Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Running is not something that we save for a special day, in fact it’s quite the opposite, every day we run is a special day!

Now what makes it even more special?

Maybe a race that one loves (some people love every race)
Maybe a friend is joining you, (or you are getting to run alone)
Maybe you have a great route planned
Maybe you have new shoes…

I have #nononsense trail running shoes,
I have a new pair of SALMING ELEMENTS
Ready for the trail
I got them from a little shop in Cavendish Street MOOVE CLAREMONT.

The day I got them I had already run 25km that morning, so the first run would have to wait! OK I walked out of the shop in them, and then ended up walking around Cavendish in them. (Yes my lovely wife was with me!)

Now this is a serious trail shoe, just look at those studs… The walk around was good for me (no not the shopping) it’s a good first test for a pair of new shoes.
     They were great and my feet felt great, no sinking feeling from a too soft sole, no stud pressure, and with that wide toe box no squeezing of the toes.

Roll on Sunday… It wasn’t on the program, but sometimes you let the shoe guide you. From my house it’s about 1km to the Green belts, and as I walked out the door I found myself drawn to the grassy/sandy pavements. The grip on the road wasn’t like an F1 car burning rubber, but like a 4x4 trying to rip up the tar… In the Green Belt I was chewing up the trail. To overtake people I would take a wide berth looking for rougher trail.
Ripping up the trail
I took them into Newlands Forest for a little run with the club, but while it was getting dark the guys turned back, but I needed more, so I headed to Rhodes Mem! Up the steep gravel road on along the contour to Plum-pudding hill. It was dark, yes I had my headlamp with me but it was not needed as I headed down, every step was true, it didn’t really matter where I put my foot!
Time to tackle the dark
 This is a NO NONSENSE trail shoe:

I’ve taken them up Skeleton Gorge and down Nursery Ravine
No slipping back down
 I’ve run round Constantiaberg climbing over Vlakenberg and running The Manganese Mines. (known for shredding up unworthy shoes)
Then, I’ve raced in those new shoes… and I want more!

The one thing that stands out from the race is that at the end of the race, the 2 distances joined for the last 500m on a very steep, very bad gravel road. I was still chasing hard so I was passing a lot of the guys (and girls) from the shorter race. I was taking the shortest route around the turns while they, were looking for the easiest route down, not wanting to slip! I took the inside line, the tight line, while a young lady was taking a wider line, she was slipping (not falling, or I would have stopped to help, but waving her arms around and letting out sounds I don’t really have a clue how to spell!)
VWS race, last couple of meters
Bring on the trails I want to see how these hold up to many more mile…
Bring on the winter storms (not only because we here in Cape Town need the water) but I hear these are made for water!

Now for you guys (and girl) who want to know a little more about what SALMING stands for I had a little look on their web page, and they talk about things I understand, Their Rule of 5™

And this is taken from their sight:
The Rule of 5™ is basically what steers us in the shoe design process. It’s firmly based on our running gospel, the Salming Running Wheel™, which has the Pelvis as the hub and center and then five spokes: posture, lean, arms, cadence, and foot landing. From that, the Rule of 5™ derives the five cornerstones – light, flexible, flat, proprioception (thin) and anatomical fit (comfortable):
Light as in light-weight and improving running efficiency; enabling you to have time to complete the run cycle and land with your foot underneath the center of gravity.
Flexible as in imitating the foot flexibility in order to mimic the barefoot running technique – Salming Torsional Guidance System 62%/75°.
Flat as in low heel to toe drop facilitates correct foot landing, becoming more naturally balanced with gravity.
Proprioception as in improved sensory feedback from feet to the brain. If the midsole is too thick the sensory feedback gets distorted.
Anatomical fit as in roomy toe box and basically the foot is able to function exactly as nature intended it to.

Monday, April 3, 2017


Sitting here by the fire as the evening cools down, I have my legs up resting and my glass full of red wine (an unlabelled Shiraz if you must know).
The chicken is doing nicely and I'll be turning it in between writing! 
The Chicken went on the coals later
I've probably run over a thousand races and still get nervous before a big race. Now with over 100 000km logged why would I have a couple of nerves before a little training run?

I wasn't heading to the mountains with the likes of Ryan Sands (ok if I was he would be the one who would be nervous)

I was running alone on the road! 

Dawn was swimming and left for the pool before 6. I had planned on following shortly after,  but got stuck on the toilet... Nerves! 

My Coach (me) had suggested a tempo run... how about 20ks? I thought the Strand Half would fit in nicely, but having lost my mother-in-law in the week Dawn didn't really want me to head out to Strand! 

Plan B: run your own 21km tempo run (21.1km can't forget the point 1)

I finally got out the house, and unlike any other run I started by walking down the road, shaking my legs... then I hit the start button on Ms Garmin and set off down the road. 

It was still dark as I headed down the road and looking at Ms Garmin she told me I was at 4:08/km... not fast enough for what I had hoped. By km 2 I was under 4 and I decided I would push on at tempo pace for now...

5km in 19:30... that was fast enough for me to push on down the Main Road. If it had been slower I would have turned and headed home at an easier pace.  
It was getting lighter so the running was getting easier, easier to see the tar and my foot placing. At 7km I turned off the Main Road and while on the quieter side roads I should have been able to up the tempo, but I couldn't! 

I was ready to blow! I started looking at my watch thinking 10km of tempo would be enough, Coach would be happy. Ms Garmin wasn't counting the km fast enough and the more I look the less she moved... I kept pushing! 

10 and I hit the split button- 19:00 oh my hat where did that 5km split come from? Best I push on... I had bargained with my coach and we had come up with a plan: from now on it was 1km splits and as long as they were under 4 I would have to push on... So on I went! 

I was blown by 13.5 but decided that 15 would be fair. How about just running hard for an hour. That should be do-able. Go on make it 10miles,  a couple of 100m should over the hour should be fine. 

I hit 10miles and was still moving so I pushed for 17... The road was no longer flat so I found myself cruising down and working the ups, I was now using different muscles and as I ran past Peddlars I made the call I was going to 21... point 1.

I now turned down passed the garage to add on the extra 1km and pushed for home. By this stage I couldn't do the maths to know what time I would end with. 
Ms Garmin was still telling me I was knocking off sub 4s... 3:49 3:51.... 100m to go...

Finished... in more ways than one! I wasn't home but the route was good,  I only had 150m to walk,  so walk I did!

81:31 I would like to say my race nerves turned it into a race and deep down I know I had to push through to the end. Maybe I had better find a road race to race!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Long Road Back

One's come back is ever fast, and the older you get the more careful you have to be...

Since Surgery back in July 2016 I've been on crutches for six weeks and spend another 6 still in my leg brace... Being good was the only option if I wanted to run again!

Then at the beginning of October the surgeon said: It's time! I almost went for a run from his offices... but sanity prevailed and I waited for the Monday. Day one back was 10min jogging on the track and day two was more of the same. Only thing was my quads felt like I had raced a downhill marathon the day before! It was hard to believe that 10min of easy running on a grass track could do that to me! It took me 2 months to leave the track and hit the road, the trails would have to wait a little longer!

Come Jan I decided that it was time to start training and started joining my athletes for their sessions!  (Ok I was doing half of what they were and I was at the back). At the start of Feb I did my first long run 26km.. I did another two in Feb and then: felt I was ready to race!

Oak Valley XL, 25km of easy trails,  the idea was just to run a little harder than my long runs!

OK it wasn't just a little harder than my long runs I wasn't just running I was racing! 25km later I was in the top 10 and second 40+ I was back. ..

Well as I found out in the week that followed I wasn't as back as I could have been! I knew I had raced that weekend!

Other than that Noel had asked me to partner him in African X (for you who don't know,  that's 90km of trail over 3 days) and we would be racing to podium in the 40+...

3 Weeks later saw me (in my Contego gear, they very kindly offered to pay for my entry after my long layoff) and Noel in his Hammer gear lining up as team mates...
Ready to Rock and Roll
Day 1: was advertised as 35km but ended up with something like 37.5km. Over 10km further than I had run in about 10 months. The distance and the heat of the day took its toll on me and I couldn't push for home with 5km to go... No I didn't roll over and die, I just slowed a bit and we ran home loosing some time to the leading ladies team who had been close to us. Nic and Johnny had taken the 40+ team and on a good day I don't think we could have run them down, but 3rd was still some way behind.
Early Trails in Grabouw while I was still strong
half way
Loved those early trails

Day 2: 30km over a mountain with a long flat finish.  The dynamics of the day were different, but it looked like we were racing the ladies again. Johnny and Nic were just too fast for us and it looked like we had the better the the 3rd placed 40+ team. I hadn't run on the trails on this mountain and it made for some nice running. We were strong together and with ladies to chase kept a good pace. With the last climb done I was waiting for the downhill I had seen on the map...

We had been with the ladies on the top, but there was nothing I could do to stay with them on the way down: it was too steep and rocky for me at the moment so Noel could easy up and plan our chase. Not much planning went into the plan!  It was time to put the Hammer down and chase. ..

Noel was strong and I surprised myself!  While I kept hope Wildekrans (the finish area would appear) I didn't die and we caught and past the ladies! We opened a good lead on them but it didn't last as the 2nd ladies team was pushing hard and that help the ladies close the gap on us.

Another solid 2nd 40+ and we had taken a couple of seconds back on the ladies!
The early Climb (yes those are the leading ladies)

Still running strong on the hills
Chasing the ladies!

Day 3: The organizers decided that the top teams should start an hour after the rest. So at 09:00 we started our chase! It was flat and fast, but Noel had his head screwed on and we didn't set of like a scolded cat. With very few team starting in this wave it was lonely at the back and we started to move up catching up to the ladies teams, who were racing each other... we past them and set about chasing Nic and Johnny. (there were rumors that Nic had a sore hammie! but it wasn't showing)

8km of gravel roads and windy mnt bike single tracks brought us through the start area and while the next 4km were also flatish they took us to the base of the pass... I've always been a good hill climber, but that's because I like running hills! Now since my op back in June I haven't really run any hills and since this was day 3 and I already had 80km of racing in the legs I had nothing left so I wasn't going to hurt my partner! He was the one putting the hurt on me!
The mass start an hour before us

Leading the Mass start after 8km

We were now catching the rest of the field who had started an hour earlier, so there were plenty of guys around who thought I was moving fast... I enjoyed picking them off one by one, It's not every day one gets to see top trail runners float over the rocky single tracks as if it was 'tartan' track. I just wish I was one of them! I was mostly power walking up the mountain talking to all the slower guys I was passing. Noel was ahead and making easy work of the hill. He had to wait for me to catch up, once on the gravel we put the hammer down, while my legs weren't strong I do know how to run, and we soon had a good pace. No walking on that last hill and then a couple of 100m down to the finish...

Nic and Johnny had beaten us into 2nd 40+ team, but there's always next year...
On the podium

Garmin call it:


With that sort of race under the belt, maybe I'm back...

Maybe it's time to up the running and start chasing the likes of Nic and Johnny, bring on the rest of 2017

It's not all about the running on a 3 day event, you need to listen at the evening's race briefing!

Recovery is also a big part, and Houw Hoek Inn has a pool!