super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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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.

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Waitakere Half Marathon recap

Here’s a little handy tip I picked up a few days ago: if you’re limping your way to the start line, you should probably not be running a half marathon.

But you know, #yolo and stuff.

The truth is that I had no good reason for never having done the Waitakere Half before, especially if you consider it starts about 15 minutes from home and registration is really well priced at $40 (important if, like me, you try to fit every running event into your budget even if it means 50c 2-minute noodles for dinner for 2 weeks).

(Did I mention I’m freelancing now?)

I didn’t want to wait another year before doing this one so decided to go ahead and register, ignoring the fact that I’m barely fit enough to run to the letterbox and back.  It’s pretty amazing how quickly my mind can go from “OH SURE, I can totally do this” as I get out of bed in the morning to standing near that start line wondering what in the name of Our Lady of Gaga I was thinking when I signed up.

To make matters worse, the morning had started with the realisation that I had bought the wrong M&Ms for the half (crunchy M&Ms, since when are crunchy M&Ms even a thing?).

How much worse could things get, really?

Well. A bit worse.

But at that moment by the start line, I couldn’t possibly have cared less about the pain. Or even the crunchy M&Ms.

(Seriously, though, like a cross between a regular M&M and a Malteser. Stop messing with my confectionery, confectionery manufacturers!)

There were hundreds of people on that track waiting to start and I was every bit as excited as they all were. And it started on a track! A track, you guys! That’s as close to the Olympics as I’m ever going to get. Not only that, it also finished in the same spot, with a full lap of the track, and the rest of the course included what looked like some pretty cute trail along the creek. The whole thing sounded like a neat bundle of awesome so the pain was going to have to wait until later because I wasn’t about to miss out on all that stuff.

But then we started running and my enthusiasm for the whole thing started to fade pretty quickly. That secret hope I had that things would magically just fix themselves disappeared and I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be the most fun I’d had on a Sunday morning. Not even 2km into the half and I was pulled over to the side trying to find a way to stretch the leg so it would stop hurting. From then on, I kept running and stopping, running and stopping, running and stopping, running and stopping, running and stopping, running and stopping, running and stopping. And if you think reading that repetition is annoying, try actually having to do it (no, don’t try, it’s stupid and painful and you shouldn’t try it).

At about kilometer 6, I decided that, since the half involved a second lap of the 10.5km course, I’d just turn into the stadium with the 11km runners and be done with it for the day. That sounded smart and responsible and totally like the right thing to do. So, obviously, when it came time to turn towards the finish line for the 11km run, I turned the other way and started the second lap for the half marathon.

The second lap wasn’t as scary as I had envisaged it (as in, I didn’t have to walk the entire damn thing). The downhills that are normally my BFFs were a killer and I actually found myself having to walk in segments where I’d normally try to pick up some speed (but you try pounding a sore shin down a concrete road and then tell me if that feels like a good time).

(Again, no, don’t try that. That’d be stupid. Stop listening to me.)

It wasn’t until around the 17km mark that I fully decided I was going to finish and not just call someone to come pick me up from the side of the road. I thought “whatever damage I’ll do to this leg today will have been done by now” (freelance writer, not freelance doctor. Keep that in mind.) and so I kept on running. Finishing with a lap of the track was actually pretty awesome, as far as reaching finish lines goes, and it was absolutely worth putting up with the stupid pain.

I didn’t break any course records (I know, weird) but I’m still happy I got out there and bagged another half. The weather was perfect for running, the course was great, the volunteers were super nice and I got to catch up with a really good bunch of people who are crazy enough to get up at stupid o’clock on Sunday for stuff like this. I’m definitely glad I didn’t wait until next year to do this one but I also can’t wait to do it again next year.

Now before you start rolling your eyes so much they disappear to the back of your head, let me tell you this: I came home determined to get smarter about this whole running thing.

No, really.

I went to the doctor the following day (more on that once I actually get off my ass and go do the x-ray he asked for) and didn’t even run at all this week. Instead, I rested. I took painkillers. I ate things that made me happy. I tried not to obsess about running. I obsessed about running. I took some more painkillers. I considered a run. Then I didn’t run. I ate some more chocolate instead and tried not to cry myself to sleep every night over a potential break from running.

So there you go, all responsible stuff. Which totally gives me a pass to go run the Panmure King of the Mountain tomorrow. Obviously.


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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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Half marathons are the new anniversary parties

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A while ago, during some rugby championship thing being held in New Zealand, a bank ran an advertising campaign that involved a series of billboards that pretended to guide Australian visitors to the game venues but instead tried to send them in the wrong direction. I tried Googling it to make my point more valid but couldn’t find it so I guess you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Anyway, it was all a bit of fun and games, really, no one took offense (and no one really cares if they did). One of the billboards told tourists that if they wanted to go out and party hard, they should head to Huntly. The point being that not a whole lot goes on in Huntly. At all. Ever.

You don’t go to Huntly to party. You don’t even really go *to* Huntly. You go through Huntly on your way somewhere else. You might stop in Huntly if you’re low on petrol or need extra road trip food or if you’re absolutely out of your mind. Other than that, not many other reasons to go to this sleepy roadside town, home to just 7000 people and the country’s largest thermal-power station (apparently).

(Just kidding, Huntly. Don’t hate me. Here’s a website that talks about a bunch of cool things you can do in Huntly, just so I don’t feel so bad about myself.)

In any case, if I told you that I celebrated 5 years of living in New Zealand by going to Huntly you’d be all like “whaaaat?” and I’d have to be all like “sorry, not sorry” and you’d be all like “SGG is lame! Unsubscribe!”. But, wait. Don’t close your browser window just yet! I can explain.

Last year, on May 26, I celebrated four years in New Zealand with an amazing 35k trail run so, this year, with half a decade to celebrate, I felt like I should do something to mark the occasion. I looked up running events in the general Auckland area for May 26 and noticed that the Huntly Half Marathon would be on that day. Coincidence? Definitely. But that’s not the point.

Last Friday afternoon, since I’d left it too late to organise any decent celebration with friends and couldn’t really think of what else to do, I decided to register for the event. It seemed strangely fitting to celebrate half a decade in the country with a running event. Instead of celebrating by dressing up and hitting some cool club in the big city, I dressed down (in running gear) and headed to Huntly.

I wasn’t expecting a PR for a race I had entered less than two days before it was meant to take place. Not even I’m that stupid. I wanted a nice run and the whole event atmosphere. I got exactly that.

I arrived at the Huntly Domain 20 minutes before the start of the race, picked up my bib and timing chip and headed straight to the bathroom queue to get rid of all the water I’d drunk on the drive down from Auckland. There were hundreds of people around and it had even stopped raining just in time for the start of the race. I chose the domain bathrooms instead of the portaloos close to the start line because I sometimes tell myself I’m too fancy for portaloos. I had to listen to the race briefing from the queue, while trying to figure out where exactly the start line was (I could see it was on the other side of the park but wasn’t entirely sure where). As I was washing my hands, I heard the race start so ran across the muddy domain to the start line, along with a bunch of other people who had to abandon the queue (on the plus side, at least I got to pee).

The really cool thing about half marathons in really small towns is that you get the chance to see the entire town (and you get to see some bits of it twice). You run a full marathon in Auckland and don’t get to see all of Auckland. Same if you run a full marathon in Wellington. But run half of that distance in Huntly and, 21.1km later, you’re a Huntly geography expert.

All of Huntly.

Before we even got to the 4km mark, we had to go over a bridge and back. I like out and backs in the first few kilometers of races because I get to distract myself with trying to spot people I know as they make their way back. This time, I only spotted Mike Tennent, the crazy awesome guy who’s running 52 half marathons in 52 weeks to fundraise for Hospice New Zealand (Huntly was event 3 of 52 for him). I’m not such a big fan of out and backs towards the end of the race because the people I’d normally spot in the beginning are actually pretty speedy and are probably at home, showered and napping by the time I get to the final few kilometers of the race.

Races in small towns are really the best kind of races. I like running in Auckland where there’s a much bigger crowd to cheer you on as you run along, but nothing quite compares to the scenery you see along a countryside event.

I ran Huntly in 2:11 which isn’t my best time but, on the bright side, it’s also not my worst. It confirmed my suspicions that I really can’t just count on luck to break any records and will have to resign to the fact that following a proper training plan is the only way I’ll ever break my current 2:03 PR. That said, it was an amazing run for me. Mostly because of how it allowed me the chance to really think about what these five years in New Zealand had done to who I am. Five years ago, when I moved out of mum and dad’s and straight to the opposite side of the world, I was secretly terrified of not knowing what to do with myself. I didn’t even know for sure whether I could cook my own food or not and was certain I’d damage my entire wardrobe in the first three loads of washing, before getting in real trouble with authorities for not knowing what to do about stuff like taxes and banking stuff.

Half a decade later, I’m doing ok. I think I’ve ruined one t-shirt and burned my toast a couple of times but nothing that could get my adulthood membership revoked. But I guess everyone expected that.

What no one, not even I, expected was for “mall girl” who hated any sort of exercise that didn’t involve trying out outfits inside Zara’s changing room to turn into a bit of an outdoors freak. It was in New Zealand that I went camping for the first time and woke up pleasantly surprised by the fact no animal had tried to kill me in my sleep. It was in New Zealand that I went from finding mud absolutely gross to seeing it as part of the playground for awesome runs and hikes. It was in New Zealand that I discovered that the artificial lights of the mall are actually a little bit shit and that what used to be my favourite way to spend a weekend afternoon is actually just about my idea of hell these days. It was in New Zealand that I discovered that nature is not actually a place where anything can kill you but the place where you can feel the most alive. (all together now: awwwww!)

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Celebrating being a little bit badass

Lame love declaration aside, it’s been a great half decade and all these good thoughts kept my mind busy during the run and didn’t give me much of chance to freak out about how I hadn’t trained for another 21km at all and had just rocked up to an event I had only just signed up for a couple of days before.

And now I’ve just wasted over 1200 words when all I really wanted to say is that I ran a half marathon in Huntly as a way of celebrating half a decade in New Zealand and it might not have been a conventional celebration but it was definitely an amazing one. The race was really well organised, the volunteers were great, the people in Huntly were all super nice and I even got recognised by another runner who remembered me “dressed in all green” at the Coatesville half a couple of months ago.

Here’s to a lot of other milestones celebrated with running events. I see a little tradition in the making.

Update: this


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Orewa Beach Half Marathon recap

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Apparently, the secret to getting things done, if you’re me, is to reach your monthly broadband allowance and have your internet slow down to a crawl for a few days. You’ll get so frustrated trying to load websites at dial-up speeds that you’ll actually unplug and do stuff. Offline stuff. It’s amazing. I got a decent amount of stuff done in those 48 hours. Like, a half marathon.

I’m not sure everyone is aware of this but, as it turns out, not training for half marathons (and not running much at all in the lead up to those), means you won’t have a very good time, in both senses of the expression. My time sucked a bit (not my fastest, not my slowest) and I didn’t exactly feel thrilled about running while I was out on that course. In fact, I kind of hated running a little bit during it. Not training certainly contributed to that, but the fact that 4 out of those 21km were on sand didn’t do much for my enjoyment either. Running on sand sucks and this is as politely as I can put it.

It’s no one’s fault but mine, though. The Orewa Beach Half is a really nice little local event, starting and finishing near the surf club on Orewa Beach. The course gives you a little taste of everything, with a loop that starts on the beach and takes you through bush, urban areas, and a park, before finishing on the beach again. There are no bib numbers and no time chips, just a clock near the start and finish line. You time yourself if you want to or you run for the fun of it. The volunteers are all locals and did a wonderful job of keeping everyone smiling along the course. Orewa residents come out for additional support and the whole race has a neat small town kind of amateur feel to it.

I hadn’t been running much in the weeks before Orewa, because I’ve been worried my IT Band issues might come back (this may or may not be the last time I complain about that). My longest run since Coatesville had been 10k and my weekly mileage hadn’t been anything to write home about so I wasn’t expecting miracles in Orewa. I could have enjoyed it more with some training but I think I was also having one of those off days when you’d just rather not run. I only really managed to get into it about 16k in and, soon after, the final stretch on the sand started. Running on sand always takes away my will to live. The best part, if you exclude the cute little girl handing out dinosaur-shaped lollies along the course, came after the finish line, when one of the organisers came up to me with a worried look on her face and asked if I really was over 16 years old. I laughed and told her she’d just made my day. Sweating bucket loads will make you look young, Like, really freaking young apparently.

I’m pretty happy to have gotten this one under my belt – I remember entering their 10k event a couple of years ago and jealously looking at the half marathoners, wishing I would one day, maybe, who knows, perhaps, hopefully become one of them.

So let’s look on the bright side: I managed to run another half (which brings this year’s total to 3 half marathons, plus the marathon, so far), my IT Band didn’t complain much, I got another start and finish line by the sea (my favourite), and I learned that if you don’t like running on sand, maybe entering events with “beach” in the name isn’t the thing for you. Or maybe you just need to harden up.

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Speaking of hardening up, in sort of related news, I bought weightlifting gloves the other day. Watch out, world, one of these days I’ll start being able to open jars on my own. In all seriousness, I’ve realised the importance of working the entire body if you’re a runner and, one of these days, I’ll graduate from the baby-weights and join the grunting crowd. Maybe. That stuff looks like hard work.


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That time I accidentally ran a half marathon

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If you’re a faithful SGG reader, you are probably super smart and extremely good looking, and you know I hurt my IT band two weeks ago during my first full marathon (look at that, I couldn’t even go one whole sentence without mentioning the marathon) and haven’t run since then. I went to the doctor last week and he gave me stretching exercises to do, recommended medication and plenty of rest. He also told me that I could run “but only shorter distances”.

I had bought my entry to the Coatesville Classic half marathon a few days earlier, back when I thought the knee pain was just an entra sore spot from the marathon (mention #2!) and not much else. Turns out it is something else and half marathons are definitely not prescribed as a cure or even relief for IT band issues.

But I can explain, I swear.

On Thursday, after nearly two weeks of constant pain, I could finally walk pain-free. I remained fully convinced I was going to do the responsible thing and not run the half marathon on Sunday, letting the registration fee go to waste (since it was too late for a refund). On Friday, still no pain. Along comes Saturday and, whaddayaknow, another pain-free day. So I thought “you know, I don’t have to lose absolutely every cent. I can go there, pick up my registration pack (which included a free t-shirt and a bottle) and cheer for the other runners for a bit”. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning, right? I don’t know, that’s not what happened.

Later on Saturday, I saw that the bit of the course that went through the inside of Kim Dotcom’s mansion grounds was only 3km into the whole run. That course change announcement that meant we’d run through his property was part of the reason I had signed up in the first place so I thought “maybe I’ll run those first 3 or 4km and then walk back to the start line and be done with it”. That shouldn’t be too bad. Plus, I’d picked up a St Patrick’s Day themed headband from the $2 shop the day before so that was my excuse to get a run in on that day. I matched it with a bright green shirt, green compression socks and even green nails (it may only have been 3 or 4km and I may not have a single drop of Irish blood in me but none of those are reasons not to get festive).

So at 7:30AM on Sunday, I lined up near the start line with all the half marathon runners, ready for my little jog up to Dotcom’s not-so-humble abode. My knee started hurting again before I’d even run 500 meters but there was no way I was going to step to the side less than a kilometer into it, so I kept going. Really, really, really slow. No, slower than that.

The rain was pouring and kept pouring the entire morning so the views weren’t as impressive as they would have been on a clear day but they were still enough to distract me. Kim Dotcom’s gardens are lovely – fake giraffes and all – and next thing I knew, we were leaving the mansion grounds and continuing along the course. I had assumed we would exit his property through the same gate we’d entered but that wasn’t the case and I was a little confused about how to get back to the start line from there so I decided to keep on going a little longer, hoping to see an ambulance or some sort of support car that I could get a ride with. Either none passed me or I was too distracted to notice them so I just kept running slow/ walking my way along the course. It’s described as Auckland’s “most scenic half marathon” for a reason. Scenic is just code for hilly but, for once, I was happy about the climbs (my knee didn’t hurt so much during those) and miserable in the downhills (which I had to walk because the impact on the knee was too much).

To cut a long story short, I ended up slowly running/walking the whole thing. My knee was sending me death threats at about kilometer 15 but I thought that, by then, whatever damage I could do had already been done. After getting through two-thirds of the thing, I wanted the medal.

The Coatesville Classic is, in my opinion, the best organised road running event in the Auckland region. It’s incredibly good value – my registration was only NZ$45 and it included the shirt, bottle and finisher’s medal (medals are rare in half marathons in New Zealand). We got free massages at the end, the race briefing at the start was funny and the course marshalls were some of the nicest I had ever come across, shouting my name and complimenting my St Paddy’s headband (while probably wondering what the hell I was thinking wearing that thing in the rain).

It took me almost a million years to cross the finish line (not really but, if you consider I’m very close to 2h when I don’t run injured, it’s a pretty big difference) but I was pretty pleased to have done the whole thing, considering I didn’t even start it thinking I’d do that much and I walked about half of the distance (maybe even more than half). I was actually genuinely surprised to not have been absolute last.

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Of course my IT band is hurting again (although not nearly as much as it did last week). I’m back to icing it all the time, taking Voltaren and wearing my super sexy knee brace so I’m not expecting to run at all in the next few days. But you know what? It was worth it. The injury will take slightly longer to heal, of course, but I’m happy with the trade off, even if it means I now deserve zero sympathy from people because I clearly bring this onto myself. True. Although, technically speaking, the doctor told me to run “shorter distances” and you can’t argue that this is a 50% decrease in the distance of my last run, two weeks ago (marathon reference #3).

But I get it, I’ll calm down. I realised today that, in the last 4 weeks, I ran 3 half marathons and a full marathon (marathon reference #4), and that includes a solid week without running because of a cold (in between half marathon #2 and the full marathon – marathon reference #5) and two full weeks without running because of the IT band injury, between the full marathon (marathon reference #6) and yesterday’s half marathon.

No wonder I need a nap.


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ISC Lenco Half Marathon recap

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Pretty Wellington waterfront was still standing there, being all pretty and stuff.

It’s day 7 of the Cold of Doom (I’m sure that’s the correct medical term for the crap I’ve been going through in the last few days) and the marathon is now less than 4 days away.

BRB, off to scream into a pillow.

Alright, where were we?

Right. Sick, feeling like crap, with a marathon this weekend. Not the best state of affairs but I think I’m doing a pretty good job at acting like this isn’t a big deal.

This tapering thing is easier to do while you’re sick because, well, I have no other choice but to get in bed with a box of tissues pretty much as soon as I get home from work every day. It’s getting kind of boring, though. I’ve found myself with far too much time in my hands to stress about how the Cold of Doom is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me just before the marathon (except for, maybe, double leg amputation, I suppose). My lungs are my main worry whenever I run, even when I’m healthy, so the fact that I am one giant bag of snot right now isn’t doing much in the way of keeping me positive about this coming Sunday.

But enough of that. Let me take a break from feeling miserable about life, the universe, and everything. I realised I hadn’t talked about my last half marathon here yet so, instead of running (which I can’t do right now), let’s talk about running.

It was almost two weeks ago now that I flew to Wellington for a 24h trip to run the ISC Lenco Half Marathon. It wasn’t the first time I flew to the capital on purpose for a running event but it was the first time I made such a last minute decision to take a trip like that. It was totally worth it but I returned home completely shattered. The whole thing about running an event out of town is that you feel like you need to get out sightseeing to make the most out of your trip. Your brain says walk around looking at pretty things, your post-half marathon feet say “put us up now!”.

It wasn’t my best half marathon but it also wasn’t my worst. I was 3 minutes slower than my current fastest time but I wasn’t expecting any great times from this one anyway. I had already bitched and moaned about flat running courses here before when I wrote about the other Wellington Half Marathon I ran, and this one shared most of the same route so I knew what I was in for.

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The medal mentions the Round the Bays event, in which the ISC Lenco Half Marathon was included.

The event was very well organised. Then again, the registration packs included a little Whittaker’s chocolate bar so they could have failed at everything else and I would still say wonders about the whole thing. It included a finisher’s medal, which is very, very rare for half marathons in New Zealand, and that was a nice touch. The only issue was that you had to walk over to a tent and stand in a queue for ages, then tell them your bib number in order to get your medal. Two little problems with this: 1) it kind of takes the shine away from the whole “earning” the medal thing, if you have to stand in the queue like you’re about to purchase it. A much better idea would be to just hand them to finishers as they cross the finish line. 2) I’m not entirely sure they were about to know for sure that I had, in fact, finished the run. I could have picked up my bib at the start line and headed to the tent to pick up the medal a couple of hours later. Again, handing them out at the finish line would be a much better way of ensuring that finisher’s medals were going to finishers, not just entrants.

Other than that, the event was great and the atmosphere at the finish line was really good. Wellington put on its best weather and I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city (my Fitbit recorded a total of 38km covered that day, including the 21km of the half marathon), checking all the artsy stuff (yep, I have a Communication *and Culture* degree but describe it as “artsy stuff”. Sorry, mum and dad), and eating everything in sight, before heading to the airport to drink all the wine at the Air New Zealand lounge.

The end. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta blow my nose.