Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Race report: Lourensford Traverse 20km - 5 April 2014


My first trail race of the season and this was an exciting one not only because I was keen to get off the road, but also because my brother ("Big Dogg") was visiting from Canada and so it was an opportunity to showcase the Western Cape Trail running scene. The day dawned with a sunny cloudless sky with the weather forecasted as perfect and we arrived at Lourensford Estate ready to rough it.

The Lourensford Traverse is a smaller trail race organised by Quantum Adventures (www.quantumadventures.co.za), the same guys who bring you races such as Grootvaderbosch and Berg & Beach. This was to be my first race by these guys and my first event in Somerset West so I was interested to see what it offered. The course profile showed that there would be a gradual climb for the first half and then some decent downhill to finish off and, although not too technical, it would have the odd challenge thrown in there.

We kicked off and cruised along at a gentle pace. The first half is predominantly on farm roads through the estate and some foresty area. There was the odd steep hill which reduced the pace to a hike which gave plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery as the view from the mountainside extended all the way to Strand and Gordon's Bay. The higher we got, the more tricky the road was and the steeper the incline but we were focussed on getting to the turnaround point where we knew we would be rewarded with some downhill. We hit half-way in just over an hour which was on track with our plan.

Canal navigation by Big Dogg
The downhill section started in the apple orchards and I can neither confirm nor deny that I sampled some of the local fruit...however I can confirm that it is export quality. We put together a few quick km until we hit the canals. Most of the second half of the race was run alongside the canals which for some reason was more difficult than normal single track even though it was dead straight. This was a lot of fun and definitely something unique to this race. A few pipe crossings and a wet clay descent (where I executed a perfect wipe-out) kept things interesting. After the canal section we took it easy for a bit as the Big Dogg was still acclimatising to the South African heat and hills as his pre-race preparation had been in -10 degree weather on flat roads. This resulted in a gentle trot to the end, back where we started.

My flying Lima impression (Photo: Peter Kirk)
I thoroughly enjoyed this race and I am quite disappointed to see that it is no longer on the Quantum Adventures website which I think means they may not be hosting it again. Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of discussion amongst trail runners on the ever-rising entry costs to these events. This race was exceptionally well organised with everything from the entry and registration process, to the route markers executed professionally, and it only cost R195. Fine it is not in some crazy mountain range but, if my Strava is correct, it did still include about 730m of elevation over 20km which is not a bad morning out. A race like this will never attract the big name professional runners and I can't help but wander if one of the reasons is that people don't take a race with a cheaper fee that seriously. If this is the case, then what is everyone complaining about? The point is there are more affordable races out there but if you only want to run races that have youtube clips about them, then you can't complain about the price. I am just keen to run any race I can, and after running Lourensford, I will definitely be entering more races by Quantum.

I usually place inside the top 33% of the field. My goal is to consistently place in the top 25%. 

Distance:    19.6km
Time:         2:17:41(54min behind winner)
Position:      83/134 (62% a lower rating but I was happy enough just being out there)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Training log: 10.03 - 06.04 - High mileage and Hout Bay

From the top of Ou Kaapse Weg

It has been 4 weeks since my last post which shows that I have been pretty busy. Thankfully not all of the busyness has been work and I have had some time to get in some decent mileage. These last 6 weeks before 2 Oceans was always going to be crucial and I feel I got decent mileage in 3 out of the 4 weeks which is not a bad average. The 4th week I basically started the taper but included some good trail running which definitely helps the strength.

Week 1: 10.03 – 16.03

Monday – CrossFit
The second workout of the open and this one did not suit me at all. Bearing in mind I can barely overhead squat a PVC pipe, the amrap of OHS and chest to bar pull-ups was never going to be fun. In the allotted time, I only managed 4 overhead squats at 44kg so didn’t even get to the pull-ups. It was 4 more than I thought I would get however, and this is what the Open is about, pushing yourself to uncomfortable levels...lovely.

Tuesday – Interval session at ATC
Some good sprints. A set of 20 of about 70 metres at 85% pace (whatever, we ran it at 100)

Wednesday – Run - Birthday Tempo
I really wanted to start a tradition of running my age on my birthday but I was a bit stuck for time this year. So I sneaked out for a quick tempo run to make sure I was firing for the upcoming Weskus Marathon. I managed to average under 5min per km so signs are solid.

11.4km
0:55:23
4:53/km

Thursday – Taper rest

Friday – Taper rest

Saturday – Run – Weskus Marathon

An awesome morning out, check out my race report here.

42.2km
3:44:42
5:20/km

Sunday – Recovery rest

Week total
53.6km
4:41:05

Week 2: 17.03 – 23.03

Monday - CrossFit
The third open workout and it was something that played more to my strengths. My strategy was similar to my ill-advised running strategy of going as hard as you can for as long as you can and I was quite happy with the result. I got through the box-jumps pretty quickly which gave me time to struggle through the deadlifts to a total of 92 reps.

The workout was:

Moonset! This is why I wake up and run
Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of:
135-lb (61kg). deadlifts, 10 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

185-lb (84kg). deadlifts, 15 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

225-lb (102kg). deadlifts, 20 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

275-lb (125kg). deadlifts, 25 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

I made it 2 reps into this round.
315-lb. deadlifts, 30 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

365-lb. deadlifts, 35 reps
15 box jumps, 24-inch

Tuesday – Run – Hout Bay to TAGG Sea Point
I am loving this morning run more and more and running on a fullish moon made for a splendidly magical start to the day.

16.4km
1:27:00 (estimated – Strava not working properly)

Wednesday and Thursday – Rest – also attended the Trails in Motion film festival (trailsinmotion.com) which is a great initiative and the short documentaries really fired up my motivation for the upcoming offroad season.

Friday – Run – Trail to C-Nek
I had not been able to do the mileage thus far for the week that I had planned so my goal was to do 3 half marathon distances in 3 days to catch up. In the end I only managed 2 as I had to work the Sunday. The first was a part road and part trail up the Hout Bay pipetrack to Constantia Nek and back down. Every day I realize how happy I am that we have made the move to Hout Bay, it is a running mecca where although you always have to climb to get out of the valley, every route out is beautiful.

19.1km
1:53:34
5:58/km

Saturday – Run – Road Chappies
Apollo was out and blessed us with a peach of a day to enjoy a run to Noordhoek and back. My intention was to run Chappies at a decent pace to try tire my legs and then see if I can push the pace coming down the hill on the way back. I have identified this as the place where things fell apart in last year’s 2 Oceans so I was interested to see how quickly I could do it in order to determine pacing strategies for this year. I managed a few sub 5 kilometers which was encouraging so I think the strategy is to smash 2 Race Foods at the top and then pound all the way down, we just have to hope there isn’t another headwind this year.

Running hard on Chappies
20.1km
1:46:53
5:19/km

Sunday – work/rest

Week total
55.6km
5:07:27







Week 3: 24.03 – 31.03

Monday – Rest – After realizing I would get nowhere in this week’s open workout and having too much other stuff on my plate, I decided to retire from the 2014 CrossFit Games.

Tuesday – Run – Trail – C-Nek
Dusted off the Inov-8s and hit the trails to explore a bit around Constantia Nek. I need to get to know these trails better now while it is still light.

7.1km
42:35
6:02/km

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Run – Run around Camps bay

From TAGG up Bizkop (those steps are tougher than I remember), up Kloofnek, down Camps Bay Drive, back through Clifton, up Bizkop again and back to TAGG.

14.5km
1:12:46
5:01/km

I was also lucky enough to be invited to attend a Garmin partner event  in the evening (more news on how I got the invite coming up). It was great to see some new products they are launching this year. I really like the look of their new range of GoPro type cameras which track all sorts of fun features and incorporate it into your film such as speed, maps, heart rate etc. Definitely a luxury purchase but it looks like so much fun that you may be able to justify it.

Friday – Rest before my annual big event

Saturday – Run – Flight of the Falcon
Running selfie mid Falcon
Last year I started an annual tradition of running this same portion of the 2 Oceans route about a month before the big day. This is also around the time of my birthday so I think it is a great way to self-celebrate. The route starts in Hout Bay, heads up Constantia Nek in the dark whilst still fresh, down Constantia Main Road, along Spaanschemat River Road, up and over Ou Kaapse Weg, down through Noordhoek and then up and over Chappies and back home. This is supposed to be a nice slow run with plenty of time taken to enjoy the scenery up all 3 of the big hills. Traditional stopping points are at the top of Ou Kaapse Weg for breakfast, at the start of Chappies for a snack with the view of Long Beach and then anywhere else you need to make it back.

42.5km
4:37:53
6:33/km
View for snack time

Sunday - Rest

Week total
64.1km
6:33:14

Week 4: 31.03 – 06.04

A slower week (I might have started tapering a bit too aggressively). My brother Big Dogg is down with the family from Canada so it has been great showing him a few of my local routes.

Tuesday – Run – C-Nek
The same C-Nek route as last week. It is a nice quickish loop with an ideal amount of climbing included.

7.0km
0:44:49

Saturday – Race – Lourensford Traverse
My second new race of the year and the second time I have been surprised by how awesome such an unknown event is. This race is barely even noticed on the race calendar but it should be one that people flock to. A full race report to follow.

20.0km
2:17:41

Sunday – big rest

Week total
27.0km

3:02:30