Over coffee with a girlfriend at the end of 2012, I casually mentioned that it could be time to dig out my running shoes. I said, “Its been a while, but I feel like I need to be getting a bit fitter.”
To which she replied, “Go for it Val”. So I did.
Early in January I went shopping for the new shoes – and there it began.
My year of running started with small steps, run a bit, walk a bit … my first goal was the 10km Stadium to Surf fun run to be held on 17 March.
To help me reach the goal, I conned one of my workmates to also get up early and train with me on some of the days – as she also planned to do the run. This meant rising at 4:15 am, and meeting up. The joys of a job where you start around 6 am.
I was rapt with the perfect conditions, and a not too unreasonable time of 1:03.
The next goal was to be the Christchurch half marathon on Queens Birthday weekend (1 June). However while planning for that, and with training going well, I noticed an advertisement for the Gore half marathon, early in May.
“Hey, that could be a good one as a practice” – I said eagerly to a friend. “We could do that as a long fun run …” I couldn’t quite decipher the look I received at the time. “If nothing else, its a day out – a trip out of Dunedin”. “Oh, OK then!”
Gore, on 9 May was raining, windy and not remotely inspirational for any sort of run. But I was committed, and with a borrowed rain jacket (fully waterproof), I set off with other enthusiastic early starters. They started us in two time slots depending on how quick we thought we might be!
So Gore was memorable for some reasons unable to be written about. Needless to say, I made it to the end and my time wasn’t too bad considering the conditions. The meal put on by the lovely Gore people more than made up for any discomfort. I was rapt with my time of 2 hrs 17. It was my first half marathon since 2005.
Only one month to go until Christchurch, yay. I was eagerly looking forward to both the weekend away, and revisiting a place I hadn’t run a half marathon in since the year 2000! Memories galore there!
Christchurch didn’t disappoint with an amazing sunrise, huge crowds and a wonderful atmosphere. I even felt inclined to purchase some goods from the big expo tent … they say never to wear something new on race day, but I did. The thermal tech tee shirt which I bought, and wore, has become one of my best training mates – especially through the winter months.
It was so special running it with both my sister and my daughter. Although we all ran different times, we shared in the joys and a few disappointments too!
I was a bit disappointed with my 2:15 time as I felt I was much quicker than that on the flat course. Maybe Gore’s hills weren’t quite so bad after all?
Being a person who likes to have a goal to work towards, it was casually suggested to me that I might like to try for the Naseby Water Race run. Now, this is an ultra – meaning its 50km and over. However they do have a teams race where you do 30km per person. Achievable? I did wonder, but thought – “Hey, why not? If I can find a person to be part of my team, then I will do it!” Hence the search began. I thought Nite church would be a good place to look – as lots of them there are into fitness and running.
Eventually Nolan took the bait, and the decision to run on 31 August was made.
That meant upping my training – gradually – so I got used to running a little bit further at a time. My muscles protested at times, but they did come to the party.
Naseby put on the perfect weather, snow on the hills, clear blue skies and a frosty start. Perfect. Lots of muddy patches to negotiate at times too. All part of the fun.
The following week was the Dunedin half marathon … what had I done? Signed up for Naseby of 30km, and a week later doing another half? Had I lost the plot?
The power of positive thinking won the day on 8 September when I lined up along with my sister, and daughter again. Another stunning day – slightly warm, but no complaints. Crowds of people both on and off the field. The train of supporters on the way to Port Chalmers – all part of the atmosphere. It was here I ran my best for the year – finishing in 2:12. Wow! What an effort, but so pleased.
At that time I thought that there was nothing more until 2014. But wait … I saw another carrot dangling … Cromwell at Labour weekend. Twizel pyramid run? Same weekend, but not possible this time. So Cromwell it was. They didn’t quite turn on the weather … gale winds, and then after I got in, it poured and poured. There had been rain prior to the event too with snow all around the hills. Yes, I got cold and No, I didn’t have my best run which I blamed in part to the late start time. Seriously, starting a half marathon at midday? Mental. (Remember I prefer to run early in the day) But I did finish it! 2:16.
Labour weekend was also my little grand-daughters 2nd birthday, so I had a party the day before the run … excuses? hey, why not!
Throughout the year I had enjoyed doing some training on the trails around Dunedin as and when I could, so when I saw the Coastal classic run advertised, I thought it would be a nice change, running over farmland and along the beach. This time I took with me another workmate who enjoyed the walk side of it. This run was 12km (or thats the option I chose this time). Due to the up hills, sand and interesting terrain, my time was way off – but the whole day more than made up for it.
After all, this was also a practice for El Dorado (Waikouaiti – north of Dunedin).
El Dorado (17 November) was normally listed as a race for mountain bikers, but this year they opened it up to runners as well. An off road, country – hills and more hills. 17km of good hard slog. We were promised amazing views from the tops … where? In the low cloud and slight mist we are still waiting! However it was all fun, and again the camaraderie of the runners and bikers was just amazing.
As I was planning a trip to Central Otago before Christmas to visit family and friends, I spotted yet another opportunity to enjoy the countryside and views on a long ‘fun run’. The Jacks Point, Queenstown half marathon at the golf course was on 23 November … scenery, heat, sunshine, crowds, atmosphere – and the opportunity to see some amazing new homes being built all while I ran the 21.1 km. What I didn’t know was that this was a ‘double loop’ course – one that took you through the finish line to do the whole thing again with a bit of an extra loop thrown in for good measure. Oh no. That did weird things to my brain, and my legs did not understand one bit, why the finish line did not mean stop! Now I know why so many signed up for the 10km. Smile!
My 2:20 time attested to the feelings I had …
But then it was a time to head bush to do some long-awaited tramping. Using spare muscles, or should I say, some different muscles. I enjoyed the long walks each day – even with the pack on my back!
So 2013 will be known as the year I ran the most half marathons ever – many unplanned for, but enjoyed them all for various reasons.
No it did not see me running any quicker – but I now know I am able to endure – long and slow. Hare and tortoise type stuff. Will I ever win? No, but I will reach the finish line usually with a smile on my face.
2014 sees me planning my very first ever marathon. This one is on the West coast early in February. My goal? To finish with a smile.