Onwards and Upwards

 

It’s hard to believe that it has been a month since the last blog post. And we still haven’t managed to have a team training session with all four members! Despite that, each team member is continuing to work hard on developing and consolidating their own fitness and skills. This business of living in different places certainly makes it much harder to get together. Roll on the Christmas break so that we can finally get sorted!

By the time this blog goes online, Penny will have completed the half marathon in Queenstown, undoubtedly in a time that will make the rest of the team feel nervously unprepared! You will be able to read all about her trip soon in the Out and About section of this blog. Over the month she has also continued with her mountain bike training and walking, in anticipation of Queenstown.

Megan, Kait and Abby have been working on team building and recently completed the Lactic Turkey P6 Adventure Race. Megan’s niece (and Abby’s big sister) Sydney rounded out the team of four. Held at Atiu Creek Regional Park, north of Auckland, the race involved trekking and mountain-biking (both with navigation), tubing and mystery activities. Abby and Sydney have previously completed the Xterra Auckland Hunua event with Megan and Kait so the team dynamic works pretty well. However, this was a very different kind of event and the first time that Abby and Sydney had been on bikes in a ‘race’ situation. The race was a rogaine so each stage had checkpoints to collect within the total 6-hour event length. It was also a new experience to be in an event that lasted for that length of time. Thrown into the mix was a range of fabulous mystery activities that, aside from being lots of fun, mixed up the time on bikes and walking and allowed us to work on team dynamics. Simple things like how would we pair up in paired activities? Given that the kayaking leg of Spirited Women is two pairs in kayaks, this is something important to consider, and definitely one of the first things we will need to decide when the team has its first training session.

We are also very conscious of the age difference and familial relationships. It is important that Abby feels that she is a bona-fide member of the team, valued for her input and skills, and not ‘parented’ all the way through the event. Both Sydney and Abby are involved in tramping with school and it was great to see Sydney apply her map-reading skills in the navigation requirements. Kait and Megan have developed good communication around navigation and while Kait is the lead navigator, she is always willing to engage in a discussion or ask for a second opinion. One such situation occurred in the mountain bike stage when the team couldn’t find a checkpoint. A re-think of the team’s position relative to the geographical features resulted in success – what a great feeling!

We were very pleased with how we went over the course of the day and thrilled that our results reflected our efforts. One of the areas that we still feel unprepared in is how to make the right strategic decisions regarding route choice when navigating. Of particular importance in a rogaine, we aren’t sure we got that quite right in this event. We decided to go for a checkpoint further away that was worth more points but ended up travelling quite some distance, maybe at the expense of then having the time to collect other checkpoints. This is probably a skill that develops with time and experience, and by trial and error.

To help build this skill, Megan and Kait have completed two rogaines run by the Taupo Orienteering Club around the Taupo town. These monthly events can be done on foot or by bike and are a great opportunity to practice navigation. As a training exercise last weekend, Megan and Kait took one of the maps out and completed all of the checkpoints, not timed as in a rogaine but just to see which routes between checkpoints were the most efficient and effective. It would be great to have some discussions with experienced navigators about how to make these sorts of choices. There are so many factors that have an influence – team fitness and speed, terrain (including elevation), time available, how many other checkpoints are enroute, and perhaps the points on offer. Understanding these factors and being able to apply them quickly would surely improve the team’s success. Another area that would benefit from concentrated effort, as noted by all team members on the day, is hill fitness – on the bike and walking. And the best way to do that – ride and walk hills!

To assist with making progress on that goal, Megan and Kait completed the 16km Tikitapu Trail Run/Walk as part of the Tarawera Trail Marathon and 50kms event. A more comprehensive write-up of this excursion can be found in the Out and About section. It was an outstanding day and there were lots of hills to walk!

Photos used with permission – photos4salenz@gmail.com

Kait has also been doing some reconnaissance work to find other tracks to walk and ride. She rode the Whakamaru to Mangakino section of the Waikato River trails, a 24km return trip which she is keen to share with other team members. She has also taken up the Tauhara Tuesday challenge laid down by Emma McCosh of Fit to Live to climb Mt Tauhara every Tuesday evening between the beginning of November and Christmas. So far she has completed the last two weeks and has every intention of continuing until Christmas. Go Kait!

 

The question of managing hydration and nutrition while training and competing has been one that has come up a number of times within the team. Having never exercised to a degree where anything more than water has ever been required, it does feel like whole new area for investigation. The team name ‘Accidentals’ is in part related to the profession of two members and the two dentists in the team have been in discussion about the oral implications of electrolyte supplements and energy gels. Having seen the effects of these products on tooth enamel in athletes’ mouths, there was some reluctance to use anything other than water when training and competing. Kait’s suggested compromise – ensure that every consumption of gel or solution is followed by plain water to reduce the likelihood of the acid (in anything fruit-based) and/or sugar causing decay. Also, since a dry mouth can be just as problematic as one hydrated with electrolyte solution, there’s another reason to keep up with the water. Obviously every person has to find what works according to the needs of his/her body and the demands of the activity. A conversation with your own dental professional is advisable but consider that rinsing with water is cheaper than fillings!

Megan is battling some on-going niggling injuries which are creating a few issues in training and completing longer walks particularly, but dealing with them is helping to build physical and mental strength and resilience! She recently spent one of her rest evenings attending the Gutsy Girls Adventure Film premiere in Auckland and saw multiple examples of physical and mental strength on display. What a great collection of beautiful films about incredible women doing extraordinary things! The film was seen by Megan and Kait and Penny, all on different evenings and in different cities but that still counts as a team bonding exercise, right?

By the time the next blog is posted in January, there will definitely be stories to share about our team training exercises. Until then, we will keep adding to the Out and About section with write-ups of our adventures. Wishing you all an adventure-filled summer season!

 

 

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