The start of a running road trip, racing and back to back training

What a great week it’s been!

The start of the week began pretty low key with my first walk programmed into my training!  I felt a little like I was cheating and spontaneously broke into little moments of running, (forgive me coach), but who else has trouble slowing down!?

The walk was good though, and being a little bit of a competitive person(!) the challenge was on to see what kind of pace I could hit while still walking!  ….in my defence…the training programme did say ‘fast walk/slow jog’, (cue another sorry message to the coach).

Turns out you can get quite a pace on when out for a walk, who’d have thought?…just ask NZ Olympian Quentin Rew, speed-walking 50km in 3:48.48!!!

But for mortals like me…you can also catch up on DM’s, and make (breathless) calls to the family …who knew getting in some training could also be quite productive for catching up on life admin!  Winning!  😀

The highlight of the week though, of course, was my big weekend of back-to-back-to-back runs with The WUU2K…an epic race and an amazing day out.

Road trip day saw me start the first of the 3-day training runs. It was an easy trot around the airport loop track for 2 hours in a light drizzle with the big birds for company.  I find some comfort these days in just running loops, the mind can wander and flow comes easily.  I also enjoyed a couple of podcasts from my favs right now – Lisa Tamati, for the inspiration and the Work, Play, Love Podcast which always makes me laugh – links below! 

Run done it was time to throw everything into the car and get to Picton for a cruise on the ferry. A chance to catch up on some reading, and some sleep. Is it creepy though when your partner takes a photo of you sleeping and posts it to your Instagram story!? hahahaha

It was nice though to just have some downtime, chilling and relaxing.

Race day started early with a 4:00am alarm to get us up and out and into town in time for the bus to the start line.

Waiting for the bus it was cool to chat with other runners and laugh nervously, with that kind of pre-race nervy chatter that goes down before a big event.

Arriving at the start line I was buzzed though.  My body was feeling good, and I was bursting with excitement for another adventure out in the hills, or was it the coffee….no, no, I’m certain I was just pre-race-buzzed! 😉

Just quietly I had done some calculations and had figured I should be able to finish in about 9hrs which based on last years times would have me in the top 10 women. 

I don’t like to put time or placing pressures on myself, because you never know what’s going to happen when you get out there, but this race I was feeling good and I was quietly confident despite my run the day before that It might just be a good day out there.

I could be likened to an over-excited puppy as I jumped up and down with joy on the start line.. and the smiles started as soon as the race begun!

The race starts at a local quintessential park in the suburbs of Wellington.  Some porta-loos on the side of the road, and a coffee-cart working flat-out for some nervous looking faces.

It kicks off with a ‘long’ flat section of ooooh a whole 20 meters before we go UP some awesomely muddy single track mixed with stairs.

We break out of the treeline to, you guessed it, more ‘up’.  But it’s amazing.  The Wellington skyline is slowly emerging from the blackness of the night into a crisp silhouette of the morning sunrise.

Headlamps lined the ridgeway ahead into the rolling backcountry, while the bright city lights of the city that illuminated the ground behind us slowly disappeared behind the hills.

We continued on, up and over the various trigs through sunrise and around and down into all the various gully’s before climbing back out again.

The day warmed up too – vertically tropical temperatures in comparison to South Island Nelson where we’ve barely been breaking single digits.  We all keep running, slowly inching towards the centre of the city, the great ocean dominating the landscape beyond each mini-summit that felt like a mini-victory each time!

I’m not going to lie, the hills are relentless, so be ready to get your hike on, the downhills are quad-smashingly fun, just don’t forget to look up for the views, they are amazing!

I had to stop for a time and watch some Kaka in the trees, if you’re a bird lover like I am you’re in for a treat around the reserve with the amazing birdlife!  It’s things like this that can put a smile on my face and keeping me going through the harder parts of a race. How privileged are we to have unfettered access to nature!?  

Then, after running past windfarms high in the sky, through native wildlife and bush, we came to, The Tip Track – DUN DUN DUUUUUN!

If you don’t know it, it’s 3km long and just over 300 meters high.  Enough said.

So what else can I say about the race? Well, I had soooorreee cheeks (the face kind people, the face kind!) from smiling so much. The views were stunning, the downhills ‘bomb-able’ and so much fun, and the climbs?? Well..I’ve made that pretty clear above, but check out the picture of my smile on the infamous Tip Track!

Whenever I started to feel sore and struggle – I started to smile and think about all the things I’m grateful for.  On the Tip Track, I was grateful for the wind for keeping me cool, for my comfortable shoes for making the climb easier, and grateful for all the positive words from other runners on the track.

I have to say all this positive-vibes and light-and-love-malarky definitely makes hardship more bearable…besides…how lucky was I to be there to have a strong fit body able to perform such a feat as this race – how could I be anything other than happy??

The aid stations were amazing, I almost had tears at the aid station on the coastal part of the track.  I was struggling, the sand and wind on that part of the course had taken it out of me.  The amazing people at the aid station took my bottles, filled them, put them back in my pack, repacked the things I was trying, somewhat unsuccessful to get back into my pack, put my pack back on my back and sent me on my way. It’s truly moments like these, these small acts of kindness from others that can mean so much – so thanks to all the aid station peeps out there.  You might not realise it, but you can make someones race with just the smallest gesture.

Coming through the finish line is always an emotional time for me. I managed a wee sprint finish (clearly I did have more left in the tank!?), before gratefully catching my breath and receiving my medal. The icing on the cake of an awesome day was finishing in 8.5 hrs and crossing the line 8th woman in.

This is not a race for the faint-hearted. There is no doubt that it is a hard one, but there is beauty in that which is hard and if you can frame it that way, smile on the way up the Tip Track (there’s that track again!), chat to new friends along the way, then you can hit this race for a day out to remember.

Th finish the week, today I ticked off the 3rd of my 3 days of training back-to-backs! As I stiffly climbed out of bed I wondered if I’d make it 20 minutes, let alone the 1.5 hours on today’s training plan!  But we found some sweet urban trails, enjoyed a bit of bush bashing and off-track exploring just for fun and the time passed so quickly.  I was left energized feeling like I could run all day!

If you’d told me a year ago I would run 3 days in a row like that, I’d have said you were crazy. Turns out I was the crazy one for underestimating just how I strong I am!

It’s 6 weeks from the Naseby race day and I can’t wait to get out on the miler course!  I’ll be taking it a bit easier in the week to come with lots of strength work, recovery and stretching before building to one more adventure weekend before race day…I’m excited!!

Just wanted to shout out to the Welly crew who I got to meet this weekend. Awesome to meet you, put faces to FB profiles and have a drink…. we will definitely be back.

Have a great week everyone 🙂

Podcast links:

Work Play Love:

Lisa Tamati:

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