My Romance With Running

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Takahe to Akaroa – NZRR 2018

This year National Road Relays was run from Sign of the Takahe to Akaroa, 76 kilometres over the hills of Christchurch with stunning views that nobody ever remembers seeing because they are running too hard.

From the moment the team lists came out from Athletics Canterbury, the messenger chat tones started to ding with predictions of who would come out the victors. Teams would change with people pulling out due to injuries, but the respect the Scottish ladies have for captain Lindsay Barwick meant that nobody DARED to get injured (or not fly all the way to Dunners at 8.30 on Friday night then drive to Christchurch and arrive at 3am to make the start line), and so the Scottish teams remained perfectly intact.

UC had the strongest line up featuring Olympian Angie Petty, several national medalists, world mountain runner Sabrina Grogan, that Barwick-sized Scottish lass that smashed the NI XC course, ex-Scottish member Ariana Harper, and the legendary Fiona Crombie who holds the women’s course records for both lap 3 AND 5.

Bays Athletics were down two entire teams after a win in 2017, and their B team taking a solid 5th. They were missing a few key members with Annika Pfitzinger in the US, and Lydia O’Donnell and Esther Keown busy elsewhere racing and promoting Anchor Protein+ which unlike most flavoured milk drinks, contains no added sugar. After a bit of digging around the ANZ rankings site it was clear that they still had the depth to place, but sadly it was looking like this year’s Instagram boomerangs would not be from the very top of the podium.

To Scottish’s delight the Hamilton Hawks had lost Nicole Mitchell, but definitely had the best cartoonist in the field with Dawn Tuffery. Alaina Brent had finally broken ties with WHAC to strengthen the Hawks line up, but some of their top performers from 2017 were missing.

The North Canterbury team would take way too much admin to stalk results for so it was assumed that they would not be an immediate threat to the podium, and they flew under the radar/ thousand foot long irrigator like tumbleweeds with really nice drought-coloured hair.

Scottish’s arch rivals WHAC have a solid line up every year, and this year was no exception. Their team included new seniors Maiya Christini and Kelsey Foreman, who make other seniors look forward to their 35th birthday. They had recently lost Mel Black to injury, Alice Wilson to the Middle East, and with Sarah Drought slowed down by about 4% heading in to her third trimester, would they still have the edge to make the podium?

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WHaction shot of poster girl Letha-l Whitham showing why you should always be weary of WHAC

Scottish had the strongest A team in recent history and looked to be in with a medal chance for silver or bronze. The years of the ‘A’ team being last by twenty full minutes were gone. Captain Lindsay Barwick (who is not quiet) had been quietly working away all year to form a team. It included NZ Master’s record holder Tina Faulkner, national 10,000 medallist Ayesha Shafi, trail specialist that will also beat you on any other surface Ruby Muir, and the perfectly tanned Nicole Mitchell who happened to not be in Bali that weekend.

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The Scottish SW A Team ❤

But the real competition would be at the back of the field for 7th and 8th. Our neighbours to the north, Olympic Harriers were rumoured to be Riceman-ing together a team, and special dispensation had been obtained to run some junior women in the senior grade. A club plagued with mutli-sporters they had convinced Grace Seely to ditch the mountain bike and Jo Doherty to take a trip to Christchurch to show the rest of the field what your upper body can look like if you care to use it.

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The team for the B-babez to B-eat, Olympic Harriers

As the only person who had run Takahe to Akaroa before, I was bestowed the honour of B team captain. I quickly set up a group chat with my team and somewhat less painfully than the other birth I’d witnessed this year, the B-Babez were born.

A coffee roaster, a self-described choreographer, a vegan, a baby. On paper the team did not look like a threat to any race records, but you don’t need to be fast to be legendary.

Emma Bassett gave us the early lead over Olympic on lap one, 4km steady uphill then a rapid descent with undulations to finish this 9.6km lap. The hint of nervousness I detected the night before the race disappeared as she pounded down the hill, hooning through the changeover while pointing at things to feign confusion.

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DEAD LEGS – FRESH PEGS

Olympic had harnessed the hurricane that is Deb Lynch for lap two- a long 10.4km with a large climb to Gebbies Valley. Every Scottish team has an import and thankfully we had the budget this year to ship Clare McKinlay across from the UK for lap two. Head to head with Deb on this lap, the triathlete’s strength gave Olympic the lead heading in to lap 3.

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Danielle Trewoon, amping after 80 minutes in a confined van shaking with drum and bass was fully committed to getting back to her stash of VB as fast as possible, and ran close to a PB on the flat 10km lap 3. Grabbing the lead back from Olympic this gave Jaime Vessiot a two minute head start heading in to lap 4.

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Ten points if you guess who has just finished their lap

The juniors proved how indispensable those dispensations were with Emma Douglass dominating the 9.4km lap 4 to give Olympic the lead again. With the head Riceman Sarah set to run lap five it was looking like the B-Babez would be but a distant memory in Olympic’s race recap. On the longest lap number 5, Kate Slater tackled the headwind for 10.7km and made sure that Sarah was never more than a few hundred metres ahead.

Meanwhile….

At the lap 5/6 change-over Charlotte Riceman and myself stood peering down the road into the distance, past the other waiting teams, past a cow giving birth in the paddock, past Nick Horspool lying in the long grass in a foetal position, awaiting our team members to arrive.

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Thoughts and prayers x

‘I can’t see her coming, is she coming?’

‘Don’t think so…?’

‘No I literally can’t see, I’m pretty much blind, can you tell me if you see Sarah?’

What would happen if I didn’t? Would I witness a guttural scream from Sarah alerting Charlotte to her arrival? Would she straight mow her sister down in to the gravel and run her over?

As these scenarios played out beneath my neatly pigtailed head Sarah ran (quite fabulously) in to sight and Charlotte moved to the middle of the changeover then off towards the 6km long hill.

A few minutes went by as I nervously waited for Kate to arrive, and when she did she was giving it everything. There is nothing quite as motivating to set you up to run a great race as witnessing someone digging deep and putting in work for the team.

I took the flax baton, painted in Scottish red, yellow and black and set off to run the hill that has DOUBLE the elevation of the Makara hill climb.

The men’s teams were all catching up at this stage so I had multiple cheer squads on my lap. ‘Good job Amanda!’. Support is nice, but what really works for me is a bit of Britney.

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Up, up, up, around sweeping corners with views down a valley that I couldn’t enjoy because my eyes were crusting up with sweat. At least I knew Charlotte wouldn’t be seeing any of it either. I kept looking at the distance on my watch, half way, oh dear.

Brendon and Elliot were cheering for me along the way, only because they like my boobs (which looked massive in the company of runners) and I finally caught up to Charlotte with 300m to go.

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As I crested the hill, Naomi Christensen was waiting at the changeover ready to sacrifice her quads on the 9.5km downhill lap seven. As Naomi descended in to hell, Emma came up with a bag of Jaffas because she is the best person in the world and offered me a handful in exchange for the details of my lap time. A victory for the ladies, we had beaten the Scottish SM D team runner by two minutes*.

Meg Fahy had stipulated in the lap selection conversation that she did not like ‘uphills’. Taking that quite literally, Meg was given lap 8. It wasn’t just uphills. There had been murmurs within the team pre-race that this was the hardest lap, and very hilly. I calmly waved these aside and flat out lied about how easy the lap was, because sometimes that’s what you have to do. Two weeks of stressing about a run? Or 50 minutes of awful pain in your legs and hatred directed at your team captain?

Olympic had Jo Doherty on their final leg so unless the loud screaming from their van popped one of her eardrums, setting her off balance and sending her down a cliff into the harbour, our battle for 7th and 8th was all but over. Meg was a champion over the hills and arrived in Akaroa looking a bit like ‘What the fuck’ and charged across the finish line to bring our team home in 5.48.54.

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The gorgeous happy fizzers that are the B-Babez + confused lion cub mascot

Our team was 8th behind Olympic, we bettered the last Scottish A team’s result from 2015 by 13 minutes, and we were the B team! With the new depth within the club’s women’s section it won’t be long until we achieve the notoriety of our men’s sections B-Boys.

Our SW A team did win bronze, their first medal since 2014 on this same course, and 8 minutes faster than the bronze medal winners of 2014!

 

 

Full results are here, Scottish cleaned up in the men’s races but perhaps most impressively, there were 14 teams from across every club in Wellington on the podiums. Seeing the familiar faces from inter-club events, track sessions at Newtown Park and casual runs around the bays beaming from the podium, cheering for their team, collapsing with relief at the finish line and celebrating with their mates shows what an incredible running community we have in the capital city.

Our club Scottish came away with top club for 2018, a great result for the 16 teams and 130 or so runners and supporters who travelled to Christchurch for the weekend.

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Scottish Harriers- Top Club 2018!

Note*A late challenge was put fourth to the Scottish B-Babez by the senior men’s D team. They may have beaten us on total time but we bettered them on laps 1, 3, 6 & 7. They can call that a victory if they like but I’m yet to see any nail art or baby mascots from them so…

 

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The Wrong Side of the Bed

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

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

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

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

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The alternative to my hill session.

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

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

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

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All charged up and nowhere to run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Running and walking Korokoro stream at 36 weeks

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

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

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

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8 months pregnant

Training for the Third Trimester

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

The best parts

I won a race! Behold my glorious shiny trophy!

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

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

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

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

 

The worst parts

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

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Stretching BB’s kit to the limit #noaero

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

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

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13-05-2018

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

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

 


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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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My very first Tri(mester)!

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

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

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

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

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Rehabbing. I still have little shoulders here hallelujah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Training for the First Trimester

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

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

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

The Best Parts of the First Trimester

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

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

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

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

The Worst Parts of the First Trimester

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

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

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Documenting my ‘obviously pregnant’ tummy at 11 weeks

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

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

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

Any suggestions much appreciated 🙂


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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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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)