My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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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!


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Wellington Marathon 10km 2015

Last Sunday was the 30th Annual Wellington Marathon. The course follows the waterfront and starts and ends at Westpac Stadium (UP A RAMP!).

I went to the start line early so I could see my friend and training buddy Ayesha set out for the half marathon, see the short video above for my awkward squeaky cheer.

For my own race I had a goal of sub 40 minutes, it didn’t seem unrealistic but it was a lot faster than my previous personal best of 42.10.

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Pre-race Kewpie pose

I lined up at the start back a few rows and sized up the competition. You can never tell how fast people are when you’re just standing there, skinny people might just be skinny and not fast, you really have to know someone to pick their ability. I assumed (safely, very safely, did I mention I made a massive correct assumptive assumption) that the two girls standing stiffly at the front of the start line wearing enormous Beats by Dre headphones and adjusting their ipod arm bands would not be in front of me after the gun went. Several nipple-high kids were also lined up across front waiting for their 200 metres of glory. Had I not been feeling so chipper I would have willed them to be trampled; kids on the start line are a hazard.

I thought that I should try to stick with Gabby (lol Amanda, lol) but changed that plan after about 400m and just ran. The first 2km were a bit too fast at 3.50 pace then I struggled to hit 4 minutes after that. I ran with Haleigh until the 5km mark where she left me behind to run in to second place. I was in fourth which is good by my standards so just tried to keep going fast enough that I wasn’t losing places or looking unco in front of the GIANT SCREEN that played a live feed of the runners. Was this really necessary in the final 1500m? I looked horrific. I ended up passing the colour-coordinated Alice (who will be an awesome training partner this summer) and coming home third in 41.03. Full results of the race here.

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Hi my name is legs

What I learned from this race;

  • When short shorts get too lose they disappear in to your crack
  • Less clothing is more when you are running shorter distances
  • Wind can make or break your time
  • Ruby Muir is a tank
  • Seeing your friend cheer for you makes you go so much faster, cheers Larna, Sophie, Ben and Karin
  • I WILL NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH MY TIME!

I have been training pretty solidly since March when I was allowed to run again, and have just got out of the ‘building’ phase and started training that includes more speed work. I don’t think I had done enough to be able to pace myself through a good 10km race. It’s a lot different to running a half marathon where you can relax enough in to it to cruise along and talk, and not like a 5km when your lungs explode the whole way. It’s somewhere in the middle and I’m not use to it at all!

There is a huge difference between a 4.15 pace and a 4 minute pace. The closer you get to that threshold the harder you have to work for every second. When the wind is against you that extra 5 seconds per km pushing you back has a big impact.

I’m off to Vietnam for a month and will try to stay fit there so I can get closer to 40 in the Wellington Road Champs in August. I forsee a lot of treadmills or midnight runs happening in the next month.

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Scottish team mate Dorota


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The original running buddy

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

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

Me and my main girl

Me and my main girl

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

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

Nokomai Station 4WD Safari

(Photo taken from Nokomai Station- By Shellie Evans)

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

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

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

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Look at all my friends!

This is how I found my running buddies

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

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


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Breaking a Six Month Drought

How do you get your mojo back after a dry spell?

When it’s dry, it’s dry for ages. Often the only thing you need to get a good stiff run under your belt is a slightly less desirable initial run, just to break the drought and dust things off.

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How do you define a drought?

A drought is an extended period when a runner experiences a deficiency in his or her run supply. A drought can last for months or years, or may be declared after as few as 3 days depending on existing levels of hypochondria and addiction.  It can have a substantial impact on the fitness and mental state of the affected runner. The definition may depend on you, and what you class as a ‘normal’ number of times to be sneaking off for a quick run. Some of us do it twice or more a day, others once a week, and the odd few save it for special occasions like Christmas and New Years (those fitness resolutions are great!). I think we can all agree, that if you haven’t wet your end of your nose with sweat from a run in six months, you are experiencing a drought.

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What a run drought looks like on Strava

During a dry spell you can feel quite left out of the action, because you are. You wake up feeling squeaky-clean on a Sunday morning, and you’ve got no juicy stories for your workmates on Monday about the sweet route you conquered in the weekend. If it’s been a while since you’ve been out for an all-morning sweat fest you might be feeling like it’s never going to happen again.

This hot weather we’ve been having in Wellington gets everyone in the mood for it. Bronzed bare legs and a warm 120km/h breeze blowing through your hair like a Pantene commercial, the conditions are perfect for some carefree summer loving. I’m here to help you to get back in to the game, to end your drought, and regain your prowess on the streets, the track and the trails.

Let’s put another notch on your GPS watch and break the dry spell, let’s get you a RUN.

  1. Take stock of your appearance

What typically happens to your body during a six month drought?

You gain or lose weight, you wear things that aren’t made of spandex and regain a sense of style, your hair is clean, and you have all your toenails! You have had lots of spare time while you haven’t been chasing trails to work on things like flossing your teeth and getting hair cuts, there will have been some big changes. You need to reverse all of that.

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Consider changing your hair, making it more aero. If you have acquired a fringe since being out of action this just has to go, they are not good for running. Have you shaved off your beard trying to look clean and fancy? Grow that pube-face back, especially if you’re running off road, you need somewhere to keep mementos of your big running dates.

The boobs/moobs? I’m sorry but they need to go. Also not aero. Once you get back on the horse you will have plenty of time to run off your titties, but if you want to start the process now then get your bum on to a spin bike. I recommed the RPM classes at Les Mills to get your lungs cardio ready before launching back in to that first run.

2.Get ‘Interested’ again

If you find yourself home alone (again) eating pizza and watching the Susan Boyle X Factor audition (again) to make yourself believe that the Ugly Duckling story can come true, just stop right now and put away the pizza (keep the tissues out though).

If you have lost that burning desire that once had you at it twice a day, try to reignite that passion. The best quality ‘inspirational’ material is on the websites you can subscribe to, like Flotrack. Sign up to the site, grab a sock, some bodyglide, a strong shoelace, and any other running paraphernalia that might get you inspired (I like to wear my race medals when I watch running videos), and settle back for an evening with just you and the screen.

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Runboner material from Flotrack featuring Mary Cain

The more you watch, the more you will get inspired and want to get a slice of the action for yourself.

  1. Have realistic expectations

You’re not going to get that perfect run on the first go, so just stop with the idealism and focus on what is attainable for you right now to get this first run out of the way. Have an open minded approach when it comes to choosing your run.

What you are saying:

‘I need to get new shoes, it has to be a sunny day, I need perfect form, my favourite flavour energy gel, and the scenery has to be so good that I try to fumble a photo with my iPhone and run and eat my gel at the same time.’

What you’ll say if you really want a route. to run:

‘Stuff it, I’ll run in my chucks and skinny jeans on the damp grass after eating a turkish kebab at 2am’

Don’t wait for that perfect run to come along, you have to slay a few dragon runs to get back to prancing like a prince or princess.

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It won’t be pretty. Nice one on the ponytail hole Lululemon.

  1. Take every opportunity

Drought buster- A person you normally wouldn’t run with but whom you decide to bang. out a run with anyway because you haven’t been on one for too long i.e. The person who breaks the dry spell.

“I heard you had a run with Emily. That girl is suspect. What were you thinking?” 
“Yeah, she’s not quality. She runs 12 minute kms. I’m not proud, but what can I say? She was my drought buster.”

All your friends have continued training and you’ve been left in the dust. They are all married to their training programs, and can’t just do casual runs any more. You need to meet new people, ones who are going to have an attainable pace that you can see yourself conquering without too much effort.

Be wary of the running virgin. It may be tempting to pick up someone who hasn’t run before to help you break your drought. You might fluke it and have an amazing run with one of these people, but it’s never good having to comfort them the next day when they are in pain and walking with a swagger because of you. On the plus side, your technique can’t look bad to them, because they don’t know any better!

Other potential drought-busters

Online meetups. These are often in a group though, so if you’ve been flying solo for a few months, going straight in to a group situation can be intimidating. Some people don’t like group runs, but if you’re serious about breaking the dry spell then doing it in a group means you have not just one but up to ten new potential future running buddies! From these ten you may find the one that you can go steady with on long run Sundays. I recommend our local group Wellington Running Meetup, they are fantastic.

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Wellington Running Meetup. It gets weird.

THE ONE

When the golden opportunity finally presents itself, try to remain calm. Take it slowly or it will be over within a couple of minutes. Start off at an easy pace to get in to the rhythm, if it feels uncomfortable then slow it right down. Listen to some Lionel Ritchie if it will help to set the pace.

Expect the unexpected, it may feel like you have never done it before if it’s been a while but practice makes perfect right? The shock of that initial run is over, now it’s time for you to get in to training!

Describe using as many multi-syllabled adjectives as possible, what your first time (or first time in a long time) was like. Share with the group, go on.


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Pa-le-NO

It’s been 28 hours since it happened. Since my partner decided to go Paleo.

It happened too fast for me to realise what was going on. One minute he was sitting down to our traditional Sunday roast – Hell Pizza and Powerade- the next he was slapping sandwiches out of my hands and yellingPete Evans is a GOD!’.

There’s only room for one restrictive diet in this household, and it’s mine. I’ve been vegan for over six years, I think we’ve firmly established that I hold the title as most awkward person at the restaurant, owner of the animal friendly eco friendly sustainable compostable ergonomic bamboo toothbrush, and shunner of bacon butties.

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Friends won with this salad, at least three.

I was ok with this whole diet change until it started to affect me. We were out for a walk, and he had taken my bag of vegan jelly beans out of the car. I thought he was going to eat them; which I was ok with because sharing is caring, and you need jellybeans when you’re running for a little bit of energy. But it was much, much worse than that. He THREW my jelly beans in to a rubbish bin. A PUBLIC rubbish bin (seven second rule does not count in there). WHAT THE HELL!? I would have gone in to retrieve them had there not been a suspiciously urine-coloured pillow in there too, I just had to walkrun away and remove myself from that horrible scenario.

‘Why did you throw away my jellybeans?!’

‘Why were you just eating cancer Amanda, CANCER. That’s the old us, the new us would never eat that.’

He says he’s doing it because he cares. I think he just wants to punish me. Retribution for five years of living as an omnivore with a vegan. He survived the 6am pre-run raw smoothie stage, he pulled through the raw-food-only month in the middle of a Wellington winter. He held his tongue through many a failed fettuccine and vegan-ised Italian dish, and he has stayed.

I’m hitting reverse now with ‘sharing is caring’, after five years of dairy-free dining I am not about to let someone else in on my CoYo (Coconut yoghurt) and my dairy-free ice cream stash. I saw him eyeing it in the freezer, with his cave man drool. I pelted him with sugar cubes until he retreated and left it alone. Now I’ll have to eat all my treats in one sitting or I may not get any, thanks Paleo.

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Oh wow, so many things we could eat together! Like parsnips!

I don’t think we could ever eat out at restaurants again with one of us Vegan and the other Paleo, the chefs would hate us. That being said, I would take great joy in taking the newbie Paleo to a vegan restaurant full of soy products and seeing him scan the menu before saying with a woeful downcast look, ‘I’ll just have the salad thanks’. Ha.

I think I could show a little more patience with the Paleo ‘thing’. I don’t think I realised how hard it can be when someone changes their diet, and how much you have to learn to accommodate them and their bloody irrational new eating habits. I am trying to put things in perspective by putting myself in his shoes, what if he was as unsupportive as I am with this diet change?

I ignored your dietary requirements and made a delightful fresh basil pasta for tea, oh well, if you’re hungry you’ll eat it!

I ignored your dietary requirements and made a delightful fresh basil piglet for tea, oh well, if you’re hungry you’ll eat it!

My strategy from here is to buy all of his favourite dairy laden foods for an entire week and try to drive out the Paleo demons with Holy Cow water. I’ve been pouring chocolate milkshakes and discarded single-use kitchen appliances on the front doorstep to mark our territory ‘No Palaeolithic things in here thanks’.

I would talk about being vegan and running a lot and my diet but I’m too sugar deprived to think right now, I just want my jellybeans back 😦

RIP

RIP xoxo


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Recovering from a stress fracture Act II

Have you ever been really drunk when it wasn’t quite appropriate, and convincingly tried to act sober?

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COULD AN INJURED PERSON DO THIS?

You manage to convince yourself of your sobriety immediately, (Pah, thish ish totally buhlievibble) but others who are not suffering the effects of overindulging, can see right through the facade.

I had been employing a similar tactic to this when visiting my perfectly able bodied Sports Physician Ruth; trying to look un-injured. She must have been well use to the scent of strapping tape and ibuprofen, last night’s pool chlorine still seeping from my pores while I attempt to walk in a straight line with my floppy drunk leg then stand on one foot, roll over, and beg.

I went to see Ruth for my check up last week, sixteen weeks after I first got my stress fracture. We sat in her office, with pictures of New Zealand Olympic Athletes covering almost every wall, staring out at me with their He Man quads and their exclusive Olympic Ring tattoos. Ruth performed the sobriety test for what must have been the fifth time now, I wasn’t sure I would nail it, but here goes.

Stand on one foot and sit down, left, then right 

Jump up and down on your left foot, then your right

Lie on your back while I poke your Pelvis and rotate your leg/hip area.

She handed me my report card, it’s a pass! Then came the prize,  ‘You can start your walk to run program, but I want you to see the podiatrist first to check your running style’. I bounced out to reception and booked in to see the podiatrist, the closest appointment they had was the 15th of December. Nobody can contain a run boner for that long. Nobody.

I phoned Mr Podiatry myself and got an appointment for the upcoming Sunday. I would need to run to be able to have him see my running style. A PARADOX! Don’t run until he sees you run. Run a little bit beforehand so he can see how you run and you’re not totally gammy from four months off. What to do?

This is what the back to running program FUN looks like!!

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The instructions are to do each level of exercise four times, with a day in between each runwalk. Under those instructions this program will take me ten weeks, which seems like an incredibly long time. Anyone who has trained me or trained with me will tell you straight away that I am terrible at sticking to a program, but with this one I am going to break (or heal) the mold.

Ben came with me for runwalk #1. We drove out to Owhiro Bay, one of my favourite places to run and did a few stretches before starting off on the 9 minute walk. As the timer got closer to 9 I was counting down the seconds until I could start that glorious golden minute of running, 8.57, 8.58, 8.59, RUN!

Owhiro Bay

Owhiro Bay

Wind not quite in my hair, legs feeling like they have aged while they have been in storage, over thinking every step, trying to enjoy that little burst of activity before the sixty seconds ended and I was back to a walk. I was really excited about starting a new stage of rehab, and I still am but with each step you have a new ascent, you start from the bottom and you climb all over again until you can see the next peak.

I still have a long way to go to get back to where I was in July, but look how far I’ve come already!

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My recovery calendar

I have been marking this calendar off with my Sharpie each morning pre-porridge/paper/poo, and watching as the days and weeks fall behind, the bad days disappear and the milestones keep coming.

  • Crutches are gone after 8 weeks
  • I can swim using my legs, and I can Aqua jog, cycle, you name it!
  • I CAN RUN! I run across the road to beat the lights, I chase people, I run in to the ocean
  • I don’t cry any more, not about being injured anyway. Just over tear jerking X-Factor performances on Youtube

The fact that I can walk 2 km to the pool, swim with my new legs then walk all the way back is a pretty big deal. No more Taxi rides, no hobbling to catch the bus and no more crutches skidding on the slick tiles in the pool. Every day I’ll get a little stronger, and eventually I’ll be back and chasing those PB’s, and having adventures on trails again with my running buddies who I have been missing (and have surely been missing me) so much!


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Throwing a pity party, and cleaning up afterwards

I’ve thought a lot while running, about how much I love to do it, how rewarding it is, and how when you dedicate yourself to something so fully, how great the rewards are that you get in return. I’ve thought about how it’s helped me through depression, and changed me from that person who would hide in her room all day, to someone who runs outside in a crop top and posts pictures of her crotch on the internet. I’m so grateful for the ability to run, and I was so caught up in it that I never thought about what would happen when it was gone.

On Friday two weeks ago I went along to the physio. I’d had the X-rays, I’d sat through a vey lubey ultrasound in a variety of awkward positions, and every possibility of injury had been eliminated except for one thing, which was the only thing that it could be. It wasn’t the best news, but it wasn’t the worst

‘You have a stress fracture, most likely in your pubic rami. Mentally prepare yourself for not being able to run for the next six months.’

I picked this picture because the red makes it looks really sore.

I picked this picture because the red makes it looks really sore.

After delivering the news the Physiotherapist then did some release work on my right quad with needles. I feebly pretended my tears were because of the needling and electric pulses making my leg convulse, but it wasn’t. I was pretty devastated. The Physio handed me some racy yellow crutches with instructions not to put any weight on my right leg and off I hobbled.

People like to remind you that there are other things that suck more than not being able to run for six months, ‘It’s not like you have cancer’, ‘You can still wipe your own ass’, or ‘At least your birthday isn’t on Christmas Day and people only ever give you one present’. These are people that don’t run, who see running as evil, to be avoided, and who have never felt the joy of a bag of jelly beans melting through the pocket of their tights, or the wind blowing their spit in to their ear.

To the runners, you might as well have lost the entire leg. They offer their condolences, they know exactly how hard you worked to get your running to that level, and they know that feeling you chase that you’ll now miss out on until your body agrees that you can run again.

Technical stuff

To properly diagnose a stress fracture you need to get an MRI, as it won’t show on an X-ray until the bone starts to heal. Two weeks of yoga, spin class, Pump, and walking a few kilometres each day meant that my stress fracture was definitely NOT starting to heal. To get an MRI, you must see a physician (you can’t be referred to get one from a physio or GP). I went to see Ruth Highet, a well known Sports Physician in Wellington. I took an instant liking to her when one of the first questions she asked was ‘ What’s your PB for a 10km?’ None of this ‘Why do you run so much?’ nonsense, this was someone who I could relate to.

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See the white part on the upper left corner, that is the stress fracture

Ruth showed me my bones on the screen and said that if I had gone for one more run I would have completely fractured the bone, so I guess I am pretty lucky in that respect.

How does one get a stress fracture in the pelvis? There are many reasons, there may have been 120 reasons why I got one, here are a few contributing factors and I am sure all of these helped me to get my stress fracture.

  • Your running shoes aren’t right
  • Running style is not perfect
  • Your headband didn’t match your shorts
  • Too much pelvic thrusting. Wink. Cough. Elbow elbow.
  • Increasing your mileage too fast
  • You have a vagina (only females get these ones, lucky us!)
  • Poor or inadequate nutrition
  • Running 120kms a week

Ch ch ch ch changes

I have noticed changes in my body already, I FILL an A cup bra now! Badonk-a-donk. I have no visible abs any more, and my right leg is slowly shrinking and losing muscle definition with not being used. I’m beginning to look and feel squishy and lop-sided, like a pair of room temperature testicles.

I used to pride myself on munching down a giant bowl of porridge for breakfast, a foot long subway for lunch, then an entire pizza for dinner, and snacks, and pudding included. We went out for lunch on Saturday, and I had my first DNF in almost two years, I just couldn’t finish my fries. I felt so defeated, leaving that food there on the plate. Those perfect hand cut crispy potato fries with their spicy tomato sauce, lonely, and going cold, destined for the scrap bucket when they should be in mah belleh.

I have not dealt with my loss of mobility very well, and I feel really pathetic for it. Where did that strong person go? The one that could conquer mountains, the one that people told ‘You inspire me’, and why has she been replaced with this sad girl who cries and can’t finish her fries? It has been a challenge getting use to using crutches, and a few times I have thrown them away in frustration, only to have to crawl to get the dumb things back. I also get a little envious of people who can still workout, which is hard to avoid when you work inside a gym!

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I haven’t hit anyone with my crutches. Yet.

I think part of why I got so upset with being injured, is that I thought my happiness was directly tied to my running, and if I stopped, I would become depressed again. One day leaving the sports doctors I walked/ crutched out past a group of people playing basketball. They were all different shapes and sizes, some tall, some wide, some scrawny, and all giving each other absolute hell and having a damn good game, in their wheelchairs. Watching the little people in wheelchairs be sandwiched by the big ones and have the ball stolen from them, and seeing them keep playing with the same determination made me feel a whole lot better about my own situation, and I didn’t cry again after that.

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Yes, I did buy this dress to match the crutches.

What I can do now (2 weeks in to recovery)

  • Swim in the pool with a pool buoy only using my arms
  • Very isolated glute exercises
  • Side planks- my most hated exercise
  • Crunches on a bosu ball
  • Arms, every day. Arms.

What I am working towards

  • Cycling – in four weeks
  • Aqua jogging – four weeks
  • Losing the crutches – 2  weeks
  • Being completely healed! 11  weeks
  • 22″ arms
  • 3minute long side planks, oh hell yeah.

Happy recovery to me, happy recovery to me!


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What missing toenail?

I mentioned in a previous post that I was sure I would see the death of my big toenail a few months after Tarawera. I’m always right, and I was right, as always, about this.

My toenail did die a very slow, dirt and unidentifiable particle collecting, undignified death. There is no getting around how ugly my toes look right now. The nail is making a slow comeback; it’s going through an uneven, lumpy Franken-toe awkward puberty stage right now. My feet weren’t ever model material, but with the added element of missing toenail making a return, something had to be done.

I’ll show you ten ways that you can disguise a missing toenail and have pretty, socially acceptable, non-vomit-inducing feet. If you haven’t been lucky enough to have this happen, keep a few tricks up your compression sleeve  for when it inevitably does.

What missing toenail?

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Click to zoom in for more yuck

Covering the offending digit needn’t be a chore. You don’t have to put in too much effort really, depending on the circumstance, the occasion, and who you think might see your toe it can be a very simple fix. Let’s begin with a few very basic ideas.

 1. Wear socks with bananas on them

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are unisex, and come in an array of colours, patterns and textures

Socks are the obvious solution, but what if you’re going to the beach or the swimming pool and your latex swimming socks don’t match your outfit? I have a solution for you!

2. Paint your toenails

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Sexy red nail polish. You can’t even tell that one toenail is a jagged half grown mess

Nail polish is fairly cheap, comes in lots of colours, and will stay on your toe until the nail eventually grows out if you are too lazy/busy/carefreeYOLO to remove it, it’s hardy stuff. It sticks to anything light coloured or expensive but will not stick very well to skin, and if you try to paint a ‘fake’ nail on to your skin patch it will only rub off after a couple of days.

 3. Add glitter to mask any imperfections

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Ruby Slippers!

4. Add a little more glitter

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Very glitter! So Sparkle. Wow.

If the toenail flaw is still a bit obvious, you can always go a step further. Apparently you can just put makeup on your feet, this would also do away with your sock tan. Can you do smokey eyes on feet?

5. Pretend a child painted your toenails for you

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My imaginary child painted my toenails last night, soooo cute!

When disguises won’t work, the next step to take is to create a diversion. Draw attention away from your gammy toenail by getting people to focus on something else, like how strange you are.

Some of these ideas are only workable in very specific scenarios and cannot be used in everyday life.

6. Toest

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Out for a bare foot breakfast? Try some Toe Jam.

 7. Toeblerone

Someone's been through duty free!

Someone’s been through duty free!

8. Potatoes

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Roast, baked, mashed, so versatile

9. Toepographical map

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Bet you barely noticed my missing toenail here.

 10. Eskitoe Pie

For those 'Can't beat Wellington on a good day' days

For those ‘Can’t beat Wellington on a good day’ days

I hope that you find at least a few of these useful, and if you have your own ideas on how to disguise those runner’s feet and missing toenails, please comment and let me know.


 

Note: Because I am injured, less time on feet (8+ hours a week) means more time on my hands, hence I have been in many different social situations requiring toe disguises.

I took away a few lessons from this time photographing my feet

  • If you have a fractured pelvis, take off your beige pants before painting your foot green or it will be difficult to wash said foot in the shower
  • Acrylic paint washes of skin, or toenail, not patches of toenaily skin.
  • Chocolate, glitter, and jam also stick to toenaily skin and are very hard to wash off
  • Don’t tell people that you ate the toest, they will think you are yuck. (Why waste perfectly good peanut butter?)
  • Ice cream on your toes for five minutes will make them numb and give you chilblains


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NZ Half Marathon Championships

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

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Start line of the 2014 NZ Half Marathon Champs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I did right!

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

How I can improve for next time

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

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