Archive for Half-marathon

Marathon Checklist

I have quite a few friends running their first marathon this year which is really motivating and exciting for me to be part of.  A couple of questions have come up in terms of what to remember to take, especially if the marathon is not in your home town, so I decided to make a list for beginner marathon runners.  Feel free to add to it if you feel I’ve forgotten anything…



Make sure your laces are tied properly and that if it is a Champion Chip or timed race, that your timing chip is on – you will be surprised to know how many people forget these little things.

Running Shirt and pants/skirt/shorts

Secure your number onto your shirt the night before to make sure you don’t forget.  You should have done some long runs in your gear before marathon day to check for any chafe spots and comfy fits.

Hat and/sunglasses

I always run in a hat, it helps when there is wind and will stop it from raining right in your face if the weather decides to be miserable.


Make sure you smear a thick layer of Vaseline wherever your clothes might chafe you and on your feet in places you usually get blisters.

During the Race

GU or Energy Pack

I usually take one GU every 10km on a long run.  You will need to figure out what works for you.  I almost never take all of them because by the end they start making me feel a little ill but I do know some people who take them every 45 minutes.

Lip-ice (Lip balm)

I get very dry lips while I run so I like having lip-ice on hand.  This also doubles up as  lube if I start feeling my clothes snacking on my skin.


I usually take my iPod incase I can’t find anyone to run with or if I’m having a bad day, it just helps to motivate me and drowns out all the unhelpful noises in my head.


Ok this is something which some people frown upon (all non-runners) but if something comes up which doesn’t feel serious then a painkiller usually just dulls it until the end, like ITB or sore shoulders.  You have to drink lots of water if you take any, so keep that in mind.  I haven’t taken a painkiller in ages but I do take them with me just in case.


Recovery Drink

I have written about recovery drinks before.  At the moment I’m using Hammer’s Recoverite but if I don’t have that then it’s a strawberry/chocolate milkshake.  I have also been known to have a beer but I’d recommend having a proper recovery drink or Rehydrate within an hour of finishing.


This is for any chafe you may have gotten and only realised you had once you got in the shower – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you have every had stealth chafe before.


There are usually massage tables with physio’s at the end of the bigger marathons so try and get in to one of those when you are done – the difference it makes is amazing.  You also want to try and get a rub-down before your legs start getting stiff otherwise it’s too sore.  I usually book a massage for a couple of days after a long race just to loosen the muscles again and to make sure all the lactic acid has drained so that my legs don’t feel heavy.

2011 Knysna Marathon Entries

On your marks…

Get set…

Ok, don’t go just yet the entries only open on the 1st of March this year so make sure you diarise that date and enter on the day if you plan on doing the half marathon.

The Knysna half marathon has become such a popular race that if you snooze you will literally not get an entry, so make sure you set a reminder for yourself.  You can find out more information off of the event website here.

If however you don’t want to rush then do the marathon with me 🙂  We can basically enter the day before (don’t take my word for this) because although this is said to be one of the most beautiful marathons, it is also rather hilly so as you can imagine, not many takers.  I am of course doing it because I’ve been threatening to for ages now so this is the year.

The race is only on the 9th of July so you have ample time to get into shape!!

Here is the half marathon profile for those who want to do the race:

Knysna half marathon

Running Anniversary

On Sunday I ran the VOB Grape Run which is what I like to refer to as my ‘Running Anniversary’ race.  The Grape Run was the first half marathon I did and was basically the race which helped prove to me that, in fact, running the Comrades was achievable.

Now I know the race is just a half marathon (21.1km), compared to the 89km of the Comrades, but it was on this race that I realised the key to distance running (and  most endurance sports for that matter), is to manage your mind effectively because most of these races are won or lost in the head.

I walked away from this race thinking, was that if I could finish a 21km race after never having done more than 10km in training, then the same concept would hold true for the longer races.  As it turns out I was right, 7 months after my first Grape Run I did the Comrades marathon, my longest distance in training being a 56km training run…

Now, 4 Grape Runs later and 3 Comrades Marathons under my belt, I feel that unless you can master those voices in your head which tell you how tired you are or how your knees are aching, or overcome the belief that distance running is 100% based on your fitness – then you will always struggle, no matter how many km’s in training you do.

Happy Anniversary to my running – sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it but above all, I have learned a great deal about myself and the extent to which the human body can be pushed!

Grape Run Views

Running Catch-up

The past few weeks have flown by in a blur…  I was in Joburg and Pretoria for a week where I managed to take part in a 21km run with my mom and a couple of ladies from the Irene Running Club, Amanda and Thea. This run really brought back some memories from when I was younger, having grown up in Pretoria.

Last week I did another 21km for the guys at My City Running Tours – I’ll fill you in on that great run in another blog post.  On Saturday I ran with the old guys I usually run with on weekends when I’m not doing a race,  it was great to be part of the banter with people who have known me since I was a toddler.

This week I think I might have over done it because my legs feel as if they are filled to the brim with lead and I have a shooting pain in my one quad BUT, I’m heading to Thailand tomorrow where I plan on doing as much of nothing as possible, with a few runs here and there to prepare for the Two Oceans Ultra on April 3rd.  I’ll be sure to send an update on running in Paradise 🙂


Photo Credit

The Masai Mara Marathon Follow-up

A few months back I had to come up with what my ideal African holiday would include – the Masai Mara Marathon being one of them, then a couple of weeks ago I got an email from Chris who said that in fact this year, in conjunction with the Fairmont Rotary Club, they managed to hold this event.

It is only a half marathon distance but you get to run through the Olchorro Oirowua Conservancy.  Armed rangers are staggered along the route to keep an eye out for dangerous animals which adds to the excitement of the runners – or at least it would add to my excitement…

The cut-off is 2 hours because of the logistics surrounding a marathon of this nature and watering stations are 5km apart, not what we are used to but then again running with the possibility of being chased by something which eats meat is also not usual.

The aim of creating this marathon was to raise awareness and funds for the Mara ecosystems as well as a way to address the plight of retired Olympic legends, some of them from this area.  Sports tourism is also a sustainable way to bring money into the community, contributing to better living conditions and other facilities.

Next year the marathon is going to be held on November 20th so get your entries in early to avoid disappointment.

maasai mara

The Winelands Marathon

This is meant to be one of the best marathons to run in the Western Cape and I was pretty excited to give it a go, especially since I missed it last year and the year before I only did the half which wasn’t really that spectacular.  So I signed up early and started picking up my training only to be plagued by a really sore ankle which with rest, didn’t seem to get any better – actually it started feeling worse.

So after a week of rest and loads of stress because now I’m missing out on valuable training time (you guys know what I’m talking about although in reality how much are you going to lose in a week – I mean really), I decided to see the physio.  Turns out I have tendinitis in my ankle from a damaged tendon called the “Runners Nuisance” – funny that!!

So it seems I’m going to have to downgrade the marathon to a half.  I’m sure there are others of you out there who have had to make the decision NOT to do a race or to do a shorter distance than what was planned,  what I want to talk about is that decision making process…

It took me days to actually concede to the fact that I may have to just do the shorter distance and although my ankle is flipping sore and this marathon isn’t for any specific reason, I still have had feelings of failure and disappointment which is really silly because as I said, its not like I NEEDED this marathon as a Comrades qualifier or anything.

Why is this such a hard decision to make?  I didn’t think I was one of those hardcore runners who do races no matter what –  and I’ve always put my body first.  Actually the feelings I had leading up to making the decision resembled those which I had when I had to pull out of a race, although not as bad but in the same vein…

Do you guys battle with the same kind of thing?  Can you put your finger on exactly what that feeling or emotion is??  I think once we can put a name to that feeling it will be easier to deal with – let me know what you think!

The type of scenery expected

The type of scenery expected

Photo Credit

My 2 Year Running Anniversary

Last week I wrote about really wanting to do the Constantia VOB Grape Run and the fact that I didn’t have a race entry…  Well if you aren’t friends of mine on Facebook then you wouldn’t know that I got an entry from Russell (not just one but 2) – so I confirm my theory, if you don’t ask you don’t get!!

With entry in hand both Nicola (who also missed the cut-off for registration) and I lined up on Constantia Main road along with the 1,500 other entrants on Sunday morning, neither of us having run a half marathon in over 3 months.  I’d also like to remind people who may not have read my race report from last year, that this race isn’t exactly easy, firstly it is off road for most of the way and secondly the first 7km of the race are basically straight up the side of a mountain – BUT the views as you go up are more than enough to make up for the screaming quads and the lungs which come dangerously close to popping out your mouth – and of course the wine tasting table right at the top of one of the hills does wonders for the energy levels 🙂

Winding through a couple of wine farms and then through Tokai forest and back into Constantia I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of the course and at how lucky I was to wangle an entry.   I also had vivid memories of being dragged through said course by my mother just 2 years ago, NOT in the same frame of mind!

Now, I didn’t race because I was unable to substitute the entry into my name (and besides Russ, there is no way I would have managed a sub-2 hr race) so I was using it as a benchmark to see how unfit I was – turns out not very unfit because I came in at 2:12 feeling surprisingly fresh!  Let’s hope this spells great things for the months to come…

Grape Run

Totally Bummed

This weekend the VOB Grape Run marks the anniversary of the start of my running career – it was the first 21.1km I ever did (I didn’t first run a 5km and then a 10km and so on, I just went big from the start 🙂 ) which was almost exactly 7 months before my first Comrades.   But,  huge disappointment when I went to sign up all the entries were gone…  They only allow 1,500 entries since you run through some of the most magnificent wine farms in the Cape.

Now I understand the reasoning behind restricting entries but when I emailed to find out if there were any substitutions for people not running (there is a huge wine festival the day before the race so guaranteed there will be at least 1 person of the 1,500 not making it on the day), they said no…

If there is anyone out there who has an entry and isn’t going to run please let me know and I’ll go to VOB and try again, if not I’ll see you out there running the 5km with one of the new running converts Vanessa (I can’t claim her conversion, that belongs to someone else unfortunately).

Weird Running “Shoes”

Way back in 2008 when I had some knee trouble I visited an orthopaedic surgeon to make sure I wasn’t causing any damage in my training for the Comrades,  one of the things  he told me while he was examining me was that I should incorporate some barefoot training into my running schedule.

His reasons were quite valid I thought – when you run with shoes on you strike the ground with your heel first, when you run barefoot you strike with the ball of your foot first which causes less tension on your knees.

Of course the barefoot training never materialised, actually coming to think of it neither did the schedule, but last week a runner passed me on the road while I was driving home and he had these on.

Vibram 5-fingers

I have seen these (called Vibram 5-Fingers) before and mentioned them on a few of the running forums I go on from time to time, but I’d never actually seen someone using them.  The theory behind these shoes follows what my knee guy had to say about training barefoot – which due to obvious reasons isn’t really the way forward when you are looking at boiling hot, tarred roads with glass, stones and various other foot piercing materials littering your way.

I’m curious to see how these rather peculiar ‘shoes’ perform…  Have any of you out there used them??

Photo Credit

Knysna Half Marathon

  • 5am

Wake up to a damp, cool morning (not as cold as last year thank goodness)
Have breakfast
Head to the pick-up

  • 6am

Stand in line at the pick-up point for the buses (read: local minibus taxi) to take us into the forest

  • 7am

Finally get into a minibus taxi

  • 7:30am

Get to the drop-off point in the middle of the forest

  • 7:35am

Find a bush to have a wee

  • 7:45am

Shaun and I start making our way through the 6 000 people lining up at the start

  • 8:10am

The start rifle (it was actually a rifle and not a gun, I had a look) goes off

  • 8:15am

Cross the actual start line and finally manage to start running!

  • 8:24am

Pass the first km marker – that’s 9min/km!!  Holy Cow, we need to move through the people faster than that!

  • 9am

The field finally thins out and we manage to strike a rather fast pace and stick to it (Shaun wanted to do a sub 1:50, I was just going to hang on for as long as possible).  Take off warm top I’m wearing and throw on the side of the road for the township folks who are lining the course, waiting for this annual race to top up their wardrobes.

  • 9:45am

Shaun and I realize that our consistently fast pace is not going to get us to the finish in under 2 hours.  We are bummed.  Can’t understand how we can be running our legs off and still be so far behind.  We decide to sacrifice talking for a faster pace.

  • 10:00am

Shaun manages to persuade his legs to go a bit faster than mine and surges ahead.

  • 10:07am

I hit the grass on the field and hear the guy announcing that we have less than 60 seconds to make it over the finish line in under 2 hours.  I manage to force my protesting legs to sprint the last few hundred metres.

  • 10:something am

I cross the finish line in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 33 seconds.


  • In a race with 6,000 people (most of them seriously under trained, and not just my type of under trained but unfit and still marginally drunk from the night before) we should start in the front or not try and go for a PB.
  • The Knysna Half Marathon is spectacular in terms of scenery and is still a great weekend away.


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