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Archive for May, 2009

Breaking the Doc’s record – Part 1

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

This week I got the proverbial “Bean in my bonnet” and decided to have a go at the Doc’s long standing squad record on the track. I am not one who is very verbal about the goals that I set myself, mainly because I keep them for my inner competitor. Strangely, it is often the crazy little challenges, said in passing, or decided on the spur of the moment that appeal to me the most. Take for instance, the race to the only open check out at the supermarket, or spotting the last parking space in a lot – every situation has a potential competition attached to it….

Yesterday, I don’t know what it is that inspired me, but I thought, ‘It’s time to give the record a try…’ So, on a less than magnificent day (it was was windy and a chilly 17 degrees), I headed out to the deserted track. I prepared well for the assault – 3 bottles of Gummi Bear juice, some gels in case of a potential bonk, some dry clothes for the victory ceremony after and a chocolate as a reward…

I did a quick 3 lap warm up (didn’t want to tire myself out too much before…) and then with the sounds of “Chariots of Fire” in my head, I began running. The time goal was reasonable – in fact, I thought ‘How hard can that be? When I was in high school I could run that in….” It was more the quantity that seemed to be the challenge – one hundred and five, ok, one hundred and six if I was to become the new record holder. By my own admissions, I am rather mathematically challenged, and without Wongstar to ask for calculations, I had to do the theoretical sums as to how long this was going to take me. The whole morning it seemed…

So with no audience, apart from two stadium grounds keepers basking in the Winter sun, looking at the grass grow, it was just me. Despite the very dry thin air, I hardly noticed the first ten intervals, the times were good – 3 seconds slower than what the Doc said, but I figured there could be an adjustment for the altitude – at 1650m above sea level one does suck for air a bit! When I do things like this (ok, I have never done THIS before!), I like to make things tough. I don’t use Ipod, I want to see if my brain can handle the task and the monotony. I reward myself with Gummi juice only when I have completed a certain number of intervals, and I try and break the task into little groups.

I reached twenty. Shew…. is that all? Why are my lungs and legs burning already? This is SUPPOSED to be quite easy isn’t it?

Twenty five. Ok, good job, basically a quarter done! Get a nice drink of bottle 1 of Gummi Bear juice. Am sure that is going to help and I am going to feel great any second now…

Thirty. The ground keepers are yawning, contemplating whether they have the energy to make morning tea.

Forty. Oh boy! I don’t want to admit it, but my legs are starting to feel like tree stumps AND I am breathing hard – this can’t happen when I still have 66 to go!!!!

Forty Five. Ok, still managing, but need help. More Gummi Bear juice

Forty Eight. Oh sh_t! We have drop off and just ran 5 seconds slower.
Forty Nine. 5 seconds slower again! But I really pushed harder on that one???

Fifty Two. Broken. I need help…. go and sit in the sun and watch the grass grow. Two bottles of Gummi Bear juice still fully loaded. No celebration. No reward.

I failed. For now.
Part 2 coming soon, updates to follow and maybe a pic of the grounds keepers!

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Riding on the wild side…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

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Lately, I have sought out a new training ride, away from traffic, pollution and noise that is Johannesburg…

With training partners being scarce at this time of year, I decided to venture out to greener pastures and add some excitement to my training routes. I have found a wonderful nature reserve, 38km from where I live, and yes, I have to load the bike in the car and drive there, but it is like Eden close to home! This week I headed out there for three hours of bliss on a bike – there is only one road that goes the whole way around the reserve and there are no short cuts. The best part is, there are no cars (ok maybe one or two slow moving ones on the weekend), no criminals and I can be completely assured riding on my own!

So, there I was, straining on the uphills, whizzing down the hills and then hitting the winding bit, when all of a sudden I saw a movement from the corner of my eye – a zebra! Clearly, I was a foreign presence and when I looked up I had startled a whole herd – I literally slammed on brakes to avoid colliding with these beautiful creatures. The entire herd charged across the road in front of me! It was an exhilerating spectacle, they were so close I could smell them, sense their panic and feel the vibration of the mass of thundering hooves… Ah! Only in Africa!

Bean running moment….

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

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Bean running moments happen often. I have narrowly missed being hit by golf balls, tripped more times than I can remember and found a fish lying in my path when there is no fish source in the vicinity apart from the local supermarket?

With the onset of the chillier weather, and no races on the go, I have had Blogger’s Block and cannot bring myself to write something unless it has some sort of meaning or entertainment value. I have been pondering a topic all week, when something happened this morning, which made me think this was a ‘Bean’ moment that did not happen TO ME, but I would remember as a highlight in my training run memory. For those who may not understand the concept of a ‘Bean’ moment, simply watch an episode of British comedic genius Rowen Atkinson in ‘Mr.Bean’…

For my Saturday morning run, I usually drive out to meet my two friends Arthur and Russell in a hilly part of Johannesburg, as the town where I live is rather flat and mundane. Both guys are very accomplished Comrades Marathon runner’s (that crazy 90k run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg they do here every year), and needless to say, all I usually manage to say to them is “Good Morning” – gasp for 1h30/2h – and then “Thanks for the run” … The rest of the time, I try to distract myself from the strain of keeping up, by listening to the most entertaining conversations about football (I believe the team to support is Liverpool???) , their wives (all good I assure!) and the latest car models!

This morning we headed out in the dark, as usual, at 5am (quiet bliss time in Jo’burg!). We were running on probably what is the only easy section of the whole run, and I thought I might just have enough breath to blurt out a sentence about — Uh-oh! Massive big pothole in front of feet, going to fast to stop in time, sandwiched between Russell and the pavement, am gonna have to stretch extended leg a bit beyond the comfort zone of my hamstring….stretcchhh! Whew! made it over, Bean did an incredible evasive move, hamstring still intact! Russell and Arth say, laughing at my blindness, “Oh, didn’t you see the giant crater in front of you????”. No. Clearly, I did not, but no crash landing – amazing!!!!

A little further down the road, we have to cross another road, this time, on high alert, I spot a river flowing down the road – I warn the guys, “Watch out, that’s a burst sewage pipe!”. Proud of myself, I get them to SLOW down. I decide to go to the right, with Russell just ahead, in order to step over the narrowest flow of grey water and make it over dry. Now I see Russell, (who does not have the longest legs in the world) attempting to cross at a point that is a little to wide for his step…

He steps straight into the drain from which the ‘Dwang’ is eminating – ANKLE DEEP! Now Russell is a VERY neat, very tidy, kind of guy who ALWAYS has pristine shoes and matching clothes! The look of horror on his face was priceless! I cracked up and laughed so hard the tears were streaming from my eyes. “So, Russell…” I ask “Did you not see the big drain that you just stepped into?” I was glowing with a ‘Bean” moment of revenge. Apparently, the pale colour made him think that he was stepping onto the concrete lid of the drain? This is HIS story. Shame, despite my very cruel rolls of laughter, I was kind enough to point out the loo paper hanging off the end of the shoe! He was fuming with disgust, now having to run on a chilly morning, with a wet, squelchy, contaminated shoe all the way home! Everytime his foot landed and the shoe squished I could not help but burst out with laughter.

Moral of the story? Never laugh AT the Bean, revenge may just be around the corner…