Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Karen writes: Running in the rain

Kate and myself had planned a 'sorta-long' training session for Tuesday after work, 19km, where I was going to show her one of my favourite runs.  On Monday it was pouring with rain, no problems we agreed, we would still run if the weather was bad on Tuesday, aren't we tough? Actually, it is always good to practice in adverse conditions, we have learned over the years that you can never tell what you will get on race day and unless you have had experience it is tricky choosing the right gear.  Also there is nothing like getting really cold to remind you never to wear cotton or a really nasty chafe to teach you to slather the anti-chafe everywhere before hitting the road in the wet, better to learn that sort of lesson during training.

So Tuesday afternoon, out to Maraetai, the rain was bucketing down, the car windscreen wipers were doing double-time, and obviously Auckland doesn't have a drought problem anymore.

We got dressed in our wet weather running gear of choice.  I wore my favourite zoot tri-shorts, a very firm fitting tri-top to minimise chafing from the movement of loose fabric, a light rain jacket, best wet weather socks which are so thin they are almost like stocking material...but they work, buff visor scarf and clear sunglasses.  I'm a bit paranoid and we had headlamps in case we took a bit longer than planned, and my waist-pack had water, whistle, several bags of sports-beans which are my new absolute favourite fuel, tiny space blanket folded up tight, and phone and a thin merino top in a plastic bag.

We hit the road and ran along the coast towards Omana, usually this is a spectacularly beautiful run by the sea, now everything was grey and blurry looking.  We warmed up quickly and the raincoats came off, running in the rain unless it is very cold is much more comfortable without a rustling, sweating coat layer. We talk a lot when we run and we mused on how far we have come in recent years, to the point where 19km in the pouring rain, after a work day in the middle of the week, might still be insane but really isn't such a big thing. We talked about other runs we have been on, and often a run after some memorable event becomes embedded permanently in your memory. Like this time, we will probably always remember running along Omana Esplanade on a rainy evening talking about the day's Boston Marathon tragedy, feeling sad about those who were harmed.  We  also felt sad about the people who would have put their all into getting to that magical start line, an emotionally and physically shattering thing in itself...and who then didn't actually get to finish. How will the big marathon events survive this sort of thing you wonder, because whoever would have thought that having your family there supporting you to achieve your marathon dream wasn't a safe and joyful thing to do. There has been a lot online from the endurance community since, even this email from Ironman pretty much saying 'don't give up and let the bad guys win'.
So we took it easy for the first 14 km, neither of us had much energy, Kate because she had pushed it the day before, me because I had been unwell for a week and hadn't run any sort of distance for days, then we headed into the forestry.  By this time the rain had stopped, but it was getting darker, we still had 5km to go and I realised we weren't going to finish in daylight.  There was no moon, no stars and we switched the headlamps on. It was absolutely silent in the bush except for the occasional Morepork with it's distinctive call, no rustling or creaking from the trees, just our footsteps and breathing.  We didn't do so much talking here, concentrating on watching the uneven track in the small puddles of light from our headlamps, it seemed like we were a very long way from civilisation. For me, I know the area really well but without the usual landmarks it was like running in a different world altogether. I think Kate might have been secretly a bit worried, she knows the limits of my navigation skills, but it was really just a matter of following the track, you couldn't get lost unless you strayed.  Finally we came up the last hill and there were the lights of Maraetai far below us, and in the distance over a no-longer visible sea you could glimpse the glow of the settlements on Waiheke Island.

Hot soup, hot showers, warm clothes and we tick off another run before the Rotorua marathon. Shame after all my raving about how beautiful the trail is that Kate didn't get to even see what she was running through!