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the awesomely average life of a girl like all others

That time I started a race after everyone else and found a new favourite trail

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Photo by Allan Ure - photos4sale.co.nz

Photo by Allan Ure – photos4sale.co.nz

XTERRA Waharau last Sunday had all the ingredients to be the perfect shitstorm. Instead, it was one of my favourite trails ever.

Let’s recap and maybe it’ll make sense (although, I’m telling you right now, it’s unlikely).

Due to being on a really tight schedule of not giving a crap about anything that week, I failed to read the organisers’ emails with instructions for the event day and didn’t even check the course map. As a result, I didn’t know the exact length I was supposed to run, not even while I was running it. For someone who’s been entering an average of an event a month (often more) for the last two and a half years, you think I’d have my shit together by now. Nope.

I also failed to check how long to get to Waharau from home until I got in the car in the morning to drive to Waharau. It was 45 minutes to race time (because I’m super talented when it comes to stuff like ignoring my alarm) and the GPS told me the event base was over an hour away. Also, the car told me it had 60km worth of petrol in the tank, which would most definitely not take me to the event base. The 45min I had to do a trip of over an hour had to include a stop at the petrol station where the man behind the counter tried to sell me all sorts of add-ons instead of just taking my card and charging me for the petrol. I may or may not have asked him to “please just hurry up”. And no, I do not want those two chocolate bars for only $2 even though that does sound like a pretty good deal, thank you.

You know where this is headed now, right? Yep, shitsville, that’s where. No matter how hard I tried to make up some time on the road (safer communities together and stuff), of course the race had started by the time I arrived. For the first time in my life (after a very close call at the Auckland Quarter Marathon two years ago), I pinned my bib on my shirt, put the timing chip on my shoe and started a race completely on my own (one of the organisers was nice enough to allow me to start rather than making me wait and do the short course instead, which would start about half an hour later).

I started running seven minutes behind everyone else, which was pretty freaking depressing if you ask me (and I know you didn’t but now you know). But I got over that pretty quickly and found a whole new thing to be depressed about: the brutal hill ahead.

You don’t even want to know the quality of the words that came through my mind as I was faced with that hill right at the start. But they were far nicer words than the ones my mind came up with when I found a whole new hill on top of that one. And then another one. The higher I climbed, the lower my mind sank. The “what am I even doing here? I hate running!” thoughts appeared around about then, probably the result of combining an incredibly hilly trail with running on an empty stomach.

But you know what’s on top of a hill? The start of a downhill. In Waharau, after some rain in the days before, it was the start of a steep technical and very muddy downhill that went on for about 5km to the finish line. And I loved every second of it. The further down I got, the higher my runners’ high reached. In a few minutes, I went from “how am I going to tell everyone that I actually hate running?” to “OMFGWTFBBQ RUNNING IS AWESOME!” again. It wasn’t the easiest downhill course ever but my faithful companions behaved impeccably and there wasn’t a single butt-landing to describe on this post (sorry, not sorry). By the time I spotted the finish line, I didn’t even want the run to end, a giant shift from how I felt about it closer to the start.

After the finish, I got to catch up with a bunch of lovely familiar faces and say goodbye to this year’s famous XTERRA sausages + beer combo, which ended up being breakfast for me that morning (as per usual, seriously hoping you didn’t come here for healthy living advice). The runners’ high lasted a few hours after that and I have now found my new favourite trail in Auckland – one I cannot wait to go back and explore.

See you next year for some more muddy fun, XTERRA. You make my Winter days a whole lot happier.

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12 thoughts on “That time I started a race after everyone else and found a new favourite trail

  1. WTFBBQ? Your runner’s high made you thinking about barbecuing? WTF?

  2. See, here’s the thing I am deeply envious of : that you are still finding new trails to run. Let alone a new favourite trail. I was on the trail in Singapore this weekend (there are about two trails in Singapore – really just segments of one long route) and boy was it crowded. Sort of like Orchard Road, our main shopping strip. It didn’t help that there is a major trail race coming up in October. Sigh.

  3. Would have replied sooner, but this post gave me a craving for BBQ burgers….with onions…..cheese….chilli sauce….more burger meat…..

    I’m gonna have to go out again…great post. I’ll eat one for you as well

    PS

    Sunday is the only day of the week that contains no calories ;)

  4. Mmm. Sausages and beer. I’m so glad everything turned out well! I would have been an absolute basket case.

  5. What a day! Glad you enjoyed your run and you really did make the best out of what could have been a really shitty day!

  6. Food! Yeah…thats what its all about SGG. Great post…those xterra people are experts at finding utterly killer hills that noone except Melissa Moon would actually be able to run up. And hows the legs today after the downhill? I think a little Wellington Xterra hill would get you whooping.

  7. lmao, you’re posts are brutely honest, and I love that. You tell it how it is.
    Nothing like a bbq for motivation.

  8. Seven minutes behind might have been depressing, but considering it was: (60 minutes away + Petrol Stop Time) – 45 minutes from flag off = you still made really good time. That should have been the first indication that things were turning around! ;-)

    And I think this is a fabulous description of how/why so many of us run – even if it slightly extreme. You start feeling all crappy, and end up feeling all…(sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to, but now I have to)…happy.

  9. I’ve been in the same situation, but for a different reason at the ING Hartford Marathon, here is my story: http://imarunnerandsocanyou.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/ing-hartford-marathon-race-re-cap/ . I can’t believe how long that link is!
    I was depressed, pissed, angry etc. My day had started out perfectly and then almost fell apart completely.

  10. “being on a really tight schedule of not giving a crap about anything that week”

    LOL, glad to see I’m not the only one who regularly finds her schedule packed full of not giving a crap about anything. I am also glad you managed to turn what could have been a miserable experience into something cool.

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