Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Karen writes: Paeroa to Thames run

The Paeroa to Thames run along part of the Hauraki rail trail was on Sunday, 28+km, it was a little unclear on the actual distance.  What a neat run, well worth the 90 minute or so trip to get there from Auckland.

We were meeting up with Kate down there and fellow runner J and myself headed off early in the wee green car. I made the rather silly decision of heading round the coast rather than going into town to hop on the motorway for the longer but apparently faster trip according to Mx Google.  So we ended up on that very pretty drive, but it took a bit more time than anticipated, especially when at Kawakawa Bay horrible grinding noises came from the car innards. We stopped, couldn’t see anything dragging on the ground, started off again, grind grind scree crunch.  Oh the heart drops, feeling sick, to not turn up at a looked forward to start-line is awful, I've never done that before and to let J down as well. Ok, let’s turn around and hope it goes away, then we can divert off to the motorway if it does. Hang on, some ancient memory of a similar noise rose to the surface... slam into reverse and scoot backwards, ah stone in the brakes. WHEW.

So a relatively uneventful the trip after that, arrived at the school in Paeroa where the start was, how refreshing, close parking, free chocolate, and (mark of a quality event) real toilets not portaloos.  I haven’t seen such genuine old-school school toilets since...well...I don’t remember them being like that even in my day.  Wow, a glorious example of working history, I've said before, with running you never know what you will see.

We headed off along the route of the old railway line, glorious morning, and the running surface was gravel so a little attention was needed.  A lot of attention however was needed for the multitude of concrete cattle stops, and of course the flexible swing or suspension type bridges.  Ever tried to run on one of those?  They come up to meet you with every step, and if someone else is also running (or walking), well, I found it was the weirdest of sensations, going from novel to queasy on the longer versions.  Since I’m known for my love of bridges, I’m not complaining though, I got to see all sorts. 

Special memories, having to stop for mother duck and her flotilla of little ducklings crossing the path from one drainage ditch to another, the big pond with so many frogs in it the noise was almost painful, the strange kid who turned up in odd places, and a picture perfect day running a flat if ankle challenging surface through a beautiful landscape with the hills marching alongside.

The finish was at the Thames rugby club. A novel method of making sure everyone stayed for prize-giving was to not have the transport back to the start until after all the formalities had finished.  But hey there was an ice cream truck, a sausage sizzle and more genuine vintage toilets.  Perfect. It was so nice I would really like to look at more of that trail, more info here http://www.haurakirailtrail.co.nz/.  Now the picture isn't mine, I was running for a change and watching my feet not taking photos, I've borrowed it off the council website (call it advertising) and it gives an idea of things.
Picture courtesy of TCDC
So we drove back agreeing it had been a good day, several food and drink stops were made to sort out post event cravings and if that is the only long run before Auckland marathon in four weeks, we are ready, minimum done.

Now swimming...ah...swimming.  Yes.  A swim. Maybe tomorrow.

Karen writes: Swimming

Went for my first swim last week.  Um, sort-of.  I'd psyched myself up and really had to work hard at that even though it’s only 6 weeks until my first triathlon of the season which has a 1500 m swim. I found my wetsuit, a pair of goggles and a cap.  The whole lot had been untouched since it had been stuffed in a bag by the kind volunteers at Ironman back in March, there were still bits of grass attached. 

So, squished into the wetsuit, zip creakily cranked up, yes I can still breathe, and over the road.  Nooo, the contour of the beach has changed, it used to be that three hours on either side of a high tide was ok for swimming, not anymore though. I found myself way out past the wharf in a foot of water feeling a bit silly.  So I gingerly walked out a bit more until there was more water, eyeing the shore which seemed a long way away and trying not to think about the stingrays living out here in the mud, but probably more of a worry, ancient broken bottles and all the other junk that accumulates.

And dip. 
On the count of three...in the... 
I’m going to do this for sure, down I go. 
Yep, I can handle this...
Today...
Before my feet go completely numb
It’s just a tiny bit of cold, been colder 

When I finally did get in the water, I was right, it was COLD.  I swam a few strokes, probably managed a minute all-up and then my hands were going the same way as my feet. I could no longer feel them so I got up and waded back to shore. 

Tonight before she left the office to go home Kate said “you’re going for a swim aren’t you”.  It wasn’t really a question.  Yes, I’m going for a swim.

She is going to ask how the swim went tomorrow, I can say, yes, it was a very nice bike-ride.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Karen writes: Starting again

Triathlon season has arrived, well for many it arrived months ago, but according to my own peculiar calendar 12 weeks out from a half Ironman it is time to...ha ha...get serious again. Again. Kate has been off at Ironman camp, as far as I can see she is triathlon trained already having never dropped swimming in the off season and she has never stopped cycling or spinning. Running, well who cares about the run anyway, you can always walk that bit if you are fit for the other disciplines but I look at the Nike app and there I see Kate, off clocking up those running miles on her side of the country too.

I went to Whangarei for the weekend, Whangarei half marathon is an annual event and this year, falling a few weeks after Adelaide marathon, it was an ideal 'get back into things' effort.

The weather was predicted to be awful, but on the day it turned out to be very pleasant, overcast, not too hot, and I made a steady effort on that very pretty course along the harbour-side, through bush, then back along the heads road.  Senior daughter joined me for the final 2 km and over the finish line, that was lovely but I think she may have developed a new respect for her mother on that one. The drive home, now that was when the weather decided to let loose, rain, hail making for poor visibility on those narrow windy roads so I was tired and grumpy from all the concentration by the time we walked in the door. Fortunately, the girls are old enough now to be able to find themselves some food and get off to bed, just as well, I was past keeping my eyes open by half past seven.

I've grizzled about my running speed, how my pace continues to drop off, and this run I was 20 minutes slower over the relatively flat 21 km than my best time a couple of years ago, that is a big difference and if you use the usual formula of double your half time and add a bit, that gives my likely Auckland marathon as something in the range of 5 hours 15. And there were no excuses this time, I really felt like I was running steadily, no mucking around, felt comfortable throughout and there no unplanned glitches such as stopping to stretch or getting stung by anything, there wasn't even the chance to talk to anyone.  Of course, I am definitely heavier than I was back then, Friday I had run and cycled and then having plenty of time in the car plus lack of attention to nutrition could have contributed to such a poor showing, but it seems that I'm just going to have to accept that I'm continuing to slow down.  Funny thing was though, I still had 40% of the field behind me.  I think they might have mixed the walkers in looking at the times, but hey, I'll take what comfort I can get!

Fortunately there are plenty of cutesy quotes around about being a slow runner, like "running slow isn't a character flaw, quitting is", and I think, yeah, that's me. Plus I still run marginally faster than my sofa so I reassure myself that I'm still ok, but then I think oh I should be able to do better, maybe...just maybe next time I will.

Update: I've just checked results after receiving a message to say the 'results computer had screwed up', I now only have 16% of the field behind me, or 20% of my own group.  Hey, I usually aim to be in the top 90%, it's still a success!