super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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ISC Lenco Half Marathon recap

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Pretty Wellington waterfront was still standing there, being all pretty and stuff.

It’s day 7 of the Cold of Doom (I’m sure that’s the correct medical term for the crap I’ve been going through in the last few days) and the marathon is now less than 4 days away.

BRB, off to scream into a pillow.

Alright, where were we?

Right. Sick, feeling like crap, with a marathon this weekend. Not the best state of affairs but I think I’m doing a pretty good job at acting like this isn’t a big deal.

This tapering thing is easier to do while you’re sick because, well, I have no other choice but to get in bed with a box of tissues pretty much as soon as I get home from work every day. It’s getting kind of boring, though. I’ve found myself with far too much time in my hands to stress about how the Cold of Doom is the worst thing that could possibly happen to me just before the marathon (except for, maybe, double leg amputation, I suppose). My lungs are my main worry whenever I run, even when I’m healthy, so the fact that I am one giant bag of snot right now isn’t doing much in the way of keeping me positive about this coming Sunday.

But enough of that. Let me take a break from feeling miserable about life, the universe, and everything. I realised I hadn’t talked about my last half marathon here yet so, instead of running (which I can’t do right now), let’s talk about running.

It was almost two weeks ago now that I flew to Wellington for a 24h trip to run the ISC Lenco Half Marathon. It wasn’t the first time I flew to the capital on purpose for a running event but it was the first time I made such a last minute decision to take a trip like that. It was totally worth it but I returned home completely shattered. The whole thing about running an event out of town is that you feel like you need to get out sightseeing to make the most out of your trip. Your brain says walk around looking at pretty things, your post-half marathon feet say “put us up now!”.

It wasn’t my best half marathon but it also wasn’t my worst. I was 3 minutes slower than my current fastest time but I wasn’t expecting any great times from this one anyway. I had already bitched and moaned about flat running courses here before when I wrote about the other Wellington Half Marathon I ran, and this one shared most of the same route so I knew what I was in for.

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The medal mentions the Round the Bays event, in which the ISC Lenco Half Marathon was included.

The event was very well organised. Then again, the registration packs included a little Whittaker’s chocolate bar so they could have failed at everything else and I would still say wonders about the whole thing. It included a finisher’s medal, which is very, very rare for half marathons in New Zealand, and that was a nice touch. The only issue was that you had to walk over to a tent and stand in a queue for ages, then tell them your bib number in order to get your medal. Two little problems with this: 1) it kind of takes the shine away from the whole “earning” the medal thing, if you have to stand in the queue like you’re about to purchase it. A much better idea would be to just hand them to finishers as they cross the finish line. 2) I’m not entirely sure they were about to know for sure that I had, in fact, finished the run. I could have picked up my bib at the start line and headed to the tent to pick up the medal a couple of hours later. Again, handing them out at the finish line would be a much better way of ensuring that finisher’s medals were going to finishers, not just entrants.

Other than that, the event was great and the atmosphere at the finish line was really good. Wellington put on its best weather and I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city (my Fitbit recorded a total of 38km covered that day, including the 21km of the half marathon), checking all the artsy stuff (yep, I have a Communication *and Culture* degree but describe it as “artsy stuff”. Sorry, mum and dad), and eating everything in sight, before heading to the airport to drink all the wine at the Air New Zealand lounge.

The end. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta blow my nose.

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Amazing people doing amazing things – the Michael Stewart edition

Here I am, worrying about running 1 marathon months from now, thinking it’ll be my biggest feat ever. And just a few hours south from where I live, on the same island, is Michael Stewart, gearing up for his 500th marathon this coming Sunday.

Yep. Five hundredth. Take a second or ten to digest that.

He ran his first marathon 42 years ago and is currently sitting on marathon number 499. All going well this coming Sunday, 42 years to the day, he’ll cross the finish line of the his very special marathon – the Michael Stewart’s 500th Celebration Marathon, a 42.2km run from and to Pinehaven Community Hall in Upper Hutt.

Stewart, also known by some as Mad Mike or Rainbow Man, is known for his bright running gear and so the marathon has a “pink” theme. He will be running with a number of “100 Club” members – people who, like him, have run over 100 marathons.

This weekend, while I probably sleep in and then moan about having to go for a longer-than-normal run, Mad Mike, rubbish truck driver and marathoner extraordinaire, will be setting a southern hemisphere record.

If you’re from the region and keen to enter, it’s only $40 and promises to be a really special event. To sign up, you just need to fill out and post this form.

Click here to read more about the 60 year old from Lower Hutt putting us all to shame and don’t forget to send him some good vibes on Sunday.

photo credit: Hutt Valley Marathon Clinic’s Flickr page


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How Lord of the Rings and VFX relate to marathon training (at least in my head)

Well, if we’re going to talk about numbers, this week was a massive catastrophe. Good thing we’re not going to talk about numbers then, or else I’d have to admit to you that I didn’t get anywhere close to the goals I had set up for myself. Among the reasons I didn’t run nearly as much as I should have this week I include: work commitments (those bills aren’t gonna pay themselves, apparently), meteorology (can’t control the weather, amirite?) and just overall laziness. You know, the usual. And yes, I am feeling stupidly guilty about it but guilt won’t really get me running any faster or longer so I’ll just harden up and get over it now.

I did put together a bit of a training plan with S. on Monday evening (while not running because of the rain) so that’s gotta count for something. I then flew to Wellington for work on Thursday and, on Friday afternoon, managed to drag myself to the path along the waterfront (part of the route of the half marathon I ran there back in June). It was a lovely, albeit fairly short, run, during which I only stopped a couple of times very briefly for the photos you see here (Instagram is my new excuse to take breaks during runs).

The conference that took me to Wellington ended on Saturday night with a gala dinner at Te Papa Museum (hands down my favourite museum in the country). They had a guest speaker come and give a bit of a speech after the awards ceremony (or was it before? I don’t know, it was in between wine). The speaker was Wayne Stables, a name that didn’t ring any bells to me but must make serious Lord of the Rings fans’ hormones go a little nutty. He’s the big visual effects guru at Weta Digital, Sir Peter Jackson’s film company.

It was during his talk to the conference guests that I realised two things:

1. I need to immediately take a weekend off to re-watch all Lord of the Rings (including the bits during which I fell asleep in my first and, so far only,  attempt)

2. I’m so obsessed with running and marathon training I’ll find a link between that and anything else in life.

All the man did was stand there for a few minutes talking about his amazing work in movies such as Lord of the Rings, Tin Tin and Avatar. My brain related pretty much each one of his sentences to running. One of his key messages was that working with massive visual effects productions means you have a lot of really big overwhelming challenges – like, for example, creating all the vfx for the battle of Helm’s Deep in LOTR or the super long continuous shot that was the chase scene in Tin Tin. There are a million little details that have to come together to create those scenes. If you think of the whole scene as one big thing, you’ll be completely stumped and overwhelmed by all the details that need looking after (stuff we don’t even think of as we watch the movie, such as cloth motion or the most realistic way to get water falling). So the key, he says, is to break those big challenges into tiny little ones and look at each detail at a time, rather than having the whole big picture in mind.

D’ya get it? D’ya? D’ya? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who made an immediate correlation to training for a 42.2km long run (not to mention that the marathon is only part of a much larger goal to run a 75k trail run, but that’s a whole new blog post). It’s all about breaking the massive challenge into little ones. Simple and yet genius. I went back to my hotel room later on having run a grand total of zero kilometers that day but with the distinct sensation that sitting through that talk ¬†represented some sort of progression in my training.

Probably bullshit. I better get my ass on the road and run because, at this rate, special effects really are the only way I’m ever going to be seen crossing that finish line.


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10 things I learned during the Wellington Half Marathon

1. Flat courses aren’t actually easier

I spent this entire time wishing I could run a half marathon on a flat course. I got all excited when I saw that the route of the Wellington one was flat as a pancake. Turns out that pancakes as metaphors for course altitude are actually pretty boring (as oppose to real pancakes you get to eat, which are, of course, more than a bit awesome). A flat course means your body is always performing the same movements, with the same force (or, in my case, lack thereof). Boring. This flat course taught me how to love the hills.

2. No training = No PR

It’s actually a pretty obvious equation, when you think about. I didn’t. I came out of that mammoth 35k in the bush at the end of May and barely moved for the following couple of weeks, thinking I had time to train for Wellington. I didn’t. Next thing I knew, it was time to fly to the capital and harden up. Not my worst time but certainly not my best. Mental note: to run faster, run often.

3. Do not go to a yoga session (or anything you haven’t done in months) 3 days before the half marathon

Your body will ache. Three days isn’t actually enough time for me to get it all back to normal, as it turns out, especially since my back had already been hurting. On that note…

4. If your back hurts, running is not going to fix it.

Contrary to what my mind likes to tell me, running is not the solution to all of life’s problems. Almost all of them, yes, but not quite. Like back pain. Running made it worse. Oh-so-much-worse. Voltaren is my new BFF.

5. If you are told not to wear the same pair of running shoes longer than 700km, don’t be a tight-ass about it, buy a new pair of shoes and shut the hell up.

Running 1200km+ on the same pair of shoes and then assuming they’ll still be comfortable for a further 21km? Stupid move.

6. You better just come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to enjoy some runs. It’s okay.

You wake up some days and you don’t really feel like running, for one reason or another. It’s okay. Sometimes that happens to be the day you not only paid the entry fee to a half marathon but you also flew to that city for that particular reason. Harden up. Whatever. Get over it. Onto the next one.

7. Don’t panic about the weather.

Just because you nearly got blown off a pier while trying to walk along it the day before, it does not mean you can’t wake up to beautiful sunshine and almost no wind the next day. Case in point: Wellington’s schizophrenic weather which was very much a pleasant surprise on race day. Stop worrying, damn it.

8. Good or bad, you’re 21km closer to where you want to be.

I know this sounds like terribly hippie new-age crap but it’s a comforting thought for when you finish a half marathon that you didn’t particularly enjoy and that leaves you wondering why you even bother.

9. Running events are the perfect excuse for a weekend away.

I may not have had the best time during the run but the weekend in Wellington was all kinds of lovely. Flying to another city just because of a running event might sound silly to some but that’s only if you make it solely about that couple of hours and nothing else.

10. Stop whining. 

Running 21km and crossing the finish line is pretty damn awesome. No one cares that it took you five minutes longer compared to your previous PR. You shouldn’t either.