Friday, 18 April 2014

Focus

Before I get stuck in to my usual rambling, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words following my last post.  It's always a tough decision whether or not to share something so personal, and aside from my occasional jokey whinge-fests, I've tried to keep this blog positive.  But sometimes you just need to vent, and I'm a sharing person.  So thanks for reading, and thanks for being nice :)

This week has been a lot like last week, but with less crying and more palavering.  I haven't been able to focus on anything much, bouncing around from one thing to the next and not getting a whole lot done.  I'm glad I got that extension on my assignment, since it was originally due yesterday and I've barely started it.  I have done approximately zero exercise since last Saturday's parkrun, unless you include walking into town or to the supermarket (and I don't).  My house is disgusting me with its level of filthiness, but as yet I have not had the inclination to do anything about it.  When things get this icky, figuring out where to start is half the challenge.  And don't even get me started on the poor diet choices, oh my gawd!!!

My mother-in-law is arriving early next week for Deane's 35th birthday, and staying several nights.

Tough Mudder is next weekend.

Our friends are getting married in two weeks and I have a very tight-fitting, expensive designer dress I need to squeeze in to that was purchased specially for the happy (and long-awaited) occasion.

Shit's about to get real, y'all.

The time for mourning is over.  It is time now to focus on the journey ahead.  And for starters, that means finishing my assignment.  Easter weekend is going to be a little busier than planned, but I'm okay with that.  I want to do well and finish my degree with good marks - it's not in me to do any less.

I need to get this house clean and tidy before I check out of sanity  - we have scum buildup in the bathroom sinks like you wouldn't believe, gross boy toilets I don't even want to look at, and the floors have that outdoorsy feel to them (y'know, just a little bit gritty underfoot).  That, and my assignment, is today's goal.  Along with maybe finishing off the last week of that 30 day challenge I started four weeks ago.  Five 12-minute HIIT sessions in one day is totally doable, right?

I want to be fit and healthy - not just now so I can enjoy doing crazy things like Tough Mudder, but for my whole life.  We only have a limited time on this earth and I want that time to be as comfortable and enjoyable as possible (except for maybe during the really tough parts of a marathon, or wading through mud and climbing walls in order to achieve a personal goal - things worth doing aren't supposed to be easy).  Tomorrow morning at 8am I'm meeting up with a bunch of people for a 10km run and a one-hour boot camp training session to prepare for next weekend.  I can't wait.  This lack of exercise is making me a little craycray, to the point where I actually started researching home treadmills before I realised it was pointless.  I'd still miss out on my beloved sunrises, and a little rain has never stopped me before.  I would've gone out yesterday morning, but for this:

Tamaki Drive - photo by Mark Jennings, pilfered from the 3 News website

It's a little difficult to go running along your usual route when waves are crashing over the sea wall and flooding the street.  Quay Street and Tamaki Drive were closed for safety reasons anyway...

Being  fit and healthy is not just about exercise though, it's also about eating right.  I've hoovered up all the junk food in the house (gluten free hot cross buns, chocolate, etcetera) - yesterday marked the end of junk-food-appreciation week.  I have a big bag of spinach, fresh strawberries, frozen blueberries and a bunch of bananas all ready to go for smoothies and salads, and I have vegan meals (and omni meals for the boys) planned for the week.  So I'm finishing this post, making myself a green smoothie, then sitting down to work on my assignment.  When I get antsy I'll attack the housework.  With any luck I'll be able to knock out a HIIT session or two in between and in an ideal world, I'll collapse in to bed this evening exhausted, but with a clean house, a finished assignment, and a completed 30 day challenge.

Let's do this.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

It's been one of those weeks...

This week started out like any normal week, aside from the fact that I had an assignment due by midnight Tuesday and I wasn't near finished.  Normally I don't cope well with that kind of pressure and like to be finished well ahead of time.  Also, it helps me avoid cranky-bitch phase where I yell at people for no reason.  A number of events popped up that ate into my study time for the beginning of this trimester (hospital stay, trip to Palmerston North to visit my grandparents, several races) which prevented me from being quite as well prepared as I usually am.  Okay that may not be entirely true, I also got a little lazy and fobbed off study in favour of walks into town to run errands (mostly to procrastinate - any excuse is a good excuse, right?), food shopping (have I ever mentioned how much I love supermarket shopping?  Call me crazy) or whatever else I could find to fill in time.  In any case, the end of last week including some of the weekend (which usually never happens), and most of Monday was taken up with writing a 12 page assignment.  Tuesday morning started much the same - I had a couple of pages left to write and then the whole thing needed to be revised and edited before submission, and I wanted that to be before the kids got home since T was having a friend over after school.  I was on track, until I got a phone call from mum.  My granddad, George, had collapsed.  His heart had stopped and he had no pulse.  They were attempting to resuscitate him but it wasn't looking good.  She was getting packed and organised to drive down there to be with my nana.

Suddenly my focus flew away with the wind, and all I could think was that I needed a cup of tea.  Our landlady had been outside water blasting the deck, and turned up at the front door minutes after I got off the phone to mum.  I composed myself, dried my face, and offered her a coffee.  I managed a decent conversation for about ten minutes before she packed up and left, then I tried to sit back down and continue on with my assignment.  Shortly after that, dad phoned to say that George had gone.  Well, shit.  After blubbering for a while, eating some lunch (who knew you could cry and eat at the same time?  I thought they only did that on TV with ice cream and chocolate), and generally just staring at nothing, I sat down and finished my assignment, did the most rudimentary 'revise and edit' in history, and submitted it.  There was no way I could get an extension at the 11th hour and really, who cares, right?  I'd done what I could, either I passed or failed.  At that stage it didn't matter either way, and I really didn't want to prolong it.  I still haven't looked over the assignment again to see if its actually alright - I'll get my mark in a week or two.  That afternoon life, for us at least, carried on as usual - the boys played and made a lot of noise, T's friend went home, I cooked dinner, fed the boys, then herded them off to bed at the usual times.  Deane had flown to Wellington for work that afternoon (the sixth week in a row if I'm not mistaken) so I had the evening to myself.  I can't honestly remember what I did.  Maybe I watched a movie...

Wednesday I went for a horribly difficult 10km run, thankful that I managed to hold it together.  I also found out when the funeral was to be held.

Thursday I checked flights and calendar appointments and came to the conclusion that not only was it implausible that I could get down to Palmerston North and back in the small window of time I had available, it was going to cost $500 in airfares.  I had to make the horrible decision to not attend.  Heart-wrenching.  Cue blubbering mess...  I consoled myself with the fact that I had visited him just a few weeks ago, and he'd been happy.

Friday, I went and bought a sympathy card to send to my nana, and discovered that it's not a good idea to have a meltdown in the supermarket.  I'd imagine a bookshop would be just as awkward.  I plodded along with course work since I still had an assignment due the following Thursday, but applied for a one week extension, knowing I wouldn't be able to focus on it fully and would end up submitting a pile of garbage.

Today is Saturday.  George was farewelled by friends and family this morning.  The service was recorded on video for those that could not attend, so I'll get to see that at least.  I managed to avoid moping around home dwelling on the situation by going to Parkrun this morning and running a PB, coming home and cooking breakfast for my family, then going shopping for a dress and shoes to wear to a wedding in three weeks time, along with the bride-to-be who has much better fashion sense than me and knows all the good designer stores (that ordinarily I would never set foot in).  Once home, I proceeded to devour all food within sight, and hunted out some more.  Potato chips, white bread, chocolate, ice cream... Not all of it was bad though, there was also a green smoothie, lentils, chickpeas, salad and tofu.  But still...  I'm giving myself this week to mope, emotional-eat (something new I discovered about myself), deal with the slightly unpleasant consequences of eating a bunch of wheat-based food items, and generally just feel crappy.  Next Monday, it's game on again.

Rest in peace George, you've earned it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ponderings...

I've noticed that I often put on an appallingly bad, fake American accent.  Like, when I'm telling the kids to get their jammies on, or hustle to get ready for school, or any number of random mini-events in our daily lives.  Does anybody in America ever put on an appallingly bad, fake kiwi accent...?

I'm an angry cleaner.  When I'm in a really bad mood, or I'm having a heated discussion with Deane, I start doing things like wiping the kitchen bench, cleaning the stove, putting random things away, or whatever else I can spot that needs a tidy up or a good scrub.  Am I alone in this weird compulsion?  And why does this never seem to happen when I'm bored and have plenty of time on my hands?

I called a lady out at the supermarket the other day for taking a family size pie out of her trolley and stashing it in the yogurt section instead of walking back one aisle and returning it to its rightful place.  I wonder if she felt embarrassed enough to go and put it back, or if she was overwhelmed by righteous indignation and just walked off in a huff?  She mumbled something back at me, but I didn't hear it and wasn't going to bother asking her to repeat it at the time.  Wonder what she said?

I had planned to do a marathon this year.  Originally, I was just going to do the Auckland Marathon in November.  However, I recently discovered that XTERRA Waihi has a marathon option, and it will be held on the day of my 35th birthday.  Trails are way more fun than roads, but this particular course takes in many of the hills of the 60km ultra version which has been dubbed the 'Kaimai Killer'.  Awesome way to celebrate a birthday potentially (hopefully) achieving a personal challenge, or am I just a little insane?

Monday, 31 March 2014

Ooh, pretty!!!

Just wanted to say a wee thanks to Photos4Sale for the picture that has just become my title header.  A beautiful photo of the west coast taken during The Hillary, and sent as a thank you for purchasing event photos.  I had to trim the pic so it fitted nicely as a header, which unfortunately cut off the Photos4Sale logo, so I thought I'd just do a little shout out.  They do an awesome job of photographing runners whizzing past them and always shout a word of encouragement - no small feat when you're out there for hours on end constantly on the lookout for people coming towards you, and with only a split second to get a good shot.  Legendary.  Y'all are awesome :)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Hillary

Saturday morning, there was no hurry and no need to alter the usual weekend-morning routine.  I wasn't getting picked up until 9am and I'd organised everything the night before, so I just cruised through breakfast with a cup of tea and some chocolate buckwheat granola (OMG YOU HAVE TO MAKE THIS IT IS AWESOME) with sliced banana and soy milk.  I made a PB sandwich with half a gluten free turkish pide and packed a banana for lunch, along with my jandals, a change of clothes and a towel for afterwards just in case.  You never know what's going to happen on a trail run!  I double-checked I had everything I needed in my trail pack, and patiently waited for my friend to swing by and grab me on the way to Muriwai.  He was only ten minutes late (he's always late) and we enjoyed a relatively leisurely drive out to the west coast, yakking away about anything and everything.

We arrived at base with plenty of time to spare, knowing that the bus was coming to pick us up at 10.30am to take us to Bethells for the start of the race.  We met up with Ant, Dan and Deb, and put on our transponders and race numbers - Ant had been kind enough to pick up all our race packs at registration the day before.  We triple- and quadruple-checked we had everything we needed.  I'd packed four gels but planned on using two, with a time goal of around two hours or so.  A lovely Asian couple approached us for a photo - the husband was running the 16km event, and his wife was staying back to wait for him.  I thought they'd want a picture together, but was surprised to find he wanted a photo with us!  We obliged with happy smiles.  After that it was a quick pit-stop, then a wander up to the car park to wait for the bus.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait...

So the bus ended up being an hour late.  Nobody was particularly concerned or annoyed - this was the first ever official Hillary event so there was bound to be the occasional hiccup, and they had allowed so much time to transport us from the finish to the start that we'd still have time to spare at the other end when we finally arrived.  The cute little wife from before got onto the bus for final 'before' photos of her husband, then stood outside teary-eyed, waving goodbye to him as we drove off.  So sweet!

After an hour-long drive, we did indeed arrive with time to spare.  I picked up my official 'The Hillary' Thir that had been omitted from my race pack and wrapped it around my wrist, then we stood around listening to the race briefing and were told there was a slight change of plans to the start as the Council had declared that only five people at a time could cross the wooden bridge over the stream that runs into Bethells Beach.  Collectively we all trudged up the road to the aid station and were able to cheer on some of the 80km and 34km runners who were making their way through, while awaiting our turn to walk through the mandatory shoe-wash station (to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease) and cross the bridge.  I had a quick catch-up and hello with Vera of Super Generic Girl fame, then after a few more longer-distance runners whizzed through we were off.  It was a pretty slow start, not only because we started straight off with a hill, but because the trail for said hill was relatively narrow and there were 117 of us trying to make our way up all at the same time.  Fairly soon we managed to spread out a bit and my friends and I got a bit of a rhythm going.  The first few kilometres kinda whirred past pretty quickly, and before we knew it, we'd already covered a third of the race!


Originally we'd planned to just enjoy the run, not worry about time, and try to stick together.  By the time we were a third of the way in though, I'd come to the conclusion that I wouldn't be happy hanging back for the slightly slower members of the group and sort of just kept going.  I felt bad about it for a little while but decided to just get over it.  Martin stuck with me - we both love flying down the hills at break-neck speed, whereas the other three seem to value their lives a little more.  We each downed a gel at the 6km mark and just enjoyed the views, the run, and navigating the sometimes-very-narrow Te Henga trail.  We passed a very impressive runner - the 11 year old daughter of the race organiser!  Her mum and dad were busy coordinating everything at the finish line, so she was running it on her own, and doing amazingly well (in Vibrams!)  We passed several more people who were picking their way carefully down hills and at some point I whacked my knee.  I think it was when I tripped myself with some flax - a common problem in heavily flax-populated areas.  What generally happens is you stand on the end of some flax fronds which creates a loop that hooks your other foot and sends you sprawling.  I tripped twice but never actually went down, although I must have hit something to the side of the trail.  I didn't notice at the time, but I have fairly conclusive evidence:


We were fast approaching the 'stairs of doom'.  I've mentioned these before - evil, evil stairs.  They'd planned things well though, with an aid station at the top.  A welcome sight after the energy-draining ascent, before heading off onto Constable Road.  They had bananas, watermelon, gummy lollies, water, coca-cola and electrolyte drink.  I downed some electrolyte and headed off, leaving Martin behind chatting with a friend.

Constable Road was a pretty boring part of the run, but it was relatively short.  I looked back a couple of times to see where Martin was, found he was still within view, and just kept going, knowing he would likely catch up on the down-hills.  Getting back to the trails again was a happy eventuality, especially with the knowledge that there was less than 3km to go!  I mentioned before I love flying down the hills, right?  That's pretty much what I did.  I think my feet touched the ground, but oh, it was so much fun!!!  I felt light as air and had an absolute ball of a time, even managing to spot the low-lying branch in plenty of time to duck under it before taking myself out.  I briefly wondered if anybody had accidentally clothes-lined themselves, before forgetting all about it and just enjoying the moment.  By the time I got through that section of trail and was nearing Muriwai Beach, Martin caught up with me and we ran the last 1.5km together.  There was some packed sand (ugh), some soft sand (double ugh), and a wee uphill before running around the tents at base camp to the finish line.  We saw the little wife from earlier in the day and gave a happy wave to her - she was still waiting for her husband to finish.  He wasn't too far behind us.

Bunny-ears, Martin?  How rude!  Of course, I'm oblivious...

Hooray, the finish line!!

We finished in 2:23:17 (managed to squeeze into the front half of the finishers list) and were happy to grab a complimentary burger for second-lunch (mine was sans burger patty) along with some potato salad and an apricot slice.  Yum!  The first few 80km runners had arrived well before we did and we got to see some more arrive, along with plenty of 34km and 16km runners including that amazing little 11 year old - she got a huge hug from her dad as soon as she crossed the line, he must've been so proud!  We sat in the shade and cheered on our friends who all came in at around 2 hours 30 minutes, and enjoyed some relaxing post-race atmosphere before finally deciding to head home to much-needed showers.

I was impressed with the way the event had been run - despite the hour-late bus - and really hope that it becomes an annual event.  Perhaps the 34km next year...  Hooray, The Hillary!!


Friday, 28 March 2014

Coatesville Classic - better late than never

And by that I mean both the event and my slow-to-post recap.  As you know, the Coatesville Classic was postponed due to Cyclone Lusi, which ended up being a bit of a non-event, smashed window aside.  That Sunday's weather was actually pretty good.  However, the event organisers had to make the tough call on postponement based on set-up of equipment, flags, start/finish lines etc which would've had to be out overnight with potentially strong winds, and we all know weather can be unpredictable.  Volunteers at events are amazing, wonderful people, but it just wouldn't be fair to make them get up super early and stand about for hours in abysmal weather just to hand cups of water to a bunch of people mad enough to run in it.  Events don't get postponed or cancelled on a whim, so good on Running Events for their professionalism in handling the situation.

Those of us still able to partake in the event on the following weekend were treated to more good weather, albeit a little crisp to start.  My banana breakfast didn't really make much of a difference in the pre-race stomach situation, although I will say it wasn't as bad as previous events (like the Coastal Challenge).  I took two Shotz gels with me for the race.  If I had more on hand, I would've taken three.  And I'm under the impression I'm good at organising... pfft.

I filled my small hydration pack and headed out the door at 6.15am with the address loaded into my phone GPS (saves on brain power, and I have zero navigation skills) arriving in plenty of time for the start of the race.  I caught up with The Usual Suspects sans Deb (who was in a netball tournament and had to play five to six games in one day, phew!!) and accidentally jumped the long portaloo queue by approaching them from the opposite side of the building they were parked behind and not realising until afterwards when I walked past all the people still waiting.  Oops!!

The race started at 7.30am and I quickly realised it wasn't going to be a nice flat course like I expected.  I have no idea why I thought it was mostly flat, but there you have it.  In fact, I'm pretty sure there weren't any flat parts to the whole course!











Oh look, there weren't...

Ah well... It was a nice course all the same with beautiful views and peaceful surroundings, only occasionally marred by seeing this guy running towards me (click the link at your peril - if you feel the need to gouge your eyes out with a spoon afterwards, I'll understand, but don't say I didn't warn you!) - the course was pretty much an out-and-back with a couple of dog-legs so I got to experience it not once, but three times!  Lucky me!  I'm only glad I wasn't close enough to him in the pack as to have to run closely behind him... *shudder*. The up-side to the course plan was that I got to high-five my friends a couple of times on the way past :)

This is my 'Seriously? You're taking photos at the top of a hill? What's wrong with you?' look.  Well, at least I wasn't walking...

Despite it being all uphill or downhill I only took about four walk breaks, two of which were to down a gel (okay, maybe more like six walk breaks).  I hoofed it on the downhills to make up some time.  It did occur to me during one of them that perhaps I was burning a little too much energy even though it was a downhill, but then I was like, 'nah, you're good' and just kept going.  The last few kilometres of the course were blessedly downhill, apart from a wee 100m dog-leg.  The last two kilometres were my fastest at 4'57" and 4'59".  Hurrah!




I finished in 1:58:09 officially, and had time to take off my timer chip and get back to the finish line to cheer on my friends who finished a few minutes later.  We all headed in to Browns Bay for a late breakfast/brunch at La Tropezienne.

Ant, Erik, Martin, Me, Kirsten and Dan post-race (see, Dan's wearing his finisher's medal!)

The Finisher's Medal in all its glory.

My time was way off my PB of 1:45:22 for a half, but it was hilly, and I'm not at the same level of fitness I was at last year when I clocked that time.  I'm working on it ;)  This week I've started back on the ol' HIIT (high intensity interval training), to start training for Tough Mudder in a month's time.  Better late than never, huh?  I think that's my catch-phrase for the week :)  I'd forgotten how hard it was, even though they're only 12 minute workouts!

Tomorrow we're heading in to the Waitakeres for the inaugural Hillary race.  My friends and I are running the shortest distance, 16km from Bethells to Muriwai.  Should be fun, and slightly less scary since they've widened the paths on the Te Henga track.  Yay!  So I'll be posting another race report next week :)  Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Again with the planning

Study - getting there slowly, but still a little behind.  Having Deane often working from home and constantly on the phone tends to be quite distracting.  So.  Many.  Phone calls!!!
Housework - what I should be doing right now because the reinstatement of the daily routine didn't quite work out this week and my house is trashed.
Running - better, but not quite how I'd like it.  Ended up skipping the run this morning in favour of getting other things done.  Although I have enjoyed a couple of runs this week (15km and 11km) following some routes I found on WalkJogRun that other people have submitted.  Following other peoples' routes makes it a little more fun than plodding along the same ol' familiar ones.
Knitting - I'm working on the slowest sweater sleeve known to man, and have resorted to bribing myself with chocolate drops in order to get the rows knit.  Bit sad, really... who's bright idea was it to knit a long-sleeved hoodie in laceweight anyway?!?

This weekend is the rescheduled Coatesville Classic, bright and early Sunday morning with a start time of 7.30am.  This means a wake up of around 5am.  I am contemplating what to do about breakfast, wondering if a banana or two would suffice, and cause less nervous-stomach issues.  I guess there's only one way to find out...  I know what I can eat for breakfast on a normal day before a long run without having any problems, but the only time I get to try race-day breakfasts is on race days when my stomach is going haywire.  Oh, such fun :/  Thrown on top of this usual issue would be the potential lack of sleep and a large side of stress (neither of which are good for IBS, or pre-race preparations).  Deane and I will be driving to Palmerston North this afternoon once the boys have finished school (they're staying here with their Aunt).  He was already heading down for a big get-together of a whole bunch of friends from way back, and I am now tagging along to go and visit a family member who has recently been admitted to hospital.  The drive will take about 6-7 hours each way, and I'm betting Deane won't want to leave Palmy at 3pm tomorrow just so I can get an early night.  We'll have to see how it goes.  I will be taking food with me though, so I can avoid the nasty fast-food last-resort meal options that invariably end up being consumed on road trips.  Happy Cow doesn't have any listings for veg*n-friendly restaurants and there's not a lot listed on other sites.  I think living in such a large, diverse city has given me warped ideas of what the rest of the country is like - the lack of options available anywhere outside of Auckland is a real eye-opener.  Either there aren't many vegetarians outside of the larger metropolitan areas, or they're having to fend for themselves and survive on garden salads when dining out.

So at the moment instead of doing housework or study like I'm supposed to be doing, I'm getting stuff organised for car knitting and reading, sorting out transportable vegan snacks/meals, arranging easy meal options that can be prepared for my kids while we're away, and writing a blog post.  Great use of time there, huh? ;)

Just wanted to mention a couple of things before I forget:

Firstly, I won a snuggly bath robe and throw blanket from Foodbox for my vegan pumpkin spinach lasagne:


Yep, totally stole their photo...

I had a wee laugh when it arrived though, because they'd left the price tags on!  Oops...

Secondly, friends of ours previously from Wellington (our boys went to school with their boys, and they'd hang out on occasion) moved to Gisborne a while back, and they have recently started their own coffee roasting and supply business - Far East Coffee Co.  We ordered some coffee from them last week, and I can happily say it is awesome!!  So if you're in Gisborne, or anywhere in New Zealand really, and want some good coffee, check them out.  They deliver!  They're lovely, down-to-earth, good people with a great product.  And it's good to support local :)

Okay, I better at least make it look like I put some effort in to tidying the place up.  Wish me luck for Sunday!  I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy some sun :)  Get amongst it!  Let me know what you got up to, I'd love to hear from y'all.  Good luck for the DUAL, Sheryl!!