My 2017 Berlin Marathon experience

It’s been 2 weeks since I ran the Berlin Marathon,  which was followed by me being a tourist in Europe that led to this review taking a back seat.

On the 20th of September, I boarded the Emirates flight to Munich with a 3-hour layover in Dubai. I think that the running Gods were on my side as I had all the 3 seats to myself so I could actually sleep (yay) on the flight. I arrived in Munich at 08:30 and had to chill at the airport for 6-hours before boarding Air Berlin to Berlin Airport. I safely arrived at my Berlin Hotel around 5pm. I checked in, messaged my family and friends that I was safe, showered and passed out.

The morning of 21st, I toured the city of Berlin and taking in beautiful architecture and feeling of the mixed cultures that now make the beautiful city what it is. In the afternoon, I went to the Berlin Vital Expo to collect my race number, tracker and wristband for access on race day.  The Expo was filled with different brands showcasing their products from running accessories to running fuel. Races from other countries were also there to convince runners to travel to their races, there was an opportunity to purchase Berlin Marathon memorabilia because that is important. I spent Saturday in bed and off my feet, the breakfast run took place but I was too tired and decided to listen to my body and rest.

I was filled with excitement and nervous on race day. The day I have been training for months was suddenly here. It was raining which meant it was the nice and cool weather but I chafe easily when wet so I was not happy. Hopped on a train to the start area, arrived 3 hours early, I walked around and started to warm up. Met and had a chat with some of the wonderful international runners and took some pictures. When the gun went off, singling the start of my block, I started off slowly, the first 10km was relaxed and slow. I picked up my pace slightly for the next 11km but still within race pace. Reached the halfway mark at 2h44, kept the same pace till the 30th km. I felt the wall and just focused on every 2km, fuelling with half a banana and energy drink every 5km, at 34km, I could feel my quads getting tight and sore, the hard thing about a flat course is that you use the same muscles throughout the 42km. The last 8km is where I lost most of my time, I had changed muscles by walking it out. The last 2 km was the hardest as per every marathon or race, I just left everything on the floor.

Finished the race 05h48, the overwhelming feeling of crossing the finish line while flying my country’s flag brought me to tears. Even more special was that the Berlin Marathon chose to honour marathoner Josia Thongwane by placing him on the medal, he won Gold at the 1996 Olympics.

One of the most important things after running a marathon is to reflect on how you performed and see where you need to improve for the next marathon. After this race, I need to work on:

  • Speed when on tired legs to assist with pushing in the last 6 – 8 km
  • Continue with strength training, focus slightly more on the core

The Berlin Marathon experience is everything and more, amazing athletes, great organisation and great supporters on race day. Thank you to everyone that supported me through the months of training and on the day via technology.

The next step is to get into another Abbotts World Marathon Major. Will keep you posted.

Time to slowly get back into running and go to the gym, it’s been a nice chilled 3 weeks.

See you on the road!!!!!

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It’s Berlin Marathon Week – Mental Check!

It’s Berlin Marathon week, yay!!!

This week felt so far away and now it has arrived.

The Cape Town Marathon took place yesterday and it has definitely motivated me even more, this morning I aimed to run 7km and ended up running 11km 🙂

It was a bit strange to be a spectator at the Cape Town Marathon as opposed to running, but to see my friends and that I was supporting go through the stages of running a marathon, made me sit and start to mentally prepare for Sunday. Running a marathon is always a huge test of physical and mental strength. It always reminds me what I am capable of. Seeing runners crying when crossing the finish line close to the cut-off time of 6h30 and the sportsmanship of runners helping each to the finish line really touched my heart and it will be my turn on Sunday.

I have started to visualise the route, making sure I have the correct nutrition leading to Sunday.  I know that I will go through the “why did I sign up for this” thoughts during 30 – 38kms, it unavoidable, but I will have to go through it and keep moving forward like have done in the last 2 marathons I ran. I hope to achieve a sub 5 but my main aim is to finish and finish strong but also take in the vibe and have fun.

Flying to Germany on Wednesday, long but exciting trip ahead.

To follow my Berlin Marathon adventures, following blog Instagram @mdlalikazi or my personal account @ma_ayi

See you on the road!!!

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Eliud Kipchoge aims to break the Berlin Marathon record

Eliud Kipchoge, one of the best marathon runners currently will aim to break the Berlin Marathon record. I got to know more about this amazing runner when he was announced as one of the 3 runners Nike selected to attempt to break the Sub 2 hour time for a marathon. Eliud along with Lelisa Desisa & Zersenay Tadese ran their first attempt of breaking the sub 2 hour mark in Monza Italy, they finished at 2:00:25 under special conditions.

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Image courtesy of Nike

Eliud won the Berlin Marathon in 2:04:00 despite his running insoles flapping through most of the race. The current record for the Berlin is 2:03:23 and Eliud feeling positive and strong from the sub 2 hour attempt will push to break the record. Berlin Marathon is well known for its fast and flat course so its the best race to attempt a world record.

I wish Eliud all the best in his attempt, it will be amazing to see this live :). Let me just continue to aim to just finish the race

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Image courtesy of Nike

Road to Berlin Marathon! 10 weeks to go!

It’s exactly 10 weeks and 6 days to the race start (time is flying!!!)

I have been consistent with the short and long runs, strength training and speed work. Continuing to focus on my nutrition and getting stronger. With winter officially here, the weather has not been great for hiking but it doesn’t stop the runs.

Travel preparations have also been done, all flights and accommodation have been booked for the race and the post-race tourist activities. Just awaiting the Schengen visa appointment, yay!!!

Since my last blog post, I ran the Slave Route 21km, which is a wonderful race that takes you through all the historic sites around Cape Town, like the Castle of Good Hope, Slave Museum and the slave post where slaves were put on display and sold during apartheid. I also race the FNB 12 km race which is a flat & fast race from Milnerton to lower Bree Street. I used these 2 races as a benchmark to test my pace and speed. I finished 10 minutes faster than last year which is good but some work still needs to be done.

The next 8-9 weeks, I will continue to focus on my run form, speed work, strengthening and nutrition, all while making sure that I don’t overexert my muscles which could lead to a muscle strain or worse an injury. I missed out on a week of running due to being sick and I don’t want to be one of those runners that want to make up by pushing too hard. It is winter so looking after that immune system is key, some citrus fruit for the Vitamin C will help, rest days are just as crucial.

The excitement is continuing to build, I have been watching YouTube videos of runners that ran the Berlin Marathon and reading about their experience. Can’t wait to share the experience but first training, travel to race and race day.

See you on the road!!!

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Road to Berlin – Training Week 8 – 12

It’s been weeks since I posted about my journey to Berlin Marathon. 2017 has been a bit hectic with new job and also being back at University studying. As much as that has lead to me not posting on my blog, it certainly has not stopped my training.

I’ve had to change my runs to mornings since I have to attend classes at University in the evenings. It was a bit hard in the beginning, it meant I had long days from Monday until Thursday, by the 3rd week I was in a routine my body could handle. I have continued with 3-4 short morning runs during the week and then long runs or hikes on weekends. Had a bit of bad time with nutrition, stress got the better of me and I usually eat badly during stressful periods but thanks to the runs I was able to put a handle on it

I have about 4 and a half months to go until the Berlin Marathon, and the increase in kilometres will continue, I will be running 30 – 35 km on weekends. This is always the hard part for me because firstly its winter, so its dark and cold, I can forget about any of my friends joining me physically in the training, they will opt for the “with you in spirit” kind of support. Thanks to my friends, I’ve been able to conquer some hikes like Constantia, Newlands Forest, Table Mountain, Lions Head and Pipe Track Trail, which has helped in strengthening the legs and helping with the slight runners knee. The amazing thing about my City and surrounds, there is always a hike to attempt. The victory of completion and the views make it all worth it.

The Cape Town running season will also be quiet during winter, I will be running 2 races before the season ends and it’s the Slave Route Half Marathon on Sunday the 14th and the Fnb Cape Town 12km One Run on the 22nd of May. The Slave Route Half Marathon will be a good race to gauge whether my training and fitness are at a good point and the FNB race will be a good practice for Berlin as it is a fast flat race.

So it’s still all systems go for the Berlin Marathon 2017, I am excited and the countdown continues

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See you on the road!!!

Road to Berlin Marathon – Training Week 4 – 7

It’s been a while since I updated on the training, life sometimes gets in the way of blogging. The training continues, my body is slowly starting to adjust to  running a lot of mileage again. With the increase in kilometers in the coming weeks, nutrition and rest in between the runs and gym days will be vital and important.

The advantages of having scientists as colleagues who also happen to be runners, they offer great advice regarding nutrition, after a lot of mornings arriving to work a bit exhausted from my runs, my colleague suggested that I should try taking Chia seeds. I have been putting off drinking too much energy drinks, so getting a healthier alternative was great. What is great with Chia seeds is I can put it in my smoothies, salads and drink it in water (not the greatest taste). It has helped with the energy levels in the last few weeks and it’s also a great source of protein so my muscles are nourished as well, so I will continue drinking it.

I am continuing to schedule hikes on weekends to keep the legs strong, 3 weeks ago, my friends and I hiked up the Newlands forest, it was the first time hiking up there. We pushed ourselves by running up some of the inclines to get the legs and lungs working harder. Later, I attended the Womens Health magazine and adidas Fit Night Out, it was 4 hours of sweating in 32 degree heat,I had a great sunburn. Got to meet some amazing Fitness Stars, Adidas Ambadassors and awesome women. Also, once a week I do a 40 minute session at Biskop stairs in Clifton with the boys, they are constantly pushing me.

This week is about getting the short intense runs done, they will help in getting the body efficient, I am aiming to get my muscles better at using oxygen, getting the heart stronger so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, this will assist in running faster so I can finish my races at a better time. This is called increasing the VO2 max, read more about it here. After the Lion of Africa Half Marathon, I could feel that it was working. By adding 1 or 2 sessions of running faster than my 5km pace, it helps that body get stronger.

The next race is the Constantia K-way 15km on Saturday 11 March. Online entries have closed but you can still enter on race day 5am-6am.

See you on the road!!!

 

 

 

Road to Berlin Marathon – Training week 3

Last week was quite a push, I trained 3 days in a row (Mon – Wed). Thanks to my friends that joined me on my runs on Seapoint Promenade, all the support is highly appreciated.

Started the week off with a morning run, in the evening I went for my usual spinning class, I have to get the legs strong. Tuesday and Wednesday I ran 5.66km respectively at a tempo pace to get the lungs and muscles to work.

I know some people were not too sure what to do on strength training day. If you belong to a gym, you can do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes, if you need someone to show you, i.e personal trainer but don’t have the money to hire a personal trainer,use Nike+ Training Club on strengthening days, they have sessions that are 15 to 45mins long, I usually start with a 10min warm-up on the treadmill, rowing machine or bike at the gym followed by a Nike+ workout. Adidas MiCoach also has a free app as well.

I am quite happy with my training schedule and now need to be more focused on nutrition, it’s always been the one area I seem to not get right. I have tried different diet plans that I have read in the various magazines/blogs and websites. This year I will be seeking the help of a dietician. Along this journey I will share what works for me and the various other nutritional information that I come across and try. It’s always best to be knowledgeable but the only way you will know if a eating plan works for you is by trial and error. Your race training period is the best time to find out what works, you don’t want to try anything new on race day……ever!!!!

All the best for crushing your goals this week.

Let me know if you have a race that you are training for and have any tips that have worked for you.

See you on the road.

January Training – Week 2

Week 2 of the training plan has been good, my body still gets a bit exhausted from all the training, can’t wait till my body gets used to pushing, it’s a gradual process so I will just keep at it.

I am still struggling to wake up really early on a Saturday and Sunday mornings for my long runs. I will get there eventually.

Since last weeks’ runs were short and tempo pace, I did most of them at gym and then I either did spinning class or some strength training afterwards. I didn’t do a long run on the weekend since I was taking part in the 3 peak challenge, I got a good workout. Devils peak was brutal on the legs with the massive incline towards the top, if felt like I was climbing up a never-ending sand dune. My muscles are still a bit stiff, they loosened a bit after my Monday Morning 5km run. I love the views that come with hikes in my city. (Pictures below). The next 3 peaks challenge will take place on the weekend of 12th May

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When you are tired but realise there is a steep incline to the top

 

 

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Thank you to the 3 peak challenges organisers for an awesome time

This week’s plan (week 3)january-2017-training is still short run ( 5-7 km)) and speed runs, I will be running them on the road, I don’t want to use the treadmill too much.

My next race will be the Lion of Africa Half Marathon on the 4 February, the race takes place in Constantia, there are a few hills that I will need to prepare for. It’s 2 and a half weeks away. Hope to see you there.

See you on the road!

BACK TO TRAINING

COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON!!!!!

There is no better excuse than partying in the festive season to blame for not sticking to your exercise or training routine. The body has been through a lot in the past year and exhaustion got the better of me.

I hardly ran or went to gym, I was in a partying and recovering to party again mode. Now that the festive season is practically over, its time to focus on the tasks at hand:

  • Losing the festive season weight gain
  • Training for the Berlin Marathon

As mentioned in my last blog , I will be sharing my plan with you and you are welcome to join me.

The plan begins this week and you can download it here: january-2017-training. It would be awesome to run and train with you. The Nike+ Training and the Adidas Train & Run apps are great for the strength training days, they have a lot of sessions you can chooses from and they are both free apps.

I will be taking part in the 3 Peak Challenge this weekend, it will be great hill training and getting the legs strong, it’s a weekend challenge which consists of:

  • Friday evening 13 Jan: Hike up Lions Head
  • Saturday morning, 14 Jan: Hike up Devils Peak
  • Sunday morning, 15 Jan: Hike up Table Mountain

The challenge is free, you can buy your cable car ticket to get back to the bottom of the Table Mount through webticket, check the 3 Peaks events page for more details.

I will also be taking part in the following races in February:

Hope to see you on the road.

The Journey Begins – Road To Berlin Marathon

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I received the amazing news that I got a starting spot for the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon. The race will take place on Sunday, 24 September 2017.

Preparations for the trip have begun, I have booked my accommodation which is 2km away from the race start. I’ve also decided to stay a week after the race so I can do some ‘touristy’ things and head to Munich for Oktoberfest before heading back home. I will look at flights early next year.

I had a squiz (look) at the 2016 BMW Berlin marathon race course to see how many hills there are, if any. I need to prepare for those hills, I really don’t like hill training but it has to be done. The amazing thing about the city I call home, Cape Town, there are an array of hills to choose from so hill training will be incorporated. Also, it doesn’t hurt that all the hills come with amazing views.

December will be a month of maintaining the current fitness, the body is exhausted, it’s been a hectic year. So it will just be gym sessions and spinning classes to keep the legs strong.Currently completing my 6 week Nike+ Training plan.

The hard training will kick off in January, this will include strength training sessions in the gym, trail runs, hikes around Cape Town, and lots of 21km-30km races and long runs.

I will be sharing my monthly training plan, you are welcome to join any of the training days. January plan will be live at the end of this month.

See you on the road!!

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