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!

Breathe in Breathe out

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Skukuza Half Marathon Start – sharing my happy place with special people

How hard can it be?

Last year I developed sports induced asthma out of the blue. I suspect my body was saying WTF after no exercise for so many years and I was telling it to do more than it had ever done. I was like the little train that could but I couldn’t. So I went to the doc and got some asthma pumps and it seemed to settle down. I then broke my ankle and undid all the hard work!

In January this year whilst getting back into the swing of things I was so focused on protecting my ankle and concentrating on what was happening to my feet that I never even noticed that I couldn’t breathe! I had been frustrated that I wasn’t making progress but I had complete blinkers on. It wasn’t until after I was feeling very down in the dumps and was summoned to the trails by Coach Fred that I realised my asthma was back. We were running up a tiny incline and I had to stop at the top because I was wheezing so badly! You would think this would be obvious! Fred immediately told me to get it sorted which I promptly did and went back onto the pumps.

Whilst it has improved in terms of wheezing, I am still really struggling to breathe while running. One of my awesome running buddies Riana is an OT and she picked up on some issues whilst we were away in the Berg. She has given me some exercises which I am starting on Monday. I couldn’t do them with the spider bite. She did an assessment on me and it appears, if I have this right, that one of my primitive reflexes from childhood has not integrated fully i.e. the Morro Reflex. This reflex just happens to have a lot to with breathing. So whilst I am going to go for a chest x ray next week, I am really hoping that the exercises that Riana has given me will do the trick. We live in hope.

Last weekend was one of my favourite races of the year in my happy place – the Skukuza Half Marathon. The Kruger National Park is where I go to recharge my soul, I absolutely love the place. And when I started running and heard about this race, it was a no brainer. To run and contribute to conservation – wow! This year was my third run and I am planning on doing this every year.

We spent the most amazing weekend in the bush with awesome fellow Randburg Harriers who just happen to be awesome friends. One was a newbie and now she is hooked – that’s you Miss Linda 🙂

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The mandatory pre-race selfie – this is a keeper

The actual race is deceptively tricky. It is undulating with no major climbs but these steep little inclines that kill you. On last years run I came across a gentleman from Irene who had formed a little bus and was counting us up all the inclines. It is a technique I have implemented quite a lot since then and it is very effective.

I thus decided that this year I would do this on every single hill before I walked. My Bubbly Linda decided she would stay with me (after I tried to convince her otherwise as she is much faster than me). I always feel so guilty when people stay with me as I know I am holding them back but flip we had a good time. I loved every minute (except the one part….).

So the plan was to slay the hills. Well I think I did it a little bit too effectively as by the time I got to 7km where most of the hills are done, I was starting to feel a little green (the one part…). It is the first time I have felt remotely nauseas on a race. I have always secretly thought ag I don’t get that!! Super proud of myself! Well I had clearly not pushed hard enough. So I told Linda that I was feeling a little “groen om die kiewe” and I had to walk a little.

We slowly got the rhythm back and off we went. We had to dodge some creepy oke at one stage who kept looking at our legs… we eventually shook him!!

Once we hit the tar road, we met a lady from Bedfordview, Dalwyn I think her name was, who was doing her first 21km. She was taking a bit of strain. This is why I love running and for about 4km I forgot about myself and Linda and I helped her through a tough part of the race. We got her to run for almost 2km without stopping. By focusing on her, I forgot about myself and we just enjoyed the park. We showed her our hill technique and she did so well! She even caught up to us when we were walking. She finished her 21km and came and gave me a huge hug afterwards! That is what I love about running. I am certain she will be back!

My friend Natalie met us at the 19th hole aka the 19km mark with the SAB tent!! She had had three beers and was feeling merry. She had been waiting for me which I thought was so flippen awesome!! Just shows you how slow I am though! LOL. Linda and I skipped the beers. She ran in with us and we finished together, three Harriers in a row! So cool!

As much as I loved the race for all the other reasons, I was heavily disappointed in my finish time especially after putting in so much effort on the hills. I was 4 minutes slower than last year. The hill running was definitely a victory for me so I need to focus on that but I need to get this breathing sorted out. My legs were fresh at the end but I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my lungs on the last km of the race. I was huffing and puffing like a locomotive. It is beyond frustrating at the moment. I really feel that it is holding me back! The ebb and flow of emotions that I get while training is quite ridiculous! One minute you feel amazing and UTCT feels doable and then next day you think you never going to make it!!

On the plus side however and never one to dwell on the negative (even if it is driving me nuts) I got the spend this long weekend on a beautiful game farm in White River with fabulous friends. To hike and run in nature is just such a privilege and we took full advantage this weekend. My friend Peggy and I spent most of the weekend out on the trails and the kms just faded away. Peggy is a very keen hiker and you can follow her on Facebook as “the Backyard Hiker”. We plan on doing a hike in Kruger together next year. I can’t wait. I wish we lived closer together because we run very similarly. But it just means I have to come to White River more often. Going to be so tough.

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Peggy and I on our morning trail run

Spotted:

Giraffe, Wildebeest, Impala, Zebra & Nyala all within 100m