A sunset to remember!

After a morning running and night of boozing the best way to spend the sunday in the outback was out exploring Kata Tjuta before an evening frocked up under the stars.

Thankfully our wakeup call wasn’t as early as the previous day, and we were able to partake in a leisurely breakfast, (or two if you were slightly hungover) before getting on the bus and being taken into the national park.
The colours and contrast just blew me away, looking out into the vastness of the outback and seeing Uluru to the left at Kata Tjuta to the right standing out prominently in their uniqueness. The red as rock against the blue sky. Stunning.

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Once again as Kate and I made our way through the Valley of Wind, we were stuck by past and how a few years back this would’ve been a struggle. Not this day though, we were both amping, enjoying the atmosphere, the sun and the location.

After making the second look out, it was time for a spot of lunch before heading back to the resort, via the Uluru viewing spot to get ready for our evening under the stars.

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If you ever get to Uluru, even if it’s not to run, I would definitely recommend partaking in this. It was unreal. We had a quick change before the bus was leaving. For us, that wasn’t a big ask, as we’re not overly girly girls we were showered, frocked up, made up and out the door in a little over 30 minutes. Brilliance.

For once in my life I was over dressed, which took a bit to get use to, but when we got to the dinner, I felt way better for it. It was special, and being frocked up was what it was about for us. We were celebrating.

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After some champagne, and a tasting of crocodile and roo, it was time to watch the sun go down. I was speechless. The photos don’t do it justice but you get the idea.

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Once the sun was down, and the food was eaten, we were treated to a show with a difference. All the lights were turned off, and it was just us and the night sky above. I’ve been in the middle of nowhere with no lights, and seen the stars before, but not as clear as we saw them that night.
The milky way was there, and the Southern Cross was shining brightly, one just couldn’t help but feel the love for the southern hemisphere.

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The ideal way to end a magical weekend!!

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You better run, you better take cover…

It’s crazy to think that this time last week I was recovering from my second ever half marathon. Well… recovering may not quite be the right word there. Technically this time last week it may have been more a recovery from our celebrations… which may or may not have included drinking a bottle of Veuve Clicquot through a straw, and being patrons in the only pub in Uluru dancing up a storm. To an outsider we definitely didn’t look like a group of people who had been up at the crack of dawn and run varying distances around the Australian Outback.

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Back to the run, and what a run it was, I’d recommend it to anyone that is after not only a challenge, but an experience of life time. This was my second half marathon in six months. It’s extremely odd to think that a year ago you would’ve been lucky to get me to run 5km outside, and according to mapmyrun I’ve run over 1300km since I became a member last year.

My lead up to Uluru wasn’t the easiest, my training routine was harder, my body wasn’t happy and I had a lot going on mentally. I was struggling to get the kilometres under my belt I felt I needed in order to be prepared. The weather was definitely not helping me out there in any way, the majority of my runs saw me wearing four layers of merino, full length tights, a hat and the best icebreaker running socks. I was only able to get 2 – 3 runs in a week, with one of them on the treadmill and the other on the weekend.
My piriformis was playing nice some weeks, and not very nice on others. My osteo and PT were helping me out where they could. But nothing could stop the ache and pain I was continually having as the weather got colder.

Two weeks before heading across the ditch I completed a spectacular 18.91km run, I was in the zone, and was feeling good. Nothing could stop me… or so I thought. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday when I tried to run some intervals on the treadmill my body just said no. Come the friday my body was struggling just to walk, let alone run, and I only just managed a 6.4km run on the Saturday. Trying to ignore what I was feeling I got myself sorted and onto the plane to Sydney.

Jar after jar of tiger balm, wheat bag, my new found acuball and the warmth of Sydney I was feeling good by the time we arrived in Uluru.

I’d made it, we were in Uluru and I was as ready to run as I could be. After a welcoming and individual “hello” to myself and the 399 other competitors from the amazing travelling fit crew, we got on with our carbo loaded feed. This was odd in itself for me, as I’ve not been a big carb eater since I started my epic weight loss journey, and the night before a run, I’d been allowing myself to succumb to my favourite take out to see me through the run.

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Full of carbs and close to a serious food coma, it was back to our room to lay out our gear in preparation for the morning. As a ‘newish’ runner you hear of rituals people have pre-race, if I was to say I had any then this is definitely one. That and painting my nails a ridiculously bright colour.

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As our alarms went off to get us up, it was to the buses we went ready to get to the start line in time to see the dawn break and the sun rise out across the desert. It was time.

This run was always going to be special, my very good friend, Kate had challenged me to complete this half. Originally we were going to run it together, but due to health reasons she had to scale back. So in a way I was running the half not only for myself but for her also.

The sunrise was just spectacular, I’ve not had the opportunity before to see colours as rich as this rise up on such a sparse and open plain. The colours of the sky and the effect it had on Uluru was just breathtaking.

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Sunrise over Uluru

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With the sun up or mostly up, various aussie anthems from Men At Work to AC/DC were being cranked through the PA. the line-up at the five port-a-loo’s became the place to be as we were minutes away from heading out into the desert and the nervous wee was on the cards.

Away we went, it was just bliss, I was running, and that smile was plastered across my face pretty much the whole way. No amount of training in New Zealand would have prepared me for the sights and the surfaces we ran along across the desert. There were roads, tarmac, gravel and of course sand, there were sand dunes and there was just the openness. I spent a chunk of the run by myself. It was indescribable, well maybe the part when one runner came up behind me and coughed up a lung. It was such a crazy loud noise that I really wasn’t sure what was happening as I couldn’t see them, and may have thought a rabid dingo was after me… After a quick glance over my shoulder, my nerves were calmed, but my running rhythm had been completely thrown and took a bt to get back into.

Uluru came and went from view, as did Kata Tjuta, just phenomenal. I’m super grateful for the photographers from the travelling fit crew who were able to capture this for us. My previous run photographs haven’t been that amazing…

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Yes that’s me with my hands up and full of beans. The swooping helicopters were a whole other element of awesome that went with the run. Way better than the crazy swooping bird that would attack us on the following mornings at the hotel.

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After 2:22 of continual running, I crossed the finish line with a jump and got my medal. I was just amping! I’d done it. Completed my second half marathon, in a place I never thought I’d end up and in a time that I was stoked with. It may have been slower than my first half by 4 mins, but I’d have to say I upped the difficulty level a few notches. I’m definitely now a runner.

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That champagne was definitely well deserved.

I can happily say, challenge completed!! Thanks Kate for this one, it was an absolute blinder, I loved every moment of it, and it’s always awesome to see and hang with you!

Our Uluru experience ended with an evening under the stars, but I’ll save that for another blog. CHEERS!!

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Sort it… Slacker!!

I’ve not been the best at keeping my blog posts up to date recently. Don’t start panicking yet, in the background there have been several challenges completed, a couple more with some solid steps toward completion and then there’s those that are still waiting for the love…

With just on three months to go, the pressure is on. I can promise you that ‘slacker’ I am not. There’s been a lot happening in the last few months and I’m still all go.

So best get myself up and out the door on my training run… Uluru is only 7 weeks away… Bring it!!!

Before I do thy though, here’s a bit of a taster as to what’s been happening.

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But I would walk 50kms and I would walk 50kms more just to be…

Yeah doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as The Proclaimers had going for them… I do have a sneaky suspicion that I may well have walked a lot further than they really did though. Oh wow I’m completely off track before I even start this blog, hopefully that makes for a more interesting read… I’ll let you decide that.

Before my 33 years 33 challenges was even a thing, Kimberley had planted seeds about partaking in the Oxfam trailwalker. What is this she talks of? It’s walking 100kms around Taupo within 36 hours, with three others in a team, with a number of other equally mad people. This concept may have resulted in me asking Kimberley to be one of the chosen 33.

The wheels were set in motion and the practice walks were taking shape. As the months till the trailwalker become weeks, the training walks toned down, my gamy hip prevented me from training as much as I wanted to, mainly due to the half marathon I ran during the peak training period.

Oh wait, as I mentioned this 100km of madness was done with a team. Our team, ahh the infamous Bumble Crutch, winners of the logo competition and all around good gals, we were my good friend Kate become a member of the team, alongside Kimberley and Ange. Then there was the support crew, and what an epic bunch of peeps they were, Darusha, David, and my partner in drunken epicness and jumping out of perfectly good planes, Lynette.

Let’s get onto the event itself before I lose it completely, I’ll have to come back to the week that was with Ridgey in another blog.

Ok, it’s the night before the big event, we’ve all meet up in Taupo, registered our fine selves, got our team numbers and had our safety briefing, we may be ready to go… Now for that early night… yeah right. That in itself was a hard ask when you’re packing, unpacking, repacking what it is you think you’re going to need over a weekend of walking. You’re trying to think of the worst case scenarios without going into too much detail, and then also think of anything else that may come in handy. This may have resulted in us making friends with various places of business around Taupo from chemists to supermarkets.
We eventually get to bed, and have our alarms go at 4.00am, we had to be on the other side of Taupo at 4.50, to pick up the other half of the team, and get to the start line ready to go by 5.30am. By the time we pack Lynette’s truck, move what’s left out of our hotel room, into hers and close the place up, we’re already running well behind time. We make it the campsite and collect Kimberley and Ange, and find the start line with enough time to spare for a nervous weewee and a cup of coffee. It’s getting closer and closer to 6am, we leave Lynette to join the masses at the start, headlamps on and raring to go.

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It’s so weird thinking back on this and trying to put it into words. I’ve avoided reading my friend’s blog to see how she described it as I didn’t want it to taint my perception, it’s just such a surreal thing to put the body and mind through. Nothing really prepared me for what it actually was, no training walk was a long, no all nighter was as enduring, no conversation as intense. Still it’s something I did, we did together, one step at a time.

We started in darkness, walking around the outskirts of Taupo, through the forest following the light of others and the markers we found along the way, like a long line of glow worms. The adrenaline or just perkiness from such an early start had us in good steed, the sun rose over the forest and made the path easier to find. Our first check point had us in good spirits, everything was functioning well, my hip was good, I was toasty warm and I had coffee in front of me. After a change of socks, and some proactive blister love we were back on our way. The next few check points may all be a bit of a blur and merged together now. We sat, we drank, we changed our socks, we ate, we peed and we continued on.

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Kilometre after kilometre we weaved our way around Taupo, Dad jokes became mandatory for the person bringing up the rear of the team line, normally me, there was the obligatory calling of ‘root’ was a must for all, and at one point we even found Hobbiton or so we may have told our Aussie team member.

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After a solid 11:06 we found the 50km marker, oh yeah!!! By this stage pain relief may have been taken off a stranger, the dad jokes were getting worse, eucalyptus undies and happy fingers may have also been invented. We were definitely on fine form and the day was a cracker. We were going strong, were all still talking to each other, able to crack a few laughs, have random twitter banter with other teams and most importantly (to me), the ginga had not yet fallen over. Epic WIN!

As the day began to draw to an end we pulled into the evening stop, a chance for us to take advantage of the awesome as podiatry and massage students. My feet have never felt a love like that before. As the shoes came off, it was becoming clear I had a number of hot spots coming through, and not to mention a couple of smallish blisters. It couldn’t have come at a better time to have them seen too, even though it did take a lot longer than I’d planned.
Once I was all strapped up, it was a mission to get to the others, inhale some food change into my night gears and stress out epically over not being able to find the one warm jersey I had brought with me especially for this. This definitely wasn’t a high point for me, but anyways, all was eventually sorted and my jersey was found in a random cardboard box, of course, and off we set, only 15 minutes later than we planned.

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As the sun went down, we walked through the Taupo township and around the lake front before disappearing up into the hills and back into the unknown. It became very clear during the night legs that a lot of people really didn’t know how to act with headlamps on. More often than not you’d find yourself blinded by a stranger when you said excuse me, or you found them waiting for their team to catch up, definitely think it’s something to be added to the health and safety briefing next year.

Walking through the night was so bizarre for a number of reasons. It wasn’t the swede field, it wasn’t the many cliff faces we walked along, it wasn’t the annoying groups who had speakers and were playing terrible music, it wasn’t the inability to know where we were, it wasn’t even the fact that there was a lot of random noises, or the fact that we were being led through the unknown by an Aussie. For me it was all the years of horror movies coming back to haunt me, especially when it was my turn at the front. My imagination was running wild with so many scenes and scenarios all playing themselves out. It took a hell of a lot of concentration and brain power to keep them at bay. So when I then see a glove on the side of the track out of the corner of my eye, I miss the giant ‘root’ in front of me, and all of a sudden it’s ginga down… So what noise does a ginga make when she falls over in a forest?!?! Noises that shan’t be written in a blog that’s for sure. I’d come so far without tripping, I was so proud of myself, and then in the tiredness, it all came to a halt. Never fear though, my ginga reflexes had me up and moving around pretty quickly. The last I needed was to stand still, assess the situation properly and let me knee lock up, so on we continued, potentially with me back at the rear and thinking of more dad jokes.

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As night went on I was continually surprised by the number of people walking by themselves, saying they were either catching up with their teams, doing it alone, or waiting for the teams to catch up with them. It just didn’t make sense, we were told that you walk as a team, and you stayed with your team. The only time you split was if members retired, and if you got down to two you joined with another team. Safety first people!!

The 80km mark was a biggie, the Aid station… Kimberley had filled our head with thoughts of hot chips that had been given out in previous years, and the option for more podiatry if needed… If needed, hell yeah it was needed. By this point, my feet were really starting to feel it. So off came the shoes, and me feet were in the hands of a podiatry students, oh man I feel for her. I was warned about one of my blisters exploding in the next few kms, and a couple of the others getting worse… Good times ahead for me… Luckily I had hot chips, they always make for a better place. From the seat I was sitting in, and the view I had of what was happening to one of my team members…

The sun came up, two marathons were completed and I was slowly starting to break. I kept thinking about how two years ago I never would’ve been able to do anything like this, now I’m pushing my body to all kinds of extremes, and it keeps taking it. My hip was still good, my knee may have doubled in size, and my feet weren’t happy, but I was still going. Nothing was going to stop me from finishing this.

At the last check point, we were so close. David joined us on the last stage and provided a good distraction to how I was feeling at the start, but as the steps kept going the pain kept increasing. I’d never felt pain like this before in my life, it was excruciating. The pace slowed dramatically in our second 50kms, and even more so on that last leg.

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The power of voxer kept me going, hearing the message of encouragement from my family and friends, especially my niece kept me in check, I was feeling the love big time.
As we stepped down past the bungee and swing onto the track to lead us to the finish line, one of my blisters popped, sending me into a spiral of self-doubt and not wanting to go on. I did though, I had to, nothing was going to stop me, especially not myself.

The emotion I was feeling was so raw, I was tearing up what felt like every 5 minutes, and had to walk in front a bit to hide it. As the finish line came into sight, the feeling of relief encompassed me. I didn’t feel any excitement toward crossing the line, or receiving my medal, or even the realisation of what I’d just completed. All I saw was the chair in the distance that I needed to sit on so I could remove my shoes and see what was happening to my feet.

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Kate had her priorities right, and the Moet was popped, with a glass put in my hand, it was very much-needed as the shoes came off. One I could take off, but the other no such luck, that needed help. Anyways, I’ll stop here before it gets too gross, and you don’t read any more of my blogs.

After some more sitting, the realisation of the epicness came over me, holy cow, we’d walked 100km in 27:32:01. Go us!!!

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That definitely deserved the massage afterward. After a bit more sitting the plan was hatched to go back to the hotel for a much needed nap and refuelling. I couldn’t get the thought of fish and chips out of my head, and at 10am I really wasn’t sure this would be a goer. After a mission to find a bucket (or baby bath as it turned out to be) to soak my poor feet in, pick up a few refuelling necessities, a fish and chip shop was found. Absolute WIN!!

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This is where I was left, on the couch, feet soaking in the baby bath and fish and chips on my lap. I couldn’t have been happier, well until I napped that was. Post nap, Kate and I talked through the past 27 hours and where it was we’ve both come from to even be able to contemplate finishing something like this. That’s a whole other blog there.

It’s taken me a bit to get this one written. Yet the timing of writing it now seems almost perfect, as exactly two weeks on, I lost my two little toe nails to the trailwalker gods.

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Jumping out of a perfectly good plane….

I knew that when I asked for challenges someone out there was going to put sky diving on the table. I’ve never really felt the need to jump out of a plane, but in the nature of the situation… Challenge accepted!!

I had it all planned, I’d combine this with another challenge of epicness and make a two challenge weekend. What challenge goes hand in hand with skydiving you may ask… In my head walking 100 kms of course… Do you see the connection?
Well it’s a stretch, even for me, or is it… They’re two events that can happen one of New Zealand’s adrenaline adventure regions, Taupo.

A month before heading to Taupo, I locked in the dive, and was chatting about it mate, next thing I know she has plans to jump with me. Could this challenge be any more awesome, it’s meant so much more when mates have come in on my challenges to support me in various ways. This double hitter weekend had two of my good friends together with me, so quality memories were definitely on the cards.

All of a sudden the weekend is upon us, my good friend Kate has arrived from Aussie and we’ve road tripped our way to Taupo, in my new set of wheels. We’ve spent a day cruising around the lake district, finding our way around the small town, and one aussie getting right into the swing of it.

I woke on the Friday morning to a phone call from Lynette sounding a little panicked that she’d not left yet, and we were meant to be jumping in 90 minutes… Reassurances were said and preparations were made. On stepping out of what had become our second home for the weekend, not a cloud was in sight, it was a perfectly calm and sunny Friday morning, even the aussie wasn’t complaining that she was cold, so win! I got on the phone to check with the Skydive Taupo that we were all go, and yes we were. Enter ThisIsReallyHappening mode.

Time seemed to have jumped and before I knew it Lynette was on the phone again to say she was at the airport ready to go.WTF, how did that happen, we were still at the hotel fluffing around… enter MoveLikeANinjaAtSpeedGinga mode. Plans were made to meet at the hotel, get Lynette checked in and then head back to the airport in the one vehicle.

We got the Taupo airport with moments to spare. We were ushered into a corner, nervous banter was afoot as was the laughter. This got weird, especially when people don’t really get my sense of humour at the best of time. The safety briefing was done, the soundtrack selected, the weigh in done and the signing away of my life was complete. Enter InwardlyFreakedOutButCalmOnTheOutsideGinga mode and to think two years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to jump due to my size.

Once my inappropriate footwear was removed, we were moved into the hanger to await our skilled professional and to get kitted up. GingaSaboteur took this time to freak me out a little, as we were standing in front of the overalls, I couldn’t believe it when I was handed a medium pair, I mean what the…. I’ve never been in that boat before. Last time I had to get clothing given to me off I was lucky to squeeze into the XXL. I massive part of me just smiled and took the overalls, thinking and congratulating myself just how far I’ve come.

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I was introduced to my skill professional who then proceeded in adding me to a harness, moving some straps around and then making me film some of how I was feeling at the moment in time. As the other tourists were being placed delicately into the plane, Lynette seemed to have gone awol, and I wasn’t allowed to get into the plane yet. At this point I wasn’t really sure what was happening, so decided it was the right time to enter GetMyGingaGrooveOn mode…

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Lynette appeared and followed her skilled professional into the plane, at this point, I was a little confused as there were no seats left in the plane for me. Um… do they not know that I’m notorious for hurting myself, where was I meant to be sitting?!? Enter WhatTheHellI’mWellConfused mode.
My skilled professional sits in the plane facing the tourists and motions for me to get in, and off we go taxiing toward the runway. I’m not strapped into anything, except my skilled professional, the plane is moving and I’m facing everyone or are they all facing me. My legs attach themselves to the bench leg in front of me, and I’m continually thinking, lean in, lean in, you can’t fall out here, you’ve not even left the ground yet.

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As we turn onto the runway the roller door is lowered, and I’m safely secured into the plane, or at least I think I am. It takes us around 30 minutes to get to altitude, during which time the gopro is continually shoved in my face and I start to enter HolyCrapWhatTheHellAmIDoing mode.

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Next thing I know the roller door is up, and if you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m hanging out the edge of the plane, with my head going: right, I was told to hook my legs under the plane, wait, why can’t a hook my legs, is it too late to back out, no wait I’m failing, holy cow I’m failing, it’s too late to back out, I didn’t get my legs under the plan, breathe dammit breathe, what the hell, that parachute better work, why is it so hard to breathe, smile at the camera, breathe, stop freaking out, it will all be ok, this guys a skilled professional, breathe, damn you Russell this is crazy, oh wow what a mess this would make, man falling like this is giving me a little perspective, why can’t I cut shapes, I want to cut some shapes, move arms, damn you why aren’t you moving, why is breathing still so hard, why is that camera still in my face, I’m too busy freaking out to smile, why are you tapping me on the shoulder, what’s happening now, should I be holding on now?!?!?

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With that I was then floating through the sky, parachute open, free fall over, all 60 seconds of it. “GINNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAA” is heard from the ground as I’m just totally buzzing. Taupo just looks amazing from up here, this is what I’m after. I liked the cruising around more than the falling. Me being me, I took control and was navigating the parachute and taking us for a wee spin. Friggen awesome I tells ya!!

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Next thing I know it’s legs up and we’re sliding in on our arses, I’m totally amping!!! In comes Lynette and I have to stop myself from running over there. Enter HolyCrapThatTotallyJustHappened mode.

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That adrenaline was out of control!! There may have been a little more dancing, and numerous hugs, then back to the hanger to remove those amazing straps and overalls, and hang in the movie room to see what will emerge from that gopro.

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On watching this again, I still can’t believe it happened, and the look of pure terror on my face just has me in fits. Thanks Skydive Taupo and Russell.

Who’s up for another jump??

15,000ft skydive… challenge completed!!

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A meander around Zealandia…

After a big night with one wine too many, the sugars had me up way to early for a Saturday. It’s been an epic couple of weeks with a number of challenges on the go. So to wind up my good friend Kate’s stay in NZ we decided to go to Zealandia and work off some of those excess sugars.

This challenge excited me. The challenge setter had come to New Zealand and visited me in Wellington, in amongst our banter I’d mentioned I’d never been to Zealandia and she kept hold of it for that I’m grateful, as man what an awesome place.

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A sanctuary in the middle of Wellington for our birds, creepy crawlies and dinosaurs. Gold.

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A causal meander after a hard night is just perfect. There may have been some wild ginger found.

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and not to mention so childish giggles…

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Jandals may not have been ideal, but they worked.

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The rain even managed to hold off for a couple of hours so we could enjoy it. We spotted a number of tui, takahē, tuatara, bell birds, robins and even a cheeky weta.

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No kiwi though, I expected that, Kate however wasn’t. A few “here kiwi, kiwi, kiwi” calls were made, but to now avail of our elusive native bird.

Over the suspension bridge, up the viewing platform and along the stream, nature a plenty!!

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Finishing up with a spot of lunch Zealandia was done. A morning well spent!! Even if I wasn’t allowed to leave… Be sure to feed me when you come to visit.

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No new debt, really… Who does that?!?!

It’s been 26 days since my last credit purchase. Only 34 days left remaining… I thought this challenge would be pretty straight forward, but no clearly my desire to spend outside my means is stronger than my will to complete the challenge. Which could explain why I’m now completing the challenge again.

The first attempt I would have to say wasn’t started at the smartest of times. It was before Christmas and I thought it would be a good way to budget around it. But no, it was a fail. The fact that I didn’t even take my credit card out of my wallet said it all.
This time round, the credit card is out of the wallet, there’s a list of things I want to buy, and I’m feeling like I’m doing it properly.

It’s felt like the longest 26 days ever. Especially as we got paid a week earlier in January, which at the time was awesome after Christmas. But has meant the lead up to that February pay check has been tough.

Will be interesting to see how this month goes, my budget is set, my bills are paid. The only funds I have available is for my pocket money, PT session and osteo appointments. It could get messy.

Second attempt was a win. Well a win in terms of no new debt that’s for sure. But when you find a loop-hole and have pre determined debt it means that the old credit card was pulled out.
When you’re planning to walk 100kms you need the right gear, so yeah there were a few last-minute purchases made.

I really like this challenge as since I’ve come back from overseas my spending and control over my cash has become shocking. This challenge is going to continue or should I say start again now as my credit card has been hammered with paying for other challenges. So many conflicting challenges, like go jump out of a plane vs don’t spend any money, so yeah that’s all a challenge in itself.

Challenge completed!

Needless to say another 60 days is about to begin… The challenge that keeps giving, or should that be saving… You decide.

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Northern styles and a walk

With a number of challenges on the go at once, there’s nothing like a Sunday after a Saturday long run to go for a long walk to complete a challenge, and work toward another. The plan, attack the Northern Walkway, and complete Mt Kaukau in under 50 minutes. Did I get up and over Mt Kaukau in time? Read my Mt Kaukau blog to find out.

With a bladder full of water, some extra electrolytes, nuts, fruit, chocolate a plenty, some lunch and not to mention a change of socks I was on my way.

Not being one to really leave the city centre, this was going to be all kinds of fun, google and my walkways app will help me, so no worries there. Through town, via my favourite Customs to get my trusty coffee, I was on my way to find the start of the Northern Walkway. This should’ve been pretty straight forward you’d think, but when there are multiple Wellington Walks that cross over, I learnt that sometimes they just direct you to one, in the hope that you know the difference.

Once I navigated through the people looking lost at the top of the cable car (which I didn’t partake in) I was off through the gardens and out the other side to find my first hill Te Ahumairangi, and the Wellington Town Belt.
So far this walk was not only taking me outside of the city, but I was on ginga unfriendly terrain and heading up some solid hills. Focus was needed, and the tunes were turned down somewhat.

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Once the hill was over and I officially entered the burbs. I could see my target in the distance, but I was still a wee way away and had more bush tracks to cover before I even got close.

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It was time for a quick detour via a random cafe for a much needed coffee and a scone before continuing on and trying to find the entrance to Mt Kaukau. The Wellington Walks app is pretty handy to keep you in check with where you’re meant to be heading, the signage along the way however really isn’t. At one point I thought I’d keep my phone away and use the street signs, yeah… not the wisest as I then had to do some backtracking. Lesson learnt, trust the digital age…

Not only was I out of the city and dabbling in parts of Wellington I didn’t know, I was forced to go to the other side of the tracks, this could end in a number of ways.

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Through the burbs I went, I managed to find Mt Kaukau, and powered my way up some steep steps, keeping in my mind I had to do this in under 50mins. I had no idea how I was going to keep up the pace I was at though, especially with the sun at its peak, there was no such thing as shade and I was starting to sweat buckets.

IMG_4530I made it!!

Once I stopped at the top, pausing my timer, to absorb the view, suck in some air, change my socks and have a bite to eat, I realised the way down was a drawn out a lot more than the way I’d come up. Guess that’s what happens when you do the walk backwards.

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Now with me being me, I came down the other side of the Mt and carried on through Johnsonville using my app for directions until I got to the end (start really) of the walk, some small train station.

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Now that I was here, with too much energy to catch the train I had to find my way back to town. The app was no help, so google became my friend, or so I thought, until he sent me in a direction with deadly corners and no footpath… enter more backtracking and back up onto the main road. I found myself back up in Johnsonville and not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, I carried on, not really trusting google, but not really having much option, especially as my battery was getting low…

After a fair bit of zig zagging through the burbs I was pointed down a no exit street, I didn’t think this was wise, but I wanted to give google another crack at my trust. As the houses became bigger, and the road became smaller, I felt very much out-of-place, especially when I got the death stare when a lady in her flash as car drove past. I was then met with the steepest stairs I’ve seen in a while, Jacobs Ladder in Dunedin had nothing on these bad boys. I was super grateful to be going down them.

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Thankfully just as my phone finally gave up the ghost I made it to somewhat familiar territory and onto the Hutt Road which happily took me back to city life and home.

Another Oxfam training walk done, making two of my four Wellington Walks completed as well.

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Mt Kaukau in under 50mins

For a challenge I had no idea about I was intrigued by this one. I’ve lived in Wellington now for a total of five-ish years, yet I had no idea about Mt Kaukau. It’s height, how long if takes to climb, what’s set the top or darn where it was.
So 50mins, was it my brother pushing me further than I knew, or did he know something I didn’t? Well seeing as I knew nothing he must know more.
I knew I was going to knock off a couple of challenges over summer, so a Sunday after a 16km run seemed like the ideal time.
After over three hours of walking, or so I think, I found myself at the bottom of a reserve. I had no idea what if was, I could only assume it was the base of Kaukau. Off I continued. It wasn’t till I was maybe 5 minutes up the slope that I found a sign pointing me toward the summit.

Mt Kaukau Sign

Out came the timer and it was all on!
By this time the sun was high in the sky, the protein bar had been devoured along with the majority of my mixed nuts, the sweat was starting to bead, potentially dripping a little and the slope was straight up.
The mission into the unknown was on. I knew there was a transmitter tower at the top and I was going to find it.
On the up, and close to the top, my brother sent me a text, in turn I decided he needed to hear the effort I was putting in. Introducing my first heavy breathing phone call.
The top was closer than thought, and with the top came a stunning view of the city I love and a wedge of bacon and egg pie. Oh and a pause of the timer. Not a stop, just a pause, as I was sure there must be more, I was at the top in 20 minutes.
After a few photos, a nice wee bite to eat and a change of socks I was off to go.

Welly Pano Me and Welly Welly Pano1

The timer set again and off I went again.

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Now it was all becoming clear that I started up the quick way, and I was now on the long haul down. It did come to my attention that running this may have been easier.
Except for all the uneven terrain, I would’ve fallen over, without a doubt.
It wasn’t until I got to the bottom that I saw the sign saying 65 minutes. Timer check: 43 minutes. WIN!

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Challenge completed. Now to find my way home.

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The only time I’ll do something by half…

A half marathon that is. I have no desire to do a whole marathon, so I’ll take the half.

I’ve been training for this since before Christmas and clicked up enough kms in training to run multiple marathons. Building up from 5kms to 10kms and even a 17km just to prove that I could.

A year ago I lined up in the same event to do the 6.5km. At that stage I’d not even run 6kms without seven stopping, let alone even thought of running 21kms.

The 17kms of smiling. Nothing was stopping me on this run. Every step I took the smile was there. Why was I smiling and running? That’s unheard of, no one runs with a smile, well except Kate, it’s just not natural. What was making me smile? The fact that I could run, that’s it pure sync simple. I use to struggle with a couple of kms, now I run 10kms with battering an eyelid. I love it, it makes me happy, clears my head and see my city from a new perspective.

ready for 17kms

My last training run… 9kms and felt amazing. Fog had rolled in the night before and the air was humid, brilliant conditions. Up the hill I went, one foot after another with a smile on my face, down Mt Vic and around the bays back home. Run completed, a wickedly consistent pace couldn’t ask for a better way to finish my training.

Next step the big day. I’m not in it to run the fastest time ever, I’m in it to complete and enjoy myself.

The nerves are building, it’s the night before and in 14 hours I’ll be on the start line… Eek!

My osteo has given me the all clear, my trainer approved the fish and chips for my pre run dinner and I have cleared my weekend of antics. It’s all good to go.

The big day is here… It was a shocking nights sleep with our neighbours deciding to have a bit if a shin dig and give a running commentary to everything leading up until midnight and then announce when they were home at 2am and then again at 4am. So not the best start.
The alarm went off at 6:43 and I was amped. 500mls and a protein shake later I was ready to go pacing up and down the stairs trying to decide if I had everything I needed. Where as my housemate a runner from way back calmly sat on the couch with his cup of tea.
Off I went, leaving him to enjoy, to find the start line. By this stage the nerves were high and I was amongst others feeling the same.

my fellow runners

After a few issues and a bit of a delay we were off. Throughout my training I’ve used mapmyrun which was a massive advantage as I was able to keep myself at pace and cruising along. At one stage I was right behind the CEO and I know he runs faster than me, so I pulled back and plodded on.
The first bays were a walk in the part, as they’re part of my normal running route, just the other way.
It wasn’t until I hit Shelly Bay and felt like the turning point was never going to come. I saw the half leaders heading back to the start so I knew I still had ages.
The plod continued, my tunes cranked on and my thoughts wandered off. I was broken from this when the Big boss spotted me and have me a boost of encouragement. It couldn’t be that much further right?
The turn came and I was off to find the finish. By this stage my water was dry, so taking advantage of the water stations while running is an art I need to master. I was determined not to stop, my time didn’t bother me, those around me didn’t matter (well except for the girl I nicknamed ‘Bouncy’) it was about plodding along and keeping it walk free.
The hardest part was the last stretch along Cobham Drive. My hip was aching, my feet were sore and I was thirsty, but on I plodded.
Turning into Kilbirnie Park I was met by the left over 6.5km fun runners taking up the whole side of the road making it hard for me to get past and cross the line. As I came around onto the grass in dug deep and wove my way through the masses to cross the line.

getting my medalat the finish

Exceptional. I was so happy with myself. I really couldn’t have seen myself doing that a year ago.
So what was my time? Well if the course was 21kms I clocked it at 2:09, however that wasn’t the case. My app has me at 22.73km in 2:21… Still I can’t complain!!
Will be interesting to see the official time.
And there it is:

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