Friday, 30 January 2015

Tussock Traverse 2015

So, how was this year's Tussock Traverse?  HOT.  Very, very hot (29°C in fact).  Also dusty and dry.  At the end I looked at my legs and thought I'd managed to get a pretty decent tan, but no.  It was just a nice, even layer of dirt.

I will be honest and say it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting.  I was chatting to a woman on the bus to the start line, telling her I was envisaging something akin to Badwater (jokingly of course - we were running only 12% the distance in half the average temperature.  Okay, I was mostly joking...).  But the wind was refreshingly cool (and downright chilly if you were just standing around - thanks for the heads up Sheryl!) and kept things tolerable for most of the race.  I had to leave my accommodation at 7.20am to catch the bus (which didn't actually arrive to pick us up until 8am - oh well) so used my compulsory waterproof jacket for warmth.  With the start of the race at 10am, that left a big gap between eating breakfast and running, so I packed a banana just in case I got peckish.  I didn't.  I'd settled on the 2 litres of water my pack held, and a 470ml roll-up bottle filled with nuun electrolyte as back up fluid for the run.  That was heavy enough!

The bus ride was slow and bumpy, taking a little over an hour.  Then we had to transfer to another bus at the base of the mountain to take us up to the start line, as the road was pot-holed and rugged, with a stream cutting through it part way along.  Sadly, I got the slowest bus both times, but at least that meant less standing around before the start gun (or in this case, pukaea).  At around 10am, give or take a few minutes, we were off up the hill.  Typically, we started with a 2km climb.  Hooray, trail running! ;)  I had placed myself in the front-middle of the starting pack.  Going on last year's 13km time, I estimated finishing somewhere between 3 and 3 1/2 hours, certainly not more than four.  As we ascended, I slowly got passed by more and more people.  This wasn't surprising, although I naÑ—vely thought I might catch them up a little later on.  Pfft.

Waiting at the start line.  Look, there was actually snow!

Brief stop on the first ascent.  All the runners are out of frame to the right.

I was very glad to get to the top of the hill, after a combination of walking and running (ahem, slow jogging...) and enjoyed a little bit of downhill.  When I say a little bit, I mean a few metres.  Because then there was a bunch of loose rock that we had to be very careful on during a relatively steep descent.  I ended up losing my footing and landing on my butt.  No harm done though, I dusted myself off and kept going.  After a while it was a little more smooth-sailing, and the next uphill wasn't for another couple of kilometres.  By this stage it was quite apparent I would need a gel, as my legs were very tired.  My glycogen stores were on empty!  It had been over four hours since breakfast...

After a bit of undulation, the course became relatively flat for a while and was alternating between gravelly sand and tussock-strewn rock.  There was less wind and it was very dry and dusty, but although I was quite hot, I was being careful to ration my water, taking small mouthfuls regularly.

Then there was the gradual but relentless uphill for about 4km, and more varied undulation for another 4km.  Hard work!  At least it was interspersed with some streams and nice scenery ;)

Looking back...

Can you see the people walking up the hill in this picture?

Here, let me help you find them.  It'll give you an idea of scale:

Yeah, it was a big hill...  I was at least catching up to some of the walkers by now - they'd started an hour before us.

I can tell you that this waterfall was a welcome sight - it meant the finish line wasn't too far away!!

It also meant there were a lot more people to dodge.  Tourists and visitors to the area were out in droves, due to the lovely weather.  Not all of them were paying attention to race participants :/  Still, I was glad to get into the bush area around the Chateau.  Unfortunately, it wasn't as cool as I was anticipating.  From about the 16th kilometre I'd been looking forward to the shade, and a nice cool cider at the finish line.  The shade was the first disappointment.  I would've happily kept running in the exposed rocky terrain - the breeze was cooler.  The second disappointment was the sudden realisation, upon completing the race, that there was not going to be a nice cool cider.  No Speight's sponsorship this year!!!  Major sad face!!  Wonder if this was due to the change in event organisers...?  We decided to gap it, choosing a quick shower and some food over sitting in the sun drinking water and GU.  Sure, we could've gone to a pub and bought a cider, but it just wouldn't have been the same :(  I have grown accustomed to having a frosty alcoholic beverage at the end of races.  I blame Total Sport.

My official time was 3:46:53 (173/250 overall, 59/110 women, 28/44 in my age category), and although this was slower than I was hoping, I couldn't have run it any faster.  The heat is not my friend!  I still had about 750ml of water left even though I was guzzling it in the last couple of kilometres and battling a stitch that was threatening, and didn't need my electrolytes.  I'm glad I did it - the 26km is quite the experience - but I don't think I'd run it again.  Call me a wuss, but it was too hot, dusty and dry.  Give me tree cover and mud any day!

PS: This is what happens when your pack is too heavy - token trail running 'injury', aka friction burn from my hydration pack.  Ouch:

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Summer running. Not for everyone.

I have enjoyed some lovely sights of late:

View of the sunrise from the Okahu Bay boat ramp

View from the bridge across Tamaki Drive

West Auckland goodness

Hamilton Track

Pipeline Track

Just beautiful

Jacobsen's Tunnel

More of the awesomeness that is Waitakere/West Auckland

Slightly less exciting view towards the iconic toilet block (on the right) and Hammerheads Restaurant, across Okahu Bay 

It's not the toilet block I'm photographing, I swear!  It's the pretty-coloured sunrise!

Good morning Auckland!

And this is what my run will look like on Saturday:

Although there is probably no snow since, y'know, it's the middle of summer.  I'm running the 26km Tussock Traverse, and we are expecting a heat wave.  Temperatures are likely to be around 28-30 degrees celsius, and 95% of the course is completely exposed to the sun (the last 2km of the course has trees for shading, but that's it).  There are no aid stations on the course, so runners need to be entirely self-sufficient in terms of water and snacks.  There is absolutely no water access before the finish line.  And the run starts at 10am.  I'm expecting it to take around three to four hours, so it is going to be HOT!

Running in the middle of the day?  Not my strong point.

Running in the middle of the day, in the middle of summer, during a heat wave on a completely exposed alpine track?


Wish me luck...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

2014 recap - better late than never?

2014 saw a lot of ups and downs, and I was well and truly over it by the time December rolled around.  I won't dwell on the bad parts, but will give a quick recap of facts and figures.  Mostly for my own record, so in the future I can look back and see what I deemed to be important at the time.  And so I can keep a record of the books I've read, because sometimes I forget, and there's nothing worse than getting quarter of the way through a not-that-great book only to discover you've already read it.  So without further ado:

Books I Read in 2014 (36 in total, not bad for a year full of study and marathon training)
No Meat Athlete - Matt Frazier
Dracula - Bram Stoker
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates - L Pichon
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
Mort - Terry Pratchett
Sourcery - Terry Pratchett
Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett
Cora's Heart - Rachael Herron
One Step Beyond - Malcolm Law
Pyramids - Terry Pratchett
Pack Up the Moon - Rachael Herron
Born to Run - Christopher McDougall
Death Masks - Jim Butcher
Dad is Fat - Jim Gaffigan
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J K Rowling
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Relentless Forward Progress - Bryon Powell
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J K Rowling
Plum Spooky - Janet Evanovich
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J K Rowling
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - Oliver Bowden
Everything to Live For - Turia Pitt
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J K Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J K Rowling
The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances - Matthew Inman
Written in My Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers - Mary Roach
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - J K Rowling
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
Assassin's Creed: The Secret Crusade - Oliver Bowden
Assassin's Creed: Revelations - Oliver Bowden
Murder in the Mystery Suite - Ellery Adams
The Cakes of Wrath - Jacklyn Brady
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - J K Rowling
Quidditch Through the Ages - J K Rowling

Running Achievements - Events
Tussock Traverse 13km - 1:30:03
Coastal Challenge 17km - 1:42:34
Coatesville Classic half marathon - 1:58:09
The Hillary 16km - 2:23:17
Tough Mudder - approx. 3:00:00
XTERRA Riverhead (Race #1) 17km - 2:05:04
XTERRA Shakespear (Race #2) 15.8km - 1:45:19
Double Rainbow Trail Run 25km - 3:31:57
XTERRA Woodhill (Race #3) 19km - 2:08:09
XTERRA Dome Valley (Race #4) 15km - 1:49:39
XTERRA Waharau (Race #5) 22km - 3:12:19
XTERRA Riverhead (Race #6) 22.5km - 2:35:23

XTERRA Waihi marathon 43.5km - 7:33:54

Total distance run in 2014 - approximately 1,637km in 122 runs.  A total of 184.5 hours, with an average page of 6'46" (thanks trail running) and an average distance per run of 13.4km.  Not quite the goal of 2,014km in 2014, much like the failed goal of 2,013km in 2013.  Maybe 2015 will be the year...

Pretty lame attempt to be honest.  Only managed to complete 14 projects, six of which I have not photographed.  Three sweaters (one kid-sized), two pairs of socks (only two!!), an afghan, a scarf, a doorstop, a hat, two pairs of fingerless mitts and three baby items (vest, hat and boots).  Can't say I see myself making much more this year either.  This year is going to be busy with study (only two more years to go!!) and I'm going to focus on that as much as I can.  Knitting, particularly in Auckland's subtropical climate, just isn't that important.  Maybe one day we'll move to somewhere colder.  Fingers crossed...

There, that wasn't so bad, was it?  Onward, to 2015!!!  We're only three (and a half) weeks in, and so far its going pretty well :)

Monday, 12 January 2015

Where did the time go?!?

Gosh, it's hard to believe my last post was nearly a month ago!  Christmas flew by, then the New Year arrived looking simply fabulous, and now here we are nearing mid-January of 2015 and I haven't said boo!  Never fear, I will spare you a long-winded recap of all that has transpired in the meantime, and give snippets of updates with accompanying photographs by way of summary.  I shall endeavour to be less waffly going forward, lest you grow tiresome of my loquaciousness.  You're welcome ;)

Last trail run before Christmas, on the Okura Bay Walkway

My running company for this go-round.  Great people.

Checking out the new water feature along Marine Parade in Napier

Christmas Day picnic at Lake Tutira

Boxing Day fish & chips on the beach, and rock-hopping afterwards to burn some of it off

Last sunrise in Napier before heading home

A lovely reminder of how we began our married life, in the quaint little multi-denominational Eskdale Church.  Pretty, isn't it?

Having some fun on the family farm outside of Te Awamutu, during a stop on our trip back to Auckland

14th wedding anniversary dinner - Hector's Restaurant at The Heritage has an outstanding vegan/vegetarian menu, as well as excellent meat-based dishes

Finally, some new trail shoes!!!  Love.  And to 'christen' them, a 25km run through the Waitakeres.  They got sufficiently muddy :)

The 'trail'...

I feel so lucky to live in such a wonderful, beautiful part of the world.

Early Thursday morning runs are back on the menu!  17.5km and a sunrise.  Brilliant.

Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, Bastion Point.  Always ran past, never went up there (because, hill).  Will definitely swing by more often.  Lovely views, beautiful gardens.

Going to watch The Penguins of Madagascar.  Movie theatre selfies are ridiculously tricky!  And I'm sure the lack of lighting is to hide people stuffing their faces with unhealthy snacks...  Check out those boys ;)

Family trip to visit the Manukau Heads Lighthouse.

First coastal run for 2015 - Takapuna Beach to North Head and back, 13.5km

Love these guys :)

This post is short on words and big on pics.  We'll call it the 'scenic drive'.  Next post will be the facts and figures for 2014, and a bit of waffle to go with.

I hope this year is going well for you so far!!  See you again soon.