Monday, April 3, 2017

NERVES

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:

89.8km
8h12:05

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!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE KNIFE

So where does one start? I've been running for as long as my memory stretches back... 40+ years! And today finds me lying in my bed with my knee in a brace dreaming of those days... I'll be back but the road will be long! This story goes back to 17 April 2016... remember this is my story and I tell as I think it could have gone down. JMC was run on the 17th and while I wasn't running well I was in the running for a top 3 in the 40+year old race when I kicked a rock (not very bright of me) and took a tumble, or should I say whacked my knee hard as I hit the ground. While there was a lot of blood the knee was fine, but I believe I might have tenderised the meniscus, but not torn it.
The knee

Two weeks later I raced HMC and that didn't help it recover. Cartilage doesn't heal fast like muscle or bone... a week later 8 May I raced VWS and did some hard downhill running with a couple of turns and dodging of slow runners in the shorter race. At the end of the race I was sore. .. mostly quads, but that's normal for this race! Now the back of the left knee was sore! Not a sore that worried me and it wasn't there the next day, but over the next days I felt my knee would 'lock' if I kicked my leg up. Not sore or inhibiting to my running.

A monster 3h45 training run with 2000m climb was great training but didn't help the knee, not that I felt any difference to it. The sessions in the week were getting faster... my knee wasn't a problem. Then on an easy run through Kirstenbosch it started to hurt... The session the next day turned into an easy run and a week later I was at the physio!

I saw her again the following week and it was off to the Doctor for a second opinion and then a MRI on the 27th...That afternoon I got the call from the Doc... Dion it's not good!  Like that my running streak ended 1661 days without missing a run!!!

I was wheeled into theatre on Wednesday the 6th...Ok so what did the scan show and what was the plan of the doctor? I had torn the medial meniscus at the back of the left knee. Not a little tear,  but all the way through. This is not good news. Again, this is how I see it: picture the top of the shin bone (tibia). Indented to take the 'ball' at the bottom of the femur. Now you don't want bone on bone so the meniscus is attached to the indent of the tibia to act as shock absorbers... tear that and every step of bend of the knee can cause pain or trouble. If it was a little tear they pop in there and trim the area and in a couple of weeks you are good to go... me not so lucky it was really torn! Like in two!
Mine is the left knee, and torn all the way through!


So the good Doctor went in with a needle and thread and sewed it up...Surgery went well and now it's up to me to be a good boy for the next month or so... but that's not all since the meniscus is made of cartilage it doesn't really heal like muscle or bone it also need a lot of encouragement!  (Stimulating, blood, prayer. ..)

Feet up!

For now it's no running... it's hopping around on crutches, I hope to be in the pool and on the bike in a month or so!
That's all he did!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BEAST

I wasn't up for 50km of hard trails on Table Mountain this year, so I was going to sit The Beast out... But Trevor had put in a shortcut for people like us! No not a soft farm run on gravel roads, not a run that could be run by road runners, but 30km of mostly rocky single track over Table Mountain.

Race Number

The 50km race had started 30min before us and us we set off the race was on to catch them. I shot to the front from the gun (OK there wasn't a gun, it was more like: You can do now!) Knowing the route I wanted to set the pace for the first couple of hundred meters before settling into my pace. I wasn't alone up front, but Kevin was with me...

The first loop was through Newlands Forest, my running home for 35 years, so I just had to set the pace, the legs felt good and the running was easy. (but then the 1st hour of a 3-4 hour race always is...) I like to say I've run every path in the forest a hundred times, but the climb to the contour path, I might have only ever been up once! By now we had started to reel in the back markers of the 50 and on route to Kirstenbosch and our climb to the top up Nursery Ravine I start to test Kevin, but he didn't have and weakness! The race was still in the early days and it was looking like it would come down to who could pick up the pace at the end.

I pushed a little up Nursery and smiled to myself as I opened a little gap (30sec). I thought I was moving OK as I headed for the concrete road, but Kevin caught me on that single track and the dumped me as we headed up the road... I thought to my self: he's gone to early, I don't have legs to run at that pace to the dams.

I conned myself into thinking I would catch him on the climbs to Maclears, but as I reached them I had legs to pass a friend, Jana, doing the 50km, but the gap on her didn't grown and the gap to the lead did... I was getting slower. I reached the top and turned to Maclears. Still feeling sluggish, Jana caught me and with her pushing from behind I was able to up my game and lead her to the highest point of the race.

The path back to Platteklip has the most amazing views from the face of the mountain, then Jana turn to head to Corridor I turned down Platteklip...

Boy was I slow, the clock doesn't lie, it was my slowest time ever! 5min slower than I should have run and 10-12min slower than I use to run! On the way down I lost 2nd place to a youngster who bounced down the rocks with no fear of death!

Running so fast the mountain was blurred (no eyes floating in lactic acid)


My leg didn't have any go left in them, I'm guessing racing 25km 2 weeks before and then a week spending over 3 hours training on the mountain didn't help!

Selfie on the run!

I was passed again before the climb up Devils, and I then passed on the climb to the saddle and wait for it I was caught again while heading to Mowbray Ridge. The 10 min scramble down took 20min but I was almost home...

No floating over the rocks today

4h36 later I crossed the finish-line in 6th place almost 30min behind the leader... I bet I'll be back next year and I hope I'm better prepared.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

VWS TRAIL CHALLENGE



There's a story to every startline, and the excuses are always thrown around to give your competition hope that they are the stronger runner on the day. It was Mother's and our plans with my Mother-in-Law had changed in the week so I picked up a late entry, excuse number 1

We had had my Mother and some family round for a braai the night before, excuse number 2

Then... the weather, not the current weather, which was perfect for race morning, but the electric storm that had past in the night turning my adorable sleeping puppy into a nervous shaking wreck! Excuse number 3
Lord Peanut
While Chatting to Colin (A previous winner of this race) at the start he said he was going out easy as the 2nd half of the race wasn't easy and he wanted to save himself...

I didn't go out easy, I went for it from the gun (ok it was a siren) and was joined at the front by Colin, Pieter, and a guy I didn't know...

The first couple of km are easy running, not flat, because there is no such thing as a contour path on this mountian of ours. I tried to dictate the pace to gauge the others strengths. At 1.2km there is a very steep down hill and I went with the 'stranger' and was happy that he didn't have the free-wheel gear some guys do! Pieter also came with us leaving Colin a couple of meters behind.

Taking Colins words on board I didn't gun the climb that followed, but our pace (Pieter and I) was hard enough to see that the Stranger wasn't going to be there at the end! He did fight to get back to us on a down hill, but at 5.5km when we reached Heart Break Hill! Not not some little undulation like in Boston Marathon, but 105m climb over the next 700m...

Good, I was looking stronger than Pieter and he fell back and wait, was caught by Colin... I reached the top and knew that I had to kick along the top, I would rest on the down, down hill  was where we had first open a gap on Colin...

I got to the tar road (the one that leads to Rhodes Mem) but Colin was right here, and looking back I could now see the other 2 guys as well. Colin wasn't catching as I set a good pace up the hill, but he wasn't falling behind.

OK I was in trouble... I was working as hard as a could and the gap wasn't growning, and if he was running as to his plan, not going out to hard, saving himself for the 2nd half I wouldn't have an answer...
At about 15km we met up with the 10km route, on a hill Strava calls " Unrelenting Pain" also only 700m, but with 125m climb! I broke trying to weave through walking 10km runners and was forced to walk myself (will have to go back and run it) just too many 10km running in the way so I couldn't focus! Looking back didn't help, was Colin walking or on my shoulder? Over the top and push, now with 10km runners to pass to rocky downhill wasn't fun, but Colin would have the same challenges.

Still no sight as we passed the finish line on the upper paths, 6.5km to go, out and back. Next big hill, maybe 500m long with 90m climb, again I walked as I passed 10km runners, but then I looked back and the white shirt of Colin was there... no more walk breaks, it was race on!

3.5km to go at the turn around and I looked at the time, 12sec to Colin (maybe 20sec lead).

one hill to go, no make that 2... dam, I forgot, they've thrown in a 3rd as they want us to finish from the other side...
100m to go
My legs were sore, but with views like that it's alway worth it...

Add caption

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

ARGUS 2016

Carrying this injury since the end of last year meant I wasn't spending hours on the mountain! I was instead spending hours on the bike... OK only weekend hours on the bike. (and by hours I really mean 2, with a couple (yes 2) of longer rides)

Barring the years I did Ironman this was the most cycling I had ever done 820km for the year! (my running is normally more than that! This year it was only 371km).

Now having done most of my training on my old mountain bike, my friend Mark lent me his old road bike! Don't let the word 'old' fool you it's made for speed and with the right engine it would fly... Was I going to be engine enough!

RACKED AND READY
With a start time of 08h54 most of the fast boys (and girls) would be long gone, but I was hoping for a couple of guys in the group to help me round the peninsular!


I looked around my group as we lined up and a couple of the bikes screamed out speed, and a couple of the 'engines' looked young and fit... Everybody Say Whoopla and the count down started three, two, one and we set off:

Most the group was on their bikes with their lead foot cleated in, while I had my left foot in the toe clip I pushed off, one, two, three... I was fast enough now, so I hopped on the bike and sliding the other foot in I set off! I was in front, I was leading the Argus (ok only group 4G). 

I wanted a solid start, I didn't mind leading the peloton onto the elevated freeway!1km in and we were passing the the earlier groups, I look back to see how strong my group was and it was me and just one other guy!!! The riding was easy as we fly past 4F, they covered the whole road! (one would think a group of 75+ year olds and guys with over 21 tours would know how to ride!) I was still leading as we hit Hospital Bend! Now I have a fear of DEATH and why push hard down the early hills as there is still so much riding to do... suddenly I was 2nd and he was gone! I did catch he before the drop to Paradise, but my tow didn't last long! I really thought I would catch him on the first real climb of the day, but while the gap closed as we climbed passed a stream of slower riders he was still 15m ahead as I passed Dawn cheering for me on the side of the road.

I didn't gun it down onto the Blue Route, I was alone and knew I still had a lot of work ahead of me. a couple of guys took me on the down hill, but... I hunted them down as I powered into the deep south. I was still overtaking guys and no-one from behind had caught me. Tri-bars would really have helped as I tucked down into a time trial position. I wasn't grinding out the big gears I was spinning into the gentle breeze.

Along the Main Rd after Muizenberg I was alone... the guys I had just passed slowly disappeared behind me and the next guy in front was 200+m down the road! The Main road was quieter today that on my training rides!

It wasn't till I climbed out of Kalk Bay and headed to Fish Hoek that I was caught! But not by a group, by a man on a mission, so I joined... This was great, my speed jumped from 29km/h to 35km/h. He once asked me to take the lead which I did, but I was too slow for him, so after about a km he hit the front again (I think he then decided to drop me!) Till then most of the small groups we passed on the right, but now he started headed left and weaving through them. On the climb out of Simon's Town he lost me in a group and I couldn't get him back!

At the bottom of Smitswinkel A group caught me, but it was guys I had just passed so I road away from them on the climb.

It was nice to have that behind me and I really thought I would have a couple of guys to fly down with... but it wasn't till it flattened out that a guy came up from behind me and said: Let's go...

That lasted about 500m when the climb to Red Hill started and I left him... Now I don't remember if the couple of guys who passed me on the way down to Scarborough were catching me or just 'unlapping' themselves. 

I was no longer the power house of a ride that had start 2 hours earlier, I was a broken man and on the climb out of Misty Cliffs the couple of groups that caught me didn't have to work to hard to drop me on the climb.

With Chappies ahead of me I stopped to fill my water bottle (2 would have been enough if I had a group to ride with!) With little Chappies conquered I couldn't believe the speed a couple of guy fly down to Chappies, once on the climb I stopped been passed and started to weave through the battlefield that was Chapman's Peak!

Only Suikerbossie left, 2 bumps and the crowds to help you up... Now with Cape Town in the grips of the worst drought in years, I can't believe some guy (was tempted to use a different word here) had his garden hose on to water the road and a couple of hot riders! (hope the City fined him!)

Suikerbossie... Strava calls it 1.8km long with 125m climb, not the biggest climb I've ever done, but with 90+km into the race and over 3 hours in the saddle it was time to stand... I wasn't on the old mountain bike with 'granny gears' so my left over power would be needed to get the the coastal road home! 8:25 (Strava split) later I was heading down, I was cranking out the big gears... with the end in sight

No sprint finish, No heroics, just a little smile... That was a lot harder than I wanted it to be and I didn't have the time I thought I could ride! It was like Ironman 10+ years ago a Time Trial, No slipstreaming aloud! So I have to say I'm not upset with my time of 3 hours 41:48... 20th tour done

Friday, February 19, 2016

ALTRA PARADIGM 1.5



2015 didn't end the way I planned.  I was hoping to be strong and full of running,  I was hoping to find myself on the mountain every second day... but a foot injury after Winelands marathon put pay to that! 
Instead I found myself jogging round the block and putting in a couple of hours on the bike and at the physio! 
With half the world on leave I only saw a sports doctor in Jan.  But Jane (the Physio) had said if you have to run I would suggest you find a shoe with a little cushioning and some arch support to keep the injury at bay!

Talk about timing... Alex (from 5-fingers) asked me if I would like to test a pair of Altra's. No not a model of 5-fingers, but a real shoe! 

Now having run in 5-fingers, New Balance Minimus, and Vivo Barefoot shoes over the last number of years, Altra would fit the pattern. Or would they? 

They advertise the things that excite me in a running shoe:
Wide toe box, so as not to inhibit your foot with each step you take. 
Zero heel toe drop... ok make that heel ball of your foot toe drop.

With 3 models (ok 3 trail and 3 road) to choose from I popped down to the new running shop in Town (RUN) to check them out and try them on for size!



Now the Physio had said cushioning, so…

34mm of cushioning!
As I said: The Timing was perfect…

Having only put them on in the shop I can tell you this partnership is going to be an interesting one…

This shoe is radically different to what I've been running in:

Both zero drop, both 'wide' top box...
Now this is where is starts to get interesting:

Monday the 11th of Jan 2016... I sent the students off for a run and I popped onto the grass track for an easy 3km 13:31.
Tuesday the 12th of Jan 2016... Again I sent the students off and popped down to the track for an easy 3km, but Nolan joined me and... 11:37 isn't really that easy! (Was it the shoes? was it Nolan?)

Remember I was on the comeback trail and was only looking at running 3km a day, I'm now running a lot further and I'm still using them every day!

So what can I tell you about them:
They are light...OK lighter than you would think for a shoe like this!
They are well cushioned, I would go as far as to say they are soft, soft like walking on a bed!

But how do they run?
Before I talk about my running experience let me first tell you that this shoe was made with the idea of reducing the shock of pounding the pavments for mile after mile! Runners normally strike the ground with a heel strike or flat foot or forefoot. With this shoe being a zeo drop, it is aimed at the latter 2, (but if you feel you want to move to a zero drop shoe this is a good starting point)

OK so I've run around the block a couple of times... some blocks bigger than other and I now feel I can talk a bit about this shoe:

Last nights run of 10km was fine, I felt normal, in fact most of the time I wasn't really thinging about the Paradigms... This is a good thing! So while I've been running in these for long enough most of my runs have been alone and short, so I've spent the time thinking about every step I've taken!

So with my background in shoes that let you feel the ground, this is what was going though my simple mind as I set of my my early runs: Have I reach the ground yet, I'm still floating through the air, shouldn't I be pushing off the road to go forward? I'm sinking into the ground, can I run like this?

I'm not a big fan of ultra soft shoes I feel you sink into the ground and lose you power to push off (other people feel you bounce off and love it!) I found my heel would sink into the shoe and almost like walking on snow it was hard work to go forward! I've now solved this with an old heel raise of hard rubber. This wasn't for the heel raise, but to work like a snow shoe does! (and stop the sinking keep it soft!)

Now having run 'close' to the ground for years and being a trail runner, I love weaving down the single tracks like an F1 car through the chicane... Try taking a bus through those chicanes!!! I still feel like a bus through the chicanes as I take a corner, But while I'm not "The Stig" I will improve as I knock up the miles.

Last night I sent half the guys off into the forest to run, (that would normally be me!) While Jeannie D feels at home anywhere in 6 inch heels I would break an ankle or my neck if I ventured off the road...



While the rest of us hit the road... as I said earlier I didn't think about the shoe, I was pounding the pavement chatting to the guys (and girls)! I bet I could have kept running and running, maybe one day I'll run a marathon in them...

OK what about running fast? Now remember that there is fast and then there is fast... For some people 6min/km might be fast and then for others 3min/km might be fast! When I talk about fast I mean fast, The sub 3min/km stuff!!!
So have a look at the Silverman running fast... look at his foot and the way it bends at the toe!

 This is me out for an afternoon run... there's no bend to the toe, no power from the foot, you sort of roll off the 34mm stack to the toe! So while I don't think I'll be running any PB's in these shoes I don't believe they were made for that! They, as you get use to them, give you the feeling that you could just roll on forever...

Will I be rushing out to buy another pair? No, not of these double-decker busses, but ALTRA does have flatter (closer to the ground) models which I could see myself getting!