Summer Starter: Breaking the number one rule of running
Pro tip: Don't make eye-contact with runners.
After only a week of pounding the pavements, I'm already familiar with the awkward smile and nod salute from other footpath fighters as our paths cross.
Barely breaking stride, some even utter a quick "How's it?" and continue on their merry way. I would have thought my red-faced, open mouth pant spoke for itself.
As we are suffering the same agony, I accept it when fellow joggers force me to break my number one rule to never interact while exercising.
Much worse is the smug grin from drivers as they usher me across the road from the safety of their car. A few glorious moments of relief waiting on the footpath while traffic passes propels me on. To be robbed of that with a cheeky wave, then watched as I flail across the road, seems cruel.
Despite the forced interaction situation, week one of training for the ASB Summer Starter got off to a good start.
I tackled Rapaki Track and after several walk-jogs of more walk than jog, I foolishly felt confident enough to try a hike on a weekend trip to Akaroa.
Rubbing smeared cow dung off my ankles was not exactly how I anticipated it ending.
On Sunday morning my two encouraging, albeit equally as fitness-unsavvy, flatmates and I geared up and drove to the base of the Children's Bay climb. A guide to walks in the area described the three-hour trek though headland as "delightful".
I beg to differ.
A few rogue trampers lingered at the bottom, but we thought we had got lucky with most of the track to ourselves. As it turned out, though it was a sunny day, no-one else was was stupid enough to climb a dense bush-covered track after drizzly weather had churned the path into a slippery mudslide.
We clambered over makeshift bridges and traversed through gorse bushes. It took three attempts and a dangerously close run-in with the horn to climb onto a rhino sculpture at the peak.
Our water bottles only offered lukewarm dregs when we emerged from the bush drenched in sweat and reeking of cow poo. But, we were chuffed to be done and better still, we didn't have to awkwardly smile, nod or interact with anyone on the whole trip.
Unfortunately the rest of the family did not have such a successful sporting weekend. Fitness guru Dad, the source of all athletic advice, is out of action after a burst of confidence and subsequent fall skiing left him with several ripped tendons in his legs.
Maddison Northcott is a reporter for The Press and Stuff. She will enter the Summer Starter and run 10 kilometres for the first time on November 26.