Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Race Report!

Damn those new tights are unflattering!

I ran the Harbour Capital 10k race on Sunday. It was cold and wet and I was glad I wasn't doing the half marathon. Knowing I was only doing 10k made it easy to get out of bed. My usual pre-race prep went to plan, right up till the point I discovered Hamish had left the headlights on in the Honda the day before and the car battery was most emphatically dead. One quick cab ride later I was dropping my bag off at the bag drop. Sarah found me in the crowd and we chatted till it was time to move out to the start line, at which point I realised I'd totally forgotten to put my Garmin on.

I was trying two new things this race. I had an Adidas cap on to see if it would help keep the rain off my glasses. I was nervous the Southerly would whip it off and so I bobby-pinned it to my head and had no issues. It has a super-long brim and kept the rain out of my face, though looking down had the effect of blinkering me and my face was hidden from the maraudering photographers. I was also wearing a pair of Adidas running gloves. It wasn't really cold enough to need them but I wanted to see how they felt. They ended up being lovely to wear and not at all too warm.

Sarah and I ran together for the first few kilometres but at a certain point she slipped behind me and was gone. I started out super easy, as I have a terrible habit of going out too fast and crashing by the time I get to Oriental Bay. It helped that I started near the back of the field, leading to a fair bit of ducking and weaving to begin with. As the field opened up it also led to me overtaking runner after runner. I kept picking off women, deciding to hit on any who were wearing the official running shirt. There were plenty of them so I wasn't stuck for choice!

In the end I felt good the whole way around the course. I sat at what felt like a slightly harder than easy pace and just went with it. I never lost any kind of mental battle out there. The whole time I knew it was only 10k. I knew I could run 10k, and I also knew Sarah was behind me and that I didn't want her to catch me!

I never saw Duck, who was out on her bike with the half marathon girls. I did however see another of the Les Mills trainers at Freyberg, and one of our squad members at Te Papa. Cheering and waving was called for. Round Pt Jerningham we started overtaking the half marathon tail-enders, and that was extra motivation.

Before too long the race was over. I ran a two minute PB, and finished exactly where I thought I would given how I was feeling during the run. I can run 10k several minutes faster than that, but I've never been able to run a race of that distance while feeling good, so this was a triumph more significant than the time. I placed 50% in the 10k field, and 60% of the 10k women and women in my age-group. I am such a mid-packer!

The rest of the day was mad. Hamish picked me up and we bought a new dishwasher before having lunch at Sweet Mother's Kitchen then doing the grocery shopping. Finally I got to go home for a shower. Soon after I left home again to have coffee at Diamond Deli with the lovely Marianne to talk about yoga and life. We talked solidly for an hour and a half and then the conversation came to a natural end and we went our respective ways (thanks Marianne if you are reading this - it was a lovely afternoon).

Hamish and I watched the season finale of Dr Who, then it was time to head out again to see Bill Bailey. The man is hilarious, intelligent and an incredibly talented musician and I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

Nonetheless I was yawning hard by the end of the show and happy to get to bed for a well-earned sleep. It occurred to me on several occasions that a few months ago I couldn't have dreamed I'd be enjoying such a full, rewarding day. Those were the dark days when I was stuck on the sofa in the midst of anxiety-induced vestibular disorder.

I felt truly blessed to have all those opportunities for celebration afforded to me over the course of one wet, wintery Sunday. And I haven't even told you about my return to the Tinakori Hills in my new trail running shoes yet!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spoke too soon

So, that little cold that I'd escaped? Well, yeah, I didn't. After a Thursday night on the dancefloor I woke Friday in full-blown lurgy. I spent the next four days almost entirely in bed. I was gripped with an overwhelming exhaustion which floored me. I didn't start to feel better until the Tuesday, when I gave in to whatever had its grip on me and just focused on healing.

My only activity during that time was a little yoga, having signed up for a 30 Days of Yoga challenge. I could have just chosen savasana, but the more stubborn side of me refused to. Instead I wheezed my way through downwards dogs, wondering where my arm strength was as I hovered down into cobra, gasping for breath through the warrior poses, collapsing into child's pose disturbingly often.

All this time I was still suffering from strangely restless, twitching limbs and a sense of weakness in my arms and legs. My doctor and I agreed it was time to wean myself off one of my medications, which is known for causing restless limbs. I downed magnesium and zinc, and slowly, even as I worried about more ominous causes of my symptoms, everything started to ease. As of today I'm still a little twitchy, but it's faded again into background noise.

Poor packing led to me missing the Jog Squad's Wednesday night run, so Duck's workout with my on the Thursday morning was the first in a week. I wheezed during our warmup run, but otherwise felt ok, and coughed a reasonable amount of gunge from my lungs.

Friday saw me sitting in a lunchtime RPM class. On Saturday morning I was up to join the Squad for a run round Lyall Bay. The half marathon girls had been out for 40 minutes by the time we met them at Maranui. Us 10kers were to run for 40 minutes, however I was still feeling slow, weak and wheezy, so turned around at 15 minutes and ran back into the Northerly. A passing male runner told me I was looking good (I wasn't), and the leader of a cycle pack commented on the brightness of my pink Adidas as he rode by. I was grateful for the support of random strangers as I staggered into Maranui, sweat dripping from my face, and waited for everyone else to join me for coffee.

On Sunday I ran the second of the Xterra runs, in the Rimutaka Forest Park in Wainui (leaving from the Harriers clubrooms). I had planned to do the medium course but with my lungs in their clogged state I opted to stick with the short. Jo offered to carpool, so her friend Dave and I waited together for her in a carpark in Taranaki Street at 7.30 on Sunday morning.

The weather forecast was for occasional showers, but someone forgot to define the word "occasional". In Wainui we were greeted with steady rain. It was even still dark at 8.00. We told ourselves that at least it wasn't cold and nor was it windy, so we merely sheltered under the clubroom veranda for as long as we could, only assembling at the start line as the race began.

Given the temperature I opted for a long-sleeved polyprop under my t-shirt and a sleeveless windbreaker. It proved to be the perfect combination and I was never cold, nor was I ever too warm. However I had a major issue with the rain on my glasses and spent a lot of the course fumbling half-blind, particularly in the bush where it was extremely dark. On the downhill sections, which were straight if somewhat steep, I longed to put my foot down but was reduced to fumbling my way blindly through rivers of rain. I really need to talk to my optometrist about contact lenses. There is no way I can't wear them again!

The short course would, had I been well, have been extremely pleasant. We ran across the sports fields and then down a short stretch of road before heading into a park along the side of the river. The one hill, sold as being small, was in fact quite long and steep. If I'd had any semblance of my normal lung capacity I would have attempted to run it, however I was wheezing like an asthmatic, so ended up walking a fair amount of the climb. Even on the flat I was occasionally reduced to walking to allow myself to cough up yet another piece of lung.

The rain continued to come down in ridiculous amounts. As the trail widened out the amount of water on it only increased. Eventually there was no point in even trying to dodge the worst of the puddles. There was a perverse delight in slogging through them. When I got home I dumped my old Adidas at the door and they're still sitting there I think they're dead.

Over the finishline I downed some water then squelched off to get changed. Too late I realised I'd forgotten a towel or dry shoes and socks. I settled on a chair in the clubrooms and waited for everyone else to finish. Duck, Jo and Dave were all doing the long course, so it was a long wait. They all eventually came in within minutes of each other. The conditions on the long course were, apparently, extreme, and the rain continued to get harder long after I was safe and relatively warm and dry in the clubrooms. That everyone found the run hard and hellish wasn't really surprising, given that the course was described as technical. Apparently the actual track was hard to follow, and a number of people wandered off in the wrong direction.

I came away feeling remarkably neutral about the race. On the one hand I was appalled by how much I'd had to walk. On the other, only a few days earlier I'd been confined to bed and wiped out by a virus. In the end I was glad to have been hard core enough to go out in atrocious conditions. I knew that my performance was not indicative of my true ability. I went home, had a long shower, and rationalised.

That, of course, wasn't the end. On Monday night I had another Squad run. We ran for fifty minutes from Te Papa out to the BP on Adelaide Rd and back. I was feeling a lot better and ran reasonably strongly, but had a series of traffic light break opportunities to catch my breath. I had a glimpse of my old runner self.

I had planned to do an RPM class on Tuesday but the weather was stunning so I chose instead to run 7k slowly around the waterfront in the sun. I wore my iPod and listened to a London Elektricity album so as to not have to listen to my wheeze. The dubstep turned out to be the perfect rhythm for an easy run.

Wednesday was wet and gloomy, so perfect for an RPM class. I misread the timetable and ended up having to do the class of an instructor I'm not overly fond of. I fumed as he deliberately ignored the official choreography. By the time I'd endured him instructing us to do the entire last hill climb out of the saddle I was livid. However I've been around long enough now to do my own thing. I got my own workout done, but the last track smashed my quads.

I had a break on Wednesday night then on Thursday morning I met Duck for another workout. It was another still and strangely mild morning. Duck took me down to Oriental Bay where we took a power bag and medicine ball down past the children's play area, where a series of concrete steps extend out into the water. It was a surreal and beautiful place to train. At the moment Duck has me vaulting walls. On Thursday this meant putting my arms onto a waist-high wall and vaulting my feet up onto it. At the start I thought there was no way it was ever going to happen, and I have a nice bruise on one knee to show where I tried and failed early on. Of course though by the end of it I was vaulting reasonably proficiently and feeling quite pleased with myself.

Add to that powerbag squats and thrusts, step ups, lunges in the sand of the petanque court (including backwards walking lunges, which are EVIL in the sand), planks, side planks, and evil, evil core work with the medicine ball, and some upper body work with the rope climbing frame in the playground, and I was happily smashed.

The walking lunges and a series of sprints up the ramp from the beach to the road left my calves feeling quite tight and my upper quads were definitely present. Unfortunately the day's workout wasn't over, as I still had to meet the Squad that night for a run. By mid-afternoon I was falling asleep at my desk. Thursday nights are usually a rest for me so both my mind and my body were protesting at the thought of more exertion.

To make it worse, only one of the other Squad girls turned up, Trudi. So much for running slowly at the back of the pack! Duck, Trudi and I set out around the Bays, running to the bottom of Maidavale then turning and running back. We started out slowly for 20 minutes, but after the turnaround something happened and the run back turned into a bit of a hammer fest. I kept glancing at my Garmin watching as our speed increased. Mentally I was finding it really hard, physically I was pleasantly surprised by how well I was coping. To run so powerfully on the race course after eight days of exercise? Now that was psychologically priceless.

By 9.00 on Thursday night I was slumped in a little pile on the sofa. I was feeling that good kind of post-exercise exhaustion, accompanied by a healthy dose of endorphins. I've really missed that worn-out kind of happy, and the deep, peaceful sleep which accompanies it.

Today and tomorrow are rest days. Sunday is the 10k race. I'm glad I'm only doing the 10k. I'm going to go out there and enjoy it then cheer on everyone else as they finish the half. Come October it'll be me running the Wairarapa Country Half, and come November, all things going well, I will be cycling round Lake Taupo with the Gearshifters.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

And a miracle recovery

I felt my temperature break early yesterday evening and when I woke this morning it was difficult to believe I'd been sick. The first thing I noticed was that my back was almost pain-free. After that I realised that my sinuses were almost clear and that I seemed to have good energy levels. I packed a gym bag just in case, but told Hamish I realised I shouldn't really be exercising.

However as the day went on I felt better and better, and the weather was stunning. It was still cold out there, but it was clear and still and crisp - perfect winter running conditions. By 5.00pm I was full of enthusiasm for a run.

Unfortunately my subconscious seemed to know better. Not only had I forgotten my hair band, I'd also packed my most-padded cycling shorts in lieu of tights. There was no way I was running in those nappies. I considered RPM but I hate spinning without my cycling shoes and it's even worse to not have a hair band.

I figured the gods were trying to tell me something, so now I'm at home and there's chicken roasting in the oven. I'm still meeting Duck in the morning, and if it's still this nice out there I'll run at lunchtime. Worse things have happend.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

In which I slightly break myself

Jo and I were set to run the City to Sea walkway yesterday, a roughly 12k urban trail run, starting near Parliament and finishing on the rugged Southern coast. In the days beforehand Hamish and I had been in Auckland staying with friends. We'd spent a long night/morning on the dancefloor and then spent the rest of the weekend lounging around on their sofa eating, drinking and watching movies. To say it wasn't the best buildup for the run would be understating matters somewhat. I should really know by now that I can't do that to myself and expect to feel good!

On Sunday before we flew back down to Wellington our friend, who is a chiropractor, offered to help Hamish with some back issues he was having. He sees a chiro regularly down here but the night on the dancefloor had put things out and he was dragging his right leg. My right hip was still niggling so I decided to give this chiro stuff a shot as well. There was a lot of loud cracking, which felt really great at the time. She also did something to my ankles to free them up, leaving me feeling like I was moonwalking.

We had a curry for dinner on Sunday night, again probably not the best decision. I spent Sunday night dozing fitfully and suffered the kind of night sweats I haven't had in about a year. I woke up feeling queasy and unrested, but I was still excited about the run. I couldn't really stomach much breakfast but had a spoonful or two of porridge.

Outside it was drizzly but surprisingly not too bad. The wind was coming from the North and it was warmer than it had been. It was forecast to go South later that night, but we though we had hours before the gales kicked in. The plan was for us to run the trail then around the coast to a cafe in Lyall Bay, where Hamish would meet us with dry clothes.

The walkway starts with a short, sharp climb through a graveyard and into the botanical gardens. By the time we got to the top we were already shedding layers. From there we ran round the perimeter of the university then down into Aro Valley. A short climb then took us through a park and community gardens, then it was out onto the road again, then through a series of trails in Central Park.

Crossing through Central Park we emerged halfway down Brooklyn Hill, then crossed over and headed through Prince William Park and past the Scottish Harriers clubrooms. As we came out of the shelter of Central Park it became clear the Southerly had arrived earlier than expected. As we ran through Prince William Park it was rapidly getting darker. As we crested a hill we could see dark clouds moving in dramatically over the harbour, and it became clear we would soon be getting very very wet.

After the clubrooms we ran through a narrow section of singletrack in the pine trees. This section was undulating with lots of stairs and pine needles made it very slippery. As we came out on Hutchinson Rd the threatening rain started to bucket down. We traversed a steep and treacherous climb up a grass slope to the top of a hill in Macallister Park. If Hamish had been looking out the window he would have seen us running long the ridgeline. By this point I was soaked through, cold, and my glasses were both steaming up and covered in rain. I could see nothing.

We dropped down off the side of the hill then jogged around the edge of Macallister Park to the bottom of Farnham Street. The next section of the track skirts the edge of the Berhampore Golf Course before climbing up an impossibly steep trail to Tawatawa Ridge, then drops back down again into Island Bay. I've written before about that steep section of trail. I slipped over four times going down it a few months ago. I wasn't keen to try going up it in this weather, especially when I was running blind.

It didn't take a lot of agonising to decide to abort and walk the kilometre or so up Farnham Street to home. We were as wet as if we'd jumped in the harbour, and cold. We then treated ourselves to brunch in Lyall Bay. Driving around the coast we were very very glad not to be running it.

Later that day I developed a sore throat then my sinuses started to block. This morning I woke up shivering with cold and aching all over. I've also managed to wreck my lower back, which is very stiff and sore. It probably wasn't a good idea to try to do that run right after an adjustment. Sigh.

I got up to go to work but couldn't stop shaking so went back to bed. Around mid-day I started feeling too warm. My stomach is also feeling less than solid. I feel well and truly broken! Outside it's around 4 degrees with a wind chill of -1. There have been reports of snow squalls around the city. Ede has spent most of the day on my lap, Gaffer and Tissy asleep on the bed.

I'm hopeful I'll be well enough tomorrow to go back to work, and I'll get my back looked at by either my physio or massage therapist. I doubt I'll be running, unless I experience some kind of miracle recovery.

I was suffering too much out there to take any photos, but a few other bloggers have done so, including here and here. There's also a Flickr photo stream, though the last few are of central Wellington rather than the walkway. It was an amazing run, and I think it's incredible that I can be in our capital city and yet still have easy access to so many great trails. I will be doing this again!