Sunday, February 13, 2011

My 2011 Surfers Marathon Experience

My 14th Surfers Marathon saw me finishing in my worst time ever.  Even if the 2011 Surfers Marathon did not have the extra 1 km detour added, it would have still been my worst Surfers Marathon time ever.

Not enough training is just one of the things to blame my poor result on.  I don't have much of an excuse and hopefully next year I'll do somewhat better in the 2012 Surfers Marathon. Even the same time with less pain afterwards would be a great improvement.

Ok, so the 2011 Surfers Marathon 17km was my 13 year old son Basti's first East London Surfers Marathon Coastal Challenge, and I'm very proud that he ran the race, not having run more than 5km before.  He beat me too, finishing in a time of 2.28.

The last time I ran the Surfers, prior to yesterday, was in 2008, accompanying Tony on his first Surfers Marathon.  We did the 2008 Surfers Marathon 16km in 2.11, and although feeling and being a bit more unfit than we were in 2008, we hoped to do the 2011 Surfers Marathon 17km in a time of about 2.24 or less.  Not so.  I finished in 2.45 and Tony finished in 2.53.

My long ago years of running the Surfers Marathon in under 1.50 are long gone (best time 1.41)

I'm proud that I've now done 14 though (11 runs and 3 race-walks)

I'm 41 now, so maybe I'll still manage a total of 20 or so within the cut off time.

New running shoes for both Tony and I would be a good idea next time round, as well as a lot more training beforehand.

It was hot at the start of the 2011 Surfers Marathon 17km, and even though we applied sunblock, Tony and I still got pretty sunburnt, then, and along the route.

I was really pleased to hear that there were strict rules about the walkers making sure to start only ten minutes after the runners, as I'd previously been denied a first position lady walker due to people having entered as walkers starting with the runners (and running and crossing the finish line ahead of the first few walkers.) 

I was running this year, but maybe I'll enter as a walker again in the future.

As we ran along the dirt road right after the start of the race, I felt lactic acid in my legs and I thought "Oh no, I haven't even got onto the sand yet!"  Luckily the fatigue in my legs vanished as I hit the little path down to the beach, and I plodded on quite happily.

Then the rocks got to me, the worst I've ever experienced.  I had already thought about the rocks near Rainbow Valley, and was concerned about them, even though I usually get across them quite quickly, but there was another short stretch of rocks before that where both my ankles turned over, all ways.  It felt like I had 6 twisted ankles.  The tight elastic band of the chip on my left ankle wasn't helping.

Note to self:  Use my own elastic band for the chip next time

Basti had left me on the path down to the beach, and for a while, I could see him ahead of me, before he picked up speed (or I lagged behind) and he sped out of view.  I could see Tony behind me for a while too.

Then it was across the rocks at Rainbow Valley.  I wanted to cry and even felt tears well up at one stage.  I tried stepping right on top of the small rounded rocks to help relieve the pain in my ankles as my feet twisted and slipped all over the rocks, but it wasn't always possible and I didn't want to walk.  I kept thinking about 2008 where Tony sucked on the soft sand, but made up nicely for lost time on rocks and tar. I wanted to try beat Tony, or at least get to German Bay before him (at the other end of the tar where Surfers runners return to the beach for the final third of the race.) I couldn't always place each foot exactly as I had intended as there were so many people all about me, and a place meant for my foot would suddenly be taken up by the foot of somebody else, and I'd have to suddenly twist not to put my foot on their foot.

The length of my feet along the outer top and sides were throbbing too.  My left arch had a blister already.

In the 14 years that I've taken part in the Surfers Marathon, it was the easiest Gonubie River crossing yet - I don't remember being able to have my feet on the ground and my head above water all the way through before (using the ropes.)

The Gonubie River was deliciously cold and I ducked under twice to refresh myself.

My feet felt like lead as I plunged out of the Gonubie River, but the heaviness soon wore off, and I was thankful for the chill of the water on my legs, as, besides the elastic band of the chip cutting into my left ankle, I could barely feel my sore ankles and legs - my ankles and legs felt strong, fresh, and ready to tackle the tar.

One of the first friendly spectator's hose spray or sprinklers I ran through was really cold and as it hit me I had to gasp for air.  I tried to avoid further hosepipes and sprinklers along the rest of the route, as best I could.

I looked back often and could see no sign of Tony.  I hoped he was okay.

Around the bend at the Gonubie Hotel and through and past many spectators.  Had to run.  This is the Surfers and these people are here to support the participants. Luckily I did still feel like running at that point.

Not far beyond the Gonubie Hotel bend, and I started to walk a bit.  Run. Walk.  Run. Walk. Run. Walk.  The rest of the way, to the finish.  I like to think more running than walking, but I'm not sure...

Before the main stretch of the tar of Ocean Way in Gonubie, I spotted my family supporting us on the side of the road!  My parents, my brother, my sister in law, my 2 nieces.  Thanks guys for supporting Basti, Tony and I during our gruelling ordeal. It was also good to hear that Basti was only 10 minutes ahead of me.  I wasn't doing too badly for an old unfit gal!

I usually seriously hit a mental block on the long stretch of tar, getting bored with seeing all that tar in front of me, and just wanting it to be over, but instead of speeding up to get it over with, I usually get disheartened and want to walk more!  This year was so much better. 

My ankles were starting to play up again, though, and at some of the water points I used some water on my ankles, hoping to repeat the relief that I'd found earlier after crossing the Gonubie River. Didn't help much, and now I had a niggle in my left calf too.

Cathy, an old inter-schools fellow athlete passed me shortly before we hit the grass to go down to German Bay back onto the sand for the last third of the race (Gonubie River being the end of the first third) and said she's passed Tony who was complaining about the sole of one of his running shoes.  I hoped he was okay and wondered if he would pull out as I still couldn't see him every time I looked back (often.)

Hopped across the little stream at German Bay and still felt relatively okay, but was still walking, running, walking, running.

The legs got tired, the ankles got sore, the blister stung, the left calf niggled more, the Nahoon Surf Lifesavers Shack didn't seem to get any closer, but eventually, somehow, I was at the Nahoon River, just to cross it now and get across the last 400 metres to the finish line of the 2011 Surfers Marathon.

I looked forward to the cold water of the Nahoon River, and was soooo upset to find it felt like lukewarm bathwater.  Nevertheless, I dipped under once in the hope of cooling my head a bit.  Didn't really work. I staggered along to the finish, looking forward to getting a half full paper cup of cold cola even more than I was looking forward to getting my Surfers Tshirt. There'd been no cola along the route.

My brother and family were off to the right as I neared the finish line, and Basti was there too, safe and sound.

Managed to pick up enough speed to pass three people in the last 20 metres, and... I was done! Now where's that cola?

No cola. A bottle of water instead. Was ok though, would buy lots of cola on the way home.

I like my tshirts big and baggy and asked for an extra extra large Surfers Marathon Tshirt.  The lady I'd handed my chip to didn't have extra extra large at her table and she tried to attract the attention of the lady at the next table who might have.  I helped her attract the attention of the lady and she immediately asked me for my chip which I had handed to the first lady, who was now busy with other finishers.  I just said I gave it to that other lady, and I got my tshirt it had 2XL on the label and I was happy.

I stood around trying to decide if I should walk "way down there" to get Basti and wait for Tony, or if I should just stay put and wait for Tony.  I started ambling "way down there" slowly, but when saw Tony come in, wobbled back a bit, to the tshirt area.  Tony also got an extra extra large Surfers tshirt, and we both wobbled off together in the direction of "way down there" but luckily Basti was on his way to us, and we wobbled all the way up to the car which was a very painful walk indeed.

Got to the car and got money. Tried on my Surfers Tshirt.  It was unusually small for an extra extra large, so I tried on Tony's which said XXL as compared to my 2XL, and it was big and baggy like I like it. 

Contemplated just going straight home, but it was Tony's birthday and a drink or two was in order, so we wobbled back down the hill to the Surfers Marathon finishing area. We were also hungry but the food was already sold out.

We had two drinks each (Basti had appletizer) and we wobbled back up to the car, and home, and asleep by 9.30 pm, an extremely rare occurrence for us.

And that was our 2011 Surfers Marathon, "klaar en gedaan." Just the odd size tshirts and sore legs and feet to show for it now, and an unbelievable urge to do it all again in 2012.

Well done to all who participated, and we'll see you again next year!

© copyright Teresa Schultz 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Surfers Marathon 2011 East London Planning and Tips

My eldest son, 13, will be doing his first Surfers Marathon on Saturday 12 February 2011, starting at 2.30 pm at Kwelera Mouth, East Coast Resorts, East London.

I'm not yet sure if I'll also be running the 2011 Surfers Marathon, but even if I do, my son is currently much fitter than I am and would be well ahead of me in the race.

Being the over-protective mother that everyone labels me as (and it's true and I'm quite happy being an over-protective mother) I'm already driving my son mad with a list of do's and don'ts.

Perhaps my LIST OF TIPS FOR THE SURFERS MARATHON, actually meant for my son, can help others too:

39 Surfers Marathon Tips:
  1. Pasta supper on Thursday night;
  2. Protein supper on Friday night;
  3. Plenty of liquids both Thursday and Friday, and of course on Saturday morning;
  4. No late nights on Thursday or Friday night;
  5. Cereal and juice for breakfast on Saturday morning;
  6. 2 to 4 slices of brown bread sandwich late morning with sliced banana on, and a sprinkling of sugar on the sliced banana;
  7. Cola drinks on Saturday morning and/or Energade or Powerade, topped up or washed down inbetween with water;
  8. On the way to park at Nahoon and catch one of the first busses, stop at a shop and get and drink a can of fizzy cola, buy three 500ml drinks (per person): cola, Energade or Powerade, and water;
  9. Apply sunblock;
  10. Get on the bus with the three drinks and listen to everyone's stories about their previous Surfers Marathon runs;
  11. While on the bus and while waiting at the starting area of the race, take small sips of the three drinks, leaving the last bit of water for last;
  12. Be sure to have one last visit to the loo before the queue gets too long where you may panic about missing the start of the race;
  13. Check socks are comfortable and not bunched at all, and check the double knots of running shoe laces;
  14. Apply more sunblock;
  15. Stand quite close to the front of the crowd at the Surfers Marathon starting line;
  16. While waiting at the starting area earlier, and also while in the crowd at the start, get in a few calf stretches and thigh stretches;
  17. Start the 17km 2011 Surfers Marathon Coastal Challenge ;
  18. While trying to settle into a comfortable position and steady pace, try not to get anxious if people slower than you are blocking your steady way forward - using up too much energy now can be detrimental later;
  19. Use your arms well to help you through soft sand, and if running on rocks watch your footing carefully and be careful not to slip;
  20. Listen to the organizers and helpers at the Gonubie River crossing - do exactly as they say;
  21. Do not try swim across the Gonubie River no matter how fit you're feeling, no matter who or how many others are swimming across the Gonubie River, and no matter how many people you think you may pass in the process;
  22. See which side of the rope the runners are on as they are crossing the Gonubie River and approach the river on that same side of the rope;
  23. Hold onto the rope as soon as you can, even before your feet are wet, if possible;
  24. Do not panic and remember there are people to assist if you experience a problem - call out and raise your arm and hand if you need help - there are a lot of people and you need to be easily heard and seen if you find yourself in trouble;
  25. Do not shove or push or try to pass people on the rope in the water, as well as earlier in the queue leading into the Gonubie River;
  26. If somebody next to you is in trouble and is not calling out or raising their hand and arm, you can call out and raise your hand and arm to alert the helpers to the problem;
  27. Keep your shoes on;
  28. Have at least two sachets or cups of liquid at each waterpoint, at least one must be water - drink the first, some of the second, and use the remainder of the second (the water) to splash water on the back of your neck, head, or wherever you're feeling particularly hot or sore;
  29. Although spectators cars are generally kept off the tar along Ocean Way, still be on the look out for any cars - do not assume that you're 100% safe from traffic just because you're running in the Surfers Marathon;
  30. Be polite to spectators no matter what they say or how bad you're feeling;
  31. Smile, at least from time to time;
  32. No matter how shallow or slow moving the water in the Nahoon River looks, stick to the rope all the way through;
  33. As you finish the Surfers Marathon, be sure to continue walking to get a cooldrink and your well-deserved Surfers Marathon tshirt, and also so that those legs do not come to a dead stop;
  34. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, drink up, sit and relax, even lie on your back with your knees up;
  35. If feeling particularly dizzy or nauseous, call for help;
  36. Don't lose your Surfers Marathon tshirt while you wait for your parents (or whoever is driving the car home) to finish the race;
  37. Stay out of the Nahoon River and ocean while you wait for your driver;
  38. Congratulate those finishing the race;
  39. Pat yourself on the back.
© copyright Teresa Schultz 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why I decided to Cut My Hair

I cut my hair in December 2010. My hair was really long when I cut it. In South Africa, December is the start of summer.

I did not have it cut really short. In case I missed my long hair I had it cut to shoulder length.

Before and after my haircut

Besides a shorter hairstyle making it possible for me to feel a bit cooler in the summer, there are other reasons why I cut my hair:

I had not even trimmed the ends of my hair in nearly four years, and the ends were looking messy.

I’m trying to fit in some training to run in a 16 km race (about 10 miles) and long hair even in a ponytail gets in the way, and when I’m so unfit, I feel that long hair even weighs me down a bit!

I’m working from home, still building my little business and the work takes up a lot of my time; there’s not much time for taking great care of long hair, and sometimes I’d even have knots to deal with that irritated me when I needed to rather spend time working.

I don’t use a hair dryer to dry my hair, preferring it to dry naturally, and long hair takes a lot longer to dry than short hair.

My hair grows quickly, so if I did miss it, which I don’t, it wouldn’t be too long before it grew long again.

Before, when I’ve cut my hair, people told me that the shorter cut makes me look younger, so now, as I’m feeling old and worn before my time while trying to work so hard at my little home business, I thought it would be great to look a bit younger, and that maybe it would make me feel younger too.

There were hardly any reasons not to cut my hair, and I’m really glad I did have it cut.

© copyright Teresa Schultz 2011