My Romance With Running

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Takahe to Akaroa – NZRR 2018

This year National Road Relays was run from Sign of the Takahe to Akaroa, 76 kilometres over the hills of Christchurch with stunning views that nobody ever remembers seeing because they are running too hard.

From the moment the team lists came out from Athletics Canterbury, the messenger chat tones started to ding with predictions of who would come out the victors. Teams would change with people pulling out due to injuries, but the respect the Scottish ladies have for captain Lindsay Barwick meant that nobody DARED to get injured (or not fly all the way to Dunners at 8.30 on Friday night then drive to Christchurch and arrive at 3am to make the start line), and so the Scottish teams remained perfectly intact.

UC had the strongest line up featuring Olympian Angie Petty, several national medalists, world mountain runner Sabrina Grogan, that Barwick-sized Scottish lass that smashed the NI XC course, ex-Scottish member Ariana Harper, and the legendary Fiona Crombie who holds the women’s course records for both lap 3 AND 5.

Bays Athletics were down two entire teams after a win in 2017, and their B team taking a solid 5th. They were missing a few key members with Annika Pfitzinger in the US, and Lydia O’Donnell and Esther Keown busy elsewhere racing and promoting Anchor Protein+ which unlike most flavoured milk drinks, contains no added sugar. After a bit of digging around the ANZ rankings site it was clear that they still had the depth to place, but sadly it was looking like this year’s Instagram boomerangs would not be from the very top of the podium.

To Scottish’s delight the Hamilton Hawks had lost Nicole Mitchell, but definitely had the best cartoonist in the field with Dawn Tuffery. Alaina Brent had finally broken ties with WHAC to strengthen the Hawks line up, but some of their top performers from 2017 were missing.

The North Canterbury team would take way too much admin to stalk results for so it was assumed that they would not be an immediate threat to the podium, and they flew under the radar/ thousand foot long irrigator like tumbleweeds with really nice drought-coloured hair.

Scottish’s arch rivals WHAC have a solid line up every year, and this year was no exception. Their team included new seniors Maiya Christini and Kelsey Foreman, who make other seniors look forward to their 35th birthday. They had recently lost Mel Black to injury, Alice Wilson to the Middle East, and with Sarah Drought slowed down by about 4% heading in to her third trimester, would they still have the edge to make the podium?

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WHaction shot of poster girl Letha-l Whitham showing why you should always be weary of WHAC

Scottish had the strongest A team in recent history and looked to be in with a medal chance for silver or bronze. The years of the ‘A’ team being last by twenty full minutes were gone. Captain Lindsay Barwick (who is not quiet) had been quietly working away all year to form a team. It included NZ Master’s record holder Tina Faulkner, national 10,000 medallist Ayesha Shafi, trail specialist that will also beat you on any other surface Ruby Muir, and the perfectly tanned Nicole Mitchell who happened to not be in Bali that weekend.

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The Scottish SW A Team ❤

But the real competition would be at the back of the field for 7th and 8th. Our neighbours to the north, Olympic Harriers were rumoured to be Riceman-ing together a team, and special dispensation had been obtained to run some junior women in the senior grade. A club plagued with mutli-sporters they had convinced Grace Seely to ditch the mountain bike and Jo Doherty to take a trip to Christchurch to show the rest of the field what your upper body can look like if you care to use it.

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The team for the B-babez to B-eat, Olympic Harriers

As the only person who had run Takahe to Akaroa before, I was bestowed the honour of B team captain. I quickly set up a group chat with my team and somewhat less painfully than the other birth I’d witnessed this year, the B-Babez were born.

A coffee roaster, a self-described choreographer, a vegan, a baby. On paper the team did not look like a threat to any race records, but you don’t need to be fast to be legendary.

Emma Bassett gave us the early lead over Olympic on lap one, 4km steady uphill then a rapid descent with undulations to finish this 9.6km lap. The hint of nervousness I detected the night before the race disappeared as she pounded down the hill, hooning through the changeover while pointing at things to feign confusion.

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DEAD LEGS – FRESH PEGS

Olympic had harnessed the hurricane that is Deb Lynch for lap two- a long 10.4km with a large climb to Gebbies Valley. Every Scottish team has an import and thankfully we had the budget this year to ship Clare McKinlay across from the UK for lap two. Head to head with Deb on this lap, the triathlete’s strength gave Olympic the lead heading in to lap 3.

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Danielle Trewoon, amping after 80 minutes in a confined van shaking with drum and bass was fully committed to getting back to her stash of VB as fast as possible, and ran close to a PB on the flat 10km lap 3. Grabbing the lead back from Olympic this gave Jaime Vessiot a two minute head start heading in to lap 4.

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Ten points if you guess who has just finished their lap

The juniors proved how indispensable those dispensations were with Emma Douglass dominating the 9.4km lap 4 to give Olympic the lead again. With the head Riceman Sarah set to run lap five it was looking like the B-Babez would be but a distant memory in Olympic’s race recap. On the longest lap number 5, Kate Slater tackled the headwind for 10.7km and made sure that Sarah was never more than a few hundred metres ahead.

Meanwhile….

At the lap 5/6 change-over Charlotte Riceman and myself stood peering down the road into the distance, past the other waiting teams, past a cow giving birth in the paddock, past Nick Horspool lying in the long grass in a foetal position, awaiting our team members to arrive.

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Thoughts and prayers x

‘I can’t see her coming, is she coming?’

‘Don’t think so…?’

‘No I literally can’t see, I’m pretty much blind, can you tell me if you see Sarah?’

What would happen if I didn’t? Would I witness a guttural scream from Sarah alerting Charlotte to her arrival? Would she straight mow her sister down in to the gravel and run her over?

As these scenarios played out beneath my neatly pigtailed head Sarah ran (quite fabulously) in to sight and Charlotte moved to the middle of the changeover then off towards the 6km long hill.

A few minutes went by as I nervously waited for Kate to arrive, and when she did she was giving it everything. There is nothing quite as motivating to set you up to run a great race as witnessing someone digging deep and putting in work for the team.

I took the flax baton, painted in Scottish red, yellow and black and set off to run the hill that has DOUBLE the elevation of the Makara hill climb.

The men’s teams were all catching up at this stage so I had multiple cheer squads on my lap. ‘Good job Amanda!’. Support is nice, but what really works for me is a bit of Britney.

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Up, up, up, around sweeping corners with views down a valley that I couldn’t enjoy because my eyes were crusting up with sweat. At least I knew Charlotte wouldn’t be seeing any of it either. I kept looking at the distance on my watch, half way, oh dear.

Brendon and Elliot were cheering for me along the way, only because they like my boobs (which looked massive in the company of runners) and I finally caught up to Charlotte with 300m to go.

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As I crested the hill, Naomi Christensen was waiting at the changeover ready to sacrifice her quads on the 9.5km downhill lap seven. As Naomi descended in to hell, Emma came up with a bag of Jaffas because she is the best person in the world and offered me a handful in exchange for the details of my lap time. A victory for the ladies, we had beaten the Scottish SM D team runner by two minutes*.

Meg Fahy had stipulated in the lap selection conversation that she did not like ‘uphills’. Taking that quite literally, Meg was given lap 8. It wasn’t just uphills. There had been murmurs within the team pre-race that this was the hardest lap, and very hilly. I calmly waved these aside and flat out lied about how easy the lap was, because sometimes that’s what you have to do. Two weeks of stressing about a run? Or 50 minutes of awful pain in your legs and hatred directed at your team captain?

Olympic had Jo Doherty on their final leg so unless the loud screaming from their van popped one of her eardrums, setting her off balance and sending her down a cliff into the harbour, our battle for 7th and 8th was all but over. Meg was a champion over the hills and arrived in Akaroa looking a bit like ‘What the fuck’ and charged across the finish line to bring our team home in 5.48.54.

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The gorgeous happy fizzers that are the B-Babez + confused lion cub mascot

Our team was 8th behind Olympic, we bettered the last Scottish A team’s result from 2015 by 13 minutes, and we were the B team! With the new depth within the club’s women’s section it won’t be long until we achieve the notoriety of our men’s sections B-Boys.

Our SW A team did win bronze, their first medal since 2014 on this same course, and 8 minutes faster than the bronze medal winners of 2014!

 

 

Full results are here, Scottish cleaned up in the men’s races but perhaps most impressively, there were 14 teams from across every club in Wellington on the podiums. Seeing the familiar faces from inter-club events, track sessions at Newtown Park and casual runs around the bays beaming from the podium, cheering for their team, collapsing with relief at the finish line and celebrating with their mates shows what an incredible running community we have in the capital city.

Our club Scottish came away with top club for 2018, a great result for the 16 teams and 130 or so runners and supporters who travelled to Christchurch for the weekend.

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Scottish Harriers- Top Club 2018!

Note*A late challenge was put fourth to the Scottish B-Babez by the senior men’s D team. They may have beaten us on total time but we bettered them on laps 1, 3, 6 & 7. They can call that a victory if they like but I’m yet to see any nail art or baby mascots from them so…

 

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Wairarapa Womens 100

On the 15th of September 2018, women all over the world rode their bikes together as part of the Rapha Women’s 100. Being in New Zealand we were lucky enough to be one of the first to complete the ride, and had the privilege of doing it around the rolling hills of the Wairarapa on a sunny day.

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What a day for it!

The Wairarapa Women’s 100 is a non-competitive cycling event hosted by Traction Fitness to celebrate women’s riding. It begins in Martinborough at the Village Cafe then goes out for a 66km loop around Gladstone, back through Martinborough then out for a final 35km loop around Greytown.

 I’ve never entered a cycling event before this one, they all seemed a bit intimidating and I was never sure if I was fit enough or if I had the right gear. The last time I cycled with a large group of females I was at boarding school, and that was just every 28 days, not 100km. The way the event was described made me confident that it would be fun, and that there was no pressure if I got tired and wanted to stop riding.

‘If you have never thought about completing 100 km, start thinking about it – you will never be in the company of so many supportive women cyclists. And if you can’t manage 100 km without stopping, then you don’t have to. You can stop for coffee and cake.’

I have attempted to go on a ‘Easy ride to meet people’ with a bunch of mostly men and a few women. Before we had ridden 3km I was hanging off the back with my heart rate at threshold, trying in between gasps to introduce myself to the other ladies who had also been dropped like some regrettable 2am dance moves in Estab. This heart attack continued for a further 60km.

When we eventually stopped at the cafe, I got there last so was the last person to get my coffee and scone, this was devastating when I had burned matches, lit my curtains on fire and then razed to the ground any remaining energy I had. JUST GIVE ME THAT BUTTERY SCONE NOW! I enjoyed that ride because it was challenging, but it wasn’t easy and I struggled to meet people as I could. Not. Breathe.

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The ‘Easy ride’ where I red lined for 60km.

The Wairarapa Women’s 100 looked like it would actually be easy, and I figured if I do get dropped it doesn’t matter because I know I can handle a tough 60km and just finish at the cafe.

On the day there were three starting groups based on a description of how you feel and how you want your day to go, rather than a specific time. This was great because as someone who has never done a cycling event, I had no idea how long it would take me to ride 100km. I picked the last start group;

‘You will have completed a 100 km ride before & although not feeling 100% will know you can do it with encouragement :)’

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The start of the ride! People in matching kit make me nervous.

We set off along the quiet roads winding through vineyards that I had last ridden along 9 glasses of wine deep, and I thought how great it was to return here and have the same level of enjoyment with just water, and a way fancier bike.

Within half an hour our starting group of 30 had split in to a few smaller pelotons (am I using the right word?) and my group formed a sassy little chain gang.

Riding 40km an hour rotating through the group and taking turns at the front, I felt amazing, it was so cool! I felt so privileged to be among a group of strong, badass lady cyclists all sharing the work, encouraging and motivating each other. We also looked out for each other when aggro motorcyclists tried to scare us shitless by riding extremely close and tooting. Jokes on you, man, no matter how scared I got I wasn’t going to shit in my new Rapha kit.

We went through the 66km loop in just over two hours, I couldn’t believe how fast it was. Riding in a bunch is so much easier, and more fun, than riding alone. From around 50km I had run out of water, I tried to drink a lot to keep up my milk supply with feeding baby E. I was so looking forward to seeing her at the end of the first loop and expected her to be needing me, or at the least happy to see me. She didn’t care.

I quickly got my kit off in a non-sexy using my mammaries to feed my child sort of way, made easier by my awesome Cadenshae feeding bra, and baby E had a wee tipple of the nipple.

Because I stopped my fast group had all sailed straight through on to their second lap, so I set out on my own for the final 34km. Half way around a group of amazing ladies caught up to me so I tagged on the back and so began another little coordinated effort, taking turns to lead and chatting about riding.

I managed to finish the 100km in about 3 hours 20 minutes, which is how long it takes me to do 70km around Wellington on my own! You can see the route on Strava here.

I was worried about being able to feed four month-old Baby E on this ride as she won’t take a bottle, but that turned out not to be an issue at all. The Village cafe was the perfect place to stop off and do this. I was also a bit worried about riding for so long with my period #ladyproblems but that was a non-issue as well. I used a cup for the first time and it was hassle free, I didn’t notice it at all.

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My Girl

I had an amazing day out riding with cool new people in a beautiful new place. It gave me a lot of confidence in my abilities, and I rode 100km! The event was casual in atmosphere but super organised so that we had all the information and guidance that we needed to make it a fun and stress-free day on the road. Everyone was very supportive, from the guy who made sure we were taking the right turns on the road, to the riders, my awesome partner, the guy who put my chain back on while I was breastfeeding and the cafe staff, everything was ka pai! 10/10 Would recommend!

 


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Round and Round and Round The Bays

I haven’t told many people about my first time. Have you?

It’s always going to be a bit embarrassing, but it is a rite of passage that we all must pass through. Your first time will always hold a special place in your memory. A painful, awkward, sometimes shameful place, but it is a starting point from which you learn and grow. For some it puts them off ever wanting to do it again. But some of us get hooked.

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My first time! Round The Bays Half Marathon in 2013

The first proper race I ran was Round The Bays in Wellington and I’ve been back every single year since that first magic run. For the past four years it has been in support of other runners, and this year, even though I wasn’t fit, and I was certain to be slow and perhaps less fabulous looking than other years, I wanted to run it again!

2013My first half marathon, 1.38.09 and dead legs for a week. Alexandra Williams won the women’s race in 78.15, who were all these crazy fast runners? Reading this list again today, those names are some of my best friends and training partners. Was it worth the hours of training that summer and the pain for a week afterwards? A thousand times over.

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2013 – My friend Emmatron made me this cool sign!

2014 – I came to the event as a supporter and pushed Naomi Sparrow in the buggy around the Bays while Mum and Dad raced. I didn’t tip her out onto the road and didn’t trip anyone over so will call it a victory!

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2014 – We chucked a few stones on course and cheered for Emily and James

2015 – I ran alongside my friend Hinano to pace the 50 minute group for the 10km, I would post a picture of us looking fly AF and matching strides but they cost $30 for one photo. Ah, race photos.

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2015 – Post race with Sarah, Emily and Naomi

2016 – I had real job this year, pacing the 10km. I run-commuted in to the city, paced, then finished off a long run totalling 28km. I look quite happy about it too.

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2016 – Pacing the 10km aided by Yuliya

2017 – Was spent pacing the Half Marathon 1.40 group. I was coming off an injury and pah-robably should not have run this fast. At the 17km point things got a bit rough but I made it across the line in 1.40.11 which is only half a second slow per kilometre, pacing is hard! I was also an ambassador for the event this year and met a lot of very cool people in the process.

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2017 – Most enjoyable half marathon I’ve ever run!

2018 – Round The Bays run in Wellington looked to be a race where I ran mid-pack and faded into the crowds. Wait, what does fade mean? If I can’t earn my way on to the podium as a means of directing attention to myself there are plenty of other ways I can do it.

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2018 had the best lighting

IMPORTANT RACE PLANNING

The thing that concerned me most about this race was what I was going to wear. My Scottish club singlet was now riding up over my belly button (an outie, I have an outie). Most of my shorts are tight to the point of being uncomfortable and give me little love handles and 100% of my sports bras are too small but since boobies are still a novelty I am yet to replace them.

I went for the only club top that remotely fitted me and paired it with red Ruby Woo lippy, Mr B’s flash new Giro cycling socks and a red tutu. The result was fabulous.

RACE DAY

I planned to run this race with the 50minute pace group of JT, Rampant Lion who is always keen for a scandalous chat, and Peter Murmu, another of my Scottish team mates. The thing is, when the starting gun went off we were well back from the timing mat. I had a good 12-15 seconds to make up if I was going to hit exactly 50 minutes for my gun time. Gun time is the real time, it’s the official race time and this was an official race for me god damn it.

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Ditch the boys

I set off at a manageable pace and within the first 2 kilometres passed a lot of the people who got far too excited and went out at 4min pace when they are a 50 minute runner. Not me, years of experience and a large tummy takes a bit of that eager premmie pace out of the legs.

I didn’t run balls to wall, just fast enough to be making some sort of effort but not puffing too much or putting too much strain on my body since it was carrying another smaller body inside of it. I passed a few people in the race who would eye me and the belly, attempt to overtake again, then concede defeat and disappear after a few hundred metres. I heard someone yell at me ‘You go Big Mama!’, that’s a new one.

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I got to the wind needle just in time to see all the fast people in their final finishing kilometre for the 10km and half marathon races. It’s always such a buzz to see these faces and cheer for them as they’re busting their nuts/ ovaries while I am floating along like the classiest red balloon you’ve ever seen.

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I’ve made several friends since RTB 2013, this is only like 2% of them.

I finished the race in 47.41 and was 36th female across the line, 10th in my age group. If we further segment the results data I was FIRST AMANDA! Basically I won but there isn’t a prize for it. Kinda hoped I would join Nicole and Ayesha on the podium to make it a Scottish trifecta but I was about 7 minutes behind schedule for that.

I’m looking forward to running this event again next year, hopefully a bit faster! The best thing will be having my little cheer squad at the finish line, or perhaps on course with me if I can find a tiny red tutu and some matching socks for her racing debut.

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Post race fuel at the Spruce Goose


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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.


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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.