Wednesday 26 April 2006

Oh My Goodness!

I leave shortly for Swazi Xtreme, my 6th year at the race and my 4th consecutive year racing. This time is going to be drastically different. I'm racing with AR friend Evan Price (Team Tension Structures, Cape Town) and 2 celebs: Comrades King Bruce Fordyce and Egoli's David Vlok.

Most novices would have been reading, trying to learn about the sport before their first sprint, nevermind that this is arguably Southern Africa's most difficult race. These two? Nothing. They haven't even read my emails properly with clothing and equipment instructions! They're going into this completely cold turkey. And, despite my briefing on "What is AR" (complete with slideshow) and warnings of "this will be unlike anything you've ever done before" and "This isn't a running race where you just pull on your takkies and go", I still don't think they get the picture.

Last week Thursday Bruce called to ask "What are Ziploc bags?". On Monday he called to say that his shoes from Nike had arrived but he wasn't sure they were the right ones. "They've got leather all over and they're waterproof", he said. As I only got to see them last night (Tuesday night; we're leaving today, Wednesday) I was relieved to see that they're regular trail shoes and are right for the job. Last night Bruce did ask, "We'll be on roads and trails anyway won't we?".

Yes, I did start laughing.

I collected Evan from the airport this morning and we're all set to go. I can tell you that this is going to be one helluva experience for me and an even bigger one for them. *evil laughter*

Sunday 23 April 2006

Gettin' Spurred On

Today I had the fortune of being the course director for the SPUR Adventure event held at Pelindaba today. Athough I've done time behind-the-scenes at many, many, many AR's in the past few years - as media, helper, photographer, journalist and such - this was my first time course planning and organising.
We had around 300 competitors in the SPUR Challenge with other entrants in the SPUR Hike and SPUR Trail (kids) events. My task was to plan routes for the events and to generally deal with course related aspects, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My thanks first to all of the competitors: most of you were new faces and I'm only sad that because of the nature of the event and the volume of people that I was unable to meet you all. My thanks to you all too for coming up to say thank you after the race. Your appreciation is treasured.

To my Marshals: Wow! You guys were fantastic today - from directing competitors to assisting where needed and making sure that the course tags were removed, returning this beautiful environment to its natural state. To our SPUR crew: Conrad and Peter (and his many helpers) - thank you. This has been a wonderful experience and it is good to work with you. Max - you're the bomb. This is where Max's loud mouth and constant chatter (he talks more than me!) comes in really handy. Max is definitely the best event MC out there. Pelindaba/NECSA crew: Anton, Martie, Moses and Iyanda - this is a wonderful venue. Thank you for accommodating us and for your assistance over the past weeks. Jacques: Always brilliant to have you taking photos at events. I can't wait to see them! AND Ugene: an AR associate for years and now a dear friend. It has been an absolute pleasure working with you.

This SPUR Series is definitely going to be a wonderful annual fixture and with each event the Series will continue to evolve and improve. The event is a fundraising initiative by SPUR in aid of the African Children's Feeding Scheme, which they support. Next weekend the event moves to 'Maritzburg, where you'll be in Max's competent hands.

Now my focus moves to Swazi Xtreme, where I'm going to have my hands more than full... more on this tomorrow. For now... Over and Out.

Monday 10 April 2006

98km and I can still walk

Well, well, well... I logged my first 12-hr circuit race on Friday night. Yes, 12hrs of running around a 1km loop. This is what I learned...

  • The first 20km are easier than running a road race
  • Grass track, on which feet have been running for days and hours, is as hard as tar.
  • The most difficult kilometers are those that come after you've completed the minimum race distance (70km).
  • It really is not boring running around a 1km loop. You're entertained by the other runners and the spectators camped around the track (thanks to the young gents at the 500m mark for their cheers of "Go Tannie" - even at 3am!). It's also really neat passing through the counting tent every kilometer because with each run-through it's another kay completed and the time inbetween pass-throughs isn't long.
  • Friends and family are gems. It really was wonderful to see their encouraging faces everytime I ran past.

I'll tell you something... when I ran the 100km in Hawaii in Jan (off-road ultra, gnarly terrain) my knees and joints didn't feel a thing. By 30km here my knees had started to speak. This truely is the difference between on-road and off-road. Off-road your stride and cadence changes with nearly every step and the terrain is softer; more forgiving. But, because you have to watch each step, off-road is far more mentally demanding as you have to concentrate on each foot placement. On-road you run at a constant pace, on a hard (mostly even) surface and this takes its toll on the body. Needless to say I wasn't walking very well on Saturday (run finished at 07h00 on Sat morning) or on Sunday. I'm far more stable this morning.

Still, I was very happy with the run, which went smoothly with no problems and no blisters.

Result: 1st lady and 3rd overall.

My warmest thanks go to my mom, dad, Theresia and Neil, who spent the whole night sitting around the Randburg Sports Complex's track. Neil ran a good number of laps with me, getting up regularly from a warm sleeping bag to come out for a few kays. To Steve, from Suunto, for his visit 'til midnight (he should have been at a cycle race but was down with food poisoning) and for downloading my Suunto T6 at midnight. Pam and Lobby, thanks for your 2am visit. They woke up especially to come through and each ran a couple of laps with me. Michael & Heather, your sms' from Chile throughout the run warmed the cold night. Friends and family, thank you for messages, your support and encouragement on what was a long and chilly night out.

The next one... not for a while. The experience was a good one but I don't think I'll be doing these races regularly. I'd like to do one a year, just for kicks, and no, the 24hr category is not an option... for now.

Thursday 6 April 2006

Round-and-round the mulberry bush

Would you believe it? When I got back from Patagonia at the end of Feb I got my paws on the 2006 road running booklet to look for some runs to do. Lo-and-behold an event caught my eye... the Toyota 12-hour Circuit Race in Randburg (the date in the CGA book is wrong).

In road running, circuit races are event where you run around and around and around a set course for a finite period of time. This event actually has a 6-day category (these crazy buggers started running this past Sunday and are out there running as I type this), a 24-hr category and a 12-hour category. As I've never done one of these, I figured the 12-hour would be a good place to begin. We start at 19h00 this Friday night and finish at 07h00 on Saturday morning.

Must say, when I first checked this event out I was all pumped to try the 24-hr, afterall I ran reasonably comfortably (if you discount the downhills) for 22h30 in Hawaii on gnarly trails. I figured a 1km loop on even terrain should be a piece-of-cake eh? Then I got to thinking that to log an official finish in the 12-hour event we have to run 70km minimum. That's quite a bit and unlike running on trails, my pace will be even, it will be faster and my body is likely to take more pounding. So I toned down my enthusiasm a bit ;)

I've got no idea what running on a 1km loop for 12-hours is going to be like so I'll let y'all know post-run. Have I done any specific training? Nah. I'm going in cold turkey. First time for everything...

Our AR Club gazebo (navy blue with white branding) will be up so if you're doing nothing in the very wee hours of Saturday morning, stop by for a cuppa and a muffin with my mom, Liz. She's my ever-present support (thank you mom).