Monday, September 20, 2010

TMC The Crazy Race

Held together by not more than a couple of pieces of tape I lined up for the Crazy Table Mountain Challenge a 35 km race on the mountain trails and paths around the famous landmark. The racing relay teams had set off at 07H00 and then 10 minutes later I set off with the fast individuals. I think the start times stretched back to 08H00. But I was long gone chasing the lead pack; consisting of a skinny black guy, Alan, the little white guy in a S.A. flag vest, a tall triathlon and Bruce almighty (last year’s winner). If I was looking for a win, there was only Bruce standing in the way, but I was only hoping to make it back in one piece.

After the rolling hills of the face of Table Mountain I saw Bruce and the tri-athlete reach the end of leg 1 ahead of me. The other two were long gone. Leg 2 would take me along the contour path to the Nek. Both Bruce and the tri-athlete had disappeared – Bruce had sped off and the tri-athlete had stopped (I didn’t know his fate). The contour path wasn’t empty as I headed to the Nek I was catching the slower racing teams. It was nice to be catching and not being caught. I won’t say I was flying but I was still moving forwards. The thought of running over the aloes on my way through Kirstenbosch never even entered my mind. At the top I passed a ‘little’ girl from a relay team and then there in front of me was the skinny black guy….he wasn’t a trail runner and I passed him at Skeleton Gorge as the trail got technical.

At this stage I should stop and tell you; that as good a job as the tape on my calf was doing, it was only holding my calf together so the rest of my body was getting ready to fall apart (okay maybe that’s not quite right) but my quads were working overtime without pay and you all know what happens when you force someone to work overtime without pay….

I finished leg 2 about 3 minutes off the pace and after an equipment check I was on my way again. The 3rd leg is more than just the 3rd leg, this is where the race is won or lost. Bruce made his move and so did I, Bruce went hunting for a second win and I fell to pieces!!! This stage is divided up into different sections: 1st one took me to the style over the fence, didn’t lose anytime till the steep climb before the fence. This wasn’t a good sign, but I was only worried about my calf and it was holding out. 2nd section starts with a climb through a forest before a left takes you along a contour to the turn at Hout Bay Corner my split time of 19,41 was under 20 mins so this was still on track and I was still in 3rd place. The 3rd section takes you up, up and more up to the fence and the left hand turn to the long road to Kasteels. This is where I knew my game was over, my Chicken was cooked, Elvis had left the building. On the first up I was slow the steps all seemed bigger than I remembered and my pack was getting heavier and heavier with every step I took. (Normally my pack gets lighter as I drink the water, but today I think some-one was busy filling it with lead.) I wasn’t hanging around, but my steps were slow and I could feel the pack of youngsters chasing me down. I made it to the ridge and tried to run the few meters to the next climb… Ha Ha Ha
My arms were still strong so climbing was easy, but the traverse around to Llandudno Corner was slow and as I started the final pitch I could see the pack closing in for the kill!!! I tell you these youngsters showed me no respected (mental note, get fit and kick their butts next race) as I was left standing on the side of the mountain… Then wait for it they still had the cheek to ask me if they were heading the right way. I should have let them head on straight at the fence, instead of turning them left on the long flat road to Kasteels. 32:23, that is slow I was 26:26 a couple of weeks ago on a slow training run.
OK, the long flat road to Kasteels is nether flat or a road; it’s an undulating single track that is almost only used by trail runners. This is the 4th section and should take 45min, but as Leo had now past me I know it would take me closer to an hour. The back table is great to be running on as it climbs over half the Apostles. At Grootkop I looked back and saw a young lady and a guy catching me, I want to say: “so I upped to pace and left them in my dust” but I could do none of that. I did try to hold them at bay by weaving through the fynbos and breakneck speed, but I had no speed and it was only me that was broken…
We did play a bit of cat and mouse as I would get away on the very technical stuff and they would catch me when I had to walk. They were quite a bit ahead come the “cliff” again I should have kept quiet, but I ordered them over the top and off the edge. All that said I still past both of them. My lead was short lived as I was walking again up the next hill. This was the last I saw of them as they powered up the hill and disappeared over the top. I broke an hour to Kasteels, but that wasn’t all that was broken.
My Quads were shattered and now I had to deal with the 5th section, down to the Pipe Track. Each step down was like birth contractions, but “Pain is Temporary, Glory is for Ever” so with the help of gravity I made it down. (16:42 not to slow, only 2 or 3 min off the pace) With only 4km of Pipe Track to go I was almost finished. It’s a good thing the Pipe Track is as flat as it is, because on the one climb I just stopped and looked at the steps that lay ahead of me wondering how I was going to make it up.

It had been a hard day on the Mountain, but I had finished in a respectable time of 4h18 7th finisher and 2nd vet.

Friday, September 10, 2010


So last week I was doing a set of 15 x 400m, and things were going well I had run the first 4:

77.6 77.4 77.9 77.3

So things were going well, that was till about 170m into the 5th when my calf decided that 4 and a half was enough.

I might be the Coach with years of experience and all, but if Mr Calf says 4 and a half is enough, then well it's time to call it a day... I jogged through to the finish in 85sec.

The next day been Friday I took the day of training and with a day of rest I was ready for Saturday. Saturday you might ask, well I was heading up my mountain again... In fact I was taking Eddie for a little run through Orange Kloof and around to Llandudno corner, up over the Apostles to Kasteels and back to the car over the dam wall. Mr Calf put up with this run, but let me know that is was not very happy by not letting me walk for the rest of the day!!!

So with 2 week to TMC I had to do something to keep fit, so I entered the Argus and did all the training needed... I cycled to the club Monday to Thursday and got faster every day! (With a top speed of 72km/h not bad for a MNT bike with smooth nobbles.) At the club I ran a couple of laps of the track barefoot getting to 4km on Thursday. This is the same day that Stef sent out an email looking for people to do a 30+km run with. So I suggested a route and told then I would cycle as they ran.

My route, over Ou Kaapse Weg turning left past the golf course and back along the Main Road, nice for road runners, but they aren't really road runners, so Stef said great, well go up through the forest and into Silvermine, take the Wagon Trail down and then as we pop out on Ou Kaapse Weg we can turn off past the Golf Course.

There was only one short 500m stretch where I had to get off my bike and push to stay with them. Well I didn't ride through Silvermine with them, but popped down the road and up the Wagon Trail till we met.

It was the most perfect day to be out, and I wish I had taken my camera, so I could have taken a couple of pictures of them running on the mountain. This picture of St James will have to do I took it with my phone...

I couldn't get one of them running, so I captured them recovering round the tap, just before they left me to run on the catwalk.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I got given three pairs of socks to test the other day and after a couple of runs in the week I decided that they worked well enough to test them on a real run. Having been running for many years I know that not all socks are equal... Anyway today's test was twofold I was going to be out there for over 2 hours and it was going to be wet, very wet.
I parked the car at Constantia Nek just before 09h00, yes it's late, but I had to buy wine before I ran so I couldn't make it any earlier.

Back on the 3rd of July this year I had run this route with a couple of friends; Will, Jayde and Ake, on that day we got to Maclear's Beacon in a few seconds over an hour, so today I was aiming at breaking an hour. I thought it would be easy running on my own, but I wasn't taking the weather into account!

Most runs I break into sections, so the first section or leg of this run took me up the single tracks over the bridge past the Overseer's hut and the tap to the turn off to the single track. I thought I was ahead of time, but I was really a minute behind, My splits to Nursery and Skeleton were also a bit slow I hadn't picked it up, I still thought I had time to get to Maclear's in under an hour. Pushing on through the wind, rain and waterfalls (very impressive) I was 3min and 45 sec over the hour, I took the split and turned to Platterklip Without any protection from the wind and rain this was the toughest part of the run. I did try and keep to the rocks, but that was not always possible so I spent half the time in water. My new socks had now been wet for over an hour and they were holding out...

From Platterklip I turned left and headed through the valley of the red gods. This was going to be very slow as there are many wooden walk-ways and in the wind and rain they are very slippery and I didn't want to go bush diving!!! Only had a couple of undulations left and I was at Kasteels. No I didn't turn down I turned to the Dams and headed back to the car at the Nek.

So how had the socks done? Well once back on the concrete road and running like a Machine I can tell you that the socks had held up well after almost 2 hours of running and most of it in the wet... they weren't falling down or crunching up at the toes so I guess I'll be wearing them again when I'm on the mountain splashing through the rain. I still think they might be a bit thick and hence warm for summer, but only time will tell.

PS was also wearing a pair last night (don't know if all 3 pairs are the same) but I had a different shoe on, and this shoe hold water a little bit more than the Rockridge, and I felt that the socks got a bit heavy once I had run through a river...