Yes, 2020 has been a pile of shit. The death of Sir Sean Connery at the weekend just about sealed it as the worst in my living memory. All it would take is Donald Trump to win re-election later this week and I’d swear we’re being collectively punished. Please don’t do that to us, Papatūānuku!
COVID-19 aside, it’s been illness, injury and unemployment – and the impact of those on my self-belief, confidence and mental health – that’s been hardest around these parts. They are some of the reasons I took up golf again and why I signed up for the 21km at the Tarawera Ultra Marathon – I’ve always found setting myself tough goals has ultimately paid dividends, even if I had to modify those goals with changing circumstances.
Post-redundancy I was finding my feet again with running after a stop/start period since my best ever race at the Auckland Marathon 11km Traverse last October – and then pleurisy put me in bed for a couple of weeks. The rest was probably necessary and I enjoyed watching the entire of the last season of Masterchef Australia, but the longer I lay there, the more worried I became about running again. I was starting to psyche myself out of it.
At some point I had to just bite the bullet, put on those running shoes and start again – and so last Wednesday I finally plucked up the self-confidence to do it. Well, that, and using a trial membership of SquadRun to hold myself accountable.
And, of course, it went better than I thought. But it was all pretty slow and ponderous with most of my thoughts taken up with the big training run due this past Sunday – an 85 minute trail run averaging around 7min/km on uneven ground.
After sussing out an appropriate trail and making sure it was on my Garmin watch so I wouldn’t lose my way around Riverhead Forest, I packed my new Camelbak for the first time, put on my trail runners and calf guards, filled up my hydration bottles and set off. Here’s how it went:
Not bad, all things considered! So what exactly did I learn from the run?
- I need to believe in myself a wee bit more. Okay, a lot more.*
- I’m fitter than I though after a five-week layoff.
- Trying to run up a muddy hill is like a cartoon – the legs move but you don’t go anywhere.
- Falling over in soft mud doesn’t hurt. Thankfully.
- I need to take a spare pair of shoes for driving home.
- I can still sing Don Henley’s ‘Boys of Summer’ loudly after 8kms of trail running.
- Playing air guitar doesn’t use extra energy so Faith No More’s cover of ‘Easy’ got the full effort.
- Trail running is WAY more fun than road running.
- I might not have a job (yet!) but I’m still a hell of a lot luckier than most.
*This is they key thing I need to remember. And keep remembering. And keep remembering. And never bloody forget.
So the rest of November is now planned out – on top of the normal job applications and keeping my fingers crossed for an interview or two it’s all about the running, the writing and the golf. And then to top it all of, I’ve got something special to look forward to at the end of the month – the Tongariro Crossing. Our attempt in January was aborted after a rāhui was placed on the mountain, so hopefully we make it this time around.
Bring it on! I just hope I’m a bit less mucky when I finish than I was on Sunday.