Dirty girls

I like it rough. I like it dirty.

And that is why I like cross-country running.

Yesterday’s race was muddy. I had run on the course a few weeks ago and it was wet. I ran again on Wednesday, doing a quick lap in spikes. It was muddy.

And then it rained. For two days straight.

I took my 6mm spikes out and replaced them with longer 9mm ones. A good move.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling queasy. I actually think it was nerves. Twice now this has happened before a championship race. I had my horse trough sized bowl of porridge, with natural yoghurt and sliced banana on top. And I pottered around. I went to Merivale Mall which was hosting a food tasting market. So many things to try and buy. I had none. Discipline is knowing what you want more than what you want now. I wanted a good race.

Start time was 2:05. Andrew dropped me off just after 1pm and I trudged across the park to our tent. Underneath my puffer jacket, my club fleece, my club dryfit, my merino and my thermal. Beneath the trackpants and running tights there was a lean mean running machine. I kept some of the outerlayers on and did my warm up routine. I ran the course working out the best lines for harer ground. Going wide was the better option as the inside corners were churned mud. The juniors race first.

I did have a momentary panic when using a portaloo and it lurched violently. I thought I was over earthquake stress, but at that moment if I hadn’t just been, I would have crapped myself. I thought there had been a massive earthquake and I was going to die, trapped in a portaloo, drowned in yucky stuff. But no, it was just off its rocker. Freaked me out big time.

It was cold but not as cold as was predicted. There were intermittent rain showers which were better than the snow flurries predicted. And it was time to strip down and check. Singlet. Number. Timing chip. Shoes laced extra tight.

Start time. A big crowd as every woman from 15 years up was running together. Under 20s were running 2 laps of 2k, senior women 4 laps and us oldies were running 6k.

And we were off. I was in the middle of the pack. The first 150m is downhill and I passed a lot of people. I tried to remember not to go out too fast as three laps could be tough. Across the bridge and the first uphill slog. It doesn’t look much but it is deceivingly tough. This year because of the wet conditions the start finish area had moved. This uphill is usually our finishing straight. It was very soft and very wet. I ploughed through and passed a few more. I could see easily I was in third position for masters women. It was where I expected to be. Just hold that spot. Round the bend and downhill for a bit. Use these straights to keep strong but recover. The long two part uphill is coming. Andrew called out “Go Robyn”. Lots of people were calling out to me. Telling me I looked strong. I felt good. I felt strong.

The next uphill. Again sodden and soft. Quite muddy. I picked off a few more runners. Younger girls. A sharp s bend and then the real hill. Thick thick mud. I kept to the left and dug in. This is a strength of mine. I am strong in these conditions. I passed another couple. Round the corner and down hill. Keeping it strong but easy. Across a gravel path and then we weaved through the flax bushes. The choice was slippery mud or slippery mud. It was 100 m of a muddy path. It could all turn belly-up here. I was through. Across the water course, round the corner, the second water course, round the corner and first lap done.

We set off again. I am feeling good. Just keep going. I see Fiona ahead of me. Fiona is five foot nothing of pure running machine. But lately she hasn’t been running as well as previously. I have been hot on her tail a lot recently. I passed her at about 2.5ks. I felt like apologising. She said go girl.

I attacked that second hill again. There were a couple of blue and orange singlets ahead of me. Our junior girls. Again I don’t like to pass them. I think it must be demoralising to be passed by someone older than your mum!

But I did. Sorry, girls. I am having a great day.

Second lap done. Everyone is really cheering me. Giving me good advice. Telling me I was looking strong. Looking awesome. I felt it too.

That last hill though. It was tough. I try not to look behind me in a race but I do use the corners to see who is where. Fiona was coming back. Could I hold her? I dug a little deeper even though my kegs were a bit tired. Less than 1k to go. I glanced back as I crested the hill and rounded the bend. She was about 80m back. I had this. I flew.

Across the line. Second masters woman (over 35) and first over 50. A nice visit to the top of the podium. I am beginning to like the view from up there.

But I felt good. I have a training plan. I have an eating plan. I had a race plan. And they all came together.

My legs were caked mud from top of my socks to bottom of my shorts. It took some scrubbing to get them clean. I imagine my shoes and race gear will take some scrubbing too.

Now it is Sunday. My medals are hung. My day of glory gone. Back to the training plan, and even though it is dark, cold and I hear rain, the plan says 25k.

So be off.

A Great Kiwi Road Trip

“Deviating from a plan brings opportunities unforeseen.”

I am sure that someone famous must have said that or something like it. Otherwise feel free to quote me!

Andrew and I are on a bit of a road trip. Destination Queenstown via a race I had in Cust. For those unfamiliar with New Zealand’s geography this involved us driving north west from Christchurch to Cust then heading South via the Inland Scenic Route which runs along the base of the Southern Alps.

We stopped in Geraldine to buy some food for dinner. We were spending the night en route, somewhere unbeknownst to me. While looking for the supermarket Andrew mentioned he would like to go to the Barker’s shop. The Barker family are an institution in this area, famous for their fruit products. As a child we always stopped at their farm shop as we travelled south for our annual skiing/skating holiday.

The current shop was amazing. Barkers products and their new product line, Anathoths. I wanted it all. We were the only customers. It was a dark damp Saturday evening, just before closing. Andrew and I were discussing what to buy, tossing comments back and forth across the shop.

I noticed a man. He was listening to us. As we were discussing whether Robbie would like Anathoth’s Lemon Curd as a present, the man came over.

“You must try it. It is the best.” Well, of course he would say that. He was the current owner, Michael Barker.

We spent the next 45 minutes tasting his products. He asked our opinions on marketing. Told us the stories behind his new products. How Anathoth’s is made with ingredients his grandmother would have used. That is their mission statement. Barker’s is to make the best product available. Andrew ended up going back to the car to get homemade Quince Jelly. Michael was impressed with the depth and clarity of colour but said it was a little overcooked.

It was a wonderful and unexpected delight. We left feeling enriched, and with a massive box of purchases. One I am keen to try is is unsweetened blackcurrant juice concentrate which he says adds pro-oxidants to the body which when taken two hours before vigorous exercise promotes recovery. Mmmm like the sound of that!

Straight to the supermarket to buy some cheeses and crackers. I found a local cheese, Talbot Forest Geraldine Aged, a strong cheddar which teamed well with the Spiced Apricot Chutney.

We ended up staying the night in Fairlie at a new accommodation place called The Musterer’s. Very luxurious and very well set up. I especially like the wood heated hot tub. The perfect way to soak tired muscles after a hard hilly muddy race.

Andrew is getting good at organising wee treats away. He might be a keeper after all. Soon it will be light enough for me to go for a run. As I said yesterday if we stayed the night in Fairlie I was definitely going to have a Denheath Custard Square for morning tea, I had better go for a long run. I can see my typical athlete’s diet being abandoned for the next four days.