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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There is no such race as a non-race

Word of advice, don’t enter a race with the idea that you are ‘not going to race it’.

You’re either bitching out and making an excuse to go slow, or you are a delusional post-injury runner who thinks that they learned something from seven months off and will take things easy now.

THE NON-RACE

Turn up to the Scottish Waterfront 5km race with the idea that you will be a supporter. You’re the Captain of the women’s team now so you need to be present, and clapping, and smiley. Pay $8 for the entry, to you know, give the club some extra cash because you are such a good person.

You’re going to be sensible today, you didn’t do the 16km that was on your training plan because you are still getting over the horrendous cold that put you out of action for two weeks. (The cold that lasted for two weeks because you kept trying to run before you were better, and running in the rain, and just being an idiot in general).

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A demonstration of my new and improved running form after two sick weeks

Oh look, you’re already in your running gear! Co-inkydink? I think not. Let’s just jog it you say to yourself, you can feel your eye twitch because you know you’re lying. Coach Kevin says that if you must run, it is best to run with the 25 minute plus group so that you aren’t tempted to race.

With each minute that passes before the start time you adjust your goal pace to be a second faster, arriving at a still quite sensible pace of 4.45 per km. Sensible for the runner recovering from a chest cough, green snot and stress fracture? Yeah sure!

You don’t warm up because you don’t need to before this non-race, because you are going to jog it.

This is the sort of logic you are using

This is the sort of logic you are using

Set the scene: You are standing amongst a gangle of 17 year old boys at the start line. Lanky awkward boys who look built for running because they haven’t discovered beer yet. All wear size 12+ shoes that none have ever learned to tie properly. One minute to go until the start time. One of the lankies starts to count down from fif-ty-nine, fif-ty-eight, fif-ty-seven, thankfully his voice breaks in to a high pitched squeal and he stops the countdown.

Up until someone says Go, you have made good decisions.  That magic word go. The ‘Go on throw caution to the wind!’ kind of Go. Go NUTS.

Upon hearing GO! we all speed off through the first kilometre, weaving through meandering crowds on the Wellington waterfront. The plan of doing the sensible 4.45 pace isn’t 4.45, it’s 4.20. That is still ok you think, I can hold this pace, it’s still cruising…

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Views on course of the Scottish Waterfront 5km race

The lankies start to fade after five minutes. You stick to an even pace and cruise past them, making sure to run as close as possible up behind them to let them know that you make angry breathing noises when you run fast. This is where it becomes hard to stick to an even pace, not physically, mentally. In front of you are 12 more lankies, clomping size twelves along the pavement and fading fast. All have targets on their backs, ‘Hey there, if you speed up to 4.05 you can pass me! If you do an even 4minute you’ll pass me too! Faster faster faster!

Your ego takes control of your legs and you now have tunnel vision where you can only see targets ahead and nothing. Else. Matters. You hear Hinano’s voice in your head ‘Run with your balls!’ Balls to the wall, you give it 110%.

The familiar feeling creeps in, the lactic acid in your quads, the spit gathers at the corners of your mouth, you drive hard for the finish line and with a final burst of speed make it past the orange cones. You sit on the ground heaving and panting for a split second before realising that you jogged that race. So you stand up, breathe normally, and walk calmly over to talk to Coach Kevin about your future jogging plans.

My final time for the 5km was 21.17, a good 100 seconds off my PB but because I ran down all those stinky teenagers and I feel like it was a good run. An ego boosting run. I have been back in to running for two months now after seven months off so anything is a win!


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The original running buddy

Ten years ago (gulp) I was embarking on my final year of high school. I set clear goals for my exams during the year, and a few for ‘Where I see myself in ten years time’. The only one of the long term goals I remembered was ‘I want to have a dog’.

I do have a dog, her name is Ellie and she was my very first running companion.

Me and my main girl

Me and my main girl

When your human siblings turn you down, the family dog will never decline the opportunity for an adventure. Off down the dusty gravel lane we would go, past the wool shed with it’s exciting smorgasbord of poo smells, climbing over wooden gates, (or squeezing through wire fences) scattering sheep, re-capturing escaped lambs, rolling in fragrant dead ones, and running all the way out to the concrete bridge. Conveniently located at the bottom of a large hill, this bridge signified the halfway point and an opportunity for one of us to jump in the creek to then sprinkle the other with a cool refreshing mist.

When the urge to explore took over (or we thought we saw a possum) we would run past the bridge off the road and up a hill, along the tiny single tracks worn away by sheep plodding in single file, through matagouri and red tussocks and stop to take it in. Sitting there, tongues out and panting we’d take in the everything and the nothingness that is the Northern Southland landscape. I remember thinking ‘It’s just me here, wow’ as I looked across ploughed fields, and steep tussocked hill faces that stretch to the pinnacle of rocks; beyond the skyline would be another farm with more hills to explore. At that moment it was just Ellie and me; no traffic, no people, the only interruption an unenthusiastic solo ‘Baaaaah’ from an old ewe.

Nokomai Station 4WD Safari

(Photo taken from Nokomai Station- By Shellie Evans)

This is the moment when I think I started to love running. Although I didn’t run regularly again for another 6 years, that feeling is the same now as it was then.

Ellie is getting old now, and can’t run because of her arthritis. She got really sick six months ago and couldn’t go to the toilet, it was around the same time I had a stress fracture in my pelvis (from running). At the time the thought of losing the ability to run and losing my doggy friend was a bit overwhelming. When Mum txt me to say that the dog had finally taken a shit it was the best thing I had heard in months, she was going to be ok.

I have a few new running companions now. None of them chase possums (although they all have strong looking teeth, and could take one down if they wanted to), and I yell at them when they try to roll in rotting dead animals. All of them are just as enthusiastic as Ellie is to be outside running with friends. Having friends to run with is great, it keeps you motivated and it makes the time pass a lot quicker if you have someone to talk to on a long Sunday run.

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Look at all my friends!

This is how I found my running buddies

  • Stalk people on Twitter that talk about running. Meet them in a remote carpark in the dark at 7am and run for 90 minutes, instant friends!
  • Offer to walk someone’s dog. Every day. And for three hours on a Sunday. Make sure you feed the dog so it doesn’t get too skinny.
  • Join your local harriers club. If your favourite colour is yellow or the Lion is your spirit animal you can’t go past Scottish Harriers in Wellington.
  • Hitting people with a stick you found in the pine trees doesn’t motivate them to run. Try a softer approach. Like rotting fruit or small stones.
  • Talk to people at running events, like the girl who passed you going up that big  hill, offer to teach her some sort of skill while learning all her hill running secrets so you can beat her next time.

Who do you like to run with? Do they have nice teeth?


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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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Tarawera Ultra Marathon- my first Ultra

Congratulations!  

You are entered in the 2014 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon. You are awesome. 

On the 31st of October I saw a post on Facebook from Paul Charteris;

‘Today is your last chance to enter the Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon at the early bird rate!’

I read the disclaimer and was pacing the office feeling really nauseous, muscle necrosis? Renal failure? Helicopter rides sounded fun though, and even if it was a $1000 ride with a broken limb, there was a small chance I would be conscious and the weather would be clear enough to get a great view over the lakes while hallucinating. Not wanting to miss out on what was obviously a bargain, I got out my credit card and clicked ‘Enter’.

Training for this event went fairly smoothly, there just wasn’t enough of it.

I defaulted to doing my favourite trails and hills, lots of speed and elevation but no real longer runs. My longest was 3.5 hours, and while I did quite a few 30-34km runs it didn’t prepare me for what lay ahead. I sprained my ankle which caused a few issues but I was really good at letting it heal. I did learn a few valuable lessons through training that I took with me to the race though, the first being that when you run a lot and are burning thousands of calories, you get a wee bit peckish, and you hit walls.

My favourite piece of kit

My favourite piece of kit

Race day attire starts with yellow tights, yellow is happy, fast, attention seeking and bananery.

From previous inner thigh massacres on long runs I steered well clear of shorts. I usually only wear a crop top because my arms chafe (too muscular they say) but when choosing between that and losing all the skin from my lower back like I did during the Grunt, I chose armpit chafe. My race plan was to cruise through 60km, listen to some Fat Freddy’s, admire the forest and just trot out of the bush casually to the finish in under 8 hours. It didn’t really happen that way.

Nothing compares to the start line at the Vibram Tarawea Ultra, it was beautiful. Walking in to the Redwoods forest at 5.30am there are  headlamps blinking through the tall pines, the start is illuminated and people in bright colours are gathering in anticipation. The start is like the best dream you’ve ever had, and you wake up from it abruptly a few hours later with wet pyjamas, torticollis and a cat on your face.

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Gemma, Amanda, Ben, Kim & Yulia

The count down had the air of excitement of New Years Eve, calm before the storm if you will… As the start gun went we all filtered through and became a glittering path of head torches, this was also when we realised we should have seeded ourselves a lot better, we were about half way back through the field. We had to walk for a good 15 minutes which was a bit frustrating when you have just tapered for a week and want to beat a cyclone to the finish line.

I ran with Yuliya and Gemma for the first 20km and it was a lot of fun! We went fast through the technical softer trails after the Blue Lake Checkpoint, smiling the whole way and having an awesome time bounding through the trees.

Just after the Millar Road Aid station at 22km I hit a bit of a wall and felt terrible. I had a little fizzy Nuun tablet in a bottle that I poured water out of my pack in to, I tried drinking the spastic foaming mess and it was like a sherbet wheel exploding in my hand. From the 30mls I did get down I felt a lot better after five minutes and kept running, now I was by myself.

Around the 30km mark the elites started to pass by me, it’s so cool to see and ridiculous at the same time that anyone can move that quickly over rutted clay tracks and tree roots, in the rain, up hills! Sage Canaday was already quite far ahead of any other moving creature and confirmed that yes, Yellow is the fastest colour to race in.

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I ran out of water and fuel around 34km in on my way down the hill. My quads still have recurring nightmares about the Grunt so I ran down slowly with little steps as not to thrash them and render myself unable to run flat. At the Okataina aid station the volunteers were amazing, taking my pack, refilling the water and making sure I had everything I needed. Greig my Personal Trainer/Jesus  miraculously appeared and came to help too and I communicated through a series of blinks and sniffs that I needed more gels and food.

My friend Dan ran with me for the small out and back part of the course in a huge poncho and talked, he is a great talker and perhaps could write jingles for radio if he isn’t keen on Engineering any more. He told me to say to myself ‘Running is tough but Amanda is tougher!’ I thought that was a shitty jingle because I didn’t feel very tough but as it was the first and only one anyone has written for me I ran with it (pun).

Leaving Okataina I walked up most of the hill, moaning, and thrusting like a cheap porno to try and tackle the growing pain in my hips. The only thing that made me feel better was seeing people coming down and thinking, you still have to come alllll the way up, suckers.

45km in to the race

45km in to the race

When you’re running so far you need to celebrate the little milestones; 35km- furthest I’ve ever run! 42km, a marathon, 50km, only ten more to go!

When my Garmin beeped to tell me I was at 50km I got a renewed burst of energy, for about 500m and then began the longest slowest 10km of my life. I walked at any slight uphill and let gravity take me down hill. My stomach was painful from being so dehydrated that it hurt when I run. I ran off the side of the track and tried to pee and there was nothing! I was terrified that Paul Charteris would emerge from behind a punga, misinterpret my straining face and tell me I wasn’t cool for pooing on the trail. I pulled my pants up to an acceptable height just in time to see Jo Johansen pass me looking strong and determined.

I got really pissed off with myself because every time I did start running my legs felt strong and I could make it up the hills easily, I myself just could not find the mental strength to keep running. I had run out of water again, eaten everything I had with me, and it took so much effort to convince myself not to sit down in the rain like a sad puppy and lap water from a puddle.

Having the time of my life

Having the time of my life

One of the course marshalls on a mountain bike rode with me for about a kilometre around the 55km mark, I think he was worried I would fall over with all the whimpering I was doing. It was great to have company after being alone for so long and made me run a lot more than I would have done.

At the final aid station I got some much needed water and soggy pretzels that had retained enough pretzel quality to suck any remaining moisture from my mouth and turn in to dry wall, then it was an easy 3km on road to the finish. I was going so slowly another woman passed me but I didn’t care. Until I realised we had 500m to go, no way I’m letting her beat me. After jogging 58.5km it was a 500m sprint to the finish line, always finish with good form they have cameras there.

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I finished with an official time of 7.17.59, 26th overall in the ‘short course’ and 9th female.

Full results here.

I went to the first aid tent to get warm and stare at Sage’s socks-with-scuffs combination then leaned on Ben until I got back to the car and promptly burst in to hysterical tears. So many months of training, hard work, and one very long day in the rain had come to a close.

Yulia came 5th and the lovely Gemma was 4th

Yulia came 5th and the lovely Gemma was 4th

What I learned from this race

  • It’s a lot of effort growing new skin after every run, I need to buy a vest to replace my evil MacPac/ vege peeler
  • Train for the distance, it’s a mental thing and your skinny-jeans ripping quads won’t help you endure anything
  • Use the aid stations even if you have a full kit with you, your internal/ external organs will thank you
  • Banana flavour Hammer gels should be called ‘vending machine cheesecake from a country that doesn’t eat dairy flavour’
  • Put your fizzy electrolyte things in water the night before the race so fizzing is done in a controlled environment
  • If you run to protect one muscle group, you shall be handsomely rewarded with intense pain in another
  • Buy shoes a size bigger to run in, I am pretty certain that before we celebrate the rebirth of JC next month we will mourn the death of my left big toenail
  • Seed yourself optimistically, everyone else does!

I’ll definitely be back next year, stronger, wiser, and fitter. I’m still buzzing from what an awesome experience it was running with passionate people from all walks of life and ranging from athletes to beginners and 81 year old legends. Paul Charteris the race organiser is one amazing man and I feel so privileged to be a part of the trail running community!


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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


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‘Just’ the Grunt

Most races have a few options as to which distance you can do. Anything less than the largest one and people will say ‘I’m JUST doing the xxx’. Just? You’re just running a 10km? You’re just doing 21? In December, I just did 27.

My younger brother, after what must have been some deep thought processes, txt me at 4am one Sunday morning and said ‘Let’s do the Grunt’. He’s always been the sporty Broughty, I’m more decorative, and I like to think I’m the smart one. I demonstrated this intelligence by challenging my 90kg, 1.85m fit-for-life little brother to this race. ‘Loser buys dinner he said. And drinks.’ It takes a fair bit of food and drink to fuel Willy, and not being a fan of foliage I knew losing to him meant paying for one, perhaps two steaks and quite a lot of the amber liquid. I was not going to let him have this easily.

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Entries to the Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt open at 6.30am on the 6th of July, five months out from the actual race. It sells out within a few minutes so if you don’t get your ass out of bed at 6am that morning, you aren’t going to get a place. With the help of Ewa from WoRM I managed to get an entry to the Grunt, and William made the wait list.

GOALS FOR THIS RACE

  • Beat Willy
  • Run it sub 3 hours
  • Get a top ten placing
  • Don’t fall over

For the next five months my sole focus was this event, I had to learn how to run on trails rather than road. Despite being surrounded by hills I didn’t even know where I could run. Going from flat to hills, and tarmac to tree roots and mud was a big challenge for me, and it hurt in almost every place imaginable.

The weekend of the race Willy had none of the required kit except for shoes. Casual as. ‘Have you trained William?’

Twas the night before Kepler

Twas the night before Kepler

‘Yeah, nah. I went for ten runs.’ If I base this figure on exaggerations of my own training, he went for three runs.

On race day at 6.30am I met my family at the control gates, warmed up a little then went to the start line to make intimidating faces at the other runners. My plan was to run the first flat 5-6km at a 4.45 pace because this is what I settle in to on a long run, run and walk up the hill to save a bit of energy, come down the hill fast then hold 5min kms until the end.

The first part went to plan, Louisa Andrew was so fast and disappeared in to the trees very quickly. My legs were so fresh they felt like jelly, after training on sore legs so much it was like I had no feeling in them at all. That would come later, don’t worry. I walked and ran up the hill and the guys around me told me I was second female, I was pretty stoked but still annoyed at myself for not being able to keep running up that hill, and Melissa Clarke passed me at about half way.

It was a a mental challenge going up the hill but as soon as I got above the bush line and out in to the open it was like the race really started. The leading runners were just starting to pass me on their way back down and seeing them flying down the hill was a huge motivation. The views at this part of the track are epic but I didn’t stop to look. At the aid station at Luxmore Hut (half way point) they told me I was two minutes behind second. The board walk at this point is too narrow to comfortably fit two runners passing each other, so I just ran at people with the aim of them knowing that we both needed to turn side on at the right moment to pass safely. It worked for the most part.

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William was coming up the hill now and wasn’t far behind me, I was hitting two out of four goals at this stage so I decided I should fall over to give myself a new challenge. I tripped and fell gracefully on to the gravel, like a feather duvet blanketing a litter of fluffy kittens, breaking nothing and only managing to graze my hands, legs, stomach, shoulders and elbows and hit my head. Now I felt meaner and looked meaner, so I had to start running meaner.

It was so great on the downhill passing people coming up and hearing them cheer you on. Positivity and smiles were directly proportional to how far up the hill people were, the further down I got, the less well received my ‘keep going’s and other generic running chats were. Toothy grins were replaced by half-assed smiles, then one raised eyebrow; and eventually a look of desolation, pain and terror.

It got nice and quiet running through the bush on the down hill, I like to think I look like a stallion charging down the trail, wind in my mane, powerful legs thundering along. Alas I think it was more of a new born foal sort of run. I caught up with Melissa about ¾ of the way down and galloped past. If I could have given myself a high five a this point I would have, it was a great feeling.

I saw my friend Samdup just as we hit the flat and this is when my legs really woke up. They say it hurts when you get off the hill and they aren’t lying! He egged me on and told me to keep up with him and it just wasn’t happening. My Garmin also said I had run 18km rather than 21km which was a little demoralising. 5min kms went to 6min kms and there was no end in sight. You can hear the loud speaker on the wind at points but the trees hide everything and it 1471760_493835484065039_412801370_nseems like forever!

I ran clear of the trees near the finish and some local kids gave me hi-fives, lucky I don’t wipe my nose with my hand when I run, right? Right. It was so good to see Ben, Mum, Dad, and Ben’s hairy friends at the finish line all cheering for me. They gave me hugs me at the finish with congratulatory stinging patting on the back in the places I had no skin left after my pack had chaffed it off.  I came in 20th place overall, and second female with a time of 2.34.17, Willy got 3.01.30 and 60th overall, see the rest of the results here.

The big highlight for me in running this race was seeing so many people I knew cross the finish line and achieve something great. I am so proud of my brother for running 27km up and down a mountain with hardly any training, and even more impressed that he wants to enter again next year.

Second Place trophy

Second Place trophy

To recap on my goals;

  • I beat my brother and am now in contention for the title of the sporty one
  • Ran 20 minutes under my goal time
  • Came in the top ten females
  • Took a fall but no scars! #WIN

See you at the start line in 2014 🙂

*** I forgot to mention, Willy made no dinner purchases that night. Mum and Dad came to the party and bought me dinner at Te Anau’s best restaurant The Redcliff Cafe. The incredibly good looking and musically talented owner Megan with the help of Gemma sung ‘We are the Champions’ to me when they brought out my food! 🙂