Archive for April 30, 2009

Running Isn’t Always Glamorous!

Yesterday I wrote about the study which I’m involved in which will measure my core and body temperature during the Comrades.  I had to do a VO2 Max test in preparation and wanted to fill everyone in on what exactly a VO2 Max test is and how I fared…

You basically have to run on a treadmill which starts off at a leisurely pace of 7km/h and gradually increases by 0.5km/h every minute.  The aim is to keep going until you have reached your maximum effort which is when you jump off of the treadmill.  Now there were a few things which I did not consider and therefore didn’t ask before we started the test, the most important being

How do you jump off a moving treadmill going at about 15km/h???

So I, in my comfortable naïveté, started the whole process – oh don’t let me forget to say that I couldn’t talk because my Oxygen and CO2 levels were also being measured which means I had a mask covering my nose and mouth –  and secretly I was hoping that they would find me to be some kind of sporting prodigy, which is why I’ve managed to do such crazy things in terms of running in such a short period of time

All was well until about 15minutes into the exercise, while I was bolting along at somewhere between 12km/h and 14km/h, I mistakenly looked down and almost shot right off the back of the flipping treadmill…  Sending forth a muffled scream from inside my face mask I managed to grab onto the railing and hop off before I was unceremoniously spat off the back – not something anyone should be trying at home and neither, as it seems, in a carefully monitored state of the art laboratory!!

Luckily I was already running over my maximum (according to the computer) and all the results they had were fine, truth be told I wouldn’t have been able to carry on for much over what I had already done anyway, as most of my regular readers know I’m more of a tortoise than a hare

running away and going no where
Not me but similar to what I looked like
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Running Research

While I was out searching for a new pair of running shoes a few weeks back, I was asked if I was keen to be a guinea pig for a study which the Sports Science Institute, the University of Exeter (UK) and the DSO National Laboratories (Singapore) are doing to measure what the body temperature does during Ultra Marathons in warm environments.

Of course I jumped at the opportunity, always being eager to do new things (oh wait, isn’t that how I got into running too 🙂

What does this involve??
I have to swallow a temperature sensor (and no, they don’t want it back to those wondering) and then carry a small recording device which logs what my core temperature and my skin temperature is doing throughout the race.  They will also be taking a small sample of blood before and after, checking my hydration levels and I guess a bunch of other stuff.

I also had to do a VO2 Max test (check out tomorrows post on that experience), where they are able to see how fit I am along with measuring my body fat percentage.
I’m really quite excited to find out what the results show, I was told after my little run that apparently I’m in the top 5% of the general population in terms of cardio-vascular fitness, which has done wonders for my confidence – only 4 weeks from the Comrades…

NOTE:  They are still 6 people short on this study so if anyone in the Western Cape is running the comrades and would like to be involved, email Aurélien at or check out the information on their Facebook Group.

The Pill I have to swallow

Running Stars!!

I mentioned in my last post that I was in a photo shoot, now I’m not about to turn all Model on you but I do need to boast a little considering the shoot was with none other than Bruce Fordyce!!!

For those of you who don’t know why this is such a big deal, Bruce won the Comrades marathon 9 times, 8 of which were consecutive – need I say more…

Of course I wasn’t looking my best having just finished running 56km and with no make-up or wardrobe crew on hand I just had to make do with my hat-hair and salt encrusted face.

The shoot was for LIFE magazine and the article is about marathons, look out for it!!

Bruce & I

Bruce & I

Almost Famous!!

Almost…  For those of you in South Africa buy the May SHAPE magazine!!!  My fabulous friend Bridget McNulty (she also has a lovely blog which you should read) wrote this article about crazy things mom’s and daughters do together, seems the Comrades qualifies as crazy enough 🙂

May Shape Mag

May Shape Mag

Two Oceans Ultra Marathon – Part 2

As I said in Part 1, this race was certainly not my favourite… Battling with the noise in my mind from the very beginning of the race in Newlands, I managed to keep up with my mom for about an hour after which I politely excused myself and plugged into my iPod in the hope that it would quieten the rather grumpy thoughts taking residence inside my head.

Just before half-way I ran into Anne (who finished the Cape Town marathon with me) and was happily catching up when suddenly she slipped on a reflector in the road and hit the tar literally, face first.  In the split second it took for me to bend down and roll her over, her eye had already swollen closed and the cut on her head was bleeding rather badly.

To cut a long story short Anne sent me on my way while she was being patched up by a medic and I thought that the race was over for her (re-enter my iPod along with some worry and the sound of a body hitting the ground at speed).

Just over the gruelling Chapman’s Peak in  Hout Bay, I’d stopped for some much needed TLC from another dedicated second (thanks Barry;) and while I was recounting the story Anne came galloping past, all plaster and grazes and blue swollen eye – I couldn’t believe that she had carried on AND caught up with me!!

So, with Constantia Neck and 18km separating us from the finish line, we put our heads down and soldiered on towards the end with spectators gasping at seeing Anne’s face and me reminding myself that whatever is going through my head could not possibly equal what Anne was going through physically…

I do have to say that I take my hat off to this incredible woman who not only managed to find the strength to carry on running after a bone jarring fall, but who also managed to motivate me while I was flagging near the end.

The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is most certainly not for the faint hearted but definitely worth it, even if it is just for the scenery and the crowds screaming your name at the end or for the potential to meet people who inspire and motivate you…

Once over the finish line, Anne was whisked away to the medical tent and I was greeted on the other side by my mom and a rather exciting photo shoot, which I’ll tell you all about in my next post…

Anne my friend you are a LEGEND, and I’m not exaggerating when I say there is no way I would have made it to the end in under 6 hours had it not been for your encouraging words and steadfast pace – Thank-you a million times over, I hope I can repay the favour one day!

Coming in with Anne

Coming in with Anne

Mom and I, as you can see I'm VERY happy to be finished!!

Mom and I, as you can see I'm VERY happy to be finished!!

The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon – Part 1

I’m just going to be brutally honest, I didn’t enjoy this race.  I’m not sure if it was because I started, knowing that I hadn’t done enough training and was not looking forward to a long day on the road or if I was just having an off day – but for whatever reason there was a full scale battle going on in my head from the very beginning.

I came over the line in 5 hours and 50 minutes (which is about 40 minutes faster than what I thought I’d do it in) and it was with a smile on my face, but this race had me wishing my iPod had another volume setting called “call your audiologist before engaging this setting” and wondering if I should in fact do the Comrades which is in 6 weeks time…

Things I learned from this race:

  • It was great doing a race with my mom again (even if it was only for the first hour)
  • It is impossible to tell what the human body is capable of doing, until you push it
  • That some people possess such strength that it oozes from their bodies and is contagious

I know this post is rather random; I will elaborate in Part 2…

Running and Fund Raising

Tomorrow I run the 2 Oceans!!

I don’t feel ready but as usual, it is too late to worry about that now…  This will only be the second 56km I have run in my very short running career and with it being only 6 weeks from the Comrades Marathon; I thought it would be a great kick-off spot for all my fund raising activities.

As you will see I’ve added the page with all the details on, if there are any problems or if you want to ask me anything just pop me an email.

Last year we raised over R6 000 (that works out to school fees for almost 10 little people), if we can equal that this year fabulous, if we could make over that – well I’d be ecstatic.

If you donate money please let me know so that I know who to think about when I’m into my 80th km feeling like my legs want to drop off.

Help pay for tuition...

Help pay for tuition...

Masai Mara Marathon

I was sent this competition link the other day and was forced to think about a possible African holiday, guess what the first thing was which popped into my mind… – a marathon through the Masai Mara.

How amazing would it be to run through such an insanely beautiful piece of land, just as the wild animals do…? Of course precaution would have to be taken for the carnivores, but to have an organized marathon in this part of the world would have me packing my bags and making sure I can outrun a lion 😉

Anyone else keen?

Masai Warriors

Masai Warriors

Comrades Entry Extension

Big news!!  I’ve just got an email from the Comrades people to say that for the first time in history they will be extending the closing date for entries.  For those of you who weren’t aware, the closing date was March 31st but according to the Comrades people they were inundated with calls and emails begging for it to be extended.  Apparently there was a rumour going around that the marathon was cancelled (I didn’t even hear about it so it couldn’t have been a very successful rumour) and so there were some people who didn’t send their entries in.

Tsk, Tsk (say I with my nose in the air – although I only entered last Friday so I’m only doing this because if my mom hadn’t reminded me I would have probably been one of those people on bended knee 😉

So, if you were hoping that you could use the closing of entries as your excuse to NOT run – think again and just enter!!!!!!  I promise you won’t regret it (well perhaps right after but given a few days you’ll be planning the next one!!


Don't Miss the Boat... er Plane

Don't Miss the Boat... er Plane

Running Watch 101

Last year my mom and I did a swap, my MP3 player for her Polar wristwatch and heart rate monitor.  I thought YAY, now I can be all fancy and kick my training to a new level.


The thing is the watch only has 1 button – yes ONE button which you have to use to get to all the fancy features.

At the moment I only use the watch as a stopwatch which is such a waste considering there are a host of other features I could (and would) be using if it was more user friendly.

Anyone got some tips on how to get over the one-button-mental block I seem to have developed??  Is it really that important to know what my heart is doing while training??

Note: And yes for all of you out there who will be tempted to point out that I am blonde, I know, but something a little less rocket scientist and a little more helpful would be appreciated…

My One Button Watch

My One Button Watch