super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Kerikeri Half Marathon recap

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Last Friday was my last day of working in an office with other people for the foreseeable future.

I haven’t figured out whether that’s good news or not so let that sentence just sit there, all neutral.

This whole self-employment thing has been a long time in the making and I’ve had a few months to get used to the idea.

Except, I haven’t yet.

All week long, with my registration for the half on Saturday all paid for and confirmed, I worried about going away for the weekend instead of staying home setting everything up for this new self-employed life. Going away felt silly and irresponsible. But staying would have been some kind of stupid self-inflicted punishment for a situation that I couldn’t control anyway.

So on Friday, after one final work drink in an office full of people, I packed my bag and made my way up to Kerikeri where I could run a half and not think about things all weekend. When in doubt, not thinking about things is always my favourite option.

To cut a long story short because I’m a freelancer now and this post is costing me a shit load of money, I ran the half, walked bits of it whenever my leg hurt (so smart) and then went ahead and had one of the most fun weekends I’ve had in a while, without worrying a single time about how, for the first time in years, I didn’t have an office to go to on Monday morning and would have to start paying for each cup that fills the bottomless pit of my daily coffee needs.

But wait. This is a half marathon recap, not another one of my pity parties. Let me throw in some words about the Kerikeri Half: It’s really pretty. Like, New Zealand-kind of pretty, all clean and green and stuff. It doesn’t have that many runners (about 2000 this year, give or take a few hundred because I can’t be bothered checking the numbers now), and it doesn’t have that many spectators (since it’s mostly through backcountry roads and there aren’t thousands of people up there who can be arsed standing in the sun to watch some idiots go past – no judgement, I wouldn’t either). It’s the perfect road run for not thinking about things, so my plan was, as usual, flawless.

The first 7km of the course included a decent hill or three but, from then on, it was pretty much all downhill (the good, non-metaphorical kind) to Kerikeri Domain. When I wasn’t struggling with my stubborn shin (yes, still), I actually managed to get some happy kilometres in. The pretty views distracted me from the effort of road running, the pressure on the shin and the worries I’d left back in Auckland and, 21km, some beers and a massage later, everything was ok again.

I ran a 2:03 and still haven’t cracked the sub-2h barrier I keep talking about, but I also realised it’s not that much of a big deal to me. Kerikeri was another reminder that running, for me, is all about what it does to my head. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll totally be all like hell to the mothereffing yeah when I get a 1:5X:XX but that doesn’t actually beat what I got from Kerikeri on Saturday.

It was almost a rite of passage. Some people throw parties to mark special occasions, I apparently now run half marathons (just like when, back in May, I ran the Huntly Half to celebrate my five years of living in New Zealand). Kerikeri last weekend was a bit like that seemingly wasteful blank page at the start of any new paperback that seems to fit no purpose but actually acts as a divider between whatever came before and the book you’re starting then.

So running wins again. It’s all the good things I always say it is and then it’s also a really good avoidance mechanism for shit you don’t want to think about. Wait, that sounds bad. Replace “avoidance” with “coping”. Replace “don’t want to think about” with ‘there’s no point worrying about”. Yeah, that sounds better. Leave it like that.

Not running the half to spend the weekend at home worrying about how this new life thing is going to work out would have taken me nowhere useful. Instead, I got another 21km further on my feet and about a billion kilometres further in my head. So, when in doubt, go for a run and don’t think about things. It’s gonna be okay anyway.

(I didn’t take a single decent photo during the half, as evidenced by the only photo I could find in my phone to add to the post, but you can see a bunch of cool shots here.)

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Panmure King of the Mountain half marathon recap

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Silly mother nature putting volcanoes in the middle of what could be a perfectly nice flat route.

Here’s the thing about living in Auckland: there are a crap load of volcanoes all over the place (about 53 of them so far, but who knows when others might join the party). We live in constant fear that an eruption will cause us to spill our soy lattes all over our overpriced rugs.

But on the other hand, those volcanoes mean lots of nice views of the city, which is pretty much all you have to look forward to in life when someone decides that one of those beasts should be at kilometre 18 of your half marathon. Like yesterday, at the Panmure King of the Mountain half.

This is apparently a pretty iconic Auckland race (you can read more about it here to save me all the paraphrasing). There was a bit of a hiatus but the race came back this year and, even though I made a solemn promise to never again enter events with “mountain” in the name, I went ahead and registered, for some reason (the reason being that I’ve got the self-control of a lab rat).

It was all a bit uncertain for a while. After the Waitakere Half, I decided to be all responsible and didn’t run a single kilometre for an entire week. Believe it or not (and I can’t blame you for not believing it), I was genuinely considering skipping this half in favour of doing the responsible thing and continue to give my leg a proper rest. But then two things happened: 1. I didn’t have any pain in the couple of days before the event and 2. I randomly got bib #1, which had never ever happened before.

Now you ask “what difference does that make, you fool?”. Absolutely none, of course. But I really wanted to run it anyway so I took the whole bib #1 thing as a really good excuse sign.

And here’s something I don’t often get to say about my decisions: it was a good one.

(Let that sink in for a bit.)

No clue what I was laughing at but here's a photo of my #1 bib because I'm a giant show off.

No clue what I was laughing at but here’s a photo of my #1 bib because I’m a giant show off.

It was a pretty tough half for me but the pain in my leg wasn’t actually much of a pain in the ass, for a change. In fact, it completely disappeared about a quarter of the way through so I can’t even use it as an excuse for my slower-than-usual time. Actually, I’ll half-blame it on it. This bitch of an injury (will give it a proper medical term once I get around to getting the x-ray done, promise) meant that I didn’t get any decent training done in the last month or so and I definitely feel the loss of fitness.

I tried to go slow and not mistreat my leg too much, just in case. For a while, I couldn’t see any other runners anywhere and was fully convinced I was the absolute last person on the course. I had a brief “what’s the point?” moment but then realised that I never race anyone other than myself anyway and so kept going at my slow let’s-try-not-to-make-this-worse pace. Instead of worrying about my time, I focused on enjoying the scenery which, aside from a bit of boring suburban running, was pretty damn nice.

Luckily, the bit I had to run on sand was pretty short, otherwise this recap would include some pretty ugly words.

Luckily, the bit I had to run on sand was pretty short, otherwise this recap would include some pretty ugly words.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to give myself a mostly pain-free half marathon. It was the perfect reward to a week spent desperately wanting to run but choosing to do the right thing and staying home icing my leg instead. I missed pain-free running to the point of forgetting how it felt like. Turns out, it feels amazing, even at  slower pace. So I guess all that rest last week was good for something and if not running for a while means I get to enjoy running again the way I did yesterday, then I’m all over that idea.

So, just so you don’t think you’re wasting precious bandwidth on this for nothing, I’ll go ahead and say it: you were right.