September 2014... Prefect date, and only 55km from a must see, Dubrovnik! What the ball now rolling I again went to talk to Mr Google again and this is what he told me:

Coach Dion, there is a 41km trail race in the Učka National park the week before that marathon in Ston, and you are already going to be in the country... How about turning this holiday into a little road trip...

Road Trip it is:

  • Land at the Capital Zagreb and drive to the coast.
  • Run the trail race, all 41km and 2350m climb!!!

Picture from last years race

Where the Race Starts and the mountain I will be running up...
  •  Head down the coast popping inland to see another National park!
Plitvice Lakes
  •  Back to the coast and down to Dubrovnik.

  •  55km up the coast to run the Ston Wall Marathon!
Looks more like a trail race...
  •  Before we fly out of Dubrovnik!
Time to pack my bags...

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!