Road Race Series versus Trail Race Series

This year I took part in two different race series one was the Run/Walk series which are road races that lead up to the Auckland Marathon and other distances and the other one was the Blackmores XTERRA trail series.

Run/Walk Series

I did this series for the first time last year and entered the one lap option and then ran the Auckland Quarter Marathon.  I enjoyed this series a lot and looked forward to doing it this year in the hope that I would show improvement and I did (with the exception of the last one by seconds).

This is a road race series so it's mostly on roads and pavements with a couple of park paths at some locations.  I'm more familiar with this sort of terrain as I have done most of my running in the past on roads, pavements and the treadmill.  Its easy terrain to navigate, it's fast, and time/distance/pace is easier to compare between runs even if they are done on different stretches of road.

The series is progressive and the courses are 2.5k, 5k, 6k, 7k, and 8k with options to do 1, 2 ,3 or 4 laps.

The 5 race series plus entry to the quarter marathon (or 12k as it is this year) is $175 and this gets you a series t-shirt and an Auckland 12k t-shirt.  The courses are well marshalled and the aid stations well tended with water and sports drink available and there's a banana at the end.  There are no medals or prizes for race or series winners, but there are some spot prizes of shoes and such like.

I was super pleased to find that I was 5th Female in the series and that Kane was 1st Male!

Race Reports:
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 1 - Unitec Mt Albert
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 2 - Alexandra Park
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 3 - Devonport
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 4 - Highbrook
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 5 - Barry Curtis Park

Blackmores XTERRA Trail Series

This was the first year I did this series and actually my first go at trail running and I loved it.  The series is suitable for most abilities and there are runners and walkers.  It also encourages the whole family to take part.  More than once was I overtaken by fit senior citizens and small children :/

There were 4 course options to choose from: short(5-7km), mid(10-14k), long(16-20km) and super long(21k+).  I chose the short course option which aimed to keep the distances under 7km.  You could also select from either runner or walker.

I didn't know what to expect of the trails and it turned out that every race was different.  One race was straight up a steep hill and then down the other side, one was knee deep mud, one was quite sandy, one was surprisingly flat(ish).  At first I tried to compare my times to road running and then I tried to compare my times with the other trails, but it was impossible. 

The 7 race series is $345 and this gets you a hoody and a goody bag with a toiletry bag, tote bag, anti-inflammatory cream and vouchers.  The courses were well signposted and taped and the aid stations had water and sports drink.  At the end there were sausages, beer and sports drinks.  There were a few spot prizes at the end of every race and there was a prize giving for the series participants.

Kane placed 5th Male and I placed 10th Female for the series, but we ran all the races together otherwise I'm certain Mr Speedy would have placed much higher!

Race Reports:
Race Report: Blackmores XTERRA Race 1 - Shakespear Regional Park

Next Year

I really enjoyed both of these series and had planned to do them both again next year, however next years dates have been posted and they clash!!

I'm toying with the idea of training for a marathon, but right now I need to train be fit enough to start training!  Depending on how that goes, that may or may not help me make a decision on which series to go for.

What's your favourite, road race or trail race?  Have you used trail running to train for a road marathon?

Long Weekend

I've just had a lovely lazy long weekend.

It started on Friday evening when I went to the mall and picked up my lovely new Starbucks cup, 2 OPI nail polishes and some pretty Christmas decorations from Kikki.K.

My new Starbucks cup

On Saturday it was raining so we did some housework and grocery shopping for the week and then spent the rest of the day playing computer games and then watched some TV.

Sunday was devoted to watching sports and it started early at 4am with the NZ v South Africa rugby semi final - it was a real nailbiter and I was relieved when NZ won.  Then we had 2 NHL games to watch, Leafs v Canadiens and Red Wings v Canuks.  The Leafs played well but the opposing goal tender is just a machine!  And Kane was happy that the Red Wings won out.  I also gave myself that much needed pedicure so now I have happy feet and pretty pink nails.

Reminds me of the Griswold car in Christmas Vacation

The adverts during sports games are all pretty much the same: cars, tyres, fast food, beer.  After hours of them I caved in and got us a Wendys for dinner with beers that we already had in house.

Little wooden Xmas tree

Monday was Labour Day and we tackled the garden.  I'm glad I got some hard labour in otherwise I would have felt like it was a very inactive weekend!  It's going to take a good many hours of work to get the garden back into shape.  My goal here is to get the garden totally tidy, beds all empty, new raised beds built and filled with soil, new garden lights, and the bbq area decorated in the next 4 months.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend!  Do you paint your nails?  What's your go-to favourite colour?

Currently In ... October

I've had a fun October so far, but I can see things starting to speed up real soon with the Christmas season approaching.  I had such a good Christmas last year I don't think it will be possible to recreate it, but I'm hoping to get close and that involves planning, organisation and getting started early.  But I'm getting ahead of myself, here is my snapshot of where I'm at right now:

Reading: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.  I just got this from the library and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it.

\\ Image from Goodreads

Watching: All the shows!  The Muppets, Greys Anatomy, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Fargo, How to Get Away With Murder, Agents of Shield, Black List.  Continuum has just finished and Grimm will soon be starting.  I also went to the cinema at the weekend to see The Martian and I quite enjoyed it.

\\ Image from IMDB

Feeling: Very happy that NZ beat France to get through to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup and very disappointed that Scotland missed out by 1 point and a dodgy ref decision.

Thinking: that it's only about 9 weeks until Christmas and there's a lot of things I want to get done before then so I need to start making lists!

Anticipating: The holiday weekend coming up and then the Auckland 12k the week after that.  I'm full of nerves about the 12k because I'm not ready.  I've revised my plan to be a run 3/walk 2.

Listening to: Ryan Adams version of Taylor Swifts 1989 Album to see what the fuss is about.  I like Taylors better.

Planning: A Hallowe'en date night with some decorations, a home cooked meal and a movie.  I'm not sure what to watch yet though as Scream is about as scary as I can go.

\\ Image of Neep Lanterns by Paul Stainthorp

Working: On being consistent with my workout schedule.  It's a struggle but it needs to happen.

Wanting: A new spring jacket for those surprise showers and little gusts of wind.

Needing: A pedicure.  My tootsies aren't feeling the love right now, so tonight I'm going to soak, scrub and moisturise, and paint my nails.

Loving: Plan free weekends!  I'm keeping plans to a minimum for the foreseeable future.

Hope you are enjoying October!  Do you have Hallowe'en plans?

Champagne Problems

There is some uncertainty in my professional life right now which I think makes other problems feel bigger than they are, so when I caught myself getting genuinely frustrated and worked up trying to get a piece of technology work and then feeling so annoyed when it wouldn't work and I had to try something else, I just had to stop and laugh at myself.

So this post is me poking fun at myself and to remind myself to lighten up.

This Weeks Champagne Problems:

1. I couldn't get the NHL game centre app to work on my PS3 so I had to chromecast it from it my iPhone.

\\ Image from Google Search

2. I couldn't go grocery shopping at the weekend because I went away for vacation and now I have to buy take out lunches.

\\ Image from St Pierre's

3. Pinterest is full of tasty autumn recipes and cute autumn fashions, but its spring where I live and too hot for cute scarfs and casseroles.

\\ Image by Robin Capper

4. I forgot to get my ice skates sharpened over the spring break so now I have to start the new term with dull blades.

\\ Image from Google search

And there you have it! Haha I can't believe I've complained about these things in the last week :)

Do you have a champagne or first world problem you want to share?

Ekiden Rotorua Weekend

As is fast becoming our annual tradition, last weekend we headed off to Rotorua for a spring break and to run the Ekiden relay race!
The last time we were in Rotorua was earlier this year with Kane's parents, the blog post about that is here: Rotorua Summer Getaway 

What is Ekiden?

Ekiden Rotorua is a relay race held on the 42.2km marathon course and is split into 6 legs of varying distance: 1: 7.5km, 2: 7.88km, 3: 7.93km, 4: 8.27km, 5: 4.74km, 6: 5.88km.  Some have hills, some are mostly flat.  Instead of passing a baton, the current runner wears a sash and passes this on to the next runner.
Race Website: Ekiden Rotorua

How we got started

In 2013 my friends mother had roped her and another friend of mine to be part of their walking team for the Ekiden relay race and even though the weather was just awful that year, they really loved it and wanted to put together their own team for the following year.  
I was part of their team in 2014 and it was such a fun weekend.  We raved about so much afterwards that more friends wanted to take part so this year we had 2 teams! 
Ekiden Rotorua is also the self proclaimed world fancy dress championship so we like to take part and dress up, this year we were heroes and villians.
(1) Our 2 teams all together at the start
(2) Team 1 at the finish (3) Team 2 at the finish


Kane and I headed down to Rotorua from Auckland on the Friday night, which was about a 4 hour drive.  Most of the others had taken the day off work to head down earlier in the day and some of group had travelled up from Wellington.

We arrived at 9pm and checked in.  A short while later the last 3 of troupe arrived and we gathered in one of the rooms to collected our chips, bib and race freebies which, this year, was a t shirt and a gym towel.

Kane and I hadn't had the chance to eat dinner but had brought some food with us, so we headed back to our room to make pasta and sauce and relax after our drive.

Race Day

We woke up feeling well rested and had coffee and some toast with cheese for breakfast.  We put on our running costumes and made some adjustments.  We both went as Fantastic Four members, me as Susan Storm (the Invisible Girl) and Kane as Reed Richards (he preferred to be referred to as Mr Fantastic).

We met with the others and made some last minute team changes as some people needed to switch distances and others needed to switch teams.

Once we were all sorted we headed out to make the race briefing at 8.30am.  The race walkers had already started at 8am and the route went past our motel so we got to see some fun costumes on our drive to the start.

(1) The Start Line (2) Glenn and Tania our first 2 runners
(3) Kelly passing the sash to me with Glynn hot on her tail! (4) At the end waiting for the prize giving

Our teams first runners, Glenn and Tania took off and my group jumped in to my car to head to the first change over point, while some of the others headed off to get coffee and breakfast.  We spotted Glenn first and cheered and waved and then a little further up we spotted Tania looking strong and cheered and waved her on too.

We got to the first change over point and hung around waiting for them to come in.  Tania was first and handed over the sash to Charlie.  A short while later Glenn came in and handed the sash to Kane.  Speedy Kane took off and managed to run over all those hills even faster than last weekends race!

The rest of the race was spent hopping from one change over point to the next, stopping to beep the horn, wave and cheer at our runners.  The only break was when it was my turn to run.  I put on my headphones and zoned out for an hour.

Soon it was time to make our way to the finish line where we would meet our last runner and then all run up to the finish line together.  Charlie and Tania, from the other team, had their car break down so Glenn and Kelly of our team had finished with the first team in order to collect their medals and then go to help them.  Charlie needed to stay with her car so Kelly brought Tania back so that she could cross the finish line with our team.  Kelly ended up crossing the finish line with both teams and that's why she's in both team finish photos, but at least she was able to collect Charlie's medal for her.  And roadside assistance sorted out Charlie's car so it was all good in the end.

(1) Change over point 1 group shot (2) Finishers medal
(3) Glynn doing a gangnam style dance? (4) Catherine cruising in to the change over point

Post Race

Prize giving finished at about 4pm and we were starving so we made a bee line to pizza hut which we could see across the park and then headed back to our motel to enjoy our pizzas.  Then we went into pool. 

The pool is the number 1 reason we come to this motel.  It's heated to around 37degC from the geothermal activity that Rotorua is famous for and there are also two indoor mineral pools.

This year some of us brought pool noodles to just float around with and it was perfect!

Last years pool photo as we didn't take one this year!

After hanging out in the pool for ages, we then got cleaned up and hung out in one of the rooms and enjoyed some wine and MTV classics.

The following morning we checked out and then headed for a group breakfast before going our separate ways again.  A most enjoyable weekend!  We're already in discussions for next years costumes :D

My Official Stats:

Leg: 4
Distance: 8.27 km
Time: 1:02:51
Pace: 07:36 min/km

I did better than last year by 4 minutes but I got really bad cramp last year.  I think I need to do more hill training!


Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 5 - Barry Curtis Park

Race Website: Run Walk Website

The final race in the RunWalk Series was an 8k on Sunday at Barry Curtis Park.  This means that it is now 4 weeks until the Auckland Marathon which I am doing the 12k.

Official Stats:

Distance: 8 km
Time: 0:59:18
Pace: 07:25 min/km


My schedule was thrown off balance on Saturday and the ripple effect is still happening on Tuesday.  A large late lunch and a long nap resulted in no dinner on Saturday night - no pre-race pasta meal ritual!  And also a rather odd and short sleep.  Neither of us were ready to wake up on Sunday, it was a struggle and we left it to the last minute.  Breakfast was a banana in the car on the way to race.  Not an ideal fuelling strategy.

On The Course

0 - 3 km

Often at the start of races I walk for the first few minutes to warm up and let the crowd disperse a little but there seemed to be less of us in this last race of the series and I just started running as I reached the blue mats.  My plan was to run 10 minutes, walk 10 minutes, repeat.  But I was tired and I was moving really slowly that when 10 minutes had gone by (which felt like forever) I decided I'd just keep going for another 10.

// Image from Facebook - Kane starting the race towards the front of the pack

As you can see from the map, the course is kind of weird for the first 3 and a bit kilometres and it goes in loops and is undulating.  So you can see the other runners going in different directions up or down hills and it has the effect of making you feel like you're in a cartoon trying to catch Bugs Bunny or something!

By around the 3km I hadn't stopped for a walk break and decided just to keep running to see if I could.  I imagined what it would be like to run for all 8km without stopping, how awesome an achievement that would be.  Up until this point I had only been able to run 20 minutes before having to stop for a walk break so I was keen to push it a little further.
3 - 5 km
Just after 3 km we came out of the park and onto the road which was a very slight incline and then at 4km was the water station.  I had a little hand held water bottle so I didn't need to stop and I've learned that powerade doesn't really agree with me during runs so I kept going.
// Image from Facebook - Me starting the race towards the back of the pack
Another thing that was different in this race compared to the others was that there wasn't anyone really near me.  In most of the other races there have been people going about my pace that have overtaken me when I was walking and then I'd overtake them again and this would repeat through the race, but at the water station I over took the girl in the pink top that had been ahead of me the whole time and she was the last person I'd see for a good while.
5 - 7 km

A little after the 5k mark the course leaves the streets and goes back on to a path which is all up hill until it reaches the main road again.  My hill strategy was to shorten my stride and pump my arms to try and keep as much life in my legs as possible because I really wanted to keep running it felt hard here and I started to think about Lisa of Lisa's Yarns who was running a marathon and had planned to dedicate each mile to a person and pray for them.  Lisa herself has rheumatoid arthritis and thought her running days were over but here she is, running marathons!  Yes my pace was slow - gosh, it was slow for the whole race, but I kept on running because I could and I am so grateful for that.

When I had got back onto the main road again this was just a long, straight, flat kilometre or so and I was stoked that I had been running constantly.  I remembered the first time I had ever run 8km - it was on the treadmill at the gym and it had taken me 1 hour - my goal at that time was to run for 1 hour and I was so happy that I did it, I really needed to prove to myself that it was possible for me to run for one hour.

7 - 8 km

The last kilometre started with turning off the main road and down hill through grass back into the park paths.  Then it winds back and up hill and then it does a loop around to the finish.  I gave a little push on the finish straight and I finished just under the hour, so happy that I ran all the way!  I was a teeny tiny bit disappointed that I finished 16 seconds slower than last year but really that would have been the cherry on top because I couldn't be disappointed with having run for almost an hour.  I felt like I had been given a gift of running mojo.

Comparison with Last Year


Post Race

My legs felt totally weird once I crossed the finished line and tried to walk!  I had to walk around the field for a few minutes before they felt close to normal again and then I enjoyed a heavily diluted powerade and a banana.

Kane told me he had struggled a bit but that he came 5th!  Go Kane!

That was the last race in this series that is the official series leading up to the Auckland Marathon and the 12k and Half Marathon distances.  I still have work to do but I'm need of some recovery time!

// Images from Facebook - Pre and post race shots

Also in this series:

Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 4 - Highbrook
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 3 - Devonport
Race Report: RunWalk Series Race 2 - Alexandra Park