I'm not a natural blogger and I'm no techie. I'm an ultra trail runner by passion, and a journalist by profession - in that order of priority.
In this blog I use the one to talk about the other - my trail thoughts, musings and meanderings about running mountains and trails.
I call it rockhoppin', just because... well... that's what we trail runners love to do!

Monday, January 31, 2011

An exercise in horses for courses

Yesterday morning involved exercise – or better put, AN exercise. Said exercise not only involved a vigorous workout (which, of course, it would have to in order to earn the acclaimed term of exercise), but also an experiment.

Subject of said experiment: me.

Aim of said experiment: to determine whether subject’s legs are willing to increase speed over short distance.

Conclusion of said experiment: definitely not.

However, the outcome of said experiment was a damn good lung workout, the thrill of yet another Boland trail, and a new found appreciation for short distance speedsters!

The said exercise was Race 4 of the Cape Summer Trail Series, staged on Paul Cluver Estate in Grabouw. I usually stay away from shorter races – my legs aren’t enthusiastic about any distance less than 20km... they only wake up after about 13km, which as with today’s race tends to be w-a-a-y too late to do much with the speed they acquire, or in even shorter distances, only after I’ve crossed the finish line. That’s really not much use.

But my mind always has different plans. Maybe, it thinks, the legs just need some encouragement, like the pressure of a short distance race to push the muscles from slow twitch into fast twitch mode. And that’s how I found myself on the start line of this morning’s 15.8km “long course” race, blindly hoping my legs had heard they were on the “long course” rather than on the 9.1km short course option.

But alas, my legs weren’t that gullible. Or maybe it was my lungs that refused to co-operate. Whichever it was, I soon found myself chewing the dust of the runners who’d opted for the long course (15.5km) in Oak Valley, Elgin last week, while I’d gone for my better distance, the XL course (26km).

Last week's XL race - no experiment!
 I chose well last week – legs, lungs and mind were all in sync (XL race results); this week, I definitely didn’t! (Race 4 results)

Hat’s off to Owen and Tam and their team for another brilliant Trail Series. All events of Owen and Tam’s are not only well organised, efficiently staged and executed in style, but the routes they choose are always guaranteed to be the real stuff!
Tam & Owen

Saturday, January 1, 2011

get ready for a HOT 2011!

It’s a strange phenomenon, New Year. In our culture we’re programmed to see it as a new start, a time to reflect, look ahead and set goals for the next 12 months.

And yet Jan 1st is really no different from any other of the 364 days in our western calendar. Logically there’s no reason why we should suddenly start doing things differently, turn over new leaves or, in some dire cases, uproot entire trees (figuratively of course) in our need to make a change in our lives. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for us to rather use the start of each day to reassess how we’re progressing towards our goals?

But what the hell, most of us see Jan 1st as rather special anyway. And by the end of January all the unrealistic resolutions have been sifted out and the achievable challenges remain intact, there to keep us on our toes for the rest of the year. So, welcome 2011, and may you bring us all a healthy dose of positive challenges, a generous measure of achievements, and bags of fulfilment in every aspect of our lives.

I’m looking forward to this year. I’ve spiced it with a good few challenges to keep my toes twiddling. The first I’ve chosen is sure to throw me completely out of my comfort zone and have me sprinting for the shade. So, here it is, officially on paper, so to speak:

I’m to be (temporarily) trading the rockhoppin’ rigours of mountain trails for the desolate delights of the desert in a five-day 220km self-sufficient trot through the Namib in the Namib Desert Challenge 2011.

Fun in the sun, as they say – and there’ll be lots of that. Sun, I mean... Temperatures in the Namib at the end of March average in the mid-40’s. And let’s face it, you know it’s pretty damn hot out there when the temperature is higher than your age.
I love the sun...       I love the sun...       I love the sun...
Do I sound convincing?

Who am I kidding? I only love the sun when the temperature’s less than 28 degs! I HATE the heat. I wilt like a delicate flower when the temp’s up. So that’s the challenge I’ve picked. I’ll run in a desert for five days. And just for good measure I’ll do my training at midday between now and then to prepare myself.

And I have the privilege of being sponsored again by VELOCITY SPORTS LAB. A huge thank-you for enabling me to take on a desert. I may not love the sun, but I can’t resist a challenge!