Specificity

cape-epic-sprint-stage-3-treadmtb-1536x1024Most of us have seen the photo.
Kulhavy waiting for Sauser to win the sprint.
They knew what was required and they knew what it would take.
They had a plan that matched the desired outcome. They had planned this scenario.
How many of us have the same insight?
Or do we leave it up to the gods on the day and hope for the best?
But where to start?
I was very aware of where I was fitness wise last year. I knew I could only improve at a certain rate – at my gradient. There was no way I could do the volume of past. I had to constantly assess where I was. Running by myself without my ego and those of others as a distraction. Honesty was number one.  That took a very long time to figure out.
So to my training. 
This year is the first time that I have some understanding of what Dr Phil is on about. To be honest it took months until I could even maintain a HR under 140. Probably longer to be honest. But I knew it was the way forward and I persisted. In fact I got injured and it forced me to keep all running easy. Easy and short. And then often.
Slowly building.
And then it suddenly clicked like magic. My body understood.
And now I think I am back to some form of fitness.
Anyway I digress.
I am heading to the Transrockies in August.
When I accepted the entry I knew we were not going to go full blast. The crux would be to run 6 consecutive days at altitude on pretty well maintained trail by our standards.
I look at images of my heroes and what they write and I always try to understand why they are doing what they are doing.
Why, why, why?
The answer is always there if you just look.
When I want to up my insight on finances I seek the council of my financial adviser not my doctor or best friend. I read up what Buffet and the boys are doing and thinking. Specificity. 
I observe and adapt.
So how to prepare?
First of all my partner and I have a pretty good understanding of our strategy. We are there to have fun and not to win. We will have to keep race day egos in check.
The innevitable game of sandbag is being played. I am not sure who is playing a better hand. We will see.
I have no illusion that we are going to be doing a fair amount of walking. Hope Pass etc etc will not be running terrain for us.
So there has been no track for me.
My weeks have consisted of long runs back to back to back, to back. Teaching my body and mind how to recover.
Learning nutrition on and off the trail. Dialling it in so that there are no questions on race day (sorry week).
Altitude is the factor that is most difficult to prepare for. I don’t have enough time pre event to aclimatise properly but I will do what I can.
Most important will be looking after my partner. We can only go as fast as the slowest of us two. Whoever that is. And that role will swap during the week!
Efficiency is key. Not letting any one issue get to the point of becoming a problem.
That is the theory. I am sure we will hit obstacles and make mistakes along the way but at least I have a plan.
The lessons are the same though. Specificity is key to whatever we do.
I can not say it enough.

OTB Sport Pupkewitz Jetty Mile Swim Swakopmund

jetty mileBefore our trip to Namibia I researched things to do and this swim popped up on the radar. Perfect: Transport our wetsuits for over 3000km to swim a mile. Just the right kind of madness.

M managed to do some research on the ground which ended in a coffee stop at Bojo’s owned by Bobby Jo Bassingthwaighte. Bobby Jo is the first Namibian women to swim the channel (to date the only one). We got some info about the swim but also about swimming in general.

Off we went for a recce in the Mole. Lucky to see 4 huge dolphins with us in the water.

Race Day arrived and sea conditions were looking MUCH bigger than the previous few days. We headed to Tiger Reef for the start and made sure to park in the non-4X4 area (read no deep sand). It seemed like Hawaii Shirts and cocktails are a must here.

A quick briefing by the OTB staff and we dived into the surf. We took a sighting off the Jetty. Round this and the swell felt big and when looking at the Mole we saw huge waves. The water was soft though so in retrospect there was not much to worry about. We rounded the Mole and headed to shore against the rip current. Thankfully it was not too strong.

A really pleasant event, well organised. I can only recommend it. Safety was good with lifesavers on SUP and a rubber duck in the water.

Oh the swim is slightly further than a mile. Just over 2km by my ambit. But with the push we got along the coast it felt like a mile

Totalsports Terra Firma:

tsMy first challenge this year is the land based activities of the Totalsports Challenge. Namely 50km road cycle, 13km road run, 25km mountain bike and 9 km beach run. Basically this starts in Gordon’s Bay and finishes in Kleinmond.

A fair bit of planning into seconding logistics has been taken care of by M who is also competing. And thanks to Roger, Kylie, Skidaw and Balloch for handing over road shoes, collecting road bike, racing to new venue, collect road shoes, hand over mountain bike, race to next venue, collect mountain bike and hurl abuse as we disappear for an hour of beach running. Then tell us how well we did! (oh I am sure there is a separate blog post there…)

My plan is to try and break 5h. It seems like a nice round number and I think it might just be doable! The theory is: 1 ½ h for the road bike (just over 33km/h), 4:36 min/km for the road run should get me to T2 in an hour for that sector, 1 ½ h for the MTB and under 60 min for the beach run. There you go: that is the theory. Wish me luck for Saturday!

Fueling and pacing will be vital. I suspect the road bike will be pretty busy so I plan on drinking 1 X 750ml bottle of 32Gi energy drink. I will have a jungle bar. I will use 32Gi chews for the run. This road always feels super hot so the two water tables will be very welcome. Another bottle of 32Gi for the MTB and a bar and gel (maybe some caffeine thrown in). I will make sure that I have a spare bottle with plain water to cool me down for the climb up Highlands. I will have a emergency gel for the run. let’s see how that plan works out.

This is the first time that I am taking part in the event as an individual so I do not have too much to base this on but we will see what the day brings. Most importantly I will be having fun!

links from the organisers:

http://www.stillwatersports.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1754&Itemid=1070

Arabella Challlenge on the horizon

So now the next challenge is the winter trail season.

First up is the Arabella Challenge. I will be doing the long (17km) run and M is in for the shorter (11km) option on the 28th of April. Great way to get the legs moving again and get into the hills.
I am psyched for this new event and am keen to see what the organisers have to offer. Maybe we will even take the bikes out there and go for a spin. Who knows right now.

Good thing to have a goal after IMSA to get going again. The route is certainly not steep by trail standards but is going to be a bit of a shock for the legs after the pancake flat IMSA run course. (If you were there watching on the lonely stretch behind the university then you would have seen me walk quite a lot, face in a grimace) I hope that I will put up a better performance in 10 days time!

Full disclosure:
As a great treat we have been  promised a stay at the Arabella for the night. Awesome hey! Who needs to be a pro with treats like this?

 

The week (and a bit) that was: Knysna Big 4 +1

Indeed this was the best 10 days Mel and I had this winter!
The plan was for us to ride the Mountain Bike and Road Ride together and then we would see how it goes from there.
80km Mountain Bike Ride:
We roll downhill to the start in the centre of town. M downs a petrol station coffee (to keep warm you know). We feel quite smug with our rather elite starting group with some pretty fast bikers. The “gun” goes off and we freewheel off towards Simola. The plan was to ride together and so we take the first hills at a steady pace. A couple of hours later I stop for a pee break, confident that I will watch M on the long uphill snaking into the green forest. Moments later I hop on my bike and to my horror I discover the uphill turns to down (The Triathlete’s favourite) and I know I have to push really REALLY hard to catch her! I scare myself and some squirrels in the process but finally I catch her and my only reward was a quizzical look and a “I wasn’t going that fast”
100km Road Cycle:
Somewhere about 20km in the ride we both have to stop for a pee break and pull out of a lovely slipstream. The Triathlete falls over creating some entertainment. We leapfrog with many others into the slight headwind. We cheer on imaginary friends and generally have fun. The Hoekwill climb is not so bad and we cruise down. I am keen to wind it on the way back so The Triathlete sucks wheel and I crank the big chain ring. Loving it.
I glance (gingerly at first) behind me to check if she is there and do not see her. I glance again and again then sit up. “I am here, go!” back in the drops and the train keeps going. (“On” and “Off” become our pretty good communication.)  Later at the Xterra the story unfolds as a fellow competitor comes up to us and asks if we rode the race. He and his buddy quickly realised that they would have to let her through if they wanted the benefit of our tow.
We sprint into Knysna the sub 4h time is within reach, but only just! Suddenly the traffic officers stop us to let cars proceed adding a little bit more pressure. We get given the go ahead and we crank the big blade home!
Featherbed 15km Trail Run:
We are on the Ferry and freezing. The race briefing goes quickly. I warm up a little and then we spring up the hill. I start off a bit conservatively as this is my first test in a year to see how the body holds up. The formalities of the warm up loop are over and I am just behind Landie on the single track uphill. I push on the walking sections uphill. This turns out to be more of a X-Country track than trail run that I am used to. My competitive spirit comes through and I give it all. I know that I will hurt tomorrow but I do not care. I am very very pleased with my top 10 place in the morning race and overall 12th!
Hunting Season is now in full swing and the big one turns out to be Xterra! Worth every cent of the R 200!
We quickly found a spot next to the pro’s to put our bikes. We got our bike shoes ready and everything was good to go.
The gun went off and we were off on leg 1: 3 km trail run, a quick uphill and then single track. Back to transition and run shoes off and bike shoes on and jump onto the mountain bike. Wet ground and mud everywhere. Back wheel sliding out and barely in control on several occasions. Uphill and down hill followed by the same. Again and again.  We climb in forests and dive through rivers. Paul Ingpen has bike issues and asks to borrow mine. “Later” I reply

A girl in pink decides to take a dive in a mud pool in front of me I only get both feet wet.

Finally 6km to go on the total distance of 22km and I kick for home
More climbing and then the bastard mud fest back to transition. I am in granny and hardly moving forward on the flat field into transition.

Very very dirty bike is racked. Bike shoes off, trail shoes on, helmet off and run cap on. Now for the last leg: 7 lm run. Up Heartbreak Hill. This guy in front of me starts walking and I can hardly keep up. The next few km’s are a blur but the most amazing single track follows. Finally the last leg jarring downhill and yes then another hill to climb to the finish. I look behind me. I do not want to get caught at this point and give it all.

Then it is calm. Done. I graze the food provided. Whatever sugar is provided is stuffed down my throat.

I wait for M, too stuffed to walk the little distance to cheer her on along the run route.

We are both pleased with our day!
Shower, bike wash, the best pizza in the world rounds off a quality day out!

Knysna Half Marathon is cancelled but a week later we park the car in Gordon’s Bay in a rain storm similar to Knysna. We stroll to the start of the 21.1 as the rain stops.
A short loop with one climb gets us warmed up for the 9km or so into the wind. I can tell it is TdF season as a cone of runners form behind me and a couple of others who are will to do the work. Some drop off the pace, some surge on as I start to feel the hurt. It has been too long away from this sort of thing. My aerobic fitness is there but my muscles can feel the pain as I push to maintain form in the final few km.
I am pleased but realise that there is a whole bunch of work to be done.I turn around and walk back checking my watch in anticipation.
There is one lone figure that is moving in every sense of the word. She can just make it if she is lucky!
In the end The Triathlete does a 8 min PB. I am proud!
This completes a most fantastic “week and a bit” of multi sport madness and one of the best holidays we have ever had!

Two Oceans Trail Run

So the Two Oceans Trail Race 2012 sold out in under 3h!
Either you smashed your keyboard on Wednesday morning and are one of the 800 runners that are in or you are not. There is no point in moaning about the high entry fee as this clearly is no deterrent. Quite frankly this event is worth every cent. I have said it before here. This is the best trail run (of its kind) on Table Mountain. It is fast, hard, technical and FUN.
But we are not alone in having events sold out in record time:
From the Cape Epic website: “When the Absa Cape Epic race organization allocated 100 of the 600 available team entries for 2010 to be sold on a first come first served basis starting at exactly midnight on Sunday 29 March 2009, they expected to sell them fast, but not within 100 seconds!” 
Here the DC Rainmaker reports on the Boston Marathon selling out in 8h. 468 000 entries! That is 16 entries a second!
Our TOTR is a mere one entry every 14 seconds. 
So what is this massive boom for endurance sports coming from? Why are people putting themselves through all this training to do an event they will never win? An event they will never make money from? In fact the opposite can be said. The training, equipment and time required to complete most of these events is phenomenal.
So who is entering these events? It seems to me that we need some kind of outlet. Some kind of meaning, some kind of purpose.
Have a look at this link posted by Richard Branson here. 
Let me know your thoughts below.

Another end of yeat post

At this time we like to reflect and post on what has been and what is to come: here goes my contirbution:
A cup of tea after a race is always the best!
Earlier today I was standing chatting to Gary Blakey of Blakey’s Beans. Yes he does do tea!
I started to stroll up the dusty hill with hot refreshing drink in hand. No this was no trail in my book but the closest to trail running I have done in the last month or so. The Tokai Manor House 16km is a gem of an event. I cheared on friends as they came in. I thought about the last year. It has been truly good.
I have never been fitter than I was in August.
I was never more surprised by a result than by TMC in Sept.
However I have also been inspired to take my running to another level. I am not sure what that is but I am doing track once a week and busy building a base around this.”Why am I running track with guys way faster than me” you may ask. “What has track got to do with trail running?”
I think I have exhausted my potential on my current training. I simply can not repeat the same training and expect different results.
What are those those results I aspire to? Not sure yet but here are some projects that inspire me for next year:
Two Oceans Trail Run
VWS sub 2h
Breaking 38min for 10km (I am 4 dec short or long depending on your interpretation)
Mweni Marathon Trail Run (depending on date clashes)
Outeniqua Marathon
Voet van Africa Marathon
Breaking 3h for a marathon (not the Cango downhill…)
Yes this is more road but the experience and speed gained will only help.
So what about the year past?
Here are some of my picks from ‘10:
Best Training Route: Easy Rider
Best new running idea: long runs with low HR and only water to train better fat burning systems.
Hardest training weekend: Bat Run followed by Kloof Nek Classic the next morning with Roger. ( The first hard weekend is always the toughest.)
Biggest Lemming moment: Agreeing to run the Mast Marathon.
Spectating Highlight: watching Jayde, Michael and Martin battle it out to break the Bat Run record. Well done Jayde!
And so we go forward into another adventure filled year.
Hope you are inspired to surpass yourself in ‘11!