First off, the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon 2009 has just concluded in South Africa. I took part in this last year and came 6th overall. This year saw there biggest field ever of over 70 runners compete in this there 10th birthday special. I had quite a lot of friends running. This race is getting very popular it seems. I expect it will get book up fast for 2010. I'd recommend everyone head over to the website and take a look at this years stories, photo's and videos. I wish I was there, but with my knee operation only 6 months ago, my recovery is still a work in progress. Some days my knee feels fine, then other days, just walking causes some "twinges".
My training has been decimated by a new job that I have. I ran just twice this week, about 6 miles on each occasion, 80% on the road. I managed an hour yoga session and a hour and quarter gym session too. I expect this pattern to stay the same for at least 2 more weeks, then hopefully I will be able to pick up my long weekend run again.
To give myself a shot in the arm I've provisionally signed up for the Atacama Crossing 2010. You'll remember I was taken out on day 3 this year with an aggressive cellulitis infection, that resulted in me being hospitalised back home as well. I also had food poisoning for the whole time, as well as the torn meniscus of my knee. So, all in all, it was a disaster. I want to take part in next years race to "tick it off". However, my participation very much depends on work allowing me to do so. If the project I am on has a lull at that time, maybe I'll be allowed the time off. All I can do is train towards it and hope for the best. Believe it or not, it is just 18 weeks away, a little over 4 months. So, I need to jumpstart my training.
I need to get in as many events on a Saturday as I can, and ideally get in a 40 or 50 mile ultra in either January or early February. The Atacama Crossing has been moved forward a month this year, to early March. This may make the evenings (and I assume the days too) slightly warmer.
I've taken a look at my kit list tonight and done a first pass of being more ruthless. I've stripped out some things, and some food, and am currently looking at a 7.3kg pack without water on the start line. I want to go as lightweight as I feel able to, and get each stage over as quickly as I can; if I can get it under 7kg that'll be ideal. I don't want a week of 8 or 9 hour days. The altitude is debilitating over there, and the terrain is nasty. No one is storming out fast short days, but finishing an hour or two earlier would be a blessing. Loosing pack weight is the best place to start, after you address your fitness. I'm going to train smart, if not long. I can't get a lot of miles in, so it's going to have to be quality training sessions. Sessions designed to boost fitness. I won't train with a backpack at all, except when I do events at the weekend that require a minimum amount of kit, which shouldn't weigh more than a few kilos.
I need to get my knee back to normal. It'll never be 100% again, but I'm going to get it as close as I can. I'll see if I can put myself a rough training programme together this week. I want to be fitter than I have ever been before, for any event ever. It's going to be a long hard winter of training ahead, but I'm not shy of training hard when I have a goal. I'm targeting a top half of the field finish as a minimum, any better is a bonus. I have a few advantages in that I know what the terrain is like. Some of the routes may be the same, which doesn't offer an advantage in speed, but I might remember when the next checkpoint is coming. I hope the route marking and distances are tightened up this year, as some of those were a long way out in the 09 event. It's hot in the Atacama, but nothing like the Kalahari or Sahara. It is manageable. The altitude is the big factor, as I said, and there is nothing I can do about that. Just suffer it like everyone else. I'm not about to go out there 3 weeks early to acclimate to the altitude, I can't afford it, and I won't have a job to go back to! So, that's where I am, the start of the next desert race chapter.
Have a good week!