My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Sharing is Caring?

I don’t like to share.

I don’t want to share. Sharing isn’t caring, caring is putting yourself first. Call it selfish, but I believe you need to look after yourself first and foremost before you can be of any use to anyone else.

I’ve found myself in the situation where I have no choice but to share, and I’m sharing my body with a little human. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it, but there are worse things I could be having to share…

  • My toothbrush
  • Bus seats
  • Conversations during my commute home from work
  • Conversations (NOTE: one-sided) about childbirth or varicose veins on the vulva, especially do not enjoy sharing these with strangers during my commute home from work
  • Brendon
  • The wheel of Brie I left in the office fridge in 2016 that someone ate HALF of and I will not forget that for the rest of my life
  • All and any food ever
  • The footpath when I’m 95% done with my tempo and you’re walking three abreast
  • The track when I’m doing reps shirtless in my compression shorts with my fly as squad DON’T TALK TO ME SOPHIE CAN’T YOU SEE I’M WORKING HERE

 

The small human pokes me hard underneath the ribs, head-butts my bladder, and just generally makes me feel like shit. To go from exercising two hours some days, to having to nap after a 20 minute run takes a bit of adjustment. I knew I’d have to slow down, but this much??

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Lots of this

The second trimester is apparently the ‘easy’ part of human growing. For me it included the summer holidays, relaxed time off work for extra napping, hot hot sun, and being able to run and explore in different places around New Zealand. At the time it did not seem easy. Now that I have the third trimester to compare it to, IT WAS DAMN EASY.

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Wainuiomata Coast

I managed to run a race, the Waterfront 5km. I have not run fast in a very long time, and this felt fast to me! I was pretty pleased with a 22.20 5km time at 22 weeks pregnant.

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Training for the Second Trimester 

  • Longest run: 11km (longest run in six months!)
  • Longest ride: 48.3km, a Makara Loop at 27 weeks, the hill, the hill…
  • Average hours of exercise: 5 1/2 per week
  • Biggest run week: 38.6km

I was pretty consistent throughout the second trimester and averaged around 30km a week. As I was still coming off an injury I didn’t push it too hard, I still took walk breaks on my runs and increased the duration of each run very slightly. I rode my bike a lot and got a lot slower on the uphills, and a wee bit faster on the downhills with the weight gain giving me that little curvy edge.

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Riding around Makara 24 weeks

The Best Parts

I finally finished my walk-run rehab program! What a great feeling to get that over and done with, it made me appreciate being able to run so much more. Getting through that meant that I was able to go for a run and not be constantly looking at my watch to make sure I was sticking to the walk run times, I could just jog for 30-40 minutes and be free.

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I ran with other people! They were totes cute! Yay!

I went on some great rides! Hawkes Bay was beautiful, and being the non-drinker in the house over New Years meant that I could fill in the few hours of sunrise before everyone woke up with quiet solo rides around the orchards.

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How do you like them nectarines?

The Worst Parts

At the 17 week mark I started to get round ligament pain in my pelvis. This feels like someone has kicked a drop goal using your fanny as the ball. It hurt to the point that I could not walk from the couch to the toilet, I crawled. I had to be carried in to the house from the car numerous times as I was unable to walk a few steps. This cleared up after a week and a half and I was able to run just fine.

I am not a fan of running in the heat, and unless it dips below 12 degrees I will likely be running in a T-shirt or a crop top. Summer was hot, think trapped inside a rhino hot. It slowed me down a lot and it would take me at least half an hour to stop sweating buckets which got awkward when I went for lunch runs from work.

Because I couldn’t really plan when I could run, couldn’t guarantee that I would run at all, or if I would just walk, or if I would have to stop and pee three times I mostly ran alone. When you are use to spending hours each week running and chatting with friends, this really sucks.

I don’t have a lot to complain about, I’ve managed to stay pretty active and aside from the devastating loss of my innie belly button I am going to be just fine.

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21 weeks

 

 

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Round and Round and Round The Bays

I haven’t told many people about my first time. Have you?

It’s always going to be a bit embarrassing, but it is a rite of passage that we all must pass through. Your first time will always hold a special place in your memory. A painful, awkward, sometimes shameful place, but it is a starting point from which you learn and grow. For some it puts them off ever wanting to do it again. But some of us get hooked.

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My first time! Round The Bays Half Marathon in 2013

The first proper race I ran was Round The Bays in Wellington and I’ve been back every single year since that first magic run. For the past four years it has been in support of other runners, and this year, even though I wasn’t fit, and I was certain to be slow and perhaps less fabulous looking than other years, I wanted to run it again!

2013My first half marathon, 1.38.09 and dead legs for a week. Alexandra Williams won the women’s race in 78.15, who were all these crazy fast runners? Reading this list again today, those names are some of my best friends and training partners. Was it worth the hours of training that summer and the pain for a week afterwards? A thousand times over.

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2013 – My friend Emmatron made me this cool sign!

2014 – I came to the event as a supporter and pushed Naomi Sparrow in the buggy around the Bays while Mum and Dad raced. I didn’t tip her out onto the road and didn’t trip anyone over so will call it a victory!

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2014 – We chucked a few stones on course and cheered for Emily and James

2015 – I ran alongside my friend Hinano to pace the 50 minute group for the 10km, I would post a picture of us looking fly AF and matching strides but they cost $30 for one photo. Ah, race photos.

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2015 – Post race with Sarah, Emily and Naomi

2016 – I had real job this year, pacing the 10km. I run-commuted in to the city, paced, then finished off a long run totalling 28km. I look quite happy about it too.

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2016 – Pacing the 10km aided by Yuliya

2017 – Was spent pacing the Half Marathon 1.40 group. I was coming off an injury and pah-robably should not have run this fast. At the 17km point things got a bit rough but I made it across the line in 1.40.11 which is only half a second slow per kilometre, pacing is hard! I was also an ambassador for the event this year and met a lot of very cool people in the process.

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2017 – Most enjoyable half marathon I’ve ever run!

2018 – Round The Bays run in Wellington looked to be a race where I ran mid-pack and faded into the crowds. Wait, what does fade mean? If I can’t earn my way on to the podium as a means of directing attention to myself there are plenty of other ways I can do it.

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2018 had the best lighting

IMPORTANT RACE PLANNING

The thing that concerned me most about this race was what I was going to wear. My Scottish club singlet was now riding up over my belly button (an outie, I have an outie). Most of my shorts are tight to the point of being uncomfortable and give me little love handles and 100% of my sports bras are too small but since boobies are still a novelty I am yet to replace them.

I went for the only club top that remotely fitted me and paired it with red Ruby Woo lippy, Mr B’s flash new Giro cycling socks and a red tutu. The result was fabulous.

RACE DAY

I planned to run this race with the 50minute pace group of JT, Rampant Lion who is always keen for a scandalous chat, and Peter Murmu, another of my Scottish team mates. The thing is, when the starting gun went off we were well back from the timing mat. I had a good 12-15 seconds to make up if I was going to hit exactly 50 minutes for my gun time. Gun time is the real time, it’s the official race time and this was an official race for me god damn it.

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Ditch the boys

I set off at a manageable pace and within the first 2 kilometres passed a lot of the people who got far too excited and went out at 4min pace when they are a 50 minute runner. Not me, years of experience and a large tummy takes a bit of that eager premmie pace out of the legs.

I didn’t run balls to wall, just fast enough to be making some sort of effort but not puffing too much or putting too much strain on my body since it was carrying another smaller body inside of it. I passed a few people in the race who would eye me and the belly, attempt to overtake again, then concede defeat and disappear after a few hundred metres. I heard someone yell at me ‘You go Big Mama!’, that’s a new one.

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I got to the wind needle just in time to see all the fast people in their final finishing kilometre for the 10km and half marathon races. It’s always such a buzz to see these faces and cheer for them as they’re busting their nuts/ ovaries while I am floating along like the classiest red balloon you’ve ever seen.

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I’ve made several friends since RTB 2013, this is only like 2% of them.

I finished the race in 47.41 and was 36th female across the line, 10th in my age group. If we further segment the results data I was FIRST AMANDA! Basically I won but there isn’t a prize for it. Kinda hoped I would join Nicole and Ayesha on the podium to make it a Scottish trifecta but I was about 7 minutes behind schedule for that.

I’m looking forward to running this event again next year, hopefully a bit faster! The best thing will be having my little cheer squad at the finish line, or perhaps on course with me if I can find a tiny red tutu and some matching socks for her racing debut.

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Post race fuel at the Spruce Goose


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If you don’t have anything nice to say

‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

I know that what mum meant when she said this was to refrain from calling my brothers stupid dicks or poo heads (in public, say what you like on the farm), but the phrase has stuck with me like dried cow shit to a bike frame.

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No it’s fine. I’m fine. Really it’s fine. I meant this to happen.

Being a generally happy human, a ‘yes’ person, and doing nice things for people because that is what gives you joy, that’s all a bit hard when you aren’t feeling yourself.

It’s been a challenge the past ten months being injured on and off, on and off, and never quite getting back to training properly. I thought it was best not to write anything because, well, I didn’t have anything nice to say.

It has taken me months to realise that I do have nice things to say, I just need to change the way I think and focus on the positive. Some really nice things have happened to me in the past few weeks, here’s the first one.

Nice Thing #1 I joined a gym

I was struggling along with what I thought was a tight muscle in my hip, it was painful and I had been unable to run properly for two months. I got in touch with my old personal trainer Greig Rightford at Healthfit Collective gym and got him to look at my running form. Something was definitely a bit off. He told me to stop running immediately. I hated this idea. ‘It will be hard to stop but just don’t do it, it will be better for you in the long run.’

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Things to do when you aren’t running

When stopping running didn’t stop the hip pain I went back to my GP, and got referred to see a sports Doctor. When I finally got my referral and got the call from them, the next available appointment was two months away. T W O  M O N T H S !

I was at home crying about the hot pain in my hip, and thinking about how much I hate fit and able-bodied people when Greig emailed to see how I was.

Just thought I’d check in with you – how are you progressing? 

I was quick to say that I’m sick of trying to run, I give up. I’m done. Greig disagreed with that sentiment and got me to come back to the gym ‘I want to help you in any way I can.’ I’m pretty amazed at how nice people are to me, and this made my month.

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Rehabbing hard

In my second week of trying to get motivated to do early morning gym rehab I bumped in to Ruth Highet, the Doctor who helped me with my first stress fracture. When I told her about the wait to see the other Sports Doctor she said that was ridiculous.

Two hours later, sitting at my work desk I got a call from her office, and had an appointment for the next day at 9am. X-rays done, follow up appointment, MRI, all within two weeks. Everything sorted five weeks before I would have seen the first sports Doctor, incredible.

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Some things to stretch and poke your bits with

I feel incredibly lucky to know such generous people, and so grateful to have had help to get my injury diagnosed, my body healing, and my mind thinking more optimistically.

I’ve only said one nice thing, there are so many more and so many people who have gone above and beyond to help me out, I feel very humbled.

Right now I’m waiting to get the results back from my MRI, it is likely a stress fracture in the area around my hip socket, sacrum, or the top of my femur. If you guess correctly you win a prize!


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Niggles

You feel a little niggle, just a little one. Should you ignore it? How long can you tell yourself it’s nothing before it will become too obvious to ignore?

The niggle doesn’t stop you from running, but it’s still there. Just a little niggle, just a little every day. You can’t quite call it pain, just an awareness that something is a bit off.

7am Sunday wake up calls, training done then coffee drunk and home by 11am to make a half-assed attempt at lunch. Throw all the running gear in the wash and start getting on to the life admin that comes way down the priorities list after running and eating and coffee.

A bit off. A wee niggle. Just a little niggle.

Then one day it’s not just a niggle any more. It’s 12pm, five hours since the alarm went off, forgotten and ignored. Just a little niggle got just a little bit bigger while you weren’t taking any notice. When you weren’t taking care, taking time to figure out just what that little niggle was.

Usually you’d be poaching eggs and making more coffee post-run, but today you couldn’t run at all. On a scale of one to ten, one being great and ten being not, you’ve somehow found yourself a seven.

A seven isn’t very good.

When did you so seamlessly slide right down two through six?

Curtains closed, cold coffee, cold toes, the routine has been disrupted and step one – go for a run – has been forgone with the rest of the day collapsing in around it.

Those exciting and ambitious plans you had for yourself, for the day, for the year, are getting further from your reach. That little niggle that you let get bigger might put a stop to all of it.

How bad is it out of ten? If it’s a seven should you still try to run?

Yes.

If it takes you 90 minutes to stand up properly, to get out of bed, pull on your shoes, and a hat to hide your face, should you run?

Yes.

If just two minutes in you stop running because you feel so bad that you cry, and you say out loud there is something wrong with me, this isn’t good, should you keep going?

Yes.

That little niggle, tugging at your shoulders, at the corners of your smile, turning it down, pulling it all down.

Despite that whisper telling you to stay in bed, sleep it off, rest some more, you know that if you try a little harder, push a little more, eventually you will start to feel good. Each minute you keep moving forward will shake out that dull ache, if you can last a little longer, breathe a little deeper, it will start to melt away.

Twenty minutes respite, air filling your lungs, shoulders unfurling from their hunch, even if it’s only temporary it gives you hope that the big niggle will go back to being a wee one.

Getting to know how you feel, what is normal, and what isn’t, will keep the niggle little. A feeling of awareness and not one of pain.

Slight but persistent, is what it is, and slight but persistent actions is how to keep it small.

 


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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.

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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


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What happens when your thighs rub together 16,320 times

When picking an event to race, the first thing to look at is the previous years race photos. Are they flattering? Do they have nice backgrounds? Do the people look like they are having a good time? Are they sporting an angry red patch on their crotch?

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Potential promotional photo for #AKLHalf2017 where crotch is hidden

This year is the second year in a row I have run the Auckland Marathon half marathon, it’s got to be good if you come back year after year right? It’s a great race with plenty to like, but does have it’s downsides.

CON The race is so early in the morning that you forget to put chamois cream on to your creamy white thighs.

PRO The field is always competitive. If your goal is to do your best, set your sights far ahead and compete with the best. Watch the pre-race rituals and warm ups of the elites, stand next to them on the start line and think that one day you’ll be there too.

CON You don’t have a shit show of making the podium.

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PRO The girl on the banner has nice teeth

PRO They give prizes for every placing in the top ten! Few races do this, so when you are not on the podium you can be looking at it holding your brand spanking new ASICS shoe bag and drink bottle. Cheyeaaaah.

PRO The race is one of the few that supports elite athletes to come and compete and gives great prize money ($2,500 for first place in the half marathon, yes please).

CON The elite standard for the ladies half marathon is 77 minutes. Fewer than ten kiwi women run under that time in any given year so your chances of missing the checkin for your free Jetstar flight to Tāmaki Makaurau are slim.

CON The race T-shirts this year were extremely small, and most people found they couldn’t wear it.

PRO Mine fits me so I don’t give a shit.

My coach suggested that I enter the Auckland Half marathon and I agreed because he had just told me about watching Peter Snell break the mile record in 1962 and it was totes #inspo so off I went and entered myself.

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With Kevin at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui (he is the one with the stop watch)

In the build up to this race Kevin coached me to hit the biggest mileage I’ve done so far, and I definitely felt it. 130-140km in a week is a lot of work and I have a lot of respect for anyone who is cranking out 100 mile weeks.

It was surprising how quickly my body got use to it, but my mind couldn’t quite keep the pace. There was that one awkward time that I burst in to tears in the middle of a track workout, I had no mental strength left to push myself through another rep. That’s my new intimidation tactic, bawl in front of the other harriers clubs while they are doing km reps to try and put them off.

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I used the Waterfront 5km races as speed sessions and managed to take a further 35 seconds off my 5km PB in the build up. The more I dropped my mileage the better my legs felt, and I got faster and faster. Seeing your hard work start to show in race results is a great confidence builder; you know that you’re doing things right.

Because of this I was feeling good about my race, so confident in fact that I said (out loud and on social media) that I wanted to run 83.30! Because of this cockyness I wasn’t nervous at all up until I was waiting in line for the Portaloos at 6.35am, 15 minutes before the race was due to start.

I warmed up properly and did a few strides, threw my old merino top into a tree because I’m frivolous and #YOLO (sooo 2014) and went to the start line to figure out the least awkward way to do a standing Garmin start without tripping over.

The first part of the marathon and half marathon course is undulating so it’s very hard to run at an even pace. I was running about 50m behind Rachel Kingstone, someone I only briefly saw the back of at last years’ race and this time I was almost keeping up!

I was still behind her 13km in to the race when two other female runners and a guy in a Spiderman morph suit overtook me, and I just let them go ahead. I was feeling a dejected, I was not going to run 1.23.30, not even close! But the bridge was in sight. When is it not in sight? It’s 3,348ft long . At this point I resigned myself to just enjoying the race, ah well, things don’t always go to plan and you don’t always have a good run.

Hold on, I trained fucking hard for this race. I ran until I cried, I got a huge 5km PB, nailed some tough workouts, and I did my biggest ever weeks of training. You can’t let yourself down at this last challenge Amanda, don’t do that to yourself. You worked so hard up until now so dig it in and give it heaps.

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I ran harder and caught up with them. One dropped off, two more in front. When someone is within sight they are a target. Always be looking ahead to see who you can pick off, it’s a race, bitch.

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In the background you will see the white and blue singlets belonging to my nemeses from 1km ago who are now not my nemesis because I be beating them

Wellingtonians are ace at running hills, and the Harbour Bridge is a piss poor hill, 43m? Please. I made a move and ran past the two ladies in sight and straight up the bridge, not looking back. This is the place where the photographers are stationed and the reason I picked this race, great photos!

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Strategically placed race number to cover up horrific chafe from lack of box gap

I ran the last 5km as hard as I could, my legs were stinging with chafe, I was sniffing up boogers, spitting on the road, panting, groaning, and through all of that my lipstick stayed plastered to my face like a shining beacon of hot pink hope. I wear it in races because I think it makes me look slightly better in the pictures. It totally does…

I crossed the line in 1.25.10, a PB by three minutes on that course and I only just managed to beat Spiderman in his morph suit, who as it turns out was the same morph-suited male from last year’s race!

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‘Look cool’ – ok.

I sat down in the grass in Victoria Park and surveyed the damage to my inner thighs. There was blood all over my Nike Pros so it looked like I had been surfing the crimson wave and neglecting to use sanitary products. No worries guys, it’s just a bit of skinless thigh! Not only tasty but easy on your wallet (cheaper than breast) and can be baked grilled and slow cooked.

The chafe was excruciating. I waddled back to the hotel to scream in the shower while Hiro and Ayesha got ready to go to lunch. I swaggered in to the cafe and sat with my legs wide to try and stop my tights sticking in to the raw flesh. I hobbled into a pharmacy and asked for bandages, and if there was a place inside that I could pull down my pants to see if the plasters were the right size.

‘No sorry, you can’t pull your pants down in here.’

On that inhospitable note, I still think Auckland is a nice place to go to run a half marathon and I will be back again next year in the hopes that I can race with a blood-free nether region.

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Looking for bananas

Full results

My run on Strava (as proof that it did actually happen)


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You’ll never be any good

The fun part of racing is the race. But what happens when you find yourself alone in the field? It stops being a race against the competition and becomes a battle with yourself.

It’s just a few minutes in to the event and you’ve slipped to a place in the field on your own, unable to keep up with anyone ahead as they speed away, racing hard with each other and leaving you in solitude.

Plodding away alone at the back, with nobody to chase and race, you start wondering what the point is, you wonder why you’re here, and that negative little voice starts to get louder and louder. This is pointless, what are you going to prove? You’re going to get lapped if you don’t hurry up!

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#ForeverAlone Photo by James Kuegler

I’ve had races that were physically tough, and mentally tough when I couldn’t hold the pace. But this one was a race that I almost talked myself out of finishing.

You don’t deserve to be here, you’re only here by default, because nobody else wanted to come. You’re embarrassing yourself, you’re not even close to being in the same league as these women, and you’ll never, ever be as good as them. This isn’t even a race for you! Tell me again, why are you here?

Why the fuck can’t you keep up? Because they have been running for longer than you. Because they train harder than you. Because they want it more than you. Because they have more talent. Because they are smart.

My loneliness was killing me

The loneliness of the solo race was killing me

Hey, you’re thinking like a loser, winners don’t have this attitude! Do you really think anyone else running or watching gives a shit about how fast you run? Do you think by not believing in yourself that you will get very far? Would that bad attitude have got you to the start line? For fucks sake, just get going. Don’t be a bitch, don’t think about pulling out. Leave your ego in the mud over there and keep running.

Keep moving your legs, keep pumping your arms, and think about why you’re here.

You’re here because you love running, because you love what it gives back to you. You’re here because you love the feeling of getting fitter and faster. You’re here because even though you knew you would be a lot slower than the ‘good’ runners, you still wanted to give it a go, to challenge yourself. You love the training, you love those free flowing hills, the ease at which you fly down the other side after grinding all the way up. You love that feeling, and that feeling didn’t come without a lot of hard work.

You’ve earned your right to be here, you’ve proved that you have potential. You should feel proud, you’re up against people that are a lot faster and stronger than you, and one day you might be running at their pace. Even if you aren’t going to pass anyone on course unless they pass out or break their leg, you’ve passed a lot of obstacles on your way to getting here. Tell yourself, you’re here because you love it.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

Mindset in your training, and in your racing is important. It’s the difference between you having a good time or a bad time. It’s the difference between you failing and going home, or failing then getting back up again to do it tomorrow.

It helps to try and look at things from someone else’s perspective. I’ve never finished a race and thought, ‘Ha! Look at all those idiots running slower than I am, why did they bother to show up?’ Nobody thinks like that, but somehow you’re worried that they do!

When you’re having an rough patch in the middle of a race, a bit of positive self talk and a few encouraging words from friends can really turn things around. I’m always grateful for people who come to watch races, if you’re a spectator you’ve probably turned someone’s day around just by saying a few words.

Lap one Bye friends! Catch you later in the race!

Lap 1.5 Not fucking likely, buh bye.

Lap two Three laps to go. Not quite half way, just get to the end of the lap and you can pull out.

Lap three About 500m in the cheer squad of Wellington runners is on the strait and they are cheering for you. Come on Amanda, give us a grin! Are you laughing or crying? Go go go!

Crying. Definitely crying.

Crying. Definitely crying.

Lap four Paul is on the bend with his camera, click click click Great work Amanda!

Lap five The final lap. James is near the muddy straight, warming up for his own race, ‘Good job Amanda, push it ’till the end’

Your team mates are at the finish line ‘Nice one! I think we got a team medal!’

Your adoring family are waiting in the stands ‘We saw you do this massive snot rocket as you came past the grandstand. You’re disgusting. Great run.’

I wish I had something profound to write at this point but I don’t, so I will cheat by finishing with something somebody else wrote. After my race I got this email, I didn’t realise anyone knew how felt, thank you Paul Sharp.

Like you, I ran in the NZ XC champs yesterday. I watched the first 15 minutes of the Senior Women’s 10K and saw you complete two laps before we headed to the airport. Never easy, I thought, running solo in a race. But one man’s poison is another woman’s meat, and your My Romance with Running blog speaks of a human being and a runner with guts, resilience and spirit, and suggests that you simply just got on with it. You’re a star.