• Recap: Round the Bays 2012

    Army boys in their boots. T reckons they would’ve run in those. To which I say, fuck that.

    Cuteness. Nothing like seeing entire families kitted out for the run. And power to anyone running with a pram.

    Just about a year ago I ran my first official 10k.

    This weekend I ran my second race, the 8.4k Round the Bays. According to the official stuff, I crossed the line in 58 minutes, but really, at least the entire first 10 minutes were a wash.

    Looking backwards from my starting point

    When 40,000 odd people turn up for a run, you gotta get in early. My first mistake as a rookie. I was a block back from the starting line, and the majority of the thousands in front of me were only in it for fun. Bang! goes the start gun. Then…we waited. Shuffled forward. Did that for a while. (Walkers to the left, runners to the right DID NOT WORK. Rules fail when people don’t obey them. There were walkers, kids and prams all over the road.) It got a little more spaced out after that, but the next 15 minutes were still very tight – rather than focusing on getting my run on, my energy went toward weaving and dodging people in order to try and get somewhat ahead. Oh, and nature started calling pretty early on in the race, which made for kind of an uncomfortable 7k or so.

    It got insanely hot – so much so I had to tie up my oversized company shirt and roll the sleeves up over my shoulders. Believe it or not, the weather actually played along – the sun beat down until about noon and it started raining JUST after I got on the bus. Another note for next time – bring more than one safety pin, because the last thing you want is your runner’s slip flapping around on your chest.

    My just crossed the finish line face. Hawt.

    Where it all finished – right across from Rangitoto.

    All up, I’m glad I did it – it was a great atmosphere at the start, music and all, and it was nice towards the end to see people on the footpath from Mission Bay on watching and cheering us. (Towards the end, you start to see the earlier finishers walking back along the route…the freaks who can literally sprint 8k…which kinda made me consider running back to town myself, which would almost comprise a half-marathon…) There are water stops all along the route, and Pump tents at the finish line spraying fine mists of water that are quite fun to run through. And the day wouldn’t be complete without queues for the rip-off buses ($4 for what would normally cost $1.80 – given that most of us used them, why not include this in the entry?).

    Last year I decided I never wanted to run anything longer than a 10k. This year, I definitely feel I could do a half-marathon if I wanted (which is debatable) as long as I get better shoes. But I don’t think I can be arsed with a half – I’d want to do a full – and yet 42k really does not sound like fun at all. And while my company sponsored our Round the Bay entries, I doubt it’ll fork over the $100-plus for the Auckland Marathon apiece. Jury’s still out.

  • My first 10k

    Running Feet

    Image by apoxapox via Flickr

    Running a 10k was one of my goals this year. And although I didn’t specifically state it then, I wanted to run it in under an hour.

    WELL, I DID!

    *commence celebrations*

    It was, as most things are with me, a bit of a clusterfuck. I left work early, got changed in the bathroom, and snuck out to the bus stop. If you’ve ever used the maxx.co.nz site, you’ll know how awful it is. But I never dreamed it would actually direct me to the wrong bus stop. When I got there, the stop was for a totally different route, which DID NOT pass by the Domain. Luckily, the Link bus came to the next stop, so I hopped on that.

    Traffic was awful. Then our bus stopped completely on Nuffield St, behind another Link bus. The driver asked us to hop out and get onto the other one instead. At this point I had less than 10 minutes to get to the Domain.

    When I got off, I saw a pack of people clearly dressed for a run, gathered across the intersection. Obviously I’d missed the registration point down by the grandstand. In my one stroke of luck, the “walk” light went green and I sprinted across toward them….JUST as the whistle blew and the pack took off.

    Shoulders slumped, I kept going, and caught up to the whistle-blower who was walking back down to the grass.

    “I take it I’m too late?”

    “Oh, no, they’ve only just left. For the 10k, you mean? Here, let me take your bag. Off you go!”

    Bless his heart.

    I’ve always been a bit competitive, so running with others definitely pushed me harder than otherwise. All was going well…I had a great pace going, and there were people ahead of me I could follow. Remember, I had no idea where I was going, having nearly missed the race entirely. There weren’t big markers everywhere, as these are really casual affairs held every week during the summer.

    After two laps, I followed the one woman still in my line of vision to the finish line. The clock read 38 minutes. And I wasn’t feeling all that exhausted. Hmmm.

    “Did you run the whole 10k?” asked one weathered, grizzly man. (Men like him – albeit very sinewy and fit – made up the vast majority of the runners. There were a few around my age, but I think they were mostly students from Waiuku, there with their teacher).

    “Um. Maybe I got lost?” I offered.

    “It’s three laps around,” he explained. “…But you don’t have to …”

    “Oh, but I will,” I replied and took off. I came here to run 10k and that’s what I’m going to do!

    Fool. I’ve never been very good with judging distances…obviously. I knew I couldn’t slow down at all on this final circuit, not when I’d done two-thirds in just under 40 minutes.

    And I made it. In 57 minutes.

    I’m happy with that. And I only stopped at one point for about 15 seconds to stretch – the rest I maintained a pretty even speed.

    But now, I’m pretty sure I never want to run a race further than 10k. I’m not a marathoner. And that’s okay with me.

  • Running: My method of choice

    Two female joggers on foggy Morro Strand State...

    Image by mikebaird via Flickr

    When I first decided it was time to knock my wheezing body into shape, pounding the pavement seemed the most logical move.

    I stopped taking PE, well, as soon as I was allowed to. Year 11, I believe, was the last year I did. Like all the other nerds in the accelerated stream, I took seven classes instead of six, opting to take an early-morning PE class which I hardly ever showed up to – dragging my ass out of bed in time to catch the 7.45 bus? If only. My laziness, by the way, led to me losing out on the easiest credits ever: the attendance credits. Pretty shameful.

    Although I still did tons of walking – up to an hour a day – I started to languish, physically. Nobody would ever have made the mistake of calling me sporty, or even coordinated, but I’d been reasonably fit up until then. I was almost always the last girl left standing in the beep test in PE class (12 or 13 I think was my maximum); I was a semi-decent sprinter and usually made the top 10 (females) in the annual cross-country run – although given how seriously some of the girls took it, that isn’t saying very much.

    To put it bluntly: There just aren’t that many sports that I like. I hate netball with a passion; in any given school you can count the number of girls who don’t play Saturday morning netball on one hand, and that was me. (T reckons that’s why I have a good basketball shooting style; I don’t have years of netball training behind me). Cricket, ugh. Hockey, worse. Like a good Asian, I like badminton, but hate the scoring system. Tennis is also good fun, although I am slightly scarred from years of thrashings by far superior players from other schools. Tell you what though, if anyone actually played touch beyond primary school, I’d be the first to sign up.

    As for gyms? They appeal to me about as much as tofu or a Brazilian wax. Rooms where everyone goes to, er, sweat? No thanks. Even when I had access to a free gym, I never went. I detest exercising around others – yes, I know they’re busy focusing on their own workouts and aren’t watching me – but it’s a HUGE mental block. And call me picky, but there just aren’t any machines I like using!

    Running suits me – it’s perfect for loners, you go at your own speed, you breathe fresh air and feel the sun on your face…and all you need is your shoes. (I used to run barefoot in school, but that was when we had nice soft fields; it’s a lot less comfortable on hot pavement.) Unlike many, I don’t get bored. Where I live, there are tons of fabulous houses to gawp at, for one (or the picturesque, sprawling grounds of Cornwall Park). For another, there’s also lots of slopes in the mix. Getting into a good breathing pattern takes me a while at first, and by the time I settle in, I’ve usually got a hill to throw me off. I hate treadmills with a passion! Outdoors is the only way to go. When I want to give in, I set myself milestones: just past that tree. To the corner. Up to the next traffic light. It’s a constant challenge.

    And that’s pretty much my workout – one long run on a day off and a couple shorter ones in the morning before work, with a few crunches and tricep squats (er, I don’t know the proper term for them!) thrown in.

    Which camp are you in – gym or anti-gym? Love or loathe running?