Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is it really only Wednesday?

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: Yes, and I really wish it was Thursday.

Thursday means a cruisy 40m run in the morning, a trip to the library and dinner with one of best friends who'll be up from Welly. More importantly, Thursday means "nearly Friday", which means swimming (yay) and Phil (double yay).

Wednesday on the other hand means working late, doing the housework I've been putting off since Monday, trying to create something fun with leftover 90-second rice, and going to bed without any new library books to enjoy.

Luckily, Wednesday also means tomorrow is Thursday, so we're getting there slowly...

Monday, April 27, 2009

When does it become rude?

Magazine (and internet) articles, diet books, and all manner of healthy eating guidelines offer a number of tips to make dining out easier, whether it's at someone else's house or a restaurant. Dressing to the side, nibble on the vegetable sticks, ask the chef to leave out the cheese, forego the wine, share a dessert. Lots of these ideas are great if you want to keep healthy without sacrificing a social life, but sometimes they involve stepping into social and commercial etiquette grey areas.

So, I've been wondering- when does keeping "healthy" become impolite? And, in a time where all the focus is on fighting the good ol' obesity epidemic, does "healthy" automatically provide a rudeness get out of jail free card?

This was prompted by a couple of things. The first was a fellow blogger doing a raw foods detox asking restaurants to create special salads for her. The other was hosting a brunch for friends on Saturday. I tried to keep it reasonably healthy as I knew one of our guests watches her weight very closely (for context, she's a size 6runner, not a size 26 type-2 diabetic), and made some "fancy Bircher", a platter of fruit and a batch of homemade brioche. Our guest brought her own lo-cal hot chocolate, and refused to even try the brioche, although luckily she ate some bircher. I felt a little slighted- first, because I had consciously tried to make healthy options (realising of course that brioche is hardly multigrain toast- but it's also hardly muffins or donuts), secondly, because her abstinence meant I felt like a big fat pig as I dug into my second warm brioche, and thirdly, because I felt as if as a host, I had let down my guests by failing to meet their needs (yes- me= oversensitive).

Now, I don't think our guest crossed the line into rude- it's just an example and she's certainly no worse than the bridesmaid who refused to eat anything but vege sticks at my hen's night. But where is the line, and when is it crossed? And does the line move depending on how overweight (or not) the guest/customer/whoever is?


Friday, April 24, 2009


After my last post, I started feeling sorry for my poor, nameless mountain bike. So I did a bit of thinking, and before I could even open google, there is was:

Maxwell (Max for short)

My MTB is manly, but not very rugged, just like a Maxwell. Plus (and this is the actual reason) he's a grey Avanti Hammer, I'm a Beatles Fan. Chocolate fish to the first to figure that one out.

So, welcome to the brood, Max.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why I go mountain biking

This story starts on the road.

About 5 years ago, I bought a bike. He was an Avanti hybrid, cost me about $600 and his name was Mike. I hadn’t ridden since I was 8, I’d never used gears or handle-bar brakes, and I was pet.ri.fied of everything. Christy and I decided to train for a duathlon and a fun ride, so she and her road bike and me and Mike used to head out around the bays in the mornings. We usually went about 10k, which was enough on a hybrid! Once, Mike and I had a big adventure, going all the way around the bays and back. I packed lunch in my backpack, and must have thrown a drink bottle in too. To get from my house on Roxburgh Street to “The Bays” I walked Mike down the Hood Street steps, crossed at the pedestrian crossing, and headed out from there. I avoided traffic lights, and I rode back home along the (shared) footpath. I didn’t like to travel downhill any faster than about 18kph.

It wasn’t long before Mike got upgraded. A friend who was getting into tris had a new road bike, so I got her slightly more-roady hybrid for a while. Although she was a lot more confident on the bike, I was in good shape, so we could ride together happily. We’d head around the bays, with me following her through traffic, and we’d always do an out and back, avoiding Kilbirnie entirely. I was still using flat pedals and braking all the way down even the easiest of hills.

I got my first road bike (Christy’s) in 2006. That year, I started using clipless pedals and completed my first three triathlons. At the New Plymouth tri, I found out how fun it was to cruise downhill without braking (ok, without braking “much”). I was still terrified of stopping, and at all of races that year I had some form of slightly embarrassing dismount. In terms of training, I stuck to the Bays. Whenever I went somewhere else in Wellington I wound up regretting it. But Phil and I also did our first hundred k ride in the Naki, and I started to like the bike.

2007 was about the marathon. The bike stayed on the trainer, while Phil took his out for massive adventures in faraway places I couldn’t even imagine going. The Akas, Haywards and Blue Mountains all sounded like fun, but the motorway, traffic lights, downhills and lane changes put me right off.

In 2008, I upgraded twice. I gave Christy’s old bike to my sister and starting riding the road bike my friend had upgraded to in 2006. I finally got used to making my way around by myself, and managed a few adventures with Phil. I was still terrified of hills and traffic, but I got used to them, and started to feel my confidence improve. I upgraded my pedals, and my speedplays increased my confidence immeasurably. I rode down the steepest freaking hill in Wellington on an unplanned detour and while I cursed Phil and just about burst into tears over it, I made it, and all of a sudden the windy bits coming down from the prison didn’t seem so bad. I bought Eric late in 2009, broke him in quickly, and raced the Rotorua Half Ironman in December.

I’m still not a confident cyclist. My speeds are abysmal. I still can’t get up a hill without going all out. I have to psych myself up to drink (hence the long ride Camelbak), and opening and eating a whole muesli bar on the go kept me celebrating for a good ten minutes. I certainly can’t “attack” on a steep hill. Before I ride with or without Phil we drive the course or discuss it at length, analysing every little “tricky” bit. I ask “so, when do I change lanes?” and sometimes (including last Sunday) I whimper “never mind I can’t do it, I’ll just call you and you can rescue me.” I still usually have a quiet moment of nerves before setting out.

But now I do it. When I’m going up a steep hill I remember how Tarawera Road felt on bonked dead legs. I don’t pike out because it’s raining and I don’t sit numbly on a trainer for two hours because I’m too scared to ride alone. Every ride I do is a small victory and I’m getting better and better.

So- mountain biking..

I suck at mountain biking. I spend at least the first half hour of every ride refusing to believe in my gut that a mountain bike can actually ride over roots. Even big ones. I grip the handle bars and grit my teeth, and I spend the whole time entirely focussed on the trail. I get passed by little kids and get frustrated when I can’t get started again. I panic at the top of (very wee) hills and walk down them, and sometimes can’t get the momentum to get up the other side. I brake even when it’s utterly counterproductive. I’m lucky if all I have is a flash of nerves instead of an all out pouty tantrum.

But it’s only been a few months since I won the bike (it doesn’t have a name yet, which means it probably never will), and by the end of every mountain biking excursion I feel like I’ve improved, just a tad. And with all of the small victories adding up, one day I may be as confident on the MTB as I am on the road, and on a further day still, I may actually be a bit good at either of them.

All my life I’ve been good at stuff and if I haven’t succeeded, I’ve given up. I go mountain biking to remind myself that I can do it. Whatever “it” is.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter in bullets

I keep starting posts and not being able to finish them, I’m boring myself so much.

So, bullets it is:
•Easter was great. I had six nights with Phil (SIX!) and four days of fantastic training.

•My cycling has improved about a thousand percent. I took on Auckland traffic and the Waitakeres BY MYSELF on Sunday and lived to tell the tail. And remember; this is coming from a girl who in SEPTEMBER was crying every time she hit an intersection or had to go downhill.

•My aerobic run speed is abysmally slow. But I am starting to learn what aerobic feels like, and I am feeling more and more comfortable at those slow speeds. Plus, keeping all my runs aerobic is making the longer runs a hang of a lot easier.

•I cannot stay aerobic when I’m riding on the road. Either I’m pushing because I’m trying to get through the next traffic light, or my heart is pounding because I’m still quite frankly petrified, or I’m slogging away uphill. I will need to get a lot fitter and stronger before I can get my bike up a hill keeping my HR where it should be. Lots of aerobic sessions on the trainer until then.

•We have our thank you cards and envelopes, have started filling them in, and will hopefully be sending them on Monday. Then I will have to say goodbye to the wedding, and start focussing on the future.

•Lastly- why are you all not commenting on Phil’s blog? Go! NOW.

Oh- one more thing. We're going to Xterra this weekend so Phil can do the swim as part of a team. Anyone going to be around?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hotpotato as JAFA?

I am really enjoying my new plan. One of the awesome things about having a coach is that I don’t beat myself up for not doing MORE. If there’s a 40 minute run on tap, I do it, maybe do some core work, then go to work. Without a plan, I wonder if I should have done an hour. I decide I need an after-work session to round out the day, and beat myself up if I don’t do that one.

Another awesome thing is having to get on the bike. You all know me and my bike issues, but since starting with Paul I’ve done two at least somewhat hilly 2.5 hour rides (last weekend's was in the 'Naki), and am looking forward to 5 hours of riding this weekend. Since one of my key limiters last year was bike endurance (at 2.5 hours I was absolute toast, and had an hour to go), I’m stoked about this. Also, since Phil’s injured, I’m having to go out there and do them alone (though of course he’s wonderful about helping me plan Kate-friendly routes, meeting me on the course with Mizone Rapid, and even riding through the traffic with me to get me started).

I’m also enjoying my swim squad, even if I’ve gone from being at the faster end of the fast lane to the slower end of the slow lane (which includes blogging celebrity “Lardman”). There’s a point in almost every session when I decide I can get out at the next rest. Sometimes two or three. Since we are not scheduled to finish until 7:30, plenty of people sneak away early to get to work on time, so it wouldn’t really be piking, especially as my scheduled workouts are 60 minutes, and we often do up to 75. But I’m managing to tough it out, and of course I’m always glad I did.

Running is meh. Need to lose some weight. But I’m finding it easier to run to control my heart rate, and to keep an eye on my turnover at the same time. I’ve been step-counting for a couple of years now, but had lost focus on running technique, so it’s good to be engaged with that again. I’m looking forward to some exploring for my 75 minute run this weekend.

On the whole, I’m liking Auckland (while missing Phil, of course). Living near town and close to the sea means I can embrace the good while ignoring a fair bit of the bad. It’s hard to totally hate a city which is home to the Parnell Markets, Parnell Baths, excellent ethnic foodhalls, Circus Circus for brunch, stunning harbour views and the West Coast beaches. The people? Now that may be a different story..

Friday, April 03, 2009


Eric and I had a good ride on Saturday. Over 2.5 hours in the saddle (in Xterra tri shorts, no less) and not much discomfort at all. Oh Eric, it's good to have you back.

Phil and I drove out to Maraetai (Half IM swim start and T1), where I started doing some of the Half-IM bike course (after the competitors had left). I met Phil briefly in Clevedon and had a drink, then stopped again in Kawakawa Bay (T2 and finish). There were still some competitors on the course when I continued past Kawakawa Bay. No-one on my side of the road, so I wasn't in the way, but enough that I got a lot of positive encouragement as I pushed away up the hills. I would have been coming last by a country mile!

The hills on the second half of the course felt pretty brutal, especially since it was hard to pick up much speed on the downhills. They weren't technical by Welly standards, but they were pretty twisty, and the roadworks meant I rode pretty cautiously (of course, the fact that I was not racing, and had not been on a bike since 30 January had something to do with it).

All in all did between 55 and 60k in between 2:30 and 2:35. Slow, but I'm happy with it. Hit the mini-bike-wall at about 1:45, so I've probably lost about 45 minutes of comfortable riding time since last year. Not too bad at all, really!

Eric went back to Cambridge with Phil for the week, but we will be reunited tonight, and exploring the 'Naki this weekend. It's a big riding weekend, followed by a big running week (and by "big", I really do mean comparatively big, not objectively big!)