Running on Twitter

I’m signed up for the Wellington Round the Bays half marathon in late February so I’ve been following their Twitter feed at Wgtnroundthebay. They’re doing a great job of tweeting training tips and encouragement to participants, especially the new runners. They’re also getting active with heaps of other tweeters, both in the running and local communities.

One of the tweeters I came across thanks to them is seedouglasrun who’s organising a virtual #TwitterRoadRace. It’s a nice example of using Twitter to build a quick community around a one-off event, where participants sign-up online for a 5k race that they run anywhere on Saturday 21 January 2012. It’s similar to some of the virtual/real runs and events that Nike organise but without the taint of corporate backing. Details available at Doug Cassaro’s blog, I run because….

Something I’m keen to see from future race organisers is for them to collect Twitter handles as part of race registration and then live tweet runners’ preliminary results on race day. Would create a great online buzz for the event and give runners something to smile about while they wait for their official time.

Done: 3:47

So at last I managed to run a marathon. It’s been no easy run, to make a pun, but on Sunday 27 June 2010 in a howling Wellington southerly I ran my first marathon, the Harbour Capital, in 3 hours and 47 minutes.

It was a far cry from my aim of 3:30, but with calf strains in both legs over the last few months and something dodgy with the tendons in my left ankle (all the way up to my hip at times), the training went fairly pear-shaped towards the end. Add to that my fall-back position of eating too much sugary fat and I was over optimistic to aim for 3:30.

In truth I also started to panic that I wouldn’t make it. I’d done three 20-mile runs and a 22-mile. Two of the 20-miles took about 2:45; the 22-mile took 3:02; but the third 20-mile was 3:03 with pain and extreme stiffness setting in for the last mile or two.

So in the end, and with the rain coming down at the start, I revised expectations and aimed to finish. I also took on board advice from a good friend and keen runner to be careful at the 10km marker not to let loose. The worry at 10km is that you’re feeling good and you let yourself speed up. As it happened, I was running with a group at that point all of whom sped up and gradually left me behind. But I kept on going and slowly over the second half of the race overtook at least a few of them.

I felt in fact pretty damn good and managed to enjoy the last 7km – I’d never run that far before and I was passing people all the way. Maybe that suggests I hadn’t pushed myself enough, but for a first time out it was a good introduction. I’ll be doing more, and aiming again for that 3:30.

Pic: me, far left, at about the 9km mark; taken from the Dominion Post, 27 June 2010, page 3 (see the second picture in this story in the online edition)

Wellington Botanic Garden

This is an aerial view of the Botanic Garden in Wellington. It’s about two minutes run from my office but I haven’t really explored it lately. Years ago I used to run there a bit but recent training has meant I’ve concentrated on running flat over measurable distances.

Yesterday I went round the gardens with a guy from work and was reminded what a great place it is for aimless and unstructured running. Lots of it’s hilly and on well-maintained tracks and trails, and you can criss-cross back and forth for a session of any length.

I was there again today getting slightly lost. Good stuff.

What next?

So it’s been a while since I ran the half and am now wondering what next. For starters I’m probably joining a friend for another half in Marton at the end of August, part of his training for the full Berlin marathon in September. I best get back to some training for the next half, and less biscuits and lala-runs round the waterfront. That said I’ve been running fairly regularly with a good long run every weekend somewhere between 1:30 and 1:55, and some shorter faster runs during the week (an 8km in 36:30mins is my best pace to date).

But it begs the question of when I’ll be running that marathon, how I’ll prepare for it, and what I’m aiming for. The last question’s the easiest one: 3:30. It should be possiblem but I’ve got to take it seriously and allow enough time to get properly in shape – physically but probably more importantly mentally.

The Auckland one sounds a bit full on and in any case is sold out (and is too soon – November). I’ve heard there’s one in Wellington over the summer, and keeping local would be good, though I wonder if that’s enough time to prepare. For that Rotorua looks like a good option in May 2010, with plenty of time. So maybe that’ll be the one…

Meantime I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and so far it’s really good take on what drives some people to spend hours alone running.


One week down and the running commentary is running thin. Yesterday was rough; a red wine hangover demanded a smoke and I thought long and hard about stopping by the pie cart at the railway station for some Dunhill Blues. Instead I kept on walking and took the long way to work; through the subway as far as it runs, up the stairs to the far side of the bus depot, then up from the bottom of Molesworth St to the library.

After lunch today I came up Molesworth St again and ran into Paul on his way to Archives. We killed ten minutes mooching round the back of the library where last week I’d have been smoking. You can’t mooch alone without a smoke, you’d just look odd, but you can with a friend. ‘Course you can smoke and mooch with a friend at the same time if you really want – smokers are dexterous like that.

And cunning. Have you seen the new warnings on packets? They cover a good third of the available space with grotesques from the lab of smoking misery. My last pack I had to customise with a business card, cut up and pasted to cover the picture that accompanied the warning: SMOKING MAKES YOU BLIND. (Please someone, make the obvious joke.) My brother too has take to storing his tailor-mades in a Maoist souvenir cigarette tin. Very stylish and not a blackened lung in sight.