Interlude

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Byes are always a mixed blessing for football teams and I doubt WaiBOP would be any exception. On the one hand, ka pai, everyone likes a week off work. There will be a number of players who wouldn’t have had one since pre-season started in February, so a break will be a welcome chance to rest up and nurse those niggly injuries that haven’t had a chance to sort themselves out for months. Byes are known momentum killers though. When you’ve been making great progress as a team, a break is just as likely to send you back a step rather than forward two.

I’ve found something similar in my personal journey this year. Most of my worst days have been during annual leave periods when I’ve had nothing better to do than lie in bed and torment myself. And when I think back through the numerous mornings I woke up so miserable that I contemplated calling in sick instead of facing the day, forcing myself to go to work tended to result in a happier 5pm me than staying in bed did.

So, with that in mind, it stands to reason that a week off for WaiBOP shouldn’t mean I get one too. The only question is what should I fill my otherwise free time with during bye week? Thankfully, the scheduling Gods delivered me a gift – a marathon!

So yeah. I did the Auckland Marathon today.

Are you surprised? If not, you should be. When I stand on the bathroom scale the needle does a little marathon of its own – past zero and beyond for a good solid chunk of a second lap. And, if the looks on their faces were anything to go by, the friends I shared my plans for this weekend with were certainly a tad bewildered by the very notion of me and exercise in the same sentence. Their voices said “that’s awesome, good for you” while their eyes screamed “LOL good luck with that.”

But I had three excellent reasons to be determined to prove my doubters wrong:

Firstly, for years now I’ve been complaining about footballers who take a week off from the National Women’s League to run in this event. Sort your priorities out people! It’s the pinnacle domestic football competition in the country. The top of the pyramid. You can’t be skipping out on it for a glorified fun-run! Or can you… Maybe it was time I skipped out on the National Women’s League myself for some highly scientific research to see what all the fuss is about and ascertain whether or not there’s something I’ve been missing about this glorified fun-run all these years.

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Secondly, the Auckland Marathon is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year for the Mental Health Foundation – an organisation you will appreciate is very close to my heart at the moment, and not just because my wife Gina works there. So naturally I thought this would be a great opportunity to give them a hand to raise some dough.

And thirdly, I never thought the day would come that I would ever even contemplate writing this but it’s actually scarily true… I’m. A. Little. Teensy. Weensy. Bit….. Over football… And they say a change is as good as a rest.

No kidding, I want to start expanding my photography interest into different sports, and with its stunning backdrops around the shores of the Waitemata Harbour, this event seemed like as good a place as any to start! Learning new skills, in this case shooting something that’s outside my comfort zone, is also great for mental health.

Now, for the benefit of the folks following along at home, and I’m particularly addressing all you friends out there who were stupid enough to contemplate, for one second, the prospect of me being deluded enough to think I could run to the letterbox let alone 42km, the old proverbial penny should now be dropping. When I said I was going to “do” the marathon I obviously meant photograph it. Not run in the bloody thing you nincompoops! And if you’re wondering why I didn’t correct you at the time, it’s because I decided to humiliate you here instead as retaliation for “LOL good luck with that.”

So let’s recap. The moral of today’s story is two-fold:

1. If you’re feeling low, try and force yourself to get out and do something. Anything. You might not feel great doing it but you’ll almost certainly feel better than you would have if you’d stayed in bed.

2. Don’t mess with me.

Oh, and one more thing. The results of my research are in – the National Women’s League is definitely superior to the Auckland Marathon. If you’re going to run you might as well be chasing a ball because otherwise it’s just running and come on you can do that on a treadmill in front of Netflix…

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