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.

Half-Marathon; Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Body

I just read this and I wanted to share it.

The Z-Axis

I’ve never told anyone these things. My parents, my sister, my friends – no one. So heads up. You’re the first to know.

For the last few years, I have grown, slowly but steadily, to despise the way my body looks.

When I was a kid, I was always told how skinny I was. I didn’t break fifty pounds until I was eight years old. In high school I was always the smallest – height and weight – of my friends. I grew up knowing, somehow, intuitively, that ‘being skinny’ was something good, that it was something I should maintain. In high school, that belief was confirmed and reinforced by magazines, friends who were constantly ‘dieting’, and my school’s insistence on athletic rigor and social ostracism of students who didn’t fit the body ideal. But I was always warned that, as a woman, ‘my time would come’, I would have kids…

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Angels and Demons

This week Charlotte Dawson committed suicide. She was a media personality, a celebrity. She also publicly acknowledged she suffered from depression.

For some reason trolls on social networking sites had been bullying her. I don’t understand bullying. Many people don’t understand depression.

But I do. I also suffer from depression and have most of my life. I started to feel like this aged about 12 or 13. Hormones, they said. Troubled teenager. Moody.

It is not that. You can’t pull yourself together when your brain is suffering a chemical imbalance or wonky wiring. No-one tells a diabetic to get over themselves, and have some sweets. They look out for them, watch for signs of insulin imbalance. Make sure meals are regular and medication handy.

People with depression often have to deal with all this themselves.

Depression is not just feeling down. Depression is feeling weighed down. All day. All night. It makes simple things so much harder. I still have a lot of trouble making simple decisions. In fact today I rang my husband from the supermarket so he could tell me what to buy for lunch. That decision was too hard for me today because I am tired and hungry.

I am well supported. My doctor is great. Through trial and error we have a medication plan which works as long as I take my one pill each day. To help me keep track of this I write the first letter of each day on each pill. This means I know at a glance whether I have taken it or not. My husband is also very supportive. He knows to ask the right questions if I start to feel down – he starts with the obvious ones. Have I run today? Have I eaten? He listens. And does not judge.

For many years they were the only people who officially knew. But recently I outed myself. Why not? it is not my fault that I suffer this. There may even be a genetic makeup as I suspect numerous members of my family, through my mother’s side, suffer or have suffered. It is just who I am.

It was just who Charlotte was too.

In discussing her death I have heard so many people ask why she went on the internet. Why she read what these trolls wrote about her and to her.

Charlotte probably had voices in her head. I know I do. I have learned to tell mine to fuck off. Thanks to three years of intensive counselling. But they are still there, whispering. I hear them.

I read a book on Sunday night. Jodie Picoult’s The Pact. Two teenagers appear to have had a double suicide pact but only Emily died. Chris is charged with first degree murder. This was their story. When Emily was nine she was molested by a man in the toilets at McDonalds. The whole episode probably took less than a minute. He rubbed his hands over her non-existent breasts and stuck his finger right up her vagina. A cheap thrill for him. A lifetime curse for her.

I was also sexually abused in a similar manner when I was 10. And again by a different person when I was 12. Both men, though in reality they were only older teenagers, probably don’t remember anything about it. I know I shoved it into a dark recess of my brain. But things don’t stay hidden. They have a habit of jumping out and scaring you when you least expect it.

At a time when I was coming to terms with the changes a child goes through as he or she begins the journey to adulthood, two innocent invitations to come and see what someone has in their treehouse or tent leads me to being an adult who is still very wary of physical contact. Both these lads were well known to me and I trusted them. I probably looked up them. They returned my hero worship by abusing my body and my trust.

And their legacy is voices in my head. Useless. No-one wants you. No-one likes you. Can’t do anything. What’s the point.

Jodie Picoult’s Emily had these voices in her head. She silenced them with a gun.
Charlotte Dawson had voices in her head. And also on her computer. She silenced them on Saturday.

My voices are still there. I am not listening to them today. But I never know when they too will get too loud for me to cope with.

Depression

Sexual abuse of children

Friends or Foe

Friends.

What is a friend? What makes a friend more than an acquaintance, or a colleague, peer, clubmate?

Why do some friends last the distance, across physical distance, through the years? And other friendships just don’t.

And what about this latest phenomenon of Facebook friends.

Recently I have been reading FB status updates from “friends”. Some of these friends are real life friends. The people I see often, engage in actual not just virtual conversations. Others I share a bond. We went to school together. We share five years or so of memories of green kilts and felt hats, of latin names, of school singing with Miss Kerr, of roasting our legs with baby oil at lunchtime.

Other friends are people I have connected with through running and my children. Or workmates from days gone by.

But a lot of my “friends” I have never physically met. We met through an online forum for people who had run or were about to run the Boston marathon. I joined this forum in 2009, just after I had entered the 2010 race. This forum was great. Through them I learned so much about the marathon. We had two FEs (forum encounters) to meet these virtual friends. This was great for me as it meant I was not alone in Boston, and I had people to share the experience with.

After the marathon I continued on with the forum. I continued to learn so much more about running. I changed my training and improved dramatically. I owe such a lot to you guys. Over time we left the forum and joined FB, creating a private group.

But it was hard being part of a group who had so much more in common with each other than I would ever have. Other members regularly meet up at other running events and via business trips. Not many call in to New Zealand as they pass by! I withdrew myself from this group late last year. Mostly because the talk was about another big Boston reunion this coming April. I felt like a wallflower.

But I am still “friends” with a lot of them.

I had been thinking I might weed out a few people with whom I had never had a personal connection. Unfriend them. Such a horrible term.

My personal self-worth does not need to be measured by the number of FB friends I have. I like to think quality comes before quantity. I feel I am a good friend to my real-life, real-time friends. I even try (but am not always successful) to be friends with my family – excluding my children. I will always be their mother first and foremost!

One click of the button and a person doesn’t even know they have been unfriended. My finger has hovered over this button so often. Do the world’s leaders ever hesitate like this as they hover over a similar button to drop a bomb? Because that is what it feels like to me. The fallout could be massive and I would be oblivious.

Yesterday a New Zealand public figure decided the fallout from her online presence was too much. She took her own life.

Digital dumping. It really is a big fat middle finger.

And I just can’t do it.

And if anyone feels they no longer want to hear about the inane ramblings of the sometimes insane, please have the decency to tell me before you just click on that button.

Nudity!

Well, that grabbed your attention, didn’t it?

Today is the first day of 2014. I woke about 6:30am. I was cold in bed. It was not very light outside. I could hear quite persistent rain drumming on the roof of our bach. I rolled over and tried to get warm.

I had had thoughts, back in Christchurch, of welcoming the new year in ceremonially with a dip in the lake. No way. Not with that rain. And I was still cold. I made a cup of coffee, put my winter pjs and fluffy socks on over top of my skimpy summer ones. Then with my headlamp on I read my book. Andrew was still sleeping. Eventually I fell asleep again.

When I woke it was after 9am. Back home I am a terrible sleeper. But when on holiday I make up for it. Anyway it was still cold, even with a fire burning. It was still raining. I stayed in my pjs, adding ugg boots to complete the look.

Late morning it cleared slightly. I grabbed that opportunity to go for a bike ride. Wrapped up in multiple layers of merino and fluro, topped with beanie and gloves I set off for the Tophouse circuit. It was 90mins of undulations, some tar sealed, some shingle roads. I enjoyed it all. Yes I got wet and muddy – again. I returned to an empty bach. The boys had gone to play with Robbie’s bow and arrow, shooting at inanimate targets up Teetotal Flats. I pondered having a shower or just getting into dry running clothes, knowing I needed to run later on. I went for running clothes.

More book. More rain. More food. More cross-stitch. More rain. More sleep.

Late afternoon and I am antsy. All this sitting and eating is not good for anyone. I decided to run and do my strength exercises. Destination West Bay via Peninsula Track. It was an easy run to West Bay. I started my exercises – 12 mountain climbers. I heard thunder. The clouds were black. 12 press-ups. More thunder.

Not keen to be killed by lightening as I ran through the bush I decided to head home. I stopped and did some more exercises – 12 walking lunges, 12 tuck jumps. More running. 12 lateral jumps over a drain, 12 sideways jumps. There was no more thunder and the sky was brightening. This weather is confused. 12 jump squats, 12 prisoner squats. I came to a little track down to the lakefront. It was like a private beach. A lightbulb moment! I went down to the beach. And walked along. It was very secluded. Only about a metre of stones between the manuka and the lake. There was no-one around. Would I? Could I? Carpe diem and all that. I did. Stripped off all my clothes but left my socks on and strode into the lake. Expecting the water to be freezing I was pleasantly surprised. It was a quick dip but it counts. My first ever skinny dip!! Ok so I still had my socks on but otherwise I would just slip on the slimy stones. A number of strokes. A full submersion of my head. Yes, definitely counts.

I got out and put my clothes back on. 12 bicycle crunches, 12 v crunches. I carried on running. And met a lot of people also taking advantage of the short break. What they thought of me running along, dripping wet hair and grinning like the proverbial cheshire cat. Who cares. I finished my run with a 30 second prone hold and 12 burpees. As I left the lake to run a circuit of the village, I looked up towards the lakehead. The cloud had lifted and I could see fresh snow on the tops.

As I sit here in this cosy bach with the fire blazing, it has suddenly become very dark. There is a lot more thunder now. And lightening. The wind is blowing strongly and the rain sounds like it contains ice. But inside I am glowing with the first wow of my year done and dusted. My first skinny dip. Hard to believe that I had got to this point in my life without trying it, but actually the opportunity had never arisen.

Now it is time for more nudity – a hot shower and then back into my pjs and ugg boots.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy your visit and come back.  Maybe bring a friend or two.

So why a blog?

Many reasons, but the main one is purely that this blog is for me.  A way to express myself through the written word.  Secondary I hope it entertains, amuses, inspires my readers.

In June 1964 I was born at St George’s hosptial in Christchurch to June and Neville Perkins.  I was the third child of four.  My younger brother, Nick, was born two years later.  I already had a sister (Wendy) and a brother (Andrew) older than me.

Readers who are quick on the uptake will have worked out that in June of 2014 I turn 50 years old.  I am looking forward to this mainly because I go up an age group in running, and that will be a good thing.  No doubt this blog will feature running.  A bit.  Or even a lot!  I like running.

I am not that big on birthdays.  More specifically my own.  They never really live up to my high expectations and in recent years I have preferred that they didn’t happen.  That doesn’t really work.

Turning 50 is one of those milestones you are supposed to acknowledge.  With a party.  Invite all and sundry.  Instead I plan to go to a quiet beach in northern Queensland for a week of winter sun with my husband, and anyone else who makes it.

Half a century.  That is a lot of life.  It needs to be celebrated.  Which is why I came up with my 50 things to “wow” me.  It is not a bucket list.  I personally think ticking everything off a bucket list compares to a to do list.  Once all items are completed you are done.  It is the end.  Curtains come down.  I am still thinking of things I might like to do.  But it won’t matter if something happens and I don’t do it.  Like a child, I take as much pleasure in the organisation, dreaming and planning as the actual game.  Like the cliche says. Life is a journey – not a destination.

In 2014 I hope to record my journey of finding 50 things which amaze me.  Some might be bucket list material.  Some might be big – I have a few ideas, some will be small.  But I hope to find inspiration in my country, amongst my family and friends, and of course within myself.

Come back and hear all about it.  It starts on New Year’s Day.