Shit Just Got Real

In about 27 hours from now a taxi will arrive at my house and take me to the start of the 2017 PUFfeR.

Hard to pick a winner between terror and excitement right now.

In true pre-race style I feel underprepared, lethargic and beset by a hundred minor, imaginary niggles. I’ve done enough races to know that’s a good sign.

Unfortunately all of those races have been mostly on road and up to a maximum of 56km. I’ll hit the 56km mark at around lunchtime on Saturday. Then I have to go directly over Table Mountain.

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Puffing Past Midnight

I’ve been a bit slack with updates recently, but I have a good excuse. I was on holiday in the UK for three and a half blissful (for bliss read “two kids” and draw your own conclusions) weeks.

As with any good holiday this meant lots of food, plenty of good beer and wine…

…and a marathon.

The Midnight Mountain Marathon to be precise.

I don’t know a whole heap about running but here’s a top tip I picked up during June:-

If the race has a word like ‘beast’ in it or the organizing company of a race has a name like…I don’t know…let’s say ‘brutal events’ it should give you a passing hint that the route won’t be particularly fast or indeed flat.

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An Untamed Beast

Somewhere around the 20th April 2011 after a horrible 16km training run I announced to my wife in whiny and attention-seeking tones that there was “no way I can finish a half marathon.”

She disagreed and, as is usually the case, she was proven correct less than a week later when I completed my first Two Oceans Half Marathon in a sedate but respectable 1:51.

I spent the rest of the weekend (and the early part of the next week) limping, drinking and announcing to the world I was done with running.

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A Pre-Beast Ramble

When we last spoke I was threatening to do two things – go for another long run on table mountain and write a story about a weird creature hanging about in a nut sack.

Oddly for me I managed both. You can read about Theodore the scrotum gremlin here but sadly I can give you no photographic evidence of the aforementioned mountain adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, I was fully prepared to take a bunch of pictures as I explored new areas like Corridor Ravine and some extended sections of the pipe track but it happened to be raining just a tad so my phone was safely tucked away.

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Of Red Gods And Echoes

I may have been slightly hasty in my last post – an accusation not often leveled at my running pace. I could be accused of giving the impression that the 20kms (near enough) I stumbled through on the VWS trail challenge were really tough.

Foolish, foolish boy.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I headed out on a part-training part-recce run to try and keep up the learning prior to the 50km mountain madness looming in three weeks time.

I learned quite a lot.

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VWS Trail Challenge

About a year ago I did my first official trail race – the VWS Trail Challenge 2016 edition. It didn’t take me long to realize the “challenge” part of the title was fairly accurate. 25km on the slopes of Table Mountain (ok it ended up being closer to about 24km but who’s counting) on, what I thought at the time, was some fairly tough terrain. It was my first long run out after getting through Two Oceans and let’s just say I was suffering a bit towards the end.

Last Sunday I did my second official trail race – the VWS Trail Challenge 2017 edition. Seems I was wrong about the “challenge” part from last year. This year the race was only 20km (ok it ended up being closer to 19km but who’s counting) and to be frank…it wasn’t fucking around.

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Plans Are Like Assholes…

…everybody’s got one.

Or at least that’s how it appears if you fire up Google and do a search for running plans (no, not now – you’re far too busy reciting that opening line in a Clint Eastwood / Dirty Harry voice and listening to what I’m saying to do it now. But once I’m done, knock yourself out).

Quantity doesn’t always equate to quality however and it’s easy to get lost in the swamp. After you’ve floundered around in the mud for a while you’ll see some distinct categories emerging.

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Trailing The Beast

Race day is all about preparation. A carefully chosen beer the night before, a light breakfast and a well-timed bowel movement before getting into your car, arriving at the start line in plenty of time. That sort of thing.

That’s all well and good for races you know, but what about the ones you don’t know much about?

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The End Of The Beginning

For semi-normal people like me (i.e. those who don’t (currently) aspire to run races like Comrades) this is the time of year where you kick back, drink beer, eat donuts and wait for the onset of winter. Perhaps you might do this wearing a Two Oceans Ultra medal of some description or perhaps you don’t.

Perhaps your medals will be safely tucked away in a shoebox along with loads of other random medals, a weird running vest that could only possibly look good on a 40kg Kenyan and a collection of slightly salty race numbers that have accumulated over the last three or four years.

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