My Romance With Running

Stories about running


8 Comments

Auckland Half Marathon, rugby etc.

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

I changed my outfit four times

I changed my outfit four times

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

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

The ferry ride to the start line

The ferry ride to the start line

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

IMG_4218

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

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

Camille Buscombe warming up

Camille Buscomb warming up before going on to whinny the race

Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau! Hī!

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

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

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

Running up the Harbor Bridge

Running up the Harbour Bridge

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

12191454_924578807657369_3215096059575914220_n

Very Athlete. Much photogenic. Wow.

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

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

12194886_924578897657360_6074446686910462125_o

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

FEELINGS ARE YAY

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

12015038_924580314323885_3008961354088845687_o

Super kawaiiiiii

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

Advertisements


8 Comments

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.

Fotor0720211331

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.

Fotor0720211734

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?

unnamed

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.

Fotor0720205724

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.

deeee

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.


3 Comments

NZ Half Marathon Championships

The night before a race is like the night before catching a flight to go on that holiday that you’ve been saving for months for. You’re afraid that you’ll sleep in and miss it, so your body wakes up every hour. You get stressed out that you’ll be too tired from not sleeping and not enjoy it as much, or that your glands are sore, your achilles is getting niggly, or that you’re going to be like that poor guy who shat himself during the marathon. Yes, that will be you. All of the above and MORE will happen to you, so panic now!

IMG_2307

Start line of the 2014 NZ Half Marathon Champs

The night before the race- Amanda the avid Rugby fan, like all other patriotic New Zealander’s watched the All Black’s test match. Coconut water in one hand, vege sausage rolls in the other, I sat facing the screen, resting my limbs and feigning interest in the wads of muscle hitting each other at speed while I imagined tomorrow’s run. My pre-race plan is to eat as if it’s your last meal, cram as much in as possible. Don’t eat Haribo Gummi bears or large quantities of raw fruit, just eat your normal dinner but a in a portion size equal to your bodyweight at 18months old (Consult your Plunket book for an accurate measure).

Morning of the race– Wake up an hour before your alarm goes off after your third dream about missing the start line or arriving there naked. Eat breakfast, for me this is porridge with chia seeds and all this other fancy organic stuff that I think I need but have no idea what benefits it actually gives me.

While the porridge is porridgeinating I make a plunger full of coffee. This part of my race prep is critical. Half way in to your coffee (Which you alternate with mouthfuls of porridge and bits of a sudoku) the time will come. It’s always just as your porridge is the perfect temperature, just as you’re cracking the hard part of the sudoku, the coffee starts to move. From this point you have exactly 45 seconds in which to down spoon, get to the bathroom, and pull down your pyjama pants.

Getting all your business done well before the start gun goes off is essential so that you have peace of mind while running in your yellow pants. If you aren’t a coffee person then perhaps go the other way and have an immodium if you’re worried.

I was really confident going in to this race. I hadn’t raced a half marathon since running this exact event a year ago, and that still stands as the worst race I’ve ever run. I learned many valuable lessons in last year’s half marathon. I went out too fast, I was coming off an injury and had done one 7km run in the month leading up to the event, I wore the wrong clothes in the wrong order, and perhaps the biggest and most painful lesson was that I didn’t cut my toenails before the race. Bloody hell, it hurt.

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 9.51.14 PM

Post-race in 2013, bleeding toes, could barely walk!

This year my friend Chan offered to pace me. He wasn’t too fussed about getting the best possible time, and for me this run was about getting the little things right and pacing myself. What I think Chan actually wanted was a posse to run with to bear witness to his popularity. Me and another man who was dressed a little like Papa Smurf were Chan’s bridesmaids as he paraded around the bays, us tucked behind him as he gracefully put one foot in front of the other, waving, and smiling for the cameras, ‘Hi Chan!’ ‘Nice running Chandima’, Gooooo Chan!’.

IMG_2303

We planned to run the first half at 4.15mins/km and stick with the the 90min group. We went out a bit faster than than that and just focused on keeping a steady rhythm. There was a bit of wind as we headed out and we tactfully tucked in behind people so that they took the brunt of it. As we came to Cog Park an escaped lunatic dressed in a skeleton onesie leapt up and down and yelled ‘Go Broughty!’, Laura Shields you are amazing!

I had some Powerade at the 8km aid station then we continued to the half way point, it was pretty easy and we chatted about… RUNNING, would you believe. The crazy men that can run under 70 minutes were already flying back past us here and looking really determined. We continued to look as photogenic as ever in our bridal procession.

 

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km's. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

Me, Chan and Papa Smurf just past 8km’s. Photo by Yuliya Bozhko

The second half of the course after the tun around is always the best part! You know you’re over half way, and you get to see everyone on your way back and yell and wave at them because they are so happy to see that you have 7km’s to go and they have 14 🙂 I felt a bit tired here so had some raspberry Cliff Gel which stuck all over my fingers.

One more Powerade to wash this down, and a cup of water which I shoved my hand in to to get rid of raspberry residue and we were in to the final 5kms. For the first time in my life, the last 5km felt like a breeze. We saw another female up ahead and worked on passing her. We were easily holding 4min/kms with the tail wind and started to pass a few people. It’s such a great feeling to be doing negative splits, going faster in your second half being only a few km’s from the finish line.

I passed a guy running the marathon that I had seen doing the Tarawera, he always magically appears in that point of the race when you’re trying to find anything you have left to get you over the line as quickly as possible. ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Really good!’ Running up the final ramp I weaved through the 10km walkers and could see the giant digital clock in sight. 1.27.15 it said. I was stoked, better get across that line within the next 45 seconds so I can claim 1.27! I’m good at the sprint finish, I have a secret weapon for such intense moments, a giant vein on the right side of my temple. It comes out at key moments in my life, and only when cameras are involved.

IMG_2364

My final finish time was 1.27.55, with a mat time of 1.27.48. That’s a 7minute PB on last year’s run!

What I loved about this race was seeing people I’ve met through my club, through the gym and those familiar faces you see on your regular runs, all out there giving it a go. I’m a lot more in tune with my body now than I was a year ago. I know how hard I can push myself, I know when I’m too tired, too thirsty, and if it’s my legs or my lungs that are fatigued.

Full results are here! Getting under 90 minutes with this race also means I get an Athletics New Zealand ranking, which is pretty cool. I look forward to chasing a faster time later this year and perhaps getting closer to 26.

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

WINNER! The prize was an expired Powerade, I was elated!

What I did right!

  • I competitively ate the night before the race so that I had enough energy for the race
  • I cut my toenails
  • Even though it was cold, I wore a singlet, you always warm up after 10minutes
  • I worked with someone, this is great for staying on track and sticking to your plan. Having that person say ‘Come on you can do this, it’s not as hard as Tarawera’ is a real help!

How I can improve for next time

  • I ran the Rimutaka rail trail a week before this, all 34kms of it. It was fun, but my legs were still feeling it a week later. I should stick to the program. But there was a waterfall! Stick to the program.
  • Match my yellows better, it’s all or nothing here, sunshine yellow and Scottish Gold was a bit risky, next time we’ll go for black shorts and perhaps a crop top to keep my chest from hitting my chin.
  • Try harder! I need to lose my fear of blowing up and not having the energy to cross the line, I think If I can manage 3.50min/kms at the end I could have given a little more effort earlier on

P.S This race doubled as the NZ Half Marathon Championships. I came 13th female overall, and 8th in the Championship. The Scottish Senior women also took out the team competition.

 


1 Comment

Runner’s guide to aesthetics Part 1: Facials

Everyone has a different reason as to why they run. You might be running to lose weight, to train for a race, relieve stress, keep a healthy heart, boredom, or enjoyment.

To run is a beautiful thing, we’re lucky to be able to walk, think of all the mermaids out there in their shell bras who wish they were running like you! To be a runner, well, it’s not always beautiful. There are a few physical characteristics that you’ll encounter as a runner, and this is part one of your definitive guide on running aesthetics.

Part one, Facials

I saw this advertisement by Nike a few years ago in a women’s magazine;run-yourself-ugly

Run yourself ugly. Run until your face looks bee-stung, sea-sprayed and contorted with eyes squinting framed by a veiny temple, and every kilometre you’ve run has etched a new line in your forehead.

In short if you remain photogenic while running you’re probably not doing it right. I think I’m getting there. The photo in the pink shirt is from the Wellington Half Marathon in June and that was giving 110%. Could be a bit uglier but this is a great effort from me.

Profile pic material?

I try to smile at people when I run past them, and it comes out like a dog baring it’s teeth at an intruder.  While I do feel like I personally own the Southern coastline after running so many kilometres on it, I will still share it with other runners. If you see me coming towards you, the whites of my eyes glinting in the sun, saliva hanging from my teeth, flared nostrils and breath coming in murderous rasps, just smile at my rabid running face. I’m harmless.

My tips for having a pretty running face for race photos;

  • Moisten your gums with your tongue before smiling so that your lip doesn’t stick up there like a curious rabbit
  • Flail all limbs so that your running form is so poor nobody will notice how your face looks
  • Pull a face, you’re going to look odd either way so you might as well do it properly
  • Raise your eyebrows, the look of surprise might make you forget how painful that moment was
  • If you feel particularly horrendous, cover your race number with your arm as you go past photographers so they can’t match you with your photos. Ha.

If you see another runner, give them a smile. That little acknowledgement helped me to keep going through so many long hard runs it’s amazing what a smile can do!