super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Cathay Pacific half marathon Auckland recap

Last sunday morning was awesome and it wasn’t even spent in bed like all sunday mornings should be. Instead of the usual routine of trying to sleep in while a cat gives me a less than friendly back massage and begs for food, I headed into town and ran my third ever half-marathon instead. Third ever and first of a plan of four for this year. After my first half in Taupo last August and the second one in Kerikeri in November, I was really excited about running a third one.

So excited I injured my knee a week before race day. Am I the clumsiest person you’ve ever met or just second clumsiest? With a bruised and sore knee, I dragged myself out the sunday before for a 15.5km run before deciding it was probably time to just jump straight to the part of the training that involves sitting on the couch eating lots of crap and feeling sorry for yourself. So that’s what I did. One 5km run all week and the knee showed little sign of improvement.

So on race day, I had to sport a super sexy knee brace and hope that I could end the 21.1km course without having to have my leg amputated or OMG a knee brace tan line. Spoiler: I still have both legs.

The data in the images is off my Nike+ app thingy (I call things thingy because I’m technical like that). The organisers of this event didn’t actually record anyone’s time which was kind of sucky for people like me who like to know exactly how long they take from start to finish. My nike+ isn’t always super accurate and actually think I ran more like 21.9km. I also only stopped it about 20 seconds after crossing the finish line so none of that is precise, just a good indication.

This wasn’t my best half-marathon time but it was, by far, the easiest half-marathon I’ve ever done. Nothing to do with the conditions – there were a couple of uphills to annoy my old-lady’s knee, the weather was maybe a little too hot and the staggered start didn’t exactly give me the whole adrenaline rush I normally get from these events. But for some crazy reason, I got really into it and felt amazing the entire time. I remember passing the 6km marker and feeling surprised because I felt we had only just started.

At about the 12km mark, I spotted my awesome friends (*waves!*) who had driven there to see me run. They followed me in the car for a while, stopping often for photos, high fives and just a whole lot of shouting my name. Not sure they have any idea how awesome I think they are for doing that but yeah, they are kind of fabulous that way. They left me at about 18km and drove to the finish line. I ran a really good final 3km along the waterfront, made slightly less amazing by the many walkers I had to dodge and the damn knee that kept on reminding me of its existence. I crossed the finish line only to realise and, pretty much as soon as that happened, my knee stopped hurting. It’s been three days, still not hurting. In fact – and here’s the real first! – nothing is hurting. I was walking around in high heels the day after, which was kind of a novelty for me.

So this is it. First half-marathon of the year done, three more to go. Roll on Rotorua! I’m pretty excited about kicking your ass in two months time!


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A letter to Samoa’s “craterman”

Dear self-proclaimed “da craterman, world famous in Samoa”,

I’m sorry I have been so busy I haven’t sent you the postcard I promised to send you from New Zealand. I still have the piece of paper where you wrote your address for me and I intend to have a postcard flying your way soon. I guess it’ll arrive at your family home in the village in Savai’i and you will eventually receive it on Saturday when you come down from your hut up near the top of the crater to get ready for church on sunday. Either way, I hope you like it.

Thank you for inviting us into your family home and introducing us to your family. Thank you for offering that we stay with you or at least have a meal next time we visit your island. I’m not sure we will ever take you up on the offer but it was incredibly sweet of you to invite us.

you've been warned.

I’m sorry I was so sick the day we met and couldn’t go up the crater with you. You were so excited that we had found you and wanted you to take us there. I would have made the effort of going on Saturday if you had said no to my Sunday alternative but, judging by how sick I was all day and how rough the road turned out to be, I’m really glad we didn’t. Still, I know how important going to church is to you and how Sunday is a day of rest for you and your community, which is why I’m even more grateful that you offered to do that.

one of his two fales near the crater

I admit I was a bit worried when we picked you up from your family’s house in Savai’i in our rental 4wd and you put what looked like old dry fish in the boot of the car, along with a basket full of taro and coconuts. When you said “this is for our lunch, I’m taking lunch for us to eat at the top”, I was all like “hells to the no!”, thinking that would have to be the most unsanitary meal I had ever had. When you asked us to stop at the store so you could stock up on beer, I said to C. that there was no way in hell I was going to eat that. He was reticent as well. I mean, you have to understand, we’re just a couple of silly little westerners with very weak stomachs. When, after a few minutes at the top of the crater, we went to the hut where you live all week long and you started preparing the taro and getting the coconut milk on the taro leaves and separating the fish with your hands, I got a little nauseated. And then you offered it to me and my mum and dad raised me so well I had to try. And, god damn, it was so delicious. One of the best meals ever, hands down.

taro leaves in coconut cream, taro and fish caught the night before

Your fale was only big enough for you and yet the three of us were there. I was amazed by the fact that you have a roof over your head but no walls. You have almost no possessions and yet you keep a book recording every single person you take up to the crater, as well as their nationality. You know how many countries have come to you. You told me you don’t mind the fact you’ve never left the island because you are lucky enough that the world comes to you. That was such a special thing to hear, considering how anxious I am to see as much of the world as I can. I should learn from you a little bit. I should learn from you a lot, actually.

walking around the crater and trying not to fall through one of the cracks

You take such good care of the road up to the crater and you are always worried about making sure the track is in good condition for anyone who wants to visit. Well, you don’t have to worry. It’s a great track and the crater was favourite spot on the entire island. You said you spend your entire days working on it and I believe you. It looks amazing. Hard work pays off, I guess. Don’t listen to the ones you criticise or say it should look better (you mentioned a couple of occasions when that happened, remember?). It’s a freaking volcano you’re looking after, not the botanical gardens. If they complain again about how it should have more of this or less of that, feel free to use those Samoan words you taught me. They’re be more than appropriate.

he's not kidding about the no rescue stuff.

I should learn to laugh as much as you do. I loved that you spent the entire drive up to your first fale telling stories and making jokes that weren’t even all that funny before proceeding to laughing like someone was tickling you really hard.

messages from past visitors

It was super adorable of you to get some ferns and make me a crown and say “There, now you’re the princess of the crater” before giving me a kiss on the cheek. I also saw how happy you were with the message I wrote in your book. I wonder if you’ve copied it into a piece of wood and picked a really nice spot on the road up to the crater for it, along with all the other messages people have left you over the years. One day, maybe I’ll see it for myself again.
Love,
Vera


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What I’ve been missing out on

Sunrises are right up there in the list of things I never expect to witness myself, along with polar bears cuddling baby owls and Nicole Kidman starring in a movie that I enjoy. And yet, I took this photo early this morning. While I was out running. By myself. Before 7AM. Getting goosebumps yet? Because that is some freaky stuff right there! I was out running before the sun was up. And as if that wasn’t already weird enough, I saw a lot of other people out exercising as well (including a couple of old men doing Tai Chi in the park near home). Was this some sort of gravitational unbalance that made us all fall out of bed before we were meant to? We may never find out… but it was enjoyable and I might actually do it again. 2012 is weird.

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