Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A parkrun experience unlike any other {Puarenga parkrun}

Will celebrated his first year in New Zealand at the beginning of July - say what?! And we went big with the celebrations: We bought a car! If you've been following the blog for a while, you'll know that we've been footing it since moving to New Zealand in 2016. And, while walking everywhere for a whole year certainly had its challenges, it's an experience we'll cherish forever. It reminded us to be thankful for the small stuff and just how quickly we get lazy when blessed with little luxuries... Duly noted!

But, having said that, we sure are excited about our new wheels! And, of course, about the places it will take us... So, without wasting any time, we set off on our first ever NZ road trip last weekend. We headed up north to Rotorua and Taupo and man, it was incredible! The kids wanted to stay there forever (and a part of me did too...), so we'll definitely be back.

No trip is, of course, complete without a visit to a new parkrun, right? So on Saturday morning bright and early I snuck out of our hotel room in Rotorua while Will and the kids were still asleep. It was a frosty minus three degrees outside - a minor little detail that doesn't seem to necessitate wearing anything warmer than running shorts here in NZ.  


The Puarenga parkrun course is incredible! It's a two lapper that goes right through a geothermal area, with steam eerily rising from the ground and the smell of sulfur a constant reminder that you're not, in fact, dreaming. At one point in the course, you literally hop, skip and jump over and through the steamy, white, sulfur-rich mud. And yes, I still have the white, sulfury-smelling running shoes to prove it! 



I'm usually not a big fan of running a two lapper, but in this instance I didn't mind it one bit. In fact, it was a treat to run through all of Puarenga's surreal beauty for a second time! Plus, it provided ample photo opportunities... I can always shoot for a fast finish time on our next visit, right?  


Judging by one of the marshals' amazed comments when I ran past him, I'm assuming that my three layers of clothing, plus a buff, long tights and gloves were deemed a bit over the top for the "pleasant, sunshiny" running conditions. Perhaps I'll brave it in shorts next time...?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

On giving up

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." - Thomas A. Edison

I discovered this quote way too late in life. Or perhaps I just wish that I'd learnt the lesson sooner? Be that as it may, Mr Edison's words are strongly resonating with me these days. Because forty years of living has taught me exactly the same thing: Success cannot happen when you give up.

Rewind to two weekends ago and what was supposed to be my very last attempt at a sub-50 minute 10K [insert eye-roll here]. Everything was perfect: A flat course, ideal weather and a free entry. What could go wrong, right? Ha! 


A perfectly paced Porirua parkrun a week before the goal race...

After weeks (and I mean WEEKS!) of successfully resisting the kids' flu bugs, my body chose race-day morning to finally give in. I woke up with aching limbs, burning lungs and a general feeling of blah. Are you kidding me?!

So I did the unthinkable: I skipped the race and stayed in bed. Will couldn't believe his eyes. He even asked if I felt feverish, which, in fact, I did. So in hindsight it was definitely the right decision. Always keep sight of the bigger picture, right?
    
Which brings me to my burning question: When is it okay to give up? Or, more specifically, when can I bury my sub-50 10K goal with my head held high? (I've been unsuccessfully chasing this dream for almost seven years now, by the way.) May we give up when we lose interest? (Which, in my case, I haven't.) Or can we quit when circumstances leave us no choice but to throw in the towel? (I'm not getting any younger, ahem...) Or do we simply keep on trying until we die? What do you think?


Soooo darn close.

I think that for me the answer lies herein: Passion. Is the passion still there? Yes? Then keep on trying. 

Personally I'm just not ready to give up on that sub-50 dream yet, lofty as it may seem. Yes, I'm not 25 anymore. And yes, the chances of reaching it are getting slimmer by the day. But the fire's still burning - strongly. So I'll keep on trying.

So yes, for now the goal is still in the back of my mind. I might not proclaim it over the interwebs quite as boldly in future. And I definitely won't include it in my yearly list of running goals going forward. But by Jove, I'll keep on trying.

  

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Falke All Terrain Advance Performance Socks Review and Giveaway

If there's one thing I don't want to worry or even think about mid-run, it's my running gear. Gear that rides up, slides down, bundles together or abrades my skin detracts from the joy of running and quite frankly drives me mad. And that's especially true for running socks. Give me a pair that I can put on and forget about until my run is over (and beyond!) and I'm a happy camper.

Enter the Falke All Terrain Advance Performance socks. Guys, these socks are amazing! They're soft, comfortable and they do their thing while I can focus on the important stuff, like running.      


One of the most technologically advanced running socks in the Falke range, the All Terrain boasts some pretty impressive qualities:

  • A seamless toe and mohair/wool blend that prevents friction and blisters;
  • An elasticized cuff and ankle that provides stability and support and keeps out dirt and pebbles;
  • A knitted mesh panel on top of the foot that ensures ventilation;
  • Drynamix yarn that aids moisture transfer and cooling;
  • A reinforced heel and toe that provides cushioning, durability and comfort; and 
  • Elastic arch support that prevents the sock from sliding and supports the arch of the foot.

Quite a mouthful, right?

[Image provided.]

But how does this all pan out in practice?

I can honestly say that these are the most comfortable socks I've ever run in. I love the fact that they're padded, and the mohair/wool blend provides some serious comfort without being itchy. And although I'm used to running in a slightly shorter sock, I've come to love the almost geeky-looking, longer-length ankle support. It stays put without being too constrictive, and it really does prevent trail gunk from interfering with your run.

As far as the sock's friction and blister prevention qualities go, I can happily state that I completed the Saint Clair Vineyard Half in my All Terrains last month without a single blister or hot spot. Score! 

I also just have to add that I love the fun and funky darker shaded colours in which the All Terrain is available. Hands up if you're a fellow trail junkie who loves socks in practical colours that are easy to keep clean and looking like new...? 

Rocking the Saint Clair Half in my All Terrains. [Photo by Marathon-Photos.com.]
So is there anything that I don't like about the sock? For me personally, no. I do think, however, that if you're a running sock minimalist at heart who fancies thin, hidden-type socks that don't leave a tan line, you might want to look for another option in the Falke range (and they do have plenty!).

I personally also haven't tested the All Terrains in hot, summer conditions, so it would be interesting to see if they deliver in terms of cooling and ventilation. I'll keep you updated when summer rolls around!

WIN! WIN! WIN!


[Image provided.]


Want to win yourself a pair of Falke Advance Performance All Terrain Socks? We have one pair each to give away to a lucky South African and New Zealand based reader! Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this blog post, saying why you love running and whether you're based in South Africa or New Zealand.

OR

2. Head on over to our Facebook page and leave a comment here, again saying why you love running and whether you're based in South Africa or New Zealand.

OR

3. Head on over to our Instagram page and leave a comment herealso saying why you love running and whether you're based in South Africa or New Zealand.

OR

4. Increase your chances of winning by doing all three!

Winners will be selected on Wednesday, 14 June. Open to New Zealand and South African residents only. Good luck!


*I am part of the Falke SA ambassador team for 2017 and receive free Falke running socks to train and run in for the duration of this term. All opinions are, as always, my own.


Monday, 5 June 2017

Hellooooo, Club 100!

It's done! I'm finally a part of the black shirt brigade! Three years and 100 parkruns later, and I'm officially a member of Club 100.

[Photo by Jeff Stark.]

I have to admit that one of the first things that drew me to parkrun, was the milestone clubs and associated (free) club t-shirts. Free running gear? I'm in! 

This is my third milestone shirt (I've previously earned the Club 50 and Club 25 Volunteer shirts) and each one has been such a highlight. I guess I'm motivated by tangible rewards...? 

A true friend is one that gets up ridiculously early on a freezing Saturday morning to celebrate your 100th parkrun with you. Thanks, Juandre and Telané!

Indulge me in a quick trip down memory lane, will you? Over the past three years, there's been:

  • Three home parkruns: Naval Hill, Kimberley and Kapiti Coast.
  • 15 parkruns clocked at Naval Hill parkrun.
  • 46 parkruns clocked at Kimberley parkrun.
  • 29 parkruns clocked at Kapiti Coast parkrun.
  • 13 parkrun venues visited in total: Ten in South Africa and three in New Zealand.
  • A slowest parkrun time of around 01:30:00. Friends and I showed up about half an hour late to Naval Hill parkrun after completing a 10K race, and then walked the route with our (very!) pregnant friend, Madelene.
  • A fastest parkrun time of 24:04.
  • 111 volunteering stints (some of them were combined).
  • Nine freedom parkruns.
  • Countless new friends and wonderful memories!


Printing out that barcode was without a doubt one of the best decisions of my life. Have you printed yours??

Onwards now to Club 250! (Which I can technically only join in 2020... Waaaaaa!)


Friday, 2 June 2017

Monthly Catch-Up: May 2017

According to the Kiwis, winter officially starts on June 1st. And although we've had some f-f-f-freezing weather (from an African perspective, of course!), I'm happy to report that June has been sunshiny and mild so far. So hopefully that's a good sign? Anyway, here's how our running has been going in May. 

Best run

I had the privilege of visiting New Zealand's South Island for the first time last month. Running the Saint Clair Vineyard Half was a dream come true and hopefully the first of many trips down south. My ferry ride there and back was, however, a different story - it literally took me two whole weeks to recover from it...! Note to self (and fellow motion sickness sufferers): Next time take the plane!
   
Picture-perfect Marlborough!

Monthly miles

Guys, I walk a lot. A lot! So much so that I've sent my beloved Asics Nimbus 18s to an early grave... Boo! I've never had the desire to monitor my steps with one of those fancy step counters before, but recently I've wished I had one just to see how much I move every day. I think I'd be surprised! Miss K and J Bear's school drop off and pick-up takes about 6 to 8 kilometers each day, depending on the route I take. Plus there's additional walks to the shops and play parks. And that's not counting the running miles! 

But I can honestly say that I love what's become our morning and afternoon walking rituals. What a feast to be able to walk wherever and whenever we please in complete safety. Plus I find that starting off the day with a brisk walk just sets me up well for the rest of the day. I'm determined to keep on walking even when we get a vehicle!  

That said, I clocked a total of 67 running kilometers during May. 

New gear

Will and the kids treated me to a stunning new pair of full-length running tights for my birthday. Miss K picked them out herself and I absolutely love them! I also can't even begin to tell you how useful they've been. Man, parkrun mornings are nippy! I literally give thanks for my cosy calves ten times a kilometer. Such an awesome birthday gift! 

Hooray for cosy calves! [Photo by Jeff Stark.]

Running high(s)

I've had so many incredible runs in May. After a few months of heading to the riverbank for my running fix, I've re-discovered the beach and just can't get enough. I cherish my solo sanity runs these days and the beach's breathtaking beauty just adds an element of serenity that's hard to describe. These runs have become essential to my sanity!   



Latest challenge

Thanks to the generosity of inspirational running buddy Madelene Loots, and the lovely Rachel from Inspired Health, I've received a free entry into the Wellington Marathon 10K race on 18 June! As you know, I have some unfinished business with the 10K, so I'm going to give that sub-50 one last try. Fingers crossed! 

And that's it for May! How's your running going? Any highs or lows you'd care to share? 

                                                              
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