The first week racing was properly mentioned

Saturday’s row was out at Petone (great for me as that’s where I live!) we’re either in Wellington CBD or ‘North End’ as they call Petone depending on the wind direction/where’s more sheltered. We also had the pleasure of an 8:30am start – a lie in compared to in the week.

Due to sickness/skiing/rugby there was only 5 of us there to row plus our coach. The 2 more experienced boys went off in a double (a boat for 2 where you have 2 oars each) and the rest of us went out in a cox-less 4 – where stroke seat does the steering with their foot. Needless to say, steering was a bit of an issue – I’m amazed we didn’t get dizzy!

I found it hard (mentally) rowing today – the coach was sitting behind me (=I feel total stress that he’s watching my every move – which he is. He’s great in that he’s always correcting technique, but there’s a lot of technique to still correct and it felt like nothing was going right!) and the guy in front of me was not great at keeping time, so as I’m rolling forward on my stroke, he’s thundering back towards me – the spacing in the boat means there’s not room for someone to be rolled all the way forwards and someone all the way back – you meet in the middle and it hurts.

We, as ever, worked on technique, timing, technique and timing. Right at the end we did a couple of practice ‘racing’ starts – getting the boat moving as quickly as possible from stationary to fast – you take a 3/4 then 1/2 then 3/4 then full stroke – it all seems to happen very quickly and we really need more practice!!!

It was a beautiful morning to be out though – bit chilly but sunny, so as long as we were moving it was warm

Monday morning 7am saw us back on the ergs (rowing machines). After a good warm up we did 3x 3:30min rowing 3 min rest at 24 strokes/min – felt like hard work, but managed to stay under 2:10min/500m so I was happy, if somewhat shattered, and no amazing sunrise this morning either. This morning was the first time we’d discussed what pace we were likely to be rowing at during the race (the whole reason for the training) – we’re going to aim for 24 strokes/min – a decent pace where we should be able to hold our technique for the entirety. Any faster and we’ll tire, lose technique and then the boat will be going no where fast…..

Tuesday lunchtime – erging with the Masters. I enjoy these sessions, they’re hard rowing but always with good banter – these guys have more ability to talk and row than we do! We did our ‘normal’ pyramid

4 mins 20strokes/min

3 mins 22strokes/min

2 min 24strokes/min

1 min 26strokes/min

2 min 24strokes/min

3 min 22strokes/min

4 min 20 strokes/min

By the time I was back to 20strokes/min my back felt like it had a stitch, only made slightly more comfortable by slouching….. in no time at all I was shouted at from someone sat behind me to ‘sit up straight’ cursing them for catching my poor technique but pleased at the same time that they’re keeping an eye on me too!

Thursday morning had us at the Rowing Club for 6:15am. We had to rig the boats before we could put them on the water – rigging is putting the metal bits that the oars sit on/in onto the boat (they come off for easier transportation)

boat rig


With one of our teammates still out with blood poisoning we ‘borrowed’ a girl from another team and had an all ladies 4 . We’re still having issues with all 4 people rowing together – fine in mixed and matched pairs, but all 4 means it falls apart…..

Was a nice morning to be out, but to be honest frustrating that we still can’t row well together – we cope, but it must look awful.

What I had forgotten was that I had a PT session in the evening (thankfully I was too engrossed in work to make it to the lunchtime ergs!). I had been doing ‘Get Pumped Fitness’ Boot camp 3x a week 6-7am before the rowing started, but as I couldn’t really do that and the rowing I’ve started having 1 PT session a week instead. The boot camp wasn’t quite as intense as BMF, but PT with Sean is equally as hard as with Jel back in Finsbury Park and Brent in New Plymouth.

Last night we did what felt like a whole body workout – boxing, weights, abs, legs, more abs, more weights and a few more legs….. then some stretching! The boxing we tend to do as a warm-up but I’ve requested extra boxing for next week. The weights are all dumbbell/bar bell things, including a bit of ‘kettlebell’ work – brought back happy memories from the kettlebell course I did back in FP. Also did a fun squat up against the wall while holding a 10kg medicine ball in my arms and rolling up and down a medicine that was between me and the wall.

Was shattered by the end – no balance left for stretching which is why I think after the first attempt the rest were done lying down…….


Another week of rowing

I’m loving this rowing thing.

I never used to be an early morning person, but slowly got used to it training/running in the UK and now I have no choice!

Before - was like someone had drawn a red line accross the sky
Before – was like someone had drawn a red line accross the sky
After - we stopped our cool down to look at this
After – we stopped our cool down to look at this

The great thing about NZ is the sunrises, in Wellington where we row, our sunrise happens over Petone and the Tararuas beyond – this was our view before and after training (on the rowing machines) this morning

Last Saturday we spent the day on the Manawatu river (just south of Foxton). This was a scaled down version of the training camp the rowing club normally run. Wanganui, where it’s usually held, had massive floods recently which washed away the boat ramps that are normally used. We had 2 rowing sessions – the first 2 hours out in 4s (boats with 4 people) and it was the first time we had rowed together as a 4. It was a steep learning curve, something odd going on in terms of boat balance and just as we were seeing some improvement one of the bits that holds the oar snapped, we had to row back with only 2 people rowing and we were a boat down for the second session. We left the boat feeling rather downhearted and cold (and very wet – it was pouring with rain by the end of it).

Thankfully our coach has a beach house we could all go back to and warm up in and with a boat down we shared the 2nd session with the boys. They went out first while we stayed back at the house to catch them up later on. Was really good to have a bit of time to bond – up until now we’ve only really seen each other briefly before getting into a boat and then while putting them away.

It was an hour well spent as when we got back on the water it was like we were a totally different crew. Not perfect, but we had some good stints of all rowing together, so much happier ladies left the water by the end.

Amazing Annotated Picture
Amazing Annotated Picture

Monday morning saw us at the rowing club for 6:45am for a session on the water. This time we were in an 8, all the ladies at the front and the men at the back so we could row in our separate crews. Had a different coach watching us and hopefully he’s got to the bottom of why the boat was so unbalanced – both of us on stroke side (see amazing annotated picture (not actually taken on Monday)) are leaning over too far at the front of our stroke – fingers crossed on Saturday we can see if we’ve fixed it.

Tuesday lunch time is erg time ie on the rowing machine. I join in with the Masters rowing session (Masters are the rowers that like rowing but aren’t as crazily committed as the competitive rowers, train something like 5 times pw rather than 12!). This was the hardest session I’ve done so far

24 strokes/min
2 min rowing 2 min rest
3 rowing 2 rest
4 rowing 2 rest
5 rowing 2 rest
4 rowing 2 rest
3 rowing 2 rest
2 rowing 2 rest
Rowed over 5km and kept my 500m split time down below 2min9sec the whole time (was v pleased with this)

Which brings us on to this morning – more ergs (but amazing sunrise)

We did a 1km, go as fast as you can, row. Spent 20 mins warming up which I’ve come to realise I need – it takes me a while to get my 500m splits down – they start around 2:30 and slowly head to 2:20 then to 2:10 and with the final bit of warm up (generally where we go from an 18/20 strokes per min to 22 then 24 the 26 and this morning 28 for 10 strokes).

The final bit of advice we had from our coach was to stick between 26-30 strokes per min to get a good time……. I’m really pleased with my time of 4:01 – 2:01 for the 1st 500m and 2min for the second. A massive improvement from when we first started in May of around 2:36/500m. All us ladies finished within a few seconds of each other which is great.

We finished with a nice gentle cooldown which was abruptly halted when the sunrise was spotted with amazing rays of the sun – our coach made us get off the ergs for a look and who were we to complain!

Next session on the water 8:30am Saturday ……


What have I been up to in the last 12 months?

Good question!

I’ve moved to live in Wellington NZ and am now in the process of applying for residency here. This means having a massive sort out of what I’ve been up to for the last 12 months and so I should be perfectly placed to answer the question!!

July 2014 saw me do my first run in Wellington – Tough Guy/Gal – have to say it was rather disappointing after Tough Mudder (but then will anything repeat that experience?) It was a 5km course, with no challenging obstacles, some mud, a massive hill you needed to pull yourself up using a rope and a river swim at the end – hence looking rather clean at the end!!

Before with my cheering squad
After - cheering squad less keen to huddle up
After – cheering squad less keen to huddle up

Next was Butterfly Creek Nightime Madness in August – a gentle 7.7km walk with a 295m climb – we decided to do it in fancy dress (the website showed people in fancy dress) I suspect not that they, like us, were the only ones…….

and After.... we were all a bit tired
and After…. we were all a bit tired

In September we tried Aikido, I didn’t really enjoy it at all…… no kicking, no punching, no breaking a sweat…… so that was a no.

October was all about the tennis – we’re terrible at it, very rarely did a rally last more than 3 shots, but it was fun and the weather beautiful – by the sea with tuis flying overhead we weren’t really complaining!!

In November I popped back for 3 crazy weeks in the UK but still found the time for a Chi-walk and a Chi-run with Gray along my old favorite – the Parkland Walk – I love running with Gray, he makes it seem so easy

December saw the start of 3 amazing months of me being a hut ranger in Tongariro National Park on the Round the Mountain Track – it got too long and now it’s a separate posting! But here’s a picture to try and tempt you to read it – my view for 3 weeks20150211_085737 (1)

When I wasn’t in Tongariro, I was back in Wellington and on Saturdays I was learning to sail at the Titahi Bay Boating Club.

I had 4 really good sessions in glorious sunshine before more volunteering (on top on Tongariro) got in the way – the Cricket World Cup – another amazing experience – got to see England vs New Zealand (the less said about that the better, but it was a lovely sunny day…..)


Got to love the hat (and melting suntan lotion in the eyes)
Got to love the hat (and melting suntan lotion in the eyes)

March arrived and so did my first proper New Zealand job – the end to my backpacking/volunteering ways – but the beginning of having some actual money again – hurrah!!! The first thing I treated myself to was a copy of Wilderness magazine which at some point the hut rangers of Tongariro may be featuring in.

The second was a months worth of MMA classes at MTI Wellington – what is MMA? you may be asking – good question – I wasn’t too sure myself, but as ever there’s a wiki page for it. It’s enormous fun, but vicious and brutal – kind of like no holds barred wrestling, but meaner. I was the only woman for the first couple of weeks, then another one, Gentiane, joined, she’s lovely and although she was a beginner at MMA, check out her previous experience…… here and here, but then also here – Eagle vs Shark!! Although I did manage to make her tap out a couple of times!!

Once that month was up, the same gym had an offer on a month of Muay Thai classes. Loved this, missed MMA, but with the kickboxing you could be a bit rubbish and still kick and punch. If you were bad at MMA you were just pinned to the floor and in pain!

I might have carried this on, but saw an advert for a Corporate Rowing Challenge – a challenge??? This had to be investigated! IMG_5859From May-August the rowing club (that I can see through the window at work) were offering to train you to row, land sessions on rowing machines (ergs), 2x a week out on the water (depending on the weather) and 2x fitness sessions – all for NZ$350 (about 175 pounds – no pound sign on my keyboard). It culminates in an indoor rowing competition and a regatta between all the teams in the middle of August (a month away now) – how could I resist??IMG_5863

Turns out I couldn’t, so I’m currently doing 3x erg sessions a week and 2x out on the water rowing and I love it!!! We had a seal with us this week


One last thing, I also managed to fit in a 10km run through Wellington a couple of weeks ago – if you believe the medal, I ran a marathon, but I promise it was only 10km!!


Me and Kevin

December – March 2015 – Hut Rangering in the Tongariro National Park – Round the Mountain track

December saw the start of 3 amazing months of me being a hut ranger in Tongariro National Park on the Round the Mountain Track.

Hut Rangers 2014/15
Hut Rangers 2014/15

This involved walking into the huts with 7 days worth of food, staying at the hut for a week, keeping it clean, checking people were paying to stay there, meeting loads of fascinating people, seeing my first gun, taking 1000s of photos, learning how to light a fire, overcoming my fear of swing bridges and when all that was done, spending my time enjoying the amazing beauty of the National Park. We spent Monday-Monday in the huts before walking out to fresh food, a shower and clean clothes, only to return the following Monday.

We had a really fun weekend of training at the end of November, it was great getting to know all the other rangers – actually meet who we’d be talking with over the radios over the next few months

Me, Erin and Ruapehu
Me, Erin and Ruapehu
Mt Doom at sunset. or to give him his official name, Mount Ngauruhoe
Mt Doom at sunset. or to give him his official name, Mount Ngauruhoe

Everyone had their favorite hut to stay in, I’m torn between 2, my least favorite was Blyth Hut – I cut my leg open falling over in a stream on the way there, there was a sign saying you’re 5 minutes away that’s clearly wrong, people thought it was haunted. Although you did get the most amazing views of Mount Taranaki and there was a great waterfall there too!

I still have the scar
I still have the scar
Mount Taranaki
Mount Taranaki
Me and Kevin
Me and Kevin

For me the walk to Rangipo was the hardest – a major swing bridge to cross (I hate these) and you’re in the middle of a lahar path (something I’d never heard of until my ranger training!). The drop-off point is the most remote, down a desert track and up into the middle of no where, also you don’t see the hut from afar, the route undulates until suddenly the hut is right there in front of you – a very welcome sight! It has the most amazing sunsets and sunrises and a wonderful deck for lying and gazing at the endless stars


What you can't see if the thundering river underneath
What you can’t see if the thundering river underneath
The drop-off point for the walk to Rangipo
The drop-off point for the walk to Rangipo
What else to do on a cloudy morning with no overnight guests?
What else to do on a cloudy morning with no overnight guests?

The two I’m torn between are Whakapapaiti – the first hut is stayed in and Mangaehuehu – the last. Whakapapaiti has the shortest walk into it (from the Bruce Road) and also a longer walk out to the village with just the small matter of an unbridged river to cross…..

Waterfall, handy for lunch and the odd dip
Waterfall, handy for lunch and the odd dip

I love the view from the ranger quarters, the river, the little waterfalls you can walk to, the fact I heard a kiwi there one night. Although I did also fall over here, bash into a tree branch and got a massive bruise and bruised my hand chopping wood……..

One side of the river to the other
One side of the river to the other

On my last trip into the huts I spent a couple of nights at Rangipo before walking round to Mangaehuehu.

View from the window
View from the window

I was nervous about the walk having heard there were some pretty steep bits, but was pleasantly surprised by the route and as ever the scenery was amazing. The hut itself had 360 views, the ranger quarters have 180 views out across the valley – I loved it and to be honest was a but gutted I’d not been sooner

Sunset on my last night
Sunset on my last night
Nearly out, but still one more bridge
Nearly out, but still one more bridge
The start of sunrise on my last morning
The start of sunrise on my last morning
The end of my summer in Tongariro
The end of my summer in Tongariro

It was a truly amazing experience, so lucky not to have found a ‘proper’ job giving me the chance to spend 3 months in a place of such beauty. If you ever get the chance to volunteer with DOC – do it! There are some unmissable opportunities out there

ANZAC Weekend 2015

Been away for far too long and in the middle of writing a long email to Nikki decided it would be easier to write a blog post and include photos (that and it was turning into a long boring email….. as a blog post there’s a decision to read it or not!!)

Right, so

The weekend was fan-blooming-tastic
Really wish I still lived in New Plymouth or it was at least closer to Wellington, not a 5 hour drive away……
So, Friday night we drove to NP, arrived at the camp site just after midnight. Kept the kids in the car while I (bf was useless) put the tents up – separate ones for us and girls.
I got up at 5am to get to the Dawn Service for ANZAC Day – was much busier than last year and really nice ceremony, lovely atmosphere with random strangers talking to each other, where they’d come from etc.
Back at the camp site in time to get bf out of the tent for the end on sunrise and to see how close we were to the beach and the amazing view.
Spent the morning walking to see the Te Rewa bridge, Lake Rotomanu and the top of Mt Taranaki (most we saw all weekend) before heading into town to see the WindWand, War Memorial, lunch and park
20150425_115234 20150425_104608 20150425_101747
Rest, windy, Nita/Aaron, curry
Up, ice skating, lunch, Paritutu, Greer, feijoas
20150426_143709 20150426_143942
Up rain rain rain, bootcamp, shower, Wanganui
 Then clearly I got distracted and have only found this now (15 July) have inserted pictures and uploaded asap

Baby Ben and Peteks 3rd November

Another early start, off to catch a train to Burgess Hill.

Had a nice journey down, bit rainy but got to see Battersea power station on the way.

Clare and Ben were there to meet me as the train pulled in complete with Tigger, my welcome to the world present for Ben.

He was pretty grizzly, seemingly not happy with my presence, but Clare and I had a great catch up, all the gossip from work, her NCT class friends and how massive Ben is.

I’d bought him a couple of treats from NZ including a hoodie that says ‘camping is in-tents’ and it fitted him really well, he got chilly so a good excuse to try it on.

He finally warmed to me and we played with his toys – my time in NZ has not been wasted!!

All too soon it was time to head back – dinner plans back in FP

I didn’t cry when we said goodbye, but the was water in my eyes.

Back in FP I had to get back to the flat, pack my stuff and take it to the restaurant – Peteks – one of my top 2 in FP – as I’m staying with Nikki for a few nights.

Actually first we met in the Worlds End our old BMF pub, Al was there when I arrived followed by Helen and finally Nikki – no emotional reunion, Nikki announced it was like she’d seen me last week so we all moved straight on to general gossip.

The food in Peteks was as yummy as ever. I had the grilled tuna with rice and salad – amazing! Wine was drunk, a bit more when we returned to the pub where I met Helen’s housemate Jane – I’d been staying in her room and had been convinced she was called Jo….

Nikki and I headed off home to Lewisham, don’t think I’ve been there before. She’s housesitting for a friend, lovely place, I was honoured to be her first guest.

I have her presents from NZ and we sat to open the gift she’d given me when I went away. This was to be opened in case of emergencies, she’d forgotten what was in it! There was a purse with a London bus on, a pretty bracelet, a tea bag, some popping candy, nail varnish and a picture of the 2 of us with a great message on the back. Happy I never had to open it, was great to open it together.

Then after all the excitement of the day it was time for bed

Chi Running Club – Sunday 2nd November

I woke with a big question in my head…… Why was going to running club a good idea? I was tired, it was raining and I’m unfit….

But I’d said to Gray I’d be there and so be there I had to be. Gray helped me train for the London marathon last year by introducing me to Chi running technique and by being a fab motivator.

He runs 2 clubs on a Sunday now, but I think the weather put the walkers off as it ended up being just the two of us having a great walk around the park catching up on news and working a bit of technique.

The best new thing for good posture is to think about standing up straight and hooking your bra strap (bit that goes across your back – he’s working on a similar analogy for the men) yes, bra strap over a hook and for me that visualisation really works!

Back to the gym for a bit, Nerys who I’d previously trained with was meant to be coming but never appeared and the other regulars were away on holidays. So this time I had what they call ‘Lazy Sunday’ by myself with Gray for running and Simon (pt from the gym) for the more ‘circuity’ elements. 2 trainers and one unfit me headed off into the park and along the Parkland Walk.

I had my garmin on and so knew that Simon, running ahead, was pushing me out of my happy 10min miles into 9 and sometimes 8.5. I tried to pace myself at 9 something, 8 was going to kill me.

So the idea was we ran a bit then stopped and did some press ups, squats, sprints etc we did this along with some chatting, but I was struggling with the talk!

In the end we did around 4 miles of running and finished with some fun hill sprints – definitely got a good workout!!

Had a sneaky shower in the gym and headed down to Colliers Wood to sort out all my stuff I’d left behind in my flat and had gone to storage….. Far more than I thought, and a bike! Going to pick it all up on Wednesday, but wanted to see where the locker was and quite how much was there.

Got the tube back to FP, quick walk home and collapse into bed