Friday, August 17, 2012

Palmy Half in the Manawatu

It was a wet day, having rained overnight and still drizzling as I set off for the Start/finish line at the Massey campus.

I caught up with Monz before the 101 Class group warmup at 9.20am. There was some light jogging, followed by some drills. Then we had a group photo taken just outside the Sport Manawatu marquee.

Race started at 10am, and we were off. It would rain off and on throughout the course, and by the time I was heading back from the race course through towards the Esplanade, I was well and truly soaked.

My knee held up despite some pain. The last hill up towards the finish line at the final 1km stretch was mean. It was going to be my heartbreak hill, but I battled it and managed to get over it, even managing to sprint the final 150m into the finish chute.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Palmy Half, everyone was awarded a nice bright shiny commemorative medal.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Club event 5km

Club event with 5km and 10km options.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hooper Loop Trail Race

Even though the day before was ominous with dark clouds and patches of rain, race day dawned bright and clear and we were all optimistic that the weather was going to be favourable for racing.

We got to registration and checked in and got our packs checked and signed off on. For the 12km Hooper Loopers, we had to carry some compulsory gear which included: polyprop top, hat, gloves, map of the area and windproof/rain jacket. All of that fit into my hydration pack – I had about 750ml of water as well.

We watched the Jumbo-Holdsworth runners off at 8am, then we were off from the trail head at 8.30am. The first bit was easy – fairly flat with some undulations before we hit River Ridge track which was the steep uphill bit. It seemed to go on and on forever. We must have been climbing for about 45-60minutes, though I’m not really sure. It was so tough going that I never even had a chance to look at my watch as I pushed and pulled myself up over and around tree roots. I was lucky that during this hard bit of the race, I had some company – one behind me, and about 2 just slightly ahead of me, so I could follow them pretty much, but occasionally when I lost sight of them, I had to keep my eye on the orange tags nailed into the trees to make sure I didn’t wander off and get lost. Near the top the wind was quite strong, but we were pretty well protected by the bush around us. It was very cold wind – but that was very much welcomed, as it was like air conditioning on our over worked and over heated bodies!

When I got to the top I was greeted by a marshalling team (second and last checkpoint) and started running as it was starting to flatten out. I was surprised how fresh my legs were. Climbing obviously uses different muscle groups from running on a flat. Pig’s Flat was called that for a reason. It was mostly broadwalk, but it was flat until we got to Gentle Annie, which was the fun downhill bit. Running has never felt easier!

At the almost last downhill, I rolled my right ankle quite severely, limped it out but kept running. It came right – I was relieved I didn’t injure it badly. The last 1km was a flat sprint to the finish line just outside of Holdsworth Lodge. The organiser for this year, Liz, was there at the finish line to congratulate the finishers and shook everyone’s hand. That was a nice touch.

A BBQ lunch was provided –bread and sausages with fresh vegetables and fried onions and mushrooms.

It was an amazing experience and we all enjoyed ourselves even though we were exhausted! We might just be back next year!

Just before the race (I was pretty nervous!):

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not a walk in the park: AKL Half marathon

John and I were up at the crack of dawn so that we could make it down Queen St to catch the ferry sailing across to Davenport where the start line was. We made the 5.10am ferry, so that gave us plenty of time before the start of our event. It was quite a buzz to be amongst so many people, all preparing for a big run.

The organisers did a good job with the number of port-a-loos available, but there was still quite a long queue prior to the start of the race. I guess it's always going to be a logistical problem with over 8,000 participants looking to empty their bladders at around the same time.

Just before the start, I embedded myself in the middle of the pack - it was hard to see much past all the other bodies cramped around mine, a bit of a disadvantage being so short I guess.

The race started at 7am and we were off. It was a calm cool morning, but the sun had risen and it was certain to get much warmer as the morning progressed. The first part of the route was "undulating" (as described in the route info.... An experienced
friend who had done Auckland before described it as "hilly"). So prior to the race, I was trying to ascertain the exact definition of "undulating" - for example, how steep does it really get? How long are the uphill parts?

But even in my darkest imaginings, I did not appreciate what a toll the "undulating" parts of the first half would take on my body. I felt fine while I was doing the hilly bits, and seemed to be on target for a decent time right up to the 10km mark, but by the time I got to the start of the Harbour Bridge, I was feeling the fatigue.

I knew that once I got over the bridge, I would only have just under 6km to go, and I had been told that the rest of the route would be completely flat. So I pushed myself up the bridge, one step in front of the other, refusing to stop even as bodies around me peeled off as more and more people started walking the bridge incline (it was also getting pretty hot by then). I was feeling pretty chuffed when I finally got to the top of the bridge, even mustering up the energy for a quick cheeky thumbs-up and smile for the camera. What came after that was a whole lot uglier....

Just past the bridge was a little loop which seemed to go on forever. I could see runners heading back on the other side of the road, which only meant there was a turnaround point coming up, but I'd turn a corner and would still be unable to see the turnaround point. And right up to the turnaround point was a bit of an uphill incline. Only, it felt more like scaling Mt Everast. That's when I started to fall apart mentally. And when I finally got to the turnaround point, my body had disconnected completely from my brain and was no longer receiving the messages of encouragement to keep moving - it was only transmitting pain signals. My calves started to cramp up and every time my feet hit the ground, it felt like hot needles were shooting up my legs. I gulped down as much Powerade as I could at the final water station (16km), but it did not seem to refresh me at all.

The final 5.2km was slow and painful (at least it truly was completely flat by then). The finish was pretty cool though. The crowd that lined the sides carried me through the final 500meters into the finish chute. It was finally over! And despite the struggle and agony, I felt pretty good at having completed it and having been part of a record crowd of some 15,500 participants in all events.

As the organisers had promised - it was more than just a race, it was an experience. As for whether I would do it again next year? Hmmmm... You'll have to ask me when my sore bits are no longer sore.

Not a pretty sight (at finish):

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full circle: Curves to Vauthier

Has it been a year? How time flies.

A year ago I marked my re-entry into formal running events with the Curves to Curves 21.6km run. This year's event was sponsored by Vauthier, and I chose to do the half option which is a 13km run from Bunnythorpe back into town.

The day started out with blue skies even though the weather forecast had been predicting stormy rainy weather. On the bus We even joked about how wrong the weather people had been... but upon arrival at Bunnythorpe, the skies darkened considerably and we could see that rain was in store before the day is over.

It was drizzling slightly off and on when we started at 9.30am. But just as I arrived at Kelvin Grove, the heavens opened up and it simply poured with rain. By the time I reached the Bridle track, there were puddles everywhere.

Overall it was a good challenging run, and a good event with bananas and sausages for everyone at the finish.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Inaugural local event

The classic (cycling) race on April 16th went well though it was quite a different experience for me to ride mostly on my own throughout most of the final relay leg of the 160km race around the Manawatu country roads.

Team Saddle Bags made a effort - we had a proper team meeting 2 weeks ago and everything... sorting out the logistics of getting ourselves and our bikes to the transition points at the right time. But there was a major flaw to our plan - we underestimated ourselves. And at the last minute, we had to scramble when we realised there was a hole in our plan. Or maybe someone just decided to do something else completely.

In any case, being the last rider, I got to my transition point 20minutes after the last rider had arrived, so the minute I got my bike off the car rack, I was off. Ten minutes into my ride, it started raining.... and it did not stop once throughout my entire ride.

We were clearly in the back of the pack. I passed 4 riders very early on just outside of Colyton, but was completely on my own until the finish. And so I arrived in town completely soaked, no other riders around me, and a few marshalls braving the rain awaiting the final stragglers. An appropriate end to a very lonely ride...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend event at Waitarere Beach

The Great Forest 2011 event sponsored by Brooks was held at Waitarere Beach just outside of Foxton/Levin on Saturday, Apr 2nd. Claiming to be NZ’s premier off road running and walking event, there was a variety of options available, from 5km to a full marathon. This year attracted a crowd of around 2000 runners and walkers.

I set off towards Foxton Beach from Palmy just after 8am. It was slightly chilly but it was a clear day without a cloud in sight, and so as the sun rose behind me, the day promised to get a lot hotter! I got there in plenty of time to pick up my race pack (which was pretty much just my race number and timing chip). There were already food stalls and a coffee barista operating out of the back of a specially fitted car boot/trunk. It was a pretty festive carnival-like atmosphere, complete with a big top which housed Registration.

The event centre(big top) was just at the edge of the Matariki Forest, and the run would take us through a mixed terrain through the forest, mostly hard packed gravel and clay, some loose sandy bits, a stretch of soft pine needles, with a short sprint finish through a grassy patch. I opted for the 10km run, and caught up with a couple of friends who had been my teammates in the round-lake-Taupo relay run. I knew Bernie was going to be slightly faster than me, and so I tried to hang onto her from the very start for as long as I could. By the 6km mark, I was surprised to find myself still keeping pace. It started to become a mental game, and I clung on (by my finger nails, I think). The last 2km was painful – we were out of the forest by then and the sun was blistering. I finished 18 seconds behind Bernie, and set my own personal best which I was quite happy about.

It was a brilliant day for running – no wind, though a bit hot by mid morning. The course was excellent – scenic, but you had to watch your step with loose bits of gravel and uneven surfaces. Not too hard for a clutz like me to fall flat on my face, which fortunately didn’t happen though it nearly did. The toilet facilities were also excellent – no port-a-loos, instead there were a couple of trailers with proper clean flush toilets. Always a good thing, as I don’t do port-a-loos.

Overall, it was a very good day for all of us. I hope to be back next year!