Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Arataki to Whatipu

Y'all know I was excited about this trail run, right?  And that, even though I hadn't run or done any other strenuous form of exercise for nearly a month prior to this trail run because of an injury, I was all like "lack of fitness be damned!  I will run this section of the Hillary Trail if it is the last thing I do!".  Well, that was stupid.  Really, really stupid.  Let me set the scene:

Sunday morning dawned, and I had set my alarm for 5.45am but as usual didn't need it to wake me up.  Feeling a little nauseated, all I could manage for breakfast was some toast with peanut butter and jam, and a cup of tea.  The ill feeling was likely due to nerves and excitement, much like what I get before a race.  The thought of a 23km trail run after an extended break seems a little crazy, but I can be stubborn and I was determined to do this.  My stomach had other ideas, and caused havoc for the ensuing several hours.  I won't go into detail, I'm sure your imagination can cover it quite adequately.  I had my pack loaded up with trail mix, sport beans, two litres of water, a thermal, waterproof jacket, gloves, warm hat, first aid essentials, mini torch, sunscreen, anti-chafe, electrolyte tabs and an extra drink bottle.  I had my phone, some cash and a credit card, and a change of clothes and a towel for afterwards in the car.  I was uber-prepared, gear-wise.  I headed out the door at 7am with directions to the Arataki Visitor Centre and was surprised at how easy it was to get to, and how quick the drive was.  I had it in my head that it was much further away.  So by the time I got there I had half an hour to kill (which gave me ample time to visit the loo again) - I read some on my Kindle (Dracula by Bram Stoker) and enjoyed the view from the car park:

It was a beautiful day, and already quite warm by 8am.  I offloaded some of the extra stuff in my pack - one packet of trail mix, the electrolyte tabs and drink bottle, gloves and hat.  It was estimated that we would take about three to four hours to run from Arataki to Whatipu.  In hindsight, I'd call that a little amibitious...

Everyone arrived after having dropped a couple of cars at Whatipu for the trip back afterwards, we had a quick briefing, donned our packs and headed onto the trail.  There were so many lovely views, and the native bush is quite spectacular:

The beast that is the Waitakere Ranges

Somewhere along the Pipeline Track, I think... maybe Hamilton Track...

We made fairly good time to Huia, with several small stops along the way for a quick snack and/or to brush off and spray our shoes to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.  I had some trail mix and sport beans, but felt a little nauseated at times so just made sure I was well hydrated.  We stopped at the campground for some early lunch.

Dan, Rob, Deborah, Ant and Martin, sitting on the wall at Huia Dam

All I managed was a little more trail mix and water.  My day would've been perfect if I'd stopped there, but we were only half way, and after a toilet stop and some water refills we carried on.  It was high tide, so we had to go the Karamatura Farm route instead of along the beach at Huia Bay.  I was good until we got to the steep part of the Karamatura Track.  Going from nearly sea level to over 400 metres elevation in less than 3km was a serious physical and mental challenge.  The combination of a dodgy tummy, poor fueling (not nearly enough calories on board) and lack of adequate fitness slowed me right down.  My legs were fine on the flat and on downhills, but those were very few and far between at this stage of the trail.  It was mostly uphill, and rather steep uphill at that.  I have short legs, and the steps were big.  There was no option to take smaller, quicker steps which I think I could have potentially handled a little better. I was completely drained of energy, my legs felt like dead weights, and at times I could hardly breathe.  It was a little scary, and I really didn't know if I would make it.  I was so frustrated with myself, more so because I knew that I was holding up the rest of the group.  I wanted to be able to keep up, keep moving, but I had to keep telling myself 'come on'.  Whenever I saw another uphill I got a horrible sinking feeling, and thought 'I can't do this.  I'm not going to make it.'  I shouldn't have gone on the run, particularly with how I'd been feeling that morning, but my stupid stubborn ass had refused to give up so easily.  

The group would go on ahead, then have to wait for me to catch up.  Martin was sticking back with me to make sure I was okay, and that made me feel even worse because he was the fastest and fittest out of all of us.  He kept saying there was just one more hill.  Just one more hill.  Rob joked later that that was the day we learned Marty counted hills in binary ;)  After we reached the summit of Mt Donald McLean, there was still the Puriri Ridge Track, and then the Omanawanui Track.  That one had some scary-ass steep rocky downhill, what trail enthusiasts would call very 'technical'.  By that stage I was sooooooo over it and just wanted to go home and sleep for three days.  I will say that there were some stunning views along the way though:

One of the few parts of the trail that was actually relatively flat-looking.  It wasn't.

Beautiful native bush, providing very-much-appreciated shade!

Nearly dying, but still enjoying the view

Sneaky-peek through the trees 

Nearing the end, somewhere along the Puriri Ridge Track or Omanawanui Track.  I wasn't paying attention to signs.

Sadly, my phone was running out of battery power so I didn't get to take a photo at the park bench on the Omanawanui Track looking out over Manukau Harbour.  We eventually reached Whatipu, and all up, stops included, it had taken us over six hours.  I had made it, I had survived in one piece.  There was no other option!  Although if I hadn't been holding them back, they probably would've done it in five.  Guess I'll find out this weekend - they're all running it again!  Crazy bastards...  Nobody complained though (bless them) and everyone proclaimed that they had enjoyed the run (at this point I was very quiet).  It was Deborah and Dan's longest runs, neither having yet completed a half marathon.  What a first half marathon!!  It turned out to be quite a hot day (around 28°C) and we were all very thirsty.  Some of the guys had run out of water along the way.  I'd managed to use up just the two litres I had with me (which probably means I under-hydrated as well).  So after a bit of groaning and stretching the various sore parts of our tired bodies, we piled into the cars and headed into Huia to grab some cold drinks.  A few got ice creams, but all I could manage was a bottle of apple juice and a few sips of water.  Then we piled back in and drove back to Arataki to pick up the rest of the cars.  Everyone else went into Titirangi for a late lunch, but I had to head home to get Deane and the boys from the movie theatre - Deane had bought IMAX tickets for the second Hobbit movie at 2pm thinking I would be back in time.  Fair enough, given that I had said our estimated run time would be 3-4 hours.  As it turned out, I had enough time to get home, have a shower, and drive into town to pick them up just as the movie finished at 5pm.  Oh well, guess I'll see it some other time...

I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening lying down, only getting up to feed the kids, get them ready for bed, and go pee.  I couldn't eat much for dinner, only managing some toast with marmite and 450ml of electrolyte drink.

Monday wasn't much better food-wise, nor was Tuesday.  Almost a complete loss of appetite.  And oh my word, are my quads sore!!!!  It's now Wednesday, they're still really sore (the stairs present quite a significant challenge!) and the thought of going out for even a 5km run is actually scaring me a little.  I'll wait until the muscle stiffness and soreness has subsided before running again of course, but at the moment I'm seriously questioning my running ability.  By Sunday afternoon I hated running, and the thought of all the trail runs I had planned for 2014 was really freaking me out.  Hell, the thought of the three hour hike up Mt Batilamu I wanted to do in Fiji was enough to get me a little panicked!  I was thinking, 'Screw it.  I'm not cut out for this.'  What a stupid thing to do, running 23km of technical trails after nearly a month of nothing.  How could anybody be so dumb?!?  That'll teach me for being so bloody stubborn.  Idiot.  But I guess I just have to suck it up and get on with it.  More running, more training.  I've got the Tussock Traverse at the end of January.  13km of technical trail running at its finest.  I've paid the entry fee, paid for the accommodation, and I'm not backing out to leave Zoe running it alone.  The elevation for the 13km run is 428 metres, but its a more gradual incline so I really hope I'm not going to make a complete fool of myself and have to pull out of the race or come dead last.

Arataki to Whatipu elevation.  See that incline from Karamatura Campground?  That was the beastly Karamatura Track.

13km Tussock Traverse elevation.  This incline is a little longer and slower, taking about 4km instead of 2km.  Hopefully it'll be easier!

Just for comparison, here's the elevation map from my Nike tracking.  Each white line is a 1km mark (according to that, I ran over 25km.  I think it's a little out).  So although the incline looks a little less severe, the lines are spread out more in the middle which makes it look like a more gradual incline when in fact it is not.

I'm still a little angry with myself, but my appetite is coming back so yay for that.  I'll try and get a run in this week some time (probably not until Friday at this rate though), and take my running gear with me to Napier.  Meanwhile, walking is where it's at.  I'm about to head into town for some frozen yogurt with Zoe.  Yum!

As for other happenings in the life of kreachr, I attended X's year six leaving ceremony yesterday.  I did the typical proud mum thing and got all teary-eyed.  My oldest child has finished primary school!  He's a lovely, funny, responsible eleven-year-old who, by the way, got a fabulous school report, hurrah!  I'm feeling all heart-melty and gooey at the moment so I'll move on.

The laundry service we tried out last week?  Their folding skills are abysmal, but otherwise their service is excellent and we have decided to make it a regular thing.  More time on my hands, and we save money.  What's not to like?  They've already washed and delivered another large load of washing for me, and I'm just waiting for Deane's shirts to be returned this afternoon.  Ironed.  Bloody awesome.  (Yes, we're both too lazy to iron shirts.)

Only two more days of school for this year, then we'll be heading to Napier on the weekend.  I have to take my study gear with me and work on an assignment, but I'm feeling confident about it.  This feeling of confidence has a bit to do with a phone call this morning from my lecturer, who wanted to congratulate me on a very well-written assignment that he thoroughly enjoyed marking.  Woohoo!  Still not looking forward to that seven minute presentation in February though...

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Breathing a sigh of relief...

We have booked the last five nights' accommodation in Fiji!  We're staying at the Sheraton Denarau Villas - lagoon view, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, a kids club to keep the boys occupied, and only 20 minutes from Nadi airport.  I feel so much better now that all our accommodation is sorted!  I get anxious when I don't know what's happening, especially when the boys are involved.  If it was just myself and Deane, I wouldn't be quite as concerned.  When we went to Thailand we only had the first one or two nights booked, and just sorted it out when we got there.  Deane's more the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, whereas I'm a planner.  I organise, I prepare, I obsess.  This provides challenges for the both of us, and it certainly keeps life interesting :)

In any case, we're all sorted with flights and accommodation now, all we need to sort out is transport around the place.  Water taxis and buses will probably cover a lot of it.  And then there's the activities... that's the fun part!  Since we'll be around the other side of the island, I'm guessing we'll probably check out things like the Kula Eco Park, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, perhaps a tour along the Navua River, and if we can handle more long drives, maybe the Sigatoka sand dunes.  I'd love to go on a day hike to the top of Mt Batilamu in the Koroyanitu National Heritage Park, but I don't think anyone else would be keen on a five hour trek... I'm also eyeing up a tandem sky dive...

T lost a tooth on Tuesday, so we put it under his pillow ready for the tooth fairy to collect.  Except that useless tooth fairy didn't visit!  We have the worst tooth fairy in the world, and I think we should sack her and hire a new one - she's always forgetting to visit.  Bloody hopeless...  Not to worry though, she popped in last night and left an apologetic note ;)

This morning I was once again faced with a giant pile of washing (when are we not?) and the thought of lugging it across the road to the laundromat did not appeal in the slightest.  I had noticed an ad in one of the local papers last week about a laundry service and had checked out their website for prices and services.  I was a little curious about this process, so once I had bagged up the washing this morning I decided to weigh it and compare prices.  Well colour me surprised!  Getting the laundry service to pick up, wash, dry, fold, and re-deliver my washing would be $7 cheaper than me dragging it across the road, washing and drying it, then dragging it back only to have to fold it and put it away again!  Needless to say I contacted them straight away.  They're picking up the washing this afternoon and will deliver it back all fresh and clean tomorrow morning.  Call me weird, but I'm a little excited about this ;)  The thought of not having to do this tiresome, boring task and save money at the same time is ridiculously appealing.  I will let you know how it... unfolds... lol ^_^

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Done and dusted

I have finished my Christmas shopping!  I even have stocking stuffers, yay!  Next week will be the baking - I have all the supplies ready to go.  Feeling all organised and super virtuous right now.  I've done all the study I can, and am at a sticking point - I have to wait until our compulsory group activity is completed on the 23rd December before I can begin my second assignment.  Unfortunately, this means I only have between the 23rd December and 5th January to complete it, so I'll have to take all my study gear with me to Napier and work at it over Christmas/New Years.  Poop.  It isn't actually due until the 16th January, but we will be heading to Fiji on the 6th and there is absolutely no way I am working on an assignment instead of soaking up the sun on the beaches!  I am ridiculously excited about this trip - I've been wanting to experience the slow-moving, relaxed atmosphere of a tropical island holiday for a very long time.  It's not really Deane's cup of tea so I think he's avoided it before now, opting for slightly more action-packed adventures (snowboarding, zip-lining, theme parks, etc) but he's been getting into free diving of late and Fiji is well known for its beautiful coral reefs so I think he'll be happy :)  He's even entertaining the idea of completing a PADI dive course while we're there.  For me, it's the thought of white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, snorkeling around coral reefs, hiking through rain forests with beautiful bird life and waterfalls ... oh, it's going to be amazing.  I've been spending a fair amount of time researching things to do, places to stay, and the areas that are safe for running.  We're spending half our holiday on a tiny little island northeast of Viti Levu called Naigani, which is in the Lomaiviti group of islands:

See the little white dot where the green marker is pointing?  That's Naigani.  There's only one resort on the island, no shops or restaurants, and very few tourists.  There's a coral reef within 50 metres of the shoreline, a cannibal cave (that should be interesting, wonder what the boys will make of it?) and not much in the way of technology.  With wifi being charged at $15 an hour, I think we'll just go off grid for a few days.  I will however have my Kindle fully stocked with books!  I've read that the power on the island is run by generator and it gets turned off between 2pm and 5pm, and again between 2am and 5am.  Fun times ;)  Maybe we should stock up on candles and matches before we leave Suva.  Not to mention snacks for the kids...

It's going to be pretty warm (around 30ish) and probably a bit on the rainy side, but it'll be nice to get the boys away from home and seeing a bit more of the world.  A part of the world that doesn't involve a TV or computer screen!  There's not really anywhere to run on this island, nor is there a gym.  I'm okay with that.  I think walking, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling should take care of the physical exercise while we're there ;)

We're currently debating where to spend the other half of the holiday, and what type of accommodation we'll go for.  I'm leaning towards Suva at this stage.  With things like the Fiji Museum, Colo I Suva Forest Park, Thurston Gardens, and places like the Sigatoka sand dunes less than two hours drive away, there's plenty to keep us occupied.  I'd love to be able to go to Taveuni and check out the Bouma National Heritage Park which has the Tavoro Waterfalls and the Lavena Coastal Walk, but I think that since we'll have the boys with us, it'll be easier to stay in a slightly more centralised area.  We've got the out-of-the-way place covered with Naigani, so Suva should cover some of the other aspects of Fiji life (heavy tourism, lots of people, shopping, restaurants etc etc).  My two choices for accommodation while we're there are Raintree Lodge (we'd opt for a family bure) and Five Princes Hotel (twice the price, but rather lovely - we can get adjoining rooms so the kids won't be far away).  Decisions, decisions...

Anybody been to Fiji?  Got any tips?  Recommendations?  Fling them my way :)

In other news, my adductor strain is slowly getting better.  I can't say for sure whether it'll be completely pain-free in time for Sunday's trail run, but as I've said before I'm not going to miss it.  I'll have plenty of time to rest it afterwards in any case.

I've tried out a couple more oatmeal recipes this week:

Cranberry and pear oatmeal (I used dried cranberries instead of fresh) topped with pistachios

Chocolate pear oatmeal - I made this one up, using one peeled and chopped pear, 1 1/2 tbsp dutch cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tbsp agave syrup and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips

I've also been playing restaurateur for Deane, making him breakfast every morning.  Yesterday he had a spinach and mushroom mini pancake stack:

And this morning it was scrambled eggs with salami and tomato:

The boys have no real interest in swanky breakfasts - X opts for a chocolate smoothie or bagels, and T's usual choice at the moment is rice bubbles with milo or poached eggs (no toast).  Boring.  X will occasionally try one of my oatmeal creations, but nothing too 'weird' ;)

I've been rather lazy about dinners of late, mostly due to the fact that we had an abundance of Sal's pepperoni pizza left over from T's birthday sleepover on Saturday.  The boys finally polished off the last of that yesterday so I can actually cook something decent for dinner tonight.  This is rather important right now, as I have basically existed on lollies and peanut butter sandwiches for the last few days.  Quite appalling when you think about it...  I will say that I've also eaten a decent amount of salad, so that kinda balances it out a bit.  (Not really).  I appear to have developed a bit of an addiction to peanut butter on whole grain - more specifically, Pic's peanut butter and Burgen pumpkin seed and chia toast sliced bread (they really need to update their website...)  Although packed full of healthy vitamins and minerals, this is not going to help me look good in a bikini while traipsing around on the beach!  I have gained an extra wobbly layer in the few weeks of inactivity and poor eating habits.  Damn you, simple carbs!!!  Why must you be so deliciously enticing?!?  And you, stupid injury!  How dare you interrupt my healthy active lifestyle with your annoying stubbornness?  (None of this is my fault at all, nope nope nope.  It's all the fault of food and injuries.  All of it!)


The boys are winding down at school now - they've entered the sports activities and Christmas crafts section of the term, which will be filling up the last couple of weeks before school close.  T has his athletics day on Thursday, then next week there's X's leaving ceremony, secret santa and shared lunch, and both boys get to spend a day at Point Erin Pool.  Friday is only a half day and it seems a little pointless, but the school legally has to have a set amount of days in the school year, so a half day on Friday it is!  Then we'll be heading to Napier for Christmas.  I must remember to grab the Christmas pudding out the freezer before we go.  One year I completely forgot to pack the giant Christmas ham, and not only did we have to buy one on arrival in Napier to replace it, Deane and I had to eat an entire giant Christmas ham on our own when we got back!  Not an ideal situation...

I think I'll do what I did last year and write a big list of stuff to pack/remember to put on the fridge.  Lists are awesome.  My memory is appalling.  This system works.

I no longer have an excuse to avoid my housework and laundry since everything else is up to date, so I guess I better get on to that.  Hmm, maybe after a cup of tea...  Enjoy your week :)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

::crickets chirping::

Yeah, it's been a bit quiet around here.  With no running, no knitting, and very little fancy cooking going on, there's not a lot to report.  I spent a couple of days during the week writing an assignment.  Well, more like one day, and about an hour the next day tidying it up and submitting it.  I'm pretty sure that was my quickest assignment ever!  Another day and a half was spent looking after a kid with a tummy bug - that always keeps you on your toes!  Then I spent most of yesterday at the mall getting 90% of the Christmas shopping done.  I love how you can go to one location and get all your shopping done within the space of a few hours.  Carrying the bags does get a little tiresome, but at least the car park isn't too far away so you can offload occasionally.

The first Hillary Trail run is scheduled for next Sunday.  I'm really excited about it, but am quite concerned that a) my injury won't have healed enough by then, and b) I'll be so unfit due to the lack of running since the 19th November (it feels like that was at least a month ago, but its only been a little over two weeks!) that I won't be able to keep up.  I mean, really.  What kind of moron goes from zero running per week to 22.5km on some seriously hilly native bush trails?  Um, me apparently...

I'm trying to shove those thoughts to the back of my mind though, and focus on the positives.  I've been looking forward to this run for quite some time, as I keep mentioning.  (I should probably shut up about that.)  I have all the requisite gear ready to go:

Trail running 2 litre hydration pack with emergency whistle, seam sealed waterproof jacket, long-sleeved thermal top, warm beanie and gloves, ID bracelet, microfibre towel, first aid kit, water bottle and electrolyte tabs (so I don't have to put electrolytes in my pack bladder), trail mix, sport beans and chomps, sunscreen, anti-chafe, loo paper and a mini LED torch.

The first aid kit wouldn't fit in the pack as it was, so I had to take everything out and shove it in where it fit.  It contains steri-strips, crepe bandage, lots of plasters, antiseptic pain relief cream, alcohol swabs, medical tape, latex gloves, emergency blanket, cotton balls, cotton buds, ibuprofen... I think that's it.  Kind of wish I had a really good pocket knife with a pair of scissors - I'll put it on the wish list ;)  The pack is ready to go, I just need to fill the bladder on run day and print the map.  I'm sure I can find somewhere to fit that in...  Not sure how useful it'll be since I'm directionally challenged at the best of times and wouldn't have a clue which way is north unless somebody points me the right way.  My plan of attack is to just work really hard at not getting lost and staying within sight of running buddies.  Do you think I'm well enough prepared? ;)

With the lack of running also comes the lack of sunrises.  I don't really get much of a view from my house, situated in a valley.  But boy, did we have some beautiful sunsets this week?!?  I got a few pics from outside my house the other day:

Please excuse the not-so-pretty buildings and street lights.  The view would've been way better from the roof, but there's no easy way to get up there.  Oh well...

And now, because there's no smooth-flowing way of moving from sunsets to food, I'm just going to completely change the subject (I'm really good at that - I confuse the crap out of people during conversations fairly regularly).  We got nectarines in our Foodbox this week, which made me very happy.  I ate one straight away because they are just fantastic, but the rest I made into breakfasts.  First up, we have caramelised nectarines on cinnamon vanilla oatmeal:

Then we have this beauty:

I used the peaches and cream yogurt breakfast recipe from Veggieful, but used nectarines instead.  They're basically peaches without the fuzz anyway, right?  I was a little dubious about the tofu yogurt.  As much as I like tofu in savoury dishes and disguised in sweet stuff (such as these amazing brownies, or smoothies) I wasn't entirely sure how it would do as a main ingredient.  Turns out, it's pretty alright.  By the way, it looks like there's a lot more granola than there actually is - the glass narrows quite a bit at the top.  I was stuffed after eating this, and I have enough for breakfast again tomorrow.  Yum!  I didn't try to foist the vegan breakfast on Deane, instead he got this:

I even took it up to him in bed along with an espresso.  My word, that man is lucky to have me... ;)

So you see, I haven't been completely lacklustre in the kitchen.  I even made some spicy kale and red lentil soup:

I used a slightly different recipe to the last time I made it - this one had chili powder and cayenne pepper in it.  I used half the amount of chili stated in the recipe, but its still got plenty of kick.  Also, I didn't have any celery so just sliced up a carrot instead.  I prefer carrot anyway.  This was dinner for me two nights in a row, and there's another two servings in the freezer.  Awesome :)

Tonight is T's birthday sleepover, so the boys are having Sal's again (no surprises there).  I've made a giant bowl of salad for myself, and I think I'll make some baba ganoush to go with.  For now though, it's time to ice and decorate the chocolate cake before the extras arrive.  Enjoy your weekend!  I hope you have good weather, ours has been shit all week (not that I'm complaining, especially since I can't run anyway)...

Monday, 2 December 2013

The weekend in review

Walking, bad food, excellent company and good viewing.  That pretty much sums up my weekend.  I picked up my bff from the airport on Friday evening, and we just chilled for the night, talking and watching random stuff, and going through our bits and pieces for the walk - accessories, snacks, hydration etc.  Saturday was all about the shopping, registration for Walking Stars, and eating lots of junk.  We absolutely had to go to Whites Freezery for some salted caramel frozen yogurt, and it was T's 9th birthday so we had to have Sal's Pizza for dinner (their vegetarian pizza is awesome, as are their garlic knots).   Then it was suddenly time to get dressed in our gear, accessorise, and go.  Unfortunately the weather had decided to be a little sulky and drizzly, so rain jackets became essential.  This totally ruined the look of our outfits, but we weren't alone in this so just went with it.  We managed to find a park not too far away from the Auckland Domain, the start and end point of the walk.  We milled around soaking up the atmosphere and making complete idiots of ourselves taking selfie after selfie after selfie.  Apparently neither of us are very good at camera phone selfie pics (and she calls herself a photographer! ;P)

These are only a few photos from my phone - you should see the ones on hers!!  She's got ones of us pulling faces, me walking out of the portaloo...

There were some neat costumes around - lots of people got into the spirit of the evening.  Most people had a bib on the back of their shirts with the name of the person they were walking for, or two people, or three, or several.  We saw one lady that had at least 20 names on hers.  It was a little sad.  But the night wasn't meant to be a sad one, it was to celebrate our loved ones and have fun remembering them and raising money for the Cancer Society in order for them to continue their work researching the disease and supporting families living with it.  So, fun we had!

We did a bit of a warm up to get moving, then we headed off at 8.30pm.  The beginning was really slow because of the traffic jams and bottlenecks, but once we got out on the road it was a little easier.  People were having fun, chatting and walking along.  Out on the streets people were tooting their car horns and yelling their support out the windows (or asking what on earth we were doing, then yelling their support).  We received many compliments on our attire, and had a great time.  Somewhere between 13 and 14km we stopped for a cup of tea/coffee:

Multi-coloured Sky Tower, from Viaduct Harbour

Te Wero Bridge, and some Walking Stars participants (the ones in the yellow)

We immediately regretted it because we wanted to keep moving but it was really hard to do that with a hot drink in hand.  Still, we motored around the course and were making such good time that we decided to try and aim for 3:30 instead of the original goal of four hours.  Our last kilometre around the Domain ended up being our fastest of the night, so determined were we to finish quickly (bragging rights, y'know...)

The times are not official since it wasn't actually a race, but by our estimation (and using our respective GPS tracking apps) we did indeed manage to complete the course in approximately 3:30, give or take.  My tracking says we walked 22.5km in 3:31:35:

The hardest part of the walk was stopping for traffic lights.  Or rather, starting up again once we got the green light.  My incredibly annoying injury was very much present during the entirety of the walk, and I think I narrowly avoided a black toenail or two.  But we were so very happy to have walked the course in such a good time, and cross the line to receive our special finisher's medal (yay, we got medals!!):

It was a little surreal for my friend, whose father had been at the Auckland Hospital just a year earlier having just been diagnosed.  She could even see the window of the room he'd been staying in.  This walk was important to her, and I'm very proud of her for doing so well on the night.  We got home around 12.30am, had a hot shower and a cup of tea (or cider in her case) and went to bed.

The next morning my dear newly-nine-year-old child woke me up at 6.45am (no sleep in for me!) and I pottered around until my friend woke up somewhere around 11am.  We headed (very stiffly and slowly) out the door - she went for a wander through Ponsonby, checking out the shops, and I went and had a lovely one hour full body massage!  That was her birthday present for me.  Best friend evaaaaaaar!!  It was amazing.  Then we headed in to town to watch Catching Fire at the movies.  Since it was such a special occasion, we splashed out and went Gold Class - the reclining arm chairs and foot rests were totally worth it!  We had a late lunch during the movie (she had Thai green curry, I had fries three ways - told you the weekend was full of bad food...) then we came home and blobbed out upstairs watching a TV series and eating a bunch more junk (salted caramel fudge, and vanilla bean custard with caramel and pecan sauce).  Surprisingly, we didn't go to bed until after 11.  I thought we'd be zonked out by 8...

This morning it was time for her to go home, and I dropped her at the airport at 10am.  The poor dear has to go to work today :(  Back to reality...  

My body kindly reminded me several times over the course of the weekend that yes, I do still have IBS.  But I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and the food.  Now, I will more than happily revert back to my mostly-vegan diet - the sudden onslaught of dairy and greasy foods did not go well for me after having mostly avoided it for the last few months, which isn't surprising I guess.  On the menu tonight we I have spinach balls with a courgette sauce.  I'm skipping the pasta.  Too many carbs over the last week.  I'm absolutely craving fresh fruit, veges and salads, which will work in very well with this week's Foodbox (kale, lettuce, spinach, eggplant (baba ghanoush!!), mushrooms, strawberries and nectarines!!  Can't wait for those nectarines!!!)  

And, now that all the birthdays are out of the way for our family and it is officially December, it is time to start thinking about getting a little more organised for Christmas.  The stockings have been sent to get the names embroidered on the cuffs, I have my ingredient shopping list for this year's baked goodies (two types of truffles, pepparkakor, shortbread, peppermint bark, candied pecans and fruit mince pies - a much shorter list than last year!), and I'm narrowing down the gift list in preparation for Christmas shopping over the next couple of weeks.  Some people are a little more challenging to buy for than others - I have no idea what to get my niece and nephew, or my parents (mum, any hints?) but I think I have everyone else sorted.  We've booked X for all his weekly allergy shots right up to New Year's so we can spend a little more time in Napier for Christmas, yay!

Are you prepared for the silly season?  Making gifts this year?  Or are you one of these 'last minute' people?

Friday, 29 November 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

All the idiotness are belong to me

Note: I googled 'idiotness' and it is listed in the Urban Dictionary.  Therefore, I am totally accepting it as a word - one that is particularly appropriate for this post.

So you know how I had a teeny little injury and I kind of ignored it for a while?  (For those of you wondering (yes Sheryl, I mean you ;P) I have pulled the adductor magnus muscle on my right side - very similar to the injury I sustained while snowboarding on Whistler in February).  Then I went on a nice long run one early morning (which was awesome by the way.  Oh, I've already mentioned this?  Carry on then...) and it made things worse?  I've been (sort of) good at resting it, taking anti-inflammatories, and practicing some nice gentle yoga stretches.  After a week it was feeling better and getting to the point where I was considering heading out for a short run in a couple of days.  It was improving so well that I thought it was a good idea to carry on with the yoga - that calm, relaxing, good-for-you-in-a-holistic-kind-of-way yoga - and start to stretch things out a little more.  As you do.  Because, you know, physiotherapists always give you stretches to do to help heal and strengthen muscles.  Right?  Wrong, you idiot!

BIG MISTAKE.  BIG.  HUGE. (Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman is totally stuck in my head right now).

I went a little too far with the stretches.  I didn't notice it at the time, but soon after.  Which of course is too late to do anything about it like, for example, stop doing yoga :(  For some reason this type of injury is not a sudden thing for me.  It's more the 'carry on, everything is fine, I'll wait for a few hours and then start being really annoying' type.  Now I'm going to have to rest it even longer before I can go out running again.  Gah!  The frustration!!!  It is a multi-faceted frustration covering anything and everything.  For example:

  • Why can't my body just heal quicker?
  • Am I really so old that I need to carefully ease into everything
  • What does this mean for my trail running ambitions? (because I'm pretty sure I did this when zooming down the hill trails a few weekends back)
  • Just go away already so I can run!  I miss running :(  And I'm supposed to be training for Tough Mudder.  I'm going to run out of time!  (Not really, TM isn't until April.  But I like to be prepared.)
  • Ouch that hurt.  I hardly moved!  WTF?  Stop it already!
  • Why didn't I start running years earlier when I was all young and indestructible?  This probably wouldn't have happened.
  • Oh crap, I'm running out of anti-inflammatories.  I'm going to have to stop taking them soon anyway, I think they're starting to cause side-effects.  DO NOT CHECK WEB MD.  (Yes I am a self-diagnosing hypochondriac.  In case you were wondering.)
  • How much of this is actual pain/injury, and how much of it is me just being a wuss and needing to suck it up and get over it?
  • I have two brand new pairs of running shoes, damn it.  I want to be running in those shoes!  They're too new to just be sitting there not getting dirty!
Ah, the dilemma...

Walking seems to be mostly okay, so I'm still going to happily traipse around the 21.1km course on Saturday night for Walking Stars.  Also, I have received the first information-filled email regarding our Hillary Trail running expeditions telling us the sections we'll be running and the gear we're going to need.  I've been looking forward to this for a looooooong time and there is no way I'm missing out on that action!  Injury be damned!!

Quick question - do you think two half-marathons in two consecutive weekends will be too much?  I really want to do the DUAL in March, which is the weekend after the Coatesville Classic.  I'm kinda hoping my body won't have completely fallen apart by this time, and I won't accidentally kill myself while running the Coastal Challenge.


Monday, 25 November 2013


Some runners cross train when they can't run.  Biking, swimming, core workouts, whatever.  Or they rest fully and eat less to compensate for the reduction in daily calories burned.  Me?  I sit on my ass and eat ALL THE JUNK FOOD.  If it contains copious amounts of nutritionally deficient simple carbs it must end up in my stomach.  Recently my diet has consisted of salads, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and soy.  This past week was breads and sugars.  Apparently I lack willpower when it comes to crappy foods.

Yes, this is actually how my brain works.  Feel sorry for me.  Most of the crappy food in the house is for the kids (did I tell you how awesome I am at parenting?)  So by my reasoning eating healthier would be a lot easier if I lived alone.  Probably.  Of course, I could just be a little more disciplined, but we all know how well that's worked in the past ;)

What does one do to counter this current eating frenzy and relieve some of the pent-up energy?  One signs up for more off-road events!  I am now officially a participant in next year's Coastal Challenge.  I have signed up for the 17km event, because the 6km  and 11km sounded a little too easy, and the 22km and 33km sounded too hard.  I can swim but I'm not a strong swimmer, and the idea of trying to cross a river with a potentially strong current didn't appeal.  The 17km event is a nice 'in-between'.  If it goes well, maybe I'll attempt the 22km the following year.  After lots of swimming practice perhaps.

I've compiled quite a list of events for 2014 already!  Although I've only signed up for three so far - the others aren't open for registration yet.  Except Tough Mudder.  I'm still thinking about that one.  I'm 99.9% sure I'm going to register for it, but I want a band of crazies to do it with me.  Sign ups are now open for the band of crazies :)

As for this year, there's just one event left on the calendar - this weekend's half marathon night time walk.  I'm really looking forward to it!  My bff arrives at the airport early Friday evening.  We have our fairy wings, ruffly skirts and feather boas all ready, with an arsenal of glow sticks and bracelets.  I have hydration packs and trail mix, head lamps and anti-chafe.  I think we're good.  She's freaking out a little at the whole concept of walking that far, but I know she'll be just fine.  The atmosphere and the camaraderie will carry her around the course, and you can even stop for a cup of tea at the 13km mark.  We're totally going to be doing that.  A spot of tea always brightens the mood :)  And I am pleased to say that I reached the donation target of $150, then passed it by another $110.  Thank you friends and family!!!  Y'all are awesome ^_^

This weekend is also my baby's 9th birthday.  Here he is the morning after his brother's birthday sleepover (which explains the mess he is surrounded by - boys are not tidy creatures) - he's impersonating a slug and playing XBox.  There's a controller in there somewhere:

Damn, that kid is cute.

Right, time for study and a spot of lunch.  I think I'll have the salad...

PS: I found a recipe for vegan lasagna that tastes amazing, and (dare I say it) better than the original.  I made a half batch which turned out to be a good idea, because I ate that half batch in two days...  I've always been a sucker for lasagna.  I topped mine with vegan parmesan.  Yum!!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Queen of procrastination

That would be me:

By today, I mean yesterday.  I just didn't get around to posting about it until now (ahaha, see what I did there? ;P)  To be fair, I did clean the bathrooms, and the dusting and vacuuming had already been done for the week.  I felt it was totally okay to spend the afternoon meandering around the Auckland Botanic Gardens by myself for a bit of quiet relaxation (and very slow exercise, since I can't run at the moment).  They have a Sculpture in the Gardens exhibition on, and I knew the boys would have zero interest in going to check it out.  You're not allowed scooters or any other wheeled form of transport (aside from push chairs and wheelchairs) in the grounds, so they would be even less interested.  So, what better time to go than when I should be studying?

It was a beautiful day, and the gardens are really lovely.  I particularly enjoyed being able to stop and admire the flora:

And fauna - this may look like a video of tree foliage, but if you listen you can hear some beautiful tui song.  I love tuis:

When we moved from Wellington to Auckland I was a little saddened by the lack of tuis in the area.  To be fair we'd moved into an apartment and there is nowhere for a tui to reside in the central business district.  Now that we're a little further away from the city centre we have tuis living in the trees around the neighbourhood.  This makes me very happy.  I am a little jealous of the suburbanites that have moreporks living in their area though.  I wish I had the chance to hear them at night.

But the reason I went to the gardens was of course to see the sculptures.  They were quite fantastic.  Here's a few of my favourites:

Atta Mediae by Samantha Lissette

Carving up the Land by Michael Klaja and Gordon Smith

Home Sweet Home by Jeff Thomson

Tree Man by James Wright

7 Days by Jane Downes - these were really quite beautiful

This sculpture is not part of the exhibition, but a part of the permanent collection within the gardens:

Bird Lady by Jamie Pickernell - People's Choice winner of the 2012 Sculpture in the Gardens exhibition

Fascinating, yet creepy.  I also rather enjoyed this one:

Turn by Richard Mathieson - the trickling water made such a lovely sound

I got a little snap-happy while walking around the grounds, but it really was such a lovely afternoon.  The gardens are very well looked after and made fully accessible.  The staff do such a wonderful job:

Dr Seuss tree!!

All in all, a rather excellent way to waste an afternoon ;)  Although Marthe Troly-Curtin once said, "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time".  I think I'd have to agree.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sad face :( Happy face :)

No Hillary Trail run this weekend - my friend has been under the weather so has postponed it for a couple of weeks :(  I'm a little bummed about it, but also a little happy.  This works out quite well for me, since I have a slight injury that I'm mostly pretending isn't there yet can't ignore completely because it's just being so damn persistent.  I'll have time to rest it and get it mostly under control before tearing up the trails and likely re-injuring myself.  At the moment I'm taking NSAIDs and... nope, that's it.  I'm quite terrible when it comes to injuries, let's be honest.  I never wait the full recommended rest period before hitting the pavement again, and I start out doing all the stretches with good intentions, then get bored with them and stop.  I'm just too impatient.  I get antsy.  Rest and stretches just doesn't compare to getting out on the road.

Tuesday saw me launching out of bed at 5.20am for a 16km run.  I have this amazing ability to wake up and open my eyes, look at the clock, make a split-second decision, then jump out of bed and get dressed within the space of a minute and rocket down the stairs and out the door.  Go on, be jealous ;)  I absolutely love the fact that I can get up that early in the morning and run that distance, enjoying the sunrise and the crisp cool air, and get home before anyone else has woken up.  Even if I wake up a little tired and bleary-eyed, it's worth making myself get out of bed and go for a run - I feel so energised and happy when I get back home and the day just goes so much better.  And really, how could you not love these views?

Unfortunately, it was this run that really cemented the injury in place.  Before that, it was more like a niggle.  Damn it.  Ugh, this year has been riddled with injury.  Moving on.

I printed out the entry-level Tough Mudder boot camp training workout so I could start preparing for next April's Tough Mudder - the Mudderling boot camp is a 40 minute workout incorporating exercises designed to get you prepared for the obstacles that'll be on the course, and you slowly work your way up to the 60 minute Tough Mudder workout - by which time you should, in theory, be prepared to complete the 3-4 hour course.  Well I managed to complete the 40 minutes, but I nearly died in the process.  I am not as fit as I was in January - I blame the aforementioned 'year of injury'.  Suck.  I find it odd that I can go out and run for two hours quite happily, yet a 40 minute training routine has me gasping for breath and dripping with sweat, arms like jelly and legs shaking.  Tough Mudder I ain't!  At least not yet, I'm not giving up that easily ;)  I guess when you're running you sort of get 'in the zone', an almost meditative state with the repetitive, rhythmic forward motion of your feet and only the thoughts in your own head to distract you or motivate you onward.  It really is quite relaxing.  Boot camp?  It's all beeps and jumping and pull ups and squats and push ups and burpees and OH MY GOD WHY THE HELL AM I DOING THIS?!?!?  We're all a little crazy I suppose, in our own special way...

Let's move away from the slightly depressing subject of exercise - or lack of, for the foreseeable future, at least until this injury heals - and onto salads and oatmeal.  Because y'all know how much I love my salads and oatmeal ;)

Let's go in meal order and start with the Oatmeal Trials (aka breakfast):

Cranberry almond oatmeal - mine looks a little anaemic because I used blanched almonds, but it was rather delicious

Kiwi, green apple and pistachio oatmeal - I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  I didn't think I'd like it.  Turns out it's actually pretty good :)

Then we have the slightly more visually appealing and always delicious fruit salad, which begins our lunch section:

Banana, strawberry, gold kiwi fruit and blueberries.  Yum!!

Next up in the visually appealing/lunch department, we have this salad consisting of cos lettuce, tofu, avocado, sun dried tomato and pumpkin seeds:
I may have enjoyed this salad a little more without the sun dried tomatoes.  The rest of it was awesome.

Now for dinners, and something on the compete opposite end of the scale in terms of eye candy.  I've never understood the vegetarian's need to consume 'faux' meats (btw, for clarification and for the purposes of this discussion, I do not see tofu as a meat replacement).  If you're not eating meat, you're not eating meat.  Replacing it with meat-flavoured or meat-shaped things seems a little counter-productive.  Meat replacement items on the supermarket shelves have never appealed to me - they look seriously dodgy.  Having said that, I was quite intrigued with a vegan sausage recipe I found the other week.  It had a perfectly palatable list of ingredients and looked dead easy to make, so I thought 'why not?  I'll give it a go'.  Yeah... they still look dodgy, even when they're home made:

Pretty scary, huh?

Had I not just made these myself, I would be unlikely to eat them.  They look... unappealing to say the least.  I mean, really.  Would you eat these?  But seriously, they taste amazeballs.  I ate one sliced up straight after steaming (which is why there's only three in the picture instead of four), then sliced up half of another for my dinner:

Green tea soba noodles with pan-fried vegan sausage, broccoli, red onion, snow peas and tomato

Deane scoffed two when he got home (thief!!) and I had the last half in a salad today with cos lettuce, carrot, tomato and avocado.  I forgot to take a picture.  It was yum.  I'm still not going to go out and buy seitan, TVP, quorn or vege dogs but I think I'll make my own sausages occasionally for a salad or pizza dinner.  I'll know what's gone into them, much like the vege burger patties I love.  Next time I might try smoky maple sausages.

Dinner for me this evening will be vege tofu stir fry (and if you happen to notice the tofu is prepared in such a way as to be 'more meat-like', yes I am aware of the irony).  The boys (or probably just Deane) are having Jamaican goat curry.  Urgh...