My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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50 Shades of Chafe

During my long run one Sunday we (me and my all Girl Power running posse) talked about how sometimes we get tooted at, yelled and whistled at by men when we are out on training runs. I personally don’t get this often, because when I run my face looks like this;

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You do not whistle at this face, motherfucker.

I often wonder what men’s intentions are when they interrupt a woman’s run to express what I did assume was their appreciation for what awesome runners we are. What exactly are they trying to achieve with that wolf whistle? What would their ideal outcome be from the sleazy phrases yelled from their vehicles as they speed past? I’ll tell you what they would LOVE to happen as a result of that cat call, because I’ve had hundreds of kilometres to dream up this fantasy.

Get your chamois cream and some tissues, this is going to be titillating.


 FIFTY SHADES OF CHAFE

Scene 1: The Esplanade

She had been running for almost two hours. The sky was blooming from a dusky purple into shades of orange and pink as the sun painted the road with a shimmering gold, making the icy rain of the early morning seem a world away. Two hours of feet pounding the roads, thinking about the pain in her turgid thighs, about why she was training and why finishing this run was so important in achieving her goals. Two hours on the grind sweating, hungry and fatigued, just 40 minutes to go.

Right now she wanted nothing more than some cold water, a hot shower, three large stuffed crust pizzas and a guy in a patchy grey Toyota van to yell ‘Hey ya wee skank, nice ass! Come and run over here!’

IMG_1939 She really enjoyed being thought of as a sex object by complete strangers. She thought it strange when people did not whistle at her, or comment on how much they would like to smack dat as she ran past. Her wish was granted. He rounded the corner and saw her running ahead of him. Ponytail swinging in a way that didn’t specifically say ‘Fuck off, I’m running and I don’t care about anything you have to say.’ He saw the chance for romance and yelled at the beautiful stranger.

His wolf whistle cut through the air like the the hem of a pair of Canterbury rugby shorts through an inner thigh that someone forgot to coat in chamois cream. ‘Hey ya wee skank!’ She turned her head, her sweaty ponytail whipping in to her eyes and blinding her for a moment,Hark, I see a voice! Now will I to the curb and I can see my knight in shining Japanese Import.’ IMG_1940 What a dream come true! All those hours of training outside with the goal that someone would drive past and deem her worthy of a whistle were worth it. ‘Where does this gentleman live?‘ she asked him. She carefully listened to him recite his street over the rumble of his deteriorating exhaust and changed course to finish the run at the home of her new love interest.


Scene 2: The doorstep

She bounded up the front path, which unfortunately for her consisted of 250 stairs (the story is set in Wellington) and collapsed quivering and dripping in to his waiting arms on the doorstep. Their eyes met, both sets of them very bloodshot but for entirely different reasons. She had needed to poo for about an hour so ran past him inside to destroy his bathroom while he rolled a durrie on the porch. She emerged from the bathroom, having pulled her underwear out of the crevasse it had firmly wedged itself in at the 12th kilometre on her run, she was ready for anything. A bead of sweat tickled down her neck with anticipation, and stopped in when it reached the rest of the crusted up salty sweat that had formed alluring white lines on her collar bone.

She traced a sticky Gu covered finger across his undefined jaw line and chins and over his lips, letting him taste the Chocolate Outrage. She hoped that this would give him the stamina to endure what was about to happen. He moaned softly and screwed up his face at the taste of the Gu, but wasn’t deterred, and lead his sore and salty friend in to the house, and in to his bedroom.

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Love potion


Scene 3: Toyota Man’s Bedroom

The smell that seeped out of the room when he opened his bedroom door was rancid, but thankfully after running 25 kms the only thing she could smell was her armpits. He pulled her towards him and kissed her passionately, underneath the Performance Car Magazine centre folds that adorned the walls. She bit his lip, not playfully, but really hard because she was fucking hungry and there was nothing to eat in the entire house (she looked after she had desecrated the bathroom).

‘Why does he have such an unnerving effect on me? She wondered. His over-whelmingly plain looks maybe? The way his eyes seem to look at me as a piece of ass rather than an athlete? The way he can roll a ciggie while driving and steer with his knees?’

He sat back on his sheetless bed to watch her undress. She unlaced her shoes and peeled off her socks, slowly so that the toenail that was about to fall off didn’t get caught and tear off. She ran her fingers along the edge of her shorts, and with one swift motion slipped them off, twisted them in her hands and wrung the sweat out of them on to his carpet. Throwing the shorts at his face so that he couldn’t see, she then started to remove her sweaty crop top.

The Chastity Crop by ADIDAS

The Chastity Crop by ADIDAS

Fifteen minutes and several increasingly limp cigarettes later, he watched her with fascination as she struggled to get the crop top over her shoulders and boobs and off over her head. He stepped in to help, and on the count of three he pulled and flung backwards on to the bed, crop top in hand and a fresh wave of armpit smell in his nostrils.

She stood before him, letting him take in every inch of her athletic body, from her messy hair that hadn’t yet had it’s weekly brushing, to her the tips of her mostly intact pretty red toenails. “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” She painfully hobbled towards him, in a sexy way (pain is sexy in this story) and together they collapsed on to the bed in a smelly embrace.


Scene 4: Stuffed and with extra sausage

The tightness in her hamstrings meant that the options for love-making positions would be limited. He purred at her trying to imitate the engine of his Toyota; the vehicle for their love. Her stomach growled back at him and her eyes glinted with the murderous shine of a fitness freak who has been deprived of food for too long.

There was a sudden knock at the door. She grabbed one of the five well worn Pantera t-shirts from the floor to preserve her modesty (and mask the sweaty smell) and tip-toed towards the door. The front door swung open and there with the sun beaming in on him just like the moment Simba is thrust in to the sunrise by Rafiki in front of the Lions at Pride Rock, stood the Pizza delivery boy. The three stuffed-crust pizzas had arrived! Simba-Rafiki-the-lion-king-25952753-800-400 She was in ecstasy. The warmth of the pizza enveloped her, the smell made her hungry for more. She nibbled the edge of a succulent oily slice, then devoured it all with ferocity, barely stopping to breathe, and losing sense of time and space. For those fifteen minutes it was like time stood still, and the only things that existed in the universe were those three pizzas and her.  After she had finished she lay on the carpet, panting, with strings of chizz dangling from her lips and chin.

This could not have ended any better, she swore on her Nike Zoom Pegasus shoes that from this day forth she would ALWAYS reciprocate the affections of Men that yelled to her from their vans, because they probably had raging run boners too.

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Hurry up and rest!

Don’t have time to stretch?

Think yoga is a bore?

Cooling down is for losers, and rest days just mean your heart rate stays slightly below bulging forehead vein level?

Look after your body, or it will dump you. All those hours you left it out in the cold, those stretches you missed in favour of lying on the floor eating bananas, will catch up with you and you’ll find yourself in a lot of pain.

Last Monday I went out for my usual 10km run, and my groin hurt the whole time. I’m not great with anatomy, so I surmised that my pelvis/ hips/ womb were all under some sort of immense stress and I should stop running immediately and get straight on the Google to find out what was wrong.

I was convinced that this was going to be the last ever photograph taken of me running- Thanks Sharon Wray for the picture

I am convinced that this is going to be the last ever photograph taken of me running- Thanks Sharon Wray for the picture

As I researched ‘Pelvis pain’ a whole heap of related links popped up in my side bar with what were surely reputable and peer reviewed scientific articles such as ‘Ten signs you definitely have cancer’. My google diagnosis revealed a possible tendonitis, a groin strain, fractured pelvis, prolapsed uterus, arthritis, pregnancy, ostetitis pubis, and a hernia.

I thought I should also seek the opinion of a qualified off-line human, and went along to the physiotherapist. Kieran the physio played origami with my legs and concluded that I had strained my groin.

‘How did you do it?’ asked Kieran

‘I was running down Mount Victoria, and I felt a wee niggle in my pelvis area’

‘What did you do then?’

‘I ran for another two hours. (Sees Kieran’s facial expression and tries to change the story) I did cut my run short by at least 5km.’

‘Ok, that perhaps wasn’t the best idea to keep running. Why do you run so much?’

‘WHY DO YOU PHYSIO SO MUCH! What kind of question is that?’

I left with a sore everything, and a prescription of three days of rest with absolutely no running. Convinced that this meant the end of my running career, and that Kieran had in fact mis-diagnosed a broken femur and gangrene, I went home to sulk.

That's me! Or is it....

That’s me! Or is it….

What to do when you feel an injury coming on

  1. Run through it and finish your workout, neglect to stretch at all (as always) then record your run on Garmin, Strava etc
  2. While sitting at your desk post run analysing your Garmin data, google whatever ailment you have
  3. Pick the worst possible diagnosis with the longest recovery time, you have that.
  4. Use your thesaurus and a Game of Thrones novel to find  grotesque ways to describe the pain so that others can know what you are going through
  5. Since you will never be able to run again, pick a new sport, one that someone once said you could be good at. I picked Pole dancing.  – It’s best if a drunk person said you were good at it.
  6. Google pain treatments, with your broken femur and possible amputation you will need them
  7. Sit at home alone (too painful to go outside to socialise) and swing between crying with self pity, and frowning with anger looking at Facebook updates of other people running
  8. Watch pole dancing videos while googling how to make ‘Cannabutter’ to ease your pain with magic brownies.

 

I’ve been very relaxed this past week, no running at all! I’ve opted for the spin bike for some cardio, and I’ve joined a really cool little yoga studio (Hot Yoga Wellington) so that I can give my muscles a well overdue stretch. Their teachers are fantastic, and I enjoy being the sweatiest and least flexible person in the room.

Same same? I did have the heat pump on 30 degrees so it was almost tropical

Same same? I did have the heat pump on 30 degrees so it was almost tropical

I’ve also been to get a deep tissue massage, these hurt a lot. In my opinion I am pretty fearless, deep tissue shmeep tissue. I pick up spiders from my room and take them outside, I wear shorts on a cold day, I don’t measure the sugar when I bake cookies, I’m a badass. The most afraid I have felt in a long time is when being massaged with deep heat in the groin area. The burning balm was about half a centimetre from my sensitive parts, it was like being separated from a river of boiling lava by a hedge, that had been recently trimmed. ‘Be careful when you go to the bathroom and wipe’ said the masseuse. Lucky she did, because I usually wipe the paper up the length of my entire thigh then right around halfway up my back, not that day though!

Iv’e had an X-ray, which revealed nothing. I ran 2kms and felt like my pelvis was going to snap like a Kit Kat down the middle. A week later I can run for two minutes on the treadmill at a 6.30 pace without too much pain. Two. Minutes. It’s a bit annoying not being 100% sure on what is wrong and missing all the time spent outside in the sun, wind and rain running in the fresh air. In a week I will probably be running again, but just in case I’m not, I’ve started to research in to the cost of installing a pole in my living room.

How to recover from an injury

  • Have a positive outlook, treat your body like it needs serious healing, but think as if you’ll be back to 100% in a week
  • Don’t do the things that hurt, even if they are fun, don’t do them!
  • Extend the truth about the extent of the hurt and demand that you need to be driven everywhere as you cannot possibly walk
  • Be kind to your body, feed it yoga, ice cream, and inspirational quotes from Pinterest, and learn to love time with the foam roller
  • Point to the injury to direct where the sympathy must go, especially if it is very close to your genitals.
  • Realise you can still walk, and still have fully functioning legs, and just focus on what you can do!
It's cool to foam roll

It’s cool to foam roll

Watch this space for my triumphant return to running/ debut as a pole dancer.


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Winning at winter running

Not so long ago, only twenty moons ago in fact, preparing for winter in the life of Amanda meant buying a good range of tea bags, making sure my scarf matched my coat, and getting the cosiest spot on the couch after work. Now it means finding the right running gear to make sure I can keep running through the hail storms, the rain, the wind, and inhospitable temperatures that are a New Zealand winter.

When I set out on a cold morning I first poke my head out the door to test the air. No matter what the temperature is I always wear the same thing; crop top, singlet or T-shirt, undies that are old and saggy so that they don’t get sucked in to my bum, an old Glassons merino from 2003, light jacket, gloves, head lamp, SPI belt, head band, socks, aaaand shoes.

I tend to over prepare, but what if? What if I’m running around the bays and sprain an ankle? I’d be metres away from fifty or so houses, a main road with regular traffic, dog walkers, and spanky spandex cyclists going by. I’d have to survive for minutes, perhaps even ten minutes in the elements before being rescued and whisked off to safety.

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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Wear all the things!

I wear my best snow storm outfit, then I set out on my way. Ten minutes in to my run it feels like I’ve stumbled in to a sauna and it’s time to re-think my attire. I pull of the headband, gloves, jacket, merino and singlet, all while still running and simultaneously checking my Garmin so that I’m sticking to the right pace. I tie these in an arrangement to my waist, tuck them in my undies, and wrap them around my wrist until I resemble the contents of a clothes dryer.

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Not uncomfortable or chafe-ey at all!

Runners wear event T-shirts, they wear no shirts, they wear skivvies, jackets, woolie jerseys, gloves, hats, caps, compression socks, sleeves, bandanas, crops and tights. Runners need a whole arsenal of clothing to get them through all four seasons.

HOT FASHION TIP!

Seen around the Wellington coast, shoulders are in! Stretch your top down so that it covers your fingers, reveal your white shoulders and obvious sports bra tan line. No top has sleeves long enough. It’s as if somehow by bunching as much fabric as you can into your fists you will regain feeling in your finger tips. This also makes the top ride up above your belly button, meaning it is necessary to wear it with your longest singlet as a combo. Who’s torso and arms was this garment designed for?

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Shoulder warmth being sacrificed for thawing frozen fingers

I expect a lot from my running tops. I expect that they will expand around the middle to accommodate 1.5L of banana smoothie post-run; have sleeves that act as a handkerchief, be light enough to tuck in to the side of my undies when not being worn and not pull said undies down below crack height, keep me warm, not make me sweat too much, not stink of sweat after being washed, AND make me look like an olympian.

Lululemon have a range of tops with names that appeal to (and aptly describe) me like Pace setter, Swiftly and Run Wild. I  settled on the swiftly because it would look good with my banana tights (it does). These tops are light weight but warm enough to wear without a jacket, even warm enough that your nipples don’t pierce through the fabric on a cold day. The Lulu tops are pretty and nicely cut so that you can wear them in public and almost go undetected as someone who never changes out of their gym gear.

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Thought I should wear my medals for this photo shoot

The best feature has to be THE SLEEVES! They are long enough to cover your wrists and they have thumb holes, holes for thumbs! It took me a few goes to work out that I need to wear my Garmin on top of the Swiftly so that my incessant checking of my pace can continue uninterrupted by excess sleevage.

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Check out those CUFFS

I don’t know how I coped running through last winter. Actually I do. I was averaging 25-30kms per week so if my memory serves me correctly, I only ran on ‘Can’t beat Wellington on a good day’ days, and opted for the treadmill when the weather was crap. Fast forward one year, it’s more like 100km per week, and spending 8 and a half hours on a treadmill each week is just not that appealing.

Since I’m putting in 8 hours a week of my blood sweat and sweat in to this running thing so I’m learning about the importance of clothing pretty quickly! Requests for advice and modelling shoots can be left in the comments section.

 

 A special thank you to Nathan Meffan for taking the photos, and to Ben Terry for your perfect aim with the hairdryer for the ‘Windswept’ glamour shots.


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How to run in the wind

The idea for this post came to me, believe it or not, while I was running in the wind. Something happened to me. Something I had previously thought was a physical impossibility, it happened to me.

If you run in Wellington you can’t avoid running in the wind.

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Some runners spit when they run, I am one of those runners. Sucking in air like a vacuum cleaner with a full bag means you get little spittles around your mouth. This is fine, you use your tongue muscles to collect them in to a nice little ball in your mouth, then you launch that ball off the side of the pavement. Look both ways in case any people are near. Look right, look left, look right again. Now you may spit.

Now add in 95km/ph winds that gust and change direction; you realise you have taken the care-free spitting for granted.

Males quickly learn about wind direction as soon as they are out of nappies, so have honed their skills in judging where a stream of saliva (or otherwise) will fly in a projection. Females are not so practiced at this.

I have misjudged the wind a number of times and my target of the pavement has been missed. What I have managed to hit is my legs, shoulder, chest, chin, neck, arm, cheek, and most recently, the inside of my ear. One very large,  and very stringy, 17km’s worth of hard running’s built up saliva spit ball straight in to my ear hole. GOAL! I’d almost given up on spitting in to my ear, thinking it was in the category of ‘kissing your elbow’, but I have finally added it to the ‘Impossible is nothing’ list alongside running an Ultramarathon and never eating bacon again.

Number of times I have spat on someone else: 0
Number of times I have spat on myself: 42 (20months of running, one mis-fire per fortnight)

When you run in the wind, you are either fighting a head wind that makes your eyes water and blows the snot clear out of your nostrils, or flying along in bounds with your hair streaming behind you like a victorious flag. Unless you run in one direction and get a lift back, you’ll have the pleasure of experiencing both.

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A  particularly windy day up on Car Parts trail in Wellington

When I encounter wind I try to lean in to it, like I’m running up a hill. Through teary eyes I focus on not being blown into oncoming traffic, ignore the sea water being blown over me and sniff deeply or employ the help of my sleeve to prevent having a sticky booger face. I put my head down, put one foot in front of the other and remain positive, thinking about the run back with a tail wind and all the energy being generated by those wind turbines.

Tips for being a champion wind runner

  • Tuck in behind someone so that they bear the brunt of it, and you can run in the ‘slip stream’
  • People with long hair- put it in a bun or it the wind will whip yo hair back and forth across your face, ouch.
  • Lean forwards a little, you won’t fall over unless there is a big gust of wind, and that’s only 60% likely
  • Purse the corner of your lips into an Elvis sneer if the wind is hitting you from side on to prevent spit from escaping
  • Don’t fear the wind! The more you get use to running in it the easier it gets.

If you are getting the tail wind, you’re prancing along like an excited pony and you run towards someone struggling against the wind, yell some words of encouragement! Or perhaps just give them a thumbs up in case they have something in their ear.


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The long and short of it

I have a few words of wisdom for those in the market for running gear for their legs. There is a reason that most people wear black 3/4 tights to exercise. There is a reason why rugby shorts are for rugby, and running shorts are for running. There is a reason for everything!

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SHORTS CHAFE!

Yes they do! This will almost always happen at the mid way point on a really long run, you’re a few km’s in and you feel that first little burning sensation on your inner thigh. Too late now mate, those babies will looked like plucked chickens dragged over hot tarseal by the time you get home. Once it starts there is little you can do to stop it, just keep running towards wherever you can get away with wearing no pants for a couple of hours.

Tucking your shorts in to your undies so that you look like you’re running wearing speedos is a method I have used to relieve chafe. It didn’t improve the situation at all, but I felt a sense of freedom running in almost-undies so I left the shorts firmly wedged in there.

Wearing your brother’s old Canterbury rugby shorts to run in is great when you’re starting out. Spot the Southlander careering around Wellington Harbour. The leg holes should be big enough for both legs at once, and the stiff cotton will act like a saw blade. You’ll have a line on your legs so gruesome that the sun will not light anything beyond it.

AVOID BUYING GREY TIGHTS

I love BodyPump. I love it so much that I stand right at the front of the class, every class, and when I hear the music outside the gym I start trying to do rotator raises with butternut pumpkins at New World Supermarket.

Don’t ever buy grey gym tights. The reasons may be immediately obvious to you, but just in case they aren’t, this is why.

When I lay down to do the core workout in the  BodyPump class I thought ‘That’s odd, I don’t remember peeing myself during the class.’ Wait a minute, sweat patches! One nice, visible from space, contrast set to high, crudely shaped like a heart, sweat patch, right in my groin. Complimented by a little sweaty arrow pointing to the spot between my butt cheeks that had acted as a funnel to channel any sweat to the pool gathering a little further down.

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Before and after a run

 Sweat patches are nothing to be ashamed of, they should be aspired to! Peeing yourself is slightly less acceptable, and the two are easily confused.

And the back view

And the back view

Those $15 tights don’t seem like such a bargain now, do they?

 Pick the right equipment for the job

Loose shorts are comfortable, and allow your legs and balls to move freely. Yes I said balls. There has been many a stray nut seen in the gym and the culprit is always that magic combination of loose shorts and no undies. No undies Monday stops when you set foot in the gym. Ladies, same goes for you. Please pick a sensible combination of underwear and over-wear for your bottom half, save the genital flashes for Snapchat.

My advice on choosing leg wear-

  • Pick something with few seam details or different panels of fabric on them. This means fewer parts to chafe and irritate your skin while you work out
  • Dark colours, patterns or horrendously/ gloriously/ heavenly bright tones hide sweat patches.
  • Check that they fit over your thighs properly and don’t sag around your fanny, you’ll end up hoisting them up like panty hose
  • POCKETS! Pockets are great for car keys, energy gels, your ipod and bus/coffee money, all of which you will put through the washing machine in a tired state after your run or gym session
  • Go for quality, if you can afford nice gym gear then do invest. It lasts longer, and there is less danger of it splitting or ripping while you’re in a group fitness class of 100 people mastering a roundhouse kick

 

Side note; I keep running around in these tights intending to get a picture for this blog, so there have been many sweat patches that have gone undocumented, but certainly not unseen. These ones were after a very windy 20km around the Bays in Wellington.

 

 


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The Bigger Picture

The Tarawera Ultra is just over a week away, and it seems ridiculous that right now I am mentally preparing more for not running this race than I am for running it, the thought of missing out is terrifying to me!

If you have seen me this week you may have been subject to a tantrum. Not being able to exercise makes me an irrational a-hole. I realise now that the world isn’t ending, nobody is going to die, and there are plenty of other races that I can enter this year if I can’t do this one. I’ve apologised to Ben for being a brat, to Hinano for saying I hoped that a Lion bit off her legs because she can run and I can’t, and I am making plans for how I can be a great support person on the sideline.

If you’re a good kid the week before Christmas, Santa will forget that you pushed the trampoline through the biggest window in the house trying to block out the sun and gave your brother his first black eye. Running should be the same right? I have been doing everything right for the past week and I feel like this means the past six months of never getting a massage, not stretching properly and completely overdoing it should be discounted.

I have been walking around with K- Tape racing stripes on my legs, missing long runs, eating heaps of cookies, and I even went to get acupuncture yesterday. I don’t really like needles but if it means I can do what I love then it is worth it.  When I mentioned to the acupuncturist that I am planning to run 60km across trails in ten days time, she gave me a Britney look.

You think it's a good idea to run 60km on that ankle?

You think it’s a good idea to run 60km on that ankle?

After reading Eat and Run, I have no reason to believe that I can’t run hundreds of kilometres with ribbons tied around my feet in place of shoes, with my only sustenance coming from chia seeds stuffed in to my eyelids. My mind believes that I can run for days and exist on dried apricots and peanut butter dinners. My body says otherwise. I get so exhausted from training that sometimes  I fall asleep on the floor after my run, or just cry like a baby because I’m overtired.

The ‘Harden up’ mentality is alive and well among trail runners, the acupuncturist would stick needles in her eyes if she read some of the conversations I have read.

‘I ran 210km on a torn calf’

‘You think that’s bad, I broke my arm during the Kepler when I tripped over a Takahe. Still finished.’

‘When I was running the Bedrock a boulder fell on me and I had to sever my arm with the jagged edge of a Gu Chomps packet. I kept running and got a course record.’

I may have embellished a little, but you get the point. All of this makes me think a little niggly achilles might as well be a paper cut. But you need to think about the bigger picture, is one race, on one day, out of the 365 days I could be running worth doing permanent damage to your body?

Is being among the best athletes in the world at the sport you love, running the same course as them, seeing all your running friends, making new ones, and drinking in the spectacular views across 60kms of bush really worth not being able to run/walk properly for a few weeks? I’m not sure yet!

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The Tarawera Course