Thursday, 26 September 2013

Race report: Table Mountain Challenge "Lite" - 14 September 2013

The Crazy Store Table Mountain Challenge is a 37km route around the perimeter of Table Mountain which can either be run as an individual or as team with 3 legs (8km, 13km and 16km). It is one of the most popular races of the year and entries always get sold out really quickly. I was not planning to run until 2 weeks before the race when they announced they were holding a "Lite" version. This was to be just the first 2 legs of the team event to be run as an individual race of 21km. Stoked to be a part of such a race, I arrived 2 hours early to watch the elite runners go off. The weather looked seriously ominous with the mountain under cover and some rain. I think I was the only spectator there that early but I couldn't resist getting up to go and see the likes of Ryan Sandes start out. In fact, 5 min before the start I was beginning to wander if Sandes really was running as I couldn't see him toeing the line. Then I spotted him casually cruise through, greet a few people, pop his earphones in just before the start and set off on a blisteringly fast 3h44 victory run.

Crazy is the right word
After the elites went off, the remainder of the field started in batches until finally it was our turn to start. By now the weather had cleared which I was not entirely happy about as I was wearing a thermal long sleeve so I knew I would get hot. The "Lite", being a new event, had a small field of only 64 runners so I felt pretty confident on the start line. Probably too confident as I set off way too fast. I sat in 4th place for about the first 2km...until the hills started. Once again, not doing enough pre-race research got the better of me as I completely underestimated the first leg.

Our route would be from Kloof Nek car park to Constantia Nek mostly along the contour path. The first leg involved us dropping down into Deer Park and running on the mountain bike trails for about 8km. I thought this was going to be relatively flat with the hills being gradual and on gravel road so I planned to run as much as I could. I was way wrong, the hills were a lot tougher than I expected and I found myself walking a lot of it. My too fast start got the better of me as people started passing me. This psyched me out and I started getting bleak that I was not getting any faster or stronger despite my attention to this in training. I got to the first checkpoint in 55m33 and in 9th position. I was 13 minutes behind the leader but only 2 minutes behind a batch of runners from 4th - 7th.
Not too happy during the first leg
(photo credit: Mark Sampson - Thribe Media)

The second leg followed the contour path pretty much all the way to Constantia Nek. Just after the checkpoint I took in my first gel (my attempt at following an actual race eating plan) and the boost it gave me as well as my familiarity with the Newlands Forest section of the trails meant I had a good patch of about 7km. By now we had caught up to the team runners that had set off in the batch before us which I thought was going to be tough to navigate but I think everyone was just enjoying it so much that they had no problem moving aside. The contour path keeps pretty much at the same level the whole way and although it has some rocky sections, is an incredible place to run. The recent rain meant the rivers were in flood which made for some fun river crossings. As we hit Kirstenbosch I was feeling strong. I had been jostling with one of the other Lite runners in bright Salomons most of the way and I had started recognising a few of the people we passed which meant I was moving up the field.

Shortly after we reached Kirstenbosch we hit our last real climb at Rooikat Ravine. This was tough and my legs were tired. I realised that in training I usually climb first and then wind my way down the mountain so I need to incorporate more climbs once my legs are already ready to crumble. I still managed to pick off another 2 "Lite" runners however and as we popped at out Cecilia Forest I was keen for a fast paced finish. Then I cramped up. I really didn't expect to cramp on a 20km run and I can only put it down to fatigue from pushing myself too hard. Physically I felt fine so was quite bleak to have to waste some time stretching it out. I popped an electrolyte tablet (not sure if this made a difference) and managed to push myself for the last couple of km to finish in 8th place.

Navigating the waterfalls
(photo credit: Govan - Totalkaos)
Another awesome event and at the end of the 2nd leg I was keen to keep going for the full lap of the mountain. Definitely one to add to the list of races to do in the future. I was happy with my 8th place finish but not happy with my cramping. I think I just need to work on more leg strength. Good news was no ITB issues. I finished 20 seconds behind 7th place and the bright salomon guy who I was running with for most of the way finished in 5th so I think if I hadn't cramped up I might have been able to get up to 6th place.

Race summary
As a benchmark I usually look to get inside the top 33% of the field and for interest sake look at where I placed amongst the other categories. My goal is to consistently place in the top 25%.

Distance:    21km
Time:          2:22:45 (36min behind winner)
Position:      8/64 (12.5%) - I needed to be 3 min faster to be top 10%
Open men:   8th

Where I would have placed in:
Open Ladies: 1st (yeeeeea!)

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Training log - 09.09 - 15.09 - Research and reward

I ended last week with water on the knee in the form of ice for my ITB pain and determined to not let this become chronic. Being cautious, I knew this was going to be a low-mileage week.

Monday - Lynotherapy

I can't describe this as a rest day as my first lynotherapy session ever was a workout in itself. Lynotherapy ( is a method used to correct biomechanical imbalance by restructuring and releasing of the fascia (connective tissue). It was incredibly painful but in a good way (it's a deep burn). They found that I have incredibly tight hip flexors and my alignment was biased towards my right side which meant I was basically running skew and therefore getting injured. The cool thing about this rehab is you don't need to stop exercising but I did need to take it a bit easier.

Tuesday - Rest day

Wednesday - Run - Merrell night series # 2

(Photo credit: Peter Kirk - Peter Kirk Media)

The second of the night series and after my top 10 placing last week, I was determined to give it everything. I started with the front runners and could quickly see that it would be a different race to the week before as the front group was a lot bigger. The started out flat which meant the guys were pushing it at under 4min/km and I tried my best to keep up but eventually started falling back at about the 3km point. Not long after that I had a spectacular face plant (when it was still light and on some flat gravel road) which shook me up a little. Feeling tired and bleeding I was not a happy night runner and as people continued to pass me I realised I was not going to make top 10 again. The course was a lot more difficult consisting of a relentless uphill on a path that had been corroded by heavy runs making it quite tiring to run on. I walked the uphill and then ran the downhill to the end as quickly as I could. I managed to catch back one of the guys who passed me and finished in 15th spot. Not my best race and I learned that I really need to run my own race, not matter how short, rather than trying to race the competitors.


Thursday - Sports Science Study

Running around the Sports Science Institute Track
I have volunteered to participate in a study by a doctoral student from UCT on barefoot running and on Thursday I went for my first session. The study will continue over an 8 week period where I will follow a program aimed at introducing a shod runner (one who runs with big bulky shoes) to barefoot running. I go for assessments every 2 weeks to see how the program affects my running technique and strength. The first session involved them shaving patches off my previously hairy legs to stick on little electrode things and some reflective lights which projects a stick image on the computer. I then ran up and down a patch about 10 times with and without shoes on. From there they will be able to assess all sorts of things about my technique. Then I had to put on this darth vader type mask and run around the track 8 times with and then without shoes. The purpose of this is to assess whether I am able to utilise oxygen more or less effectively with the different types of running. I am very excited to be involved in this study and am hoping that I can get some good feedback by the end of it on aspects of my technique.

Friday - CrossFit

TAGG hosted my guys from work again for our Fist Pump Fridays workouts to train for the Impi Challenge. A group workout again involving running, wallballs and box jumps which are fast becoming my 3 favourite exercises so it was a lot of fun. I didn't push too hard as I had a race the next day.

Team wod for time (teams of 2)

 5 rounds of
400m flat run
30 Wall balls (6kg)
30 Box Jumps (50cm)

Saturday - Run - Table Mountain Challenge Lite

An awesome event which turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought it would be but I was still happy to get another top 10. I put this down as a reward for that crazy lynotherapy session. A full race report to follow.


Sunday - Rest day

Week run total
Mileage - 29km
Metres gained - 1,776m
Time - 3h04

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Training log - 26.08 - 08.09: Time off and Top 10

After feeling some ITB pain the previous week, I decided to take a week off to recover. I am petrified of chronic ITB so I played it safe. Also I have hopes for September to be a high mileage month so I needed to make sure I was ready.

Mon - Sat - R and R

Sunday - WoD in the Winelands

TAGG Team WoDding in the Winelands
I joined the TAGG team at Groot Constantia for a CrossFit event to raise money for Guts 2 Glory which is a non-profit organisation that raises money primarily for disabled athletes. There was also a 15km run which I decided to do. The race was unfortunately poorly organised with a bad turnout which was a pity as it is such a good cause. I think I would have placed well however some of the lead runners missed one of the turnoffs which meant they ran a different route to the rest of us and so there were essentially 2 races going on (??). I finished in about 45 minutes which means either the route was not measured properly or I ran at 3min/km for the 15km. I think I will write this one down to a fun-run, which is a pity as I think with better organisation they could raise a lot more money for their athletes.

Whilst all this was going on, the CrossFit workouts continued through the rain. The teams had to do an event of running and sled pushes then another of burpee box-overs and shuttle runs. All quite high heart rate stuff. The TAGG teams did exceptionally well with the Men's team winning the whole competition. Once again our little box brought the gees and performed really well.

Monday - Run - Newlands Forest

The usual 8km route wearing my new Inov-8s. This was the first time I could test them out on the trail and I was really chuffed. For the first time I felt like I could glide over the rocks like I see all the small ladies doing at the races. They are incredibly light and the grip really helps the confidence on the technical sections. Good bye New Balance.


Tuesday - Rest day

Wednesday - Run - Merrell Night Series #1

And they're off
(Photo credit: Mark Sampson - Thribe Media)
This was the first of the Spring edition of the Merrell Night Series. My first trail race was actually in the summer version so I was keen to see how I got on. This is an incredible series of 3 weekly runs (you can choose either 8km or 5.5km) starting quite late which gives people a chance to kit themselves out in their winter gear and headlamps ( The field was small so I decided to position myself near the front at the start to avoid spending the first bit tripping over toes. About 1 km I realised that although I started conservatively, I was overtaking people and I could still see the front I decided to give it all I had. I got myself into a good position and duelled with a chap named Danie and a Polish chap of unpronounceable name most of the way. My excitement got the better of me and I started to tire with about 2km to go. Danie and Unpronouncable left me behind but I couldn't see any headlamps behind me so I knew my position was set. I blitzed through the last km and came through in 7th place! I am very happy with my first top 10 finish and being only 3 minutes off the winner. Also being in the top 10% meant I was way ahead of my usual goal of top 25% so it felt really good. I really pushed hard which made me think that maybe I am being too conservative on the longer races and I should go out a little harder (this strategy could well be very wrong). This was also the first race that I have never been "chicked".


Giving everything in 7th spot
(Photo credit: Mark Sampson - Thribe Media)

The leaderboard

Thursday - Rest day

Friday - CrossFit

TAGG are running a series of 6 classes for my fellow auditors in order to train for the Impi Challenge on 18 October. It is a lot of fun and a way to get some new people into CrossFit as well as get their bodies stronger for the obstacle course race. We did events in teams of 2 which was a good way to get the teamwork aspect going as well.

Team Saggers rocking it

Teamwod for time (teams of 2)

2 rounds of
400m 20kg Barbell carry
20 Pull-ups
30 Push-ups
40 Sit-ups
50 Squats

Result: 13:15

Saturday - Run - Table Mountain

A nice long run all around Table Mountain on an incredible sunny day which to me marks the beginning of what I plan to be a summer of lots of running. I started at Newlands Forest and made my way up to the Contour Path. I turned left to experience some of the trail I will be doing next week in the Table Mountain Challenge 'Lite' Race. At Kirstenbosch I headed up Skeleton's Gorge where I did not see a single person the whole way up (unusual as this is quite a popular route). At the reservoir I smashed a Bovril sandwich and then headed up to Maclears Beacon. After Maclears I was feeling a bit faint. I had tried something new foodwise, only taking sandwiches with me. I realised I needed something sweet also so I made my way to the upper Cable Station to get some Jelly Beans. That helped me out a lot and I headed down Platteklip. On the way down I started feeling ITB pain again which was a worry but nevertheless I made it to the bottom and then pushed myself as hard as possible down Kloof Nek and back to TAGG (the rugby was starting at 12 so I had to move). It was a good run with lots of climbing but what followed was an intense afternoon of ITB pain and lots of ice.


Sunday - Rest day

Week run total
Mileage - 40.3km
Metres gained - 2,714m
Time - 4h29

Some pics from Table Mountain

Which way to go?

Nice one Jan

Percentage runnable?

I bet some people thought it was overcast today

Good morning

Breakfast time

Looking back to Cape Point - the route I plan to run next year for PUFfeR

Climbing up

High point of my day

The way to beat bad weather is to rise above it

The only chap I saw on the run

Long day out needs a reward