Tag Archive: running

When it rains it pours

Anzac weekend (yay for now having Mondayised public holidays!) we took the Friday off to head down to Te Anau again, this time so I could "race" the Routeburn Classic on the Saturday. We got there in the afternoon and basked in the sunshine...from within our cabin where it was warm and there was a bed to do our basking on. Unfortunately though, the sunny weather was not to hold...

It was a pretty early start the next morning, with the bus heading to the startline leaving at 6am, getting us to the Divide in time for an 8am start. Lots of us were getting into the spirit by wearing our heros masks from the race pack which turned out to be a cool edition since it helped kept my head warm!

Basically, it was raining and cold at the start and continued to be raining and cold for the whole race but the Routeburn is pretty darn spectacular all the same. Running along the tops after the climb up from Mackenzie Hut was tough going though as the rain was horizontal and the wind was pretty strong. I kept getting water in my contacts which blurred my vision - not good when the track drops off steeply next to you!

Arriving at the Routeburn Falls hut. Yep, I'm still wearing my heros mask - it helped keep my head warm!

Anyway, it was a super fun race and especially exciting to have M cheering me on at the Routeburn Falls hut. Yay! Unfortunately he got a bit sore and tired on the way back and I bet him to the finish which was an impressive feat since I was going at snail pace. Not to worry though since there were lots of people to cheer me on anyway.

The finishline, heros style. There was even a crash mat for us all to 'fly' onto. Good times!

I was pretty happy with my time since I really just wanted to get under 4 hours 30 but I can't say I pushed very hard so I might have to come back another year and attempt a sub 4. Actually pushing myself would probably help, as well as better weather conditions! It was fun though! Such a cool atmosphere.

The next day, after a nice long sleepin, we ventured out to the Milford Sound into the wild weather for a cruise. If only we could take good photos because the ones below make it look just wet and dreary. In fact the rain meant heaps more waterfalls (and I LOVE waterfalls) and this really spectacular atmosphere. I would love to come back on a rare day when it's sunny as you'd get a sense of the scale of things. The mountains quite literally rise straight out of the sea.

Here's how it looks when it's sunny! We've been working on this puzzle during the increasingly colder and darker nights!

One thing that does surprise me is how many tourists we saw down here without real jackets. Seriously, if you are planning on visiting New Zealand, especially the West Coast or Fiordland, ummm, bring a decent raincoat no matter the season. You will almost certainly get wet.

Okay, that's enough chatter for now. So much is getting banked up. I even have delicious food to talk about, not to mention the gypsy caravan...

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.

Lazy days of summer

Since returning from our cycling trip we've been enjoying the beautiful summer weather. I don't remember such a spectular summer in a long time! We clearly weren't sick of biking since 2 days after getting home we were back up in the hills with a couple of friends checking out the newly re-opened road (well, opened to bikes and pedestrians which is awesome!) around Mt Pleasant. Super exciting! It's a bit bumpy for speedy road cycling but it's now officially open and that's the main thing.

There was also a solo excursion up to Trig M from the bottom of Porters Pass while M and his friend were riding the Darfield to Arthur's Pass race. SO hot! One day it would be cool to take the mountain bikes up here although a bit of a grunt. It was hard enough work running/shuffling! From the trig you have a glorious view over Lake Lyndon and towards Craigieburn.

The following day, we headed up towards Mt Aicken, getting most of the way up before deciding to turn back 'cause I wasn't having the best of days up there in amongst all the rock (it is pretty cool how much the vegetation changes from various different beech to scrub to tussock to nothing but rock and scree). The views were spectacular though.

My brother also came down to visit for a little while in the summer for some wind surfing. We took him to Okains Bay for a night and camped amongst the trees. Awesome! Then, after spending the morning splashing around in the water and attempting to steer the paddleboard against the current (way too much hard work for very little progress!) we headed to Akaroa for delicious sorbet.

There was an excursion to Auckland and our beach house for my lovely cousin's wedding somewhere sandwiched between but I don't have any photos of that! It was awesome though! Amongst all this we've been getting in our training for Le Race which is coming up in a week and a half and I've been trying (and slowly succeeding) to get back into running in time for a couple of races coming up. After all the riding we've been doing this summer though it's been hard work!

We also went on an exciting adventure to Mt Owen for Waitangi weekend but that's a story for next time!

Afghans are tasty

One more sleep and then it's Christmas! Exciting! And then on Boxing Day we're off on the train to Greymouth then setting off on a bit of a cycling adventure down the West Coast and (hopefully) eventually back to Christchurch. Even more exciting! Although I probably should pack...

Ever since our tandem arrived we've been doing a lot of riding. At the end of October we did our first randonneuring event with the Kiwi Randonneurs, a 400km loop from Greymouth to Greymouth in a day (via Reefton > Springs Junction > Murchison > Westport). Quite possibly also the last time I ever ride that far in one day! I mean, all the beautiful scenery down the West Coast from Westport and it was in the dark! It would make a beautiful two-day ride though. Anyway, we survived and it got me pretty keen for some cycle touring.

About half an hour into the 400km Greymouth ride. Photo by Shane Davidson.

Tuesday evenings are normally time trials along Old Tai Tapu Rd with the Canterbury Time Trial Association. It's pretty cool 'cause I definitely wouldn't normally want to ride for 16km along a flat course as fast as I can. That just sounds like torture! We are the only tandem there but there is a trike and it's always fun to see the pro riders with their skin suits, aero helmets and swanky time trial bikes. Some even bring some pretty fancy wind trainers to warm up on first. At the start of December each year there is also the hill climb time trial from the Blue Duck by Motukarara to just past the top of Kennedy's. Perfect conditions this year saw us with a new PB which will be ridiculously difficult to beat!

Along with the usual rides we also had a fun day out riding on the Peninsula down to Little Akaloa and round the bays to Okains Bay with the Emilys. EW and I then dragged ourselves round a 6-hour rogaine the following day...you've got to make the most of summery weather when it's here!

Clockwise from top left: the big green monster chilling at Okains Bay, Little Akaloa - many steep climbs ahead, EW shows us just how steep Okains Bay Road can be, top of Okains Bay Road - yay!

There's been various orienteering events, the Mountain Bike Orienteering Nationals, the Wedding of the Year (!), the Vegetarian Expo (so much delicious food! I love it!), book groups (so many awesome books, so little time) and so much more.

Early December was the National Rogaine Champs which was held in the Nevis Valley. I was racing with EW and it went pretty well apart from a few terrible controls!! I could write more here but I've already written enough and it's on my AP log so if you're interested you can read that here.

National Rogaine Champs map - you can almost make out our route if you squint hard enough!

And of course it wouldn't be Christmas without the annual Christmas Rogaine!! 3 hours of good times blundering around in the bush in the mist!

Christmas Rogaine madness.

Yesterday I was intending to head back out that way on my run but I wasn't feeling all that great so instead I ended up looping back from the Kiwi and having a bit of an explore. It was supposed to be sunny but as you can see below, ummm, the sun hadn't quite managed to get itself together so instead it was misty and drizzly.

The Port Hills are awesome.

And now back to Christmas. The tofukey just recently came out of the oven all ready for tomorrow and last night I found myself cooking yet another batch of cookies. I don't think I've ever cooked so many batches of cookies in such a short space of time!

The tofukey in various states of preparation.

Last night's cookies: a couple of New Zealand classics with afghans on the left and peanut brownies on the right (both adapted from the Edmonds Cookbook).

Merry Christmas! Here's hoping the typical Kiwi summer storm doesn't hit whilst we're riding (or is that just too optimistic?! It is the West Coast after all) and the little earthquake we just had is just a lone ranger.

Here's to a very exciting decade ahead

"Come, come," said Venables. "I really can't go along with this modern playing down of th evil as something that doesn't really exist. There is evil. And evil is powerful. Sometimes more powerful than good. It's there. It has to be recognised - and fought. Otherwise..." he spread out his hands. "We go down to darkness."
- The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

About a month ago someone (oooo, that was me, pick me!) had a very important birthday (well, all birthdays are important, but some are more important and exciting than others). And what do birthdays always call for (well, in my world anyway)?

Why yes, that is a dirty concrete floor. Thank you for noticing.

CAKE! The chocolate cake from Bhakti Cookti Bookti in fact. It was so ridiculously rich and chocolatey that we had to eat it with ice cream lite licks hokey pokey is the BEST!). Not exactly surprising considering it basically has an entire large block of chocolate in the icing!

After the usual wintery Wednesday Night run (basically a group of us meet up on a Wednesday night to go running in the Port Hills together) M and I tempted everyone back to where we were staying to help devour the cake. Cake is pretty much the perfect post-run food right?

The cake is filled with delicious jam as well as copious amounts of chocolate icing. Yum!

In case anyone was concerned (although I can't see why) M and I did actually eat some real dinner which even included vegetables!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie and Olympic rowing. Perfect!

Since I've been gone...

In the thick of that season there were few things more magical than ice - the blocks that emerged, impossibly, from the back of a wagon, steaming not with heat but with cold, the unmistakeable stomp of the iceman conquering the stairwell, gleaming blocks of ice piled on his broad back like enormous melting diamonds.
- Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

So I appear to have been gone from here for quite some time. Oh dear!

Since I’ve gone so long I thought I would give you a little insight into some of the things that appear to have gotten in the way of blogging lately. Basically, life in the south has been filled with many adventures.

There has been lots of running. I like running, especially in the hills. One day I will take the camera with me and show you all where I run every week. It's so beautiful here! And with more tracks slowly opening up again (after being closed for SO long because of earthquake/rockfall danger) there are more places you can safely go.

There has also been heaps of riding, especially since M bought himself a mountain bike and I upgraded. The best part about where we live is that you can go mountain biking straight from home without having to drive anywhere and there a lovely big hills to ride up and along on your road bike. I can't wait for summer and not needing to defrost after a ride though!

Anyway, below is just a little snapshot of some of my favourite adventures we've had so far (i.e. the ones where we have taken a camera!)...

Oceania Mountain Bike Orienteering in Central Otago
Back at the start of the year, when it was warm and summery (which seems like a lifetime ago since now buried in winter and the weather outside today is particularly unpleasant) we had several days of mountain bike orienteering in Central Otago. It was fabulous (mostly) and I seem to have become addicted to mountain biking since returning home.

Sprint the Bay 2012
There has been plenty of orienteering happening this year to distract me and Sprint the Bay was one of the events we traveled to. Basically it is 3 days of sprint orienteering on various maps around the Hawke's Bay region. There was a nice big group of us from Southerly Storm up there to represent the South Island.

Exploring the West Coast
I'd never been to the West Coast of the South Island so M and I went to check out a bit of it. We stayed in the cutest little house right on the coast at Granity and explored a lot of the historic mining sites near by. The highlight was exploring Denniston and getting to see the incline used to cart the coal down from the plateau. It has to be seen to be believed. It was also the first real test of my new bike. I think we're becoming very good friends!

Orienteering Nationals 2012
Easter equals the National Orienteering Champs and this year it was up in Auckland so I got to have a little trip home at the same time. 4 days and 4 very different maps and getting to see people I hadn't seen in a long time made for a lot of fun (and lots of sand in our shoes and socks).

Mountain biking at Craigieburn
We spent ANZAC Day with friends riding in the glorious sunshine at Craigieburn. Beech forest and incredible views made this a pretty cool day, even if the riding was rather scary in places. Hooning along the Hogs Back track down into Castle Hill at the end was an awesome way to finish a long day in the saddle.

TWALK...THE event of the year. 24 hours of madness in the wilderness with a bunch of friends whilst wearing silly costumes cannot really be beaten. As an added bonus, our team won!

Exploring the Mackenzie Country
What does one do when there is a long weekend? One goes on an adventure of course! For Queens Birthday we took our bikes for a few days of riding based out of Tekapo. Arriving in the late afternoon we had a beautiful ride along the Richmond Trail above Lake Tekapo as the sun was slowly setting. We got back to the car just before dark! Another day we rode up (and up and up) to the Omarama Saddle and pushed up the Saddle Ridge track even further where it was freezing and there was snow across the tops. We were far too cold to take pictures by that stage!

Snow Day!
Of course, what is winter without a snow day! I didn't believe snow was coming but that morning it was pouring with rain at our house so I dressed up in my wet weather gear and rode my old mountain bike to work. The closer I got the colder it got and the rain started to turn into ice and then snow flakes. By the time I reached work I was riding through snow drifts. It wasn't long before we were all sent home again! That night was the regular Wednesday night run in the hills and it was crazy because we didn't even need headlights as the snow seemed to light up the sky.

Riding in Rotorua
Last month we flew up to Rotorua for a few of days of riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest. The first couple of days we competed in a weekend of mountain bike orienteering events but we stayed extra days to explore the forest. It's like mountain bike heaven in there! Some of these adventures have not been so fun though. M and I have just recently returned to our flat after nearly 2 months living out of boxes at friends’ houses while EQC (the earthquake commission) “redecorated” it. That was not fun. Sigh. But now we are home and slowly unpacking again. I really should get a move on with that since I have some very exciting visitors arriving this weekend and it would be nice if the house looked somewhat, well, less like boxes and chaos.

There have also been lots of adventures in the kitchen but that is a story for next time...