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the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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K2M or how I learned to stop worrying and love the roads

Okay, help me out. Pretend there’s a paragraph here where I give you a really good reason for not having written anything in over a month. Go on, don’t make this awkward. Will you believe me if I tell you it’s because I’ve been busy following my super strict ultramarathon training plan for Tarawera? Oh dear, I nearly typed that whole sentence with a straight face. Let’s not even try. Let’s just get over it, like some of you do with hills (I don’t, I just stand there at the bottom and cry. In fact, it’s not inaccurate to say that’s a big part of what I’ve been doing in the last month).

But, actually, there’s been other stuff. In between hours of sitting on my ass eating ice cream straight from the tub (or, as I like to call it, freelancing), December ended up being pretty kickass. I ran my 13th half marathon event for the year, entered a Santa Run, a Beer Mile (A BEER MILE, YOU GUYS! Running is a beautiful thing!), witnessed an amazing feat of endurance and finished my first ever trail marathon (FIST PUMP!). But these are all stories to bore you with another time. Before all that, right at the end of November, there was K2M. In the year I ran my first ever marathon (aren’t you proud of how long it’s been since I last mentioned it?), got my New Zealand residency, ate an unofficial world record number of cronuts, and did a bunch of other cool stuff I can’t remember now, K2M still manage to top it all.

It turns out that, in spite of my many, many, many talents (shut up), it is actually impossible for me to find the right words to adequately tell you how cool K2M was. This whole time, I’ve gone full 90s-teenager-in-the-same-room-as-Robbie-Williams and the only thing that comes out is “OMG SO AWESOME” which, really, doesn’t make for a very interesting blog post. But since I’ve just dipped into my savings to renew this domain for another year, I’m going to get over my little mental block and just tell you about how cool it was and add that, if you’re finalising your race calendar for this year, you need to get your shit together and sign up for K2M now. Yes, even you living outside New Zealand. Take a second mortgage and start looking at flights.

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago if running an overnight relay of over 300+km fitted within my definition of fun, I would have been all like “please stop emailing me while you’re drunk”. But now? Now I want to relay my way everywhere. Turns out I’d be doing fun all wrong before, without sleep deprivation or stinky vans or far too much running. Fun means cramming all your stuff into a van with five other runners for over 27h (less, if I’m not on your team, because I’m all about value for money and making sure I give other teams a fair chance) and running your way across part of the most beautiful country in the world, non-stop.

Let me take this opportunity to do some quality bragging, since I don’t get the chance to do that very often: our amazing team of six collectively ran over 300km in 27 hours and 25 minute, averaging around 50km each, from Papakura to Mount Maunganui (only one of the prettiest places in the world). It was the most fun I’d had since the last time I had a shitload of fun, whenever that was.

I know you’re probably wondering how the hell I managed to do that. I am too. It’s still one of life’s great mysteries, like Roswell, the pyramids or people who think Nicole Kidman is a talented actress. I guess we’ll figure all that out later. I just wanted to give you a bit of a general update now and will probably leave the details for other posts (because now that I’ve done one relay I’m obviously a relay expert).

I didn’t prepare much, as you might remember. The whole team just kind of came together because Kiwis are crazy and will agree to whatever you suggest to them, whether or not you’re holding a knife when you ask them. Other than getting people to agree (which took an average of 0.05 seconds per person x5), all I did was hire a van two days before the event and empty out the confectionery aisle at my local supermarket the evening before. That morning, we all got in the van, turned the radio on and “Eye of the Tiger” started playing. I’m not making this shit up. Then at midday we started some crazy, sleep-deprived 27 hours of running and driving and dancing in the middle of the road and hurting and laughing.

Here’s sort of how it worked: each of the six of us ran 3 legs of the relay, to individual totals of around 50km each. We decided to do it the way the website suggests it for teams of 6 (you can also do it as a team of 12, if you’re smart) and each ran 2 consecutive legs (which meant that we only passed our batton – which was actually a neat fluoro bracelet – at every second exchange point). Turns out, as the organiser told us in the middle of the night while we waited to use the toilets inside a church hall in the middle of nowhere, we could have run the legs in any order we wanted, as long as there was always one of us out there running. This would have been really handy information to have before the start of the relay, so we could have tricked Michael into running the whole thing (Michael was our super speedy machine who went on to run a Double Hillary the following weekend like it was no big deal).

Yeah, that fast.

Yeah, that fast.

But I’m glad we didn’t (and I guess so is Michael). Even with the Great Big Mac Incident of 2013 and even with the giant tantrum I threw in the middle of a field when I’d been awake for 24h and was told I was going to have to climb the stupid hill in front of me, running all those kilometres and sharing each of those sweaty milestones with that group of people turned that weekend into one of the best weekends of my life.

(Awwwww. I know.)

There’s a bunch of stuff that happens when you’re awake for that long in a small van with a group of people who are as crazy and as sleep deprived as you. It all starts super civilised, with questions about how work is going and Steve in the back of the van making us Japanese mayo and smoked salmon wraps. So super fancy. But then you fast-forward to 4am and I’m in the McDonald’s carpark in Matamata stripping down to my knickers in front of everyone to get ready for my next leg. This after having an impromptu party around midnight dancing to the Cake cover of “I will survive” in the middle of the road wearing our reflective gear. So, you know, stuff escalates pretty quickly.

The thing about K2M (and I guess, relays in general), is that it might involve a hell of a lot of running (300 ENTIRE KILOMETRES, MY GOOD LORDE!), but it’s actually very little about running.

I’d told myself that K2M would be my goodbye to road running for a while, since road running had left me injured for the biggest part of the year and, not only am I a bit bitter about these stupid injuries, I’m also training (lolz) for a trail ultramarathon. I was tired of my stupid road runs on my own. They were monotonous and repetitive and K2M was going to be the perfect way to end that. I’d gone through ITB problems, shin splints and a bunch of other stuff that the doctor kept saying was due to running on roads. I was finally going to follow his advice and move solely to nicer softer surfaces. But then K2M happened and I’m all in love with the road again. Roads have vans with friends inside them and those friends check on you and hand you water every few kilometres and make jokes when you’re tired and make you feel like, even though you might be doing something the vast majority of the world would call stupid, you’re really not alone and maybe the vast majority of the world should really go sit in the corner and rethink its attitude.

In the end, rather than being a break in my Tarawera training, K2M did wonders for my ability to think I can actually run this damn ultra. Between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, I ran a total of 76km (because I’m an idiot and ran a half marathon on Sunday after driving back from K2M, but that’s a therapy session we’re going to leave for another time). If this isn’t a confidence boost in ultra training, then I’m all out of ideas.

Over 27h and 300km later, NO MURDERS!

Over 27h and 300km later, NO MURDERS!

And even if it hadn’t been for that, K2M gave me a really good bunch of good friends. Steve, Michael, Rob, Carl and Kirsty were just “people I knew from running” before this relay. Now they’re the people who put up with my shit day and night inside a van and were still happy to drive alongside me during each of my legs of the race, stopping every couple of kilometres to check if I was okay. Does that fit all the canonisation criteria? Because it should. I don’t even want to ask them how long it took for the nightmares to go away but I hope we’re cool now. I mean, we better be because we’ve already decided we’re going to do it all over again next year (with a bit more training, a bigger van and absolutely zero Big Macs). SO COME WITH US!

What I’m trying to say in this really confusing way is that it’s really hard to write a proper recap of all the crazy stuff that happens when you get yourself into something this massive. Can we just go with “OMG SO AWESOME”? No? Too late? Anyway. Add K2M to your 2014 events calendar, make it part of your new years resolution. And it better be the 1% of the list that you actually manage to achieve this year (I’m kidding. I trust you guys and I know 2014 will be epic. I don’t like to brag but I had TWO naps on the first day of the year alone so now it’s just a matter of pacing myself so I don’t get all my resolutions done within the first month).

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So yay for relays, for running friends, for rediscovering the love for road running, for breaking mental barriers, for thinking there’s no way you can do something (like, hmm, running 76km in 48h) but still going out and giving it a go anyway, for getting out of your comfort zone and discovering that that’s where all the fun is and that you’re actually a hell of a lot stronger than you think you are.

(Also, happy 2014! Go do awesome shit!)

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My leg isn’t broken so I’m obviously going to run an overnight relay in 2 weeks

GOOD NEWS, YOU GUYS. The doctor says my leg is fine and I just need to “take it easy” for a while. So I’ve decided to go and take it easy on the road from Auckland to Mount Maunganui in my very first team relay in two weeks time.

Ever since the doctor texted me back an all clear on the x-ray last Tuesday (have I mentioned how much I love how informal kiwi doctors are? Oh, I have), I’ve finally started getting excited about this overnight relay thing.

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(Pause to try to not freak out about how it’s only 16 days away.)

Anyway, I’ve been giving it some serious thought for a while (a couple of days) so, obviously, I feel like I’m qualified to write about it.

The Kura 2 Mount relay starts in Papakura (South Auckland, yo) and ends in Mount Maunganui which, in case you’re like me and maps mean nothing to you, is really freaking far away from Papakura. Like, keep zooming out, it’s further than that. The way we’re going is not even the direct way, of course, so it’s going to be over 300km away, which is what you’d describe, in non-metric terms, as a hell of a long way. Also, since New Zealand is one of those countries that OH DEAR GOD WHY DO THEY EVEN EXIST WHERE THEY DO?, there are mountains and hills and all sorts of weird terrain everywhere, just to make life that little bit harder more fun.

A team of six of us (hopefully along with lots of other teams with lots of other nutters) will start running on Friday morning and finish the next day on the beach where I intend to have the world’s longest nap (Guinness Records official people, you might want to head there for this one).

I had a look at the maps for each of the legs yesterday and, after I finished running around the house shouting WTFWTFWTF! and eating all the carbohydrates in sight (just in case), I sat down and called dibs on the option that’d give me the absolute least amount of hills. But even if you take out the hills (which I did because the other ones were too slow to choose – suckers), it’s still a hell of a long way to run.

So. A bit of a problem: The same person who currently struggles with the idea of half marathons will somehow be running nearly 54km within 24h in about two weeks.

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But anyway, I’m pretty sure I’ve done enough bitching on this blog in the last couple of months to last me until at least 2016 so I’ve decided that it’s all rainbows of positivity around here now. FIFTY FOUR KILOMETRES! YAY! Pain, yay! Blisters, yay! Chafing in awkward places, yay!

I have a feeling I’ll be talking about this a lot in the next couple of weeks (probably not so much about the awkward chafing, don’t worry). But for now, since I’m still figuring it out what the hell I got myself into, fetch your reading glasses and let’s go over what I think I’ve done right so far (don’t worry, it isn’t much):

1. I put together a team that pretty much kicks ass
My relay team consists of both people I’ve run with and people I’ve never even met in real life. They all kick ass in their own way and at a much faster pace than I do. At least half of the team has basically simultaneously volunteered to do the hilliest legs (because being able to feel your legs is clearly overrated in their world). One of them found us a volunteer before we even brought up the need for volunteers. It’s good to have people who are on top of things because then you don’t have to worry about things like pretending to know what you’re doing.

didwejustbecomebestfriends

2. I’ve started getting organised
Even if you only really start organising it 2 weeks in advance, there’s still time to get stuff done (did you hear that? Go put a team together and join us!). This relay is really bringing out the OCD in me, which is great if you’re me, less great if you’re someone in my immediate surroundings. The logistics of this sort of event are a lot more complex than any other event I’ve entered so, obviously, I’m giving myself permission to go fully mental. Think lists-of-my-to-do-lists kind of mental.

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Still, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing yet. How many jelly beans do I pack per leg? What am I going to have for breakfast once I’ve been on the road for 24h and everything tastes like Gu and feet? What’s the most effective way to remove fresh roadkill blood from my running shoes? What colour of compression socks matches a high-vis vest? About two weeks to go and so many important questions remain unanswered. Except that last one. Nothing goes well with a high-vis vest.

3. I’ve been talking about it
The only thing I love more than running is talking about running (and, more specifically, bitching about how hard running is). An overnight relay with a whole team of runners is the perfect excuse to go nuts on the running talk. These people are going to be running with me for over 30 hours. They’ll be in the van while I’m running and they’re responsible for picking my scraps off the ground if my body decides to disintegrate during the third leg (which is entirely possible). Ideally, I’d like them to like me and I’d like them to know me well enough to be able to judge at what point during the course they need to start throwing muesli bars at my head to wake me up while I run.

terribleplan

We started off with emails but then realised it wasn’t 2008 anymore so got ourselves a little Facebook group thingy and now everyone sees when everyone sees posts so we can be all WHY THE HELL IS IT TAKING YOU LIKE 20 MINUTES TO ANSWER MY QUESTION ABOUT TOILET PAPER ROLLS? But I’m trying to chill out. Maybe toilet paper rolls aren’t as important to them as they are to me. The key is to understand that my life is basically in their hands for 30 something hours so I better be nice to them. Oh well. Nobody said this relay thing was going to be easy.

4. I’m running again MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!
You’ve got a relay in about two weeks and you’re sitting there writing about how you’ve got a relay in about two weeks instead of being out running? Well, general consensus would be that that’s idiotic. But it’s not all bad, really. I’ve been trying to get back into my old running routine and, even though I’m not quite there yet, I’m definitely putting some kilometres on my legs. It turns out that signing up for an overnight relay is a sure way to scare you into getting your ass running again.

LizLemonhighfive

I’m going to come back here a few times in the next couple of weeks with some actual proper information (lolz) about getting my shit together for this relay. All I really wanted to do now is tell you about it so you can tell me to stop freaking out. It’s just running, right? It’s one day and one night of doing what I love doing (sometimes), with a bunch of people who love it too. The website tells me it’s “guaranteed to be the craziest 30 hours of my life” and it basically sounds like one big party with a bunch of friends. Except instead of sore feet from dancing, you get sore feet because you’re running an unbelievably long distance that you’re pretty sure you’re not able to run but will try to anyway because what would be the point of trying otherwise?

Now tell me: have you ever done a relay? Or heard of someone who’s heard of someone who’s run a relay? If so, get in touch. I’ve got a couple of questions for you (actually, 352 questions, to be precise. Some of them about toilet paper). Also, join me. No, really!