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.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Going Pink

This past Saturday one of my favourite local events coincided with the windiest day on the planet.  Boo.

The Cansa Pink Walk is an annual 2.5 and 5 km walk in aid of our local branch of Cansa, the Cancer Association of South Africa.  I've lost some very special people in my life to cancer, so this is a cause very close to my heart, plus I always try to do the walk with my two besties, Tanya and Annemarie, which makes it even better!

Tanya, me, Annemarie and the kids - all pink and ready to go!

We chose to do the 2.5 km walk this year, since I wasn't too sure that J Bear would tolerate sitting still for a 5 km walk (he easily "runs" 5 km in the stroller, because it's over fairly quickly, but I think that covering the same distance at a slower speed might be a different story).  We started way at the back (and pretty much ended that way too) - if there were to be a prize for the most baby blanket adjustments, dummy (pacifier) searches and baby swaps fitted into 2.5 km, we would surely have won it, ha!  But all of these were interspersed with plenty of laughing and catching up - one of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday morning.  

By the end of the walk we were literally covered in dust - yikes, what a windy affair!  But, just like every other year, this event remains one of my local favourites.  No bells, no whistles, but plenty of friends, and that makes all the difference.  

Post-walk: Annemarie hiding from the wind with Baby J. 
Thankfully the wind let up by sunset, allowing us to end the day in the traditional South African way...

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Our Namibian trip in pictures

The Fish River Half-Marathon, which took place on 27 September in Keetmanshoop, Namibia, was my fourth international race to date, meaning that I've now raced in five countries and on three continents - what an amazing privilege!

It was Miss K's second trip across the border (her first being to the Kingdom of Lesotho just before her first birthday), and J Bear's first; hopefully the second and first of many more to come.  I was blessed with parents who both loved to travel and explore and who lit an adventurous flame in my heart - something that I am eternally grateful for.  I really hope that I can pass this same love on to K and J and that we will have the opportunity to discover and explore many amazing new places together!  

With that said, I thought I'd share with you some of our favourite moments from our recent runcation to Namibia:

Our fantastic stop-over en route to Keetmanshoop and again on our way back home: The African Vineyard Guesthouse in Upington (South Africa).  Stunning.  Go there.

Grandpa, Grandma and the kids with Nakop's 'weather forecast apparatus'...  Highly scientific, as you can see, haha!  (Nakop is one of the border posts between South Africa and Namibia.)

Miss K on Nakop's "lawn": The only green square metre (literally!) of grass you'll see for miles.  Yip, we disobeyed the sign.

Padkos!  A true South African tradition.  One family + a cooler box filled with amazing eats ("padkos" in Afrikaans) + a road-side picnic spot = Happiness!  (P.S. Any other South Africans out there who've experienced that the wind always blows when you get out of the car to have your padkos??)

The kids met their great-grandma for the first time during this trip.  My heart.

PR, baby!!

Waiting for the race prize-giving with Ouma - Mama placed!

We had such an amazing trip - I can't wait to, God willing, show the kids the rest of Namibia when they're a bit older!