When I’m not writing, one of the things I love to do is run, particularly long distance runs. So far, I’ve completed 22 marathons including the New York Marathon and Honolulu marathons, although I’m a slow ploddy sort of runner because the marathon is a long way: 42.2km. To give you an idea of how far that is, it’s exactly the distance around Lake Rotorua. And because I like to run, my first book for adults, a novel entitled A Dash of Reality, is the light-hearted story of a group of people who participate in a marathon as part of a reality TV series. In writing the story, I drew on my own funny and not-so-funny experiences as a runner (and some of my friends’ experiences), incorporating them into the story’s plot. But writers don’t just rely on real-life experiences, we typically research our topic so that our stories are realistic. When researching A Dash of Reality I read a number of non-fiction books by inspirational marathon runners like Dean Karnaze, Dave Keuhls and John Bingham to ensure that the marathoning information I included was accurate.
One of the books I read was Running Hot the story of my friend and ultra-runner Lisa Tamati. A Taranaki girl, Lisa doesn’t just run marathons: she runs ultra-marathons, which means she runs distances that are further than a marathon. Her training runs often include running up and down Mount Taranaki, and she’s even run from one end of New Zealand to the other, admittedly over a few weeks. Lisa is an amazing athlete – okay, maybe just a little bit crazy – but she’s a lovely person too, working hard for a number of charities, in particular CureKids.
Lisa’s latest book Running to Extremes (co-written with Nicola McCloy) was released just before Christmas and is the second in my New Zealand Book Month reading list. In this book Lisa attempts to answer a question people ask her every day: why do you do it? Even though I love to run, I’m still not quite sure I understand why she does it, but then I haven’t quite finished reading the book yet! So far, it’s a great read: full of training tips like how often to change your running shoes, and what foods to eat, and especially Lisa’s personal experiences as she runs races in the some of the most inhospitable terrains imaginable, including La Ultra, a 222 km non-stop race over two Himalayan mountain passes. There are some great images in the book too, such as a photo of Lisa running through a riverbed while on Day 3 of the Gobi Desert run, and another of her sitting on her bed at home inside an Hypoxico Altitude Training tent. Lisa had an adventure involving one of these tents, but I don’t think I’m going to tell you about it here. Check out the book Running to Extremes at the library and let me know if you find out what happened.