Well stone me, it’s been a while. And seeing as I’ve spent this week piling life possessions into bags and boxes once more, I feel compelled to update you all. Here’s what’s been going down in Adventure Town lately:
Running the Te Araroa from North to South seemed all rather logical. I’d be following the migration of birds, this is the direction that Huckleberry Finn navigated the Mississippi, and there’s a slim chance (just as when travelling from Scotland to London) that heading South means everything is downhill. Alas, I hadn’t really thought it through. Kiwi-friend after Kiwi-friend pointed out that I’d be entering the alpine climate of the South Island just as it started to get the wrong side of chilly. In the end I realised that the only reason I wasn’t running the trail in the opposite direction was that it just ‘felt’ odd. And that’s rather silly. So South to North I shall go. As our Thai friends say: Same, Same, but different.
Goodness knows I love a spreadsheet. There’s a dark and powerful magic that lurks between the grid lines of an Excel document, and it calms my soul. Granted, spreadies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I always like to have a plan of sorts. Even more so if I’m visiting schools. The kids in class 3A of Christchurch High, don’t care that your calf muscle gave up, that your backpack broke or a river level stayed too high to allow you to cross. All they know is that you’re not in their classroom when you said you would be. And that sucks. So body willing, I shall follow the hallowed spreadsheet, and make it to where I say I’ll be on time. If I’m honest I enjoy the pressure a schedule brings. When the days get tough and the legs say ‘no’, it’s a reason to keep on keepin’ on.
I’ve been hearing rather a lot of chat about rivers on this trail. Those who have trekked the Te Araroa, or portions of it, tell me that my feet will be wet for days on end. Soggy souls themselves are not especially exciting, but the prospect of having to bundle my pack up and float it as I wade across rivers is. I’ve never done that before. It means learning new skills and developing a better understanding of how the waters behave, and that makes me reet excited.
There is then, the small matter of Christchurch, which lies approximately a 250 mile round run off of the trail. It’s packed with a load of school kiddies raring for tales of adventure, and so tales of adventure they shall have. Doing a little shimmy off route and back onto it a week later sounds rather like a mini-adventure within an adventure to me. And besides, what’s a few hundred miles between friends?
When it came to getting ship shape for this adventure, the general plan was to lose the same amount of weight off of my body, as I intended to carry in my pack. That way I’m not really carrying anything extra, I’ve just swapped chub for kit. Or so goes the (sound) logic in my mind. I had a complicated plan:
- Run more
- Eat less
The good news is that I’ve just about managed both. But, let’s be honest, I’m a terrible student. I’ve never been one for diets. I’d rather eat ice cream, have a chin going spare, and be happy. I refer to my favourite poem by Nadine stair “If I had to live my life over again… I would eat more ice cream, and less beans.” Boo to beans, yes to Ben, his friend Jerry and their sidekick: Phish Food.
I’ve managed to shrug off 7kgs and I have to say that being a little lighter has made running easier. I’m more spritely with it, and (I hope) less prone to injury. Sadly in the process my breasticles have downgraded themselves (without permission) to ‘more than an handful’, to ‘more than a handful’s a waste’, and my previous Kim Kardashian sized derrière now looks more like a derry-where? But I’m OK with that. It’s nice to mix things up every now and then. Although, I have refused to invest in any new work clothing, which leaves me rocking the low crutch, baggy jeans look in the office. “Sup’ co-workers. Yeah I got ya email. I hear ya.”
So, What have I learnt so far?
I’ve not even left home and already the school-on-the-move has begun. I’ve learnt that:
- Running is a drug: And I’m now an addict. I had a brief 10 day stint where I couldn’t run. I was like an animal, an animal I tell you. Take away my trainers and you now officially take away my soul
- I have a pear in my ass: Well. A pear shape. Apparently there’s a muscle in your glutes that’s shaped like a pear. And mine gets angry from time to time. Hashtag: AngryPear.
- Injury is a good thing: Running 60 – 80 miles a week is bound to come with a few aches. With every niggle I pick up, every tight glute, strained calf, strange trapezius muscle-in-spasm, I learn. I learn what is pain, what is an injury and which bits connect to where. Mostly everything seems to be connected to the angry pear. I have concluded that this is why the pear is so angry.
- Feet can still ‘grow’: Six weeks into training I had to go up a half-size in trainers. It appears that my feet have ‘spread’, and I no longer fit a size 7 shoe. At first I was freaked out. Then I thought it was cool. Now I’m just thinking about how much faster I can swim with bigger flippers…
- The shuffle is not conducive to speed: I can bosh out 20 miles without too much thought. But throw some coals in my leg-fire and try to take things up a notch, and nothing happens. Every few weeks I do a 5km Park Run, just to try and wake the old fibres up from their deep slumber. I am still yet to complete one without being overtaken by an eight year old in cargo pants.
- I cannot yet speak ‘kiwi’:
- It’s Cape Ree-ang-er, not Cape Reg-ina. Silly me.
- Wanaka, is not pronounced ‘wank*r.’
- You can’t just start a sentence unsure of pronunciation, mumble and expect people understanding where you’re talking about.
- I have yet to fully grasp the meaning of ‘Churrr Bro.’ Answers on a postcard
So, what now?
The response to my last post was overwhelming to say the least. A massive thank you to everyone who put me in touch with their friends, and friends of friends. I think I’ve already met half the population of New Zealand via the medium of Facebook and Twitter. And it’s true – you really do all know each other. That said, there’s always space for more, and certainly more school talks. So please get in touch if you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows the Prime Minister. I’m kidding. Just a teacher will do. At the bottom of this post is a rough plan on when I’ll be where so that people can say hello.
Well, that’s me done for now. We’re T-Minus 25 days until trainer take-off and I’m caught half way between ‘What in the blazes am I doing?” and “Release me into the wild, I’m ready, ready I tell you!”. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My next post will likely be from NZ. Oh my days.
McNuff out xx
Rough timings from the spreadsheet of wonderment:
- Bluff Start! 9th Jan
- Queenstown: 22nd – 27th Jan
- Wanaka: 29th Jan – 1st Feb
- Christchurch: 18th – 24th Feb
- Wellington: 24th – 27th March
- Hamilton / Cambridge: 6th – 10th May
- Auckland: 18th – 24th May
- Cape Reigna Finish!: 19th June
- Auckland (again): 20th – 26th June