Saturday, November 01, 2014

About the running

Ok, the dogs are asleep in the lounge post-walk. It's probably about time I talked about where I'm at with the running these days.

In short, this is a funny day to choose to talk about running given that I am, for the first time in a long time, flirting with injury. I have therefore chosen to take an extra rest day and try again tomorrow. Blame my new-found love for Les Mills Grit and all the plyo.

I am still a runner. It's been a long time since I did a road race, but I completed the Motatapu marathon in March, and the Tussock Traverse for the second time in January. My most recent race was the inaugural Tora Challenge, which unexpectedly turned into an incredibly fun 19k long mud run. In a couple of weeks I'm running the Coastal Challenge along the southern coast, also inaugural, also 19k.

You guessed it - I am all about the trails. I still run on the road with the squad, but given the chance, on my own I will choose dirt every time.

The cycling is on hold at the moment, mainly due to time constraints, the yoga happens far less often than it should. I have developed a love for small group training, and Duck's move back into Les Mills has enabled me to get into lifting heavy. I'm a fan of the deadlift!

So in short exercise is still a central component of my life. I don't spent as many hours each week as I once did. However what I do get in is certainly of better quality and I'm not sore all the time. I'm pretty pleased with where I'm at!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When life is a juggling act

Back in the day when I was blogging regularly I seem to recall having lots of space in my day. Time is a luxury that has long fallen by the wayside! These days it seems my life is scheduled to the hilt, and my timetable is governed by both exercise and the dogs.

As an example, during the week I walk the dogs Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and work out on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I run Monday and Wednesday nights and walk the dogs on Tuesday and Thursday nights. On Friday the dog walker usually takes over in the afternoon, but if not then Hamish and I juggle the dog walking depending on who gets home first (or more often, how long I stay at Friday work drinks). At night the cats take over - spending the night in bed with us and demanding their own attention.

On the weekend I usually run in the morning, then come home and walk the dogs. Sunday mornings are for grocery shopping. Weekend afternoons end up being a mix of dogs and housework/gardening. Long gone are my long Sunday bike rides! I bought a membership to the Zealandia Sanctuary (where I used to be a volunteer), but I never went because if I was going to walk it felt wrong not to take the dogs.

Don't think I'm complaining, because I'm certainly not. The tradeoffs do frustrate me - I'd like to say we were further ahead in our plans to paint the house inside and out for example. However owning two greyhounds has brought a huge network of people into my life. Similarly, I have a network of friends I would never have met if it weren't for my running. I stopped running with my squad for a few months for budgetary reasons, and quickly realised squad membership is a need, not a want, as far as quality of life and mental health go.

I offer up this long weekend as an example. Once upon a time Labour weekend marked Hamish and my anniversary of starting dating, as far as we could recall. It used to be a time for lounging around doing nothing much, eating too much and drinking good wine. Halfway through I've managed a beautiful Saturday trail run, several loads of washing, a fair amount of housework, a working bee in a friend's garden, and a Greyhounds as Pets off leash run. Hamish and I are now sitting here, having just finished some excellent fish and chips from Gooseshack, Emmie asleep on the sofa next to us.

Life is certainly different from how it was ten years ago. If you'd told me back in 2000 when we were living in our Ponsonby apartment that I'd now be living in a ramshackle villa with three cats and two dogs, and that I'd be working in middle-management for the largest Government agency, I probably would have laughed. If you'd told me I'd be spending a good part of my weekend running beautiful trails I probably would have died laughing.

I will admit I need to find more time in my life, but I also love this little world I seem to have stumbled upon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back by popular demand

I've had a few requests to start up again, so here we go! I was considering starting a separate blog dedicated to my greyhounds, but yeah, it seems easier just to go with the one. So I'll use labels and those of you interested in my training can read those posts and those of you interested in my dogs can read those! There should probably be some cat posts in there as well or Tissy, Bergamo and Gaffer might get offended. They are still in the majority after all!

So ... in March I posted about adopting a second greyhound. Unfortunately he didn't work out and went back to GAP after a few days. He is now back where he belongs though, happy with his trainers who love and adore him.

We licked our wounds for a little while then in May I was exchanging drunken messages on Facebook on the bus ride home (as you do) when I spotted a four year old white boy with a blue patch on one side of his face who sounded perfect. I was just tipsy enough to get home and show his adoption page on the GAP website to Hamish. Hamish thought he sounded perfect. He was in Kaiapoi so I called up the kennel manager and ...

It turned out Desiree, the Kaiapoi manager, was heading through Wellington in a few days' time and had space in her dog trailer. So before I knew it we were welcoming Mask (racing name Shadow Wolf), off the Interislander ferry.

After a day or two of deep thinking, Mask became Harvey, short for Harvey Dent, the two-faced man from Batman. We had four days to decide whether he would work for us or not before Desiree headed back through Wellington on her way home. It was quickly clear however that Harvey wasn't going anywhere.

So now we are a two-dog, three-cat household. I was assured that two greyhounds were not that much more work than one. Initially I didn't find that to be the case. That is probably because Em was such a mellow, quiet girl. Harvey was supposed to be calm and quiet but .... wasn't - at least initially. Boys are definitely different from girls, and he seemed much more boisterous to me.

Harvey was much more curious about the cats than Em, who is slightly scared of them. He wasn't at all predatory, but he wanted to sniff them to kingdom come. Our cats were obviously not too keen on that! Four and a half months in, Harvey is generally pretty good. The cats stay clear when he is at his most energetic - first thing in the morning and when we get home in the evening. Once he has had his dinner he crashes, and then Bergamo will join us in the lounge. The other two - Gaffer and Tissy - are less keen on hanging out in the lounge with him. Gaffer will join us if we carry him in, but generally walks in and hangs out in the bedroom. Tissy prefers to hang out in the bedroom but is starting to make forays into the lounge. This is way ahead of the progress we made acquainting them to Em. Harvey did manage to bail up Tissy in the hallway tonight, burying his nose in her fluff, but she gave him a jolly good hiss before retreating outside. A few minutes ago she wandered down the hallway and headed for our bedroom, so clearly she's not been too traumatised.

We originally thought Em wouldn't appreciate another grey in the house, but a couple of weeks in Bannockburn with my father-in-law's Jack Russell puppy proved that she could share territory with another dog. She put Harvey in his place a few times in the first couple of weeks, but now they quite happily share a selection of sofas and beds. In fact Harvey has taught Em how to be more cuddly. She never used to share our sofa but now, in an obvious attempt to beat Harvey to the favoured spot, she will jump up on to the sofa with us and snuggle on in.

I'm still regularly amazed by the differences between Em and Harvey. They can both be quite anxious dogs, but show it in different ways. Harvey will get noisier and more boisterous, Em retreats. Harvey has to be near us. If it were up to him he would sleep on our bed every night. That will never happen - at least not while we still have cats - but he certainly pushes the boundaries and comes in to wake us at first light.

Harvey loves sofa cuddles. Last night he was taking up 2/3 of the sofa while Hamish and I squeezed up together at one end. Harvey scootched up until he was lying across Hamish's lap with his nose on mine. Bergamo then joined us, lying so that they were practically nose-to-nose. Harvey then fell into a deep greyhound sleep, involving contented groans, snorts and snores. Hilarity ensued, with Hamish and I completely unable to control our laughter.

Emmie is what Desiree described as a 'jesus hound', perfect in every way. She is elegant, beautiful, intelligent and she loves us. Harvey is a big, boisterous and impulsive boy. He needed a little more work to settle in at home, and he has needed more training to socialise him around other dogs. The two complement each other fantastically. Our lives will never be the same, and that is definitely a good thing!

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's been just over a year ...

It's been a while - just over a year since my last post. I am thinking of resurrecting this blog again as my primary running/cycling/living blog. However I also want to establish a second blog.

In March last year our lives changed when we brought Emmie (racing name Living the Dream) into our lives. Em is a gorgeous five year old blue and white former racing greyhound. I regret not chronicling her first year with us, though it's all out there on Facebook. I had no idea adopting a dog would change our lives so fundamentally, or that my routine would become centred around being a dog mum. A year in and I'm learning to balance playdates with training, a career and a social life. So what do we decide to do?  Adopt another! There are so many brilliant greyhound blogs out there I thought it might be fun to create one of my own. After having been so slack with the whole blogging thing I can't make any promises, but keep checking in and I may be back with another blog announcement some time soon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentines Day 2013 (14 years married)

When the sun went down
it was immediately 
cold and
sound crystalised in the air
over Taranaki Wharf
and fought for space
with the stars and
the transmitter lights
on Mt Vic.
This isn't dancing,
let alone dancing in
the sun
but it has a similar
feel and meaning.
You, me, music,
and a universe. 

*Written while waiting for Porcelain Toy to start playing at the Performance Arcade.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Goodbye 2012

2012 - the year we lost Ede to Feline Infectious Peritonitus at the age of 12.  One afternoon she lost control of her bladder, the next day we took her to the vet and less than 24 hours later she was gone.  Her passing felt like the end of an era, as we'd bought her not long after we got married, and just before we moved into our first apartment.

It didn't take long for me to call Gaffer's breeder to ask to be put on the waiting list for a lilac Burmese girl.  The house felt too quiet with just two cats.  Hamish's thoughts however turned to getting a dog, and we started making inquiries into adopting a retired racing greyhound.  We spent much of the last half of 2012 reclaiming our back yard from blackberry and building a fence.

I didn't get much running done in the first half of the year.  I injured my shoulder just before 2012 rolled in, and that took four months to come right.  Just as I was getting back into things I strained my right satorious muscle and that took another couple of months to fix.  By that time I'd lost most of my run fitness and gained yet more weight. That said, I really enjoyed the time I spent out on the trails on my own, without having to keep up with anyone else's pace.

 I went through a phase of being in love with the Skyline track, before formally adopting Transient and the trails around Polhill and the wind turbine as my spiritual home.

I picked up a cheap mountain bike off Trademe and managed to get Hamish out on a couple of easy rides.  Unfortunately his bike needs a little percussive maintenance and he's a bit limited in his gear ratio as a result.  Must remember to get that fixed!  I headed into Makara Peak a few times, most memorably with my trainer Duck.  Duck convinced me to try an intermediate trail and I lost my nerve, however it was on the comparatively easy Lazy Fern that I took my first spill, memorably captured on my helmet cam.

The mountain bike did make it easier to explore further round Wellington's coasts however, and we were blessed with some stunning days in which to do so.

Road cycling was something that, like the running, never got to where it should have this year.  The injuries put me way behind schedule when Taupo training started, and I was well over race weight.  I'd started my second new job of the year and was in the midst of recruiting and training a new team whilst still trying to learn my own role.  A trip to Canberra for work also disrupted my cycling.

And then we brought home a little speck of a kitten and my motivation to leave the house to go for a bike ride plummeted to an all-time low. Meet Bergamo.

Who could have known that such a tiny ball of fluff could be so much work?  We spent the first week trying to get her to eat.  We would take her to bed with us every night and she would stay there till we rose in the morning. I'd never had such a small Burmese before and felt overwhelmingly protective.

Thankfully after a week Bergamo found her appetite (and her voice) and came out of her shell.  She started growing and hasn't stopped.  Gaffer was quickly besotted, at least until she grew large enough to be able to jump on him with a modicum of force.  Now he sits there and howls until we rescue him from her enthusiasm.

By the time Taupo came around there was no way I was ready to ride 160km.  I instead rode the first 80km then executed a planned DNF, making the most of the bus ride back to the startline, a cold cider at the motel and my private spa pool.

Not long after that I was flying premium economy all the way to Geneva for four days of meetings.  I had a half day free - long enough for a cruise on the lake.  Looks beautiful but it was -11 when I arrived, and we had a full day of snow. What with breakfast meetings at 7.30am, a full day of conference, and formal dinners and evening meetings there wasn't any time to run, even if I'd had the warm gear required.

On the way back I had two days in London for more meetings, and an evening of fun with these two lovely people.

London rained. I was really happy to be home.

Everything at home was. Tissy is still not best pleased with our new addition, but will tolerate her unless she gets too close, then short, sharp retribution is in order.

A last minute hitch with catsitting arrangements led to Hamish heading off to Central Otago for Christmas, and me spending some quiet time at home.  A beautiful Christmas day provided an opportunity for a bike ride around the Bays.

Most of the time though it was just me and the cats.

Who continued to be incredibly cute.

So where does that leave things?  2012 was an amazing year.  I didn't really achieve my fitness goals, but had a lot of fun all the same.  I got into Overload, an extremely intense crossfit style programme at my gym.  I also continued to train with Duck, both individually and in groups.  However at the end of the year I felt the least fit I have been in a long time, and am certainly the heaviest.

A lot of that had to do with work.  Three different jobs in one year is a lot of change, even if it's good change. I love my new role but I do feel the pressure.  It's not going to ease off this year either, as my team have two conferences we are organising, both being held in April, and have also taken over as Chair of an important international engagement. Oh, and one of the conferences starts on my 40th birthday. That has scuttled plans to cycle the Central Otago rail trail ...

I finished the year feeling quite drained and in need of a solid break.  Unfortunately not being able to go down south has meant I haven't been able to get away and I'm worried I'm going to head back to work in two weeks not feeling refreshed.  2013 is going to be huge as well, especially as we are on the waiting list for our greyhound. If Tissy doesn't like Bergamo then she's in for a real shock ...

So what do I have planned for 2013?  Obviously I need to get fit again.  I also want to find some of the energy and motivation I had some years ago.  Hopefully those two things will go together. I'm going to enjoy watching Bergamo grow, and I look forward to the day we get to bring a dog home. So all up, more of the same, just better!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two in One Day

Well, the last couple of months have been interesting here in my world.  I started a new job, which turned out to be more of an adjustment than I'd anticipated. Oh, and I decided to try coming off one of my medications again.  That worked really well until it didn't.  I am in fact still trying to get over that little mistake. Lesson learned I guess, which is a bit of a disappointment, but right now I'm just busy trying to get things back to normal.  That and trying not to feel fed up with being problematic.

Anyhow, on to other things.  Through everything one thing that has remained constant has been my running. I might be feeling way too heavy, I might be feeling slow, and I may have had some bad runs, but at least I've still been getting out there.  When I'm not in the right headspace for 5.30am starts and hardcore group training sessions it's good that I've been able to hang onto at least that.

A few weeks ago the squad ran up to Colonial Knob. My legs were shattered from the start and I crumbled on the stairs, eventually limping my way up to the Knob well behind everyone else, then running slowly back down with the stitch.  I got in the car and drove home trying not to snivel and feeling quite demoralised.  In that mindframe (and with my legs even more shattered) there was no way I was getting up to run even the short Xterra Woolshed run the next day.  The squad reported back that both options were hard and horrid, so staying in bed didn't seem such a bad thing.

Since then I've had both good runs and bad runs, but I've been finding my legs haven't been recovering that quickly and that I've had to take a bit more rest as a result.  I had a brilliant run up Transient, Highbury Fling and the Rollercoaster trails in Aro Valley, then had an ok run up Mt Victoria the next day.  I followed that with a brilliant run up around Wadestown on a perfect autumn evening (of which there's been rather a large number this year).  Unfortunately all those hills caught up with me when Duck had us running up nearly every flight of stairs in town on Wednesday night.

Thursday was a rest day, and my legs were exhausted.  Duck and I had a session on Friday morning - yet another beautiful autumn morning.  We mostly worked on my upper body - especially my shoulders, but there must have been just enough leg stuff to ensure that when I went out to run yesterday that I was still feeling tired. Oh well, nothing to be done and two runs to get under my belt.

8am Saturday morning saw the squad assembling at a calm, crisp Days Bay.

We ran a variation of Butterfly Creek, entering at the bus depot, and coming out at McKenzie Road.  We ran (and walked) straight up over 200 metres, then it was down into a lovely flat to undulating section of bush trail that was even under foot and quite blissful. Unfortunately the downhill meant one last climb up again, although easier than the initial climb.  From there it was down an at times steep trail down to McKenzie Rd, then a short road run back to Days Bay again and cups of hot tea.

The hills were hard, primarily due to my tired legs, but I had a blast running through the valley along the stream.  The trails were in an excellent state and I finished feeling quite invigorated.  Except of course that wasn't where things finished ...

Later that day I was on my way to Karori to take part in yet another Xterra run, this time the Starlight Run in the Makara mountain bike park. I was feeling quite nervous as this was my first nighttime trail run.

This year the Xterra crew were victims of their own success.  Nearly 300 runners turned up, with registration running overtime.  In the end those of us who had already registered walked up the road to the start, where we waited for stragglers.  The long course eventually left, looking quite impressive as they all streamed up the four wheel drive trail, and then a few minutes later we short course runners were let loose.

My feelings about this run are mixed.  Ulimtately, as a slow trail runner, I would not do this course again in this format.  The trails just aren't wide enough for that number of runners. We short coursers started off running the same route as the long coursers, but turned sooner to loop back around.  Unfortunately the long course was not sufficiently longer, and the gap between the two waves not long enough.  After we'd run up the four wheel drive track, followed by a bit of a downhill, we turned onto a narrow and twisty single track.  Almost immediately we were being passed by long course runners.  I added a good ten minutes or so just moving to one side and slowing to let runners through.  I was accompanied by a man with his young son and he was getting quite irate - almost to the point where if a passing runner had said the wrong thing I think he would have had a go at them.  He wasn't exactly being encouraging of his son either and I wouldn't blame the kid if he never wanted to run again, but that's another story.

My problems were exacerbated by equipment issues.  My headlamp wasn't bright enough and the torch I was supplementing it with wasn't much additional help.  To add to that about halfway through my headlamp started falling down my forehead and hitting my glasses.  I spent a few kilometres pushing it back up until I eventually just took it off and held it.

I can't be too hard on myself.  Given the vertigo issues I'm having at the moment, my poor eyesight, and my general clumsiness I did something amazing just being out there at all.  Even going over hard at one point didn't stop me.  There were runners coming up behind me so I just got up and kept on running. I ran as much as I could, even when my running pace wasn't much faster than a walk.  I tried not to let the constant sound of runners coming up behind me freak me out too much, and I tried not to freak out too much when I was running on my own with no one else around me.

By the time we got to Lazy Fern though I have to admit I was a little bit over it.  The run was supposed to be 5 to 6km, but in the end was 8, which meant I ran 18k all up yesterday. No wonder I was a bit tired!  I passed a couple of women with a young girl at a junction in the trail debating whether to take a shortcut back to the start.

I walked a fair bit of Lazy Fern, then in my eagerness to get back to the finish ran faster than I really should have back down the four wheel drive track to the finish.  At the end I grabbed a cup of sports drink then extracted myself from a conversation with another runner acquaintance. By the time I'd walked back down to the car I was freezing.  I cranked up the car heater and drove back to Brooklyn where I stopped for dinner.  The shop had a gas heater going so I stood inches from it thawing out.  By the time I got home it was raining fairly steadily.

So there it was, my first night run.  Today my right hip flexor hates me, and last night I had the worst charlie horse in my right calf.  Thankfully today's been horridly windy and wet, so hanging out on the sofa hasn't been a hardship.  If I'm going to do a run like that again I'm going to have to get a better lamp, and I need to practice!  Oh, and if I'm going to keep running up multiple big hills I'm going to have to lose some weight.

But first I have to hang on till the medication starts working properly again.  Only about another week with any luck!