Sunday, December 26, 2010

What a year

Wow - what a year this has been. Big highs, awful lows, great learnings, humbling times, incredible beauty, depths of despair, awareness of fragility and power, strength in peace and presence.

Kayla started at a new school in January - Yellowbrick Road. I was apprehensive of the higher fees and the seemingly tons of holidays. It took her about 6 weeks to settle in properly. I think her teacher, Kelly, went through a very tough time with her and I suspect was almost ready to say to us that she was not suitable for the school. But Kelly's love and patience with Kayla paid off and that precious child absolutely thrived at school this year. She made huge strides in communication and in her cognitive development. She was so tired at the half term breaks and holiday times and needed the break.

I entered 2010 struggling with depression. I fought demons this year on that front. The Comrades training was a real blessing as I did a lot of meditative work while running. Sometimes it was dialogues with my angels, sometimes it was complete rants, shouting and swearing at them, sometimes it was a repetition of my mantra – Faith, Abundance, Gratitude. I had many visits with Roche – a psychologist who is also a friend and a mom to a young son with Down Syndrome. Her patience and wisdom propped me up many a time in this lonely journey. I often wondered how I could be so lonely when I did have people who loved me.

I tried a variety of supplements to aid serotonin levels but they could not quite do the trick. My suicidal thoughts were concerning to me but I knew they were more a plea for help and a plea to take me out of the place I was simply not coping with. After months of resisting and desperation to change how I was feeling I went onto anti-depressants. I went onto them this time with a real awareness that I still have to do a lot of work and not just go with the sensation of “feeling better” – as that just does really paper over the cracks. So the place I am at now is I am coping with “life’ better and continuing to work the lessons. I have found my love of life again and every day feel the spark of Gratitude at all I am and all I have. Thank you….

Training for Comrades was pretty much all encompassing. I ran A LOT! I was tired a lot, excited, filled with doubt, absolutely certain I could do it. I used up the medical aid very quickly as I spent so much time at Michael the Chiro and Leigh the biokinetsist and then Dr Preddy the doom and gloom Orthopaedic Surgeon. Each goal reached – the half marathon in Jan, the qualifying marathon in March, the 60km run in April – filled me with pride. I really did enjoy each of those events but they took their toll on my body. After the long run I developed a large bursitis in my left hip. When I went to see the Orthopaedic Surgeon he sent me for an MRI scan which also revealed I had 2 compressed spinal disks. He said I should not run more than 2 kms from now on and that I would not finish Comrades. At that stage words like that only fuelled my determination to get to finish line. I had 2 lots of cortisone injections over a space of 4 weeks. It wreaked havoc with my sleep and made my tea taste funny! When we were registering in Pietermaritzburg 2 days before Comrades the combi was broken into. Everything was stolen – all my running kit, our clothes, cameras. I remember running up and down the road in a complete hysterical panic praying that they had thrown the bags into the bushes somewhere. Wow that hour or so probably went down as one of the real lows in the year. Once the panic had receded and I started thinking about where to from here, the question I asked was: “Are all these challenges a warning to not run this race or are they challenges put there to run in spite of everything?” I went with the latter and decided to run in spite of everything. So I gave the baddies the middle finger and set off to the shops to replace the kit. I was so boosted by the love and support of my friends and family and my darling husband. I was proud of my courage and pleased that I am so bloody stubborn! The day was magnificent and is a story all of its own.

Post May was filled with dealing with insurance and broken vehicles. The Audi fell apart spectacularly and cost a small fortune. I was so sorry to part with that car but its time with us was finished. The geyser in the house was replaced as were the bits and pieces of things stolen. We were under insured – sigh … one more of those lessons!

I struggled with winter. The emptiness of no goals, depression (I was not on the anti-depressants yet), the start of working on new business – setting up the maintenance division for Greg, the cold, the cold. Winter was just not so lekker. But the wheel turns. I learnt what I did not want and was still working out what I wanted. I moved away from the maintenance side and focused on Garden Godmother. I am excited by this little venture.

Spring was so welcomed and I seemed to be emerging myself. Some of the learnings were:

Find Freedom in what I do

Stop the sabotage

Be Present

Live in Gratitude

Move from fear to Faith

Doug and I did some gentle down time and healing in Umhlanga in September while Kayla spent a couple of days at my folks. Thank you Mom and Dad for that gift of space and time.

I learnt about Abundance this year. I suspect it is not a lesson you learn once and never go back to it again but rather something that requires on going attention to.

I went to the Berg in October with Fi and her sisters for her 50th. It was a wonderful week away. She is a really special friend and an awesome woman. I am always humbled and strengthened in the Berg. Those mountains remind me of my space in this universe – that my time is brief, that I come from an enormous source of power.

I turned 40 this year. We had a fabulous party with lots of food and wine – just my sort of party! I was very conscious of changing decades and said to myself – this is my last trail run in my 30’s, this is my last shower in my 30’s, this is my last etc, etc…. My initial reason for running Comrades this year was to end off my 30’s with a bang. Tick – did that one!

I celebrated my little girl’s 6th birthday today. 6 years old – gosh – it sounds so big yet at times she is just such a little person. Kayla has been a gift in so many ways. I love her is such a deep consuming way yet I could cheerfully throw her in the dustbin sometimes. It is a privilege to be a mother to her. And again – Thank You.

Doug and I celebrated our 7th year anniversary. I absolutely LOVE being married to him. He is wonderful, funny, sexy, kind and thoughtful. We are still teaching each other things – and long may that last. I have a lot to learn from him.

So that basically was 2010 in an elongated type of nut-shell. Let’s see what the New Year brings – BRING IT ON……

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Post Comrades nothingness

Nothing, nothing, nothing. Am frustrated and agitated by the lack of exercise. I tried a 6 km run last week - left foot felt very bruised and my back got very sore afterwards. There has been such a cold front that it is next to impossible to get up in the morning for anything. Have done a couple of gym sessions but am spectacularly underwhelmed by gyms. Have had flu since Fri - which does not help my mood, Kayla has been sick since Sat and Doug got sick this morning. And to crown it all Bafana have just lost to France - I feel so sick for those players. To strive so hard for a goal (no pun intended) and then not make it - oi it makes me tearful!
I need a focus. Tried to do a 6 week strength building and core strengthening programme this morning but with Kayla being at home (and very needy) and excell not playing nicely - I failed at that task!
3 more weeks of school holidays seem like a really looooooong time.
Am thinking a glass of red wine may do the trick.
My sister-in-law - Deidre is doing a blog of a photograph a day. I love the idea and may just do the same - you know copying and flattery and all that stuff.... see her lovely work:

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am a Comrades Winner!

Well I did it - 11h51min. I achieved my big fat hairy audacious goal and it was worth it. I am proud of myself.
I slept badly on Saturday night and had sent my alarm for 3am instead of 4am - doofus! I was a quiet bundle of nerves and very concerned about my very sore bursitis. I was just going to go out there and simply do the best I could for whatever length of time I was able to be on the road for. Doug's encouragement was consistent and sure. We parked near the start. There was a chemist open! Clever business people - it was quite festive in the chemist - never thought I would say that. Doug gave me a huge hug and I went into my pen. I found a place to sit down and simply absorbed the energy and space and excitement. I saw God in the moon surrounded by clouds. I spotted Christine and stood with her. The cockeral crowed and then the gun went off. It took me about 7 minutes to cross the start line. I was being very careful of all the debris in the road. A woman fell and was in pain - some runners picked her up - not sure if she continued. Then I took a fall at about 2 kms. Put my foot in one the disposable shirts that were all over the road. Someone picked me up quickly from behind and someone else passed back my dropped bottle. It all happened so fast that I wasn't sure it happened - except of course for the blood down my leg and stiff bruised knees. I had some energade to calm down and just carried on running.
The 1st kilometre marking is 88kms to go. Then 87km to go. The kilometres just passed on by. I was glad to leave Maritzburg and get on the "proper" road.
It was a day spent quite alone. Seems wierd to say whilst surrounded by 19000 runners and thousands of spectators but I stayed very close to me and really just lived a little fuller. I took in the rising sun and pink clouds on the horizon, the mist on the fields, the noise of running shoes hitting the tarmac, the pungent smell of the chicken farms.
I was starving at about 20kms into the race and there was no food at the tables! I was salivating thinking of Doug holding my cheese, mayonnaise and banana sandwiches and was looking forward to seeing him (and not just coz he was holding the grub!) at Camperdown. I started seeing food at about 28kms - thank goodness. The bananas and salt were absolutely DIVINE! I saw Dave Hodgekiss at Camperdown (25kms in)and gave him a big hug. I managed to borrow a phone when I didn't see Doug at our arranged place. He said he couldn't get to me. No worries this was to be expected - see you at Inchanga. Up the hills, down the hills, off with the warm clothes, drink the coke, eat the grub, up the hills, down the hills.... and the kilometres just ticked on by. I would look at my pace chart periodically but the sweat was making it harder and harder to read. All on track. I got hectic cramping in my feet at about 30kms. So everytime I walked I would wiggle my toes and try kick my feet out differently to stretch the ligaments and what nots. Harrison Flats (35kms) was quite tedious and by the time I got to the bottom of Inchanga I hit a bit of a low. I was feeling quite desperate to see Doug. I borrowed a phone and he described where he was - near some orange flags. I got there and no Doug. I called again. Now I was desperate. But I couldn't loiter I had to keep moving forward. I said to myself I must not rely on seeing Doug and I need to keep focussed. I was crying a little. Then I got to another Inchanga. I found him by the orange flags! Whatever that 1st place was it was not Inchanga. He gave me a huge hug and I cheered up immediately. I ate sandwiches and painkillers and carried on - so much more fortified and not just on food and drugs. I ran/walked up the hills. And the kilometres just sped past under my feet. I felt so alive and very fortunate. I listened to music for chunks of time but switched it off when there were lots of people so that I could hear them and interact. Sometimes the talk around me was so negative - I felt quite sorry for those people and wonder if they finished. I got to 45kms - halfway at 5h40 (11:10). I passed the actual halfway mat about 8 minutes later at 11:18. Shoo some of those uphills were very UP. I did not find any of them very daunting - just run from one tree to another. Up, up, up.... I heard my friends voices a lot. Fiona - run upright, run strong, run light. She simply never doubted I could finish and I felt that from her everytime I thought of her. Bev - she said that if I get into a dark difficult place I must just think of her coz she will be screaming her support. Well I tell you I called on her a lot. My sister - her love is a constant in my life and I knew it was particularly strong on this day. My brother in law - his advice and sense of humour popped into my head frequently. Mari and Wim - their excitement and support for me. Mari and her angels. My own angels. There were times when I called on them saying I need some help. I would then physically engage my core to keep upright and they would lift me a little and make the weight on my body a little less. Beautiful and powerful stuff.
It was great to get to the petrol station in Hillcrest that I had run from at Easter. Yay - familiar roads but the kilometres were further than I thought. My feet were cramping so badly at one point that I had to hold onto these 2 spectators - they were so sweet and supportive (physically and verbally!). He kept on offering me food and his wife would chastise him - "oh no the poor girl can't eat a pork sausage!". Off I trundled again down down down Botha's hill. My music was particularly inspiring at that point. My version of Wind beneath my Wings came on and I thought it was fabulous! Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way" - felt particularly apt.
Field's Hill was hectic. I heard Bruce's voice saying shorten your strides and it will help - I did and it did!
I knew Doug was the other side of Pinetown going up Cowies Hill. And I was running towards him. Well perhaps the word "running" is a little exaggerated! His hug this time was too painful to stretch my back that way but the rest of him was perfect. He ran/walked with me up Cowies. Next time I was to see him was at the finish. I met up with an RAC runner - he was funny and a complete chatterbox - in fact I think he used up the man's quota of 3000 words from down Cowies to the other side of Westville! He also had a brain tumour that was due to be operated on in a month. You know we just never know what life is going to give us. I send him strength.
Ok so Westville seemed to go on a very long time. My energy levels were dropping, my quads were finished, my feet were cramping, my glutes were going into spasm - jurre bliksem! I found my self BEHIND the 12 hour bus - oh bugger! One of the other rules of Comrades - besides no new clothes or shoes - is don't get behind the 12 hour bus! I ran with the back marker of the bus - an old man who was on his 10th Comrades. He was fabulous and so encouraging. I cried down to 45th cutting - the down hills were doing me in at that point. I hobbled on the uphills and shuffled on the flats. 5kms to go, 4kms to go. They weren't quite flying past me now but the numbers were definitely getting smaller. However the cutoff was looming. I kept on waiting for my 2nd wind - but that kept eluding me. And so I shuffled on. The back marker left me - oh bugger again! West street was jolly long. Then it was left onto Walnut I could sense home. But I was still worried about getting there on time. It was taking me 12 minutes a kilometre! There was this huge bus in front of me and what if there were too many people at the finish line.....
Then I saw the lights and the entrance to the stadium. I was there and there was time. As I went under some tunnel I started to cry and sob and laugh. The field section was long and beautiful and amazing. I didn't feel the agony in my body any more. I beeped over the finish mat, pressed the time on my watch and cried a little more. I was my own hero on that day. I had surpassed boundaries I didn't know I had, I had reached deep into my own power and strength and was not found wanting. Everything I needed was within me.
Thank you all for your love and wishes and belief in me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The dramas....

Oh boy and were there dramas......

I wrote a dozen lists of what to pack in what bag for what day - you know my normal anally retentive behaviour. I had slept really badly in that last week and was quite grumpy. We left at 4am on Friday morning and I slept all the way to Harrismith - thank you Doug. We had breakfast at Heikies restaurant and Kayla had a run around and jump on the trampolines. I then drove us to Pietermaritzburg. I found a parking and gathered my bits and pieces to go a register at Comrades House. I realised as we were down the road a bit that I had forgotten my shoe with my timing chip in the car. I ran back to get it, locked the door and checked that it was locked. I registered and bought myself a Comrades coffee mug and we ambled back to the car. We did not notice anything was amiss. Doug was driving and I was in the back with Kayla strapping her in. He asked why I had broken the GPS window attachment to which I grumpily replied I hadn't done anything of the sort. I asked him had he opened the cubbyhole and he said no. I flew over that seat and saw and suitcase and bag was missing - we had been ROBBED. Oh God what a horrible feeling. I ran up and down the street completely panicking - my running kit was stolen - all my stuff so carefully planned, packed, broken in - everything. I cried and shouted and wept and absolutely despaired. Fiona cried when I told her, my Mom cried, my dad swore. Anyway the police came, they took a statement and were very efficient.

We set off again on the road. I asked Doug - what now? Do I give up or do I run? Is this a series of warnings or is this a case of running despite all the things against me? There is no clear answer in the moment - it is only clear in hindsite. So I chose to run despite everything. We rushed off to a Sportsmans Warehouse and I replaced most of the running kit. I got a few other things for us to wear on the weekend.
I did a little run / walk on Saturday morning with some stretches. My bursitis was playing up a little and my glutes quite tight.
I slept so badly on Saturday night. I had 2 nightmares and my bursitis was so sore. I was so scared of the next day. I was scared of the pain and I was scared I would quit.
I said to Doug in the morning I was in pain and afraid. He said just go out and do the best you can -that is all. Enjoy whatever I do on the road for whatever length of time I am on the road.
We went to the start and Doug gave me huge hug and we went our separate ways.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Article by Bruce Clark

I haven't plagerised this - got permission from the man himself. Oh Captain my Captain - he is an awesome athlete with a wicked sense of humour and a way with words.

Each year, on Comrades, I run with dead people. As if keeping an annual appointment, they will arrive. In the last few minutes before the start - when the tears come - they’re all there with me. While Shosholoza is being sung, while Chariots Of Fire is being played, while thousands of sounds and emotions seep from thousands of runners, while Indian Mynas are chirping in the artificial dawn, my ghosts are quite clear:

“When you get lonely later, we will be right next to you. Don’t worry - you’ll be Ok.” I feel my scalp prickle in their presence and I bend down to unnecessarily retie my shoes - slightly embarrassed of my tears. A weeping middle-aged man lost in the crowds.

As many old timers have mentioned before, Comrades is not a race. It’s a journey - an odyssey - and its Homeric proportions go way beyond the physical - or mere numbers. Yes, there are some basic truths that cannot be ignored; X amount of training, with Y talent at your disposal, will yield Z time; if you do not refill your tank you will suffer like a dog and then suffer some more.

But these are insignificant things. An average person, with an average amount of training, can finish Comrades. But to merely put one foot in front of the other, oblivious to everything outside - and to everything within - is to miss the point. Also missed, is a priceless opportunity to get to know your self.

The Comrades route is completely without guile; it is a beast and there are no secrets to this journey. From the very first step, the route will systematically attempt to dismantle you and, as Tim Noakes implied in his seminal article, it will usually succeed. Piece by piece, and despite your best efforts remain whole, somewhere between 55 and 65 kilometers, locked into a deafening silence, you will be stripped down to fundamental components.

For the remainder of the journey, you will attempt to reassemble yourself and I promise you this: you will be a better version. Even if it is for a fleeting few days, you will be more at peace, you will be more tolerant, and that random act of kindness will come a little easier.

It’s between 55 and 65 kilometers that my scalp prickles again and I know they’ve rejoined me. My mother; the ravages of her cancer are not evident; she’s young and animated and supportive. My grandmother; my savior; the woman who sacrificed everything to raise me. My father; a man I hardly knew; he looks at me curiously to see what became of the distant boy.

And we talk. We talk about grief, love, kindness and hope. We poke around all those open wounds; we accept our accountability and culpability; we examine our value system. We tell the truth. My ghosts know when to arrive and how long to stay and when they see the resolve with which I run past the runner’s rescue van, they drift off again to allow the crowd back in.

The crowd - the magnificent crowd. Were it possible, I would force every single politician to run this race. I would force him or her to stop at every single man, woman and child, and personally apologize for creating false divisions that we - in the ultimate human race - have no interest in. Hundreds of thousands of people standing all day, in all conditions, screaming themselves hoarse and carrying you forward on a deafening wave of goodwill. Looking YOU in the eye, saying YOUR name, and urging YOU on. Saying to those who would divide us, in one glorious day, with one glorious voice, “We are better than this!”

I find it astonishing that I have completed this journey 16 times. It seems like yesterday that I was young and terrified and sitting on an un-barricaded pavement waiting for my first start. I find it astonishing that novices actually want to hear my advice, for I consider my advice worthless. They want to hear about the merits of painkillers - or not, buses - or not, bananas vs. potatoes, coke vs. PowerAde, pacing and pain.

I look at them and have no meaningful words to give. I just say, “Enjoy the day - you’ll be fine.” I want to tell them that where they’re going is a place of solitude. That - if they’re brave enough - they’re going to unlock doors to which only they have keys. Perhaps I will say, “Remember to give a flower to Arthur,” but usually I keep quiet. Who needs another boring old fart trying to be wise?

With my own doors unlocked and my own self-reassembled, I eventually enter the stadium. Left and right I see faces. Some are looking at me, some looking at a point behind me. Happy and relieved faces searching for that special person. The bends on the grass seem to take forever, but eventually I round the last turn to see one final straight. I feel my scalp prickle and I know my ghosts have come to say goodbye. I mouth the words “Thank you” and the tears begin to come. I look up at the clock and under the digits I read in my mind (and maybe the Comrades organizers should put them there) the immortal words from Ulysses: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Thank you, thank you

You know an undertaking like this is not for the faint-hearted or the self-less person. The amount of time needed for this training, sleeping, wingeing, eating, chiropractic work, physio takes away from time that could be shared somewhere else.
Thank you to my wonderful hubby Doug and my special angel Kayla. Kayla has stood at the front door on quite a few occassions announcing I am going running and when I get back there is much excitement. She has met me on the road sometimes and run a few hundred metres with me. She has joined me on the stretching and stretched her body in ways mine can't even think of going!
Doug - well words would never really be sufficient - you have supported unstintingly. You have celebrated each new distance with words of encouragement and BIG Sunday morning breakfasts, you have cajoled me out of bed, you have listened to my woes, worries, distances, times, injury concerns. You encouraged me to have the courage and guts to attempt this really big fat hairy audacious goal - that at times completely over-whelmed me. You never lost faith in me.
My fantastic, fun, flippin-talented-athlete friend - Fiona. I LOVE your friendship and value it enormously. You are always so generous with your advice and time. I safely say that after every training run with you I came away an improved athlete. And after every breakfast a fuller fatter one too!
To my Mom and Dad - always thank you. I suspect it is really difficult for you to understand this madness that afflicts your eldest daughter at times and I do believe that I came from the cabbage patch (the sporty one) but you always listen and ask questions and be interested in something very foreign to you. Mom thank you for picking up the slack with Kayla when I go running - it is simple if you didn't do it at Easter when I was with you I would not have been able to go. Dad - my gorgeous Dad who loves his sleep - thank you thank you for getting up way before the birds were farting to get me through to Hillcrest and then to fetch me again 4 hours later.
Ali - for still listening to me even though you had to give up on your Comrades dream. And always for your dry humourous medical advice. There is another dream for you out there - perhaps not with the Comrades name - but it is there.
Michael Barber - I really value your chiropratic knowledge. I know I was very challenging for you - thanks for taking up the challenge.
To my mates on Facebook who respond to my statuses with words of encouragement and at times disbelief - thank you.
And to that doctor who shall remain un-named - your simple words of "I don't believe you will finish" have actually done just the spurring on I needed at this time. Without you knowing, you kicked into something really powerful in me. Thank you.
We are at C minus 5 days. I can't sleep again because I had cortisone in my back - 4 injections and I didn't even cry (only little squeeks). I am ready. I have a fighting chance at finishing. I am looking forward to crossing a boundry of physical and mental toughness to see what is on the other side. This is not just a physical journey (although I may have to remind myself this at various breaking points - Fields Hill comes to mind) but I suspect possibly a bigger spiritual journey. I am looking forward to engaging with my angels on this journey that is culminating in 89.28 kms.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I am running, I am not running, I can do it, I won't make it, the pain is fine, pain ain't so fine - whoa get me offa this rollercoaster. Last Friday my dreams of comrades were slipping fast and furiously from my finger tips. The cortisone injection did not work - my run on Friday was as painful as before. I was devastated. I had a milo and muffin with Bruce and he pepped talk me up a storm. I spoke with Ali Camp on Sat (my mate in KZN who is an OT and who had a bursitis). She suggested a strapping procedure with kinetic tape.
I ran on Monday - with pain and with determination to check my fitness. Coz of course in all of this there are these concerns from various sides that I am losing cardiovascular fitness and what all else. I then went for another cortisone injection. This time it was done under ultra sound and the area better identified. In fact I would go as so far as to say it was put in the wrong place last time! I then went to see Sam Newton - a physio specialising in this taping and sports injuries. Tape on and excitement back up again. I couldn't sleep again on Tuesday night - 5 hours and the water tasted funny again. It's that cortisone stuff. Luckily it doesn't seem to affect the taste of wine!
The run on Wed with the tape was great in that there was no pain in the bursa area at all - YAY! But I had quite a bit of pain above the hip bone. I was not limping or anything tho. It just felt very bruised and tender. I went back to Sam today and she was pleased. She said the different pain was due to the muscles being used better because of the positioning of the tape. Oh the relief....
So we have left the tape off to give it a rest, I will do a couple more little runs - 5 or 6 kms.
I get a cortisone jab in my back on Monday morning - into the facia joint and then restrapped on Tuesday.
Gosh what a journey. I had a little chat with my soul - actually I have quite a few of those. The sense I got was NOT to give up. Keep with the faith, keep with the belief this is the right thing to do.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Watch this space

Ok so the reality is this will be my one and only Comrades. I visited an orthopaedic surgeon to have a look at the current painful affliction called Bursitis. He also did an MRI scan and Xrays. Effectively the L4 and L5 disks on my spine are compressed. There is no liquid in between the disks and there is a level of both of the disks bulging out. One is irritating the nerve but both still allow nerve movement. This at least explains why I ALWAYS have a sore back. This is not caused by running but is made worse by running big distances. In time surgery is required but I should be able to manage it for some years - building core strength, cross training etc. He did say to me he did not think I would finish Comrades. I just took a deep breath and said I won't get into a conversation about that but my head was a lot stronger than my body. There is something to be said for someone who challenges some things about me. It has really spurred me on mentally to ensure I finish - one to prove him wrong and the other because this is a once in a life time adventure for me. Cool - bring it on!!
I did get a cortisone injection in my hip. He made me go collected the script from the pharamacy before I saw him. There is a level of cruelty in doing that. The one needle I picked up was f...!@#ing enormous and at that stage I thought it was going into my back. Anyway he did endear himself to me by saying I was so skinny so he could use a small needle and then he said I looked Irish - in a complimentary way.
The next step will be a run tomorrow morning - yay - am getting withdrawal symptoms.
Then the Monday before Comrades I go back in for a cortizone injection into the fascia joint to minimise inflamation for the run.
I had an interesting night last night. I was very hyped, not hungry and couldn't sleep at all. All very unusual behaviour for me.
Had our last Comrades talk at Randburg Harriers. I am so excited at the moment and really looking forward to this big adventure - physically , spiritually, emotionally - everything.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh boy....

Well my tapering has come to a stand-still - literally. I appear to have bursitis in my left hip - big einaar! I did 15km last week - big glup - programme says to do 54 km. I have been resting - which quite frankly I have loved. I do a test run tomorrow morning and will probably have a cortozone injection on Tuesday. Comrades feels very surreal now. 20 days left - feel the need to do more running.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Well that was horrible....

I felt really good physically after the 60km last Sunday. I recovered quicker after this run that after the marathon or so I thought. However mentally it is all a little messy in there. I have really been battling with motivation this week. I was very busy work-wise, it rained from Thursday and winter arrived so all in all it was a little tricky to get me out of bed. I got to the club this morning to do a 30km hoping for a bit of motivation from fellow runners. I ended up at the back of the pack from 200m outside the club gate and it went down hill from there (and that was not the run profile). I wanted to call Doug a hundred times to some a fetch me but managed to out-manoevre myself on this. I ranted and raved and convinced me this was good and was my choice. And when I got back to the car 4 hours later and there wasn't a single person there I burst into tears! In my opinion not a good CLUB run but whatever.
Anyway I am hurting - knees, back, glutes but the good news is I don't run tomorrow and it is a holiday! Off to bed now with a book and painkiller

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

60kms and counting.....

I ran the RAC 60km run on Sunday and it was GREAT! But bliksem it is bleddy far! The run was so well organised and there were a lot of runners. I imagined that it would be lonesome me at the back of the pack but I ran with people the whole way. I ran with my old buddy Bruce "oh captain my captain" Clark for the 1st 20 or so kms. We had a really lovely natter. I battled a bit from 20 - 32 kms and then something else kicked in. I took an Ibumol for my knee (the ITB in my right knee was biting) and put my ear phones in and sang my way through about 30kms. Dougie met me at about 34 kms. It was lovely to see him and get some snacks and TLC. I finished the run strong mentally and physically and also not feeling like I couldn't take one more step - which has boosted my confidence. I got to 45kms at 5h30 and finished in 7h40. It is still a little slow. I want to get to 45km on Comrades in 5:15 which just gives a little more breathing space for the 2nd half.
I am so excited and nervous and can't wait and am dreading it and ready for the challenge.
I still have a couple of weeks of biggish milage but it will all start coming down now.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The road is long

Well I have been battling injuries a bit and the milage has really suffered. I got a bit sick the week after the marathon - I guess my immune system dived a little. I have had left hamstring issues, on-going back issues and the last long run my right knee was aflicted with VERY painful ITB.... but apart from that everything is going fabulously well!
As of tonight 50 more days left. I do big milage this week and next week run the long run - 60kms. I have now run the last 34 kms of Comrades - so at least I know what that road looks like. I am apprehensive and excited and doubful and positive. I can feel the end of the race but I have some inkling of the pain as well. Oh boy....
I said to a non runner the other day - well to be precise my Mom - that perhaps this goal was a little too big for me. She said well then I should just not do it. At this stage that is like saying to a horse on the way home from a long day on the range that it should not go back to it stable. I WILL be on that start line and I will give it my ALL on the day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yes, yes YES!

I am qualified - whooo hooo! Ran the Remax 42km race yesterday in Edenvale in 04:46:31. My splits were:
10k 01:09
20k 02:15
30k 03:23
40k 04:34
2k 12min
My head was really strong and my legs generally felt good. There were times after 35kms that I really had to talk myself into maintaining the pace and not walk too long. I was fresh enough at the end to really up my pace for the last 2 kms and did not feel that I would not be able to go on. I practised being mindful and present and really feeling everything. I burst into tears at the finish line - big poep! This race was very big for me as up until yesterday I wasn't sure I had the speed in me. Sore stiff legs today but otherwise feel superb!

Monday, March 1, 2010

I like this article

What makes someone a 'real' runner?

Author: Anne Kymalainen (26 Feb 2010)

He was burly with a red lumberjack beard and didn't look like a stereotypical runner as he loped by me. I wondered how this guy, wearing a baseball hat, an extra-large gray cotton T-shirt and shiny black soccer shorts down to his knees, answered the question, "How long have you been running?"

It's a common question, asked by both runners and non-runners alike, that makes you stop and think about your running history and how long you have been "real."

During the same week, driving back from a road race, I watched two young boys running wildly down the street, arms flailing, hearts pumping, gasping for air, with a brown-and-white dog running alongside them. The kids slowed to a walk when they were tired.

I'm sure their conversation consisted of something like this: "Man, we were booking wicked fast!" with a reply of "Yeah, we were cruising!" Although they weren't running for the same reasons adults do, this may have been the start of the boys' running lives.

I have been running since I was the same age as those boys. Hot New England days are the setting for my earliest running memories. My parents have a newspaper clipping of my best friend and I at an elementary school race, cheering on our friends. I am thoughtfully splitting the stem of a dandelion down the middle with my thumbnail with a "second place" ribbon hanging proudly on my shirt, the results of my efforts in the 100-yard dash. Despite the fact that I have only won a couple of ribbons since then, I still consider myself a "real" runner.

When I was 11 years old, I was running so fast in my front yard that the landscape blurred into rows of fast green streaks. In my euphoria (was it runners high?), I ran smack into a tree and ended up with a concussion. That was well before I started buying wicking shirts and shorts with little pockets and liners inside of them or participated in any type of organized racing or group running. It was prior to my body's aches and pains or wearing orthotics to compensate for my flat arches.

When I was 11, I never thought I would have a physical therapist, let alone that he would be my advice guru on my choice of running shoes.

Although I am a real runner, I'm not, 20 years later, what I refer to as "hard core." Hard-core runners do sub-six-minute miles six days a week on lean, sinewy legs. Shapes and sizes of real runners vary; some runners just enjoy being outdoors, working exercise into their daily routines or experiencing the simple solitude of a run. Both groups are "real" runners.

Phil Vondras, 31, of Franklin, Mass., runs on several trails that he has found himself and enjoys not competing with crowds.

"My average run is usually three to four miles and tops off at seven," says Vondras, who started running 12 years ago. "It took me four weeks to get a good pace that I could respect for my own self-esteem."

We place much emphasis on running fast, and though I'm a bit envious of the runners who get out there and just book, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm not the fastest runner. My pace is slower than some runners that I know and faster than others.

My joke is that I'm training now for the Senior Olympics, but I love to run and always will. No matter if I'm at home, on vacation or performing my weekend drills for the Air National Guard, I manage to fit in a run. I get out on the road three or four times a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. Sometimes I take it easy; sometimes I run "wicked" fast, like those two boys.

I've heard people say that a true runner can say "fartlek" without cracking a smile. To me, the true definition of a runner is not necessarily only that person with the thin legs and the short shorts running the sub-six-minute miles but a person who honestly feels a pull of sneakers to the road or trail.

It can be that big, burly guy with the red beard, a slightly overweight woman, a child running with his mom or that hard-core runner who races every weekend. It's a person who gets out on the road to enjoy some aspect of a run on a regular basis. It's someone whose legs start to feel funny from not running after a couple of days or someone who tries to find trails that no one else has yet discovered.

My answer when asked how long I've been running usually starts off with, "Well, um, let's see," then I usually vaguely say "a long time," because I'm not sure when I became a "real" runner. Although you may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment you started running, you know deep inside that you are a "real" runner, just like I know I am and always will be a runner.

Anne Kymalainen is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor recreation. She can be reached at

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I can see home ....

Took a while to upload - pic from Dischem 21km in Jan

Psyched out, on psych couch, psycho babble, psycho....

Oh boy - what am I doing? How big is this challenge, how much is it taking out of me, how much is it costing (new shoes and all) - can I reach the goal? I injured my hamstring last week and had a forced rest - it was divine and I was very running inspired by Sunday when I ran 18kms on fresh legs. And then the psychological wheels fell off again. I am not sure what I am training harder at the moment my legs or my head. So the immediate aim is to run the qualifier marathon next Sunday (I am sh....ting myself!) and we then work on the next step. I know I have speed in me but it is very elusive at the moment.
I have an easier running week this week although I do run a 5.6km race on Thursday. Hopefully rested legs will give me the umph I need to qualify.
Bought new shoes this week. My last pair of Asics Cumulus were good for about 770kms. I have bought Asics Nimbus which are a harder shoe so will hopefully be good for 800 - 900kms - which includes Comrades.
Faith, Gratitude, Abundance
Faith, Gratitude, Abundance
Faith, Gratitude, Abundance

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fake it til you make it

Wow this was quite a tough week. I ran fine on Tuesday - 10km. Thursday did the timetrial - I felt like I was running in syrup - I simply could not get speed, it was such an effort. I just kept on saying to me stay steady and focus on building the milage but still..... My time was 48:40 so slower by 2 minutes from the last time trial. I ran on Saturday by myself and again was so slow and battled with fatigue the whole run. Was pretty demotivated when I got home to a worried husband coz I had taken so long. I ran the club run on Sunday - 21 km Northcliff run (apparently reversed). Whew big climbs up the ridge and even bigger descents. It rained a bit and was cool which was great. The views were absolutely stunning. I then ran home in order to get some further distance - did a total of 31 kms. I was chuffed for the distance but it was tough. I made me doubt my ability to finish Comrades in the allowed time. I was hoping for a 4:30 in my qualifying marathon but looking at these sorts of time I guess it will be closer to 5 hours - eeeuw that is cutting it so close!
I am only now getting a sense of the commitment for this huge challenge in my life. My Sundays are pretty much wiped out at the moment coz i am so exhausted from the run. I am having to work really hard at not psching myself out of this. I need to readjust goals and headspace. Perhaps fake it til I make it......

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Comrades Training Programme

This is the current training programme - I have tweaked it quite a bit but think this will be THE ONE.
Week Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Weekly total Actual total Races/long runs Notes
4-Jan Rest 6 10.5 0 6.6 0 18.5 41.6 40.1
11-Jan Rest 10 Rest 8 Rest 5 21 44 50.51 Dischem 21 5:37
18-Jan Rest 7 Rest 8 Rest 8 25 48 50.08
25-Jan Rest 10 Rest 8 Rest 10 26 54 51.44
1-Feb Rest 9 Rest 10 Rest 12 26 57 56.34 26 rh zoo 7:08
8-Feb Rest 10 Rest 10 Rest 15 28 63
own route
15-Feb Rest 13 Rest 8 Rest 15 25 61
25 rh hurlingham
22-Feb Rest 14 Rest 8 Rest 12 18 52
own route
1-Mar Rest 8 Rest 7 Rest rest 42 57
Remax 42 edenvale
8-Mar Rest rest Rest 8 Rest 10 35 53
35 rh leslie
15-Mar Rest 12 Rest 8 Rest 15 30 65
30 rh randburg
22-Mar Rest 14 Rest 10 Rest 18 30 72
own route
29-Mar Rest 14 Rest 10 Rest 20 rest 44
own route
5-Apr Rest 14 Rest 8 Rest 20 30 72
own route
12-Apr Rest 12 Rest 8 Rest 8 60 88
60 rac
19-Apr Rest 5 Rest 8 rest 20 32 65
32 rh gordon
26-Apr Rest 14 5 10 Rest 20 25 74
25 rh radiokop
3-May Rest 14 Rest 10 Rest 20 30 74
30 rh
10-May Rest 13 Rest 10 Rest 10 26 59
26 rh zoo
17-May Rest 12 Rest 8 Rest 5 15 40
own route
24-May Rest 5 Rest 4 Rest 2 89 100