My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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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.


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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


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Auckland Half Marathon, rugby etc.

OMG The Auckland Marathon! I just like did not know what to wear. I literally could not even pick which shorts made my butt look the best BECAUSE IT LOOKS GREAT IN ANYTHING. Butt really. I had trained hard for this event, and I had thoughtlessly dressed myself, in clothing, before each run so why was this any different. Because of the cameras of course!

I changed my outfit four times

I changed my outfit four times

On Sunday the 1st of November 2015, the whole of New Zealand was wide awake. At least that is how it seemed on my way to the start line of the Auckland Marathon. This race includes a half marathon, a 12km traverse and a 5km event and this year it also doubled as the New Zealand Marathon Championships. This was good news for me as it meant a lot of the faster runners had entered the championship event and I had a better chance of placing in the half. Thanks ladies!

It was Halloween the night before so zombie brides and sugar skulls were staggering about at 5am down near the waterfront. Irate, peroxide totally-sober-what-are-you-on-about women were screaming at bouncers that they ‘weren’t even pissed man you’re being a c***’ let me back in to the bar’. Sprinkle in a few piles of fresh and festive vomit, and a few thousand runners, dorky as always with skinny legs jutting out of shorts bouncing towards the ferry terminal and this completed the picture.

The ferry ride to the start line

The ferry ride to the start line

The atmosphere at the start line was unlike any other race I’ve been to. The majority of people were not warming up for the race using the traditional method of jogging, stride outs and dynamic stretches; they were sitting down fixated on the big screen playing the Rugby World Cup final, leaping in to the air at regular intervals with arms flailing, roaring excitedly at the screen. The Kiwis were taking on the Aussies, Ma’a Nonu had just scored and the runners erupted in to the air with cheers. The two shits I gave about rugby had been left in a portaloo shortly after I got to Devonport so I went off to warm up and left the fans to their game.

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Dan kick the ball kick the ball Dan ball Dan ball.

Warming up near the star line were all the elite athletes who look like thoroughbreds, meanwhile you struggle to adjust your shorts and your undies and try to look like you know what you’re doing here. What was going through my head: Should I have worn these shoes? I haven’t raced in ASICS, are they too heavy? Too pink? Oh my god I’m wearing pink and red. What if I chafe really badly? Should I be this far towards the front? The girl next to me is wearing makeup, ha, what a dick. I wonder if my lipstick will stay on for the whole race *smoldering pout*.

Camille Buscombe warming up

Camille Buscomb warming up before going on to whinny the race

Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau! Hī!

The gun went, the legs went, the fast people went out fast, the eager people went out fast, the person with the pink shoes and red lipstick stumbled forward, right had on left wrist to start the Garmin, 21.1km to go!

The first part of the course is undulating. I thought it would be easy as I run a lot of hills but it was neigh. As we came up to the first photographer I was running behind a guy wearing a camouflage Morph Suit, and right next to a bronzed Amazon goddess with abs and a long blonde ponytail. Like hell am I being in a photo with these two freaks! I hid behind another runner until the danger had passed, race photos are never flattering but are even less so when you are running with a model and a guy who is taking the piss but running faster than you.

My legs felt tight for the first 12km but I made myself stick to around a 4.11 pace. People kept passing me but that was fine, you have to run your own race and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I knew I would pass them later anyway (Their lipstick game was non-existent and their shoes weren’t fly AF).

Running up the Harbor Bridge

Running up the Harbour Bridge

When I saw the Harbour bridge I got a massive runboner, finally one big hill and not all these silly undulations! Somewhere a few kms back the All Blacks had won the World Cup, oh how exciting. I was focused now, Morph Suit guy was in my sights so it was time to catch him and redeem myself from the shame of being beaten by someone in costume. I had a gel that I likely didn’t need but things that taste like lollies make me happy and therefore I run better.

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Very Athlete. Much photogenic. Wow.

The final 5km is flat and fast, I could see three females in the race ahead of my, ponytails swinging, beckoning to be scalped. I caught them in the last 1500m and ran at the pace I wished I could run the entire race at, trying to focus on my form and not smearing my lipstick.

As I came up to the finish line I could see my personal best time tick over the time display ahead of me, I crossed the line in 1.28.06. If the world hadn’t stopped turning for 1 minute and 6 seconds of overtime in the RWC I would have run a PB for sure. Hopefully that ball game doesn’t clash with my run game again in the future.

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I placed 9th in a field of 2,810 which makes me sound like a hero because that is heaps of people, like almost five times the number of friends I have on Facebook. Full results for the race are here.

FEELINGS ARE YAY

I feel really happy with how I ran this race, my splits were pretty even, I ran 11 seconds slower than my personal best time and finished feeling (and looking) great. I haven’t raced a half marathon since June 2014 as I got a pelvic stress fracture shortly after that race. It feels good to be back at what was my peak level of fitness and I’m grateful for all the help I had from people to get back on track. Time to run faster now!

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Super kawaiiiiii

I’d like to say a huge thank you to my thighs for not chafing, my lovely friend Emma for looking after me all weekend, Ayesha for being in a lot of post-marathon pain which made me feel better about my own situation, and ASICS for letting me try out these pink shoes! But please make them red in future.


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Wellington Road Champs

The course is crap! It sucks! Hilly, out and back out and back, just a 2km loop. IN WAINUI! They have like, NO decent cafes in Wainui.

The Wellington Road running champs are held on a back road in the back of the back of nowhere every year in mid-August. This is an Athletics NZ race between the local clubs, and unlike Round The Bays or the Wellington Marathon this 10km race is small but it is fierce and the competition is a lot tougher.

Having just spent a month on holiday, then a few weeks just not training properly I had low expectations for this race. I bought myself a very large donut from Flight Coffee on my way out to Wainui and  I promised myself that if I came in the top five that I could eat the donut. It was almost the size of my hand, iced with chocolate on one side and icing on the other. It smelled good, it looked good, and I needed to earn it.

I warmed up for the race, realised I’d forgotten my timing chip among other things so rectified that and jogged over to the start line, putting myself next to Michelle Van Looy who had hickies all over her back, it was her anniversary she explained (It was needling :P).

The race started and Nicole Mitchell went off to run a solo race while seven or eight of us formed a little pod of 40-41 minute dolphins and chased and paced and ‘eeeeahahahehed’ each other up and down the course. The first kilometre is slightly uphill, then you go back down, so it’s a good 15 seconds difference in each lap for most people.

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

It’s a great course in that you can see exactly what place you are and wave at the leading ladies as you try not to get lapped by them. You can see who is strong on the up and down hill sections and bank this to use in the final lap. It’s also great for spectators who yell little bits of advice as you come past ‘Stay on them, speed up, don’t let her go’.

The dolphins started to drift apart around 6km in and I, being a social dolphin, stayed with the little pack because there is safety in numbers and I always worry about blowing up and not being able to finish. 1500m from the end I thought to myself, ‘This is a race Amanda, why are you being conservative, just race it!’ So I ran a little bit harder, managed to get ahead of the pod and move up four or so placings, I locked eyes on Lindsay who is the least donut-looking person I know but in that moment she became the target, the goal, the delicious baked good with two kinds of glazed icing rolling down the road in front of me. I managed to come in to finish in 5th place by only one second. The donut was mine.

Andrea thinks I’m a donut too

I improved my time ever so slightly from my last 10km race and ran 40.49 so panted and stumbled around the finish line telling anyone who would listen, limping slightly, and grinning about the baking I was going to eat. Full results are here!

Ayesha and Me

We stayed on to watch the men’s race, but they ran too fast for me to know what was going on or who was who except at the end when I thought Nick Horspool was smiling cheerfully as he went down the finishing chute to take the win. When I look back at the photos it was a bit of an Anthony Hopkins in the Shining smile rather than a happy smile. This tells me that we all do look super atheltic and awesome and happy when we run (in real life) and it’s just the photos that make everyone look murderous.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Donut
  • 14 second PB!
  • Battle scar
  • I BEAT CARL
  • Going to nationals this weekend

    How will I colour coordinate stained Nikes? 😭

    *If I had come sixth I would have still eaten the donut but would have salted it with my tears before consuming.