Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Zealand Part 3

From Waitomo, we continued on to Rotorua -- the heart of Maori Culture in New Zealand. We read in a magazine that Kiwis had ranked Rotorua as the #1 most beautiful city in New Zealand five times in a row. As we drove into town past the seemingly endless strip malls I couldn't quite see the allure.

We drove in (actually I drove. P did most of the driving on our trip. The one time I experienced driving on the left side of the road was the trip from Waitomo to Rotorua) and found our motel -- the Malfroy Motor Lodge. I have to take a minute to give two enthusiastic thumbs up to this place. If you're ever in Rotorua, I highly recommend it. It's not the lap of luxury, but the place is really well kept up and the owners are fantastic.

We arrived in Rotorua that evening and decided to have a quiet night. P and I had a 14 mile run scheduled for the next day, so we decided to take it easy. We walked to a nearby market and got some supplies and we ourselves a lovely dinner of grilled chicken and fish. After dinner we went for a soak in the Malfroy's mineral bath and slept like babies with visions of glowworms dancing in our heads.

The next day we planned our run and then when Ali was napping, we left her in the very capable hands of Michelle, and started off. As we ran I began to realize why this was considered such a pretty city. Rotorua is built on and around volcanoes and all this geothermal activity is part of its charms. We ran through parks of bubbling mudpools and amazing geysers, around the edge of Rotorua Lake -- a crater lake, through the quaint village center, past the museum, and then through to the Redwood Forest, and back home. It was definitely one of the most gorgeous runs I've done in my life.

Laughing gas craters beside Rotorua Lake

After a shower and lunch, we headed back out to visit town at a slower pace. We walked around the lake with Ali and almost got attacked by geese (do not feed these birds! They get very aggressive) and then went to an amazing Maori Village -- Ohinemutu Moari Village. It's right beside the Rotorua Lake and is just a lovely little place. We walked through there and had a wonderful time learning a bit about the culture and speaking to the people. We had dinner that night on a cute little pedestrian street called Tutanekai St. We ate a yummy Turkish dinner and capped it off with ice cream Sundae's.

Cute, but aggressive geese

Happy Ali beside Lake Rotorua

Shot from Ohinemutu Maori Village

The next morning, on our way out of town, we stopped to go zorbing. I was the only one to zorb. It was awesome! I highly recommend it, though it is expensive for what it is. What is it? Rolling down a big hill in a big plastic bubble with water inside of it. It's a combination of a hamster wheel and a slip and slide and it's really, really fun. I was hysterically laughing my whole way down. And I was literally reborn when it was done. I was squeezed out of the ball in a splash of water.
The Zorb Concourse

Being photographed before I get out

The Rebirth Part I

Born Again!

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 LA Marathon

I really need to finish updating about my New Zealand and Australia travels (before it fades completely from my mind), but I wanted to write today about running the LA Marathon. I ran and finished it yesterday! It was a gorgeous new course -- spanning from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica via Chinatown, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, and Brentwood. We ran past every major landmark in the city. I had delusions of taking a picture at every mile. I did ok with that at the beginning, but soon I just focused on finishing.

The marathon was fun and beautiful and then challenging. Oh my goodness, it was so challenging! It challenged me mentally and physically. After a bathroom stop around Mile 10 (the lines were soooo long at the bathroom) I lost my training group and my husband P. so I had to run by myself to finish. I had to run through feelings of feeling sorry for myself and then angry (How could P. leave me?!?). I had to run through and past that to appreciating the gift of it all. I don't need anyone to "carry me." I can support myself and have fun doing it.

When I realized that 8 miles later, I found a friend, Esther, to run with. Around mile 19 I started to experience some extreme leg cramps. Esther was also hurting. We ran (and to be honest walked/hobbled quite a bit) through the excruciating leg cramps and letting go of the ego need to have "a perfect time." Esther and I were both physically hurting and mentally defeated but we alternated pushing each other to keep going. Around Mile 24 we found the marathon training pace group that was one behind ours. Finding them was a Godsend. We started running with them for about a mile and it helped us get back into the groove. Around the mile 25 marker we pulled ahead. We rounded the bend onto Ocean Avenue and the 26 mile marker (that looked deceptively like the finish line. Damn those last .2 miles!) called our name. We started running with everything we had left. And in that last mile were my friend Ilyse, my sister, Teo, Ali, and Esther's husband. Seeing those familiar faces cheering us on definitely helped push us to the finish line. As we crossed the finish line we held hands and raised our arms. I have never felt more relief! My time was 5 hours and 28 minutes. Finishing this race required a LOT of perseverance, courage, and sheer determination to finish. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. But I finished and I learned that when the going gets tough, I can keep going.

That being said, I don't think I could have kept going without the support of all the people along the side of the route who came out to cheer us runners on. I cannot tell you what a difference it made to hear people cheering and saying "you can do it!" or "great job!" And I particularly want to thank my sister for being such great support. My sis got up at 5:15 a.m. to drive us to the start (not something she was happy about), spectated, and then drove our weary bodies to eat and home. She also watched the baby all day yesterday during the race and also today so that I could recover. She needs a gold medal for being such a star supporter.

I also couldn't have done it without Peter, Eleonore, Kelli, Janet, Lars who trained with me and inspired me over the past 6 months. And of course, I couldn't have done it without Esther.

Today I'm sore as hell. I'm hobbling around looking and feeling rather pathetic. Yesterday and most of today I couldn't even imagine ever wanting to do this again and felt rather insane for even attempting it. But this evening P. and I watched the marathon on TV (we recorded it yesterday) and as I've gone back over the race and thought about how I could have improved I find myself thinking about the "next time."

P and I at the start of the race

Esther and I at the finish.