Sunday, January 30, 2011

Taranaki Cycle Challenge

I'd always planned to do the Taranaki Cycle Challenge. My parents live in Stratford, so I can stay with them and drive there on the morning, plus it's the week of Dad's birthday so I am usually up there anyway. It's also a lovely ride, circling round Mt Taranaki. I did it back in 2009 and had a great time, despite being in pain with a hip injury.

Unfortunately this year it just wasn't to be. From a couple of weeks out meteorologists were predicting that we'd get hit by a cyclone, and as the day grew closer Cyclone Wilma presented an ever growing threat. To add to that, I suddenly developed right piriformis issues. I've been having trouble with my left piriformis off and on, ever since the Rotorua marathon, but up till now I've only had sacroilleac issues on the right side. This was very different from my sacroilleac though. The pain in my glute was deeper and at its worst I was limping.

I honestly don't know what caused this particular issue. I've been dealing with ongoing muscle soreness for the last six months - shin, quads, calf muscles, glutes .... With my exercise load there seemed to be no obvious reason why everything would be getting so stiff. I put it down to more hill running, my Miadidas (particularly as they aged), and perhaps the kettlebells. I certainly pushed it when it came to the running shoes, and on the Saturday before the piriformis really started to play up I ended up with sore ankles of the type which had me straight off to Rebel Sports for a new pair. I bought another pair of Adidas, this time reverting back to a stability shoe, but also downgrading to their slightly cheaper range. I ran on Monday and they felt fine. I then woke up on Tuesday morning very, very sore.

All the squats and lunges in Duck's Tuesday morning workout in Frank Kitts wouldn't have helped. I skipped RPM and then on Wednesday woke up with my right hamstring completely spasmed. It was on Wednesday that I found myself limping around the office. I wanted to run that night and thought I'd try keeping it to the flat, but eventually saw sense and went home.

I met Duck for our usual session on Thursday morning, and in retrospect the kettlebells probably weren't the best idea. I limped my way to a massage and left at the end of the hour able to walk slightly more easily, but still in pain.

On Friday I drove to Taranaki and went for a short walk with Mum, which was limp-free but which killed my left shin (Mum walks extremely quickly). Duck had already let me off the hook with the Taranaki race (not one of my goal races, bad weather, soreness, not enough time on the bike), but I planned to get out there and support some of my friends. I even contemplated riding out to meet Julia and pull her a little way around the course.

In the end I woke Saturday morning to strong gales and early rain. Yeah, I stayed in bed. By 11.00 the rain had stopped so Mum and I drove the short distance up Pembroke Rd to the local school to cheer everyone on. We got out of the car and were nearly blown away. We moved the car so that we were positioned so we could see the riders approaching, then sat there until the first pack came through. Riding into the headwind they certainly weren't setting any speed records.

We stayed out there for two hours, clapping everyone by and cheering the rather gratifyingly large number of people I knew. It was, in all honesty, difficult to stand up, let alone ride. We were blown backwards more than once. I was happy not to be out there but impressed by all of those people who were. They did not look to be enjoying the conditions at all.

After two hours I was cold, hungry, wind-burned and my hands were sore and tingly from clapping. I'd seen all of the people I expected to see, and as much as I wanted to cheer on the stragglers, it was time to go. I went home and spent the afternoon with the family, sheltering from the wind.

The next morning I woke to a perfect day.

30km of cruising around the rural roads of Taranaki (that's the mountain behind the filmy clouds in the background) I ruefully turned back to home (Pembroke Rd is a fun fast downhill that made me realise why my average speed had been so slow on the way up). I would have liked to ride out to Kaponga but Mum was expecting me back and I still had to drive back to Wellington.

My piriformis is slightly sore again but not as bad as it could be. I'm going to keep stretching and will run tomorrow and see how I go. If things don't improve I'll see a physio, but until then I'm going to be spending a lot of time in pigeon pose and rolling round on a tennis ball.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lemon Tequila Sorbet

Running Mt Lowry with Jo

It seems a little odd to be posting a sorbet recipe when it's been so cold lately, but Kate recently took possession of an icecream maker, so this just had to be shared.

1 cup/250 ml water
1 1/2 cups/375 ml sugar
1 tblspn gelatine
1 tblspn hot water
1/2 cup/165ml tequila
1 tblspn grated lemon rind
1 cup/250 ml canned evaporated skim milk

Combine water with sugar, stir over moderate heat until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, and boil without stirring for five minutes.

Meanwhile dissolve gelatine in hot water. Add to syrup, stir until well combined.

Add lemon juice, tequila and lemon rind. Cool. Combine with milk. Chill in refrigerator for one hour.

Place mixture into an icecream machine and process according to manufacturer's instructions.

If making by hand: Pour mixture into a large freezer-proof container, cover and freeze until partially set. Remove from freezer, beat with a rotary or electric mixer until smooth. Pour back into container and freeze till firm.
Serves 8.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What I did on my New Years holiday

My New Years was spent sitting on a veranda looking out at Nydia Bay, in the Marlborough Sounds.
I was there with Nic,

Hamish, (of course)

and the lovely Leonie.

This was our home for four days. A tiny chalet off the grid. No cellphone reception, a small gas fridge and cooktop, a solar panel for power, and a wood stove for cooking and hot water. Bliss.

Our closest neighbour, Marty, the owner of the chalet had a house further up the hill with a turret bedroom for his youngest son.

The cabin was a short 20 metre walk from the Nydia Track.

Trail running heaven. I ran twice, for around 90 minutes a time, and we all tramped for around four hours one day. I also walked for around two hours one day, and around an hour another.

There had been a huge, 50 year storm the day before we arrived and there was significant trail damage and trees down all over the place. Marty's house had several broken windows. However we had perfect weather the whole time we were there.

A view from the trail around the corner from our small bay, with a view of the jetty.

Kanuka down on the trail.

A bridge over a lovely stream. You can see from the debris that the water was right over the bridge at one stage.

There were a number of pet eels in a large pond near the chalet. They liked smoked chicken and salami, but weren't so keen on tofu.

My runs were slightly lacklustre and plodding, but it was such a beautiful location I was just happy to be out there at all. I stopped a lot to take photos and to clamber over the kanuka.

About half an hour from the chalet there was a basic DOC campground, with a tap and a long drop.

Not a bad spot to stay the night.

One day I set out to climb to the nearby saddle, at around 367 metres. I was looking forward to the view from the top.

Unfortunately about a third of the way up the trail was blocked by a huge downed beech tree. I pondered for about ten minutes but decided I wasn't that committed to reaching the top, so turned around again.

When not running or walking we all spent a lot of time just sitting around in the sun reading and thinking.

The water was still very brown from all of the storm runoff, but it was scenic none-the-less.

The mornings were stunning.

The areas of native bush were also beautiful.

The trails were much more runnable than I'd been led to believe (when they weren't blocked by trees).
The chalet of the front of the chalet. To the left of the photo is the path up to Marty's house.

We caught a float plane in, and from above the flooded Sounds were very dramatic. This photo care of Leonie.

This and the next two photos are also from Leonie. Marty's house is the house at the top, the building in the middle is a shed, and the chalet is at the bottom.

Leonie was able to capture this truly stunning photo of a calm morning in the Bay.

Out walking, here through a flooded section of the Nydia Track.

Wine was drunk, food was eaten, books were read and thoughts were thought. Nydia Bay entranced us all, and I hope we will be back.