The Edinburgh Marathon – My Happy Race

So, I’ve totally been neglecting this blog since the beginning of this year… I can’t quite figure out why but its partly because maybe I am too busy living to blog about it or just that its been summer so I’ve been outdoors instead of sat behind a computer. However, winter is here so time to get this blog back in action. There are also some events in your life that are so massive that its impossible not to blog about. On of those events was the Edinburgh Marathon which I ran on the 26th of May :)

So, I didn’t really get very far on logging training updates… actually I only put one update here. But to be honest, training up to the Edinburgh marathon was not nearly as eventful or traumatic as training was for the Cape Town Marathon which I ran towards the end of last year – now Billie’s flew off, there wasn’t any major sickness, etc. It was pretty smooth sailing… I was increasing my distance progressively without losing too much in terms of speed. I even finally managed to sub 2hrs 30 on the half marathon at safari with a time of 2 hours 25 minutes 3 seconds.

Only slightly negative thing was that the month before I was due to run in Edinburgh, my knees started to ache (but now I know this came from cycling on a bike to small for me rather than from running…phew).

Anyways, so training for Edinburgh went pretty smoothly and I felt confident that I could definitely make an improvement and sub 6 hours. (Lol)

Edinburgh

Edinburgh – Princes Street Gardens

The Race

So we traveled up to Edinburgh by train on the Friday before the race. Most of  Friday and Saturday, I spent carbo-loading and lying about in Princes Street Gardens while my parents did the whole touristy thing. Saturday night, I went on a search for pasta and found that every Italian-ish restaurant had a mile-long-queue around the block. So I ended doing a DIY jobbie – which wasn’t too shoddy :)

When Sunday morning finally arrived it wasn’t the early start that I am used to. There were two starts for the Edinburgh Marathon – one of London Road for the professional people which started at 9.50am and then on London Road for the rest of the crazies which set of at 10am. Within the two start points there were different groups…I was in purple, the very very last group to cross the start line.  I joined the crowds to start my race and there were literally millions of runners there (even with 40% not pitching up because of the 18 degree heatwave ?!?! )

We were waiting at the start for what seemed like an eternity. So when the gun went off I was eager to get running (I ran my first and fastest km in 5.5 minutes according to my snazzy new Nike Sportswatch – not the way to run kiddies ). The route took us around Arthur’s Seat and out of Edinburgh city centre. The first 10km of the race didn’t feel as easy as I ran it at Cape Town but I crossed the 10k timing mat in hr 8 minutes, which was 2 minutes ahead of my target. Once we hit the coast the route was really really pretty and we got a cool breeze coming off the sea which was awesome.

The hardest thing about the Edinburgh marathon route is that you pass the sort of finish area before you get to the half way mark and then you don’t turn around till after 30km mark. So physcologically it is really hard as you just keep thinking how much further AWAY from the finish line will the send me !!! Ahhh !!! 30km mark was when my trusty Nike Sportswatch decided to give (my fault for now charging it properly) but at least it got me over half way. That turnaround point was pretty cool as we got to run around the grounds of a castle (like a sweaty princess).

After 30km (18 ish miles) things started to get tough. I had to do maths to work out how many kms there were left because all the markers were in miles and each mile seemed to go on FOREVER !!! I ran steadily from about mile 18 to mile 21 and met a cool guy who ran the Boston Marathon and got cut-off early at around about the 20 mile mark…so he was running Edinburgh about 6 weeks later to finish the job. (Writing this about 4 weeks after the marathon and having lost all my marathon fitness, I can’t quite get how he did this).

After about mile 21km I started getting pretty bad cramps in my calf muscles. First time they started up my dad was around to help me and give me coke for extra energy (coke is my secret weapon). The second time, I luckily had some very kind randoms help me … too sweet. The last 5 miles were really vibey, people were really cheering us on and despite the cramps there wasn’t much chance to stop and start walking when the people with loudspeakers were telling you to keep moving :)

Finishing the Edinburgh marathon wasn’t quite as amazing as finishing my first marathon in Cape Town when I had all my running buddies there to support cheer me in. This time round I couldn’t even see my Mum as the whole area was packed. When I can across the finish line the clock read 5 hours 45 mins…and although this was a good 19 mins faster than I had run in Cape Town, I was really hoping that my extra training and avoiding the toilet would have let me take at least 30 mins off my time. It wasn’t until we got back to the apartment that I realised that the 5.45 wasn’t my actually time because of the staggered starts… because I was in the last start pen my final finish time turned out to 5hrs 28 mins and 2 secs…which is 36 mins faster…what a PB and a happy bunny I was :D

EdinburghCertificate

Running in Edinburgh was such a different vibe to the Cape Town Marathon. I’ve promised myself marathons are only going to get better from hear on out…so I am aiming for London 2014… pretty please !!

The Stats

05:28:02
10k: 01:08:28
Half: 02:29:30
30k: 03:45:00
Marathon: 05:28:02

Learning to Ride a Bike : First Step Towards the Cape Argus 2014

So, learning to ride a bike is one of those things everyone learns to do when they are 3 years old or whatever. But not me, I decide to wait till I am 27.

My Dad will refute the above statement and claim that he did teach me to ride a bike when I was a kid. But in my memory, I only rode my bike till the stabilisers came off and then I gave up.

Either way, its been a very long time since I’ve been near a contraption with two wheels.

Why now ? Well I’ve been living in Cape Town now for the past 3 years. One of the biggest events that the city hosts (in fact THE biggest sporting event – even bigger than the the Two Oceans Marathon). Its a huge 110km cycle race and basically an amazing peninsula tour on the bike… I’ve been keen to do it for a while, but the fact that I couldn’t ride a bike had been putting me off.

Anyways, 2 weeks ago now, I had my first cycling lesson :) And get this I wasn’t half bad. OK, well I can ride around now but I still stop miles away from the curb :(

Image

Yayers :)

 

 

Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombings :(

I had just sat down to to write another blog post last night…but I stopped midway. The content of that post seems pretty trivial now.

Literally ended a skype call to my dad and said I wanted to go and track some of my friends who were running the Boston Marathon yesterday. That’s when I heard the news about the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon :( My first reaction was who the hell chooses a marathon as the target for a violent act like this.

It just makes me so sad. I guess this gets to me more than the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the London underground bombings, because of the runner in me. But its not just that.  Marathons around the world are international events where people from across the world come together not just to test the limits of the human body, mind and spirit but also to run alongside people of different races, religions, ages and abilities. The marathon is something that brings people together and destroys egos (sometimes you just have to accept you are going to get beaten by someone twice your age, double your size and even those with broken legs).

Just Sad :(

Just Sad :(

I think that saying about the marathon restoring your faith in human nature is true. I saw this for myself on when I ran my first marathon  back in September 2012.  Although I was nervous, I wasn’t ever worried that if I fell that no-one would help me. More experienced runners were there pacing the newbies, reminding us not to go out to fast. People shared their water sachets and gu gels when they saw other runners struggling. The smiles and words of encouragement were there to keep you motivated and remind you that you weren’t suffering alone. People were willing to slow down and lose precious minutes of PBs just to check others were OK and offer them the advice which would make the difference in that runner finishing or giving up. Some may say that running is a individual sport where we compete against ourselves, but I don’t think that is true. There are so many times when I’ve seen running partners literally drag each other across the finish line. I know from my own experience that I would have never run my first marathon or be training for my second if it weren’t for the constant support of my running buddies.

And its not just the runners that make the marathon such a special event. Its everyone else, the supporters, the marshals and all the support staff that give up their free-time, brave the elements and do all the behind-the-scenes work to ensure we all make it across the finish line in one piece. They are the real unsung heroes. The Cape Town Marathon wasn’t the best when it came to supporters and atmosphere (but looking back, for me that was a blessing in disguise as it made it possible for me parents to be able to literally track me the whole time from 10k onwards). However, you don’t always have your family and friends there to cheer you on so you rely on the cheers of people who are just random strangers to keep you motivated. I saw this on the Two Oceans Half Marathon  - it is by no means the easiest 21k route, but because of the crowd support there was not a single moment where I felt I could stop and walk, the crowd literally carries you to the finish and I really did feel like I was flying (and km I secretly wished I could go back and run a few extra km’s just to make the happy feeling last a little longer).

So, I don’t understand why the Boston Marathon was targeted. Yes, the media attention…all eyes would have been on Boston and the massive crowds that were there. But how can the perpetrators expect any sympathy or understanding of their actions ? Those runners were at the end of one of the hardest physical challenges of their lives (I don’t believe it really ever gets any easier – even if it was your 10th marathon) and a bunch of spineless morons go and do this. Its totally senseless.

But as with everything…we are forced to move on and we are going to come out stronger (both as runners and as part of wider society), the London Marathon will go ahead on Sunday  (although the security in the city will be tightened) and people will have a reason to run faster and harder without giving up. It won’t be as easy for the victims and the runners who are in Boston today. There is nothing I can really say on this blog to make anything better but my thoughts are with you.

London Marathon still going ahead :)

London Marathon still going ahead :)

Easter Weekend in Cape Town : A Two Oceans PB for Yours Truly

Easter Weekend in Cape Town is not really about bunny rabbits, chocolate eggs and fluffy chicks. Every year this weekend is dominated by a pretty amazing race, known as the Two Oceans Marathon. I even know some people who haven’t had an Easter Weekend away in 25 years because of this race. Craziness. Last year’s race was quite an EPIC FAIL but also quite experience . And I knew going into my 3rd Two Ocean’s that nothing could be quite as bad as last year. With a field of 16,000 runners this is pretty much the biggest half marathon in South Africa and it comes with a fabulous atmosphere (although, not the prettiest route by far). Luckily, this year I had managed to get myself out of the novice runners group by seeding into the D-Group. And as hard as that seeding race was, starting in the D group made it really worthwhile. On the morning of the race we got to start ahead of 9,000 people in the E-group and get a 10 minute head-start.

We made it...Seeded Runners.

We made it…Seeded Runners.

I had a great race. Felt like I flew most of it, even Southern Cross (which can make or break your race ). It was the first time I ran that hill/mountain without having to stop and walk. I guess 3rd times a charm. The atmosphere was so great that I started thinking towards the end that the race was way to short. The best part was that I got to run whole sections with different running buddies, which was awesome.

Michelle - A famous runner in CT enjoying the atmosphere at Two Oceans

Michelle – A famous runner in CT enjoying the atmosphere at Two Oceans

Really really enjoyed my 3rd Two Oceans and can’t wait till next year…as this race is always an experience. I finished in 2hr 30 and 54 secs which in Two Oceans PB by about 30 seconds and not bad at all considering it was not a flat route at all and the fact that I’d expected to get much slower because of the marathon training. I am slightly disappointed that I can’t tick off a PB in the half marathon off my 2013 Bucket List but I have confidence that a) it will happen and that b) I am much stronger for the marathon that I was last year.

All the Finishers and Supporters :)

All the Finishers and Supporters :)

Oh, and as for Easter. The only little bit of Easter fun I got to have was a free Lindt bunny that came with coffee for Vida ;). Till Two Oceans 2014. Two Oceans Medal

Edinburgh Marathon Training : Update 1

Well seeing as I have visited my only little spot in cyberspace for many many many weeks, you’ll probably be expecting the mother of all updates (or you may think I’ve given up on marathon training and escaped to another universe). However, I will try and keep this brief.

I’ve been properly training for the marathon for about 6 weeks already. Despite, approaching the whole thing from a totally different angle I have still managed to get in almost all my training runs and run some excellent times in my races.

So what have I been doing differently ?

  1. For starters, I haven’t been so obsessed with mileage. So rather than stressing about my long runs, I decided to break the runs up from time to time. For example, rather than doing an 18km training run, what I’ve been doing is running a 8km warm-up before a 10km race.
  2. I’ve been doing lots of yoga. I finally decided to bite the bullet and fork out the cash for yoga classes. Bikram is really really helping, especially after a long run. As painful and irritating as yoga is I do feel like I’ve grown a new pair of legs at the end of a class.
  3. I’m still boozing. Last time I was totally T-Total during marathon training, this time I am little more relaxed. I’ve decided that I refuse to be depressed when its all over and part of that means not giving up the all the fun things in my life during the lead up to the marathon. So far, I’ve managed to organise the social drinking well so that it doesn’t interfere too much with my runs.
  4. I’m trying to dedicate at least a little time to speed training. This is easier said than done, especially as I don’t enjoy (vehemently detest) running fast. I realise that it is important if I want a PB on this marathon.
  5. I am going to pay more attention to what I need to eat on the race. From this week on, every long run will be above the distance of a half marathon. Starting with 25km on Saturday. I will use these long runs to figure out what works and what doesn’t as far as eating en route is concerned.
marathon cocktail

A little Cocktail …. to help me through marathon training.

And hows the new approach to marathon training working out ?

Pretty well actually and here is why:

  1. I’m managing to run more races which is taking away some of the monotony from training. 
  2. I’m actually running much faster. Ran a Two Oceans PB…in the middle of a marathon training programme (I will write more about this in another post)
  3. The yoga is helping
  4. I feel that marathon training is taking over less of my life and I have a life beyond marathon training
  5. I am less scared this time round. There is less fear of the unknown. Yes, I know there are still things that could go wrong a create a disaster situation but I am not stressing so much.

So, there it is in a nutshell. I will try my best to keep you updated on my progress and long runs in the next few weeks…but no promises right now.

Keep Calm and Yoga On

Something from the new-found Yogi in me :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 – Book 2/15 – Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

Again apologies for being so quiet recently. It seems that is all I do on this blog these days. Apologise. Still the fact that I’ve been too busy to update the blog simply means I’ve been busy with life and doing taking steps towards ticking off all those things on that bucket list…especially training for that 2nd marathon :D

Beyond marathon training I have taken some downtime to chill out with a good book. This book has actually been traveling with me for about a year and half before I have finally been able to read it.

The Lollipop Shoes is Joanne Harris’ sequel to Chocolat. The famous movie that I am yet to see and a book I am yet to read.

If you’ve already read Chocolat or seen the movie, then you’ll see that the Lollipop Shoes is the continuation of Vianne Rocher, a chocolate-making witch and her two daughters Anouk and Rosette.  The story is set in Montmartre, Paris and focuses on Vianne’s attempts to foresake magic and live a normal life with her daughters, which unfortunately also means marrying a man she doesn’t love.  A new character is introduced in this story, the mysterious Zozie de l’Alba who attempts to use Vianne’s daughter Anouk as a pawn to turn this little family’s world upside down.

The Lollipop Shoes - Joanne HarrisThe Lollipop Shoes - Joanne Harris

The Lollipop Shoes – Joanne Harris

So, I am not usually type to read these type of story books about witches, vampires and lots of make believe stuff. However, I unknowingly started this book and found that the story was actually quite captivating. Joanne Harris has a great writing style and she really manages to conjure up a realistic picture of Montmartre in the mind of the reader.  Also, the way she writes in the first person gives you an insight into the perspectives of each of the three main characters – Vianne, Anouk and Zozie. The other thing I liked about the book was the way it was possible to enjoy the sequel independently, as a story in its own right, without having had to read Chocolat.

If you are looking for a easy, slightly quirky read I would recommend this. Its a great little story and something that doesn’t take too much brain power. I’ll definitely be looking forward to reading another one Joanne Harris’ books and maybe borrowing a copy of Chocolat the movie and finding out more about Vianne’s life before Zozie De L’Alba blew in :D

The Heart Attack 10 K : Smashing a PB and Becoming a D-Seeded Runner !

On Saturday 9th February (The day after my 27th B’day) I ran the hardest run of my life EVER and here is the story.

So on the 30th March 2013 I will be running my 3rd Two Oceans Half Marathon. It was my first ever half marathon and last year it also became my personal worst. Part of the reason it was my personal worst was because I pretty much had to spend the first 3km walking/jogging behind all the novices/walkers/random glory runners (who only do it to say they’ve done Oceans as this is the most talked about half marathon in South Africa) in the E Group.

The plan for 2013 was to try and avoid that situation by getting out of the E Group (or cattle class, as a running friend of mine called it) and into the D Group. However, this is something easier said than done :) For women to be seeded in the D Group you need to qualify by either running a half marathon in sub 2 hours and 20 minutes or running a 10km race in less the 1 hour and 3 min. With my PB on the half marathon being 2 hours 30 minutes and 20 seconds, there wasn’t much chance of me knocking 11 minutes of that time, especially when I would struggle to take off those pesky 20 seconds. So I was forced to try on the 10k.

My stats on the 10k are as follows : PB of 1 hour 4 minutes on my first every 10km in 2009 and I’ve never come close since.  I comfortably run 10km in about 1 hour 8 minutes and the last time I attempted to seed in December I ran it in 1 hour 6 minutes. So chances of a sub 1 hour 3 min 10k were looking unlikely.

Also, I decided I had to basically make a choice between training for the Edinburgh Marathon and getting fast enough to seed. I chose Edinburgh because quite frankly I just hate running fast. However, about a week ago my Coach said I needed to give seeding one last shot. After a little reluctance, I agreed on the basis I’d try and if I failed I’d know that at least I had given it ago.

The plan was that the Monday before the 10K race I’d do interval training, Wednesday would be Time Trial and Thursday was an easy 5km on the mountain. Then Saturday was D-DAY !!! I stuck to that plan, but come Saturday I was still very much doubting the plan would work.

The morning of the  was a bit hectic. One of the ladies from the club was meant to be giving me a lift, but she overslept and when she did turn up she was still in her PJs. So that was a little bit nerve-wracking. We did however, make it to the race in Athlone in good time.

At the start line the weather was a little overcast and it started to drizzle slightly.  Perfect running weather. Then the gun went off.

Wishing I was the Road Runner

Wishing I was the Road Runner

So the aim of the game was to cross the line before the 1hr 3min cut-off for seeding. We were told to actual aim to come in at 60 minutes, which would then give us 3 minutes to play with. So thats 6 minutes a km. Way too fast.  The plan was also to to split the race into 4 parts – a 1km warm up and then 3km sets. We pretty much managed to run as a group of 5 girls till we got to around 5km.  Andrea was our time keeper as she was the only one running with the watch. We were pretty much running each km in just over 6 mins up until the 5k mark.

At 5k two of the faster ones sped up. Than at around 6k Marlit dropped back (she’ll be running her 10th Two Oceans Half this year, so is automatically C-Seeded so wasn’t really under much pressure) and Christine stuck with me (she is a super fast runner and qualified long ago).

There was so many times I wanted to give up on this race, not give up in the sense of stop, turn around and go home but slow down and run at my comfy pace. I was getting in a strop about EVERYTHING. The lack of water (that was my biggest thing), the boring route (not that I would have had time or energy look around) and the fact that I didn’t have a man literally pushing me all the way to the finish to help me break the time.

Christine was awesome though,  she should be a professional pacer. She knew exactly when to make me speed (I never need to be told to slow down) and she didn’t even let me stop for water. Instead she would stop to collect the water sachets and catch me up. She talked to me the whole time to keep me motivated (although sometimes I wanted to tell her to shut up and stop tempting fate).

The problem that running at such a speed for me isn’t leg pain but rather the fact that my heart feels like it is going to burst and I can’t breathe properly. Seriously amazed I didn’t have a heart attack.  The last 4k was agony and the last km was a non-stop sprint for the finish. I have to say there was no better feeling than coming across the finish line and seeing the clock read 01.01.29 (especially because I was expecting to see something more like 01.03.01 and having to cry at the fact that I’d missed the seeding cut-off)

The Official Results of the Top Form 10K

The Official Results of the Top Form 10K

All that is left to say is that I’ve run Personal Bests (2011) and Personal Worsts (2012) and so I hope that the D-Group delivers something special.

Officially D-Seeded. Happy Days  :)

Officially D-Seeded. Happy Days :)

 

2013 – Book 1/15 – Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Happy 2013 !!  I hope you are all doing well. As some of you might have figured I’ve been hiding out for most of January and as February is here I’ve decided to start showing my face in blog-land again :)

So while I was busy hiding in a hole I did manage to catch up on a bit of reading. The first book I picked up (while waiting for the Koon Carnival to get started on the 2nd January) was called You before Me by JoJo Moyes. Ignoring everything they say about not judging a book by its cover, I picked this one precisely because of its pretty cover, it was very pink and girly so I assumed it would be a nice, trashy read which wouldn’t require too much concentration.

But the story actually really surprised me. The story is based around two main characters – Louisa Clark, a 27 year old girl stuck in a small town, settling for a relationship that she isn’t happy in and selling herself short by working in a tea shop and Will Traynor, a once hot shot business man making millions in the city and travelling the world who has suddenly had his life cut short due to a motorbike accident that has left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

After Louisa loses her job at the cafe she is forced to take up a job as a carer for Will. The story follows how the relationship between these two polar opposites develops and what they teach each other.  You might think you can predict this story and that she cheers him up and shows him that life in a wheel chair is not the end of the world and similarly he educates her and opens her eyes to new opportunities. While you would be on the right lines, the book actually deals with a lot of issues like how Will’s family tackle his condition, the challenges that disabled people face on a day to day basis and most poignantly, Euthanasia.

Although its an easy read, I wouldn’t say the cover really does it justice as it isn’t a typical trashy novel. In fact it tackles a lot of important issues.

JoJo Moyes

Me Before You – By JoJo Moyes

Live Sporting Event : Tick :)

So when last year I kinda cheated when it came to watching a live sporting event as I went to see Lady Gaga at Cape Town Stadium. To make up for my tardiness of this bucket list item in 2013 I got an early start on this one.

On the 8th January, three friends and I went to Cape Town Stadium again. This time when it was being used for its proper use, namely FOOTBALL. We went to watch a friendly match between Bafana Bafana and  Norway. From the moment I arrived outside the stadium the atmosphere was electric. There were drummers creating a lot of noise, stilt people and this strange mirrored man (who has a security escort around him)

Mirror Man

Mirror Man @ Bafana Bafana vs.Norway Football Game

If I am totally honest with you, we didn’t much concentrate on the footy game much. We were more interested in bantering with the crowd (we were too busy chatting to even notice the only goal of the game being scored). Unfortunately, that goal wasn’t scored by Bafana Bafana :(  Still, it was a nice outing and great to be in Cape Town Stadium once again  and even better to tick something off the 2013 Bucket List so early on :)

Chantal and I @ the Bafana Bafana vs Norway Football Match @ Cape Town Stadium

Chantal and I @ the Bafana Bafana vs Norway Football Match @ Cape Town Stadium

 

 

 

Better late than Never… Revealing the 2013 Bucket List

January was pretty much a write off…getting back into the wing of things at work, finding a new flat, starting a new marathon training plan…all of which I will tell you more about later.

But for now the moment you’ve all been waiting for … (drum roll)…

Bucket-List

Bucket List 2013

Sport and Fitness

  • Run the Edinburgh Marathon
  • Run 10 Half Marathons
  • Run a PB in the Marathon
  • Run a Sub 2hr 30min Half Marathon
  • Run a PB on the 10k (Currently it is 1hr 4mins – which I ran back in 2009)
  • Run a race in a place I’ve never run before
  • Do a 30 day yoga challenge
  • Learn to ride a bike
  • Get to my target weight

Career

  • Start freelancing again
  • Have 10 published articles
  • Get published in a publication I’ve never written for before
  • Get a pay rise/promotion
  • Do a career-related course
  • Reach 200 followers on the blog

Charity

  • Volunteer/Donate/Raise money for charity four times during the year
  • Give food to a homeless person
  • Buy coffee (or a cocktail) for a random person
  • Leave 100% tip

Food and Drink 

  • Visit a new restaurant each month and blog about it
  • Visit a new bar each month and blog about it
  • Invent a cocktail
  • Make cake pops
  • Make whoppee pies
  • Make souffle
  • Have a dinner party
  • Have a tea party
  • Complete a 14 day juice fast
  • Go wine tasting

Travel

  • Visit a new country
  • Book a flight home
  • Visit a new place in the UK
  • Visit a new place in South Africa
  • Do a road-trip
  • Go on safari

Hobbies

  • Create a home made item of clothing
  • Do a 30 day photography challenge
  • Enter a photography competition
  • Photograph a celebrity
  • Send a message to post secret
  • Read 15 books
  • Make a home made card
  • Paraglide
  • Hot air balloon ride

Culture/Entertainment

  • Go to the theatre alone
  • See the circus (or cirque du soleil)
  • Party till the sun comes up
  • Visit a museum or art gallery six times during the year
  • Watch an outdoor movie
  • Go to a live sporting event
  • Go to a concert
  • Go to a music festival