Instructions from my (new) running Coach

“Take your shoes off and run barefoot. Then run on the balls of your feet and try to lift your legs as high as you can. And remember, the minute you want to walk, just stop, stand still and wait for the feeling to pass.” WTF! These were the instructions I received during the first session with my new running Coach, Michelle. 

Gosh, look at me go, go, go! It doesn’t look like it, but I’m sprinting my arse off here! LOL

I first met Michelle years ago when I trained with Coach Dave. She was part of what we called “The Illuminati.” The name, which was first coined by fellow Junkie Brenda, kinda says it all. 

Michelle will be the third coach to “fix” my head.

Coach Dave Coetzee taught me the ins and outs of track and how to value running friendships. Coach Neville Beeton showed me the ropes of trail running and sticking to a virtual training program.

A coach is meant to help get you through a specific problem; to get you from point A to B. And so when I heard that I was successful in bagging a Two Oceans half marathon entry, I considered chatting to Michelle. I knew immediately what I needed to get my 8th medal and one step closer to Blue Number club.

In a nutshell, I don’t want to struggle like I did this year running Two Oceans. I don’t want to be running up Union Avenue in a panic because I’m so close to the race cutoff. I want to enjoy the race. And getting old sucks because my whole body has slowed down massively since hitting my 40s. (Midlife crisis alert!)

Michelle is an old Running Junkie friend with running accolades longer than my arm. A gentle, kind person who you’ll find hanging out at Randburg Harriers coaching runners on Mondays and Saturdays, and then at RAC on Wednesdays.

It’s 10 years since I missed the cutoff gun in my 2010 Two Oceans attempt. This was what prompted me to start my blog & find a coach. And I’m back to square one. 

It feels like home. 

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

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s my business!

The end of year rush has started … Projects need to be completed. Budgets need to be spent. Exams start soon. That feeling of burnout can feel quite overwhelming.

So…I thought it might be worth taking your mind off things & sharing some great initiatives from a few of Conversation Station’s (that’s my business) clients.

Francis and Terry Rogan Physiotherapists

These two physiotherapists have bought a whole bunch of Secret Santa Shoebox names and opened it up to their clients to support. Simply “Pick a name, fill a box or two, drop it off, we will do the rest.” Physiotherapists with heart.

Just a few months ago, Francis was also part of the Sunflower Fund Everest Challenge, running up & down the Westcliff steps to raise funds for stem cell donation. Go check Francis in action!

I see passion in the work they do but love how they make time for others.
Francis and Terry Rogan FB cover

Educo Solutions

FREE, yes you heard right, education to South African youth in Soweto and Alex. Be between 18 & 28 years old, unemployed and come along to learn SETA-accredited computer and business skills. For more information and qualifying criteria, go here.

With SA’s dire unemployment figures, this is a lifeline for someone out there. Please help to spread the word!

Educo family

Brenda Taylor (aka CocoJade Distillery)

Brenda is collecting clothes, food, bedding and pretty much anything for a family close to her after their house burnt down in Lawley near Orange Farm. As she puts it, if your house burns down, you need everything! For Vongani, Phumzile and Siya, their end of year stress is very real after losing everything they owned. Let that sink in. If you’d like to donate, message me and will put you in touch with Brenda.

In choosing clients to work with, it’s usually the proof of their actions which tells me more about their values than any business plan they develop. You will want to support this amazing entrepreneur in future. Watch this space. *Not only because of gin.*

WIBT & PDA International Africa

In partnership with NICOSA & Khensani’s Collection, the team from Women In Business Today (WIBT) & PDA International Africa ran a series of workshops with high school kids in Diepsloot to teach them about navigating life beyond school. They played a board based simulation game which taught them to understand the career options available to them.

An incredibly enriching and empowering initiative! Thank you Matthew and Wade.

W5

School Aid SA

So most of you know that I grew up as an avid reader and even went on to study Library Science after high school. So refurbishing libraries across schools in South Africa is quite close to my heart. Imagination is one of the strongest tools to escape the evils of this world.

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” ― J.K. Rowling

Check out (& please follow their Facebook page & Instagram account) for amazing stories across SA. Here’s a little video I made to pull at those heart strings!

There’s a lot more going on but sometimes instead of listening to the negativity going on around me, I remember that a few people in my circle are doing extraordinary things.

It’s the small things that make a big difference.