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!


  1. Good to read you are back up and running.. :)

  2. Great report Coach. Loved reading it. Seems you're well and truly BACK, a little behind Nic and Johnny, but you'll soon catch 'em. Best of luck to you throughout 2017

    1. Thank you, now I need to find another race to line up for... might just be a road 10! need to get a bit of speed back!

  3. I can't believe how quickly you rebounded and how well your running! You have some sort of wolverine super healing powers! That's one heck of a race!