My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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If you don’t have anything nice to say

‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

I know that what mum meant when she said this was to refrain from calling my brothers stupid dicks or poo heads (in public, say what you like on the farm), but the phrase has stuck with me like dried cow shit to a bike frame.

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No it’s fine. I’m fine. Really it’s fine. I meant this to happen.

Being a generally happy human, a ‘yes’ person, and doing nice things for people because that is what gives you joy, that’s all a bit hard when you aren’t feeling yourself.

It’s been a challenge the past ten months being injured on and off, on and off, and never quite getting back to training properly. I thought it was best not to write anything because, well, I didn’t have anything nice to say.

It has taken me months to realise that I do have nice things to say, I just need to change the way I think and focus on the positive. Some really nice things have happened to me in the past few weeks, here’s the first one.

Nice Thing #1 I joined a gym

I was struggling along with what I thought was a tight muscle in my hip, it was painful and I had been unable to run properly for two months. I got in touch with my old personal trainer Greig Rightford at Healthfit Collective gym and got him to look at my running form. Something was definitely a bit off. He told me to stop running immediately. I hated this idea. ‘It will be hard to stop but just don’t do it, it will be better for you in the long run.’

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Things to do when you aren’t running

When stopping running didn’t stop the hip pain I went back to my GP, and got referred to see a sports Doctor. When I finally got my referral and got the call from them, the next available appointment was two months away. T W O  M O N T H S !

I was at home crying about the hot pain in my hip, and thinking about how much I hate fit and able-bodied people when Greig emailed to see how I was.

Just thought I’d check in with you – how are you progressing? 

I was quick to say that I’m sick of trying to run, I give up. I’m done. Greig disagreed with that sentiment and got me to come back to the gym ‘I want to help you in any way I can.’ I’m pretty amazed at how nice people are to me, and this made my month.

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Rehabbing hard

In my second week of trying to get motivated to do early morning gym rehab I bumped in to Ruth Highet, the Doctor who helped me with my first stress fracture. When I told her about the wait to see the other Sports Doctor she said that was ridiculous.

Two hours later, sitting at my work desk I got a call from her office, and had an appointment for the next day at 9am. X-rays done, follow up appointment, MRI, all within two weeks. Everything sorted five weeks before I would have seen the first sports Doctor, incredible.

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Some things to stretch and poke your bits with

I feel incredibly lucky to know such generous people, and so grateful to have had help to get my injury diagnosed, my body healing, and my mind thinking more optimistically.

I’ve only said one nice thing, there are so many more and so many people who have gone above and beyond to help me out, I feel very humbled.

Right now I’m waiting to get the results back from my MRI, it is likely a stress fracture in the area around my hip socket, sacrum, or the top of my femur. If you guess correctly you win a prize!

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Niggles

You feel a little niggle, just a little one. Should you ignore it? How long can you tell yourself it’s nothing before it will become too obvious to ignore?

The niggle doesn’t stop you from running, but it’s still there. Just a little niggle, just a little every day. You can’t quite call it pain, just an awareness that something is a bit off.

7am Sunday wake up calls, training done then coffee drunk and home by 11am to make a half-assed attempt at lunch. Throw all the running gear in the wash and start getting on to the life admin that comes way down the priorities list after running and eating and coffee.

A bit off. A wee niggle. Just a little niggle.

Then one day it’s not just a niggle any more. It’s 12pm, five hours since the alarm went off, forgotten and ignored. Just a little niggle got just a little bit bigger while you weren’t taking any notice. When you weren’t taking care, taking time to figure out just what that little niggle was.

Usually you’d be poaching eggs and making more coffee post-run, but today you couldn’t run at all. On a scale of one to ten, one being great and ten being not, you’ve somehow found yourself a seven.

A seven isn’t very good.

When did you so seamlessly slide right down two through six?

Curtains closed, cold coffee, cold toes, the routine has been disrupted and step one – go for a run – has been forgone with the rest of the day collapsing in around it.

Those exciting and ambitious plans you had for yourself, for the day, for the year, are getting further from your reach. That little niggle that you let get bigger might put a stop to all of it.

How bad is it out of ten? If it’s a seven should you still try to run?

Yes.

If it takes you 90 minutes to stand up properly, to get out of bed, pull on your shoes, and a hat to hide your face, should you run?

Yes.

If just two minutes in you stop running because you feel so bad that you cry, and you say out loud there is something wrong with me, this isn’t good, should you keep going?

Yes.

That little niggle, tugging at your shoulders, at the corners of your smile, turning it down, pulling it all down.

Despite that whisper telling you to stay in bed, sleep it off, rest some more, you know that if you try a little harder, push a little more, eventually you will start to feel good. Each minute you keep moving forward will shake out that dull ache, if you can last a little longer, breathe a little deeper, it will start to melt away.

Twenty minutes respite, air filling your lungs, shoulders unfurling from their hunch, even if it’s only temporary it gives you hope that the big niggle will go back to being a wee one.

Getting to know how you feel, what is normal, and what isn’t, will keep the niggle little. A feeling of awareness and not one of pain.

Slight but persistent, is what it is, and slight but persistent actions is how to keep it small.

 


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Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Riding 100km

The best way to learn a new skill is to go deep, submerge that sack subaqueous, and get stuck in. Don’t wade in and test the water with your toe, do a manu.

Before you set off on a long ride, there are a few things you should attempt to learn first, riding the bike is only one of those things! These are helpful questions that you can ask yourself if you are thinking abut embarking on a pedal powered expedition.

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1. Am I good enough to ride with other people?

The likelihood is slim if you’re reading a running blog looking for riding advice. A good way to test your skills and to pick up new ones is to ride with other newbie cyclists so that you can learn the ropes (cables?) together.

Riding with people who think that a cassette is a mix tape, and who don’t have terrifying intimidating vascular meaty quads and lumpy moose knuckles all stuffed like a hastily packed sleeping bag into a too-small shiny lycra casing – is a great way to get started.

You can both focus on your cycling skills rather than the pace, and you will probably both have un-cool cycling gear so will avoid embarrassing your mates who have a perfectly matching kit and their sock length measured down to the millimetre.

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My cycling gang

Riding with other people who have an interest in cycling, but do not feature in any Strava leaderboards is great for enthusiastic beginners. You can do dip-shitty things together at a slightly faster pace than you can with the super new newbies. You can break all the ‘cool’ cycling codes, and get called wankers by bearded people driving four-wheel drives because you were masturbating on your bike at the traffic lights, again.

There is a limit to riding with newbies. If someone turns up to ride the 60km leg of a charity cycle on a bike they have never ridden saying ‘Lolz I am hungover as and I haven’t trained for this’, fuck them. Do not ride with them.

2. Do I really need all the gear?

Does the Pope shit in the woods? Yes you need all the gear. Looking even vaguely like you belong on a bike will make you seem, to the uneducated eye like a ‘real’ cyclist. Someone might even ask you if you are a professional (they could have been asking the person next to me, I’m sure it was me though).

As a general rule the amount of gear you need is always one less item than you currently own. At the very least you should invest in a spare set of shorts if you intend on riding more than once every few days, because when you’re riding inland you can’t get away with blaming that swampy smell on the seaweed.

3. How do I deal with stressful situations?

Going on a long ride when you are not a cyclist is really terrifying. Especially when you know it’s going to go on for hours, and you will hit the wall and get tired and cranky. Going on a long ride with your workmates will test your ability to keep your big girl pants firmly on when you stress out and want to have a tantrum. Any hardships and stressful situations that you face during this ordeal will be downplayed and internalized on the day, then let out two weeks later in a blog post that you hope none of these people will ever read.

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Happy about this ride with the workmates, it was only 45mins!

I signed up for a 100km charity ride through work, it seemed like a very noble thing to do and I was happy to discover others from my office were also doing the ride. We arrived at the start of the ride in Levin, got on the bicycles and set out into the mist and drizzle that would not lift for the entire day on our journey to Upper Hutt.

One colleague had packed a large bottle of sunscreen in his saddle bag, perhaps just in case he needed some extra moisture to masturbate at the traffic lights, as those wanker cyclists tend to do. Another ‘hadn’t trained for a year’ he said, but something was keeping him well ahead of the pack. Was it pride? Having ridden a bike before? A more senior position in the office? Padded pants? We will never know.

The 5 hour, 120km ride was damp, dank, and dreary in parts but we pulled through as a team and managed to do our first 100km on the bike. I managed to remain positive when I really wanted to cry and swear and sit on the side of the road. I didn’t say a single four letter word, spit, or launch any snot rockets in front of my workmates, you can’t do that in front of the people you work with.

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1-0-0 Kilometres!

4. Can I fix my own bike?

If you are going on a long ride you should at least learn how to change your own tyre. Some problems though you can’t plan for, like your chain going completely dry because you didn’t bring any oil. Oh wait you can plan for that, bring your own dam oil! Spit might be hailed as a magic lube but it doesn’t work in this situation. Have a cyclist friend on speed dial so that you can call them from outside the Palmerston Pub and ask how to fix your gears or if the butter from your sandwiches will work as chain lube.

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5. How often will I need to stop for smoko?

Taking breaks on a long ride is awesome. You can pop in to the bakery and get a danish. Clip across the linoleum in the petrol station and get a pie. Get a coffee. Take a thoughtful poo mostly naked with your bib shorts around your ankles. Break time is great!

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Sweet sweet pastry

When break time is not great is when break time is over and you have to get back on the bike. Too many minutes spent selecting a pastry delight in Brumby’s Bakery has let the blood flow back into your ‘down below’ and the numbness has dissipated. After 100kms in the saddle, trying to get comfortable on the seat again is futile. It feels like you’re sitting on top of that over stuffed ham roll you saw in the bakery cabinet, or perhaps that burning hot crusted up and calloused sausage roll with bits of meat hanging out the side that was flaking fragile bits of pastry onto the floor.

Limit your time spent in the bakery and make sure you get back on the bike before your circulation comes back, for fanny’s sake.

Happy Riding


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Down Snakes Up Ladders and Through Donut Holes

Amanda, if things go OK this week then we can get back on track. Kevin

My coach doesn’t say much, he doesn’t need to. Those few words blinking through my email last Sunday afternoon made me so happy. Eight weeks of careful rehab, physiotherapy, rest, and slowly building my mileage back up were worth it. Patience is the best cure for an injury, and I had nailed it.

What better way to celebrate that news than with a trail run up Makara Peak?

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How good is Makara!

I ran easy up the hill, and stopped at the peak to chat to the mountain bikers before choosing Zac’s Track for my descent. I took it slowly since the track was a bit overgrown, and was loving picking my way down through the loose rocks and rutted clay, splashing through the small streams left from last night’s rain.

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The view from Makara Peak, invisible about 60% of the time

Fifty minutes in to the run, and just five metres from the end of the trail my left ankle rolled on a small stone and went POP! ‘That’s new’ I thought, and came to a stop. ‘Drat!’ I said, and with a furrowed brow walked to the end of the trail, down the road, and back to my car at Karori park. Ah well, you win some you lose some.

That’s not actually what happened. As soon as I went over and felt a pop I could tell it was bad, bitch ankle had killed my vibe. I screamed ‘You FUCKER!’ in a throaty voice usually reserved for yelling at a wayward Huntaway that’s driving sheep the wrong way, and pulled up waiting for the pain to subside.

I limped down that hill sadly and slowly, reciting a rosary of unholy things and thinking about the track season that I would miss yet again. You absolute fucker.

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Slightly chubby left ankle

I already had a physio appointment about my pelvic injury so didn’t even need to call about my ankle, planned that one well. After being poked and prodded on that fat foot it was decided that the lack of pain and the floundering motion that my ankle exhibited pointed to me having completely lost the ATFL ligament.

Running is a lot like snakes and ladders, sometimes you have huge wins and make big gains and it’s great! You’re always reaching for your goal, but inevitably you’re going to land on a snake once and a while and have a setback. Running is unlike snakes and ladders in that you can’t easily cheat and wipe the board clear if you’re having a bad game.

My friend Steve, who has been running and coaching for years said to me this week;

‘Keep your eyes on the donut and not on the hole’

In other words think about all of the things that you have, and not the things you don’t. It can seem unfair that just when you get over one challenge, another one comes up.

If anyone can handle it though, it’s me. If anyone can take that in their stride, work through it, and still want to keep running, keep reaching for their goal, it’s me.

If anyone can stay quiet when the group chat is blowing up about a race next weekend and not *leave conversation*, it’s maybe me…

If anyone can not own a bike for 16 years then drop $1,100 on a bike that’s far too flash for what they need just because it’s shiny, that’s also me. Add in brand new kit, some shoes, all of those pumps and holders and lever-what-evers you need, my new years resolution to save more money has gone wherever the hell that ligament went. I have somehow absorbed them both into nothingness.

Nobody really needs ligaments in their ankle or lots of savings in their bank account.

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Side Bae

Meet me new bike! That I may or may not ride. I am posting a photo here so people know that I own it and when they see me not riding it they can buy it from me. Store that knowledge for later please.

Prior to this my cycling experience has mostly involved wineries. I have been for three bike rides with this bike so far. My bicycle tutor has been very patient but is using a lot of language that I am unfamiliar with and need to decipher.

‘Transfer your weight’ – Said as I hit a high curb at speed, I think I felt deep down what the issue was here.

‘Put it in an easier gear’ – The n00b has come to a complete stop trying to ride up a hill. But which button is the easy button? Does the big gear make it harder or easier? ‘USE LOGIC AMANDA!’

I’m not even going to talk about the M.C. Escher experience that was tyre changing, ‘Pull it back towards you then push it down.’ Which way is down?

Cycling is alright, like anything it’s a bit hard to begin with but I am sure once I get past the wind, the feeling of wearing a large padded taco on my taco, the lack of friends to ride with, and coming 1,797th on Strava segments I am sure it will become enjoyable.

If it doesn’t you might score a cheap bike.

 


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Getting to know your groin- Pelvic injury #2

I’ve managed to get another pelvic injury just in time for summer!  I’d like everyone to get to know my groin even more intimately because it might help you out if you have the misfortune of getting these symptoms too.

It’s because of my injuries that I know any words with more than four letters, and I’d like to teach you about the latest one I have added to my repertoire, osteitis pubis! These two words have made me even more intoxicated by the exuberance of my own verbosity than I was when I learned how to spell phlegm in 3rd form.

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Me and my pelvis in happier times at the Auckland Marathon with my friend Emma

It took a few weeks of odd symptoms before I was in any real pain with this injury. When your stomach hurts during a run you have to determine if it is discomfort from an impending poo, period pain, or (aghast!) a serious injury! My first symptom was that I had sore abdominal muscles to the point that it hurt me to laugh, a grave issue for one so hilarious.

My adductors were getting really tight after running, and no amount of stretching would loosen them off, my legs just wanted to snap closed. I blame my excessive chaffing during the Auckland Half Marathon on these tight adductors.82651-Goldmember-tight-meme-toight-l-CAuh.png

On a long run one Sunday my groin area started to really hurt. I stopped to stretch and started to palpate the area with my finger tips, assuring my friends that I was not taking a break to masturbate. I shuffled back home in pain and cut the run short, something was definitely not right.

I went to see my physiotherapist Fiona and once I told her my symptoms she confirmed what I may or may not have been googling before my appointment-

OSTEITIS PUBIS- an overuse injury characterised by tissue damage and inflammation to the pelvis at the site where the two pubic bones join, resulting in sharp pain right down the centre of your fajita. It is caused by repeated trauma, such as running 140km a week, however, it is not uncommon for a specific incident to trigger the symptoms.

Possible causes of Osteitis Pubis- (taken from reputable medical source)

  • Skipping your scheduled Brazillian wax for two months and having a larger than usual amount of pubies on your pubis
  • Repeated trauma to the Pelvis including running 396km in a month, roundhouse kicking people to the face, and vigorous mating
  • Wearing one old shoe that has done 900km on your left foot and a brand new shoe on your right foot, for a few months before you realise it’s a bad idea to buy identical shoes
  • Running in reverse and falling backwards over the top of a park bench, landing hard on your PELVIS resulting in trauma.
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Resulting bruises from park bench bashing

I have a suspicion that it was the park bench incident that caused this injury, and the above bruises that hung around for so long that I bought new socks to match with them.

To make sure I got lots of tips for a speedy recovery I went to see the podiatrist who said that I need to strengthen my glutes, specifically my right one.

‘So exactly how weak are they, how much will I need to strengthen them?’

‘For the left one, ideally around 400%’

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Four H U N D R E D? Not like four? Ya sure about that?

I’ve been managing my injury by doing the following:

Cutting out all speed work

Taking a rest day if I have any pain whatsoever

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Buying new running gear. GOLD running gear.

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Running on soft surfaces

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Running for fun instead of racing

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Binge drinking the night before a race so that the urge to regurgitate my drive-thru McChicken is greater than my urge to run fast

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Aquatic jogging

I really dislike aqua jogging. The only thing good about it is watching people flailing about in the slow lane. Don’t get me wrong, I would look just as bad trying to move through water. But I’m not, I’m watching other people suck at it, and I will enjoy frantically paddling and barely moving, supported by my bright blue foam belt, bobbing around upright and superior amongst the elderly. You also need to have sorted out your two months of skipped brazillians if you are going to be wearing swimming togs.

Because I have been running for a few years now, I know my body and I know when something is not right. I know the difference between pain and discomfort, and in this case that has saved me from potential months off running because I went to the physio as soon as I was in pain. I am managing this injury well, and plan to be running a little bit over the summer then back in to high intensity and higher mileage before my friend Hinano gets too fit and steals back all my Strava CR’s (So April at the very latest!).

Hip -Hip Hooray for Pelvis recovery!


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What happens when your thighs rub together 16,320 times

When picking an event to race, the first thing to look at is the previous years race photos. Are they flattering? Do they have nice backgrounds? Do the people look like they are having a good time? Are they sporting an angry red patch on their crotch?

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Potential promotional photo for #AKLHalf2017 where crotch is hidden

This year is the second year in a row I have run the Auckland Marathon half marathon, it’s got to be good if you come back year after year right? It’s a great race with plenty to like, but does have it’s downsides.

CON The race is so early in the morning that you forget to put chamois cream on to your creamy white thighs.

PRO The field is always competitive. If your goal is to do your best, set your sights far ahead and compete with the best. Watch the pre-race rituals and warm ups of the elites, stand next to them on the start line and think that one day you’ll be there too.

CON You don’t have a shit show of making the podium.

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PRO The girl on the banner has nice teeth

PRO They give prizes for every placing in the top ten! Few races do this, so when you are not on the podium you can be looking at it holding your brand spanking new ASICS shoe bag and drink bottle. Cheyeaaaah.

PRO The race is one of the few that supports elite athletes to come and compete and gives great prize money ($2,500 for first place in the half marathon, yes please).

CON The elite standard for the ladies half marathon is 77 minutes. Fewer than ten kiwi women run under that time in any given year so your chances of missing the checkin for your free Jetstar flight to Tāmaki Makaurau are slim.

CON The race T-shirts this year were extremely small, and most people found they couldn’t wear it.

PRO Mine fits me so I don’t give a shit.

My coach suggested that I enter the Auckland Half marathon and I agreed because he had just told me about watching Peter Snell break the mile record in 1962 and it was totes #inspo so off I went and entered myself.

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With Kevin at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui (he is the one with the stop watch)

In the build up to this race Kevin coached me to hit the biggest mileage I’ve done so far, and I definitely felt it. 130-140km in a week is a lot of work and I have a lot of respect for anyone who is cranking out 100 mile weeks.

It was surprising how quickly my body got use to it, but my mind couldn’t quite keep the pace. There was that one awkward time that I burst in to tears in the middle of a track workout, I had no mental strength left to push myself through another rep. That’s my new intimidation tactic, bawl in front of the other harriers clubs while they are doing km reps to try and put them off.

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I used the Waterfront 5km races as speed sessions and managed to take a further 35 seconds off my 5km PB in the build up. The more I dropped my mileage the better my legs felt, and I got faster and faster. Seeing your hard work start to show in race results is a great confidence builder; you know that you’re doing things right.

Because of this I was feeling good about my race, so confident in fact that I said (out loud and on social media) that I wanted to run 83.30! Because of this cockyness I wasn’t nervous at all up until I was waiting in line for the Portaloos at 6.35am, 15 minutes before the race was due to start.

I warmed up properly and did a few strides, threw my old merino top into a tree because I’m frivolous and #YOLO (sooo 2014) and went to the start line to figure out the least awkward way to do a standing Garmin start without tripping over.

The first part of the marathon and half marathon course is undulating so it’s very hard to run at an even pace. I was running about 50m behind Rachel Kingstone, someone I only briefly saw the back of at last years’ race and this time I was almost keeping up!

I was still behind her 13km in to the race when two other female runners and a guy in a Spiderman morph suit overtook me, and I just let them go ahead. I was feeling a dejected, I was not going to run 1.23.30, not even close! But the bridge was in sight. When is it not in sight? It’s 3,348ft long . At this point I resigned myself to just enjoying the race, ah well, things don’t always go to plan and you don’t always have a good run.

Hold on, I trained fucking hard for this race. I ran until I cried, I got a huge 5km PB, nailed some tough workouts, and I did my biggest ever weeks of training. You can’t let yourself down at this last challenge Amanda, don’t do that to yourself. You worked so hard up until now so dig it in and give it heaps.

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I ran harder and caught up with them. One dropped off, two more in front. When someone is within sight they are a target. Always be looking ahead to see who you can pick off, it’s a race, bitch.

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In the background you will see the white and blue singlets belonging to my nemeses from 1km ago who are now not my nemesis because I be beating them

Wellingtonians are ace at running hills, and the Harbour Bridge is a piss poor hill, 43m? Please. I made a move and ran past the two ladies in sight and straight up the bridge, not looking back. This is the place where the photographers are stationed and the reason I picked this race, great photos!

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Strategically placed race number to cover up horrific chafe from lack of box gap

I ran the last 5km as hard as I could, my legs were stinging with chafe, I was sniffing up boogers, spitting on the road, panting, groaning, and through all of that my lipstick stayed plastered to my face like a shining beacon of hot pink hope. I wear it in races because I think it makes me look slightly better in the pictures. It totally does…

I crossed the line in 1.25.10, a PB by three minutes on that course and I only just managed to beat Spiderman in his morph suit, who as it turns out was the same morph-suited male from last year’s race!

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‘Look cool’ – ok.

I sat down in the grass in Victoria Park and surveyed the damage to my inner thighs. There was blood all over my Nike Pros so it looked like I had been surfing the crimson wave and neglecting to use sanitary products. No worries guys, it’s just a bit of skinless thigh! Not only tasty but easy on your wallet (cheaper than breast) and can be baked grilled and slow cooked.

The chafe was excruciating. I waddled back to the hotel to scream in the shower while Hiro and Ayesha got ready to go to lunch. I swaggered in to the cafe and sat with my legs wide to try and stop my tights sticking in to the raw flesh. I hobbled into a pharmacy and asked for bandages, and if there was a place inside that I could pull down my pants to see if the plasters were the right size.

‘No sorry, you can’t pull your pants down in here.’

On that inhospitable note, I still think Auckland is a nice place to go to run a half marathon and I will be back again next year in the hopes that I can race with a blood-free nether region.

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Looking for bananas

Full results

My run on Strava (as proof that it did actually happen)


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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.