Tuesday, October 30, 2012


With the easy week after the OTTER / RETTO a thing of the past, I started with my marathon training...

OK where does one start with marathon training, in fact where do you start with your training for anything? You run a TT to get some idea of where you on the fitness scale. I was in luck, there was a 10km race on the Saturday, so I found myself on the start-line...

I've run this race many times over the years and know the route pretty well, so I set off at a good pace from the gun 3;27  3:28  3:29, Ms 310 (my new Garmin, the old 205 didn't like the rainy winter we had here in the Mother City) was reading the km a little short as per the km boards. The 3km had a little climb and then the race climbs to the high point just after the 5km mark. My time at the 5km board was 17:50, so I knew a sub 36 was going to easy, just how much faster could I go?

I was flying down the hill, I Ms. 310 tells me I knocked off 3km in a row under 3:20!!! I didn't even know my legs could move that fast... At each km board I was doing big maths and working out my projected finishing time. Then I turned the last corner and saw the finishing clock, no more maths, the clock stopped at 34:50!!! My fastest 10 in over 4 years!

So I have a little speed left in the old legs and something to work with for my marathon:

After only and easy run on the Sunday and Monday, Tuesday saw the hard work start with the hard work, 3 x 10min hard with 2 min rest... The week was now well under way now and after a 15km run on the Wednesday it was time to raise the heart rate again! I had a nice little session planned for the Thursday: 5km, but we were running hills, up at marathon pace, and down fast. I was running just under 2:00 for the 500m up and down in 1;40ish. With the warm up we did and the cool down back to the club I logged 14km for the day.

After a 5km recovery run on Friday I was ready for the weekend... I saw Saturdays 15km race as a nice chance to get a little training in, so I planned a tempo run with a little warm up to the start of the race and a warm down back home... 32.5km later I was home and a little SHATTERED!Maybe the weeks training was catching up with me...

Now as any self respecting distance runner know, Sunday is long run day, so I meet a couple of the boys at the club and we headed out for a little run across the face of Table Mountain...

The running was easy and with the sun at our backs we just jogged along...

It was warm and when we stopped to regroup we waited in the shade:

After 11.5km of running we reached Tafleberg Road (the hairpin on the right) our route then took us up the road to the next hairpin before a short climb to the top of Kloof corner, 1.2km 190m climb!!!

But at the top we were on the contour and it would be flattish all the way back!!! But before we headed back, Sam (all the way from the USA wanted his picture taken)

Richard and Sam
 Ran run back was easy and we just jogged along the single track to Devils Peak before heading down to the club.

The run was only 22.5km (750m climb) and had taken us 2h13:08, but since the 2nd half was all single track and the 1st half had plenty of climb in it we had done OK.

Week one of Marathon Training done 115.5km and now let us see if I can put together another good week before the marathon...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

OTTER / RETTO harder than you think!

Back in 2009 I was luck enough to get to run the 1st OTTER trail race, I didn't have a good run and after swimming the river I spent the rest of the race cramping...

Roll on 2012, with a little more training and a year without injury and again found myself on the start line of one of SA's favorite trail. OK we weren't in the Tsitsikamma National Park at the start of the Hiking trail, we found ourselves on the beach at Natures Valley, the end of the trail... We were running the RETTO, the OTTER in reverse!!!

An early morning gathering of the best of the best...
Let me just side track for a bit, The Otter Hiking trail is a 5 day hike along the coast, and with a waiting list of up to a year, it's a must hike for all hiker, but why hike when you can run.

The count down started and off we shot, OK not quite we had to plant our 'dibber' (the timing chip) before we could head off... The really fast boys were right in front and took off like they were running a track race!!! I took my time and soon found myself passing a couple of people on the beach heading for the first climb of the day!!!

NO I didn't run up those stairs, I walked and at the top I found myself in the 2nd group of guys, the quick boys were gone, and heading for DISASTER!!!

OK this is where I need to tell you another thing, at the start I turned Mr. Garmin on, and he turned himself off!!! I tried again and again, but nothing... I had charged him the night before and for the prologue he had worked just fine... I want to say I don't know what happened, but I think as I unplugged him from being charged he turned himself on (he does this some times, but I normally see this and turn him off) and ran the battery dry over night. So I had to run the race watchless!!! Now for a road race that is no problem, because km for km or mile for mile you can see how far you have run and how much longer you are going to be out there, Not so in the Otter!! First hour or 2 it was OK then but then hours 3-5, I just didn't know how the clock was going, was I need the finish? Just how much longer did I have to run / walk for? was that last hut the last hut, or was there one more!!! I had no clue...

I'm getting ahead of myself, After that climb it was "flattish" till the climb down to the last hut on the trail (our first hut of the day.) I was 2nd in our group behind Greg (who would end up 3rd on the day). My race was going well and when we reached to bottom Ian (the eventual winner) past us on the beach and danced over the rocks as if it was a dance floor. To let you know just how tough this race really is that drop was over 100m and after a short run on the rocky beach past the hut we climbed up the other side... (another 100m climb our 2nd of the day and we had only been at it for 40min...)

I lost a little ground on that climb, but Ian was a man on a mission! At the top I didn't rush, we were less than 10km into the race and with 4hours of running still to go I wasn't worried. Then between 10 and 11km we hit the Mighty Blaauwkrantz:

OK So this is the swim!!! yes we had to swim about 30m before we could stand. That is Ian coming out of the water with Will behind him. The blur at the top right is me about to start my swim, Yes I was still in it...

the rest of the field
The water was beautiful

Straight after the swim, it's up the other side...

OK this climb was 10km further on, and although it looks like another swim, we had crossed the river higher up and it was only knee deep for 10m. If you look carefully you can see the huts to the left of my head and the the path leading down to them. The race doesn't drop to the huts, but follows around the gouge before dropping to the crossing point. just before I started the descent I could see 3 or 4 guys crossing the beach of the river and it looked like Ian, Greg and who knows... So at half way I was still there and there about!!!

But the 2nd half is what sorts the men from the boys, and in my case the young from the old!!! With only 20km to go the front of the race was hotting up and I was cooling down, the endless up and down was taking it's toll. I think I caught another glimpse of them at about 27km the next big river crossing, and in fact as I crossed the beach Mike, the early pace setter was heading back looking to pull out, I think there was blood on his head and his spirit was also broken. He had set out to break 4 hours!!! Since you can't really just pull out he did end up finishing the race in about 6h40!!!

I was still moving, and I caught one of the English men, and together we headed on. Then with about 10km to go (this is all guess work!!!) I had a little crap in my left quad!!! I stopped and walked a few steps down!!! and it went, the English men was gone... I potted on hopping that we were almost finished.

I think I was mentally tired and the legs didn't really want to climb any more. I was walking strong and kept going. Then it happened, Bruce Almighty (Arnett) passed me and like a Duracell Bunny he bounced up the stairs ahead of me... He would beat me by 15min.

The last hut and the race home, I now knew it wouldn't be long now before we hit the rocks and the waterfall and that would signal 2km to the tar... my footing was bad and I lost time as I had to walk more than was needed and although I had caught the English men again, he got away. A couple of other guys also past me, and I know I really should be beating them, but today was not my day. I reach the tar with John and Victor, and the 3 of us jogged the last 1.5km to the finsh together finishing 15, 16, and 17th. 5h09:16.


Yes that is a good time for 42km of single track with 2500m climb, but I feel I'm better than that and could have a 4h30-4h40 in these old legs, but that is a story for another day.

Now I really wanted to end with the picture of the 3 of us finishing together, but that is out there for me to show you guys...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A pestie fly buzzed at the window breaking the silence, ok it wasn't quiet as the sound of the waves could be heard crashing on the rocks below. Don't get me wrong the sea wasn't rough but in the little Sea side "town" of Vleesbaai there wasn't much else to be heard. 

Shandy, my little Jack Russell, lay in her basket feeling sorry for herself after a walk on the beach. We think she was stung by a blue-bottle.

Peanut Boy was on the couch resting... 


The 4 hour trip up was without incident, for a drive in AFRICA... We headed up the National Road and had to stop to take pictures of ELEPHANT!!! Yes from the National Road we could see Elephants...

Soon after that we left the highway and headed for the coast, our eyes now peeled on the bush... We didn't see any other game, but did have to leave the road to let a heard of sheep go by... (sorry I didn't have the camera out.)

It was a good choice to take an extra couple of days off work and spend the time on the drive up and down. The truth be told our neighbor has always said we should visit his little beach house, and with a view like this, why not...

The next day it was on to Plet, party town to the rich and famous... I was able to put in warm up run on the beach before the prologue on Friday. I drove through to Stormsriver and the race venue on my own, leaving Dawn and the puppies behind. 

The prologue was a little 4km jog through the forest... some 22:36 I was finished. It was twisty and turny through the forest and I had run hard enough to place in the top 25 (18th) and that placed me in the front group of the race... With the main event being single track from almost the gun (just a short run across the beach) they wanted to seed us. With my seeding done I headed home for the night.

OK this was home for the weekend...

 Tomorrow was the big race...

Friday, October 5, 2012


The days are ticking by and I am starting to feel the pressure of the race... This is the last week of real training and then it's taper week. I'm too old to take 2 weeks of taper, I feel I'll just get unfit... So how has this last week of training gone?

Let us start with Saturday 29 September, I had thought about popping out to Stellenbosch to run a 12km trail race... It was raining and the early morning didn't called for the bed... Dawn would have joined me if the weather had played ball and we could have spent the morning on the wine farms. Would have been fun, but that will have to wait for another week. Instead I headed out from home up the Green Belts on the left side taking me to the top of Southern Cross and Rhodes Drive. Now the forest and the mountain start the other side of Rhodes drive and I set myself up for a couple of single track intervals!!! The intervals were about 1.35km long taking me between 5:16 and 5:52 (call it down and up) I did 5 with 60 sec break before headed home down the other Green Belts, great session.

We had friends round for a braai that evening and I talked myself into running the half on the Sunday and organised a lift with them... Sunday was just a solid tempo run and a chance to steal a few seconds in my quest to bring down my average time for a half... Mission accomplished!

Monday started the week with and easy run up to the Block House... Easy well I didn't hammer it so the 500+m of climb did feel easy.

Good think Monday was easy, because Tuesday was not and we hit the track for a last real work out: 800m hard I was running them 2:35 - 2:38, here is the really kicker, 30 sec rest then 200m fast!!! I'm not that fast any more and was running 33s - 34s while the youngsters were knocking on the 30sec door!!! Then it was a 90 sec walk back to the start... 5 was enough for the day.

Wednesday was just a little forest and road run on about 12km before last nights hill session. Now as Coach I take my brief from the boy and they want to get fast this summer, the strength and endurance of the winter is over and they now want to run a quick 10km before we build for Oceans next year... So short hills was on the cards, call it 60sec, but we normally reach the speed bump in 55ish sec and turn there!

I started easy and ran on the single track next to the road letting Richard get away. Then after 4 reps I said to Mark, let's chase him down...I moved onto the road and start to run hard up and hard down, no rest for the wicked!  I lapped Mark on number 10 and if we were running 11 I might have had Richard... but that was not to be, 10 was enough for the day...

I don't know what week weekend holds, it only starts tomorrow!!!