My romance with running

Yarns about running, as if you haven't heard enough from me already


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You’ll never be any good

The fun part of racing is the race. But what happens when you find yourself alone in the field? It stops being a race against the competition and becomes a battle with yourself.

It’s just a few minutes in to the event and you’ve slipped to a place in the field on your own, unable to keep up with anyone ahead as they speed away, racing hard with each other and leaving you in solitude.

Plodding away alone at the back, with nobody to chase and race, you start wondering what the point is, you wonder why you’re here, and that negative little voice starts to get louder and louder. This is pointless, what are you going to prove? You’re going to get lapped if you don’t hurry up!

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#ForeverAlone Photo by James Kuegler

I’ve had races that were physically tough, and mentally tough when I couldn’t hold the pace. But this one was a race that I almost talked myself out of finishing.

You don’t deserve to be here, you’re only here by default, because nobody else wanted to come. You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re not even close to being in the same league as these women, and you’ll never, ever be as good as them. This isn’t even a race for you! Tell me again, why are you here?

Why the fuck can’t you keep up? Because they have been running for longer than you. Because they train harder than you. Because they want it more than you. Because they have more talent. Because they are smart.

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The loneliness of the solo race was killing me

Hey, you’re thinking like a loser, winners don’t have this attitude! Do you really think anyone else running or watching gives a shit about how fast you run? Do you think by not believing in yourself that you will get very far? Would that bad attitude have got you to the start line? For fucks sake, just get going. Don’t be a bitch, don’t think about pulling out. Leave your ego in the mud over there and keep running.

Keep moving your legs, keep pumping your arms, and think about why you’re here.

You’re here because you love running, because you love what it gives back to you. You’re here because you love the feeling of getting fitter and faster. You’re here because even though you knew you would be a lot slower than the ‘good’ runners, you still wanted to give it a go, to challenge yourself. You love the training, you love those free flowing hills, the ease at which you fly down the other side after grinding all the way up. You love that feeling, and that feeling didn’t come without a lot of hard work.

You’ve earned your right to be here, you’ve proved that you have potential. You should feel proud, you’re up against people that are a lot faster and stronger than you, and one day you might be running at their pace. Even if you aren’t going to pass anyone on course unless they pass out or break their leg, you’ve passed a lot of obstacles on your way to getting here. Tell yourself, you’re here because you love it.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

Mindset in your training, and in your racing is important. It’s the difference between you having a good time or a bad time. It’s the difference between you failing and going home, or failing then getting back up again to do it tomorrow.

It helps to try and look at things from someone else’s perspective. I’ve never finished a race and thought, ‘Ha! Look at all those idiots running slower than I am, why did they bother to show up?’ Nobody thinks like that, but somehow you’re worried that they do!

When you’re having an rough patch in the middle of a race, a bit of positive self talk and a few encouraging words from friends can really turn things around. I’m always grateful for people who come to watch races, if you’re a spectator you’ve probably turned someone’s day around just by saying a few words.

Lap one Bye friends! Catch you later in the race!

Lap 1.5 Not fucking likely, buh bye.

Lap two Three laps to go. Not quite half way, just get to the end of the lap and you can pull out.

Lap three About 500m in the cheer squad of Wellington runners is on the strait and they are cheering for you. Come on Amanda, give us a grin! Are you laughing or crying? Go go go!

Crying. Definitely crying.

Crying. Definitely crying.

Lap four Paul is on the bend with his camera, click click click Great work Amanda!

Lap five The final lap. James is near the muddy straight, warming up for his own race, ‘Good job Amanda, push it ’till the end’

Your team mates are at the finish line ‘Nice one! I think we got a team medal!’

Your adoring family are waiting in the stands ‘We saw you do this massive snot rocket as you came past the grandstand. You’re disgusting. Great run.’

I wish I had something profound to write at this point but I don’t, so I will cheat by finishing with something somebody else wrote. After my race I got this email, I didn’t realise anyone knew how felt, thank you Paul Sharp.

Like you, I ran in the NZ XC champs yesterday. I watched the first 15 minutes of the Senior Women’s 10K and saw you complete two laps before we headed to the airport. Never easy, I thought, running solo in a race. But one man’s poison is another woman’s meat, and your My Romance with Running blog speaks of a human being and a runner with guts, resilience and spirit, and suggests that you simply just got on with it. You’re a star.


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How to win a race- no running required!

What does it feel like to win?

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#Goals #vibes #bling #fleekydeeky #7Golds #ladiesplease

When I think back to the times I’ve been a winner, there are only a handful of things that come to mind and they are all a bit of a stretch.

  • Win #1  8 years old, The Westpac colouring competition at the bank in Te Anau. I won a model helicopter. Barbie did not fit in it, so the useless tiny helicopter stayed in its box.
  • Win #2  10 years old, 50m hurdles at Primary School athletics day.  The hurdles were made out of electric fencing tape and reels and set up in a paddock that judging by the freshness of the poo, had until that morning been occupied by sheep. The three other girls in the race tripped over and I came from behind to take the win. I got a lonely #1 pencilled on my orange paper athletics card next to all the #4’s.

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  • Win #3  13 years old, the scholarship exam for entry in to high school. I scored the highest marks and won money towards my school fees. As a congratulatory gift, my parents gave me a velcro Pooh Bear wallet. It was empty.
  • Win #4  25 years old, Trademe auction for an Eames style chair that I so desperately needed to throw dirty clothes on and use twice to stand on to change a lightbulb.

The theme emerging here is not one of sporting prowess, but gaining from the misfortune of others, using my brain, or using felt tip pens. What did winning feel like? Bewildering. Hilarious. Bitter-sweet. Embarassing.

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This is what winning feels like. In. Your. Face.

All these wins prepared me for eventually winning a race, in one way or another. It’s not just training in running, it’s the training in winning that will get you over that line first, and this is why.

From the Trademe auction I learned that to win you must become irrational, and want to succeed at all costs. If you have ever been in a heated Trademe battle, right down to the line then you know what I mean. You’ve blown your budget, and that bitch kiwigirl_78, what does she think she needs this chair more than you? Reason has gone out the window and you keep clicking BID because you simply have to WIN. WINNING IS EVERYTHING. This is a competition, don’t give up, push hard right until the end! Then for another two minutes because the god damn auction has been auto-extended. GO DEEP! (Always have a little left in the bank just in case it comes down to that two minute sprint finish)

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I lost a chair once. Never again.

From athletics day in the paddock I learned that you need to make the most of people fucking up their race. See a stumble as an opportunity. Listen for the tell-tale heavy breathing that tells you your competitor has gone out too hard and isn’t in control. Pick off another placing as you fly by the person who wasn’t cautious on the downhill and sprained their ankle. Sucks to be them, fucking rocks to be you.

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From the colouring competition I learned that having colour coordination gets you points. If you can’t be the fastest, be the most fabulous. Kenny Souza was the world duathlon champion once in 1990 but because of his photogenic appearance, he was the most prominent athlete in the sport for years.

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Be like Kenny

From the scholarship exam I learned that if you win something once you set an expectation that you will win more. At 13 years old I gave not one shit in a paddock about the school fees that scholarship would pay, I wanted that money for all you can eat at Pizza Hut and a big pick and mix bag of lollies. Maybe a fresh polar fleece from Deka to go with my Canterbury pants? I didn’t want for much. After that one win my parents and my peers thought I was smart; I knew better of course. Proving my ability once meant that I had earned a reputation as a smartie at the party and it took the whole of fourth form to destroy this before I could make an intellectual comeback and earn praise again.

Did these wins ever translate to running?

I had never won a race before until this year when I surprised myself and won a few. Just small ones, but I still won. The feeling is better than the tiny helicopter, the empty wallet, the poo-covered friends and the useless expensive chair combined.

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I’d like to thank Kevin Ross, Rock Garden, Petone McDonalds, Holden for making the Astra.

Being at the front is really scary. There is nowhere to hide. I wonder who fucked up during the race that meant I ended up here at the front, I wonder if I somehow took a shortcut, I think if I’m winning then I’m working too hard and will look like a minger in the photos. How I feel when winning a race can be summed up in this one picture. 

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Have you ever won anything? What did it feel like to win the arm wrestle/ Pokémon battle/ Trademe auction/ flatmate of the week/ bingo/ meat pack in a raffle? (If you haven’t won anything don’t leave a comment, this blog is about winning. Losers can go find a loser blog and write tips on how to lose).


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Nervous shitters

Why do you get nervous before a big event? What is it that makes you feel so queazy that you need to do a number 2? 
My friend ‘that running girl’ Sophie and I were discussing how many nervous shits we were going to take before our race this Sunday. It’s the Christchurch half marathon, which will also be the New Zealand Championships. 

Just talking about the race was making me nervous. To the point where I would fart each time the word Christchurch was even mentioned. Lord give me strength in unmentionable places on race day.

Nervous
 1. easily agitated or alarmed.”a sensitive, nervous person”

Synonyms: highly strung, easily frightened, easily agitated, anxious, edgy, tense, excitable, jumpy, skittish, brittle, neurotic, hysterical.

Nervous poo sounds better than skittish poo, jumpy poo or neurotic poo. Tense poo? I’ve had a few of those.

Holding back a turtle head before my relay lap


Apparently the nervous poo is a natural animal instinct (fight or flight). It comes from the fact that your body is making it’s primary task conserving energy so that you can flee and defend yourself against predators, like lions, or the sassy WHAC girls. This includes releasing bowel muscles and losing control.


“The overall effect of these changes is to sharpen all your senses and enable you to perform optimally in a life threatening situation. All your blood is diverted to your muscles, while non essential systems are shut down. The faster, deeper breathing brings more oxygen into the blood and this helps the muscles to work faster. OPENING OF THE BLADDER AND BOWELS REDUCES THE NEED FOR OTHER INTERNAL ACTIVITY, lessens your weight if you flee and may put off attackers. In case of flight, you’ll run faster, see better, hear more acutely.” (source)

So in short, we do a nervous poo because shit is about to go down.
When the racing flats have been laced up, the ponytail has been tightened and you’ve made pancakes in the porta loos it’s race time!

I don’t think it’s purely scientific reasons that tell us to take a tense turd. I think the nervous poo comes from giving a shit about something, it’s a good thing. It means you are anticipating something, you’re excited, and that something means a great deal to you. Going in to an event that you have trained your ass off for you have expectations, you expect that the training has paid off.


I told myself long ago that I would never shit myself during a race. UNLESS I was winning it. I know I won’t win this one, so that story might have to wait. The bonus of needing to shit during a race is that the poo is also a racing poo, flight mode makes you poo at top speed so you’ll only lose a minute tops taking a dump mid-run.

Now that I know why I feel the need to take a nervous poo before a big event, I feel pretty happy. Happy that my body knows that shit is about to go down, we gotta lose that Hells Pizza we ate on Friday night so we can get that half marathon PB! If you hear me saying thank you and patting my behind in the portaloo tomorrow this is why. 

💩


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Multi Day Madness

Its taken me a while to finish writing this post. I didn’t think it was interesting, or that anyone would want to read it. Just another damn running post! But it wasn’t just another run, it was the best event I’ve ever done and what I did that weekend I never thought I could possibly do.

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Colour coordination was the winner on the day

I foresaw great pain and suffering in day two of the Tassie Trail Fest, but took comfort in the knowledge that there would be no more extra bonus kilometers, no risk of leeches now that the rain had ceased, no smack talk and certainly no ‘racing’. I was right for the most part.

First up was the Cheeta Recovery 14km run. ‘Recovery’ isn’t the type of run it’s their bloody brand name. I was sifting around the start line, ‘Fast people at the front please’ someone was poking me forward. Please no.  I’ll just stay back here. Poke poke. Poke. FINE. Just a wee 14km of hills Amanda you can smash this run!

Five minutes in and I could feel my legs again, I was just behind Kellie and Yvette and in fourth place. Amandaaaah, this is not a 14km run, this is a 56km run, tone it down. So down it was toned. I slowed down to the steady long run effort that I had employed for the marathon and watched these two ladies power off in to the distance.

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Photos thanks to Sputnik at iOMerino

Run smart, run strong. Forget about the speed, the placings, forget all of that because you have to endure a lot more than this run today.

I took my time at the first aid station to weep into the gummy worms then began the Kruska Climb. Tegyn Angel, fellow Trail Run Magazine Editor was right behind me as we both panted our way up the hill, having both run the 44km marathon the day before.  The expletive count was climbing in line with the elevation. This was all internalised; one simply cannot be seen to be being a lil’ bitch in front of these Aussies.

Tegyn broke the Blue Derby silence with ‘Raaaaagh more fucking switchbacks!’ Great, we are on the same page. Tegyn I hate them too. We suffered together for the most part of the race until Tegyn admitted to trying to catch me, which was the extra little thing I needed to dig a bit deeper and run away from him.

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Hi-vis proved it’s worth yet again

The 14/15km run was done, and I held on to fourth place finishing in 1.32.45. There was just a two hour gap until the next run, the Running Company Launceston half Marathon.

Quick showers and a costume change then Luke chauffeured for the day out to Weldborough and the Blue Tier Forest. This is home of the Blue Tier Giant, the widest living tree in Australia with a massive 19.4 metre girth. Lol. Girth. Luke had previous knowledge of the area after running 18 or so kilometres off course during the marathon and coming across some men fossicking for Sapphires.Half-Mara-IMG_1466-2

This half marathon had 680m of climbing up hills and over boulders, and featured four river crossings. Four as in eight because you had to cross again on the way back. For most of this race I ran with John Fegyveresi, the Arctic Scientist in a trucker cap. Apparently he’s a pretty handy runner, he finished some Barkley Marathon? Anyway… we had fun running back and forth over huge rocks, along single track and cooling our calves in the rivers.

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I knew a big downhill was coming up on MTB trails so I gave it heaps to finish and try to end the large amount of pain that I was in. I passed a few guys on the way down which was nice, muggles they were.  Yelling that they didn’t want the Kiwi to pass them (again). Chris Ord appeared out of the bush and chased me so hard down the hill with a camera at full noise, I thought he wouldn’t stop. That motherfucker. I came home in third place  so one better than my two fourth places but it was a terrible run! I was Le fuqued. So dead.  I lay on my back on the prickly grass with my feet up against a truck and ate bananas and beef jerky trying too forget that I had another run in just a few hours.

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The boulder section of the half marathon

Luke said we needed to head back so off we went again. We drove past a dead wallaby/kangaroo foreign hoppy mammal on the side of the road who looked like I felt. We went to the Hub for showers, food, Kahlua and coke and a change of clothes and to mentally prepare for the final run of the day.

The night run started out at an easy enough pace and I realised I was sitting in second place. I rectified this in the first kilometre and thought I might like to sneak in a win if it was possible. Running in the dark is exciting. Leading a race in the dark is not! I had no idea how far ahead of second I was. I could see headlamps winking and winding up the switchbacks in the silence as I ran alone through the bush.

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My knee was pretty sore as I descended the last hill. Each time my right leg hit the ground I swore. I tried to keep my form good and not limp too much, maintaining 180 fucks per minute for perfect cadence. 

I came clear of the bush and glow sticks lit the way to the finish line at the Derby Town Hall. Up the hill, through the finishing chute, around the corner and in to the hall where the blow up finishing banner filled the room. I crossed the line to the band playing in a room full of people celebrating, amid the music and the disco lights, best finish line ever! I managed to win that one too, finally a first place!

After dining on Derby’s finest pizza and craft beer and enjoying the band we retreated to the hub for Cards Against Humanity and Kahlua.

Up again on day three. 2km to go then it’s done. 2km is nothing when you’ve already run 100, might as well warm up for the final dash for cash. My goal here was to run under 5 minute kms, a very lofty goal for my wee leggies with all things considered.

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The blur makes me look fast but also makes my calves look less defined. Hmmm.

I ran the 2km cross country/trail course in 8.55, sub 4.30 pace thank you. I won the overall event; the Multi Day madness and picked up a pointy trophy and a swag of running gear, beers, medals, no jerky unfortunately but a heap of new friends which almost makes up for it.

I had such a great time in Tasmania, you can tell straight away that the people driving the event wanted to share their passion for trail running and they definitely succeeded! There was something for everyone with distances from 2km for the newbie trail runner to somewhere around 68km for the adventurous one with poor navigational skills, and the Multi Day Madness for those who want real ‘Value for money’.

I’ll be back next year to race up and down those fucking switchbacks, they don’t seem that bad now…

 


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Tassie Trail Fest Marathon*

How desperate would your situation have to be for you to suck on one of these toes?

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The Tarawera toes of Tom Lelievre

The third person to greet me upon arrival in Tasmania en route to the Tassie Trail Fest was the owner of the above feet. No need to ask Tom if he was a runner after seeing those. No need. Tom wasa

volunteer for the event; full of good advice on running marathons, resting and recovery, and what kind of milk to put in my coffee. I had to think of a way to repay him for his good deeds…

The Tassie Trail Fest is a three day celebration of all things trail running. Masochists came from as far as Wales, Antarctica, and Karori to experience the bush and the Blue Derby trails. Organised by Chris Ord from Tour de Trails and Trail Run Magazine, this year was the inaugural event and one that I have already permanently marked in my calendar. The festival begins with a marathon on the first day, a touch over 42.2km through the mountain bike trails in Derby.

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Entrance to the Blue Derby trails

I began my Tassie Trail Fest adventure armed with some sage advice from my friends, all of which would prove to be vital in getting me across that finishing line for the marathon, and it all served it’s purpose in different stages of the run

Your mind will give up 1000 times over before your body does! So when your mind starts to give up just remember your body can keep going!!

Some of the best advice I got for my first marathon is to make a pact with yourself to enjoy it! Go for it Amanda.

Go and kick Tasmania in the Lady Balls. You are impossibly strong and fast. Go well. Remember. Foot to the lady balls. It will suck, but you’re better than you think you are, so go fuck shit up…

It will be hard and you will want to give up. Think of all the things that motivate you like flying down the Polhill trail or making cool route art. It’ll be worth it in the end

Just remember you have an awesome tan.

I’ve never run a marathon before. I have run an Ultra, but now with two years more experience with running under my Spi belt I knew that running a shorter (long) distance is an entirely different beast.

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Second toilet stop with 13 minutes until race time

The start line was buzzing, anyone wearing a green bib had signed up for not only the marathon but a 14km, another half marathon, a further 14km night run AND a 2km Dash for Cash. Combined these runs had the title of Multi Day Madness and covered just under 100km in total. It blew me away that people were doing this by choice, (I had been gently nudged in to doing the Multi Day event by Chris).

The plan was to run this race at long run effort, take it easy, take no risks, make pact with myself to enjoy it, and have enough energy left to run the other 56km the following day. Gulp. 

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The lady I was chasing for a good 10km, she was awesome at the uphills

The first part of the race was a relaxed run through speedy single track that gave way to old unused forestry roads. I cruised along noticing the funny sounds of Aussie birds, the smell of eucalyptus, and the gum trees. There were large flat rocks to try and run across that I decided to walk over after a few near misses.

The first piece of advice I utilised was Your mind will give up 1000 times over before your body does!  I started to count the number of times that I wanted to quit, wanted to walk, or uttered a string of expletives (it only f#%!n counted if there were more than two). By the 17km mark I had only counted to three, so far so good!

Things got a bit more challenging after that. Around the 27km mark I started noticing these trees with wide holes in them that looked like big woody vaginas. They looked comfortable, if I could just get in there, if I could get back in to the womb, I could end this marathon and have a nap. Snap out of it Amanda it’s just a marathon, pull yourself together, stick yourself together like a cold cheese toastie and just keep running.

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Having fun, tired, could be on meth, pukana, 14km to go! Plz halp me.

Between 30-31km the trail looks like the moon. Grey green moss covers the floor, trees stripped of bark stretch up high on either side, the moonscape is a welcome boost as there is about 10km between aid stations in this section. Through the trees, standing on a rock were the most beautiful people I had ever seen. Peri and Simon were happy to see me at their aid station. I basked in their loveliness and filled up my bottles, ate some chups, got a fistful of gummy worms then jogged off.

What starts out as being a low point at 38km down the trails, can end up being a triumph once you work through the hard stuff and come out on top. Picture this; you’re going up yet another switchback, the climbing is slow and your focus doesn’t lift more than a few metres in front of your feet. The legs and the mind have given up (we’re counting) 16 times, three of those have been in the past 500 metres. Espresso love Gu? Yes please. It fights back as you try to squeeze it out, you shove the whole packet in your mouth then drag it out against your teeth to get every last sticky morsel.

Thanks for the gels new friend Tom, you’re a lifesaver! You found them at the last minute inside one of your trail shoes. Oh my god. His feet. His morbid looking toes touched that Gu packet. Do I have toe stuck in my teeth? I’ve run out of water again too how do I wash the Tom toe out of my mouth? *silent prayer*

People talk about hitting a wall at the 30km mark in a marathon, for this race that didn’t come for me until 40km. It was rough. I thought back to the advice from my friends that would carry me through, you have an awesome tan! No, that wasn’t it, try again. You are impossibly strong and fast. That’s it. Start believing it, if someone else thinks you can do it then put your head down and get it done.

It hurt a lot, it stopped being easy, I was tired and starting to stumble a little and there were no tree vaginas nearby to rest in. I just wanted it to be over. I thought about my running buddies Nick and Ayesha and our recent Sunday run, where I hit the wall, and how I got through those last few kilometres. Nick is making waffles! He has waffles ready for you at the finish line! Run to the waffles Amanda!!

I caught up with another runner at the final aid station, John Schruinga, and we pulled each other through the final few kilometres. With the finish line in sight someone yells at us to turn left as there is another 500m loop to go. The ‘I want to give up/ string of expletives’ count quickly increases from 16 to 24.

I finished 4th female home in 4.34.15, check out my run on Strava, and the full results here.

 

   

Marathon* has an asterisk because it was not a standard measurement of Marathon, it was 44km. Plus almost an extra km because- Chris Ord.

  


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Tassie Trail Fest – The prequel

A real life conversation featuring myself and Chris Ord. In which I am the people’s champion whom you can liken to the young Jim Hawkins. Chris is Captain Jack Sparrow, people like him, but it’s like what is he up to? How much rum has he had today? What brand is that eyeliner?

Cap’n Ord Yarrr, if I could swing it to get ye to the Tassie Trail Fest – how long could ye take off? Let me know – if so I will secure ye a berth on a Barque – what the hell :)) (insert Pirate emoji)

Alackof Beard By thunder Cap’n, hail the Barque I can come! Yusss. Yarrrr. I better start training hard so I can do one of the races, likely the 22km. I like that there is also a 2km option in there. Yarrr.

CO Haha. Avast! Matey, you’re going to run the Multiday Madness, that ok?
AB Yo ho ho Sir, tis sounding good! (Agrees immediately before asking Squire Google what that is.)
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Cap’n Ord who is clearly a land lubber running the Derby trails

So what is the Multi Day Madness?
Saturday 8am 44km Marathon 
Sunday 8am 14km Fun Run
Sunday 11.30am (didn’t we just do Sunday?) 22km Half Marathon
Sunday 7.30pm (The week days have different names you idiot this is the third time) 14km Night run
Monday 8.30am 2km Dash for cash

Maths says that this is 96km over three days. 2,920m of ascent (15 times up Mt Victoria)
Science says I probably won’t die but could do a lot of damage to my body if I’m not careful.
Art says it would be a noble death and someone else would probably write a good story about how you managed to explode in to flames from getting a snake bite in the final 20 metres of the dash for cash.
Lets go and get it.
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The Good People Run Singlet for the Pirates who run good- 75 pieces of eight

I have had a pretty solid month of training, and have been focusing on taking more time to rest. In this time I have been reading Pirate novels, eating chocolate money (Treasure!) and doing more yoga and stretching. I know I can do the race well, but it’s a bit scary that it’s the first time the event has been run so I can’t look at past results to figure out what time I will do. I’m going in to this like Blind Pew.
My family and friends have been really supportive of my training to get to this point, I am amazed at how many people believe in me, and are happy for me. Looking at you Mum and Dad!
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What do you do when you’re nervous about a race? I stop sleeping, forget to eat, go to the toilet a lot which is weird because forgetting to eat doesn’t seem to effect outgoings and then I go and race a 5km because, you know, why not?
Tomorrow I have to get up at about 4am to get myself to the airport and begin the journey to Tasmania. I should be packing right now but I haven’t decided what I will wear yet so I’m putting it off until 3.45am, I feel like at that time I will know.
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It’s amazing how much Ice cream you can eat when you aren’t concentrating

 I’ll need at least five costume changes over the three days. I heard that Mac has a new lipstick out that stays on through anything, maybe I’ll get one for each race. I don’t think I have enough shoes for this weekend either, should I buy more? I should definitely buy more shoes.

Before I set off please take a look at how bloody amazing I look in the photo below, burn that in to your memories. This is the face and posture of someone who is making little effort. No matter what I do this weekend I will not be wearing that face for more than a few hours. I will be doing my best to hit the other end of the scale when running this weekend and putting in maximum effort.

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I’ll leave you with this quote from Treasure Island that really speaks to me, one I will carry with through all 96km this weekend;
Many’s a long night I’ve dreamed of cheese—toasted mostly. – Ben Gunn, Adventurer, reformed Pirate


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Luxmore round II

When the running is good, the blogging gets shelved because who cares about anything aside from your rippling leg muscles and amazing tan when you’re at your peak fitness in the middle of summer. BEHOLD MY DEFINED CALF MUSCLES!

When you get one strained adductor, two sprained ankles, put your back out then get a chest infection it means no running, no biking, no swimming with your arms (or legs), no doing weights, no anything. The silver lining is that you have more time to write your blog and your boobs grow back (ever so slightly). Not enough for a boobie photo, but enough to wear a bra at the very least.

It’s a month coming but here’s a bit about my last trail run race in the deep south, the Luxmore Grunt.

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Frasers Beach in Manapouri, on the way to the race

It only just occurred to me that I’ve never run the same race twice, the Luxmore Grunt is the first. I had no brother to challenge me this year. No illusions as to what to expect on the course, no doubt who would be able to beat me either as the race previews were up on Backcountry Runner. I wanted to win the race but the report identified several high-class beeches including course record holder Shireen Crumpton that would be steaming through the beech trees making short work of the hills. That’s what happens when races get popular, they draw in some pretty amazing athletes.

So… I reset my goals

  • Place in the top five
  • Run under 2.5 hours
  • Don’t fall over
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Figure 1. A couple of amazing athletes. Outfit definitely not on point here. Huge regrets about adding green in to the usual yellow mix.

The night before the race I was staying with my brother at Whare Creek. Where’s that you ask? Here is a helpful map. The internet can see Whare Creek but Whare creek can not see the internet. Lack of internet meant I couldn’t troll people in Youtube comments to let off some steam before the big day so I had to take this pent up belligerent illiterate stream of obscenities with me out on to the trails.

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It’s right there in the middle

Being the social b-skins that we are my brother John and I went to the Manapouri Pub beforehand and had a pint with the locals. After my first pint hit me I realised then that I don’t get nervous about races like I use to and could happily sit here and strategise over a few more. Race strategy for this year was to run faster on the flats, run up the entire hill and take it easy coming down, like, not face-planting would be a great start.

THE RACE
The first 5km was easy, but I was sitting in about 8th place until just before the hill and wondering how with such a good training build up I was sitting so far back in the field. I had to remind myself to run my own race, and not worry about people passing me or people still ahead.

I put the speedy starters down to inexperience and told myself with a smirk that they can enjoy their 20 minutes of glory before I take it from them on the hill. I made sure my breathing was light and my stride was long when I overtook them; make it look like I’m finding it easy when the only thing spurring me onwards is the thought of demoralising a fellow competitor. ‘Making friends is for the finish line’ says race Amanda.

THis cat does not speak to me at all. Cats can't talk

There is a reason cats can’t talk

My newly inflated ego carried me all the way up Mount Luxmore, only stopping high up as the trees began to thin because it got so cold I had to put my thermal back on.

This year the Men’s race leader Tane Cambridge came past me before I even broke the bush line. Either I’m going very slow or he is going extremely fast. It’s not really an either/or scenario as both were correct. Alpine air greeted my nipples with a tweak as I ran through the low tussocks and on the board walk towards Luxmore Hut. Shireen came back past me leading the race followed by the other speedy women, I was way too far behind to make up any places now and was in 6th.

I took it easy enough down the steep downhill because I wanted to be able to run the last flat 5km at a decent pace and not repeat the painful 6 minute kms of last time I raced it. Even with holding back a bit I passed one more female. Yusss. Top five Amanda you bee-a-uty! Now just stay upright until the finish. Further down I passed another woman who was walking and limping. What do I do now?

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Is she in the race? I wonder why she is walking?

Is she walking because she is tired? I smell weakness. Is this a trap?

Oh no she is injured!

Oh helllll yeah, another one down!

I better stop and see if she needs help

I better leap and click my heels when I go past to show just how strong my ankles are

That sucks, an injury so close to the finish she might have placed top three

This rocks, picking up a place so close to the finish line! Pew pew pew see you later!

I yelled out to ask if she was ok as I approached so that I had time to hear her yell an answer back without breaking my stride. Several other people would have passed her already, she was able to walk AND we were close to the finish line. Justified.

The final flat part of the run was easy this year and I managed to overtake a few men in the final kilometres. Again, motivated by imagining how they would feel to be so close to the finish and to have someone who had so poorly chosen their outfit overtake them making it look ugly, but easy.

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Going in for a hug.

I finished fourth female and 14th overall in 2.28.47. Full results here. The women’s race was won by Lizzie Wesley Smith in 2.18.24 with Shireen Crumpton in second and Sarah Douglas third.

Dad was at the finish line to greet me with a huge smile peeking out below his Ridgeline polarfleece uniform and hands caked in mud and dried blood from that mornings’ hunting exploits. Mum was a lot cleaner and had a little purple bag full of drinks and snacks which was exactly what I needed.

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The posture of a jelly bean. Proud parents look on.

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The green does look ok here and enhances my tan. Next time I’ll try a combination of green and black. green might even be my new colour now.

I went and had a beer in the lake and iced my legs and discovered that lake beers are right up there with shower beers. Mum had forgotten where she had parked the car. She actually said ‘It’s near some trees Amanda.’ Please refer to earlier image of Whare Creek to get an idea of how many trees there are in the area.

Looking at my splits from the race I definitely need to work on running up hill, I’m really not great at it. The scenery in Fiordland is beautiful and it’s well worth the trip in to Western Southland if you want to run a race with stunning scenery hidden behind clouds that you’ll have to google image search later on to know what you are supposed to be bragging about.

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In the bush near Lake Monowai