Monday, 31 March 2014

Ooh, pretty!!!

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

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Hillary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hooray, the finish line!!

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

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

Friday, 28 March 2014

Coatesville Classic - better late than never

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

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

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

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

Oh look, there weren't...

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

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

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

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

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

The Finisher's Medal in all its glory.

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

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

Friday, 21 March 2014

Again with the planning

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, totally stole their photo...

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

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

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

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Think I'm gonna stop trying to plan stuff now...

It's Sunday morning, and I'm not running a half marathon as planned - that's been postponed to the following weekend because of Cyclone Lusi (which has been downgraded to weather warnings, and moved further south already).  Instead, I'm sitting in an all-hours medical centre, waiting to have my arm glued and steri-stripped.  I was in my kitchen yesterday early evening, standing at the sink and cleaning up after dinner when a massive gust of wind slammed my kitchen window which then proceeded to shatter and fall in all directions with such force I am still finding tiny shards in the far end of my dining room.

I was lucky to escape with just a small, deep cut on my right arm, and a tiny scratch, lump and bruise on my left.  Amazing.  Unfortunately, despite Deane's and my efforts to close the wound, because of it's location it keeps opening and bleeding.  Hence my current predicament.  I guess the race change worked out for the best, even though today it's just a little overcast.  Maybe I'll head out for a run later today if it doesn't rain...

Yesterday was pretty action-packed actually, even before the window explosion.  We had a bunch of kids at our place for a Magic card game tournament (nerd central) which went from 10am 'til about 2ish.  I'd made mini ham and cheese burgers, rice paper rolls, chicken nuggets, grape caterpillars, mini lemon meringue pies and 'bacon and eggs' for the kids (and a couple of dads that joined in the nerdy fun).  

The tournament was a series of knock-out rounds, with a winner and second, third and fourth place prizes up for grabs (with a little something for others who participated so nobody got left out).  The boys had a great time, and X invited a friend to stay for a sleepover.  Deane was out when the window smashed, so I had to patch my arm in a hurry, call the landlord, call the glass company, then call Deane and clean up the glass while waiting for him to get home with duct tape and rubbish bags to cover the window before it started raining.  We have all the fun in the kreachr household!  Bet you're jealous ;)


Ooh look, purple glue!

I didn't get to go for a run - I have to keep my arm dry for 24 hours.  No sweating, no potential rain, no after-run shower (well, I can shower but I'm hopeless at keeping my arm out of the water, so better safe than sorry).  Guess it'll be tomorrow then...

Running hasn't been happening much at all of late, with Thursday and Friday of this week taken up by X's school market day - I spent some time making rubber band bracelets for them to sell (their idea, they started it, I just helped (a lot)), and went to the school to oversee their stall:

X and his friend did quite well, selling out and making $34 each (we won't factor in the cost of supplies and my 'hourly rate' - they're only eleven ;p).

I also didn't get much study done :(  And oh... I'm so behind on Tough Mudder training!  I've decided to once again reinstate the daily routine, altering it slightly to move runs to later in the morning instead of before 7am, and factoring in cross-training to prepare for TM (less than two months away!!). Proper diet will have to follow also - I've been eating pretty well, but portion sizes have crept up, and I've been indulging in a little too much of the sweet stuff recently (gluten free hot cross buns, ahem...).  Might have to try a junk-food-free month :)

Such good food otherwise though:

Oven-roasted butternut pumpkin, mushroom and spinach gluten-free lasagne with tofu 'ricotta' (recipe for ricotta in Veganomicon).  So glad to have some of this in the freezer now too, yum!

Fresh sweet corn fritters with avocado cream and balsamic maple dressing. These were really good!  This recipe was in the Huckleberry Farms newsletter I got with an order earlier in the week - dude, they deliver their Auckland orders personally!  How cool is that? :)

Braised cauliflower in three seed sauce, with some leftover corn fritters and sliced avocado.  This recipe was in Vegan With a Vengeance.

Tonight's dinner was spaghetti and bean balls from Veganomicon.  I will most definitely be getting this cookbook whenever I can afford it!

I've planned (haha, we'll see how that works out...) the next week's dinners (for me at least, still have to plan the boys') and most, if not all, are from Veganomicon, with more pages marked for later.  I'll be sad to have to send it back to the library early next month :(  The Post Punk Kitchen website will suffice I guess.

Some good news, I've recently heard that a friend will be welcoming a new wee one in August!!  Knitters love hearing this kind of news :)  What a way to get back into the habit of regular knitting!  I'm already perusing the baby patterns on Ravelry and digging through my stash.  A new winter cardi for me can wait a little while - there's nothing more fun to knit than something for a brand new wee person!  Can't wait to get something on the needles - giving my arm a bit of rest for now though, maybe in a day or two.  More time to pattern browse :)  Fingers crossed next week is a little more productive and a little less... eventful.  Looking forward (again) to the Coatesville Classic on Sunday!

Until next time, have a good week people.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


I'd like to be studying right now.  I should be studying right now.  Unfortunately, the site appears to be down and as all my study materials are online for these two papers, I can't actually do anything.  So I guess I'll update my blog :)  And in case you were wondering, I caught up on all the housework yesterday and T is still home from school so I can't go for a run.

Gosh, it's been a weird couple of weeks!  Y'all know what happened last week (hospital stay, no running, blah blah), I only managed a 15km run on Saturday which was fine but uneventful (my usual Tamaki out-and-back).  On Sunday the Round the Bays run/walk was on, but I didn't enter and was rather happy about that.  Deane had announced that he planned on going for a run later in the day, so I hung around home and pottered in the kitchen.  He didn't.  Oh well...  T's foot has been healing nicely, despite getting absolutely soaked during a bath and having to be redressed (oops).  He's weight-bearing on it now and can even wear shoes, so I think I'll send him to school tomorrow, dependent on when his clinic appointment is (notification is yet to arrive - I may need to call them).  He'll be having the last of his antibiotics today, which I think we're both rather glad about.  Administering exactly 3.3ml of medicine each time can be a bit of a pain!

Yesterday (Monday) was all about the housework, trying to organise stuff and get back into some semblance of a routine.  Sadly, still no run - having a kid at home really puts a dampener on the running plans!  As does an over-protective husband who won't allow you to run early in the morning because of reports of some dodgy guy on the loose in the Ponsonby area back in January :/  I ran out of time to do any study, so planned to spend as much of Tuesday as possible in front of the computer.  However, T is in need of some dental work but will not sit in the dentist's chair.  The dentist we usually go to that would be able to dose him up with a sedative beforehand to calm him refuses to work on him because of his 'history' (medical or otherwise, they didn't say...) so our only other option (since we can't afford the private option at $3,000 and our health insurance won't cover it because he is school-age and the work can (in theory) be done by the school dental system) is to put him on the waiting list in the public system for a general anaesthetic so they can do everything all at once without him potentially causing injury to himself or the dentist.  I was told that we had to be at the Auckland DHB Oral Health Service in Green Lane at 7.30am to sit in the waiting room until he could be seen, assessed, and put in the appropriate place on the waiting list (which is apparently three to six months long).  So this morning I got up at 6am, had breakfast, packed some knitting and my kindle into my bag, made X's lunch, woke up T at 6.30am, got him dressed and fed and teeth brushed, woke up X, fed him breakfast, organised all the stuff he needed for school today, then shuffled out the door with T at 7am to battle the morning commuter traffic.  We arrived at the hospital at 7.30am, got to the Oral Health Service reception and was told that there was only one dentist working at the moment, who refused to work on children.  They took the referral form and said they'd call with an appointment time.  So we got back in the car, battled the traffic once again, and got home by 8am.  Gah!!  I could've just faxed the form through instead of wasting all that time and effort!  Crazy.  I was pleased to not have to sit in a waiting room all day though, and sat down with a cup of tea in front of the computer with the plan of getting stuck in to some study.  But every time I check, the site is still down.  Awesome.

Just to make this couple of weeks just that little bit more special, I was horribly disappointed to find whilst checking the grades for my completed papers, that I had only completed eight - not nine, like I'd thought.  Bummer.  On the plus side they're all A grades (except for the two that are B+) so yay.  Fingers crossed I can keep that up :)

Back to knitting for now, I guess.  Here's a pic of the socks I knit for my sister:

BFF by Cookie A, knit in Cascade Heritage Paints

I started a new pair of socks, using some bamboo/nylon yarn given to me by a friend some time back (vegan socks, lol!).  The yarn is beautifully soft and nice to work with, but I'm a little unsure of how it will wear over time, whether that slipperiness will translate to stretching, quicker wear-through etc.  Only time will tell I guess.  I have finished one:

Hermione's Everyday Socks, knit in Wendy Happy 'Aquarius'

But have just discovered this hole on the back of the leg by the heel flap:

Because, y'know, why not?  Why don't we just randomly unravel right in the middle of a sock where it would require ripping back hours of work to fix it?!?  ::sigh::  Guess I could patch it with the ol' darning needle...  In the meantime, these socks are going in the time-out pile :/

In some happy news, I've managed to find some time to make more ridiculously delicious food.  Seriously loving how there is an endless supply of really good vegan recipes available.  I don't think it's possible to get bored!  Most of them are not particularly visually appealing, but you know me - I'm a sharer so I'm posting photos anyway.  And I kid you not, they tasted amazeballs.

Roasted buddha bowl - I've had this before but I just love it

Mushroom risotto with caramelised onions - I was a little weary of this, because I'm not a fan of mushrooms.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Pretty sure it's the best risotto I've ever had.

Blackberry cardamom oatmeal with maple syrup - I'd arranged to split this with Deane.  Really wish I hadn't.  It was crazy good. 

Pumpkin and mushroom casserole with GF panko breadcrumbs - mine came out a little less creamy than the original recipe pic, but that's because I'd over-thickened the sauce.  Whoops!  Still tasted good though :)

TLT - tempeh 'bacon', lettuce and tomato sandwich with hummus and alfalfa on GF sunflower and linseed bread - sandwich combo idea from the 'Vegan with a Vengeance' recipe book by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  Love that woman.

Broccoli polenta with mushroom marinara on sauteed cabbage.  Nom.  The broccoli polenta and mushroom marinara recipes are both from 'Veganomicon', another of Isa's cookbooks.  I think I may have to buy a copy of that book - so many good recipes!! 

Saturday morning breakfast was 'Fronch' toast (hello again, Isa) with tempeh 'bacon' and maple syrup, and a soy latte.

Lentil salad on iceberg lettuce - recipe from 'Veganomicon'

Scalloped potatoes and eggplant 'bacon' - HOLY CRAPBALLS THIS WAS AWESOME - also from 'Veganomicon'.  I'm not sure why things always have to be named after meats, bacon in particular.  Why not just 'smoky baked eggplant?'  Or 'fried tempeh slices'?  Whatever...   

Sunday's breakfast - banana nut waffles (you guessed it, 'Veganomicon') with blueberry sauce and maple syrup

Quinoa salad with black beans and mango - let's all say it together: 'Veganomicon'!  Recipe also available on the PPK website, which is where I found it the first time I made it.  Love this salad.  Although I sub in flat leaf parsley for the coriander, because ew, coriander.

I have some fabulous plans for meals this week too - looking forward to the Foodbox delivery!  (More blackberries, yum!!)  For now though, I'm trying to think of a good excuse as to why I would need to buy gluten/dairy/egg free CHOCOLATE hot cross buns from Bakeworks when I already have a pack of the fruit ones (and just finished another six-pack in two days, omnomnom), go find something else to knit, and keep checking the Open Polytechnic website periodically.  I hope your week goes a little more smoothly than mine have of late :)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Coastal Challenge recap

It's been a week, so I guess it's about time I got around to telling you how I got on at the Coastal Challenge 17km race on the 2nd March!

I was rather pleased about the fact that I didn't have to be at Devonport until 9.15am, which meant I didn't have to set an alarm and was just able to wake up naturally.  I wasn't in a rush for breakfast either, knowing that the race itself didn't start until 11.30am.  So I took the morning slowly, which unfortunately did nothing for my pre-race nerves.  It's a bit silly really, I don't usually feel nervous, but my subconscious and my body tells me otherwise.  This morning was particularly bad, and I'm pretty sure I had no breakfast left to draw fuel from for the race.  I took a gel with me for mid-race fuel and an apricot-almond larabar to munch on an hour or so before race start in the hopes of getting some much-needed solid food into me that would hang around and actually be of use.  I was planning on catching the ferry over as I had arranged to catch a bus to the start, with the finish being at Windsor Park next to the ferry terminal in Devonport, but I missed my window of opportunity to get to the ferry by being stuck in the bathroom :(  Not a huge deal, I just had to drive there instead.  I was lucky to get a car park very close to the finish line too!  I had enough time for a pit stop before catching the bus to the start line, and while on this bus ride I came to the realisation that my tummy troubles usually only last as long as it takes me to get out the front door. So I had no qualms about chomping through my larabar at around 10am and chugging some water.  I had sat behind a guy on the bus who was relatively chatty, and we talked about previous races, upcoming events, family, study, jobs etc, and strangely enough, socks.  He had Thorlo Experias on, and I had my Drymax socks, which I told him all about (you know, how they're the best socks for wicking moisture away from your feet, quick draining for when you're running through water, and high cuffs to stop debris getting in).  Me being me (ie: useless with social etiquette) I forgot to say goodbye before I hopped off the bus.  Oops.

We arrived at Browns Bay around 10.15ish so I had over an hour to wait for the start of the race.  I registered and got my number bib and timing chip, then sat around watching some of the people competing in the full monty (33km) and 22km races run past.  I got to chat with and cheer on my friends Martin, Deb, Ant and Dan as they stopped in at the drink station.  After talking to them I was glad I had stuck to the 17km distance as it sounded like there was a bit of swimming involved in the longer distances.  I'm not a fan of ocean swimming and my confidence isn't overly high in that department, plus the wind was a little chilly and I didn't really fancy having to run soaking wet.  Dodged a bullet there I guess ;)

Eventually the pre-race briefing started, then we all got to stand around for another eight minutes to wait for the official start of the race since the briefing was quicker than expected.  I was relatively close to the start of the bunch, so when the start horn went off I got passed by what felt like the entire contingent of 17km runners!  I was under no illusion that I could keep up with them - not only am I shite at running on sand, hard-packed or soft, I knew I wasn't 100% that day and I had to reserve some energy for the rock-hopping and soft sand coming up later.  I'm glad I started out as I did (slowly), because it wasn't long before I felt like I was flagging.  The first drink station seemed like it took forever to arrive, and I was starting to wonder if there would even be one despite being told in the briefing that there were three along the way.  I was a little annoyed with myself for deciding not to wear a hydration pack at that stage.  Eventually it did arrive, but it was a little too early in the race to down my gel, so I grabbed a cup of water and kept plodding.  The rock hopping was really quite fun despite my apparent lack of energy.  I didn't particularly enjoy the flat beach areas though, as once again I was getting passed by people who were obviously slower than me on the rocks, but had (what seemed to me at the time) an inhuman ability to run like the wind on any and all types of sand.  (Maybe that's something I should practice more...).

I was happy to see the second drink station approaching in the distance and gladly slowed to a walk and chugged back my gel on the way.  Again, I just grabbed a cup of water then picked up the running pace again.  A little over an hour into the race, my bus friend caught up with me and asked how we were doing for time - we'd been running for an hour and ten minutes.  We caught up again a few more times after that, which went something along the lines of:

a)  Bus guy: "how are your socks doing?"  Me: "great, thanks"

b) ::bus guy stopped to tie his shoe laces for the second time::  Me: "double knot them!"  Bus guy: "yeah..."

c) ::on the street, with only a kilometre or so to go:: general conversation about the race nearly being over, but the finish line seeming much further away than we thought although still within the race distance.  Bus guy: "I might try and keep up with you."  Me: (subconscious competitive spirit kicks in to overdrive) "sure" (speed waaaaaaay up, and just keep getting faster the closer the finish line gets, to the point that we're practically sprinting when we cross the line).

Wow, that was a good finish!  I have never before felt that competitive drive against other runners in a race, to the point where I will deliberately speed up for the last few hundred metres.  I was kind of hoping I'd be able to catch a couple who had passed me soon after we hit the road section, but I ended up about two seconds behind them, and bus guy did indeed manage to keep up with me, despite my increasing speed!  It was actually quite fun, and I obviously had more gas in the tank than I thought I did.  Or I just really suck at coastal running and was secretly really pleased to be running on flat, solid ground again ;)

As usual, I completely forgot to stop my watch until after I'd undone my laces and removed the timing chip from my shoe so I had to guess what my time was.  I estimated it to be about one hour 47 minutes or so.  I got to catch up with my friends again afterwards, and find out how they did with their races - Martin did the full monty and finished in about five hours and six minutes, and Deb, Ant and Dan did the 22km, each around the three hour mark (Dan and Deb under, Ant a little over).  Deane and the boys had taken the ferry over to Devonport but, for the second time, missed my finish.  One day they might actually catch one of my race finishes.  It would be nice...  Deane's mum and her partner had tried their best to make it to the finish line in time, having travelled up from Napier for the Bruce Springsteen concert, but they'd got stuck in traffic coming over the bridge and missed it too.  Oh well...

We all headed home and prepared for a barbecue that evening, and I checked my preliminary results later in the afternoon - 1:42:34!  Nearly 20 minutes quicker than I had estimated it would take me :)  I was 20th woman out of 91 in the 17km race and 14th out of 50 in my age category.  Certainly nothing to frown at!

A few days later the photos were up, and I thought they were actually not too bad.  Of course when I got to look at them properly (ie: after buying them and seeing them at a decent size and without the digital watermark splashed across them) some of them were a little questionable:

This one makes me LOL every time!! ^_^ What a face!

But I really did have fun, see:

And of course, there were moments of intense concentration.  Most likely "please please please do not trip on these rocks..." or "OMG how far away is the finish line already??" 

It wasn't until much later that I appreciated the fact that I'd completed the entirety of the race without a single slip!  Awesome :)  I plan to do it again next year, and try to beat my time.  I think I'll give the longer distances and potential swims a miss.  This year high tide was at 8am, just five minutes before the start of the full monty race, so they had several swims to contend with, one of them being about 800 metres.  One or two racers had to be assisted by the lifeguards and marshals.  The 22km distance had a decent swim to deal with as well.  No thanks, I'll just stick to the thigh-high wade...

Thursday, 6 March 2014


So yeah, this week started off totally different from what I had planned.

Wake up 7am Monday morning and get kids fed, dressed and off to school.  Go for a run (about 10-15km-ish), shower, post my sister's birthday present and all the goodies I bought the family back from Fiji, then spend the day starting my two new study papers until the kids finish school.  Get them stuck in to their homework then cook dinner and enjoy the evening watching stuff on TV and knitting something new.

What actually happened
Wake up at 7am on a vinyl mattress on the floor of a ward in the Starship Children's hospital next to T (because a bunch of doctors walked in and switched the lights on), skip breakfast (because T was nil-by-mouth) and wait patiently until he is taken to surgery, scoff a half-decent (non-gluten-free, vegetarian) sandwich for breakfast/lunch from a moderately okay hospital cafe and wander back to the recovery room to help wake him up (he didn't want to, must've been tired from the crappy sleep the night before), then take him back to the ward and spend the afternoon keeping him entertained until re-making my mattress on the floor and reading in the semi-dark while T and the kid he shared a room with sleeps, (soooooo glad I got a Kindle Paperwhite!!) interrupted occasionally by nurses coming in to do obs and administer IV meds.

Need some explanation?  Let's backtrack a little then, shall we...?

On Friday evening T came to me with a sore foot - I could see a tiny white spot near the ball of his left foot which appeared to be quite deep.  Apparently his foot had been sore for a couple of days, but T being T, he hadn't bothered to mention it (which then made me feel bad for insisting he do cross-country running practice at school).  There were no obvious signs of other damage (such as a prickle, bite mark, cut, etc), so I sent him to bed with some pain relief with the plan of keeping an eye on it over the weekend and taking him to the doctor on Monday.  Saturday morning I headed out to Devonport for my Coastal Challenge race (more on that later, in another post) and by that afternoon what had started as a tiny spot had grown to a 5mm circle, with a larger, slightly swollen area around it.  It was worrisome, but with the doctors closed over the weekend there wasn't much I could do except keep an eye on it and wait until Monday.  We kept up with the pain relief every six hours or so.

Sunday was a busy day with Deane out fishing and people in and out of the house.  We mooched around home (I lamented the fact that I was missing out on a 24km volcanoes run since Deane was fishing) and I was keeping an eye on T's foot which, again, had appeared to have gotten slightly worse.  By the afternoon, much of his foot was swollen and an ever-growing area on the top of his foot was red, with a line starting to creep up towards his leg.  Time for a trip to the emergency room, because it was obvious this couldn't wait until the next day!  By the time we got to A&E, the poor little guy was in some pain (although was easily distracted with a game on my phone).  They gave him more pain relief and put some numbing cream on his hands in preparation for an IV line.

Waiting for admission into the ward, markers on foot/leg denoting infection spread.  Phone in hand for distraction.  Game apps are really handy sometimes!

He was admitted to the paediatric orthopaedic ward and lined up for surgery the following morning to drain his foot of infection.  We never found out the cause of it, but it was significantly deep enough that a doctor could not successfully drain it without surgery (they tried.  It didn't go well).  Our stay in hospital lasted until Wednesday lunch time, when he was taken off IV antibiotics and given a prescription for oral antibiotics along with instructions to stay off school for a week and physical activity for two weeks.

He was rather fond of the wheelchair ;)

It was nice to be home again!  T was getting bored, the kid he was sharing a room with was a pain in the ass (his symptoms were largely psychosomatic and boy, did he make everyone aware of them!), and although the hospital cafe food was tolerable, there was not much in the way of gluten free options and there were absolutely no vegan options.  Vegetarian was the best I could do unless resorting to an awful Subway salad or bananas and apples.

Thankfully there is a parents kitchen in each Starship ward, where you can make a cup of tea or coffee (no soy milk though, unless you bought it yourself, named it, and crammed it into any available space left in the fridge full of other named stuff that had likely been there for weeks and wasn't even needed anymore) and there was a microwave and a toaster.  I had ordered some gluten/dairy/soy/egg-free hot cross buns from Bakeworks the previous week hoping they'd arrive in time for a post-race treat.  At the time I was disappointed they hadn't, but that turned out to be a good thing - they were a god-send at the hospital, becoming two breakfasts and a lunch for me!  And they were sooooo goooood.  I must order more...

After the surgery on Monday T was in good spirits and very little pain - once the main issue had been dealt with his foot felt much better.  Unfortunately, there was a problem with the IV line in his hand - it had been placed incorrectly, or it had somehow shifted, so after a couple of days of administering antibiotics it had become painful.  They pulled it out, which hurt him a lot, and they discovered it wasn't actually in his vein (it was bleeding a lot, which it shouldn't do if placed correctly).  Getting a new line in his arm was one hell of a debacle - the poor kid was so frightened of the procedure he became hysterical and it took four of us to get him still enough to put it in.  Once it was in though, he settled quickly (because thankfully it was done properly and didn't hurt, nor did it's removal the next day) which was good - it gave me a chance to settle him back in to bed with a game on my phone, then dash off to the bathroom for a teary, snot-filled meltdown before recollecting myself and getting a nice strong soy flat white for my nerves.

Ah, parenting.  It's a daily challenge.  Don't let anyone ever tell you it's easy!

So today was our first full day back at home and I had so much to catch up on.  I haven't been for a run since Saturday's race, and I haven't even looked at my two study papers yet (probably should be doing that now, actually...).  But at least the laundry is done, the house is (ever-so-slightly) tidier, my sister's birthday present is on the way (although it'll arrive a day late) and everyone's had two home-cooked dinners - X was very thankful for that, having survived on takeaways while we were in the hospital.  I think Deane is too, although he probably wouldn't admit it.

T is small and relatively light (22kg) so rather than having to deal with a set of crutches (do they even make them that small?), I just carry him up and down the stairs or around the house, or he gets around on his own if he doesn't have to go far.  He got his dressing wet when he had his bath this evening (which was supposed to stay clean and dry until he's seen in the clinic next Wednesday) so I had to re-dress it with whatever I could find.  Tomorrow he's staying on the couch!  And I'm going to try my best to go for a run and get some study done.  Fingers crossed!  I don't like being behind on study, and the Coatesville Classic half marathon is next weekend so I don't want to be losing any fitness right now.

Also, having had to resort to sandwiches and toast for some of my meals in the hospital, I can say with some certainty that gluten does have an effect on my digestive system (I won't go into details, because seriously, that would be waaaaay TMI) but I quite clearly do not have an allergy or intolerance.  More like 'gluten sensitivity'.  Just like IBS, it's not a life-threatening issue so although I'll mostly avoid it for my own (and everyone else's) comfort, if I eat it every now and then I will survive ;)  Again, like IBS, it just takes a little management, diet planning, paying attention to my body and its myriad behaviours, and being prepared to deal with the consequences when I eat something I know I'll react to.  Everything in moderation :)

I'll fill you in on my race experience next post.  I hope your week was better than ours!