Friday, 19 September 2014

Random thoughts on a Friday

  • Every time I walk past Victoria Park these days, I feel sorry for the kids.  Their playground has been taken over by adults doing boot camp training!
  • If a store that you only visit occasionally is late opening on the few times you've been there, do you have the right to complain?
  • Spring in Auckland is a little too wet for my liking.
  • I am very glad I have a treadmill (related to previous random thought).
  • There are only 14 weekends left until Christmas.  There will be no knitted gifts for family this year.  I'm a little sad about this.
  • Air New Zealand put up $79 grab-a-seat flights from Auckland to Queenstown for November earlier this week.  Bastards.
  • I made eggplant potato moussaka with pine nut cream for my dinner last night.  I'm pretty sure I could eat it every night for a week and not get sick of it.  It was insanely good.
  • Everything chocolate that I've eaten this week has made me feel a little bit ill.  (Lindt 70% dark chocolate, my favourite chunky chocolate buckwheat granola, gluten free brownies I made for the kids...)  I think I'm going to take a break from all things chocolate for a while.
  • I'm making sauerkraut.  It was way easier than I expected it would be.  Hope it works.
  • I've started a 'kreachr covets' page of all the things I see and want to get, kind of like a shopping checklist that will take a really long time to purchase.  Particularly when it includes a $1,300 kitchen appliance...
  • I am nearly two thirds through my degree.  Wow.
  • I did not get sick once this Winter, despite every one of my family members coming down with colds and spreading their germs all over the place.  I feel just a little bit smug about that.
  • My BFF will be arriving in about four hours.  I can't wait to ambush her with a giant hug as soon as she walks in the door!  I haven't seen her for aaaaaaaaaaaages!!!
  • Only three weeks until my birthday marathon.  Time to route the 35km run for this Sunday.  Next week it's tapering time!
  • Oddly, I'm actually looking forward to voting tomorrow.  Make sure you get out there and have your say!
Now my brain is empty, it's time to work on the assignment I have due next week.  Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Just stuff

Y'all, treadmill runs are boring.  But y'know what?  I'd rather have them than not.  Three of last week's five runs were on the treadmill - 6km, 15km and 11km.  I watched a movie, listened to pod casts, and mucked around with the elevation for a bit of a hill running workout.  The scenery wasn't much chop though...  Not to worry, Martin and I did our back-to-back long runs on Saturday and Sunday, which more than made up for it.  Saturday was Okura to Stillwater and back times two, and let me tell ya, it was nice to have a much lower mud level to deal with!  It was a bit drizzly, but we were pretty lucky in terms of weather - it poured after we got back.  I got lots of pretty pictures of the trail and surrounds to share:

23km all up (although Martin clocked 21km, we're not sure why our distances are always so different).  We were dying for a hot coffee by the time we got back to my place.  We'd left at 7am and I hadn't had a cup of tea so my caffeine reserves were running low ;)

On Sunday it was another 7am pick up, this time heading over to Devonport for a road run around the 'burbs and a couple of hikes up North Head and Mount Victoria.  Again, got some lovely scenery shots.  And y'all know how much I love sharing, so here ya go:

View of Rangitoto from our start point

It was cold, hot, cold, very very windy, wet, warm, wet, windy and cold.  I kid you not.  The weather was cray-cray.  But we stuck it out despite both of us taking turns at whining pretty much the entire time, and managed to run the planned 25km, which we were actually happy about.  Not that you could tell because of the complaining...

All up, it was a 79km week - the most I've ever run in a week, I think.  I was a little tired at the end of it, and thoroughly enjoyed my rest day on Monday!  I accidentally ended up extending that rest day into two, by running out of time to run on Tuesday.  Oh well...  This morning was a 4.30am start in order to fit in a 20km treadmill run before the kids woke up and dude.  I had the best breakfast afterwards.

Southwest tofu scramble and breakfast potatoes.  22g of protein!  Omnomnom!!  And that doesn't include the protein in my second breakfast (PB&J on toast.  What?  I was super hungry!)  I added extra greens to the scramble and used baby silverbeet instead of spinach.  It was really good.  I have now managed to make two tofu scrambles I really enjoyed, yay!  And those potatoes?  Will definitely be making those again, yum!  Not to mention quick and easy.

This weekend is the last XTERRA race, in the Hunua Ranges.  Sadly, I won't be able to make it since my BFF will be in town with her mum - we're going to Cirque du Soleil.  Can't wait!!  But that means I would be completely abandoning them on Sunday morning if I went to the race, so I'm going to skip it and just do a long run (35km planned) later once they've left.  Which also means tapering won't begin until next week, as per the training schedule.  Being able to knock out one more mid-30km run will make me feel a lot better about attempting to do 42.2km next month.  I hope.  Holy shit, only three and a half weeks to go...

I'm going to have to get some new trail shoes before then I think.  My Inov-8's have a little hole in the lining of the heel in one shoe, and the last thing I want is to get a blister.  It's really annoying because otherwise they're still perfect - the tread has hardly worn at all.  They've still got at least 1,000km in them (they've done just under 500km so far).  Hopefully I can get the lining fixed...  In the meantime I'd be a complete girl's blouse and wouldn't be able to run the marathon if I got a blister on the back of my heel midway through, so in order to eliminate all possible excuses I think I should just get some new shoes.  Any suggestions?

Ooh, one more thing - I got my hair cut this morning and thought I better take a picture for posterity.  I'm hopeless at styling it so it won't ever look this good again.  It's starting to get longer finally, but it'll be a while before its back to the length I had it at before.  I'm thinking I need it really long again so I can go completely hippy and braid flowers into it while wearing loose tops and no bra, long flowing skirts, bare feet and lots of beads ;)

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will never be able to make a selfie look effortless.  Sigh.

Look, grey hairs!!  I love them :)  I need more, they look cool.  Hope you're having an awesome week, and your weather is better than ours.  Classic Auckland Spring is being its usual self and can't make up its mind.  Fun times.  I'm over the rain, bring on the Summer!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Counting down the training runs...

I have now got to the point where I'm struggling to fit in all the long training runs I wanted to do.  This weekend we're planning a back-to-back (ie: two longish runs on both Saturday and Sunday).  Next weekend was supposed to be the longest training run of 35km before tapering, but it is the weekend of the last XTERRA race in the Hunua Ranges which is only going to be 22.1km - well short of the required distance!  The 35km run just won't be happening, unless I can fit it in to a weekday.  I am a little bummed about that, but am trying to remember the fact that we have managed to squeeze in two 34km runs already.  In theory, we should be good to go.  Hanging over my head is the realisation that on race day we'll be running a whole 42.2km... ::begin freak-out in 3, 2, 1...::

Holy crap.  One month to go.  Deep breaths - in, out, in, out...

So I got in to the Queenstown Marathon, then discovered the cheapest flights available were about $600.  Could I honestly justify that kind of expense without feeling being completely selfish?  Hell no.  I had to send them an email to say thanks but no thanks.  I'm still really gutted that I won't get to run it - the inaugural Queenstown Marathon is starting in beautiful Arrowtown and the scenery will be a-ma-zing, and I have several friends running it this year - but there will surely be another opportunity somewhere down the track.  Maybe.  ::sob::

Training runs are getting monotonous.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the surroundings, and it's always good to get outdoors and spend time running through the bush with my friend (or friends, if we have extra company), but I'm now at the point where I have to make myself run the solo runs in town or on the treadmill during the week, and to be frank, I'm a little bit over the whole mud thing.  My enthusiasm for winter runs is waning.  Sure, it's now Spring, but Spring in Auckland is always wet which means the mud isn't going to abate any time soon.  It's nice to change it up a bit every now and then, but lately every trail run involves copious amounts of mud so it isn't really much of a change, y'know?  Add to this the fact that Martin and I seem to keep heading off the official Hillary Trail into sections of the Waitakeres that are lesser-used and riddled with overgrown sections or fallen trees that require climbing skills, and every run is a physical and mental challenge.

I will admit I rather enjoyed the early Thursday morning run through some of the Central Auckland suburbs - we ran through Western Springs Park near the Auckland Zoo, and could hear Burma the elephant making a bit of a racket.  We were lucky enough to also enjoy this beautiful sunrise:

The geese, ducks and swans were lovely.  The bugs were not.  It became necessary to run close-mouthed through the park in order to avoid getting a mouthful of miniature flying creatures - there were random swarms dotted about the place and because of the low early-morning light, they weren't visible.  Ew.

Sunday's run was not quite what we had in mind.  We started a little later in the morning so I could make Deane breakfast in bed for Father's Day before heading out the door.  We had planned on replicating this run by Malcolm Law (just the distance and route, not the time!!), but found we had severely underestimated the time needed.  We ended up missing out Muir Track, Pararaha Valley Track, Buck Taylor Track and Odlin Timber Track - instead we just zipped across Walker Ridge to Orange Peel Corner.  Not only did this cut out a few kilometres, it also reduced the elevation gain by about 800m:

I'd told Deane to bring the boys out to meet us in Huia for ice cream after the run, estimating that we'd be done by about 3 or 3.30pm.  Pfft!!!  If we'd stuck to the original course, we'd have been lucky to have finished by 5!  With our adjusted route we finished at about 3pm so it worked out pretty well,  I was just a little disappointed about the huge drop in elevation gain.

What I was happy about though, was getting to tackle the Karamatura and Omanawanui Tracks that well and truly kicked my butt last summer!  (Reading back through that, I'm not entirely sure I got the order of the tracks right.  Oh well.  Hooray for topomap!)

Here are some pics from the run:

The view from the top of Omanawanui Track towards Whatipu and Paratutae Island

The resting spot, looking back towards Cornwallis

... I have no idea where this is...

This was part of Walker Ridge, looking a little overgrown

Did I mention it was a little muddy?  You should've seen my legs at the end!!

This was about the billionth tree we had to climb over.

I had joked on the way up Karamatura, because it was quite warm, that the trail had something against me and was trying to do me in.  It was the warmest day we'd had in a while and was quite humid - last time I'd run it, it had been the hottest day of the summer so far.  Somewhere mid-run I was saying how surprised I was that I hadn't yet face-planted on a trail run.  Usually I manage to keep my balance pretty well, and often don't even have to put my hands down to stop my fall.  I did at least put in that there's always a first time for everything, but you know what they say - pride cometh before the fall...  Later, on the way back down Karamatura when we were nearing the end of the run I stepped on a tree root that was incredibly slippery.  I couldn't stop my trajectory and ended up tumbling all the way over, narrowly missing a complete face-in-the-mud fall.  I ended up with my butt in the air and minor grazes down my legs.  Thankful that I had finally got that 'first' out of the way, I laughed my ass off about it for a while, convinced that it would've been quite comical to observe and lamenting the fact that we didn't have action replay.  Then I tripped again.  And again.  At this stage I was starting to get angry, and was absolutely convinced that Karamatura hated me and was pissed off that I had managed the ascent without nearly dying this time around.  Well take that Karamatura, I shake my fist in your general direction!!

We ended the day by getting ice creams at Huia Foodstore, cleaning up the chocolate ice cream vomit that T sprayed the car with on the windy trip back home (thankfully we had a full packet of wipes in the car!  Note to self: do not feed motion-sickness-prone children large ice creams before embarking on road trips with many corners and hills), and watching Star Wars while eating Indian takeaways for dinner.  Not a bad day all up.  Probably not quite the Father's Day Deane had in mind, but then, I'm still waiting for my Mother's Day present... ;)  It's all a bit of give and take, amiright?

Monday, 1 September 2014

XTERRA Riverhead (the second) recap

When all you can hear the night before a trail running event is rain pounding on the roof, you know you're in for a muddy one!  And that's exactly what we got on Sunday at the sixth XTERRA event in Riverhead.  I made sure to pack my phone so I could snap pics of the beautiful toadstools around the course, but was disappointed to discover they were absent, replaced by large amounts of sticky clay mud :(  Oh well, maybe some other time...

Thankfully, Riverhead Forest isn't too far away so we didn't have to get up ridiculously early for this one.  A 6am wake-up seems quite reasonable these days!  I scoffed some breakfast and took my time getting ready, and am forever grateful that the pre-race nerves have all but disappeared and I don't have to contend with multiple bathroom trips before heading out the door.  We arrived quite early as usual, but this time we had to park a little way away from the event base.  The morning was a little drizzly, but nothing like the rain we'd had the night before, so hooray for small mercies.  It was a little chilly but still in double digits temperature-wise, so shorts, a singlet and merino sleeves were sufficient for the run.  Martin and I chatted to a few people before the start - you get to know quite a lot of them after a while.  Regulars, I guess you could say ;)  Malcolm Law complimented me on my High Five-0 head cover, lol ^_^

At 9am we were off up the gravel forestry road before heading onto the single track into the forest and our first taste of mud.  The course took in alternating chunks of road and trails, and each change was welcomed as you'd get a little bit sick of the mud so would be happy for some gravel, then would get bored with the gravel and be happy to slog through the mud for a while.  It was very slick and slippery, but squelchy and sticky at the same time.  Being 4WD tracks, there were deep gouges in the mud quite regularly, along with the odd puddle or two.  Some of the puddles were quite deceptive in their depth and several people got caught out, ending up waist-deep.  I managed to get one that was about mid-thigh, so not too bad.  I was also lucky enough to avoid a face- or butt-plant in the mud, and my hands remained relatively clean - I was quite determined not to trip and have to break my fall with my hands!  I joked about the girliness of it with a few guys during the run - ewww mud!  Hahaha!!

Wow, look at those pristine-clean legs!

Not any more!

About three quarters of the way through the run I stripped off the sleeves.  It was still fairly cold, but I run better when I'm not too warm.  Sleeves are awesome for that very reason.  You should totally get some.

The super long course was (by my watch) 22.4km, and I completed it in an official time of 2:35:23, placing 76/100 overall, 18/31 female, and 13/20 in my age group.  I was expecting about that time, so was pretty happy with it.  It was quite a good run, I was just really looking forward to seeing the toadstools.  Blah.

Very soon after I'd finished, I met Kath.  Hi Kath!  I'm sorry I wasn't particularly chatty right that moment, but I'm glad you found my advice helpful.  Good luck with your afghan!!  I hope it goes really well (I'm sure it will).  Just a quick piece of extra advice - keep track of your knitting row by row, so you don't get lost in the pattern.  That's what I did, and I only ended up having to tink back a half row once.  Considering the size of the afghan and my ability to screw up the simplest of patterns, I think that's pretty good.  I just have one question - you live in Auckland, you're a knitter, and you run trails.  How are we not BFFs already?!?  Seriously, we should hang :)  And just quietly, I'm a little envious of your ability to totally rock those short shorts ;)

After we'd finished, we headed to Hallertau for lunch.  I just threw my jeans on over my shorts and the caked-on mud, then had to deal with the chunks of dried mud digging into my legs and getting all itchy and annoying through the next two hours.  I was really looking forward to the shower when I got home!!  I'd heard good things about Hallertau, and it's always so busy, so I was a little nonplussed to discover that apart from side dishes, they had only one vegetarian meal on the menu, and it was so rich and full of cheese and cream that I could barely get through it!  I didn't feel too well afterwards.  I couldn't even just get a salad, because both their salads had meat in them.  Stink.  Everybody else's meals were good though, so I can see why people flock to the place.  Just not many vegetarians/vegans ;)

Speaking of food, check out the breakfast X and I had on Saturday:

Mini chocolate pancake stack for me

Mini pancake super-stack for X

He ate all but half a mini-pancake - pretty good effort!  So y'all know I like cooking by now, and every now and then I whinge about having a small kitchen.  Deane kindly built me a spice shelf over the weekend:

Pretty cool, huh?  Sadly, the cupboards are still crammed full, but this at least stops things falling out onto my head on a regular basis ;)  Thanks Deane!

And now I will leave you with some pics from our training run from the previous weekend - we ran from my place to the Waitakere Dam, then ran Fence Line Track, Waitakere Dam and Waitakere Tramline Walk.  All up, about 34km.  Hard work!  But the scenery was, as always, beautiful.

View of Auckland from Henderson Valley Road

Have a great week, people!!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Arataki to Huia and back... sort of... and some other things

Last week turned out to be a little craycray - I finished my assignments in time and submitted them Tuesday afternoon (phew!).  Dying to know what marks I get for them...  Wednesday through Friday was full of home-schooling a nine-year-old.  We did science experiments, maths, baking, reading, origami, word puzzles, some online school work, and went for walks.  Fun, educational, interesting, and very time-consuming!  I got the bare minimum of housework done, and absolutely no study or running.  Saturday I was mentally pretty wiped, so I just kinda pottered around doing bits and pieces - cooking, knitting, reading etc. So to fix that (well, the running at least), I hauled Martin out on Sunday for a long run.  He drove though, so I can't be held entirely accountable ;)  We were planning an out-and-back to Huia from the Arataki Visitor Centre, but ended up doing more of a loop, taking in Tom Thumb and Twin Peaks Tracks.  I lost GPS satellite connection partway around so I don't have an exact route.  Plus, my memory sucks and I can't remember if we ran Summit Track or Christies Track, or which combination of the other tracks around the area.  I know there was a tunnel somewhere...  The Twin Peaks track is hard work, and not as well-used as much of the Waitakere tracks, but oh, the views were amazing!  Sadly, my phone was doing its usual 'play dead' trick so I missed getting a picture of the most beautifully stunning scenery (I'm still annoyed about it and vow to one day go back just to get that photo!!), but we did get some lovely pictures along the way all the same, including a snap of the sign marking the highest point of the Waitakere Ranges - Te Toiokawharu:

This is what it looked like on the way up:

The picture doesn't really show it, but this whole area was covered in bright green moss.  It was beautiful.  Stupid useless phone camera...

Twin Peaks is bloody steep, and very overgrown!  Fallen trees were everywhere to climb over, and I was amazed at the amount of mud we had to trudge through (not in these pics though, obviously).  It made for very slow going, but the views were worth it, and there is nothing quite like being in the middle of the boonies with greenery all around you and the sound of native birds.  We saw and heard tui, kereru, fantails, and even spotted this beautiful pheasant:

The only other scenic shots I got were these, on the Pipeline Track (or Hamilton Track, I'm not sure), and one looking out towards Huia Dam (or Nihotupu Dam, again, not sure.  I should start taking notes...)

There was about three or four hours where we didn't see another single person.  I guess 'off the beaten track' (ie: not on the official Hillary trail) isn't all that popular.  I'm not complaining, it was actually kinda nice...  The day was a lot longer than we expected, but it was a goodie - we ended up doing 34km (or 31km, depending on whose watch you looked at) and 1,564m total elevation.  And the Danish Delight ice cream stall in the car park was still open when we got back - bonus!  It took us about six hours all up.  Essentially, this was three quarters of what Waihi will be in distance, elevation and time.  So a pretty damn good training run and indicator of the potential outcome for Waihi.  The good news is, we should finish before the 8 1/2 hour cut off.  The bad news is, its very unlikely we'll win it ;)  Hahahahaha!

This week so far I've managed to fit in a bit of everything - study, running (on the treadmill because the weather's been poop), parent/teacher interviews, etc etc.  Although I am seriously considering whether its worth paying $40-$60 a week to have somebody else come and do my housework so I can fit in more study and running... at least until my marathon's done and dusted...

Treadmill running has been made a little more interesting by digging up different workouts online.  Sure, the treadmill has built in programs, but they're unpredictable in terms of speed and incline with no indication when its suddenly going to kick up to 14kph - I can't run that fast!  So having a workout written on a wee piece of paper and taped to the bottom of the screen has worked for me so far, I just adjust the speed/incline at the right times.  Hill workout, speed workout, whatever, you can find a pre-written plan to suit.  Ah, the interwebs.  So very handy...

Today I'll admit to not getting any study done, but I got to meet one of my favourite authors - Rachael Herron!!  Looklooklook:

Author selfie!!!

She is just so lovely, and her wife Lala is awesome :)  I love them, and am so glad I got to meet them both!  Rachael is on tour to promote her latest book, Fiona's Flame (which I haven't read yet.  So many other things to do, not enough time for reading. Ugh).  Happy happy happy :)  And, true to form, I gave her a knitted gift.  This time though, I managed not to make a complete dick of myself in the process.  Small victories, you take 'em when you can ;)

I'm looking forward to this weekend - we have our family movie planned (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - X and I just finished the book last night), and another long run on Sunday, somewhere around the 30km mark. Yeehah!  Have a fabulous weekend! :)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

XTERRA Waharau race recap

Very (very) early on Thursday morning I rolled out of bed - 4.10am to be exact - and met Martin for a 26km run.  We didn't muck around that morning, only stopping briefly a few times, and finished our run in under 2 1/2 hours.  We didn't chat much (Too early?  Nothing left to say after so many long training runs together?  Who could say?).  But we did discuss the upcoming weekend's XTERRA event in Waharau.  I had made a tentative decision earlier in the week to move up from the long distance to the super-long, as the event stats sounded like the perfect training run for Waihi - 21.1km with around 1,400m elevation gain (only about 400m less than Waihi, in half the distance!).  With compulsory gear required such as seam-sealed waterproof jacket, thermal top, gloves and hat, and emergency blanket, it sounded like just what I needed to gauge my progress and fitness (and mental preparedness) leading up to Waihi.  After discussing it with Martin (ie: he insisted) I committed to the idea.

So bright and early Sunday morning we all (Vaughan, Martin, Lindsay and I) trekked on out to the Hunua Ranges, with a bit of a close call on petrol - bless the people that built a service station on the corner of Kaiaua and East Coast Roads!!!  As always we arrived nice and early, and because we had a car-load we got to park really close to event base (and the portaloos - bonus, or drawback?  I can't decide...)  I officially 'upgraded' to the super-long distance and got a new race number, then hung around until race briefing.  They had a little more to say this time, particularly concerning the ruggedness and remoteness of the course, the compulsory gear requirements that were 'definitely going to be checked', and personal safety.  It was going to be tough, with a 'toughness factor' of 5 out of 5.  I was ready!

The start horn sounded, and we were off.  Martin, Vaughan and I stuck together and chatted off and on during the hard slog up the hill.

Yep, everybody's walkin'...

By 1km in my calves were burning and my shin splints were screaming at me!  There was a nice bit of downhill a little way in that helped relieve them ever so slightly before more relentless uphill.  We stopped at a viewing platform about 4.5-5km up the hill to take some photos of the stunning view, because why not?

The Firth of Thames, looking out towards the Coromandel.  Absolutely beautiful.

Then it was straight back into uphill slog before reaching the aid station and peeling off from the longies.  This is where they were supposed to be doing compulsory gear checks.  They didn't.  But it was where the course got really fun!  Rugged and remote, you say?  Yeah, I'd call that a pretty accurate description...

Those little orange triangles nailed to trees were often the only way of telling where the trail was!  Stomping through the bush riddled with gnarly tree roots and low-hanging branches, fallen trees and vegetation, rocks and mud with a barely discernible single trail made me feel pretty bad-ass, I'm not gonna lie.  Martin lost a shoe in a giant mud-puddle, and the polite thing would've been to wait for him to locate it and put it back on.  I managed to hang around long enough for him to find it and shake some of the mud out before I took off.  I couldn't help it, I was itching to keep moving!  (He lost a shoe a total of three times over the duration of the event.  Hopeless... ;P).  At a little over 10km in we arrived at the trig station - the highest point of the Hunua Ranges at 688m.  Martin and Vaughan were a little way behind so I took the opportunity to climb up to the viewing platform and snap some pics:

Then we were off again.  There were a few more kilometres of up-and-down trail, some exposed with knobbly, uneven grass underfoot, some with super-steep muddy trail, and some with gravel track, all of it stunningly beautiful:

After around 13km, it was time for the wicked downhill section!  This is where I left the boys behind, and because there weren't a lot of people around (the fast runners were well and truly gone, and the rest of us were pretty well spread out), I spent large chunks of this section completely alone except for the few people I passed.  There is something quite magical about being alone and flying through the bush with just the sound of your breathing, your footfalls, and native birds singing all around you.  It is one of the things that makes me truly happy.

The shorter-distance events had finished already, so there wasn't a bunch of people to join up with for the tail end of the run.  It was pretty quiet, so I got a bit of a surprise when the photographers made a whooping noise to alert me to their presence right before a stream crossing.  I got a little disorientated with the unexpected sound and didn't get to go crashing through the water for an awesome photo - instead, I got careful stepping with a slightly confused look...

Oh well, you can't win them all.  After that, it wasn't too far to the finish line.  I heard a couple of people behind me just as we were nearing the end and I was determined not to let them pass me, so put on a tiny burst of speed to get across the line before they did.  Not that it matters ;)  I finished in 3:12:19 (84/122 overall, 18/36 women, 16/26 age category), Martin was five minutes later, and Vaughan a little while after that.  Linsday had finished her mid-course run quite a bit earlier and had kindly grabbed the boys a sausage and a beer each so they didn't miss out.  By the time we rolled in, people were packing up and getting ready to go home!  It was a tough course, no doubt about it, but it was most definitely my favourite of the series so far.

We have since been informed that the elevation gain was closer to 960m, well short of the 1,400m originally indicated.  Disappointing - here I was thinking I was totally kicking ass at the whole hill-climbing thing! Despite that, I'm still fairly confident my training is on the right track for Waihi.  I'm actually starting to look forward to it, even though the distance is still pretty scary.  Martin has a few daunting-sounding training runs planned over the next couple of weeks I think - he won't divulge details, but I reckon I can handle it ;)

Lovely bonus pic from Allan and his team - thanks for being awesome, Photos4Sale!