Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Hot, hot, hot!

I think it's safe to say that summer is finally here.

That's 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  On our second day of summer.

I'm determined not to bad-mouth the heat at all this summer - I froze my butt off at one too many race starting lines this spring to even consider doing that.  But, as you can see, the sunny season takes no prisoners in the good old Northern Cape.  It means business.  And I must admit: Running in 95+ degree heat after work just plain sucks.  Cue another running routine shake-up - but this one I love!    

One day, long, long ago, before Miss K and Baby J were born, I used to be an early-morning runner.  I used to love getting up at the crack of dawn and head out for a run before the rest of the neighbourhood even thought about getting up.  But then came K and J and the lack of sleep associated with having a newborn, and I morphed into Zombie Mom, who only ran when I didn't feel like, well, Zombie Mom.  And that was very, very rarely early in the morning...

I don't want to speak too soon, but I have some monumental news (this one needs a drum roll): Baby J is down to only getting up once a night to feed!  This is huge, people.  He used to drink every two hours, so getting up only once a night feels a-ma-zing.  Yip, it even feels good enough to get up at 05:00 a.m. for a run - oh, yeah.

So, after two-and-a-half years of running at any and every hour of the day just for the sake of getting a run in, I'm cautiously optimistic that we're slowly but surely moving in the direction of becoming early-morning runners again.  And that feels pretty darn good.  

What is summer like where you live?  Average maximum temps?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Perfect Saturday

I love Saturdays.  Thankfully I've learnt by now not to wish away five days' worth of life for the sake of two days' worth of weekend, but trust me, when those two days arrive, I inhale them.  They needn't be fancy and they needn't be grand: Just add some running, family and food - heaven!

An early morning run.  No better way to start a weekend.

Post-run smoothie: Banana, avocado, coconut, honey, yogurt and mint.  These excite me just a little too much, ha!

Shopping with my besties.  We don't need to spend a single cent - we just need to get out.  And be together.  Ahhhhhh.

The sports store is always a hit.

As is the toy store.

Can we just take a moment to thank the genius who invented these shopping carts?  Whoever you are, I really hope that you've already pocketed your first million, because mothers everywhere feel that you deserve it.  Big time.

And, as any momma will tell you, a double nap is the cherry on top of anything.  (Bonus points if it happens at home and momma can plop down too.)

Oh, and a barbecue.  In the garden.

Perfection, I tell you!

How was your Saturday?!

Monday, 20 October 2014

D is for Disappointment

On Saturday I ran an impromptu local 10 k race, the Kimberley Vodacom Half and 10 k.  I didn't even know about the race until the week before, but decided to enter anyway, since a) It could serve as a learning experience for my goal 10 k race in December, and b) I've been lacking in the motivational department since my half-marathon in September, and I knew that signing up for a race would help me get out the door for a longish run.

The route map.  See one of Kimberley's big diamond mining "holes" on the right.

Can we just talk about this crazy weather we're having for a second?!  It's almost November and it's still freezing...  And I live in Hotazel Kimberley!  I'm so over freezing my butt off at race starting lines.  No really.  I shamelessly lined up with a t-shirt and a warm top, and only took the top off during the final kilometre of the race (and only so that I wouldn't be disqualified for not wearing a race number - I wore my number on my t-shirt under my top).  Sheesh!

This race was a huge disappointment for me.  I didn't plan on running a PB, but yet, after clocking some very good (for me) times in a recent 10 k trail run and half-marathon, I was kind of hoping that my "normal" pace had somehow gotten a little faster.  But it hadn't.  I'm still stuck on the old 53/54 minute 10 kays like a one-pace donkey.  Pfffft.

What was perhaps most disappointing, is the fact that I ran really, really hard, just to finish in a poofy 53:04.  You know when you run so hard that your throat hurts and you get that bloody aftertaste in your mouth?  That's how hard I ran.  And yet I didn't even come close to a PR (51:17), never mind a sub-50.  Sniff-sniff.

A disappointed little half-smile.  (And blocks and bells on the floor.  Welcome to my life).

Sitting in the car after the race, I had a good old solo pity party.  Perhaps my sub-50 10 kay goal is just too lofty for my abilities?  Perhaps my mind just isn't strong enough?  (At what age do you start to get slower instead of faster anyway)?  Perhaps I should just forget about this crazy goal and enjoy running?

Will asked me after the race what exactly went wrong, and you know what?  Nothing did.  The route was flat(ish), it was a small race with zero congestion and I felt good.  I just wasn't fast enough.  Simple as that. 

Pace and elevation charts.
Looking past the disappointment, though, I did learn some valuable lessons for my goal race in December:

1.  Don't go out too fast.  Old news, I know, but I need to keep the first few kilometres easy for a reason other than crashing and burning later on in the race: My body rebels.  Start off at sub-50 10 kay pace, and I get a side stitch before you can say "PR".  Lesson learnt.

2.  Fuel properly.  I didn't eat or drink anything before this race (I usually only do before longer races/runs), and I only drank water during the race.  I do think that half a banana before the race will benefit me, though (that's what I usually eat before a half-marathon), as well as a mid-race honey slurp or two. 

3.  Don't turn every long run between now and December into a chase for a PR.  It's counter-productive and discouraging.  Save the effort for race day. 

4.  Warm up properly.  Perhaps I'll be able to start out faster if my body is already properly warmed up by the time I toe the starting line?

One of the things that I did like about this whole experience, was that I was one of the first 80 finishers, all of whom received reflective running vests from a race sponsor.  Yes, they're nerdy and yes, they remind me of my days working as an environmental officer on a construction site, but none of that matters when it comes to the safety of my children.  From now on you'll see me rocking this vest on all our stroller runs - I should have gotten one a long time ago.

The race loot.

Hope you have an amazing week!

*Edited to add: After eating some dark chocolate and seeing the official race results, I regained a bit of perspective and remembered that I'm way too stubborn to just give up like that.  December 6, I'm waiting for you!  

Friday, 17 October 2014

Everyday Running Heroes: Edwin Kibet

One of the things that fascinate me most about running and runners, is how we're all so different and come from such diverse backgrounds and places, and yet so many of our running stories are in essence the same.  I love that.  

Today I want to introduce you to Edwin Kibet (32), a fellow runner, husband and father of three kids aged 8, 6 and three weeks, who hails from Mt Elgon in Kenya.  Edwin and I bumped into each other on dailymile and I've been following his training in complete awe - this man can run!  He started running in 2009 and clocks weekly mileage that I can only dream of...  Here's what Edwin has to say about life and running in Kenya's Rift Valley:

Edwin Kibet.  [Photo from dailymile.]

Running the Race (RtR): Why do you run/love running?
Edwin Kibet (EK): I run for a better life.

RtR: Are there any obstacles that you have had to overcome or that you are still overcoming in order to be able to run?  If yes, how do you overcome these obstacles?
EK: Yes, my family and I live here in a nature reserve.  We will overcome all problems just because of God's power.  There are hard times, because I am responsible for many things here where we live, but it will be better when God answers our prayers.

RtR: What are your current running goals/dreams?
EK: To break the world record and to raise up disadvantaged young athletes in Mt Elgon, Kenya. 

Edwin and his training group running together.  [Photo courtesy of Edwin Kibet.]

RtR: Please give us a short summary of your current running routine?
EK: Weekday morning sessions are usually high paced middle distance runs (15 km) with an easy evening 10 km run.  Weekend long runs are generally 35 km at a moderate pace and finishing well.

Post-run.  [Photo courtesy of Edwin Kibet.]

RtR: Any tips for men and women out there who want to start running, but feel that they are too slow/overweight/”unathletic”?
EK: I would like to tell anybody who would like to start running that running is not hard or easy, but if you love it, you will be a runner.  You can start with short distances, even 3 km every morning.

Thank you so much, Edwin, for sharing your story with us.  We wish you, your family and your athletes in Mt Elgon all the best, and we trust that you will get that race win that you're working so hard for!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

How To Tet Your Butt Kicked 101

So I'm on a mission to run a sub-50 minute 10 k.  This year still.  Yikes!  My goal 10 k race takes place on 6 December, which gives me less than two months to prepare...  [Now a sub-50 minute 10 k may not seem like much to all you speed machines out there, but believe me when I say that to me the idea of clocking a sub-50 10 k seems pretty much like running at the speed of light for almost an hour.  In other words it hurts just thinking about it.]

Having trained for the Fish River Half that took place on 27 September, I have a pretty good endurance base at this stage, but I definitely still fall short in the speed and strength departments - I need to get fast and I need to get strong, stat!  

I have the speed work covered with a programme from an old UK Women's Running magazine, but have been hum-and-ha-ing about the strength part.  I needed something brutally efficient that I can do with the kids in a stroller if need be - something without frills or plenty of equipment to hog around.  Ahhhh, and that's where getting my butt kicked comes in.  Ooooh, I got it kicked so bad!

I very unscientifically threw together some of my favourite moves to make up this mama-friendly-time-efficient bad boy*:

Trust me, you'll need your big girl panties for this one!  I did the running portions solo this time, but you can obviously also do it with either a single or double stroller.   Oooooooh, it's a goodie.  What I especially love about it, is it's versatility: You can shorten the running parts if you prefer a more strength-focused workout, or you can increase or decrease the number of reps of each strength exercise.  You can also increase the intensity of the workout by pushing for a better time - the options are literally endless!    

I completed my three rounds in 31:47 (with no stroller, knee-push-ups and I limited the number of burpees to 10 for each round) and will aim to bring this time down over the course of the next 8 weeks (until my goal race).  If this doesn't make me strong, I don't know what will, right?

Getting strong!

First things first, though: Here's hoping I'll be able to get this battered body out of bed tomorrow morning...!

                                                       *   *   *

My speedy Namibian cousin has started a brand new blog, Life at Large, though which she shares her and her family's running and other adventures.  She recently smashed her half-marathon PR by more than 7 minutes - go have a read!

*You know you need to get your physician's approval before starting any training programme, right?  I'm also not a qualified fitness trainer - this is simply a plan put together by a mom who needed a plan.  Do at your own risk - and watch your form.