Monday, February 21, 2011

Been a bit scarce in cyberspace, but I'm still literally and figuratively, plodding along!
Got my first marathon for the year coming up this weekend, and I am looking forward to it. This thought does strike the one part of me as odd, as there are still strong remnants of couch-native in my blood. Why would I be looking forward to running a marathon? Well, the one thing is, it's in the Karoo, a big stretch of land that seems to have worked it's way into my psyche and seems like it is there to stay. Plus the marathon will be a first for me, and it is not a double lapper. This means we run from one point to the other, and not go past the start and finish twice which we do in a 'double lapper'.

I am really embracing this adventure of looking at the world on foot, as there is so much to see when not whizzing by in a car. With my pace of running too, it could almost be described as 'slow-motion viewing'! But needless to say, there has been a slight improvement in my speed over the years.

Sunday saw me visit one of the hardest half marathon's in Gauteng, the Pirates. This route takes us through Linden and Cresta and winds the way up to the very posh neighbourhood on the Northcliff ridge. The views are fantastic, when the bloodrush to the head allows eyes to focus clearly and having done this race a few times, I knew that I would be really taking it easy.

There was a large field of runners which is fairly typical of this race, because it is a challenge and because it has a nice atmosphere. I found myself running with a different friend for the early kays, and we ended up getting stuck behind a large 'bus' of people who were running together to show support for the runner who had been knocked down by a car in a previous race. This bus was a great way to hold back the pace, and allowed me time to chat and catch up with training stories and life in general.

My regular running partner caught me just before the real hills, and we walked behind the chanting, hypnotising bus. At a water point halfway up, we decided to squeeze on ahead and just relax but speed up a little. Before I knew it we were at the summit, where loud music welcomed the kings and queens of the mountain. This nice pace and good conversation meant that I never really looked at the distance marker boards and I had deliberately left my watch behind so it was great just getting time on my legs.

When we got to the finish and I saw the time, I was rather surprised to see that we had spent almost three hours out on the road. I put it down to a nice training run, and then for a brief moment my brain went into a panic about the mathematics of it all. My marathon is double the distance but only five hours. Eek! But then, reason took control again, and I reflected back that it was a deliberate relaxed run, to 'save' myself for the marathon. The great thing about this race is that I never had one moment of tiredness, or wishing it all over, or slapping any walls, but rather it was cheerful, calm, and most of all fun! Thinking back to a lot of my training so far this year, this kind of clear head space must mean I am getting fitter, surely?

All will be revealed this weekend, as I head off to run beside the Ostriches(I know I can't race them!) Beep, beep!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I almost doubled my running figures last week and was all set to keep at it when the Jozi weather disrupted it all again today. Thunder and big lightning, meant I stayed home instead of running 10km's of hills.

Must say though this season's record rainfall has made the world look very different. The long long grass of the veld will swallow anyone who dares venture in, but instead of being sinister, it looks so pretty. I have always disliked the unruly-ness of the veld here, it always looked so chaotic, but this season things have changed. Maybe it is just me, clutching at straws to find different visual distractions on familiar running routes, but my world is seeing soft pink hues skim the tops of the long veld. Purple flowered weeds are showing a pretty side that I never noticed before, and the short yellow ground cover is astonishingly bright.

Maybe it is the lack of oxygen to my brain, but the countryside looks different.

I may be getting a little fitter too, because conversation is beginning to increase, which means that the lack of breath is diminishing. Except for our Thursday night torture session of hill repeats. That session is remarkably silent. At least on the way home, when the route eventually starts to slant in our favour, we can chat about how hard the supposed sprinting up the steep hill was. I say 'supposed' because I don't seem to move any quicker, even though the pulsing in my ears and pretty pink birds in front of my eyes tells me I am sprinting! It's like someone has tilted the treadmill and if I try really hard to quicken my pace, but the tilt just seems to increase against me. The nice thing about this particular torture is that running any mild hills now is almost achievable, and I don't have to grind to a halt at the first touch of an incline!

So tomorrow brings a new day, and new mileage, and hopefully the weather along, because I can't sit still for too long with only 4 weekends to go before my first marathon. I better get a-chugging!