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.

Loss of sleep, lack of traction.

A lot can happen in a week…


At the end of last week I was on the verge of writing, that as we came to the end of winter, we were relishing something wonderfully close to normal life, and how happy we were simply experiencing routine.


Nyah has been making slow but steady progress against the markers that they assess for. And I had been making slow but steady progress in recovering from the marathon.

But Sunday, Sunday (the lesser known Neil Diamond Hit).

I went out for a run with my little, somewhat faster sister. And all of 10 metres into the run, I became all tangled up with my mates gangly dog, whom I was attempting to run with and who wanted instead, to chase a random distraction, on the other side of the road.

I attempted valiantly to hurdle the side of the dog, before tripping up entirely and coming to rest chin on kerb.

I hobbled the short distance home and was patched up by my always patient, ever loving wife.


That was just the start of the week.

Nyah has struggled this week with a tummy bug that saw a couple of days of full nappies followed by a couple of days of chuckie-chunders.

Jules has worn the worst of it, (on a couple of occasions this week literally).

My Wife, This Lady.

Photo credit: Helen Westerbeke 2016

Jules is my love and inspiration, a source of motivation. I look back on all the adventures we have had and always I’m thankful that she is by my side guiding me, or in front of me urging me along, or behind me giving me a push when needed.

When I started this chapter of the adventure, The 3 long runs (aka. “Where I go out of my way to hurt myself”). I pretty much inflicted it on her, and in her ever supporting and patient way, she allowed me this extravagance.

And at the same time as providing me the time and the space to do the necessary training, Jules has also been training towards her own goal to complete in the K1 challenge. (http://www.arcevents.co.nz/k2home/raceinfo/)

Just quietly SHE IS AH MAZING!!

And as this week draws to a close, while I can’t wait for things to return to normal, I’m glad we don’t ever seem to do routine for very long.

Prams Naps and Training with Bubs 

Saturday dawned bright and early as often does around our house.

Jules was doing a couple of community based sustainability courses. Some very deserved time amongst adults after a week of being the world’s most devoted mum.

So with the weather just awesome, and with Jules helping us get out the door even as she headed for her first course. Nyah and I headed out for a brisk walk with a dog who had been a bit neglected of late in favour of bad weather.

By the time we were halfway along the esplanade Nyah was fast asleep, something that she maintained until we got to about halfway point. Where at the Whareroa Stream we paused to throw a stick for the dog.

While we just hung out and enjoyed this rare moment of sun. A number of walkers passed us by, each caught up in their own thoughts, each greeted by my ever cheerfully social daughter, before they moved on with a fresh smile of their own.

Heading home Nyah was facing into the sun so I covered the pram with some shade cloth. The lack of view didn’t dampen her sunshiney mood, and I got to enjoy a constant baby babble narration all the way back to the house.

Sundays run  by myself was too quiet by far…

Rest Recovery Recooperation and Reflection

Since the race, it’s been quiet on a number of fronts.
The race went well I enjoyed the run, even with the cold start, the banter of the volunteers and the amazing scenery made it fly by. I even finished with a smile and a wee burst of speed.

After we drove some 4 hours home and I unfolded myself from the car seat. I gave myself a days rest before walking to work on Tuesday.

Wednesday I walked to work and biked home.  On Thursday Jules and bubs went to New Plymouth to catch up with friends and Family and I joined her on the weekend.

While in New Plymouth I went for a run with my brother in law, Selwyn. The course was through some bush tracks on a walkway, in the part of town where I grew up. It’s always nice going for a run along the Te Henui, as it is over those tracks that I learnt my love for running and learnt the value of feeling at peace within. And over those familiar tracks, Selwyn showed me the error of ignoring speed work in my regular training.

In the build-up to the half I had been concentrating on just generally getting fit and trying to spend the time on my feet just to get through the event.

The next run… has a time limit on it….  *Gulp

Training, tapering and (baby) time…

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m ignoring a number of things;
The dishes, the mess in the lounge, the fact that we need more firewood brought in. The noise of the static trainer humming away in the spare room, as Jules rolls out some extra energy. But mostly I am trying to ignore the countdown timer on the sidebar of this blog which says I’ve got less than a week to go before the first leg of this treble.

Six days to go and I’m “tapering” that magic period before a big run when paranoia is the norm. Every muscle twitch is questioned as a possible strain. Most times this is the point when I’m quietly admitting to myself, that I haven’t really done as much training as I should have.

But this time, I have done enough, I think, which is a nice feeling. I am still fair s#@ting myself, however… I am confident that I can finish this first leg, it’s whether I can finish it, and still be in good enough condition to continue training towards the second event!

I’m enjoying this easing up on the training, it feels like someone has gifted me more time.

Something which I relish, because I’ve found that as the training has increased. I have become even  more focused on ensuring I still spend good quality time with Nyah.

I’m even more stoked than normal, to be able to be share time with her, as she had just passed a couple of her own milestones in the last week or so.

She has gotten almost to the point of sitting up unaided and her increased awareness and interactivity was marked by her first word (well her proud parents are taking it as a word). She really has provided a huge number of reasons to smile and laugh this week.



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.

Cross Training- Making the most of every opportunity.

I’ve found very quickly, to fit anything that looks like actual training into the normal everyday busyness of life, you have to get creative.

I’ve got into an almost routine bike ride to and from work, although in deference to the wettest days, I still get the bus sometimes.

I’ve substituted some longer weekend runs, with hours trying to tame the wilder parts of our garden.

But this weekend there has been an exciting new development! It was a very mild winters day so I extricated Nyah from her Mum’s arms, bundled her up in all kinds of layers into her pram, and we went for a nice long walk through our local wilderness area.


We have been finding that Nyah is motion deactivated. So Nyah slept through most of the explore, (as you can see in the photo) but she did wake up in time for the last part along the beach headed home.


I cant wait for more days like these.



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.