like a farm in the city: cornwall park

I knew about Cornwall Park and about One Tree Hill, but what I didn’t know was just how awesome it is. Such big fields, great paved paths and dirt tracks, sheep, cows, playgrounds and bathrooms!

Cornwall Park

I visited Cornwall Park on a sunny Saturday morning for a run with TempoFit people. We had an 8km route planned out, and I was pleased some of the girls around my pace were there – making it to 12km was feeling like it would be a big challenge. This is an approximation of what was going through my mind over this run:

KM 1: Oh, pretty trees! Eeek, watch out for the little kids playing cricket! A hill? Really?!

KM 2-3: Ouch ouch ouch. Who puts steps over a fence at the top of the hill? Ooo, some nice downhill. Where are the leaders? Do we know where to go? And sheep! Sheep! And a cow with a little calf!

KM 4-5: Big hill. Still going up the big hill. And, now I’m walking up the hill. Ugh.

End of KM 5. Nice clean bathrooms? Win! Right, onto the next part of the loop.

KM 5-8: Distracted by chatting with a new running friend. Jealous of the sprinting teenagers. Realise I am likely 10+ years older than them…

End of KM 8: Bye running girls! Need water. Need to stretch.

KM 8-12: Pick shady route. Run up, and down, and up and down. Decide I need to pop iPod in. Tackle the “big hill” again. Make it half way down, then turn around to slog back up. Melting… This is nice and cool. And shady. 11km done? Just one more. Just one more….

 

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I completed this in just over 6min/km pace which is ideally what I wanted to (for a long, slow run). I may have needed some couch recovery time afterwards but I got through it! And today? Today I can still move without any pain! Success!

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speeding up: albany lakes 10km (race two)

After the success of my first event at Albany, I headed out there a few weeks later for the second race of the three-part series. With all the central city roads open (no Ironman 70.3 this weekend to cause closures!) I was able to leave a bit later.

My plan this time was to improve my time from the first race. I wasn’t too sure how this would go, but figured it was possible, especially if I didn’t walk at all. I tried something new food-wise this time for breakfast – an Abe’s Gluten Free Bagel and a banana at home, and then a piece of Venerdi GF Brown toast in the car on the way there. This felt a bit heavy in my stomach, but I didn’t have the “oh-so-starving” feeling that often happens when I run for around an hour. Still some work to be done with the food/fueling side of things but at least this worked and I didn’t have any issues.

It was just as hot this time as the first event, and I found it hard going to get started. There was also a lot of people in front of me who stopped and started walking within the first kilometre. With a narrow start to the event I think some people should have been a little bit more considerate, and maybe I should have been braver and moved closer to the start!

Knowing the course this time made it much easier and I knew where the photographers were to “try” and smile. I was very impressed by the leap into the air the woman in front of me did as we finished the first lap. As I started the second lap I was keeping pace with another girl, and we ended up running most of the second lap together. I finished a little ahead of her but had a quick chat after she crossed the line – her pace was so steady it helped me so much! We didn’t really speak for the 4.5km we ran together apart from an occasional comment, but the company definitely helped as there weren’t really many people around us.

With a finishing time of 55.21 I was pleased to have another new PB for the 10km. They also provide your 2.5km splits in the results, and I could see I had once again started out too fast. My second and third 2.5km split times were identical at 13.50 which I think was a fluke. I struggled in to the end with the last quarter being my slowest, but I managed to push through and didn’t walk at all.

I won’t be attending the third event as we are away that weekend which means no medal for me… but that is definitely an incentive to do all three races next year!

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a clothing dilemma

Within a short time of being around me, it is easy to identity me as having a Type A personality. This translates into my attitude towards work and life, as well as running.

As a consequence, I am really particular about my shoes, hair and clothes while running. Not in that they need to look a certain way, but rather they must be ‘correct’. By this I mean shoes must be tight, but not too tight, hair must be tied up and pinned back from my face (and not resting on my neck) and my clothes need to fit just right.

Post-holiday season my running gear has been feeling a bit uncomfortable, but I refuse to buy anything else just yet. I’m even avoiding the wonderful summer sales! Buying some Body Glide from Triathletes Corner in St Heliers has helped my arms at least, but I know this should hopefully be resolved soon as I kick up the training a notch for Coatesville.

My aversion to certain items of my clothing are causing me a bit of challenge when it comes to post work exercise. As my running shorts are just not right at the moment, and my tights are too hot, I’m rocking my short tights. Usually I love these, and will happily wear them for events, at netball and while running on the weekend, but changing at work and leaving the office in them is a bit weird. Bumping into various senior staff while wearing them (both before and training) = even weirder. As much as I love summer, I’m looking forward to reduced embarrassment as it gets cooler!

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starting off 2014: albany lakes 10km (race one)

First event on the list for 2014 – the Albany Lakes 10km put on by ‘Running Events’. This is the first of a three part series in the lead-up to the Coatesville Classic Half Marathon in March.

This was held the same day as the Auckland 70.3 Ironman, so I was on the road early due to the various road closures. It was a beautiful day, and driving over the harbour bridge knowing the triathletes were just starting their swim in the viaduct was pretty cool.

With a start time of 8am, the sun was up and it was starting to get warm. The route was two laps of a 5km route, with people able to enter either the 5km or 10km event. Mainly on roads and footpath, with a little section on a dirt track, it felt really hot and I felt like I was working really hard.

pre-race photo  (source: Running Events Facebook page)

pre-race photo
(source: Running Events Facebook page)

At the end of the first lap I seriously considered calling it a day and being recorded as a 5km runner. Although I had run the 8km home from work earlier in the week, I just wasn’t sure I could do another five. I employed the usual tactic of self-talk along the lines of ‘suck it up and deal with it’ and managed to drag myself past the turn off point.

My Garmin was almost spot on with the distance markers which meant I could trust the pace it was giving me. With a goal of achieving a time less than an hour, I passed the half way mark with plenty of time to spare. I made it to the finish line in 56.02 and I was pretty happy with that.

After the 5km and 10km events, a 2km kids dash was held. This was awesome to watch, and the first kid to finish was a girl in just a tiny bit over 8 minutes – very speedy for an under-10 year old.

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family entertainment!
(source: Running Events Facebook page)

I’m looking forward to the second event, and now I know the course I’ll be aiming for a 55 minute time. All good practice to maintain my race pace to finish Coatesville around the 2 hour mark.

I can definitely recommend this event – very friendly, not too expensive, good entertainment and easy to get to/park etc. The first male finished in 34 minutes and the first female in 42 minutes, so a good mixture of fun and serious runners!

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adding some speed

The heat in Auckland has been really getting to me. Running is hard, sleeping at night is hard, motivation is low… so I decided enough was enough, and I needed a hard workout to shake myself up a bit. I headed to the nearby Victoria Park for a few reasons, including a bit of shade thanks to the wonderful trees, public bathrooms and to keep out of the crazy wind we’ve had. Gather & Hunt did a we profile on Vic Park here.

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A not-so-summery Victoria Park
(source: Gather & Hunt)

During my time with TempoFit, we completed a race pace exercise as part of our speedwork. The intention was to consistently maintain our race pace, and feel comfortable at that speed. I modified the activity we had completed that day, for a post-work session at Victoria Park, as there is an easy one kilometre loop to follow. I’m pretty sure the kids at the skatepark were laughing as I kept going past!

Because of the heat and post-work sluggishness, I ended up completing 3 x 2km just slightly faster than my goal pace of 5:40/km. Although I’d intended to complete 5km non-stop it was just too much and I decided to take rest breaks. After my three sets, I ran a further 2km through the city at the same pace, taking me to a total of 8km.

I don’t feel like I’m quite getting enough time on my feet or distance completed at the moment, but this session at least made me feel like I could get my body moving at the pace I need it to!

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finishing off 2013

For the final day of 2013, I decided a morning run was in order. As we are (thankfully) operating on an early/late schedule due to it being such a quiet time, with today being my turn to start “late” I was still able to sleep until 7am before heading out.
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5km along the waterfront made me realise once again how awesome Auckland can be – especially when half the population seems to be away!

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‘sleepless in auckland’ – a world record attempt

I visited the Auckland Domain on Saturday where Kim Allan was attempting to break a world record all in the name of charity, raising funds for the NZ  I had seen this shared on Facebook by Super Generic Girl and on our local news sites and decided to make it part of my day.

I headed there in my running gear and visited the support tent. It felt a bit weird to walk up to Kim and her support crew, but at the same time I felt privileged to be a tiny part of her journey. I went through three laps (following the Sri Chimnoy Peace Mile) with Kim and her team, just as One News arrived to do an interview.

I struggle to put together a sentence when tired, let alone put one foot in front of the other for hours on end! Her support crew described her as tough and tenacious, and she really was. Despite the pain and discomfort she must have been in, she even checked that I had sunscreen on.

This evening she not only broke the record, but made it to 500km.

I made a donation before I left, if you would like to do so you can visit her fundraising site for the NZ Spinal Trust.

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beat the ten

Since the Auckland Half, I’ve struggled a bit to keep motivated. This probably also has a bit to do with having spent six weeks in a training group, and now being back on my own. I’m still happy with my call not to do TempoFit this side of Christmas and with various events and things happening with work it would have meant a very stressed Michelle all December had I done so!

They have also increased ‘Earlybird Parking’ near my work to almost $18, which is ridiculous and makes it harder to plan getting places post-work if I need to drive there. It is also practically daylight robbery…

I had seen the Nike Run Club around town and have followed Nike Britomart on Facebook for some time, but had never attended an event. I finally decided to be brave (current trend for me obviously) and go along one night. They are doing a four week program in the lead up to Christmas, culminating in a a 10km time trial on 18th December. The focus is either ‘Break the Ten’ or ‘Beat the Ten’ – I’m aiming to break my current 10km time of 57min 48sec on a run earlier this year. I’m sure I did the first 10km of the Auckland Half in under this time, but as I don’t have that on record my goal is to beat 57 minutes!

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In the first week the Wednesday session was speed work. I thought it would be okay, boy was I wrong! I joined the easy/fun group but we took off at a fast pace from Britomart to Western Park in Ponsonby. There we did stair, hill and park run drills. It was tough! It was also raining, but thankfully quite warm. Last time (and the only times prior) I had been to Western Park was for Art in the Dark, so it was good to see my huffing and puffing up the hills on those nights was justified! My legs really struggled with the hills and steps, I was even cramping up on the last few drills. We still had to run all the way back to Britomart and when I plotted it on mapometer.com I think the evening would have been about 10km.

I’m heading along tomorrow night for an injury prevention session and either a 6 or 11km run. Hopefully this won’t be quite as hard and I won’t be sore for three days like last week!

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swimming before summer

I never would have guessed I’d be this brave, but I went for a swim at our local beach before summer has even started.

Kohimarama Beach

Kohimarama Beach

By “swim” I mean that I stood in knee-high water shivering while the triathlete swam, feeling like a wimp. When he decided it was time to get out, I was finally ready to be BRAVE… So gingerly attempted a bit of breaststroke and did a few duck-dives. I love swimming and being in the water, but hate being cold. Roll on 1st December and the start of Summer!

 

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kite surfing at kohi

Summer weather and that awesome holiday feeling seems to have hit Auckland hard in the past couple of weeks. The North Wharf and Viaduct bars are really busy in the evenings, people are having Christmas parties, work seems to be slowing down… And the beaches and waterfront have been really busy with people!

On the drive home each day we pass multiple people cycling, running or walking. Even on a busy day Tamaki Drive beats the motorway hands down, watching the boats out on the water and people out being active instead of queues of cars.

On Wednesday night I ran through Mission Bay and Kohimarama and spotted lots of different summer activities – volleyball, stand up paddleboarding, kite surfers and rollerbladers – in addition to the usual evening runners, walkers and cyclists. I even had a few smiles returned from other runners which is rare!

Its been challenging to keep myself motivated to get out and run alone since finishing up with TempoFit and after the half, so I’ve dragged the triathlete out for a few runs recently (generally run-walk as my legs are a bit niggly). He commented on ‘how hard’ it was to start running again after not training for a while – I laughed and told him now he knew how I felt trailing along behind him only six months ago! Hopefully he’ll start training again soon – injuries suck!

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