super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Arthur’s Half recap – That time another runner helped me across the finish line

Pre-race, when he didn't really know what he was in for yet (hence the smile).

Pre-race, when he didn’t really know what he was in for yet (hence the smile).

I’ve said here a few times that signing up for half marathons and then not training for them is a really bad idea. I know this because I’ve made that mistake a few times. Like, oh I don’t know, last weekend, for example.

I registered for the Arthur’s Half (one of the hilliest road half marathons I’ve ever run) a few weeks before, then proceeded to not run anything over 5k until race day. Remember you like me for my charming personality, not for my smart decisions.

Anyway. I’m going to keep this recap boringly chronological, even though all I really want to do is jump to the bit where I tell you that I actually finished, but I suppose you need to understand why finishing that half marathon was such a big deal.

I jumped out of bed at 6am on Saturday morning with the ease I only jump out of bed early for running events. I got to the event area just as the marathon runners – those legends! – were starting their race. The marathon included a few extra amazing people doing it, including trail-addict Malcolm Law, running his first ever road marathon, and a group of people who had run a full marathon over night and for whom this was the second marathon that day. I hadn’t even had breakfast and those people were on their second full marathon. Knowing this was happening out there made the event extra special and I didn’t even care that it was raining and I actually just wanted to go back to bed.

I picked up my registration pack and immediately spotted Mike Tennent sitting at one of the tables, getting ready for the run. After a few months of almost-but-not-really meeting up at running events and knowing each other from Facebook, we finally got to say a proper in-real-life hello. Now, keep Mike’s name in mind. It’s important. In the bathroom queue, of all places, I met Jenny (hi Jenny!) who said hello to me even though she reads SGG. A few of us, Mike and Jenny included, then hung out by the registration area, as it poured outside. Leon, who was going to start the run with me, arrived shortly after.

Before we get to the running bit, let me tell you a bit about Mike. I’d briefly mentioned him here before, when I celebrity-spotted him at the Huntly Half a few months ago. Mike is currently nearly halfway through an year long charity fundraising project that basically kicks ass. He is running 52 races (half marathons or longer) in 52 weeks to raise money for Hospice. Now doesn’t that just make you want to high five a pony? I mean, what an amazing thing to do. The Arthur’s Half was event #22 for him and, because he’s one of those stubborn hardcore runners, he’s been sporting an injury and running them anyway (sometimes two in the same weekend because that’s just the type of fabric of awesome he’s made of). Because of his injury, and because he was planning to run another half marathon the next day (which he did, in 1:45:18, while injured!), he decided to start with me so I could keep him at a slow pace (I knew my slowness would come in handy for someone one day).

Pre-asthma photobombing, when things were still looking promising.

Pre-asthma photobombing, when things were still looking promising.

Shortly after 8am, we were off. And shortly after that, I felt something was off. I was running along with Mike and Leon (who couldn’t resist the temptation to run faster and bagged himself another sub-2h that day, the crazy man) when, suddenly, it felt like, no matter how hard I tried to breathe, no oxygen was coming in.

Oh great.

That exercise-induced asthma I had discovered I had a couple of years ago – and which I’d only experienced less than a handful of times – was back. Bitch. My inhaler? Nowhere to be found, of course, because inhalers are for sensible runners who plan shit properly.

We were just over 3km into the run and my immediate thought was that I could not possibly go into a panic. But you know what happens when you think that you can’t go into a panic? You panic about the possibility of panic. LAYERS OF PANIC. So I tried to think about other stuff and focus on my breathing instead. Like, really focus. No, harder than that. Literally putting some thought into every time I inhaled and exhaled.

I took a few walking breaks and Mike dutifully slowed down to walking pace to keep me company. I kept trying to bring my breathing down to normal levels and it occasionally seemed to work but always temporarily. I can’t remember how many times I told Mike I couldn’t breathe – as if he couldn’t tell – and he kept giving me instructions to try to get my breathing back to normal. He also tried to tell me off for not having my inhaler but he didn’t get mad at me for longer than maybe 2 seconds (not that I could tell anyway). We kept going at this running/walking/running pace as I tried to regain control of my lungs. At times, it felt like things were going back to normal. Then shortly after, I’d sound like Darth Vader again. It rained on us a few times and the wind was throwing the rain sideways at us and Mike kept carefully placing himself to shield me from it. Throughout the entire thing, I kept telling him I was failing to bring my breathing back to normal and he kept calming me down. Over 17km of this and the man still hasn’t unfriended me on Facebook.

So you get it, right? It sucked. I couldn’t breathe for most of my half marathon and it freaking sucked. But the universe has this weird way of balancing things out and, in all that suckiness (if twerking is a word, suckiness can be a word too), there was Mike. And now all I have are amazing memories of that morning. I felt immensely guilty for forcing a guy who runs half marathons much faster than I ever will to stay so far behind and I told him a number of times that he should keep going and I’d catch up. He could see right through my bullshit, though, and kept reassuring me that he would not leave me behind. And he never did. Instead, that usually speedy runner spent two long hours and fourteen minutes running at the slowest pace of his life and trying to take my mind off my breathing by telling me about his life and getting me to tell him about mine.

Mike carried me through that entire course. There aren’t many things I know for a fact but I do know I would have given up if it hadn’t been for him. I’ve never pulled out of an event and you don’t have to know me that well to know how giving up would have absolutely crushed me. So I owe Mike for the fact that I’m not crushed right now. That I’ve got half marathon #14 under my belt, that I’m breathing ok again and that I can continue to say I’ve never pulled out of an event.

A couple of kilometres from the finish line and we're actually looking happy. I blame the rain for the look I'm sporting, not just the sweat. But mostly sweat. I should probably stop filling the internet with sweaty pictures of myself. One day.

A couple of kilometres from the finish line and we’re actually looking happy. I blame the rain for the look I’m sporting, not just the sweat. But mostly sweat. I should probably stop filling the internet with sweaty pictures of myself. One day. (Photo by Allan Ure, Photos4Sale)

That, right there, is what running is all about. Forget the rest. It’s just that, nothing else. Just that man on the course who could be competing against others (or against himself, trying to get a new personal best) but instead fought his competitive instinct and stayed with me the entire way, a runner he’d only met that very morning, just to make sure I was ok. Along the way, he greeted all other runners we saw, took photos, chatted away, kept checking on everyone’s little pains and niggles. In between trying not to suffocate, I kept wondering to myself whether I was going through the most painful or the best half marathon experience of my life.

The answer, of course, was obvious. It was both.

Please go and like Mike’s Facebook page as soon as you’re done here. If you can, donate to his amazing cause. He’s dedicating all weekends for a year to fundraising for Hospice and, at the same time, he’s being the kickass human being I’ve just described to you. If you can, please donate. You can pledge an amount for each of the events or just make a single donation. If you have problems with the form on his website, let me know and I’ll put you directly in touch with him (although chances are you’re smarter than me and can work it out).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have signed up for another last minute half marathon (this weekend) and I’ve got an inhaler to pack.


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Amazing people doing amazing things – the Mike Allsop edition

mikeallsop

I just wanted to give you  a heads up that when it gets to Monday, February 18, and you tell everyone at work you’ve got Mondayitis and Monday sucks and the day is dragging on, your day won’t be more exhausting than Mike Allsop’s day.

And when it gets to Wednesday, February 20, and you’re all like “hump day, yay!” and “roll on Friday!” and stuff like that, your week still won’t have been as exhausting as Mike Allsop’s.

And when you get to Friday, February 22, and you’re all “I’ve earned this beer!” at Friday drinks with your workmates, you will not have earned that beer more than Mike Allsop’s.

So, 32 days from now, when you wake up and your eyes feel heavy and your bed feels too comfortable to leave, think about Mike Allsop and life won’t feel so exhausting anymore. He’ll be out of bed, running a marathon on the Falkland Islands. One of the seven marathons he will complete in seven different continents in just seven days.

Seven marathons. Seven continents. Seven days.

It’s as insane as it is inspiring (and if you’re a runner, a marathon in each continent is pretty much the ultimate item on your bucket list). On top of that, he’s doing it for a good cause, to raise money for KidsCan. Mike is aiming to raise $10,000 for the charity so, if you have a dollar or ten weighing in your pocket, drop it here.

He is no stranger to big adventures but the 777project will be his biggest challenge to date (and I’m not entirely sure how he’s going to top this one). In an estimated 7 days and 20 hours, he will fly all over the world and run marathons in: Antarctica (Falkland Islands), Chile (South America), Los Angeles (North America), London (Europe), Casablanca (Africa), Hong Kong (Asia), and finally Auckland (Australasia). I got tired just from typing this paragraph.

Mike has his itinerary online with the start times of each marathon so, if you are in any of these areas, maybe go hand him a drink and tell him he’s awesome.

***

Photo shamelessly stolen from the 777project Facebook page.

Previous instances of amazing people doing amazing things included Kim Allan’s 500k run/walk without sleep attempt and Michael Stewart’s 500th marathon.


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Amazing people doing amazing things – the Kim Allan edition

Are you ready to feel like a lazy unhelpful uncaring slob? Read on then.

Kim Allan, an Auckland mum, will run/walk 500k continuously, without any sleep, around the Auckland Domain.

You know how sometimes you get in the car and drive because that convenience store located 1km away from home just isn’t convenient enough to walk to? Now think that, times 500.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of all my excuses to avoid the gym being flushed down the toilet.

If attempting to run/walk 500k without sleep didn’t automatically place Kim in the “amazing humans” category, the fact that she is doing this to raise funds for the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Trust and the New Zealand Spinal Trust grants her an immediate spot in heaven right next to whichever god you think is the most powerful.

“This will be a huge challenge, not only physically but mentally and there are days I simply can’t get my head around being awake for that length of time. But in the words of Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’,” she says in a press release. Kim expects the whole ordeal adventure to take 4 days, during which she will not sleep or rest for any significant period of time.

More from the press release:

Kim, 47 and from Tuakau, first decided to take up ultra-distance events as a way to encourage her four children to stay committed and work through hard times. Her son, Ben, now laughingly points out “Ok Mum, you’ve made your point”.

Having competed in several ultra-events, including the Oxfam Trail Walker and the NZ 24 hour race, Kim decided to attempt something that would provide the ‘ultimate challenge’. She admits there is no guarantee that she can actually do it so the challenge is very real.

Because Kim will not be able to sleep during her attempt she needs encouragement to keep going and the public are invited to come to the Domain from Thurs 22 through to Sunday 25 November to cheer her on. On Thursday Kim will be joined by a group of young people taking part in the first Blue Light International Youth Leadership Program. These young people will join Kim for several laps of the Domain.

Kim hopes to beat the record set by Pam Reed, the American Ultra Runner, who completed 486km in just over 80 hours. Kim’s Blue Light 500kms/0hrs Sleep challenge will mean completing 332 laps around the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile. Kim points out that the time is not important, it’s the distance she is aiming to cover that will break the record. However, the sooner she gets it done the quicker she can get to sleep.

To raise additional funds, Kim is auctioning an entry package to the Tarawera Ultramarathon (which also comes with accommodation at the Holiday Inn, shoes and other running gear, a training programme and a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, a package worth over $1500).

If you’d like to contribute to Kim’s fundraising efforts, click here. You can also follow Kim’s amazing effort by liking her Facebook page and maybe even join her for a lap or ten of the Auckland Domain, from 9am November 22.

Image credit: Kim Allan’s Blue Light 500km/0hrs sleep, in aid of The CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust Facebook page.


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people are awesome

Will you just check out that fully-coloured progress bar?

Three weeks after starting our fundraising mission for KidsCan, and one week before the big day, we reached our $1000 target! I am super thankful to everyone who has contributed and will be thinking of them and their support when I’m out on that trail feeling like giving up. So thanks all for being amazing and helping us out. The fundraising page will be up for another couple of days so if anyone is keen to take us over our goal, that’d be awesome-times-infinity, of course. In any case, one of the beers I’ll have right after the run this coming Saturday will definitely be for all of you who’ve donated.


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every kilometer counts and so does every dollar

While out in the Waitakere wilderness on Wednesday (aren’t alliterations just so much fun? No? Ok then), S. and I talked a lot about how motivation plays a big part in getting ready for what will be the biggest challenge of our lives so far. Sure, our bodies need to be fit, but a big part of it (maybe the biggest) is nothing to do with fitness. We’re motivated to push ourselves but that personal goal, albeit massive, isn’t quite enough.

So we decided we needed a bigger purpose. Instead of running 35km in the forest just so we become officially the most badass people we know, we’ve decided to do it for another reason too, and a much more meaningful one at that. After debating about it for a while and coming up with different ideas, we settled on fundraising for the KidsCan Charitable Trust and raise money for children in need in New Zealand.

I don’t want to go all Mother Teresa on you, you see. But I know that when I’m out on that trail, I’ll be as desperate as I will ever have felt in my life and I’ll probably want to give up. Lots of times. No, more times than those. So, in a way, this isn’t completely selfless. Doing this run for KidsCan will mean that, when it gets really, really tough and I feel like I can’t push it any further, I’ll have some extra motivation in my mind.

This is where you come in. We have set up a fundraising page which will be open for donations over the course of the next four weeks, as we prepare for the big day. If you can, please help us help KidsCan. We put the page up last night and already had a few donations come through and I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single one of them and how much every single one of those people who have taken the time to support this cause will be on my mind during that run. Each of those dollars going to KidsCan is another reason for me to get out there and run.

So if you can spare a dollar (or a bit more), please head to our page and click the donate button. It’s super quick and easy, every single cent goes straight to KidsCan, and you’ll get about 3456 karma points in return. I’ll think of you as I drag my sorry self up and down those god forsaken hills.

P.s.: For more information on KidsCan, head over here. They explain it way better than me.

P.p.s.: We’ll be posting updates on the fundraising page and I’m probably going to go all trail-running obsessed on you over here for a while. If I don’t die on that trail, I promise to go back to sometimes writing non-running related posts again. Pinky promise!