Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Making baking!

We had a very successful baking weekend. Well, I had a very successful baking weekend, which meant we had a very enjoyable eating weekend!

The first success was the "healthy" Sticky Date Puddings from Healthy Food Guide.

The recipe was pretty easy, and miraculously the mixture worked out perfectly for 12 muffins- just like it was supposed to (does anyone else find that quantities never quite seem to work out?). We had one each and froze the rest, and they were great heated up again on Saturday (ok.. and Sunday).

230 calories is more than I generally aim to eat for "dessert"- especially when you just have to add ice-cream - but these preciouses, served with a smidge of Tip Top's Gingerbread Ice-Cream were worth every calorie! I'll definitely consider making these for a dinner party or to take to a potluck.

The second success was a banana, date and walnut loaf. I love banana bread, but was actually googling for a good date loaf recipe when I stumbled across this one. Again, the recipe was mad-easy, and I whipped this up pretty quickly on Saturday before we took off for our quick brick. I spent most of the workout looking forward to my post-workout snack! It's high energy (by my calculation the entire loaf is around 2700 calories, though we've chopped it into lots of pieces), but very satisfying and very low fat- I much prefer having a slice of this in my lunchbox to having a boring old muesli bar!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Contact Duathlon, Auckland: Race Report- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good:

The first run: "5k" in 21:03- technically netted myself a sweeeeet PB, but before you get excited, I promise that this course was hella short. About 100m per lap, and by the time you do five of them.....? Actual pace for the first run was about 4:38/k, which translates to around a 23:15 5k (my last 5k, just after Rotorua was 23:18, and I had quite a lot of slackarse time after that). I'm still pretty bloody happy with it! I've been a bit nervous about running fast after so very many 6:30 kms in training, but I think I can stop being a doubting Thomas now. And now when I tell you to SLOOOOOW doooooown in training, maybe you'll believe me???

The second run: "2.5k" in 11:14 (actual pace about 4:53/k). Not quite so chuffed with this, but it still counts as "good". In my head at the end of the first run I set myself a goal of sub-11 for this one, but never really looked at my splits. I like to think I could have taken those 14 seconds off if I'd focussed a little more. Basically- I need to get faster on the bike to get my run more competitive- if I can run 4:53/k with no-one around me but little old ladies, I think I could pick it up a bit if only I could get off the bike with people more my pace.

The race: Well organised, and cancelling prize-giving was a supremely awesome decision, even if it did mean dudes with umbrellas walkeing into me during my second run. Also, mad props on the sweet tunes- and double props for playing Thriller, even if it wasn't in deliberate commemoration of the late-great MJ.

The Husband: Out in the rain with the camera, running around the course to cheer me on from a different place each time.

Riding to the course: Made me feel gloriously hardcore- I've always wanted to do this, but it's too hard for tris (until someone gives me a sweet tri bag!), and we've mostly been a bit far away. Riding home in the pouring rain (it got worse and worse) was less fun, but had that adventurous feeling.

The Bad:

The conditions: If I'd wanted to race a technical course in howling winds and torrential rain? I'd have stayed in bloody Wellington! After we'd been standing around freezing for an hour or so,I it cleared a bit, and started off OK, but the roads were slick and wet and full of puddles. Sometime on the bike, I think, the rain started again in earnest, and just gradually got worse until I got off. I took my gloves off during the second run, squeezed them out a couple of times, and they were still drenched, and by the time I finished, I was just an utter drowned rat!

The bike (20k in about 44 minutes?): It was just arse. I just can't RACE on the bike, and I don't quite know why. I started off OK, but every time I got some speed I'd hit the headwind, get to a corner, or get passed by some speedster with beautiful Zipps. I noticed partway through that my average cadence was bizarrely high for me (97), and figured that I probably wasn't pushing big enough gears, but every time I got myself into a decent gear, I'd be changing down again. I'd expected to be close to or over 40 minutes, especially with the rain, but I hadn't anticipated being quite so rubbish. The only people I passed were on hybrids (yes, I think I was lapping those ones). The last loop was a bit better, because the fasties were all done, and I could ride without worrying I'd hold someone up at a corner.

The Ugly:

The bike (equipment): Poor old Eric had a tough time.

- Soon after riding out of transition I realised he'd been knocked, and my computer's sensor was hitting the spoke with every pedal stroke. That's roughly 4180 irritating clicks over the course of the race- and even though I knew it was just the sensor, the sound made me a little antsy!

- There were some deceptively deep puddles towards the left coming back down Brigham Street. Because I was slow, I was generally reasonably far left. On my first loop, I rode through a puddle, went BUMP, and felt the nose of my saddle shift ever so slightly up. B*gger! It happened again on lap 4, I think. Lap 5 I was smart enough to avoid the puddle :) It was actually quite noticeable when I got off the bike- turns out the poor seatpost is frigged from Eric's crash into the carpark (yes, thank you Bike Barn for picking that up...)

The competition: Sorry to whine, but this is just stinky. 4:38/k and I'm 17th out of 25 women (on the run...)? When I was just a runner, this was called "ok" to "good", not "pretty bloody rubbish". I'm going to find me a nice old ladies tri or du!

All in all, a good race and a good day. Looking forward to the rest of the season!

Friday, June 26, 2009

In two minds

There’s a good chance that I’ll be spending most of July in Wellington. I’m very much in two minds about this. I started by writing a very grumpy post, then tried to be awesome instead, and had a go at a “yay!” post. That didn’t work because it was full of lies, since I’m not overly happy about it, but the grumpy post was a bit too bratty. So, here goes the “I’m in two minds” post.

Mind One
I love Wellington. I love the waterfront, the hills, the coffee, the lunch options in the Lambton area. Tempt.

I am excited about having friends again! People to lunch with, coffee with and shop with. I’ve missed that.

I am excited about the task that’s been set for me while I’m there. It sounds like it will be a fantastic challenge and incredibly interesting. I think being there will really help us all really focus, and make something great.

I really do like my Wellington work. I had a fabulous time going back to see my colleagues earlier this week- I miss them at least as much as I miss my friends.

Mind Two
I am frustrated by the short notice, and by the expectation that I will drop everything to fly down, when I feel like I’ve JUST settled in here.

I am hurt by an implicit suggestion that I need to come back because I haven’t tried hard enough to keep things moving since moving North. I HAVE tried, so hard, but it felt like no-one else tried back.

I am sad about missing swim squad, and especially sad about missing the social squad races that are starting in July.

I’m a little tense at the thought of living at home for a month- I love my dad and stepmother, but I feel like I’ve just got myself sorted, and I’m not sure how I’ll handle not being able to control my days. I know, it’s silly- but I’m liking my routine, my meals, my workouts.

I’m nervous about Phil. We’re used to our Cambridge/Auckland commutes, but airports make it harder, and we’ll by reliant on the benifecence of my firm.

Anyway, we’ll see. It might not happen- I should find out on Monday. But it’s been in my head a lot this week, so I needed to get it out

Monday, June 22, 2009

Holy effing crap

My first race of the season is this [edit Sunday], and I'm wondering what the freak I'm getting myself into. I know I've eeked about this before, but it's my blog, and I'm gonna EEK again.

It's a sprint du, which normally wouldn't faze me. I can run 5k, cycle 20 and run 2.5 in my sleep. Well, maybe not quite in my sleep. But, y'know. I can do it.

But Contact races tend to be competitive. Read my Rotorua standard distance report from last year if you don't believe me! Not only that, but this race is also the North Island Inter-Club champs, which means lots of lyrca clad legends competing their way to the Nationals.

It gets better. The bike course is a 5 lap dealy in the Tank Farm area. Pancake flat and FAST, but twisty as all hell, and with two 180s per lap. Yup, that's 10 180s in around 40 minutes. I hate 180s at the best of times- and usually do them at about 14kph- and that's in races! So doing them at speed, with guys triple-lapping me at 40+ kph?


But I'm also looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to racing- I LIKE racing. I STILL like racing, even when I'm last. I'll still get keyed up, I'll still spend the rest of Sunday going a mile a minute about every second of the race, and I'll still relish the Mexican food Phil's promised me afterwards!

Weekly rundown

I reorganised my week to make Monday a rest day. After a low key but exhausting weekend and Simon and Garfunkel on Sunday night, I needed some chillaxing time (well, I think in the end it was "working late" time). Got home from work and made a delicious Israeli couscous salad, and also whipped up some prune and chocolate "grab and go" breakfast bars- yum!

On Tuesday it was time to get back into it. I started on the wrong foot by sleeping in, taking forever to drink my morning coffee (it's very important befre a run!), and then had to squeeze in the run at about 7pm. It's a lesson you'd think I'd know by now! The run was aerobic intervals, so doing it along the waterfront was great, and although it was cold it was lovely out. I ran my intervals at "not quite easy", which was about 5:30/k, but I think I was supposed to do them at "quite hard" (half-m pace), which I hope is faster. I remember the days when "not quite easy" was in the 4:xx zone...I got home and made a huge pot of pasta sauce, as well as some date scones from Healthy Food Guide. I really can't recommend that magazine (or the site) enough!

Wednesday swim squad was great- see below. I had my photo course after work, so no exciting domestic goddesstry!

Thursday morning was a decent brick- my normal morning strength workout on the trainer (the one with the hellacious 8-minute standing intervals), following by a ten minute run around the (short) block. The run was great- even just for ten minutes! The uphills were easy, coming off the bike, and I was well warmed up, so didn't mind the crisp morning air. As I came down Franklin at the end, I could see a band of orange in the north. Gorgeous!

More swim squad on Friday. Nothing exciting- a good 3k workout though. I had a 20 minute run scheduled for after work. Sadly, I ended up engrossed in some law (yes! this happens sometimes...) and having to do it at about 7, while Phil arrived up from Cambridge and started the moussaka (another HFG recipe).

On Saturday morning, I decided it would be fun to explore a little further afield, so I calculated a route to Mt Eden, and planned to meet Phil at Circus Circus for breakfast. I ended up getting a little lost (New North Rd confused me), and taking a slightly longer route, so didn't get to run up the mountain, but still had a good, solid run and felt I deserved my share of the banana bread with almond mascarpone ;)

As usual, Sunday was long ride day. Phil wanted to check out a cycle shop in Kohimarama, so we decided to meet there- which basically meant riding around the bays and then finding a way to mosey around on the bike for the remaining 2 hours! So that's what I did. I'm not quite sure where exactly I went- I wish I'd used the GPS, as checking out this map would be hilarious!

Basically though, I rode up into Glendowie, pottered around there until I'd had enough, then headed out along St H's Bay Rd towards Glen Innes. I conquered the roundabouts in Panmure, and rode a bit around Mt Wellington, before having my grab and go bar at the Port Englad reserve. From there I followed some signs to the Tamaki campus, and then tried to find my way to Remuera. Turned left at Ladies Mile (I think) and headed back, with only half an hour or so left (but I was only maybe 10 mins from Kohi...), headed back along to Glendowie, got myself a little lost, and ended up at 2:35 calling Phil to get him to meet me at Glover Park instead of Kohi! I had heaps of fun just going wherever I felt like going, and starting to get a better sense of some different places. Still- I can't wait until the boy's back up and running!

Off to Wgtn this evening for work. Definitely excited- just hope I've packed enough warm things!

Friday, June 19, 2009

What would you do?

I was pretty disgruntled when facebook told me I was meant to be a "big-firm lackey", but it did make me think about what I'd want to do if I didn't do what I do do! Then I read about Heather's new job, and saw Salty's post, so I made a wee list.

If money (and time) was no issue, what would I do?

• train all day long
• practice law part time
• teach law, probably to non-lawyers
• study race relations
• make fabulous recipes
• do more to help women and children
• be a stay at home mum
• travel
• write
• be an awesome advocate for sustainable transport

So, what would you do?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seven quick things

A couple of blogs out there are doing this today, and I don't have anything worth a full post so here goes:

1- Getting up and going to swimming is ALWAYS the right choice. Today we did 15 x 100 (which we do roughly monthly, as a TT). NONE of my 100s (that's metres, folks) was over 1:43, and a good number were in the high 1:30s. Last time I did this (a month or so ago), I was sitting around 1:45 to 1:50, so I'm very happy with today.

2- Work has been BUSY! Good busy most of the time (notwithstanding last week's moan session), and very glad to have a pile of work on in the current economic climate (gracious- I wonder how many times that phrase has been used in the past year!)

3- I have a race coming up, so I get to start doing fun stuff. Last night I did my first interval run. I didn't check my plan before I left, and I think I was going more like "not quite easy" than "quite hard." Either way, my times were utterly uninspiring, but not too bad. I am fairly confident that I'll be in at least sub 1:50 shape for my two half marathons, and that'll do for now.

4- I made Israeli couscous for the first time on Monday. It was a lovely addition to the chickpea and pumpkin-y salad, but I think I needed more salt.

5- Day 1 of officially tracking my weight (got my scales back at last) was a bust. I ate well and gained a pound. I know it's not real (it probably relates to eating dinner at 9pm...) but still! A not real 1 pound LOSS would be preferable. This is why I weigh every day and use physicsdiet!

6- Simon & Garfunkel was pretty awesome, but didn't blow me away. I just don't think "America" needs a shrieking guitar solo- it's quite allright as it is.

7- I need to stop watching old episodes of the West Wing on DVD. Every so often I find myself thinking it's real life. Ouch.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weight and assumptions

The weekend was a bit of a sh*tter, though my grumpy mood was as much the cause of the problems as the result of them! So I’m not going to go there, and instead I’ll relay a brief conversation from Thursday evening.

A brief backstory: I transferred offices in March 2009, but still work for the same firm. The last time I met a lot of the people here was in June 2005 when I was 23, running my best half-marathon times and weighing a fair bit less than I do now (somewhere between 5 and 7 kilos, probably). More backstory- people in Auckland are much shallower, on the whole, than people in Wellington. The boys in my team commonly comment on the relative attractiveness of girls in the team, and they have exacting size standards!

The context: Walking to the pub with one of those colleagues, chatting about swine flu.

Me: Young fit people often do have not-so-hot immune systems, because they tend to work themselves just a bit too hard.

Colleague: When you were doing marathons and stuff did you find that?

Me: Well, when I first started out, I would crash every time I stopped going hard. I could push it so far, but once I stopped moving, it’d all catch up with me. Wait a sec, when I was doing marathons?

Colleague: It seemed like in the old days you were always on the front page of [internal newsletter], running across the finish line….

Me: Yup.. Like in December… when I did my half ironman?

It sort of petered out around there, but I had the clear impression that he’d assumed my endurance exploits were a long time in the past. I found it interesting. It’s been awhile since I felt as if the people in my everyday life were making assumptions based on my appearance (obviously those toned, super fast ironladies in swim squad, and at every race I do are judging me non-stop…) In Wellington, my poor, long-suffering colleagues were treated to excruciatingly detailed training tales almost daily, and no-one would have dared assume that I was less dedicated to my fitness and endurance than I was previously. I wanted to say “You know, dude, I still train at least 7 to 9 hours a week. I go for long bike rides- why, last week I spent 8 hours on my bikes plural over the course of the weekend. I climb the freakin Waitakeres. I run hills. I swim with a squad. I finish half ironmans. Don’t assume I sit on my behind eating candy all day because I’m a bit heavier than I was WHEN I WAS TWENTY THREE.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Glorious food

A couple of weeks ago, I reached my “no more” point.

No more eating treating a 70% as a “good” day.
No more atrocious weekends (plain old bad weekends are still ok…)
No more guzzling cheese and crackers while making dinner.
No more treating desserts as essential.

It’s time to listen to Sesame Street, and remember that “cookies are a sometimes food”.

I haven’t gone from 70% to 100% in two weeks- nothing like it. But I feel like I’m lifting my average weekday to an 80, even an 85%, and we’re working (slooowly) on the weekends too. I’m trying to get to the point where this is life, not diet. I’ve been putting a bit more effort into cooking something “proper”, though that hasn’t always succeeded, and I’m trying to lift the quality of my convenience food. I’m eating less meat, more veges, more pulses. I’m trying new things, so that every meal is exciting. I’ve having great fun with breakfast and baking more of my own workout food.

I've had some wonderful meals since I started being more careful, some new, and some old favourites. The roast pumpkin penne last week was just divine, and I spent all of the next day looking forward to leftovers for lunch. Porridge with almond butter, agave syrup and chopped dates was a perfect indulgent post-ride breakfast yesterday, and kept me going until at least 11. And dates with almond butter? Really are like "healthy" snickers. Yum!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Be awesome instead!

Tonight I am working while Phil is out doing his run. Last night I was working while Phil rode home on his bike. On Tuesday, I was working, and I don't actually know what Phil was doing- cos I was working. On Monday I was sick, so I watched West Wing episodes all day while Phil was working, but that doesn't count, so shh!

I quite like working, and I like being busy, and I love that I AM BUSY right now, in the midst of this recession. But when I am working and Phil (...ok, ok, anyone) gets more training time than me, I get absurdly bitter. Like I want to pinch him and pull his hair (if he comments and tells you I sometimes do, ignore him. he lies). The other thing that happens when I work late? I reward myself with chocolate, and cheesy extrusions- y'know, for all those calories I burned NOT working out and sitting on my butt instead.

So, tonight, whenever I look out into the still night, and think of my togs in my bag, and my dinner at home, and the mess that needs to be cleaned up, I am going to...(with me now)


That's right.

Now- back to work.

PS- for those of you who are thinking I should be working, not blogging, please know that this post took me precisely TWO billable units.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Epic weekend: Part II

It was bloody cold in Rotorua on Saturday night, and I slept fitfully until we all woke up around 8. We had a quick breakfast, packed the cars and headed out to the other side of the Redwoods for the boys’ mtb skills course. As I mentioned, I planned to ride the Rotorua half IM course, though I started (and finished) it at the carpark (near Te Puia) instead of Blue Lake (therefore missing Tarawera Rd- gee, what a pity..)

The first 25 k or so was delightful, apart from the always-ghastly chip along Te Ngae road. The bike path was full of gravel and broken glass, and I felt like it would have been better suited to the mountain bike. I had my first wee break about an hour in, at Rusto Bay, and sat in the sun enjoying a muesli bar and a few lollies. Perfection!

Since I had plenty of time up my sleeve (the boys weren’t due to finish until 4, and I had only 3.5 hours planned) I thought about going a little further and making it a round metric century, or about riding Tarawera and the Okareka loop on the way back, for a real epic ride.

Sadly, those grand plans were quickly abandoned as I started the next leg of my journey. My pace started to slow, and every k ticking by seemed to take forever. I’d planned to ride until 2:00 or 50k, but ended up giving up at Matahi Spit Reserve, at about 1:51 and 44k in (yup, the old pace had slooowed).

I sat in the chilly sun for as long as I could, eating my rather sad salami roll and a mandarin, and drinking a bit more water, and then started the journey back. I told myself to man up, and promised myself another break at 70k, which I thought would give me a good rest before climbing up the evil evil Hells Gate.

Leg 3 was better than leg 2. My attitude improved a bit, my cadence magically started working again, I had a slight tail wind (some of the way), and Rusto Bay came by again much sooner than expected. Unfortunately, so did Hells Gate, and all of a sudden, there I was grinding up, cursing the world and chanting “stop being tired, be awesome instead”. Hells Gate comes at a good time, actually- the way back on the Rotorua course gets a bit hard and a bit dull, and having the real effort of a nasty ass climb breaks things up a bit- even if it does hurt like f**k! The next few ks flew by (well, in relative terms), and I postponed my next break to just past the turnoff (about 74k, I think).

Leg 4 was OK. My butt was killing me, my hammies were tense after Hells Gate and my hands were absolutely freezing, but it was OK. I knew the signs to the city centre were about right in terms of distance, and I knew the end was in sight. All I had to do was get through the gravelly, cold, headwindy stretch by the airport, and I’d be away sailing! Also- there’s something about passing the same dairies you passed during a marathon ffs to make you harden up on the bike! Every traffic light conspired against me, and refused to give me a rest, but finally I was back on smooth road, and heading home. The roundabout at Tarawera was a bit of a pain- from my position, I couldn’t see the cars’ indicators, so had no idea whom to give way to, and ended up choosing a not particularly brilliant point to pull out. I managed to push it a bit back to the carpark, and finished happy in about 3:51 for 88.6k (freakin hell, I’m SLOW!!!!!). Not my longest ride ever, but my longest since the half IM in December, and by far my longest solo adventure. I have a whole new level of respect for all my training buds (Mike, I'm looking at you...) who regularly ride extreme distances alone. You guys are legends!

I thought I'd have some time to kill when I got back to the MTB park, as the boys weren't due to finish til 4. I thought about getting Max back off the roof and heading back into town, but that insanity didn't last long. No freakin way was this behind getting back onto the saddle! So I got myself dressed in the cramped porta loo and headed back to the car to relax and enjoy the sun. But who should I run into but the boys, who'd finished an hour and a half early! They were keen to try out their new skillz, so they headed out for a quick half hour while I explored the redwoods on foot. A beautiful path, but the stairs really took it out of me!

Once we were done, we headed back to town to celebrate before heading back to Auckland and New Plymouth respectively, and to replenish some (ok, all) of those calories with spicy wedges and Spring Tide.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Epic weekend: Part 1

[Blogger is being a pooper and not uploading my pics... so pics to come- maybe]

It was a pretty epic, and totally awesome weekend. Phil and I drove from Cambridge to Rotorua on Saturday morning, to meet my future brother in law, D. We arrived at about 11, and set off for a morning mountain biking on the easy trails in Whakarewarewa MTB park.

The ride to the park from Long Mile carpark starts with a shortish, sharpish climb, which is a good way for me to get used to being on Maxwell instead of Eric. I used the climb, and the following descent to get used to going over bumps, to not being able to pull up with my feet, and to using different gear shifters. Unfortunately, adjusting to the different shifters took more getting used to than it should have- I remarked to Phil it was amazing how fast he could spin, when we were both in our lowest gear. Turns out, I was reading the display all wrong, and I was in my hardest gear (well, my hardest on the wee chain ring, anyway). Ah well- at least Saturday was supposed to be my “strength” workout day! I finally got shifted down, and discovered that Maxwell doesn’t like the lowest gear at all (oddly- this is something I’ve found with each of my three Avantis).

We headed onto Tahi, from a different entrance than I used either of the previous times I’d been there, and it wasn’t long before the boys surged ahead, with Phil obligingly waiting for me every 2 minutes or so! Unfortunately, something went wrong in all of our internal navigation systems, and before we knew it, we were on what seemed to be a walking trail, with no D in sight. It took about half an hour of exploring the four wheel drive tracks (and going over that wee part of Tahi again and again) before we found him.

From Tahi, we headed to the Dipper. I hated it the first time (around Xmas time)- from the sharp hand turn at the start to the steep, bumpy downhill early on, to the 3 and 5 year olds whooping past me. The second time was better (with Jenn and D in April)- I’d had more of a warm up, I was enjoying riding with my sister, and at least I could pass those 5 year olds back on the uphills! This time, it was awesome. It was much quieter than it had been previously (winter, I guess), I’d had plenty of time to adjust to the MTB (apart from the doopid backwards shifters), and we hit the trail head on, rather than turning onto it. I rode most of it, though I was still much slower than the boys, and really enjoyed the smooth trail, the sweeping corners, and the mini roller coasters.

After the Dipper, we headed back to the camp ground via the exit track, which was downhill and bumpy and not at all my cup of tea. We headed to Pak n Save to pick up the components for our traditional ‘Vegas lunch but were gutted to find that they had none of our favourite ciabatta rolls. Shame on you, Pak n Save. Shame on you. We ate a chilly picnic lunch on the floor in the cabin, watching a truly, spectacularly awful game show, Beat the Geek, and a few music videos, and then headed out again, stuffed full of chicken rolls and salt and vinegar chips.
I wasn’t particularly keen on heading out again. As my mountain biking slowly improves, a session on the trails becomes slightly more of a workout! But it was only a bit after 2pm, and I certainly wasn’t keen to chill out at the campsite for a few hours by myself. Also, I needed to do something about those salt and vinegar chippies (and the feast we had planned for dinner), so I sucked it up and got back on the bike.

D had planned out a big loop. We had to cut it down somewhat, as we wanted to beat the sun home, and we knew I’d slow things down. I told the boys I’d stick with them, but that I’d turn back at the top if it looked like things were going to be too hard for me. I was definitely keen to see some of the rest of the park. The route started with the same shortish, sharpish climb as before, and I was pleased to handle it a bit better this time. From the beginning of the park proper, the boys headed along Mad if You Don’t, while I rode along the parallel 4wd drive track. It was fun to beat them for once- if not by much! The big climb started not much later, and continued for the next 40-odd minutes- and from about 335m to 665m! It was a heck of a climb especially with flat pedals (no pull) and no granny gear (I’m that weak, yes….) but usually, just as it got to be too much, the trail would level out or slope down for a bit. The two or three gasping for air stops helped too!
Finally, it was time to turn onto Spilt Enz. Split Enz was part of the Xterra course, and D had described it as Exit Track, but smoother. It certainly started off well. I told the boys to go on ahead, but to wait in a few places, especially as it was now after four, and the sunset was on its way. The first part of the track looped gradually down, with mostly smooth and reasonably un-rutted trails. The corners were just windy enough, and the dippers were just deep enough to make it fun, but it mostly wasn’t too hard- even for me. The feeling of riding on the side of a mountain, and the views of Rotorua peeking out through the trees made me feel deliciously hardcore, even if I was still riding like a complete pansy. The boys waited for me at a breathtaking lookout, and then we got going again. The second part was harder- bumpier, and a bit rockier and steeper, and I rode considerably less. Mindful of the sinking sun, I tried to spend any time I wasn’t riding running while pushing the bike, so I still got a good wee workout in! Then we were at the bottom, and it was time to head home. But not quite- the quickest way home was via Pondy’s Downhill, another Grade 3 track which was a bit tougher than Split Enz. I probably rode about 20% of it, though that was partly in the interests of timing- once you’re running it’s quicker to keep going than to jump back on the bike every time the trail evens out again. After a nerveracking few minutes as the sky darkened, the trail snaked back out of the forest and I met the boys in what seemed to have been a reasonably recently logged area.

We weren’t quite sure where we were, whether we were supposed to be there, or how to get back to the carpark, but we took a shot, and soon found ourselves on a sealed road, so we ramped up the gears and sprinted off. There’s nothing quite like pushing a mtb “fast”- even if you’re only going about 30km/h it feels like you’re flying. Soon enough we reached a gate, and we were back at the end of “Mad if You Don’t”, so we headed back along the forest roads to the carpark. The first wee bit was fine, but it was after 5 and the sun was getting fast. A few hundred metres before the end, I had to give up and walk- the ground was just too gravelly for me to feel comfortable, and my poor shortsighted and astigmatic eyes don’t handle falling darkness very well. Finally, we made it back to the carpark, and started our tentative trip home- grateful for my uber reflective Kathmandu jacket, and for the brief illumination that every passing car offered.

We made it back to the camp ground (Redwoods motor park- I’ll be back at the log cabins next time!) by about 5:45pm and breathed a sigh of relief. Riding in the forest without lights as darkness falls is not something I’d recommend, but it sure was fun!

After a good four hours of riding (in total), I was looking forward to a good dinner, and Stonegrill was the perfect place. A huge hunk of tender beef, cooked as I ate it, with kumara, roast potatoes, carrots and a lovely glass of warm pinot was the perfect end to a great day.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Words to live by

I need to start taking Barney's advice. Well, on this one!

For something else that's helping me through the week, see this awesome post on awesomeness.

Healthy and yummy too

Since I'm no longer a colour scheme obsessed bride to be, I needed something to fill the bride blog void left in my reader. And I've found it! Foodie/nutrition blogs!

These are all written by women who are sort of like me, but completely awesome and inspirational. Their blogs focus on healthful eating, on REAL food, balance and frugality and offer up dozens of ideas for delicious and interesting healthy food.

Here's some of my favourites:

Healthy and Sane
Hangry Pants

So far, Phil and I have enjoyed dates with almond butter as an after dinner snack, grab and go breakfast bars for riding, and warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa for breakfast. I'm also using much less meat, and many more white beans in my cooking. Yum!

Weekly rundown: 25/5

An OK week. Would have been good/solid if we hadn't so utterly stuffed our Sunday plans. Time to stop stewing on it and start running though!

M- Long swim (3500m). Great swim (despite the annoying breaches of swim-squad etiquette)

T- 45 minute run. Went up Franklin Rd, down Curran Street and back around the Marina. At least I think that's what I did...?

W- Planned rest, and photo school in the evening.

T- 60 minute Strength set on the trainer. The 8 minute standing intervals were my best yet!

F- Speedwork (swim). Workout was 2900m in total, with 1000 w/up, 3 x 100 sprint, 8 x 100 medley, and an 800m ladder to wind down. My 100s were OK- 1:35, 1:37, 1:35. I'd like to go faster, and think I should be able to- I didn't feel even remotely puffed.

S- 45k ride in Maraetai (where the Akl half IM course goes). Mostly ok, but a serious fade at the end when I ran out of water and enthusiasm.

S- We had my "free" day on Sunday so Phil could ride with me on Monday. We'd planned an awesome trail run and a walk, but ended up having to go to Manukau again, then we couldn't find the trails we wanted out around Woodhill. We ended up heading to Muriwai out for a run, but we weren't dressed well, and it was absolutely freezing. Phil was too cold, so I gave him my jumper and we headed back.

M-A lovely ride to celebrate the Queen's birthday. Just up to Titirangi, as I only had 90 mins planned, and Phil's recovering and just getting back into things. I felt really good on the hills- I'm still slow, but I'm getting better. The first bit of the descent wasn't particularly comfortable- bumpy, freezing cold, and couldn't see a thing with the sun in my eyes- but the rest of the way back was awwwwesome.

By the way, this coming weekend (Sunday?) I'm going to be riding the Rotovegas half course while Phil's learning to MTB. Any takers?