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...


  1. Sorry to hear your run didn't go as planned - but you still finished it so well done! It was a very hot day on Sunday for running, I sure felt it's impact.
    You'll cope easily with the Tussock Traverse 13k - don't even think about pulling out!

    1. Don't worry, my stubborn butt won't pull out of a race unless it's absolutely necessary. We're going to the Tussock Traverse! Whether I finish the Tussock Traverse is another matter... ;)