(Photo: John Law)
Most training runs don’t really stick in the mind as being especially memorable. You go out, do your rounds, feel tired but glad, and maybe pat yourself on the back that you lobbed twenty seconds off your personal best. But then it’s over and you move on. Swimming tomorrow. Work in the morning. Even the high from that personal best fades and you start thinking about the next milestone. After all, training isn’t like going to a concert or the theatre. It’s just one stepping stone after another. Lots of them.
But now and again everything comes together to make for a really memorable run; a stepping stone that wobbles and lifts you up and turns out to be a hippo after all. Hitting a scenic trail for the first time maybe, hooking up with friends, being chased by squirrels, or even just feeling good after a rough patch. Music can make a big difference too. It does for me.
One of my runs last week will certainly stick in the memory. I wanted to road test a new mix I’d just recorded that was going to be my next In Deep podcast – Two hours of uplifting deep house and disco to keep spirits high, especially on long runs around the bays. We’re in the middle of a bona fide heatwave here in Wellington; an exceptional two weeks of sunshine and light winds. So I’ve stuck to going out in the evening, which suits me fine. You just have to put up with swallowing the odd gnat. I drove into town around 8 o’clock with my usual 20km in mind. It was warm down on the waterfront well past sundown, with clear skies and not a breath of wind. A huge full moon hung in the sky like a great silver egg ready to crack. I’m not sure what would come out if the moon really was an egg, but that night it felt like we were about to find out.
I set off from Te Papa and went out to the stadium and back, then carried on the other way towards Miramar. Even though it was warm every now and again I’d run through a pocket of cool air and get that brief feeling of satisfaction, like sipping a tepid drink but getting the lovely chilled runoff from the ice cubes. I’d thrown lots of favourites into the mix I was listening to, like Ichisan’s “Tips and Tricks” and Vincenzo’s “Keep Moving” and it rolled along just how I wanted. Sometimes it’s like running is second only to dancing in dark sweaty rooms when it comes to house music. There’s something physical that when you hear it you either have to repress it or let it out. You’re probably not going to see me on the dancefloor at Sandwiches any time soon, so it’s a joy to go out on a long exhausting run and let the groove flow through me by other means. By the time I’d been to Miramar and got back to Oriental Parade it was dark and all the Norfolk pines that line the waterfront were lit up as if Christmas was still around the corner. I pushed on to finish back at Te Papa in close to 93 minutes, elated and still buzzing with energy on one of the most beautiful summer evenings I’ve seen. You can’t beat Wellington on a good night.
Less than three weeks to go til race day! After managing a 20km run in 93 minutes I’m feeling optimistic about my goal of 100 minutes for the half marathon now. There’s only about a week and a half of training time left anyway then I’ll need to start tapering off. Thankfully my shins have been okay recently, even with the longer runs. It seems that as long as I avoid running when sleep deprived I’m fine. Luckily I don’t have any night shifts rostered close the big day! Anyway the next post I have in the works is a special on shin splints, with contributions from a couple of local experts ;)
I imagine the intersection of people who like house music and people who go running in Wellington is quite small, but anyway, if you’re interested in a musical jetpack for your long runs you can check out my mix here: In Deep #038 – Round the Bays Special. Let me know if you enjoy it! It made my evening run a memorable one. What are some of your most memorable runs?