Failure and acceptance 

Being prescribed antibiotics 10 days before the big run is never the ideal situation to be in.

But thanks to a solid dose of the flu that I hadn’t been able to shake for 3 weeks, that was what the doctor ordered.

It took 6 days before there was any sign that the medicine was going to have any effect, on the amount of green I was coughing up.

I am lucky to have a large group of friends and family who were all concerned, about whether I was still going to or able to race or not.

The honest truth was I was hedging my bets. Hoping that I would magically wake up and I’d be fully recovered, super healthy, and ready to run…

But it didn’t happen…

I checked with doctor Google… “is it safe to run with chest infection?”.

Not liking the answer I tried “running with a cough”.

Finally I tried “how soon after a cold is it safe to run?”

The answers to those questions are:


Definitely not! And

If you have 72hrs clear of symptoms, it’s probably ok to go for an easy walk…

Consoling myself with the fact I could transfer my entry till next year, or change to one of the shorter distances at the pre-race registration if needed we set off to Taupo. The accommodation was booked, and we were long overdue a family holiday anyway.

On the drive up I talked with Jules about how I was feeling and the different options.

It is an unusual space you have to get your head into before you run an ultra, and for me that prep can take months. So to unprep and give away the idea entirely wasn’t something I could really fathom two days out from the event.

Even once I walked into the registration area the night before the race I still had this little internal voice “What if I just give it a nudge and I finish?….”

As a result I found myself standing in the line with a bunch people, who looked a lot fitter, and healthier than me…

Getting my gear checked…

Getting myself weighed…

Picking up my race pack…

For the 100km.

The Run

I’d like to say that it dawned bright and early. But actually I fell out of bed at 3am to shower and dress before trotting up the dark street to where 20 other people all stood around with headlamps on.

Waiting for the bus

The bus took a good hour and a half to get to where the race started, as a result the rush to form a queue at the 4 port-a-loos was unanimous from all those on the bus.

The start area had the usual pre-race energy, thumping music and blaring announcements over the speaker system.

At bang on 6am we started, for the first 2km we ran mostly in single file, headlights lighting the way.

The start line

As we made our way along the track heading east the horizon in front of us slowly lightened and the spectacular scenery became more and more distinct.

Until at last we reached the lake edge.

The track then ran roughly parallel to the shore only heading inland to zigzag it’s way over one headland and down the next. I felt good through the first 15kms, then average through the next 10.

By the time I got to the 33k mark it felt like I was continuously breathing through a snorkel. Never quite being able to get my breath.

There was a short section up to the road, across farmland, when I realized I wouldn’t have the capacity to finish the race. Coming to that conclusion, I allowed myself the luxury of slowing down to the speed my lungs could cope with, and to enjoy the view.

The section through to the 50km checkpoint was a mix of farmland and forestry. And a final 6km along a blazing hot road under the constant glare of a unseasonably early summer sun. I reunited with my support crew as I came out of the forest and it was a superb boost to my mental state.

I crawled up the last few rolling hills that would normally be so enjoyable.

By the time I got to the checkpoint, the event staff had received word from my support crew that I wanted to withdraw, and even though I was at the official cut off time. They let me cross the timing mat to record a 50km time before they closed up the checkpoint.

Last one in

It took me a week or so to come to some kind of acceptance within myself, that I had done all I could, and that it was the wiser move to to have let this one go.

But on the plus side, because we had booked a week long holiday, expecting that I would need recovery time after 100km. We were able to…. after a day or so of me hobbling around …. spend the remaining time chillin, and have that much-needed and long overdue family holiday.

What a much better way to spend time.

Homebaking anyone??

On a previous post I have explained why it is I set out to raise some money for WEIT.

About how amazing they are, and the incredible job they do on limited resources.

This week however, I am surrendering my editors rights to my lovely (incredible and beautiful) wife. Because she is the one who understands most intimately, the positive changes we have seen in Nyah and the difference that the dedicated team at WEIT make to all of the kids, who come through their doors.

So ladies and gentlemen my amazing, courageous. scintillating, captivating wife…

A little while ago, ok let’s be honest it was months, Rich asked me to write about what a session at WEIT involves. In my usual form I have been procrastinating like the procrastinator I am…. an excellent one.

There are a few reasons I’ve decided to change my ways, one of them of course is that 100k-Day is descending on us very rapidly.  Nothing like a deadline to get the brain into action.  The other I will get to a little further on.

So the nuts and bolts… Each session involves four kids, and four therapists, a Speech Language Therapist, Music Therapist, Physiotherapist and Early Childhood Educator.  The session starts off with group music where the kids are encouraged to join in on a series of action songs aimed at developing their gross and fine motor skills.  It’s a great chance for the kids to experience being in a group and learn verbal and visual cues such as waiting their turn, sharing and following instruction.

Each child (along with their parent/care giver) will then spend 15 minutes with each therapist individually.   I could go into detail about each session but I think it’s enough to say the therapist develops their sessions based on the individual child’s Development Plan (mostly because I’ve been given a max word count and there is so much more to say!).  These plans are discussed and decided in a meeting between the parents and therapists every six months. 

Nyah absolutely loves going to WEIT. When we arrive her face lights up with a massive beaming smile and she starts kicking her legs in excitement. The work is hard, it stretches her physically and mentally, but the therapists are magicians and they have her doing amazing things. 

Nyah has grown in so many ways since she has been attending the sessions.  She has gone from a shy wee girl who would turn to Mum shyly in each group session, to engaging not only with the therapists, but also the other children.  She is saying and signing many words, her concentration for completing tasks is fantastic and she is on the verge of taking her first solo steps.  The therapists all have this beautiful rapport with Nyah, and Nyah responds accordingly. Their care and love for her is so obvious in their delight every time she achieves a task or milestone.

Which brings me to the “other” reason to stop procrastinating. WEIT is partly funded by the District Health Board, the rest comes from fundraising, parent donations and other wonderful groups and individuals.  During the time that Nyah has attended WEIT I have had several “Did I really understand that right’ moments…

When I overheard a therapist saying she had paid for a work-related course out of her own pocket…

When a therapist organized and put together a show, out of work time, with all the proceeds going to WEIT…

And the latest, just this week a fantastic quiz night that we attended which was organized by the team… which included a mum of one of the staff members doing all the home-baking, so there were snacks for the tables. 

I have always worked in a corporate environment where resources were available with generally little hullaballoo. It makes my world implode a little to think these miracle makers must go so far above and beyond to have the funds and resources just to do their job. 

As with all parents, our aim for Nyah has and will always be to give her the best opportunities to lead a rich and fulfilling live.  Her journey is perhaps a little more intense than some, WEIT plays an integral part in ensuring that we are giving her the very best start we can.  It’s truly exciting to be able to support this wonderful team, and of course my crazy caring hubby who sees that a little help can go a long way.


Tilting at windmills

Running blinking into the sunset glare, on my way home the other night… A workmate cycled past me. Giving me a start.

“Were you intending to run home?”

Came the witty question.

“Yes, but I was hoping it would go a bit faster than this.”

I gasped in reply.

He slowed and wobbled somewhat.

Can I give you a lift? he asked next. Clearly concerned at my struggling appearance.

Are you going to repeat an inspirational quote to help make my spirits soar? I gave him in dry retort.

A big trademark grin spread across his face as he realized, that under the painful look I was mostly ok and the appearance of a shambling mess was entirely self inflicted, so he sped on his way.

The same feeling repeated itself yesterday when midway through a 25km event called the North Range Traverse I found myself swapping positions with a speed walker, I would pass her running downhill only to have her pass me back when I slowed to a walk on the uphills.

Each time we would swap a few encouraging words or witty remark. And all I could think was. I was hoping, I was a bit faster than this.

The event itself was very cool. And the scenery amazing. Some of the hills were long slow grinds, but there was enough variety both in scenery and track type to keep the brain distracted while the miles rolled by.

The first 3-5km was mostly uphill, but once at the top the track slid along the range top through 3 different windfarms.

The noise made by each windmill was best described as a wooshing. Each farm had a distinct rhythm and the combined noise reminded me of our time spent monitoring Nyah’s heart beat in the weeks leading up to her birth.

This memory and remembering what motivated me to begin running again in the first place, powered me through the mid stages of the run, even when I was struggling to find any kind of rhythm.

Nyah Rose Hopkins on 26 August 2015 and today

The end came eventually after a 6 kilometer downhill section, 3hrs 4mins but I don’t think I looked at my watch once.

 The playlist and other internal dialogue 

Less than 10 weeks to go, most weekends now I’m doing a 2 -3 hour run each day. With this much time, often over fairly familiar ground, the brain has a tendency to wander….

Sometimes I am breaking down the 100km into pieces my brain can comprehend:

100km equals 5 x half marathons, right…and my ideal goal then  must be 3 x 4hour legs to the final checkpoint at 75km (plus a final crawl home)…. 

Okay then I’ll have to be faster than 5.7km/hr for 13 hours to avoid the cut off at the final checkpoint. But what does 5.7km/hr look like well it’s slightly faster than a fast walk, or 10 minute K’s

Well that’s just a good honest shuffle….

Other times though, my internal playlist kicks in, and I have discovered one of the true joys of being a Dad, is the change in the playlist that has gradually come about.

Now when I’m out running, the list of songs my brain chooses from is less of this…

And more of this

And this

100km is going to be a doddle….

Early mornings, late nights and everything in between

I’ve been been trying to ramp up my base level of activity, to make up for my otherwise unfocused training. 
Because of the winter daylight hours, I’ve spent an abnormal amount of time with a headlamp on, trying to do the extra k’s. It has also meant I’m exploring further afield. I have been lucky though as it turns out that someone spent some time recently building a fully lit, dedicated walk/cycle way, that is virtually on my back doorstep. 

I often have just the dogs for company. The road, that the cycleway parallels, is often very quiet and the scenery isn’t half bad either.

The temperature is something that has been more noticeable, in its absence recently. but it hasnt stopped the exploring and on the good days it’s really just magic. 

WEIT – a moment

Only 15 weeks to go.

And I am doing this for a reason.

To highlight the absolutely amazing job that Wellington Early Intervention Trust (WEIT) do.

And hopefully fundraise a little bit.

They currently have 34 preschool kids who attend weekly therapy and a waiting list of 14.

The therapy consists of  music, speech, physical and early intervention teaching in small groups

The children who come to the centre may have Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Aspergers, rare genetic disorders or developmental delays with no specific diagnosis.

The Staff at WEIT are AHH Mazing, and they frequently go above and beyond.

The kids get a massive benefit from their “target all bases” approach, as we have personally experienced with Nyah.

However as with many programs, they are not fully funded. And provide the music component of the program without it being funded at all.

Any support would be much appreciated and any funds I raise will be used to help deliver this program and allow them to continue doing their stellar work.

A few thoughts on running.

Walking on an empty winter beach at dawn like I am prone to do sometimes, once in while I get a little philosophical…

Just this morning, a thought began to form….

There is a simplicity about running. A type of magic that causes a feeling of release. Just from the mere fact the body is moving like it is designed to do.

Sure we can complicate it with other things that remove us from that feeling; the needto get fitter or to loose a few pounds or to go faster.

But if you allow yourself to get past all of that. Its there you rediscover the pure joy of what running should be…

That first memory…

Running barefoot across wet grass with your friends…

When you were not trying to do anything, except exalt in the freedom of the movement, only going as fast or as slow as the moment demanded. Just existing in that exhilaration,

Speeding, straining, all jostling elbows before pausing breathless, then dashing forward again.

There are times now when I am running, where I get close to touching the ghost of that feeling…

When I crest the top of a hill with speed still in my legs, and begin the roll down the other side, just a little bit fast, just barely remaining in control.

Of running, busyness, and life

We recently added another little bod to the chaos in our house a rescue pup called Toby. I say “little” in a very limited sense, he is a 10month old huntaway cross. His feet are huge and in the short space of time we have had him, he has gone from a skinny bag of bones to a relatively sleek looking mischief maker. 

Having a new addition has limited my running somewhat in the short term; but based on Tobys current progress I am sure he will outrun me in no time. 

He is also becoming fast friends with Nyah

About motivation and family 

Last year it was about Nyah.

This kid

It was also a way for me to process all of it… it allowed me some normalcy over a period when nothing else was normal.  I  mean there is nothing more normal than going for a run. Right?

… Running is about as familiar to me as breathing….

As I’ve said, I rarely run fast. But I love the rhythm of going for a run…

The rare moments when you get a flow on and the only thing that your mind is occupied with is the steady drumming of your feet as they make contact and spring you forward…

The white noise of breathing, as your lungs pull life into you…

The pulse of the terrain, as you trace the topography…

My Dad was a runner too, a moderately good one in fact..

Our family grew up with the stories of him running. First in his younger days, when running was only being done by a few crazy individuals, and it was common to have less than 10 entries in a marathon field.

And after us kids came along, he continued running. There are pictures in the family photo album of Dad, crossing the finishing lines of any number of events, holding onto at least one of us 3 kids.

But he has a different way of describing the feeling of running, in his own desert dry humorous way that he has.

“…. it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. .. it feels best when you stop..”

My Dad and I don’t always agree on everything but we do both understand running … and he taught me the value of family… it is definitely because of him I know what it means to be a good dad.

And one day I might even be be a moderately good runner.

The reason and the new goal 

Just lately I have had a number of people who were aware of last year’s little adventure asking me if I am still running…

I have politely indicated that I didn’t really have anything in mind, and that I was only running a little bit at present….(both mostly true).

I have enjoyed a substantial break. but at the same time I have been trying to find a way to show my support for the people who have helped us, along the way and in so many ways…

One of the highlights of being Nyah’s Dad is seeing her develop and become this amazing cheeky little soul.

As part of her week Nyah has been attending Wellington Early Intervention Trust (WEIT). They have had a profound effect on Nyah’s progress and how well she is meeting her developmental milestones.

WEIT help children who may have Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Aspergers, rare genetic disorders  or developmental delays with no specific diagnosis.

They do this through group based therapy. They do amazing things and they do it without enough funding to meet the demand.

There are so many reasons why these guys deserve support and I will fill you in on the way…. To the 14th of October and to the start of the 100km Taupo Ultra.