Archive for First-Timers

Comrades 2010 – Keeping Track

Just 3 days until 20 500 runners take to the streets of Pietermaritzburg, and make their way down to Durban.  If you are an avid fan who will be watching SABC 2 from 5am on Sunday, keeping your eyes peeled for anyone you know who may be running, then good for you!!  If you have some friends running but have better things to do on Sunday then you shall be forgiven, but let this go down in the annals of history – that you had other things to do while WE ran flor whatever cause (our own included 🙂

There are ways in which you can actually be updated with your runners progress throughout the day!  If you SMS the race number of the runner concerned to 38132, you will get an update of the runners time and where on the course they are at that stage, sent right to your phone.  These SMS’ cost R10 of which most of it goes to charity.

If you would like to keep track of me, my race number is 43099.  For those of you who need more details you can call my dad (aka Worlds Best Second)  or you can leave me a message on my phone and I’ll call you back when I’m done.  I will hopefully have someone updating my Twitter account with my times if anyone prefers that medium of communication 🙂

I think that covers it…

RunnersPhoto Credit

The Psychology of Running

With the Comrades less than a week away, I have had a fair share of people asking me how I manage to run for so long (around 10 – 12 hours) and so far (89km), so I thought I’d share what goes through, or more accurately what doesn’t go through my mind during this race…

The biggest thing about being able to do endurance events is how well you are able to get into the ‘zone’ or to the point where you body is doing what it needs to do automatically, and the mind is still.  You need to stop all the doubt and frustration going through your mind because I believe this is the factor which determines whether you have a good race or not.

I have said this before and I’m going to say it again, this is just one day!  One day of pain and fear and exhaustion, but just a day, not a week or a month or a lifetime.


Before the race I try and stay as calm as possible.  It is very easy to get caught up in the mayhem at the start and it is also very common to feed off the nervous excitement and anxiety of other runners.  I try and block all of this out and focus on the fact that I am standing at the start of the oldest Ultra Marathon in the World and the fact that I am finally at the point where all my months of hard work are going to pay off.  I try and stop negative thoughts before they have even had a chance to bloom and gain momentum.  I would suggest basking in ‘Chariots of Fire’ and the fact that you have loved ones watching from all corners of the country.  It is too late at this stage to stress about the training you didn’t do, focus on what you did and trust in your power of will.

During the Race

The way I see it is that to get through the day, you have to become pretty damn good at ignoring what is going on in your head.  Your legs will be sore, your feet will be aching and there will be various other aches and pains which will occupy your mind – if you let it.  It basically becomes a battle between you and that noise in your head (mind).  My first line of defence is usually to find someone to speak to – this distracts your mind from focusing on what is sore and other negative thoughts by concentrating on someone else.  If there is nobody in sight I will put my iPod in and crank it up depending on how much my mind is protesting.

If this doesn’t work, and there is usually a couple of points in the race where you will need to step it up a notch in running your mind into submission – this is where I will try and connect with my senses which shuts the discursive mind (that part of your mind which is making a noise) right up.  A simple running through of your senses, from feeling your feet in your shoes and your clothes on your body, taste, smell and sight to hearing your heartbeat and the sound of the footfalls of runners around you.  This does wonders in reconnecting you with that part within which is capable of anything.

As you run into the stadium

You need to remember to be totally focused as you run into the stadium at the end.  You need to enjoy and remember what it is like to run into a stadium where thousands of people are shouting for you because YOU have just run 89km, you need to be with it enough to plant this memory into your brain, although I must warn you, it is usually due to this feeling at the end which makes people do this race again and again 🙂

I have a little energy exercise I also do when I’m REALLY feeling like I might lose the battle with the noise in my head, but that is for another post.

The Psychology of Running

Only 24 Days to go…

I came upon this realisation this morning while deciding whether or not to get out of my nice warm bed and head out into the cold and wet Cape Town morning for a run at the gym – unfortunately instead of spurring me into action, I just turned over and went back to sleep…

It’s not that I’m unmotivated because I have been training, more so I think than previous years.  I did a 21km near Stellenbosh 2 weeks ago and then a 56km on Sunday, both of which went very well although I still don’t think I’m anywhere near 1000km, but I can live with that.

I think many people who are doing this years Comrades Marathon are reaching the same point, its getting harder and harder to motivate yourself to get out there and its not just because of the weather.  This is normal, or at least I remember feeling like this before, where you are just sick and tired of running – or if you are not running you are thinking about running or stressing about how to fit it in.  This all forms part of the pre-Comrades stress and I wish I could tell you that it gets better… it doesn’t, actually it peaks at round about 5am on Sunday May 30th 🙂

Anyway I hope you have all sorted out your flights, accommodation, pick-up points etc – if not and you still have questions then please give me a shout and I can see what I can do for you.  Oh and Rescue Remedy really comes in handy these last few weeks, go and get yourself some!!

Say Cheese!

The BDO Peninsula Marathon

On Sunday I’m running the Peninsula Marathon which is quite special to me considering it was the first marathon I ever did (although the route has changed).  I’m probably about as nervous as I was 2 years ago because I haven’t done any long runs since last November…

Check out the profile below:


Good luck to all the first time marathon runners, despite the look of the profile this is a spectacular run with beautiful veiws which, if you aren’t too tired, you should stop and admire.

Also for the first timers, the last 5km are always the worst so make sure you eat enough during the race to carry you through to the end.  I have my trusty second Nicolene waiting at the bottom of Red Hill and again just after The Point, so if you are in need of some energy then look out for a red Polo and trot over to ask for some food.

I’ll send an update next week.

Running Chafe…

I can actually hear all of you who suffer, cringing just at the mention of this 5 letter word…  Yip I’m sure there is not 1 of you runners out there who dont’ know the discomfort that chafe causes, my own experiences being few and far between but last years Comrades did add a new level of discomfort to my day.

This article on the Runners World website is fantastic and seems to really say all there is about it – and more (if this is possible).

Check it out and let me know what your remedies are…

Comrades Accommodation

I know we have just recovered from the frenzy that surrounded signing up for the 2010 Comrades but today I’m here to tell you that you need to start thinking about accommodation for the night before the race and the night after.

For those of you who don’t really know the lay of the land in Pietermaritzburg and Durban, you need to have a look at a map or ask someone who does (yes, yes you can ask me) so that you can start planning.

There are 2 options here:

  • Stay in Pietermaritzburg the night before the race and in Durban after, OR
  • Stay in Durban the night before and catch one of the organized buses to Pietermaritzburg on race day

There are a few logistical problems associated with each option – in Maritzburg the Royal Show is on the same weekend as the Comrades, so accommodation is already hard to come by.
If you stay in Durban, the buses to Pietermaritzburg leave horribly early – like 3am kind of early – which makes the already challenging day very, very long.

Luckily my mom is super organized and has already sorted out accommodation for us in Pietermaritzburg, I would suggest those of you who would like to stay as close to the starting line as possible, start looking NOW!  Have a look on the Maritzburg tourism website and see what they have listed.

If you would prefer staying in Durban I would suggest you figure out where the pick-up points of the buses will be so that you don’t have to stress about getting there on time – I can guarantee you that the less stressful you make your morning, the better the start to your day!

QuestionPhoto Credit

Comrades 2010 Entries Closed!

I know, I’m as shocked as what you are…

I’d planned on writing a post to remind all you Novices out there to remember to enter for the Comrades 2010 however when I went to the Comrades website to get exactly what the count was on for entries already received, I almost swallowed my tongue when it said that the limit of 5,000 has already been reached…

I even refreshed my page a couple of times hoping that there was some bug or something – but no!!

I really hope all you guys out there wanting to enter didn’t procrastinate…  Brian did Team Flash get in??  Sally I know you did, well done!!  Anyone else??

Comrades entries

Comrades Marathon Provisions

Yesterday I wrote about the food that can be expected during the Comrades Marathon, so today I’m giving you a list of the non-food items, baring in mind that these things were based on last year and the year before, I am still waiting on what will be available for 2010, however I don’t think the list will change dramatically.

There are extensive medical and emergency stations along the route and at the end.  At about 21km into my first Comrades I was getting blisters so had to stop.  The people manning the station I stopped at were very helpful and had me patched up in about 2 minutes flat.  They are very well prepared and if you want, they will do a blood test right there and then to see if there are any serious sugar problems after which they treat you so you can carry on or lie there until you feel better.

At the end of the race they have an entire Marquis set up with rows of stretcher beds and drips, these guys certainly prepare for any eventuality.  My mom has landed herself in this tent before and she even got a free ride in on a stretcher from the finish line:)  Once they have hooked you up to a drip and sorted out any other problems you usually start feeling better pretty soon.

There are 8 dedicated physiotherapy stations. These stations are manned by what seems like hoards of physios armed with vats of deep heat and Vaseline.  I pulled into one on my first Comrades when my shoulders were aching, 3 ladies launched into working my rock hard shoulder and neck muscles into submission.  I know some people who stop at every single station just for the leg massages…  yes Brucie, that’s you!!

A fleet of ambulances and emergency vehicles as well as a dedicated emergency helicopter are stationed along the route.

Loads of porta-loos /porta-pottys or whatever you want to call them can be found along the way.  As you can imagine the state of these facilities can become questionable after thousands of people have passed through them ahead of  you, although its quite acceptable to just duck into the bushes or behind a car if you don’t suffer from stage fright…

My feet with medical attention along the way, imagine what they would have looked like without...

My feet with medical attention along the way, imagine what they would have looked like without...

Comrades Entry Newsflash!

As of yesterday – if you were procrastinating with regards to your entry to the Comrades (as a previous participant), it is too late!!  The limit of 15,000 was reached yesterday, 4 days before the cut-off which makes me feel nervous for my Novice friends who will need to enter from November 1st.

Another little update on Novice entries – they open at 9am South African time on Sunday, so wherever you are in the world, make sure you make allowances for the time difference – South African Standard Time is 2 hours ahead of the Coordinated Universal Time  (UTC +2).

Food Along the Comrades Route

This is a list of the food which was available at the refreshment tables for the Comrades Marathon last year – I have yet to hear back from the Comrades Association confirming any additions to this list, however I’m pretty sure it will stay more or less the same.

48 Refreshment tables,  roughly 2- 3km apart are stocked with the following:

  • Water sachets
  • Powerade sachets (non-carbonated energy drink)
  • Coke and Cream Soda (green, sweet carbonated drink) poured into plastic bottles
  • Bananas cut into chunks – they leave the skin on so I usually grab an end piece and just squish it into my mouth without fiddling with the skin.
  • Oranges cut into segments – also still with the skin on but I usually just suck the juice out and ditch the rest
  • Energy sachets (I never get to see these because I’m too far at the back 🙂
  • Chocolates – Bar One which is a South African brand of chocolate
  • Baby Potatoes – boiled and sprinkled with salt, only available at every second table from the half-way mark
  • Biscuits – these are the equivalent to cookies in the USA

There are also spectators who stand on the side of the road handing out food which they have prepared.  Salt is readily available, just make sure that if you hold out your hand for some, you have enough water to wash it down with, I saw a guy try and dry swallow a handful of salt and felt so sorry for him based on his facial expression that I donated the extra water I had taken, to him…

What my mom and I have done in the past is have our trusty second (better known as my dad) meet us at strategic spots along the route with food which we like to have on a long run.  I usually stock him with GU’s (this is my energy gel stuff of choice), jelly babies and cooked sweet potato with butter.  My mom likes cooked chicken and some people give my dad sandwiches and even eggs.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to eat at EVERY opportunity!!  I try and get something down my throat at each table I get to.  If you start feeling nauseas it is almost too late and the only way to stave it off is to eat – so be very aware of what your body is telling you.  If you start feeling sick then force something down your throat, jelly babies do very well because they are small and palatable.   Just water or energy drinks are not enough!!

There are other things available along the route too which I’ll write about in my next post…

Me and my lunch box :)

Me and my lunch box 🙂