Tuesday 16 December 2014

O Sprint Cup at PBG

On Sunday morning we had the last orienteering event of the year - the annual Sprint Cup at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens. I haven't been here for years and after the recent rains the Gardens are looking amazing.

Sprint Cup works on a different format. Participants first run a preliminary round and their finish times and positions determine where they start for the final round. The fastest runner after the prelim starts first and the other runners then set off at the time interval that they finished the first round. Say the second placed runner in the prelim finished 23seconds behind the winner, they will start the final 23secs after the first runner - and so on.

Why this format is so much fun is that if you catch the runner ahead of you, you gain an overall position. And, of course, there are runners behind trying to catch you!

I was fourth after the first round and there was too much of a gap (just over three minutes) between me and the third-placed runner to realistically look at third place... so I aimed to keep ahead of the next runner behind me - I had about a 1min20 lead on her. This time difference can be gobbled up quickly if you make a mistake; or even if you lose a few seconds per control.

I managed to hold on to my position - although Kirsten did gain a little ground on me - to finish in 4th overall.

Orienteering events pick up again in January.

Running into the finish. Photo by Val.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Summer Series #2

Our second Summer Series event was good fun and it was good to see a number of children and a bunch of first timers.

For the first time I got to run in a Summer Series event; shadowing young Connor. And it was such fun! His navigation was very good and he got us swiftly through the middle (20 control) course. I was very pleased that he chose a great route that had us collecting our last controls up in the top South-West corner (bridge) so our climb back up to the start/finish was more gradual than running up from the Environmental Centre. Phew!

Being out there, I had the chance to take photos of other participants too.  Photos are on our AR Club Facebook page.

The event format was again the same (ScatterO), but this time with 30 controls (instead of 25). Most participants got the required number for their courses.

Garry did the planning for the event and we had a bunch of helping hands on the night. Grant, Garry and I put out controls; Zig and Denise managed registration. Robyn, Garry and I collected controls. Thank you everyone.

 Please join our Summer Series email notification list so that we can let you know directly when the next events are scheduled.

We (me and Garry) be back with three Summer Series events in Jan/Feb. I hope to see you then.

Thursday 4 December 2014

AR Club Summer Series #1

Tonight we had the first of two AR Club Summer Series events at Delta Park. We ran this fun event on the ScatterO format and gave all participants one hour to complete their courses.

Garry did the planning and he was pretty sneaky. I took a lookie at the map over the weekend and told him which controls I'd leave if I was running the long course, which requires runners to locate 22 of the 25 total controls. He adjusted some control placements to 'force' runners into areas. Cunning, very cunning.

We had a number of complete newcomers and it was great to see a good number of children out with their parents (and on their own - in the case of Garry's boys). FYI - we give children still at school (and younger) free entry!

Delta Park is looking great. Green, lush and with grasses still nice and low, the terrain makes for superb running. This event is held in daylight (18h00 to 19h00).

We're doing one more Summer Series event next Wednesday, 10 December 2014 and will only pick up with these again in mid- / late-January.

Special thanks to Liz - she handled registration today. Garry did all the planning and printing. I put out controls (including one, #35, in not quite the right place - that's what happens when yuo phone me to ask if you can come / for directions when I'm putting out the flags!). Our thanks too to Sarah and Michael and Piers for collecting controls. And also another pair (I don't know your names), who arrived late (stuck in traffic) and kindly got roped into control collecting.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Metrogaine review

Although people post online and email really lovely comments about their experiences at Metrogaine, it is not often that I receive a full-on write up. Feige contacted me a few weeks before Metrogaine. Her background is primarily road running and she regularly participates in events and writes about them (much like I do). I was delighted to give her an entry to give this event a try - something quite different to what she is used to.

Feige has written one of the nicest reports I've seen. She has beautifully described how the event works and she has conveyed her experience clearly. I'm also charmed to see how she picks up on the little elements of Metrogaine, like the yummy cupcakes that are homebaked by my orienteering friends, Denise and Christie. With the wind howling and rain descending, Feige missed out on the tea-light candles lining the finish chute - they wouldn't stay lit. I'm sure she would have appreciated these too.

When I first started Metrogaine I used to bake and ice the cupcakes myself. After making over 200 for an event (with my visiting friend Ray from CT coerced into mixing and icing too), I changed to the custom message fortune cookies to manage the numbers. It became challenging to order the correct amount with people entering so late... And then I outsourced the cupcakes to Denise and Christie. They make great cupcakes and they're here to stay.

Metrogaine is designed to be fun and low-key and friendly and convenient and efficient week-night, nav-running fun. And from Feige's report it looks like I'm hitting the nail on its head. Thank you Feige.

You can read her report on her blog - "Living the treaty life".

Training log slacker

I first started keeping a training log at least 20 years ago when I received an A5 training log booklet at a road race. Once I'd completed all the pages I replicated the format and printed my own, which covered a number of years. And then somewhere along the way I lost the plot and stopped logging for a period - it may have been as long as two years. I then got onto an Excel spreadsheet format and I've used it ever since; except for the past few months.

I'm not quite sure why I lost the plot but it seems to have happened after my "38 Days of Running" this year, which was quite disjointed - interrupted by a bad bash to my knee (I whacked it on a rock) and then Expedition Africa.

I find keeping a log to be beneficial to my training, especially to highlight any gaps and also in the tallying of my weekly mileage. Sure, without the log I can reflect on my week but memory is fallible and half the time by Friday can't remember what happened on Monday. So the log does help me to keep track of what I've been up to, where, how long, how fast (or slow!) and with whom.

December is always a good training month for me. Work is quiet, holiday fever is in the air, my neighbourhood is green and pretty and weather is fantastic. And with the Sabie 80km coming up at the end of January, it will be good to keep an eye on distance, cross-training activities and overall consistency.

There are loads of ways to track your training, specially with online systems and mobile apps. I like my spreadsheet that I've set up to add distance and duration. It's simple, but it works.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

December Challenge

I miss my regular yoga practices.

A few years ago I got into yoga and attended Ashtanga classes two or three times a week - must have been for more than a year. The studio closed for a long period (moved venues too) and by-the-by I got into circus school... then yoga re-opened and later circus closed... And then circus re-opened and I decided to avoid the commute and not go back... And so I went to some pole classes instead earlier this year until I was away frequently. And all the time I missed yoga. I went to two or three random classes and enjoyed the focus of it again. So I gave myself a challenge in May; to do sun salutations every day with the odd addition of standing postures.

It took about a week for it to kick in and kick in it did. I didn't do the whole of May as Expedition Africa got in the way. But the difference that just over three weeks of yoga push ups and upward dogs and downward dogs made to my flexibility, jump backs and jump forwards and balance and hamstrings and calves... !

I've missed this.

I like the open space and peace of the yoga studio - and practicing with other people in a guided class. I don't have much inclination for self-practice but as my favourite studio has again closed and there is no Ashtanga in my neighbourhood, it is time for some self-discipline (at least a little!). Sun salutations I can commit to. A full practice regularly on my own? Maybe in time.

I find the yoga to be really beneficial for my running, especially to keep  my hamstrings and calves in good condition. And it feels good to be all stretched out. Ideally it works best to do the practice straight after a run; but sometimes I end up doing this late at night before bed, which seems to suit me too.

I'm looking forward to feeling the yoga settle into my muscles over the next few days. With the 80km ultra in Sabie at the end of January, regular stretching to go with increased mileage will prove beneficial long term.

parkrunning in Parys

The past two weekends I've done the parkrun in Parys, which brings my total to 6 (1 x Delta an age ago, 2 x Woodlands, 1 x Modderfontein).

I'm not a big parkrunner mostly because I avoid running in the morning wherever possible. BUT... as I've been in Parys and the parkrun, which is only four events down, starts a three-minute run away, I just can't resist. It is a nice opportunity to mingle with local runners and a few people that I've gotten to know here and there.

The route follows the Vaal River and it is really pretty. The only oddity is a loop, to make up some distance. Loops, like at Woodlands, can be useful for those starting out. They can skip the loop and not get results for a while as they build up to doing 5km (run/walk).

Image of a section of the route from the Parys parkrun FB page.
I run the parkrun like a time trial and goodness knows I need to do some faster-pace runs... And that's where parkrun has a great slot for regular runners - as a Saturday morning time trial.

My kick out of parkrun is in receiving my results later in the day. My first time there I was 3rd lady and 2nd in my age category... This past Saturday I was 4th lady but 1st in my age group (and I improved my time my around 15 seconds). It felt like a tough run, probably because of the Gilloolies hill session I did on Thursday evening and the faster-than-conversational run I did around town on Friday evening.

Tracy Rankin spoke at FEAT about parkrun, which really has taken South Africa by storm. There's is much more to it than being a free, timed, 5km run. There are the people involved (volunteers and participants) and the places and parks all around SA - and the World.

To take part, register on the parkrun website (free), download and print your barcode and take it to every parkrun you do. They all start at 08h00 at 44 locations (and always more being added) around SA.