Monday, 1 June 2015

St Clair Vineyard Half Marathon

I feel the title alone will explain why I was persuaded to take part in this half marathon.

Being Scottish and new to New Zealand, I’m keen to try and seek out opportunities to see new places and should there be some running and wine involved then it is a bonus! I therefore decided to p*ss off call the race organisers the week before the race and see if I could get a last minute place. I was in luck as some people had dropped out in the last couple of days so I could sneak in.

On the Friday night, fellow club member Megan Murdoch and I head up to Blenheim. Megan has been training hard and is feeling fresh. I jest that she is looking to place in the race and my suspicions are confirmed when she only has one glass of wine instead of one bottle the night before. Only one glass of wine? This is serious.

Armed with my camera we head to the race in the morning - I’ve decided to try and make a video blog of the event to send home to Scotland as the scenery is just too beautiful not to share! Video at the end or here:

The start of the race has one of the most relaxed atmospheres I have ever experienced. It is hard to articulate, but people do not seem as nervous at the start of this race as is usually the case. Perhaps I am not the only one toeing the line for the scenery, food and the wine?

And we are off! 2k in and we are onto the trails. I drop my iPod and feel extremely sheepish. The use of iPods in races already divides opinion with runners and I make matters worse by trying to run back against the flow of runners to pick mine up. SORRY, but I enjoy nothing more than running through beautiful surroundings with my buddies, Taylor and Ed, singing to me.

The crowds part and we are running through vineyards, actually running through the rows of vines that end up making WINE, the kiwis seem to be oblivious to this fact but I am running through thinking that this is how Charlie must have felt in the Chocolate Factory.  I then get confused as to where I am for a minute when I see some bagpipers!

I start to get quite hot. Scotland rarely goes above 15 degrees so I’m not built to handle the heat. I know we are to get wine at some point and I manage to convince myself that they are going to give us wine DURING the race. I’m not sure if that is allowed but the thought is keeping me from passing out with the heat. The first check point arrives and I scour it looking for wine. They have honey (yum) and some water, but no wine…

Around 10k, I am very VERY hot. You can see in my video that my face is very very red.  I start to become obsessed with water or wine. Water or wine. Or Jesus. Who can turn water into wine. Win: Win. We get to the checkpoint and there is water AND sauvignon blanc sorbet – I’ll TAKE IT!!! The sorbet is the best thing I could have been given. I walk along enjoying the scenery and taking a wee video whilst I eat my sorbet. I hold back from patting myself on the back whilst thinking life is pretty sweet.

Around 14k, we run alongside the Wairau River. I contemplate jumping in to cool down but think the embankment is too steep for me to get back out. Don’t do it Heather! There will be more food or wine soon. A fellow runner must have noticed that I was ready to jump as he decides to distract me by talking about the scenery. He also tells me that If I enjoyed the Hanmer half marathon and here, that I should consider entering a race in Twizel in October. I’m not really sure what the rest of our conversation involved as I couldn’t get over the fact that there is a place called Twizel.  A really cool bongo drummer gives me a smile and some words of encouragement and I forget that I was even hot and contemplated jumping into a random river.

The next aid station has lollies (aka sweeties to the UK) and water. I start to run towards the lolly lady and imagine that I must resemble the Tazmanian Devil. A Scottish slobbering sweaty mess talking gibberish. If she was disgusted, she did a good job of not showing it! Marshals are awesome, aren’t they?

At 17k, I spy some more handsome men wearing kilts and playing the bagpipes. I seem to be the only person who think bagpipers are an unusual sight for a race that isn’t in Scotland. I love it. New Zealand is keeping me on my toes!

Around 19k, I make another friend who tells me I am looking too fresh. She clearly never saw the red face phase that the sorbet cured. We indulge in small talk until my focus is moved to the two lovely girls who are handing out something that seems to be making people happy. As I approach, I try to hide my disappointment when I think she is handing us grapes. I am then corrected that it is butterscotch truffles– much better! I go to butterscotch truffley heaven that could only have been made better with some wine.

20k – I accept that it is unlikely that we are going to get any wine DURING the race. Probably best as I have already consumed a variety of items and I’m not sure my liver could process wine on top of that. Another person tells me I look too fresh and comfortable. I look down to the puddle of sweat on my t-shirt and seriously contemplate what part of my red faced, slobbering, snottery, sweaty self seems to be giving people the impression that I am fresh and comfortable?

The last kilometre is counted down. As I approach the finishing line 3rd placed female Megan Murdoch hands me a bottle of wine. This, ladies and gentleman, is exactly why I am friends with this girl. She reads my mind.

We head for some bales of hay to sit on and have a nice glass of orange juice… I’m kidding… we had some wine, of course! Out of the cardboard cups that were meant for water. Priorities, people. Wine first, water second.

The after event is same as the half marathon - awesome! You would think a school hall is a questionable venue but it has been transformed with lights, food stalls and trees and is just gorgeous and the food is amazing! We dance the night away and head home before midnight so that I do not turn into a pumpkin. 

If anyone picked up a white slipper, it’s mine.

Till next year St Clair!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Orr On The Run: Wharfedale Hut Run - Take 2 (with video)

Since I do not have many races coming up, I have decided that I will start to blog about my runs! I'm usually as buggered as a race at the end, so same same. But different.

Been increasing the mileage and wanted to re-hash a route I had attempted a couple of weeks before with my husband and our mountain bike buddies (See HERE)! This time there were no mountain bikers, but my running buddies Megan, Hamish and Moja (the dog).

We met for a coffee to celebrate me getting out of bed, then headed off on the hour drive to Mount Oxford. A dodgy moment with a river crossing and we were at the car park ready to go!

I put together a video for my family, but since we are all family here, you guys can check it out if you like :)

CAVEAT: This was my first ever attempt at making a video, so it looks like a drunk filmed it and a 5 year old edited it. My mum is going to be so proud. I'm having a bit of fun with these videos, so if you take it seriously, you obviously don't read my blog.

Link to the video, should the above not work:

Run went well, I was pretty tired at the start but eased into it. I had jokingly told the guys that my previous attempt was 3 hours 39 min therefore that was the target to beat. On the return I noticed the pace was increasing, with the last mile feeling like it was a sprint. They are trying to drop me, I thought. THEY ARE TRYING TO DROP ME. We hit the end and the first thing the guys do is turn and ask me if we beat the time. Time?!? I do not care about time, I’m more concerned about the blood coming out of my eyeballs!

They thought I was serious about the target and were on a mission to beat it. No need to have worried as we smashed the time by approx. 20 mins – I KNEW I WAS GETTING FITTER!!!

Some pictures of the jaunt are below for those of you who do not like shoddy videos that 5 year olds and drunks make.

Good run under the belt. Good day out. Good company. Can’t ask for much more than that, can you?
Halfway point

Don't play with axes at home children

The Wharfedale Hut - Complete with a packet of crisps pegged to the clothes line
Murdoch and Orr - Crime fighters

Tempting "waterfall" sign

Steep climb to get to the "waterfall"

The "waterfall"

Even steeper climb to get out - bloody "waterfall"

Thank God for those yoga classes

River crossing - Piggy back method

River crossing - Tree trunk method

Murdoch action shot

I'm moving (blog, that is)! For musings on my life in New Zealand, head on over to :

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Orr On The Run - Wharfedale Hut Run (Attempt 1)

Nearly a year since my last post, that can't be right...can it?

It is! Oh well, let's skip past the awkwardness and get right back into it, like long lost friends.

So I basically have zero excuses now. Nada. Zilch. Cero. Nil. There was the knee operation, then the wedding, then the holidays, then torn ankle ligaments (showing off coming down Ben Lomond) then the travelling across America, then the emigrating to New Zealand, then finding a home, moving into that home, getting a job and finally Christmas. Now there is nothing. I'm fresh out of excuses. I suppose I better get back into the running again... :)

I feel like I have been starting from scratch. No miles in the legs and 2 stone of extra insulation (aka fat) has helped remind me how hard starting from scratch can be. 

So I start with the basics, flat short lunchtime runs have helped me back back out. However after weeks of churning these out I see zero difference. I still struggle, I'm still 2 stone heavier and I'm not getting any faster. Consistency, I remind myself. Consistency.

So at the weekend I decided to crank it up a notch. Hubby and MY work mates were going a mountain bike ride on a trail up and around Mt Oxford. Come run whilst we bike, they said. It's only 10k, they said. Great idea! 10k up hill on trails is a great progression from my completely flat road airport lunchtime runs, so I sign myself up.

We meet for coffee en route and it is mentioned that they THINK it's actually 10k out and then 10k back. Okay, this is longer than planned, but will now be my first long run in...well a long time. Thankfully, after growing up with Brother Calderwood, I prepare for most of my runs to double in distance, so am prepared for a 20 mile run rather than a 6 miler.

We drive our car to the car park. Meet lots of other bikers. Great day everyone is saying. I'm still not 100% sure what a "great day" in New Zealand means but my Scottish interpretation means I am already dripping in sweat and I have only walked 10 meters! But sure, "it's a great day for it", why not.

To be fair, a great day was had. I paced myself well to the top. Got to the "saddle" before the bikers (as they were waiting on the slow yins at the back, runners don't need to wait on anyone) Now at this point most people kept continuing to the "Hut". Hut or saddle. Hut or Saddle. I couldn't remember where I was supposed to meet everyone. HUT OR SADDLE? Hut is only an extra 5k - I'll head to the hut. 

Mistake number 2 of the day - MUST start checking if 5K means 5K out and THEN 5K back or TOTAL 5K. So that's another 10K added to my run.

I head on which is all downhill. Sweet. In the euphoria of the downhill it slipped my mind that I was on a out and back run, therefore I had to about turn at the hut and then head back up the hills the hills I was sprinting down a few minutes ago.

I meet the Hubby and Rik on the way back who tell me we were SUPPOSED to meet at the Saddle and the others have headed back. Wimps. Thankfully the next section is mostly downhill, but downhill on tired legs means I face plant into a bush. Thankfully not a rock or tree, so aside from the shock, I am completely fine. Nothing like a face plant to get the heart rate up :) 

All in all a solid 17.5 mile run. I started to tire towards the end, even on the flat and downhills. I was feeling sorry for myself the last 2 miles and counting them down and had to have a stern talking to myself. I reminded myself of how completely lousy I felt in The Fling and that was nearly 3 times the distance. MAN UP HEATHER!!!

Finito! We head for coffee and cake afterwards to round up a great day. I've ran the route since and taken a wee video of it so I will get that up later this week so you can see what it looks like.