Yesterday I finished my first trail half-marathon. I've never run on trails before, so I wasn't really prepared for the difference it would make to my time. I'm happy to have at least finished in less than 2 hours, even if 1:59:05 is cutting it pretty fine, and is 5 minutes slower than my first (and, until now, slowest) half.
The trails out in the Waitarere forest are gorgeous, and the running is mostly easyish- it's hard to go fast, but they aren't insanely hilly like the trails nearer to home. At one point we emerged from the edge of the forest to overlook the Manawatu river, which was breathtaking (it's actually pretty bog standard as rivers go, but something about the light catching on it made me forget about running for a moment and to be thankful).
I spent the remainder of the day lounging at a bach (kiwi for beach house) that friends of a friend were staying in. They were incredibly friendly, and made me feel so welcome! I enjoyed a free ice cream from the local dairy (the BEST thing in a race pack EVER!), a walk on the beach, and hours reading books and chatting in the sun. All this on the last day of March! Absolute bliss.
Those last two words bring me to my next topic. Being a kiwi. It doesn't only mean I can use the word knackered without sounding tri-hard (at least, I hope I don't sound try-hard--guys?). This evening, I decided Masters was not what I wanted to be doing. I knew my legs would let me down and that I'd leave feeling demoralised, yet again, so I pulled the plug (well, not literally.. though when I went to meet my little sis at the pool today, that's exactly what had happened- there had been a "faecal accident"... eww)
So instead I decided to do an easy run. Although I am loving a lot of what FIRST is doing for me, it has led to me taking a lot of the joy and spontaneity of my running. My "runner's high" posts have always been about how fast I am, not about how good I feel (actually, there was one of the latter, I think). So tonight, I headed out into the headwind to find my absolute bliss.*
I ran for about an hour, unplugged from numbers, but plugged into my music. I ran down the hill chilling to some mellowish rock (Weezer, Alanis, Foo Fighters) and then decided that this NZ and Kate Appeciation Run needed a Classic Happy to be a Kiwi Soundtrack. Our trip started with Fourmyula's "Nature", continued through Crowded House's "Don't dream, it's over", had a brief stop off at Bic Runga's simply beautiful "Sway", and cruised along with "Slice of Heaven." I love Kiwi music- all you yanks and poms just don't know what you're missing out on!
Well, now you do.. Sorta. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Then "Victoria" finished and I knew that for the rest of the run I'd be a one-band girl. I love love LOVE the Exponents. Unfortunately, I love them too much! With the help of "Airway Spies" I'd literally bounded up the first bit of hill and started the next bit (a bit I'd planned to bypass) without realising it. Before I knew it, "All I can do" and "I'll say goodbye" had pushed me up the next bit, and I'd crossed the Rubicon*** Alea jacta est- it was time to head up to The Lookout. That involves running the hard way home and an EXTRA bit of hill at the top. Insane. Those effin exponents! I'd planned an easy half hour with a walk up the "easy" hill at the end. But I couldn't stop my feet. It was a real Forrest Gump, Fascinating Rhythm moment. I bounced up the steps(rather awkwardly- they're a bit wide/long/whatever to really run up- too small for two steps, two big for one) and reached the top, gasping and filled with happiness. Rather appropriately, the song playing for this last triumph was "Why does love do this to me?" I love living in Wellington! It's amazing to look over the whole city at night- truly spectacular.
The good thing about running in the dark and when no-one else is around? If you happen to bust a few moves mid-run, NO-ONE SEES.
*"Absolute Bliss" is also the title of one of P's compilation kiwi music albums, (actually not the one I listened to, I like Nature's Best better).
** I heart footnotes.
*** Wow- a classical reference and a NZ pun for the TWO of you who'll get it.