Uphill Battle: Making progress

01:20, Jul 18 2014
Uphill Battle column

Mum and reporter JO McKENZIE-McLEAN is taking on one of the biggest challenges of her life training for the Northburn Station 50km mountain run in March next year. She reports on her progress.

It's 5.30am, minus 4-degrees outside and my phone alarm goes off. Arghh. Grabbing it off my side-table I swipe it to silent and dangle it in my palm thinking I'll just steal myself another five minutes and nestle back under my covers.

In my semi-conscious sleep something bolts me awake and I jolt up in fright to see I've lost 15 minutes and I have five minutes to meet my running partner Debby.

Jo McKenzie-McLean
Reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean gets some hill-climb training with running buddy Debby Wallis.

Debby has been running with me since Terry Davis set us up on a blind ''date'' and I could not have wished for a better person to get me into running shape. She's always smiling, laughing and full of encouragement and advice.

When I first started running with her, I couldn't talk much - I was struggling to breathe - so Debby would have to fill in the silence with chatter to distract me from the pain. Luckily for me, she's a good talker and can make a conversation out of anything. We would be running around the dark streets, dodging tree roots and ice patches and I'd get a rundown of how to make an easy sausage casserole for tea or tips on how to make sugar-free treats for the kids.

After a few weeks, to Debby's (and my) delight, I started to be able to contribute to the conversation. About the same time I was thinking how much I was enjoying our 5km runs and chats with my nice new friend Debby - she announces with the sternness of school teacher - ''right ... nice Debby has gone. It's time to step this training up.''


Runs are going to increase in frequency and distance. At the weekend I have to do at least one ''long run'' and I need more, much more, hill work.

To achieve the latter, Glen Christiansen has stepped up to help out and has taken us on some pretty challenging tracks.

If I thought getting up in the morning was hard, getting enthused to run up a hilly track in the cold and dark after a day's work is just as off-putting.

Our first night-time adventure was up the Pylon Track. Despite taunts of 1980s horror movie villains hiding in the bushes, I wasn't frightened. In fact, walking at night was tranquil and energising, and the views of the Central Otago night sky were definitely worth sacrificing a cozy couch for.

The Pylon Track is a private track and permission must be sought from the manager of Northburn Station to access it

The Southland Times