2016 – Comrades

Comrades 2016 (spoiler alert – this is long, I got the medal)

IMG_8872I started last year’s Comrades (2015) without actually believing I would finish. It was a hell of a year and my life fell apart exactly 5 weeks before Comrades. Not good timing….  I did not run a single km from then until the start.  Actually I started last year’s Comrades believing I would not finish. The thought it in my mind was “I will regret not starting more than I will regret not finishing.”  I got halfway and I was happy. I made the cut-off at Drummond and pull off 2km later.

This year was different…. I was going to finish! There was no doubt in my mind!  They would have to drag me kicking and screaming from the course.

No matter what, I was going to finish!! It would prove to me, if nobody else, that I had made the right decisions. That now my life was on track and now I was fully justified in the year I had just lived. Wow – pressure on one run……

They say that the first 60km of Comrades is training and that the last 30km is mental. I believed that going in.  I was fully prepared and decided that I was “mental” enough for this run.  I had done the training.  60km.  I could do that.

What I have come to believe since, is that yes, it is 66.6% training and 33.3% mental but where the split happens is not related to distance.  Sometimes you need that “mental” early on.  Also training runs are not all about distance and running, they are about the people you speak to, the wisdom you gain from other’s failures or accomplishments and the knowledge that even though it may be tough you carried on (even if it was because your sister did not answer her damn phone when you wanted fetched on a long run.)  You can carried on. They carried on!  Even when odds were stacked against them, they (and you) carried on.

This year I needed to finish. I wanted that damn (small) medal.  Yes I am ridiculously motivated by medaIs.  I did not go to the expo as an exhibitor.  Comrades is one of my favourite shows as an exhibitor.  I love it.  SA Medal Hangers has been for the past 2 years.  This year however I wanted that damn medal.   It was a very tough decision for SA Medal Hangers not to have stand that the expo.

This year I wanted to give myself every opportunity to finish.  I flew to Durban on the Friday and on Saturday I rested.  Our spectacular hosts in Durban made this easy!  I went to the expo as a runner on Friday and I got out of there quickly.  I would have loved to stay and say to other exhibitors that I have met over the past few years, but this year NO!  This year I was on a mission.  I wanted that damn medal!!!!

So how did the race go?

I met a friend, Brett Glen at the start line… Making history….. He was running with Chaeli Mycroft and James Chevallier.   What inspiration to start this race with.  They would be one of the first two ever wheelchair runners and finishers.

A while later I caught up to my sister. 20, 000 and I found my sister.  I can’t even say when because I seriously don’t’ know.  I just know we ran together for quite a few km’s and that later I said that she must go at.  I am not sure how long we ran together, maybe about 10 – 25km but I told her to go at about 30km.   Pretty much the same distance as last year. The difference this year was she didn’t argue.  Ok, there were a few differences. This year she didn’t argue, but this year I also had no intension of pulling out.  I just did not feel as strong as she was (she is a faster runner than I am and had trained better).  Also I was feeling nauseous.  This feeling did not pass.

At about 35km I the feeling of nausea just increased and I thought maybe a food would help.   What I must say is the Comrades Marathon is wonderful in its support, and even if not the official food tables there is food all around.

Non-runners stop readying now.

Oh MY GLORY!!!!!  I stopped to grab a banana…. BAD IDEA!  Firstly – stopping I realised was not good.  Dizziness … then I put the banana in my mouth….. It lasted for all off about 5seconds…… As many runners know… all dignity goes out the window on a long run… cardboard rubbish container…

I did think as I puking my lungs out, that thank goodness it had a plastic liner.

A little dignity still prevailed and the bin was right on the road….. I moved over to the curb and carried on pucking my lungs out.  I do have to commend the girl from the water table…. Thank you!!  You offered to fill my water bottle and stayed with me till I stumbled off again.   I do really appreciate it… I had brief flash backs to varsity and my best friend holding my hair (too much info… ?)

But I was supposed to finish? This was supposed to be my year?…..So now?….. “WHY?”  Was this just not supposed to be my race? WHY NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I like running long distance (or so I thought)”  I was still throwing up and still feeling dizzy and about to pass out.  I was NOT happy.  Here are some thoughts that passed through my mind: (lots of swearing to follow)

  • Is this just not supposed to be my race….? Why the FUCK NOT!!!!!
  • Why the FREAKING FUCK!!!!!!?
  • No seriously?????
  • There is no fucking way this is the end
  • Well, Nandipa said she was sick and she carried on!!!!! She was basically carried off the course… I have only been sick one time (ok 6 times, but one session) ONE SESSION. I can FUCKING RUN.    This is where I have to thank Nandipa… Thank you. I thought about this a lot and this conversation is one of the main reasons I finished.
  • IF I DON’T STOP I WONT PASS OUT….. Keep freakin moving…..

So… I did not stop! Not for the next 60km

I slowed down at the next medical tent and asked if they had anti-nausea (they did but probably also thought they should have some anti-psychotic as I would not stop jogging on the spot…km don’t stop..  JUST DON’T STOP

60km…. For the next 60km I did not stop, I slowed down. I grabbed as many salted oranges as I could possibly get my hands on, but I did not stop.

I had friends along the way and I did not stop.  The supporter’s oranges with salt on them saved my day…. I had heard that the supporters on Comrades were fantastic and I must admit I was not so sure.  OH MY FUCK (swearing in a new post) they are freak’n awesome!!!! I have never experienced the support that the Comrades Supporters give.

I managed to pull myself together and run/walk. I cramped badly but mostly in my feet. I figured you did not really need feet to run (I mean seriously – you just land on them) and ran.  There were times where my calf’s cramped but not too badly.  I just ran.  I slowed down to the physios and asked that they spray my legs with their anti cramp stuff…. I was not stopping……..

Besides where I was throwing up I was not worried about time.  I was conscious of it, but figured if I just ran at a constant pace I would get there with about 20 minutes to spare.  I finished with 19minutes and I must admit I loved the race…. I LOVED IT!!! I  I loved every freaking second of the race. I will be back next year. I am not sure how I will manage the expo and SA Medal Hangers and the race but I have a year to figure it out.

So… My summary:….

I am happy. I am very happy.  It is actually a feeling I can’t describe.  I want to but…. I don’t really know what to say.  I did it. I am proud of myself. But it is more than that.

I ran from before sun up to sun down.  I ran for nearly 12 hours…. Not only me, many other people did this. Many other people have done this.  We ran for nearly 90km…. Oh my fuck I am a super hero….

Ok, that is what I want to say.  I am a fucking super hero!!!!!!!!

I have done a few other ambitious things, I have travelled around the world by myself (no strain – purely airplane booking) , I have climbed Kilimanjaro, I have completed an Ironman (x 2) . I mean holy fuck I am a single mom.

But oh my shit!!!!  I ran from sun up to sun down.   SUN UP TO SUN DOWN…… It was dark when I we started and it was dark when we finished.  And we don’t live in one of the Nordic countries…And I don’t just mean I ambled my way along.  I had to seriously move my arse.

I think that is the thing with Comrades… you cannot just amble along, you really have to more.  For 12 hours (or less if you are quick – I’m not) you actually have to move. There is no sitting. There is no resting. There are no transitions. There is no coasting on the down hills.  I thought that the hard thing about Comrades would be the “same muscles for all that time” it isn’t…. It is the fucking same muscles for all that time!

You have to concentrate, you have to think, you have to convince yourself that this, all 90km, is a great idea. – constantly!!!!!

A friend of mine in posted a day or so before Comrades one of her favourite running songs. One of the lines is “One: there is nothing wrong with me.  Two: there is nothing wrong with me Three: there is nothing wrong with me  Four: There nothing wrong with me……..

I loved it!!!!! I figured yep, this could be my Comrades song (similar musical tastes)….. NOPE….  It was not a good song…

  1. There I nothing wrong with me…
  2. There I nothing wrong with me…
  3. There I nothing wrong with me…
  4. There I nothing wrong with me…

Then I kept thinking….. OH MY FUCK What is wrong with me.  …….?????????? I think there is something wrong…..  There is an ache in my knee, or my hip, or I crap……I feel shit……. I think that may be cramp? Oh my….. something wrong!…….Bad, bad, bad…….

So I had to change.  Same tune but

  1. I feel good
  2. I feel good
  3. I feel good
  4. I feel fucking good

So now… 2 weeks later and I still feel good.  I still feel fu%$% good.  I still feel like I am a freak’n super hero!  I know this is just one race.

2015 – A review

The highs and lows…..

This year has had some serious lows but also quite a few highs.

The lowest of the lows was getting divorced!  Clearly not something anybody wants or plans on happening and as one friend pointed out I hate to fail and to me this is a failure.  Which brings us to low point number 2 Comrades….. See point one for reasons of not finishing…..  At the time I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster and my mind was not in the race.  I knew before starting I was not going to finish but I wanted to start all the same.

 

The then highs, of which there are many.

The biggest high is how proud I am of myself.  I feel like I have taken control of my life and I bought and renovated a house which Kaylin and I now live in.

When I first showed my brother my house he looked at me and asked what the hell I had done.  It was a dump!  The before photos don’t really show just how bad it was.

I called in the professionals for the heavy stuff – replacing the kitchen, the bathroom, the flooring and bricking in a doorway but other than that I did it all myself.  In 5 weeks I totally renovated the inside of a smallish 3 bedroom double storey townhouse.  I painted it from top to bottom myself, this included the ceilings and skirting’s; and when I say by myself that is exactly what I mean.  I prepped, I filled, I sanded and I even plastered one section.  I worked FLIPPEN hard!  My brother helped me put up the curtain rails but I put up everything else – the towel rails, pictures etc. The only thing that has me stumped a little is upstairs is drywall and I am not sure how to hang pictures on that…. (so far the ones that are up use double sided Velcro tape).  I will do a more detailed blog post with before’s and after’s.  The day we moved in I fetched Krypto from Animal Welfare…. Don’t get a puppy the day you move house!!!!  Having him in our lives is a high though.

Ok, so I didn't do it all by myself.  I had a little helper.

Ok, so I didn’t do it all by myself. I had a little helper.

The other high was finishing the Otter Trail Run in 10h25 a full 35 minutes under the 11 hour cut-off…. I realised then how motivated I am by a medal.  At one stage when it did not look like we were going to make under the cut-off I said to my sister “I have to have this medal, I have had a disastrous year, I NEED this medal”  So we ran – thank goodness it is a flippen big medal because we worked hard for that damn thing!  I am very pleased I did it – I won’t EVER be doing that race again (this time I am serious NEVER EVER)

The Otter Trail - at the start. Before the torrential rain, gale force winds and pain began

The Otter Trail – at the start. Before the torrential rain, gale force winds and pain began

The MEDAL.  Just as well is is BIG!

The MEDAL. Just as well is is BIG!

 

Other highs… I love having a 5 year old (most of the time)  She is still hard work but getting better.

Doing Micro Nippers and loving it

Doing Micro Nippers and loving it

My gorgeous sister got married to an awesome guy in April.  The 3 of us ran  did the Otter Trail together and at one point near the end when we were actually running he said to me.  “We are doing so well, we are going to make this.  Pamela, you are setting a cracking pace……” which I felt I was, until I looked at my watch…. 8:40m/km  It was however our fasted kilometer in the whole race.

Krypto – my cute street puppy….  I went to a second hand furniture place and outside the door were these guys selling a little puppy… I wanted to try and get them to give it to me as it had a chain around its neck too tight and they were carrying it around by that but they wouldn’t. They then put him in the back of a bakkie and were about to drive off.  I could not let that happen so I asked them how much – R150.00  I said I only had R100 so they said ok an gave me the dog…. But now, what do I do with it?  Besides the fact that we had a German Shepherd that is not very social we had also had a puppy visit us a few months before that unfortunately passed away from Parvo Virus. The virus can stay alive for up to 6 months on your property and can then infect anther puppy in that time, so I knew I could not take him home. So I took him to Animal Welfare.  I said to them that I really wanted him and I knew I was moving in about 4 – 5 weeks’ time and could get him then abut at that moment I just could not keep him.  If he found another home they must let him go, but if not I will come back and adopt him.  Which I did 6 weeks later – the day we moved.

The day I found him and took him to AWS

The day I found him and took him to AWS

Finally taking him home

Finally taking him home

He has made himself right at home - that is MY bed!

He has made himself right at home – that is MY bed!

This year has also made me once again realise how awesome my family and friends are.  Especially my sister – there nearly a 10 year age difference between us but we still manage to be great friends.  I am not sure I would cope so well without her.

My running highs are that fact that I had a PB in nearly every distance this year.  10km, 15km, 21.1km, Marathon and Ultra Marathon.  I have been running for 10 years and am getting faster in my 40’s   (training more probably helps)  I also did my first Trail Ultra – the ADDO 44km and it was AWESOME  I have entered that one again for 2016.  My 2016 race calendar looks pretty similar to my 2015 one except I am NOT doing the Otter Trail.  I might go back and do Dryland.  I really missed it this year.

I also finished a couple of paintings this year… in 2014 I didn’t finish any.  They are both acrylic on canvas and small 20 cm x 30 cm.  I am quite proud of both of them.

An exercise in skin tones

An exercise in skin tones

556

Early morning outside The Friendly Stranger in PE.

So, all in all I had a good year.  I am however hoping that 2016 will be much better!!

How was your 2015?

The Otter Challenge

This time next week I will be running/walking The Otter Trail Challenge – woefully under prepared.

The Otter African Trail Run

It is my final challenge of the year and I really hope that I come home with a medal AND enjoy the day. (see THIS post for my races this year)

I had big plans for this year running wise… and in general it has been a very good year for me.  I have hit my personal bests across all distances from 10km to an Ultra.  So in 10km, 15km, 21.1km, 42.2 km and 56km races.  I did my first Trail Ultra – Addo 44km and absolutely loved it.  I will be back there next year.  Entries have already opened if you are keen to do it.

The only goal so far this year that I did not complete was Comrades – life kind of got in the way there (a whole different blog post) and I started the day “knowing” that I would not finish.  Seeing as this race is very mental “knowing” you are not going to finish pretty much guarantees that you won’t.  My plan going out was to see how far I could get.  I figured I would regret not starting more than I would regret not finishing.  I was in Durban anyway for the Expo and I was right.  Although I regret not finishing I am very pleased that I started.  I ran about 30km with my sister and then told her to go on ahead as I was going to stop there (I wasn’t but didn’t want to hold her back any more).  I carried on till just past Drummond and stopped.  In my mind I was hoping not the make the Drummond cut-off because then I would have an excuse to stop.  I even when to the toilet about 2 km before and sat there for a while longer than necessary….  I made the cut–off and cursed a little.  I hobbled on for another couple of kilometers and saw another runner sitting at the side of the road.  I asked him if he minded if I sat down next to him.  The second I sat down about 10 people joined us and a few minutes later a bail bus came along and picked us all up.  As I was walking to the bus I asked myself again if I was SURE I wanted to stop.  I was.  I shed a little tear and then cheered up a lot when I found out that there was chocolate on the bus….I have entered again for next year and will do a lot of things differently leading up to the race.

Since then I have not run as much as I should have for Otter and definitely have not done the number of stairs that I should have or strength exercises but I am excited.  I have hiked the trail 3 times and love it!  I am doing the Challenge and have 11 hours to finish. There are 2 races – the other is called the Run and they have 8 hours to finish. There is NO way even on a good day that I would do that.

So, this time next week think of me…. and my sister and her husband and 217 other runners as we take on the Grail of Trail – The Otter…

I cant wait!

The realities of working from home….

There have been many posts written about the joys and hardships of working from home…. I wont repeat them but here are a few realities.

Puppies are curious… Taking a photo of your stock has its challenges!

Snuggly puppies

But being able to stop and snuggle makes it worth while

puppy snuggles

You get asked a hundred times a day “come play with me…”

Come play with me

And sometimes you can

puppy snuggles

Children are curious and want to help…

Doing moms work

Actually, I have no reply for that…. I NEED my computer back – I suppose at least she is learning some computer skills

and some photography skills.

Photography skills.

Maybe I can teach her to take the photos and I can play with the puppy more…

What are you proud of this week?

This week I am proud of how much my downhill running skills have improved.  Exactly a year ago on the Lake Farm Charity Trail run a friend , feeling very sorry for me, gave me a quick 101 beginner course in downhill running. (Thank you Sheena :-))

Downhill running, especially on trails, has been a real weakness for me but over the past year I have been practising a lot.  I have been making a concerted effort to run the downhill’s, not to be overly cautious, not to slide down on my bum (although I still do that in parts) and it seem to have paid off.

This weekend, again on the Lake Farm Charity Trail Run I passed quite a few people on the downhill’s and not only did I pass them somebody called me “Speedy Gonzales” as I went by.  (I am not entirely sure she meant that as a compliment but I am taking it)

I am super proud of myself.  I still need to work on the technical down hills as I am still pretty useless on those, but I think that is more a strength issue (I see squats and lunges in my future)

What are you proud of this week?

I just love these medals, I now have 3 and they are gorgeous. They are handmade by the residents of the Lake Farm Centre.  For more info about the centre visit their website HERE

Awesome Lake Farm Trail Run Medal, hand-made by the residents of the Lake Farm Centre

Awesome Lake Farm Trail Run Medal, hand-made by the residents of the Lake Farm Centre

All in all it was a great day – an awesome 15km trail run where we saw loads of buck including giraffe. Being called Speedy Gonzales on a downhill and a second-hand book sale at the end (I got a bit carried away as the books were only R3.00)  What more could you ask for on a Saturday morning and all before 9:00am!

This week I am proud of…..

This week I am really battling to think of something I am proud of….

 

I know there are some things I probably should be proud of, but mostly I am pretty disappointed in myself.  I let a ball drop and now it feels like the whole lot are about to come crashing down.  I know I will probably look back in just over a month and realise it is not nearly as bad as I think (I HOPE), but at the moment it seem pretty terrible and getting worse.  But, it does not affect my family, health or anything that is really important to me so I will just have to deal with the problems as they arise.

 

So, what am I proud of??? This week I am very proud of my daughter. I was away all of last week in Cape Town for the Cape Cycle Tour Lifestyle Expo and she stayed behind with Andrew,  our nanny and my mom.  She coped remarkably well, even though she was sick.  I felt terrible about leaving her, but could not do anything about it. I am proud that she is such an independent soul.

photo (3)

I am also proud that even though I was having a major pity party last week Wednesday, when my stand at the expo came crashing around me about 30 seconds after I had finished putting it up, I managed to give myself a stern talking to and pull myself together, rebuild the stand and have a great expo.  At that stage I really just felt like coming home.

photo

What were you most proud of last week?

This week I am proud of…

This week I am proud of myself for completing my first trail ultra – and not losing my sense of humour once.  It is the second longest running race I have ever done and by far the longest time on my legs.  It took me 7h21 minutes.  I did the Addo Elephant Trail Run 44 km.  My first of 3 planned Ultra‘s for the year and the only one on trail.

I am not going to lie it was tough, but I loved it. There were parts where the trail was so steep that I slid back and a hill where I began to wonder why on earth I had not done more (read any) squats or lunges in preparation but all in all I did not find it too bad.

My sister and I and more than a few friends completed the 44km Addo Elephant Trail, there was also a 76km, which I did not even contemplate, although my husband has said he will not be surprised WHEN I tell him I am going to do it:-)

I was a little nervous going into this – the route profile is hectic and well, it is 44km on trail so not for the faint hearted, but I had heard it was beautiful.

Addo Elephant Trail Run 44km Route Profile

Addo Elephant Trail Run 44km Route Profile

We ran through the Addo Elephant Park – but not the section with the elephants or lions (I might have run bit faster then….) and the area is absolutely breath-taking.  We started at Kabouga Gate and ended at Zuurberg Mountain Inn.  The scenery and terrain varied so much from dense bush to open plateaus with spectacular views.  There was even a rock pool that we swam in at the 37km mark and it was very difficult to get out of that cool water.

Here are few photos but they and my words do not do the area justice.

 

Addo Elephant Trail Run - The Start (do we look a little nervous....)

Addo Elephant Trail Run – The Start (do we look a little nervous….)

Addo Elephant Trail Run - still early(ish) on.

Addo Elephant Trail Run – still early(ish) on.

This was rather steep....

This was rather steep….

Sister Selfie

Sister Selfie

At the top

At the top

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Addo Elephant Trail Run

Yes, I know... It might have taken less than 7 hours 21 minutes if I had not stopped to take photos of spider webs

Yes, I know… It might have taken less than 7 hours 21 minutes if I had not stopped to take photos of spider webs

Thanks to everyone that ran with me, especially Heather, Nicola and Georgie.  Well done to everybody that finished both runs.

Not a medal, but very a very nice finishers memento

Not a medal, but very a very nice finishers memento

This year’s race was superbly organised by Free Spirit Adventures.  It was their first year having just taken it over and although I am not sure what it was like before to me they did a fantastic job.

 

What are you proud of this week (remember it does not have to be sports related)

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