Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brrr. Not so fun, running in this weather!

Yesterday was so sunny here in Wellington. I pretended summer had arrived already and donned a pretty floral dress and jandals - pretty much the only two items of clothing needed in the summer (oh, and a polarfleece of course; this is wellington!).

Today, however, was another story altogether.

I'd been doing a bit of trip research and discovered a whole heap more things that I want to do while in South America. One being taking surf lessons in Northern Peru, because, hey, why not?! I've always wanted to learn and the water there midwinter is bound to be warmer than Lyall Bay on the hottest summer day. Plus it's a lot cheaper! I've seen people surf though, and it looks like a LOT of hard work! All that paddling can't be easy. And so this gave me the motivation to get out there in this horrid weather and do some exercise, despite the mangled, blistered state of my feet after walking to and from work a few times.

It was drizzling outside and oh so cold. Now I'm back and have checked the news online, I find out it's snowing on the hills around Wellington and about 6.5 degrees outside and steadily dropping.

I pulled on one of those mac in a pacs - you know the dirt cheap, rolls up into it's own pocket, warehouse kind that anyone that gives a hoot about fashion would never wear, even with a gun pressed to their head. Well, I own one of those (let's keep that quiet - it's only for use in emergencies - like when it's raining and you're crazy enough to go for a run). So I put that on, a merino t-shirt, tights and sneakers and hit the pavement. Two minutes into my warm up walk, I was freezing. Not just feeling a little cold, but freezing in a teeth chattering, hands turning impressive shades of blue and orange, kind of freezing. So I picked up the pace and ran almost all the way to the St Geralds monastery. I say almost all the way as just before the monastery there's a very scary looking hill, and I had a painful stitch. It probably wasn't the best idea to attempt a run having just devoured over half a packet of hobnobs (though they were the oaty, wholemeal kind, which can't be all that bad for you, can they?) and a substantial amount of tea during the afternoon.

Then I had to walk down the pedestrian accessway. I would have run it if I could've, but very steep stairs plus rain and jelly legs doesn't make for a very promising outcome.

As an aside, I find it very helpful to never double knot your shoelaces. Random, I know. But very convenient when you tell yourself you are going to run to such and such a landmark without stopping, and then don't feel bad when you have to stop for at least 3 very quick shoe-tying breaks on the way - not time enough to feel guilty, but enough to catch your breath.

I then ran back along Oriental Parade. This is such a lovely spot for a run but I normally avoid it like you would a face-masked, swine fluey leper in the chemist. The reason for this is it seems half of Wellington uses Oriental Parade for their runs. The fit, lean, beautiful half of Wellington, that is. I feel more comfortable lumbering around Karori Park with the chubby, puffing mums.

Today I was the only person running along here, however. Which says a lot about the weather, and doesn't insinuate great things about my state of mind. The other great thing about Oriental Bay is the public loos. Especially if you're like me and suffer from a nose that runs faster than I could ever dream of, while jogging, and yet, without fail, always forget to take tissues. The not-so-great thing about these loos is they feature full lenth wall mirrors. Not something you want to stumble across while on a run as you get to see yourself in all your red, sweaty glory.

By this stage I was sweltering (and yet with purple, frosty fingers) in my rainjacket. So to hell with my fellow citizens. I was going to to take it off and run past the supermarket and down Cambridge Terrace in my tights and a not nearly long enough t-shirt, and hope like hell the camel toe would behave itself and I wouldn't see anyone I knew.

I got home alright, and no horns were tooted at me and so I think I pulled that one off.
Thank god for that!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Yesterday I found myself at the pool. I haven't swam for quite a long time so I was expecting to lumber up the lane once or twice, spluttering, before admitting defeat. Not so. I actually managed 30 lengths, practically without stopping (as much as is possible when you are sharing a lane with 15 others, some of whom are too slow even for the slow lane), though it was all breaststroke. We'll save freestyle for another day when I'm more in the mood for self-flagellation.

I remembered that I actually enjoy swimming. I love that there is a form of exercise where you can raise your heart rate, but avoid the red-faced, sweaty mess that comes with jogging.

The pools are also one of the places where you don't have to give a stuff what your body looks like. Togs flatter barely anybody; and goggles, noone at all. The lean, fit swimmers are hidden away across the other side of the pool, where us amateurs can pretend they don't exist. Plus (and I feel bad saying this) there's always someone fatter there than you, to make you feel better about yourself.

The one gripe I have about public pools, is about the changing rooms. It seems the one place where it is socially acceptable to parade around naked, is here. I'm no prude, but I am one to discreetly change in the corner, or in a cubicle if there is one. Mainly because I'd rather not accidently get a glimpse of some old biddy's greying pubic hair, or be hit by a stray breast as the women next to me gets overly enthusiastic about her conversation. Maybe I am just a prude. There is definately something awkward about public changing rooms, anyhow.

The reason for taking up swimming again is to train for the Wellington Harbour swim that takes place in January 2010. I meant to enter last year, but not a soul could be convinced to train with me, and it was too scary an undertaking to do alone. However this time I've agreed to enter with somebody, and I'm pretty sure they're going to hold me to that, and so the training begins.

Training for both this, and the 10km run, isn't entirely as crazy as I first thought - I've since mulled it over, over numerous mugs of PG tips (the budget has cut out the wine), and decided that the two should complement each other quite well. Besides the ocean swim is only 750m - though that is 750m in the Wellington Harbour, which even in the middle of summer, isn't the warmest of places. But the fact that anyone that takes is still swimming it after 30 minutes, will be unceremoniously pulled from the water by lifeguards and taken back to shore, is pretty big motivation to put in some laps now, to avoid mortification later.

I still can't work out whether my aching thighs have been caused by the swim and using muscles that I didn't know existed, or by today's walk/jog that probably also involved muscles that have layen dormant for quite some time. Speaking of which I added some pretty steep hills (up the side of Mt Vic) to the walk - and planned on 4 songs walking, 2 of jogging, but added an extra song of jogging after I'd warmed up and my body didn't want to stop. Funny things. Bodies. Takes a good 15 minutes to quell its protests, before it actually decides to work, and by then the work out is about to finish.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dollars and sense

Weight = 67kg
Savings = $1000 (plus $2000 of debt paid off)

Well in the last week or so I've been pretty (or extremely) slack on the exercise front. Though a whole lot better at sticking to my budget - which I think evens things out as it's hard to give all aspects of your life an overhaul and not let some things slide.

I had a date on Friday night. With my television. It's a much cheaper alternative to hitting the clubs like a normal twenty-something, and slightly less nannerish than clicking away with some knitting needles (though that is becoming more and more likely as this nanadom continues). Anyway I watched Intrepid Journeys as they were visiting South America this week. And oh my god - I am going to Brazil!!!! Originally Brazil wasn't on my hit list for a few reasons - it seeming a less safe destination for a single gal travelling alone, the fact I don't speak any portuguese whatsoever, and it's one of the more expensive destinations in the region. But after seeing it on the TV I've decided to pull out all stops so I can end my South American adventure with some R and R on the beach, sipping a Brazilian cocktail and if I can summon the energy, sliding down some waterfalls on my bum (that's right!).

Which leads me to some things that I've found helpful in sticking to my budget.

I have a goal and I've told absolutely everyone I know about it. I've said, 5 months in South America. I did some research and worked out that return flights there, vaccinations, insurance and money to live off and travel for 5 months, means I need a minimum of 8 grand kiwi. Ouch! Preferably more, but this is the absolute minimum I need to ensure I don't end up living off raw potatoes and hijacking a llama to ride home on. I'm aiming for 10 grand which will hopefully cover hot showers, the occasional bottle of malbec, and being able to afford to mountain bike down the most dangerous road in the world and pay for the priviledge of swimming in parana-infested waters - all things you can survive without, but with them, the trip will be that much more fun! Plus I can imagine I won't be doing any swimming with paranas without the bottle of malbec to calm my nerves first!

Tell everyone you know about your goal. This ensures you can't weasel your way out without looking exceptionally silly. I'm also going to purchase my tickets 5 months 0ut (timed for the new year sales and thus saving money!), and possibly making them non-refundable - then you're going no matter what!

I've changed my whole mindset about money. Whereas before having thai takeout once a week wasn't a big deal - now it means 1 night in a hostel in Peru. Cooking at home means over 6 months I've saved enough for 24 nights accommodation, just like that. Likewise, for the cost of a pint, I could eat for a day (or maybe 2) in Bolivia. And a new dress could buy a day's skiing in the Andes. I would hate to get half way around the world and miss out on some amazing activity because I bought a few too many rounds for my mates in the pub.

I also find it much easier to stick to a budget when you use cash. Eftpos cards are a very dangerous, if handy, invention. A swipe here and a swipe there and before you know it your monthly statement arrives, 3 pages long, and you wonder just how you managed to clock up that much money just on choccy bars at the servo.

So this week I withdrew $60. This has to cover petrol, groceries and all things fun. Luckily I have a job where lunch is provided. Tucking into all the fruit, yoghurt, and salad there cuts huge amounts off the food bill. Sleeping in on your days off also means you can get away with 2 meals a day. And the rest of the time, you can fill up on tea. Cheap, tasty and filling. Can't be bad for the figure either.

Living in Wellington means having fun on a budget isn't hard at all. I'm still as much of a tourist as those camera-toting, fanny pack-wielding, zip-off khaki trousers-wearing yanks - but with slightly better fashion sense. There is so much to do in this city without paying a cent (or for a few bucks) - Te Papa, other museums, the Weta Cave, heaps of tramps and short walks, watching parliament live, the botanic gardens or simply strolling around the waterfront. A shift or two at the movies once every few months equals free movie passes, and staff discounts on the popcorn.

I've got 8 dollars left to last the next couple of days. I'm off to the pool. That's 5 bucks gone right there but come summer swimming is 100 percent free! With Oriental Bay only a 10 minute walk away.

Pubs also mean a night out watching rugby only costs the price of a beer - if you can limit yourself to just one (the occassional pint of Sassy Red, really is a must). Being as tight-fisted as a Scot doesn't mean an end to having fun. I plan to coerce friends into having a lot more boardgame nights - charades anyone?!

Righto, time to sum up and head off to the pool for my first swim in a long long while. After a glass of wine I agreed to do the Harbour swim in January (but more on that later) - thus training must be done. Followed by a quick jog before Shortland St starts. My muscles are protesting more vigorously than a shoe-throwing Iraqi, already!