Dr’s instructions

I know I made light of the spider bite in my last blog but I really didn’t realise how bad it was and I realise how lucky I was to get all those runs in whilst in Knysna last week. I have had to stay away from all exercise all week due to the bite and some other ailments (just to add insult to injury)

Even if I wanted to disobey the Drs orders, the hectic antibiotics that I was given would not have allowed for it. I didn’t actually realise till today how hectically they affected my body, nevermind the revolting spider bite.

So I now have a somewhat healing crater and am on the mend but I think a lot of runners can relate to the frustration of not being able to do what you love for a prolonged period.

I experienced this first hand last year when I decided to try this rock climbing thing that my coach Fred was so into. Fellow Bubbly Sofi and I rocked up at the awesome City Rock and gave it a bash. We started on the bouldering walls and Sofi, with her tiny frame, was clambering up with ease making it look so easy. I tried it a few times and then made it to the top on a very easy climb but upon grasping for the final block at the top, I slipped and fell. But that’s ok, when you land properly and not try a Olympic gymnast landing when you aren’t an Olympic gymnast. Needless to say it ended badly and I ended up with an avulsion fracture and a torn ligament in my right ankle.

I was out from the 20th of September 2017 to December 2017. I thought the forced rest was going to be torture as I have experienced frustrated runners who are injured and it wasn’t pretty. I surprised myself however. I made sure I stayed active with all my running buddies and joined them at races and played the supporter which I think I do better than running to be honest. I also went to gym and did upper body exercises with Helen so it wasn’t a complete loss. The actual injury didn’t get to me, it was the crutches. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. I hated them even more when I somehow managed to knock my baby toe on my good foot on the crutches one morning and broke it. When I went for my ankle check up at the Dr they were not convinced it was broken but we did an x-ray just to be safe and she was rather shocked. I nearly got the moonboot transferred from one foot to the other. Luckily sanity prevailed and the orthopaedic surgeon said it just needed to be strapped. The broken toe was so much more sore than the ankle. I think it’s safe to say that when I do things I do them properly!

I must say the way back from injury has been much harder than the actual rest period. I still don’t have full mobility in my ankle and have been so frustrated with my running since returning properly in January. It just doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Seeing small improvements but I still get so jealous seeing others around me doing so well and running so fast. But I don’t let it get me down and just keep trying and enjoying it.

So rest isn’t all bad but I can’t wait to get out for a run today….

Venom enriched running – aka Spiderwomen….

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Running on Leisure Isle with Sally 

This week was an awesome holiday week which was long overdue. I visited my sister and the family who live in Knysna. I have been visiting Knysna for many many years but I wasn’t the fitness fanatic that I am now. So after a bit of drought from visiting (mostly because of travelling to trail races ironically) I booked a trip to Knysna to visit the family and actually participate in some of the well know Oyster Festival activities.

My trip coincided with the arrival of a huge cold front but luckily this passed before any of my activities started. It did however provide some frosty mornings.

On the Thursday before I flew down I discovered a tiny bite which I thought was actually a pimple on my tummy and didn’t think much of it. Maybe I should have…..

So my first challenge for the trip after having taken full advantage of not having to get up at 4:30 for gym was to run the Featherbed Trail Run organised by the famous Collins brothers. A 15km race from Buffalo Bay back to Knysna. It was rather weird rocking up to a race where you didn’t know anyone. I felt a little lost I won’t lie. I missed my trailies. Luckily I met up with Chandre Boshoff from Garden Route Trails who was very welcoming. I now have trailie friends all over the country!

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The start of the Featherbed Trail run on Buffalo Bay beach

The run involved about 7km of beach running which was rather intimidating but turned out to be beautiful. Luckily the sand was hard and easy to run on.

Running on the beach I met AJ a fellow trailie who is on an amazing weightloss journey. He was 300kg and has lost a substantial amount of weight and is still going strong. He was doing the big 5 challenge and was inspirational. Ironically he ran in a spiderman shirt (he wore the same shirt when I bumped into him on the half marathon). Unfortunately I couldn’t stay with him as it would have been fun! I left him with the sweeper which I was a little relieved about. Its always a relief to shake the sweeper!

With a nasty climb up to Brenton it was a fabulous downhill run to the finish. I just had to contend with the 11km runners coming past which forced me to run on the railway track and did disrupt my run. I saw this as an opportunity to practice strides. Running across the lagoon was such fun. We were told by Mark Collins that it was illegal to fall on this run, particularly on the lagoon bridges! LOL

I must say the race was super well organised and the lucky draw prizes were amazing. I hooked up with some fellow Harriers at the end and Dave won a Suunto watch which was pretty cool! Put this one on the to do list. Its not very hard and very picturesque. You also get a lekker meal at the end which is always a win… 🙂

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Running across the Knysna lagoon along the unused train line

I realised after this run that the bite I thought was nothing may be something more than just a pimple. It was starting to look a little red and angry but I felt fine and did some self medicating. How bad could it be…..

On Thursday, my fellow bubbly Sally arrived which was fabulous as we would be running the Knynsa Forest Half Marathon together. We took a nice trot around Leisure Isle to loosen the legs. Bit of trail, bit of road. What a pleasure!

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Friday was a tourist day and got to spend some time with my 16 year old nephew who I haven’t seen for ages! I even got a selfie with him! We spent some time on Brenton on Sea beach and showed Sally some of the sights of Knysna in beautiful winter sunshine.

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My handsome nephew Josh

We also realised that I definitely had a spider bite which was not looking so lekker! But there was running to be had and despite instructions from mother dear I just patched it up and hoped for the best…

Saturday morning we dragged my poor sister out of bed at 4:30 to drop us off at the taxi’s to take us into the forest for the start of the marathon. Luckily it was just a free wheel down the road so she could go back to bed shortly thereafter.

What a well organised run. We arrived in the forest just after 5:30 and then proceeded to freeze. Luckily Sally and I had purchased some warm blankets to bring with. Momentum sponsors blankets for the first 2000 runners to arrive in the forest and these are then donated to charity. We were concerned that we wouldn’t be in time so came prepared. I must say I nearly took one anyway as they were so nice and warm but ours worked just as well. No blanket was going to defrost our toes however which was the biggest problem. We caught up with Loskop buddies Rose and Lynette who were styling dressing gowns! It was rather comical but very effective! I will be doing that next year. It was rather funny to see blankets going flying when the start gun went off! Luckily it was a rather warm day and the cold didn’t last long.

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In the start shute with Sally, Lynette and Rose

Whilst they call it a forest marathon you actually run through plantations. Now all my trailies know I am a bit of a purest and loathe exotic trees and alien vegetation. I did however enjoy the route and it was much tougher than expected.

So about that bite… I realised whilst running with a lady from Greenstone (we found out later that she actually follows me on strava! Small world) and enjoying ourselves that my heart rate was a little high but I felt fine. That bite was definitely having an effect. But there was still running to be done…

Sunday morning I woke up with very sore calf muscles and a VERY sore spider bite. Not being the skinniest person my stomach tends to move when I run – not a pretty picture I know but this was going to be a problem. But I wasn’t missing the Houtkapper. From exotic forest the day before, this was going to be indigenous forest which I just couldn’t miss! Hey, maybe I would see an elusive Knysna elephant (you would have heard me back in jhb if I had). The forest was super special, I loved every moment even though I couldn’t run the downhills. There were lots of steep uphills which made it quite a challenge but luckily I had my trusty trekking poles to help me! And I didn’t even see the sweeper whilst power walking so that was a win!

Beautiful indigenous forest – heavenly

The week was special in that I had some awesome supporters. Josh took some pics of me at the marathon and I had Josh and my sister cheer me in at Houtkapper. That certainly made up for the lack of trailies.

Back in jhb now with a huge infected spider bite and feeling a little sorry for myself. Can’t run until it heals which may take a while but hey.. just call me spiderwomen…

Never forget your sports bra…..

So I am Knysna this week to visit my sister and family and experience some of the trails and races on this side of the world. I will report back on those next week.

My training has certainly been upped by both my coach and trainer at the moment. I have been feeling rather shattered this week but I remind myself that it will all be worth it in December!! I have even given up horse riding which I had to stop when I broke my ankle last year which is rather sad but I will be back for horse therapy soon enough!

Part of my programme at the moment is do improve my consistency and build some speed. I can certainly feel the difference in my training as the runs seemed to be getting that little bit easier in terms of actually running with less walking. This is a small victory which I will take!

A critical part of this training is hill repeats and I have them once a week in my programme. Making these easier has been the fact that I have had awesome company for these sessions for the last few weeks. Doing these mean sessions alone is torture so having my running buddies with me has been awesome. Linda, Darren and Hennie have been enduring the hills of Randburg for their sins! I think the drivers who pass us think we are nuts going up and down and often collapsing in a heap at the top of the hill. Must be quite humorous to watch to be honest.

This week Tuesday I got to the club to do hill repeats with Hennie and was horrified to learn that I had left my sports bra at home. Now ordinarily I would have turned around and gone straight home because those who know me will know that I am not the smallest of people and sports bra’s are rather critical to my running kit. But because of the fact that Hennie was joining me and that I couldn’t let him down, I decided to grin and bear it and run…..well… I learnt the following:

  1. You can’t do hill repeats without your arms
  2. Underwire bra’s are not meant to be run in
  3. You can bruise your boobs
  4. Its good to have a running buddy – keeps you accountable
  5. Just don’t run without your sports bra though

Ja it wasn’t great hey. I was so uncomfortable and I told Hennie once we actually completed the hill repeats that I was walking back to the club and not running. He however didn’t object after our tough session! LOL

All my running buddies will fully comprehend the challenge of chafing on a run. It is a real problem. When I first started running I didn’t have the correct equipment. A good sports bra for my size will put you back a good R1000 so I needed to know that I was actually going to run and stay running. I have subsequently invested in some awesome Anita and CW-X ones and they are the best. However back when I started running I learnt about chafing the hard way. I am quite sure I am not the only one who got the rude awakening when getting into the shower after chafing the first time! When that sweat runs down your body in the shower and reaches any chafe marks on your body it isn’t pretty! Some choice swear words were certainly heard from me and are still heard when it happens periodically! There should be a runner starter kit for newbies!!!

I have heard some hilarious recounts of chafing horror stories after long races which are all fine and well to recount after the time but not so funny at the time I am sure. It is one of the main reasons you should not wear new gear on race day! One of my good friends wore her Compressport tights for the first time at Two Oceans and got a rather rude awakening after the race. Luckily we had lots of wine to make it better….. I always feel sorry when I see guys running in after a race with these long red blood trails on their shirts from nipple chafing!! Eina!!! Plasters are your friends guys. I had to bring plasters to Lion Park at Comrades this year for a friend who had forgotten his! I think he owes me some bubbly……

Luckily we now have anti-chafing miracle creams which we all swear by. I do not go anywhere near a race of more than 10km without being lathered from head to toe with Bennetts baby bum cream. It is honestly amazing stuff and I even use it on my toes to avoid blisters.

So the moral of the story is….never forget your your sports bra girls:-)

 

Where it all began… (get coffee or wine, its long)

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This mornings view

After a rather satisfying Hennops Trail Run today and feeling really positive about my training for a change it is fitting that I tell the story of how I got to where I am today. I promised that I would tell the story. Apologies to those who have heard the story before!

I am not part of a sporty family. The closest we got to any sport was watching rugby and cricket on TV and ironically we religiously watched the comrades every year. As a result of a rather sedentary lifestyle and a mammoth appetite, the inevitable happened and I was became rather overweight which didn’t help the situation. I will never forget a particular PT session in highschool when we tested the gymnastics equipment. We had to do a very simple move of a short run, jump on the vault and land on the pommel (or whatever it was called). I couldn’t do it. It was rather embarrassing. It has stuck in my mind! So I never participated in any sport in school as result cause I felt I was rather useless. We didn’t have much available at a fairly new school but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make the teams. I was not however going to let that get me down and I infiltrated on another level. I became the athletics and swimming scorer at school and I joined my friends for all the netball matches to cheer them on. Admittedly the scoring was awesome because I would always get a drink and yummy sarmie when I did it…… Think this is where my support skills developed 🙂

My fitness level was once again exposed dramatically at University when my lecturer decided it would be a fabulous idea to go climb Table Mountain before we drove back to Johannesburg after a botany prac. I warned her of my fitness levels (or lack thereof) but she insisted that I would be fine. We all got a 500ml bottle of water and off we went. We climbed up what I suspect is Platteklip Gorge (ironically this is part of UTCT) and I nearly died! I think I drank the water in the first 100m. It was insane, I have never been so broken, it felt like climbing stairs on steroids. Eventually we got to the contours and I found it a bit easier and actually made it to the top to find my fellow students waiting patiently watching the Dassies. I was not impressed with life. Funnily that didn’t even encourage me to perhaps get a bit fitter! It took me a good few years to decide that my health was actually important.

When I started working I decided that joining a gym was maybe a good idea. I mean everyone was doing it so why not. I actually even got a personal trainer but I never changed my eating habits and my heart was not in it. I didn’t train enough and it just wasn’t effective. I persevered but nothing really ever came of it.

In 2012 I joined Sasol and as luck would have it they had a gym in the building with a personal trainer. Enter Helen Mercier! I firmly believe that Helen changed my life. She will argue that she didn’t but she did. I started training with her and I still do. We are now friends and I even have her doing trail runs with me now. Helen eased me into training and I slowly got stronger whilst still eating terribly. I joined another gym where Helen also worked and started doing her Melt60 classes. These classes were so awesome. Cross training with kettle bells, loud music and lots of sweat! I miss them actually but I just can’t fit them in at the moment. In the February of 2013 Helen asked me very nicely if I would eat healthily for her for one month. I did it and I lost 10kg. Needless to say I was hooked. I went on to lose about 30kg by just eating healthily with minimal carbs. The best was I got cheat days so I could still have my coke and wine gums (those still feature greatly unfortunately….). I built a lot of muscle and my body transformed completely. I am still not a supermodel because I just love food but being healthy has been life changing.

Enter Bianca Losper! B also did the Melt60 classes and was super keen on doing a Warrior Race (the obstacle races with lots and lots of mud..). I was keen on a challenge because above everything else I know that I am strong! So we took on the Warrior Race out at Harties and it was so much fun. We laughed so much and we were soooooooo DIRTY. I emptied my geyser trying to get all the mud off!

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Bianca and I after Warrior – we were diiiirty!! 

This race sparked our interest in Trail Running and thats how B became my first running buddy. Liesl who who always thought she would NEVER run was going to start running.

Our first Trail Run was out at Red Barn in Irene and a night run! The Moonchaser series. It was my first medal and I still have it (I actually have all my medals…. they are special). I was so slow, I can’t recall my time but it was well over 50 minutes I think  for 5km and I nearly had a heart attack when the photographer (now friend Erik Vermeulen) took a photo of me right near the end when a huge flash of light appeared out of the darkness and I spewed a few choice words into the darkness. Erik literally fell over laughing! LOL. It is a memory I will never forget.

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I look so calm… This is where Erik gave me a heart attack!!

From Moonchaser we evolved to the Spur Trail Series and Trail Running became a passion. Being a botanist and Zoologist by profession, the trails are just that much more special. Those who run with me (when they feel like walking) know that I am forever rambling off names of plants and giving random nature facts. I even compiled a list of wild flowers I saw on my first Run the Berg. This is easy when you run as slow as I do!

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Darren and I doing Run The Berg Challenge in 2016 (lots of wild flowers to be seen)

I have over the years expanded my trail repertoire. However that didn’t happen all by itself. I decided that if I needed to improve my running that I need to run more. The problem with this was safety. We all know that safety in Jhb can be a problem. So enter Randburg Harriers. I found myself a running club which is now a bit like a second home. I starting by doing the time trial on a Thursday and realised that there was track training at the club. I joined up with Clint our club coach and started training in earnest on my running as well as still continuing with Helen. So slowly but surely I started upping my distances. As the distances went up I became very familiar with the term “sweeper”. I used to run my races (and still do sometimes) with the sweeper who runs at the back of a race to ensure that everyone gets home safely. My motto always is “party’s in the back” and I love chatting at the back. I do tend to go a bit faster when I am on my own however……. LOL.

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Doing 20km Captain Carrot and being swept in by Fred. Nina came to run us in.

One of my fondest memories was deciding to do the Two Oceans Long Trail. This would be my longest trail yet at the time – 20km (actually 24km…). I needed to train but how? Enter Darren Smith. I messaged Darren who seemed to be the trail godfather. Seemed like a good place to start. My words were “Darren I need to to 20km can you help?” and did he help!! I spent almost every weekend from January to March of 2016 on the trails with Darren. He made it his mission to get me trained up. He has become my most special trail buddy and I will forever be grateful for his help. I made Two Oceans and he shared that medal with me. Ironically on that journey I also met my special coach Fred Richardson.

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A Happy! finish at Two Oceans! Shared this medal with my special Daz!

Fred has been the best thing that has happened to my running. I have gone from 20km trail to a three day stage race of 100km. Now we are on this journey together to UTCT together and I just hope that I don’t disappoint him.

I have done a few road races along the way but I am very selective of my road races. I much rather do trail. My first half marathon was Johnson Crane (yawn) but then I discovered Kaapsehoop, Loskop and Skukuza (my happy place) and those are now permanent fixtures on my yearly calendar. Kaapsehoop will actually be my first 42km road this year as a tester for distance running in preparation for UTCT. I also became the Race Director at Randburg Harriers to rather organise the road races than run them! LOL

Lastly, along with a newfound love for the trails, came the new friends. The amount of friends I have made on this journey has to be one of the most special journeys. Arriving at a Trail Race is always such a pleasure its like seeing family. It makes the running a little bit easier and makes getting up in the dark to get to a race just that little but more worthwhile. Many of my trailies and roadies would also attest to my cheering skills. If I can’t run or if I run short I love nothing more than to cheer my fellow runners in. I am usually the loudest at a race and I don’t apologise for it! I take my cheering very seriously. It is the most satisfying feeling to see your fellow runner turn and smile when you cheer them on. Doing this at comrades is particularly satisfying. I love it and I love my running buddies. There are however too many to mention personally! You know who you are!

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Special running buddies at Run the Berg 2016

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Moonchaser memories

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Some of my first trail buddies now lifelong friends

A special mention to my Bubblies. Almost exactly a year ago I innocently formed a little running group, lots of us training with Fred. We developed a liking for champagne after we completed the Wolf Pack run. It stuck. We became known as the Bubbly Girls. However the group has now become my closest friends. We are like a support group that happens to run. They have become exceptionally special and they are on this journey with me to UTCT. Lets do this girls!

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THE BUBBLIES with said bubbles (madam Jaxy missing as she had to run Mweni… priorities LOL)

 

 

The Road to Ultra Trail Cape Town Begins

Welcome to my blog!!

So a blog! I haven’t paid much attention to blogging but have subsequently realised the attraction of blog posts and thought it would be quite cathartic to follow the same route.

So what is Ultra Trail running and what is Ultra Trail Cape Town(UTCT)?

Ultra trail running is essentially running distances further than 42 odd kilometers on trail. Its far! Ultra Trail Cape Town is an ultra trail race in Cape Town in December 2018 which takes one all over the mountains of Cape Town for 65km.

It will be the furthest I have ever run.

You might ask, so what? You train, you run, you get it done!

Not so simple! I am what I call myself a “special needs” athlete. I get lambasted by my friends for saying that but it is really hard for me to excel at any sporting activity, yet I keep going back. So entering UTCT is a big step and a HUGE challenge to put it lightly. I may not finish the race as it has rather hectic cut offs but I am going to try my level best.

So this blog will document my journey through my training and trials and tribulations of training for an ultra as a “special needs” runner.

I have the most supportive group of friends, an awesome coach and a fabulous personal trainer who are going to get me through this and you can expect several references to them.

Speaking of which, I ran my first draft past the said friends LOL! and I have been told (and once again lambasted about the special needs as expected) that I need to give a little background. I will elaborate more in a future blog about all the details but in a nutshell, running and exercise has transformed my life.

E7F55CA5-F1B0-43C0-9D9A-6D08E7B3244D.jpegThis was me in 2010, rather round and never did a stitch of exercise. I never did any sport as I wasn’t good at it and always too fat to participate. So I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be like that forever. Boy was I wrong!

In 2014 I decided I needed to lose weight and I started with said Personal Trainer (now friend) Helen Mercier. She pushed me in the right direction and I lost about 30kg and became nice and strong. Having realised that I can actually lose weight and do gym I decided to test myself further and have been doing that ever since.

I did a warrior race and got hooked on trail running and the rest is history. I will leave the rest of the story to another blog. There have been many ups and downs but so many amazing memories and friends – life changing!

Please join me on my journey to UTCT!

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Running has given me many things but the greatest gift has been the people that is brought into my life 🙂