back in the running

I didn’t think this would happen again, but here we go.

Training for the Mount Robson half-marathon.

half-marathon training

The last half-marathon I ran was three years ago in New Zealand.

Since then, I thought my racing days were over when I learned that my partially-torn ACL had reduced itself to nearly nothing at all.  According to the results from the MRI I had in the fall of 2014 (after yet another injury), all that is left is a stub that has fused to the bone. Add that to a damaged MCL and a partially-torn meniscus that has flipped under itself and you can understand why I was led to believe that running 21.5 km would not happen again.

However, I accepted this as a personal challenge and I registered for the Mount Robson half-marathon and figured I’d see if I could at least make it through training. I’m up to 16 km and going strong, so it’s looking promising! I attribute this progress to a mix of strength training, my talented physiotherapist (who also happens to be my sister), and quite possibly the sheer magicalness of the universe because I sure as hell can’t explain it.

A little over two weeks until race day.

 

~C.



The “Big O for my 3-0” Weekend

Obstacles of rocks, exposed slimy roots, fallen trees, low hanging branches and mud bogs; slick leaf-strewn paths snaking along the side of a hill; long, strenuous climbs up-hill and joint punishing descents – the Big O had all the makings of a perfect trail run.

It was unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I hadn’t known exactly what to expect beforehand, but I did know one thing – this wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill road race.

It was challenging, it was exhausting, it was longer than 19km (or so it felt), but it was fun. For the first hour, I felt exhilarated. The ground under my feet was more forgiving than asphalt. The scenery was beautiful (the trail wound through dense forest and offered glimpses of Lake Okataina) and my body didn’t feel like it had been out of the running circuit for as long as it actually had been (I hadn’t known I was going to enter the race near Rotorua until a month beforehand). For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t wear my “bionic” leg brace. Yet my knee didn’t bother me at all.

(I didn’t wear it because during my training runs, it caused me such a profound pain in my shin that I had to take it off. I knew that if I started the race with it, I would have probably ended up chucking it into the ravine in a fit of frustration within the first hour).

The “Before” shots:

I finished in my target time. I could have even shaved a few seconds off, had it not been for Marjo cheering me on in the home stretch. Her yelling “RUN LIKE YOU’RE 29!!” made me miss a few beats. I can run, but I can’t run and laugh very well.

The “After” shots:

Anyway. This is the most memorable birthday yet!

Even though I wasn’t able to spend it with friends and family back home, I was so happy that I did something outside of the regular birthday booze-up.

(Thanks again for all the cards and surprises! I was so overwhelmed by the effort and thoughtfulness. Especially by the trivia game my friend-since-we-were-tw0-years-old put together and everyone who contributed! It was a fun jaunt down memory lane.)

I’ve had 10+ years of shenanigans for my birthday. I wanted something that felt like an accomplishment. Something I have worked for and have become pretty good at. I’m certain 30-year-old-Carolyn would have kicked 20-year-old-Carolyn’s ass.

~C.



Tawharanui trail run

Anzac Day!

I had been planning on looking into what they do here in regards to ceremonies and such. I figured at the very earliest it would be a late-morning thing. Should have done a bit more research, because the big ceremony turned out to be the Dawn Service at 6 am. Fail.

So, Marjo and I drove out to the Tawharanui Peninsula for a late morning trail run (my fur buddy had to stay home – no dogs allowed in Tawharanui National Park!). The initial plan was a morning of surfing, but we found out that everything was closed until 1:00 pm. So, no surf board rentals. But no disappointment though either. Surfing on a beautiful beach or running around a picturesque national reserve? I’m always game for either, so we worked with we had we had.

It was a bright, sunny day and quite a few people were gravitating to the park – apparently the campsites there are some of the best to be had (I’m going to have to go back to test that theory), the surf was great (for those who actually had surfboards!) and there was no shortage of perfect picnic spots to lay claim too (I would hope not, considering the park is 588 hectares).

It didn’t take long for us to break away from the more populated areas. We just charged our way up a dirt path through farmland to get up to the ridge that provided a panorama view of the rolling green hills and white sand beaches and a vast expanse of ocean. We trotted along tree-lined trails where the branches formed a canopy over our heads. We stopped at a cliff’s edge to take photos of the outcroppings of rocks and the crystal clear water below us, as well as Great Barrier Island visible in the distance. It was breathtaking! (Both in the visual sense and because running up those hills was a little strenuous.)

There were many trails to choose from – meaning I could head out there time and time again and not get bored of running the same loop. The only con is that it takes about an hour to drive out there, so it’s more of a weekend destination. But I’m slowly creeping my way up further north into new territory. I can’t wait to have a vehicle to call my very own! So much ground to cover in this incredible country…

~C.



The Orewa 10.5 km Beach Run (also, Why I Punished my Lazy Self)

It’s been a little while since I last participated in a race. The last one was a half-marathon in Kelowna and after that, I took a break. My body demanded it. More specifically my battered knee that, even while encased in a fiberglass monstrosity to keep my ACL and MCL from moving all over the place, was starting to get a little fed up with all this running business.

Matching shoes, shorts and shirts. I’d like to say that it wasn’t planned, but I don’t even know anymore.

We “forgot” to pick up our race bibs the day before. You could tell who got theirs on race day because they had ran out of “half a half” bibs and had to improvise…

Fast forward a year or two, and I found myself signing up for the Orewa Beach Run. I had been getting back in my running groove since moving to NZ, but my routine was derailed when I went back to Canada for three weeks.

I decided to do the Auckland half-marathon later this year and what better way to kick off training than with a 10.5 km run?!

The course was pretty spectacular. Along the beach for a few km (I may have been heavily distracted for this portion of the race by the beautiful view),  which led into a nature reserve, then onto the road for a bit before looping back. I found that the changes in scenery made the race go by relatively quick.

The three Lulu Lemon-ers and Les Mills-ner.

Probably not the best course to set a personal best though, as there were a few spots where it was bottle-necked. Good thing I set a lofty goal of ten kilometers in one hour. Then I found out it was actually ten and a half kilometers but I still did it in an hour so I’m pretty sure I just showed myself who’s who. (???)

We celebrated afterwards with a delicious breakfast and bowls of coffee and heaps of water. Even though Carolyn of yesteryear would probably smack me upside the head if I classified this as a “Sunday Funday”, it was still a feel-good day and it motivated me to get back into my routine and work harder.

*Pauses for sip of wine*

~C.