Friday, August 24, 2007

Spring is here! Acchhhhoooo

Well, the last few days have been beautiful here in Wellington, and it seems that Wednesday's sneezes were more a sign of the change in season than a simple overreaction to the speed test. I do seem to remember reading that it was pine pollen time. I've been sneezing madly ever since.

Duck left my legs alone yesterday morning, as I thought she might. Instead we worked my upper body and core, and my pecs and abs have been rather sore today as a result. It was cold enough to turn my hands to ice cubes at 6.50 yesterday morning on my way to the bus, but by lunchtime the temperature gauge was being much more forgiving. the sun was out and there was a notable lack of any kind of wind.

By ten to twelve I had given up trying to pretend I was working and was donning running tights and trainers. There's something very handy about working right above the Terrace gym! It was a toss-up between running around the Bays or heading for Kelburn, but the opportunity to run for half an hour without traffic lights had me heading up Bowen. Besides, I'd been looking out the window at the Botanical Gardens all morning, and I was itching to test myself on the climb.

I took Bowen Street fairly easily and was ripping my polyprop off by the time I got to Tinakori. I'm not quite sure why I felt the need to take it with me in the first place. I guess it's a psychological crutch to get me out the door.

I was following a male runner up Bowen and I followed him across the road and up Glenmore, alongside the Gardens. By Garden Rd it occurred to me that I was steadily gaining on the man. Now, I'm not speedy on the hills, and this guy looked fairly athletic (mid-40s, with the physique of a runner), but I had him in my sights. I put on a burst of speed, and suddenly he was behind me!

I'm not exactly twinkle-toes and I've had to work hard on my footfall. Sarah still has to remind me to keep my feet light every now and then. However this guy was REALLY heavy. He wasn't so much running up the hill as he was shuffling. I had to listen to him slapping away behind me the rest of the way up to Kelburn, and I think it gave me extra momentum to keep moving.

I'm happy to say my own hill technique was much better. I really concentrated on gliding up the incline, using lots of leg-lift and glute action, and imagining a string pulling my head up so that my torso didn't fall forwards. It felt great - like I was bouncing or skipping rather than grinding.

I crossed over halfway up the hill so that I could run in the shade. It felt like the top of the rise would never come. I was sure that someone had added a couple of extra corners in while I wasn't looking. Finally I was running over the viaduct enroute to the Kelburn shops. On the flat I picked up the pace and was satisfied that I was running quite strongly. However someone behind me must have had some pride to recover, because Mr Heavy feet came flying up behind me. I smiled and said hello as he drew level and he commented about it being his turn. I told him to go for it and waved him past. I was hoping to catch him again on the downhill through the Gardens, but he must have taken a different path and I never saw him again. I'm still genuinely puzzled by his speed on level territory compared to his speed on the hill. Perhaps he's a visitor from somewhere very flat!

I was still feeling good by the time I made it to the entry to the Gardens at the top of the cable car. I decided not to stop to admire the view from the lookout and instead continued down the hill, taking the longer walk back to town via the sculpture walk and snatching views of the harbour as I could. I even remembered to keep an eye out for the turn-off to the Serpentine Walk. Usually I forget and end up at the main entrance on Glenmore Rd, then have to run my way back up through the pines to get to the herb garden. This time I really wanted to go via the Serpentine Walk because I wanted to run on the trail under the shade of the bush.

I had great fun running on the well-graded gravel path, which twists amusingly sharply down to the Rose Gardens. I found the gravel much easier on my knees and when a slower pair of runners appeared ahead of me I decided to make up for being overtaken by the guy with the heavy feet. I changed gear, picked up the speed and overtook them at the first opportunity. The woman in the pair exclaimed as I disappeared off around the next corner.

The bottom of the path came up too soon, and I kept up a fast pace past the Rose Gardens, only slowly slightly as I entered the cemetery in order to spare my knees again. As I passed the crumbling graves the scent of early spring flowers flooded my senses. The last few verses of a poem I have been working on sprung unbidden into my mind. I can honestly say that's the first time I have ever composed a poem while running!

I crossed over the motorway then ducked down to run back to the gym alongside the motorway. I picked up the pace again, with the aim of making it back to the gym in under 37 minutes. I fairly flew down the last little stretch of Aurora Terrace, thoroughly terrifying a woman too busy feeding change into a parking meter to notice the runner rapidly approaching. I reached out and grasped a conveniently placed awning pole and used it to spin around the corner onto the Terrace, coming to a stop at the entrance to the gym in just under 37. Success!

What a great run! That's what this is all about. It's supposed to be fun! I didn't go out thinking "this is half-marathon training". I went out there thinking "it's a gorgeous day and I'm going to celebrate by running in the sun in some gorgeous gardens". I felt so much better about things, and that feeling got me through work today, and carried me through a lovely Balance class. My poor abs and hips though!

So let's see how tomorrow goes. I can always view Pelorus as a 'C' race. A Wairarapa Country entry form arrived in the post today. Pelorus can always be training for the moment I head out there to pick Masterton's bones. Bring it on!

1 comment:

Kate said...

When's Wairarapa?

Congrats on the impressive time trial- I'm not even sure I could run much (if at all) better than those times over 2.4km!

I love runs like yours today... and we do have to remember sometimes why we do it. And good work taking on the dude- it sounds as if jog squad really puts you through your paces on the hills. It's so easy to avoid them by sticking to the waterfront.. It's running with Scottish that showed me I could do hills, and now I will often hunt them out.