Personal best…with friends!

7 03 2010
Today was just one of those days – woke up feeling like I had slept for 10 minutes instead of 10 hours, tired, reluctant and craving a buffet breakfast…

Were it not for THAT  alarm that went off at 3.30am (I need at least 15 minutes to recover from the shock before I can get out of bed in a functional state!) and the fact that my pals Kristian and Dean were coming to pick me up at 4.20am, I probably would have rolled over, buried the alarm under sound proof pillows and slept on…

Today was the Vaal Marathon day – a “training run” suggested by ME, without much thought before hand, of what it is actually like to run a marathon. No going back for me! It has been a while, maybe 2 years, since I last ran a marathon not  preceded by a 3.8k swim/180k bike warm up, so I had no idea what to expect. Kristian generously sponsored my race entry, so really, there was no chance of bailing! In the car, on the way to the race (Vereeniging is a 1hr drive), we were all whinging about how tired we were (justifyably, both Dean and Kristian both have very small kids!), and wondering how much pain could be felt between starting the clock at 0km, and stopping it 42k later? Fortunately, we made it to the start line…

As this race was one of the last Comrades qualifiers, there were aloooot of people, and the start was rather like a Tri swim start – argy bargy! I headed out comfortably fast, until at the 5k mark (yes, right at the beginning) where things got uncomfortable – I needed to pee! How it was possible, after having pee’d at least six times before the race, only mother nature could answer? The bad timing of this pressing ‘need’ was fast leading me into distraction, so I was forced into the decision of “pause pipi”, as the French would say! Finding suitable camoflage is somewhat challenging when you’re up near the front, with 3000 runners still to come past, but in the end I settled on hiding behind a big stack of bricks at a construction site. Relief.

What I really love about road races in South Africa, is that there is always someone to run with, usually people you have never met and from completely different walks of life. Sometimes, not a word is spoken, but there is a mutual understanding, entrenched in rythmic footfalls. Today, it seemed as if I was just floating from person to person, all the while counting down the kays…

It turned out to be just ‘one-of-those-days’ where it just felt easy. I kept thinking that I was going to slam into the proverbial wall at any moment. It never happened! I ended up feeling super the whole way, and crossed the line in first place, clocking a new PB of 2h55!  

However, the best part of a personal best is when your sleep deprived friends also do their personal bests! Kristian clocked a PB of 3h36 to clinch a Comrades C qualifier, and Dean (who’s running career is a fledgling 3 years I think?) posted his first ever sub-4, smashing the barrier in 3h50!

While celebrations were in order, we thought we might stop for some nosh on the way home, and spotted something rather unusual….

A German takeaway! While pizza, burgers, fries, Chinese and milkshakes sound like pretty normal take-outs, the thought of a Sauerkraut to go just does not have the same appeal, does it? Then again, sometimes the unexpected turns out to be better than expected….





Prestige Ultra – SA Champion!

21 02 2010

The Champions - with Raynard Tissink

So the pressure was on. So far this year I have managed second and third places, in the various events that I have done, nothing to be embarrassed about, given the quality of the athletes. However, today, I was eager to remedy the situation and get myself the top spot on the podium at the Prestige Ultra/SA Long Course Triathlon Championships!

Having done a usual “Bean”, I got my dates mixed up, and were it not for Mike from MAD Multisport, I would still be thinking this race was on the 21st of March! Needless to say, this act of prime idiocy, meant that I had not programmed the race correctly into my schedule, and I only decided to race on Wednesday, after smashing myself in training earlier in the week. Going into the race I just knew it was going to hurt, but was prepared to just go as hard as I could…

The race took place an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, at the University grounds in Van Der Bijl Park. It turned out to be a lovely, hot, day, with blue skies and just about no wind – perfect! The guys from Spectrum Sport did a good job in putting on a slick event, with everything so well organised, and a safe course on roads with super smooth surface, just asking for speed :-).

The swim got underway in Vaal river, which was muddy from all the recent rainfall, but surprisingly, almost too warm for a wetsuit (great for me considering that I find the gym pool freezing if it drops below 26deg!). The swim was a bit of a boxing match with the guys and girls all racing together, but I just tried to focus on my swim and avoid swimming into logs and other obstacles that mother nature threw into my path. I exited in 4th place behind the really good swimmers Dominique and Katherine, who were clearly in their element.

The bike provided for some fast and pleasant open – road riding. Fun, fun, fun! Unfortunately, I seemed to be having issues with my rear brake scraping my back wheel, and for fear of amputating my fingers I didn’t dare try and adjust it on the “fly”! I just decided to carry on riding, and probably gave myself a bit of an extra workout at the same time… what a blonde!

Dom and Kat ended up riding really well and I couldn’t catch them on this fast course, so it was going to all be left to the run. I certainly left myself a fair bit of work to do, and started the run a little panicked, which was probably a good thing, the match up the arse that I really needed! Luckily, I had on my lucky pair of Asics Noosa (awesome pair of Triathlon run shoes, they have drainage holes and the works!) and the legs obeyed today, and I found myself running very solidly, and quickly making up ground. By the second lap I managed to get myself into the first position, but still found myself pushing hard as if I was being chased by the traffic police! I crossed the line in first, a great feeling!

   

  After the race it was great to hang out with my friends from the Jeppe and Bedfordview Tri clubs, who saved the day with their “magic” cooler box which always seems to appear at races :-), so thanks Allan and Anne for sharing your liquid provisions with me – the “red ambulance” just about saved me!

Thanks also goes to Spectrum Sport and Asics for putting on a very enjoyable, safe event, something you guys know how to do really well!

SA Champ 2010…. Has a nice ring to it!





Troisport Jo'burg Tri Series #2

9 02 2010

The second race of the Troisport Jo’burg Triathlon Series took place on Sunday. As you may have read in my blog previously, the first edition was, well, edition #1 interrupted by a plane crashing on the bike course. This time, the second race turned out picture perfect…

It was a beautiful day, lovely and hot (which is just the way I like it!), not a drop of wind and the lake was a balmy 24degrees which meant no wetsuits. I had trained very hard during the week, to the point that on Thursday I was reduced to a Comrades shuffle on my training run, and so I thought this was going to make for a rather unpleasant race on Sunday. As it turned out, I woke up on Sunday morning with THAT feeling that it was going to be a good, good day!

The race also happened to be the provincial triathlon championships for 2010, so I was eager to do well. The swim got underway with most of us girls trying to claw our way not through each other, but through the forests of green and brown weeds that call Germiston Lake their home. I could have kicked myself for having not taken out my “genuine” pink gemstone earrings before hand – I ended up dragging bits of mother nature from my ears for the entire swim! That aside, I felt really good in the swim, and despite being a long way off super fish Lucie Z, I thought I did a good job exiting the water in fourth place.

I reminded myself that this was a SHORT COURSE race and you have to do things VERY FAST. Grabbed my bike and jumped on with the agility of Batman…well, almost, were it not for the fumbling related to shoe straps! The four lap bike course was good fun, it is almost like a Criterium with lots of turns and a little bitch hill just to make your legs pinch on every lap. Anyhow, I reeled three girls in with some solid riding, but was still a fair way down on Lucie at the start of the run.

I had to think that 10k is not a long way in IM terms, so I was sure that I could do some hurting for that amount of time! I ran hard on the four lap run course, enjoying the fact that I had an easy feeling in my legs, and the only suffering was coming from my own rapidly straining breathing! I made up a little time on Lucie towards the end of the run, but was never able to catch the Czech Olympian. I finished in second place, but feeling very strong which is a good sign for races to come! With one race to go in the series I am ranked in second place overall and hope to hang on to it!





Getting Alexander Forbes moving

8 02 2010

Last Friday, I was invited to attend a sports awareness expo for the staff of Alexander Forbes and encourage ‘the ‘numbers’ guys and girls to get moving! For good measure, my favourite guys from Asics were also there to make sure that the staff were well advised on the correct shoes for their sporting endeavours. The Alexander Forbes building in Sandton is very impressive, and if I were an accountant, this is where I would want to work! The staff have everything that they need on site, including a state of the art gym, and my personal favourite – a well stocked canteen!

Mark from Asics explaining why good shoes mean good runs

It is always fun sharing your passion with others, especially when they realise it is not beyond them to start with a running programme, no matter how young or old they are. I fielded answers to many questions that I had never really given much thought to, like “Why do you enjoy running so much?”. Well, honestly, it can hurt, you sweat, you sometimes swear and you never look pretty? I think I enjoy it so much because:

  • I can eat just about whatever I like as a result – I love eating 🙂
  • I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that I get after the feeling of painfrom a hard workout!
  • Running makes you feel free, and is often where you find the solutions to a multitude of problems
  • Runners are funny and you get a comedy show for free!
  • I can’t imagine life without it?

Chatting to people made me realise just how lucky I am, to do what I do, even if one staffer suggested that cellulite is CAUSED by running (she was convinced!)…

Bernie from AF who put the whole thing together





Johnson Crane Half Marathon

31 01 2010

The podium at Johnson Crane

I am a fan of Benoni, in some sort of strange sadistic way that only someone who grew up here could do. Benoni is my home town, and today I couldn’t have been any prouder…

The Johnson Crane 21k and 42k road race was held today, with exceptional organisation from the local Benoni Harriers Athletic Club. It was, surprisingly, my first time ever to run this race. Despite being in my back yard, every year I have always been on another mission, doing something else that prevented me from taking part. This year, I thought it would be a perfect training run that would fit into my schedule, and I am so glad that I did!

Having not run a road race for a good few months, I had forgotten what fun these can be, and what a great atmosphere you have, especially up here in Gauteng Province. Benoni Harriers and Johnson Crane put on a really impressive event. Luckily, the persistant rain that has been plaguing the area for the past week abated, and the race got underway at 6am sharp in cool and overcast conditions. I entered the 21k, not quite feeling ready to race a marathon this early in the year, and ironically, the 21k turned out to be the most competitive, attracting some of the country’s top road runners…

For me, the race started tough – boy, were my legs crying out already in the first 3k! Then again, if your intention is to go hard that is what it should feel like – not so? I think it was more a question that my legs were more accustomed to a healthy warm up of a few hours on the bike before setting off at 4min per km! What I do enjoy so much, is the great comaraderie you get at road races here, even though you may not be able to speak, you always end up running with someone you don’t know, but you share in each other’s pain and seem to have an unspoken bond for the duration of the race…

My legs ended up hurting the entire race, but it all seemed worth it when I crossed the line in third place. The time, in my opinion was more suited to a slow moving tractor (which is exactly how I felt), but the joy of getting a gold medal, on the podium with a bouquet of flowers is unmistakable. Irvette Van Blerk, the other blonde in my picture, won the race in 77 minutes, which is rather impressive, followed by her Nedbank team mate, and then yours truly from the Mr. Price club.

After the race, I was forced to admit to my running partners that I didn’t quite do the time I thought I could, I was a bit embarrassed, but at least I had the 3rd place! I began to offer them my excuses of how I devote my training time to two other disciplines, so basically, I train 1/3 of what the pure runners do… blah, blah, blah… My good buddy, who runs fast, brought my face back to the earth and politely told me that nobody cares, I got my arse kicked and that there is never an excuse written in the fine print! He is right. If you want to be the best, you must do the best.

My flowers 🙂

Thanks very much to the organisers, Benoni Harriers and Johnson Cranes (who rent out cranes, and here I am talking of big mother cranes!) for a super event that will really put Benoni on the map. 7000 entries I believe? The personal touches were not unoticed! As a prize winner, I really appreciated the massive bunch of roses that I received, they were beautiful! The prize giving was timeous and we were awarded our prizes immediately, something really important in the life of professional athletes…ok, triathletes!





The day the floods hit Benoni!

28 01 2010

We all know that things happen in Benoni, well those of us that live here know it’s secrets…
This week, Benoni (whose latin name means ‘Son of my sorrow’) was hit by enough rain to cause a minor flood and more significantly chaos of note! I have an old canoe stored in the back garden, now I know why I hung onto it…

Kleinfontein dam makes it's way into town

The road to the gym

Fishing anyone?

The Lakeside Mall

Leave your car at home if you need to go to the Mall…. a row boat is more up to the task! 

Tom Jones - The main road becomes a river crossing!

Needless to say, these conditions have proved less than ideal for training, and more than enough opportunity to clean bike…clean shoes…clean self!





Classic Triathlete

21 01 2010

To all my triathlete friends out there, this one is especially for you! Absolutely hilarious, so don’t watch this in a meeting or when the boss is around… I am still wiping the tears from my eyes 🙂

Thanks Erich, my sponsor from O2 Creation for letting me steal it from you 🙂