I took a gamble on Om Die Dam & it paid off

My foot is still not better. Even though I’ve been quite obsessive with all the treatments, socks, granny shoes, massaging and exercises, it still aches. I was about to surrender my Two Oceans half marathon entry but then spotted on KK’s training program that he was running the Om Die Dam (ODD) 50km race. It got me scheming…

  • I had not run a 21km race since last year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • I need to run a 21km race for this year’s Two Oceans half marathon
  • If I get halfway and struggle with my foot, I can walk to the end. Time on feet, right?
  • The race has a 4-hour cutoff for the half. Ample time!

So off we drove to Harties early Saturday morning. We haven’t run ODD for a couple of years. The congested traffic, the crowds, KK wasn’t running many ultras. It was a race we rather avoided. This year was different. Parking 100ms from the start, well-organised and 24/hr manned spotless port-a-loos in every corner. Always a good sign.

KK and I split up before the start. He wanted to slip into his starting pen early, I wanted to take my time lubing up and getting into ‘the zone’. I had not set a goal time. I was hoping to run under 3:10 but had no idea how under-trained I was. Perhaps 3:20 was more realistic?

My half marathon time ranges between 2:44 and 3:15. But this was the first time I had taken such a long break, focusing instead on 10km distances. Would it come back to bite me? I was also unsure if I would undo months of resting & care of my foot. Only one way to find out. *stupid thinking*

Mentally I had done my homework. In the days leading up to the race, I had envisioned running the distance. I wrote down a few positive statements on my pacing chart that I planned to whip out & read when I hit the dark patches en route. I was ready.

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The fish eagle crowed (the start gun!) and off we ran. I had bumped into friends, Billy & Christa, at the start of the race & when she mentioned that she wanted to run 3 hours, I thought, “Okay Bron, stick with them.” But soon found this to be impossible.

In the first few km’s their pace was too fast. I was struggling. I desperately wanted to keep up with them thinking that if Comrades race veteran Billy was pacing, I’d be fine. But they slipped further and further away. Getting to that finish line was all in my hands now.

I slowed down to a more comfortable pace and looked around, trying to take my mind off the run. I had completed 7kms in 1 hour. Was this too fast? Typically, if I can run 7kms every hour, I make the 3-hour cutoff gun. I was on track. I was confident. Was I overly confident? Perhaps. Definitely. I was over-thinking.

Just as I was about to pull out my pacing chart, a friendly face popped up alongside me. My ex-colleague and friend, Thiren. We started chatting away and it was just what I need to take my mind off the run as we neared the 14km mark. 2 hours had passed.

It’s quite amazing what the body can achieve if the mind believes and I declared to Thiren that we would make 3 hours if we pushed ourselves. I started to see that finish line! He was struggling with calf pain and managed to run to the 18km mark together before he trailed off.

I wasn’t done yet. I felt fantastic. I was strong. Hurting, but still strong. As I reached the 19km mark, I spotted Billy’s familiar white Comrades cap. I had caught them! What joy! I was thrilled that we had both achieved the goals we had set out at the start. It was 3 hours.

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I crossed the finish line, elated! My foot had survived. It wasn’t sore (YET! The afternoon was hell). But my mind had achieved what I needed it to do – believe that I could manage the distance. The body explodes with feel-good hormones when you finish a race. The best part is that this feeling lingers for quite some time afterwards…and boy was I happy!

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Two Oceans, here we come!

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Is running the new kid on the block?

Running races in South Africa have become increasingly popular. If you don’t arrive at sparrow’s fart before a race, be warned about getting stuck in gridlocked traffic! This was us at Johnson Crane in January. Added to that is taking over 20 minutes to cross the timing mat at the start of the race, like majority of suckers at Vaal marathon. 

Start line race

The starting line at Pick n Pay 2017


Is it due to health trends hitting our media that people suddenly want to run? Could Parkrun have ignited newbie runners into challenging themselves to run further than 5kms? Or have other events such as Crossfit, Bootcamp or Warrior have added to the flow of budding athletes trying their skill on tar? 
Race runners

Another view of the start of Pick n Pay 2017 – crazy view!

Whatever it is, it’s fantastic! Running is a reasonably cheap sport (that’s before you think you need a GPS watch to upload your runs to Strava) and you don’t need to run official races to enjoy yourself. 

YouTube is loaded with free coaching and it would appear that people are catching on to this. Don’t believe me? Check out Cape Town’s promenade. Or head to Jo’burg’s highway aka Westcliff stairs. Packed! 

Start line at Sarens 2017 – a stunning pic!

In between the ever growing numbers of runners are everyday people like you & me. The average Joe who will never run an ultra like Comrades; the casual half marathoner who dreams of full marathons; the 10km social guy and yes, all the really fun runners at the back! It’s a mixed batch and we’re all in it having fun together. 

Let’s keep running! 

Look around. What do you notice?

Our patio door stands open for most of the evening while we watch TV. The aircon in the bedroom cools us down while we sleep. The evenings are still light by 7pm. I’m smug that Summer is holding on for this long because I know what’s coming.

I’ve got the SADs. Seasonal Affective Disorder. I can feel the seasons changing. There’s that ‘something’ in the air. The glow of the sun is different. The freshness in the morning is crisper. And then these kinds of images have started popping up on my social media timelines…



Cosmos flowers signaling the arrival of autumn
The signs are everywhere. Autumn is sneaking in on us and yes, Winter is coming. I’m not ready. Are you?

The thing about regret…

I’ve had a few regretful moments lately.

It started on Friday when I had to fork out R7k for two new tyres for my car. Why? Because apparently if you have a puncture you shouldn’t drive on run flats for more than a week. I regret not getting my tyre fixed sooner.

I spent Saturday afternoon with my sister and niece. Gosh but she’s growing up so quickly! We laughed and chatted and shared a bowl of chips with our quesadillas at Tasha’s. I regret not spending more time with her. She left me with the most beautiful bunch of flowers. Flowers, tulips

After an entire week of rain, I lay on the couch on Sunday staring out into the drenched garden. Summer is gone. Winter is on its way. I regret not spending more lazy afternoons next to the pool enjoying the rays of the sun. Next to the swimming pool in my cozzie

I continue to struggle with plantar fasciitis. Desperate to run and knowing I’m missing out on key road races, I regret not running more often during the last months of 2016. You can never make up that training time, it’s gone. 

I sometimes sit back and wonder how these things happen. Am I aware of it? Or does it catch me off guard? Can I make it up or fix things. Sure! But the feeling is pretty crappy in the moment. I suppose there’s no point in regretting but rather focus on what matters now! Learn from mistakes and move on! 

My tips on buying running shoes

Before I start, let me admit that I am by no means an expert! But what I do know is that when you’re frustrated week after week and unable to run because of a foot injury, you do whatever it takes to find a solution.

This has been my action plan so far: I returned for regular sessions with my bio, Mari. She issued me with a training program to strengthen my weak hamstrings, glutes, back etc. I was sent to an orthotist to have my feet analysed. And he instructed me to buy new shoes. All in all, I have a pretty good idea of why my foot aches and what I need to do to recover.

There were some surprises along the way. Stories from runners, learnings from physiotherapists and reviews on many running websites all seem to say the same thing.

Here’s my tips from what I know:

  • Don’t buy the same shoe year after year after year. *guilty* The manufacturers make tweaks here & there and sometimes it changes the shoe completely. I recall that when KK had foot injuries, he was also advised to change from Nike Pegasus. Apparently the shoe design had been revolutionised and didn’t suit KK anymore.

Take a look at the comparison of the Gel Nimbus 16 next to the Gel Nimbus 18 in the pic below. Different, right?img_6341

  • Don’t buy a men’s shoe just because you’re looking for a wider fit. *guilty* See how wide the Nimbus 18 above looks? Stupid me for not realising that Asics were so narrow. Look at how wide the New Balance 1080 appear! img_6365
  • Buying running shoes from a specialist sports shop such as Sweatshop is better than Sportsman’s Warehouse. But running up and down that 20 meter lane while the salesman watches you run didn’t help me. My advice is to rather have a podiatrist or orthotist do a proper assessment of your gait and feet.
  • I was instructed to look for stability shoes with a cushioned heel and cushioned feet and to avoid anti-pronation. Huh? How the hell would I find this combo? When I gave the specs to the salesman, he didn’t even flinch. Instead he brought out boxes for all the major shoe brands for me to try on.
  • Mari also recommends the Running Warehouse website where you can do all sorts of comparisons based on specs such as pronation control, stack height and even weight.

What have I missed?

The exercises and stretching continues and some days I wake up thinking I’m fine, just to feel that stabbing pain in my heel ruin my entire day. If anything, it has taught me patience and the importance of resting. Not less running. NO running. It’s been tough.

Hey, if you’re buying new shoes soon, send me a pic!

Fixing my feet

I had my feet checked out by an orthotist last week. I arrived at his office with a pair of my old and current running shoes and a history of how the stabbing pain all began. He questioned me about my running history, scribbling notes on a fresh A4 piece of paper. “When did the plantar fasciitis begin? How long have you run for? How old are your shoes? How often do you stretch?”

You can clearly see that the older model on the left looks very different to the one on the right.

When I showed him the two pairs of running shoes, it was quite obvious I had not noticed how completely different the same shoe was. I have been an Asics fan since I started running. I have bought the Gel Nimbus shoe year after year. But when we studied the older model with the newer one, they looked like two different shoes! WTH?

The image on the left is how normal feet run. My feet, shown in the image on the right, is where you can see how my left foot hardly touches the ground and how all the weight is sitting in my right heel (where all the pain is).

Image on the left is how a normal person’s feet should stand. My feet, on the right, shows how much weight I am distributing on the balls of my feet. And yes, the right heel taking strain.

He made me run up and down a computerized mat to assess my feet. Again, quite revealing. The plantar fasciitis pain runs into my right foot, but it’s mainly caused by the lazy left leg.

The conclusion: There’s nothing wrong with my feet. The problem lies in the weakness of my hamstrings, glutes and calves. My current running shoes are too big for me and my feet slip up and down inside the front of the shoe. Ironically, I’ve always bought a men’s shoe for the wider fit. Don’t ask me why I’ve never considered other brands before? The shoes also cause me to over-pronate. I’m also tying my shoe laces incorrectly.

He wrote out a few instructions for me to take back to my bio, Mari. I need to focus on key strength exercises but quite honestly, I need to be disciplined to do the exercises if I have any hope of recovering.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080s

I must admit, I walked out of his offices relieved that I knew what was wrong. I was gutted to miss the Pick ‘n Pay half marathon this weekend but I did buy new shoes! Say hello to my New Balance babies! How did I choose these running shoes? Blog post to follow this week.

5 things I’ve noticed about 5km fun runs

I’ve run shorter distances this year. I started running the odd 5km races here and there. First it was the RAC 5km last year November, followed by my first park run in January and just recently, I ran my 4th Dischem 5km Dash. Yesterday I ran the Bestmed TUKS 5km fun run. It’s funny because I’ve started to noticed something quite unique about these races. A 5km race is just not the same as a 10km race or even a half marathon.

Here’s what I’ve observed:

  1. They don’t call it a fun run for nothing. No one is stressed out before the race. People are laughing, chatting, eating sandwiches. There isn’t that heavy smell of deep heat in the air. The vibe is relaxed and excited. Runners are out to have fun!

    Two Oceans 2013 fun run

    Two Oceans 2013 fun run

  2. You’re surrounded at the starting line by a mixed batch of runners, run/walkers and walkers. The age groups vary from toddlers to grannies. There are families, lovers holding hands, prams and even dogs on leashes. If you’re hoping to get a good start or a PB, make sure you line up close to the front.
  3. If you decide to wear your official club running shirt, you will stand out like a sore thumb. Ha ha! I certainly did. I was kitted out, even had my finger ready on my Garmin watch waiting for the gun to go off. I shot off and got stuck behind everyone in the point mentioned above. Rookie mistake. In fact 5km runners/walkers are already wearing their goodey bag t-shirts that should only really be worn after the race. Eeek! Talk about bad luck! Meh, they don’t care.
  4. They have no concept of the #runclean movement and throw their water sachets everywhere! The pro’s and other athletes do too. But fun runners are oblivious. It’s not uncommon for a water stop to take as long as you want either.
  5. The race organizers seem to think that no one cares if the 5km distance is suddenly 4.4km, as was the case with the Bestmed TUKS run. I mean, it’s not a serious run after all, right?

It’s crazy but I’ve started to love running 5km races. And somehow I blame it all on the reasons listed above. I love the freedom. I love that no one is too competitive. I love not stressing about half marathon distance cutoffs and while I struggle with plantar fasciitis, my feet are getting time to rest and recover.

Shorter distance races makes you love everything about why you started running in the first place. Because while I’m surrounded by the grannies, the dogs, the prams, the lovers holding hands, there are runners in those races who go on to run 10km, 21km and even ultra distance races. Because let’s face it, we all started out in that one fun run race. It’s where the passion was ignited and the bug bit!

The start of the 2017 Dischem Rehidrat Dash

(Images: Google)

The clouds that follow me

Our camera club theme for the month of January was clouds. What an awesome theme, right? Who hasn’t taken that shot of the breathtaking sunset after work or the majestic sun rise on an early morning drive to work? That perfect pic just before the storm or the incredible view of the clouds over a calm sea.

It was hard to decide which of my photos to submit for camera club. Everyone’s submissions were incredible and it was really tough to choose our top 3 photos.

Since then, not a day goes by without me looking up to the sky to notice the clouds. Not once have I been disappointed either. Sometimes I gasp at the beauty. Other days, they speak to me and match my mood of the day, be it stressed, anxious or happy. They’re there. Bold, loud or calming. 

Here’s a selection of some of my favourite ones.

Make sure you look up and marvel at the clouds that follow you around. You won’t regret it. Tag me in some of those pics you share on social media!