Treading lightly

The RAC 10km race is one of my favorite road races on the running calendar. It’s well organized, you can enter on the morning and the best part is the 8am start which means you still get to sleep in and enjoy your Sunday long run (bonus)!

Having taken a break since last year for his stress fracture in his femur, KK decided to run with me. We never run together. He’s too competitive and runs almost double the pace faster than what I can run. Which usually means we fight. And besides, I was worried about his leg. Would he manage 10kms?

But 2kms into the race, my worries turned to my own pain. My foot!

When I had X-rays taken in November last year for my sprained ankle, what surprised me most was finally seeing what had caused months of heel pain. The plantar fasciitis was in actual fact a heel spur!

I had not felt the stabbing hot poker to my heel since I started running again in January but boy did it rear it’s nasty head at this race.

I was disappointed. Was it ever going to go away? Most probably not.

Did it ruin my race? Definitely not!

Watching KK’s body language, the glee written all over his face at the fact that he was running: priceless! We stuck together for the entire distance.

And when he pushed me up that last 500m into the RAC field, I didn’t hate him. I would’ve run another 10kms if he asked me to.

Running through the Jo’burg streets engulfed in the most beautiful autumn colors. Just beautiful!

There are a few more winter races coming up soon and we’re both looking forward to them.

Will we run them together? Judging from his motivation to regain his running strength and fitness, most probably not. As I blog this post, KK keeps moaning about the DOMS from his training. There’s no such thing as baby steps in his life! Dude’s on a mission!

Behind the Dassie lens

As we headed back to work after a thrilling weekend down in Nature’s Valley, I was swiping through a couple of photographs on my iPhone that KK had taken from the Otter Trail Dassie 10km trail run.

The mixture of pics show me as a bag of nerves before the race, my daring efforts during the middle of the race (just after I ran into a tree), followed by hilarious pics of me gripped with fear as I crossed the balance beam over shark & piranha infested water.

We had made the decision to go down to Knysna even though KK had pulled out of the Otter Challenge race due to injury. We had already booked flights, accommodation etc. and we thought we’d go down to support friends running the race and just enjoy a weekend away.

It’s not what KK had originally planned for his Otter 2017 trip. But his injury had forced him to drop out. Not being able to run, missing out of the hype, the registration, race number collection and then the race itself wasn’t fun. Playing the supporter role is not what he signed up for.

But when I see the photos, I realize that throughout the entire time, not once did he make others feel bad or guilty. He didn’t sulk or get irritated by our excitement.

But his weekend revolved around me. He helped pick out my new hydration pack, thank goodness, as there was no water point on the Dassie. He nudged me every morning to go for my morning runs and there would always be cups of hot tea when I returned.

And on race day, he was there. He gave me his usual prep talk when I got my nervous running cough attack, he made sure I had all my kit and he popped up at every possible moment to take photos of me during the race, cheering me on, at the start, during the middle of the race when I wanted to quit, and at the finish line. KK was present.

His happiness for me finishing my race shines through in the pics. I can still hear his cheers from the side of the road and he was genuinely interested in my over-analysis of every step of the race.

Sometimes it’s how you show up to a race, more than crossing the finish line that shows what kind of athlete you are.

I know you’ll be back to run your Otter, but this ones for you babes!

It’s bad news.

It’s bad news…

These were the words that KK Whatsapped me three weeks ago after seeing the sports doctor. He had been in agony since July with a gnawing pain in his thigh which would not go away.

Needling and massaging by the physiotherapist, to more massaging and prodding by a chiropractor, and then more elbowing from yet another physiotherapist but the pain lingered on. He followed a strict regime of icing, heating and foam rolling daily. Nothing helped.

It was only after a final recommendation of X-rays and MRI scans that he found the answer.

It was bad news. A fractured femur.

Don’t even ask how because he doesn’t know. It just happened. Similar to how his pelvis cracked two years ago. It’s no wonder the pain didn’t go away.

The really bad news? No running. No jogging. No walking. No swimming. No gym. Not even a parkrun. He has been instructed to rest. It was only 5 months ago that he ran Comrades and had already set his sights on next year’s race.

Right now, it’s uncertain how long recovery will take but he knows that he won’t be running Otter, Kaapsehoop, Dischem, Pick ‘n Pay (his favourite marathon), or even Two Oceans. Will he be out for Comrades?

The smile I’m used to seeing on his face has disappeared…

In trying to find answers to why this happened, we consulted with an endocrinologist. Maybe there is a deficiency somewhere? Maybe things aren’t ‘gelling’ inside his body? Could be an over-active or under-active something…

The good news (?) is that there’s a possibility that the medication he was talking for the low bone density / pelvis fracture issue actually caused him to fracture his femur. One main precaution of taking Fosavance is … wait for it… fractures of the femur! The endocrinologist dismissed Fosavance as a ‘drug from the dark ages’. Google it and the first page of search results are all lawsuits against the manufacturers of Fosavance for femur fractures! Crazy!

So now we wait for the results of the blood tests and in the meantime, KK’s focused on other hobbies to keep his mind busy. And by other hobbies I mean Cookie Jam because let’s face it, runners don’t have any other hobbies! There’s a lesson in here somewhere, I know.

Running makes KK happy. So what do you say to a runner who can’t run?

Every race runs a different journey

It’s the Comrades marathon this weekend! Eeek! It feels like just the other day that I was waiting for KK at that finish line but I spotted this Facebook memory which reminded me just how quickly time flies! 

Yup, we’re headed back down for KK’s fourth race for which he has trained harder than any of the previous Big C races. Every year has been different with different goals and an entirely different journey to get to the finish line.

2014: The first Comrades race

KK was meant to run with his friend David but injury forced Dave to pull out after Two Oceans. With no coach and following a training programme pulled from a Modern Athlete magazine, KK set out with a goal of just finishing the race before cutoff. He ran a time of 10:37. He always says that with no previous experience and heading into the unknown was perhaps the best run of them all.

The before & after pic.

2015: Year of the pelvis Elvis!

During his training for Comrades, KK started to ache in his groin area. Hours of physio and being instructed to rest meant that he started Comrades with the least amount of training ever. Zero ultras, no long runs and very few kms under his feet, he managed to finish the race in a time of 11:18. The reason for the ache? A cracked pelvis. I know! But he got his back to back medals and that’s all that mattered to him.

Spot the medals.

2016: Training kicked up a notch

KK ran many long hours with Running Junkie Shaun this year. Following a training programme of track sessions combined with weekend long runs, he went in prepared and hoping to at least improve on his 2014 time. He finished strong! His time: 09:51. He was thrilled. It’s realising that he can improve that set his sights on 2017.

That smile! (after 89kms)

2017: Ultras and more ultras

This year has been quite different, training-wise (him) as well as emotionally (me). It’s been much more intense. After many months of training, waking up three times a week at 4am, long runs on weekends, KK is more determined than ever to improve his time and do well. He even took leave from work in order to avoid all the sick people in the building! He has listened to his coach and there’s nothing more he can do now other than rest and wait for Sunday morning to arrive.

I’m nervous, as always. I’m excited too! Supporting is a whole different ball game. Your heart sits outside of your chest for the entire day! But it’s an awesome experience!

It’s time. Let’s run!