Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Moving on

No, I didn't do the triathlon on Saturday, and I'm not upset by that at all. One of the other beginner swimmers in our squad did do the event, and really had a bad experience in the water. I would have completely lost the plot and panicked with so many other women around me, and I'm quite happy to wait until I'm ready.

Besides that, my legs were too fried from the hill cycle on Thursday night and a particularly hard RPM class on Friday morning. I have a new scale on which to judge my RPM intensity now. The whole way through the class I kept asking myself whether it felt as hard as Thursay night. If the answer was no then the dial went up.

RPM was followed by a good Body Balance at lunch time. The latest release has a lot of tai chi, which I really enjoy. I should try to do a tai chi course some time this year, because I really do get a lot out of the mind/breath/motion combination.

Mentally I wasn't anywhere near psyched up to do a triathlon on the Saturday, even if my legs hadn't been so blasted. Both Leonie and I felt too lazy to head to Levin for the annual organic festival, so I spent most of the day lounging around the house. In the afternoon I headed to Freyberg where I contented myself with a couple of lengths of kick, followed by some half-lengths of freestyle. I did quite well, although when I roll to breathe the extended arm does still tend to drop too quickly, leading me to windmill a touch. I worked on that today in the sea with Women's Multis, and I think I will be able to correct myself with a little more practice. However I do find I can't practice in the pool for too long before it all starts to do my head in.

On Sunday I enjoyed a few easy hours in the Sanctuary with my Hihi before heading back to the gym for an afternoon RPM class. I caught up with one of my former training buddies, gossiped with the instructor, and in between set the dial to grind while the sweat flowed. By the time Hamish and I met Nic and Leonie to head to the Botanical Gardens for the Little Bushmen concert at the soundshell I was seriously crashing, but perching on a steep bank kept me awake through to the encore, then the downpour that followed straight afterwards did the rest. I got to bed around midnight, accutely aware that I was supposed to be getting up again in a few hours for a weights session.

Surprisingly I did manage to get up when the alarm went off at 6am, and I even managed to do the usual routine once I got to the gym. However I've been doing the same upper body routine for too long now, pushed the kilos as much as they're really going to go, and I need to change. Thankfully Duck and I met today to revise my programme, and Monday's going to become cables and core day, with an evening run.

Speaking of evening runs, my aim was to run 40 minutes on Monday night. I felt in the mood for a Bays run, as it's been a long time since I ran that way. I didn't let the Northerlies convince me otherwise, and set out at a good steady pace. As I reached Balaena Bay it became patently obvious that the Northerlies were in fact a force to be reckoned with. I toyed with the appealing idea of running through to Evans Bay and over the hill to Newtown, but 10km was further than I'd planned, and the tail-wind wasn't worth that much to me.

So it was back into the wind as I headed for home. Things weren't too bad and I was starting to get lulled into a false sense of security when the long exposed straight to Pt Jerningham did its worst. I, and all the other random runners around me, felt myself being buffeted sideways a few times, righted myself again, braced myself, then was stopped in my tracks by the sheer force of nature. We must have looked a sight - four or so runners reduced to walking, leaning at a 45 degree angle with our arms splayed out behind us like inverted umbrellas.

It only took a few minutes to walk around the point, then the going was sheltered enough to pick up the pace a bit and make it back to the gym in slightly over 45 minutes. I felt well pleased with my effort and level of comfort, and was reassured that I would have easily run the 10km had I been so inclined.

Up early again this morning to see my physio and obtain her all clear. Not enough sleep, yet again. Luckily work's really rewarding at the moment, as well as busy, so that and emails to Sarah about her job interview today kept me awake until 5pm, when it was time to head to Freyberg again.

My lesson for the day though was that I can't expect to do so many days in a row without feeling some pain, or at least a drastic reduction in speed! So I plodded up Mt Victoria as far as Maidevale Rd, then down to Balaena Bay and round the bays to Freyberg again. The girls I would normally run with left me in their wake, but I didn't take it to heart. Instead I somehow managed to put a leg through one of the arms of my wetsuit, jamming it there so tightly that I had to get Ingrid to pull it off. If I didn't value warmth so much I wouldn't bother...

Into the sea, and a few short lengths of freestyle through the relatively calm water. I got some comments on how good I'm looking, but I was hampered by the fact I'd lot a contact lens, and was having to swim blind.

I know Duck has a big cycle planned for Thursday, and I have a funny suspicion it's going to involve the climb up Maupuia to the prison. With that in mind, and given I ran a hill tonight, I'm considering flagging a run tomorrow and simply swimming. Not exactly a hardship! I'll even take my wetsuit into work, and if it's a calm evening I'll choose Oriental Bay over the pool.

So I'm feeling really good about my training at the moment, and I think I'm also taking a much more balanced approach to it all. This week has been good for my confidence, and has woken my cardiovascular system back up again. The little bit of weight I put on after we got back to Wellington (only a kilo) has pretty much come off again, and I'm ready for Jog Squad.

It's been a year since I first started training in the Special K squad. I can't remember ever NOT being into multisports or running. What a pity I didn't discover all of this much sooner...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Perserverance, or knowing when not to quit

Training-wise this could have been a bit of a cruddy week. I intended to run 10km on Monday, but got caught up in enjoying the public holiday. I should have run in the morning, but spent it shopping in the sales. In the afternoon I was put off by the wind and the heat and lay around in the garden instead. By evening I was just being lazy.

On Tuesday I did at least manage a swim and a run with Women's Multis. Us learner-types splashed around in Oriental Bay, which rewarded us by being wonderfully flat and clear. When it came time for the run I didn't want to get out, but managed 20 minutes at a good pace, with no stitch. I discovered a potential new running buddy in the form of Julia, who seems to be a strong runner, slightly faster than me.

On Wednesday I had what will be my last lesson with Lesleigh for a while. Swimming without flippers continued to be a cardiovascular challenge, although I managed six lengths with a floaty without stopping or drowning. I would have run in the evening, but Duck and Ingrid had organised a cycle-maintenance workshop at Cyco that didn't finish until nearly 8.30. By the time I got home I was tired, hungry and grumpy. My lovely husband solved that problem quickly enough by placing a chilli-tequila cocktail under my nose while I cooked up some pasta.

So by the end of Wednesday night? Well, I can change a tyre, but swim 300m in a pool without flippers or a floaty? I didn't like my chances, and I wasn't about to ask the magic 8 ball for its opinion (we actually have a magic 8 ball, waiting for Fi to reclaim it on her return). Who did I think I was anyway, thinking I could complete the swim component of a triathlon?

Today, however, has been a training uber-highlight. Today was one of those days that reminds me of why I'm doing this and restores my faith in my ability to actually do this stuff. Tonight felt like the sessions with the Special K squad when my body suddenly developed some fitness, or one of those golden Jog Squad runs.

First, an early-morning session with Duck. Hard, as usual. Good, as usual. Pain? Yes, of course. Was I complaining? Nope.

A busy day at work came to a shuddering halt earlier than it should have done due to a deep fatigue brought about by stress, a lack of sleep and a good hard weights session. However I still met the Women's Multis squad at 6 as planned. I knew I was tired, but it was also important to me not to melt down again. I knew I had to suck it in and just do what I was told. So hey, I did!

The sea was fantastically flat again and I swam. I mean, I ACTUALLY swam. No freestyle correction, no rock-and-roll. I went out there, breathed to each side, didn't sink, didn't drown and I swam. I even ended up in water over my head at one point, and just calmly paddled my way back to the beach.

Then it was the cycle. Of course I knew what Duck was going to say before the words even came out of her mouth. Up Carlton Gore Rd and the side of Mt Vic to the turnoff to the lookout, then back down via Hataitai. So guess what Sarah? I didn't throw my toys. I got on my bike and I rode that hill. I even overtook most of the other squad, including a girl on a road bike, and caught up with the road bikes at the front of the pack.

The worst bit wasn't the legs, which felt relatively fine. It was listening to the rasping of my breathing, so different from hard-running breathing. But I got there. I even survived being overtaken by a bus on a hairpin bend, and narrowly missing slamming into a braking car on the downwards phase of the journey. Then there were the two pedestrians blinding ambling into my lane round the bays, forcing me to ride out into the middle of the road. I obviously have a label saying 'inexperienced rider - get in her way' taped to my forehead.

Maryanne and her friend worked hard on convincing me to do the triathlon on Saturday. I'm still reserving judgement. I'm going to try another swim at Thorndon tomorrow and see how I feel. No pressure - there's plenty of other beginner tri's coming up, most of which are in the sea. Why is it that I find breathing easier in the sea?

Anyway, for tonight at least, I totally rock!

Why I Love Poetry

In 153 words or less:

The more I thought about this week’s Poetry Thursday homework the more I decided that I don’t really like poetry any more than I do any other written form. I read more contemporary fiction than I do poetry, but I write poetry, whereas I don’t tend to write fiction. I have to admit that I write poetry because I find it easier than writing fiction. I have never found an honest voice in my fiction writing, and so the lazy part of me has taken the easier route.

I read fiction because it provides me with an escape and allows me to imagine different lives and stories. I like writing and reading poetry because the form encourages a creativity and playfulness of form I find inspiring. Since being introduced to Poetry Thursday I have read and enjoyed poetry in a way I haven’t since university. I’m glad I have poetry back again.

More musings on loving poetry here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Canaan Uprising 2007: This Place Loves Parties

Time to weigh in on my New Year's, not least because I feel obligated to spread the word. Uprising is the place to be for New Year's 2008. Consider yourself informed.

I've been involved in New Year's parties in Golden Bay for several years now, but never at the Canaan Downs site. Dancing outdoors serves something primal inside me. The party experience forces me to face my demons, but rewards me richly if I persevere. I couldn't imagine never opening myself to the experience ever again.

My 'dancing barefoot outdoors' story began less than favourably, with the last Gathering at the Cobb Valley site. Enough has been said about that. Following that there were several years of Visionz parties at Pakawau. The Pakawau site was soft and gentle, fringed by Kahurangi National Park and across the road from a warm, shallow beach. However eventually the land was sold, and Visionz put on hold.

Visionz was followed by the challenging experience that was Full Circle, again at the Cobb Valley site. After a year off in Wellington to recover, it was time to take on a Golden Bay New Year's once again.

Hamish and I arrived at Canaan on the 30th, so that Hamish could set up his VJ gear in the Chill Zone. In the end he also spent quite a bit of time helping in the main zone. For once Hamish was there as a paid performer, and I was there as his 'plus one'. It was odd for me to sit around with nothing to do while everything laboured to pull the party together. It's not an experience I'm keen to repeat.

Canaan is a beautiful site - flat, covered in long grass, gorseless, thistleless, and edged by mature, shady trees. However the first inkling I had that this was going to be something special hit when the PA powered up for the first time in the main zone. It's difficult to describe exactly what happened, however it seemed like the earth both expanded and curved upwards the instant the music kicked in. I felt that the land was opening up and then embracing us - stretching and awakening in pleasure.

From the pyramids placed around the site in accordance with sacred geometry to the opening ceremony, this seemed like a conscious party. In the time I was there I saw not one voice raised in anger, no aggression, no anguish - only happiness, excitement and energy. There was silence and calm for those that wanted it, and there was loud banging noise for those who could not contain themselves any longer.

If there was one thing I would have changed, it would have been for the weather to have been better. On top of Takaka Hill it can be both cold and wet, and it was both of those things intermittently. However Adham Sheikh played beats that parted the clouds, and there was, as there always is, sun on the last day to dry out the mud.

So the music? Paddy Free was brilliant, with his increasingly earthy and spiritual beats proving a favourite with the crowd. However, all the live acts on the main stage during the day were fantastic. The glockenspeils in particular were a hit, and AJ never seemed to leave the stage.

At night the beats were appropriately hard, deep and loud. The Nomad played in the New Year with style. Aviel did what Aviel does best. I remember giving into the cold and lying in the warm of our tent listening to Vinyl Bitch sending shockwaves pouring across the sky. While it wasn't the kind of music I would normally choose to listen to, I had immense respect for the power of it all.

At some point on New Year's Eve, sitting around a fire at the back of the main zone while Hamish performed, I felt an intense need for a hug. I wandered around looking for a familiar face. The first person I came across was Keith - smelly feral hippy par excellence. Keith was more than happy to engage in some lengthy hugging, bless him.

In the Chill zone there were small moments of exquisite beauty. I remember standing beside the VJ booth smiling inanely for a significant period of time. I remember Hallelujah Song, and Naomi's lush visuals.

Hamish VJed in both the main zone and Chill. I sat next to him on the main stage while Aviel mixed, looking out at the mad crowd. I felt immensely proud of him and happy to be here, now, in this place.

All of those things that go towards creating a good party were there. There were workshops, Olliebollen, bacon sandwiches, and cheap and appealing locally made clothing stalls. The usual Golden Bay crowd were there, with the usual annual catch-up conversations to be had. When I wanted to talk, I talked. When I wanted to dance I did so. I explored, ate, lay in the sun, sheltered from the rain. I slept like the cliched baby in our little tent under the trees, to the sound of progressive trance, a few minutes' walk from the main zone.

On the last day children made mud sculptures at the front of the main zone and played around on a huge blue ball. Adham Sheikh played out the last official set. It had all seemed so short and we were keen to continue, so there was an open decks session that lasted for a good couple of hours. In the end the rain came down, and at a certain point there was a universal feeling that things were coming to their natural end. The taiko drums played, and the party came to a close.

Hamish and I had expected to stay another night, as there are always afterparties to be had. However come 4 o'clock, Hamish having been paid, we were sitting in our car watching the rain, and it occured to us that we could still pack up and be at a campground with access to showers and hot water that night. Besides - Cornerstone Roots were playing at The Mussel Inn.

We succumbed to the feeling that, for us, the party had reached its natural conclusion. We spent that night drinking cider and dancing to Cornerstone. All in all this had been a great party. Next year, with ownership of the land secured, and a smaller-scale party successfully managed, will be HUGE. The spirit of the old Canaan parties is surely awakened.

Day in the Garden

Sometimes happiness is lying in the sun with a cat purring on your chest...

Thanks to Sarah for a great party last night and some interesting conversations. It was fantastic to finally meet some of the names behind the blog posts, and to discover that they were as likeable as the Pump queen herself...

So first, a confession. I didn't do the 10.6km run Sarah. I know - but I was overcome by public holiday lethargy and put off by the heat and wind. Instead I spent the afternoon lounging around communing with our garden, something that I don't do often enough. Being a typical Wellington dwelling, and built on a rather steep slope, the garden is a bit of a walk up or scramble down from the house itself. Usually we would settle for the hammock chair on the veranda, or the deck chair in the courtyard. However today it was too windy for the veranda, and too hot for the courtyard. So I found myself, Isabel Allende, the digital camera and the Tivoli Radio settling down onto a picnic blanket near the top of the property.

My first thought on arriving was that everything has grown like mad in the three years we've been here. We used to have a lovely view of the mountains from the little dug-out ledge where the former owner had a garden bench. Now the only view is of the tree ferns and hebes in the garden below.

My second thought was that we are extremely lucky to have a beautiful range of native trees and shrubs. One of our home's former owners may have been a grumpy, poorly liked bully, but he knew how to plant out a section. I lay below a leafy Kowhai Tree, looking over to a few blossoming Pohutukawas and the aforementioned tree ferns.

After I'd been lazing about for a while Gaffer walked, howling, across the lawn, lay himself purring on my chest, and everything was good in the world.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What's It All About?

This has been an interesting week, with distinctly tidal moods. I've been back at work of course, which, after a long break, is always a shock to the system. I've had times where I've felt a definite tension in my chest - the ghost of anxiety long-past returned to force me to take another look at things. I know, for example, that I can't keep going at the pace I was trying to maintain before Christmas. I won't just crash and burn - I'll spontaneously combust.

There have also been waves of feeling that I'm in the middle of nowhere - that my running fitness is out the window, that I'm hopeless on a cycle and a less-than-novice swimmer, and what the heck do I think I'm doing anyway?

On the other hand, there have been significant achievements and moments of sublime happiness. Contributing to Poetry Thursday this week has been amazing for my sense of myself as a writer. I typically regard myself as middle-of-the-road at best - a writing hobbiest and nothing more. So it's extremely flattering to receive feedback on my poetry from complete strangers, who claim to admire and be inspired by my work. It's been fantastic for my motivation.

Back into the training, and various bits of me hurt today. I know a lot of the tension I've felt this week has simply come from the recommencement of Women's Multis and being pushed out of my comfort zone. Plus there's the aforementioned logistical challenges of multisport.

Following Monday's weights session, run and swim the momentum continued. On Tuesday I enjoyed an excellent but hard Bodybalance class. The holiday has allowed some of the tension in my right glute to subside, and that helped immensely in the balance poses. I pushed all of the extensions, and revelled in those areas that have improved over the last few months.

On Tuesday night we had the first Women's Multis session for the year. I ran around on Monday night frantically trying to pack everything I needed for cycling, running and swimming. There was no way everything was going to fit into one bag, so Hamish had to drop Lola and I off in town. As we unloaded her I realised I'd left my cycle shoes at home. Hamish offered to return home during the day and pick them up, but thankfully Duck confirmed that the fine weather meant we'd be swimming and running and not cycling.

Nevertheless, I was distinctly frazzled, and, having narrowly been outbid on a Trademe wetsuit auction, I was concerned I was going to freeze. As I was desperately trying to convince myself I could tough it out Duck called to let me know that the Swim Shop hired out wetsuits. Saved! However that just left more space to worry about swimming out to the Pontoon without drowning. I felt more nervous about a training session than I could remember feeling since forever.

Thankfully we had a beautiful evening for our first session, and I walked down and met the other girls at Freyberg at 6pm. We started out by running 15 minutes along the waterfront. I went out waayyyy too fast, and on the return got a revolting stitch. By the end of the run I was feeling overheated and queasy and disgusted with myself.

At least I could follow that up with the swim, so that afterwards I didn't feel too discouraged. Ingrid took us beginners for a swim across the beach, rather than the swim out to the pontoon that had been haunting me all day. I was feeling so uncertain that I chose to use my floaty, and concentrated on swimming on my side, with a little freestyle correction. I fell in love with my wetsuit, which kept me toasty warm. I could have stayed in the water forever, but felt extremely daunted about ever being able to finish a sea swim. I could very easily have started to doubt the sanity of my triathlon goals.

I had enough sense to know that I needed to take things a little easier on Wednesday, so limited my exercise for the day to a lesson with Lesleigh. All of my practice over the last few weeks has been driven by a fear of displaying a lack of progress, but thankfully all the hard work paid off. Under Lesleigh's watchful eye I swam lengths on my side, I swam lengths of freestyle correction, and I swam a couple of lengths of kick without flippers. My kick was improved, my breathing was improved. Lesleigh was happy, and I was ecstatic. My new goal - to ditch the flippers.

Wednesday night saw me again trying to pack for a swim, run and cycle. Lola was still in town following the Tuesday session, but it took a couple of bags to fit everything else in. This time I managed to remember the bike shoes.

On Thursday morning I had my first session for the year with Duck, and it was back into the nasty weights. Pain - such a good pain! I spent Thursday lunchtime crashed out on the lawn in Parliament grounds with Sarah under the scorching sun. Then it was 5.00 and time to head to Freyberg again.

I gave up the idea of cycling straight to the pool from the Terrace, and lugged three bags and Lola all the way to Xtreme, where I was able to ditch all but the bare essentials. Everything JUST managed to fit into one backpack, but, relying on Duck's comment that we wouldn't be running, the trainers were left behind. Worst-case scenario they would have been carried over my handlebars, as there was sand-only space in the bag.

Wellington put on another beautiful evening, but there was slightly more chop in the Bay. I ditched the floaty and practiced a little freestyle correction up and down the beach for a while. It was a challenge to accept that I was going to continue being slapped around by the swell, and that swallowing a certain amount of sea water was inevitable. Oh, and then there was the moment that I put my hand through a jelly fish, and felt VERY grateful for the wetsuit...

Without Ingrid shouting instructions it was more of a mess-around opportunity than a genuine training session. By the end I felt much more comfortable in the sea, and more optomistic that I could get a handle on things. Oh, and I discovered that it's almost impossible to sink in a wetsuit. This was fun!

Before too long it was time to get out of the water and strip off the (now very sandy) wetsuit. We left our gear with Ingrid, pulled on shorts and t-shirts, and jumped on our bikes. I started at the back of the pack, but by the time we arrived at the Zephometer I had caught the two road bikes at the front. We stopped briefly to discuss our ride, then as I was riding out of the car park I failed to clip in properly with my right foot and crashed over sideways, swearing loudly in the process. No major damage, so it was quickly back on the bike and off to catch the others.

The return leg was not so joyful, with the Northerly headwind causing me to seriously doubt my bike fitness, particularly with Duck's powerful legs propelling her past me again like I was going nowhere at all. And then I managed to somehow mess up the dismount, fail to unclip, and come smashing down again. For the second time. On the same ride. Like a complete dork.

Oh well, at least I got the 'fear of falling off' thing out of the way I guess. And I still cycled back to the gym. By the time I got there it was 7.30. I was wet, cold, sandy and salty. I had chafing from wearing the swimsuit while cycling, I was tired, and I had a huge amount of gear. The inevitable happened, and the thought of meeting up with Nic and Leonie at the Botanical Gardens became too much of a stress-inducing logistical nightmare. I bribed Hamish into coming to get me by offering to order Burger Fuel for dinner, and the evening was spent at home.

11pm saw me hosing the wetsuit off in the shower and packing my bag yet again for a 6.30am RPM class. The RPM class was hard - the first for the year. As I mentioned at the start of this post, bits of me now hurt! No Body Balance as I had to take my wetsuit back to The Swim Shop. The effort of bussing then walking over there was richly rewarded. I enquired into the price of a new wetsuit and was told that the normal price was $295. However there was a 15% sale on. Plus they would discount the $50 I'd just paid in wetsuit hireage.

I had just missed out on an Ironman wetsuit on Trademe. It had sold for $170, second-hand. It seemed like a no-brainer. The wetsuit I had just returned (which was brand-new when I hired it) was taken back out of the storage room and put back into my bag. I walked out with a $195 wetsuit.

It was such a beautiful evening tonight that I nearly celebrated my new purchase with another swim in the Bay. I'm loving the freedom of being able to go down and swim in the sea any time I like, without having to worry about getting cold. And I'm loving the idea that I'm now someone who loves going down to swim in the sea.

So again - I have to stop being so hard on myself. Maybe I need to tattoo that on my hand!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Crushing Snails

This week's challenge was to take a line from another Poetry Thursday contributor's poem and use it in our own work. I was instantly inspired by the very first line left on the comments page. That's very typical of me. The first thing I come across tends to end up becoming the right option.

The line that captured my imaginaton was the wonderfully tactile "crushing snails against stone" from this poem by blogger Sarala. So here goes:

Crushing Snails

She finds him
crushing snails against stone.
He bears no malice, just
childish curiosity, a
fascination with the
viscosity of smeared
grey gastropod.

When she was his age
she used to dread walking
through the garden at night
for fear of the inevitable
crunch under foot, but
not her son. He
holds no attachment to
the niceties of intact
cabbage eaters nor
appreciation of the
responsibilities arising
from the omnipotence of
superior human size.

Later that evening
they scrape the now
dried and somewhat crusty
remains into an empty
cigarette packet and
dig a small hole under
a chewed head of

She cannot
remember the Lord’s Prayer
but they hold hands and
improvise and together
give the snails the
kind of send-off they
no doubt have earned.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Back Into It

Back to work today after what has been an extraordinarily long holiday for both Hamish and I. The first day back is always pretty cruisey - lots of checking emails and catching up with colleagues and coffee breaks. I managed to get a little work done in between all the gossip, and that's the best that can be hoped for under the circumstances!

Today was also 'back into the training' day. I toyed with the idea of taking it easy on my first real day back, but that didn't seem like much fun. So it was up at 6.00am to head into the gym for my first weights session in three weeks. Although I feel like I've lost muscle tone I don't seem to have lost any real muscle strength, and I didn't have to drop my weights at all, which was a relief.

At 11.30am I started to feel like going for a run, so it was back to the gym changing rooms and out onto the pavement. I ran another half hour down to the waterfront and back. The out must have been quite fast, and I did get my 'fifteen minute stitch', which was annoying. Thankfully I ran through it and it eventually dissipated. I ran a little more slowly on the way back, got into a groove, and it was almost with regret that I arrived back at the gym. It was a gorgeous day for running, with a light Northerly keeping things reasonably comfortable. I'll have to head out for a longer run on Wednesday and start building my times up again. My knee feels fine and I'm confident I can up things without doing myself damage.

Come late afternoon the sun was out and I was in the mood for a swim. I was toying with walking down to Freyberg, but a colleague emailed me to say she was leaving for Thorndon soon, and did I want to come along? So Thorndon it was, which was more sensible really as it's much closer and near the bus terminal. I just feel fond of Freyberg, as it's where my swimming career began.

In the end Thorndon was an inspired choice. It was lovely swimming outdoors in the sun. At first the slow lane was fairly quiet, and I got several good lengths in, first swimming on my side, then doing a few lengths breathing to one side. Towards the end I practiced breathing to both sides for a few lengths. My main problem is breathing out enough so as to not get water up my nose when I eventually lift my head to breathe. If I keep breathing out until my head is out of the water I feel like I sound like a surfacing whale, making a big wet blowing noise. Thankfully Hamish has now told me that everyone sounds like that, so I guess I'm just normal.

When I started to tire I thought about getting out, but it was so lovely in the sun that I moved to the recreation lane and messed around for a while diving underwater, floating on a tire tube and on my back. I tried swimming on my side without flippers and sank, so I can see that's going to be my next challenge. I have to be realistic and accept that I may not have things down sufficiently to be ready to do 300m without flippers by the 28th of January, but there's always another event. I've realised it's better to not worry about working towards an event and just enjoy the process of learning.

Duck sent out an email this afternoon reminding us (as if I could forget) that tomorrow is the start of the second round of Women's Multis. However her next comment really threw me. Her instructions were to bring running, swimming and cycling gear. Gulp! I haven't got a wetsuit yet and I'm still not overly confident about swimming in the sea. I decided I would try to swim tomorrow with a floaty, rather than risk panicking in water over my head, at least for the first swim session. I'm still trying to decide whether to cycle to work in the morning - as it will involve carrying my running shoes, my swim gear and my office clothing all on my back. It might be easier to get Hamish to drop me off.

Nobody told me the logistics of triathlon training would be this difficult!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

Tagged by Leonie. I'm still trying to work out how I can summarise my holiday in a blog post, so this is a suitable diversion.

1. I lived in the same house in Henderson Valley, Auckland, from a few months of age till I moved in with Hamish when I was 23. The house was built for my parents, and they lived there until two years ago, when the council bought it off them and moved it off the site. The property had a history of flooding, and I still nurse deep-seated fears of heavy rain and rising water. However it was also a fantastic place to grow up. It was semi-rural, surrounded by fields and bush. There were lots of families nearby with children around my age, and we all roamed freely around the neighbourhood.
2. I first started singing in a school choir formed to take part in a combined schools music festival when I was about seven years old. One of the other kids in my class told me I couldn't sing, but thankfully, although I believed them, I didn't let it stop me. One of my strongest memories is of a plucky girl with very curly hair singing a solo from 'Annie Get Your Gun'. I met her again several years later at Intermediate School, and we remain close friends. The theme that year was musicals, and I can still remember the words from several of the Sound Of Music songs we had to learn.
3. I once won a regional poetry competition for an anti-nuclear poem I wrote at high school. I had used only my first initial and surname on the entry-form, so the organisers didn't know whether they were awarding the prize to a boy or girl.
4. If it weren't for the Gulf Crisis turning into the Gulf War, I would have spent a year in Egypt on student exchange. Instead, the only country that could take five New Zealander teenagers at short notice was the Netherlands. I swapped long cotton skirts and high-necked blouses for jeans and a thick winter coat and spent ten months cycling around a small town in the middle of the country. I failed to apply myself in class, and ended up dating one of my host brothers, who thankfully lived in another city. He failed university that year because he kept skipping class to meet me, and as a result he had to do a year of army service. He now lives in Hungary with his lovely wife and two daughters. I read most of the way through my host mother's collection of English language literature, but still managed to learn servicable Dutch. I can still understand the language, both written and spoken, though I wouldn't be able to write or speak it that well any more. If it weren't for the opportunity to go on exchange, I think I would have failed Bursary. Instead, I learned a lot about the world and got into university on my sixth form grades.
5. I've recently discovered that I resemble my father's mother. She passed away when he was a teenager, but I've grown into the only photo of her we have. Up till now I've always resembled my mother's mother. Both have wonderful cheeks when they smile, so I guess I was always destined in that respect.

Sarah, you're it...

Uprising - New Years 2007

When the music first plays
space and time twitch and
the earth stretches and curves
upwards to embrace us.
This place loves parties.
So we celebrate in the sun,
the rain, and under night skies.
On the last morning small children
make mud statues at the front
of the main zone then
plant branches upwards
in the ground to create an
en-tranced forest fertilised
by deep organic sound.
I crouch down and place
my hands on her cool
moist flanks. My
heart’s downbeat calls
to her, warm blood
flowing down arms into
the earth. Her upbeat
surges through my flesh,
ochre red.
We sing in unison
for a while, we
create our own
earth acoustic rhythm
and around us
other people dance.

For more information on Uprising check out this site.
More Thursday poetry here.