Blog: The Fitness Zone
I've always been a fan of sports tourism. Even it's as simple as driving to Westport for the Buller half marathon, or Renwick for the Grape Ride, there's something nice about fresh venues.
It's like a reward for the training and effort and it's often a chance to have an interesting holiday, somewhere you might not necessarily have chosen without the attraction of the event.
Over the past few years, we've travelled quite a lot for triathlons - to locations as exotic as Budapest, or to such quintessentially Kiwi spots as Wanaka or Kinloch.
Since I've been out of the loop with running and biking, this summer we're targeting four venues for the State Ocean swims.
As luck would have it, the two near the top of the country are only a fortnight apart, so we decided to make this an early summer holiday.
It can be intimidating getting involved in a new sport. Everyone seems to know so much more about what happens, what the problems are, how to behave, how best to get satisfaction without appearing dumb.
As far as running, swimming, cycling and triathlon goes, we're well served by local groups.
There are many entry points for running and walking events.
Waimea Harriers, Athletics Nelson and Nelson Events all offer events which are not too daunting for beginners. Their websites are easy to find.
I haven't had recent experience of cycling events, though I know that Tasman Wheelers has been working on a less competitive category for their events.
In 1984 I made the transition from all-purpose slob to runner. After injuries on the rugby field and on the basketball court, I'd retired from active sport soon after I turned 30 - that was what most people did in those days.
I'd tried jogging alone, but it was too boring. However, I found myself putting on weight and as I worked at home I decided to get out and meet people while also having some healthy exercise.
I rolled along to the opening day of the season for the Waimea Harrier Club. Although it was only a friendly run, I could sense the lure of competition.
By the end of the winter I'd run two half marathons and had found a purpose in training.
When summer came, I read about something called pub runs and at 2pm one Saturday in November of that year found myself on Rutherford St, opposite the Dominion Hotel, ready to start on the circuit that led down to Anzac Park, up St Vincent St and the Railway Reserve, then back down Waimea Rd and Rutherford St to that glorious oasis, where cold beer washed down the throat and made it all worthwhile.
The summer sea swim season used to start late November.
For the past few years it's been mid-November. Next week, the 28th Port Nelson series gets off to its earliest start yet, with a November 6 season launch.
Things have changed since the early days, when sea swimmers didn't do a lot over the winter. Now they mass in the region's pools through the colder weather.
Hardened sea swimmers have been training in the briny all winter.
When the first hooter goes off next week, there'll be some pretty fit athletes heading off.
The different bits of your life have a strange way of overlapping.
The disciplines of sport become interwoven with the disciplines of work and both are entwined with your personal life.
So far, so cosmic, how does this work?
I used to be a mathematician. The further I went, the more simple it became, because the endless branches of the subject which were so hard to learn in isolation became a part of an integrated whole.
It's the same with day-to-day physical and mental activities.
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