Sunday, 5 July 2009

A Weekend that Was

A rather 'large' weekend is coming to a close.

The schedule:

1. Bike Race Saturday Morning

2. Watching Bryce (youngest son) play Division 2 hockey game at Colmslie

3. AFL Game at Gold Coast - Richmond v Adelaide (Bryce is a Richmond supporter)

4. Tour de France commences (a must see from Monaco)

5. Gold Coast Half Marathon.

I wont bore you again with comment about the bike race - the report is on titled "If you are a Goose - Stay on the farm"

I wont even bore you with the hockey game - which is code for we lost.

In fact, I missed the first 20 minutes. There had been a fatality on the motorway so all traffic had to divert through the city. A 20 minute trip became a 65 minute trip and I actually missed the first 20 minutes of the game.

Fortunately, Bryce had gone with his Mother much earlier and was there on time.

The trip to the Gold Coast was uneventful. Before going to the game, I needed to call in at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and collect race kit for the next day. I had also decided to change from the half marathon to the 10 kilometre event. I figured that one run of about 6 kilometres every 3 weeks over the last 12 weeks may not really be quite the right preparation for a 21 kilometre event. Besides, doing something as sensible as the 10 k event may be a long overdue sign of maturity and common sense. Who knows?

However, changing events meant lining up and standing in a slow moving line for 70 minutes is not my idea of a relaxing time.

On to the game. It was cold, very cold and because of the earlier delay changing events, all seats were sold. Standing room only for nearly 3 hours. It was a pretty ordinary game and Richmond lost.

Now it would have been easier to stay on the Gold Coast - and that was the intention however Bryce had made (late) plans for Sunday that only a 16 year old can make. (not as if I needed to know)

He did enjoy the game despite the Richmond loss. It is actually the first time he has seen them play live. Mind you, the fact that a group of about thirty girls aged 15 to 17 arrived just after we did and took up residence just in front of us perhaps added to his enjoyment. (Although he did tell me they were too young)

Game done at 10 pm and the drive back to Brisbane was uneventful and concluded with enough time to make a cup of tea before the Tour de France coverage commenced.

Being very disciplined, I decided that common sense dictate I only watch a few riders in the Time Trial - perhaps until Lance goes through. So I see Lance go through and he sets fastest time to date. I better wait and see how long that holds up. It doesn't hold for long but Levi is on a fast time so better wait and see if he takes the lead. He does. I wonder how Kloden will go? Better wait and see. Well it is now 2 am and I head off for a couple of hours sleep before the trip back to the Gold Coast.

The good thing is the start of the 10 k race is 25 minutes later than the half marathon - bonus.

Alarm set for 4.10 am and I am awake almost before I am asleep. Up, dressed, wetbix x 6, cup of tea (and one for the car), water bottles, Gu's and jelly beans - all set.

I then collect "the colleague" and off we go. I should explain "the colleague". The colleague offered to come along and be my support crew and if need be, relief driver. However, I am under threat of punishment "worse than death" if I make any reference at all the the colleague's name, sex, occupation, hair colour, eye colour or dress etiquette. Hence "The Colleague".

A quick trip back to the Coast and a car park is found in a side street a short walk from the start area. Easy. The half marathon runners have just got underway and we are called to marshall. Off with the tracksuit, stretch, jog, stretch again, jog again etc etc and all ready on the start area, taking my place with the group who nominated a time per kilometre of between 4 and 5 minutes.

I was looking around at my fellow competitors in this category and wondering what the hell all these elite athletes were doing starting with my group. And why are they all about 30 years old?

While waiting, my mind wonders. It occurs to me that my preparation for the race over the last 24 hours might be unique and I am wondering if this is an advantage. I mean, there is no point being unique unless you get an advantage is there?

I wonder who else has drained themselves in a bike race the day before, stood up watching a hockey game, driven to the Gold Coast, stood up in the cold for 3 hours at an AFL game, driven to Brisbane, had a touch over 2 hours sleep and driven to the Gold Coast again. I am thinking I must have a competitive advantage hear.

I then wonder if my pre race diet this last 24 hours will be equally beneficial. After some thought I tick off a 24 diet of a weet bix breakfast pre bike race, 3 fruit muffins, one cup of pumpkin soup, 2 plain multi grain rolls, about 10 cups of tea, a grape fruit, 3 apples, another weetbix breakfast and a vanilla bean Gu. This did not seem good at the time - and looks even worse when I see it in words now.

In the meantime, the Colleague is trying to take some photos.

Remarkably, the race begins and I am feeling good. Rhythm is great and I am certainly overtaking more people than are overtaking me.

I start to pick out a person 50 or so metres in front and concentrate on stride pattern consistency until I overtake them before repeating the process, again, and again.

On checking my heart rate, I realise that 165 is probably too high but I am coasting so I ignore it and concentrate on beathing patterns which brings it down to around 150 without costing pace.

Inevitably, these events form an almost "bell curve" shape. They thin out at the front and the rear and bunch up in the middle.

We are coming into the 5 k sign and I realise I am at the back of the strung out line at the front and am ticking over 4 minute k's - easily. Hell, time to up the pace and effort.

Keep the rhythm I tell myself, this fun.

Coming into 7 k's and still feeling good. Heart Rate around the 155 mark but not long to go. Right hamstring is a little tight, but it usually is - after all, it has literally been pulled or strained 20 or more times.

At 7k's there is a drink station and I grab one slowing down to drink it before ditching the cup and getting back to my pace and stride.

Onwards, 100 metres, 200 metres 300 metres and the runner behind sticks a screw driver in the back of my leg about 10 cm above the knee. Or that is what it felt like.

Of course, it wasn't a screw driver but it was a feeling akin to something pinching my hamstring every time I took a stride. I try taking shorter steps to relief the discomfort but that doesn't work so I try longer steps which also doesn't work. I try various strike methods - outside of foot, different heel pattern etc etc all to little effect so I try limping and this doesn't work either.

All the time I refuse to walk - to walk is to lose.

I am going slowly now.

I try to take my mind elsewhere to take my mind off the pain and this sort of works for small periods of time. I imagine I am looking out across the waters of the Whitsundays to Bali Hi, I am reciting the words of Man from Snowy River,and do I know all the words from Smoke on the Water?

And where is that blasted 8 k sign. I must have reached it by now. I have it appears as there is a 9 k sign up in front. Thank God.

Looking down the road and what do I see. The last kilometre is mainly up hill. Great, however running an incline actually seems to be easier on the hamstring.

We turn right and enter the last 400 or so metres through a barricaded area lined 4 and 5 deep on both sides with spectators cheering. It was electric.

I have played a fair bit of sport and coached too. I have also played at a reasonable level. Unfortunately, the sport I have played most, does not attract crowds very often. I have perhaps only played in front of significant crowds on 3 occasions and recall it being a thrill.

Running these last 400 metres through the crowd was awesome. The noise raised the adrenalin level and I hardly felt the leg at all. It was amazing.

My last 2 kilometres took forever and really destroyed my time. I finished in a touch over 50 minutes. If I had been offered this time at the start I would have gladly taken it but given where I was through 7 k's, it was ultimately disappointing.

I will be back next year for the half marathon and I will prepare properly.

This weekends events on the Gold Coast are sensational and I want to be part of it again, and again and again.

In the meantime, I will be reacquainting myself with physio staff at Queensland Sports Medicine Centre this week.

As an aside, when the Colleague and I headed back to the car, we couldn't find it. Well we did, but only after wasting 90 minutes looking. Amazingly, it was where we had parked it. I blame the Colleague.

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