- Midmar Mile, largest open water swim in the world (1 mile) Update: I have completed the Swim on 13th February in 39minutes!!
- Two Oceans Ultra- Marathon(35.2 miles)
- Comrades — the ultimate Human Race (56.1 miles)
I aim to compete in and complete all 3 events in a space of 4 months!!
MY CHALLENGE TO YOU:
Please match each of my miles with a single dollar/pound/rand.
All the funds raised will be handed over to Gordon Minott for Food4Africa.
Knowledge, funding and support for Food4Africa is severely lacking. My hope is that through my Miles4Africa fundraising campaign I can help to combat the ignorance surrounding the vast socio-economic problem of the poverty-stricken in South Africa and simultaneously provide the public with an additional method to support the work we do here at F4A.
The fact that is matters; that despite how small our projects might be in the grand scheme of things they are making a difference to some lives, lives which never did a thing to deserve their current situation.
Challenges Food4Africa faces currently:
2016 has started with the drought carried forward from 2015 and is increasing its gruesome grip on our daily lives with a vengeance. The rural homesteads cannot grow their own produce any longer, this is coupled with a virtually non-existent water supply. Water tankers deliver to certain areas in the course of the week but other than that, many places no longer have access to running water. Many are reliant on rain to fill the large, green Jo-Jo water-tanks at home to be able to cook; wash and drink. Food and fresh produce availability is decreasing drastically on a daily basis and the price of maize, a staple of diet for many, has increased by 2½x since October, 2015. The year to come already looks bleaker than any before because rain is simply not in the forecasts.
The failing economy of South Africa is also adding negatively to the already burdened lifestyle of those already living below the breadline.
In 2007, I was offered the opportunity to join the fantastic team at Food4Africa. Despite the job title of Administrative Assistant, it was something wholly different to anything I had done before. I had worked with people before, had experience with admin and am an obsessive over-preparer, but, in truth, I was unprepared for the realities of working in a charity organization. From organizing itineraries, travel plans, and documents for foreign volunteers to learning how to pack 5 days’ worth of luggage into a single overnight bag (I honestly never thought it possible!); there were many steps in my training process at Food4Africa. It was a challenge, sure. But that’s what has made it such an exceptionally memorable journey.
Ostensibly, I was drawn to the job by a better salary. However, deep down, I knew that it would fulfill a desire in me that was left wanting in my previous occupation. Sometimes it’s hard to admit, even hard for others to see (I can be white-hot fiery when offended – my kids can attest to that), but I care. A lot – something my kids will also agree with. I don’t have the biggest heart; and even though I loved her and cried rivers when she passed, I’m no Princess Di. But, the plight of the less fortunate, more pained and distressed has always caused me tears. Food4Africa has given me the opportunity to turn those tears into action. Rather than being a crying armchair activist, I can now actively, physically assist in the betterment of the lives of others far less fortunate than I.
A few years ago, I began to take my physical health much more seriously. My mother suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s which progressed into dementia, and being hereditary, it scared me. It was incredibly difficult to be so powerless during her struggle. And that’s a difficulty I don’t want to pass on to my children. I firmly believe that a healthy body translates into a healthy mind. As a result, I began to swim and then alternated between running and gymming when it was too cold to swim. Being someone who loves a little competition, it didn’t take long before I began to swim and run somewhat more competitively. Since then, I have completed several Midmar Mile swims and several Comrades’ Marathons. No weight-lifting awards. Yet! 😀
For many people, charity starts at home. It’s difficult to admit, but for me charity began at work. Now, in opposition to the common adage of not mixing work and play, it is time to take that charity into my after-work life.
Knowledge, funding and support for charities and NPOs like Food4Africa are severely lacking. My hope is that through Miles4Africa I can help to combat the ignorance surrounding the vast socio-economic problems of the poverty -stricken in South Africa and simultaneously provide the public with an additional method to support the work we do here at F4A.
Before I divulge the specifics of my training regime, I must send a massive shout-out to the brilliant Hein Potgieter – my trainer, coach and friend. He is a well of information, hard and brutally honest, but such a determined and inspiring athlete. He gets up an hour earlier than I do, to accommodate me. His pace is much faster than mine, so that hour of sleep for me is an hour he takes he takes to run and train on his own in order to maintain his Olympian pace. He then meets me at my house and off we go on my session. He gets me to run time trials that I could only have dreamed (*cough* had nightmares *cough*) about running. I have not been able to break the sub 4-hours for a marathon, but I am getting closer as time goes by. I am hopeful and determined to pay him back one day with a sub-4 run.
My training sessions follow a two week cycle with 3 rest days and 11 training days. They are intense, gruesome and exhausting. But absolutely necessary. Take a look:
• Week 1: Mileage for this week: 78-80 km / average of 48 miles
• Monday :
- 5 am: Sprint (7km/4.3 miles). 3 km of the sprint are relatively flat but 4 km are uphill. Pure hard work and determination to finish this with a constant pace throughout. I am currently on 34min/7km. Not quite there yet. I am trying to keep to 4:20m/km but the uphill pushes me back to 5:15m/km.
- 6 am: Gym session. Reminiscent of “Insanity”, it involves 1000 reps of various exercises, sprinting with weights tied to my back and altitude mask training.
- 6pm: Swim (1km/0.7 mile).
• 5:15 – 6:30 am: Swim. no specified distance just at leisurely pace.
• 6:15 pm: Swim. 34 laps in pool (850m)
• 2:30 am: Run. (30-35 km/21.8 miles) The first part is a 7.5km climb on Lancaster Hill. The road ends at the gate to the game reserve. Some mornings we are lucky enough to have a variety of game such as Eland, Duiker and Zebras greeting us. This session normally leaves me half-dead and gasping for breath, but the scenery;animals and the gorgeous low-light early morning African sunrise makes every mile worth the suffering.
• 6:15 pm: Swim (850m).
• 5 am: Gym session.
• 6 am: Swim (850m).
• 6:15 pm: Swim (850m).
• 2:30 am: Run (30km/ 19 miles).
• 6 am: Swim (850m).
• 6:15 pm: Swim (850m).
• 2:30-6 am: Long distance run. Slower pace over an average distance of 30-40 km/ 25 miles.
• Short swim afterwards to cool the legs down.
• Week 2: Mileage 63-65km/ average 39.1 miles
• 5 am: Sprints. Three to four 1km sprints, one 2 km sprint and then a cool down run(4 miles).
.• 6:00 am: Swim (850m).
• 5 am: Gym session.
• 6 am: Swim (850m).
• 2.30 am: Run (30-35km/ 21.8 miles).•
• 6 pm: Swim (850m).
• 5:00 am: Gym session.
• 6:00 am: Swim (850m).
• 6:00 pm: Swim (850m).
• 3:15 am: Long distance run (± 30km), at an easy pace followed by a cool-down swim.
Endurance Events: My experience
I have this conviction that I have always been just a little rounder than most other woman so exercise has been part of most of my adult life. Though I’m not athletically gifted, I played a little hockey at school and in my early 30s. I did 3 Midmar Mile swims during those years too. But, I have always enjoyed staying fit. The running bug really only bit me after I managed to finish my 1st Comrades, believe it or not.
I started running when my aerobics friend, Caroline’s knees gave out. In my first year of running I had every injury and foot problem that a runner could possibly encounter. My physiotherapist saw more of me than my family did. I tried a number of running shoes and eventually found a pair that suited me, also after my 1st Comrades finish. This enabled me to turn a fluke finish into a real reality the following years. What a moment that was, I will never forget the high and total bafflement on the Club members faces when they saw me running down to the finish line!
See, I was not supposed to finish … with all my troubles and slowness they had all betted against me. I realized then that there lay a long, long road of hard work ahead. Hein, one of the runners, saw the determination and offered me his knowledge and guidance.
Here I am 4 years later, fitter than ever before and just as determined to finish this Comrades’ as the 3 before, despite first-hand knowledge of it being an ultimate human challenge of endurance and mind over pain.
Endurance running is tough on the mind and body. Everything has to be spot-on on race day. The culmination of months of preparation and sacrifice all comes together as I line up for those seemingly endless miles ahead. Sometimes I run alone for many miles and those are the hardest, because that is when the body fails. Running buddies pull you trough when it gets tough.
During the Comrades’ run there is an air of triumph and despair all the way. Some runners are easy talkers others grumble. And the angels that cross your path are numerous. I will never forget the lady that talked me into my 1st finish. I had about 30km to go when the wind that was blowing that day picked up in earnest. I could not run up straight, the force was just too strong. I saw this lady who had finished a good number of big C’s ahead of me, and when I got next to her I asked her how she did it? What is the secret to finishing this gruelling battle? Sheila said her motto is “Today is my hero day”. All the other days of the year she gave all of herself to her family, but on Comrades day, she had it all to herself to prove that she was a hero. At the time my mind was too befuddled to really register it, all I remembered was the word “Hero”. And then I decided that if I kept on moving, one foot in front of the other, I could make it. Well, I finished in 11h32; slow for some, but for me … I had reached Hero Status!
Staying healthy is the ultimate priority, but there are numerous obstacles to being a dedicated, amateur athlete.
Health and Diet:
Many athletes live according to three equally important pillars: Sleeping, Training, Eating. They all interconnect at some point and if any one is not in balance, problems surface extremely quickly and easily.
Injuries are the number one enemy, followed by muscle fatigue, and illnesses are but just a few of the things that might set your training schedule back by weeks.
Staying healthy and at the correct weight is crucial. The more I weigh, the more pressure my knees and feet have to deal with.
Nutritional supplements are part and parcel of Marathon training. My body needs fuel all day long to cope with the demanding levels of exercise. I take Vitamin C, a Multi vitamin and Slow Mag Tablets daily. I never skip a meal and I eat almost anything, thus the groaning of the scale. Currently, I am trying the Banting way. I must say, I adore breads and cakes, so it’s a real punishment not being able to consume these lovely delicacies whenever the craving hits. There are so many Banting recipes, but they take time to make, and with my schedule already so packed, I tend to stick to the easiest ones. Bacon/steak, avocado/tomato and eggs for breakfast, loads of veg and proteins for lunch, proteins and fruit salad drenched in cream for supper.
As for sleep, it’s usually not a problem as I’m often dead tired and asleep long before I need to be. That said, time to rest is one item or gadget that no-one can buy. If my body tells me that it is time to cut back, then I do so sooner rather than later. Training when you should rest can cause greater more damage to the body which in turn affects your mental state far more negatively than any day or 3 of rest. Fitness levels usually do not drop in matter of days, thanks to muscle memory. So, the days off are far more inspiring because they give the body and soul time to recover, regroup and focus. I change my running pattern a tad whenever I become a bit too tired. I have not yet fallen asleep at work but my supper has had my face in it a couple of times when fatigue has taken over… Snoring in a bowl of fruit salad is actually very creamy, but I still wouldn’t suggest it.
The environmental factors, like bad weather; bad roads and traffic are all inevitable when training outside. We run, even in the rain and though it doesn’t melt us, it does add a couple of blisters due to the wetness of your running shoes. We try our best to avoid bad roads and traffic. We choose the scenic, yet tough, routes and the early morning runs mean that most of the way we can run abreast rather than in single file.
Making quality time for family and friends is a real challenge. There are only so many hours in a day and to train this hard means that I do neglect them for most of the first part of the year (January to May). Then, in June, I catch up on lost sleep. By then, winter is in full swing so I start to hibernate…
In all honesty, my friends and family are such great supporters that they make me feel like a celebrity because there are always words of concern, encouragement and understanding even when supper invites are turned down.