My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Wairarapa Womens 100

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

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What a day for it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Girl

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

 

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The Wrong Side of the Bed

Tyres pumped up, lights fully charged, kit laid out, snacks ready, alarm set. I was pretty excited about doing a hill session with the HCR group early on Thursday. Riding with friends as the sun is coming up is such a great way to start the day.

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Then I got out of the wrong side of the bed…

Thankfully this was at 11.30pm, so I just got back in. I got back out on the right side at 1am. 3am came around, woops, wrong side! Better try again. 4.15am, woohoo! Right side, but a couple of hours too early. Better get back in!

As much as you can prepare to make sure you fit in some exercise, there are some things that you can’t help. Things like your baby waking up 7 times in the night; the four month sleep regression is a real thing.

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The alternative to my hill session.

I haven’t been feeling very enthusiastic about exercising the past few weeks. The usual tactics I use to motivate myself just aren’t working for me.

In the past I would be thinking about a goal, and each session would be a step towards completing it. Right now I am a bit aimless with my running because I don’t have any goals to work towards. This is largely because I don’t want to put the pressure on myself or on my body to train hard.

Just run for the fun of it then! Well. The only times I can run are early morning or late in the evening. Often it is a run in the dark, and I’m on a short leash- limited to the extremely hilly neighbourhood streets. The running is almost always done alone. Where is the fun in that?

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All charged up and nowhere to run

My fitness and health have been a priority for me since 2009 when the price of Southern Gold increased from five bucks for a six pack and I realised that the cost of partying wasn’t just hurting my wallet.

It’s hard to make it a priority when you have another human to look after that needs to be fed, clothed, cleaned and now, entertained!

Last Sunday I should have done a long ride to train for the 160km cycling race (gulp, nervous fart) that I am doing in November. Three hours or more on the bike by myself was not appealing. I would rather spend time with my family and do something relaxing with them; go for a walk, have coffee, eat cookies, blow spit bubbles and do some out of control arm and leg flailing on the floor with no pants on.

I was happy that I chose family time, but felt a little bad that I was lacking in motivation to train for the big event I had committed to. The more I thought about it, I realised that I was motivated. Looking back at what I did that week, I still did two sessions on my wind trainer, I ran four times, I did rehab work and I walked with the buggy.

That doesn’t say ‘not motivated’ that says that my priorities have changed and I’m giving time to the things that are important to me.

I did have a win recently when I ran pretty close to my race handicap time of 32 minutes for 8km at my club’s Tanadees cup club race. I was a bit disappointed to go 26 seconds over the time then I realised how ridiculous I was being. I am proud of this run! I am only running 30km a week and have had such a long break from running. That can only mean good things ahead right?

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Closed eyes, striking heel, weird headband and no lippy. Disaster.

I did a three hour ride last month and I am hoping to do a couple of five hour rides in the lead up to my event but since E no longer takes a bottle this is going to involve a few loops that stop off at my house to make sure I can feed her. Hopefully she is keen on the bottle by the time the event comes around, if not I will find a way to work around it.

I’m not going to worry about ride logistics and possible baby challenges right now, because it’s bound to change and worrying won’t get me anywhere. I’m also not going to compare myself to pre-baby me because that is pointless too, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy unless you just got a Strava CR’

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Exercising with a baby – The Wind Trainer

It’s a challenge to get exercise when you have a young baby. It’s not just because you can’t leave them to fend for themselves while you trot around the block for a run.

Has your body healed enough to exercise? Do you have the energy after getting up five times last night to feed them? Should you be tackling the pile of laundry or vacuuming the floor (that is looking rather gritty) instead of focusing on your fitness? Is it cruel to take them for a walk in the pram in the wind and rain?

I knew that to exercise I’d have to find a way to do it that did not involve leaving the house, so I bought a wind trainer to use with my bike.

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This is a wind trainer!

After some trial and error I have found the perfect method for a successful session on the wind trainer which I will share with you today. Below you will find the recipe for success, you can thank me later by sending me wine and cheese.

INGREDIENTS

  • Wind trainer – ordered online and held up due to duties tax which has turned in to a guilt tax at the amount you spent on it
  • Bicycle – best to have one with a filthy chain to match the rest of your filthy house
  • Large television – high-res so you can see details through sweaty squinting eyes
  • Table or shelf – at roughly the height of your top tube, wide enough to fit a baby on
  • Baby wrangling tools – i.e dummy, bottle, toys, a length of rope, your mum
  • Sleeping baby – (Do not use an awake baby, your recipe will be ruined)
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Example of an almost perfect set up

METHOD

1. Set up the wind trainer in front of the TV, lining up the cassette with the black smear of rubber you burned in to the carpet last time you tried to exercise on your bike.

HOT TIP! Set baby to sleep mode after you have set up your wind trainer to allow yourself three extra minutes of exercise.

2. Baby placement in relation to the bike is key if this recipe is to be a success. A good baby placement is to have their mouth within reach of your hand. When (not if, when) they cry you can easily put a bottle, dummy, or chain-grease covered finger into their mouth to placate them.

The best position is with baby sleeping parallel with your bike,  just out of range so that your knee doesn’t connect with their tiny infant body on the up stroke and fling them behind you. In this position it is easy to pick them up and dangle a sweaty breast into their mouth if they start to make screamy noises at you.

3. Put on a documentary about cycling, it should include doping, so pick any Tour de France race coverage. Watching people inject drugs into their butt cheeks will alleviate any parental guilt that you feel at putting yourself first and exercising when you think you should be cleaning, cooking, or doing baby related admin. Good on you for not injecting EPO in to your stretch mark-covered, saggy black underpants wearing, wobbly, sweaty ass cheeks. You’re going to earn a fitter bum-bum the honest way.

HOT TIP! Watch Icarus, Rodchenkov’s mother personally injected him with performance enhancing drugs. You aren’t doing any such thing to your precious baby, so while your kid might not win Olympic gold YOU might still win mother of the year!

4. Start the white noise of your pedalling BEFORE you turn on the TV to avoid any loud bangs that may activate the child’s startle reflex. If you can be bothered doing intervals, make sure that when you finish that hard minute of pedalling that you don’t clunk the gears changing them back down. This loud metal bang accompanied with your tired grunting activates the startle reflex in the baby, followed by the ‘waaaaah’ siren that is difficult to turn off without dismounting your bike.

5. If you begin to lose motivation, glance over at the baby’s head. Now look back at your bike seat, now back at the head. Your vagina has pushed out a thing bigger than the bike seat you’re sitting on, you’re a total bad ass! Superwoman,  if you laboured for hours then you can pedal a bike for five more minutes.

HOT TIP! If any sweat drips on to the baby, leave it there. Your child will learn from an early age what hard work tastes like. They have had almost every other possible bodily fluid of yours smeared on them so why not add this one to the collection?

If you begin to lose the will to live, looking at that sweet baby’s head will make you feel much better. You’ve already reproduced so your legacy will live on through the child if you don’t live to see the end of this wind trainer session.

 

 

 


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How did I get an eleven out of ten?

Did I cheat? Did someone fudge the results? Was I using drugs?

I re-calculated just to make sure, and I still got the same answer. If circumference is equal to pi times the radius squared, the answer to two decimal places is 11.45 out of ten!

And that is the cleanest and simplest way I could describe childbirth. An 11.45cm wide thing out of, I’ll leave it there.

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Post ride with a peaceful pēpi

Today marks six weeks since a small human being with a head, limbs and a torso fought it’s way out of my pelvis. A small being with a head in the 95th percentile. That is the sentence I repeat to myself whenever I get tempted to run. I think of how my pelvis felt, and immediately all thoughts of running dissipate like pee in a birthing pool.

I decided last Saturday that today was the day, and I would go for my first ride post baby and post episiotomy. It had been so long that I had to really think about what to wear, what to take with me, what to leave at home crying and covered in milk.

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HAPPIER TIMES WITH MY BIKE! Living the dream.

The thought of sitting on my bike again was terrifying. The diameter of that seat is roughly 10cm at it’s WIDEST point. If I went for a ride, would the seat be swallowed up? Would I be stuck riding around the Bay’s in some hellish loop until my chain rusted and my tyres popped and the stem fell of the bike with me fused to it? You can’t get saddle sores if the seat isn’t under your bottom right? Always look for the positive in any situation.

Standing on the side of the road outside my house, gloved hands finding their familiar groove on the handlebars, Jawbreakers making the world look positively rosy, I waited for the familiar beep of the GPS to tell me it was time.

Beeeeep.

One leg strains and stretches over the top tube, a shoe finds the pedal then ‘click’, we’re going forward! As I rolled down the street and lowered myself down towards the seat with the care and precision of a neurosurgeon, chamois met seat and went no further, I was sitting on a bicycle!

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That time I kept up with Ben Barry on a bike

Free falling, spinning fast down hills, wind whipping my helmet strap into my face, cold air making my nose run, it was blissful. The road, my house, the dependant baby, it all disappeared behind me and for the first time in a month I felt like an individual. I wasn’t a frazzled and nervous new mum, I wasn’t carrying a fragile newborn, I was just another lycra-clad wanker on a bike.

I blew my nose onto the ground with vocal and forceful sniffs, I spat big stringy goobies on to the side of the road, I snorted, I did all the things that are not socially acceptable to do while you’re pushing a dear little child in a pram. The glorious ride lasted all of forty minutes, and when I got home little Miss was waiting for me and complaining that she was hungry.

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Tired much? Should have left my glasses on.

I’ve said to myself and multiple others that I will do the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge in November. I think that having a non-running goal to work towards will be good for me in returning to fitness. It takes the pressure of trying to return to running too quickly, and I won’t have time to run too much if I try to get bike fit.

I know that it will be hard to get back in to good form for running, and I don’t want to compare myself or my performances to what I was doing pre-pregnancy and baby. I know that I would feel a bit inadequate and disappointed if I was taking a long time to get ‘fit’ again, or if in fact I never got back to the same level of fitness.

I had a go on the wind trainer this week, I forgot how much NOT FUN AT ALL it is.

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‘Make the most of them while they’re little’ they say to the new Mum. I’ll be making the most of them while they’re big, thanks.

I set myself up in front of the TV, baby asleep, house freezing cold. Conditions were prime for my first sweat session. Setback one was me playing a bike-packing movie on Netflix, ‘Pedal The World‘, to motivate myself. They were ambling along, taking in the culture and the scenery and really there was not a lot of action. So switched on Stop At Nothing and watched all the doped up cyclists smashing themselves up hill climbs and in sprints, day after day, year after year. Watching Lance go ball-to-wall was a bit more exciting than watching Felix talk about his feelings. Sorry Felix.

Setback two was that I managed to burn rubber in to the carpet. Twice. I blame the rusty old wind trainer for this unsightly mark in the middle of the living room. At least I know exactly where to set up next time (larger darker mark, slightly to the right is the perfect spot).

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The baby did it.

Today we bought a new wind trainer! So Taupo needs to become a reality to warrant this purchase. I did worry that I would never use the bike but that turned out to be the best damn purchase ever, so I’m sure this one will be the same.

Bring on the 80km, or 160km, which distance I enter depends completely on peer pressure.


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First the worst, second best, and last the golden princess!

Many people on the internets will tell you that the first trimester is terrible, the worst. They say that you will feel, and I quote, ‘fresh and full of energy‘ in trimester number two and that the third will be pretty terrible again.

In my experience, it gets better and better towards the end, this is why.

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Running and walking Korokoro stream at 36 weeks

As soon as I hit the third trimester I slowed down my exercise a lot, I started to swim more and counted my walking commute to work and back as exercise. Walking never use to tire me out but the fatigue was really noticeable in the last few weeks of carrying around a basketball.

I had expected to slow down, and it made me appreciate and value every single time I got out for a walk, run, swim or bike ride. Everything felt like a win and a huge achievement. I knew that it wasn’t much longer that I would be carrying around the basketball so I took time to appreciate being pregnant.

I tried to get to the pool regularly and eventually managed to get to the point where I could swim a kilometre. The last time I went swimming was when I had a stress fracture in my pelvis, it was hard. This time was a little easier and I felt a bit more at home having friends to swim with and Dougal the swim coach there smiling on the sidelines.

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8 months pregnant

Training for the Third Trimester

  • Longest run: 7km – at the 30 week mark, at 5.09 pace what a speed demon
  • Longest ride: 30km
  • Average weekly hours of exercise: 2 hours plus walking to commute
  • Biggest run week: 23km
  • Last run: a run/walk up Makara Peak at 38 weeks 5 days
  • Last Ride: 15km easy around the bays at 38 weeks 3 days
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My last ride, probably shouldn’t do one-handed selfies 38 weeks preggo on a bike

The best parts

I won a race! Behold my glorious shiny trophy!

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The victors returned with the silver trophy held high above their heads, and drank non-alcoholic caffeine free beverages with a low risk of listeria from it’s depths into the wee hours of the morning

It was won by the only means I could possibly win, on handicap. Apparently I owe the handicapper a beer but that has nothing to do with me beating my handicap time…

In the 5km race with my club Scottish Harriers I lined up to start right at the front of the pack with everyone else, then realised that I wasn’t quite in 18:30 shape and retreated to the back of the herd.  I walked and ran the first few kilometres then picked up the pace in the final km, it felt so great to run fast again! I ran 27:45 at 34 weeks pregnant.

We went on so many adventures, and each new place we went I would think about how cool it would be when we could come back with the tiny human and show it all to her for the first time.

 

The worst parts

Riding down Ngaio Gorge 33 weeks pregnant and thinking that I had broken the seat on my bike. Reaching down to see what was wrong, I realised that it was just the feeling of my gut resting on the bike seat. I avoided using my low bars after this!

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Stretching BB’s kit to the limit #noaero

Nothing was really too bad in trimester #3, although I did get to the point where I said very loudly, over a roast dinner that I was so damn sick of being pregnant. I could barely reach the plate over my protruding stomach, I felt tired and sore and just fed up with being big.

The baby must have been listening to me whine, and two hours later labour started.

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I’m really looking forward to returning to running and riding once I get more familiar with my new job, my new body and all the fabulous new running gear I plan on buying because my chest doesn’t fit into the old stuff.

NEW BABY NEW BOOBS NEW CLOTHES THIRD TRIMESTER IS THE BEST!

 


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My very first Tri(mester)!

It was a Sunday night in September when we first found out that you were a real thing.

In our grand old rented villa with stained-glass windows, in a past life it was classy and timeless but now looked like a dated student flat. Every furnishing and fixture carelessly battered, coloured the shade of white specifically achieved through years of overuse and under-cleaning.

I think the moment we were conscious of you, I started feeling sick. Stomach flipping as gravity and the ground and all those comfortable certainties in life began to disappear. The Sunday morning drudgery, dehydration, fatigue and nausea that had previously been earned through several glasses of pinot was now greeting me on every day of the week, no wine needed.

Three weeks later, a few little spews, some bike rides abandoned at half way and a lot of mid-day naps and I was allowed to start on a walk run program to get over my pelvic injury, osteitis pubis. Finally!

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Rehabbing. I still have little shoulders here hallelujah!

The commitment to going to the gym several times a week, cycling inside on the wind trainer and aqua jogging – none of it seemed very important any more when I knew that I wouldn’t be getting ‘fit’ any time soon.

In the early weeks I was still feeling really strong, going to chain gang rides with the HCR crew, charging up hills on my bike in the rain after work, motivation I can no longer relate to! On the days I didn’t feel good I would make sure I went for a walk to keep active, or for a ride alongside Mr B as he ran, just to get some fresh air in my lungs.

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8 weeks in after a fast morning ride around the bays I felt incredible. Light, happy, and with that satisfying deadness in my legs. I finally got that familiar feeling after a hard training session and I felt like myself again. But myself wasn’t just me any more, and that hard session was the last.

11 weeks pregnant and I was making lots of progress on my walk run program, 6 minute walk, four minute run for thirty minutes. One particular day was a five minute walk, followed by a trip to A&E. I read later that pregnancy can make your balance a bit off, I agree with that!

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I was in a panic because my chin bled a LOT when it split open, it hurt, and I had to get a tetanus injection. I was really worried about falling with the baby, but the Doctor said ‘It’s fine, your pelvis will have protected the baby, the pelvis is really strong!’. Oh you mean the pelvis that got a stress fracture? The same pelvis that keeps malfunctioning and preventing me from running? THAT PELVIS!? *cue sobbing*

The Doctor said she recognised my name from Strava, and noted that I might not be on the leaderboards any time soon. She gave me 8 stitches while I held Mr B’s hand. That hand softly slipped away during her graphic blow-by-blow account of poking fat back inside my chin with the end of a pair of scissors. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that he gets over that squeamishness by May 2018.

The last week of the first trimester was a great one. I had one of those runs (still 30% walking) that was so blissful, in the sunshine, around Wellington’s Oriental Bay and in that moment I knew that the rehab was all worth it. I felt like me.

Training for the First Trimester

  • Longest run: 5.6km (a run/walk)
  • Longest ride: 74.9km
  • Average hours of exercise: 3-5 per week (not including walking)
  • Biggest run/walk week: 30km

I switched a lot of runs out for walks through the botanical gardens, I slept a lot, I tried to remember that I wasn’t eating like an athlete and to cut down on the portion sizes to account for this. I don’t need to fear being hungry any more when I have no long run in the morning!

I think in a way it helped already being unfit to begin with. I was riding a lot and doing yoga and gym work, then I very slowly built in the walk-run program when I felt I could. Working on increasing my running at a time when I knew that I’d barely get started before I had to decrease it didn’t worry me. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have, and all that.

The Best Parts of the First Trimester

The Beautiful people at Harbour City Racing! Being able to ride with a group who were welcoming, who helped me to learn, raced me on the hills, and showed me how it is possible to change a tyre with no tyre lever made my life very happy.

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The titties! A new toy! I have taken great joy in popping a tit into every possible photo opportunity.

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It was just sooo hot I had to ride with my shirt open ( . ) ( . )

Already being unfit before I got pregnant meant getting away with having a bit of extra fluff around the tummy with no pregnancy suspicions at all.

The Worst Parts of the First Trimester

Not being in complete control of how my body feels. Training is certainty, you tick the boxes, you feel the benefits, you get the results. Having the motivation to get outside, but dry retching when you move makes training near impossible. Serena Williams winning a grand slam 8 weeks pregnant is more mind-blowing for me than Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket launching a car into space. I felt like utter shit at 8 weeks!

Keeping a secret is very hard. Declining the wine matches at a five course degustation because you ‘don’t feel like drinking wine’ is really flippin’ hard and also a really terrible lie.

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Documenting my ‘obviously pregnant’ tummy at 11 weeks

A lot of the time I felt like I was letting my friends down, because I was feeling too sick to hang out, too tired, or just too emotionally unstable to leave the house between tears at the impending human thing or stressing out about whether or not I’ll be a good mother. It has also made me think how I could have been more supportive of my own pregnant friends, I realise now how little I understood what they were going through. I think I get it now *dry retches*.

I feel like I was very lucky to be able to keep riding, running and doing the things I love in the first trimester without having to dig too many holes to bury little piles of spew on the side of Polhill trail.

I’m optimistic about the other TWENTY SEVEN WEEKS (oh myyy that’s a long time) being just as cruisy and a little less spews-y. I’m looking seriously in to a running buggy that looks friendly enough to take to the Plunket rooms but will perform like the Dodge Charger in Death Proof when I need it to.

Any suggestions much appreciated 🙂


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Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Riding 100km

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My cycling gang

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

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

2. Do I really need all the gear?

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

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

3. How do I deal with stressful situations?

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

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

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

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

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

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1-0-0 Kilometres!

4. Can I fix my own bike?

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

Photo unrelated to point that paragraph is making

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

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

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Sweet sweet pastry

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

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

Happy Riding