a stressful end to the year, a nasty throat infection, a whole lot of coughing, not nearly enough sleeping, another weird summer christmas that didn’t really feel like christmas. but on the bright side, the beach, sunshine (well, occasionally) and a holiday about to begin. you don’t even mind the crappy phone photos, do you? see you next year, when hopefully I’ll be infection-free and a lot more relaxed. Here’s to another year of fun and keeping to new year resolutions!
This morning, I went for my first run in five days, which is, in my world, an abnormal number of days without running. My last run had been on Thursday last week. My iPod stopped working on that same Thursday. Coincidence? Don’t be silly, of course not.
I had an amazing 10km run by myself after work that day, complete with pukeko sightings and everything. It was sunny and not too warm and I got to try out a new running playlist. By the time I got home, I hit the ‘stop’ button on my iPod and it gave up on life. The screen went completely white so I can’t do anything with it. I tried restoring it as the website suggested but it didn’t work.
Apple has refused to fix it for me, despite admitting that it is a known issue and completely unrelated to the crack on the screen (that the iPod has had since January). Eleven months, a few running events, hundreds of kilometres of training and two half-marathons later, I’m iPod-less.
I’m not sure why it had such an impact on my running schedule but, if I’m running by myself, I really can’t run without music. I almost feel bad about this handicap – it sort of reminds me of the joke about the blonde who died when they took her headphones away (yep, I really did just google that joke so I can link you to it).
Lucky for me, I have a new phone capable of handling all manner of apps and whatever else the cool kids are using these days. Yesterday, I loaded it with a few of my favourite songs to run to and downloaded the MapMyRun app. The phone is considerably bigger than my now broken iPod Nano but has one particularly great advantage over the iPod: it works.
It’s a good short-term solution and it may even be a good long-term one. Now I need to find out how long the battery will last for while simultaneously playing music, tracking my time/distance and stopping to take the occasional photo. If it’s anything less than two hours, I’m going to have to find an alternative because there is no way I’ll be able to run a half-marathon without music.
In the future, I may just have to suck it up and invest in a Garmin Forerunner (what I really mean by this is: hot damn, I want a Forerunner and now I’m just coming up with an excuse to justify it to myself) and a small mp3 player of some sort (maybe an iPod Shuffle, if I’m ever able to bring myself to give money to Apple again).
Tell me, what gadgets do you take out with you while running? Anything you really can’t run without?
What to do on a wednesday afternoon after a day of work? Join over 900 people all dressed in santa outfits and go for a 3km run along the Auckland waterfront to support KidsCan, of course! The atmosphere was awesome and even though the run itself was very, very short, it was still very much worth registering and making our ways down there for it. Christmas and running together… what’s not to love?
I sort of wished it had been a longer run but was also thankful I didn’t have to run in that costume any longer. It’s summer in Auckland and even real santa (yes, REAL santa!) would swap that suit for a singlet if he was here. Yay, running! Yay, Christmas! I would like more running events to dress up for now, please, thank you.
photos by the lovely pierre gerardieu
We layered up just as we had been told to and set on our walk pretty early in the morning (from memory, I think it was about 7AM when we started).
We had 19.4km of a World Heritage Site ahead of us and we’d been told to be prepared for a tough walk. I don’t want to say it was easy because, well, it wasn’t and I also don’t want anyone to read this, get the wrong idea and go completely under-prepared. If you’re reasonably fit and you’ve done a few long hikes before and you’re used to uneven and sometimes difficult terrain, then you’re probably ready.
The first 3km are flat and maybe even a little bit boring, compared to what’s ahead. Around 5km into it (distances may be slightly off because I suck at judging distances), we got to what people call “the devil’s staircase”, a steep uphill climb during which I wanted to die about 23 times. But I didn’t die and we made it to the top and it wasn’t long (relatively speaking) before we reached the Red Crater and I got all excited about life again.
We walked and walked and walked, much slower than I’d hoped we would (because super idiotic girl had injured her foot the day before – and yes, I’m talking about myself in third person). Then we got to the Emerald Lakes and the way I verbalised it may have even included some swear words but it was something along the lines of “oh dear, those are some very pretty lakes”.
The lakes are about halfway along the hike and we decided to stop there to have our lunch. Not a wise decision, unless you don’t mind eating with the smell of sulphur that comes from the lakes. For lunch that day, I had ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches with a side of sulphur fragrance. Yum. Still, it was pretty much the most amazing place to have lunch.
The second half of the hike is much, much easier. It’s pretty much all downhill and, even though it seems to go on and on forever, it gets really pleasant past the Ketetahi Hut, once you get into the bush.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing (the “alpine” was added to its official name in 2007 to point out to people it’s not just a stroll in the park) is the best day hike I’ve ever done. It’s wild enough but not too wild, hard enough but not too challenging, long enough but not too strenuous. And boy is it gorgeous! It’s no wonder it is rated as the best day-hike in New Zealand and constantly ranked in the world’s top 10.
We’ve done it one more time since this first time (which happened a couple of years ago) and battled some really nasty weather on the second time. So terrible I don’t even like remembering that day because I don’t want it clouding the memory of the first one. The weather wasn’t perfect on our first visit (as you can see from a couple of these photos) but it was certainly not as life-threatening as on the second time. Now I have to go back when it’s sunny so I can get some proper photos.
Remember that, even though it’s only day-hike, it is a hike through quite challenging terrain in a mountainous area. If you’re going:
- Layer up! No matter what time of the year you visit, you’ll experience a wide range of temperatures while you’re there. Wear waterproof clothing but also don’t forget your hat and sunglasses. It gets freezing up there… and then it gets stinking hot.
- Take plenty of water and food. You’ll be walking for anything between 6 and 8 hours so stuff those snack bars in your backpack. And yes, that Mars bar can go too.
- Dust off the sturdy hiking boots and maybe throw in a walking pole for extra comfort (I find that my walking pole really helps on the uphills)
- Wear gloves. My hands were freezing both times even though I was wearing gloves. I don’t want to think what I would have felt like if I didn’t have them.
- If you possible, stay the night in the area after the walk. Your legs will thank you for not cramming them inside a car for hours right afterwards.
- Remember that you’ll be walking through exposed volcanic terrain and that the weather can change quite quickly and unexpectedly. Winds can get really, really strong up there and visibility can be reduced to pretty much zero (flashbacks to my second time on the track). Don’t underestimate it.
Ever since I visited the top of the Sydney Tower a few years ago and the first voice I heard was one of a lady telling her elderly mother “olha ali! olha ali!” as she pointed at the view, I’ve become more and more convinced that it is true what people say about Portuguese people being just about everywhere. When I approached Senhor Jorge last Saturday morning at his stall at the Nelson markets, it was only around 10AM and I was already his second Portuguese customer of that day.
I had no idea I’d go all the way down to Nelson (at the top of the South Island) to find some Portuguese deliciousness but that was exactly what I found. My stomach is not normally ready for something as heavy as beef and mustard in a bun quite so early in the day but the excitement of seeing and smelling the food got the better of me and a few minutes later, after having a bit of a chat with Senhor Jorge, as he prepared the food, I was digging into this.
Senhor Jorge’s Fernando’s business is not just a market stall and he sells his own homemade chouriços and other stuff online as well (I have a feeling I’ll be placing an order very, very soon). He let me have a slice of chouriço and asked me if it tasted like home. And it sure did. He also told me he’s working on some ideas for what other Portuguese traditional stuff he can start selling in New Zealand and there was a mention of pasteis de nata (real deal ones, not the fake portuguese custard tarts you find in other places) so I’m sure as hell going to keep checking his website for new stuff.
Last Friday, I went for my first run since the half-marathon in Kerikeri. I hadn’t actually intended to stop running for a whole six days but the whole week just flew by and it kind of just happened. Today is day five of yet another hiatus (after my last run on Saturday).
Can you even call it a hiatus if it’s only been five days? I guess not but too late now, not hitting that backspace key.
As bad as it sounds, this is still better than the period post-Taupo-half-marathon when I stopped running for quite a while longer (don’t blame me. Blame winter. That’s what I’m doing).
Entering a race every month this year has helped create a running habit and keep me motivated to continue training and I’m afraid that, if one run ends and I don’t have another in the pipeline, I might just get a little too lazy (something I seem to have a natural talent for).
After crossing the finish line in Kerikeri, S. and I lied on the grass and started drawing up the plan for what should happen next. Three days that, we signed up for a short fun run in December (and this will really be fun as it will even include costumes!) and came up with a list of runs we want to do next year. We’ve got three running events planned for 2012 so far and intend to enter a few more (the whole one running event per month idea proved quite successful this year so maybe it’s best if we carry on with that formula).
I want to take this very seriously and actually stick to training plans next year, contrary to what I’ve done this year. So, to make it official, here are my 2012 running resolutions (part 1 only, as we still have to choose other running events for the rest of the year):
- Return to Waiheke Island in January and run the 12km Wharf2Wharf again. It was the first running event we ever entered, last January, and we didn’t know what to expect at all. I’m super curious to go back and see what it’ll feel like this time.
- Run four half marathons
- Run the Cathay Pacific Half Marathon in Auckland (in February)
- Run the Rotorua Half Marathon (in April)
- Run a half marathon in two hours (or less)
- Run an average of 100km a month
- Do more cross-training
- Speaking of those programmes, find a good one and stick to it.
- Run the Kerikeri Half Marathon again (and beat my current time for that course)
- Choose a full marathon to do in 2013
So there you have it. I’ve got put my running shoes where my mouth is. Okay, that sounded gross. Backspace. You get the point.