2015 By the Numbers

I started running one year ago today; I ran 1.8 kms and it took me 20 minutes. Here’s my first year of running and yoga in numbers:

  • 88 runs totaling 488.1 kms
  • more than 6079 m of elevation gain
  • over 66 hrs and 45 min of running
  • 20 races ranging from 4.1 kms to 11.8 kms (see below)
    • fastest 1 km: 5:44 (Captain Carrot)
    • fastest 5 km: 34:44 (Rosemary Hill)
    • fastest 10 km: 1:17:42 (Nogwaja Ezemvelo)
  • 64 yoga practices (this is waaaay down, but still averaging about once/week)
    • 70 Yoga for Runners classes taught
  • 3 bike rides, which is up 300% from the last 10 years

My absolute favorite race this year was the My Road Less Travelled Nogwaja Ezemvelo where I learned I could run further than 8km as long as I wasn’t aware of it ahead of time. Also the stunning views and the pictures from that race were uniquely African, and reinforced my dedication to trail running over road running. Honorable mention goes to the Spring Break run, nice trail, but very bad time keeping. Worst race: the Merrell Day Run through the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. Never again. I was so sick that day. I will also never do Hedianga again (Beast and Rhino Run), nastiest trails ever.

Date Race Distance Time Pace
18-Jan-15 Biogen Resolution Run 5.9 52:56 8:52
25-Jan-15 Leafy Greens 5.3 42:22 7:53
22-Feb-15 WildTrailSA Hedianga Beast 4.9 45:27 9:13
01-Mar-15 MRLT Vivobarefoot Run 8.5 1:04:40 7:34
12-Mar-15 Merrell Night Run 5 39:39 7:51
14-Mar-15 Merrell Day Run 5.4 1:09:14 12:38
19-Apr-15 WildTrailSA Rosemary Hill 6.4 45:42 7:06
05-May-15 Southern Trails Klipriviersberg 4.1 32:25 7:50
10-May-15 MRLT Nogwaja Ezemvelo 11.2 1:29:10 7:56
17-May-15 Biogen Chase the Sun 6.6 54:25 8:12
14-Jun-15 Spur #1 B’Sorah 6.7 52:53 7:51
21-Jun-15 Spur #2 Hennops 4.5 42:59 9:10
05-Jul-15 Spur #4 Leeuwenkloof 8.8 1:27:47 9:44
19-Jul-15 MRLT Captain Carrot 7.2 1:08:35 9:33
23-Aug-15 MRLT Scrub Hare 8.6 1:26:11 9:57
13-Sep-15 Action Gear Spring Break 11.8 1:44:38 8:48
20-Sep-15 Rhino Run 10 1:54:45 10:36
11-Oct-15 MRLT Rock Rabbit Run 9.5 1:44:33 10:57
18-Oct-15 Southern Trails Klipriviersberg 10.5 1:52:28 10:59
20-Dec-15 Mindful Runner Summer Spruit Charge 11.3 1:44:56 9:15

On to 2016.


Rhino Run Race Report (10km)

rr-gautengI was very excited for the Rhino Run, my first charity run, and my second ‘official’ 10km. I entered (R160), I ordered a t-shirt (R200), and I even threw in R50 extra because rhinos are so adorable! Then Z ended up back at the vet for the weekend (R1000+) and I had to kennel Kinga (R130), and I took the N1 toll road (R80), twice (R120). So together it made it an expensive weekend. But it was worth it! The Rhino Run is a globally coordinated event taking place in 7 different locations (including Mississippi and Hong Kong) around the globe on 20 September. Funds go to other rhino conservation organisations and to help purchase supplies and build rhino ambulances. In Gauteng, there were a total of ~340 runners in all 3 distances (15km, 10km and 5km). They’re still tallying results to determine how much was raised this year.

When I signed up for the Rhino Run I didn’t know where the trail run would take place. I was horrified to find out it would be at Hedianga Farm, the same location and trail as The Beast. But I told myself it was for a good cause, and I was more mentally prepared, and I would be doing the 10km, so everything would be fine!


Hedianga Farm 10km profile. Yes, that is 4km of uphill at the end!


This event was really well-organized, and I’m appreciating that more as I run more trail races. For example: Racetime posted results the next morning, which was a nice change from last weekend’s race. I registered, got my goodie bag and my t-shirt (which fit perfectly), and all the distances started on time. Thankfully, the weather was overcast as the 10km started at 9:10am and it would have been blistering if the sun had been out. Between kms 4-8 I felt great, I was moving well, the scenery was beautiful and I was rethinking my negative attitude towards Hedianga Farm. There was jasmine blooming, succulents growing, and the breeze was brisk and cool. The terrain was very rocky and technical, and I was often slowing down to hike through rocky outcrops and ditches. All in all it was a great morning out, until…



11 of my friends on Facebook liked this photo of me coming in last. Thanks guys! And thank you Nicky M. for taking the pic!

That hill. That terrible, 2km hill at the very end that goes up and up, forever. Like a stairway to hell. Every time you get to a bend in the trail you think it’s over, but it just keeps going. I remembered it distinctly from the 5km in February, I knew it was going to be bad, but it didn’t matter. Essentially, at 8km, I checked out and resigned myself to walking. And so: I came in last. Yep- you read that right: last finisher on the 10km (official time: 1:54:45). 87th of 87. To be fair, there were 3 people who didn’t finish, but it could have been because they injured themselves, or got lost, or gave up, or maybe they died. It was a really tough run (for me anyway).

Mindful Running

I’m new to trail running, so I would rate this trail as ‘technical’, meaning that if I’m not paying very close attention to where my feet are going I’m going to fall bloody and break something. In fact, there was someone who came off the trail with a sprained ankle. And there were others bleeding at the finish. Trail runs require you to have your head in the game. And for all my “I’m tired of being slow” talk, I was very slow on this race. In fact, I was 1min/km slower on this run than on the 5km in February. Being mindful, to me, means being conscious of my surroundings and adjusting my behavior and attitude to fit. I don’t regret taking my time on this race, and I did enjoy my almost 2-hour hike.

Regardless of my placement, I’m excited about up-ing my game and running the middle distances (8-15kms). There are fewer under-12s, and fewer chatty-Cathys. At this point, I’d rather be in the bottom half of these distances than in the top half of a 5km (and getting beaten by 12-year-olds). I’ve got my watch, my hydration system (including a whistle), and I’ve got time- so why not enjoy a morning of calorie burning and an ice cold brew afterwards? And there’s plenty of time to get my endurance and speed up before my next race on 11 Oct- the 8km Rock Rabbit Run with MRLT.



Boooooo to you, winter!

Did you know that the jury is still out on whether bears truly hibernate? I was reading about hibernation today because I’m convinced that if my dog, Z, left me alone for long enough I could potentially reach a state of hibernation. Alas, she is compelled to wake me up every morning between 1:30-2:30am to go to the loo and so I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in about two months. Anyway, Asian bears don’t hibernate, and female polar bear do something called ‘denning’ for 3 months while they have cubs. And indeed there is a primate that ‘hibernates’ in its Madagascan tree-hole- the fat-tailed dwarf lemur. So I’m pretty sure that I could probably hibernate if left alone in my own down comforter tree-hole for long enough.

Last month consisted of me drinking lots of red wine, packing vegetable-based protein into all of my meals, and running and training less than I had planned. I also spent time each evening promising myself I would get up at 6:30am to practice yoga the next morning, which I never did. So when I finished the final Spur Trail Series last Sunday, I was truly finished. Seriously, I could barely walk. I finished the 8.8kms in a very sad 1:27:47, and I swear to you that course was entirely uphill. Also, I skipped the previous week’s race (which honestly I’m very happy I did), but in retrospect I should have done race #3 as it was shorter and bailed on race #4. So the results are:

Date Race Distance Time Avg min/km
14-Jun-15 Spur #1 B’Sorah 6.7 52:53:00 7:51
21-Jun-15 Spur #2 Hennops 4.5 42:59:00 9:10
28-Jun-15 Spur #3 Segwati  –  –  –
05-Jul-15 Spur #4 Leeuwenkloof 8.8 1:27:47 9:44

Averaging all the times I unfortunately didn’t place in the top three veteran females, but there’s always the Summer Trail Series starting in October. This Winter Trail Series was well organized, well attended, and had a nice variety of terrain to run through. But in the end I’m left thinking it was a bit sterile. Also, the pervasive smell of charred meat made me unwilling to hang around for prize giving. It did keep me running at least once a week, but I found it very challenging to race every Sunday for a month (in the cold).

But I’m back in the saddle again preparing for Captain Carrot on 19 July. I woke up and did some Tabata training this morning and even meditated. I’ve again promised myself I will get up at 6:30am tomorrow for at least 30min of yoga, followed by 20min of meditation. The reason for this is the profile for this race has been posted and it kind of looks like I’m going to be doing a lot of hiking. Hopefully, I’ll be distracted by the giraffe and eland sightings promised throughout the route.


For those who can’t see the numbers, that’s 1450m to ~1600m in 1.5km.

Winter Running

Winter doesn’t officially start here until 21 June, but it’s been pretty frigid for the past few weeks. To keep myself active during the cold months I signed up for the Spur Winter Trail Series, 4 trail runs on consecutive Sundays starting 14 June. So I know I’ll be running once a week in June at least. The cool thing about this series is that you have to run 3 out of 4 of the races (long or short course), they drop your slowest time and average the 3 remaining times and then place you in your age group, which does give someone who is more tenacious than speedy (like me) a chance.

As is my habit, when the cold sets in and the mornings are dark my yoga practice tends to die off. I just can’t face a cold, hard mat in the pre-dawn chill. However, I’ve noticed that the more I run, the more I really need to get on my mat and work out the odd kinks and tensions that running brings. Tight hamstrings, tight hips and hip flexors, an aching lower back not only from running, but also sitting long hours at work trying to finish time-sensitive projects. I need a yoga practice to keep my body happy. So every Monday I make the effort, even if I don’t make it to the mat again for another week.

So before I start blogging about the Trail Series, here’s an overview of all the races I’ve run this year:

Date Race Distance Garmin Time Avg min/km
18-Jan-15 Biogen Resolution Run 5.9 52:56:00 8:52
25-Jan-15 Leafy Greens 5.3 42:22:00 7:53
22-Feb-15 Hedianga Beast 4.9 45:27:00 9:13
01-Mar-15 Vivobarefoot Nature’s Way 8.5 1:04:40 7:34
12-Mar-15 Merrell Night Run 5 39:39:00 7:51
14-Mar-15 Merrell Day Run 5.4 1:09:14 12:38
19-Apr-15 Rosemary Hill 6.4 45:42:00 7:06
05-May-15 Klipriviersberg 4.1 32:25:00 7:50
10-May-15 Nogwaja Trail Run 11.2 1:29:10 7:56
17-May-15 Chase the Sun 6.6 54:25:00 8:12


I’ve averaged about 2 races/month, even over the time I was sick in March/April. I hit my goal of running a sub-35 minute 5km during the Rosemary Hill Run (34:44), and I managed a 10+km long before I had planned to do one. Note that the first run (Biogen) and the most recent run (Chase the Sun) were almost the same course- so in 5 months I’ve managed to drop my average min/km by 40 seconds, on that course anyway.

More blogs from me coming soon over the month of June. The first Spur Run today was a really great trail, challenging, but not agonizing. I don’t think I’ll be able to report the same next Sunday.

On the trail again


Note it does not specify how far I ran, I could have done the 21km.

After a few weeks of feeling like hell, I’ve finally run another race, the Rosemary Hill 6km. I can’t say it was a beautiful Gauteng autumn day, but it was a good day for running- overcast and cool. The course was flat and I managed to run the whole way, despite my breathing starting to rasp just like it did during the last races I ran in March. I placed 64th woman, 10th female veteran, and 127th overall, still in the top ~50%, time: 45:38. And I managed to hit my goal of a sub-35min 5km. Hooray!

My previous two races, which I haven’t yet blogged about because I’ve been so under-the-weather (upper respiratory tract infection + sinusitis), were the 5km Merrell Autumn Night Run (12 March) and the 6km Merrell Autumn Run (14 March). Yes, I’ve been sick for that long.

mostly dead

Hallucinating about funny things. Like people taking my picture 1km from the finish of a hellish trail run.

The Night Run was a great experience; it felt amazing being out at night when the air is fresh. I wrote a short blog about the experience here. But I should have guessed by my time (38:36, 74th of 140) that something was up. By Saturday (which was a beautiful Gauteng autumn day, by the way), I was definitely feeling off. My breathing was a problem within the first 2kms, and as I headed up the incline into the 3rd km (you really need to check out the profile on Strava to believe it) I think I was starting to hallucinate because I saw all these tiny little people hiking up a giant rock ahead of me. These tiny people were going very, very slowly and as I looked at my watch I felt I had entered a time-warp where 1km had taken me 20 minutes. I actually stopped for water at the top; and seriously considered bailing. But these races were a birthday present from the Mindful Runner, I couldn’t give up. My arms felt like lead, I couldn’t feel my legs at all, and everything was hazy. (This could have actually been true because Johannesburg can get very hazy, and you could see the whole city from where I was running.) I finished 5.5kms in 1:08:15 (170th of 225) and was booked off sick for the next two days.

But I’m back up and running (and now cycling and circuit training), and I’m going to have lots more to blog about because I’ve entered two trail series events to keep me active this winter: The Rabbit Trail Series starting 10 May and the Spur Trail Series starting 14 June. I’m very excited to have some events to look forward to as winter is when my yoga practice tends to dwindle in the dark hours of the mornings.

the beastie


Can you see the medal? It’s tiny!

So, I finished the Beauty and the Beast run at Hedianga Farm up in Pretoria. This was the first race I actually prepared for and set goals for, but for the entire week I psyched myself out- it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be hard, I’m not strong enough. But it’s done now, and it was lots of fun, a true challenge! And it was very hot, and it was very hard. I don’t really know if all those hill workouts worked or not. And thinking about my training I’m now interested in getting stronger and more technical, along with just trying to stay moving for 5km. Every race I run I realize there’s more to work on, or work out. Just like my yoga practice, there’s always something new to discover or explore.

Official time: 45:12 (4.9km), 78th woman, 12th Veteran of 30. There were about 342 runners (I think my place was 159th of those 342) in the 5km, and they had a total of over 900 runners overall, almost twice the number they had last year. So the trail running sport is growing in South Africa. Just to reiterate, this was a very challenging trail, at times I felt like I was hiking. Have you ever tried running and hiking (uphill) at the same time? Yes, it’s a challenge.


The real winner!

But I have to admit the real winner of the day was my new bra, the CWX Xtra Support Running Bra III. It was like wearing nothing at all, which for someone who is a 36C is saying something. There was literally NO weight on my shoulders, and the mesh construction made it breathable, lightweight, and comfortable. I highly recommend it and will be getting more for my bra collection (as soon as I can afford them). I got mine at Mindful Runner, and you can read more about them here. It’s my new favorite piece of kit.




Uneventful week

This week I just stuck to my training plan, 3 days of yoga and 2 days of running.

Wait a minute…I mean 2 days of yoga and 3 days of running. How did that happen? That’s not the plan.

The plan was to start out slow in the first quarter, 3-4 days of yoga and 2 days of running with a first 5km race planned for the end of March. The plan was to solidify my yoga practice first. Instead, I’ve completed 2 races over the last 2 weeks and my yoga practice has taken a back to seat to my new plan to run at least one race/month.


The logo alone strikes fear in my heart!

In addition, the trail race on the 18th taught me that up-hills are my kryptonite! So now I’ve planned to start running hills ahead of my next rail race on 22 February: the Hedianga Beast. That would make 3 days of running a week with a planned 3 other days for yoga.

One positive thing I have been learning over the past few weeks is that the more I run, the more I want to do yoga; and the more I do yoga, the more I want to run. And I’m really enjoying teaching yoga to runners! They’re totally gung-ho and ready to learn and have no expectations. And afterwards, they feel great! One student said she was suddenly aware of the imbalances in her running the next day. With this added awareness, she could now improve her running with more balance and better proprioception. Yay yoga!

It is still a challenge to get on my mat at 6am in the mornings. But I never, ever regret it.

First race coming soon

I don’t know when I decided this, but I entered the Biogen 6km trail run on 18 January. I don’t think I’ve ever run 6km (how many miles is that?). And I haven’t been in any sort of race since I was 16 or so. Should I start training or something?

This week’s 5km botanical gardens jaunt: 42:27 minutes. I’m running twice a week now and I also managed to practice yoga 3 times this week. And I’m still managing to get through my work days. My feet hurt, and my calves, and also my right arch from my big ankle sprain back in 1997. Also I’m running in these, the vivobarefoot trail freak ladies. They’re light and lovely, but they slip a bit, which I’m trying to solve with socks.


They’re also purple, unlike my watch.

I’m also agonizing and planning for these Yoga for Runners classes. They’re only an hour long and I’m realizing I have so many sore spots to address with specific asanas. Hamstrings and hips, shoulders and feet. So I did a free style practice to cover them all. A freestyle practice. So not “ashtanga”.

It felt really good, and it felt right. And I was to find out later that people really liked it!

Yoga + Running week 2

I was thinking that I could start running again and that I could somehow train to the point of beating my fastest cross-country (x-c) 3 mile time in high school (21 min) in the year that I turn 44. So my New Year’s Resolution (one of them) for 2015 is to run a sub-35 min 5km x-c race (they call it trail racing here) and a sub-30 min 5km road race (sometimes called a “fun run”) by the end of 2015.

bruce lee

My second botanical gardens 5km: 5.2 kms, 46:32 minutes. My yoga practice is stabilizing at 3 times a week. I’m pushing for 4, but with work starting up again I’m concerned I’ll burn out, having been through that before.

I joined and I bought a Garmin Forerunner 10 after seeing that my cousin also got one for Christmas. Mine’s the bile-colored one. It matches the buff Fred got me for Christmas. (Thanks Fred!)

Garmin Forerunner 10

They didn’t have violet or teal.


Oh and…I agreed at start teaching Yoga for Runners at Mindful Runner next week. Since I’ve been practicing yoga, and I’ve been running a few times, I’m sure I’ll know exactly what I’m doing!

First botanical gardens run

Fred at Mindful Runner has been trying to convince me for quite a few years that yoga and running are a match made in heaven. But since he kind of stopped coming to yoga classes, but continued running, I thought it might have been a phase.

But lately I’ve felt, not that yoga is not enough, but that I need to do something more. Mostly because I’ve been reading more and more about how cardiovascular fitness is key to longevity and that those who are fit have a much easier time of it as they age. And of course my dad was still running  and competing in road races until his diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma in July 2012 when he was 71. So I decided that I’ve run before and I should just see how it goes and pick it up again. But I told myself that my yoga practice came first!

So today, I dusted off my parkour shoes (remember my parkour days?) and went for a 5km run around the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. I had been doing yoga 3-4 times/week for the past 2-3 weeks, but this was on another level altogether. Five kms took me over 50 mins and I was gasping most of the time. What was I thinking?


Thankfully I don’t have stats from that run, I didn’t get my watch until later.