Yesterday I ran the Shotover Moonlight Mountain Half Marathon. Compared to the full marathon, it was a piece of cake. But compared to everything I’m used to, it was absolutely brutal. The course took us through no fewer than two dozen stream crossings (everything from ankle to knee to hip deep on me), up and down some grueling hills and through a natural rock tunnel.
In all the pre-race communication, we were told there would be water stops every 5k. Normally, this would be way more than I need – I usually stop once during a half. But on a hilly course on a scorcher of a day, I would make some adjustments. Unfortunately, there was only one around the halfway point, and it wasn’t until after I finished that I was informed the streams counted as water stops because “as long as you don’t see any cattle nearby, it should be safe to drink.” At one point – what I think was around 5k (there were no markers, making it even more impossible for me to pace myself) – I was approaching a turn and thought I heard people cheering. I got excited thinking it was a water stop, but it really turned out to just be a group of sheep. The brain hears what it wants to hear I guess.
By the time I reached the finish line, I had nothing left to give, and it was all I could do to make myself push up the last little baby hill. I struggled more than I have in any other race and my body is still crying, but in the end, I finished, which for me is all that matters this time around.
Here are the top ten idiotic things I did in relation to this half marathon: (Caution: May include whinging)
1. I told people I was thinking about doing it. Once I tell people I’m going to do a race, there’s no backing out.
2. I signed up, despite some body parts and my brain telling me not to.
3. I rode a mechanical bull less than 36 hours before my race.
4. As one of my training runs, I attempted to run Ben Lomond. Yes, the beast of a hike we did on Thanksgiving. If Brett can do it, I can too… right? Not only was this dumb because it was unbelievably brutal and I didn’t have the right equipment (ie, a way to carry water or anything), but I chose to do this only a couple days before we did the Rakiura Track on Stweart Island with my family (another 3 day, 2 night hike – stay tuned!) My legs were absolutely worthless for five full days after that 3.5 hour run up and down one of the highest peaks in Queenstown, and tramping around on a Great Walk was a lot more painful than it should have been.
Here’s a brief gallery from that day:
5. I got a job at an Italian restaurant that offers me meals with each shift. Meals of mostly carbs and cheese don’t exactly encourage healthy habits and hauling the extra pounds around doesn’t exactly improve my pace.
6. I chose to train in Queenstown, the hilliest place I’ve ever lived. Consequently, I have become a very lazy runner. Normally, I would push myself up a hill as much as I physically can, because most likely, it will level out soon and my running pace is faster than my walking pace. Here, the hills are never-ending, and more often than not, I can walk them almost as quickly as I can run.
7. I worked the nights before and of my race.
8. I chose to train while working in a restaurant – a job with weird hours during which I am always on my feet.
9. I didn’t map out my training plan. Normally, I strictly stick to a training schedule, with adjustments only when absolutely necessary. This time, I just loosely followed a plan for one long distance run per week – whatever day I had the time and energy. Other days were really just whatever I had the time for.
10. I ate Fergburger for lunch the day before my race. Not the best fuel.
Now, on a more cheerful note, here are the top ten awesome things I did in relation to this half marathon:
1. I told people I was thinking about doing it, eliminating any chance of me backing out.
2. I signed up! I know I would have regretted it if I didn’t run one of these things while I was here.
3. I did NOT sign up for the marathon – something that briefly crossed my mind. Though I am unbelievably proud of Brett for completing the full, I’m not particularly keen on a race that requires me to carry my own emergency kit.
4. During my training runs, I got to explore areas around Queenstown I might not have otherwise.
5. I didn’t allow my training to get in the way of what I am really here for – to experience New Zealand.
6. I didn’t bypass time with my parents when they were visiting because of runs. I got to spend a big chunk of time in an amazing place with my favorite people.
7. On the few occasions I wasn’t looking directly at my feet to keep from busting my face, I got to take in a gorgeous setting. The mountains, hillsides, streams… all unreal.
8. I got to be part of an awesome group of runners.
9. Normally I have some sort of goal in mind. This time, knowing I wasn’t fully prepared and being completely unfamiliar with the course, I tried not to get my hopes set on anything. Of course, my slowest time isn’t something I’m happy about, but by trying to be carefree about this one, I’m able to be a little less hard on myself.
10. I completed it! May not have been fast, and definitely wasn’t easy, but I pushed my way through the brutal course!