My Kaapsehoop race review

I remember putting my leave in at work for the Kaapsehoop road race at the beginning of the year, thinking that the race was months away. But as we’ve all seen, the end of the year has arrived in supersonic speed. Our road trip to run our 4th Kaapsehoop road race arrived sooner than we thought. I was undertrained.

The breathtaking Mbombela Stadium with its giraffes and zebra lines. Love it!

I downgraded to the 10km race which meant I could legitimately collect my race t-shirt at registration and keep busy while KK ran his marathon.

Being married to an engineer, most events are planned down to the last minute. We have a holiday packing spreadsheet and a pretty good idea of exactly how the weekend will pan out. But things didn’t always go according to plan.

It’s Nelspruit so you’d expect hot and humid weather. But it dropped to 13 degrees and I was lucky I had packed in a warm top. KK had only packed in shorts and slops.

Milkshakes are at another level nowadays! KK was not complaining.

We stopped for a light lunch at Halls Farm Stall knowing we’d be tucking into saucy pastas later on.

I found this gorgeous Pinocchio at the Farm Stall. I’ve renamed him Stoute Kabouter!

Our carbo-loading plans were dashed when we arrived at the Riverside Mall to discover that the Primi had closed down. KK started to panic. In his mind, an early supper of gnocchi or Alfredo would fill his belly nicely and he’d be ready to run. Now what?

We ended up at the Mugg ‘n Bean. Disappointed. A Milky Lane soft serve ice cream saved my day.

What makes the Kaapsehoop race unique is the 3am bus trips to the start of the race. Shivering in the foggy forest waiting for the gun to signal the start of the race, followed by 42/21kms of downhills. It all adds to the experience of the day.

My 10km race as we headed out for 5kms, to turn back for 5kms.

Done! Not as fast as I would have liked. But I enjoyed it.

My 10km race was the last few kilometers of the marathon route. It’s the ruthless and relentless finishing climb into the Mbombela Stadium. For most of the runners, it’s a painful walk.

The 10km route – down and then up again.

The good news? KK qualified for Comrades! He ran a 3:54 and was thrilled with his time. He has battled injuries for over a year and the smile on his face as he crossed that line… priceless.

It was a good weekend away. We spent a few hours (because that’s all you can do) in Kaapsehoop itself, spotting a few horses.

We also regrouped with some of our running junkies for a hearty Italian meal on Saturday evening.

The races we ran this year, focused more on 10km distances.

It’s the final official road race for us for 2018. When I look back, it’s been a year of rest. It’s been a year of scaling down, focusing more on strength training. But it’s been a welcoming relief not to have the pressure that running often brings.

I suspect next year will be different. KK is rearing to go!

Damn! Is the race next weekend? Oops!

You know that saying, “You think you’ve got time, but you don’t” or something like that?

I entered the Kaapsehoop 21km road race taking place on the 3rd November. Yup, next weekend. Or next, next weekend. I digress…

I haven’t trained as much as I should’ve to take on a half marathon but I knew that as the race grew closer, I’d be ready. That was my thinking 3 months ago.

Then winter arrived and I stopped running. I call it my annual hibernation. Then we went on holiday. And I ate carbs at the buffet. Twice a day. Then I got a viral infection and I’m still coughing!

I’ve run a couple of 10kms here and there. I’ve jogged through the neighborhood a few times. Just to take in the beauty of the jacaranda trees! But a 21km is still hardcore in my books and I haven’t done sufficient training for Kaapsehoop.FNB Jozi 10km

The only “training” further than a 5km Parkrun has been odd 10km races, such as the Heritage Day FNB 10km race.

It gets worse.

Then an email arrived notifying runners that there are no substitutions after September. Ouch!

So it’s 21kms or nothing. No downgrading for a fun 10km run. Oh dear. I’m out.

I know I’ll hate every single kilometer of the 21km if I go and “run for fun”. It won’t be fun. And to risk disqualification if I jump on the 10km bus ain’t worth it.

KK still aims to run the marathon and qualify for Comrades. Yes, he has entered and just as well! Comrades entries are going like hot cakes!

Oh well, on the bright side, bring on that long weekend in Kaapsehoop! *whoop*! I’m always up for another break!

Ps: I’ll be much better prepared for my next race. I promise.

Running is good for mind, body and especially soul

When the alarm on my phone buzzed this morning, my brain started its familiar sabotaging tricks: stay in bed, it’s Sunday! Don’t drive to Wanderers and run a stupid 10km race. Stay in bed, it screamed. Luckily I had committed to two friends that I’d run the race with them, which was a good enough excuse to fight back those negative thoughts.

Meeting up with Tanya among 7000 runners was surprisingly easy and as that gun went off, we had already started to catch up. Work, life, kids, food, running… all the usual stuff.

I had promised my trainer, Stacey, that I would focus on my heart rate and my breathing, so the walk / run approach suited me perfectly.

Crossing that 10km finish line felt like a 90 minute “free” coaching session aka marathon. I vented, Tanya advised. I quizzed, she answered. I opened up about insecurities and she was able to stop me in my tracks, continually making me question, “but why not?” And “is that true?”

The rewards of running are endless…

Some days, you learn about your body. Other days, you test the willpower of your mind. But every now and then, it’s the company during the run which is what you need most. Today was that kind of day!

Surround yourself with people who inspire you, who build you up and make you believe in yourself. There’s no better time than when you are out on a run because when you’re running, you’re automatically in a winning frame of mind. When you run, you are already giving back to your body. The conversations are pure gold.

Thanks Tanya! Good soul food! I forgot about the uphills and didn’t obsess about watching the time on my Garmin.

Oh and I did offer to push the pram during our run while Tanya tweeted & cheered on the Rockies 21km leading runners. Wow! New respect for runners who run pushing prams because it is not easy! You do feel like a million bucks when people cheer you on though! That last kilometer was amazing!

Thanks Rebecca! *high 5*

My magical jumping beans

I was out running last week when literally out of the blue, I remembered a memory of the magical jumping beans from my primary school days.

Growing up, my family spent every holiday we could dragging our caravan through the Kruger National Park.

We would set up camp as close to the fence as possible in the hope that the smell of our braai tjoppies would lure the hyenas. During the scorching days, we camped out at drinking holes for hours with the zinging drone of insects in our ears just waiting for the Big 5 to get thirsty.

It was on one of these holidays that I stumbled across some magical jumping beans lying under a tree.

I collected them up and carried them around in a used yoghurt cup (most probably a choc chip flavor as this was my favorite and still is). The beans mimicked popcorn kernels and would jump erratically with a life of their own. Magic!

I was mesmerized. It kept me busy for days and instead of scanning for animals on our drives, my head would be looking down, into the cup, with delight.

Magic in my hands!

This was amazing! And I thought that when I returned to school, the kids would fall at my feet, dying to hold the magical jumping beans in their hands.

It was just before the holiday ended that my beans slowed down and eventually stopped jumping. My heart sank. How I was going to convince my schoolmates of my beans and their tricks. I was devastated.

I returned home and threw the cup with its contents in the bin. School holidays ended and for weeks, my eyes drifted out the classroom window, remembering the clickety click sound of those jumping beans. There was no way anyone would have believed me and so I kept it a secret and when we had to report back on our holiday, I spoke only of zebbies and giraffes.

As the leaves of winter have fallen and spring arrives In Jo’burg, there are pods scattered on the pavements along the road where I run near home. Every time my running shoes crunch on the pods, I remember the beans. 

I know that everyone has a similar memory, their own bean story. How absolutely wonderful life would be if we could capture those feelings again, that innocence, and not listen to the naysayers but truly believe in the magic of jumping beans.

So then, magic or not?

The Tamboti tree flowers in September and the pea sized seeds develop in three-lobed capsules which fall, when mature in November, to the leaf litter below. If you stand by a copse of Tamboti trees on a hot November day you may hear a distinctive rustling in the litter and if you look more closely you will see some flicking in the litter due to some seeds jumping intermittently. Collect some of these jumpers and place them on a plate in the hot sun and the jumping becomes more invigorated. Open one carefully and you will find a small larva whose body suddenly contorts causing the bean to jump. This is the larvae of the small grey moth Emporia melanobasis which parasites the seed when still green. ~ http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_tamboti.html

Caravan image credit: SANParks