Wine Tours, SA Champs & some more ….

Some people have friends that go on “golf tour” , my friends go on Wine Tour! I always battle to have a long lay off after Comrades so when our wine club, affectionately known as the “Sour Grapes”, came up with the idea of going on a tour, my wife Julie jumped at the opportunity. It was great fun, I even managed to squeeze in a few runs to keep my Discovery points ticking over and enjoy a few smoothies on my return! We visited Stanford, Elgin and Hermanus, doing about 4 farms a day and avoiding the well known “brands”. We discovered some gems and tasted a lot of new and interesting wines in the process.

So June 2016 wasn’t a very high mileage month needless to say and the highlight was a 18:35 Parkrun at Piggly Wiggly just before our departure to the Cape, my total for the month being 214 km. The intention was to focus on the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon being run in September using SA Half Marathon Champs in PE and the Mandela Half Marathon as part of my preparation. I wrapped July up on 402 km with a 81:06 on the 30th September in PE, my longest training run was 20 km but I had a fair amount of interval training in the mix. I improved on my 2015 time in this event by about 30 seconds, it felt tougher and I was secretly hoping to dip under 80 minutes, maybe next year.

In August I upped my mileage a bit, finishing on 485 km for the month, including a speed session of sorts at least once a week. I only went longer than 20 km once and on the 28th August tackled the Mandela Half Marathon finishing with a time of 85:38 and claiming second Master pipped by 18 seconds, a good sign for me was that I had improved my time of the past 2 years on this course by 2 minutes!

The Cape Town Marathon was 3 weeks after the Mandela Half, I tapered my training during this period and was getting excited as race day approached. I battled during this period with a stiff neck, had one chiro treatment but it didn’t bother me when I was running so I thought nothing of it. I spent a few days with my son Luke prior to the race and we traveled to the start together with friends as he was doing the 10 km. This is such an awesome race to be a part of, the organisation from start to finish is up there with the very best, nothing is left to chance. I’m fortunate enough to get some VIP treatment with the PAP Athletes (Elite Professionals) so arrive at the start line feeling relaxed and excited, with the normal butterflies doing their thing.

My planned pace was around 19:35 for each 5 km which went very much according to plan for the 1st 10 km and then the going just got a bit tough, not hectic but I really had to focus and concentrate really hard so as not to give up on my goal, 2:47 was the time I had to match from 2015. I went through half way in around 83 minutes so I kept pushing, realising that I was still on track and despite not feeling great a decent time was on the cards. As usual, when you are racing in age categories, you hardly ever know where you are lying, until you cross the finish line! I caught and passed the previous years’ winner of my age group at about 32 km which spurred me on even more. There are always enthusiastic supporters en route providing information and with about 6 km to go I was told that I was the 2nd master, I dug really deep but could see I was losing a bit of time of some of the “bumps” as you enter the last 4 kms. I passed one more master with 4 km to go and thought that I had it in the bag, only to discover that I was 3rd again! My 2:48:37 was a bit slower than I was hoping for, a minute behind 2nd who was the same time behind 1st place, all in all nothing to complain about, I had given it my best shot on the day.

My neck was really bad after Cape Town and now the discomfort has spread to my hammies, so tight and sore into my buttocks! I wrapped up my racing for 2016 with a solid run in my Save Orion AC club race which doubled up as KZN Half Marathon Champs, despite the discomfort that I had to endure. I had a great tussle with 2 other guys but couldn’t keep up with them on the downhills, finishing 3rd master in 85 minutes about 1 minute back. I am going to enjoy some serious rest & recover so I can finish the year feeling fresh and ready to tackle 2017 with a bang!

I’ve really been enjoying my Brooks runing shoes that I have been putting to the test since mid June and will be doing some shoe reviews in the future. Keep a look out for these or visit the Brooks Running SA website to view their range by following the link on my blog.

Take it easy and enjoy the last  2 months of 2016,

Shaun