Constantia 02

Constantia 15km

Constantia is one of the oldest suburbs of Cape Town and is famed for its wine. The Klein Constantia Estate remains one of my favourite vineyards and their dessert wine ‘Vin de Constance’ – enjoyed by the likes of Napoleon, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen – is simply delicious.

So, when Nic set me a tempo run during my stay in the Cape and I heard that the Constantia 15km was taking place that very weekend, I jumped at the chance to run through the undulating Constantia valley and its patchwork of vineyards.

The race started at 06:15, just as the first rays of sunlight were appearing; it was so refreshing to be out in the morning air, with 2000 training companions – OK, so really only around 20 after the first few metres had been run. I relaxed into my tempo rhythm and enjoyed it. African men, unused to female running company, would sprint off when they saw me beside them before drifting back a few minutes later; this made it impossible to relax behind anyone into the wind but kept me amused as I ran. At one point I tried to encourage one of the athletes beside me not to fight against himself so greatly after he had drifted back for a third time: ‘relax my friend – life is good’!

Over the last 5km I was a little isolated but had fun on the twisty section through the nature reserve before heading back toward Constantia Village. When I entered the grassy finishing straight and saw the clock I laughed as I tried to dip under 50 minutes – there were so many white lines painted on the rugby field that I could not tell exactly where the finish was! Eventually the clock stopped at 50:02 and it was great to have my session plus warm down done and dusted well before 07:30.

Many thanks to acsis VOB for putting on such a great event and making me feel so welcome. One year I will be back to break Elana Meyer’s course record!

Not here for the TRACKSUIT 01

Back to the UK and back to racing…

It felt good to be back in the UK, competing for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country in Holyrood Park. It was even more of an honour to be selected as women’s team captain as we battled it out against strong teams from the United States and Europe.

The course consisted of three laps of 2km, round grass fields, up a couple of ramps, over a few logs, through a couple of water jumps and skirting the side of Haggis Knowe. It was plain to see that I struggled on the terrain and in the conditions – I never really found a rhythm and although my lungs could go faster my legs could not!

Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton ran an impressive race, flowing over the ground and crossing the line with a 16 second winning margin. My team mate Jess Coulson also ran extremely well, matching Britton for two laps and finishing in fourth place. I finished eighth, 30 seconds behind Britton and 5 seconds behind Coulson. The rest of the GB & NI team stacked closely behind me, well done girls. We did not manage to win the team challenge but I know that everyone ran their hearts out.

I am a little disappointed with my performance but must remain realistic and patient (not always my strong point!). I have done a great block of training in Ethiopia, but the focus was base work coming back from my post Olympic break. The intensity of training will only increase as I build toward the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, at the end of March.

The weekend was topped off with a Sunday long run (and catch up chat) with Steph Twell. We ran a couple of laps climbing between Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags before heading into Edinburgh for a short loop. We saw many of the sights and even ran up to Edinburgh Castle where I called out “we have to run as far as we can go without having to pay”. We were soon halted by some attendants telling us that no jogging was allowed within the castle walls! Jogging?!? It was a lovely run, the sunshine even came out for a while and it was so special to have Steph back, running well.

All in all it was a very enjoyable weekend – many thanks to Brendan Foster and his team at Nova for putting on a fabulous event.