super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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One down, twelve to go

I crossed a goal off the list and got a t-shirt to prove it. I also got a hat and wore it but hats don't suit me so I went with the headless look for this photo instead, for your benefit. You're welcome.

I crossed a goal off the list and got a t-shirt to prove it. I also got a hat and wore it but hats don’t suit me so I went with the headless look for this photo instead, for your benefit. You’re welcome.

When the alarm started going off at 5:30AM and I moved in bed to reach for it and shut it up, the pain on my legs reminded me I had just run 32km the day before. Naturally, I questioned what the flying heck was I doing getting up at stupid o’clock again but then I remembered that, later in the day, I’d have an item ticked out of my list of goals for this year so that helped. This is why I disagree with people saying new year’s resolutions are useless. Call them resolutions, call them goals, call them Harry, call them whatever you want. If they motivate you to get out of bed (even though it’s early and you’re in pain), they’re a good thing.

I had the chance to volunteer as a marshall on the run course of the Ironman 70.3 in Auckland and, with that, I knocked down one of my goals for this year.

Standing around for that many hours wasn’t the ideal recovery strategy  post-long run but seeing all those amazing people getting off the water and onto their bikes, cycling 90km and then running a half marathon like it was no big deal really did help put my pain into perspective. I recognised a few of the faces along the course and collected a bunch of cool little memories, like 76-year old Garth Barfoot looking strong and thanking me for telling him he did or the couple of guys that raised their hands for high fives and they went past me towards the finish line. And I’m not even ashamed to admit that the little kid shouting “daddy! Daddy! You’re an ironman!” as his dad ran past him brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing, those people are amazing. My lack of better adjectives is less than amazing.

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You mean machines. You make me want to go out for a run right now but my legs are all “uh, nope”.

So I’ll stop here. The point is that I’m pretty stoked to cross this one off the list. Running about a dozen of events a year, it’s about time I start giving back to all those people that come along to help out with those. I’m looking for other events to volunteer for but it’s hard because, whenever I find one, I want to run it rather than help out (that didn’t make me sound very nice but there you have it). In any case, I’ve submitted my interest in volunteering for the Auckland marathon this year so I’m not putting this goal behind me completely. Either way, CHECK!

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Run, eat, nap, repeat

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5k on the first morning of the year

The good news is that we’re over 72 hours into the new year and I haven’t completely mucked it up yet. I’m just really glad that none of my new year’s resolutions included losing weight or watching what (and how much) I eat. Otherwise, I’d have failed 2013 by now and should be sent to the back of the 2012 class and told to change my ways. Instead, I’m sitting at my laptop with my third cup of coffee of the morning and a cupcake, because cake for breakfast makes me happy and this is not a proper healthy living blog.

It hasn’t all been bad, though. I ended last year with a run on the last day (a fairly decent one too, about 13k, with a 13k walk back home) and decided to start 2013 with a morning run on the first day of the year. Things got a little derailed about 12 hours into the new year when I had scorched almonds for lunch (I may have gone a little overboard with my scorched almond purchases over the holidays and have a surplus I need to work through). But whatever, it was ok because I ran that day. And the next morning, I ran again, mostly because my bright lime green Pro Compression socks arrived in the mail and I couldn’t wait to take them out on the road (don’t ask me about how many scorched almonds I ate afterwards, though).

Bright and tight!

Bright and tight!

On the third day of the year, I felt slightly burnt out and thought taking a rest day would probably be a good idea. Runners World agrees (see resolution 7 for serious runners). So I sat on the couch, being all serious runner and totally fulfilling the non-running part of the running goals. And I napped. Oh, how I napped. I’ve realised I’m so good at it I’m tempted to add it to my resume. If you want expert tips on napping, I’m right here. Just don’t try to reach me between 2pm and 3pm because I’ll likely be practicing my napping skills.

That is until Tuesday when I have to go back to the world of full-time employment. If this was a fiction book, this would be the bit where the lead character is faced with intense emotional distress and where the reader and the lead character bond over the pain and suffering the character is going through. Except this isn’t fiction and I’m really back to work on Tuesday.

I realise it’s all been a lot easier because I’ve been on holidays at home with no plans in the last few days (hadn’t done this in years and it has been nothing short of blissful). Things will get harder from next week when a whole 10 hours of each day will be taken up by work so I’ll need extra motivation. Kiwi entrepreneur Vaughan Rowsell has challenged himself to run 1000k (1 million meters) in 2013. He’s inviting everyone else to join his 1 million meters challenge in any way people feel like joining, whether that’s walking, swimming, cycling, rollerblading, etc. I love the idea because it can be taken up by anyone and can be as easy or difficult as you decide it is (admit it, 1 million meters walking is definitely a lot easier than 1 million meters running in a bear suit while balancing an egg on your head and playing the ukulele). I reached 1000k running last year so trying to keep up with him will be a way to guarantee I stay on track. I also challenged myself to run 4x a week this month (right now, the count is at 2/16) so that should help my motivation.

gratuitous breakfast cupcake photo

gratuitous breakfast cupcake photo

The marathon is, as of yesterday, less than two months away (an email from S. as just reminded me of that). I’ll get right onto worrying about it, just after this next cupcake.


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13 ways I’ll try not to screw up 2013

new year's

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, that exciting time when you make a bunch of plans and compose a list of things you will achieve in the new year. All of a sudden, life seems all organised and put together and you feel like you have it all under control and exciting times lie ahead. Then comes the new year celebration and the resolutions get forgotten down that third bottle of cheap sparkling wine.

I’m exaggerating, as usual. I actually did pretty well in 2012 (*pat on the back*), all things considered. So there is hope for me. And if there is hope for me, you know what that means, right? There’s hope for anyone. Even you, Lohan.

Grab the cheap sparkling wine, call it champagne like I do – it’s time to write those resolutions down.

I’ve decided to keep it simple this year. It was the formula I used last year and it seemed to have worked. I’m not going for huge unattainable goals here. If I bag some of those, bonus. But that’s not what I’m going after. Resolutions are about motivation and there’s nothing good about setting myself up for failure with big scary goals. So here’s 13 things I want to focus on this year, in no particular order:

One Hike the Tongariro Crossing again. It is still my absolute favourite day hike in the country, in spite of the horrible second experience I had on that mountain. Time for a third go at it.

Two Run a marathon. This one is sort of cheating because it’s already lined up. But hey, it doesn’t count until I’ve crossed that damn finish line and, right now, that’s looking pretty unachievable.

Three Volunteer at a running event. It’s time to give back, even if giving back just means giving people plastic cups full of water as they run past.

Four Run an ultra-marathon. Let’s talk about this one later. It requires more than one bottle of cheap wine.

Five Enter all as many XTERRA trail running events as I can. And basically every other trail running event within an acceptable radius from home. Essentially, I want to run events at a faster rate than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends but I do realise that might be a bit hard to achieve.

Six Dust off the camping gear. I haven’t camped since the beginning of 2012. Enough of this roof over my head kind of stuff.

Seven Discover 5 new authors/ read 5 excellent books. It’ll take me a few average reads to get this number but I really want to get to the end of the year with some new favourite books. 2012 was not a bad one in that sense but there’s a lot more to discover out there. Got a favourite? Let me know!

Eight Do a 30-day photo project. It’s all about discipline, people. And I need lots of that.

Nine Go to the gym at least once a week. This year, I shamefully paid for at least 5 months worth of gym membership without showing my face there. Then I went back, tried weight training and kind of liked it. So more of that in 2013.

Ten Make at least 10 more Kiva loans.

Eleven Add more recipes to my recipe journal. I’ve been real lazy writing them down. My future offspring – if cats can be called offspring and ever develop the ability to read – needs to know how to make the perfect packaged meal or precisely how much cheese to add to <insert any food item in the universe>.

Twelve Buy my groceries online. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off for so long. I like picking my own stuff from the shelves. But I also like staying home and not have idiotic children bump their trollies onto my legs. So I think that wins.

Thirteen Declutter (but for real, no mercy). About 5 years ago, I reduced my entire life to 2 suitcases and moved to New Zealand. Those 2 suitcases magically expanded into, well, a buttload of stuff. No human being needs the amount of crap I’ve accumulated over time. Time to scale down. You get to read all about it here, just to keep me motivated. I know, riveting stuff. Try to contain your enthusiasm, kids.

So there. I’m sure lots more will happen but these are just a few things that’ll keep me motivated once the January 1 hangover is gone and all the After Eight mints have been consumed.

2013 is going to kick ass.

What are your plans for 2013? Tell me all so I can either nag you about them throughout the year or feel less sorry for myself when I see you’re doing just as badly as yours as I’m doing at mine.


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The big 2012 highlights post everyone is writing too

 

I logged onto Facebook* yesterday morning (I swear it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up… not always, anyway) and it presented me with the option of viewing the highlights of my year, according to Zuckerberg’s fancy algorithms. My first realisation was that the year is, indeed, almost over. The second realisation is that this year was actually a pretty good one. Facebook got some stuff right – my cat’s birthday really is that big a deal – but it failed to mention others. So screw you, Facebook, how about  I decide what the highlights of MY year are?

Well, it turns out that, without fancy algorithms (or proper short-term memory), coming out with a “year in review” post is quite a bit of work. But it’s also a good way to get me to reflect on everything that has happened so bear with me here.

I ended 2011 with an early night in a bungalow on an island without electricity in Vanuatu. By the time New Zealand started letting off fireworks, I was asleep. In fact, I soundly slept my way into 2012, having spent the last evening of 2011 on top of a volcano spitting lava everywhere. That new year’s eve experience is so hard impossible to top that I haven’t even made any plans for this coming December 31. What’s the point? Ryan Gosling could kiss me at midnight and it would still pale in comparison to last year’s experience (sorry Ryan, I still love you).

I went ahead and spent the first day of 2012 with a kastom tribe on the island, making January 1 2012 the best January 1 in the history of January 1. A couple of days later, I flew back to New Zealand and, just a few days after that, it was off to Las Vegas, a trip where I got to see the opposite world of what I’d seen in Vanuatu. Also, my first time flying business class long-haul (full sized bed and unlimited alcohol on the plane? Yes, please).

February was a quieter month and was also the month I ran my first half marathon of the year, the Cathay Pacific Half Marathon, in Auckland. It was a great summer day and I was happy to be ticking off 1/4 of my half marathon goals for the year (little did I know I’d go beyond that goal in the end). March seems to have been a little less eventful on the running front (and I can’t remember what I was doing instead) but, by the end of the month, S. had convinced me to sign up for a 35k trail run in May. Shit was about to get real.

April was all about freaking out about May. It started with a bittersweet PR at the Whenuapai Half Marathon before a first (and non-official) off-road half marathon. I squeezed in a work trip to San Diego (where I got to run in both Balboa Park and along the city’s stunning waterfront) before returning to New Zealand and getting into full on trail running training mode. It was also in April that we decided we needed bigger motivation for this run and so we started fundraising for KidsCan. The response from people we know was amazing and we even got $20 beyond our goal, in spite of starting fundraising so late.

May came and, with it, the final stretch of the big training plan. And then it came – May 26, the big day. The anniversary of my move to New Zealand and the day of the biggest physical challenge I’d had to date, a 35k trail run with a heart-attack inducing elevation chart. It was every bit as amazing as I had hoped it would be. After that, I didn’t think the year could get much better. But of course it did.

The next month, we flew to Wellington to run the Wellington Half Marathon. It was the first time we flew on purpose for a race. The weather wasn’t fantastic and my body wasn’t exactly up for a long run that day but it was still a great experience. In August, it was time to finally head back to the trails and get some mud on our shoes. And our shorts. And our shirts. And our underwear. And everywhere else. It was great.

The really amazing month, the one I wait for every year, was September (I mean, rocktember). I got to finally fly home and see my family and friends again and, this time, the long way around, with the final leg of the trip being done by car (after two flights), via 13 countries in 6 days, in an epic European road trip I won’t forget any time soon.

In Lisbon, I entered my first urban trail race (and a night one, to make it even cooler) and loved every second of it. A week later, I ran the hardest and simultaneously most amazing half marathon of my life, along the waterfront of the city I was born and grew up in, with my family cheering me on. The finish line took a while to get to but the reward was grandma’s tomatada so life was pretty much as perfect as it gets right there and then. Back on this side of the world, later that same month, it was time to finally run the Auckland Half Marathon and cross the bridge in a bright green tutu. People were extra cheery thus scientifically proving that costumes are definitely the way to go.

Then November came and I didn’t think I’d be running any more half marathons this year. Turns out, I was wrong (I was shocked too). The ADRA half marathon in Auckland was a last minute decision but resulted in a PR and one of the easiest and most enjoyable half marathons I’ve ever run. I know the year isn’t over yet but I think I can safely say that I closed my half marathons cycle for the year, with a total of six official road half marathons run this year, two over my initial goal of running one every season.

It was also in November that S. and I decided it was time to bite the bullet and commit to bigger challenges. And so we registered for our first full marathon. Come next March, we’ll be seen running/walking/dragging our asses along the course of the Mountain the Surf Marathon in New Plymouth. It sounds maddening to me still but, then again, so did that 35k in May.

December has been a quieter month, with lots of training runs but less long events. We had an amazing time running from one coast of Auckland to the other and I chased my Christmas spirit in the rain in a santa suit.

There were a bunch of other awesome things that happened this year and I’ll probably write about them as soon as I find the time/patience/inspiration to do so on here (must. record. everything) but this is the recap of the stuff I managed to keep writing about as the year went by. Winning lottery has, apparently, been put on hold once again (your move, 2013) but, all in all, I’m happier and healthier than I was last year. Wasn’t that the whole point to begin with anyway?

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*Speaking of Facebook, I decided it was time to stop annoying the hell out of my non-running friends with my running-related posts so created a page for the blog on there. It’s actually a secret plot to unleash my running geekery onto the world guilt-free, since I noticed I had to stop myself from sharing running-related links there (remember?) because, apparently, not everyone in the world is as interested in them as I am (whaaaat?). Check it out if you want, like if you like.

P.s.: For a really cool and almost tear-inducing video about this year, check out Google’s Zeitgeist 2012.


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2012 started on top of an active volcano so it’s already officially an awesome year

Happy 2012, everyone! What you see above is Mt Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island (Vanuatu) violently spitting lava. We took this photo on the evening of the 31st of December, last week. This was how we said goodbye to 2011 and how we greeted 2012: standing on top of an active volcano, the ground beneath our feet shaking violently and the noises of a rumbling volcano echoing through the valley. It was pretty much the best new years eve ever. I didn’t see any fireworks, for the first time in my life on a new years eve, but I still had the best fireworks display one can ask for, courtesy of mother nature.

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu and have about 6943 posts I want to write about the amazing time I had on those islands. But first, and you’ll understand my reasons for being a bit late to this, time to reflect on the 2011 resolutions and make some for 2012.

2011 was the very first year of my life when I made new years resolutions and actually carried them in my mind throughout the year, rather than forgetting them within the first week. Keeping those resolutions in mind made my year a truly spectacular one. It didn’t just end in a spectacular way, it was actually a really good year.

It’s not like anything particularly major happened. I’m still not a Lotto winner (possibly because I never remember to buy a ticket). But several little and not so little things made 2011 a really good one. I didn’t fullfil all my resolutions 100% but I worked on them throughout the year and having those goals made it feel like everything I did actually mattered somehow. To sum up:

2011 goals:

enter 12 running events – sort of check. I entered 11. Sickness led me to pull out of one in June and I thought I’d make up for it in December but sickness was, once again, to blame. Still, two of the eleven running events I entered were half-marathons – which is twice the number of half-marathons I was planning to run, so I’m pretty happy with that.

run a half-marathoncheck! And check!

start a savings account – check!

travel to a pacific island – totally managed to blow this one off the scale! Within the past 12 months, I went from zero Pacific Islands visited to four Pacific Islands visited and I didn’t even have plans for any of these trips when the year started. *pat on the back!*

write more (for fun) – I didn’t do quite as well on this one as I’d planned but I did start this blog so that should count!

visit my family back home – Yes! And it was as amazing as always!

learn to swim – I’m going to put a green tick on this one because I actually hardened up and took a course back in July. Call me weird but I don’t like swimming. But I did it.

join couchsurfing and host someone – done!

do a multi-day hike – another green tick! It was just a 20km hike with a night at a hut but it still counts.

give up soft drinks – ha! Not sure what I was thinking when I came up with this one.

See? Not too bad. There were some other things I had in mind when the year started like get more into crafts and have little projects going on but that really didn’t happen and I abandoned that idea pretty early on.

What about this year? My goals for 2012 are actually not all that different than my 2011 ones. This year, among other little things, I hope to:

reach all my running goals for the year – which I’ve already blogged about here

eat better – something I sort of started in 2011, probably due to all the running madness, but haven’t focused on enough

waste less daylight – Sleeping in is overrated (now this will be a challenge…)

spend less, own less stuff – just because it’s a bargain, it doesn’t mean I have to have it. Actually, if it’s a bargain, it probably means I don’t have to have it.

and a few other things that were already on last year’s list (like visiting family again). So there you go, not much but enough to keep me out of trouble.

Here’s to a wonderful year!


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lately…

a stressful end to the year, a nasty throat infection, a whole lot of coughing, not nearly enough sleeping, another weird summer christmas that didn’t really feel like christmas. but on the bright side, the beach, sunshine (well, occasionally) and a holiday about to begin. you don’t even mind the crappy phone photos, do you? see you next year, when hopefully I’ll be infection-free and a lot more relaxed. Here’s to another year of fun and keeping to new year resolutions!


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2012 running goals – part 1

Last Friday, I went for my first run since the half-marathon in Kerikeri.  I hadn’t actually intended to stop running for a whole six days but the whole week just flew by and it kind of just happened. Today is day five of yet another hiatus (after my last run on Saturday).

Can you even call it a hiatus if it’s only been five days? I guess not but too late now, not hitting that backspace key.

As bad as it sounds, this is still better than the period post-Taupo-half-marathon when I stopped running for quite a while longer (don’t blame me. Blame winter. That’s what I’m doing).

Entering a race every month this year has helped create a running habit and keep me motivated to continue training and I’m afraid that, if one run ends and I don’t have another in the pipeline, I might just get a little too lazy (something I seem to have a natural talent for).

After crossing the finish line in Kerikeri, S. and I lied on the grass and started drawing up the plan for what should happen next. Three days that, we signed up for a short fun run in December (and this will really be fun as it will even include costumes!) and came up with a list of runs we want to do next year. We’ve got three running events planned for 2012 so far and intend to enter a few more (the whole one running event per month idea proved quite successful this year so maybe it’s best if we carry on with that formula).

I want to take this very seriously and actually stick to training plans next year, contrary to what I’ve done this year.  So, to make it official, here are my 2012 running resolutions (part 1 only, as we still have to choose other running events for the rest of the year):

  1. Return to Waiheke Island in January and run the 12km Wharf2Wharf again. It was the first running event we ever entered, last January, and we didn’t know what to expect at all. I’m super curious to go back and see what it’ll feel like this time.
  2. Run four half marathons
  3. Run the Cathay Pacific Half Marathon in Auckland (in February)
  4. Run the Rotorua Half Marathon (in April)
  5. Run a half marathon in two hours (or less)
  6. Run an average of 100km a month
  7. Do more cross-training
  8. Speaking of those programmes, find a good one and stick to it.
  9. Run the Kerikeri Half Marathon again (and beat my current time for that course)
  10. Choose a full marathon to do in 2013

So there you have it. I’ve got put my running shoes where my mouth is. Okay, that sounded gross. Backspace. You get the point.