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.

Live blog- Event 1 Tauhara off road half marathon 


Not sure how live this might be but I will get you results as soon as I can. .. it’s a brilliantly cold morning here. And the hill we are going up is currently hidden in fog.

And they’re off!


The view from halfway.


Halfway in 1hr 30mins


Three quarters done still going!


Going up the back side of the hill at 18km.


Yes! the finish line in sight. The finish line photos will come soon. But to complete the (almost) live blog the finish time was 3hr 15. And I feel surprisingly good.

Many thanks to all my well wishers, patient supporters, and the always speedy and inspirational Mr Fern for running the course in a more respectable time than I managed.

See you at the next one.

Weekend Hills and Recovery

Long run training on weekends are always a bit of a challenge, and trying to schedule time around normal new family life, even more so.

I have a VERY Understanding Amazing and Beautiful Wife. Jules has completed an incredible array of her own endurance events not the least being a half ironman. She will always be my inspiration.

But as a consequence, there is a fair amount of FOMO, in our house. I’ve come to accept that instead of the Hangry’s (hungry angry’s) that some people get, Jules get’s the Fangry’s (Fit angrys).

I haven’t always got the balance or timing right, and I do feel guilty whenever I go sliding out the door to spend some time on the trails. But I am getting better at ensuring Jules also gets time to spend on her own exercise.

This Saturday’s run highlighted the conflict between everyday chores and getting the training done, even more than usual.

While running I sent a couple of pictures as a way of letting Jules know how I was progressing.


Screenshot_2016-06-21-21-16-17 And In reply Jules, also let me know how her morning was progressing.

Screenshot_2016-06-21-21-16-39Needless to say I came home on time… folded the clothes, fed the baby and cooked dinner all while Jules had a much deserved soak in a long hot bath….

Actually, I did. But Jules, rather than a long hot bath spent an hour on the exercycle instead, go figure?

A bit of progress and goal setting.

I’m slow.. I’m slow enough that I don’t generally like to check my average speed, as it’s hideous how miniscule any improvements are.

But with the interest in this little adventure. I thought it was worth downloading a running app, to record my efforts in some form.

I’ve been using the App inconsistently since I started and my first few attempts almost put me off completely.

When I jog/walked to work the first few times I couldn’t even manage to run one kilometer without slowing to a walk, my time for the flat five kilometer route was a dawdling 48 minutes.

But yesterday after running like “T H E  W H O L E  W A Y”  I checked the app again and …

32 minutes.

Now I doubt I’m up for Olympic selection (the current NZ record is 13.10).

But on my current rate of improvement…

Hey who knows….


The commute to and from work is useful, not only do I do a majority of my weekday training this way. It also gives me a real block of time to plot and plan both work and home life, dream about holidays and generally put things in order.

Don’t sit in dog shit and other dodgy encounters.

“I must look a weirdo” he said holding up his shorts at eye level.

“I just sat in dog poo”.

“Aww that’s shit mate” I managed to gasp, as I crested the top of the rise where I’d found this peculiar sight.

I continued on down the track the image of “the weirdo” – shorts off, in between two bushes, apparently trying to wipe off the offending dog poo on the scant bits of grass on the side of the track, burnt into my brain.

I was 7km into a 9km loop at dusk, without a torch. I reflected on who looked the more weird, and chuckled to myself.



Trying to cram a run in around normal work hours, in the winter time, often meant I was hitting the trails with those other fringes of society, that liked to hide their furtive activities in the semi darkness.

I had one such encounter on a recent morning, I’d taken the dog with me as I often do and coming to the end of the track I slowed to a walk to put the dog back on the leash.

Drawing level with the driver’s door of a parked car I’d presumed was empty. A light flared inside the car illuminating a hand holding a lighter under a glass pipe.  As I continued on towards home, I kept one ear open for engines starting, or car doors opening.  But the driver I believe was too intent on the hit he was getting to register, exactly how close this weirdo and his dog came to intruding on his morning time routine.


The realisation.

My ever convincing brother in law, Marcus, persuaded me that going for a run after work was a good idea. Running the two blocks to his place felt great. After saying hi to my sister and two nephews, the shoe laces were tightened and we were out the door.  After another two blocks facing into a stiff head wind, I reduced to a walk. Great four blocks and I’m done!!

We continued on sometimes running me mostly just trying to breathe, Marcus bouncing along next to me telling me how good he felt because he had several runs under his belt this week already.

It shouldn’t hurt this much… I had run before – just keep going it will get better. It was just 25 minutes out and Marcus finally felt sorry for me. We walked the short way home along the beach.

Mulling over exactly how UN-fit I was, it was a bit of a rude epiphany.

At least the view was nice.