My run down of the Kaapsehoop half marathon

Kaapsehoop Half Marathon 2017

This photo was taken two years ago when I had the privilege of running the Kaapsehoop half marathon with my Dad.

The excruciating pain is visible on our faces. As we rounded the corner on that final 500m, I thought my legs were going to rip off they were so sore.

This year was no different.

I don’t have any photographic evidence but I’ll tell you one thing. It’s been a couple of days since I finished my race, and the DOMS has hit hard. I’m sore. I can’t walk properly and I’m struggling to move like a human.

Runners claim that Kaapsehoop is an “easy run” because it’s all downhill. Some friends have achieved incredible personal bests (PBs) on this course. But it can also bring you to your knees! Ask Brenda

This is one of my favourite World Cup stadiums!

It was our 5th trip down to Kaapsehoop. I’ve run 2 Kaapsehoop half marathons before and two of the 10km races, although after I ran the 10km last year, I vowed that if we were going all the way down to Nelspruit, I would only run the half marathon.

I didn’t have a race strategy on Saturday, which often confuses your running head. 

I was running to kill time while KK was out on the 42km, gunning for a respectable Comrades qualifier. (Which he ran in 3:40!)

I had not trained properly for a 21km race. At some points I ran hard, other times I walked and chewed on sweets (which had melted in my pocket making my hands all sticky which was a great distraction) and then there were bursts of running from tree to tree (although this didn’t last long). My goal was to finish.

I wiggled at the cars driving along side us playing Bok support tunes thinking, gosh, the pressure in that Springbok changeroom must be enormous! And I giggled at the Celtic Harriers runner in the tutu whose quirky commentary had everyone running close to her in stitches. She’s a familiar face from Two Oceans.

When you get to this point of the race, there is no better and worse feeling. You’re so close, but in so much pain and still so far!

I even stopped to play with Ann Ashworth’s dog at one point (I was avoiding that final 3km uphill trek that lay ahead).

The Ups:

  • Well organized and fun vibe. No queues. Enough busses. Loads of water stops with bananas and potatoes.
  • I loved each and very kilometer (okay maybe not that last stretch) and I’m glad I did it. Mentally, I won that race.
  • Parking was a breeze, if you arrived early like we did.

The Downs:

  • There were not enough toilets at the start. I counted 15 portaloos for over 2000 runners. So many runners darted into the forest to do their business.
  • There was too much traffic on the first few kilometers due to runners not taking the busses and being dropped off at the start. Driving next to all that exhaust fume wasn’t lekker.
  • The camber in the road has left me eina.

It’s a race we enjoy and love and will be heading down next year on the 7th November to tackle it again. My fears that it had gotten too big were misplaced. Watching the Soweto & NYC marathon on TV the next day, I was gasping at those numbers!

Over 52 000 runners at the New York City Marathon!

Congrats to everyone who ran this weekend and achieved goals – physical and/or mental. It’s a downhill finish to end off the year … (for now).

Race rating: 8/10

Congrats on your Two Oceans and Comrades qualifier KK!

I ran 03:07. I didn’t even bother walking back to the car to fetch the tog bag because this guy sprinted into the stadium 33 minutes later in 03:40, having run double my distance! WOW!

Me too, Eliud Kipchoge!

No matter what kind of runner you are – trail, road, track, jogger, Parkrunner – when you watched Eliud’s incredible run on that Saturday morning, you felt it. The anticipation, the nerves, the pain, the glory!

In these final moment, seeing him sprint to the finish and the pacemakers cheering him on, I cried like a baby!

I hung on to every word he uttered. It was magnetic. That sense of determination, the positivity and the conviction that it was possible. #NoHumanIsLimited…I wanted more!

Sport unites people. And in my bond with running, I’ve learnt over the years that runners are united by common experiences and emotions. You don’t have to be Eliud Kipchoge, Ann Ashworth or even Ryan Sandes to experience the same fears, ups and downs and personal victories as they do.

In the many pre and post record-breaking run interviews with Eliud, there were three times where I caught myself nodding my head and thinking, “Yes, me too!”

1. The nerves.

According to Eliud, the hardest hours in his life were between 5 o’clock and and 08h15 waiting to run. For me, this is the hardest part of running. Waiting for the race to get going. Waking up in the dark after a sleepless night, the chilly morning, the queues at the loos, the countdown to when that gun goes off. Longest hours ever!

It’s mentally shattering. I don’t know about you, but my stomach goes into overdrive and I get “running coughs” which sound like I need to vomit. I am yet to fine tune my body’s ability to control my nerves. Eliud must’ve been a bag of them!

2. It’s taught me patience

One of the Google questions posed to Eliud was “what has he learnt about running?” His answer was being patient. Yes, me too.

Improvement comes with consistency and discipline. But with these two is also patience. It doesn’t come immediately. In fact, I’ve seen that it has taken a few years to get to the runner I am today. And I’m not only talking about the physical results, but more mentally.

3. What do you love most about running?

What would your answer be?

When Eliud said, “It can make your mind think properly” it nailed it for me. When you’re out on the road, especially running your long run allowing your head to wander, you think about the big and small issues in your life.

You have the debates, you ask the questions and often, by the end if the run, you have your answers. Having conversations with yourself out on the road is one of the most rewarding gifts as a runner.

Running unites. But runners unite.

I found this quote which sums it up for me: “In a world separated by distance, time, language barriers, financial hardships, family obligations, and political views — I find we are more alike than we know as I run down the road. We are all out on our journey to whom we want to become; we find we are all moving forward, at our own pace, on a path called life, together.”

Ps: Was it just me or did it look like everyone was trying to get a PB on their Sunday morning long runs on Strava? LOL

Thank you Eliud Kipchoge.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Running influencers don’t lie but can disagree

Two running influencers caught my attention this week. They were sharing their views about a pair of running tights.

Both of them posted reviews of a popular local brand of running tights from Vivolicious. But here’s the difference… For a change, the reviews were completely opposite – one was positive and the other negative.

Comrades green number runner and Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) leader, Tanya Kovarsky has been raving about her pairs of Vivolicious tights for a few weeks now. And gosh, go check out her Instagram feed. They look amazing!

(Even though Tanya’s tights are sponsored, I don’t hesitate to believe that her review is honest. I believe that she would only align with a brand she believed in 100%, especially when it comes to anything to do with running because it’s ultimately her reputation at stake and so many aspiring runners look up to her.)

Instastory wine celeb, photographer and runner friend, Jenty has also posted her experience with Vivolicious. But not as positive. The tights look stunning, even matching her toenail polish, as she pointed out. But the fit is uncomfy. They keep falling down when she runs and she’s questioning if she even has the right size for her body shape?

I’ve appreciated their honesty. Both credible fitness fanatics, runners and social media reviewers, I have found it refreshing to find two opposite reviews of the same product with equally relevant and important factors to consider when making this purchase decision.

Two different views for a change.

It’s impossible that every single influencer has the same experience and personal taste as the other! But knowing that one pair of tights can be a totally different experience on two different bodies builds trust in my eyes, both for the two runners and the brand.

But more importantly, runners don’t lie. And when it comes to being comfortable out on the road, we do look for the best and what works for our bodies.

So then? Will I buy a pair or not? Damn them both… I don’t know!

What my coaches taught me about running

I’ll be quite honest with you. When my CMIYC running partner (who I had only met 5 mins before the run) plugged her earphones in her ears into the 2nd kilometre of our 5km run, I was quite relieved. I was pushing myself so hard that I had started to grunt and pant like a bear and hoped her music would drown it out. I didn’t feel like chit chat.

Something else was on my mind. I had somehow managed to run the Randburg Harriers time trial route the entire way without stopping to walk once the week before. I was aiming to do it again but was already negotiating with myself that if I stopped to walk, it was okay. I mean, I had run the 10km Vitality Series road race on Sunday at Wanderers so was entitled to some rest time, right?

As we slipped into a rhythm, I started to question why the run felt so easy. Not once did I feel the need to stop or slow down. What had made the difference to previous runs? It’s then that the lessons from my previous running coaches made sense…

Coach Dave would repeat the same thing over and over: Consistency and discipline. Just go out and run, he’d say. Even if it’s 20 minutes. Do it. And yes, I have been doing that. Working from home has made it easier to close my laptop and run from home instead of sitting in traffic. The runs have been consistent and I’ve been kinder to myself for accepting that even a 3km run is still a run.

Track session with Coach Dave and his Running Junkies 2013. Best running years of my life hanging out with this bunch of amazing friends twice a week.

Coach Neville made the statement, “You can’t be training for a 21km PB until you’ve run your best 5km and 10km times. Start there.” His running programme started me out on 4km runs which is what I’ve mapped out around home. My fastest road race times have been while training with Neville.

So yes, I’ve focussed more on the shorter distances: between 4 – 7km runs during the week, running regularly, and only running the 10km races on weekends. Mentally, it’s felt a whole lot easier to commit to and I’ve bravely stepped it up along the way knowing that 10kms is pretty manageable.

Both coaches taught me valuable lessons and I was pretty thrilled when my Strava showed that I was trending faster. That’s always a good sign. I’ve also found another CMIYC group where the girls run closer to my pace – meaning I can still see most of them in front of me along the route.

As a runner, as in life, it’s not about giving up. It’s about finding what works for you and sticking to it. Only then will you see the results…

Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) Randburg group

Spring has arrived! Yesss! New beginnings. New goals. New running races. It also means shaving legs. Happy running everyone!