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Cape Summer Trail Series is over :-(

February 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Apologies for the late post! Last week Wednesday was the last in the Cape Summer Trail Series, and despite wanting to give up and kill myself halfway up the first hill on the very first race, i managed to finish all five races. Even if I did downgrade to the short course.

 My short course number and – yes – it’s a MEDAL! MY medal! Can i have a whoop whoop!

 

Last week’s race was held at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Durbanville. It was just as stunning a setting as the previous races – although this time had the advantage of drinks and food on offer after the race.

 

Since it was so far out of town both the long and the short course races started later than before to allow everyone time to get there. Which was fine for me since I finished the short course of 8.5km in one hour ten (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT- WOO HOO!), but for poor Aimee who did the 14.5km long course she had to finish in the dark which was a bit daunting.

 

But yet again she rose to the challenge and finished, even though she had to run the last bit in the dark for about 30 minutes – not something I would have enjoyed very much.

 

I was really pleased that I had chosen the short course and while it was still rather challenging, it was very pleasant. I can’t work out if that’s because it just wasn’t AS bad as the others technically or if I’m getting better at it (*smothers laugh*) or if because I was running with a fellow short-course runner called Suzanne who I had met a few times before who has a similar, although slightly faster, pace to me and we chatted while we ran which made the time fly by and the tricky parts a little easier.

 

My first medal!  My first medal!

 

Whatever the reason I finished and I got a medal! Not for finishing you understand – because while I didn’t come anywhere near last this time (I know – awesome huh?) I think the top three can safely say I’m still no threat to them! But the medal was for finishing the series which was quite cool.

 

For the moment it may be hanging in a rather lonely solitude state, but I intend to remedy that this year with a few more races. In fact, I have already entered the Two Oceans…. no don’t be silly…. the Two Oceans TRAIL run. It’s got an 8km course for folk like me and a super crazy 18km course for the mountain goat half-breeds! :-)

 

I had a feeling this would be an addictive habit to start, luckily for me it’s a really healthy one!

 

I took some pics at the final race to put faces to names – I did meet AGuy there as well – well done for finishing too! – but alas I didn’t get his pic so you will have to be content with these below!

 

 These are two of the lovely ladies who helped me get through the first trail run on what I lovingly refer to as the ‘Mountain fo doom’. They also helped me when I locked my keys in the car in the 4th race. These are clearly GOOD PEOPLE TO KNOW!

 

 My running buddy Aimee with her very hard-earned and well-deserved medal.

 

 

Trail run number 4 finish and klaar!

February 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last night was the fourth race in the Cape Summer Trail Series and by far the nicest in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting (ever so slightly) better at it, or if it was just so pretty that I didn’t notice the pain, or if I really have been bitten by the bug. Whatever it was, I really enjoyed yesterday’s run.

 

It was out at Silvermine Nature Reserve West, I have never been there before and wow, it’s stunning. A big dam in the middle with birds, over-grown wooden paths with big reeds that form what feels like a tunnel – and of course because it had rained here in CT yesterday morning everything was slightly damp but had that delicious fresh and crisp smell of pure nature that just makes you want to take big, deep breaths. It was idyllic.

 

I again opted for the short course as it was 5.6km and the long one was an intimidating 11km. But I was not disappointed as it was still rather challenging for a beginner like me and by the time I got into bed last night my legs fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow they were so tired.

 

I managed to run most of the way which was encouraging, although the course was a lot flatter than previous ones in places. The only time I really didn’t enjoy it too much was when the short course joined up with the long course and I had to keep stopping and moving over when I heard the thundering feet of the fast runners bearing down on me. I did NOT want to be in their way – they literally fly down the hills and up over rocks, I swear some of them don’t even touch the ground half the time.

 

So that slowed me down a bit and I daresay I could have come in a little sooner than I did (about 54 minutes) if it wasn’t for that, but I’m not really doing this for the time-factor. I’m just happy to finish really! :-) Perhaps next year I will be the one tearing down the hill all mountain-goat like with my eye on the clock.

 

Waaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!! 

Ahem… Sorry for that break in sanity… where were we…

 

Anyway, after finishing the race and being rather chuffed with myself I went and ruined the vibe by locking my keys in the car. AGHHH!!! Seriously, who does that? 

 

Thankfully some lovely runners that I knew from the first run managed to work some real magic and got my car door open through a very small opening in the window.

So while my embarrassment was fortunately very short-lived it was a slight buzz-kill.
It would have been rather a problem since there was no cell phone signal in the reserve and it was getting dark.

 

But it all ended well and my running buddy Aimee, who bravely attempted and conquered the long course yet again, was possibly even more delighted than I that we could make our way home without a broken car window.

 

Anyhoo, for those who are interested in starting trail running, I spoke to a very interesting chap called Ian Little, who is one of the most experienced trail runners in SA and he gave us some tips on how to get started which you can read here. I am also working on another article about trail running with three more expert trail runners… so watch this space if you want to find out more and perhaps when you hit the trails you’ll be a little better prepared than I was! :-)

 

 

Doping in sport

February 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

 I went to a talk this morning by Professor Tim Noakes, one of the most respected sports scientists around and a colleague and close buddy of our very own FitnessDoc, Ross Tucker. He is a fascinating man and this must be the third talk of his I’ve been to  -and they have all been riveting.

Had I known how interesting sports science was – or indeed that it was even an option – I daresay it’s something I would have studied. I really didn’t know sports could be so interesting… the deepest I thought sports psychology got was the snot ‘n drama after the home rugby team lost and the resulting drinking binge. How wrong I was.

His talk this morning however, was to an unlikely audience at the International Committee for Insurance Medicine on the tipc of the ‘consequences and challenges of doping in sport for the insurance industry.’

Doping in sport has been a hot topic that we’ve covered a lot lately and poor old FitnessDoc has written endless articles about doping in the Tour de France to the point where I can almost feel his frustration. Yet unfortunately it’s a topic that’s going to remain a hot one for some time yet… for as long as there is sport and money to be made from it, there will be an industry right there alongside it to give athletes a not-so-natural boost.

The problem has so many folds it makes me head hurt to think about them… but the primary one Prof Noakes was talking about this morning was the physical impact doping agents have on an athlete’s health. And the news is not good.

Only bad news :-(

Firstly he made a distinction between sports supplements and sports doping. The first is what you can buy at any pharmacy and most supermarkets now – and I would assume that most serious gym-goers would have at least tried a few of them. These are legal – but not regulated. So while it’s perfectly legal to go and buy them and use them freely, there is very little known about what goes into them- or even worse-  how those ingredients really work.

Or if they work at all.

One of the interesting points in his talk was that most ingredients in an average sports/dietary supplement have 0% effect on performance. And if you consider how much these products cost I think we as consumers have every right to be indignant about that. Worse, even if they have 0% (i.e. nadda, nothing, not even a little bit) of an impact on how you train, they could have other ADVERSE effects on your body that might not be immediately noticeable. This, Prof Noakes says, is because there are no quality control on these products and the long-term safety of them is completely unknown.

The truth is no-one really knows because the manufacturers are often a bit shady about what exactly is in them, and how much. And how they work.

So if you think about it, it does seem kinda dumb to not only spend some good, hard earned cash on something that won’t do anything for you – and might harm you in some way. Logically that doesn’t add up. But then again, common sense isn’t really all that common…

And yet the market booms

‘Success in sport cannot be reduced to a single variable purchased over the counter,” says Prof Noakes. And believe me, this guy knows his stuff. So if he says there’s no point in it, I would take his word for it.

However, as with all things in life, nothing is that simple. Because as long as there are people out there wanting to lose weight, get fit, bulk up, slim down, tone etc etc…. there will be a supplement with someone with a ripped stomach and unbelievably good tan on a bottle of some ‘miracle’ drug to help you get there faster.

Yet while many gym-goers will slave away with the occasional top-up of what we now know is a pointlessly-expensive supplement, there are those who will take it a bit further. They are usually found upstairs in the gym, grunting and looking really angry with very distracting pulsing veins in their heads – they probably started with sports supplements, but have now graduated to anabolic steroids when they figured out the supplements were doing nothing for them.

This is where things start getting dangerous. ‘Roid-rage’ really isn’t a fun thing to witness, and while these guys might look big and buff and ‘fit’ the truth is they’re doing untold damage to their bodies. Especially their hearts.

Again however, as it’s not really a legal industry – despite the fact that it’s VERY much prevalent – it’s not regulated and there are therefore no real figures on just how damaging these drugs are.

One drug leads to another

Another disturbing fact that Prof Noakes highlighted was that most performance dependant ‘athletes’ (and that’s in inverted comma’s because I refuse to believe that just because you can bench-press a Boeing because inject/pop steriods like candy that does not make you an athlete) don’t draw the line at merely pumping their poor bodies full of steriods, but they usually also take lots of recreational drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines.  In fact, he says that a whopping 79% of anabolic steroid users also use these two drugs.

I believe the combination would make for a rather scary beast with a very bad temper. Not what one would really classify as ‘attractive’, but each to their own i guess.

However, the fact remains that this is happening. In sport, in the gyms, possibly even at schools – which is a whole other level of scary I don’t think I can deal with just yet. So as this becomes the ‘norm’ it becomes increasingly unfair on the real athletes in competitive environments who are genuinely just good at what they do… or perhaps I’m just being naieve and they are just the ones who are better at hiding it…. either way it’s a sad, sad state of affairs.

I, for one will not be wasting my money on supplements though. And I would urge you to do the same, too.

Three down, two to go…

February 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

Last night was the third race in the Cape Summer Trail Series and last night’s race was at the Silvermine Nature Reserve Homestead. Being the smart little cookie that I (sometimes) am, I decided to check the specs for the race before we went through and after seeing all those hills and climbs reminiscent of the first race I decided that perhaps it would be best for everyone if I just did the short course of 5km.

 

And MAN and I glad I did!

When we got there the three women who I had initially run with on the first long run were already there and planning to start the race half an hour early because they knew it was going to take a while. That in itself was an ominous sigh considering they’re all seasoned trail runners who know those hills like it’s no-one’s business.

 

My running buddy Aimee was however, still intent on running what we thought was a 12.5km race – although a decidedly worried look was crossing her face as first of all I withdrew from the long run and then the three women headed off half an hour early. It didn’t help with the MC-type guy announced that the course was more a 13-point-something km race and not 12.5km. Nor did it help when some rather buff men with legs that you JUST KNOW have been running hills for years were standing next to us stage-whispering about how ‘hard’ this course was going to be.

 

I had never been so relieved to NOT be doing a race! Phew!

Poor Aimee.. she had the look of someone being exiled as she took off. And I don’t blame her… as it was almost two hours later she crossed the finish line looking happy but oh-so-relieved-to-still-be-alive. She was on a bit of a runner’s high when she was done and I must say I was very proud of her, but I don’t think people who have just run/climbed 13-point-something km’s should be allowed to tell people who have not that it’s ‘awesome’. Mostly because it’s just the high speaking… :-)

 

Anyway, my little short run went ok. It was still strenuous for a newbie runner like me, but I’ve realised I’m a bit of a ‘late-bloomer’ on races because it seems to take me ages to get into it and for the first 2/3km I really huff and puff and sometimes have to stop and check that the wheezing, gasping sound is actually me and not the ghost of some asthmatic mountain beast. But after that I seem to get myself into gear and could run further than the finish line.

 

I don’t of course, cause that would just be silly and everyone would be all “WTF is she doing?” and that would totally clash with my inconspicuous runner ideal.

 

However I’m not entirely sure that the short course was actually 5km, because according to my watch I finished it in 37 minutes – which seems a ridiculously good time for me. Especially since I’m ashamed to say I walked a bit – some of those hills are tricky you know..

 

Anyway, my legs are feeling a little tired today so at least I know they worked a little bit. And I still finished the race, which is better than nothing. At least I’m still trying.

 

However one of the best parts of doing the short race is a) NOT coming last and making everyone wonder if they will ever get to go home and b) You finish early so you get to see all the hot-shot runners finish the long race and indulge in a little bit of the social side of things.

 

And I must say, they are a rather sociable bunch! I’m guessing it’s because you’ve all got something in common, but everyone I spoke to was so friendly and chatty. It’s probably also because they’re also all sweaty and muddy and hot and tired – so any social defences they might have had before are probably still wearily climbing down the hillside!

 

Anyhoo, I have been ‘convinced’ to do the long run again next week, which is just over 9km. I’m not entirely sure I will manage it yet, but I will see what the specs are the day before and make my mind up then. The only thing is that the short race is slightly too short, but the long race is slightly too long… suppose you can’t please everyone! :-)

 

PS I’m working on an article on trail running with some tips and helpful hints from an expert trail runner, so watch this space, should be done in the next few days!

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