Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Kate writes: Car shopping

Now u might say what's car shopping to do with Ironman? Well, my darling daughter had a wee accident in my car last week and the number plates are all that's left! She walked away from the accident with a little bump, the car did a great job and saved her, but paid the price by being written off.

The number plates were given to me last year whilst training for the first Ironman as I had been given the name - Ironkate.

At the car yard I went in and said I want a small, manual, red car. No problem they said and showed me a few. I realised that actually the most important thing was, would my bike fit in the back. So the next day I brought my bike in to see if it fitted. Yes it did, then I went for a test drive. The car arrives next week, Red and black leather (imitation) seats. I'm very pleased with it.

Karen writes: Wellington Marathon 2013

Early Sunday morning, there I was, stumbling round the cluttered hotel room trying to put together weetbix and milk in a mug by the light coming from the half ajar bathroom door.  The room looked a bit like a clothes shop had exploded, our luggage when it finally turned up the previous night, over a day late, had been accessed... shall we say...hurriedly.

Cup of green tea, a quick kiss on the foreheads of sleeping whanau, an energy gel on the way out the door and I headed off into the dark, quiet, damp, and oh that's so cold Wellington.  Fortunately my brain was just working enough that I paused at the lobby to check with the slightly bemused night manager about how to get to the run venue. The Hotel had main doors leading to big roads on opposite sides of the building, I tended to walk out of either door and find myself heading away from wherever I wanted to be. It was a case of  "If I go out this door here I turn LEFT to get to the stadium...is that right...yes, left, ok, right".

It was really strange heading off without Kate, we have done these early walks together heading off to marathons in strange cities, starting off being the only people around and eventually joining a stream of other athletes the closer you get to the venue.  I was delighted to walk past the Beehive, but sadly had no-one to speculate with on the chances of running across a real-live politician lurking. I was glad of my multiple clothing layers, but as usual worried that I had it wrong, would all my layers be enough with wind chill added in, would the polyprop leggings sag halfway down my legs if they got wet, would it all be too much as running heated me up?  I stopped worrying when I got to the stadium and it was bitterly cold inside and out, it wasn't just because I was a wimpy Aucklander, the hat, scarf, glove and puffer jacket brigade were well represented. I sat in a chair, put my feet up on another and watched lots of people burning off energy, I figured I needed mine so I would just hang onto it.

0725, start time, I stayed in the shelter of a crowd of runners as we all headed off into a still pretty dark Wellington morning. Along the waterfront, by Te Papa museum, and out along the coast on the flattest route I have ever run.  There had been a change to the course because of the damage done by the storm in recent days, instead of straight 21km out and back along the coast we ran 16km, turned back for 5km, turned again for 5km, then ran 16km return. The wind came and went, drizzle came and went.  I swapped strategy with one neat lady who was doing her first marathon and had an ITB injury until I ran on.  One lady happily told me she was the first of her extended family of over 100 in number to do a marathon before she headed off, we called out each time we saw each other on the out and back out and back course.

It wasn't a big field so we were fairly spread out, I saw a few familiar faces which is always nice and a couple I was sure I recognised but wasn't confident enough to call out a name, I mean, do any of us look like we usually do while running a marathon?  After about 15km I got bored and decided to play my game of 'mad smiley runner', some people play the game really well with big smiles back, but I concluded that this marathon wasn't the friendliest I'd done. Fortunately, by the time I tried the same eye-catch-smile trick on the same person for a second time they got the hang of it and a face twitched, by the third time there was a smile back, perhaps it took that long for the facial muscles to unfreeze for some?

I took my wind-jacket off at about 10km, my thermal top off at about 15km, but the leggings stayed comfortable and the hat and gloves were essential, especially for the wintry wind blasts on the exposed bits of the run.  On the last leg I ran with an amazing woman from Auckland, we talked about studying for our Masters degrees, a bit of politics, and the world in general, she was neat and someone I would never have come across otherwise but that's what running does for you.

I got to the end and there was the whanau, both girls had run their mile race and looked fabulous with their race numbers on their shirts, wearing medals, downing banana's and swigging the ubiquitous powerade provided after-race.  I was very proud to be hugged by the junior athletes as I shuffled over the finish line, 4hrs 43, a couple of minutes slower than Rotorua, not sure why that was given the course was so flat but you can't say my times aren't consistent.  The 1.7km walk back to the hotel was a bit tough, there were some stairs down which required concentration and my insides were feeling very dodgy by this time, probably the result of not having had reliable eating patterns for the previous couple of days, but a long hot shower, food, feet up for a bit, more food, and all was fine.

So thanks Wellington, you put on an excellent event in spite of your recent traumatic weather troubles, how bad these were I only really realised after watching the news when I got home. Great experience, would love to come back and explore a bit more...in better weather, and preferably with some luggage this time.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Karen writes: I'ts almost never about the race...

After a week of anxious nail chewing about the weather, Friday arrived, time for our trip to Wellington for their midwinter marathon. The bags were packed with everything we could possibly need (plus some stuff we surely didnt...I mean, 16 barbie dolls?), dog was in the kennel, kids picked up from school, we were out at the airport on-time and so ready to go.  Then came 4 hours of sitting on the floor in the airport waiting area watching the morning flights still flying out in the afternoon to clear the backlog...will we go or wont we?  The kids enjoyed watching the world go by, their attitudes aided by a continuous flow of novel food items, and I reflected that if that was the worst thing of the weekend it wasn't too bad, after all, there was Saturday to recover and get everything sorted out.

Arrive in Wellington at 10pm, passengers could't disembark, something about being unable to line up the door with the stairs, then finally it was off to say hello to the gloriously gigantic Gollum in the airport and pick up luggage.  Standing there, standing there, nothing happening, oh, the luggage is still in the plane, they can't get it out, talk to that man over there.  Imagine if you will a great long line of tired grumpy people, and the poor harassed man with a pile of boarding passes with notes written on them, all the time apologising and making frantic promises that the luggage would be delivered first thing in the morning.   But the trip was about adventure, so a toothbrush from the hotel reception, and the novelty of sleeping in their undies kept the kid's moods elevated, and I tried not to think about the fact that this possibly coudn't be described as taking it easy in preparation for Sunday's efforts.  There was also a bit of a worry that our breakfast and snacks were in the missing luggage, hmmm...unrefrigerated dairy, fresh bread etc might not be in the best of shape the following day.

Saturday morning, up bright and early, we watched Wellington wake up from our 5th floor window on a very wet but only slightly windy day.  Exciting stuff, ok, still no luggage but yesterday's clothes were only slightly whiffy and since we all smelled just as bad as each other it wasn't such a worry. We got dressed and went to explore the big smoke.  Well the girls had a wonderful time in the rainy inner city, they rode every escalator they saw, puddles were impossible to avoid so might as well be jumped in, but eventually they were dispatched to Te Papa with their dad so I could head off in the opposite direction to register and collect race packs.  Not good, 2km in dress boots, I optimistically thought it will be ok, the luggage will have arrived by the time we get back, we can all get nice and clean and dry and I can repair any damage done to my feet with a soak and a rest.  Not so.  When I got back to the hotel I got on the phone and pretty much stayed on the phone pacing the hallways.  I lost count of how many times I pressed 1 for English, 2 for Baggage, I spoke to automated voices saying "please repeat that" and just as frustratingly I spoke to terribly polite people somewhere else in the world who could only transfer me back to the 1 for English or "please repeat" lines.  I tried the airport, I tried Australia, I generated plenty of emotional heat but that unfortunately doesn't dry the clothing and footwear of a now thoroughly pongy family.

It was 4pm by this stage, the afternoon before the race, I was now officially moving from mild annoyance to worried.  The girls were in bed watching TV while clothes were strung all around the hotel room to dry a bit, but I had a race to get ready for, well 3 races actually, the 7yo and the 10yo were running in the morning too.  The girls could skuttle along in what they had if they needed to, I was the bigger problem, while I had in my carry-on bag most of my running gear, I knew I didn't have that slightly essential item of equipment, well, pair of items actually, my running shoes.  So executive decision, don't run, or hammer the visa and go and buy shoes before the shops shut?  On with the wet clothes and down to the lobby...some complicated instructions and I was out on the road, I stopped rushing eventually when I realised I couldn't seem to find the landmarks I had been told to look out for.  Cue helpful Wellington person (thankyou thankyou thankyou whoever you were), oh great, I was headed in the opposite direction, don't laugh Kate!  Dash back, finally got to the first shoe shop, "HELP HELP Shoe emergency" and the shoe man did his best to be helpful, but that shop didn't sell Asics.  Next shop, they had Asics, not the right model.  Last shop, Asics Kayano, right model, WRONG SIZE.  Ok, can do this, one half size up, thicker socks.  I wore the new shoes back to the hotel telling myself I wasn't really breaking unbreakable rule number 1 which is "never ever wear anything new but especially new shoes in a marathon". All the way I was thinking this feels really strange, what's wrong with these shoes, I cant run 42km in them, then I realised I had been tramping round in moderate heels for so long that the change in height was making me feel off-balance.  Getting dark, shops closing, back to the hotel.  Time to put gear together ready for my early start, find some breakfast, and take it easy like I should have been all day.  Fuelbelt with gels and race number attached...check, buff hat...check, clear glasses...check, raincoat...check, shoes...check, socks...check, zoot tri-shorts...check, anti-chafe...check, thermal leggings to go over shorts...check, thermal top...check, running singlet...check, sports bra...oh oh.

Sports bra in the missing luggage.  Hmmmm.  The only thing I could really say about the bra I was wearing was that it could have been worse, but not a whole lot.  Can I possibly tell anyone I dropped out of my marathon because of...?  Nope.  Decision, simple, on race day Sunday, I would apply vast quantities of anti-chafe, wear the tight running singlet over the top of the thick thermal top to compress as much as possible and try to run...um...smoothly. Problem solved.  Yeah right, not solved, but as close as I was going to get.  Fortunately everything else went really well for the evening, an inhouse movie kept the kids occupied and had them happily ready for an early night, a trip to the all-night dairy over the road for weetbix and milk solved the breakfast problem, and I was ready for sleep with the alarm set for 4.45am.  I drifted happily off into dreamland imagining the new medal for my collection, and being able to eat with insane disregard for calories for the week after.

At 10.30pm the phone rang, our luggage had arrived.  Did we want to come get it now?  Thanks Jetstar.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Karen writes: Wellington weather

Who...I say who, decides to take the kids on their first plane trip to Wellington when it is in the grip of gale-force winds, heavy rain, snow in the hills?

And I have to say, what kind of idiot decides to go from Auckland with a high of 14 degrees to run a marathon in said Wellington, with predicted rain, winds and start temperature of 5 degrees?  It will be interesting to see how many turn up on the day, with a pre-booked field of around 5000 (all distances) according to the organisers.

Thank goodness for the big red shed and their two for one thermals sale.  Younger daughter is upset because I have said she is to wear warm socks and boots not the strappy sandals with a heel, older daughter thinks the idea of ice sounds really "cool".

Yep, cool alright, especially for us wimpy Aucklanders.  Anyway, I'm refusing to check the airline website until at least lunchtime to see if our plane is likely to leave on-time, or at all.  Poor Wellington, had such a hard time last night with the awful weather and here I am worried about travel for personal entertainment...

Anyway, if we actually get to Wellington, the weather looks to be likely to have improved for Sunday, just showery, windy, cool.  I put my cool weather running gear on, the 10 year old said I looked like I was going to rob a bank.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Kate writes:Money

I have been doing over time for 3 months to help out at the hospital. It has also helped pay my Visa bill. I have finished the extra work and have reached a target on the Visa, so today I went shopping. I also had another excuse, my Nike sports watch had stopped working. I went into Rebel sports and they were so good and said yes I could have a new one. But I wanted to upgrade it to one with GPS. Yes I could do that and buy a heart rate strap to go with it. So $200 later I'm off to play with my new toy. I then went next door to Briscos to look at electric blankets. My little house is great but a little cold and damp. They were on sale $39:99. I had to think hard about this one, could I really afford it? I mean its a bit of a luxury! You can see where my passions are, running, biking, swimming, no problem with finding money, but an electric blanket well that's just a ridiculous buy.

P.S. I did buy it though :)

Karen writes: Taking inspiration where you find it

I'm learning how to participate in social networking...being dragged slowly...not quite kicking and screaming...into a world where you get caught up in what can sometimes seem like a maelstrom of snippets and snatches of other peoples lives depending on what online thingys you join. Facebook is the case in point, I joined Moonjoggers, now I find my world intersecting with that of all sorts of cool people.  I watch as members achieve things of significance to them, shock horror, I feel constrained to hit that 'like' button which I have never before really understood, and sometimes I comment on the lives and activities of people I don't know, people who may live on the other side of the world, some who are asleep while I'm running and running while I'm asleep...and I'm really enjoying it.

Sometimes I need to slow the mass of information, I do that by not staying logged in, but this is to me a whole new experience of socialising, about being a social animal without stirring from in front of my computer.  At least...I guess...at least this group balances the time on the sit-upon with the desire to encourage each other run further and further and further. Anyway, sudden access to so many lovely inspiring stories, so many cool cartoons, so many glorious pictures and uplifting stories and heartwarming messages of support and encouragement, it's all quite exhausting actually, too tired to go for a run now.  Not.

I ran last night.  Down to Te Puru in the dark and light rain, saying hello to the fat piebald bunny grazing in the sheep paddock at Omana. 50 sweaty minutes of spin, which incidentally was a whole lot easier than last week, and 4km run back home again...still raining.  On the way home I paused on the Te Puru bridge heading into Omana park, there was a big yellow and black sign saying "park closed".  I thought I had better read the small print before just going straight past it.  It said "park closed from 9pm to 5pm for shooting".  Oh, Ok, it was well before 9pm so I kept going, but when I saw my wary rabbit friend I said a tentative goodbye, while crossing my fingers that I would see him again, that the shooters would focus on pesky possums (sorry Australians, I know you like your possums) rather than the rather obvious target of a big white bottomed bunny.

I've just got the half marathon distance on Sunday, a couple of 5-8km runs next week then on Friday will be collecting excited girls from school for an evening flight to Wellington for our running inspired weekend.  Wonder if there is anywhere down there selling fig and honey icecream since that is my newest favourite race food? The official description from the Kapiti people is "large dried figs enrobed in smooth Manuka honey ice cream."  Mmm, perfect. People ask why, why do you run?  Do I really need to answer that?

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Kate writes: Friends

Monday night is swim night. Its also run night but I've have had a few weeks off due to my knee injury. This week its the day after my little run in the Hunua hills. So a little stiff and sore, so a swim seemed the most sensible thing to do.

I was taking it easy and only doing 50 meter laps, the rest of the group were doing 100 meter laps. But that's ok, legs hurt. I noticed that one of my friends in the fast lane was in trouble and I went over to help. She had a splitting headache and could not move. Eventually we got her out of the pool and with support of another nurse it was decided that hospital was the best place to go.

Now we have been swimming as a group for maybe 3 years. We meet 1-2 x a week, but there is basic information that we do not know. I knew that once at the hospital I would be asked: surname, first name, DOB, address, next of kin. None of that information did I have.  As I drove home after the hospital, it made me think of all the lovely friends I have made through my training and that we would all help each other out in a crisis. It really doesn't matter that we do not know the basic details of each others lives, we know we like each other and that we are there for each other.

This message is to celebrate friendship to all those people who have touched my life and support me. I love you all.

Oh by the way my friend is ok!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Karen writes: Tapering for Wellington

How do these tapers come round so quickly?  I never feel 'cooked' for events, always think I'm not ready enough, and I'm sure it's too early to slow down and rest.  But Sunday I went out and did 28km in the pouring rain, clearly I have had the longest run I'm going to get for this event, probably in perfect Wellington-winter-style weather conditions though, but I have now run out of time to do more.

Oh but my legs felt tired towards the end of that long slog.  I blame the spin bike session at Te Puru on Thursday night, that will teach me for ignoring the bike for 3 whole months, I lose my bike legs!  Probably also a lesson that running to and from the spin session might have been sensible during triathlon training, but a wee bit over-ambitious when volume has scaled right back during run season.

This weekend I plan a nice 21.1km, its the Strawberry moon virtual half marathon (or 5 or 10km) organised by a fabulous international group of runners and walkers called moonjoggers. It can be run any time between the 16th and the 30th of June, but I'm nearly out of weekends what with a marathon on the 23rd.  The instruction is to wear stripes if possible in support of the good cause, and I even have a race number to wear.  Probably better laminate it if the weather is anything like Sunday just gone.  I mean it was so wet there were worms all over any concrete or tarseal surfaces and my feet were making squelching noises in my shoes so my poor toes were wrinkled when I took my socks off.
Two shorter runs this week, and I'm undecided about the spin session, perhaps driving to it might be the sensible choice...but, since when is life about being sensible all the time?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kate writes: never belive what Camp mother says....


Sunday 9th June 2013, 10:00am start, Hunua Falls car park

Yes - Its that time of year that you need to get wet and dirty.  This club event has been designed to have a difficulty rating between "easy peasy to survivalistic".

Leg 1: Road Cycle, 30km. May have some flat sections.
Leg 2: Run, 9km. Will I stay dry?
Leg 3: Mountain Bike, 20km. Pure downhill pleasure.

This was the advert for the multi sports club outing. Yes I can do that I thought, no problem.  The road cycle was down and up hills, most of which I had done. That's half the battle when you know you can do it. But it was raining, well actually hailing. I was well prepared, loads of layering of clothing and a hat. So up the hills we went and I made them all. Back to the carpark and a quick change of clothes. Dry ones, even dry socks. I went off with one of the ladies who had an injury to her ankle. It was going to be a good walk. 

Over the bridge at Hunua falls and the water fall was loud and flowing well. Down the hill we went and there was a stream. One of many that I did not realise I had to wade through.  Yes I can do this I thought and off we went.  Well the tough got going and we scrambled over rocks clinging to the sides of the river bank, holding onto any tree that looked solid. I needed a helping hand occasionally but otherwise was OK.

We then got to this bigger river. All I could see was the headline news " women ill-prepared lost in a swollen river, what did she think she was doing?" but we were sensible, HaHa. We found a large tree and stretched it across the river to help us a cross, but one step out and off it went. We knew if we went in here we were going to be swept away down stream. Mind you, it was still water 20 meters down stream so you could see where you would end up. But no, we turned back to look for another crossing. After a moment we could see the tracks of the boys who had gone before us, only 10 meters further up stream. Across we went. Now I don't usually swear, but when the cold water met my middle a rude word followed by camp mothers name (the person who had organised the event). This happened several more times as the water level was higher than expected.

I had such fun! I'm a bit of a woos but had the time of my life. We arrived back at the car park after nearly 3 hours, wet and hungry but full of excitement. Off to the pub for a well deserved lunch. Interestingly the boys thought that we would have turned around and not finished. Well we did the whole event and finished with a smile.

The only problem is I 'm now hooked to adventure running.  Coast to coast here I come!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Karen writes: back on pedal power...sort of

The hardest part was walking out the door as the whanau was sitting down to dinner.  I had had my protein shake before I left work in order to allow time for the energy to get where it needed to, but I would have much preferred proper food as it steamed invitingly on the plates.  Anyway, out the door at 6pm, dark, cold, but mercifully not raining.  I trotted along in my own world, managed to startle a large rabbit as I ran through Omana Park, and arrived at the spin class to find that it was their first ever, with a whole lot of brand new bikes lined up.  I carefully chose a bike to one side, a row back from the front, all the better to see what was going on but remain incognito since I didn't plan on working too hard.

What do you know, everyone else took the back rows so clever instructor, she simply wheeled the front row of bikes completely away and I was in the front.  Sigh.

It was a good session, I got an excellent workout, if I was honest I would say that it was perhaps at 75% effort, which is actually an improvement for me as it was probably 50% more effort than usual.  I did get cramp in my right calf a few times, had to leap inelegantly off the bike and stretch against a wall, hopefully it is just from putting unusual pressure on muscles not used to such activity.

50 minutes of pedaling and sweating, I got back in my polyprop top, fluoro vest, headlamp and shuffled off into the night much to the bemusement of the others.  I managed to startle the same bunny again at Omana park, I briefly considered what would happen if I picked him up and took him home for the kids, he looked like he had a lot of domestic genes with his multi-coloured coat and size akin to that of a small dog.

I got home and I went to sleep.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Karen writes: Bike panic

Bike ride in 7 weeks.  PANIC!  Only 70km says Kate who has been cycling most weekends. Undulating says Kate who trains out on the West coast where a mountain is called a 'hill'.  We'll take it easy says Kate who has been doing twice a week spin classes and trains harder than I race.  This could be embarrassing.

I haven't been on a bike...for...a long time, my poor road-bike is still covered in Ironman dirt and sweat and is tucked behind the kids bikes in the shed.  Dusty, ignored, not quite forgotten, its neglected and reproachful visage looms up in my nightmares occasionally.

I found an advertisement for a spin fitness class at Te Puru park which is in my home territory so I have signed up for a session tonight.  But it's a run day, marathon in 2 weeks, gotta run...what to do?  Why pop my cycle shorts on, tuck my sweat towel and water bottle into my fuel belt, run down to Te Puru, do the spin and run home of course.  Overconfident...lacking in sense...who moi?