Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tagged and an exciting first

First, the exciting first. I hope the title hasn't misled anyone too much- it's not that exciting! But tonight I went to my first Masters swim session (or swim session of any sort) ever! I kept up pretty easily during the free sets, but struggled a lot on the IM sets (and did free instead of fly...) I swallowed a lot of water during the first few sets (IM/free kick w/out board), but didn't have to sit out on any sets or reps. Woo! I had a great time and will definitely go back.

Secondly-I've been tagged by Michele:

1. Describe a memory from your first triathlon ever
Cold, raining and stressful! I did not want to race at all that day. I capsized my bike in T2 and turned the wrong way to go into the swim (reverse order tri). I was hooked.

2. Describe a memory from your most recent triathlon
Standing with the sun beating down on my wetsuit- not being able to wait to hit that water!

3. What's the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you in a tri?
Dropping my chain, and then 15km later, toppling over when I passed another person who'd dropped theirs.

4. What's the most thrilling thing that's happened to you in a tri?
Does hi-fiving Andy Potts count? Just kidding! Hi-fiving excited little kids at the finish line of New Plymouth (my first "real" sprint) and then collapsing on the grass.

5. What is something you discovered about yourself by doing triathlons?
That I am not very good at swimming or cycling--but that practice makes perfect and doing things I'm not naturally good at is better for me than only doing those things that come easy!

6. What is The Big Goal that you're working towards?
First marathon in 3 months, planning a half-iron for summer 07/08!

I tag Jodi, Wes and Jessica!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Today was one of my "B+/A-" races of the season, the Capital Classic event in the Ocean Swim series. A 2.8k swim in the harbour, out to the lighthouse and back.

I felt pretty daunted by this event when I signed up for it last year, but focussing on my swimming and a couple of short stroke correction sessions have helped me to improve my form and stamina immensely, so by this morning I was feeling pretty good. My super dream goal was to come under an hour, realistic goal was to beat a famous polititian who I knew was doing it (I panicked a bit when I read about the training he'd been doing with an elite triathlete over the holidays) and my "hmm" goal was to make it back before the cut-off.

P was volunteering at the race (sorry honey!) so had to leave at 5:30 while I slept. I was pretty nervous, and instead of my usual hearty pre-race breakfast, I struggled to get down cheerios and yoghurt. Hmm. I made some toast, but couldn't even face adding peanut butter, so chucked it out, added a banana to my bag and set about getting ready. It had started drizzling by this stage and the forecast predicted southerlies dying out so I was a bit nervous about the water on the other side of the harbour! My Miss Negativity training buddy wasn't helping at all (friends sure help increase your motivation, but not when you have to spend the whole workout trying to make them enjoy it!)

Listened to some power tunes, danced around the house and then walked down to the venue, collecting my thoughts and enjoying my nerves and excitement. There's nothing like a new race to really get the adrenalin pumping! Fortunately, once I could see the other side, I saw that it was calm, and that the fog was high. Although there was quite a current, visibility looked fine and I didn't think I'd have to put up with seasickness or waves breaking in my face. I was so relieved- I'd have been frustrated if the swim was hard, but was absolutely dreading the possibility of a contingency plan (1500m in 2 750m laps! boring!)

The water was quite cold, from torrential rain last night, but I'm reasonably tough in that respect (compared to my friend, anyway), so although I went for an extra cap, it wasn't too bad. I warmed up, working on keeping my stroke long and slow. Race briefing was boring (though I did find out that my man to beat was wearing a purple cap, amid the sea of baby blue), we seeded ourselves at the back, and before we knew it, we were off. I wandered slowly down, hoping that avoiding the adrenalin rush and "race" feeling would help me get off on the right track.

It was bedlam out to the fountain (the first major obstacle) but I was able to swim my own stroke most of the way. After the fountain I was in virgin territory- although I had done sea swims of over 2k, we had never felt safe enough by ourselves to head out that way (although we had done some sighting practice). I felt happy and free, and excited to be passing all sorts of "landmarks" on the shore. It was hard to tell what my position was or how it was changing, as everyone had a different view of what a straight line to the lighthouse was! The lighthouse seemed so far away, but it was steadily getting closer, and I had some people around me who I worked to stay with.

I sneaked a peek at my watch as we rounded the lighthouse and was blown away when I saw 24:31. Woohoo! I lost track of my buddies in the mass of arms and legs and headed back to shore. Time to pick up the pace! The way back was a little harder to navigate. There seemed to be people all over the place- miles out to the left and miles out to the right. I think I lost a bit of time zigzagging, but I soon found some new buds to stick with (unfortunately including sleeveless bumping man, who seemed to think the best place to swim was wherever I was..) and kept going, passing the buoys and looking out for the last buoy at the raft on the way back. Finally got there and tried to get a sprint, hit the ground and we all looked around at each other, kind of dazed. My calves cramped and my feet protested as I hit the soft sand, but it made it up the beach and through the long finishing chute, to see 52:54 on the race clock. A guy asked for my chip, but I pushed past him to P. What's the use of making your man volunteer if you don't get to have him take your chip ;-)

It seems that times were fast today, and I wonder whether the course was short. But I don't care- I blitzed my goal and I can wait to go sub-50 (or better?) next year. Mr Purple Cap came out of the water, looking absolutely overjoyed, about 10 minutes later and my friend finished in a little under 1:05.

The whole thing was won by a 16 year old (nicknamed GPS because of his amazing ability to navigate open water courses) in about 28 minutes (woo! another "goal" was not to double the winner's time), but the guys who impressed me most were the 12 year old he did 35 minutes with NO WETSUIT (it's coooold in Welly) and, of course, the two guys in the 70+ category (beat them, at least)

All in all, a great morning. I'm so happy that I've worked on my swim, and I really love ocean swimming. My only complaint? 2.8k just doesn't seem that long when you're doing it. Maybe I should find an IM team event for next season (I'm planning a half, but would love to do the 3.8k swim too)...

(Sorry about the lack of pics in last two race reports- camera is in the shop. Grr)

Thursday, January 25, 2007


6 x 500 at the pool the other night, sharing a veery wide lane with one speedy dude and another speedster in the lane next door. Aside from the enjoyable view of tanned, toned bodies in the tight trunks under the water (you've got to do something to pass the time, right?), it was fun to try to keep up as much as possible and not get passed too often.

So when I took a break between set 2 and set 3, and the hottie in the next lane called out "Come on! I'm trying to keep up with you!" I felt pretty darn good. My next 500 was the fastest of the lot and it wasn't until at least lap 14 that I started questioning myself, eventually concluding that if it wasn't sarcastic it must have been patronising...

Anyway, on a training update note:

Key runs 1 and 2 of week 14 (to go) went well. #1 was my tempo run on Monday while P du'd. It wasn't quite 5 miles (probably more like 4) as I wanted to be back for him on his bike, but I'm ok with that. P did my speedwork with me on Weds, and all 6 800s were run between 6:55 and about 7:08 pace (slightly under my target of 7:15) (for Ellie- 4:20 and 4:30 min/k). We actually did what I did last time, which was run for 3:40 efforts, and take pace from the 500m markers, so rather than running 800m in 3:27 our fastest rep would actually have been more like 850m in 3:40. However, this approximation plan is the only way I can do my speedwork outside in the morning, and I'd rather be inaccurate outside than accurate on the t/mill at this stage. I may do some work on the t/mill later on, to make sure I'm on target. Key run 3 (a nice slow 12 miles) will probably be on Sunday, as I have my ocean swim on Sat. Soo nervous and excited. Can't believe I've signed up to drink saltwater non-stop for 2800m!

A (talented but not all that obsessive) triathlete friend of ours has decided to run Rotorua. I've recommended FIRST to her, so it'll be interesting to see how she finds it. She lives nearby, so I may be able to stop dragging P out for speedwork. I'm buzzing with that great feeling of inspiring or helping someone. Yay! Am getting the same feeling from talking to my little sis about our family tri in April. R, Mum and I are doing the team event (4k run for me. Sahweet!) and J is doing the whole shebang. Yay! We're actually hoping that J will be able to take on Mum and R and that we will be able to run together. She wants to stay below 5:30min/k for the run leg, and I know she can do it but that the added motivation will help also, I would love to cross the finish line together.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A very special guest entry (race report from P's first ever duathlon!)

The lovely Kate has allowed me a guest spot on her blog to write a race report from my duathlon on Monday.

First, some background about me. Although I play a lot of competitive sport, and am a semi-regular gym goer (not as regular as I should be) I am no sort of endurance athlete. Maybe as a consequence of being forced to run regularly while at boarding school, I shunned running, etc, for nearly 7 years. In fact, for at least 6 I stopped playing much sport at all, and got particularly unfit (and got to nearly 33 pounds more than I am now). I started playing reasonably high level sport again about a year ago, and have gotten relatively fit, although I still didn’t (and don’t) run much (probably less than once a week). I started road cycling about three months ago, and really enjoy it, but am still building up some sort of base fitness (including just getting my legs used to it). Also, I am far from ideally built for endurance events (definitely a fast-twitch type of guy, and I have a bit more upper body bulk than is ideal for running/cycling).

So, it was with some trepidation that I entered my first multi-sport event. The race was a medium length duathlon (I really can't swim very well, so a triathlon was out) which was run simultaneously with the medium length tri. So, instead of a 500 metre swim, I did a 2.5 km run, followed by a 20 km cycle, then a 5 km run.

I started the first 2.5 km (1.25 km out and back) at what I thought was an ok pace, but when I got out in there 5.5 minutes into a strong head wind, realised I'd gone a bit quick. Finished the first run in about 11 minutes, but felt pretty good.

I'd never done a transition before, but have watched quite a few, and did this one in about a minute or less, which I was pretty happy with, then was off on the cycle. I went out fairly well, but probably pushed a bit hard. I passed quite a few people on the way out, but was passed back on the way back. I was comparatively strong on the hills, but as soon as I hit the wind, lost a lot of speed (I have real trouble with wind, and I'm just not sure why - particularly given much bigger people than me were doing better). But all in all, I did ok, and finished in about 40 minutes. This was quite good, given the course (a coastal course which I've ridden a few times before) was MUCH windier than usual.

Second transition wasn't super quick, but not too slow (maybe 1 - 2 minutes), but I did manage to hit my back wheel on a curb as I wheeled it in, which I later realised had caused a puncture! As I took off for the second run, I realised that it was going to be hard. I had only once before run of the bike, and I found it REALLY hard. My first 2.5 km (same 1.25 out and back) was very slow, certainly slower than 5 minutes km. Partly this was because there was a slow guy in front of me, and I found it comfortable to stay at his pace. Then, at the start of the second lap, another guy passed me, and I realised I could keep up with him (legs started feeling much better). Then I realised I could go quicker than him, and eventually I was running very quick, and passing all sorts of people. My final 1.25 km would definitely have been my quickest of the 6, including a big sprint at the finish (the one advantage of my body type), albeit that the guy I caught up to and passed was actually heading to a second lap. I did pass another guy a bit earlier who clearly runs a lot, so that was pretty satisfying.

Final time, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Not too bad at all given the lack of experience, training, and the mild food poisoning (more on this to come).

Kate was going to be doing the medium tri, but she was feeling really ill, so decided (given it was my first race) to be my cheer squad (which, particularly after the first run, was really appreciated!). I was also not feeling great (although a bit better than Kate) and decided (despite numerous trips to the bathroom and nearly throwing up a few times) to go ahead. Unbeknownst to me, Kate had emailed some of my friends to see if they could come along early in the morning (it was a public holiday, so they really should have been sleeping in) to support me. I'd seen one on the cycle (he was jogging along from the bus stop), and then two more were there at the finish line, which was great!

All in all, I'm reasonably pleased, but know that with even a modicum of training, I could do better. Having thought about it, I think I would like to do more events, so will train a bit harder next time (in any event, I'll certainly keep on working on my cycling). Having seen the results, I finished (including triathletes and teams) 31st out of 99, and was the 5th 25 - 29 year old male, so not too bad at all.

If you've read all the way to the end, sorry about the length!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Long Run #1 (official)

Total distance: 11.43 mi

Total time: 1:46:04

Av pace: 9:16

Goal pace: 9:54

Av HR: 160

To try to get a better idea of where I'm at, I planned another mostly flat. Mostly flat, that is, apart from the 1.5 mi of downhill at the beginning, and the 2 miles of uphill at the end (gradual at first, steep for most of the last mile or so). I ran a solid pace of about 9:00 for the flat part, keeping my average HR at 155, but the hill slowed me down big time. I am surprised I slowed as much as I did (to over 10s), especially given that my HR increased to an overall average of about 160 from that point! I guess that's what a big hill at the end of a long run does, but I'd never really had the data before. So, all in all, my first week of doing FIRST properly has been a great success. I am feeling like this marathon is not so far beyond my reach, though I know not every week will be like this one, and I have a long way to go (I can barely imagine myself running 15 miles at the moment, let alone running 26.2!)

The other exciting thing about this run? It was my first ever long before work run and my first pre-5am wake up (other than for races). I guess I really am a triathlete now ;-) I woke up at 4:40, had coffee and some bircher, grabbed some water and set off. I loved it- will definitely consider doing more long weekday runs. Right- off to treat myself to a smoothie, just wanted to post this run before the weekend!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another bullseye

Well, key run #2 is dead and buried (just like I felt before I started). It's a long story.

My boss was away yesterday, and the weather was perfect. What better way to celebrate finishing work before 6 than a brick workout with my man?

We headed out to Scorching Bay to ride/run through some of the course for Monday (it's a public holiday here), just a nice 20k out and back and a quick 2.5k loop on the run course. The first 5k or so of the ride was awesome- spinning along in an easy gear at about 23-28mph and I felt confident in my improved cycling skills- so nice to ride easy on fresh legs. Guess I should have twigged! Of course we met the headwinds after that, and apart from one stretch it felt as if they never left us (though they obviously must've) The super speeds were more the result of a massive tailwind than my buff legs. Still, I had gears left for Africa, and I definitely know my technique has improved- I stayed above 13mph on the hill in both directions, my fast is faster and my slow is faster too!

The run was fine- I was thinking about doing my tempo run last night to free up this morning, but decided at the 1.25k turnaround that I wasn't into doing the loop two more times, even though I felt like I could have held the pace (about 7:58). I had pulled ahead of P early on, which was quite fun, but he was right on my tail (being polite by not passing) on the way back, and when I told him to move his sorry ass at the end, he sure moved it. We would have had maybe 150m left and I think he must've finished about 100 metres ahead of me!

Had a quick stretch (it was after 8 and I was hungry, OK?), then P opened the boot (trunk..) to get the bike rack. Close boot. Put rack on boot. Put bike on rack. Grab lock. Grab key for lock. Wait. Grab key? Key not in pocket. Key not in door of boot. Key not on ground. Uh-oh.

So there we were, phones, credit cards, sweaters and water in the car. Us and my bike (minus the front wheel) on the outside. Fortunately it wasn't long before someone came past with a phone we could borrow, we only had to wait about 35 minutes for the AA, and it was warm enough to be outside in skimpy summer workout gear (with a little jumping about to keep warm!). Also, it meant we could justify Thai food for dinner! Like I said to P, I would have chosen the evening we had over an evening at home or at work any day!

BUT, getting home at 9:30 and eating Thai food did mean I was feeling very full and very tired at 5:15 this morning when my horrid alarm went off. And very disoriented ten minutes later when I re-awoke! I was still drinking my coffee, surreptitiously, on the bus to the gym, and I absolutely could not face food, so I wasn't feeling that confident about hitting my pace target for this morning's tempo run (8:15s). But thanks to my trusty ipod, I did! I did my 4 miles in 32:20, 8:05. Cool.

So, as a result of this week's runs so far, I think I can confidently base my goal pace around an 8:00 10k pace. This means that my intervals should be done at 7:15 pace (1:46 for a 400/3:30 for an 800) and my tempo runs should be between 8:15 and 8:30. My long runs will be based on PMP, which is still 9:09 (ambitious 4:00 pace). FIRST gives me a PMP of 8:45 (3:50ish), but it ain't going to happen, not the first time, and definitely not on the Rotorua course.

I felt like I deserved the muffin I had with my marathon-buddy before work. I'm tossing up at the moment whether to do an Oly on Feb 11th, or whether to run with her and hopefully help her finally break 2:00 in a half that day. I don't know. I really hate that half, but I really want her to break 2:00, and it would be interesting to see what "racing" together is like. Hmm.

I also had a good swim today. It was lunchtime and I didn't have much time, so I had 40 minutes max. And in that 40 minutes, I did 2k. I did wear flippers for about 500m, so it's not great, but it was also pretty crowded, and I spent a lot of time getting caught behind a woman who thought breaststroke in the medium lane was a good idea. And how random are girls who swim properly wearing string bikinis? Give me my speedos any day.

Worked late again, and shouldn't be posting at all. Should be doing dishes and getting ready for tomorrow, but the dishes can wait, so will get ready and then maybe have some camomile tea while I read my book.

(ps: not that I'm 12 or anything.. but this is post #69 *giggles*

Monday, January 15, 2007

Target HIT!

My run this morning was great. I have decided to do my training runs from the gym, so I got up, had coffee and a muesli bar and headed down to the bus. By the time I got to the gym, it was 6:30 and I was quite perked up. MUCH better than dragging myself out of the house and heading straight into the long downhill.

I wanted to run outside this morning, so I had to sacrifice accuracy in terms of distance/pace, (I ran along the waterfront where every 500m is marked, so did 2:00 intervals instead of distance and then did some guesstimating) but am 99% sure I met my target easily. The total run was about 11 km and it took me about an hour. I spent 42 minutes doing the workout part of the run, and in that time, covered 7.5km. I can't figure out how much distance I covered in my 24 minutes of intervals and my 18 minutes of rest (I walked to get my HR down in between), but at the start of one interval I was at the beginning of a 500m stretch, so I decided just to run the 500m to check my pace. 2:10, for a 6:54 pace. Obviously this isn't completely accurate, and I may not have been completely consistent, but I doubt that I would have been hitting under 400m for the other 2:00 intervals. Yay!

Wednesday is a tempo run- much harder than intervals, so we'll see how I do that.

I had a swim scheduled for this evening, but I didn't leave work til 7, so decided to shuffle my programme for the week. This first week back at work could be tough on me, so I don't want to push it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

On my vacation I...

Cycled 223 km (including 50 km on the trainer), with the longest individual ride being 100km

Swam 16,600 m, including 4000 in open water

Spent 500 minutes running, with a longest run of 10.8 mi, and a longest hill of 2.5 mi.

The totals aren't particularly impressive, but I think I've balanced exercise, fun and relaxation this summer. It's amazing, though not surprising, how much easier training is on my body when I'm not working!

I'm not quite down to my pre-Xmas weight yet, but I am down within my "acceptable" range and given that I stopped recording at 132.4 in early December, I'm hardly suprised that I'm not quite there yet.

Back to work tomorrow, so today is a rest. I will finish tying up loose ends and get ready for the first week back. Early morning workouts, here comes Kate.

Time to step up...

I am officially in the land of marathon training now. With 15 weeks to go, I am not planning to break any land speed records, but if the difference between my first and second semi-official long runs is anything to go by, I will be able to go the distance Last week's 9-miles killed me, and although Friday's 10-miler (which ended up close to 11) was still pretty slow (over 10min/m.. not sure by how much), my average HR was 148, and I felt almost GOOD. If I am not feeling confident, the plan is to run it with my friend C. I think we'd enjoy sharing our first marathon, and it'll give me a taster, and take some of the pressure off.

So, here's my planned next two weeks of training. I'm taking my 10k pace as 5min/k (8min/m). I'm not sure how accurate this is, but I was running 6:50 pace fairly easily on the track last year, and my tri runs have mostly been around the 8min/m mark. I'm also starting with a PMP of 9:09. Ambitious, yes. But we'll see. If I miss pace on the next two long runs, I will change my "goal" to 4:30.

Monday- AM: Key run #1: 10 w/up, 12 x 400m, 90s RI, 10 cool down (gym to Frank Kitts, 6 x 2:00 efforts out, 6 back)
PM: long swim 3000m

Tuesday- AM: weights
PM: sea swim

Weds- AM: Key run #2: easy to Frank Kitts, 4m tempo (5:15/km), easy back
PM: bike workout (spin/trainer/outside)

Thurs- AM weights

Fri- AM: Key Run #3: 11mi, 9:55min/mi

Sat- sea swim (4 x fountain = 2800m), recovery/technique bike ride

Sun- rest

Week 16

Mon- Scorching tri (tri run = key run #2)

Tuesday- AM: weights
PM: Sea swim

Weds: AM key run #1 10-20 w/up, 6 x 800 (4:00m), 90 RI (t/mill)

Thurs: AM: yoga
PM: sea swim


Sat: 2.8k sea swim (race)

Sun: Key run #3 12mi, av 10:10 min/m


One more thing. I hereby promise to stop looking to the past and comparing myself to my old training buds or my former self. From now on, I measure my success by comparing my results to my FIRST guides, and by comparing my progress to the first official runs. It doesn't matter that less than a year ago I ran my first 20 miler over 1 min/m faster than I ran my 10-miler on Friday, or that my first half marathon took less time. Everyone who reads me knows I was fast once, and it's time for me to move on. Hi, I'm Kate and I'm slow.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

...but not a real cyclist.

As I posted earlier, P and I had arranged to ride long with a cyclist friend of ours (J) today. Perfect cycling weather- light breeze, clear sky, not too hot. Gorgeous. And what did I end up doing?

Riding inside and doing spinervals.

Yup- I'm insane. But my grazed knee is all pus-y and sore, I always get nervy and crash when I ride with J and I didn't want to be out all day when my house is a tip. Plus I had a run scheduled, and I'm meeting a friend at 4:30 for a sea swim, so I was likely to be pushing it a little after a 100k hilly ride. So I did 70 minutes or so of my base building compilation, which I loved! I also loved riding inside with my new computer- I could see the beautiful weather and look forward to getting out there on my run.

The run was hard. Crawled up the hill at the end, and averaged over 10 min/m with HR of 153. I am reminding myself that before my first half I had hardly run at all. I'll be able to get in shape by April 28- right?? please?

Now- to that housework!

I'm a REAL blogger now!

I've been tagged by Aleks:

1. Find the nearest book.

2. Name the book & the author.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss (OK, we get into heated debates about apostrophes. I confess. And we each own a copy, so our shelf boasts too)

3. Turn to page 123.

4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.

Page 123 is on the ellipsis and the semicolon and doesn't quite make 5 sentences, so the sentence I started from actually starts on page 122. The three sentences following number 5 begin with a quote.

"Popotakis had tried a cinema, a dance hall, baccarat and miniature golf; now he had four ping-pong tables. He made good money, for the smart set of Jacksonburg were always hard put to get through the rainy season; the polyglot professional class had made it their rendezvous; even attaches from the legislations and younger members of the Jackson family had come there."

The semicolon has rightly been called "a compliment from the writer to the reader".

5. Tag three more folks.

Things are pretty same ol' same ol' here. Had an embarrassing run in with a hose on Tuesday and skinned my knee. Went for a couple of swims that ended up being very perfunctory- Tuesday night I got to the pool late and last night it was sooo busy that my friend and I spent the second half of our workout aqua jogging! We are off for a long bike ride that I am very nervous about soon (I may yet chicken out) and have a sea swim tonight, probably just 1500m. Went for a run with P that was much less awful than my first run back- easily kept within zone except for the big hills, and the little hill that I decided to race. Evening runs are so much easier on the HR!

We have a busy weekend this weekend- a wedding on Sat and my little sister's birthday on Sunday. Must go present shopping! I'm not quite sure where my long run will fit in, but am thinking Sat morning after my sea swim. Blah blah!

Monday, January 08, 2007


I am really pleased that through this blog I have able to show people of the other side of the world this amazing country I live in. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, but have never been "outdoorsy" and over the past few years as I have become more active (and also as I have grown up) I have definitely found a new level of appreciation for the different types of countryside I get exposed to here. I now understand why my parents' slide shows contained so many "boring" nature/scenery shots! On a good day, I can barely walk 100m without stopping to take a picture, and when I don't take my camera on a workout (i.e. most of the time...) I'm always wishing I had it!

However, New Zealand is not paradise. Not by a long shot, so while you should all come visit, come for breathtaking scenery, bungy-jumping and Ironman. Don't come to laze on the beach and soak up the sun :-) It does get warm, sometimes, in summer. But not super hot, in most places. And we're right under an ozone hole, so sunscreen is a MUST, even when it looks awful. And it doesn't get very cold in winter (in Wellington, at least). But there is nowhere here that's warm all year round, nowhere you can guarantee summer actually coming (the number of summer holidays I have spent shivering in tents listening to the rain..) Although in lots of cities it doesn't snow, it does get cold in winter. Cold rain. Cold cold winds. Cold hail. And in most places there's no fall to speak of, no real spring.. We came home from a part of the country with better weather than Wellington the other week to discover that while we were gone, the temperature in Wellington was 10 degrees C (50F). That ain't summer!

I'm not trying to run my city or my country down too much- just trying to project a more balanced picture. And I certainly haven't been trying to paint it as a tropical island when it's not- it's just that I'm hardly going to take photos of the crap days!

"Training" vacation styles

I started the holiday with high hopes for training, but my real goal was not about training as much as about lifestyle. I knew I would come away happy if I felt like I had been "active" every day. And, guess what? I nearly did it. I wish I could say I did it, but I'm not beating myself up too much!

On the first full day at P's parents place, we drove into Hamilton, the nearest city. While P checked out the shops at the scary huge hypermall (tiny by US standards), I swam 2000m in the local pool. I was a bit disappointed in the pool, to be honest- the outdoor 50m pool was closed (the weather wasn't great, but wasn't THAT bad) and the indoor 50m pool was split up. BO-ring. It was an OK workout though, and it felt good to check it off the list!

In the course of my swimming pool research, I discovered some hot pools located in the region that boasted the longest opn hot water hydroslide in the country. Perfect way to entice a boy to a swimming pool! We tossed up riding out there and back, but once I realised it was at least 65k in each direction I decided it wasn't so smart. As we drove, we breathed a HUUGE sigh of relief- it was another 23km of steep windy hill to get to the pools after you reached the town! That would have meant over 100m of pretty hard riding that day. The hot pools were fun- not the fanciest, but not too bad. I didn't do any particularly "active" swimming, but running up the steps to the hydroslide's got to count, right? I didn't take any pics, which was a little silly! After that P drove me out to Raglan, which boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. I fell completely in love with the place and can't wait to go back there next time we're up in the area.

When we got home I was feeling antsy, so I persuaded P to run with me after dinner. The one problem with staying at P's parents' farm is that it's right on the state highway, so you can't just run from home. It's not really a big enough farm to run around either. Since I don't drive, I was kinda reliant on P. Excuses, excuses! We drove into the centre of town and ran for about 50 minutes around the streets and some lovely trails. It was great being able to run on trails after 8:30pm, and to be able to run on trails that weren't 90% vertical!

The last day before we left for the beach we rode. We didn't go far, and although it was high on P's list of "top holiday moments", I was feeling a little bit stressed out for some of it so it wasn't quite as fun for me. Having said that, the stress ended pretty early on and all in all it was AWESOME. I love love LOVE riding out there. It's mostly rolling and some medium sized climbs, and you can go off on country roads and just fly. So so fun and SO different to riding in Welly (where it's UP or DOWN or FLAT and if you want to do anything other than ride round the bays, you're in traffic. Yuck.

When we got home, we ran twice round the horse track. P needs to do some bricks to get ready for his du on the 22nd!

The drive to the beach from Cambridge was the MOST beautiful ever, absolutely breathtaking, and I am embarrassed to say that I do not have any pictures.

It's probably not necessary to spell out the details of my other workouts/"active" activities, but I ran for 30-45 minutes 2 of the mornings we were at the beach, fell in love with the swimming pool in New Plymouth (I didn't "train" as such- I probably did about 10 laps of the 50m pool- the rest of the time was spent playing, going down the hydroslides and mucking about in the wave pool), we went on a couple of walks (other than the one I talked about yesterday) and spent some time in the surf. I did some "proper" swimming in a lake on our way back, my guess is about 400m though, so nothing too flash!

The last workout I wanted to talk about was on our last full day- the day of the Round the Mountain ride that we had originally intended to do. We planned some of our route during our drive to the mountain the day before, and were thinking we'd do a loop of about 70 km. The first 12 km looked easy, but oh my god, I was ready to stop at 12! That was the hardest "easy" 12km every. Basically, combine a loong false flat with strong headwinds and a really bumpy road and you get one tired and frustrated Kate. It got a bit better after that, though it was so cold I had to stop to put a polyprop on- the roads were better, we could mostly ride next to each other and we got to enjoy the undulations a little more (my speed was still only in the early 30s (km/h) on the downhills though!). P pushed me to keep off the brakes on the downhills, and I got much better at letting myself go, even with him cruising in front of me (it drives me CRAZY). Pretty much before we knew it we'd arrived in a smallish town a little further on than the one we'd originally planned to stop in, about 47k from the start. We had a late lunch in an Irish pub (yum), refilled some water bottles and then headed on. We also got to see some of the stragglers in the Round the Mountain race go past. The next part of the ride was hard but fun- riding hard into cold headwinds on the state highway. It's amazing how having cars speeding past you makes you push that much harder! My water bottle holder came loose, which was very distracting- it sounded as if some important part of my bike was making that odd clinking noise, so we stopped in the next town (where we'd planned originally to turn off) to fix it. As we slowed down, I noticed that we hadn't clipped my front brake on. Hmm.. only like 70km in!!

The last 25-30km were amazing. We both found a second wind, the wind was at our back and instead of a gradual uphill, we had a gradual downhill, with lots of super fun rollers. WOOHOO! My speed went below 30km/h ONCE for those last ks and that was on a short hill and it went down to 29.5. I was glowing, just loving it! My cadence improved, and we think we would have averaged over 35kph on that last bit. If only we could have a whole ride like that! When we got back into town, we were at about 97 km so we decided to be a bit pathetic and to zigzag back home for the next 3 km. I was also sitting at 2984 calories or something, so I was keen to kick those last 16 calories in the butt :-) We hit home at 100.31km, and 3031 calories burned. I am so proud of us- that's our longest ride to date by about 30km, and getting past that 100 mark is so cool. I know now that if we keep up with our training, we WILL be able to do some proper rides during 2007, and also that I will be able to ride with P stress free.

I'll probably post some more random pictures, but other than that, that's it for my holiday tales.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A break from reminiscing.. discuss all that training yada yada.

Today I began my Official Marathon Training. I spent the morning thinking about a training plan (I had done some thinking already but hadn't quite decided) and eventually decided on FIRST. On tap for today was a 9-miler, so I planned out a cool new route (which I accidentally navigated away from before I saved it), squeezed into my new Skins, added an ipod and headed out.

The route I planned was probably a bit hard for a first official "long" run. It took in some quite exposed places on a VERY windy day, and included a pretty steep uphill that's over a mile long. I was feeling pretty average and my HR showed it- my average was 162!! AND I only just made it home within 1:30 (10min/m average). I'm feeling a tad concerned about an April 28 marathon, but I've reminded myself that the point on training is to get BETTER so I'm hardly going to be ready now. Also, getting used to the "finishing is success" mindset- tough considering that my marathon training originally started when an unofficial BQ was a potentially achievable goal!

Later this afternoon I went for a very good 2000m swim. I evenly split my first 2 sets of 500m (10:30) and negatively split the last set of easy/medium/hard 50s (the first two were 1:03/58/55 and the last was 59/57/53!) I beat my old PB 25m time (hit 22 for the first time ever) and for the first time felt that I was keeping reasonably good form during speedwork. YAY

I am planning to swim every workout day (6 per week) for the next week, until I start back at work, as the Capital Classic is in exactly 3 weeks! Some of these will be sea swims, probably either 750 or 1500m, so they won't be particularly taxing, so I will be adding some strength work, running and maybe cycling too. I still have a sprint tri this month and possibly an Oly in Feb, so need to keep up with the biking. Plus, it's a great way to spend fabulous quality time with P (we are finally riding together well!) It is also hopefully a good way to get rid of the SIX extra pounds of FAT that have crept (ok, not so much "crept") on over the holiday/vacation period. That and a massive reduction in sugar and deep fried food. Repeat after me: "Chocolate is not a breakfast food." Overall I want to lose 10 lb, and have a racing weight of 129. Obviously, if I manage to put some muscle on, I will be comfortable with a higher weight (low 130s) but I definitely have a LOT of fat I need to lose (so don't look too closely at those bikini pics.. PLEASE.. except for the ones where my arms look nice and defined. Look at those.)

GYGO New Year's Day (Bikini) Tri (and our summertime polar bear plunge)

I woke up on New Year's day feeling somewhat hungover, quite full, very tired and extremely hoarse after a night of too much beer and tequila, too much barbequed "Mexican" food (I added those "" for you, Wes!), too little sleep and too much David Bowie/Nirvana/John Farnham on singstar...It was incredibly windy, the pool wasn't open and the sea was choppy and ice cold. So I did what any shamefully lazy, summer holidaying triathlete would do and decided to take an official DNS and convert my intended super sprint into a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sprint bikini/beach tri (and slightly muddled too..)

So I changed into bikini and jandals (flipflops), covered up with a mini and headed down to the beach, with P (fellow competitor and official race photographer) in tow.

The water was cooold but I ran in baywatch styles and plunged under, swam a few strokes (maybe 20?) and then turned back.

T1 was, for once very quick as all I had to do was get back to the beach and run up and down a few times, probably doing about 300/400m in total.

T2 was located a little further away than T1 (i.e. "home") so we trotted back, I put the jandals and mini back on, grabbed a helmet and my sister's hybrid (so I could keep the jandals on). Rode along the road and around the cul-de-sac a couple of times before I got bored and we called it a day.

So, that was my new year's tri. A little pathetic and, to be honest, not much fun. I had hoped to get everyone involved but that didn't quite happen.

We made up for our lack of activity in the morning (sort of) by heading up Mt Taranaki in the afternoon. Mt Taranaki is one of the most beautiful mountains in NZ (in my opinion), but its peak is often covered in mist, so you always feel very lucky when you get a glimpse.

For a long time, it was known as Mt Egmont, but its Maori name was eventually reinstated. The Maori legend of Taranaki is quite well known and also kind of cute so I thought I'd share it:

Te Maunga o Taranaki (Mount Taranaki) once lived in the centre of New Zealand's North Island with other mountain gods: Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Nearby stood the lovely maid Pihanga with her cloak of deep green bush, and all the mountain gods were in love with her.

What had been a long, peaceful existence for the mountain gods was disturbed when Taranaki could no longer keep his feelings in control and dared to make advances to Pihanga. A mighty conflict between Tongariro and Taranaki ensued, which shook the foundations of the earth. The mountains belched forth their anger and darkness clouded the sky.

When peace finally came to the land, Tongariro, considerably lowered in height, stood close by Pihanga's side. Taranaki, wild with grief and anger, tore himself from his roots with a mighty wrench and left his homeland.

Weeping, he plunged recklessly towards the setting sun, gouging out the Whanganui River as he went and, upon reaching the ocean, turned north. While he slumbered overnight, the Pouakai Range thrust out a spur and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.

According to some versions of Maori history, one day Taranaki will return to Pihanga and so it is unwise to live along the path between the two mountains.

When covered with a veil of mist and rain, Taranaki is said to be weeping for his lost Pihanga.

We chose a route that promised to take about 60-90 minutes and led to a series of beautiful mountain pools.

I have never been able to resist water. Such a water baby from way back (you'd think I'd be a better swimmer...) As a kid, I always seemed to find myself "just paddling" and "accidentally" falling in regardless of the water temperature and whether or not I had my swimsuit with me! On New Year's day, I proved I haven't changed much so I decided to strip down to my (fortunately quite decent) underwear to take the plunge. It was so fresh and invigorating that I coaxed P in too. Freezing but fun!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Christmas was great- mostly unmarred by stress and drama, and full of great food, fun times and my fabulous family. There were a couple of tanties (NOT me!) and some tension concerning the paternal side of the equation, but on the whole, the three days (24-26) were what Christmas should be.

Christmas Eve dawned bright, clear and cloudless. When I say dawned, I pretty much literally do mean dawned. I was up at 5:30 to squeeze in a (fabulous) run before heading down to meet my sisters J and R, and J's boyfriend D (together with me and P, hereon the "Famous Five") at the local fruit and vege market at 7am to collect supplies for the nest 8 meals.

The market was buzzing- much busier than usual. Because of my "freakish" (in the world of normals.. "slobbish" in the world of triathletes) workout schedule, I have fairly frequently been at the market before the stalls are completely set up, but I'd never seen it like this. Having Christmas Eve on a Sunday must have been great for all the sellers!

After the market, we braved the supermarket. It was so fabulous to be done with the last pre-Xmas errands and able to relax by 9! While P went riding with a friend of his, the rest of us spent the day walking around my mountain and playing some silly games in the park. We followed this with Monopoly and the Sound of Music (of course!) and then baked some chocolate chip cookies for Santa (poor guy didn't get many after we'd finished!). Then we headed into town for a midnight carol service, which was (despite an odd sermon) beautiful, traditional and incredibly moving, in that way that only church can be. The candelight in the church was amazing and we sang all my favourite carols, and singing the sacred verse in O Come all Ye faithful was as wonderful as always. The only downside was the fact that I could barely stay standing for the carols, it was so stuffy and hot!

I woke early on Christmas morning and headed out for a much less enjoyable run than I had had the day before- foggy humid air, tired legs, tired Kate (starts before 6 for the last 7 days). We then opened our stockings and eventually gathered the strength to head into Dad's for Xmas lunch. The highlights of the lunch were the food (prepared by dad's foodie friends) and the two adorable puppies (a springer spaniel and a miniature dachsund, aged 10 and 11 weeks) that were there. I had waaay too much summer berry trifle (YUMMY!) Then it was home to prepare for Mum's arrival (she's a Minister so Xmas day is a work day for her, and she had to travel for hours to get from the South Island to us).

Once mum arrived we got more stockings (obviously we're way too old, but we love it, and there are no grandkids yet!) and then (finally!!) started in on the real presents (Dad's soaps and gu's certainly cannot count as "real"...) By this time we felt like we were up to our 4th Christmas! Anyway- I was SOOO spoilt by my wonderful honey. Not only did a get a zoot tri-suit (2-piece.. it fit better), but also a new bike computer (one of 2 I received, so we'll have to sell it), a bento box, some Clif bars (peanut butter and iced gingerbread- how well does this guy know me!) and TWO spinervals DVDs.. Amazing! It is particularly amazing, as most of this stuff you can't get here and spending $US is quite a big deal. I haven't been able to play with all of my new treats yet, although I am already completely in heart with the bento box and clif bars, as well as the visibility vest from Mum and the new computer (finally- cadence and a back wheel sensor). I also finally got to open my Christmas presents from Kate to Kate. The new swimsuit's had its first run, but the skins are waiting for marathon training and the jersey may find itself going back to the store..Hmm.. I am already lusting after some cute Pearl Izumi gear!)

Our "secret santa" scheme worked well, and we had a great time guessing who got what for whom! My presents for P were pretty boring and practical and I felt a little bad. We're going to have a lot of fun with the presents that are really for both of us- like the spinervals, the new singstar game which even features "our" song (in fact, we've all already had lots of fun with the singstar) and the new fancy blender. My best surprise was from Mum and it was a year's supply of school supplies for a child somewhere (eek, I can't remember where).

On Boxing Day we gathered again at our place for brunch- including my breakfast trifle, scrambled eggs, bacon, bagels and lox, fruit salad and yogurt (and some GOOOOD coffee). We couldn't hang around for long, unfortunately, so we packed up the car while the others busted out some singstar (Mum's first time, and it had Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield) and then started our looong long drive (doncha looove holiday traffic on sunny days?) to P's parents'. When we finally got there, we had even more food and even more presents. And I had even more chocolate.

And there, my friends, ends Kate's Christmas.

I don't know where to start...

I am sitting back at P's parents' place catching up on some blog reading and trying to think of something post, but there's just too much! No major news or anything, just sorting out my Christmas/vacation/training/our veryown polar bear swim (plunge)/New Year's Bikini-Tri stories and trying to decide where to start, and what's worth posting!

So rather than doing anything half-assed, I hereby promise to supply posts covering all of the above topics upon my return. We have to come back earlier than expected, so I have over a week between getting home and starting work. This means while I have less lounging in the sun time left, I have plenty of time to catch up on sea swims and posting!

Happy New Year folks!