Test your Mettle

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In the Gorge in Graskop specially for our Zen Queen

In my last blog, I indicated that I suspected that something was holding me back. Well it turns out I was right and I should have listened to my body long ago. I thought I was just buggered from all the training….

I decided I would get tests done after the Uitsoek Mountain Marathon. Nothing like going to run 40km when you can’t breathe properly. So I went to have some blood tests to see if I had an iron deficiency. I honestly didn’t think would because I have never had it before and there was no obvious reason for it. The frustration of no oomph in my running however made me question this. Turns out I have anaemia. My haemoglobin levels were so low. They were 10 and they needed to be 13!!! My iron levels were also far too low.

So when I heard the results I was quite excited! There was a problem and its easy to fix right? Wrong! I was immediately banned from running and any exercise that gets your heart rate up. Crisis. And on top of that, because I have no reason to be anaemic, I had to have tests conducted to determine if I am bleeding internally i.e. a bleeding ulcer or something. So off to the surgeon I went and I was booked into hospital.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my food and when you have a colonoscopy you need to “clean out your insides”. Such a fun exercise which I will not be elaborating on. This process however requires you not to eat or drink!! I was supposed to go into theatre on the Thursday early morning before the surgeon did his big cases. However there was some emergency and I had to wait till 16h00 on Thursday to go in. That means I didn’t eat from 7h30 on Wednesday till 19h00 on Thursday. I was Hangry as all hell. It wasn’t pretty. Smelling all the other meals that wafted through the ward was utter torture. I was so grumpy. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I was just over it!

I was very relieved to inhale some chicken when I came out of surgery.  LOL!

So whilst my hospital trip wasn’t about starvation, there was actually a reason… All the tests came back clear and I have no internal bleeding. So after all that, all I need are iron supplements and I am back to running again… after a three week break.

Cue Kaapsehoop half marathon. I was supposed to do the marathon this year but decided that road is just so hard on your body that I downgraded and saved my body. I am also very pleased that I didn’t stress myself out with my first road marathon. I have enough stress coming up for UTCT.

I am so glad I did…

Kaapsehoop this year was planned as a Bubblies girls weekend with a bit of running. We actually run for fun and every now and then you need to remind yourself of that! This weekend was just that, a fun weekend. All my Bubblies joined us this weekend and we spent it on my friends avo and macadamia farm near the Sudwala Caves. They will never be the same again after experiencing 12 wild chicks! LOL

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The BG’s – so much love for these ladies

What an epic weekend. Whilst we had to get up at 1h30 to get to the start on time, it was worth every moment. We all had such special runs. Whether it was a PB or a PW (personal worst) it was just such fun. Two of our Bubblies are injured so they walked the 10km registering their PWs. They redeemed themselves with their DJ’ing skills later that evening :-).

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Selfie time for team 21km
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The Bubblies with our Honorary Bubbly Chante who happens to be our team Physio

Later that day, after we all forced ourselves to have a nap (turns out we all needed them and passed out for a good hour and half), we did what Bubblies do and cracked the champers. We toasted a Bubbly birthday and started the braai.

I was the braaimaster and we wined and dined under the trees. It was super special. We changed it up a bit this weekend and broke out the craft gin. We managed to flatten a large collection of gin and the party ended very festively with dancing in the farm pub. There was some hilarious laughter, some of us were more tipsy that the others and provided entertainment! I burst a blister I didn’t know I had whilst jumping wildly to some of other song.  The Innov8s are a little bit past their sell by date…

We rechristened ourselves the Bubbly Gins aka the BGs…. and we managed to stay alive.

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This is what happens after copious gins – the runners start to compare toe nails

We decided that we weren’t just going to drive straight home on Sunday. We visited the Mac Mac falls and then headed for the new Gorge Lift in Graskop. What a beautiful idea. You take a lift 51m down in the gorge. The forest in the gorge was just beautiful and we loved every minute of it. Apart from shocking service in the restaurant, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We were all dressed in our Bubbly shirts and we looked stunning. It made you feel so special to be part of such an amazing group of beautiful ladies.

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The Gorge lift – some opted out 🙂
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Tree huggers

So whilst we did have an amazing girls weekend, I did also have a really good run. The iron supplements seem to be kicking in and a ran a PB 5km, 10km and 15km. The last hill killed me and I just couldn’t make the PB 21km but I am super happy with my run. I ran with Helen and we had such an amazing race. It is always a nice surprise for me to have company on a race. I usually make new friends so I don’t get bored but running with your fellow sweep is super special!

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Helen and I at the finish

So the next two weeks we do the final push for UTCT and then its downhill to the mountain! I am excited for now but as the days pass, the nerves are going to start escalating. I know my Bubblies and the rest of my support crew will help me get there!

To my specials, Linda, Sarah, Sharon, Sonja, Sally, Ingrid, Jaxy, Tracy, Sofi, Candy – you are awesome and never forget it! Thank you for an epic weekend. Here’s to the next weekend. To Bronwyn – so sorry we abused you but your gins were epic! Thanks for the pancakes!

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…