Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Run fun

I had a pretty good weekend, how about you?  Mine started a little slowly with a lazy Saturday morning.  I had planned on heading out to Parkrun, but decided to flag it at the last minute because a) I'd run Tuesday through Friday and thought I should probably take a rest day, and b) my bed was super cozy and I didn't quite want to get out of it at 7.30am.  The weekday runs weren't bad - a couple of treadmill runs, and I took in a few of my standard routes that I don't run as often as I used to - through Westhaven/Cox's Bay Reserve/Ponsonby (10km), and Hobson Bay/Ayr Street/Newmarket/Grafton, which is normally 15km but I finally figured out how to bypass Ngapipi Road and use the Hobson Bay Walkway without getting lost, which dropped it down to 13km :)  I decided my hill endurance was up to the task of taking on the dreaded Ayr Street incline, and wanted to give it a go.  That hill has been in the back of my mind since I first took it on over a year ago and it kicked my butt.  Since then I've always run down it, with the thought of 'one day...'.  Well, Thursday was that day.

See that?  Barely a hitch in my stride ;)  Ran the whole thing without stopping.  Yay me!  (In case you're wondering, the first dip in pace (the red section) is when I was going up the stairs on the Point Resolution bridge, and stopped to take some photos.  The second, smaller dip (orange section) was Ayr Street).  I snapped a few nice pictures along the way too, before the rain caught up to me at the end:

Rangitoto, looking fabulous as always

Hobson Bay Walkway

The sky over K Road.  Here comes the rain...

I was glad I'd decided to take a rest day on Saturday, when it came to Sunday's run.  I needed the energy for that!  It's a case of "you know you're a runner when...".  I had the alarm set for 5.45am (yes, on a Sunday.  Only runners and crazy people do that!) to trek on out to Bethells and meet a couple of guys for an out-and-back run along Te Henga.  I grabbed all my gear, scoffed a banana for breakfast and made a cup of tea for the road, then headed out the door.  I arrived at 7.15am but had failed to clarify exactly where we were supposed to be meeting, and couldn't check the Facebook post because there's no coverage out there.  Oops...  I hung around for a bit, drank my tea, then decided to drive around and see if I could spot them.  Luckily, on my way back towards the beach I spotted them out on the road (they'd come up to see if they could find anyone - good timing!), parked up, grabbed my pack and headed towards the trail.  The weather was quite changeable, and we had it all that morning.  It started out lovely:

Unfortunately, the combination of tea and no easily accessible toilets before the start of our run culminated in my first 'answering the call of nature, trail-side' experience about 20 minutes in.  Luckily, there were plenty of bushes to hide in!  A little while later, we reached an exposed part of the trail and it was about then that the freezing winds and drizzly rain decided to arrive.  It got pretty chilly for a while, but it soon passed, and we were rewarded with this:

A little bit of sunlight, breaking through

The trail got pretty muddy in parts, and I (stupidly) tried avoiding it to start with.  Bad idea.  Why?  Because I ran into a fence instead:


Not to mention that fact that I should know better by now.  All trail runs invariably end up with your shoes looking like this:

Trying to avoid the mud is kinda pointless...

We chatted along the way, but I found the discussion a little different than what I'm used to.  Having only met Richard a few times, and Vaughn once, I guess we're still at the 'polite conversation' stage of the relationship ;)  The group I usually run with are all about lighthearted jibes, joking around, and as much hilarity as possible, which makes for an interesting few hours.  This run wasn't bad though, we still had some pretty good conversation (and there were a few laughs as well).  We made it up the 'stairs of doom' to Constable Road in two hours which was about 9.5km, give or take a few hundred metres, from where we started at Bethells Beach.  After a short break and a chat to a guy who was just starting out doing the opposite of us (Constable Road to Bethells and back), we headed back the way we came, down the stairs and along Te Henga again.  By this stage the trail was pretty busy - there was plenty of traffic going in both directions.  Richard and Vaughn had slowed a bit at this stage, so I ran off ahead.

Richard (black top) and Vaughn (red top).

Due to my complete lack of navigation skills, I managed to get a little lost and ended up wandering up a random hill and losing the trail.  After stopping and looking around a bit, I saw Richard and Vaughn much further down the hill below me on the actual trail, so had to backtrack to catch up.  When I found them again, they'd stopped to chat to the Thomson family, who were going to be joining us but ended up starting out on their own later in the day (mum and dad Thomson ran the full Hillary together in December 2013, and the twin girls ran the full Hillary Trail with their dad in March 2012 at age 13, in case you were wondering what kind of family heads out for a trail run together on a Sunday).  Richard had just been asking them how far ahead I was only to be answered with blank stares.  Cue my arrival behind them, confused looks, and my sheepish explanation about being directionally challenged :)

The Thomsons' shoes were all pretty clean - they obviously have far more experience at dodging mud than I do.  After a quick chat we were all on our way again, and again I ran ahead, although this time I didn't get lost.  We were only about 5km from Bethells at that stage so I couldn't really go wrong unless I fell off the side of the cliff...

It could happen...

I got back to the car park just before the rain hit.  Richard arrived five minutes later, and Vaughn was several minutes after that.  It had taken us about two hours to get back too, so four hours total, with a little over three hours actual run time.  Not bad.  The more time I spend out west, the more I like it.  The trails (or at least this section of it) is becoming familiar - except for the occasional accidental detour of course.  In my defense, that was the first time I'd run it in that direction!

Afterwards, we decided not to stop for lunch so I just jumped in the car and headed home to a nice hot shower, home-cooked food, and a movie with the kids (The Addams Family - love that movie!).  I'm looking forward to the next Waitakere outing, which will hopefully be soon.  It's good training for Waihi!  Have a good week :)

PS: I missed out on signing up for the Queenstown Marathon - it's all sold out.  Boo.  But I am on the waiting list - got confirmation yesterday.  Fingers crossed!

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