Chucka’s Run

A bath is just so therapeutic. A shower is good for day to day cleaning but sometimes a good soak in a hot bath just fits the bill.

Tonight I slowly eased my body into a bath filled with hot soapy water. It was a little hot. And I was a little sore. I soon acclimatised and could soak up to my neck. Bliss. I washed the dust out of my hair, and the salt off my face. I soaked my bloody, muddy, sweat stained legs and scrubbed my blackened toes until five little pink piggies shone back at me on each foot. It was just mud.

So now I smell a little sweeter but I still ache a little, all over. Battle scars worthy of a most awesome day out.

It began just before 8am as a group of runners assembled at Hansen’s Park. It was spitting lightly. I recognised some faces but not all. We boarded our bus and drove towards Little River. Conversation flowed. Friends were made.

By the time we disembarked at Hilltop the day held great promise. The rain had dried up, there was little wind. No plonkers shone out (last time I ran this it was in the company of a Class A Plonker known forever since as Richard Head, Dick for short.) everyone looked well equipped and ready to make the most of it. We farewell the bus and set off up to the Summit road before picking up the track and starting our ascent up through the bush.

Somehow we lost the track. I am not sure if Arthur Lydiard supported the idea of 45 minutes of vertical bush bashing as a warm up for his boys, but it worked for us. We reassembled above the bushline. A clearly defined track now before us. Away we went.

There was no breeze although a southerly was forecast about midday. Just still air, about 16 degrees. I felt perfectly attired in just running shorts, merino tee and socks, and a cap. Some of the other women were wearing tights and long sleeve tops and jackets.

Basically we just ran when we could and walked when it was too steep. We stopped often to regroup, to refuel and to just reaffirm how bloody lucky we are to have this on our back door.

We kept going up. We also got lost again. No cross words were spoken. Everyone was chatting away. Atmosphere was friendly and supportive.

The last grunt up to Mt Herbert. It is a grunt but a 360degree panorama of Banks Peninsula, across the Port Hills to the city beyond and the Alps on the horizon, down south across the patch-worked plains. Stunning. Truly truly stunning.

The group split into two here with the shorter option taking the descent straight down to Diamond harbour and the more intrepid long group going around the back of Orton Bradley, on a track even mountain goats sneer at, to the Packhorse hut. There might have been some one on one contact between butt and mud along here. There might also have been the odd occasion where the track turned left and I carried on straight until the track, or dotted line in the rocks petered out to nothing.

We got to Packhorse Hut. It was warm. It was still. The earlybirds enjoyed a long lie in the sun while the slow coaches caught up.

Final descent down to Gebbies Pass. There were two more nasty short uphills and a large cow blocking the track. Otherwise it was just good steady running. Once we were at Gebbies it is 2k down the hill and 2k along the flat straight and finally we stumbled into the pub. The short group were already there rehydrating and stabilising their electrolytes with pints of beer and plates of hot chips. Seemed a great idea and one worthy of copying, except I drank cider. I also slept in the bus back to Hansen’s Park.

Great run. Great opportunity. Great scenery. Great people.

And a good back to back run on yesterday’s race weary legs.

PS Chucka admitted in the pub that going up Mt Herbert he lived up to his name. Moral of the story – clean your drink bladder more vigilantly.

Good on you, mate!

Wow!

I haven’t really done a wow for ages but today has wow all over it.

From driving along the motorway just past daybreak with ground fog and pseudo frost keeping the grass white. The Waimak was running swift and strong, not clear but murky hinting the eaters have come from snow melt. The sky was the haziest of pale blue promising a stunning early summer day, such a contrast frm yesterday which definitely came under the heading of late winter.

I arrived at Waiau in time to visit the toilets and grab my shoes and some sachets of gu before joining a group of similarly attired individuals. We boarded the school bus. I met Vanessa. A new friend. Later on in the day someone said we must have been friends for ages. Nope, met this morning on the bus!

And off along the course to Mt Lyford. Registration. Toilet. Warm up. Toilet. Briefing. Should have gone to the toilet again.

This is the third year I have run this race. I love it. But its popularity is getting out. The number of entrants has doubled in those years. Competition looked fierce.

Famous last words – it’s just a training run. And that was my plan. Until someone said go and I realised my body was in race mode.

My preferred start position is just ahead of the middle of the group. This means I start slow, warm up and then pass people. This worked fine today. I could see I was sitting about 10th woman after about 800m, nope make that sixth as I powered past a couple.

In fact I soon found myself sitting in about fourth or fifth position. There was a person ahead who I thought had had a pony tail but now I couldn’t see it. Wearing grey. Possible a lean man. Style was awkward.

It was great running. The scenery is stunning along the inland Kaikoura road. I could smell the bush. The sun was shining. The wind was breezy in parts and a little in my face. Everything seemed great. I felt strong.

Another runner I meet regularly at events had her husband as chief cheerleader. He did a wonderful job of cheering me too. The road winds its way along a valley and up and down a few good sized hills. I am not bragging when I say hills are my secret weapon. I know I am fast and strong on hills. Psychologically too it gives me an advantage to pass people on a long steep hill. I did that three times today!

A man on a bike calls out to me, “Good on you mate, you’re doing fine.” What a boost. Only in NZ.

I was now sitting in first place with grey guy sitting a steady 100m ahead of me. Mark (the cheerleader) yells out, “you’re gaining on her”. Damn. He is a she. Do I want to be bridesmaid or do I want to catch her?

We come into the area where the 10k runners start. I start to question whether second is good enough. And I realise we are climbing another hill. I count the seconds between us as we pass things – 24, 23, 17, 13.

We are almost at the top and I am right on her tail. I recognised her from other events. But I didn’t know her name or even her age group – around 50 it is hard to tell as we age differently. I know people seem surprised that I am in the upper age group. So my decisions were to go past her and hold the lead for 10k of mostly flattish but still hard or sit on her arse and make her work and trust a sprint finish.

I went past her. Now I had to hold her off.

I just kept pushing. I probably glanced at my watch for the time rather than distance at this stage and realised that on these slightly downhill flat bits I was running 5k pace. Bloody hell. I also realised that I could post a good time if I managed to keep it up.

It was not easy. I worked really hard mentally and physically along here. I did actually get passed twice – once by a male half marathoner (youngish) and about 300m from the end by the lead 10k.

I was just trying to keep my feet ticking over as fast as I could. 5k 4k 3k 2k. Almost there.

I checked my watch as I was about the official distance for a half marathon – 1:28:36. Wow!! My previous PB (on a flat course) was 1:32:35. I was stoked. Plus I could see the finish area.

Thank God. Official time was 1:32 flat. Distance was 22:22km. First woman overall. Grey girl had visibly slowed and later told me she didn’t have it in the second half, eventually finishing three minutes behind me.

I felt great. I love the course. I love that because I used to work in the area people know me and they are so supportive and friendly. I love the fact that I bought a couple of farm-made sausages from the volunteer fire fighters for my lunch. Vanessa (who finished in a creditable time for her third and toughest half marathon yet) and I ate our lunch on the village green. We bought cupcakes from some cute five year olds who were raising funds to send school supplies to the Philippines. We ate yummy homemade slice made by someone’s granny and drank great coffee. I love that we could gate crash a table outside the pub with three old codgers and have a wonderful hour of zany conversation before prizegiving.

I won a voucher but my spot prize was amazing – only in farm country would a bag of chicken pellets be offered as a spot prize. And this townie was first to sprint up to claim it. My chooks will be pleased.

So wow. My first ever overall win. An awesome day.

Only problem is I have to get up early and run a technical (but not competitive) 38k tomorrow.

Today’s the day

We are signing our contract with Southern Response and heading towards a new house.

I feel I should be excited, pleased, something, but to be honest I really can’t be bothered. I have got so used to living like we do, with sloping floors, and liquefaction piling up through the cracks in the foundation and building mini sand dunes under the lounge carpet. Of having cupboard doors which don’t open or don’t stay shut – whatever is the opposite for what you want. Of having two sponges on the end of the kitchen bench to sop up the water before it pours into the rubbish bin.

But now we are on the express train to decisionville.

First of all their people will count up the bits which go into replacing our house as it was on September 3rd 2010 but luckily using current prices. This gives us our rebuild budget.

The engineers will swarm over and investigate the land to see what remediation needs to be done and what fancy foundations will be required. That work and the retaining wall will need fixing. Which comes out of our budget, but the foundations do not.

Meanwhile we work with an architect or building company to come up with a house suitable for our section and land evaluation TC3 – this means pretty damned difficult. In fact we are just points off being red zoned which means unsuitable for use.

And then what door handles, what light switches, what colour walls, carpets, curtains. All those decisions. For someone who since the earthquakes has had terrible trouble making any sort of decision and would rather go without than choose sometimes, this is going to be incredibly difficult.

Possibly why I am not looking forward to the process.

Yes, I should be excited. But I am not.

Maybe once the project is underway and becomes more real.

Maybe not.

Help!

I find it really hard to ask for things. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want to eat. It freaks me out when people ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas. What say I appear too greedy? Or when Andrew had his accident and people said to let them know what they could do.

It would be easier if they just said I am going to do this then. End of story. For Christmas I want to buy you this. In blue. Size 10. Thanks. Here. Lunch. Eat!

One of the reasons I gave up Personal Training was I spent my entire working week motivating, encouraging, uplifting people to achieve their goals. Yet there seemed to be no-one to pick me up.

Since I have come out about my mental health issues I have found it easier to talk to people about my problems, and in return receive an emotional boost.

I am going through some angst at the moment. But being more aware in regards to my mental health I have asked for help even before I need it. After almost a year I am going back to counselling. I have the most wonderful man I visit and he is keen to see me again. I am sure he is so intrigued by the serial drama of my life.

Last night I went out with my girlfriends. They were wonderful. Reminding me that we are the A team and if I wasn’t worthy of being an A team member I wouldn’t be sitting in The Monday Room on a Wednesday night drinking $5 sav. They then listed all the people who weren’t in the A team. Thanks guys. Best. Friends. Ever.

As well as all this emotional upheaval I am running ridiculous distances each week. Most of the mileage could be termed as challenging as I tackle hills and trails. I am training for the High 50 Challenge, a nationwide event where one man plans to run 50 mountain marathons in 50 days all in aid of raising money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ. I plan to support him on two days next February. Meanwhile I need to do a spot of fund-raising. As much as I hate asking for things I feel I am constantly asking for people to support me by donating to my page.

Please help me out and allow me to focus on running and sorting my life out. Just pull your credit card out now, click here and donate. If 20 people donate $20 each I am pretty much there. One less thing to keep me awake at night.