Monday, 30 September 2013

865 our of 875 participants, adjusted time 4:59:58. 

Karen writes: VII Maraton de Zaragoza

It's 2pm here.  What a day it's been!  Another marathon, this time pretty far out of my comfort zone in faraway Spain. Anyway, just to put on record that I have finished, around 5 hours, my slowest ever but that isn't always what necessarily counts. It was very hot for a winter trained kiwi with the official temperature reaching 27 degrees, but some of the street thermometers saying 31, I sure felt it out there.  I took salt capsules every hour and drank more water than I ever have, and made full use of the sponges provided, a wet hat made all the difference on those long exposed stretches of road.or winding around the narrow, airless, cobbled streets.

I will write up more about it when I have found food and had a that order.  Some evidence though..after the finish

My girls wanted me to carry a kiwi, this little guy was attached to my hat, a few people recognised it as a kiwi but most called it 'animal'.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Karen writes: Ready to run Zaragosa

And I'm at last resting with my feet up.  Its 3pm, the pedometer says I have walked 23017 steps and I believe it completely.  First thing this morning, a sensible trip by taxi to the registration point across the city. The taxi driver was keen to help but seemed slightly misguided, after a few miss-starts and being turned back by armed police eventually he stopped outside a building he described as "sporta pavilion". Hmmm...didn't look good, no signs, no cars in the carpark, one person walked in the door as I watched, they didn't look like they were getting ready for a marathon.  Inside there were pictures on the walls, including one of some feet in water apparently being nibbled by small fish, say what?  After a couple of women walked in carrying gym looking salon/gym?!  Am I being given a hint here?

Outside, a chat to some wonderfully helpful and armed police provided hope.  They huddled round the piece of  paper, they ummed and arrrrrhed over the map, they pointed somewhere else..."thankyou for helping" I said, "thankyou for asking for help" said the designated spokesperson. I didn't dare ask for a photo though thinking that would push my luck a bit too far.

So it's 200 meters that-a-way.  Nope.  Across the road and along a bit and that seemed to be a space for the finish line but no sign of a registration expo. I should say that when I booked the dratted marathon I hadn't realised that the start and finish line were in different parts of the city, the accommodation is by the start-line which raises the question of how to get back 'home' tomorrow (TOMORROW!) after the race, will any taxi driver want me in their nice clean and fragrant vehicle?  Eventually it was time for a backtrack, stopping at a cafe for a chocolate croissant and more of the sweet drinks with unidentifiable ingredients that seem so prevalent round here (its that or coke), and wandering thinking where to now, aha, triathlon sports shop.  They pointed back to the place the policemen had recommended and this time there was audible music coming from a nondescript looking building and inside was at last what looked like an expo.

Funnily enough it looked like lots of these lineups, there were some stands promoting socks and compression gear and gels. Queues of runners, mainly terribly lean and fit and young looking men, and when I eventually got to the front of the line after some gesticulating and repetition and guesswork I had my registration pack and number and was ready to go.

Not a bad goodie bag, a buff scarf advertising (I had to look this up online as I had no clue) some sort of water filters, a nice technical-T and the bottle of Zaragosa marathon wine...Kate you really should be here, it's so wasted on me!
Then things stopped being sort-of sensible. I just had to go across a fabulous looking walking bridge on the way back, and once over that it seemed like a simple task to cut across the city back to the accommodation. moment.  I dont really need to say any more I guess given what people know of my history when it comes to navigation, except two meals later I'm finally sitting down thinking about what to eat for breakfast.  But tell me, after looking at the photo below, how could anyone possibly NOT want to have a look at what's on the other side of this beautiful bridge...

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Karen writes: Zaragosa

The diabetes conference in Barcelona is over, it was a great experience but now it is time for another of the important things in life, running.

I am now in Zaragosa after an excellent train trip, who would think you could cover over 350 km in less than 2 hours?  Zaragosa from what I have seen so far  is quite different from Barcelona, first thing is the temperature is 31 degrees, but it seems much more open and fresh and quite a pretty city in the middle of very harsh looking landscapes.

As usual I have laid out my running gear in the hotel room and come to the conclusion that everything is there (too bad if it isn't at this stage) and it is now time to go on the hunt for food.  The supermarkets are fascinating, food is quite cheap by kiwi standards but I’m getting a bit tired of the bread based products, preserved meat, and cheese (not so much the cheese of course). I have really been looking for a steak, perhaps I might find somewhere that serves such an alien food item while I am out wandering this evening. Then I am going to walk over to find the run start which is apparently 10 minutes away.  After that it will be time for a rest, having covered between 15-30km per day (3.5km walk each way to the conference venue x 2/day plus food shopping and exploration and the occasional run) for the last 6 days my legs are rather in need of a rest.  This is not the recommended preparation for a marathon but since when have Kate or me actually followed instructions?  All that exercise did give me the excuse to indulge in some of the gorgeous icecream around here though, definitely cant be in Calorie deficit now can I?

Thankyou for your good wishes Kate, it is always strange when you aren't here at the startline with me.  The run you put up on Facebook sounds amazing, I wish I could be doing that too but that's just greedy on my part!  Only two sleeps to go now...

Friday, 27 September 2013

Kate Writes: good luck

Not sure if Karen will see this before her big run, But i thought I would send good luck and have fun in Spain wishes. Thinking about you and just enjoy the experience.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Karen writes: Lacking the party-hard gene

5k run this morning, didn’t think I was going to, too tired.  It's meant to be wind-down before the big run on Sunday, but I'm trying to figure out how to keep the legs run-ready, and get used to exercise in the heat, plus manage the practicalities of getting around a strange city without missing out on rest altogether.  I’ve had three runs since I got here, walked a LOT of km to and from the conference venue, and not done a lot of resting.  Ah well, as always, it will be interesting to see how things go on the day.  Perhaps chocolate croissants will be the magic antidote.

Rest.  Not happening.  I now realise that Barcelona is testing me and might finally have found me seriously wanting in the party-hard department.  Saturday night...concert 1 street over until 4am, revelers till daylight, Sunday night...ditto, just fewer revelers.  Monday night...more of the same.  Tuesday night, seems quiet.  Off to bed when I felt sleepy (ok folks, 8pm, still not acclimatised to timezone here but in my defence I’m ready for breakfast at 3am and I really haven’t had a lot of sleep since I left Auckland).  Cue ...another concert, this one classical!  This was nice, then the highlight of the night, 2am FIREWORKS. Wow, what an impressive display from Montuic Hill (a street over that-a-way).  Now here’s something for those with an interest in the physics of things, honeycombed through the apartments are these vertical tunnels, so for example I look out of one of my windows not into the outside world but into the window of another apartment almost in touching distance, this is inside the building. If I crane my neck and look up I can see a one meter patch of sky.  There is a really interesting reverberating effect in these tunnels in response to the aerial explosions.  So I inhaled the gunpowder smoke as it drifted across and listened with tired glee. Boom followed boom, with echo echo echo, all backed by the stirring sounds of classical music, and punctuated by car alarms going off all over the city. 

Someone must have been a busy beaver in the few hours of night left after it all finished, on my run on Monday I couldn’t resist exploring the closed road where the big stage was set up for the concerts, today the stage had gone, there was no sign of the celebrations, it was back to being a very busy road.  That makes this particular snap a little unique in my book.  You wouldn't stop in the middle of this road as it is now, its a roaring river of traffic, you certainly wouldn't zigzag back and forth and stop to take photos. It's one of things I love about running, you take the opportunities as you find them to end up in some unique places.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Karen writes: Monday in Spain

Well it seems like another concert night here in my small patch of Barcelona.  The same pattern as yesterday, the tuning of instruments and occasional song fragment have been making their presence known for a couple of hours but things seem to be kicking up now.  Streams of people are pouring down the streets, I look down from the 5th floor and it seems like an unending river flowing towards the big square just one building away.  So probably another very early run tomorrow, which isn’t a bad thing, I don’t have much time to get myself used to even the slightly cooler temperatures present in the morning before the day heats up. 

I didn’t have any ill effects from yesterdays run even if it was longer than I had intended. My muscles seem to be in good shape, nothing hurts so perhaps the heat is helping keep them soft and stress free.  I’ve done a heap of walking, like to the conference venue, in search of food, and to follow an interesting footpath or set of stairs.  Walking back from the conference I went up a long set of stairs, then another set, then a set with fountains, then some more, and found myself on top of a hill covered in palatial museums. I could look out over the whole of Barcelona and it turns out that the conference people have arranged evening museum viewings for delegates. Wow, this is just behind where I am staying, I couldn’t have chosen better if I had tried. So I know what I will be doing for the next 3 evenings, there are 3 museums on top of that hill, and all those stairs are excellent heat training, even walking them.  I should point out something I have never seen before, there are outdoor elevators to get up the hills, just like you have in department stores, it left me a bit bemused watching everyone riding their elevators up to visit the museums.

Speaking of bemused, it was a shock to go to the supermarket and find it was SHUT on a Sunday.  Fortunately I had plenty left over from yesterday’s shop, so I returned home to my salad and I fancied scrambling the eggs I had in the fridge.  Imagine my surprise when I went to break my eggs into a bowl and found they were already cooked!  Oh well, good protein if not in the form I wanted it, a bit of cheese melted over them, salad with banana and orange on top of it, and I had a dinner of no particular origin or culture (or culinary value truth be told) which I ate on a balmy evening listening to the band, well, listening to the sounds if not the words.

Now Kate, here's a pic for you, my new favourite snacks...see the chocolate says 'sport' so it must be good for me, and I'm so liking the snack mix stuff, lots of corn in it, how can that not be healthy?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Karen write: First run in SPAIN!

My first morning waking up in Spain, somewhere in Barcelona to be as precise as I can. Friday morning I was in Auckland, Friday evening I walked countless miles around the 3 airports in Singapore (4 hours of walking...lots of points for the Feetbeat challenge) and Sunday I am. Actually waking up is a bit of an exaggeration, after 2 days of travel with next to zero sleep I seem to have lost the habit, I’m waiting for the desire to kick in again, probably will in the middle of a prolonged session at the conference which starts today.  There was also the minor fact that last night was some sort of concert just a street away, I went and had a look and got caught up in these rivers of people walking to the event, I stayed and listened for a while and when they got onto popular American songs, in English, I went home and went to bed.  And listened to the music and roars of the crowd while I read, then read and listened to the revelers walk, stagger, crawl home.

Then as soon as the sun started barely lighting the sky I got up and went for my first acclimatising run.  The first thing I noticed when I stepped out the door was the water on the ground.  It didn’t rain last night, I surely would have noticed?  Hmmm, not rain.  The smell was horrible, the puddles prodigious, indicative of impressive bladder size, and lots of them, but not many broken bottles and cans like you would get at home after a similarly large scaled event.  Not really sure at this point which was worse.  Anyway, I ran down a long road towards the sea, saw no other runners until out of a sidestreet popped... another kiwi.  We ran for a bit, it was light by this stage, people were starting to move around and further from the party venue Barcelona stopped smelling and turned beautiful again and we parted ways after checking a map to see how I could get home.  Are you proud of me Kate, hey I checked a map?  I  have to admit though it wasn’t actually my idea though.

So I the end of ‘this’ road and turned left, and left, and a few more lefts and rights and over an hour and a half later realised I was dehydrated and lost and quite possibly a long way and getting further from my temporary home.  Oh.  A few conversations with people who couldn’t follow me and I couldn’t follow them and I found a petrol station and a nice man who sold me powerade and when I told him where I wanted to go he got a map out and then asked me if I had a car.  Um, no.  When I told him I ran he became very concerned and carefully noted down the important road names, counted the roads off I would have to run past (15) and made sure I was going down the right road. I had done a really good job this time of getting lost, immediately lost count of the roads, but finally I saw a familiar landmark, and a bakery.

By this time the street cleaners had been, the cobbles were sparkling and the air fresh again. I ran home with another bottle of powerade and a chocolate croissant and sat in my new office (picture below) which made everything worth it. My new friend, the very small and annoying fly, who has been lurking since I got here, wanted to share my croissant with me, I said no.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Karen writes: Spain here I come

Cleaned my office today so Kate can take over my space while I'm away, we are a bit crowded at the moment with so many projects on the go.  I put the 'stuff' associated with the bigger things I'm working on into separate piles so it is all ready for my immediate attention when I get back, wow organisation! Am I now actually ready to hop on that plane though?  No.

I have a list.  Some things are ticked off... like email accommodation to confirm arrival time... ethics application to supervisor... pre-pay parking... print off necessary bits of paper... check conference times, but lots of things aren't done yet. Like deciding what clothes to take for a 6 day long conference, and making final decisions on what to wear for the marathon.  Like finding the various cords and leads and chargers and now strangely essential bits of electronic equipment.  Like setting up the Skype and making sure everyone knows how to use it so I don't end up in isolation for the two weeks. Like packing for the girls so they can go to their grandparents for school holidays in a weeks time, and like being ready to have last cuddles and say 'see you later' to the whanau for 16 whole days.

It's not helped by the fact that smallest daughter spent last night vomiting. Me and the washing machine worked hard, but not as hard as she did, she was a much showered and sad wee soul this morning. Hopefully she will be feeling better tonight, and first thing tomorrow I can wave goodbye knowing they are all well and happy and in excited anticipation of what mum will bring them from overseas.

So tomorrow I catch that plane. Then I'm going to a conference and I'm catching a train and I'm going to run a marathon in Zaragoza.  I read those words and to this little-traveled kiwi they make little sense. Perhaps when I finally get there it will sink in!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Kate Writes: Recovery run - Yeah right

The plan was to meet about 5.20 at Kentish Carpark to leave punctually at 5.30 pm and drive out to the end of Coe Rd and do a circuit from there looking at the options. It was suggested to bring your head torches if you have one. We would run 6-7kms and estimate will run for about one hour to be back at Kentish by about 6.45 - 7 pm.

No problems I thought, a little run on the road planning the new route for Ironmaiden/Steelman event. I can do that. But what I had not planned for was the run around Casterways and hills, cowpoo and mud. The daylight had gone by the time we finished. I was climbing over barbed wire and crawling under electric fences. My new trainers were covered in a lot of unmentionables and have been out side for a few days trying to get rid of the mud.
I saw this comment on a web page and thought , how true a saying.  If I stayed in my comfort zone I would be sitting at home watching TV, instead I was out having an amazing time.

The run was all off-road. It was across farmland. There were cows and sheep everywhere. Mud and poo all over the place and you had to watch your step. I got my feet caught up with brambles and tripped a few times till I learned to pick my feet up better. The sun was setting and the views were amazing over the west coast. A few hills but not bad. We got back to the Kentish for some refreshments and I could see blood on my legs from the brambles, but it was just part of the great evening out.

Karen writes: Skirt

I went for a run along the waterfront towards Duder's Beach, beautiful evening, slight breeze, I wore a running skirt.  Now these things are becoming more popular, if you are a bit sensitive about the close fitting lycra pants look then a skirt can hide a multitude of sins. There is at least one supplier really promoting them, check out this NZ brand Kori Kita.  Mine is nothing so flash, just a black stretchy skirt with attached little black pants underneath.  I have had mine sitting in a cupboard for a while now, to my recall it was only ever worn once before.  This once was over the top of a pair of old compression pants on a night bush run when no-one could see me, but this time I threw caution to the wind, and exposed more than usual of my winter coloured legs to the world.

It felt rather nice.  Breezy even.  I ran for a while, enjoying the freedom, marveling at how I allow myself leeway while running that I wouldn't allow myself usually, I mean, would I wear a stretchy skirt a mere inch below decency to town and consider it perfectly ok? Hmmm...maybe 20 years ago.  But soooo comfortable, I was thinking I could run a marathon in this.  After a little while I remembered why I run in tri-shorts.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Karen writes: Empire Fitness Ltd

DPT team member Lama has now got his own fitness premises out the back of the same block of units the Diabetes Projects Trust offices are in in Otara.  He invited the rest of the team around to have a look and we were all suitably impressed, not sure if he was so impressed with us.  It opens officially on 1st October.
Kate demonstrating how not to use the hangy uppy thingys
The boss...Lama
Some of the DPT team inspecting the premises

Isi demonstrates the smart way to lift weights...without the weights
 I can do this...I can...I know I can...
The flying Ang
And I do... with this?

Kate Writes: Dunedin marathon

FINAL_2012-MORO_Fullmap.jpgI wrote this blog a week ago, but my Internet has been off so its a little late. ..

My daughter Sophie said she would like to do a half marathon with me so I found this one in Dunedin. But when I looked at the route the full marathon went from the Albatross colony all the way along the coast and back out on the other side to Port Chalmers. So I booked the full Marathon.  Sophie has great plans but no training so it was great that she actually borrowed  a friends car and was there at the end cheering me on, and then took me home.

I completed the marathon. Wow it was great. The road went along the edge of the harbour .  It was a beautiful day and the sun shone. It was a quite run and most of it I ran on my own, but talked with a few people. I came in at 5hrs and 20 minutes. A little slow but I can still walk so that's good.

Karen writes: Downward slope to Spain

29+ km run on Sunday morning, seaside, road and bush, a beautiful day with the odd patch of drizzle, a light breeze, pleasantly cool.  I had my fellow Te Puru runners to chat to for some of it to make the distance go faster, we were excitedly speculating about what the result was going to be from the latest America's cup yacht race.  In fact, everything was pretty much completely the opposite to what I expect to get in Spain in less than 2 weeks time.  So I have all my excuses lined up for any sort of poor marathon performance on the 29th... like...going from kiwi winter training to end of summer race day... jet-lag... missed the start time because I couldn't read the instructions... no-one to talk to... got a cold.

Yes, I've got a cold.  The whanau are all terribly healthy at the moment, I can't even blame them for passing the scratchy throat and running nose on to me.  Here's hoping it has gone away by the end of the week so I don't have to be the type of long distance airplane traveler everyone hates, the one surrounded by an almost perceptible haze of bacteria, doing all the annoying sniffing and coughing.

So it is nearly time to get packed up and ready to go, the running shoes have been washed and hung out to dry, for a near new pair of shoes the amount of mud-time has left them pretty grubby. It didn't help that after my run through the deep puddles on Thursday I forgot to turn them upside-down and they were still like miniature swimming pools on Sunday morning, amazing how quick they dry out on a warm road but... hmmm... hazardous to get within olfactory range.

This week I plan on just two runs, a 10km run on Tuesday, and probably about 16-20km on Thursday. Normally these during the week runs would be shorter, especially so close to M day, but I need to make up for the fact that I will be travelling on the weekend and wont get a chance for the final long run. Focus will be on frequent short runs when I get to Barcelona to try to acclimatize to the different conditions, these will have to fit around the 6 fascinating sounding days of conference.

What to run in in the likely hot and dry conditions?  Right now I am thinking... the old blue singlet, best sports-bra, pair of well tested zoot tri-shorts, skinny socks (now a funny muddy colour but they still work), buff visor scarf, anti-chafe everywhere including under arms and under the elastic top of the shorts as chafing seems to be worse when you sweat more, super-strength waterproof sunscreen, fuelbelt with 2 GU roctanes with caffeine, 2 packets jelly-belly sports beans, salt-stick salt capsules, small flask de-fizzed coke (plus spare blister plasters and panadol), hanky, watch with lip-dip. I will take along an old poly-prop top to wear to the start, I can throw it in a bin somewhere when I warm up.  All that will be in my carry-on luggage, I'm sure not going to risk what happened in Wellington where the luggage went missing.

This is all so exciting, and scary, and before I know it, it will be all over!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Karen writes: A night for ducks

Just in from a 15km run in the dark in the pouring rain.  Well, it didn't start out that way, it was still daylight when I left home, slight drizzle, nothing too much to worry about.  I headed off to Beachlands along the coast, knowing it was going to be an easy run for distance rather than a strenuous hill effort. By the time I got to the end of Beachlands the rain was getting heavier, by the time I turned around at the half way point the light had faded and I needed my headlamp on.  By the time I got back to the Beachlands shops I could barely see because the it was raining so hard, I was running through puddles up to my ankles in the dips in the footpaths, and starting to feel a bit disillusioned with my silly lot.

Around this time I started noticing the smell of peoples cooking, perhaps the rain was keeping the smell closer to earth but I got more than my share of casseroles, frying, and other less easy to identify and less appetizing food smells.  It didn't help to be soaking wet, still a long way from home, and now hungry!

I was running along, still 6km to go and a car pulled up on the other side of the road, "hey Karen".  It was Kate B, another runner and Iron-person, and someone from one of my previous lives.  That brightened me up immensely. I suddenly wasn't alone in the world concentrating just on my fingers wrinkling up and my stomach protesting and being anxious about the strange shapes made by the wheelie bins and rubbish bags now lurking like sinister creatures on the sides of the roads as they waited for Friday collection.

I ran the rest of the way home, my own dinner was waiting.  As I pottered along I quite enjoyed thinking about all the noises, my feet sloshing, the rain battering my rain-coat hood and the roar of water in the drains. It was a good run but I'm glad to be home, tis a night for ducks not runners.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Karen writes: 2013...the year swimming makes sense?

The coolest thing, just had a call from Andrew at Boost coaching, I have actually won a swimming lesson! This was a competition that came through the Ironman people, seems that these things are actually worth the effort sometimes, what a wonderful and useful surprise. Now those who have followed us on our journey to Ironman and beyond know that swimming...for me...ranks right up there with cutting grass with nail scissors or trying to convince a 2 year old that spinach is a better option than chocolate.  Kate goes to her swim club and rockets about in the water with apparent pleasure and piscine grace, I swim under sufferance, I swim with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, I swim to get to the end of whatever torturous length has been set.  I was last voluntarily buoyant in April, that was the King of the Bays harbour swim on the North Shore that Kate inveigled me into. The wetsuit has been bundled up in a drawer since, for all I know the moths might have carried the dratted thing away and part of me would say good riddance to it.

So, the motivation now is, when I get back from Spain, to get in the water and try to remember how to breathe, kick, and rotate arms all at once. I don't really want to embarrass myself TOTALLY by turning up for a swimming lesson being unable to manage 5 meters, but I also figure there probably wouldn't be much point in anyone commenting on swimming technique if I can't...well...swim. Will this be the year swimming, shock horror, becomes enjoyable?  Hmmm, rather a lot to pin on one swimming lesson, but I can dream.  Dream about swimming while I'm running as A has pointed out.  I think not.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Kate writes: handing over the money to Christchurch

Wednesday I went to Christchurch to the Diabetes nurse Symposium, it marked the conclusion of one part of our amazing journey.  Karen and myself had signed up for Ironman 2012 and as part of that wanted to fundraise for something meaningful, preferably to do with diabetes. The Christchurch earthquake happened about the same time and we both immediately felt that we would like to give something to the staff at the Christchurch diabetes center, the Board of the Diabetes Projects Trust agreed. It took us two years to complete our Ironman due to the event being cancelled the first year. This visit to Christchurch was the ideal opportunity to pass over the money raised.

I presented a 5 minute presentation on what the Ironman was all about and then handed over a cheque for the $1500 our wonderful supporters had donated. They are planning to spend it on something special. Thankyou to everyone who donated. We were really glad we could do something to show our colleagues and friends down in Christchurch that others care, I was thanked by so many people at the meeting it was humbling.

As Christchurch continues to get back to it's feet, we wish everyone all the best.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Karen writes: Feetbeat Challenge time again

The Mangere Community Health Trust Diabetes Eye clinic still hold our precious golden croc trophy.  We need to address this terrible wrong and reclaim our trophy, and our pride...hopefully...

So the challenge is on again, 9 September, the Auckland Regional Public Health Feetbeat workplace challenge, walking, walking, walking for 8 weeks.  The trouble is, what happened last time is likely to happen again, Kate and me were so busy swimming and cycling getting ready for the Rotorua half Ironman that we didn't have room in our busy days for much time actually on our feet. We dragged our teams back, it's a problem when you are too busy training to walk.

Karen writes: Kate's off to Christchurch

It has taken a couple of years, but Kate has just today flown down to Christchurch to take our fundraising cheque to our colleagues working in diabetes down there. Massive thanks to those who made a donation, and continued to offer encouragement and support over what turned out to be a very long journey. Kate has also taken a short presentation about the journey and it's reasons, for which she asked to access my photo collection. Hmmm, could be a worry, when I looked at the accumulation of pictures there was a big focus on unhealthy food, plenty of weird clothing combinations, and masses of photos of sweaty progress and finish lines which all looked very samey after a while.

Speaking of finish lines, Kate has a marathon this Sunday, the Dunedin course looks amazing, I wish I was there too, instead I will be slogging out 30km around South Auckland roads because my own marathon in Spain is now less than 4 weeks away.

I see this next marathon as the real start of the Ironman process again, because when I come back the focus goes on cycling and swimming, both activities I have avoided. So after months of free-floating and being a bit random and un-serious about fitness, it will soon be time to get back to work.  Less than 6 months to Ironman, I'm visualising all those other Ironman intenders dragging their bikes and wetsuits out of garden sheds and cupboards everywhere (actually, most would already have been doing it), roll on March 1 2014!