Thursday, 19 June 2014

Karen writes: Nike tale

I have had Nike+ sport-bands for a few years, and when I got my first one back in 2011 I thought they were the most wonderful toys. Unfortunately time showed that they didn't tend to last long and weren't always that accurate as they relied on a 'footpod' counting steps. At that time however they were a relatively cheap tool for keeping a rough track of distance, uploaded your run results to the Nike website so you had a way of comparing past running activity and they were good motivation. Last year though I got a Nike GPS watch, what a wonderful thing.  I had been thinking about upgrading to GPS and it took a friend to finally get that happening. Now I wonder what life was like before I got it and could watch the km tick away, check my pace and know what was onscreen was pretty close to reality. Anyway, almost a year later, the thing seemed to just be worn out, the pins holding the strap on were rusted, and a little flap covering the USB connection pretty much disintegrated.  It was getting steamed up under the face on long runs so I took it back to the shop before it died completely, just before the warranty ran out. They sent it away with some shaking of heads.

I admit to being in a bit of a tiz when I walked out of the shop.  I didn't want to mess up the nice little graphs built up over several years on the Nike+ website, I was getting near to 4000km and there was also the thing with Kate, we have a bit of a...not so much a competition... more of a, perhaps challenge is the word. In our non-competition we surreptitiously monitor online what each other has been doing ("oh no, Kate is 4.7 km AHEAD of me this week") and I really didn't want to fall too far behind.  So I looked up the Nike ap for the smartphone and downloaded it.  Wow, it worked!   The trouble was though that I take my phone as my emergency backup, and the GPS ap churned through my battery, after a 4 hour run I got home just as the phone switched itself off.  I eventually figured that the screen stayed lit the whole time so I could slow the battery use a bit by turning that off. But anyway, battery apart, I could keep uploading my run records while I was without my precious watch.

Now the ap has some other features, like it can incorporate your music into your workout.  I'm not much into running with music, but you can also set it to tell you at for example at 1km intervals how you are doing. This takes a bit of getting used to though as this voice out of nowhere congratulating you for getting half way through your run and I've have had some startled looks from the occasional walker I've passed.  There are also what are meant to be motivational thoughts when you finish your run. I had to laugh the other day, a disembodied voice belonging to someone who must be famous somewhere told me how well I had done, and that it was time to get out the hyperbaric chamber? Say what?

Anyway, my Nike watch was replaced by the very kind people at Rebel sport.  Of course I think they should have replaced it, you expect something like that to last for more than a year and I had already worn the cost of the sport bands that had died over the years. I was however relieved that I didn't have to argue the case. I'm now wearing a sweatband under my watch, and will keep a closer eye on this watch in the hopes that it might have a longer survival time, I might also use my 'ap' for some short runs. The whole experience did give me pause to reflect that things have come quite a long way in even the few short years me and Kate have been serious(ish) about this. 5 years ago a GPS was a pretty flash thing, wouldn't have even thought about having one, and the average cellphone certainly wouldn't have been able to cover quite so easily.

Karen writes: Wellington marathon this weekend

Flights to Wellington...check
Dog booked for kennel...check
Parking at airport...check
Paperwork printed, tickets, registration, accommodation etc...check
Running clothes packed...IN HAND LUGGAGE THIS YEAR...check
Shoes, yuck, they are dirty and haven't had much chance to dry out recently... double wrapped in plastic...check
Gels (mmm, new flavour salted caramel flavour sounds just fine, I'm sure they will be fine until I've used them a few times then I wont be able to stand the taste), pre-race breakfast things for the hotel room.
Everything else...somewhere

I started packing a couple of days ago, what goes into the suitcases tends to have a habit of coming out again though when the younger members of the family can't find something they want in the clean washing pile. There comes a point when the sensible mother-in-charge-of packing looks at the luggage padlock with a considering eye.

Oh, and marathon training.  I'ts 7 weeks since the Rotorua marathon and I never really stopped running. This time I focused on making my 'long' runs longer than I ever have before, peaking with two 34+kms in two weeks (usually I aim for one or two 27-30km), and a 21km the weekend just gone (usually 18-19km). The body has coped with it, did have two sports massages which HURT but apparently progress was made on the long neglected tight muscles and tendons and things. Will it all make a difference...who knows? What may make a difference is the developing cold kindly donated by snuffly, cuddly kids. The weather could be influential, according to one out of the three different forecasts I've been following it looks ok. And of course whether or not I make any previously un-tested pre-race food choices like last year when the very nice chili-squid was just too did not work out well.

So roll on Sunday.  The field isn't that large so there may not be a whole lot of people to talk to but I can usually find entertainment somehow, there should also be a few familiar faces to keep an eye out for. The route is flat and pretty going out along the waterfront at Wellington to a turnaround along the coast, a short retrace then back to the turnaround, then back to the start at the Westpac stadium where the whanau will hopefully be waiting having done their own race, the kids 'magic mile'. Should be good!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Karen writes: Chocolate moment

21km into a 34km run on Sunday morning I was slogging along the main road out of Maraetai heading towards Whitford Forest.  I was tired and getting grumpy. The cars were whizzing past, I was dusty and sticky and not keeping up with my nutrition plan and I was aware I still had a long way to go.

It's all about head games. I was playing a game spotting anything more interesting on the roadside than empty cigarette packets and the new most common item of litter, the disposable coffee cup. I'd already picked up a nice water bottle and figured out how to attach it to my waist pack alongside the two I already had and I had played mad smiley runner with the cyclists but I was contemplating turning around and going back home. Then I saw something shining in the distance.  A tiny glimmer on the grey tarseal background, it sparkled in the intermittent sunlight, what was it?  My legs plodded out more distance, that looks like a Roses chocolate.  It was, as I drew nearer I could see this solitary piece of confectionery, it reclined wrapped and complete in it's distinctive wrapper, pristine twisted ends perpendicular to the edge of the road like it had been arranged just so, and a delicate scatter of small stones lay around it.  There was a sheen of moisture on it from the overnight rain.

Fortunately it wasn't one of my favourites, otherwise I can't guarantee that I might not have made the slightly gross decision to pick the thing up and put it out of it's chocolate misery. I kept running, the odd image of that solitary Rose kilometers from anywhere kept me company for some time to come and I completely forgot I wanted to give up.

Karen writes: Fear delayed

Kate was on annual leave the other day.  I had a bit of a brainstorm and sent her a text message to say "next challenge the enduro cycle 2 x round lake Taupo in November".  She mustn't have thought I was serious, her response was "ha ha".  I'm not sure if I was serious either at the time, but I wrote on the whiteboard at work in very big writing a number of statements around the theme of "twice is good" and drew a picture of a bike. The rest of the team were undecided, would she or wouldn't she?   When Kate came back to work her response was a "No" on the whiteboard, but as someone in the team pointed out, it wasn't a very big no, the 'o' wasn't a capital letter, it wasn't a very emphatic circle she had drawn around the word, perhaps she meant 'maybe'?

The idea got stuck in my brain, the more I thought about it the more I realised that this was something I was absolutely terrified of.  I hadn't felt that way since way back before the first Ironman, was I even that frightened then?  The enduro ride twice round the lake is 320km of hard hills and probably at least 16 hours on the bike.  It starts at 1.30 am in the pitch dark.  It was the latter part that really bothered me when I thought about it, I couldn't imagine myself climbing on a the red Scott and riding off onto a dark road, seeing only rare street lights, being alone pedaling for hours, cold, perhaps in the wind and rain, braking furiously to crawl down those long windy hills because I couldn't see far enough ahead ... for hours and hours and hours.

Kate came into my office a few days later, she said she had been thinking about it.  I said NO NO NO, don't think about it, I'm not ready for it, lets just do once round like we usually do!  The official reasons I gave were to do with being sensible.  Like, it's already my heaviest training year ever after an Ironman, two marathons, first ultra-marathon planned and putting in a new supremely demanding physical challenge is probably not the smartest idea.  We have already booked the Rotorua half Ironman which is only two weeks after the Taupo cycle challenge, not much time to recover.  And is it sensible to risk next year's Ironman preparation by burning myself out in late November/early December?  Actually, we have never been sensible, the real reason, for me anyway, is FEAR.

I suspect...really suspect that now the thought has been planted the round the lake twice enduro challenge will have to happen one day.  This is that increasingly rare thing, a new challenge that I'm really not sure I physically or mentally carry out. It will require facing my personal demons and oh, getting on a dratted bike with a degree of seriousness not usually associated with me and cycling. It is frightening.  It is exciting.  There would be lots of new things to learn, some new equipment to buy, a new discipline, and a new label to acquire, 'enduro cyclist'. Can only walk away from that for so long.