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 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.

Taihape Half

Date: 18 March 2017
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 2:29
Previous: 2015, 2016

After a long hiatus and battling to fully commit and get back into things, I thought participating in an event might help me find my running mojo, so we entered the Taihape Half. (Boy was I wrong – it’s been a week since, and I’ve managed one run …) Not having done the hard yards, I knew this kind of distance wasn’t the “right thing to do”, but throwing caution to the wind, I figured if I take it really easy I should be able to cover the distance. Even if it means having to walk most of the way. Continue reading

New Plymouth half marathon

Date: 2 October 2016
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 2:31.27
Previous: 2011

We have now officially exhausted the last bit of our running memory. No more long-runs without a bit of training first.

When friends invited us to join them for the half marathon, I thought to myself, yeah, why not. So we entered, knowing very well that I’m tempting fate (more accurately, tickling the lion’s testicles) and it’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off. As it rightfully did. Continue reading

Running on memory

Date: 18 September 2016
Distance: 21.1km
Time: 2:21
Previous: 2011, 2014, 2015

All photos by us, except where otherwise indicated.

The Hatuma Lime Half Marathon reminds me of a mini-Rotorua marathon: once you’ve done the first busy section through town (in this case, the short out-and-back stretch outside the race course), you head into the country where on a good weather day, you cannot ask for a better setting while you make your way around a lake (Lake Hatuma here). Great community support on country roads where you can just cruise along admiring the scenery, until you reach the final quarter of the event – the stretch from the airport (a small rural air strip in this instance) which takes you back through town, not as scenic and also the toughest part to the finish. Continue reading