Monday, June 25, 2012

wellington half marathon

I have a knack for running half marathons when I'm in bad shape. My first was the Deckers Creek Half Marathon, a rail trail race with a slight downhill grade the whole way. To train before the race, I took 2 weeks off and then did a couple 7 mile runs. I came through the first 5k under 21 minutes and then felt like I was going to have a massive organ failure. I stumbled into the finish at 1:39. Walking was almost impossible for three days after that. 

Running hasn't necessarily been a priority here in New Zealand. Eating cake and taking walks have been more a lot more appealing than training. So naturally I signed up for the Wellington half marathon.

The morning was gray, and my sinuses were clogged. This wouldn't be a fast day. I shoved through the start I saw a pacer with a white flag stuck in her hydration belt. She was leading the 1:45 group. I attached myself to her as the 1500 runners shuffled out of the start line. We dodged in and out of the crowd, struggling to get into a rhythm. As the course wound past the museum and toward the waterfront, the pacer's watch screeched. At the next kilometer it screeched again. This was unbearable. I ran ahead to the guy pacing the 1:40 group. His watch was really loud too. I moved up to run with an old lady with an aggressive arm-swing.

"Twenty three thirty," grunted a tattooed guy in a pink fairy costume at the 5k. Is that too fast? Most of the mucus had drained out of my nose. My legs felt fine. And I couldn't let myself get trounced by a sparkly Dahn Powers. I went on ahead. 

I ran through the aid station at the 10k and caught up to another group. Too fast. The wind picked up, so I tucked in behind some big guys in short shorts. The Kenyan in the lead blew past us in the opposite direction. 

At the turn-around point I was pretty sure I'd gone out too hard. Only 6.5 more miles. Oof. That has to be the worst consolation I've ever given myself. 

I tucked in behind another group of three runners. Just chill here for the rest of the race. Then a bald guy in a blue singlet peeled away. I went with him. 

He turned to look back at me. "How're you going?" he puffed. I grunted. Just pull me in, please. 

Back along the waterfront, weaving in and out of walkers and 10k runners. Past a woman in a red Boston Marathon Jacket. My brain started congratulating itself loudly. Rain dripped down, fogging up my glasses. I held onto the guy's blue singlet with my eyes and tried to wheeze more quietly. 

In the last kilometer, I tried a jerky sprint to the finish. 1:37:11. Bald guy was doubled over. He grinned at me. Another dude pounded through the line and held out his hand. It was covered in sticky blue and green slime. "Awww my gummies, man! I squeezed 'em too hard!" Gross. 

I walked toward the people handing out bananas and Powerade with Tin-Man legs. But considering I'd just run a half marathon with negative splits without proper training, I didn't feel too bad.

"Hey!" It was the lady in the Boston jacket. "You know, you should try the marathon. You could be really good." I smiled and thanked her. Maybe after next cross country season.

That race affirmed how much I shouldn't be running the 5k. I can't wait to be done with college so I can start training for distances I'm good at running.

Later I rewarded myself with a burger and a Pixar movie about Scottish bears.

 I was still emotionally raw, so I cried a lot at the end. Then I went to bed and slept for 11 hours. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

far north

New Zealand's North Island is easily the most underrated place I've ever been. Tour books, DOC advertisements, and locals all tell you that everything worth seeing is in the south. They say the North Island is full of sheep, farmers, and Auckland. Down south, the hills are bigger, the roads are emptier, and there are more people shouting at you to go Bungy jumping. Thanks to all the hype, lots of southern towns have a hyper-developed tourist infrastructure. Buildings and street signs are Aspen-style rustic-plastic. 

The towns up north (besides the cities) are tiny and dingy; the only people there during the off-season are locals and the occasional German traveler. But the scenery is on par with anything in the south. 

On my first day, I took a bus tour from Paihia up to Cape Reinga, NZ's northernmost point - where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide. It was cold and rainy, the drive took 11 hours, and I hate bus tours. Still, our driver tried his best to make it bearable, and I got some nice moody lighthouse photos.

Getting to Raglan the next day was a relief. 
I went surfing, drank some coffee, and hung out on the beach with a puppy. At night I slept at the Raglan Backpackers, one of the nicest hostels I've seen yet in NZ (free surf lessons, a hot tub, pizza night, and weekly massage classes? It doesn't get better than that). I could've easily stayed in Ragland for a week, but my bus ticket called me over to the Coromandel. 

In Coromandel Town, I met some Germans who'd used their working-holiday visas to pack Kiwi fruit in Tauranga. They were a little cracked from staring at fruit for two months, but they were great company. I invited myself to drive around the Coromandel Peninsula with them. The hairpin turns on the one-lane gravel roads were terrifying, but the scenery was breathtaking. 

I spent my last day on the bus back to Wellington, flipping through the hundreds of pictures I'd taken over the week and wondering why I didn't take this trip earlier. 

Now I've got just two and a half more weeks left in New Zealand... sigh.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

feeling beachy

Even though people keep talking about how it's winter here, I don't believe them. Besides the chilly wind, I'm in full-on summer mode. Classes are over, the sun's out, and I've been hanging out at beaches. 

I spent the past couple weekends on the Wellington's rocky coast. It's not such a great spot for tea parties, because the wind blows the lettuce off your sandwiches and makes the tea go cold really quickly.
(Thank goodness chocolate's too heavy to blow away)

But it is a terrific spot for taking pictures...
and going on hikes to see the Red Rocks again...
saying hello to the South Island...
eating at nautical-themed cafés...
and climbing around on rocks.

If you take a short ferry trip across Wellington's harbor, you can even go hang out on a tiny island for the day.
 Provided you agree to some manual labor
and bring along a pair of fuzzy glittens.

But tomorrow I'm off to see some real beaches (by myself - eep! - because everybody else is busy taking finals or going to Australia with their parents).

I've booked a few bus tickets to go around the Northernmost tip of New Zealand - creatively dubbed Northland and supposedly the warmest, driest part of the country. I'm flying in to Auckland tomorrow and heading to Paihia, Raglan, and the Coromandel from there. My bag's all packed and ready to go - with a raincoat and a fuzzy hat shoved inside just in case.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

final dinner

Goodbyes make me immeasurably sad, but they're more palatable when precluded by a steak dinner. 
On Wednesday night, our Arcadia group had a farewell function at the very flash Dockside restaurant by Wellington harbor. It was really lovely. We got dressed up, traded stories about our travels, thanked our wonderful Arcadia support crew, and celebrated a birthday with trick candles and cake.

 I can't believe the semester's gone by so quickly. I'm going to miss all those silly Americans.

And that wonderful harbor. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

krishnafood weekend

A couple weekends ago I went to the Kapiti Coast to cook and do yoga with a bunch of Hare Krishnas.
They have a couple houses and a small vegetable farm out in the country.
 It's so far away from everything that there aren't any neighbors around to call the police with complaints about constant chanting and mridanga drumming.
Over the weekend we learned how to cook real, filling vegan food. Seems like an oxymoron, right? Not with the massive amount of carbs and quinoa these people consume. Thank goodness we worked it off with some powerful yoga every morning.
It was actually relaxing and fun - a nice chance to eat and cook with other people instead of making single plates and eating alone in my flat. But I think I'm still a little weak from the lack of protein. 
We learned some awesome vegan (and mostly organic) recipes for guacamole, broccoli salad (the same as my mom's recipe, thankyouvery much), corn pies, curried beans, gluten free breads, sweet kiwi desserts, and heaps of other stuff. Just thinking about this plate makes me feel full.

And the most important lesson? Chanting over your food makes it taste better.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I'm not done writing about last weekend/living out the current weekend. So I think I'll talk about Ryan Gosling instead.

Has anyone heard of this web sensation? There are all these pictures floating around of Mr. Hunkyactorpants looking seductive with sexy, compassionate captions.

this collection really speaks to me.

Oh, and this one's brilliant.

 Ahhh! I can't stop!
Hopefully that gave someone else a little giggle too.