super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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I went to a Nike run and all I got was a free singlet and a kick in the butt

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You would think that what with being into running and keeping a blog about the subject, I’d know more about stuff like the global Nike She Runs events. You’d be wrong. But last night, I crawled out from under my metaphorical rock and heard about it for the first time.

I’d seen something on Facebook last week about a 10k run organised by Nike downtown on Monday evening so thought it would be a good excuse to resist the gravitational pull towards the couch. I assumed it would be a very low-key deal, just a bunch of ladies getting together for a run along Tamaki Drive, so it sounded like a nice relaxing way to end the first day of the week.

Nope.

I realised I was wrong when, while walking around trying to figure out where the store was, I spotted the stage with the big screen, the bright lights, the DJ and the wave of pink shirts eagerly awaiting the start of the run.

Definitely not the casual running club thing I was expecting to join.

I filled out a form, got asked what time I was expecting (an hour would be fine, thank you very much), and was then handed a bib with a colour to reflect my expected pace (pink) and given a singlet (also pink) to wear on the run. We were all then told to warm up together by doing a couple of laps around a patch of grass and, since I never warm up before a run (it just adds to the hard work but counts for nothing so why not just run?), I started rethinking the whole idea. But, you know, free singlet.

After waiting around for a while, we took off running along the waterfront towards Mission Bay. It was a nice cool evening and there were a bunch of other runners out there (a lot of them looked like they were doing the Powerade Challenge). The ladies in pink weren’t joking around though and it wasn’t long before a whole bunch of them disappeared into the distance.

Well, shit.

I was going for a nice little jog with the girls. Getting my ass kicked was not part of my Monday plans. At first I thought it’d be ok. I can do my own 10k, at my slow but comfortable pace, no rush. But as the pink wave continued to disappear into the distance, I started picking up my pace too. I blame the bib effect. You’re all set for a nice relaxing run by the waterfront after work, no big deal, but you pin a piece of paper with a number onto your shirt and BAM, you’re racing the world.

It felt horrible for a while. And then I felt horrible about how horrible it felt. I saw a bunch of fresh faces running past me and wondered how they managed to stay like that. Then I realised the answer is pretty simple: training. From what the lady with the microphone had said during the warm up, this was an event that most of the people there had been training for together over the last few weeks. I felt a little like I was crashing someone’s party and I couldn’t even handle the booze. I haven’t trained for anything in nearly three months and I’ve been blaming injury trauma (yes, it’s totally a thing) for the fact that I haven’t been running any decent distances or making any major efforts.

But last night I officially ran out of excuses. It’s been a while since I last had to accessorize my leg with a bag of frozen peas so I’m not really allowed to continue using my knee as an excuse not to get off my ass anymore.

I ended up running faster than I’d expected (at first I thought it had been a personal best but, looking at my previous stats, it turns out I’m just not very good at remembering my times) and took the short detour to Sal’s on my way to the car. I took home one of their massive pizzas and I’m pretty sure I did score a personal best for the time it took me to inhale half of it.

I don’t exactly know how I feel about the whole women-only event thing but I clearly throw any convictions out of the window pretty quickly when there’s free stuff on offer. And giant delicious pizza afterwards.

Checkmate, Monday.

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A runner’s Christmas wishlist

Back in the day, I started running because I thought it’d be the cheapest possible way to exercise. All I needed was any pair of old shorts and an old tshirt, some sneakers (and, with the size of my shoe collection, I had a few to choose from already) and the willingness to get my butt out of the door. No membership fees, no monthly payments, no big expenses.

*pause so we can all stop laughing at how wrong I was*

Like anything else, if you get really into it (and one can say writing a blog almost solely dedicated to running qualifies as being “really into it”), it gets really expensive really quickly. At first, I think, came the dri-fit shirts. I got posh and decided running in cotton shirts was too gross. Then, with the first knee pain, came the doctor’s appointment (another $40) and the medical advice to buy proper running shoes. Hello, $300 receipt. Then, since I had the fancy shoes, I got a little more excited about taking them out. And so came the receipt for the first ever running event (Wharf to Wharf on Waiheke Island), which got me completely hooked onto crossing finish lines. Since then, I’ve been averaging about one official event per month. Some are fairly cheap, others do make me think I’ll have to resort to instant noodles for the rest of the month (mostly because some of these events are out of town and involve travel expenses). Fast forward a few months and I got hooked on trail running. This means mandatory equipment for races, in some cases. Hi, expensive hydration pack with all sorts of stuff inside.

Anyway, you get the point. This stuff’s not cheap. So I’m always on the look out for good deals on running-related stuff. I’ve got a list. I’m pretty sure it’s filled with stuff all runners want to have. So, if you have a runner in your Christmas gift list (or some extra money floating around that you might want to use to start the Super Generic Girl Running Fund), this is a good time to take notes.

gu gels garminnikeshortscamelbakapple earpodscompression socksspibeltnecklacehead torchglovesRoad IDrunning books

1. Gu energy gels are the perfect stocking fillers a runner can ask for. At about $3 a pop, these little things don’t come cheap.

2. Garmin Forerunner 10. Or any Forerunner. Or, whatever, any GPS watch. I’ve been using the Nike+ watch (powered by TomTom) and we have sort of become best buddies.

3. Running shorts. Or any running apparel, as long as it’s cute. Oh and the right material. I suppose that’s important too.

4. Camelbak hydration pack. Especially useful for trail runs or long road runs, especially if you enter events and like avoiding the water stations.

5. Apple EarPods or any good headphones for runners.

6. My Cep compression socks are simultaneously my most expensive and my most amazing pair of socks. Don’t think a runner can have too many of these but, for the price, I think one pair is pretty much enough. Has to be.

7. Spi belt. I bought a hydration belt a couple of months ago and it sucked because there was no ideal way of adjusting it to my waist without it ending up jumping up and down while I ran. I heard these are quite good in that aspect. All I want is a way of not carrying my phone in my hand the whole time.

8. Running necklaces. Down here in Kiwiland, they aren’t too keen on giving out medals at running events. You’ll probably get a medal for a full marathon (and, even then, not all full marathons), but you are very unlikely to get one for anything below that. Some achievements, though, deserve to be celebrated with something long lasting. When we ran our 35k trail run, I headed to The Run Home on Etsy and got S. a customised necklace with her name and the distance and location of that race. Beats a medal, I think… but I still wish we’d gotten medals.

9. These running nutters sometimes decide that darkness isn’t a good enough excuse to stay home. I pack my head torch every time we head out for the trails, just in case. Also good for after work runs in Winter, when it’s pitch black by 6pm.

10. Tech gloves. Because surely I’m not the only one who checks Facebook while waiting for the pedestrian lights to turn green, amirite?

11. Road ID bracelet. If I happen to run my way to afterlife, there are a few things people need to know like: my name, my emergency contact details and that under no circumstances should my obituary refer to me as a “jogger”. Just the basic important stuff.

12. Running-related literature. I’ve got an Amazon wishlist the length of an ultramarathon. Lisa Tamati‘s Running to Extremes is just one of them, among a long list of practical marathon training guides. Basically, anything that’ll make a runner want to keep reading while, at the same time, put the book down and head out for a run.


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If you didn’t record it, did it really happen?

When the TomTom watch crashed right at the start of the Adidas Auckland Half Marathon last weekend, I panicked for a second or two before realising I had my iPod on me and could still track my run. Had I not taken it that day, though, my stress levels would have probably turned that run into a really bad one. And why, really? The course was gorgeous, I felt good the whole time, the day was beautiful. All of that is true but if I had not been able to add that run to my Nike+ profile, I would have been one unhappy runner (and an unhappy runner in a tutu is not a pretty image).

Now before you think I’m weird, the concept of the quantified self has been documented for some time now (since 2007, in fact). There are companies dedicated entirely to tracking devices capable of helping us cope with this newfound need to track our every movement. Last year, both the US and Europe even held Quantified Self conferences, the type of event that makes my nerdy hormones jump up and down with excitement.  Obsessively tracking everything is now a thing. So no, I haven’t completely lost my mind. Compared to some, I’m actually mostly normal (stop laughing. No, seriously, stop it).

I don’t track my sleep patterns, or my food intake (well, sometimes), or my mood or the number of steps I take every day. I don’t track these mostly because I don’t currently own a device capable of tracking them all in a hassle-free way, like FitBit) but I’ve got all the symptoms of someone who would totally get addicted to one of those. The analog expression of my self-tracking needs is in my constant diary updates (I have religiously kept a Moleskine diary for years now).  I’ve always used that diary to keep track of things like movies watched, books read, recipes tried, restaurants/cafes visited, or albums listened to.

More importantly, I track every single one of my runs. I know my stats well and, at times, analyse them to the point of exhaustion. I once turned around and ran back home after 400m because my iPod ran out of battery and couldn’t track the run. I know it sounds terribly lame but, in my head, if I can’t add that run to my total numbers, then what’s the point of even getting my clothes sweaty?

In a way, self-tracking helps me feel like I’m in control, especially during particularly stressful times. It ties in with my obsession for making lists (and lists of lists) and helps me feel organised. The time I trained for a 35k trail run was, so far, the height of my quantified self. On top of tracking a number of non-running related things (websites like Good Reads have helped simplify the process), I tracked my training runs, gym sessions, most of my meals and even my water and caffeine intake. Have I ever sounded more like a freak to you? Didn’t think so. But you know what? It helped. Mostly mentally, of course, although I’m sure tracking my progress also indirectly led me to make adjustments to my training and end up with better physical results. So, in the end, it’s as much about how much data you obsessively gather about yourself as it is about what you then do with all that information.

The good folk at Slimkicker have contacted a number of fitness bloggers, yours truly included, to try out their new device that will come out early next year (their iPhone app has been around for a while now). I had a look around the website and, as much as the feminist in me has a problem with their branding (slim does not equal fit, people!), I’m more than a little excited about trying out the gadget. It is one more in a pool of connected heath devices (or ‘health 2.0’ as some people call it) and even though I’m not big on counting calories (there just aren’t enough zeros to quantify some days), anything that gets people excited about getting healthier and fitter is good in my book.


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saturday

   

I woke up later than I wanted to and with a stupid headache that felt like a hangover. Except I only had one glass of wine on friday, after pretty much crashing a wine tasting at work (don’t judge, you would have done the same) so it couldn’t have been a hangover. Anyway, I tried to nurse the headache with coffee and crumpets, pretty much one of the best breakfast combos ever. It only sort of worked but I felt like I needed to go for a run. The weather was nice outside, for a change, and the next half marathon is only 34 days away (!).

   

Apple has updated the software for the ipod nano and now I get to have the Nike+ integration without having to add any extra gadgets to my running shoes. With that new software, I get to tell the little app how far I want to run (or for how long) and it then tells me how I’m doing. I’ve been using it for a week now and I’m still not sure whether it is amazing or stupidly unhelpful but it’s definitely one of those. On one hand, I like being able to track how I’m doing during the run but, on the other hand, the voice always tells me how far I’ve gone just at that very moment when I’m about to get my mind off the running (which is when it supposedly gets easier).

I told it that I was going to run 10km and set off on my run. I decided to take my camera along because the weather was nice and, since I wasn’t feeling 100%, I wanted an excuse to take it slow. By the time the app lady interrupted Feist to tell me I’d reached 3km, I was already thirsty and feeling my body overheating. It was all downhill from there and, unfortunately, I’m not talking about the terrain.

I kept thinking to myself “what an idiot, you remember to bring your camera but not your water bottle. you retard!”. I had to alternate between running and walking a couple of times which really sucked because I’ve been trying to get better times when I run. At the 8km mark, I decided it was time to stop. I’m meeting my running partner tomorrow for what is supposed to be our “long run” for the weekend so used that as an excuse to drag my sorry self back home.

Lessons learnt today: always take your water bottle/ hydration pack, especially if the weather’s warmer. Don’t tell Nike+ you’re going to do something and then give up. Might as well set the bar a bit lower instead of having to see on your profile that you chose the 10k workout but only logged 8km.

   

Well, at least there were daisies.