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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Multi Day Madness

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

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Colour coordination was the winner on the day

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

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

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

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Photos thanks to Sputnik at iOMerino

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

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

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

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Hi-vis proved it’s worth yet again

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

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

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

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

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The boulder section of the half marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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Tassie Trail Fest Marathon*

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

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The Tarawera toes of Tom Lelievre

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

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

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

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Entrance to the Blue Derby trails

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

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

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

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

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

Just remember you have an awesome tan.

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

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Second toilet stop with 13 minutes until race time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tassie Trail Fest – The prequel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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!

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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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Running in Vietnam – Hoi An & HCMC

Hôi An is a lot smaller than Hanoi with a population of 120,000 it’s about the size of Dunedin. Hanoi had 7 million people and about 5 million god dam scooters so arriving in the relative peace of Hôi An gave me the opportunity to re-prioritise; to stop eating three ice creams a day and start doing some training.

The day after we arrived it was raining and not so hot so I went for my ‘long run’ out to the beach, Ben was in tow riding a faded green bicycle named Martin (Said in a Spanish accent) who protested the entire way.

Benjamiin and Martiin

Benjamiin and Martiin

It was a lot easier to run here without battling crowds, scooters, rickshaws, the pungent leaky bum-like smell of durian mixed with authentic human poo and wee and a heavy helping of trash and exhaust fumes like you have to in Hanoi. In Hôi An you can run along the canals or near the beach, the main roads are well use to cyclists ambling along so a runner is not a problem! It’s very flat here which can get boring, but when its 28-35 degrees I doubt that I would have enjoyed hills very much.

Yay I done running

Yay I done running

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This waterway wasn’t obviously polluted, zero corpses!

I loved running alongside the fields here, this is why!

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Two little dogs followed us along most of this path, aside from the trash it’s pretty idyllic

I attempted a speed session at the hotel on the treadmill. She’ll be right, no air con no worries. What a fool. I managed 5x 1km repeats at a 4.29min/km pace and I was struggling to hit that! Pooh pooh. Struggling so much my iPhone got carried away playing Daft Punk trying to haul my ass faster and faster and hit the deck and flew out into the gym equipment across the room. Struggling so much that there was not a dry place on my whole body, I have never been so sweaty in my life (This was true at that point, it got worse later).

That's me in the conical hat cleaning the river while watching a girl in orange shorts run by

Look closely see if you can spot me! CLUE- I’m wearing a conical hat

I managed one 20km run here, I stopped around every 5km with my scooter support vehicle for water and had a gel at about 16km which gave me a huge boost otherwise I would have jumped on the back of the scooter for a ride home. I was sweating so much that my shorts were constantly dripping on to the back of my calves, have you ever felt that? No? Oh it’s lovely you should try it.

That face you make when you thought you would die but you pulled through and you're still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow

That face you make when everybody you thought you would die but you pulled through and you’re still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow #TheNightsWatchCanGoDie

We went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) after leaving Hoi An. I’ll call it HCMC because that is more insta-friendly and acronyms make you look like you know things. I got up at 5am to join the Run Club VN running group on a 15km run. I got utterly lost on the way there but thankfully as it’s daylight at 5.15 there are heaps of people to help with directions! I ran with a local Architect named Hung and an expat Swede named Chris. With their help we got lost again and I got to learn from locals about HCMC and what it’s like to run here.

I was excited

We just met each other, lead me in to the depths of Saigon and across a motorway in peak traffic after escaping from a stray dog, it will be fun!

Running in Vietnam has made me realise that while holidays in hot places are nice, running in hot places is a bad time. I would much rather run where humans don’t like to go, where it’s too cold, too windy and too steep. Where you won’t hear the sound of another person much less the commuting of tens of thousands. I really appreciate how clean the air is in New Zealand, and that to get soaked on a run you need to jump in to a body of water and can’t rely on litres of your own perspiration for that ‘just showered’ look. I am really looking forward to cold weather running; mistaking my nipples for wine gums, being sprayed by huge grey surf, having numb fingers and a numb arse and only smelling something even mildly fecal when being crop dusted on a pack run.


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Running in Vietnam- Sa Pa

Sa Pa is in Northern Vietnam in Láo Cai, the highest mountain in Vietnam is here – Fansipan at 3143m. It is also the location of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, which from my research is perhaps the only trail race in Vietnam (yet!).

We caught a sleeper bus to Sa Pa from Hanoi, named ‘sleeper’ for the reclining seats that should make it easier to sleep. Not conducive to sleep for the constant tooting, the smoking bus driver, the not-properly-washed backpackers and the 36 degree temperatures. With the aid of snapchat and sleeping pills we made it to Sa Pa at 6am on what day I don’t really care to remember and checked in to a hotel with a view of the mountains. 

View from the hotel

 

I used Strava to search segments nearby and could see where other people had run here, this was a huge help! I Scootered down to the Sa Pa Athletics Track which was busy with several soccer games happening and had a crack at a speed session.

I wanted to do 1km repeats but dropped it down to 500m because I’m on holiday and its 28 degrees AND Sa Pa is at about 1500m elevation. Three excuses is enough without adding that it was my Birthday that day and I should be sitting down to one of several cakes.

  

Two local boys chased me around the track, they could run better than I could. I managed to run in to (or over?) a small child in the last hundred metres of my fourth rep and he flew across a couple of lanes and rolled in to the dirt. I picked him up off the ground and he looked like he was about to cry. Everyone was staring at me mutely while the boy sulked and I felt like a monster so I called it a day and ran away from the scene, at pace.

Look at that stride and how freely he runs while I look like a caricature

 

I did one short trail run in Sa Pa, there is an unmarked road of sorts just near the Athletics Track. The road starts out as the kind you could drive a car down then turns in to a goat track, with little brown and black goats on it, that isn’t a figure of speech.

   

I got quite lost on this run but it was so much fun! People will wave you back towards the road if you make the right confused expressions at them. Enough chat just look at some of the photos I took on my run.   

    

the inevitable ruin of the pretty Zoom Pegasus

 I will be back to run in Sa Pa, with more research on where to run, more time, less food poisoning and perhaps coming at another time of year as July and August are the hottest months here.