April 2020 -Week 3

Tēnā koe e hoa

Our Prime Minister says that “Week three may in fact be the hardest. We’re coming around the bend, but we can’t quite see the finish line”. I think that may be true, the novelty has worn off, Covid-19 deaths are increasing and there’s a definite chill in the air. Winter is coming. There are less smiles and greetings on the streets as people get exasperated and forget to be kind.  

Getting frustrated won’t help though, we need to dwell on the positives. Here is one – New Zealand … Wellington, is the best place in the world to go out for a local walk or a run. Local isn’t very well defined – I take it as meaning “anywhere I can get home from under my own steam”. For some of our marathoners that could be many kilometres away, so I’ll amend my definition to “anywhere I can comfortably get home from under my own steam”.   
Thanks for your “Essential Services” entries last week. The chocolates in Lynda’s box looked extremely essential (I finished my chocolate in about 10s last Sunday). The winning entry below was submitted by Bill Frecklington.

Photo Competition No3
For the coming week the theme is ‘Around the Bend’.
Take any number of photos and send them to us at wellingtonmarathonclinic@gmail.com by noon, Wednesday 22 April with the subject “Photo Competition”. Feel free to suggest a caption.

Remember to be kind.
Wim van Dijk, President

Jean Cookson

Here is how Jean Cookson is feeling during the lockdown …
How are you feeling and who is in your bubble?
I’m feeling lucky to be in such a great bubble. Ann, Iain, Katie, Piccolo (who climbs in my window and wakes me up) and Punk my old cat.
Missing my friends, seeing them on a screen is not the same.

What have you been doing with all the spare time we have on hand?
I’ve been riding my bike locally or walking.
Did Pilates this morning with Ann not my idea of fun.
Lots of reading, lazing about. Knitting a jersey that’s been half done in a corner of my lounge for at least a year. Taking my turn at cooking, watching telly. Zoom meetings with friends and clubs I belong to.

What does your fitness routine look like?
The outings I’ve been doing have nothing to do with fitness for me, I just enjoy cycling and walking and being out in the elements, even the wind and rain.

Bill Freck

And how is pack leader Bill Frecklington feeling…
How are you feeling during this time? 
I feel ‘safe’, more than anything. I immediately decamped to my farm in Manawatu when the lockdown was announced and my social distancing is measured in kms. That was vital, because I need to look after the farm, but it is also the best place to be, with a huge backyard and plenty to do. I also feel a degree of privilege, because being in an essential industry means that my life is almost unchanged. I’m aware that a lot of other people are having a difficult time both socially and economically.

Who’s in your bubble? 
There is only me, plus a range of livestock, wildlife and vermin. I’m happy enough with my own company, but it can be a bit lonely not being able to go out. Still, there have been plenty of phone calls, texts, and ‘Zoom beers’ at the weekend. There is a shop a few kms away and I have been twice for basics and haven’t gone to a supermarket yet. I am working through the contents of my freezer and luckily it’s a good time of year because there is plenty in the vege garden.

What have you been doing with all the spare time we have on hand?
Nothing has changed much for me. I don’t have an employer, so I have a lot of control over my time. There’s always farm work to do, and maintenance goes on, I have a stand of bush and wetland that is an ongoing conservation project and I’ve finally painted the garage to match the new roof. Despite not driving to Wellington or going to town, I still have done much less than I planned.

What does your fitness routine look like?
I usually go to a gym in Palmerston North when I am here, so I have lost that activity for the time being. Running is a bit boring around here and I have resisted the temptation to drive to the more interesting running spots I usually go to. Running solo for 20kms on a straight, flat country road takes quite a bit of motivation (particularly when the Fonterra tankers are speeding past), but I have been out 3 times each week doing 10, 13 and 20kms. When I get back to WMC pack runs, I will have to rediscover hills and learn to speed up!

Outrunning Isolation

– An Honest Collection of Thoughts during the COVID-19 Lockdown 24 March to 10 April 2020 (including some downs as well as ups)
By Alicia Bunge

Poems are mostly Japanese haiku and tanka

Tuesday, 24 March 2020, 3:00pm, easy run 4.5km + 2km walk; sunshine and a stiff breeze
Two days to lockdown. It´s a hectic atmosphere. People closing shops, taking stuff from their office, making some last purchase. There is a short queue at a pharmacy another at a supermarket. People are mostly by themselves.

VI* explains to me that this run is about getting rid of negativity. (How fitting!) I´ll try to go into lockdown with a positive mindset (as much as possible anyway). My mind checks pantry and cupboards. Do I have all my essentials? I refocus on my step rate and try to be positive.
*VI Trainer an AI running coach (incl headphones and app)

Wednesday, 25 March 2020, 3:15pm, 6 km run/walk; sunshine, no clouds, light wind
Last day at Level 3. A feeling of acceptance hangs in the air. Some last business arrangements, a last shop for essentials. A young man carries toilet-paper (1 pack!). Only a few people out and about, but clearly mindful of the 2m distancing requirement. I remember the supermarket was busier than usual, but people were more mindful and polite. Strange, how it takes a bad situation to make people a better version of themselves. Maybe it´ll become a habit by the time we open up again? I´m a pessimist, so I´m doubtful.

I decide to use the lockdown to kick some persistent bad eating habits. If I eat better, I don´t have to stop halfway because my tummy is upset with me. I distract myself from what will come tomorrow by making plans, and walk home slowly.

I notice a new knit-figure on a lamppost – it´s wearing headphones. I start to notice my surroundings more.

Thursday, 26 March 2020, 11am, power walk around the block; sunny, light wind
I find my courage to go outside. Was half expecting a police officer to question me why I´m outside (no one around). The streets are empty, but the car parks are full. Another runner – yay 😊

Have to find a route with wide footpaths to stick to the 2m rule. Seems I´ll do my runs along Thorndon Quay. An elderly couple walks by – no greetings but a smile. There is a group of five across the road. Are they a bubble or disregarding the rules?

I pass an apartment building and smell burned toast. Some things never change; and that´s good.

Friday, 27 March 2020, 12noon, short midday walk; mix of rain and sunshine
I wake up more tired than when I went to bed. I remember a book on my shelf – The world without us by Alan Weisman. On this morbid thought, I start a tired and wired day.

Small dusty bubble
Decluttering a bookshelf
More dust and clutter
And hidden between pages
Long lost memories emerge

Saturday, 28 March 2020, 7:30am, tempo run 5km; strong wind and rain
I am reluctant to head into this miserable weather, but I know the streets will be empty. No one in their right mind goes out on a Saturday morning to “enjoy” gale-force winds and rain (did I just call myself crazy…).

The remnants of my anxiety still buzz in my veins. I feel restless, depressed and vastly sorry for myself; and angry (at whom or what I do not know). I also resent my dark, balcony-less studio with tiny windows at a wind-blown corner.

I run – as fast as I can sustain for a couple km.

I realise the rain has stopped and the wind is only blowing around my apartment building…

I keep running.

Most of the advertising billboards are meaningless now. There are no people, only murky shadows behind windscreens. A couple of deflated ice cube bags are congregating in a windy corner.

I run a bit faster.

I catch a glimpse of another runner, vanishing into a side street. My pace has dropped and I try to speed up again. I ignore the ice cube bags on my way back. I see another runner ahead. I try to catch up to him to the 2m mark, but run out of air. I slow down. His lime green singlet – a bright spot against a grey world.

I keep running.

I do a final sprint up Pipitea Street and give up at the traffic light – out of breath and heart pumping. I no longer feel sorry for myself. The anger is gone. And I like my small studio again. After all, there is so much to be grateful for.

Running through wet streets
A dark pink Hyundai polished
To shine by the rain

Sunday, 29 March 2020, rest day; strong rain and gales

A blue, blue day.
A caged lion´s roar
Colliding with the sound of
A sudden downpour

Pacing my studio
Chasing thoughts in circles
Runners on the shelf

Monday, 30 March 2020, 2pm + 4:30pm, moderate run 7km; sun and clouds, no wind
I don´t like running in the afternoon. So many people are out and about today. The “crowds” cause lots of bottlenecks I have to navigate. It´s like unwanted speed training – trying to pass people before the bottleneck closes and there is no way to keep 2m distance, or even 1m. A new, dangerous game I´m already tired off.

And yet I push further than I felt like running and much faster than I planned. I don´t feel well, but push on. I wonder why. No, I know why. It´s guilt. If I cannot give my all at work or at home, I want to at least do my best while running. The lockdown has caused some old beasts to rear their ugly heads – like a coil slowly unravelling after a lot of work rolling it up. I don´t have the energy to keep up as if nothing has happened. I can´t put up my hand for extra tasks, support the response effort. And I feel guilty. I want to help. I don´t have dependents, I´m not in a risk group, don´t have to worry about job security. And yet, I´m exhausted and stressed and depressed.

It is so hard to admit to myself “I´m not ok” and “I´m affected by this”. Even though everyone tells me to take it easy. I feel like crying, but I don´t. I hate losing, even if I´m the only one competing with myself.

And I run, and run, and run away from my tears and insecurities.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020, restorative yoga; blue sky and white clouds

Locked in my bubble
The clock hands ticking slowly
1pm news show

Wednesday 1 April 2020, 5:30am, 8km run; dark, no wind

It´s quiet and empty. It feels like Sunday morning. But today is Wednesday and there should be more cars on the road. It´s like every day is a Sunday – on endless repeat. I wonder if it’s ok to enjoy the calm and quiet.

The sky is black and the lights from the Sky Arena cast an eerie glow into the fog. I feel calm. This run is about “finding peace in my body´s stride” VI informs me. And I do. There is just a twinge of sadness running by closed cafes. They look so desolate. There would usually be activity at this time – getting ready for a busy day.

The only disturbance is a small convoy of trucks. The bright red of the New World truck is as it always is. But it stands out and seems to broadcast “shop normally”. Nothing is normal about the way I shop.

I run a bit slower to look at a car dealership. I see a very sleek sports car and think of my dad – in lockdown at the other end of the world – maybe I´ll send him a photo suggesting he exchange his when this is over. I smile. I like looking at cars, although I can´t drive them.
I´m calm. This is a good run.

Thursday 2 April 2020, rest day

I´m not chasing a finish line or higher tempo today, but a work deadline. No room for any other thoughts. It feels good to focus exclusively on one task for a while and forget about the crazy world outside.

Friday 3 April 2020, yoga

My knees are hurting and my shoulders are stiff. A coffee table does not make a good home office. No running today.

Saturday 4 April 2020, 6am + 9am, interval run 4km + walk; dark and cloudy, then sunny, blue sky

You´d think a 15min run at varying seeds is manageable. The last sprint interval feels like snail pace….

The bus stop advertising is in on the bear hunt. They are an elusive bunch and shy of my camera.

Today I´m chasing speed… and bears.

Empty shop window
It is closed indefinitely
Approaching winter

Sunday 5 April 2020, strength training (if not in body then in spirit…)

Monday 6 April 2020, noon; walk around the neighbourhood; sunshine, stiff breeze

Only birds above
Winds like a sigh of relief
Harbour´s mirror surface
I contemplate the silence
And take a reviving breath

Tuesday 7 April 2020, 6am; free run; dark to sunrise, some wind

I’m running without VI. I don´t even have my phone on me. A free run – no plan, no commitment. I find my rhythm quickly and keep running until the sun rises.
Routine is setting in two weeks into lockdown. I´ve settled into a new rhythm just like in the middle or a long race.* Will I find it difficult to get out of lockdown? Will I miss the quietness – the Wellington sunk into a sleeping beauty sleep? For now, I´ll simply keep running. One day at a time. No plan. Just as it comes.
*hand on heart, I took this line from the Runner´s World podcast UK, today´s episode

Wednesday 8 April 2020; yoga and meditation

Thursday 9 April 2020, rest day

Chasing another work deadline. I can see my running shoes from the corner of my eyes – they are quietly but persistently calling…. And I whisper back “tomorrow, tomorrow”

I miss the sound of gravel crunching under my feet
The sound of hustle and buzzle in the street
I miss the conversations, the discussions, the sometimes funny sometimes serious talks
The long runs, the short ones, the hill climbs and the walks (when it gets too steep)

I miss competing in a race
And reaching the finish line
Through wind and weather, rain and cold, but most of all sunshine
And before that the goal setting and training, the pains and the gains, and the thrill of the chase
The chasing of longer distances, better recovery times, a new PB (or new PWs?)
The feeling of being absolutely free
Free to adventure into the city, to take in its sights, its hidden gems, the everyday (what’s most commonplace)
But most of all her stunning views

I miss her well-trodden paths, the newly found shortcuts, and the paths mistaken
For now, I go on solitary runs, keeping my distance from others, keeping apart
When the city streets once more awaken (and the good times restart)
I promise to keep them close to my heart
So, hurry! Awaken from your sleep

Friday 10 April 2020 (Good Friday), 6:30am; 12.3km; sunrise, freezing

VI tells me that two attributes of a good runner include reflection and patience. Improvements, and reaching goals don´t happen overnight, as is the case with so many things in life. So, I will be patient with myself and the world. And I shall reflect on my shortcomings and my strength, and the bad and the good in the world. I will keep running. Not away from things, but towards them.

Long concrete track
Empty train cars parked besides
The sound of birds waking

I´m going on a bear hunt
I´m chasing Easter rabbits

Sean Bardsley

A Few Thoughts about Life during ‘Lockdown’
By Sean Bardsley

In January I remember watching the news media covering a Novel Corona virus emerging from a place called Wuhan. Most people back then thought it was a Chinese problem and that life here would continue as normal, then it began to spread, first to Iran and Italy and then to the rest of the world. At the Marathon Clinic our committee meetings began to talk about the year and the what if scenarios for our club.

Fast forward a few weeks and here we are in the third week of level four ‘Self Isolation’ in our household bubbles, doing our bit to Flatten the Curve as quickly as possible, save lives and get back to some kind of pre COVID-19 normality.

I’m finding it quite sad that exercising as a club of walkers and runners who meet up to exercise and socialise is on hold until further notice, but it is the right thing to do for sure.

When I go for a run now the roads are so much quieter, no matter what time it is. People are out in their bubbles walking with or without a dog, with children or without, running with families on bikes beside them, lots of people in their gardens and for the most part people say hello and don’t seem to be in the crazy rush they used to be in.

I have kept my running local and have enjoyed getting to know my relatively new home suburb of Woburn better than I may ever have as I would always just hit the trails to avoid running on roads and fighting traffic. I’m also enjoying family walks, having Liz and Mariette follow me on the bikes, taking our time hunting for Teddy Bears and the like.

Like others, I’ve had a few events cancelled before we got to level four and some hefty entry fees lost, but that’s how it is at the moment I guess. However, something I am noticing in the wake of all these cancellations is the proliferation of ‘Virtual Events’ where you enter online and run in your own time and space, log your result and get some bling for your ‘race’ (I’ll leave some links to a couple for anyone who may be interested).

What has been amusing to me is the way in which people have innovated, like running a Marathon on a seven metre balcony, creating interesting run maps on Strava, Half Marathons in the backyard with their family manning drink stations or a one hundred km plus Ultra Marathon in the confines of their suburb. Paul Hewitson who some of you know, did just that.

As many of you know I have had issues with my running in the last eighteen months or so and it’s been a long road, an exercise in learning to do things differently and being patient. This I think will apply to New Zealand and its fight against COVID-19.

I also think that the very thing that has challenged us with getting new members will be in for the next little while at least, the very thing that keeps us as the Marathon Clinic together, connected and strong – using technologies such as the fore mentioned social media, text messaging and WMC website newsletters.

So I encourage you to contribute if you have anything to share, even if it’s just a joke or something funny, except maybe Gordy, it’s a family show after all, and continue to get out and walk or run or bike whilst in your bubble as eventually we will be back to being in our packs, talking, laughing and socialising on Sunday mornings

Kia Kaha, Stay Safe

Virtual Events



Gordy has shared a ‘clean’ joke
To be said with a lisp:
How do you think the unthinkable?
With an ice(th)berg!!

Editor’s note:

we would love to hear how you are feeling during these unprecedented times, please email contributions to wellingtonmarathonclinic@gmail.com so they can be included in the newsletter.

Kia kaha – stay strong!

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