Wednesday 27 February 2013

Trail markings for Forest Run

I was out in the Forest Run area on Tuesday morning. I took a couple of photos to illustrate how I do my trail markings. I'll go over this at race briefing before the start but good for you to take note of pre-race.

Two tags, close together, before an intersection mean "TURN coming up". Around the corner you'll find another tag within a few metres of the junction (I can see it in the pic - just - between the trees in the 'background'). If there's only one tag it means you're heading straight. There will be a single tag on the other side of the intersection too. There are lots of intersections out here. Some distinct, some not.

 Not all intersections have boards but after every intersection there will be a tag, with another 'verification' tag  a bit further along.

After every intersection there will be a tag within a few metres of the intersection. The one on this bush looks a distance away but it isn't. The lens on my happy-snappy camera is pretty wide so the perspective looks odd compared to reality. In reality the orange is more visible and it is nearby.

 Tags will either be around tree trunks or hanging. Or on a smaller plant closer to the road. All depends what I can get my hands on. The side of the road (left or right) is mostly irrelevant (except for turning), although I'll try to keep it fairly consistent. Again, it really just depends what I have to work with. In some places there's forest on both sides; other places there's forest on one side and a few short sections where it may be open on both sides.

If tags are not tied around tree trunks they'll be hanging.

School Camp success and O School League wraps

After six weeks of school orienteering events the 2013 League is over and done. I'll see some of the children at the Gauteng Orienteering Clubs (GOC) relay on the 17th but aside from that, the League is done for the year.

The camp this weekend went really well and the 15 boys and 17 girls were really superb. I'm guessing that the children are around 13/14/15 years old. Maybe 16 for the oldest?

With Garry away I was the 'responsible adult' for the weekend and I was very fortunate to have an excellent team of coaches with Sarah, Zoe and Nico. We also had four young orienteering assistants: Christie, Kyle, KG and Peter. We use our assistants to set up activities, put out and collect cones and controls.

We asked the children to be in bed by 22h30 on Friday night but there was evidently too much excitement and they were out and about, scaring each other in the dark, and then chatting in the dorms until after midnight. And of course there are those who wake up before the crack of dawn... They were all a bit sleep deprived on Saturday morning. But, with a long day on Saturday (and cooking heat) it was no surprise that on Saturday night they were all in bed by 21h30! Us too!

We split the kids into groups and they rotated between the coaches during the day to learn specific navigation skills. I did some nice new activities that will work sooooo well for adventure racers when I finally get my A into G (after Forest Run) to put together the new AR navigation practical course that I've been cooking up in my mind for six months!

On Sunday morning we took the group to a 'real' orienteering event at Protea Ridge. Definitely more challenging terrain for them. Some were all over the place; others did really well. I didn't run but instead ran the schools starts and then roamed around looking for lost puppies.

I didn't take a single photo during the camp weekend! 

Yesterday we had the School O Final at Kloofendal. Tricker terrain but relatively 'easy' controls IF maps are kept orientated, thumbs are always on where you are on the map and paths are followed to the T. I did take some photos here and got some nice ones.

That's the O Schools League wrapped for the year. From now I can focus on some one-on-one interaction with schools and teachers to introduce them to the new 'O in a Box' Level 2 activities, which they can coach at their schools.

Friday 22 February 2013

School O Camp - 30 teenagers

This has been one hellvua week! On Monday we had our last Orienteering Schools League event (only the Final remains, this coming Monday), which was rained out.

Thunderbolt and lightning
very very frightening me
Galileo / Galileo / Galileo
Galileo figaro...

Tues, Wed and Thurs are a blur of Orienteering, Forest Run, client obligations and designing, printing, laminating and preparing my coaching lessons and also some games for the annual Orienteering School Camps this weekend. I'm off shortly to accompany the kiddies on the bus - we're heading out to a venue near Hekpooort. I'm the 'responsible adult' this weekend. In addition to the 30 teenagers and I'll also have the company of three other orienteers, who are also coaching various skills, and four young orienteering assistants who help to put out cones and grids and controls and to pack them all up again. 

On Saturday night we've got a fun Night O event planned.

On Sunday we take our charges to a 'real' orienteering event, where they'll be with other orienteers at this club-organised event out near Krugersdorp (everyone welcome). I won't be running competitively but rather randomly wandering around looking for lost children to assist.

So, it's going to be a good weekend.

I've been in a non-stop rush (for weeks, it feels) but now I'm substantially more calm. O activities are ready, Forest Run crisis was averted (on Wednesday already), magazine article and photos handed in (this morning)... OK, so I'm a dash sleep deprived from two weeks of rush-rush-plan-plan-organise-organise but I'll catch up this weekend. I'll sleep when I'm dead eh? (Bon Jovi music video)

Until I'm 6 feet under
Baby I don't need a bed
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I'm alive
I'll sleep when I'm dead

Have a good one y'all.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Boot Camp visit

Yesterday afternoon I got through to circus school - from school orienteering - nice and early. I always pack my running stuff so that I can squeeze in a run. With time to play I decided to explore the neighbourhood.

Running down the road past FreeMe I bumped into AR friend Jackie and her running companion, Sebastian. As I don't know the area I said that I'd tag along with her. Jackie invited me to give her Boot Camp South Africa class a try. Jackie and her husband - my long time AR friend - Alistair, own and run Boot Camp in Paulshof. I've known of it for many years, but not where it was located. What a super property! Feels quite bushy, even in the heart of suburbia. Jackie grew up here. When her folks moved here 35 years ago they were completely in the sticks. How things have changed!

Our run took in a few other roads in the area as well as the short and lovely trail on the property. And then I joined in for half of the Boot Camp class. A good group of people and superb outdoor fun. And then I jogged down the road to shower (I was covered in grit and sand!) before circus class.

A solitary run turned into an unexpected, but most welcome, social and playful outing. Thank you Al and Jackie.

How would you spend a fairy day

Violence against women is a hot topic. Well, it got really hot a few weeks ago and sizzling last week. Rapes, murder, brutal beatings... I cannot imagine what could spur any person to want to so terribly hurt and abuse another. Nevermind it being someone you don't know... but someone you do know. Someone who is your partner. Someone who shares your home and bed... There are things I may never understand (and I hope not to!).

Over the past few days I've been thinking about shouting and screaming and beating and shooting and murdering. You've got to really not like someone to shout and scream at them and then to beat them (and then to beat them to death).

And for what reason are you doing this? To make them do something that you want them to do? To be someone that you want them to be? This is never going to work. This person you're trying to mould/shape/change/discipline/control through violence is not ever going to be who/what you want them to be. Never ever.

I'm not a big one for proclamations of love. It's an untidy word. I may feel it but I'm reluctant to ever say it unless I'm talking about forests, mountains, running and my cat - easy to profess love to these. Oprah loves everyone. This and that person on telly will tell all and sundry that they love them. I have a family member who is very caring and expressive and she always tells me that she loves me; but she also loves this person and that person and the other person. Love is everywhere.

I'm into like. The word has always been treated as a lesser cousin of love. Considered to be insipid perhaps; having less depth and emotion than love? Facebook hasn't done much to help its reputation either... It's much like 'nice'. Yet I appreciate both words for their simplicity. You like, or you don't.

Regarding people, like means the following to me.

I will gladly spend time with people that I like. I enjoy their company and our conversations. I trust them. I never feel threatened when I'm with them. I like their personality and how just knowing them adds something to my life - friendship, company, shared interests... I miss those people that I like.

If a fairy came down and said, "You've got a day off -  no work, no emails, no organising", I would spend this day with a person or people that I like. [ok, so I'm a decidedly anti-social not-in-a-relationship homebody outside of social activities that I'd probably spend a fairy day on a run, digging in my veggie garden, working on a crochet project, reading, taking a nap with my cat and watching DVDs - and possibly visiting much-liked friends for tea too!]

This was actually a big decider for me with a past relationship. Given a fairy day my ex-partner would rather spend this time with his friends, not with me. Glowing neon sign. Totally.

Evidently one can love people they don't like. I'm not quite sure (but hey, I may be wrong) how someone in an abusive relationship can still like their partner (depends on what constitutes 'like' for them?) and the partner's behaviour. But they may still say love as in, "But I love him". One can never feel totally safe in an abusive relationship as the partner's company carries with it danger and threats. Every minute in their presence is opportunity for abuse. This is not something to be liked.

Would I want to spend my fairy day with someone who terrifies me? No way!

Like and love are most certainly related; you can like and love at the same time. It's where love (?) remains when like has walked out the door that I don't get. From both sides. Beating up someone really says to me that you really, really do not like something about them.

Like is as much a part of friendships and partnerships as romances. Outside of notes passed at school on Valentine's Day I think that "I like you" carries more weight than "I love you".

Sunday 17 February 2013

Veggie garden still producing

My veggie garden continues to delight. I haven't spent much time digging around for a few weeks. This afternoon I spent an indulgent two hours weeding and cabletie-ing the tomato plants and adding stakes. I'd spent the whole morning and early afternoon on my computer so getting out to dig around was a real treat.

I've eaten three eggplants from the garden; my neighbours have been tucking into them too and there are still more growing. They're fabulous and so cool to grow. I'll definitely do these again but with a bigger planting spacing.

I did a big harvest of the Swiss Chard to neaten up the plants. They're still going strong. I kept some for dins and handed the rest out to neighbours.

The red and yellow cherry tomatoes continue to ripen and bear new fruit.

The heritage tomatoes are looking amazing. Dr Caroline is dominating the one side of the main bed; I didn't realise how big she was. There is some fruit - and many more flowers - but the fruit isn't near ready yet.

In the other bed Tigerella took a bit of a beating when the complex's gardener decided to dig up the ground around the plants. *sigh* She's doing ok but not has strong and robust as she was. Her fruit continues to grow but no hint of pink yet.

Northern Lights is looking very good. She's quite a spreader so I exerted a little control and got her branches all sorted out and tidy.

Geranium Kiss is an odd fellow. Squat and sturdy and compact with an unmistakable scent of Geranium. There's from fruit too but not even close to ripe.

The other heritage varieties planted in the main bed a few weeks ago survived the transfer. I have a feeling that most of them are Blondkopfchen and I've definitely recognised a Geranium Kiss. They went through a big growth spurt about a week ago and so today I added stakes.

I did a big weeding session today too. I find it very calming and rewarding getting completely muddy as I haul out the weeds and tidy the beds. Quite therapeutic.

So, the garden is looking great. I've got some pumpkin seeds to get in the ground. There's a large strip of ground behind the carports in the complex; I had some pumpkin family growing there last year (got one butternut and one pumpkin; both taken by residents, evidently). Will give it another shot in the course of the week. I'll also plant some seeds in trays as I may have better luck to plant from seedlings rather than sowing seeds directly?

Top to bottom: Tigerella; Blackberries (a second lot, not yet ripe)
Beautiful stem colours of the Swiss Chard
Red cherry tomatoes ripening; a bowl of freshly picked and washed Swiss Chard for neighbours
Geranium Kiss; hitch hikers emerge from the Swiss Chard

Forest Run planning progress

I really do enjoy planning and organising events. Sure, there's a helluva lot of items on my to do list but it comes with its own special satisfaction of creating something.

Forest Run is now three weeks away and all the little bitty things for the event are collecting in crates in my lounge. Home is seldom without crates and banners and bunting tape spread all over the place. I'm glad to say that the list is considerably shorter than it was two weeks ago as bits and pieces that must be bought, tested, ordered, fetched and made are ticked off.

I'm driving through to the venue for the day on the 26th to drop off some stuff. This is more practical than trying to haul everything through in the week before the race when I head out there to tag the route. I'll be out in the area from the Tuesday morning before the race to tag the route. It should take me three days leaving most of the Friday to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

Yesterday I worked up the final, neat-and-tidy route map, which my marshals and medics will use. It's also for me to know where to put the distance markers (every 10km) and other signs. Being a map person, when I have a map in my hands then I know that everything is sorted. It's all about a feeling of 'security' when you know where you are and where you're going and have the info at hand to plan how you're going to get there. Would be convenient if everything had a map!

Entries are on almost 70 runners now; there are still places open. If you've got any friends who would be keen to enter... please let them know. Entries close on Friday, 1 March 2013.

Current gender and entry category split (as of 14 Feb)

This past week I played guinea-pig to try out our planned pasta something, which will be available at the 35km 'half-way' aid station. It's a simple but tasty treat with fresh tomato, baby marrow and herbs (from my garden). And, it's vegan. The pasta is egg-free.
Colourful items being prepared for Forest Run

I've got almost 400m of trail tape... plus boards and droppers (and some other back-up tape too). Enough? We'll see! I'm generally quite overkill when it comes to marked routes because I've been on the receiving end of badly marked routes where you're standing at an intersection or t-junction wondering where to go. My worst nightmare for this race is for runners to take a wrong turn! 

Thursday 7 February 2013

Nothing to do? Never!

The past two weeks have been a blur! It's Friday already and I'm not quite sure what has happened. Let's see...

Helping at an AR (control collecting)... orienteering schools league... write stories and edit photos... O trailer to garage to fix lights - run the 10km home... fetch trailer (not the problem)... take in car for them to fix new towbar they installed... buy fun goodies for Forest Run... write an article for Go Multi (struggle with it and hand in a few days later than intended)... people, entertaining, family... AR Club membership admin and licensing (lots of new members)... loads of comms from media on a client's event later this month... circus school... less running than the week before (but stiff too from circus rope climbing!)... more school orienteering... more photo editing, story and newsletter writing... code tweaking on FEAT website... major catch up on FEAT stories and news... AR Club memberships continue and another evening waiting for people to fetch run licenses... club orienteering meeting... more circus school... car in for service... start to crochet a teddy bear for friend's daughter's school's charity collection... Burlesque workshop... digging out the weeds from the veggie garden... make sachets of dried basil and mint for neighbours... try out a steamed bread (idea from a friend) - yum!... start working on artwork for Forest Run distance markers (found a printer during the week)... spend 12hrs packing school orienteering programme boxes for teachers... emails, emails, emails - can't keep up with too many people wanting long replies to things (short ones I nail immediately)... report writing for January done and February in progress... consolidate lists on squares of paper into notebook (finally)... finish reading one book and start on another... work through another six Spanish podcasts while driving... get in a few episodes of The Walking Dead (series 2)... run with my huskie friends...

Man! A lot of fun stuff. A lot of work stuff. A lot of admin stuff. A lot of time-consuming stuff... But satisfying nonetheless.

My steamed bread. Yummy!  FYI - I used one cup of flour, about 1/2 tbsp sugar, pinch of salt and around 1/2 sachet yeast. I added enough water to make a soft dough. I messed around with rising and folding - probably 2 x 20 min intervals and then a 1hr rise before putting into a plastic bag and zapping in the steamer for 35 mins. It's a small, manageable amount of bread - certainly two sandwiches worth. I made it again yesterday...
A running friend wanted me to join him on a trail at the last minute a few days ago (I'm not really doing spontaneous!). Suggesting some later date he says, "If you haven't got anything to do...".

My reply, "I haven't had nothing to do for two decades!". I try to ignore stuff to do though... successfully sometimes.

I've still got a busy few weeks ahead with so many exciting things on the go. These include the annual schools orienteering camp and Forest Run. Running, eating and sleeping during the five days of the Namib Desert Challenge at the end of March is going to be fabulous!

Sunday 3 February 2013

Veggie garden update

It's been a while... my veggie garden continues to delight as the tomatoes ripen and the heritage varieties that I planted months after the yellow and red 'commerical' cherry tomatoes now start to bear flowers and fruit.

I enjoy spending time in the garden pulling out weeds, cable tying the tomatoes and checking up on what is happening.

This past week I harvested a mass of basil and dried it in my dehydrator. I've put it into labelled packets to give to my neighbours in our complex. Yesterday I dried a load of mint too; these are bagged and ready for handing out. It's really satisfying to see the look of surprise and pleasure on my neighbours' faces when I give them their sachets. There's still a load of basil growing - as well as mint. I'll have to do another harvest soon.

I didn't have a good start with the first batch of my heritage/heirloom tomatoes. The seedlings came up beautifully from all varieties but they died during a really hot spell when I was away in early December. Only the few that I'd transplanted into the garden survived. I transferred six. One got zapped by something - munch-munch. One was quite a weekling and died some time later after not making much progress. The others are looking fantastic! They're getting flowers and there are little baby green tomatoes developing. The varieties that I have growing are Tigerella (red with yellow stripes, medium size),  Northern Lights (also bicolour, medium size), Dr Carolyn (large cherry) and Geranium Kiss (large cherry).

Immature Tigerella tomatoes. It's going to be a few weeks still until these ripen. The plant has loads of flowers to I'm anticipating a good yield.
Geranium Kiss -  a squat, sturdy plant with a thick and strong stem. 
I immediately put in more seeds and up they came fast. These guys thrived in the warm weather. I transplanted them a few weeks ago and they're doing really well. Two didn't survive a rough onslaught from the complex gardener - he was digging around a bit too close to them. I'm not 100% certain what I've planted but for sure there are a number of Blondkopfchen (yellow cherry).

I've had the pleasure of eating a number of my red and yellow cherry tomatoes - regular seeds bought from my nursery. I prefer the yellow cherry tomatoes, which have a beautiful flavour. The difference between the two plants is amazing. The red cherry plant grows higher and is bigger; the yellow cherry seems to have more fruit. I've got three red cherry plants and two and a bit (small, stunted after early bird attack) yellow cherry plants. I'll definitely put in more next season.

Those are tomato plants in the foreground - yes, that's a yellow cherry you can see. Eggplant plants - with big leaves - just behind.
Other excitement comes in the form of eggplant fruit. My mom bought me a tray of eggplant seedlings from the nursery and they have done incredibly well. They flowered a while ago and now there is fruit - and there are more flowers blooming at the moment too. The first fruit was picked about two days ago - I'll do something with it tomorrow.

One thing I didn't know is how to tell when eggplant are ripe for picking. According to the fabulous internet...

Eggplant are best harvested when young and a bit bigger than my hand. The skin should have a sheen -  a shine to it. If it is dull it should be left on the plant until shiny or glossy. And, it is best to pick them young because the flavour is better and the picking stimulates the plant to produce more fruit.

The Swiss Chard continues to go crazy and the variety in the colours of the stems (I haven't taken a pic yet of the stems) is fabulous. Red, pink, green and yellow - pretty. I don't like the flavour very much raw -  a little bitter - but fine when chopped and added to a salad with other ingredients. I've also had my Swiss Chard lightly steamed; and that was good. The bitterness goes away when cooked. A number of my neighbours are regularly eating the Swiss Chard - and butter lettuce. When it comes to leafy veg a little does go a long way.

I have a 'garden' salad most days. Here are some pickings from a week or so ago. Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, butter lettuce, Swiss Chard, basil, chilli, rosemary, parsley. A delight!
There's still time to plant more tomatoes, even from seed. Looks like Northern Lights may be my best option.

The final garden delight is my tree tomato tree. I brought two back from Durban - from my friend Deon - and they are doing really well, especially the plant that was bigger originally. I think I need to move the other to a sunnier spot. I had a tree tomato plant at my cottage -  a deep red fruit. That tree constantly fruited. Deon's variety is a lighter colour - more variegated as I recall.

'Deon's tree tomato'
Descriptions of the heirloom tomato varieties that I've got are below. I bought the seeds from LivingSeeds. They're in Jo'burg (Alberton area) - seeds ordered online.

A small sweet bright yellow cherry tomato. This one produces huge trusses of medium sized cherry tomatoes. A sweet acid free tomato that is just great for picking and eating out-of-hand. Also great for dips and colour in salads.

Dr Carolyn
Dr Carolyn is what i would call a large cherry tomato. Fruits are 2.5-3 cm across and are produced in profusion. Flavour is superb with a low acid sweetness that lingers

Geranium Kiss
A very unusual bush tomato that produces masses of large cherry type fruit. Not small enough to be called cherry tomatoes but not large enough to rate as a small tomato. The lovely red fruit have a small point or nipple that give it a distinctive look, however it is the foliage that really stands out. It truely does look like a geranium.

Northern Lights
A beautiful name for a beautiful tomato. This is a medium sized beefsteak to mato that handles the cold pretty well, so it will germinate a bit earlier and keep bearing right-up to your first frost. It is a bicolour tomato that has a red blush on the blossom end that extends or radiates upwards.

A beautiful golden striped tomato that is bound to provide a few interested comments around your dinner table. Can be picked while the stripes are a pale green and then eaten from any time as the stripes turn golden. Our kids love these with bacon and eggs in the morning. Indeterminate vines that produce abundant fruits. Has a full rich flavor that will have you turning your nose up the pale pink things the shops call tomatoes. Approx 20 seeds Planting: Plant in Spring after last frost, or alternatively plant in a cold frame from August to get a head start and early fruit. can be planted until Dec for a late summer crop. Does well planted in a tomato frame or trained up some support. Enjoys rich soil with a high organic content.