Sunday, December 23, 2007

Baby steps

Today I took the first, tentative steps towards becoming myself again. Or, more accurately, towards becoming the latest version of me, who I think I'll call Kate the Great Balancer.

Since my sub-4 "victory" in October, I have neglected my fitness and my training. Instead, I've thrown myself into work (by necessity) and my social life (a mixture of Christmas, engagement...). It was great to take one item of stress off the list, and, unfortunately, when I'm not getting a breathing break until 8/9pm, that's what exercise was- just pure stress. I tried a run commute one morning (humid, backpack-ed, highway 8-miler) and felt good until about 10am, fine until 8pm, and absolutely shattered for the rest of the week. Oh, and some random DOMS kept me awake until I had to resort to ibuprofen.

So, here I am, nearly 2 months post race, feeling like a spotty blimp. My skin is terrible, and I've never felt less inclined to try bridesmaid dresses or bikinis on. My fat clothes are tight, and my skinny clothes are a distant dream. But I don't regret a thing. Well, not really. I've had a pretty impressive year at work, and feel good about performance, and about the recognition I'm getting. I had a fantastic time enjoying the Christmas season, and showing my ring off time and time again.

So, no regrets, but with a venue booked and a date set, I'm ready to commit again, and today I set out for my first outdoor ride in probably 6 months. It was slow, the hills hurt more than they should have, and the headwind on the way back just about broke my spirit, but it was great to be on the bike again. My bike computer hit 500km during the ride, and my first "Kate the Great Balancer" goal is to hit 1000 by March.

Merry Christmas folks!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Prayer solicitation

Last night, during my sister's work Christmas function, one of her good friends and colleagues was hit by a car. He is, I think, in critical but "stable" condition, but will be undergoing more extensive brain surgery as the week progresses. He's only 23, and on the cusp of an exciting grown-up life.

Please send your prayers this way.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Absolutely!




As you all know, work's been crazy busy recently, and although I suspected a proposal was in the pipeline, with moving*, work, engagement parties, christmas dos and general busy-ness, and my Dad leaving the country, I was starting to wonder whether there was any real chance of it happening this year :-)

But, when P started suggesting we set aside time to go for a run up Tinakori hill, I started to get suspicious. He just doesn't ordinarily show such initiative ;-) I tried not to be too cocky- there've been some near misses recently, like the time we stopped halfway home, he looked into my eyes with SUCH intensity and suggested we detour past the lookout. But when we decided to bring the run forward from Monday to Sunday, I was pretty sure it was going to be It. So, I got him to bring in my cute pink running skirt and pale pink tank top, I made sure I held onto my camera, applied plenty of anti-perspirant (my WORD it's been humid here), and I asked him to bring my handbag in (which contained a special secret).

We met at work at 4, and I got changed. I love the pink skirt, and even with the extra 10-15lb on me, it makes me feel sooo cute :-) I knew I was right when I saw that he was wearing his favourite, not-really-appropriate-for-running, top and carrying a back pack. So not needed for a short run, with the car parked in town :-)
When he pulled the bag of gummi snakes out, I was certain, and wishing I wasn't!

There were a few awkward points on the way up the hill, with both of us eager to get to the top, both of us nervous, and both of us struggling against a combination of hangovers (me) sore legs (him) and humidity (both of us).

I was the leader of the run, as I know the hill better than him.. Unfortunately, I don;t know it well, and had forgotten that the "view" of fabulous, amazing Wellington harbour is obscured by the pine trees on the side of the hill. Ooops.

As we looked for a place to stop and admire the non-view, I chattered incessantly, and Boy got progressively quieter. Eventually, we found a spot, and I sat down nd fiddled with the camera. He walked behind me, feeding me gummi snakes, and then said "darling, I have a present for you." Lamely, I replied "is it a gummi snake?", and then turned around (it involved a complete and very odd 360) as he said all the required lovely things, dropped to one knee and said those 4 special words. I squeaked, then jumped and said absolutely, enveloping him in a sweaty hug.

We spent the walk down the hill being excited in a content sort of way. I loved hearing about asking my dad for my hand, getting advice from his friends, and the process of designing and making the ring. I have to say, the proposal felt so natural that I postponed the teary sentimentality for quite awhile. If that sounds like I'm not rapt, its coming out wrong. But hearing that he loves me, and knowing it, is nothing new.

Sometimes (ok, very very frequently) a special moment hits me with an overwhelming wave of love when I look at P, or when I see the pictures of us on Facebook, or when I talk to him, or when he tells me he loves me. Other times, the love is playful, it's in the tickles, the nicknames and the goodnight routines. The proposal was amazing, the ring was amazing, but they didn't quite hit my "overwhelming wave of love nerve." But then later, thinking about what the ring represents to us, the new family we're creating and the fact that I get to spend forever with my darling bear, my best friend and the cutest guy ever- THAT's when I got the teary feeling.

It's hard to know what to say- I wish I'd been able to blog every day this week, as every day has held something new. The excitement of the Day 1 squeals and constant calls/texts and emails, the amazing messages of love and celebration we've received from friends and family, my dad's inadequate response to my news, signing up to The Knot for real, taking those first serious steps to setting a date (31 January 2009, almost certainly), realising my finger feels naked without my ring already, working til 1am and nearly crying at missing my fiance so much, hearing about Boy referring casually to me as fiance the first time. My god a lot can happen in a couple of days!


*Oh yeah, we moved last week!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

BIIIG news :-)

During a run up the Tinakori hill this afternoon, P dropped to one knee and popped The Question. I'm hazy on the details, but my answer was, of course, "absolutely!!!"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What next?

To be honest, I'm not sure what comes next. I don't know if I have the energy to go for a fast(er) race in Rotorua (or Chch) 08, then try for the BQ in October. I can stomach the thought of a marathon in a year, but to do Rotorua well next year I'd have to start training in January. I'm unlikely to suddenly start working 9-5, or 8-6. I want to keep exercising, but maybe just to have fun or work out for awhile, not to train. Plus, I'm going to be involved in planning some fairly large events next year- do I want more stress?

But then the emails start coming in- those ones saying "come race with us next year!" and oh boy it's hard not to get excited. Remembering those climbs in Rotorua, the first sight of the lake. The view from the top of the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Seeing my wonderboy's face on the course.

And then there's these whole other goals. Trail races and eventually ultras. There's a 70k I'm dying to do, and I absolutely 100% swear I am going to be hitting the trails on a regular basis. I'm trying to figure out how Rogaine races work- P and I figure that with my cryptic crossword skills and his memory and sense of direction, we'll still be last, but maybe not by much.

Then there's weightlifting, bikram yoga, the new combat class at the gym, getting proficieint on my bike before we hit the hills of the South Island over Christmas. Open water swim season, the summer pool now open in Thorndon. Bridesmaids dresses to tone my arms for.

What's a girl to do?!

Friday, November 02, 2007

THANK YOU!!!!!



Well, the race is over and our fundraising has just about wrapped up (though there's always time for last minute donations). I am pleased to announce that we raised an amazing $1790, $790 higher than our goal of $1000!



So a HUGE public thanks to my bloggie buddies Lana, Mike and Jen C for their generous donations. Knowing I was accountable to the Refuge and my sponsors as well as myself and my blog definitely helped me to snap out of it during my "marathon" moment.

Of course, I have to thank everyone else as well- my fellow newbies who make me feel like I might know something, the others in the "shooting for sub-4" club who know what it's like, the kiwis who get what I'm talking about (and share my time zone), the experienced marathoners who always make me feel confident in my abilities and my preparation. You guys have been awesome, and I can't wait to share the next challenge with you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yes. I ordered all thirteen digital files!















(yes, there are some there I would not willingly pay for. But at a fixed price of $60ish, when ONE print costs around $20, it was hard to resist these!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Auckland Marathon Race Report Part 4: The aftermath- She can't walk but she's trying

Part 1
Part
2

Part 3

If anyone's in need of explanation, all of my report titles relate to songs in my playlist. Parts 1 and 2 are titles, and 3 and 4 are lines (Run, by Collective Soul and Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins).

As I sat, my sister came over to the fence. We couldn't see a way for her to reach me, but I wanted her and let her know that, so she snuck through a gap. Thank you sis. I needed it! I hugged her, told her it was the hardest thing ever and (I think) managed to find the decency to ask her how she did and, most importantly, whether she had run over the Bridge. Hmm. Rather late in the piece, I should say that running over the Bridge is particularly special, because it's only 2 hours a year that people can! She did. SHE was there and over by 8:30. GO J!!!! Then Ed came over and gave me a massive high 5. I was excited that he'd managed a sub 4 GUN time. YAY Ed. That's got to be my next goal 3:xx on the CLOCK (as Phil said in a comment on my mini report post).

Jenn shared some powerade with me (from a bottle she'd been given), and eventually I got up to wander through the finishing formalities. I couldn't believe they were out of powerade in cups. It was fine with me, I just wanted some water. This wasn't a big deal, but combined with a couple of other things, it was annoying. Got my chip taken, thankfully I know it worked (mine didn't work last Auckland, and have no official half PB!!!), got a big clunky medal. I like marathoners only medals, and things that make us feel more special than those doing other events :-) Unfortunately, by the time we got to where the powerade truck had been, it had gone. Great. So, the 5k walkers drank it all. Poor things must have been parched. This annoyed me. It's the Auckland MARATHON, and has some easier options. It's NOT the Auckland Half, or Quarter, or 5k with a super-extended option for insance people. Again, no big deal, but it doesn't feel very good when the race feels "over" when a sub-4 marathoner finished. In Rotorua I felt amazing. I was a leader, and I was royalty. Here I felt superfluous. The gear bags were no longer lined up, and the worst thing was that the firm's corporate tent was PACKED UP when I got there!!!!

We saw an army tent, with a whiteboard displaying a press up competition. Ed (or his Mum?) wondered what sort of masochist would run a marathon and then do push ups. That's a challenge if I ever heard one! I dropped (by "dropped" I mean inched, wincing) and gave them 5 (full- could have gone on, didn't particularly want to though). Then Ed had to drop and give us 6, or 5 1/2 as his mum said! Getting up was interesting. Very strategic, and I tried a few different ways of getting there. Talked to my honey briefly, told some stories, texted some peeps, heard about my sister's day (my poor girl had no-one at the end.. i hated doing that to her. I wish I'd given her a full days cheer squad, as by the time I was there, it was my turn to be centre of attention).

Found A eventually, and decided the joint was dead and not worth staying around. We needed a pub, as J and I wanted (hot) chips and beer and A wanted bubbly and chocolate cake. Hehe- we have such different post marathon cravings!! After walking in the vague direction of home for awhile we happened upon a Denny's! AWESOME!!! I am absolutely addicted to Denny's grilled cheese. It's just not kiwi food and it reminds me of growing up CO. Sandwiches, fries, beer and bubbly (11am...), followed by oreo sundaes for me and A and pancakes a la mode for J. OMG so perfect.

My urge to nap returned as we made our way back up goddamned Queen Street to the hostel. I swear, they stretched that street overnight. Just like the stretch the k markers after 25k... Our cousin picked me and J up to meet the family for afternoon tea, we had a nice afternoon with family, then rushed to the airport to go home.

Plane ride was painful, but we made it. Showered and met baby sister and her man for mexican. Best meal ever. And plenty of frozen margaritas. Party time.. Excellent. Everyone came back to ours for donuts and singstar ROCK BALLADS. So fun! We love us our singstar, and rock ballads is like K&P's dream compilation (minus all the stuff that's already been put on 80s or Legends...) Meatloaf, Cutting Crew, Duran Duran, Mr Mister. What a game! Girls kicked Boys butt in a party game, and all of a sudden it was quarter to 12, and J and I had been up for 20 hours!! And I'd spent 1/5 of them running!

So, now I'm all up to date, I might peel myself off the couch and go to work. It's taken me all morning!

Auckland Marathon Race Report Part 3: Yeah, I run (have I got a long way to run)

Part 1
Part 2

Leaving Ed helped me to focus. This was MY race, and if tiredness was the problem, I wans't going to let my job, my job I love, get in the way of the race I love. I opted for the magic music box to pull me through again, which was the best thing for me. I've really liked starting with company, then using music when it comes time for me to stop chattering. I'm not great at running in silence- like the sound of my own voice too darn much, and can never resist the chance to point out silly t-shirts (my fave: "42,195 metres to the next real drink station"; J's face: "you're the run that I want")

The first song on today was Sweet Caroline. Cheese is what works best for me. It makes me happy, swells my heart and that's what I need more than any beat, any tempo. Neil never fails. How can you not feel happy when the strings swell, the beat crescendos and "Reaching out, touching me, touching you" builds to "boom, boom, boom SWEEEEET Caroline"?? LOL. I can't believe I'm sharing my appalling taste with the internet at large. Please don't stop liking me!!! I really am very nice! I kept on at my slowish pace, pottering along slowly, but surely. Ed was a yellow blob in the distance, moving further and further away, but I was keeping up with my own new group. The problem with huge starts is you can never be quite sure whether people "should" be passing or not. I hurt quite a lot already, but I was smiling again.

The support was great along this part- you run around the bays to St Heliers, and by this time it was getting towards 9. People are up, having breakfast, enjoying coffees. [Actually, Auckland did well with crowd support this year- from the blearly eyed dressing-gowners on the Shore, to the capris and lattes crowd of Mission Bay, and then the exhausted but elated finishers and supporters who cheer us in as we complete the last 1-2ks.] hey're non-discrimination cheerers, everyone gets a clap, everyone gets a smile. My mind was fixed now. I felt like me again, even if a slow, sore, somewhat shuffly version of me.

Watching the male leaders coming to the end of their race when I wasn't even at 25k was awesome (in the literal sense ("awe inspiring"), and the more modern sense ("cool") too). Then seeing the female winner, who did not look like a marathoner, beaming behind her motorbike escort. It was disheartening to see the people in front of me without seeing the people behind me. I felt close to last, even though logically I knew I wasn't (even on gun time, I placed 48/118 in my grade, 108/? female, and 554/1000ish? overall- only preliminary results are up at the moment, so I can only see me, not the whole field). Fortunately, although I'd come off pace, I knew I was still running along nicely and was keeping under 6:00/k, which was the only maths I could handle at that point. Saw A when I was at 2:40, I guess 2.5kish from the turn around, so at 29-30k for me and 34-35k for her, and knew she was kicking butt. By my calculations she had an hour to do 7-8k and come in in a BQ time!* She looked happy and relieved to see me- I can't have been that far behind Ed, but she definitely expected me to have pulled ahead, not vice versa (Ed had a couple of bad-luck marathon attempts before today, and although he's a 21-22 5ker, his marathon pb was 4:23 or so, on the Auckland course). I also saw a colleague and waved at him excitedly (he was before A, actually, and did around 3:30).

Saw Ed on his way back and gave a big wave. He looked focussed. Or grumpy. I couldn't tell which at the time, and hoped he was not struggling. I know now it was focus, as if anything, he picked up pace on the way back. He couldn't have been more than a couple of minutes ahead of me at halfway, and he finished 5 minutes ahead. I am SOOOO pleased for him- he earned it! I got smily and tearyish as I crossed the turnaround. On the way home. I think Auckland is VERY well designed in this regard. The best way to conquer the 20-mile blues has got to be to put a turn around there. It turns it from the scary site of the ever-feared wall to the marker of the home stretch. Only 10k to go (it was actually a bit before 20- I hit it in 2:55, hit 32k in 2:58- fastest ever, just barely).

The last 10k is best described as "k-counting pain and trying not to pee my pants, deciding whether to take a pit stop, and considering peeing my pants.. would the tri shammy be like a nappy?". Oh, and hunger. I plodded along, trying to make sure I could go sub-4 even with 6 minute ks. At most markers I had 1-2 minutes fat, and I wanted to keep it that way. The soreness had long since moved from my calves and shins to my quads, glutes and hips. I was really "pleased" about this, as calf pain says "scary scary danger injury territory" to me, while quads say "running". J and I had Womens Refuge labels (like race numbers, but numberless- what would you use to describe these??) on our backs, and only one person commented in the whole race. It was an old dude, 60s-70s, wearing marathoner-speedos, with a matching singlet top, frizzy haired and toothless, but obviously pretty durn good. I passed him on the way back, and he said "hurh hurh, women's refuge- does that mean you're a refugee". I wasn't particularly impressed by this, but couldn't tell if it was a dumb joke, or a sexist anti-refuge comment, so I just said "just a fundraiser" and tuned back in. I ate some clif bar (OMG, I love clif bars), some jelly beans, and took in some powerade. I was hungry at halfway, which suggests I should have worked harder on eating the second bagel half. Or had lunch on Sat, or something.

I also passed my old friend Mr 4:15, walking on the way back. Would you believe he had no-one with him? Who'd a thought? (hmm.. is my sarcasm glaringly obvious enough to span the seven seas of the internet?). OOOH that man made me MAD.

Eventually, I plodded back into town, for the last 2ks. I knew I had it kinda in the bag, but that I couldn't relax. So I plodded on. There was no 42k marker, which is fine, but I was kinda expecting one, and it's nice to know when there really is 200m to go. As I mentioned, the support was great, so part way through Air Supply's "Every woman in the world" (both that song and Neil come from my days in department store retail... We weren't big on top 40...), I took my earplugs out and tried to get them into my pocket as I finally approached the finish! I saw my sister screaming for me and waved and smiled. Then a few paces along Ed called out. I was SO happy. I gave him a massive wave, then realised it was time to smile for the camera, and crossed the line. I stopped my watch (hopefully after the photographers had got me) and was relieved to be sub 3:59. That's a truly sub-4 time!

I walked over to the ambulance area, the only place I could see to sit and I sat.

**the oddest thing, she didn't- she came it at around 3:42, but said she'd had the best last 10k ever. I do not get it- I specifically remember it being 2:40, and even if I'm about where it was, which is not super likely, she MUST have been past 32k, so she can't have had more than 10k to go. That would make her final 10k slower than mine. SO weird....)

Auckland Marathon Race Report Part 2: Golden Slumbers

Part 1: The Final Countdown

The first half of the marathon course is hilly. Slightly hillier than I remembered, but nothing like the training I do here. Ed and I navigated a slow course through the throngs of ill-seeded people. SERIOUSLY LADY- THERE ARE 7500 PEOPLE IN THIS RACE. Did you REALLY think you were in the top 20% or so????? (this rant seems to be a fact of marathoning life, but it never ceases to amaze me). I m was surprised to see Mr 4:15 sticking with us. Uhh hello dude- we're on 3:50 pace here...? (we were pretty much on pace from about the third k). We overheard him saying he wanted to come in halfway at 2:00, which I didn't think was a sensible strategy for a hilly first half! Pacer Liz/experts out there.. any comments before I defame the pacers yesterday throughout the remainder of this report?? Also, if this guy was going for 4:15 GUN time, I think he needed to make that clear, as he would have crossed the line at 5+ minutes. What's the normal rule for such things??

The course was pretty congested to 10kish, and wasn't exactly sparse after that, as we ran to nearly 21k with the halfers. After one drinks station the guy in front of me completely cut me off and I nearly crashed into a van. I was pretty frustrated, and semi-jokingly shook my cup at him. Unfortunately, I misjudged the amount of pressure needed to make a joke, and ended up chucking a cup of water over his back. Not deliberate, but not entirely accidental either. Feel pretty bratty and embarrassed, though it was quite funny, and he laughed too. He was with Mr 4:15, which irritated me, as he should not have been in front of me. As I type this, I realise how irritable I was. I really was having a good time, commenting to Ed that it was so much more fun to be marathoning instead of half-marathoning. But the fact that I was getting so irritable suggests that my hypothesis may be correct. I was not well rested enough to do my best.

I was feeling OK over the hills, even if they were bigger than I thought! I worried about J, even though I knew her H***-power legs would see her through. She needed to get to the Bridge by 8:30 to avoid being bussed, and although we knew she would, I wasn't sure how long it took her to cross the start line, so I kept her in my mind a lot. I knew I wasn't feeling as good as Ed though, and tried to remember this time in Rotorua. I think it felt easy there, but it was hard to imagine speeding up at all, if that makes sense. So, I think my effort levels were roughly equivalent, though I may have worked a little harder, since the first half of Auckland is on balance harder- if only because the hills go down a lot more.

The Bridge was also harder than last time. I think the reason for this is that last time, a half in 2005, I was powering up hills. I expected to be tired, and I got to pass others who are less strong on hills than I am. This time, I'm trying to keep it conservative, trying not to power, so it feels harder, because when we try to pull back, we expect to feel easy. But hills rarely feel easy. They're hills.

After the Bridge, there's some random corner turning to make up distance. Also some overlap, so you can see those who are a bit in front of you. Mr 4:15 was there, sure enough. And, rather surprisingly, Ms 2:20 half. WTF????????? I'll tell you know, we ran into her at 18km, and passed her there. This would have been at about 1:40ish. So 1:45ish, gun time, to be fair. 3k left, and 35 minutes. Hmmm. We said something to her at 18, and she seemed PLEASED to be 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Umm. RIGHT! This woman was supposed to be MY BABY SISTER'S PACER! I was SO glad J didn't find her, because she could have completely ruined her race!

Around 18-19, I started fading. E saw it immediately, and started giving me a pep talk. Technique, shoulders back, watch your gait etc. I know he meant well, but it just upset me. I didn't WANT a pep talk at halfway. I wanted my pep talk to be getting me over the finish line in 3:54:xx, or 3:49.xx, or talking me through the tough ks from 28-33 (those are my worst- bored and sore, but nowehere near done)! But all I wanted at 18k was to nap. My calf was a little tight, and my foot a little uncertain, but if I';d felt strong they'd have been mere niggles. But the thought of turning off the half-M finish, running through, catnapping for half an hour, then cheering my sister in was pulling me strong. I bitched inside. Goddamn work. Goddamnit. Goddamn tired. Too much goddamn walking yesterday. Then I reminded myself that this is a mental game- I remembered one of my super readers (Lana? was it you?) feeling she's lost the mental fight when she first saw a sub-4 hour goal disappear, and I knew I didn't need to lose sub-4, just because I didn't have enough juice to haul way-too-many-pounds of me around 13 more miles at sub-9 pace (sorry for the km/mile changes.. I change the way I think at different times, since I'm basically bilingual now!). And I decided to flip a mental switch. I told Ed, "I was home by 7 every night last week, where I ate sensible, nutritious dinners. I'm not tired, I'm well rested. I slept well last night, and I've had a textbook taper." It didn't work. I was amazed by what a conscious process "mental strength" was for me. I've never called on it before, not in the way I did yesterday. Usually I either go, or give up.

So at half way, when Ed suggested trying to get to 25k by 2:xx (I don't think I ever heard or computed the goal), I told him it was time for him to leave. I knew the only way I could turn myself around was to be with myself, and think only of me. It was hard, and hard for him to do it guilt free, but that was the deal. He looked sceptical when I told him I was still going to be coming under 3:59:59, and said "well, this is pace!" and bounded off. I was irritated (I know he didn't mean it badly, but I didn't need him to lose faith in me too!), and decided I would stick to myself and prove him wrong!



OMG- my computer just CRASHED 2 minutes before pre-sales to BON JOVI went on sale!!! But a frantic call to P and we were in. Thankfully, as by the time I got my baby up and running again, the site was pretty much closed! I'm LIVING ON A PRAYER BABY!

Auckland Marathon Race Report Part 1: The Final Countdown

I'm typing this one-handed, propped up in bed after telling work I wouldn't be in til lunchtime. Ahhhh. I need this morning off SO bad!!

To start from the very beginning (a very good place to start), I feel like I need to go back in time to last Monday, which was labour day in NZ. As I've said, briefly, P and I spent the long weekend chilling and visiting rellies in Nelson, which was fantastic.

The only problem was that we caught a ferry home which left the South Island at 10pm, to arrive in Wellington at 1:00am. A ferry which was delayed by half an hour. A ferry which let us drive on LAST, despite the fact that we were one of the first cars to arrive, so our choices of seats were pretty limited. It was by no means the worst experience, but I was annoyed that they didn't tell us about the delay until after we'd checked our car in. We ended up "sleeping" on the floor under a row of seats, and managed to actually gets some zzzs in before docking in Welly, driving home, and crashing into bed a little before 2.

The plan was to use the following four days of work to chill a bit, and catch up on sleep. I knew we'd have a busy weekend, what with flying up on Saturday, a 3:45 wake-up call on Sunday, and flying down on Sunday, and I knew since I couldn't have the actual rest I had before Rotorua (we had a public holiday the Wednesday before the race, so I took the Thursday and Friday off as well, and raced Saturday), I'd have to try to use my taper to arrive on the start line rested and raring to go, not bleary eyed and exhausted.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. I had a tough week at work. The hours weren't the worst. Finishing at 9 or 10 is not my favourite thing to do, but it's better than finishing at 4, and it's not like that's never happened. But finishing at 9 or 10 after a stressful and mind-numbingly boring day, when you're already tired, and not eating til late because you want the delicious meal your precious has cooked you and not more spaghetti and meatballs from the service station (actually, those meatballs are pretty darn good, healthy, fresh and yummy!! and only $9), then falling into bed, then doing it all again, now that gets old fast. Especially when your brain is saying "Stop! Rest! Sleep!" and you're getting stressed about what needs to be done and planned and sorted for a fairly important little race...

I then woke up earlier than planned on Saturday (6:30..), and eventually J and I got up and got coffee, followed eventually by brakfast (9:30/10ish). Mmmm. Coffee. I struggled to eat my oatmeal, and eventually abandoned it, knowing I'd make up for it with some more food later in the day. We got some food sorted out for dinner and breakfast in Auckland, packed, and headed out to our flight at about 12, and landed in Auckland at 2. A dunkin donut at the airport, then got our shuttle into town and arrived a littl after 3. We wandered down Queen Street, passing bunches of protestors (our favourite sign was "down with this sort of thing"!!), tried to figure out somewhere good for lunch and made our way slowly to registration. It's funny how much time you can spend wandering when you're not too far from somewhere (but not "close"), vaguely familiar with a city, and vaguely aware where the somewhere is. By the time we got most of the way home, it was nearly 5, we were exhausted, still hadn't eaten "lunch" and the soles of our feet were sore. So we stopped at a semi fast food chicken place- y'know, mostly grilled not fried and a slightly healthier selection of wraps and burgers- for a snack before heading to the hostel for dinner. I ordered chicken nuggets (fresh, real meat- not fast food styles). After mopping some of the grease off with a napkin, I took a tentative bite of the still hot nugget. And found

Completely Raw Chicken

inside. We're not talking white with a trace of pink juice. Or dark thigh meat, with just a hint of uncertainty. Nope, fleshy pink, raw, RAW, chicken, surrounded by 2-3mm of white, and a layer of greasy crumb. Quick smart I was up at the counter, demanding a refund. No way was I going to let them make me a new meal!! Obviously, I didn't eat the raw chicken, but it freaked me out. I felt sorry for J, who had to persevere with her wrap, keenly examining it at every bite! We found me a bumper bar (361 calories packed into one tiny muesli bar- no wonder i never normally eat em!) and a banana and headed back home.

Now, the one complication with dinner was that our backpackers/hostel had pretensions of being a hotel and had NO kitchen facilities. So we had pasta and sauce to cook but nowhere to cook them, no desire to walk downtown again for eats, and no desire to eat oil laden restaurant pasta anyway, especially not for twenty bucks. So we got creative. We boiled the jug (we DID have coffee making facilities), added pasta, and waited. For about 30 seconds, when the jug overflowed at exactly the same time as someone (it was A) knocked on the door, and P called to tell me he'd had a bike crash. Argh! Fortunately, our plan did work, though we couldn't stop laughing at our kettle pasta, which we then tipped back into its packet, added sauce and ate with plastic teaspoons. I went downstairs for a quiet drink with A, then came back up, got ready and got into bed a bit after 8. J and I talked for awhile, about nerves and why racing makes us nervous, when nothing really matters, then decided we had to go to sleep. Easier said than done, of course. That's what marathon eve is about, especially with the 3:45 alarm set. I tossed and turned and occasionally dozed, and may have slept from about 12-2 and about 2:30-3:45. I was not up and at 'em and ready to go when the alarm started beeping, that's for sure!

Forced down some creamed rice, managed half a bagel and some coffee, then headed down to the ferry. We got on fairly quickly, found Ed at the other end, and headed to the bathroom queue. After waiting for ages, we were suddenly started to get nervous, and still needed to drop our gearbags off. EEK!!

We made it to the start line, although we couldn't find the 4:00 pacer. We were near the 4:15, but knew we'd be leaving him soon. Then the gun went off, and we inched towards the start line, granny stepping for a little over 5 minutes. Time to go!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

3.58.52

A 6ish minute PB and sub 4, sort of safely. But a pretty crap race. I had to let Ed run on (to a smashing PB of 3:53!!!! from 4:2x!!!!) at half way because all I wanted to do was nap. I honestly do think a horrid week of lead up made a difference, but I can't solely blame it.

It took a lot of mental strength to keep going, and I'm pretty pleased with myself for running a 2:02 half on legs that were already half cooked. More to come. Maybe.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Marathon Eve

It's marathon eve again, and I'm trying hard to focus on the positives:

- I am flying to Auckland this afternoon to toe the line at marathon #2
- My race number is 1461, which was not very exciting, until I realised that my number for Rotorua was 461!!! Neat-o.
- I am not sick
- I am not injured
- The forecast for tomorrow is OK. Fine with southwesterlies dying out, high 17, low 8 (celsius guys- seriously). I think I can hack an Auckland sou'wester.
- By 6pm last night I was enjoying a cool Chardy, and planning steak and baked potatoes with my awesome sister
- We'll almost certainly manage to raise over $1500 for the women's refuge.
- I have a great running bud for the first half, a brand spanking new (well, slightly tweaked) playlist for the second half, and plenty of support-types/fellow racers.
- The race has an early (6:30 start), so in 16 hours time I will very likely be all done.
- Monday was a public holiday so I spent the weekend with P in Nelson hanging with my extended family- beautiful weather, good food, gorgeous scenery
- Tomorrow night is mexican and singstar (ROOOOOCK BALLADS) with all my favourite peeps.
- I don't have to work this weekend.

The negatives aren't that negative, but:

- I'm awake. I didn't want to be awake at 6:20 on marathon eve.
- I'm tired. I've worked past 9 every night this week, apart from Friday
- Since Monday was a public holiday, we came back from Nelson on a ferry that arrived in town at 1:05am. It was running late, so make that 1:45am. The plan was to catch up on sleep by chilling out during the week, but see above bullet...
- My back still hasn't quite adjusted to 3 hours of sleeping on the ferry floor.
- On Friday I somehow squished some urgent deadlines into 6 hours of meetings, and had to miss a seminar workshop (about flexibility in work/life, of all things) that I'd been looking forward to.
- I had achilles/calf issues last week, and my training during taper was a mess.
- I've forgotten that girl who was charging up Makara hill and crushing 20-milers a few short weeks ago.

So yeah, not ideal, but I'll live.

Stay tuned for a race report, hopefully a swish PR and some pics of our trip to Nelson last week!

Well now, THAT was an exercise in brattiness. Have just visited the awesome Rachel and reminded myself that a little perspective and positive attitude will go a long way... Sorry for whinging!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Phedippidations World Wide Half race report

Today I ran the Phedippidations World Wide Half along with people all over the world!

My programme had a 13 mile PMP run on schedule for this weekend, so it was perfect timing! I have done a few PMP tests now, so was interested in pushing a teeny bit harder, and trying to come in under 1:55.

I planned to do a coastal half marathon loop, which I've done 3 times as a race (1:50, 1:49 and 2:07 pacing C) and dozens of times in training (sometimes 13.1, sometimes longer). It's flat, picturesque, and you're bound to run into a few other runners and cyclists out there. The only problem with picturesque coastal routes? You guessed it- the wild wet Wellington wind (reference to a poem I remember from primary school, fortunately I mostly missed out on the "wet" bit today). Ahh wind. My mortal enemy. I really should start tagging wind posts and counting the times I bitch about it (or applaud myself for rocking on through it!)

Not long after I started, I decided to change my route a bit, and to do an out and back to the half way point. That's the good thing about a race with a field of one. If you feel like an out and back insetad of a loop, then out and back it is! My rationale was a bit flawed, in hindsight, but those damn headwinds were so strong I decided I was entitled to some respite on the way back! I didn't really have any idea of splits, but I thought I was roughly on track (a little ahead of pace, actually) at Scorching Bay (about 5 miles in), and I reached half way right on time, at 57:31. I was pretty tired, and more than a little wind worn, and I was starting to see the error of my ways.

See, the route was very windy, as well as being very exposed and thus very windy (*pause* while you reread that sentence). So, on the "way out" you have a mixture of things- strong headwinds, strong tail winds, and oddly quiet bits where there's a bit of shelter for a few hundred metres. Which means that on the "way back" there's actually still a fair bit of headwind. So much for cruising back! The worst thing? It was the first mile or so of the way back and the last mile or so that were the worst. I struggled along. Mostly OK, but a bit tired, and my right calf was a little bit tight (will be giving that guy the stick!!).

The last mile was pretty hard, and I was a bit worried that I wouldn't break 1:55, but I pushed on, one landmark at a time, and got to the finish at 1:54.19, just a few seconds faster than my first half, back in 2004!

I was/am feeling a bit concerned by this. Yes, I made pace (and, if mapmyrun is to be trusted at all, I think the halfway point may have actually been a little off- I may have done 13.5, which is rather different, and would mean my pace was 8:28, not 8:43!), but it was quite tough. Not race pace tough. But not "I could do this twice" either! So send some reassurance this way!! Anyone who's ever said "marathon pace is easy on race day, even if it feels hard in a solo training run in the wind two weeks out", now is the time to say it again!!!

(Other runs this week- I've been slack:
13ish mile hill run with Ed on Tuesday evening (sloow, 2:25)
5 mile tempo treadmill run on Saturday (39:19, and man I hate that evil mill
)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Yup, I really am going for the record- and I'm dating a mountain goat!

This is what, post number 4 in three days?! But I NEEED to!!

Today we earned another $15 for the Women's Refuge, bringing our total to $1030 (the last $15 won't be online yet, as it's a reward for a challenge from my sister). We're pretty pleased to be over our goal of $1000, and we're amazed at how generous people have been, but we hope that the fact that we've met our unambitious and arbitrary goal won't deter others from donating!

So this morning after watching the Game That Shall Not be Named*, P and I braved the winds (up to 130kph today.. SHITE) and headed out to Eastbourne to hunt down the Pencarrow lighthouse. I always gaze across the harbour at the lighthouses when I'm running round Breaker Bay/Moa point and think "I've got to run there one day", so my sister is sponsoring me $15 for each of this run and another challenge I've always wanted to do.

Today's run was complicated by the fact that I could not find any reliable map- so although I knew roughly where we were going, I had no idea how long it would take to get there. The trail's long, and my googling just couldn't quite assure me that the lighthouse was close enough to make it a doable "recovery" run.

So there we were, pissed off and uncertain, with tired legs after the 20-mile run (me) and 120k ride (P) yesterday, wondering whether we'd be out for an hour, or two, or more and worrying that the downpour that hit us on the motorway would return. We decided to run for awhile, and just go with the flow. If we didn't make it, we knew we had next weekend (but only next weekend). We set out along the flat 4WD track, with the wind mostly at our backs, but the waves wild to our west (?). Every few metres, we'd spot a lamb or a kid on the trail or off to the side. Cute! Despite some leg stiffness, I felt good and when I asked P how the pace felt, he said it was "comfortable-to-effort" rather than "so easy I can't believe you're actually running", which is what I'm always scared he's thinking!

It was one of those great runs- it hurts, but it feels invigorating, and you feel staunch and adventurous. I love those runs! We knew it was going to be tough on the way back, but after the first, slow, ten minutes, we were plodding along happily and the minutes were flying by. I haven't run with P for ages (actually, it was September. well, it feels like ages!) and we have a lot of fun together. Especially with a blind, unfair-sinbinning, blatant forward-pass ignoring, pommie ref to bag!

At about 27 minutes, we saw a sign in the distance, and decided to see if it told us anything useful. We were having fun, but we weren't that keen to be out for more than an hour with no lighthouse and, therefore, no bucks! The first thing it told us was something to do with sewage. Right- not interesting. It then seemed to show that we were less than half way there. Ouch! I didn't want to do 2+ hours out and back, and I certainly wasn't going to do that to my boy! But then I noticed that the map was "incomplete"- it started from a point I thought was quite a lot further along, rather than from the beginning. Given that this was the second sign on the walkway, I think a slightly better indictator of proportion would have helped. So we decided to walk up to the next corner and to see what lay ahead. We trotted forward, pushed along by the insane winds, and when we reached the corner, we saw the lighthouses, only a few hundred metres away!

This really spurred us on- I was elated, so pleased we'd checked the next corner instead of turning back in a grump. We had planned to walk the steep path up to the top lighthouse (there are two, but the top one is the historically significant one), but when we got there I knew I wanted to run, at least for awhile. Of course this made P run too, and I trailed behind him up the first leg of the hill before telling him when the trail widened that he'd become a real little mountain goat. Oops- that only encouraged him, and all of a sudden I'm struggling to keep him in sight up a steep, rocky hill in the 130kph winds! He stopped at the top, but before the lighthouse, and I decided I just had to keep running until I got to him, but then as soon as I neared him, the little brat dashed up to the lighthouse and I had to follow. Could barely catch my breath at the top, as it was really REALLY exposed and I had to put most of my effort into sitting upright. After sitting with P for awhile, we made our way around the lighthouse, and I was very relieved to get to the other side in time to grab the door handles and not get blown away. P was trying to talk to me from about 1m away, and I could only see his mouth moving. AWESOME!

We ran/walked the way home- nothing much to prove, and the soul destroying wind made the pain of running outweigh the desire to reach our car. 38 minutes out, 52 back!

Then it was fish and chips in the car in Days Bay, and home for a hot bathng, then chilling out here while the rain beats down outside! The storm is pretty crazy out there- and although I'm usually really into sitting inside watching lightning and waiting for thunder, the two got a little close for comfort, and I don't like to think of my man out in his wee car picking up dinner and movies!

What a great day (apart from the aforementioned Game...), and what a lucky girl I am!


*Interestingly, patriotic rugby fervour is reasonably new to me. I used to follow Pip's school of thought, and reserved a certain satisfaction when we choked in 99. Through uni I started trying too hard to be into sports, thinking it would make me less unpopular with the lads, then after starting work and, well, having clients, I realised how much more enjoyable it is to actually enjoy sports in NZ. Drinking beer and watching cricket in the sun; listening to cricket on the car radio during summer road trips; jumping on the couch and screaming as a group of fabulously built guys in short shorts and gun-hugging black jerseys push the egg-shaped ball over the white paint line. Yum!

WHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY????!!!!

EVERY BLOODY TIME!!!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

LAST 20-miler

My final 20-miler for the programme is in the bank now, and it's all downhill from here! I was aiming for sub-3 and finished just over (somewhere between 2:59:30 and 3:00:30- not sure exactly), about 10 minutes faster than last time I did this route (just before marathon 1). 10 minutes didn't feel like much, but then I realised it was euivalent to 30s/mile, which is exactly what I'm hoping to lose in the marathon (9:20 pace in my first, am aiming for 8:50s this time).

I'm still only feeling like 3:50 is a possibility, rather than a probability, but unless something drastic changes between now and then, I'm going to run as if 3:50 is the goal and just see where that takes me.

Update: just measured my route more carefully and it's *just* over 20 miles (20.14), which means I ran *just* sub-9. Awesome

Friday, October 05, 2007

Three weeks to go...*

Wow. It's getting close all of a sudden. Kinda scary.

I've been feeling pretty aimless this past week. I blame daylight savings. And work. And spring. And the whole "three weeks to go" thing. Basically, I want this marathon to be over. I'm looking forward to it- I really am, but part of me just wants it to be done. The silly thing is, though, I haven't been training hard. In fact, I've been slack, in what should have been a last build week. Key runs and not much more. Blah.

Anyhoo, despite that, I would say that training's going well. Apart from my awful long run last week, that is. Only 15 miles, and it should have been easy, but I was tired, bored, grouchy and Not Having Fun. I ran most of it with A, then we split up and I went into work, where I was hopelessly unproductive. Pointless really.

I've spent a lot of time on the treadmill this week. Well, not a lot of time, really. But a large proportion of my workout time has been on the treadmill, and I've done both key runs so far on it. Ewie. I've also done too much of my working out at night and, coupled with daylight savings, have been too lazy/tired/lazy to get up early.

Monday was 10 x 400, and they were fine. Boring and sweaty, but OK. Done in the evening, as I couldn't pull myself out of bed in the morning. I came home to a yummy meal made by P and chilled out for awhile. Decided to be good and get up early in the morning for a workout. Set alarm. Woke up. Decided to stay in bed. Dozed. Tossed. Turned. Finally got up late and tired.

Tuesday P and I hit the gym lateish after work. Had a great session on the rowing machine (was regularly going - hitting, not averaging- under 2:00/500m which is very good for me) then messed around with some mat work, rather than doing free weights. Came home, ate frozen meals. Decided not to set alarm, but P decided to get up and ride, so woke up early, stayed in bed. Dozed. Tossed. Turned. Finally got up (actually quite early) and went to work.

I ended up working late on Wednesday, and being too butt lazy to go out for a run. I managed to eat cookies for dinner, then ate some grilled cheese when I got home at about 9:30. P wanted to do yoga. I hesitated, saying I didn't want to repeat the cycle yet again, but didn't want to make him feel bad, so packed a bag and prepared to go. Alarm went off at 5:15. Rolled over. Groaned Stayed in bed. Dozed. Tossed. Turned and eventually got up and dragged ourselves to work.

Made it to the gym a little after 6 on Thursday. Gusts up to 120kph (that's, uhh, above the speed limit...), and steady galeforce winds. Not ideal for 8 PMP miles around the bays. So, chose boredom torture over sand spray torture and stayed inside. I got through my 13ks at PMP in 1:09:57 (8:39 pace), which felt about right to me. I was so bored when I finally got to 12k that I cranked up the mill and did the last k in 4:37 (7:26 pace). P picked me up and we had a nice "date" at a small, nice restaurant. Lovely.

Tomorrow's the last 20-miler, and I have another couple of fun runs for the following few days. Then taper time begins. YAY!


*from Sunday...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A PASS!

My running's been a bit of a mess this week- it took awhile for my legs to get back into it after Saturday's run (I ran like an eighty year old on Sunday and Monday), I haven't been sleeping well and have been slacking off in the mornings, and I've been busy enough at work to slack off in the evenings too. No excuses- I've been a bad girl and I accept that- just context.

Anyway, last night was Test #2, and a chance to redeem myself. 10 miles at PMP, number 2. Would it be better than last time? Would it be easier? I'm working in Auckland, so decided to explore the half of the marathon that I haven't run before (the second half). It's a reasonably flat out and back around the bays, so I wasn't too worried about it, but it was nice to have a go and see what it was like.

I left work around 6 and changed quickly at the hotel. It's lovely being 5 minutes away from everywhere! Once I reached the waterfront, I settled into a nice, easy-but-working-a-little, pace. I'd mapped out a route, but started a wee way into it, so decided to do 45ish minutes out, run back and map it later, so I had very little idea of pace/distance etc for the first little bit.

The night was beautiful- lovely and clear. I really enjoyed running in a familiar but different area- round the bays, just like Wellington, but with the sun setting over the sky tower, Rangitoto to my left, cloaked in eerie clouds, and the moon in front of me, shining over the sea. It really was quite amazing.

A little over a mile in, I noticed k markers (it was number 2- I imagine number 1 was around the beginning of my planned route), and started keeping a vague eye on my pace. I seemed to be doing well, hitting each k in 5:15-5:30 (5:30/k is PMP), and feeling just right. Strong, but not fast. I decided I might as well keep it up.

I got to a suitable looking turnaround point at 44:13 so stopped and checked out some uber expensive real estate ads while I stretched my calves a bit, then headed back. The way back was a bit more of a mental struggle, and the Sky Tower taunted me, sometimes looking so close I could touch it, sometimes looking far off into the distance. Looking over the harbour reminded me just how FAR that first half is, and looking at the lights on the bridge filled me with the same dread I felt before the half in 2005. It just looks BIG. Plus, it was dark. I couldn't see where I was going very well, and it was hard to spot other runners or roller bladers coming towards me.

But I still seemed to be doing ok, and I wasn't feeling too bad at all. At one point I played "count my strides" for a few minutes. I read last week in an old runners world that the optimal pace is 180 strides per minute, and each time I've tested it I've counted between 175 and 183. Sweet! It's a good way to get through a boring part of a run. Count for a minute, wait for a minute, count, wait, count. All of a sudden, you've gotten through another 5 minutes.

I reached my starting point at 44:14. Close to perfectly even splits!

Then this morning, I mapped my run, and it seems that in my 1:28:30, I covered 10.3 miles for 8:35 pace. A bit under goal (8:45-8:48), but I think I passed. It's great to have that pace seem "easy" again, and I'm pretty confident that I COULD race a half sub-8, and that all going to plan, I COULD hold sub-9 (at least) for 26.2

A few mental notes:

- be prepared to self motivate over the baby bridges. They are not high, but they are not flat either, and they have the potential to hurt
- watch out for the Pohutukawas (low hanging branches- I actually bumped my head. SERIOUSLY)
- enjoy the view on the way back- feel proud that you started in Devonport three hours ago and enjoy the massive view of the distance you've covered
- try not to look at the evil sky tower- look at what's been, not towards the end
- once you finish the scenic part, you're nearly home. LOVE IT

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Epic run #4



Today marked my second go at the Makara loop. Because of all my other news last time, I didn't really get into Makara much.

Makara is world famous is Wellington as THE run for marathon training. The loop is between 20 and 22 miles (depending on how you do it- our version is a little over 21), and the middle 12 of those miles are basically in the middle of nowhere. No drink stops, no footpaths, no bathrooms, no way out.

Yesterday was beautiful. Sunny and clear. Definitely a "you can't beat Wellington on a good day" day and a beautiful day for a nice long run. Quite the opposite of my last Makara day, which was cloudy, chilly and occasionally wet.

We started our loop at the back entrance to Otari, and headed up towards Crofton Downs. The next few ks are rolling hills, up through Ngaio, Khandallah and down along Burma Road, past Broadmeadows, to Johnsonville. At Keith Spry, we hung a left, made our way to the big, f-off climb that is Ironside Road and started the adventure. I was able to lead on the first climb. It's longish, but not super long, and it's steep in places, but not the whole way. We arrived at the top, hot and a little puffed and turned down into the valley. Running down into the valley and along the gorge is beautiful. 10 miles of lambs and daffodils, a random flock of geese, and the odd horse or cow.



(not my pic, but it's of the area)

It was sunny most of the way, but every so often we'd turn into the shade and enjoy a brief respite and a cool breeze. By 10 or so miles in, we were well ready for some water (neither of us like carrying it, and we're used to routes with taps every few hundred metres), and the next 5-ish miles were a bit of a death march, with me cursing my arrogance and stupidity the whole way. Just because I was ok with E last week didn't mean I should expect to be ok this week, in the sun. Next time I'm thinking a sneaky drop off, or meeting P with his bike part way. We persevered and got to Makara school at about 2:20ish, if I remember rightly. We took a decent break at the school, wincing as we squatted at the mini child sized fountain. I knew what was coming, and wanted to make sure I was ready for it! I had finished my sport beans awhile beforehand and had some peak fuel gel.

Not far from the school, we hit the "windy for next 2km" sign. One last big climb and we'd be on our way home. Unfortunately, it really is a big climb- around 1.5 miles, with close to 600 ft of elevation gain. It winds around and around and feels endless. I discovered very early in the climb that my iron tummy is not so iron after all. Espresso Peak Fuel and heaps of water after 5 miles of running dehydrated was not welcomed at all, and I really struggled up the hill. A passed me reasonably early on, and I plodded up reluctantly behind, thinking every turn had to be nearly the end. The worst thing was hearing Rihanna's Umbrella pounding out about 1/2-2/3 of the way up. SERIOUSLY people. I'm climbing this MASSIVE hill in the sun after 15 miles of running! PLAY ME ANYTHING BUT JAY-Z! Where's the "Eye of the Tiger" at??? I came so close to stopping a number of times- my tum was gurgling, I was slightly lightheaded and everything hurt. But my pride kept me going. I'd done the climb, A was doing the climb and I wasn't backing down. I nearly spat the dummy when I reached what I really truly thought was the last corner and saw two corners to go. I was fed up. I started playing mini-goals, first counting 100 steps, then getting to the end of the white fence, then past the digger. Finally we got there. A wasn't that far ahead of me (10-15 seconds?) and we staggered to the skyline entrance to stretch and regroup quickly. I knew I needed something more to get through the last few, short miles, after the failed fuel experiment, so we cruised down the hill (OW!) and stopped quickly to pick up a powerade.

The last few miles, from Karori to Wilton, are a great run on a normal day. Basically rolling (though really it's a gradual climb with a gradual descent), there are wide footpaths and since K-town is where I grew up, it's a path of familiarity and nostalgia. After 18 miles, it's not so fun. Rollers loom evil in the distance and every step hurts, whether it's up or down. However, the end is in sight, and we pushed on. Finally it was time to "fly" down the last hill to the car. I was wiped.

A local marathoner lists his PB on the Makara loop as 2:09. This guy's MARATHON PB (at the time- I think he's taken some off since then) was 2:23. With E last week, I did 3:44, with A yesterday we took nearly 20 mins off for 3:25. So, to the extent that Makara is any sort of marathon predictor, I'd say I'm on track. For what, I don't know, but "on track".

I was really happy with my run, and with my day after my run. A big challenge for me is to not let a hard run turn my day into a pit of sloth and junk. So, I showered at work, got changed (trackies, old sneaks and a long sleeved t- I HATE wearing proper clothes after long runs) and met my super sister J for bagels in the sun (she'd done her long run too), followed by an afternoon of shopping. I'd started trying to find something the night before, but I was tired and snappy, and nothing looked good. Plus, there is no-one better to shop with than a sister. Most things looked OK, I kept having to go down a size, and we found a great outfit. Yay! We finished off the day with delicious smoothies, and I went home to pretty myself up for P's prizegiving. Felt great, the outfit was just right, and it was the perfect night for a cold beer, followed by eye fillet and red wine. The function was a little disappointing- although the steak was very good, portions were not at all generous, no veges came out with the meals and the service was pretty awful. Not the best set menu I've had for that price by a long shot!

I was off work on Monday, and have taken it easyish to recover from darned cold. However, I did an easy run on Tuesday to get back into to, and managed to get my speedwork in on Wednesday night (ok, but not great) and my tempo run in on Thursday (4.35 miles in 34:21 for 7:53 pace- just right, though it hurt with my nose and lungs still a little stuffed). We have been making the most of the beautiful weather, and had a nice, romantic dinner out on Wednesday, and a picnic at the beach on Thursday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Did you know baby koalas eat their mothers' poop?

They do, it's true. It's a special kind of poo, but it's poo nonetheless. It's to help them learn to live off eucalyptus leaves. I think that's the best thing I learnt in Australia.

I did my 10-mile PMP run on Weds night. It always feels like a test, but I'm never sure what the pass grade is. I did my 10 miles in 1:27, which is veeery slightly under my goal of 1:28. 8:42 pace would mean a 3:48 marathon. But it didn't feel like marathon effort. PMP should feel pathetically slow for 10-miles, and it was work. Not hard work, but work. But I was in the beginning phases of a cold, so maybe that's what made it work. I don't know. I do know I will not be going out with the 3:45 pace group (Auckland has 3:45 and 4:00). I will make 3:50 and 3:55 pace bands, I think. It's hard to know where I am. So many good long runs, and some ok faster runs, but training has been so f'd up.

6 weeks to go. Three more long runs to taper and I missed this weekend's long run (just 15). I missed this week's speedwork too, and only did one run other than the 10-miler (5ish miles, easy). I'm sick and pathetic with one of my silly headcolds. It's horrible feeling so bad that I'm not even jealous of P's wonderful ride yesterday, or of the runners we saw in the twilight around the South Coast last night. Yuck. PLEEEASE let it all snap back together next week!

Another thing I learned: when I wear my running shorts to work out, I look sporty. When I throw a hoody on and catch the bus home, I look sporty (and a little gross). When I wear my new hot pink skirt to work out, I look sporty (and cute). But...when I throw on a hoody and catch the bus home, I look like a tarty girl in a short hot pink skirt. It took me awhile to figure out what all the staring was about.

Not much to say, sorry! Knock wood for a kick ass next 6 weeks!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Popping my Makara cherry and other happenings...

Since my last post (and in no particular order)...

- I ran a distinctly average 5k (23:02)
- I spent a week of fun-in-the-sun on the Gold Coast. But for "sun" substitute "rain"
- and to expand on the "fun" part I mean koala cuddling, baby koala watching (so cute), wombat watching, kangaroo feeding (so soft!), kangaroo eating (so yummy!), water park fun and roller coaster riding, boy cuddling (best part), cabaret viewing (sooo average), discount mall shopping, skirt running (sooo pink!), beach running (and meeting a Scottish team member)...







- I fell for Brisbane, and fell for P all over again (aww.. so cute)
- My Nana got sick, and I rushed to Auckland to say goodbye.
- I was too late.*
- I did an(other) epic 21 miler around the hilly and windy backroads with my "new" long run pardner, Ed. The Makara loop is what makes you a real marathon runner in Wellington, and we were chuffed to have lost our Makara virginities! The long runs go down a bit for the next week or two.. Phew!
- I watched P's team win their hockey final. Go P!


*I hope it doesn't look like this was the least important part of the last couple of weeks. It's not that. Just that I don't have any more to share about it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

So hard I feel queasy!

I love taking my phone on long runs and sending texts to unsuspecting victims. I tell myself and P I've got my phone for sensible reasons (like arranging to meet him in Island Bay for a big feed of fish and chips after my run, and making sure that if I get raped and/or murdered I will anyone who finds me will at least know who to call) but really? Really I use it to send gloating and rambling texts to my mum, sisters and to P.

Today's run was good, then fun, then shite, then bloody freakin brilliant! It's a clear, sunny day, with a nice breeze but no blow me down and pick me up winds and best of all, I got to share a large chunk of my long run with my widdle sis :-) I really liked running long with J for a number of reasons, not least because she's great compnay and an awesome runner. We didn't run fast for me, but we ran strong. It was her longest run in time and distance today, and ten minutes from the end she was singing along with me. Five minutes from the end she was picking up the pace and dancing along. I also loved running one of *my* routes with my little sister. The Kaikouras were amazing today- they looked as if I could swim over the straight to them- and I just love love lOVE showing off the South Coast. Seriously everyone, come to visit me in Welly (on a clear, not too windy day) and I will give you a tour of my playground ;-) I love it.

I left J at Scorching Bay with D and trudged out to finish my 20 miles. I figured that 2 hours on my own in total, plus the 8.5ish miles with J would end up being around 20 miles, or a little more (assuming around 6min/k for my *own* bit). I was fading a bit at this point, having been out for a little over 2 hours already. I'd only had a PB sandwich for brekky, and although I'd eaten a granola bar and some sports beans I was definitely low on energy and a bit dehydrated. I struggled over Awa Rd (not a bad hill, but not so fun on stuffed legs), and convinced myself that I could and should buy a powerade in Miramar. It didn't kick in for awhile, and I was counting down the 1:15 I had left to do (yuss! only 1 hr to go! I can always go another hour!).

Fortunately the powerade seriously kicked in around Kilbirnie (running along Queens drive) and I was loving it. I loved that I was at around 3:00 and my second wind was kicking in! WTF? I loved it so much that I suddenly found myself going up Hungerford Rd without even realising it (well, I realised- hard not to notice yourself climbing up a billion percent grade after 3 hours). Then found myself continuing up to the top of Houghton Bay road (well, it was just there ASKING to be climbed) and up Buckley Road.

Then I figured out what had been pulling me up. I was many many feet above the sea, looking down over Lyall Bay on on side, to the South and the Kaikouras in front of me, and over to Brooklyn on the other side. I wish I was a poet, or that I'd had my camera. There are a lot of wonderful views in the world, but not like this. All you not living in Wellington people YOU ARE MISSING OUT!!!

Anyway, back to my first paragraph and the bit where I tie it all together. At the top of Buckley Rd, I texted my boy. "I f***ing rock so hard I'm giving myself motion sickness"!! Yeah- you know it. I really do.

All up 22.76 in about 3:50 for a 10:06ish pace. The bits by myself were about 9:30s, which I'm waay good with (it's consistent with PMP + 45-60).

Here's my map. I don't trust this elevation, but ah well. The hills were big. Trust me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Manawatu Striders 10k (subtitle: just not that fast)




Today was perfect (apart from the no milk- but at least I had all night to adjust). The drive up to Palmy was cruisy. The weather played ball- sunny but too not hot, no wind. Gorgeous, perfect race weather. My belly played ball, and so did my hormones.

I ran strong for 6.2 miles. At some points I felt slightly less strong and at others slightly more so, but there were no dramas. Sometimes I found myself slightly irritated by slow walkers and trudging half marathoners (like you two who cut me off at the turn around- cheers...) but there was no congestion. No dastardly headwinds, no bullets of hail. No grinding hills (though the rise at the end was harder than expected). This was a textbook race. So why did I just barely break 48? (47:54 give or take a few seconds) Why did I positively split by nearly a minute (23:35, 24:19)? What am I even doing running over TWENTY FOUR minutes in the second half of a 10k? Take away the horrible headwinds and I gain EIGHTEEN measly seconds??

I know, I know. 47:54 is nothing to sneeze at. It's a solid PB. It's sub-48, just like I wanted. A twenty four minute 5k would be a dream for lots of people (and the straving kids in Africa would appreciate that gross casserole...)

BUT ALL THE OTHER GIRLS ARE FASTER THAN ME AND IT AINT FAIR. Even the ones who used to be slower.


Forgive the self-indulgence. It's my blog and I can whine if I want to. Don't think for a second that I'm not glad to have been running a PB on this glorious Palmy day. That I'm glad PF hasn't sidelined me. That I get to run marathon number 2 in just over two months. That I've just come back from practically a paid vacation (give or take 8 hours a day). I know there's lots to be grateful for, and plenty to be proud of. I know I'm moving in a consistent forwards direction (apart from my last 5k, which was a tad slower than the one before, but they're just glorified training sessions, all of my races have been faster than the last), and that I can't expect to get back to where I once belonged instantly. But I saw it coming, and I got greedy.

And today, well I just needed to b*tch!

PS: my super little sister raced today too. She looked verty strong coming up the last hill, so I told her so and made her run. We sprinted towards the finish until we got stuck behind some walkers (nice ones, who very graciously moved out of our way), and the moment was lost. But once she gets her long runs up and her endurance down, that sis is gonna be a force to be reckoned with!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

[for]Got Milk?

I like milk.

It makes porridge nice and creamy.
It is good with cereal, like muesli and Cheerios.
It makes coffee nice and creamy.
It goes well with peanut butter.

Before I race, I like to eat porridge or cereal, like muesli or Cheerios.
Sometimes I follow that with a piece of toast with peanut butter.
I always enjoy a cup of coffee.

I have a race tomorrow.
I forgot to get milk.

Not a good omen.

("get milk", you say? Not so easy. I am vehicle-less and the nearest, open at night, milk selling place is at least a 30 minute walk away. I know, I know. A truly committed athlete would get the milk. But this athlete wants to go sleepy byes.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Those" sorts of runs

I've been MIA for the last few days, as I spent some a few days in Singapore for work. That's a post unto itself, but before I get into a detailed work/holiday post, I wanted to write about two runs I've done recently, that were epic in a quite different way to some of the other runs I've blogged about recently.

The first of these two runs was last Saturday, a day all Welly runners will remember (at least those who ventured out, instead of hiding inside and keeping the long runs for Sunday). A strong steady wind, with gusts of over 120 kph. I've moaned about the wind here before, I know. This was SERIOUS wind. And accompanied by sand, sharp cold rain showers, and the ever present threat of a decent storm. Y'know, that ominous storm feeling. I was running with my phone, since I was alone, P was riding and I wasn't sure how long I'd be out for, and a look through some texts I sent along the way showed considerable profanity, and frequent resort to the phrase "mother f---". I had to constantly work at ensuring I was travelling in a straight line, and not hitting bollards, falling off curbs or running into traffic. I had to stop a couple of times on Cobham Drive to steady myself. Anyhoo, it was windy. I explored a great new trail and had a blast for an hour, then got tired and sore, sick of the wind, sick of the rain, sick of climbing hills (with no respite from the wind- it got everywhere). I kept going for 2 hours and eight minutes after the first thought of wanting to die, and it never got better. Sure- I was slow (veeery slow), but I kept at it, and even added a fairly decent climb. Score one for perseverance and mental toughness.

The next run was the opposite of the first. Singapore. Hot, humid, flat (not necessarily by, say Tennessee standards, but for ME). No shelter in the shade- the humidity follows you everywhere (here I find it's usually the glare of the sun that's worst). I set out for 2 hours and as soon as I started, felt like I was at the halfway point of a marathon. My legs were stuffed from 3 days of walking every moment I wasn't in the office, and my belly was stuffed from 3 days of sub standard hydration and horrific "holiday" eating. I only ended up doing 1:40, and I'm fine with that. It was taking advantage of a convenient moment, rather than giving in, and it was one of my tougher, slower, more depressing 1:40s I've ever done. When I stopped, I felt about the same way as I felt after the epic 20+ miler with A the other week. After deciding to throw myself into traffic at 35 minutes, I kept at it for another hour. Man I was slimy when I got back!

The point of these is not so much to show mental toughness or my preparedness for the next marathon, but to remind us that these slow, tedious, horrible runs are as important for our endurance training as those awesome, everything-comes-together, hurts-but-in-a-good way, runs we love. At mile 22 when I want to die, I'll remember these two runs. I actually do not think that the last 4 miles in Auckland will be as sucky as the overwhelming humidity or having sand blown into me for miles on end. And if it is? Been there, done that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I've had better.

I'm sorry. I know someone else in blogland has used this in a post recently, but I can't think who, so I can't give proper credit.

That's my summary of tonight's race. Race 1 in the Loaded Hog 5k event series. The series includes around 9 races (I think) and goes through til October (then a new series starts). It's casual, well run, fun. Plus $6 entry gets you a free beer and the chance to win spot prizes. I'm really hoping to race every time I'm in Wellington this series, but we'll see how that goes. I'm missing two for travel already!

My goal for tonight was to run smart, to run fast and to run hard. Of course! But the focus for me was on seeing where I am at, and not seeing where I can push myself to. I hoped to record a solid time (hopefully 22.xx), not to set a PB (which would pretty much need to be 21.xx- argh!) My speedwork's not been up to scratch recently, even before the PF, so I was not feeling super duper confident. But pretty confident that I had a strong race in me.

There's not much to say really. No story. Arrived. Registered. Chatted. Warmed up. Chatted. Shivered. Waited. Poised. Listened. Started. Ran. Ran some more. Passed. Got passed. Turned. Puffed. Waved. Ran. Pushed. Finished.

I was pretty much alone for the second half, chasing two rabbits I should have been able to catch, but whose dust I was well eating the whole way. I just don't think it's fair that I can lead these dudes up a hard hilly run (see Saturday's post), and then get so royally smoked. Watch your backs boys ;-)

Finished in 22.45, an OK time (my 5ks over the past year or so go 22:35, 22:06, 23:xx, 24:56 (!!), 22:21 and no 22:45). Some 500m splits were wiped off, but I have some:

1.5k- 6.36 (500m average 2.12)
2k- 8:50 (500m average 2.12-13)
2.5k- 11:07(500m 2.17)
3k- 13:26 (500m 2.19)
3.5k- 15:50 (500m 2.24)
5k- 22:45 (500m average 2.20)

Hmm- maybe not the most well executed race! But a 30s positive split over 5k is not too bad for the first 5k in several months. I felt much better and stronger for the second half, which is something I've been noticing recently. I'm starting to think it's just because I'm not going so fast, and not because I'm better warmed up. Hmm.

The lack of an attainable prize meant I don't think I pushed quite hard enough on the way back. But it's doing me and everyone else a disservice to make it look like I was slacking, or not having an "on" day. I ran quite hard, quite fast, and quite well. And I am pretty stoked to be in a place where an average pace of 4.33/k or around 7.20/mile is "ok".

My goal for the rest of the series is to FINALLY get that 21.xx when I stop my watch.* I'm pretty sure I can do it, I just need to be perseverent, and I need to turn up to race every Tuesday.

(oh yeah, and to beat Ed and Paul)

Update: Blimey- what a competitive field (though it's a very friendly uncompetitive race)!! Out of 70 runners, I came 53rd. There were 54 runners under 23.00. 62 runners (88%) finished under 25 minutes. The top 4 women were all under 20.00 and the top 11 men were all under 18! Wow!

Update II: 3 wines and too much curry is not the best way to recover from a race. Made my run this morning interesting, in any case!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Onwards and upwards (and upwards..and then upwards some more)

That last post is making me uncomfortable, so I feel the need to take it off the top. But you should read it, and then go here.

I have a follow up podiatrist appointment tomorrow, including a proper biomechanical analysis. I'll finally be able to find out for certain that I am a bad BAD pronator :-) Nah, sarcasm aside, I am looking forward to the appointment, to finding out whether this dastardly PF is going to ruin my Road to Boston plans, and to finding out how I can take better care of myself from now on.

I'm feeling reasonably upbeat and optimistic. I spent the first part of last week taped up, and off running (and swimming, and all things fun, and in the end I thought "Blow it. I'm going to be Bloody Lazy this week" and so I was), but ran with no heel pain on Thursday morning, and felt good. I wasn't sure what to do about my long run yesterday, and ended up riding the trainer for an hour, then jogging out to Miramar to run with my club.

Best decision ever. I owned the uphills, flew down the downhills, whooped on the muddy trails and laughed the whole way. I even kept running all the way up the Goat Track (Pedestrian Access) that takes you from the Chocolate Fish back up to Miramar. Ouch. After 50-odd minutes of uphill slogs and technical downhills, that really freakin' hurt! It was awesome, and reminded me how much I love club runs, especially when we go on adventures. They're not so fun on your own, without anyone there to laugh at you when you slip in the mud, or to keep you puffing up the hills. I find it hard to fit them in when I'm marathon training, being a fan of the Saturday long run, but I really will make more of an effort from now on.

So, if I have to take it easier on the heels for a few weeks, I will try to maintain my fitness by mixing cycling and medium-long runs. All up yesterday was 1hr cycle, 40 minute run to the club and 60 minutes out on the hills. It's not the same as an 18-miler or a 20-miler, but I think it will be enough to keep me on the marathon path, provided I can get back into it properly by the time we come back from the Gold Coast. The gains I've felt in the past 4 weeks are enough that I am confident of a PB in Auckland, even if training doesn't quite go according to plan (so long as it goes according to Plan B!) and I can't reach my super-secret "A" goal.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sad

A number of issues in New Zealand in the past week have made me really sad. I love my country, and it hurts me to see it as a place where children are not safe and also where racism and intolerance seems to be on the increase again. Children being tortured, immigrants being beaten in their own homes and people still have the energy to complain when the newsreaders introduce themselves with "kia ora" instead of "hello."

Last week, a toddler was admitted to the hospital after being tortured by a number of adults in her extended family. The details of the abuse have been hugely publicised, and include the baby being pegged to a clothesline and spun around, as well as being put in the drier. It's hard to type those words, and it became even harder to think about when her photo was published- not just because she was one of the most adorable babies I've seen, but because it made the images even harder to get out of our heads. The baby stayed in a stable but critical condition for a week or so, but died last night.

I'm not going to get into the politics of all of this (it's emphasised much deeper issues in our society here), but I did want to tell the story. This sort of child abuse may be the most hideous, but unfortunately, it's not the only sort. Domestic abuse is a problem across all of NZ society, but we ignore it or blame "them" or we blame the victims.

Nearly 30,000 women and children used women's refuge services in 2006. Whether the sharp increases in use over the past five years are due to increased abuse or increased acceptance of help, I don't know, but I am fairly certain that those 30,000 women and children are a fraction of those who are living in fear. I also know that even 30,000 out of 4 million kiwis is too many. I also recognise that men are not the only problem- women are abusers too.

So, for marathon 2, as you may have noticed from my sidebar, I'm racing for the women's refuge. My sister is running her first half, and we've decided to fundraise together. If you would like to donate, please visit our Fundraise Online site.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

An EPIC run

First, I think a certain IronJen needs a massive high 5!!!!!! You ROCK Jen.

I had an aMAZing long run this morning. Seriously- like "I feel so great I wish my marathon was two weeks away" amazing. I'm scared of maintaining this awesome feeling, and by the responsibility of taking care of my fitness for the next three months. 12 weeks. A LOT can happen in that time.

Anyway- my run. First 20-miler on the schedule. I was nowehere near as nervous about it as I was last time round! In fact, I got to bed after midnight last night after watching two movies (one Film Fest, one Simpons!) and eating a dirty mixed veg kebab for dinner (mm.. hummus!). I convinced A to do a mega-hilly route, largely so I wouldn't feel bad about slowing her down, and also because I wanted to maximise time on feet. I know that my training for Rotorua was massively assisted by long, sloooow runs with C, and I know I should aim for goal pace, and not aim to beat it!

So anyway, I mapped out this route, which is basically a tiki tour of Wellington.*** Over the course of the run, we hit no fewer than seventeen suburbs, with 3 big climbs, one looong descent, and very few flat bits. One of the big climbs (the steepest and windiest) was from mile 19 to the finish at 20.62. A far cry from our usual trundles around the bays!

We finished in 3:17, 9:33 pace. Right on the lower limit of goal pace (9:33 to 9:48). I felt strong pretty much the whole way and even (dare I say it) led up some of the hills (though A kicked my sorry butt on the long downhill and on the flats, and dragged me up that bitch of a final hill!) The varied terrain (or the company, or something) kept me from getting bored, and at 2:23 I felt better than I have felt at 2:23 for a long time. My breakfast lasted me amazingly well- I had a drink in Aro valley, but was nowhere near as dependent on my sport beans as I sometimes am.

And the coolest thing? When we got home, A said "that's the hardest I've worked since the marathon." That's the 3:43 marathon she ran last month (and she was on track for 3:35 until she hit the headwind at 32k). A 3:43 marathoner was working HARD and I was keeping up?! I feel cool :-)

The rest of the day was spent at the film festival, apart from a break for some shopping and a coffee with my sisters. We saw Black Book last night (GREAT Dutch film), My Best Friend (typically sweet French comedy) this afternoon and Death of a President (so cool- fake documentary about a Dubya assassination). It was a great way to spend a Saturday, and I'm very glad my P got the ball rolling on getting out film festival tickets!!

In other training:
- speedwork is crap. first 1k rep was 4:19 and instead of picking up I slowed every rep until I gave up when I hit 4:30 at rep 4 (of 5). Yuck
- tempo this week followed my typical pattern. hideous headwind and embarrassing "out" split (15:43 for 3k!!!!!), glorious tailwind and satisfying "back" split (14:05- so not bad at all). All up, 6k (instead of 4mi) in 29:48, for 7:57 pace (goal was 7:55)

****For those of you who are in Welly/know Welly, and who can appreciate the route (mapmyrun just doesn't do those hills justice- in fact it doesn't look quite right to me):
Run down through Roseneath to Oriental Bay for a couple of miles
Past the railway station to Thorndon Quay (where I saw the jog squad!) and along to Kaiwharawhara/Ngaio Gorge Road (flat from mile 2 to mile 5)
Up to Ngaio (about 1.5 miles of uphill)
Down through Crofton Downs
Up behind Wilton to Karori (all undulating with some reasonable hills)
Down Raroa Road to Aro Valley (longish- well, a mile or so, downhill)
Up Ohiro Road into Brooklyn (shorter sharper uphill- but still a good few minutes)
Doooown Ohiro/Happy Valley Rd to Owhiro Bay (around 3 miles down)
Around to Island Bay (flat)
Up through Berhampore to Newtown (gradual uphill- not easy though, and particularly not at 17-18!)
Up Constable Street to Alexandra Rd (0.5 mile uphill)
Alexandra Rd up to HOME (it's around 1.5 miles I think, you gain over 500 ft, and it took us about 19 minutes- I think that indicates how steep it is!)