Moms Who Love Running? Thule Needs You!

If you are an active mom who loves running, then you will know all about the importance f having a good baby jogger. One brand that I have always openly lusted after is the Thule range. They have recently launched the new Thule Urban Glide and it is incredible. When I learnt I was pregnant with Number 2, I actually went into the store, just to stare at it. We have some crappy 4th hand job that has wobbly wheels and is about 30 kilograms too heavy. Not ideal when dodging city traffic.

If you too have been dying to try it out, then now is your chance. I am looking for one active mom, based in Jozi, who is free on 22 September 2017 and keen to take part in the FNB Jozi Run, using the brand new Thule glide.

All you need to do to enter is comment on the blog post and confirm that you are A) In Jozi available on 24 September and B) have a kid/baby to pop in the jogger. I can lend you mine if you want, he’s pretty awesome most of the time 😉 Winner will be announced on Monday 11 September

We will send you the jogger 2 weeks before, so you can do a few practice runs with it before the big race. We will also give you an R850 VIP package to the FNB Jozi Run as well as a gift to keep (sadly the stroller will have to be collected) – A Thule Vea Backpack valued at R2499!

About The Race
The FNB Jozi Run celebrates the sizzling city that is the beating heart and soul of South Africa … Jozi.  The 10km race is an opportunity to explore downtown Jozi on foot and celebrate this historical African city.
What the VIP entry will get you: 
This could be you. But you don’t have a Thule. 

 

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Why I’m Left Feeling Bitterly Disappointed By Half Iron Man.

Three years ago I took part in, and completed my first ever Half Iron Man in East London. Upon crossing the finish line I burst into tears. I was elated, so proud and felt like I had achieved the impossible. (Turns out, it’s the 2nd hardest course in the world, so my feelings were justified I suppose). Fast-forward to 19 June 2016 when I crossed the finish line in Durban, and all I felt was a heavy heart and bitter disappointment.

It’s been a few days since finishing the race, and I’ve been trying to understand why I feel so ‘let down’ about the entire experience.

The weeks and month leading up to the race were not kind, and as mentioned here, the odds just seemed to be against me. When I did the race for the first time three years ago, I had a lot more time to train, people to train with and it was I Summer, which meant Winter with its debilitating cold, dark and sickness wasn’t an issue. Back to back bronchitis, chronic anemia, no sleep, shin splints, planning a first birthday party, a resignation from work and massive stress in my life left me feeling seriously fragile for most of my training.

We arrived in Durban on Thursday – to give us enough time to register, chill with the friends whose house we were staying at, and acclimatise for the race. The big rule before any event like this is easy; REST UP. Unfortunately, the Monday before, Carter had started with some severe gastro that was so bad we did what we have never done before and actually panicked enough to take him to the hospital. There, they declared a viral gastro infection and asked us to ‘wait it out’. On the Saturday before the race (having waited it out for 7 days) he was only getting worse; there was blood in his stools, he wasn’t sleeping, had a raging fever, was as miserable as sin and we were exhausted. We took him to the hospital in Durban and within twenty minutes he was admitted for dehydration and on a drip. Emotional doesn’t even begin to cut it, I was devastated for two reasons – one for my poor sick baby in hospital, with a now bacterial dysentery (the guilt!) and two, for the race in less than 15 hours time – which Barry and I had both trained so long and hard for, sacrificed family time for and had been planning for, for the better part of half a year. Barry insisted I still race – knowing that after this 70.3 I was probably going to give up triathlon for a bit and focus on finding some balance in my life. With a heavy heart I left the hospital to go and pack my transition bags and rack my bike. If it wasn’t for my friend Eryn who we were staying with – who had just completed the Full Iron Man – I probably would have given up there and then. Thankfully she got my mind right(ish), helped me pack my bags, nutrition and bike and helped me get to the race to set up. She also took me down to the race the next morning at 5 am and stood on the cooking hot pavements, with her hubby and son, and supported me the entire day.

On the same Saturday that Carter was admitted – before we took him to the hospital – we had the pre-race training swim. Normally the pre-swim is a free for all where athletes get to play in the water, get a feel for the waves, the current and the ocean. This year the ocean was not playing ball, and the race organisers seemed uneasy. They made it a swim where you had to queue up and head off 10 at a time, with the organisers checking people in and out using our timing chips. Alarm bells were ringing in my head, and as the queue got longer and longer and more and more swimmers were coming you the water looking less than happy, I was in full blown panic mode. After about an hour and a half of waiting to go in, they abruptly cancelled the pre-swim. The water was just too dangerous. My heart sunk a bit further into my chest. The swim was my Achilles heel and mentally I had been preparing myself for this single discipline the entire time. Distracted by a very unwell baby though, we left and took him to the hospital, as above.

After a last visit to see my baby and Barry in the paed ward, I went home to Eryn and Greg and slept surprisingly well (could be the red wine or Xanax..or both). Up to this pint I had also picked up a tiny bit of Carter’s gastro, which meant an upset tummy and zero appetite – also not great before a race).

Race morning arrived and I was up at 4 am. For those who take part or spectate in triathlons, you understand its not as simple as arriving and running in to the water. It’s a mammoth task of logistics, planning and time. Even though your bike and two transition bags are packed and racked the day before, you still have to get down to transition the morning of the race to pump tyres, stock nutrition and triple check you have everything you need in the relevant bag. I did this all and left the transition area to find Eryn. It was dark and fresh and a beautiful morning. My tummy was feeling better, Carter seemed to be on the mend, and I suddenly had a bit more optimism about the race. Then the race organisers made the announcement: The swim had just been cancelled.

3000 athletes went in to panic mode. This was the first time in 20 years that the swim had been cancelled – which meant that the ocean really wasn’t in a good mood. Many people were angry and quick to judge. I was gutted. The biggest challenge for me, and one that I finally felt ready for had been pulled form under me. Which meant we technically weren’t doing a triathlon – we were doing a duathlon. I, along with 2999 other athletes felt cheated.

The race, instead of a well oiled slick machine now turned into disorganised chaos. The pro athletes (only about 16 in total) still had to do the swim, and the rest of us plebs would start on the bike once they were done. We walked down to the swim, my mind now completely unraveled and watched them start. ‘The waves aren’t that high’ I thought to myself as I looked down. Then the gun went and the pros went off and the only thing I can liken it to was confetti being tossed into a gale force wind. Swimmers were everywhere. Some immediately got pushed several hundred meters to the left, others got pushed to shore and some just could not get past the surf. Two ladies had to be rescued and many of them (remember, all pro athletes) said they thought they were going to die. To give more context – take a look here.

It was while watching the pro swim that I realised the organisers had definitely made the right call. I can guarantee that several people would have lost their life that day should the swim not have been cancelled. However, that still didn’t stop the thoughts banging in my head. People just aren’t going to respect us now. People will say it wasn’t a real race.

Now, this is where I think I started feeling like a loser, and why the race has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The bike start – instead of happening as people came out of the water – ie a staggered approach – but still relatively in line with your age groupers happened with all 3000 athletes at the same time, but actually not at the same time at all. Which meant a 2 hour queue as they let people off, five at a time every 15 seconds. I happened to be one of the very last in the queue, which meant that by the time I eventually started my bike, other athletes had already been out there for almost 2 hours. That does a lot for ones psyche, and even though your time only officially started once you had got on your bike and started cycling, mentally it felt like you were already behind. As an example, if athlete A started at the front of the queue and cycled a 4 hour race, and athlete B started at the back of the queue and cycled a 3 hour race, athlete A would still finish the bike first and start the run while athlete B was still riding. This is what happened to me, and even though I feel I had an OK’ish bike time (for me anyways!) I came off the bike and started the run when pretty much everyone had already started. Because of my late start, and the mentality of the organisers and volunteer staff being that of a normal race (ie cutoff times after swim and bike), by the time I turned around at the 40 km mark, people had already started packing up cones and aid stations and cars were flying past me on the freeways. Not cool. That, coupled with a really bad stitch in my shoulders made me a glum chap.

I got off my bike in transition and looked around in dismay – it seemed as if 90% of the bikes had been racked – which made perfect sense when you thought about it logically, but totally threw me, because even though I was well within my cutoff time, it felt like I was coming stone last. I started the run when most people were on their second lap, and so by the time I started my second lap, I had marshals rushing me along – again forgetting that I was making decent time and that time on the clock wasn’t an indicator of athlete performance. “I started 2 hours after everyone else!” I wanted to scream.

The run was shitty, and I will never again underestimate a ‘quick 21km’ again. Because it was completely flat I assumed it would be the best and easiest part of the day. It wasn’t. Flat means no hard uphill, but it also means no lovely downhill to relieve your legs. It was also 1 pm by the time I started, and 36 degrees.

I just felt the spectators at that point were disinterested, and I felt lonely for most of the run. Even my parents, who had come all the way to see me race, looked bored. I think it had been a long day of waiting, and due to the slow start, there wasn’t much excitement in terms of masses of athletes all competing at the same time. I could see them thinking ‘really, is this it?’

About 8 kms in I started running with a girl Siobhan who I met along the route and who mentally helped me a lot. I left her after a few kms as I was feeling a bit stronger, and she needed to walk a bit more. (I hope she somehow stumbles across this blog and makes contact – I never caught her last name, but we did commit to having lunch in Joburg together to celebrate not dying). The last 10 kms were much better than the first, and I kept a very slow but steady pace (race day goal was a 6:45 and I was managing between 7:30 and 8. I was hurting and the tummy cramps of the previous few days had flared up.).

On those last 10 kms, again due to the lateness of the day and mentality of how it’s usually done, a lot of the aid stations had closed up, sponges and water had run out and the promenade had been opened properly to the public. I ran into 2 people, was hit by a wayward soccer ball and had to dodge more than one child running in and out the crowds. By then I was close to despair and started going in to a very dark place.

Eventually, I finished, in my slowest 21 km time ever of 2:44. I crossed the finish line happy, grabbed my medal and T-shirt and made my way back to the supporters area. It was completely empty. That kind of (un)welcome does a lot for this already battered ego, and I felt so sad and despondent.

The positive to the race was that my baby boy was discharged that afternoon so he and hubby at-least got to see me on the route, which was a beautiful sight when you are empty and broken inside.

Sadly, I don’t feel as if the organisers handled the delayed start well, and I’m bitterly disappointed by how I was made to feel like a B grade athlete out there – at no fault of my own. I think the organisers had been prepped for a 7:30 am start and a cutoff by 15:30 – so when the plans changed and the time got pushed out, they weren’t aware that it was OK and athletes competing were not a bunch of losers. I also definitely know that having had the swim portion cut out – which actually made the race harder for some reason, has made me feel like a 2/3 Iron Man.

Does that mean I have unfinished business, and will be coming back next year to see it through? Probably not. I’m feeling a massive sense of relief that this race is over, and that I can focus on some other aspects of my life right now. Nothing that looks or sounds like a swim, bike or run… although, that’s what I said straight after my very first Half Iron man in 2013…

CJ was less than thrilled as well
CJ was less than thrilled as well

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I took this photo when the pros went out on their swim. You can see the lifeguards rushing in to assist a swimmer

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Carter in hospital with bacterial dysentry
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Race registration with Eryn
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Finishing in a time of 6:26
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On the Friday we did a team swim. The water was harsh but not unmanageable.
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Half Iron Man 70.3 (and the uneven, pothole infested road that’s got me there).

*Disclaimer. You’re about to get knee deep into the biggest pity-party this side of 2016. Sorry.

In 13 days’ time I will be standing at the start line of 70.3 Durban, and hopefully finishing less than 8.5 hours later, with a second Half Iron Man medal under my belt.

I’m dreading it. I feel like the odds have been stacked against me from the very start of this race.

Firstly, the race is on 19 June, slap bang in the middle of Winter. Which means training has been happening leading up to, and in Winter – dark mornings, dark nights, freezing weather and less than ideal circumstances. Have you ever been swimming at 5:30 am on a Monday in -2 cold degree, in the dark? It’s super kuk.

When I last did the race I was kid and fancy free. I could train twice a day, and train with my now-husband and some friends. Now that we have a son we have to split our time – so one of us will do the morning run while the other trains, and visa versa in the evening. That means apart from a very lonely 5 months of exercising alone, I also never see my husband, and get to tuck my child in bed 50% of the time. We are like 3 ships in the night.

I’ve also had the worst year, health wise. I was recently diagnosed with severe anemia, which is a relief, because I genuinely thought I had caught a bad case of the stupid. I’ve given and received bronchitis several times and had more throat infections than Zumas has wives. I’ve pretty much trained through antibiotics, iron drips and the plague.

And then the broken sleep, and sick baby, and teething baby and baby in general. Holy hell. My one-year-old gives zero shits that mommy needs to be up at 5 for a spinning class, and then a full day of work afterwards. And it’s fine, because I have dragged this kid through the trenches with me. We wake him up at godforsaken hours on the weekend, bundle him in layers of clothing and trek him from race to race. He has been a champ, and I think when he gets fed up of having to attend one more training session or Club V class he decides to grow 18 molars in the space of a day. Just for payback.

So I’m really tired, and exhausted, and so looking forward to this day being done. I’m also really scared that I don’t finish in time because despite it all I’ve given it 100% and tried my absolute best from day 1. I’m so worried of what people will think or say if I fail – how silly am I?

Also, have I told you that despite training 7 days a week for the past 4 months I HAVENT EVEN LOST ONE KILOGRAM? Anyway.

My husband slash coach asked me yesterday what my next goal is after the race is done. My answer? Chill the fuck out. (Until the next family gathering when after one too many glasses of wine I agree to another race, like Comrades or something equally stupid).

Freezing morning rides
Freezing morning rides
Solo Wattbike classes
Solo Wattbike classes

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Early dark morning at Germiston Tri
Early dark morning at Germiston Tri

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Finishing Germiston Tri
Finishing Germiston Tri
Supporting mom at her race
Supporting mom at her race
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
Does an iron drip qualify me as an Iron Man?
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One, Two, Tri-Rock

After finishing the Half Iron Man in January last year, swore I would never do another triathlon, let alone a Half Iron Man distance.

“2014 will be about making babies and buying homes” I’d exclaimed.

Well, the jokes on me, because I’ve agreed to do another one in October this year. OCTOBER people. I’m the fattest and most unfit I’ve ever been (swear, I nearly lost my breath walking up the office stairs this morning) so this is going to be a challenge. Thank goodness I’ve roped in my friend Shannon who is up for anything, so I will have a training partner. There are also a few friends who are doing it as well, so its going to be vibey and enjoyable (I hope).

Tri Rock takes place in Durban on 10 October. 

Is anyone else taking part? 

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The Energizer Light Race – Ticket Giveaway!

Us Saffas have gotten pretty good at doing things in the dark – what with all the Eishkom power outages that we’re all too used to being on the receiving end of, it’s no surprise we’ve become adept at coping in a blackout. Hell, I once even attempted to boil water by precariously placing a mug over 2 tea-light candles. (Side note – it doesn’t work)

Doing Things In The Dark has even spurred a new movement in athletics – with Nike launching their Run Jozi initiative and now Energizer joining in on the fun. Last year I blogged about the Energizer Night Race here and here and this year, it’s back!

If the thought of running turns you off (yes, I’m talking to you friends with “bad knees”), then never fear, because this year participants have the option to take part in either a 10 km trail run, a 5 km walk or  20 km mountain bike. Even better – it’s taking place in Soweto with all routes illuminated by you and Energizer.

Diarise Saturday 10 May now – as this is an event you don’t want to miss. If you class yourself as more ‘water boy’ than ‘athlete’ then the array of entertainment on offer will not disappoint. Participants will be surrounded by the beat of Zulu drums and Pantsula dancers while spectators will be entertained by George the Beatboxer, DJ Milkshake and Laser Dancers. Come hungry as the food will be ‘local and lekker’ with options from local African cuisine caterers and shisanyama’s on sale.

As this is a night race (otherwise why would Energizer sponsor it, silly) the events start as follows:

Mountain Bike Race: 6:30 pm

The route begins at Mofolo Park and follows the wetland north to Dorothy Nyembe Park, circling this park before passing Sedibeng Restaurant. It moves through Dube Hostel then heads to Mzimhlope, before turning back with Orlando Stadium on the left heading to Vilakazi Street. It then briefly joins the runners and walkers along Vilakazi street before heading past Winnie Mandela’s house and back to Mofolo Park.

10km Run: 6:45 pm

Leaving the starting point at Mofolo Park, the route will pass Nancefield Zulu Hostel, go over the bridge at Dube Station and along the small stream with the suburb of Klipspruit on the right, turning left at the Power Park Dam and the Orlando Towers. It will then pass through Nomzamo Shack settlement, crossing over the railway bridge in Orlando adjacent to Orlando Stadium through to Vilakazi street before heading back through Dube Village to Mofolo Park.

5 km Walk: 7:15 pm

The walk starts at Mofolo Park, then heads into Dube village past the Ubuntu Kraal and Winnie Mandela’s home before crossing over the Orlando Koppie. It then moves onto Vilakazi street before heading back through Dube Village to Mofolo Park.

The prices for each event varies from R60 for spectator to R270 for mountain biker). To enter you must visit www.energizerlightrace.co.za

The good news, for those squealing at the cost, is that the lovely folk at Energizer have given me 4 tickets to give away. Nice hey? All you need to do to stand in line to win an entry (to a race of your choice – even you Mrs-bad-knees-I’d-rather-spectate) is to simply comment on this blog post and tell me how amazing I am. I jest – although bonus points for bribery.

To win – for realsies – simply comment on this blog post and tell me why you want to take part, and which race tickles your fancy. You then win a cool prize and save yourself some ronds to spend at the shebeen that night.

This unmissable event is a must for fitness lovers, Afro-chic partygoers and those who love the vibrant culture and history that Soweto has to offer. Get glowing with the Energizer Light Race and set the night alight. For more information, go to www.energizerlightrace.co.za

The competition closes at midnight on Friday 7 March and the winna-wenas will be announced on Monday 10 March.

Good Luck!!

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Update 10/03/14

The winners have been drawn! (thanks to a very nifty online number generator). If your name is below please drop me an email at katenicolekearney@gmail.com with your email address and cell number.

Ziphelele: 5km

John Kearney: 10km Train Run

Sasha Martin: 5km walk

Stephan Schlebusch: Mtb Ride

Congrats!!

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Getting Active, Again

After a 4 month post-Half Iron man depression hiatus, I’ve slowly started getting active, and back into the exercise scene. It’s been made a lot easier by the fact that I have a new running partner, Shannon. An added plus is that Shannon enjoys her running almost as much as she does her wine, so it’s a match made in heaven.

In the past few weeks we have taken part in a few fun events:

The Bio-Kick Lumo Trail Run (PWC Bike Park, Bryanston)

Honestly, my facial expressions when I spot a camera are cringeworthy

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The Rhino 10k (St Stithians, Sandton)

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I Love Shans winning camera pose 🙂Image

… And mineImageImageImageLast weekend Barry and I took the fur-kids to Avianto in Muldersdrift for the annual Royal Canin Dog Day. It was an amazing morning out meeting dog lovers and thier furmilies. We got to meet the worlds biggest Boerbull (in my opinion) with his owner Lynette, and a miniature something or other the size of a tea cup. Our dogs did the 4km, and were royally finished afterwards.

Can We Go Yet?

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Tao the Boerbull, and BellaImageImageImageImage

Rupert ApprovedImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Home Time!Image

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Iron Man 70.3

22 days into 2013 and I have yet to upload a blog post. So much for new years resolutions! I do however think that this post will make up for my absence, well, for me at least 🙂

I’m sure by now you are all aware that I have been training for the past several months for the Iron Man 70.3 which was held this past weekend in the thriving metropolis (I jest) of East London.

To avoid any further suspense, I will tell you now that I finished the race (7 hours 35 minutes) and that I could not be happier or prouder of my achievement. Boastful perhaps, but when I think back on the past 8 months and the early mornings, late nights, tequila sacrifices and lack of lie-ins, I think Im allowed some bragging rights 🙂

And so begins the longest blog post in the history of blogging. Sorreee.

The closest I’ve ever come to an Iron Man is watching my fiance tacking a wrinkled work shirt on a Monday morning (yes, I’m a modern day women – I let him do the ironing) so I was blown away by the entire event, from start to finish. The amount of organisation, man power and effort that goes into the event is insane, and I now know why they charge so much money for the entry.

This event has cost me a small fortune, so when we saw the price of plane tickets to East London (R18 000 return, cough splutter!) we decided to drive down. We left at midnight on Friday and drove through the night, arriving (exhausted) at 10am to blue skies and a buzzing environment. Our hotel, like something out of the 1970’s, was to be our home for the next 3 days and we put up with horse sized cockroaches, broken aircons and foreign hair in the shower.

We spent the day on Friday registering, attending the expo and briefing session and then hitting an early dinner with the crew. I felt like such a noob, and honestly felt like I had neon red ‘VIRGIN’ lettering stamped across my forehead. It was much to my relief then, when I found out that 53% of the athletes were 70.3 virgins. That meant 2000+ doing this race for the very first time.

FYI – 70.3 stands for a total of 70.3 miles which is the distance of the race – I’ve had a lot of people asking.

Registration
Registration
All the items needed for race day
All the items needed for race day
Friday night race briefing
Friday night race briefing
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session
Friday night carbo loading session

On Saturday morning I woke up man down with a migraine. I was devastated to miss the training swim in the sea but had no choice but to take a small country’s worth of meds and try sleep. The crew went on without me and I managed to get one in a few hours later. I must stress that the sea swim was my nemesis, so getting a practice one in was imperative. Thank god for modern day medicine!

Shaun, Eryn, Xavier, Nick and Dax heading off for their training swim.
Shaun, Eryn, Nick, Dax and Xavier heading off for their training swim.
Spot the noob - putting my wetsuit on backwards
Spot the noob – putting my wetsuit on backwards
Heading into the training swim with Dax
Heading into the training swim with Dax

Feeling much better after the swim we headed off on a short ride to test the bikes and make sure everything was in working order.

Training ride
Training ride
Ride with Dax - he began to feel like my training husband!
Ride with Dax – he began to feel like my training husband!

Saturday afternoon consisted of racking bikes and sorting out our bags in the transition area.

Transition area - Before
Transition area – Before
Transition area - After
Transition area – After

Considering my tendency for nervous insomnia, I passed out on Saturday night and woke up fresh, excited and terrified at 4 am on Sunday. Race day. I think the photos speak for themselves, and I was contemplating not posting some – especially the post-race red face teary ones and mid run sweaty and cellulitey ones – but what the hell. I just did Half Iron Man, Who cares how shit I look, right? (Disclaimer, I did ask coach Barry if there would be time to apply foundation before the finish line and nearly got a smack)

This is what terrified looks like
This is what terrified looks like
Then the tears came
Then the tears came
TP Eryn giving a supportive hug
TP Eryn giving a supportive hug
All smiles
All smiles
Tash - what a supporter!!
Tash – what a supporter (and hairstylist!)
Getting ready
Getting ready

 

The race was staggered in age groups, and the boys left us to go start their swims

The guys are in there, somewhere
The guys are in there, somewhere

 

The ladies age group and 55+ men getting ready for the swim
The ladies age group and 55+ men getting ready for the swim (Im in there somewhere too)

The swim (1.9km) was my biggest fear and I have a dismal track record for not crying during an open water excursion. My game plan? Keep calm and walk in last. In the below picture I am the third last person from the back, taking my sweet old merry time. It helped a lot, and even though the water was as unstable as Brittneys music career, I made it out (unscathed apart from a wave/person induced black eyed) in 45 minutes. Yay me.

Where's Wally
Where’s Wally

I was NOT going to show this pic – but in the spirit of baring all and having mentioned the black eye – this is what I looked like post swim. (I also look like this first thing in the morning. I must have a great personality)

Sea Broken
Sea Broken
Leaving transition for the ride
Leaving transition for the ride

The ride was tough! I pushed hard to do it in the allocated time limit, and eventually finished the 90kms in 4 hours and 10 minutes. Broken, but excited to get my bum off the seat and start the run. I also wasted 7 minutes in transition looking for my lost chip (apologies to everyone who was SMS tracking me – I know I went AWOL for those 4 hours!)

Starting the 21km run
Starting the 21km run
Somewhere along the run route
Somewhere along the run route
Nick looking strong during his run
Nick looking strong during his run
Xav looking good during his run
Xav looking good during his run
The Marot brothers crossed the finish line together
The Marot brothers crossed the finish line together
Eryn on the run
Eryn on the run

 

Dax on the run
Dax on the run
Finally, the finish!
Finally, the finish!
Tastes like victory!
Tastes like victory!

Finishing was such a surreal experience  and I actually did a dance up the red carpet, and subsequently burst into tears at the finish line. It was also then that I heard about the tragic deaths of two of the swimmers in the mens category. The news put a massive dampener on the day and I am still in shock that it happened  I never knew them, but the news hit me, and everyone there, hard. I’m sure I echo the sentiments of all the athletes and supporters when I extend my deepest condolences to their friends and families. The official press release can be found here.

I also wanted to use this platform to say a huge congratulations to each and every person who took part, finisher or not, as well as the supporters along the rote. To the ‘other Kate’ who kept me going on a tough hill on the bike route, to Tim who walked with me up Bunkers hill, to Shaun for his words of support just before the swim and to my friends (old and new) who did the race for the first time – Eryn, Xavier, Nick Dax and Pete as well as the support crew – Louise, Darryl, Tash and Meggyn. You are all flipping amazing and I couldn’t not have asked to be surrounded by better people this weekend. To Dean the mean pasta machine, and Shaun, congrats on yet another 70.3 notch in the belt. To all my friends and family for bugging the hell out of Barry on the day (it shows you care :)), for the messages, calls Facebooks and Tweets – it got me through the hills and wind and Bunkers Hill! Lastly – to my number 1 supporter on the day, as well as ‘Coach’ the man who got us through this entire thing. Thank you for the training programs, the Whatsapp groups, the organising of the numerous runs, rides and swims and for keeping me sane leading up to this race (even though i know there were times he wanted to kill me). Barry – my love – thank you! I can’t wait to be your biggest supporter for Iron Man next year March.

"Coach"
“Coach”

Well done team! We deserved the tequila that followed!

Tequila!
Tequila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The countdown to 70.3 – an inspirational letter

This week has been a horrible one – I’m battling to keep up with a lot of work and get the right amount of training in for Half Iron Man in January. It’s tough trying to balance friends, work, family, wedding planning and training in a 24 hour day. To be honest, Ive been feeling a little despondent about it all – particularly the fact that the race is in just over a months time and I dont quite think my training has been enough. Then, my fiance sent me and my training buddies (we are all IM virgins) a story he has written on his Iron Man experience in the past.

I took a few minutes to read this, and had tears rolling down my face. It’s beautiful, and inspirational and is making me (finally) just a little bit excited for my first 70.3. 

If you are a first time participant, or a fully qualified Iron Man, take the time to read this too – I can guarantee it will touch you in some way or the other.

Ironman 70.3 and what to expect:

 This is going to be one of those days, it is going to be the longest quickest day of your life.

You are going to be waking up, then crossing the finish line and then drinking tequila – well that is what it is going to feel like when you wake up the following morning.
What it will feel like on the day is completely different, it will feel like time is playing a joke on you and standing still or even going backwards, it will feel like you are going nowhere and yet the truth of the matter is that time is always ticking and it actually ticks pretty fast when you are racing.

The Build Up

The build up to the race is fun and nerve wracking, you will arrive in East London on the Friday morning to a city that has come to a stand still for 1 race – this is for you.
You will check into the hotel and all you will want to do is get out there and register, run, swim and check your bike because that is what everyone else is doing – or at least it looks that way, you will want to hit the beach and be busy with some activity – NO NO NO – DON’T DO ANY OF THIS!!!

What you should really do is take a 20min lie down and a little freshen up. Get into relax mode as quick as possible. Lie on the bed and do nothing – read a magazine or your book but just try to relax as quickly as possible.

Grab your wetsuit and your swim kit and head down to the swim venue, put on your wetsuit and go for a short swim, the water will be cold, walk in and out until you are confident to just run in and lose your breath, once in just play in the water and get used to the feeling of the sea, swim to the 1st Buoy and back and that is it. Play in the waves and have fun – splash water at your friend and act like a kid.
Get out and have a good look at what you just did, high 5 everyone and then head back to the hotel and have a shower, relax and do nothing. Find something to keep your mind busy with your legs up, a lap top with a series is perfect.

Around lunch time go to the expo, register and have a quick look around then go for lunch, again feet up and weight on the bum. Enjoy lunch and chill out – out of the sun. Watch everyone around you. Some of them will be 120kg’s and others will be 72kg ripped with every little muscle showing – WHO CARES! Do not panic that someone is in better shape, round is also a shape and it can roll down a hill faster than Mr. Ripped.
Head back to the room and once again relax. Do nothing but keep your mind busy, watch series on a lap top again (actually make sure you have a lot to watch)

Later that day go for a short run of 10 – 15minutes and go to bunkers hill if you want to see what this hill is all about. It will feel horrible but it will be good for you, you are getting blood back into the legs after the long drive. Don’t let it affect your head at all – Sunday will feel better!
Have a shower, get ready in comfortable clothes and go find an early dinner – East Londo is no fashion show at all!
Make sure you eat healthy and what you want and get to bed early – sleep for as long as possible.

On the Saturday morning wake up, have a coffee and something to eat (what you will eat for breakfast the day of the race) grab that wetsuit (haha ‘wet’ suit coz it will still be wet)  and head out for another swim, same again – practice walking into the sea and getting going, then practice swimming out and do it again. Float in the sea and remember you are floating and this is easy – POSITIVE thoughts only!!!

Head back to the room and take your bike for a 10min spin just to check the gears and that everything is working then head back, shower and yes you guessed it – relax.
Today you do nothing but stay off those feet for as long as possible.
Pack your race packs (while sitting) and then relax, maybe even have a 20min snooze.
An early lunch is always good, eat what you want and enjoy it – I usually do pizza.
The time will come where you have to rack your bike and your bags. Go do this and remember this is no time to panic, they will tell you where to put your bike and where to put your bags, all you have to do is put them where they have told you and have a quick walk around transition, from where you run in from the sea to where you run out with your bike, then do the walk from when you run in with your bike to when you run out for the run. It is quick and easy and very smooth sailing. You do this at a BSG so do it again- make sure you know where you bags and bike are.

Head back to the room and relax, read a book, watch a series and get ready for an early dinner. Again eat what you want but try keeping it to what works for you but also healthy and balanced then back to the room and feet up for the rest of the night. Everything is done, don’t sit on your phone to much as people will make you nervous. You do not need nerves right now!
Get comfy and chill.
 If you can’t sleep rather turn a light on and read or watch TV. Your good night for sleeping was last night – tonight is just there coz it has to be – don’t panic if you can’t sleep – another 3000 people are also awake.

RACE DAY!
Wake up and think positive – if the wind is blowing tell yourself it is blowing at your back, if it is raining say at least  I will not over heat and if it is the perfect day just smile and know it is a perfect day. No matter what the conditions are – everyone else is out there with you in the same conditions.

Have breakfast straight away and then get dressed, grab what you need and head to the start, fill your lunch box with your food and put your bottles on the bike. Make sure your bags are still 100% and untie the knots in them or take the tape off of them. Head out and get the wetsuit on, relax and just enjoy the vibe.
3000 other people are also racing with you some faster and some slower, everyone is nervous and everyone is excited.
Kiss your loved ones good bye and tell them you will see them when you are a 70.3 IRONMAN finisher.

Find your start pen, stand at the back with a friend and talk about positive rides and runs, remember that day we ran a PB, or the day we had so much fun on the bike or trhe day we kept swimming we felt like Forest Gump for Water and when the gun goes off  for your race, high 5 and walk into the sea just like you did the day before.

The SWIM

You have done the distance; it will not be an issue. Start at the back and walk in, get going slowly and stay calm. No one is there to drown you and no one is there to injure you. Everyone has the same goal – get out of the water in 1 piece. Have your goals set as buoy to buoy and remember there are only 4 of them and then you will be done.
Put your head down and swim. If you want to do breaststroke then do it but what you need to do in the water is make sure you are always going forwards, every stroke you take is a stroke closer to the finish of the swim. Don’t tell yourself that you still have to bike and run, that is a problem for later – FOCUS on swimming and staying calm! Pretend you are Nemo and just keep swimming, just keep swimming (see what I did there?)

When you hit the last buoy know that you are almost done, swim for shore and get excited coz there are  40 000 spectators waiting for you.
Stand up when you can and take your goggles off, keep your swim cap on and smile for the cameras and the spectators.
Walk out of the sea, find your legs and clap if you want – you have now completed the swim – remember to start taking your wetsuit off but also remain CALM.

 T1

Get your bag and head through to the tent, take out your shoes and your helmet and anything else you will need, someone will help you with your wetsuit and put sun block on you, pack all your stuff in the bag and relax. Do not rush transition, make sure you have everything but also keep in mind how long you have been there, everything can be done in 5 minutes or 15minutes, one way you get out quicker and the other you waste 10minutes. Walk out the tent, hand your bag in and get your bike, same rule applies – walk with your bike to the mount line, get on and smile (cameras) and the spectators. In fact smile all the time, those cameras are ninjas and they just pop out and take pictures.

BIKE

DO NOT RIDE IN THE GUTTER – RIDE OUTSIDE OF THE YELLOW LINE!!!

Nothing is a rush here, the bike route is tough but you will be fine, 94.7 was further. Start slowly and get going, don’t get out of breath just yet. Drink water and eat a potato straight away enjoy the beach road – it is flat and there are spectators.
The highway is boring, try see who you are riding with and make up names for them all (big bum, nice bum and skid mark bum) , keep your head busy all the way out, you will see the road climbing in front of you and on the other side of the road you will see guys on their way back in, don’t let it bug you, when you are riding in you will still see guys riding out.
You have ridden further, you have ridden steeper hills and you have ridden in worse wind (if there is any) #youhaveriddenitallbefore – just keep going forwards and stick to your nutrition plan, eat and drink and stay calm.
My advice is when you are on the bike and you don’t know what to do – eat and drink!
If you get off the bike empty your run is going to be like running up Mt Everest pulling a whale behind you – even on the downhill!
There are water points, throw your old bottle away and get a new cold one.
At the turn around think what you have just done and remember that home is quicker. The route coming in is nice and fast, do not kill yourself as there is 1 big hill coming into the city, it is not long and it is not that steep but after 80km + of riding it feels big.
NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO – KEEP GOING FORWARDS.
Enjoy the beach road again and increase you cadence, even if you slow down a bit that is fine, get ready for the spectators and the cameras – you will also see guys already running – WHO CARES, you are almost on the run.
Get off your bike, straighten up, give it to a marshal in the transition area – they will rack it for you and head to T2.

T2

Take your cycling shoes off straight away and walk in barefoot, walk to your bag, grab it and hit the tent – as soon as you go in look for someone / ask someone to help you – they will be more than willing.
Sit down on a chair and change your shoes (new socks will feel amazing if you are going to use socks) and try not to sit for too long though, someone will put sun block on your back and neck for you. Make sure you have everything and then drop your bag off and head out for the run.

 RUN

NOW you have nothing or everything to lose – start too quickly and you will die, YES YOU WILL, take the 1st few KM’s easy, relax and realise you are in the crowds so do not think you need to show off. As you run away from the finish the crowds will get less and less, that is fine, it will be a good time to have a reality check. Ask yourself “am I tired’ the truth is yes you are but you are not shattered – tell yourself you are fine – on this run, all 21km of it you may and must lie to yourself, you are not tired and you are not sore, the person next to you is sore but you are NOT!!!  
Soon enough you will hit bunkers hill, this is still your 1st lap, run and walk it do not let it beat you this time, there are crowds again so feed off of their energy, get to the top and be happy coz now you can run down it. Run back along that lonely stretch and make a friend with another athlete – everyone is doing the same thing and everyone is feeling the same. Just keep going forwards, you must try having a good 1st lap which does not mean a PB for 10km but an enjoyable 10km.
Run back into the crowds listen out for your name and love it. Get ready to turn around and do the last lap of your 1st 70.3 race ever. Run away from the crowds, the key word being run. When you get to that lonely spot look around for your friend, if they are still with you awesome, if not then make a new one!
Now bunkers hill – if it wants to beat you this time – let it, try running and walking but if you can’t just keep walking, when you get to the top you can run down it and have the last laugh – you beat it!!!
Look for a new friend and run through the lonely bit, at the last water point grab water wash your face, try freshen up and get ready for the crowds.

2km to go

You know you have done it and this is where the pain will set in, for some reason your head will tell your body it is done, that you are now finished but you are not. Keep going forwards and remember every step forwards is a step closer and by now you will hear the finish, you will hear the spectators and you will know you only have 12 minutes of your race left.

FINISH

If possible try to let the gap between you and the person in front of you 100m big, you want to be on the carpet alone and you want amazing pictures – start smiling (crying is also allowed but not ugly crying only happy crying), clap and wave and just be happy. If you want to walk the carpet then do so, it will last longer and you can enjoy it more.  That carpet is yours and all yours, the announcer will now tell you that “YOU ARE A 70.3 IRONMAN” cross the line, look back down the carpet and just smile.
You did it.
You are part of a new family – the IRONMAN 70.3 family. (bragging rights achieved)

After Party

You will feel shattered and you will feel tired – DO NOT GIVE IN!
Have a drink and have a tequila then have more and enjoy the time with everyone there, swop war stories and have another tequila, this is your new family – tomorrow it is all over so make sure you have fun.

You only do your 1st once – ENJOY IT AND CELEBRATE IT!

My Iron Man

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Win With The Energizer Night Race

I like to think I’ve come a long way since my first trail run, when I arrived at the venue, kitted up in all the right gear, headlamp on and about as confident as Mark Zuckerberg at a Social Media convention. Then the gun went off and I found myself panting after a 12 year old in converse and stumbling through the finish line what felt like 3 days later.

Trail running is a whole different ball game. I was used to flat roads, gentle slopes and dodging only traffic. Trail running involves precarious surfaces (think golf courses, rocks, rickety bridges and rubble). It also requires a lot more stamina due to having to concentrate every step of the way. But what. a. jol!  It’s an opportunity to go out at night with a bunch of people, often dressed like a bit off an oddball and run around forbidden spaces. Theres something quite liberating about dashing over the 9th hole on a larny golf course.

One of the more popular trail runs on the calendar is the Energizer Night Race which is now in it’s 8th year. So just like the battery, the event keeps on going (see what I did there?)

Energizer Night Race
Energizer Night Race

This year the Energizer Night race is being held at the stunning Central Park Trails in Jozi, on 1 December. It’s a Saturday night so there’s no excuse not to grab all your mates, family and running buddies and go through for what promises to be an action packed event (think 5 km run/walk fun races, 10km trail run, 12km team relays as well as a 40km mountain bike relay for teams of 2). The entertainment line up is a win, with the likes of Jesse Clegg (yes, ladies), local band Tokyo Groove, Code Red drum corps, string quartet ‘The Muses’, SA fire performers ‘Dreams of Fire’ and Laser X – a dance and laser experience show.

Sounds good huh? And from only 100 ronds to enter, it’s a no brainer if you are looking to be festively financially savvy. If you are keen to enter simply visit their website or like them on Facebook. You can also find out more about race and event details on these pages.

Now for the fun part. The super nice folk from the Energizer Night Race have given me two hampers choc-a-bloc full of goodies, to give to two of you. They are valued at R1500 each and consist of various Energizer items, an Enrista coffee hamper a Salomon t-shirt and a 32Gi hamper. Everything an avid runner needs before the big race!

To win one of these hampers all you need to do is follow @nightrace_sa on Twitter and then tweet why you need want to win this hamper with a link to this blog (I’ve shortened it here just to make life esier – wp.me/p1ZuF8-7Q)

I will be picking the 2 winners in the next few days, so enter as many times as you like, and good luck!

For a bit of visual stimulation, this is a piccie of what you can win :

Energizer Night Race Prize
Energizer Night Race Prize

Also, be sure to check out the video from last year’s race

Share your trail running experiences with me below – would love to hear them!

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Impi Challenge

Never one to decline a challenge, I recently took part in the Impi Challenge race – held at Van Gaalens Cheese farm close to Hartabeespoort Dam. Despite the pre-race nerves (fear-for-your-life commentary from MC Guy McDonald not helping) the race was absolutely fantastic, and I look forward to taking part next year.

Admittedly, it wasn’t at all easy and I was pretty relieved that the 13km course was broken up by 19 various obstacles – trail running is a whole other ball game and the terrain makes you work twice as hard.

Even though I loved the race I was not amused by a few of the obstacles (10 m high cargo net and sewer tunnel included) and I’m pretty happy I only saw THIS photo of one of the obstacles AFTER I had gone through it. Vom.

If you are considering taking part in this race – here are a few pointers

– Dress up if you are part of a team

– Wear clothes you never plan on seeing again. Even 2 caps of new OMO liquid wont be enough. Ooh eh eh.

– Dont wear watches, sunglasses, caps or valuables. Trust me, between jumping 6 metres into a river, wading through compost, rolling through trees and swimming through dams, you will lose it all.

– Take your time – the event is not timed so the idea is to finish it with a smile on your face (Or not dead, either all)

– Bring a clean change of clothes for after

See you at Impi 2013!

Pre race - clean and shiny
Pre race – clean and shiny
Post race dirt
Post race dirt

 

Titan Adventures Pre Race
Titan Adventures Pre Race
2nd last obstacle - Floating LilyPads
2nd last obstacle – Floating LilyPads

 

 

 

 

 

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