Tag Archives: Northburn

The journey


Just when I thought I may have tapped out my personal abilities in running, this past weekend surpassed those thoughts by a long shot.

The mid week leading up to race day went smoothly with only one large bout of ‘have I prepared myself well enough for this’ nerves. That was Wednesday & I nearly let it get the better of me. As soon as good friend & flatmate Cath & I left Christchurch & made the journey south, all was calm in the land of pre race thought.

Our drive down to Cromwell was another spectacular one. By the time we reached the Lindis Pass, the shadows were casting length down the endless mountains. I was home.
That evening the Northburn organizers put on an informative & entertaining talk with some top ultra runners as discussion panel. I got a lot out of that. Listening to top guys like Matty Abel, Grant Guise & Sage Canaday speak about their experiences & openly sharing training & racing information, made me remember why I love this sport so much. The ultra running community is like a family no matter where you see it. Even the runners out there that clean up every race, are just so approachable about their super human abilities.
I had a solid sleep Thursday night (probably because I was in my home bed at my parents house). I was glad of this – the days prior hadn’t been great.
Friday I didn’t tempt fate with a few km run as planned. My back had been behaving & I didn’t want to run the risk of aggravating it pre race. Cath & I headed to Queenstown to pick another friend & fellow 50k runner up from her lunchtime flight. Friday was a very good pre race day – very relaxed, weather was beautiful & excitement was building for Northburn 🙂
I was so happy to see Orlaith when we picked her up & we had much to discuss through the course of the day.
Race briefing later that afternoon was a very entertaining Terry Davis talk about just how much the course was going to hurt us! Looking around the race HQ I could see a variety of emotions on competitors & support crew’s faces. There were a number of runners there signed up for double or triple the distance of what I was doing. We had a clear weather forecast, but as all Northburners & I could see fear, excitement, amusement (when Terry said things like he wasn’t sorry for the spaniard plants on the mountain that poke you like needles!). This is all a part of what makes Northburn so great.

Race day arrived soon enough after spending longer than anticipated on sorting last minute things for my race pack. Even Dad commented how heavy it was on race morning haha! Turns out I didn’t need alot of the food I packed either (story of my life). I love waking up to the early alarm, under the blanket of the day’s darkness on race day. Saturday was no different & I knew it was going to be a big day. I pumped some porridge in & before we knew it, we were headed to race HQ for 6am start. It was about 7deg, calm, ideal for a start in the dark. My parents & Cath arrived in the other vehicle after we’d been checked off & were doing final checks. Dad cracking his jokes (I think he sees my focus face & feels the need haha), Mum trying to hide her nerves & be cool for us & Cath looking excited for us & unsure what to expect. Time was flying pre race & before we knew it we were heading to the starting chute with the dance music pumping through the amp, brilliant stars in the pre dawn sky & our head torches glowing. Orlaith & I grasped each others hand & excitedly wished each other a great race & away we went. She bounded off & I didn’t expect to see her again, she is a machine of a runner 🙂

I really enjoyed the pre dawn part of this 50k. We were climbing before long & everyone was spreading out. I realised a few km in, after the slight spread that my headtorch battery had indeed become close to running out. I may as well not have had it going! One of the pre race checks I hadn’t done, because I hadn’t used it for some time. Whoops! I had to make the most of draughting off other people’s light’s & using my natural night vision 😉 I was pleased when the sun came up as I didn’t have to worry about that for the rest of it. After 5k we went back past base & got to see our support crews & everyone yelling positively. After that it was time to do some serious climbing for 20k. This was very unrelenting but I felt quite good on the climb & just kept pushing forward. I had a few brief conversations with fellow runners on the way up, but we were all keeping focussed & conserving energy for the ascent.
Reaching the highest point was a good moment – I had my second water fill & didn’t spend anymore time stopped than I needed to. I was also feeling pretty focussed & clear headed. I’d kept on top of my nutrition. I had a Ceres Organics Raw bar, a Hammer Gel, a small boiled salted potato & one or two date rolls with peanut butter in them by the time I reached the top. I was burning up fuel & water faster than I could put it in.

After reaching the summit, there was alot of downhill work to be done. A considerably long stretch of about 10-12km downhill on exposed farm track. Hard work on the quads & my right knee whinged later. Quite a bit of fun though. The heat of the day was really starting to set in as I reached the 39km mark (my number had not been radioed in a few km back, so at that point I didn’t know my parents & Cath were a bit unsure if I had DNF’d, injured, or what had gone on). After that aid station there is one nasty piece of climb. Here’s where the real test came. It was dry, hot, exposed & I was a bit tuckered out by this stage but still moving forward. I spent the last few km sulking because of how tired I felt, which is silly really. My head was still pretty clear, I just think the dehydration had hit me a little. Before I knew it though, a mere 8hrs24 or so minutes after starting (hahaha), I was rounding around the corner through the last of the vineyard & back to base. Lots of overwhelming emotion on the inside, plenty of sunshine & happy on the outside – I did it!!

This ultra went far more positively than I could have imagined. I went into this challenge with a sound frame of mind & even though I hadn’t run at Northburn before, I knew what it was about & how hard it was going to be. All of the social sacrificing during training & pushing my own boundaries was worth it. During the race, my mind was concentrating on the race only. Any non relative thought I seemed to be able to push away, to retain focus.
Northburn is a very special event, one that Lisa, Terry, Tom & team can be proud of. I made some lovely new friends & am already planning how I will do next year – more than likely running the 50k again, but pacing for a distance on the final lap of the miler as well. My support crew, parents, Cath (travelling down there & back with me, thank you!), Sarah (surprising me at the finish line (amazing – I was so overwhelmed) and the kick arse messages pre & post run from those people that knew how much this race meant to me – I am very humbled by your words, hugs, smiles & thoughts.
Recovery is going well & I’m looking forward to the next exciting mission. What ultra running is teaching me is that there are essentially no limits if you train/rest well & move through the process with a positive mindset. All part of the journey. I’ve started the next one already 😉


This is it..

The week of Northburn 50km has arrived! I’ve watched good friends tick off some epic races over the past couple of months. This week it’s my turn to hopefully do myself really proud 🙂

I feel like I’ve made the taper work pretty well during the lead up. The only small down side I would see with this taper would be the fact of it arriving earlier than planned because I wanted to look after my back. I feel like I made the right call here & there is no real point in worrying about what might have been in late February training. My body & mind would rather be at the end of the scale of an early taper, than an overdone training run, with bad niggles. I’ve found it interesting over time, how those fears have diluted themselves naturally. More than likely a combination of experiencing crazy, unnecessary nerves within myself over time for races. I’ve come to realize that the only real barrier between enjoyment of a tough race & feeling like a basket case pre & during, was remembering why I love trail running & training for such events like Northburn.

The past ten or so days have been balanced & my running although naturally reduced, feels strong. Last Saturday I discovered a new mountain – Mt Thomas – with good friend & training buddy Saskia. We hiked that day & it was refreshing do have a steep climb & breath in some mountain air. It felt like it had been forever since I had been to a mountain! That Sunday I spent a couple of hours running in the Port Hills in overcast, mild conditions & ended the weekend well.
The mid week was the usual balance of work & training.
Last night I tested out a new waterproof, lightweight Salomon jacket that had arrived in the mail on Friday. It fared well & I feel far more confident pre race with that jacket rather than the older Marmot. This piece of kit also rolls up super small so you are getting the most of your space in your pack. Most trail runners know the persistent problem of packing the compulsory gear in. This jacket solves some of those problems!

As the sleeps inevitability count down toward Saturday – I feel like a contented runner who is keen to mark this race off & be a part of what is always such a positive weekend in the phenomenal scenery of Central Otago. It’s time to continue to stack the zzzz’s (historically the night before a race is not the best sleep of my life 😉 ) in the next few nights & look forward to every aspect of what is the mighty Northburn.

End goal = completion, enjoyment, no injury & to want to continue running ultras! 😀


Revolving reassurance

What a strange, strange week. Perhaps it’s the heat. Or the fact that my back started aggravating a little, about a week ago, which has consistently lay in my head. That could be the very essence of my uncertainty closing in on taper.

Last Thursday after work I had a seamless run up the guts of Mt Vernon, beside Rapaki track. I mention seamless because the run felt strong at the time. When I reached the top, lungs heaving, legs lightly giving me the nod that we’d climbed, I did some more mileage along the bike/walk trail up the top. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I ran with my hand bottle, thinking I was giving my back a break in the lower kms with it. I think I might have been doing the opposite. The range of motion in my top half changes with it in my hand & this is the only event I can think of that would have affected it.

Fast forward to Thursday this week & I faced the facts (had been cross training the days following touching 40km on Sunday) & saw the chiropractor. Some adjustments made & soft tissue work, lots of technical explanation & then the second appointment was booked for Tuesday. I am concerned about doing the right thing here. My back is dealing me a rather confusing dull tightness, which isn’t around all the time. I ran on Friday evening, 10km & at an easy pace on the trail to test out the loading on my back. Yesterday I felt stiff on & off in my back & didn’t do any training. Today I am vastly torn. This was realistically the final weekend I’d be doing big kms before I started to take it down ahead of Northburn.

It’s these times in our phases of training & life in general where you have to 100% back yourself in your decisions through uncertainty. I’ve had little to no issue with niggles & injury all the way through the summer season & Northburn lead up – so perhaps my body is sending this low level caution, to heed a less than comfortable experience on the mountain in a months time. I want to set out on the 22nd of March, strong & happy. Not tired, uncertain & concerned. I spent a good hour on the cross trainer tonight at 80% effort – climbing climbing climbing. It wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be & at least I feel like I have been following orders that way :-/

Last Sunday I was pleased to get 40km done though. I made an effort to get up early & beat the heat that has been relentless of late. I got about three hours in the low cloud up on the Port Hills before the sun started sucking the life out of me. I finished early in the afternoon, my Garmin watch stats later telling me I’d worked in nearly 1700m of ascent in that distance. No wonder I could feel every incline I hit!

Lastly, yesterday afternoon friend Sarah & I headed out near Oxford (about 40min drive from Christchurch) to cheer our other friend Saskia on, finishing her first ultra marathon at Bedrock50. It was a really hot day out there & we could hear everyone that came in say to the race director when she asked ‘how was it?’ – ‘It was really tough out there’ was the general consensus. It was fun to watch people coming in & completing a big challenge. Also just really invigorating to me around quite a few ultra runners in the same area, a month out from Northburn. Saskia came in, with a smile on her face & I felt such a rush of emotions for her. I’m really, really proud. Same with Sarah who last weekend had a great breakout Coast to Coast in the teams event. I had a positive weekend all round (even though it was sans long run) & being out at Bedrock was definitely the highlight.


Pushing the training juggernaut forward

As I start this blog, I am gazing on & off at Mt Cook in all her glory, whilst I sit in the truck heading back toward Christchurch. I actually have the luxury of being a passenger for once so I can properly enjoy the scenery in between feeling ill in the windy parts of the road. That part of being a passenger, less than ideal.
It’s been an outstanding weekend. The main purpose of this one to Wanaka/Cromwell has been to attend Rippon Festival….but my busy runners mind had ulterior motives for the extra day off pre festival 😉

The Pack track to Tuohys Saddle from Roaring Meg in between Cromwell & Queenstown I hadn’t managed to tick off whilst on holiday, so I made a plan to do it this last Friday. Amanda, a very grounded, lovely woman I met whilst struggling my way through my first Routeburn Classic, joined me. I was excited to see her as I hadn’t seen her since that day, nearly three years ago.
After a pretty good, if not slightly overheated, sleep at my parents on Thursday, I was up pretty sharp on Friday & excited to both catch up with Amanda & see a new & unknown trail to me. Dad had boiled me some potatoes from the garden the night before, whilst I was still travelling down, they’re still working a treat for me on long runs.

We got to see some amazing country on this training run. I experienced all kinds of mountain happy whilst in the valley & climbing up to the saddle. A vast contrast to my state of mind in Goat Pass two weeks ago. The mileage on Friday was higher & there was plenty of climbing, I had the fuelling completely sorted & I was in good company. We saw a couple of mountain goats on the way in, over on the otherside of the river. Very exciting to see these little guys move at a ridiculously fast rate, down the rock & not tumble to their deaths. I hardly ever see deer or goats whilst I am on the mountain, probably the main reason being I am far too loud whilst approaching!

When Amanda & I reached Tuohys Saddle, we were amazed at the sight that greeted us. No amount of photo taking does such an incredible vista justice. Being able to see Mt Aspiring peeking up again in the distance & the Mt Roy ridge line, pushed up a surge of euphoria that is difficult to explain. What is it about these stunning places that wows me so much? We had to enjoy five or so minutes at the saddle. After re grouping & re fuelling, we were headed 15km back to where we came from at the Roaring Meg. I had to reluctantly pull myself away from that sweet spot.

We moved through the downhill work pretty well. I loved the single track that wound round the side of the hill above the river. It was a sweltering day & as we descended back toward the vehicles, I could feel the heat radiating from the road in the last half hour or so of running. It was a great mission with Amanda & I’m so pleased she was able to come up there with me. I thought about the things I would be getting some practise time in for Northburn, on this particular run. The fuelling is working very well for me at the moment. I’ve dropped gels almost completely. They’re still in the arsenal, however only for very occasional use. The sugar tends to blast me too far over the edge & I also have trouble eating an entire one whilst one the move. Potatoes, banana, almond butter (those Pocketfuel Naturals are AMAZING!) & the occasional Crunchy Peanut Butter Clif bar are my nutritional weapons of choice. I’m still no good at eating on the move but I’m fighting the urge to stop & eat. It’s important I continue to put one foot in front of the other next month on course, so I need to keep up the practise. My other element to mirror the race practise, is weather. Especially extremes of heat, cold & wind. It’ll take more than some rain or wind to put me off getting out there to train. And when my head is down, face scrunched up into some serious weather, I remind myself it’ll help me on race day! The heat is probably my biggest weakness with weather so I am getting plenty of mileage done in less than pleasant temperatures both in Canterbury & Central Otago.

Training is moving along pretty well. Friday was definitely a run of note for me. Making the higher mileage & recovering well from it was important heading into February which is without a doubt, a big month on foot. Sunday morning as my sister slept the wine off after the festival, I ducked out in Wanaka to have a short blast around Mt Iron. It’s an old favourite from living in Wanaka a couple of years back. Monday morning RPM class was positive & inspiring as always & I am going to pore over some maps to make the most of Waitangi Day this week & perhaps escape somewhere. I really enjoyed my family time this weekend as well, especially as I rarely get time with my siblings. I said to Mum yesterday (motioning at Northburn from across the lake where we were throwing sticks for the dogs) ‘How many seasons do you think that will throw at me when I’m trying to run on it next month Mum?’. She gave me a wry grin & said ‘Probably all.’ She could be right. Good to practise in the elements, in preparation for any mountain curve balls that may be thrown 😉


Goat Pass & ‘the wall’

Many of us have experienced ‘the wall’. An oppressive, heavy, can’t go on feeling that sits on your back for an un-named amount of time. Often hard to climb over. I had a pretty good week of training last week, it being my first week back in Christchurch. But I did come across this feeling whilst I was in Goat Pass on Saturday.

We had an early start, leaving Christchurch at 6am to get to the Deception Valley, about two hours from Christchurch. I’d had a few nights in a row of less sleep than I would have liked so I fell into bed on the Friday night & had a reasonably deep sleep. Sarah & I took one car & Loz had driven from Wanaka to Flock Hill the night before & we met her there & dropped one car off. I couldn’t seem to get rid of the nagging anxiety about the river crossings. I know they can be unpredictable & Goat Pass is known for being just so. The group of 25 or so runners in a paid group heading out at the same time as us confirmed to me just how much uncertainty can surround this route.

We had a very calm, cool morning to set out in & it was worth getting up early to drive in there. As well as a large paid group heading, an ambitious group of 3 were just ahead of us as well. I think I was the only person in there on Saturday that wasn’t training for the Coast to Coast! I can understand the need to want to cover the ground you are racing, during the training, especially when the terrain is of such a challenging nature.
I practised my rock hopping skills & did my best to be nimble from the outset on the dry parts of the riverbed. We were moving constantly for 6 hours apart from an approximately 7 minute stop at the hut to refuel. Before we’d reached the hut I’d managed to fall down heavily a couple of times & we’d had some gnarly river crossings. Waist deep, fast flowing, carefully pick your path then commit. I learned this the hard way on my second crossing when I hesitated crossing the strongest part of the current & was turned around facing downstream by the water. We just happened to be tailing the group & I had some people behind me that helped right me. I was so thankful for the assured, experienced male guide who saw the fear in my eyes & got me going again.

The girls were going great & I was pleased they were getting a great reccie run before they did the Coast to Coast. I found myself demoralised & sore from my falls & the river though. I seemed to be all over the place with my energy levels. By the time we’d reached the hut I was very quiet & needing respite. I more than likely hadn’t taken enough water on for what we were doing, even though I was drinking out of the rivers on my way through them. Hydration is a consistent issue for me because of my sweat rate & my mind honing in on whatever run I am doing which sidetracks me. It is easy for 30min to pass without a sip of water especially when your head is down watching where your feet are going. I need to keep working on this before Northburn as it will otherwise be my undoing on that course. Even though my energy levels were confusing in Goat Pass, I was happy with the fuelling I practised. I am less & less of a gel girl now & tend to try & put as much natural tucker into the tank for the longer goes. The boiled & salted potato gave me no issue & I could eat it whilst moving, easily.

I admit, that was a punishing 27km I was glad to finish. It’s hard to talk about, but in all honesty, the reality of the journey of training. I thanked the girls for being great as I was in the silent, personal hurt box for a time & just hung out at the back & got it done. I ensured a quality recovery, took all of Sunday off & it didn’t take long for me to dull the mental pain thoughts out that I had experienced in Goat Pass. Apart from bruises & scrapes, physically I was ok & mentally it doesn’t take me very long to semi forget the battles I had…..& want to go back & improve on that run. I will one day. I find it interesting how alot of us can do this with racing too – we tend to feel the fear & do it anyway. Then shortly after, think about what the next pushing your boundaries thing will be. All in all, I don’t expect every training run to be cut from the same, even cloth of perfection. I’ll tick last weekend’s big head battle to experience 😉

This week has started well with cross training at the gym in full swing & I’m busy planning whether I will stay close to home for Sunday’s long run or not. I’ve moved tonight’s run to tomorrow after work due to life things, so Mt Herbert I’m quite keen to perhaps do an up & back down in the Friday twilight. I’ve also been quite excited for friends doing their various pursuits in racing – there are some important people in my life pushing the envelope hard & I’m so proud of them like a mother hen! I just wish I could travel to all of these events. One day! 😉


Finding new summits

I have returned to Canterbury! Rather a rainy drive back. It was a little weird listening to traffic on the road outside my flat overnight, as opposed the the odd dog bark or a lawn mower at Pisa Moorings. I’m really glad to be back after some soul cleansing time off. A sense of calm has remained in my head with Northburn fast approaching the 2 months to go mark. I would have liked to have hit higher mileage in my training runs & hikes while I was in the south, but the quality of rest & being able to focus on my running in beautiful Central Otago I think was very positive for the outlook.

I had a run/hike in the rain on the Cairnmuir track above Bannockburn at the beginning of last week. Temperature wasn’t too bad, but the rain really decided to set in. It was that kind of rain that is so serene when it is dead calm. Not a soul on that mountain that afternoon. I got to my out & back point, had a wee moment to myself in the mist & headed back down the hill. I hadn’t packed my running jacket for my holiday time, so the long sleeve merino fared fine even though it got soaked.

A couple of days before that I went up Mt Roy near Wanaka, along & up to Mt Alpha & down the Skyline route into the Cardrona valley. It was a great day with three top chicks & it didn’t matter that we lost the track a little on the way down 🙂 We were absolutely spoiled with the weather – although it was definitely pretty gusty up the top! Mt Roy continues to be one of my favourite places on earth. That day was topped off great by salty hot chips in Wanaka’s town centre & my favourite hot chocolate from Patagonia. The joys of calorie deficit 😉

Fast forward to the last half of last week and after some quality time with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in years in Queenstown, I ran a couple of laps (totalling 16km) of Lake Hayes with Rachel. She is a new found friend after my running camp experience in November & a great one to chew the fat with whilst running about. Another beautiful day, another windy one too though. Felt pretty good after doing this run, as Lake Hayes has just enough undulation to challenge you & the flat parts you can stretch out in. I woke up the next morning & my calves felt quite tight – Rach reminded me that it may have been the more hard packed trail we were on which is highly likely. Northburn is very much so hard packed terrain so I need to get used to this & embrace it when I spend time on the hard packed stuff.

Final two missions of the holiday were outstanding. Friday I headed up Breast Hill with the lovely Cat who lives out Hawea way. It wasn’t a long hike this day, but if you are ever up the right hand side of Lake Hawea & want a steep, grunty hill, this is it. It goes far farther than we went in, but the views are knock your socks off kind of stuff – right down the lake & toward the Dingleburn. Trying to maintain conversation is a mission – it is relentless! I need to go back & do more of this track.

Saturday I knew was going to be cracker weather & I was without doubt going to make the most of it, being my final full day in the Central Otago area on break. I had two choices of new mountain to cover – either Mt Pisa basically in Mum & Dads backyard, or Pack track from Roaring Meg, not so far a drive from them either. There was little hesitation from Terry in advising that if he had to pick one, it would for sure be that as a first. After both parents separately saying to me ‘are you going up there on your own dear’ – I thought hmmm what have I missed here? They know I’m as ok solo as I am with others on the mountain…perhaps they got used to me doing multiple missions with people these holidays & got a little worried? Who knows. It was all fine. 11km STRAIGHT UP. If you are looking for a Sunday stroll, Mt Pisa is not it 😉 But my oh my at the top! WOW! I could see Mt Aspiring & Mt Roy’s beautiful ridgeline one way & a level, if not higher view of the Northburn range & the mountains beyond that. So rewarding & I took a little time to bounce about up the top & gaze at the 360 view that I had worked for a good couple of hours for. When 1900m above sea level and seeing mountains & lake as far as your eye will stretch, one is reluctant to return to where they came from. I’ll be back on there for sure!


Unbeatable time spent in the south. Happy to be back in Canterbury & looking forward to getting out in the Port Hills & beyond. I will keep stacking those hill miles, balanced with cross training, quality rest & good (most of the time) eating. I got a wall planner during my holiday also – I’ve been keenly writing goals/races/training on there & finding it very helpful.
Happy, happy running days!

A runners training heaven..

Why hello there 2014! I welcome this year with open arms. I can now say ‘this year I am running the Northburn 50k’! It’s just a little bit exciting 😉

I arrived to my parent’s house a couple of days before Christmas, for a decent sized break. I was relieved to arrive here in more ways than one – I’d somehow managed to grab myself a fast & furious dose of food poisoning the night before a friend & I made the 5 hour drive down. I’d bought myself a ticket to no energy town for a few days after that experience that’s for sure! What was most disappointing was getting that ill so close to Christmas. Ha – there aren’t many things more devastating for a foodie than losing your appetite!

Once my running mojo returned (I did actually jump out on the trail less than two days after I was sick & ran at an easy pace…seemed to be ok), I was back in business & ready to deal to some good training in the awesome playground my parents have as a backyard.

Last weekend I worked on the uphill hiking & spent a day with a mate on the Ben Lomond track (pic above is us at the saddle with the beautiful Moonlight valley behind us). I’d never been up there in all the years I lived in the Queenstown area & it is such a special place. Its great to share the training journey every now & then with good friends.

I’ve been thinking about how I am going to better my long distance fuelling in the crucial next couple of months training. What I seem to be working out over time is that I can run distance & sustain on lower fuel amounts than I thought I needed. Who knew! Ha. I try & keep things like gels & Clif Bloks to an absolute bare minimum & use for emergency or backup. The cold, boiled salted potatoes are starting to reappear in my arsenal on a long run. Nuts are nearly always with me, preferably almonds. Cheese is awesome as an in between carbs protein, however doesn’t tend to pack too well in the summer months. So I just eat a lot of it when I’m not running haha! I took a while to catch onto the fact that the proteins became as important as carbs to keep you going, the longer you go. One memory of a tough lesson in that would be my first Routeburn Classic in 2011. I bonked out extremely badly, over sugared & under hydrated. Yuck!
Banana will continue to come with me in my running vest on most medium-long runs. The nutritional break down in that fruit is ideal.
What I do sometimes trip up on is taking a little too much sweet stuff with me. I think that comes down to being unorganised before a run so I’m working on that.

I still have 11 days of my summer break left. There is trail to be run. Yesterday I broke into a new year with a great few hours on the Carricktown track above Cromwell. Weather was ideal, overcast & about 10deg. Had just under 1000m of vertical gain & then ran down it – great fun!
I found my Wanaka DOC trail map in storage yesterday so am keenly poring over that, planning where else I will head to & explore. Whilst living in Wanaka in 2012 I spent most weekends ticking off new trail. There are a handful on that map I still need to see so I’d like to make an effort to do that.

I’m excited for this year 🙂 And Northburn50 is something I am keenly looking forward to ticking off. Right – it’s training planning time!


Ho ho…going hoooome!

Just a few hours & I will be chilling at my parents house near Cromwell for the Christmas break. Oh happy days. My head has been whirring away, planning what tracks I would like to frequent (both favourite & new) & how to slot it in with catching up with friends & family.

It’s been a good ten or so days since I last dropped a line on here. It’s such a nice time of year, that anything that would perhaps usually bother me is dissolved out. And that’s the way I intend to head into 2014.

I went to the physio for my dodgy calf. I’m glad I did. I was very much in need of reassurance that my Achilles is healthy & that I wasn’t on my way to a tear or worse in the calf. Turns out just a very knotty calf & they were very informative with the treatment. I took about 9 days off running & continued cross training & keeping my fitness up that way. My leg felt like magic on Monday when I had my last treatment. I took my physio’s advice & stayed on the flat that night for my run. The tightness-free zone didn’t last long…..the calf tightened right up that night. Ho hum, I thought. The good thing about this niggle (I like calling it a niggle as it sounds less serious that injury ;-)…) is the fact that it doesn’t give me intense pain. I guess from here on out it will be managing what it is & still training the best I can pre Northburn. And reluctantly…making a further call if it gets worse.

Getting back into the running this week was great & it tailed in nicely with a positive lead in to Christmas. Yesterday (Sunday) training buddy Sarah & I got up early & drove out to Banks Peninsula to run up a farmland track in the Kaituna Valley, to the Packhorse Hut, then further, up to Mt Herbert. I’d been to Mt Herbert before but had approached it from a different side, so it was cool to do this. What wasn’t cool for us, was all the prickly gorse we had to fight our way through! My legs look like they’ve been used as a cat scratching pole! It was a fairly technical jaunt up the top too, I lost count of the times we slipped over & giggled about it. We didn’t see many people up there, however there were three army guys slogging it out with heavy packs up that mountain. That was pretty cool to see.

So a good first week back running after Physio treatment. Gut feeling is I may have to see a chiropractor in the new year. In the meantime I hope everything body wise behaves over the break & I can go do what I do best….cut a trail & have a great time whilst doing so 🙂

Merry Xmas!!


Mt Isobel & my fickle runners mind

I’ve been rolling many thoughts over in my head over the past few days about my training & where it’s going, ahead of Northburn in late March. Of course my headspace is already heavily occupied by this race & I’d be fooling myself if I said the opposite of that. The star subject in my tought process would have to be overcoming my niggles & feeling strong.

I went to Hanmer on the weekend with Saskia my buddy who I tend to run with at least once a week. The basis behind this trip up country was to run some trail & get out of the city. We had a relaxed trip up & didn’t head out on the trail until late afternoon to escape the heat.

Our run started just out of the Hanmer township & wound up a trail onto Mt Isobel. What a beautiful mountain. The further we ascended, the more technical it became. I love that. I am conscious I need to continue to work on my technical uphill climbing/fast walking if I want to come out of Northburn 50k in any good shape. When we reached the saddle where it opened up the 360 views, the wind was crazy! I was getting lashed in the face by my ponytail & we both nearly got knocked off our feet in the process of trying to get a couple of snapshots. Let me tell you – it takes alot of force to knock this big lass off balance, so that wind was strong! We didn’t stay up there for long, we were going to get cold very quickly up there at just under 1400m. We had climbed nearly 1000m in a short few km and my calf was really letting me know about it (as you can shortly read below). On the descent I managed to pass Saskia as she ducked off on a side track, then I thought I had lost her for a bit (how do I manage to do that on a very open & visible hill haha!). I came to a fork in the track, looked left, looked right, then started to feel a little alarmed. I yelled out ‘Saskia!?’ and got a ‘Michelle!?’ reply from up above. We had a good laugh about the alarmed tone in my voice 😉 We wound off the mountain and did the rest of our work in soft forest trails near the township. Saskia is a pleasure to run with & I admire her ability to recover well & run with spirit each & every run I am with her on.
We’d planned to hit the 25k mark, but I clipped the 21k ticket instead & headed home early. The consistent tightness in my left calf really played up and a couple of other random uncomfortable niggles reared their ugly heads at me…I can’t say I was a happy chappy about this. In fact I turned into a whinge bag. I was really on struggle street & trying hard not to be. The struggle was more in my mind than anything. Even though my training buddies are so cool & have the patience of saints, I don’t ever want to hold them back. In turn, I don’t want to damage my leg because I am not listening to it. Result of this last weekend & still experiencing the tightness that has been with me since the start of the year, was booking a physio appointment for yesterday & a plan to do some mileage on my own for the next week or so to get my groove back.

Over the course of the last couple of years I’ve become far, far more aware of that aspect of training & tuning into any niggles. This is something I advise others on, no matter what they are training for. You can always build your training back up easily & trust your hard earned endurance will be ok. But if you ignore irritation, there’s an uncertainty surrounding that.


So what I am remembering this week is that it is better to be safe than sorry. I saw a physio yesterday morning & the news is far from dire. My calf is just extremely tight & knotty that obviously I wasn’t managing to get to with stretching & foam rolling alone. I guess I cannot expect to always be niggle free when every run I do involves undulation and/or hills. I head back to physio tomorrow morning & will run tomorrow after work, possibly out near Sumner. The weekend I sense a Mt Herbert mission on one of the days but will decide closer to the time. My mileage will recover and I am really looking forward to two & a half weeks based at my parent’s near Cromwell over Christmas to both rest & train without the five day work week. YES!

December…well you snuck up on me

Crazy how it is the final month of the year. It is such a repeated phrase but honestly – where has this year gone!? There have been a few curve balls this year. Too many really. However the one thing that has largely been on the straight & narrow for me, is the running. I guess it just goes to show that when the head gets a little full, you can go & run it out if you are that way inclined. For me, it is just that. A very simple but powerful tune out or work through whatever is going on in the life bubble. And a constant when other things want to tip up.

Last week training wise I felt tired. I ran on Tuesday & Thursday evenings with my repeat training offending girls. I felt really up against it on the Tuesday and by the time we’d reached the top of our main climb which was about half of the run, I was bent over, very nauseous. Slightly alarming this kind of feeling whilst running for me, as it is so rare for me to feel that out on a run. The descent I came right a bit but I’d really scraped the bottom of the barrel that day. I think the remnants of climbing Avalanche Peak stayed for quite a few days. Thursday I went out with one of the girls again. This time a little better, but energy levels really not right. I’d chucked in usual core & bike work in at the gym in between these sessions so Friday came & it was time to call it a day & rest up. And the odd chocolate binge for good measure 😉 Sometimes moderation & I do not agree..

I moved to a different part of town on Saturday & had unrealistic expectations of the loading up I could do on my back & legs that’s for sure. The packing & loads started on the Wednesday – I am thankful I started early. There was time allowance for a long run on Sunday with friends, however my relocated life was an explosion in a bedroom which required swift action. Plus if I am to be blatantly honest, the blanket of tiredness hadn’t really lifted. That call is one I am glad I made, I needed to start this week at least with a room in order.

This week has started well with a solo 15km after work on Monday and core work & RPM (bike) class yesterday after work at one of my favourite instructors classes. Tonight some kms again with the girls and I hope not to have trouble & feel like I am dragging the chain!

I’ve included a couple of my favorite snaps from 2013 in the Christchurch Port Hills in this blog as a reminder to myself of how much I do enjoy it in my local training ground…..I love going back on my mission photos, and building on my collection of experiences. I am feeling relaxed with an undercurrent of excitement about the Northburn50 wiht about three and a half months to go. Surely that will chop & change throughout the rest of the journey.