My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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Luxmore round II

When the running is good, the blogging gets shelved because who cares about anything aside from your rippling leg muscles and amazing tan when you’re at your peak fitness in the middle of summer. BEHOLD MY DEFINED CALF MUSCLES!

When you get one strained adductor, two sprained ankles, put your back out then get a chest infection it means no running, no biking, no swimming with your arms (or legs), no doing weights, no anything. The silver lining is that you have more time to write your blog and your boobs grow back (ever so slightly). Not enough for a boobie photo, but enough to wear a bra at the very least.

It’s a month coming but here’s a bit about my last trail run race in the deep south, the Luxmore Grunt.

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Frasers Beach in Manapouri, on the way to the race

It only just occurred to me that I’ve never run the same race twice, the Luxmore Grunt is the first. I had no brother to challenge me this year. No illusions as to what to expect on the course, no doubt who would be able to beat me either as the race previews were up on Backcountry Runner. I wanted to win the race but the report identified several high-class beeches including course record holder Shireen Crumpton that would be steaming through the beech trees making short work of the hills. That’s what happens when races get popular, they draw in some pretty amazing athletes.

So… I reset my goals

  • Place in the top five
  • Run under 2.5 hours
  • Don’t fall over
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Figure 1. A couple of amazing athletes. Outfit definitely not on point here. Huge regrets about adding green in to the usual yellow mix.

The night before the race I was staying with my brother at Whare Creek. Where’s that you ask? Here is a helpful map. The internet can see Whare Creek but Whare creek can not see the internet. Lack of internet meant I couldn’t troll people in Youtube comments to let off some steam before the big day so I had to take this pent up belligerent illiterate stream of obscenities with me out on to the trails.

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It’s right there in the middle

Being the social b-skins that we are my brother John and I went to the Manapouri Pub beforehand and had a pint with the locals. After my first pint hit me I realised then that I don’t get nervous about races like I use to and could happily sit here and strategise over a few more. Race strategy for this year was to run faster on the flats, run up the entire hill and take it easy coming down, like, not face-planting would be a great start.

THE RACE
The first 5km was easy, but I was sitting in about 8th place until just before the hill and wondering how with such a good training build up I was sitting so far back in the field. I had to remind myself to run my own race, and not worry about people passing me or people still ahead.

I put the speedy starters down to inexperience and told myself with a smirk that they can enjoy their 20 minutes of glory before I take it from them on the hill. I made sure my breathing was light and my stride was long when I overtook them; make it look like I’m finding it easy when the only thing spurring me onwards is the thought of demoralising a fellow competitor. ‘Making friends is for the finish line’ says race Amanda.

THis cat does not speak to me at all. Cats can't talk

There is a reason cats can’t talk

My newly inflated ego carried me all the way up Mount Luxmore, only stopping high up as the trees began to thin because it got so cold I had to put my thermal back on.

This year the Men’s race leader Tane Cambridge came past me before I even broke the bush line. Either I’m going very slow or he is going extremely fast. It’s not really an either/or scenario as both were correct. Alpine air greeted my nipples with a tweak as I ran through the low tussocks and on the board walk towards Luxmore Hut. Shireen came back past me leading the race followed by the other speedy women, I was way too far behind to make up any places now and was in 6th.

I took it easy enough down the steep downhill because I wanted to be able to run the last flat 5km at a decent pace and not repeat the painful 6 minute kms of last time I raced it. Even with holding back a bit I passed one more female. Yusss. Top five Amanda you bee-a-uty! Now just stay upright until the finish. Further down I passed another woman who was walking and limping. What do I do now?

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Is she in the race? I wonder why she is walking?

Is she walking because she is tired? I smell weakness. Is this a trap?

Oh no she is injured!

Oh helllll yeah, another one down!

I better stop and see if she needs help

I better leap and click my heels when I go past to show just how strong my ankles are

That sucks, an injury so close to the finish she might have placed top three

This rocks, picking up a place so close to the finish line! Pew pew pew see you later!

I yelled out to ask if she was ok as I approached so that I had time to hear her yell an answer back without breaking my stride. Several other people would have passed her already, she was able to walk AND we were close to the finish line. Justified.

The final flat part of the run was easy this year and I managed to overtake a few men in the final kilometres. Again, motivated by imagining how they would feel to be so close to the finish and to have someone who had so poorly chosen their outfit overtake them making it look ugly, but easy.

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Going in for a hug.

I finished fourth female and 14th overall in 2.28.47. Full results here. The women’s race was won by Lizzie Wesley Smith in 2.18.24 with Shireen Crumpton in second and Sarah Douglas third.

Dad was at the finish line to greet me with a huge smile peeking out below his Ridgeline polarfleece uniform and hands caked in mud and dried blood from that mornings’ hunting exploits. Mum was a lot cleaner and had a little purple bag full of drinks and snacks which was exactly what I needed.

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The posture of a jelly bean. Proud parents look on.

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The green does look ok here and enhances my tan. Next time I’ll try a combination of green and black. green might even be my new colour now.

I went and had a beer in the lake and iced my legs and discovered that lake beers are right up there with shower beers. Mum had forgotten where she had parked the car. She actually said ‘It’s near some trees Amanda.’ Please refer to earlier image of Whare Creek to get an idea of how many trees there are in the area.

Looking at my splits from the race I definitely need to work on running up hill, I’m really not great at it. The scenery in Fiordland is beautiful and it’s well worth the trip in to Western Southland if you want to run a race with stunning scenery hidden behind clouds that you’ll have to google image search later on to know what you are supposed to be bragging about.

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In the bush near Lake Monowai


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What’s on the menu?

I haven’t written a blog about what my training looks like, because I don’t think people really care. If you are in the business of caring, I’ve written down what I did last week, with links to each run so U CAN HAZ a look at what I subject myself to in the pursuit of running faster!

My coach Kevin sends me an email each Sunday afternoon so I can see what’s on the menu for that week. Last week was the first week of a six week build up to make me run faster later in summer. Apparently we will build up to quite a lot of distance in this time. I am interested to find out how much ‘a lot’ of distance is…

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This is what my training weeks typically look like

Monday – 10km run

Mondays are always an easy run. Easy is about 70% effort, so 5.04 pace per km. I try not to look at my watch on these runs as the pace doesn’t matter, as long as it feels easy then that’s fine. I can run during my work day so I did an easy flat 10km loop around the Bays in the afternoon.

Tuesday – 16km run, 60mins weights/gym

I do weights sometimes because I still think 22″ arms is a possibility. Also I don’t want to be completely weak in my upper body should I need to fight my way out of a wet paper bag, or carry the amount of food I need to eat in a day. I had spare time so I spent 40 minutes doing core exercises and rolling out and stretching my legs. I’m yet to meet anyone who does this as often as they ‘should’.

I went to The Waterfront 5km and put my upper body weight training to good use by holding a baby in a front pack while my friend ran the 5km. She was pushing a buggy with another human inside and ran under 23 minutes.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

These are the type of crazies I hang out with.

Today’s run was 16km at a slightly faster pace than ‘easy’ so 75% effort. To avoid the wind I ran up hills and along trails around Mount Victoria so I judged this on feel rather than pace because of the extra challenge of doing hills.

Wednesday – 24km run

I was dreading Wednesdays’ run. The weather in Wellington was typical, cold, windy and drizzling. I recruited my friend Dan to run with me, he seems to relish the opportunity for a long hard run in the rain. He’s weird. This run was prescribed as 24km at 80% effort so the pace we want to hit is 4 minutes 40 per km, or 12.8 km/h. It’s not that fast but if you add in a bit of wind, some rain, and the fact that it’s already 6pm and your dinner is so far away it makes it harder.

It was fine for the first 12km despite running in to a headwind, we were under the pace and it wasn’t too cold (I took off one of my two jackets!). The pace slowed down a bit when I put my jacket back on, and again when I had a gel. I don’t stop to change my clothes or to eat because I tend to just stop for ages and get cold and not want to start again. The last 4km of this run was pretty rough and full of expletives.

Some happy-go-fucky-ourself person had put a sign along Oriental Bay that said ‘Run More!’ a bit too cheerfully. Run MORE? You mean more than 24km? Run MORE in this rain? I booted the sign over as hard as I could and kept running. I think I must have offloaded at least one large coagulated takeaway soy flat white’s worth of boogers over 24km.

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Oh, Strava! Red line blue line map map map fap fap

I was pretty exhausted after this, and when I got home I faced the insurmountable task of making my bed as I had washed my sheets. Wrestling a duvet inside of a duvet cover is a nightmare at the best of times so I just sat on the floor in front of it in my exhausted sweaty state and I cried and blew bubbles out of my nose in to a tissue.

Linen is really upsetting

Linen is really upsetting (especially unfolded fitted sheets)

Thursday- 5km run 30 mins Yoga

Running related- I got a pedicure. You can’t just go around with haggard looking feet. It was a bit nerve wracking having someone poking around next to my nearly-there toenail on my right foot but it held on long enough to be painted a nice shade of green to match my Marmot jacket. Because  wearing a seam sealed jacket with bare feet is very Wellington.

I ran a 5km progressive run with my friend then we did 30 minutes of yoga at Les Mills Extreme to stretch out.

Friday- 7km Run

Fridays are always easy days; 70% effort for 30-40 minutes, maybe some yoga in the evening. This day I picked a really stupid route that had a lot of hills so it wasn’t a very relaxing run. At least I know where not to go next time. The best thing about this run was my shoes! I put springy new laces in these ASICS trail shoes that I’m Road Testing at the moment.

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Pew pew pew PINK PINK PINK

Saturday- 12X400m, 8km Run

Saturdays at 8am I do track. This is usually at Newtown Park with a group of people and we go for coffee afterwards. If I can’t make it to Newtown like this week, I run at Karori Park. It is the field of dreams and is full of little kids playing cricket now that we are in to summer.

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

Newtown Park. Field of awakeness and Monkey noises and coffee

The goal for this workout was to run 12 X 400m in 82 seconds, with 60 seconds rest between each rep. I didn’t hit that time once but my reps were fairly even! By the 5th one I wanted to stop, but each recovery you get you feel like you can do one more, just one more. Someone stole my top when I was running. Karori isn’t so fancy after all. I did an easy 40 minute run in the afternoon. Because that is what my program says to do!

Sunday- 25km Run

Sundays are always long run days. This is to build endurance, to look at scenery, and to get away from people for a couple of hours. This was supposed to be 32km at 5.04 pace but I had work on Sunday so it was quite late in the day before I could run and this was a good enough excuse for me to cut it short… 2 hours is still a decent run though right?

That is what I do most weeks unless I’m sick (self inflicted or otherwise). 

  • 107km
  • 0 blisters
  • 8 hours and 48 minutes of running
  • 8 sets of running gear to wash
  • 3 lazy dinners that consisted of Pizza
  • 2,068 metres climbed on the hills around Wellington
  • 2 emotional outbursts
  • 1 week down out of six!
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On the hard stuff

It has only just occurred to me, that running isn’t fun.

I don’t ever run with music, my head (or the space inside it) makes the music. If you see me out running this is what is going on…

Here are the lyrics for your reference:

Lalalalala lalalalaala lalalala lalalaa aaa lalalalaa lalaa lalalalalalaa lalalala lalalal laaaaaaaaa lalalalal a pam pam lalalaallaaaaaaaaa lalalalalalaa lalalalalaalalala lalalaal lalalalaa pam pam pam pam lala lalalala lalala laaaaaaaaaaaa lalalalal (x8)

Yesterday the run that my lovely coach set for me was 24km at 4.40pace, which shouldn’t be too hard, at least not at the beginning of the run.

Before I set out, I was like, uber-stressed about running wearing all-black because I had failed to plan my usual colour coordinated attire. What would Chandima think if he saw me out running in black on black with teal Nikes and no other teal! I changed my top to a teal Lululemon number (crisis averted!) and headed out the door, satisfied that I was aesthetically athletically ready to crush this longer tempo.

I knew it would be a HAAM of a run after the first 200metres. It felt like I hadn’t been stretching or rolling out my legs as often as I should recently since 2012. Let’s see how it goes, let’s just run at the pace for as long as you can and see how it goes. GO.

I went through a broad spectrum of emotions on this run, these are a few.

Misanthropy– Toot or ‘Awwww yeeauh gurl’ at me again and I will cut you. No I don’t have a knife, I’ll use the edge of my Snapper card. Can you not see I’m attempting to run away from you? Leave me be you lobotomised bottom feeders.

Self Loathing- Why is this hard for you? You’re just being pathetic. You run this fast all the time, why is it hard today? Probably because you haven’t brushed your hair in three days you bloody feral. You should just call it quits and go home and shave your head, it will solve so many problems.

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Numbness- Perhaps not an emotion so much as a physical feeling. What is happening to my right foot? Is my shoe on too tight? If I still can’t feel it after 12km I will stop. Surely that’s a problem you just run through? Planes can still fly with one functioning engine right so I can run with one functioning foot?

Loneliness/Neglect- My usual Wednesday buddies are on different training schedules (and are maybe just a wee bit too fast) so I had to suffer alone. I would rather run a few kms behind them alone, but just with the comfort of knowing they are there. (Single tear)

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Arousal- Wait, what is the opposite of this? I definitely had no runboner at any point on this run. I did admire my reflection in the window of a maroon Rav4 but it was to check my form rather than my sexiness. I’m already well aware of how sexy I am.

Amazement- Holy shit, I can feel my foot now! And I can’t feel the pain in my calves, shins, quads and hamstrings that plagued me for the first 15km. Lalalalala lalalalaala lalalala lalalaa…

Is this how it feels when people who hate running go for a run? Like a death march, like being slowly tortured by a domestic-ated abusing cat that intends to kill you eventually but wants to enjoy the process? I hated every step of the first 10km. I passed people I knew and managed to squeeze out two smiles which took so much effort that I think I dropped the pace off by ten seconds per km.

Feelings

Feelings

At the 12th kilometre I turned around. The sun was going down over behind Makara and the road winding back around the coast was golden and sunny. I told myself there were lots of great things happening on this run! Look at that sun Amanda, ain’t it grand! Big old firey hellish ball up there that is never quite puts out enough heat to account for how cancerous it is.

Every step hurt, and I was still holding the pace, I just didn’t want to! I promised myself that if I finished the run and hit the goal pace I could get a new pair of racing flats which was super motivating because I don’t need them and things I don’t need are much more exciting than the necessities.

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Room for another substratum of sports shoes methinks.

I have a clear understanding now of what people are feeling when they say that they hate running. If you push through these runs though you will be the little Spanish Flea tinkling around the Bays humming tunes to yourself and smiling. Just keep at it. Buy more shoes.

This is the hateful run if you want to see it.


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Wellington Road Champs

The course is crap! It sucks! Hilly, out and back out and back, just a 2km loop. IN WAINUI! They have like, NO decent cafes in Wainui.

The Wellington Road running champs are held on a back road in the back of the back of nowhere every year in mid-August. This is an Athletics NZ race between the local clubs, and unlike Round The Bays or the Wellington Marathon this 10km race is small but it is fierce and the competition is a lot tougher.

Having just spent a month on holiday, then a few weeks just not training properly I had low expectations for this race. I bought myself a very large donut from Flight Coffee on my way out to Wainui and  I promised myself that if I came in the top five that I could eat the donut. It was almost the size of my hand, iced with chocolate on one side and icing on the other. It smelled good, it looked good, and I needed to earn it.

I warmed up for the race, realised I’d forgotten my timing chip among other things so rectified that and jogged over to the start line, putting myself next to Michelle Van Looy who had hickies all over her back, it was her anniversary she explained (It was needling :P).

The race started and Nicole Mitchell went off to run a solo race while seven or eight of us formed a little pod of 40-41 minute dolphins and chased and paced and ‘eeeeahahahehed’ each other up and down the course. The first kilometre is slightly uphill, then you go back down, so it’s a good 15 seconds difference in each lap for most people.

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

Photo bought to you by Sharon Wray, legs bought to you by Scottish Harriers

It’s a great course in that you can see exactly what place you are and wave at the leading ladies as you try not to get lapped by them. You can see who is strong on the up and down hill sections and bank this to use in the final lap. It’s also great for spectators who yell little bits of advice as you come past ‘Stay on them, speed up, don’t let her go’.

The dolphins started to drift apart around 6km in and I, being a social dolphin, stayed with the little pack because there is safety in numbers and I always worry about blowing up and not being able to finish. 1500m from the end I thought to myself, ‘This is a race Amanda, why are you being conservative, just race it!’ So I ran a little bit harder, managed to get ahead of the pod and move up four or so placings, I locked eyes on Lindsay who is the least donut-looking person I know but in that moment she became the target, the goal, the delicious baked good with two kinds of glazed icing rolling down the road in front of me. I managed to come in to finish in 5th place by only one second. The donut was mine.

Andrea thinks I’m a donut too

I improved my time ever so slightly from my last 10km race and ran 40.49 so panted and stumbled around the finish line telling anyone who would listen, limping slightly, and grinning about the baking I was going to eat. Full results are here!

Ayesha and Me

We stayed on to watch the men’s race, but they ran too fast for me to know what was going on or who was who except at the end when I thought Nick Horspool was smiling cheerfully as he went down the finishing chute to take the win. When I look back at the photos it was a bit of an Anthony Hopkins in the Shining smile rather than a happy smile. This tells me that we all do look super atheltic and awesome and happy when we run (in real life) and it’s just the photos that make everyone look murderous.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Donut
  • 14 second PB!
  • Battle scar
  • I BEAT CARL
  • Going to nationals this weekend

    How will I colour coordinate stained Nikes? 😭

    *If I had come sixth I would have still eaten the donut but would have salted it with my tears before consuming.


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Running in Vietnam – Hoi An & HCMC

Hôi An is a lot smaller than Hanoi with a population of 120,000 it’s about the size of Dunedin. Hanoi had 7 million people and about 5 million god dam scooters so arriving in the relative peace of Hôi An gave me the opportunity to re-prioritise; to stop eating three ice creams a day and start doing some training.

The day after we arrived it was raining and not so hot so I went for my ‘long run’ out to the beach, Ben was in tow riding a faded green bicycle named Martin (Said in a Spanish accent) who protested the entire way.

Benjamiin and Martiin

Benjamiin and Martiin

It was a lot easier to run here without battling crowds, scooters, rickshaws, the pungent leaky bum-like smell of durian mixed with authentic human poo and wee and a heavy helping of trash and exhaust fumes like you have to in Hanoi. In Hôi An you can run along the canals or near the beach, the main roads are well use to cyclists ambling along so a runner is not a problem! It’s very flat here which can get boring, but when its 28-35 degrees I doubt that I would have enjoyed hills very much.

Yay I done running

Yay I done running

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This waterway wasn’t obviously polluted, zero corpses!

I loved running alongside the fields here, this is why!

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Two little dogs followed us along most of this path, aside from the trash it’s pretty idyllic

I attempted a speed session at the hotel on the treadmill. She’ll be right, no air con no worries. What a fool. I managed 5x 1km repeats at a 4.29min/km pace and I was struggling to hit that! Pooh pooh. Struggling so much my iPhone got carried away playing Daft Punk trying to haul my ass faster and faster and hit the deck and flew out into the gym equipment across the room. Struggling so much that there was not a dry place on my whole body, I have never been so sweaty in my life (This was true at that point, it got worse later).

That's me in the conical hat cleaning the river while watching a girl in orange shorts run by

Look closely see if you can spot me! CLUE- I’m wearing a conical hat

I managed one 20km run here, I stopped around every 5km with my scooter support vehicle for water and had a gel at about 16km which gave me a huge boost otherwise I would have jumped on the back of the scooter for a ride home. I was sweating so much that my shorts were constantly dripping on to the back of my calves, have you ever felt that? No? Oh it’s lovely you should try it.

That face you make when you thought you would die but you pulled through and you're still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow

That face you make when everybody you thought you would die but you pulled through and you’re still alive for Season 6 #JonSnow #TheNightsWatchCanGoDie

We went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) after leaving Hoi An. I’ll call it HCMC because that is more insta-friendly and acronyms make you look like you know things. I got up at 5am to join the Run Club VN running group on a 15km run. I got utterly lost on the way there but thankfully as it’s daylight at 5.15 there are heaps of people to help with directions! I ran with a local Architect named Hung and an expat Swede named Chris. With their help we got lost again and I got to learn from locals about HCMC and what it’s like to run here.

I was excited

We just met each other, lead me in to the depths of Saigon and across a motorway in peak traffic after escaping from a stray dog, it will be fun!

Running in Vietnam has made me realise that while holidays in hot places are nice, running in hot places is a bad time. I would much rather run where humans don’t like to go, where it’s too cold, too windy and too steep. Where you won’t hear the sound of another person much less the commuting of tens of thousands. I really appreciate how clean the air is in New Zealand, and that to get soaked on a run you need to jump in to a body of water and can’t rely on litres of your own perspiration for that ‘just showered’ look. I am really looking forward to cold weather running; mistaking my nipples for wine gums, being sprayed by huge grey surf, having numb fingers and a numb arse and only smelling something even mildly fecal when being crop dusted on a pack run.


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Running in Vietnam- Sa Pa

Sa Pa is in Northern Vietnam in Láo Cai, the highest mountain in Vietnam is here – Fansipan at 3143m. It is also the location of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, which from my research is perhaps the only trail race in Vietnam (yet!).

We caught a sleeper bus to Sa Pa from Hanoi, named ‘sleeper’ for the reclining seats that should make it easier to sleep. Not conducive to sleep for the constant tooting, the smoking bus driver, the not-properly-washed backpackers and the 36 degree temperatures. With the aid of snapchat and sleeping pills we made it to Sa Pa at 6am on what day I don’t really care to remember and checked in to a hotel with a view of the mountains. 

View from the hotel

 

I used Strava to search segments nearby and could see where other people had run here, this was a huge help! I Scootered down to the Sa Pa Athletics Track which was busy with several soccer games happening and had a crack at a speed session.

I wanted to do 1km repeats but dropped it down to 500m because I’m on holiday and its 28 degrees AND Sa Pa is at about 1500m elevation. Three excuses is enough without adding that it was my Birthday that day and I should be sitting down to one of several cakes.

  

Two local boys chased me around the track, they could run better than I could. I managed to run in to (or over?) a small child in the last hundred metres of my fourth rep and he flew across a couple of lanes and rolled in to the dirt. I picked him up off the ground and he looked like he was about to cry. Everyone was staring at me mutely while the boy sulked and I felt like a monster so I called it a day and ran away from the scene, at pace.

Look at that stride and how freely he runs while I look like a caricature

 

I did one short trail run in Sa Pa, there is an unmarked road of sorts just near the Athletics Track. The road starts out as the kind you could drive a car down then turns in to a goat track, with little brown and black goats on it, that isn’t a figure of speech.

   

I got quite lost on this run but it was so much fun! People will wave you back towards the road if you make the right confused expressions at them. Enough chat just look at some of the photos I took on my run.   

    

the inevitable ruin of the pretty Zoom Pegasus

 I will be back to run in Sa Pa, with more research on where to run, more time, less food poisoning and perhaps coming at another time of year as July and August are the hottest months here.


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Running in Vietnam- Ha Noi

Taking a three and a half week holiday from work; glorious! Taking a three and a half week holiday from running; terrifying.

I knew when we planned this trip that I would be able to squeeze in a few runs, and doing my favourite thing while travelling has been an challenging and rewarding experience so far.  

Our first destination was Hanoi, a city of seven million people in the North of Vietnam. Our hotel was near Hoàn Kiém Lake, and it turns out this is a hugely popular spot for the locals doing their morning exercise. From 5am (likely even earlier) the path around the lake was packed.

Before my run, 5.45am and 28 degrees C

 
I aimed to go for a 6km run but cut it short because I was sweating more than I do I hot yoga (which is litres) and breathing like I was running 400m sprints.  

I am sharing this so you know how hot I am (in temperature and also sexiness)

 Most people that were running just ran on the roads because of how crowded it was. You wouldn’t do this in the day or night time though because the traffic is chaotic and you would become a speed bump for the scooters.

 
There were a few groups that looked VERY vaguely like the Vietnamese version of Les Mills BodyJam classes happening around the lake including this one, it was brilliant, perfect for a warm down.

After uploading my run to Strava I saw that I was a good 30 seconds behind the course record for a lap of Hoàn Kiém. Like any Strava addict I went back the next day and ran it faster so I could claim it for myself, take that other Strava tourist. 

I look like I really enjoyed that, right?

  

The lake and surrounding foliage

 

Because we were off to Sa Pa that night, and sharing the sleeper bus with other travellers I thought I should be considerate and attempt to clean my horrifically sweaty running gear. Ben I swear I didn’t use your toothbrush for this…  

Ha Noi was really hot, very polluted and very dirty. It was cool to get outside and see how the people who live here exercise but not a very pleasant experience. If I lived here I would definitely opt for the group fitness classes, or perhaps become a Xích lô (rickshaw) driver. Anything to avoid all the treadmill time!