super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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42.2

Every time I run a half marathon, there’s a voice inside of me that wonders about a few important questions. Some common ones include “why did I add this song in my running playlist?”, “did I really think eating half a chocolate torte the night before the race was a good idea?” and, more importantly, “why am I not in bed like normal people?”

A few minutes after each half marathon, however, I wonder about different things. Lately, I’ve been finding myself questioning whether, with a little more training, I could push it further and keep going for a little while longer.

So it’s time to go a little further. More specifically, twice as far. Less than four months from now, I will be at the start line of my very first full marathon. It was all Stacey’s idea (and I’m putting this in writing here especially in case it all turns to custard). Yes, the same Stacey that had the 35k trail run idea. We had been talking about how exciting it’d be to enter a marathon in an exotic location in some faraway land. After one glass of wine too many, I even emailed the NZ-based travel agent responsible for getting kiwi runners into the Great Wall Marathon.

A couple of days later, Stacey emailed me saying she had found the marathon for us and added a link to the Mountain to Surf Marathon, in New Plymouth. Okay, so not really what I had in mind when we talked about exotic faraway locations (unless, of course, you’re outside New Zealand). But:

1. It’s not in Auckland. One of the things we had discussed was how hard it would be to run a full marathon along a place we know too well. We need the excitement that comes with running in a new location.

2. It involves a road trip. Or a flight. Whichever is the cheapest. Either way, exciting travel-related arrangements to be made.

3. It’s mostly downhill and flat. This could also very well turn out to be a bad thing, since downhills are so tough on the knees, but I definitely prefer them to steep uphills.

4. It starts in Mount Taranaki and ends right on the edge of the island by the Tasman Sea. So, beautiful scenery guaranteed.

5. Registration was only $70. Sadly though, there doesn’t seem to be a finisher’s medal. I might just have to add “marathoner” to my email signature and take that as my badge of honour since kiwis are clearly not into the whole medal deal. If they ask for my bib back at the end of the race, though, as it has happened before, I’ll lose my shit.

Mount Taranaki, a photo taken back in 2009, back when my hair was longer and my marathon dreams were non-existent.

We agreed to sign up for it on pay day but I didn’t trust myself not to chicken out before then and so went ahead and signed up straight away. From now on, the clock is ticking and it’s time to get training. According to the marathon training programme I downloaded from the event’s website, I’m already behind. Training will, of course, be an essential part of my life in the next four months. I’ll probably talk about it a bit all the freaking time so, dear friends, if there’s a holiday you’ve been meaning to take or any plans that involve not having contact with me, now is the time to put those into action.

It’s good to be back in training mode with a major goal in mind. Not to dismiss half marathons in the least (they’re still a challenge), but it was time to move on from those into something more, especially since I can’t bring myself to worry about speed so training to get faster never ends up happening.

Chocolate milk and a cinnamon cookie – an essential part of marathon training.

To prove I’m taking marathon training seriously, the day after signing up I headed to the newly opened Moustache Milk & Cookies bar in Auckland to inaugurate marathon training season with a cookie.

Just kidding. I started marathon training the day I signed up. With a chocolate doughnut. So you know I mean business.


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In which I act as if getting out of bed is a big accomplishment

Hey sun, you’re big and hot and stuff but it looks like I still got out of bed before you this morning. Lazy.

Today was my third consecutive running day so, obviously, I’m here to brag. Take some time to congratulate me on my awesomeness.

Okay, that’s enough now.

After running 5km on Monday after work and then another 5km on Tuesday after work, I got up a whole hour earlier this morning (A WHOLE HOUR!) and ran 9.5km before work.

As a result, life is looking far awesomer than normal today. I was fairly productive at work and even found time to not only pack leftovers for lunch but also to coordinate the colour of my bag, jacket and boots (my usual morning routine squeezes in shower, coffee and feeding the cat in a grand total of 12 to 14 minutes between getting out of bed and out the door so outfit choices are hardly top of mind). But, see, mum and dad, looks like I’ve really got it together now.

I stop myself from falling asleep while running in the morning by taking random photos with my phone. It’s a legitimate part of training. I say so.

There are a few (well, five) reasons why I’m finding it easy to stick to a running routine this week and I bet you’re dying to know more about them. Or maybe you just emptied out your Google Reader and ran out of You Tube clips of cats attacking their own shadows to watch. Either way, here they are:

1. Running goals I’ve got another half marathon next month, potentially the coolest half marathon in history. Having a specific race to train for always gets me motivated. By “motivated” I, of course, mean scared shitless. As a result, I run.

2. Responsibility I’m trying to follow a training plan and, along with my friend who’s also running the aforementioned half marathon, I’m back in the Google Docs shared training plan bandwagon (if it’s not a thing, it should be). Basically, if I don’t run and he does, I feel shitty. Works a treat.

3. Longer days Fina-freaking-lly. It is now fairly light outside at 7am and still light around 5:30pm. The countdown to spring is entering single digits and I’m obviously pretty excited to kiss this winter goodbye.

4. Running-related reading It might be a sign of obsession that I spend so much time reading up on all running-related subjects. I don’t care. The end result is that I get out the door and run. Win.

5. People pissing me off As a general rule, punching people in the face is frowned upon by society so, instead, I embrace the rage and throw it all down on the pavement. In the end, I get fitter and they remain losers – everyone’s happy. Well, not everyone – just everyone who matters.

So I guess that’s the lesson I’m taking from all this. No matter what your reasons are, whether it’s happiness or stress, too much cookie-induced guilt or just overall frustration at all the idiots in this world, the real important thing is to get out there and run the Oreos off. And even if it sucked at the start and it sucked during it, you get to see the sunrise and then blog about it anyway so in the end it’s all a-OK.


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So, hmm, now what?

pictured: random non-running related snippets of the last few days, reminders of how I’ve been really busy, you know, not running.

I had heard of it before. That hiatus that settles in after a big run. You train for months, run the event you trained for and then… well, then nothing. You tell yourself you’ll definitely hit the road again as soon as you recover but, really, the recovery excuse gets used for far too long.

In the period since the Big O Trail Run on May 26 and today, I have run a grand total of around about 26km (of which nearly 16km of those were yesterday). Lame, I know. It’s not even that I was in pain (I was only in pain for a couple of days following the run). My legs just didn’t want to run. I ran a shameful 3km a week after that event and, despite not sore, my legs just didn’t feel like moving.

I don’t even really have a good excuse. I’ve been allowing myself as much crap food as I want (although, surprisingly, I haven’t been craving as much bad stuff as I used to) and I’ve been taking time out to do stuff I hadn’t done during training (stuff like sleeping in or taking a nap on a weekend). I’ve also been reading more and spending a lot of energy trying to stay warm. I’ve even taken a ballet class (a good 20 years after the last one), and found a way to relate it to running and, somehow, justify in my head being in that studio rather than out on the road (exercising different muscles, stretching, yadda, yadda, yadda).

What I need is a new challenge. The Wellington Half Marathon is coming up this weekend and I’m ready to fly down to the capital and get blown by the wind gusts as I try to run along a mostly flat course along the waterfront. I haven’t exactly trained for it, unless you count weeks of chocolate intake as training for a half marathon. And once that run is finished this coming sunday, I’m in serious danger of having no goal to work towards.

One thing I know: I want to get back on the trails. The road does very little for me these days and I find myself looking up bush tracks online in my spare time. I need something big and something better, something that will force me to panic and work hard for it. After two months of obsessing over that 35km distance, there’s an emptiness that comes with having no set goal to train for. With the cold days of winter well and truly here to stay, I either find a new challenge soon or I risk taking up hot-chocolate-drinking as my new sport.

This week’s self-imposed homework: get out there and run (no tapering needed when training was non-existent) but, most importantly, pick a new challenge to work towards.


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adventures in trail running – XTERRA trail series – Shakespear Park

On Sunday morning, we made our way up to Shakespear Park (about an hour north from home) to enter the first in this year’s series of XTERRA trail running events, the final step in our training for the Big O Trail Run in Rotorua tomorrow.

It was only my second ever organised trail run, as we’ve been mostly picking trails and running on our own, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I know I didn’t expect so many people to be at the park for the run (the only other organised trail event we entered had about 15 people). Shakespear Park, on the other hand, was full of runners keen to get their shoes dirty on the trail.

I’m definitely going to have a go at a couple of other events in the series but I hope they sort out the registration pack pick-up process – we had pre-registered and had to pick up our race bib and timing chip on the day and queued up for nearly one hour. The only reason we didn’t queue for longer was because we ended up having to jump the queue and get in front of people doing the short course (which started later), to avoid missing our race briefing and even the start of the race.

Aside from that small hiccup with registration, the whole event was pretty well organised. The location, for a start, couldn’t be better. A little out of the way for this West Aucklander here but isn’t discovering new places what trail running is all about? It may have only been 11.5km (not that much compared to the 35km we’ll have to face tomorrow), but we got to run through some truly amazing scenery – bush tracks, paddocks, beaches… stunning views from the top of the hills, as far as your eyes could see (before the salty sweat threatened to burn them, that is).

We thought it would be wise to run the mid-course (11.5km) rather than a longer option, as we were so close to race day (less than a week by then, less than a day by the time I got around to finish this post) and we needed to give our muscles time to recover. I am clearly not used to the thought of running a super long distance trail run. Every time I saw a runner along the way who was doing the longer course, I thought to myself “damn, these people are hardcore” and then realised that in less than a week I’d be having to do a lot more than that. And so, of course, I panicked. I panicked because I was having my butt kicked by a course that was less than 12km long.

The whole run was a very good reminder of how different trail running is from road running. At 6km, a really steep incline had me and pretty much everyone else around walking up (and not even walking straight). The hill seemed to go on forever and there was a point when I seriously wanted to move to the side and just sit on the ground and give up on life. My legs felt heavy like they were two iron bars. I kept reminding myself of how it was all a big mental game and how I should be ashamed to ever lose a game against myself. So I carried on up. And up. And up. Telling myself that every uphill meant there was a downhill to come.

The run finished after a small stretch running along the beach with the gorgeous views distracting me from the pain. We crossed the finish line and while S. went for a dip in the ocean, I queued up for our well-earned cold ciders.

It was the perfect morning for some trail running. And the running shoes are only muddy enough to remind us of a good time.


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people are awesome

Will you just check out that fully-coloured progress bar?

Three weeks after starting our fundraising mission for KidsCan, and one week before the big day, we reached our $1000 target! I am super thankful to everyone who has contributed and will be thinking of them and their support when I’m out on that trail feeling like giving up. So thanks all for being amazing and helping us out. The fundraising page will be up for another couple of days so if anyone is keen to take us over our goal, that’d be awesome-times-infinity, of course. In any case, one of the beers I’ll have right after the run this coming Saturday will definitely be for all of you who’ve donated.


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the home stretch and delusional marathon dreams

random photo from our first ever trail run which happened in the same area as this weekend’s run, about seven months ago. We hated it then. Good news is that we didn’t hate it quite so much this time. YAY!

This saturday morning, I glanced at the clock on my computer screen just as the digits changed from 8:59 to 9:00. Oh shit, I thought to myself. It dawned on me that, exactly 14 days from that very moment, I’d be on the start line for the hardest most challenging run I’ve ever done. And so, in good old vera fashion, I panicked a little bit inside. And then I calmed the hell down because, really, what are you gonna do, right?

I’ve spent the past month and a half training for that day which is now a mere 12 days away. I should have trained for longer but that is how late we heard about and signed up for the run. I should also probably have run more. But if you take into consideration the fact that, two days ago, I couldn’t even bend my right knee and spent a super rock ‘n roll saturday night at home icing it, then I guess it’s fair to say I’ve been working my way through this self-imposed training schedule. And all those “I should have” are not worth stressing about anymore.

On Sunday morning, we clocked 17km along Riverhead forest, in West Auckland. It still amazes me that I have so many options for trail running so close to home. I guess that really is part of what living in New Zealand is all about. But, anyway, I digress.

After that run, we headed home and spent some time looking up marathons online. There are some amazing runs out there in the big wide world and we figure our first marathon needs to be in a pretty special location. We’re toying with some ideas at the moment for marathons we can run in a couple of years’ time. For example, we found one that crosses three countries. Between that and the French marathon that has wine stations instead of water stations, it’ll be a hard decision. And then there’s also the Great Wall of China marathon. Walking along the wall is challenging enough but it is, to this day, one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Running a marathon on it would definitely top that by quite a few extra awesomeness points.

At one point, I looked at the link for a marathon in Siberia and said it would be amazing to do something like that. Stacey quickly pointed out that I had just described running 42.2km across Siberia as “amazing” which I guess should be enough to claim some sort of mental health disability benefit.

And now that I’ve rambled on enough about training and countdowns and fun marathons that are too far from my budget and OMFG ONLY 12 DAYS TO GO, I’m going to remind you that you can still donate and help us raise money for KidsCan. Do you hate New Zealand children? I didn’t think so.