twilight and shadow

Horrible runs and magic runs

Before we embark on the final long weekend before we get plunged into the depths of winter (sigh) I better get cracking and get myself up to date! It's been exhausting over the last couple of months. It seems crazy/weird but the winter period always seems to be the main event season. At least it keeps you moving through the dark months!

So last time I wrote, M and I had just raced Le Race and then I'd just flown home from a quick trip up to Auckland to run a half marathon across Rangitoto and Motutapu because, well, it seemed like a good excuse to visit my parents! Like I said on that post, I really don't recommend a tough off-road half marathon the weekend after going hard in an even tougher 100km bike race! I suspect I haven't learnt my lesson though...

I've raced The Dual half marathon twice before, several years ago and was kind of keen to get a PB but I hadn't had the best buildup with some niggly foot issues and spending all summer riding a bike instead of running. I don't run in the same way I used to back then either, with runs these days usually heading straight up into the Port Hills and then back down again and I'd forgotten how much 'flat' running there was on this course.

Basically hitting the wall super badly heading over the top of Motutapu for the final time

It was really not my day. I've forgotten how horribly humid Auckland can be and this sure was one of those days. Pretty much the moment the gun went off I felt awful, just super dizzy and my vision kept blacking out. Just shows how sleep-deprived I'd managed to get in the build up. Somehow, despite this, I made it up and over Motutapu and Rangitoto to the wharf in fairly good time (I think it was roughly an hour to that point which is around the 11km mark and with a fair amount of the climb done). I even managed the technical singletrack round the edge of Rangitoto okay but the dizziness was getting pretty bad and my 'cycling legs' (i.e. thighs feeling like blocks of wood) were really kicking in.

Still, I'd made good time but the final climb over Motutapu back to the finish, well, I just felt so ill so powerwalked most of the final 4km. It was awful! Then, with the finish in sight, I got confused and tried to go through a fence instead of following everyone else (totally my orienteering background coming into play here!). My parents had taken the ferry over to see me finish so I had a cheer squad at the finish which was awesome but I was so gladd to finish. 7 seconds slower than my best which sucked since I lost that trying to cross the stupid fence! But pretty impressive since I walked most of the final 4km! Unfortunately though the race really took its toll on my body and I was horribly sick on the ferry trip home and didn't really recover for another week. Sigh.

And then it was Easter...

M was racing the Tour de Lakes so I was there as support crew (and doing it badly!) and to check out either end of the Routeburn as I was entered to race it 3 weeks later and racing isn't exactly the best way to enjoy what I'd heard was one of the most scenic tramping tracks around.

After doing my best not to screw up my support crew role on Friday and Saturday I had a super early start on Sunday to drive the long road out from Manapouri to the Divide where I planned to run the track out to Lake MacKenzie and back (about 12km one way). In an ideal world I'd have gone further but I was supposed to get back to Five Rivers in time to meet M after his afternoon race and it was at least a 2 hour drive (so much driving...sigh).

I feel like I just don't have the words to describe that morning. From the moment you set foot on the track it is so incredibly beautiful. The bush was amazing (but beech forest is always beautiful), especially with the early morning sun casting thin rays of light through the trees. Then you reach Earnslaw falls and I'm a definite sucker for a waterfall so I hung out there for awhile (and again on the way back when the water hitting the pool at the bottom was creating a rainbow!). Then you cruise along the side where you get some stunning views of surround mountains before dropping sharply down to Lake Mackenzie where I hung out for a while, wishing I could head up on to the tops as the weather was so perfect. After a sandwich and a laze in the sun it was back again. Quite possibly my favourite run ever!

Monday morning M woke up feeling sick so wasn't able to race but fortunately he was happy enough to sleep in the car whilst I headed out on the track from the Routeburn Shelter end this time. The weather wasn't quite so good but most of this side of the track is in bush and quite low. I cruised along the flats then up the hill to the Routeburn Falls just in time for the weather to pack in which defintely made it pretty atmospheric! I cruised along the tops for a little while but it was getting pretty wet and cold so I figured it was time to head down again.

Like the day before, I met plenty of people all keen to chat and everyone was finding the experience as magical as I was. It helped to remind me just what an incredible country I live in. And by now I was super excited about the race in 3 weeks time (and also had learnt that trying to run over swing bridges is not fun).

In case you wanted to see some actual nice footage of the Routeburn rather than just my shocking photos, check out this video or, just actually go and do it!

Next up...wild Southland weather and the Gypsy Caravan.