Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Star Struck

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6:00. Not great for a weekend, but I was happy to feel rested and getting into an earlier rhythm. Still lying in bed, I checked my Facebook, and saw that a new parkrun was starting that day and it was nearby. Keen for a change of scenery (and hoping it's a bit flatter than my local one), my friend and I headed out for the new challenge.

As we pulled into the busy parking lot, with parkrun banners everywhere, a lady parking next to us asked what race it was. I said it's a new parkrun, and she was quite surprised. She shared that she had actually come for a boot camp, but was reconsidering it for the parkrun.

We were just in time to catch the welcoming speech from the parkrun director, who then proceeded to introduce Bruce Fordyce. He is the ambassador for parkrun in South Africa. If you don't know who he is, I'd encourage you to check out the link. He gave a great and concise introduction to parkrun.

Soon we set off and I was thankful for the park being broad, so that passing was easy. Also, we were running on grass trail mostly, which I love. The first section was a slight up hill and it filtered the front a bit. It's a double loop, so once you've run the loop, you know what's coming. On the second uphill, Bruce passed me, but I kept on his shoulder. I stayed with him on the downhill and then passed him again on the flat section. On the second loop the same thing happened. 

I was a bit star struck, as I realised I was running behind South Africa's most acclaimed ultra-marathon runner. A deep sense of gratefulness filled me. 

On Bruce Fordyce's (right) shoulder.Post by parkrun South Africa.

With 500m to the end I kicked and went to another place mentally. The world faded a bit and everything was burning. I made it to the end and beat mister Fordyce by 10 seconds. I also ran a new PB for 5km. A good day indeed. Below is my Endomondo tracking.



When my friend and I got back to the car, we saw the boot camp lady, and I asked what she did in the end. "I did the parkrun." she said with a smile. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lesson 1 | First Trail Run

I remember seeing an action photo of a serious runner, running up a steep hiking trail with a sheer drop on the one side and rolling grasslands on the other.  This was the spark that got me into the idea of trail running, although at the time I didn’t even know it was called that. Forward a couple of years and I’m waiting with some friends, midway in the bunch of 200 odd runners ready to take on my first trail run. It was midwinter and quite early, so moderately chilly! Training for this event equalled zero, but we were all doing it for the fun. It was the 5km route, so all ages were present, and I chuckled as I saw two 8 year old brothers squeeze in at the front of the starting line. There’s no gun shot, only a countdown and off we went.

The first kilometre was flat jeep track of 5 metres wide, so I was passing a couple of people, which fuelled my motivation and I started picking up the pace. There was a sharp turn, and then BAM!: A very rocky single track uphill and everyone slowed to a walk. With no place to pass, it got quite frustrating as the pace wasn’t fast enough for me. Finally, at the apex there were more space on the side and I rapidly started passing people, but the route was quite full and I was forced to do short bursts, by passing some and waiting for a gap behind others.

The descent was a lot steeper than the ascent, so I gladly slowed my pace. After the descent we ran a flat single track along a gushing river. I tried to pick up the pace, but I had no extra energy. I started wondering if this really was a 5km track, ‘cause it started to feel like we were approaching the 8km mark. After a while I realised that the bursts I gave to pass people had drained me, so I made peace with the pace and enjoyed the mesmerising scenery along the river trail.

Lesson learned: Place yourself at the start, where you think you will place at the finish.
If you can do this, you won’t get stuck behind someone or hold up other runners, which does happen on trail runs. If it’s your first run ever, not just trail run, start in the middle. From your result, you will then be able to gauge where to place yourself next time.

Feedback: What was your first trail run experience like? Please share in the comment box below.

Oh, and those two 8 year old brothers came in the top 10 of the 5km and top 3 in their division!

Image courtesy of chrisroll /

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Gift of Timing

I went for a 10k run at lunch time. I want to get more conditioned for heat, as most of my training runs are early in the morning or at dusk. I definitely sweat a lot more, but wasn't abnormally thirsty. The route is along all the busy roads surrounding our suburb. About halfway I saw a police helicopter circling up ahead and the traffic was starting to pile up. I got to the scene. It was cordoned off with police tape, numerous police vehicles and some bumped cars lined the road. Initially I was annoyed as this accident was in the way of my route. It was also right at an intersection that would not compromise on the distance too much. So after standing around for a while I diverted down the other route, as I wanted to do a good time too.

Later that day, my house mate asked if I heard about the shooting on that road. I was shocked. He gave me his grape vine version. You can read the news article here. One man was killed and three others wounded in the shoot out. Immediately I realised that if I had gone for my run a bit earlier, I might have been in the crossfire. 

I thought through my morning. How annoyed I was about the small admin time wasters. I realised that those time wasters were a gift. Those things that "wasted" my time, might have saved my life or have prevented trauma.

I now try to see everything as a gift, and I'm grateful for it, even though I don't see the purpose immediately.

Monday, April 21, 2014

WIL2D Defined

Just a quick definition of my acronym tag, WIL2D. It means What I Learned ToDay. 

I suspect I might always use this tag, as I believe we all learn and grow everyday in some way or the other.