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My Two Oceans Half Marathon 2017 Experience: Reflections upon the race

June 28, 2017

Just when you thought I’ve moved on from writing about My Two Oceans Half Marathon Experience, here’s another post. Since the race took place, I have had a number of reflections and have learnt a lot from the experience. Before you continue with this post, I strongly suggest that you read up on “The Build Up” and “Running the Race”, and if you’re keen on learning more about my preparation for the race.

Have you read these posts? Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Incorrect pacing

As I had previously mentioned, I started off the race way too fast. I had forgotten my watch at home and got caught up with the speed of everyone around me. Eventually, I ended up tiring myself out. The first 2 kilometres are relatively flat, but I tried storming up Constantia Nek and that ended up tiring me out.

More time on the road

Here was probably my biggest mistake. I spent more time on the treadmill than on the road. Running on the treadmill is not the same as running on the road. I suppose treadmill runs are good for speed training, but half marathons are endurance races. Yes, there’s a time limit, but when training for the race one needs to ensure that you’ll be able to cover the distance. With my sessions with my personal trainer, we worked a lot on endurance exercises, to ensure that my body would be able to cover the distance. I still believe that I would have been able to finish the last 3kms if there was not a cut off time.

With my sessions with my personal trainer, we worked a lot on endurance exercises, to ensure that my body would be able to cover the distance. We also focused on some speed work. And after my sessions, I had the endurance needed to complete the race. I still believe that I would have been able to finish the last 3kms if there was not a cut off time.

In my build up for 2018, I will focus more on speed training and outdoor runs, as I feel that I now have the endurance and can maintain it. This is also coming from a woman who has not run since the OMTOHM. My excuse is that it is winter and I can’t run alone outside. I need to get my butt into gear and at least do fun runs on weekends.

Fast food trips

I ended up being that person. The person who rewards themselves with food after a gym session. Sadly that was me. I have on more than one occasion made a trip to MacDonald’s after a workout session. Instead of nourishing my body, I feasted on hash browns and fries. To be straightforward, I wasn’t eating healthy.

No weight loss

Let me be straight with you. I am in no way saying that bigger people cannot complete or run half marathons. But in order for me to complete the OMTOHM, I need to run faster and losing weight will help immensely with that. In between the MacDonalds trips and workout sessions, I only lost 3kgs. I know I could have lost more if I ate better. Eating healthy would be easier if salad tasted like brownies and ice cream.

Also running is a high impact sport. So the heavier I am, the heavier the impact will be on my joints such as my knees and ankles. When I was fit and weighed, I finished every race I participated in. Granted they were 5kms and 10kms, but the fact remains I finished them within their cutoff.

These are the main reasons I did not reach my goal of finishing the OMTOHM, but they won’t be stopping me from completing the race in 2018

Images via Pixabay

Healthy Lifestyle

How to choose a gym in 5 easy steps

June 21, 2017
how to choose a gym

A few days ago, I received an email from the gym that I used to belong to. If you recall, I wrote earlier in the year that I joined Virgin Active at the Atrium, which is not exactly cheap (unless you’re a member via your medical aid, which I am not as my medical aid is not a part of VA’s programme) and quite a distance from my house. Even though VA is more expensive and further away than my old one, I realised that wouldn’t go back. Even if it meant spending more money. These tips on how to choose a gym, are basically the reasons why I chose my current gym.

The advice I give on how to choose a gym is not technical. I made a list of needs that the facility needed to satisfy and chose the gym that ticked most of the boxes. Here’s how to choose a gym in 5 easy steps.

Do they have good housekeeping?

With people getting sweaty all over the place, gyms can quickly get gross. From weight machines to the locker room, bacteria can spread quickly in a gym. Fortunately, I have a relatively strong immune system and do not get ill easily, but never the less. At my old gym, housekeeping barely made the list (if it was even on the list at all). It was not uncommon to stains from the previous day’s spin class under the spinning bikes (they only had one a day). And I never really saw anyone clean anything. No, wait that one time I saw a lady mopping the floors. I was a member for roughly a year and a half.

Is it close to my work or home?

My previous gym was a walk away from my house (not that I would walk, because of safety concerns). Okay obviously VA is not that close to me, but it’s okay for me.

Other important aspects with the location for me was whether the gym was in a high traffic area. I hate driving in traffic. Although Newton Park has a lot of traffic, I knew that at the times that I would be going there’d be no traffic, or it would be in the opposite direction. Other gyms that I looked at were in William Moffet and Lorraine, and I knew that I would be stuck in traffic on my way to the gym. So these were definitely not on the cards for me.

Are there classes and personal instructors?

I am someone who gets bored easily. So variety is key. The only classes offered at my previous gym was step and spin. So I got bored easily (look at me getting bored at exercise when I wasn’t even fit yet). I looked at all of the classes offered at the gyms I could find in PE.  Also some of the gyms only had interesting classes during working hours. Not only housewives want to do pilates. Gyms need to cater for us working people as well. In addition, I am not always 100% sure what I am doing. Which is why I wanted a gym with certified personal trainers.

Is it in a safe location?

I’d only be able to go to the gym before or after work, and it would often be dark, particularly in the winter months. I needed to be sure that I feel relatively safe in the gym parking lot if it is dark. Is it in a high crime area? Does it have adequate outside lighting in the parking lot? Are there a lot of people moving around in the vicinity or is it an isolated area? Are there security guards? As a woman in South Africa, these are important questions. I don’t feel safe attending a gym that does not have any safety precautions,  both inside and outside of the facility.

How comfortable is the environment?

When I say comfort, I mean “Do I as a woman feel comfortable in this gym”. When I fit got into fitness, I bought a lot of workout wear. My gym apparel consistent of cute tanks and sweatpants in bright pinks, corals and purples and some of my tanks even had catchy phrases. But let’s be clear, I never went to the gym and dressed up to impress anyone. I look horrendous while working out. No, really I do. I sweat so much, you’d think I threw a bucket of water over me. So wearing cute clothing was my way of feeling like a human being. These days I mostly wear black and white, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I can’t fit in my colourful clothes.

Also if I am wearing earphones, it means I am listening to my music and do not want to have a conservation with you. I need a gym where I could disappear amongst the masses and if anyone or anything made me feel uncomfortable, the gym environment should make me feel comfortable enough to approach one of the staff members for assistance.

How to choose a gym: The final decision

These were the main aspects that I looked at when I decided on a gym. I looked at a number of places and chose the one that ticked off the most boxes and for me, it was Virgin Active at the Atrium. The only aspect that it does not meet is that it is far from both my work and home, but I am willing to travel a bit further as it ticks the rest of my boxes. There are plans to open a VA at BayWest City. Once that one opens, I will be transferring my membership to it, as it would be closer to me.

This is not a sponsored post. I would share the exact same tips if I was at another gym that ticks most of my boxes. I hope this advice on how to choose a gym helps you find a place that meets all of your needs.

Are you a member of a gym? What did you take into consideration when you chose your gym?

I post on Instagram stories my workouts, if you’re interested in them, be sure to follow me on Instagram. To keep up to date with OSI, check out Facebook and Twitter.

Healthy Lifestyle

Super Easy & Delicious Banting Tuna Bake Recipe

June 7, 2017

For the past few days I’ve been trying to bant and I’ve actually succeeded to sticking to my eating plan (or lack thereof) for longer than 30 minutes. In order to stick to my eating plan (it’s not really an eating plan, I’m just trying to bant) I’ve realised that I need variety in my diet. It’s so easy to eat the same stuff over and over because of convenience. Generally my go to meals are omelettes, chicken salad or boiled eggs with salad. Eating the same things over and over can, and often does, lead me to temptation, aka sugar and carbs. I recently found a pasta tuna bake recipe that I tweaked and made into a banting friendly version. This Banting Tuna Bake Recipe is so tasty and delicious and easy that you’ll love it even if you’re not banting.

I like to think of this as a tuna bake, but it can also kind of be called a quiche. Tomato, potato, regardless of what you call it, this dish is delicious. Excuse the poor image quality, I haven’t been able to take decent pics of the dish as I normally make it at night, after work, when I am tired and the lighting is poor. So for the time being this will have to suffice.

banting tuna bake recipe

Banting Tuna Bake Recipe

This Banting Tuna Bake Recipe can be eaten as a meal on it’s own. But for this I’d cut down to four servings. It can also be served with a salad or a side of vegetables. It’s delicious with Honey Butter Cauliflower. It’s also super easy to make and can be made ahead and frozen (meal prep FTW!).

The cayenne pepper does not make the dish spicy, as very little is added. However, if you prefer it can left out. You can also change up the spices and add herbs (such as sweet basil) according to your preference. If you like you can also add a diced tomato, but that is once again dependent on your preference.

To keep up to date with OSI, check out Facebook and Twitter.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried out this recipe.

Healthy Lifestyle

My Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon 2017 Experience: Running the Race

May 11, 2017

This post is a continuation of My Two Oceans Half Marathon 2017 Experience: The Build Up. If you have not read it,I suggest that you first read it and then continue with this one.

Run Odette run

It took my brother and I about 1 minute to cross the starting line. Being fitter than me and having longer legs, I always knew that he would be faster than me, and have a stronger chance of finishing the race. About 20 metres across the line, he was already a few metres ahead of me. He slowed down, turned around and glanced to see where I was, and I signalled to him.

“Don’t wait for me.”

Off he went. It was still dark and with thousands of people milling around me, he soon disappeared into the crowd. That was the last time I saw him during the race.

The first few kilometres flew by. Quite literally. I remember thinking, this is quicker and better than I expected. Or that’s what I thought.

While journeying through the  the twists and turns of a darkened Cape Town, the streets looked like home. I could have been running through Kabega Park or the inner parts of Summerstrand. The road was quite crowded for the first few kilometres and for some reason, large groups of people were sporadically stopping all at once, then continuing to jog. It was quite annoying, as it meant that everyone behind them would have to stop. Nevertheless, the race felt fine and I thought as if I was off to a good start. That was until we got to the first hill.

Constantia is not in the winelands…

I was told that the race course had rolling hills and of course of the notorious Southern Cross climb. On the site I glanced a few times at the map, but never really paid attention to the elevation. With races in PE, I’ve never looked at a race map, let alone read about the elevation of the races. So I never really considered it. Granted, I’d never attempted a 21km in PE.

The first hill it started gradually. It was no big deal, I’ll be able to take it comfortably. Or so I thought. I jogged for a bit up, determined to power through without stopping. But these legs of mine had other plans. The hill got steeper and I slowed down. The road curved ahead, it looked like the hill ended at the curve. Kanti, the hill got steeper around the curve. I started doing intervals of jogging and walking. The road kept winding and kept getting steeper. After the race I learnt that this was Constantia Nek and apparently everyone except my brother and I knew that it was a steep hill. I was not prepared for this hill so early on in the race. And there I still had to go up Southern Cross in the next 10kms. I didn’t want to completely tire myself out, so I walked up the rest of that hill.

Let’s get on the bus

At the top of the hill, I got the last bus. Which was okay, because I was aiming to get on it. I was keeping an eye out, but I didn’t see any of the other buses. There was a lot less people on it than I expected, but they were a jolly bunch. I ran with them until we got to the 6km water mark. I think it was the 6km mark. At this point I began breathing really heavily, so I slowed down to drink some water and catch my breath. And it’s a good thing I did. About 20 metres in front of me, a woman slipped on a water bag and wiped out in the road. Fortunately she wasn’t injured, but this told me to be more cautious at the water station. The bus leader didn’t stop for water, he powered through in order to keep the pace, and left a handful of us behind.

For a bit I ran behind the bus, telling myself I would catch up. I could catch up right?

Decisions at 7km

As I approached the 7km I began to get comfortable with my pace.When I got to the 7km mark I checked the time on my phone. I was 10 minutes behind the pace I set for myself. This is why it’s important to wear a watch when trying to make a cutoff time. With another 14km ahead, and in that, Southern Cross hill, I knew that I would not make it past the 18km cutoff in time. I basically had two options, stop here and give up or keep going until I’m forced to stop. Only problem is, I am probably the most indecisive person in South Africa, in not the world.

But I asked myself, did I really come all the way to Cape Town to just do a 7km? It took me another kilometre to decide. I would continue till at least 10km. Or until they take me off the course. Which ever is first.

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.” – Charles Bukowski, Factotum

But truth be told, when I saw that I was behind my pace, I was so disheartened. I had already given up on the race. After that point, I barely tried running at all.

A friend on the road

Just after the 8km loop I meant a Capetonian runner in his 40s who injured himself earlier in the race. We had a conversation and he shared with me that despite having done various marathons and other challenging races, he never completed the OMTOHM as he somehow always seemed to injure himself on the course. We chatted for a while. Before I knew it, I was past the 10km mark, where I told myself that I would stop. We walked/jogged while chatting for about 4 to 5kms. Truth be told, I probably slowed him down (well he was injured and shouldn’t be running anyway) but if it weren’t for him, I probably would have given up. He left me behind at the 13km mark, but I found other participants to chat to.

One  step closer to the end

As I got closer to the 18km cutoff, there was a lot more supporters at the sides of the road. There weren’t a lot of participants around me. Some of them looked like they came straight from Long Street to park at the side of the road and continue their party while watching the race.

Eventually I reached the 18km cutoff. It was not far after Kirstenbosch (the only area I recognised because I love Kirstenbosch). They took my back number and directed me to the bus, which would take us to the finish line, down an adjacent street.

It took all of the energy in me not to cry. I finished 18km of hilly terrain and my feet hurt like crazy. I do not know where I found the energy to not cry. When I got on the bus everyone cheered. Every time someone got on, we all cheered. We found solace in one another. We joked about the race with one another. The people on the bus were comforting. The bus ride itself, not so much. I have no idea where it was taking us, but it was not the race finish. I eventually up getting off at UCT’s Lower Campus and walking up to the race finish at Upper Campus to meet my family. My brother finished with a good time, but I knew that he’d do well.

I’ll be back to conquer the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon. Maybe next year, maybe the year after. Who knows, but one day I will get that medal.

Images via Pixabay.

Healthy Lifestyle

My Old Mutual Two Oceans Half Marathon Experience: The Build Up

April 24, 2017

It’s been a little over a week since the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon so an update is in order. I needed the time to mentally go over everything and get some work off my plate before sitting down to write this post. I was really hoping to fit everything into one post, but it is already long and I haven’t even gotten to the race itself. This race is the result of months of preparation, so a sparse post just stating the facts won’t do.

Let’s begin

On Friday morning I jetted into Cape Town, my stomach a mixture of nerves and excitement. My first agenda for the day was to get my race pack at the ICC asap! My aunt had advised that I go early to the ICC to get my race pack, as the queues would be long. Fortunately the queues weren’t that bad (by Cape Town standards, if it were PE it would be declared ridiculous). I managed to get my pack and navigate to the exit  in about 30 minutes.

My best friend picked me up from the airport, so once we were done with at ICC, he took me to nearly every chocolate shop in Cape Town. I’m not kidding.

I’m not normally one to say no to chocolate. I mean, the chocolate industry in South Africa would collapse if I had to give it up. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I do eat a lot of chocolate. As the saying goes, “A chocolate a day keeps the nerves away,” or something along those lines.

But on that Friday, I was so anxious that I said no to multiple offers of chocolate, cakes and ice cream. I missed my only chance to taste Crumbs and Cream (we don’t have one in PE) because I was so anxious that I experienced intense nausea from the store’s aroma and had to step outside to get fresh air.

That evening we went out for pasta (cause carb-loading) and I got home just after 8PM, which was later than what I would have liked. Nevertheless I packed my bags and prepared my kit for the morning.

It was such a struggle to fall asleep and probably took me about an hour. Around 12 I woke up and struggled nearly for an hour to get back to sleep.

My nerves were shot.

02:50AM

My alarm was set for 03:00AM but my brother woke me up at 02:50AM. Actually the entire household woke up then, even though he and I were the only ones participating in the race.

As mentioned in my previous post, I’d been struggling to get short tights. I eventually found a pair that met my length requirements, but hadn’t worn it before race day. After putting them on, I realised my mistake. They needed to be worn in! I was so uncomfortable that I put on a pair of long tights that I had brought along. The fact that I forgot my watch in PE, didn’t help either.

We all got done and neither of us could finish our light breakfast. By 04:00AM we were on our way to Newlands. Would you believe that once we got close to the parking areas, we hit traffic? Our parking spot was roughly 1km from the race starting line. The walk to the starting line felt so quick. It took about ten minutes, but it felt like ten seconds.

After well wishes and hugs, my brother and I went into the runners only section and waited by a tree to shield ourselves from the breeze. Fortunately I decided to take some money with me (just in case), and I was able to get a cup of coffee at a cafe.

The buildup

When you’re standing under a tree in the middle of Autumn in Cape Town at 04:30AM, clothed in only a thin shirt and tights, you really get to reflect on your life choices. Like what was I thinking entering this race?

Being in Group E, our start time was only at 06:20AM, so we had a lot of time to kill. The starting line quickly began filling up, there was literally thousands of people. Nervous excitement began to fill the air, as people paced up and down, doing stretches and other things to warm up. Before we knew it, the countdown for the elite athletes began. The loudspeakers, blasted a nervous heartbeat as they got closer to the start. Who of the organisers thought that this was a good idea? As if people *aka me* weren’t nervous enough.

The first gun went off. Suddenly the energy in the starting line amplified. I was too deep in the line, to dash to the toilets to have one last nervous pee. Fortunately the 20 minutes between Group A and Group E literally flew past. In no time, we were walking to the starting line to wait for our gun to go off.

The last bang for the half marathon went off. There was no turning back. I was in too deep.

All images of Cape Town via Pixabay.