super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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Ultramarathon registration addiction issues and other stuff I should tell you about

It’s a day ending with -y so, naturally, I did something ridiculous.

I’ve got a new PR and quite possibly a FKT but don’t you all start congratulating me at once. This morning, and after having made a grand total of zero dollars since the day had started (#partylikeafreelancer), I signed up for two ultramarathons within five minutes. On purpose.

First I signed up for the 50km at the inaugural Tarawera Marathon and 50km event which takes place in 9 days’ time (LOL?) and then The North Face 100km race in the Blue Mountains in Australia in May. This adds to my already existing registration for the 60km at the Kepler Challenge in December and the registration for the 100km at the Tarawera Ultra in February.

All added up, it means that, as of this morning, even though I can’t currently run a half marathon without wanting to vomit a lung, I am registered for four ultramarathons within the next 7 months.

I don’t know about you but, from where I’m sitting, this whole plan looks pretty shit.

I like to ponder every decision so made this flowchart to really ensure I knew that my life choices make approximately 0.0 sense.

I like to ponder every decision so made this flowchart to really ensure I knew that my life choices make approximately 0.0 sense.

Now I’m freaking terrified. Scared shitless. Heart palpitations, sweaty palms and that dreaded what-the-hell-have-I-got-myself-into feeling. The genuine fear that I’m going to end up breaking myself.

I missed this.

I hadn’t had a giant scary goal since the last Tarawera Ultra earlier this year. Training for that damn thing kept me going through some of the hardest months of my life and then, just like that, it was over.

I haven’t run further than 35km in about 9 months. I’ve been lucky if I run anything close to a marathon in the space of an entire week. I don’t even know if I can run 50km in one go, let alone 60km, let alone 100km, let alone 100km again with the worst elevation profile I’ve ever seen. It’s going to be absolutely horrible and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

what??

For the first time in a long time, I genuinely don’t know whether I can actually do this or not. But not knowing is part of the fun, right? (and I swear that’s not the motto of the university I went to).

I didn’t tell you this because I’m the world’s worst blogger (although I am currently 3rd best in New Zealand in the “Beer” category of QuizUp so it’s not like I haven’t been busy): I was in Wellington a couple of weekends ago to speak at an event about running (MUM, I’VE MADE IT!). It was genuinely the coolest thing I’ve ever done since whatever the last cool thing I did was and I promise I’ll write you a proper post about my time in Wellington very soon, now that I’ve scared myself into actually running and intend to blog my descent into madness. In any case, one of the things I rambled on at this talk in Wellington was my apparent need to do things that scare the crap out of me.

Clearly.

My running has been far too comfortable since the Tarawera Ultra last March. Sure, I’ve continued doing enough field research on running while injured to the point where I should be awarded a government grant for my contributions to science. But mostly, I’ve been running as much as little as I’ve wanted and all my marathons have been beer-drinking ones because I had nothing major to scare me into proper training.

But I guess this’ll do it.


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The upsides of not running

Hello, people who still read this thing (mum)! Serious proposal: let’s end 2014 now and jump straight to 2015 WHICH SERIOUSLY CAN’T POSSIBLY BE ANY SHITTIER THAN THIS.

(BRB, knocking on all the wood).

Everyone in favour say yay, everyone against it is dead to me.

life's a piece of shit when you look at it

Here’s something that doesn’t suck, though: the amount of emails and messages I’ve received from both people I know and also people I’ve never met telling me how much they miss reading my ramblings on here. YOU GUYS, you’re the cutest. But don’t blame me (blame the people who upload all the full episodes of Come Dine With Me to YouTube, allowing me to binge-watch it like it’s an olympic sport).

To the surprise of absolutely no one at all, running four events in one month with a sprained ankle (including an ultramarathon in a cyclone) ended up running me to the ground (potentially the worst unintentional pun I’ve ever made but I’m not even going to bother with the backspace key).

Since we last spoke, as far as running is concerned, I’ve been doing approximately three tenths of fuck all, which makes a running blog something really hard to maintain.

I’ve done a handful of cool little runs (including a loop around Uluru which I’ll tell you all about another time) but nothing else really worth writing home about. In an ironic turn of events, the same doctor that kept telling me to take a break from running now tells me I need to start running more (BE MORE CONFUSING, I DARE YOU).

Among other plans (none of them being “learn some god damn moderation”), I’ve got a 60km ultra to run in December, followed by an attempt at the full Hillary Trail and then the 100km at the Tarawera Ultra in February. The glue that binds these three things together is the fact that I’m 100% sure that I am 100% unable to do any of them at this stage.

that's a god damn bitch of an unsatisfactory situation

A mix of injuries, sickness and just overall not-being-bothered has led to the terrifying situation of a closet full of clean running clothes (and not a single sticky empty packet of Gu in sight). It all snowballed into not even wanting to talk about running because talking about running reminded me that I should be running but wasn’t (psychiatric students wanting to use me as a guinea pig for their experiences should totally email me).

So, since I don’t have much running to talk about, and while I re-learn to put injiji socks on properly again (only half-joking), let’s talk about my new area of expertise: not running.

I’m more useless than the g in lasagna when I’m not running but I’ll admit it has its benefits. I turned 30 less than a month ago and I’m old and wise now so, instead of looking at the negative in everything, I’m going to try this really neat exercise called looking on the bright side.

So what’s so great about not running? I’ll tell you.

You’re reminded of why you love to run

You know the whole “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” thing? It’s true. Not being able to run – for whatever reason – has reminded me of why I love running. Because I’ve been running way (way, way, way) less than before, I have a new sense of appreciation for every time I lace up my shoes and head out for a run. I don’t take any run for granted and, after such a long time not being able to do it, I have learned to appreciate every time I’m able to get out there, even if it’s just a boring 5k along the road.

There’s a lot of strength to be gained from stopping to recover

This long break from running came from, among other things, a long tradition of not listening to my body and running while injured. In the end, my body forced me to stop. So now I’ve learned that breaks are okay – they’re needed and they don’t mean you’re a loser (other things, however, do mean you’re a loser so I’d check for signs of stuff like enjoying movies with Nicole Kidman, wearing leggings as pants or being unable to distinguish between you’re and your). Sure, I’ve lost some fitness. But I’ve also gained strength. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve ventured out for runs expecting my body to be a lot less fit than it turned out to be. While I sat there eating tins of creamy rice (LIKE A LADY) thinking my muscles were slowly disintegrating, some of them were apparently getting stronger. I have since ran up hills (what you people call small inclines) that I always swore never to run up. This doing nothing thing works, people. Try it.

It’s ok to be gentle with yourself

Overall, I did lose a bit of my fitness in the last three months. But I’ve also learned to be kinder to myself. My body does what it can and I no longer push it to the very limit just to see if I can. I can’t be surprised when it breaks and doesn’t recover immediately. Instead of being an ungrateful little bitch, I’m thankful for everything my body can do, even if, at the moment, it isn’t as much as it was able to do before.

You start paying more attention to your body

One of the injuries that forced me to take a break was a back injury back in April. Every time I tried to run after that, I’d end up limping my way back home holding onto my own back to try to stop the pain (so sexy). I kept trying to straighten my back while running to stop it from hurting but nothing seemed to work (or at least not for more than a couple of minutes at a time). The first time I managed to run without my back hurting felt like a huge victory. Since then, I’ve learned to pay more attention to my posture and how each part of my body moves while I run. I may not have gained any speed but I feel smarter about my running.

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You learn to calm the hell down

I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love running. It’s kind of a thing. Not being able to run is, therefore, the opposite of my thing. My spare time, for a long time, was for running. Doing other things, like not-running, was never an option. Taking a break from running led to a bit of an identity crisis. What kind of runner am I if I’m not out there running? And what person is this if not a runner who runs? And why am I asking myself such stupid questions? Then I learned to relax. Taking a break is okay. Running is very much a part of my identity and a couple of months without my running shoes didn’t take that away.

If you’re smart, you’ll cross train instead of sitting on your ass eating biscuits and drinking beer for three months

I guess I’m a different kind of smart.

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What I’m really saying is that, if you’re having to take a long break from running like I had to, the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Don’t be a hero, have another nap.


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Let me tell you about that time I ran an ultramarathon in a cyclone

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Credit: Allan Ure – Photos4Sale

Is this the most overdue ultramarathon recap in history? Potentially. Will it be worth the wait? Probably not. Should I stop asking questions and just get on with it? Definitely.

The truth is that I thought this was going to be really easy to write up. I planned this post in my head approximately 43,348 times in each training run. But I guess if I wanted an easy predictable topic to write about, choosing trail running was my first mistake.

Tarawera was nothing like I expected and, yet, it was everything I wanted.

Like some kind of really lame practical joke, a cyclone hit New Zealand during the weekend of the ultramarathon and forced a bunch of changes, meaning nothing went according to plan. The course had to be changed and the new distances became approximately 60 and 70km.

Just in case you have something better to do then read the rest of this, I’ll jump straight to the finish and tell you I didn’t actually get to cross the finish line, as Search and Rescue closed the course and a bunch of us got stopped at 53km. I cried my eyes out for a few minutes, standing there in the pouring rain after being told I couldn’t keep going – I’m one of those ugly criers and there were heaps of people around so that moment is probably not going to feature in my future best-selling autobiography.

By the time we got on the bus, however, I was over the disappointment. I realised I’d actually run an ultramarathon distance in a god damn cyclone, so dangerous that the course had to be closed. If that’s not something to be proud of, then all I’ve got going for me is that time I won the spelling competition in primary school and got a mechanical pencil for a prize.

The truth is that, for such a long run, this ultramarathon ended up having very little to do with running. I got a bunch of life lessons thrown at me in just a few hours, which is why it’s taken me so long to process it all.

In the months leading up to the event, the thought of having to run this ultra in the rain didn’t even cross my mind – now, all of a sudden, we’d be doing it in a cyclone. And my ankle was still sprained, swollen and hurting, forcing me to visit a physio the day before the race to strap the living hell out of it. And the rain. The damn pouring rain. Nothing about it seemed fair but, then again, Macklemore had won a Grammy earlier in the year so I already knew the world was full of injustices anyway.

It turned out that there was no point spending months worrying about what shoes to wear, how many gels to pack, where to place my drop bags, what songs to put on my playlist or any other of the 694 items on my Tarawera to do list. I ended up wearing brand new running shoes for my ultra (ask anyone who runs and they’ll tell you what a giant mistake that is) and not even that made a difference.

Credit: Marceau Photography

Credit: Marceau Photography

As we lined up at the start line at 6:30am, it was still pitch black in the forest. They say the only thing you have to fear is fear itself but I’d like to call bullshit on that because I was pretty freaking terrified about the prospect of an ultramarathon in a cyclone. Carlene used her ukulele to inject some adrenaline into everyone’s veins with the song that you’ll never be able to get out of your head, followed by a Maori chant coming from somewhere between the trees. You try to get through that without getting all goosebumpy and tell me how that works out for you. We all hugged and wished each other luck. That was it right there – the culmination of months and months of training, hours of running in the middle of nowhere, long group chats about what the hell we were getting ourselves into. Our group was all there, all ready (ish). The universe hadn’t looked so right since that time Vanilla Ice danced to Ice Ice Baby on the Dancing on Ice TV show. We counted down from 10 and, just like that, we were off into the forest.

I used my inhaler about 20 times in the first few kilometres but kept my pace nice and slow. I didn’t know how I was going to feel in the second half of the run and wanted to save as much energy as possible for that. Plus, I had a sprained over-mobile ankle to worry about and was focusing really hard on not splattering myself on the ground that early into the race.

Forsyth and Glenn, who helped me train for this damn thing, stayed with me from the start. I thought they’d take off and leave me behind at some point so was just trying to enjoy having their company while I had it. We chatted the first few kilometres away, going at the slowest pace any of them had ever run.

It wasn’t long before we got to the spot where we had to choose what new distance we’d be doing. F and I were both signed up for the original 60km, while G was meant to be doing 100km. The “short course” option (60km) meant a left turn, the “long course” option (now about 70km) meant a right turn. In hindsight, I know that turning left and running the 60km would have meant that I would have crossed the finish line (as I would have been out of the area Search and Rescue closed before they got there). So it might sound a little odd to tell you that making the “mistake” of turning right and going for the 70km option will stay as one of the proudest moments of my life.

I was given the option of doing something shorter and easier and decided to go for the option that scared me the most (I’d never run more than 42km so going for a 70km run during a cyclone felt like a pretty bold decision to me). My lack of hesitation seemed to surprise everyone, including Tim Day, course director and all round awesome dude who was marshalling the intersection. But it didn’t surprise any of them as much as it surprised me. Even now, knowing I could have finished the whole race if I’d chosen the short course, I’m still proud of my decision to attempt the 70km.

I kept expecting F and G to take off and run their own races but they continued to run along next to me. We caught up with a few other friends along the way, chatted along with some other runners, saw friendly faces at every aid station (Tarawera has some of the best volunteers you’ll ever find) and passed the time talking about random stuff I’ll never be able to remember again. Having them around meant I didn’t get in my own head so much and could focus on each step, making sure I didn’t let my ankle roll again. Every time my mind wandered (as it inevitably does when you’re running out in the bush for ages), I’d come back and notice they were still with me, chatting away like they had nowhere else to be. I kept telling them they should go ahead and run faster (which I totally didn’t mean because I actually wanted the company) and they kept refusing, saying I’d need help if anything happened to my ankle. And so they stayed, letting me set the slow pace, kilometre after kilometre after god damn kilometre, during the toughest run of my life.

Credit: Allan Ure - Photos4Sale

Credit: Allan Ure – Photos4Sale

They stuck with me through all the highs and lows. My highs were pretty high – thanks to industrial doses of Gu Roctane, and my lows were really low, mostly because I’m a giant wimp but also because, in my defense, I was running an ultra in a cyclone on a busted ankle. None of that seemed to matter to them. Every time I told them to go ahead without me, they told me to stop insisting on that. Next thing I knew, after a bunch of smiles and even a good dose of panicky tears, we’d done over a marathon. I kept focusing on my steps, trying to keep the ankle safe, and every time I looked to the side, F and G were still there too, sacrificing their ultramarathon time to make sure I was safe.

It doesn’t matter how many beers I buy these two in my lifetime, I’ll never be able to thank them enough for what they did that day (so I guess no point buying them any beers, right? Right).

By the time we hit the Western Okataina Walkway, the rain had started getting really heavy and I was feeling pretty – how shall I put it? – motivationally-impaired. I had a crying fit that I blame on exhaustion and panic over cut off times (because I’m the worst at maths and thought we were way behind even though we actually weren’t). At that point, when I felt like I was staring at life from the bottom of a gutter, G decided to go ahead for a bit, while F stayed with me and got acquainted with the worst version of myself.

We kept each other going along the undulating trail, managed some high fives and hugs to friends that were running back from the Okataina aid station, and helped each other through the highs and lows. I found some motivation at the end of a couple of packs of Gu Roctane (I’m telling you, that stuff is magical) and even managed to pass a few people along the way. The walkway was turning into a giant mud pool by then. We saw G again at the aid station, where we had to start a 4km out-and-back before being able to return the way we came, up the Western Okataina Walkway again. By then, the cut off times had been brought forward and kept getting shorter and shorter without us knowing because the weather was deteriorating fast (and so was the state of the trail).

We were told we had plenty of time to do the 4km so chucked down a quick drink and off we went. G was then told he had to leave the aid station so went on without us. We did our little loop, got the bracelet to prove we’d done it and, with what we thought was an hour to go, were then told by a marshall we had four minutes to return to the aid station. I know people like to say impossible is nothing but impossible is actually running 2km in 4 minutes so we ran as fast as we could but returned to the aid station to find a bus load people pulled out of the course by Search and Rescue, ourselves included.

I had my giant ugly cry about it (because it sucked, because it was pouring with rain, because I had plenty of energy left to keep going, but mostly because I cry about everything). As we started getting our stuff together to get on the bus, G re-appears, telling us he didn’t want to keep going on his own.

Now, seriously. Do you get why it’s taken me so long to write about it? THIS IS WHY. How do you explain this? How do you talk about the magnitude of what you experience when, in the middle of the ultramarathon (in a cyclone, on a busted ankle!), you discover that you are, in fact, the luckiest person you know, surrounded by the absolute best people in the world?

G had the all clear from the aid station to keep going and cross that finish line (and I know how important that finish line was to him). F could have beaten me by hours and yet they both gave up their finish lines to do the race with me.

I’d been pulled out of the course at 53km with about 17km (or a bit longer) to go. It was, for all intents and purposes, a pretty shit situation. But I’d run 53km in a cyclone with two of the best friends a crippled runner could ever ask for so what was there to be sad about?

Not much, really.

Trail running has given me more joy than I’ll ever be able to fit into a blog post (or a thousand) but nothing could have prepared me for what Tarawera would show me, both about myself and the people around me.

In the end, we got our finishers medals and a giant bear hug from Paul Charteris, only the coolest race director around. And while that medal is now potentially the first thing I’d save if my house caught fire, it’s only one of a million little things I treasure from that day.

There are many things we do in life that make us happier people, but it’s not often that we get the chance to do something that, more than just making us happy, helps define our identity. In fact, there haven’t been that many times in my life when that’s happened and they’ve all stayed as milestones for that reason. Running your first ultramarathon (like running your first marathon) is life-changing because it redefines your identity. On March 15, I became an ultramarathoner, part of one of the most special tribes in the world. And no matter what I do with myself in the future, I’ll always be one of them.

I set off that morning to do something I had no idea I could do. After hours of keeping my head down, minding my steps, swallowing my weight in energy gels and telling myself not to give up, I’d entered the class of people I admire the most. All of a sudden, all the limitations I thought I had got this giant question mark over them. If you can do something you think is impossible for you to do, what is there that you can’t do?

It’s been nearly a month and I’m still in that state of wonder about it. It still amazes me that I managed to run that far since I’ve been surviving on a diet of ice cream, chips and craft beer. But I ran 53km and got on that bus in the pouring rain knowing I could have kept going a lot further.

The only thing I don’t know is exactly how far I can go – and that’s a pretty sweet place to be.


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Free advice: Don’t get injured seven weeks before an ultramarathon

Lying with your leg raised above your heart definitely shouldn’t be a part of your ultramarathon training.

Let’s get something out in the open now: I’m not great at dealing with huge amounts of pain. Or minimal amounts of pain. Or mild barely-noticeable discomfort. If you’ve run with me before you know I spend approximately 50 to 65% of the run complaining about different aspects of it. No one runs with me and wonders whether I’m enjoying it or not. They always know I’m not. And they know so because I provide them with extensive commentary on the many ways the run sucks.

But even I will admit that sometimes I do exaggerate and not all runs suck. My run on Sunday, however, sucked on a large number of levels. A plethora of levels, if you want to be a snob about it.

You see, I was really looking forward to coming here and making you all jealous about how I live within a half hour ferry ride of a 600 year old volcano where I can go to do my run/complaining about running combo whenever I want. That’s precisely what I set off to do early on Sunday morning.

But then, PLOT TWIST. Six kilometres into the whole thing, as we were making our way back down from the summit, I failed to notice one of the steps and fell pretty spectacularly, flat on my face on a boardwalk, thus ending a good, hmmm, let’s see, week and a half of running without any sort of pain.

The few moments after the fall went something like this: massive crying fit, screaming, some more crying, another decent amount of screaming, wondering how in the actual hell I’m going to get down from that volcano, more crying, wondering how long until I can run again, a bit of screaming, wondering if I’ll be able to make the start line at Tarawera, another little cry, wondering why the Beatles broke up, some more crying (only partially over the Beatles) and a bit more screaming.

And that was just the initial 40 seconds.

(I know that’s a lot of detail but I need to make sure my future biographer has enough to work with so bear with me here.)

Forsyth, who was running behind me and clearly has his priorities very well defined, paused my Garmin immediately (and managed to do so while I was screaming so badly it sounded like a Rebecca Black song). Steve, who runs downhill at about 460kph (give or take a few hundred kph) was so far ahead he couldn’t hear me yelling in despair (unlike everyone else on the North Island and potentially the good people in Australia as well). A couple of hikers caught up with us while I was busy fighting for my life right there on the ground (ok, sort of) and the man walked down to find Steve. He ran into a DOC worker with a truck who walked up to meet us and offered to take us back down to the wharf. I would have hugged him with relief but, at this stage, I was still lying on the boardwalk.

I'mok

To cut a super-long story slightly shorter but still fairly long, Forsyth piggy-backed me out of the track (he’ll tell you he “carried me down a volcano” and, while not entirely untrue, you should know the truck was about 200m from where I fell) and the lovely man from DOC took us down to wait for the ferry. Since it was only 10:30AM and only losers who smash themselves on the ground need to be taken off the island so early, it was just the three of us on the ferry. The good part: according to what the man announced over the microphone thingy, should anything go wrong, they had about 75 life jackets per person on board for us and the guy suggested we could “throw them all out in the water at once and build a raft”. Instead, we spent the journey back eating cake and drinking beer while Steve and Forsyth worried about the sort of impression I was going to cause in the emergency room, with a potential broken foot and smelling of booze. But I don’t think the emergency room is the place to worry about making good first impressions so I went ahead and drank it anyway.

The hospital part of this whole adventure had some good Kiwi moments, like the nurse deciding that I didn’t need to have my blood pressure checked after all, because the machine was out of battery. “Yeah, you look alright”. I’M NOT GODDAMN ALRIGHT. I’M IN A WHEELCHAIR.

But I actually kept my cool about that. What really pissed me off was when she asked me to describe what happened:

Vera – So I was running down from the summit of Rangitoto…
Nurse (writing down on a piece of paper) – Okay, so walking down…
Vera – No. Not walking. Running.
Steve – Well… It was more like jogging, really.
Vera – I WAS NOT JOGGING.

LIES

(I was probably jogging.)

I tried to describe things a bit better in the form they gave me to fill out but, once again, Steve wasn’t much help. When the form asked me to tick the box describing the type of activity and I had to choose between things like “work”, “leisure” or “sport”, I went to put my tick on “sport”, to what Steve said: “I’d say leisure. You weren’t being that sporty.” This is the same man who also told me my description of the accident on the hospital form was “no Hemingway” and told me to “break a leg” when they wheeled me into the room for an x-ray.

[NON-SPONSORED AD: Running friends available. Free to a good home.]

Anyway. I got myself a nice little ligament sprain on my right ankle and have had to learn to walk with crutches for the first time in my life. I’m not a fast learner and my “good foot” has banged on one of the crutches twice so far. I can’t even hold a cup of coffee and stand upright at the same time so that’s all of my good party tricks taken away in one go. Showering has also been interesting, since one of my feet can’t touch the ground (come on, don’t act like that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever told you here). So, before you ask, recovery is going swell.

The only bit of good news I have is that my first physio appointment today went pretty damn good. I got told I was doing “everything right”, which is something I don’t hear very often (or, you know, ever) and the nice physio lady told me I can maybe probably potentially go for a really short run in a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks from now will be a month from my ultramarathon so you do the maths to figure out the square root of how screwed I am.

It’s bad, you guys. I’m Keanu Reeves-sad. My last post here bragged about running over 70km in 48h and I’ve now spent the last 48h relying on people to help me do pretty much everything. I’m not the most elegant person on crutches and I’ve realised I wouldn’t exactly be a role model if I ever had the misfortune of having a permanent physical disability.

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To top it all off nicely, I finally met Julian last night while he was up in Auckland for work. Few things are worse than getting injured and catching up with a runner who’s just been given the ok to run for the first time that day after 7 weeks of injury. But whatever, it’s this sort of adversity that builds character, amirite? And also, I hopped my way into the brew bar (hopped, hops, Jesus, I’m like some kind of pun genius right now), drank three delicious beers and forgot about the pain for a bit.

But now the pain is back. And I’m still lousy on crutches. I continually bang my leg on them and continue to insist on trying to carry stuff in my hands while using the crutches which means everything I touch becomes damaged in some way, like some kind of ridiculous inverse Midas effect.

I know what you’re thinking. Poor SGG, let me send her some get well soon cookies and some speedy recovery chocolate.

Yes, you should definitely do that.


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Countdown to the ultramarathon

Remember when, less than two years ago, I signed up for my first half marathon and made a big deal out of it because it really did feel like the biggest achievement of my life? Of course not, why would you remember that? It can’t have been too bad since I’ve run over a dozen of those since then, but, at the time, it felt pretty hardcore.

And remember a couple of months ago when I ran my first full marathon and it really did feel like it had changed my life? You might remember that since I mention it at every opportunity, including this one.

Two days ago, I signed up for my first ultramarathon.

escalated-quickly

Registration for the Vibram Tarawera Ultra opened at 11am on Saturday and I was all signed up by 3pm, just to make sure I didn’t have much of a chance to talk myself out of it. Come March 15 next year, I will be running SIXTY ENTIRE KILOMETERS (this sort of ridiculous distance deserves that I hit caps lock) of trail goodness up and down the rugged terrain between Rotorua and Tarawera.

Ever since getting that email confirmation, I’ve been in a OMGIAMRUNNINGTARAWERA state of euphoria, which I’m guessing (and hoping) will last for a while, before I realise what I got myself into.

I couldn’t drag myself out of bed on Sunday early enough to hit the trails with friends (thanks to the leftovers of a pretty crappy week, which meant I really needed some extra sleep) but finally got up around 11 and got 12km in just near home. I hated most of it, especially this bit, but it was one of those days when getting out of bed would have been enough of an accomplishment anyway.

Luckily, today was a public holiday in New Zealand (thanks Liz!) and I was able to make up for it.

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I met up with Stacey and her awesome puppy Ruby and we headed into the forest for a morning run. We didn’t exactly push ourselves to any extreme limits or anything (a 10km with both walking and puppy-photo breaks) but Ruby seemed to have lots of fun and our legs show evidence of a good time.

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285 days to go and I’m officially all out of excuses. Next time you invite me for a trail run and I say I can’t make it, I better have some pretty out-of-this-world excuse for you because March 15 will be here sooner than I want it to be and it won’t be long before I’m huffing and puffing a hell of a long way between Rotorua and Tarawera, in my quest for ultramarathon stardom (or, you know, just survival), a year and two weeks after becoming a marathoner, and a few months before hitting the big three-oh.

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In the meantime, a little disclaimer: if you are not interested in trail ultramarathon training ramblings, I suggest you take a gap year from this website and look up different stuff on the internet (I hear Amanda Bynes is putting on quite the entertaining show online these days). I intend to run my heart out in the next few months and use this ultra as an excuse to explore every single possible trail. I am officially out of the post-marathon funk I was in for a couple of months and I’m ready to chase another big goal.

Winter blues my ass.