Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taupo, Wellington, and Queenstown.

A few days after the race I decided to make my way down to Taupo. I travelled here with one thing in mind- to do the Tangariro Alpine Crossing. I had met many others along my trip who highly recommended the journey. The bus from Rotarua to Taupo was only an hour and before I knew it, I was here. The weather had taken a little turn for the worse and I got off the bus to rain with sideways winds. Needless to say, I used this as a catch up day and parked my butt in a coffee shop and dealt with emails and chatted to loved ones back home :)

I finally made my way to the Rainbow hostel where I would stay for the next 3 nights. This was such a wonderful cozy hostel with a huge kitchen and lounging area which made is really east to meet others. I inquired about the bus that would be taking people to the crossing and the hostel owner said it wouldn't be running for about another week because the long range weather forecast looked so bad. The bus is really the only way to get there unless you have a car. Uh oh! I sure wasn't about to stay here for a week just to do the crossing. However, I quickly made 4 friends and one of them was a volcanologist and recommended we rent a car and drive up, go half way to the lake lookout and come back down, if the weather was ok. One of the friends I made was only in NZ for 8 days! His only goal on this whole trip was to do the crossing so he was very eager to get out no matter what. It was really by his determination that we made this happen.

(Nick, Martha, Parvin, and I on the Tangariro Crossing).

The day turned out to be fantastic, a bit windy, but wonderful and I can't imagine why the bus would not take people up here. I guess it is the mountain and weather can change at any time. We were very lucky! So lucky that one of the guys that came with us had already done the crossing. He came half way and then offered to drive the car to the finish and pick us up so the 3 of us could do the whole thing. I was super stoked by his offer and we gladly accepted.

(The crater)

The rest of the hike, after the 1/2 way point, was pretty much downhill. The trail switchbacked all the way down and I couldn't help myself and ran much of the way down. Perhaps not the smartest thing to do while in recovery mode from the race but I felt good so I went for it. That night we all had a wonderful time with many celebratory beverages!

The next day, 3 of us packed up and boarded a 6 hour bus to Wellington. I stayed in a hostel the first night but stayed with my friend Emily Solsberg and her husband for the next 4 nights. They are both runners and we enjoyed many fine runs together. They are both talented runners as well as fine people.

However, at some point a little bit of something flared up on the medial side of my right knee (but below the knee). It's kind of been bugging me on and off since then and I can't say I am too happy about it, being on vacation and all. It's really hard to rest when there is so much to see. I had a physio treatment which seemed to help for a bit but it's not completetly healed. Wellington is a great city and the museum is really cool as well as lot's of great shops and cafes. Emily, you were the hostess with the mostess and it was really great getting to know you better.

Another cool thing I did in Wellington was meet up with Dylan from Vibrum who hooked me up with a pair of 5 fingers. I won them from the Tarawera 100km race. He is the worlds nicest guy and we had fun chatting about barefoot running and racing etc. I got a pair called the Speeds, which are more of a casual shoe. I have never figured out why they are called the speeds but their pretty all the same. Since I do so much random walking on this trip I figured they might come in handy.

(Queenstown, NZ)

(Running the ridge off the Ben Lemond Track)

I was going to slowly make my way down to Queenstown but after seeing some running shots of Anton K, Anna F, and Mick in Queenstown/The Remarkables I decided just to book a flight there. Plus, Cathy was going to be starting work as of April 6th and I thought it would be best to visit before then. So here I am! My friend Cathy moved here with her Kiwi bf Dave and they have such a wonderful place here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tarawera 100km race report

I just need to start off by saying how awesome this race is and what a great job the R.D Paul has done growing this event down here in NZ.

I arrived in Rotorua on wednesday afternoon. I'll admit, I sure didn't want to leave Raglan as I truely fell in love with the place but there was a race that had to be run! My host lady, Robyn, came and picked me up at the bus station and so generously invited me into her home for the next 5 days. Robyn, you were such a great host and I thank you so much for all your generosity over that time.

I felt kind of guilty for just bumming around in Rotorua over the next few days. Besides walking around town I really didn't do a whole lot. I had a blast running on the trails for the 7.5km "Fun Run" Paul hosted in the Redwoods forest on Thursday evening and there was a great turn out of people. I'll admit, it was a pretty hilly run and I defintly worked way harder on that run than I had in the last days and was cursing him a little bit as if he were trying to tire us out before the race!

The run was followed by a showing of the Western States 100 movie 'Unbreakable'. We watched it in a beautiful outdoor sitting area in the redwoods forest. I was just smiling from ear to ear watching it as it was fimled the same year that Peter and I did it. Even though I knew how it all unfolded, it was pretty awesome watching it happen all over again. Friday was pretty uneventful. I went for a short 20 minute run and eventually made my way over to package pick-up. I was pretty stoked that our race shirts were going to be Ice Breaker shirts. They are awesome.

The next morning, I woke up at 5am, did my thing, ate some breafast. Actually, normally I have toast with PB and banana but my whole trip I had been having oats with seeds and raisins, banana, PB, and yogurt and I decided to have it that morning as well. Wow, I had such great energy levels at the start (and throughout) of my run that I think that combo is a keeper!

Ok the run...The first 60km of this run are unbelievable. You run on the most amazing single track and I couldn't help but compare it to trails back home in North Vancouver. They were technical and unlike North Van, were super flowy as they winded their way along and around lakes and rivers. A lot of people were pretty slow going along the technical stuff but that is where I know my strength lies and continuously passed others on these sections as well as going downhill. It's always a back and forth game as I do get passed going back uphills. There were so many people running in the Vibrum 5 fingers and minimalist shoes. Not a single Hoka one one found here! I even saw a guy running in crocks...and he came 3rd male in the 60km!

Early on in the race, we ran through some pretty flooded trails and my shoes filled with sand and rocks.

(One of the flooded sections)

I stopped once to empty them but I ran with sand in my socks for the entire race. I was actually surprised my feet were not in worse shape. It was hard to tell what distances people were running as out bibs all looked the same. However, from very early on I was the first woman and I held on from there. I felt amazingly good for the first 60km.

(Tarawera Falls- The only time I purposly stopped to take in the scenery)

The next 40km however, I will admit I was not looking as forward to it as I knew it was all gravel road. Mentally, it was very challenging. However, my body responded better than it ever has to fuelling. Normally, it a race this long I start rejecting my fuel plan but I was fine. I drank a lot of water and I am sure that helped. Everytime I filled my camelbak I put in about 45 drops of elite (a liquid electrolyte solution) and I had no cramping issues all day. My hands didn't swell at all and I was just stoked that I finally found something that worked for me.

In this race, if you feel good, if you were registered for the 60km you could carry on keep going, doing either the 85km or the 100km. Similiarly, if you felt like crap, you could choose to drop down as well. I did have thoughts of how nice it would be to stop at the 85km but once youve done 85km, your pretty much there. When I had 10km to go I pretty much jumped for joy! By this point however I was only consuming coke and watermelon. I'd choke down the odd honey stinger chew but those werent going so well anymore. I thought a lot about my family and Peter and the words of encouragement they gave me before the race. Tips to keep me lifted when I start to feel low. I didn't have a pacer in the end but managed to stick pretty close by another guy and his and that helped heeps. Also, having Robyn there with my fuel at the aid stations made for very quick transitions.

In the end, I finished first women, 9th overall, in a time of 10:26. I took 63 minutes off the old course record and I really couldnt have been happier with my performance out there. I was convinced that the 100km was not my distance having only completed 2 in my last 4 attempts but this was an exceptional day. The course only had about 9,000ft of elevation gain which suited me well as I am a stronger runner than I am mountain climber. My body felt great all day and I just seemed to be able to maintain a really consistant pace. I met so many great people over the course of a few days and everyone has been super awesome. I have had more than a few invites to come check out their home town here in NZ and run on the trails.

(Awards at Abracadabra)

There was a really great awards brunch the next day at Abracadabra- yummy food! It was great catching up with people and hearing stories about their day. I won a free day at the Spa to hang out in the hot pools and took advanatge of that, that day.

I had loads of people wondering what kind of shoes I was wearing. You don't see much La Sportiva shoes down here. It was great to chat about La Sportiva as I am obviously a big fan. The combo of Crosslites and the Defeet socks have proven to be a killer combo for my feet and I only had but one tiny blister which I will blame on all the sand in my shoes. This might have been a good race to have worn my hot pink dirty girl gaitors!

Now I am in Taupo. The weather here is pretty bad. Yesterday it was sideways winds and rain and today it's just windy. I'm off to explore the huka falls!

Thanks again to Paul and all the amazing volunteers that made this event extremely memorable! I am sorry if there are any spelling errors as I had no internet time to proof-read (sorry mom)!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 4,5,6,7

I am back! I guess I last left off thinking about a hike up to Mt. Edan, which is exactly what I did. Since I have all the time in the world, I decided to walk there. I stopped in at a local running store along the way as I have been dying for some cushier shoes but @ $299 a pair I just can't do it! The view from Mt. Edan is sensational...truly. You can see everything. Pretty cool considering it only takes 15 minutes to reach the top. Lot's of runners and bikers were doing hill repeats on the road you can drive to the top. From there I walked back towards the hostel and ended up in a movie theater because...why not! I saw "This means war" and I laughed out loud more than once. I totally recommend seeing it! Ladies the leading men are easy on the eyes if you know what I mean.

The next day I got up with the intention of going over to Rangitoto which is a volcanic island a 25 min ferry right from Auckland. I thought it left at 9:30am but it was 9:15 so I missed it. The next one was not until 10:30 and the last ferry back was 3:30 so I figured it wasn't worth it with how much time I would have. So today, I pretty much wandered aimlessly all day. I went back to the African Organic cafe for the most amazing blueberry muffin. I had been thinking about it ever since I went there on day 1, so it had to be done. I visited New Market and found a library with free internet for me to use. I also attempted to find Mission Bay which has a beach but I had a hard time following the directions I got from a high school girl and ended up in what I would call Auckland's British Properties. That's OK, I stumbled upon this park where a swing set lay and for some reason I had been craving some swings. I even busted out a mini workout on a bench- push-ups,tri-dips,ab circuit on the grass. I walked back to the hostel, exhausted and ate dinner and went to bed.

On Saturday I got up nice and early to catch the 7:30am ferry to Rangitoto. Little did I know the amazing day that lay before me. Pretty much, right off the ferry I was onto beautiful single track that took me up to the summit of this volcano. I thought I would be the first one up but there was a young couple sitting up there. Turns out they had taken their own boat to this island. Rangitoto has another island,Manutapo, that joins into it via a small causeway (bridge). I just started going and followed some sign that went to the Outdoor education Center, which is like New Zealand's version of outdoor school...but better! I chatted with the manager about how to get back to Rangitoto via a trail I saw on the map and he pointed me at the right direction. But first, he told me to head in the other direction to check out Billy Goat point. All the trails I took on this island offered spectacular views of the ocean and the land in the distance. Just crazy! The trail back was pretty much just on a grass field and there were old war bunkers everywhere. Once back on Rangitoto I followed a sign to a trail called the coastal trail that took me back to the ferry. Well, this trail was the coolest trail I have ever been on. The entire thing was Volcanic rock and just super gnarly. If you fell on this stuff you would be pretty banged up as the rock was super sharp. I definitely ran slow but was smiling from ear to ear. Once back at the ferry, I got to chatting with another couple who were out there running. They were training for a race that was happening here in 2 weeks called the Dual. They are coming to Vancouver in 6 months and have actually signed up for a tour in whistler just to see the bears. This always confuses me as I try my best to stray far away from deadly animals but I guess it would interest you if you come from a place that has no wild animals. My adventure today was about 4 hours and was the best thing I have done by far in Auckland.

With the advice from the girl at the hostel, I left Auckland today and boarded a bus to Hamilton and then another one to Raglan, my final destination. I guess this town would compare to Tofino- a total surf and arts town. At most of the shops- they make everything themselves. They had a wicked farmers market and all the cafes & restaurants serve up pretty wicked healthy wholesome food. The atmosphere is super laid back...the complete opposite to Auckland. My hostel has only a capacity to hold 50ppl versus 50ppl at the last one. There is a hot tub, sauna, hammocks, free bikes & kayaks. There is yoga and you can rent surf gear right at the hostel. I am pretty much living in house on the beach and I only had to pay 2 more dollars. And my bed, its a queen size! As you can see I am very happy here. I wish I had more time here but I will leave Wednesday. I just spent the day relaxing and reading, exactly what I wanted to do here. Tapering should be pretty easy in Raglan! Oh, also, apparently jack Johnson has a house here.

This morning I got up and went for a quick 30 minute run. It's pretty cloudy and windy but it made the amazing coffee they serve up here taste that much better. I am really enjoying the book I am reading- the help. I haven't seen the movie yet but I'm looking forward to it. I plan to go for a kayak later. A bunch of us were going to go Surfing but apparently it's not a very good day for it. Oh darn! I tried to post pics the other day but blogspot was being a bit slow so I'll try again in a day or so!

There is quite a bit of hype around the Tarawera 100. Especially since Anton Krupicka is signed up...not sure if he is running. They had a big article on it in the paper in Auckland. I'm stoked to run on Saturday! Until next time,


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Wow, I feel like I have been here for weeks but I am only on day 3!

I arrived in Auckland at 6am. I flew 14hrs direct with Air New Zealand and I was so impresed with the airline. Free wine with dinner, yes please!!!! I even got to watch the descendants, great movie. I managed to sleep quite a bit through the night but only because I fully cover myself (head included) with the blanket. I got dropped off on Queens street (main street) and went to the closest hostel I could find. I wasn't able to check in until 1pm, so I put my bag in storage, changed into my run clothes and set out for the first run of the trip.

My legs felt like lead and were pretty swollen from the flight, even though I wore compression socks. I ran along the harbour, which is kind of like a sea wall with lanes for walkers and bikers. I followed some lady up and over some over pass and just randomly ran around. I ran into a guy who worked for Air NZ along the way and chatted with him about what to see in Auckland. I carried on and decided to stop at this cute organic cafe. I had a coffee and the best falafals with beet hummus ever! After that I found myself running by the University of Auckland (nice campus) and eventually ended up in Albert Park. Finally, I ended back at my hostel and it was time to check in! At this piont I crashed in my room for a bit and chatted with some of the girls who were staying with me. After a quick nap I went out for adventure number 2. One of the girls stayed at a hostel not too far from the one we were at in Ponseby. It kind of reminds me of the Commercial Street area. Tons of wonderful restaurants. I found my first Lululemon and a running store! It's truely insane how much things cost here. A pair of Brooke runners cost b/w $250-$299. I made my way back towards the hostel, stopping off at the grocery store and got the fixings to make some dinner. Aunt Julie, you'd be happy to know that Vogels bread is a staple of my diet everyday!

Day 2: After the best sleep of my life I got up and set off on the Ferry to the island of Weiheke (sp?). This passanger only ferry was about 35 minutes and such a beautiful ride. A girl (from the U.S) who was working at Lulu yesterday recommended I go to this island and hike to Stoneyridge which is where these awesome boulders are. I can remember Peter showing me a picture of them a couple years back. I bussed as far as I could and then had to run 4km along a paved road and then 7 along un-sealed road (dirt road). The views I got along the dirt road were just stunning. There were cows and lamb/sheep everywhere. I even hitch hiked about 2km of the dirt road because it was so damn hot (only brought 500ml of water) and I just wanted to get there. The boulders were so awesome as if they were just plunked down from the sky. I ran into a guy later who actually climbed them. Apparently there is a guide book. There is quite a bit of history in that area as well because during world war 2, army men set up their base camp up there. The run back was uneventful but the finish was so rewarding- a stunning beach. I wish I had brought a towel and I may have jumped in. I probably should have just jumped in regardless. I hung out with this older couple from South Carolina for the next 30 minutes or so and the 3 of us hitchhiked to the stoneyridge winery (this island has dozens of them). People are just so nice here. The guy who picked us up couldnt have been more delighted to take us out of his way and up to this windery. We were only there a short time as we had a bus to catch. After that I showered, did the internet thing, grabbed groceries and crashed.

Day 3: I got to go for a 2 hour run with Malcolm Law. he is a local here, origionally from the UK, and took me on an awesome run. I wish I had some picks but I forgot my camera. internet is about to run out and my pictures wont download for some reason so all you get is words. I think i might go hike up mount Edan today...its not to challenging but offeres spectacular views of Auckland.

So far my taper hasn't been very taper-esque...hard to do on vacation!

Can't wait for the race a week Saturday in Rotorua!
ps- I had no time to spell check so I hope it's not to bad!