Monday, 31 August 2015

Karen writes: Adelaide marathon

The Adelaide marathon was a whole week ago, another case of the time just disappearing, all that lead up and now it’s ancient history.  So how it went...there was meant to be rain, but it was a cool clear morning, 7 degrees C to start, and it turned out to be a great running day, no wind, not too hot, and pleasantly overcast at times. There was a nice sized field with nearly 500 marathon runners, as well as a lot doing the half and the 10 km who all started later.

There was an early start which is always excellent because you miss the heat of the day and still have some hours left with not going straight from finishing your run to recovering then to bed. And what a lovely course, over bridges, under bridges (my favourite), tunnels, cobbled paths by the river, along roads and gravel track through bush, and winding through the beautifully manicured botanical gardens too.  Some very pretty residential streets made up the only hill, and while it was a two loop course, me being me I had forgotten what I had seen by the time I was on my second time round.  Some of that was due to talking (“headphones strongly discouraged” yeehah!), some of it just me paying too much attention to odd things around me.  Like there was quite a long stretch with golf course on either side and I spent some time trying to figure out the likelihood of being hit by a golf ball. Then I recalled a golfing friend being a bit bemused at me suggesting that any real golfer would whack a ball somewhere it really wasn’t intended to go (I was speculating about windows around a golf course at the time), so presuming only real golfers played there us runners were theoretically safe.  Ditto trains, a train track ran alongside one of the golf courses too, so it was a paradise sort of run for me, beautiful surroundings, people to talk to, interesting things to think about and a regular view of trains going past.

I met some very nice people, and one not so nice. The story on this one, I actually felt embarrassed as a runner when this man, an Ironman it seemed, behaved like an arrogant prat.  What happened was I’d been passing and being passed by this runner wearing Ironman logo’d gear, and at one point when he was overtaking me on a track,  a cyclist came up behind us politely ringing his bell.  Mr Ironman snarled at the cyclist “I heard your bell, but I’ve got the right here because I’ve paid to be part of an event”.  I was a bit shocked, there was no need for that sort of rudeness, especially when it seemed the cyclist was doing us the courtesy of letting us know he was there, I was glad it wasn’t Ironman NZ on his branding.

The most memorable point of this event came 8 km from the end when I saw someone up ahead looking like they were having a bit of trouble and it turned out to be a young woman doing her first marathon.  She had had an injury the week before and had been ok for most of the run, but it was finally catching up with her.  I spent much of the last bit of the run with her, and we talked about everything and anything and nothing to help her ignore the pain.  Every so often I asked her to do a ‘stocktake’ to get her to consciously think about if anything was getting worse.  The stocktake was my compromise when I worried about what damage she was doing to herself, it’s one thing helping someone to tough out pain, it’s something else to encourage them to risk doing themselves permanent harm.  Anyway, it was one of those weird what I call ‘bubble’ times, where you discuss all sorts of things with a complete stranger safe in the knowledge that you will never see them again.  Well that’s usually the case, but a bit of investigation on her part later and she found me and sent a lovely message to say thanks.  For me, I found her courage and determination in the face of such obvious pain absolutely inspiring and the privilege of helping her out made that marathon, which was much like many other marathons before, a very special thing for me to be involved in. She has since said she plans to run another marathon and I am sure she will find it a snap next time. Finishing that marathon also highlighted the importance of support at the finish, thank goodness for the people who miss out on all the fun of the run themselves and are ready to be there with encouragement and help at the end.

So the following week I attended the conference which was the main reason I was in Adelaide for and managed a couple of short runs, ate too much, got some real exercise with the kiwi conference-going contingent showing the locals how to dance it up hard at the conference dinner, and now it’s time to get moving again. As ever I’m thinking ahead to my next big event which is Auckland marathon now only nine weeks away, but it has to be viewed in context of other non-running events just after it, like the Taupo cycle challenge four weeks later, and Rotorua Half Ironman a couple of weeks after that.  I’m stubbornly ignoring Ironman lurking just out of sight in March of next year, that is just too big to think about when I’m feeling over-weight (nutrition changes made a few weeks ago are NOT working), seriously under-trained and that sort of level of fitness just seems impossibly far away.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Karen writes: Vacuum cleaning, puddles and destruction

I met up with a cousin on Saturday, multi-ironman, super-fit person. That day he was off for swim-squad, and cycling, and preparing for proper triathlon events where people actually go with the intention of pulling off personal bests or winning.  He may have been a little bemused when I said I wasn't even thinking about swimming or digging out the bike for months yet. I am inspired by such people, but do tend to see them as something quite apart from me, same vague animal genus, entirely different species.

I do consider these things as I potter along.  But I also reflect on almost everything else which as previously described is the big contributor to why I will never get any better.  Like I was out running the other day and there was a man standing in the thigh deep water out past the wharf with what looked like a vacuum cleaner.  Vacuuming the sea? When I looked more closely I realised he actually had a metal detector, who knows what he was looking for in that spot that looked exactly like every other spot in the bay. Personally though I preferred to think he was vacuuming, I wasted a couple of km dawdling along concentrating on making up a story behind that particular bit of strangeness.

That same day, bit of rain and lots of puddles and coming back along the coast road there is a patch of road that can end up with some deep water over it, cars push through with a great bow wave and much spraying of the wet stuff.  I saw a motorbike coming along the road, heading right towards the big puddle at a decent clip, I automatically did the urgent slow down motion with my hand. Turned out I had just suggested a police officer slow down, I hope he associated my action with the road hazard rather than cheeky runner. Oh well, I was pretty incognito, I think.

This weekend I finally got back up into my lost paradise in the hills behind Maraetai, those wonderful mountain bike trails and tracks that have been out of reach for much of the last year because of logging.  Of course I knew at some level there would be changes, but it was a bit of a shock when I saw the extent of the destruction. I picked my way over the smashed small branches on the through roads and where once acres and acres of tall forest had stood there was dirt, bare dirt.  Is that hill really that small, I remembered it as so much bigger when I couldn't see through the trees.  So I ran carefully through that wrecked landscape, I did notice that there were still some positives, one patch of newly planted trees that had been tiny when I was last there were now taller than me, I admired the healthy flowers on the prolific gorse, and took the opportunity to pause and have a look at small rivers and other features of the land I had never had a chance to see before.  It was funny to see traces of old trails winding around the hillsides and how they related to each other once exposed. Not sure if I want to go back in a hurry though, I suspect it will be hot without the tree coverage, and it all made me feel a bit sad. I spent so many hours spent playing in that forest, the shady pine-needle covered tracks just made for hard-out down hill efforts, the hidden secrets around corners exploring unfamiliar forest trails...all gone.  For now.

Anyway, the next event is just next week.  Down to short runs for now, and I've been a bit silly and I'm trying modifications to my eating (oh again), of course that is exactly what I would do a few weeks out from an event, could I come up with better sabotage? Otherwise I'm getting ready, starting to put aside gear as it is washed and scrabbling around to find the gels and things left over from the last event, there is no excuse to buy more really when I know there is still a pile of my least favourites somewhere. Might as well get rid of all old stuff then I can have a fresh start leading up to oh goodness, another Ironman, it's only 6 months away.