A 32km warm-up and 10km Sprint (yeah right) – the inaugural Tauranga International Marathon

Date: 7 October 2017
Distance: 42.2km
Time: 4:49:47

3:47am. The alarm was set to go off at 3:45, but for some reason didn’t. Unfortunately, luckily, neither Gerry or I slept much, and when Gerry checked for a second time what the time was it started sinking in that the alarm didn’t go off and that we are supposed to be getting up.

But, first, let us rewind to Wednesday. We were in Masterton for work that night, and by 9pm we were ravenous for junk food to keep us going on the trip back home. We stopped for take-away chips at one of the local spots. The chips were nice enough, although some tasted like fish, and I still remember telling Gerry that one tasted of egg! And, as is always the case, the aftermath of junk food far outweighs the pre-junk tastebud fireworks going off in your mouth, signalling to your brain that you absolutely have to have it or death will certainly set in! The brain is such a fickle thing.

By mid-morning on Thursday, my “it’s just a headache, ya know”, took on epic proportions and by 2pm, Gerry had to leave work early and get something from the pharmacist for migraine. Nausea settled in nicely, and by 3pm I was barfing my lungs out. What was supposed to be the time for me to pack, clean and sort out everything before our trip, tuned into one of the rare moments I wished I was rather dead. Feeling like an invalid, I was not capable of anything other than wanting to die.

Thursday rolled into Friday while all along I couldn’t eat or drink anything. Not even pure icy cold rain water straight from our tank could stay down. The pharmacist suggested motion sickness tables which didn’t have any time to work it’s magical powers before going down the drain.

This meant that during my incapacitated state, Gerry had to pack running clothes, work outfits and casual clothes for both of us for five days, camera equipment, and everything else, while preparing a pre-race meal, filling thermoses with coffee and hot water for tea for the trip, on top of still tending to last minute work commitments.

By Friday midday, Gerry packed jelly-belly me and everything else in the car, before setting off for Tauranga. It was raining most of the way, but being dosed and in a haze from serious pain killers (people killers), we slowly made our way North. By late afternoon I managed some grated, left to turn brown (fermented) apple, and a few sips of flat Coke. Some weak herbal tea followed an hour later, as well as a Frooze ball. When all that stayed put, I knew things were looking up. My headache was back to “normal”, and I briefly considered more tablets, but opted to sit it out.

We arrived at our very basic Airbnb at about 7pm, after passing by the quick and efficient event registration desk in town. After another cup of herbal tea and almost feeling human again, I decided to try some dinner: quinoa with boiled egg, chopped cucumber, onion, green pepper and tuna. By then I realised that I was severely dehydrated and under-carbo-loaded not being able to eat or drink anything for the better part of two days. Happy to be able to keep food of any kind down, the best I could add to that was an electrolyte drink, before dozing off into a semi-sleep not too long after 9pm.

Stressed about the fact that I was in fairly bad shape so shortly before the run, on top of the fact that our peak training week for the past year was 55.7km, resulted in not much sleep. But, being awake about a zillion times, luckily saw us following the minutes as they pass during the night. Just as well, as we might not have woken up in time for the event.

By 5am we were showered, dressed, breakfasted (yogurt with chia seeds, and grated apple) and on our way to catch the free bus at 5:45 from the finish to the start. As this was a point to point event, the organisers offered free buses from the finish to the start, before as well as after the event. While we were traveling to the start I was counting my lucky stars that I was feeling almost human again, and that the inclement weather from the previous days seemed to have subsided.

The weather was as close to perfect as you can get. Starting at around 12 degrees C going up to 17 at its warmest, overcast and virtually no wind. Drop bags was another nice to have, and we decided to keep a warm layer until shortly before the start.

As this is a city marathon, we started in the Tauranga city centre on The Strand Rd, as the sun started to light up the day. Waved starting times helped to spread out the field of about 300 runners and walkers over the first 200 metres or so before heading up a small path, past the police station and into a suburb. Shortly after the first kilometre we crossed SH2 before veering off onto a track next to the highway on the one side, and the sea/lagoon on the other. It was great to see Anita at about 2km (40 to go!) marshaling and cheering everyone on. After 2.5km we turned away from the highway and onto a beautiful path of boardwalks and tracks for five kilometres, before crossing Chapel Street and onto an out-and-back stretch of about 7km (3.5km each way) on Harbour Drive and Beach Road. We were still going great and I was surprised at how reasonably well I was feeling given the circumstances.

Back onto Chapel Street we crossed the bridge and took a left onto a pathway next to an area that smelled like the sewerage farm. After about one kilometre we were back on SH2 where we crossed the Tauranga Bridge next to the marina. Being a huge bridge on the highway, it was quite busy with lots of traffic. Running through the industrial port area for miles and miles (okay, 4km to be precise), we finally crossed Coronation Park before running along The Mall Drive for one kilometre to reach Mt Maunganui. In my mind I always think of city marathons as “city centre” marathons. But, I guess it is fair to include the industrial area (which makes up a huge part of this event) and surrounding suburbs. Only about 100 metres were in the city centre itself.

The Mount was a highlight for me. Maybe it was because I was using different muscles on the otherwise very flat course, but I almost got a second wind in the 3km around the mountain. It follows the beautiful and extremely popular walking track around the Mount. Lots of people were running, walking their dogs or babies and just having a stroll on a lovely Saturday morning. Although it was mostly overcast, the lack of wind made for some nice temperatures.

Unfortunately, my “high” was short lived. We reached Marine Parade after about three hours with 14.5km to go. I was suddenly knackered, not having done the hard yards in training, and the suffering got exponentially worse after 30km. I haven’t even done my 32km “warm up”, before I started walking bits. Making it to the finish seemed near impossible.

Again, following the advice we once got on day four of a five-day stage race from a fantastic supporter, of “run bits, walk bits – you’ll get there”, we plottered on as the kilometres ticked over slowly but surely. I lost track of where we were and how many kilometres we covered, just trying my best to keep moving forward.

The course itself didn’t help. After about 3.5km, Marine Parade turned into Ocean Beach Road (4km) and later Maranui Street, and Papamoa Beach Road (6km) – a flat, boring, straight, long run through the suburbs of Mt Maunganui and Papamoa. For the final kilometre, we followed an urban path between houses towards the finish at the Gordon Spratt Reserve.

Funny how the final seven or so kilometres usually goes by in a blur. The pain overrides most other sensations, which had me thinking about something I read a few years ago in a book by Brian Powell (Relentless Forward Progress). The author’s wise words were something in the line of “if it hurts when you run, and it hurts when you walk, then run”. So I tried my best to do just that.

Before we knew it, we were on the home stretch. It could not have come fast enough. For the first time ever, I had a numbing feeling down my right leg for a huge part of the final twelve kilometres. I was worried my sciatic nerve might be pinched. But, seeing the finish line and knowing that we got there in the end, almost brought some instant relief. It still remains one of the most joyous moments – being able to run that far and the contented feeling of accomplishment. I always think that for as long as you are capable, you owe it to yourself to keep moving.

In terms of the event, I could not fault it. Everything was very well organised and the traffic management was next level. I think all the cones from the whole Bay of Plenty, including some from Auckland city council were on the course! The course marking counted down every kilometre, which is my favourite way of doing it. The marshals were abundant (my understanding was around 200), super supportive and generally just fantastic. Eight aid stations (at 5km, 10.5km, 14.2km, 18.2km, 23.8km, 29.1km, 34.9km, and 39.2km) were en route stocked with water and Loaded Isotonic Sports Drink. One had bananas and a couple others some jelly sweets. Each aid station also had a toilet. Only once on “the-green-mile” (times nine) stretch did I get really thirsty, and thought the water points were too far apart. But, that was probably because I only took some Loaded at the last water point which wasn’t nearly enough for the fairly warm, windless run through the suburbs.

Spot prizes were handed out as participants were crossing the finish line which usually doesn’t favour the back markers, and medals and a free beer courtesy of Speights were awarded to all finishers.

Prize-giving seemed a bit random and unorganised. First, second and third place winners were acknowledged and winners awarded with trophies for all distances from the 6km, 10km and 21.1km. But when it came to the marathon, only the winners were handed their trophies. Not a peep about the second and third place winners, who got prize money no less! Only when one of the placers talked to the announcer did they do a quick back-paddle in recognition of the second and third place winners. A bit after the fact, as people were on their way already.

But overall, Totalsports did a fantastic job of organising the event comprising of 300 participants in the marathon run and walk, 460 in the half marathon, 280 in the 10km, and 80 for the 6km (all based on the amount of finishers). Here’s hoping that next year will see the numbers increase with leaps and bounds, as a more social run would certainly help ticking over the final third of the run more enjoyably.

Seeing a lot of familiar faces on the course and catching up with friends afterwards, was just the cherry on the cake.  Thanks to everyone who helped make this event/weekend so special.

 

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Creatures of habit – Hatuma time again

Date: 17 September 2017
Distance: 21.1km (+11.1km)
Time: 2:25.28 (+1:16)
Previous: 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016

For our fifth running of the Hatuma Lime Half Marathon, we decided to add a few kilometres before the event start to get to 32km. It might be partially psychological, but I like to do a 32km long-run three or four weeks out from a marathon. Luckily the event was on so we only had to add 11kms to make up the distance.

Since we entered for the Tauranga International Marathon (happening on 7 October) ages ago, I’ve been trying to get myself on form, up the kilometres and generally just be half decently prepared. Unfortunately, it hasn’t materialised. By now I would have preferred to be on 70kms/week, but life got in the way and the best we could do was to get up to around 50km weeks, and only for the past month or so. Which brings me to the 50km per week mileage: it is only once I start to run at least 50km per week consistently for a couple of months, that I can actually feel improvement in terms of my fitness. Anything less, and it remains a slog to get through every run.

The weather was yet again atrocious leading up to the event. It was raining consistently, the wind was fairly strong, and Palmerston North even saw some hail the day before – the second time in one week. The weather prediction for the day didn’t look too flash either. But, on the morning of the event, things couldn’t be better. Cheryl joined us for the outing, and by 6:45 we were on our way to Waipukurau. This, if memory serves me well, this is the event we’ve done the most times of all events over the past 16 years. I can’t tell you why. It is just one of those things. Maybe because it is really cheap ($15 and you get a free T-shirt if you enter early)? Maybe because it is familiar? Or maybe we’re just creatures of habit. Who knows.

After registration, we quickly dropped our new Ts in the car, took off some layers, and were off on our 11km “warmup” run with seconds to spare before the walkers (and slow runners) were sent on their way. They started at 8:30. The “speedy” runners officially started at 10:00. I can’t remember it being this way in previous years, but the event now only allows 2:30 to complete the half marathon.

It seems to be the norm these days to have different starting times for fast runners, walkers, slow runners, fast walkers, other runners, the different distances and so on. Which I think is unfortunate. There’s something about a starting line and the masses of people, the chatter, banter and the sense of belonging – the “we are in this together”, no matter how fast or slow your are. With the separate starting times that start-line vibe is slowly dying out.

Our first 11km went by uneventfully. The idea was to take it really slow and just get the distance on our feet. We basically ran to the first water point and back. On the way back we saw all the walkers and early, slow runners. John Stuart was doing his 50th half marathon and a few of the Manawatu Striders members were walking with him for support and camaraderie.

Back to base, we had 14 minutes to take a drink of water, have a pee, and tape a hotspot on my foot before setting off on the half marathon. We were still trying to start the GPS on Gerry’s phone, and make a FB post (don’t ask) as we watched the field of runners disappear out the gate on the first out-and-back stretch in front of the race course. We were way behind everyone else (we could have been the official Tail-end Charles’s!), and it remained that way until about the 10km mark at the second water point. We passed four participants, one of which overtook us again a few kilometres up the road. It was only in the final few kilometres that we passed a few more. And it was only at these rare moments, as well as at the three water points, that we were not by ourselves. For the most part, it was just the two of us on a Sunday long-run.

The last seven kilometres tuned into quite a challenge as it was “virgin” territory again. Since my regular running excursions came to an abrupt halt about a year ago, we haven’t done much more than a few half marathons, and those were few and far between. My legs got that “lack of oxygen and blood flow” numbness/pain and the struggle was on. All I can think was how on earth was I going to get to the finish, let alone through 10km more in three weeks time!

We met up with Cheryl at the finish and saw the Striders gang who was having a wee celebration for John’s 50th half marathon. Prize-giving was short and sweet and unfortunately no lucky spot-prizes for us. Damn – I was looking forward to winning that fertiliser!

[Hip update: it has been nearly nine months since I started my self-help rehab and I can honestly say that my hip is in a much better place than what it was before. My core is getting stronger and I can now manage to spend very long periods of time on a foam roller. My hip mobility is probably the best it has been in 20 years. I’m extremely aware of my body’s movements, tightness, weaknesses and am constantly focused on that aspect of my life. It is literally all-consuming. I’ve spent hours and hours reading articles on hips, all the muscles in that area, ligaments, fascia, and watched endless amounts of videos on YouTube. I’m obsessed about getting to the bottom of it. It’s been proved over and over – running is good for your joints. I just need to sort out the mechanics: mis-alignments, tight spots, and weak spots, before I can really move forward.

We’ve slowly built up our mileage during this time, going from about 20km per week in January to 50km in September. My fitness levels are picking up nicely. Although I’m not where I’ve hoped to be by this time due to lack of proper planning, being scared and uncertain whether I’m doing the right thing (because that is what doctors manage to be good at – instilling fear), but I’m really looking forward to see what is going to happen at the marathon.]

 

 

 

Hilder, honey and a half marathon

Date: 9 July 2017
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 2:17.26
Previous: 2014, 2015

 

The first time we did the Norsewood to Takapau half marathon, it was with family, who at the time lived in New Zealand. I will never forget the box filled with pots of honey that was handed out as spot prizes. Two out of the four of us received a pot of honey. When prize-giving rolled around the following year, I was audibly disappointed for not getting honey again, at which point the Hilders gifted us theirs. Last year the event was first postponed and later cancelled altogether, because of inclement weather, so definitely no pots of honey to be had.

In 2014 I was physically in better shape than any of the subsequent years, but this is one of those lovely, affordable events that you shouldn’t miss. And walking is always an option. Which brings me to this year. This was my first half marathon-length long run in a while and I was keen to see how my hip would behave. At the Great Forest Events, I walked most of the time, and when you take your time, you can do almost anything. So that one doesn’t count. These days, anything faster than a 7min/km pace I consider to be quite all right.

It was again very cold and wet underfoot with lots of rain leading up to the event and snow-capped mountains, but the weather was otherwise not too bad. One tends to forget the hills on this course! Just as well, or you might not come back for more.

I couldn’t help but thinking about Marian. It is a year since Stuart’s passing, and Marian will no doubt be reliving this very sad time. This event will, in one way or another, always make me think of Marian and Stuart. If not for Marian running, then the gifted honey, or Stuart’s passing. I do hope we will see Marian again on the course at a future event.

[Hip update: I had little to no complaints from my hip. Regaining strength if you neglected it for so many years, is really hard. It has taken a very long time for me just to be able to spend some quality time on a foam roller. That is how non-existent my core was. It is still no good, but at least I can stay on the roller for a bit longer than what I could a few months ago. I still do strength exercises very haphazardly, focussing mainly on rolling the knots out, which has helped my mobility and range of movement with leaps and bounds. Maybe it will be easier to join a gym for the strength exercises, but I’m hoping to find a solution that I can do anywhere and anytime on my own. Having entered for the Ring of Fire event scheduled for April next year might get me off my rear to start doing more, as I’m scared senseless just thinking of what we’ve signed up for.]

Stride for Syria

Date: 2 July 2017
Distance: 7.6km (+4km)
Time: 47:31 (30:00)

A week out from our half marathon, we had to fit in a last “cutback long-run” and decided to throw the Palmerston North Boys High School and Palmerston North Girls High School’s event into the mix.

The Stride for Syria intended to raise funds for the Syrian Refugee Crisis. It is labeled as “the most urgent humanitarian crisis of our time” after six years of ongoing fighting and conflict in Syria. According to the brochure that was handed out at the event, 470 000 people have been killed, and more than 4.8 million have fled the country, while 6.1 million have been displaced. That is nearly three times the population of New Zealand that is either dead, misplaced or having to flee for their lives.

So, PNBHS World Vision decided to host a running/walking event, with help from the Manawatu Striders, to raise some funds for the Syrian crisis. (If you wish to make a donation, visit the NZ World Vision website.)

We arrived at about 9am to register and quickly go for a 4km trot before the actual event started at 10am. Going upstream, we ran 2km along the Bridle Track before turning around and running the 2km back. On the way out, we ran into Glen W, whom we had only known from Instagram. Nice to finally meet in person. Although it was quite cold, it was a windless, calm day with little pockets of sun still shining through the clouds early on. Back at the club rooms, we had time for a quick catch up, a sip of water and a trip to the loo. It was great to also finally meet Christine T in person – another online friend.

The school boys and girls did a good job of handling the formalities with guidance from the Manawatu Striders. Starting at the club rooms, the course followed the routes of other Striders events. The first bit is partially on the Super 7s course until you reach the river where you turn right to follow the marathon course downstream, around Waitoetoe Park and back the same way to the club rooms. These are trails we know very well, but it was still an enjoyable run away from the roads, through parks and next to the river.

With an entry fee of only $5, which included a sausage sizzle and banana at the finish, I’m surprised at the very small field of participants. One would have thought that at least both the schools’ students and their parents should have known about it, and made the effort?

Be that as it may, I’m pleased to have managed another run without much pain. Now to see how things will go at the half marathon in a week’s time.

The David Fletcher Mortgages Urban Trail Run

Date: 11 June 2017
Distance: 12.5km
Time: 1:40

While we were in New Plymouth for the weekend, we figured we might as well participate in another Cut a Trail event. The previous one was most enjoyable and since this one was cheap enough, we thought we’ll give it a go.

As an out-of-towner you can’t pre-enter, meaning you inevitably pay the late entry fee of $15 ($10 for locals if you pre-register at the Frontrunner shop during the course of the week). You also don’t come into account for certain of the spot-prizes if you enter late. But, I guess, these events are small and low-key community events – not really meant for outsiders. That might also explain why there were no water points or toilets. The latter being a bit of a problem when you have x-amount of people queueing for the one public toilet in the area. On the bright side, the banter while waiting in line turned out to be fun. When all the men turned to the bushes (on the East End Reserve, main beach and playground area no less!) one lady casually commented, “it is already full moon, a couple more won’t make a difference”.

Another beautiful day greeted us in the morning, with just a bit of a nip in the air. I decided there and then that we in Palmy most certainly have the most miserable weather in all of New Zealand. Quite sad actually, especially taking into account that Palmerston North had the least amount of sun last summer. So, excuse me for being a bit sad (or make that grumpy) from lack of vitamin D! 😀

The run follows the urban trails around town. We’ve covered most of them on training runs with friends before, but we did see a couple new areas. The first approximately 3km out-and-back stretch on the opposite sides of the Te Henui stream, makes up the loop for the 6km course. But after the first 3kms where the short course runners crossed a bridge to go back down, the longer course carries on to do another 3km loop higher up in the suburbs, twice. A decent hill reduced me to a walk, especially on the second lap. At the highest points on the course, we got lovely views of Mt Taranaki. When we finally hooked up with the second half of the 6km course on the way back, we got treated to another monster hill. But from there, the home stretch is mainly downhill back to the sea.

It took a fair bit longer to complete the course than I had hoped. But, on the bright side, my hip didn’t give any troubles. It might seem that the little bit of mobility and strength exercises are doing the trick. My hip does feel a lot less tight and sore, especially getting up from a sitting position.

There’s hope still.

Next up? Probably the Norsewood to Takapau half marathon on 9 July. A small, country event, which we’ve enjoyed doing in the past.

The Greatest Virtual Run

Date: 15 April 2017
Distance: 10.2km
Time: 1:18

gvr

Funny how things just pass you by when you’re not vigilant and half organised. Is it a sign of our already very hectic lives that the thought of trying to fit anything else in, is just too overwhelming? Or are we just plain too damn lazy?

When Jason, founder of Running on the Spectrum, first mentioned his The Greatest Virtual Run, we were very keen and decided there and then to participate. And why wouldn’t you? It’s for a great cause, running should be part of your daily routine anyway, and you get a bib and medal to boot, all for only $20 ($28 for non-NZ runners). It’s no brainer, really. But we didn’t enter right away, for some or other reason, and ended up very nearly letting it pass by. I will never forget a friend’s comment on a hike somewhere in the sticks some 20 years ago: as we were queueing for the very basic outdoors shower at the end of the hike, a few people in front of us started talking. The shower opened up, but they just kept on talking. As he was pressed for time, the said friend gave it a few minutes and decided to go ahead of them, thus jumping the queue. While I was speechless, trying to close my gaping mouth, he was in and out of the slower in a flash (the talkers probably still don’t know someone went ahead of them), and all he said on coming out was, “you snooze, you lose”.

This event was very nearly a “you snooze, you lose” moment for us. Luckily we came to our senses in time to quickly register before heading out for a 10km trot on Saturday. Apart from a distance choice of 3km, 10km, 21.1km, 42.2km, or 150 km (run or walk), ideally to be done on 15, 16 or 17 April (to coincide with the Boston Marathon), you could also accumulate the 150km over the entire month of April to qualify as a finisher. April is  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) awareness month, which covers autism and Asperger’s, as explained in a Taranaki Daily News article. If my mind wasn’t so preoccupied with studies and deadlines, I might have opted to do the 150km over the month of April. Maybe that would have gotten me back on the road again since none of the recent half marathons could manage to do just that.

For our 10km run, we did the “road much traveled”. The trails around Summerhill and Massey are our go-to these days for most runs. Since I’m well aware of my troubled hips, we try to run off-road as much as possible. And during our built-up for Tarawera 2015 and 2016, we covered this little 8.7km trail more times than I care to remember. This time, though, we added the Massey ring road to make up the distance for the 10km virtual run.

The weather turned out good, overcast and just a few spits of rain halfway through, not much wind and a comfortable run overall. We are really lucky to have these trails in our backyard. Not too hilly and totally runnable. Apart from about 1.5km on-road, the rest are all on lovely paths and trails through the suburbs.

If this event happens again, we might just sign up for the 150km. Should make it a 100 miler and give belt buckles, Jason! 😉

 

jason_medal

Photo courtesy of Jason Reid. Looking forward to receiving them in the post soon.

 

The Great Forest Events – Waitarere

Date: 8 April 2017
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 3:30
Previous: 2014, 2016

A few months ago, a friend of ours won an entry for the marathon of this event. She has been keen to do a marathon for such a long time, and what better motivation than to win an entry. It was going to be her very first marathon and Gerry and I thought we’d like to join her. But, life had other plans, and we couldn’t get the miles done in time for a full marathon, so decided to join only for the second half of her run.

The marathon is a double-lapper, so it was easy enough to just enter for the 21.1km and join in on her second lap. Unfortunately, the full and half marathons started only an hour apart, so we thought we’ll wait and start an hour late for the half marathon. But, as it turned out, Cheryl opted to start another hour earlier with the walkers, so she was already two hours in by the time our race started. Not sure at what pace she was going (I was thinking she might be able to do the first half in about 2:15), we started off on a very slow walk, thinking she might catch us in the first 10-20 minutes.

But let me just take a few steps back. Apart from being unfit, I also landed myself the migraine of the decade. We had a very hectic week, some very late nights, including a 150km work trip in the middle of the night in stormy weather, and all the stress just started to add up. For two days leading up to the event, my head felt like it was being pelted with a 10-pound hammer and all I could think of was how not to barf my lungs out. When Friday rolled around, my only thought was to die – the sooner the better. Not keen to take pills in any form or shape, I finally succumbed to Nurofen. That didn’t do anything, so a few hours later I took a codeine tablet (leftovers from a dentist prescription). Still, no improvement and a couple of Advil’s later without any change, I realised the problem was more serious than any pills we had in the house. By then I was convinced I had food poisoning from a function we attended on Wednesday night, as that was the only day Gerry and I ate different things. Since he was fine, I reckoned that must be it.

When the alarm when off on Saturday morning, I would much rather have been laying in my coffin than having to get ready for a run. But, I really didn’t want to miss Cheryl’s maiden marathon (ah, the euphoric first), plus we had entered and paid already, and all I had to do was turn up and do it. I suspected it might be a slow one with lots of walking, so the pressure was off to try and run much on unfit legs, while my pounding head was in a universe of its own. Besides, I thought a run was the only thing that might fix my upset tummy and exploding head. I couldn’t stomach anything, so didn’t eat much on the Thursday or Friday, but managed to get a grated apple down as my pre-run meal on Saturday morning.

We drove the 40km to Levin, parked in a paddock and got ready to start our slow meander through the forest on a gorgeous Saturday morning. A bit chilly at the start, but the air warmed up soon enough as we strolled down the forest roads. It was quite liberating to see everybody speed off into the distance, while we were having a nice stroll down the road. After a few kilometres, we (first heard! :), then) saw Cheryl and Steph (who kindly offered to run the full marathon with Cheryl so that she won’t have to be on her own for her first marathon) coming from the front a few metres to our right on a different road, nearing the end of their first lap. We knew then that they were about 3-4km behind us, and would catch up with us soon enough.

Having lots of time on our hands in the first 6kms (at which point they caught up and we started to run bits) we could really appreciate the forest and just being out there in near perfect weather conditions. Not something we had much of in the days leading up to the event with the remnants of Cyclone Debbie creating havoc in the region. Unfortunately, my head was still pounding, so at the first water point, I decided to have more pain killers (which again, I might add, didn’t help whatsoever). Slow learner, eh.

To entertain himself, Gerry started taking pics of all the fungi in the forest. There was quite a variety and I was very pleased to spot a basket mushroom – not something I’ve ever seen in real life before.

When Cheryl and Steph caught up, we started to jog bits. The four of us were by ourselves for huge parts of the run and being out in mother nature, was good for the soul. But, truth be told, I don’t have a clue how I managed to get around the course. Being nauseous with a pounding head is definitely not the way you want to spent making your way through a half marathon course. Luckily, Cheryl was in such high spirits, I couldn’t help but feel better. I was amazed at how comfortable she looked, despite having a stress fracture which was obviously causing her a lot of pain. But she was happy and seemed to be in seventh heaven. Isn’t that exactly what running should be about? I’m sure she could have done another lap if she wanted to!

Spending some time with friends at the prize-giving (I have to apologise for being rude and for the most part, ignoring everyone), I couldn’t manage anything other than laying on the grass, holding my head. I haven’t had this much pain from a headache in a very long time.

On the way home, Gerry went past a pharmacy to try and fix his broken wife. Back home and with pills for nausea and pain in my tummy, I crawled out of the car and straight into bed – dirty as one can only be after having done an off-road half marathon. I could not face standing up, let alone try to shower. Luckily the pills (and maybe spending the next 20 hours in bed) worked a charm. By midday Sunday, I could almost face life and food again.

Needless to say, I don’t remember much of the event. What I do remember is that they’ve changed the venue, and also the course (slightly, to compensate for some muddy patches and logging in the forest), and also to go in the opposite direction from before. The parking area was a bit disastrous having to squeeze cars and pedestrians through the same narrow gate, with a constant flow of both cars and pedestrians continuously going in and out. The sound system really wasn’t up to it, and prize-giving went by in the background.

A somewhat morbid and self-centered take on the event, but I just had to put it out there as a reminder to my future self (for when I feel doubtful about something): just drag your sorry arse out there and make a start. It may not seem possible, but it will be. Just do it.