My Romance With Running

Stories about running


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What happens when your thighs rub together 16,320 times

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

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Potential promotional photo for #AKLHalf2017 where crotch is hidden

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

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

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

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

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PRO The girl on the banner has nice teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘Look cool’ – ok.

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

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

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

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

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Looking for bananas

Full results

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

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You’ll never be any good

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

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

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

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#ForeverAlone Photo by James Kuegler

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

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

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

My loneliness was killing me

The loneliness of the solo race was killing me

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

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

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

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

I. Love. It. So. Much.

I. Love. It. So. Much.

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

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

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

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

Lap 1.5 Not fucking likely, buh bye.

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

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

Crying. Definitely crying.

Crying. Definitely crying.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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Auckland Half Marathon, rugby etc.

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

I changed my outfit four times

I changed my outfit four times

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

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

The ferry ride to the start line

The ferry ride to the start line

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

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

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

Camille Buscombe warming up

Camille Buscomb warming up before going on to whinny the race

Kia rite! Kia rite! Kia mau! Hī!

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

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

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

Running up the Harbor Bridge

Running up the Harbour Bridge

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

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Very Athlete. Much photogenic. Wow.

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

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

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

FEELINGS ARE YAY

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

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Super kawaiiiiii

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


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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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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.