Thursday, 24 April 2008

Which came first ????

In theory i should have funnily done my race report on the 24 Hours, but have simply been not been well enough the last few days to spend 40 odd minutes comfortably in front of a computer. Logically most people would conclude that i'm still feeling effects from the run but actually it's a damned cold, firstly i'm not sure whether i was coming down with a cold before the race or whether i just pushed my body into it during the race (i keep thinking of the chill i was feeling after running 15 2 minute laps wearing a polypropylene top and jumper and sweating heavily only to find that heavy dew had made my change of dry, warm clothes no longer warm or dry so having to remain in what i had on), so have been through the sniffle, the sneeze, the sore throat and the chesty cough and hopefully am almost through it.
With a 9:30AM Flight to Melbourne, i knew i'd have plenty of time to walk down to the airport as my last bit of training on the Friday morning but by the time i was half there the heavens had opened up, so sheltering under the Tugun shops i was quite content to catch the bus the rest of the way (a princely $1). Knowing that Tiger was at a completely new terminal (read tin shed at the fair end of Coolangatta), decided i may as well get off a stop early (rather than take the airport shuttle which goes nowehere fast), good theory as it meant all i had to do was cross the GC Highway and go back a block but didn't realise the rain was now very heavy and ended up at Tiger check in looking like a drowned rat (just thankful i didn't wait for lights crossing the Hwy !!). Good flight down, not overly full and i had two empty seats beside me, meant i could have a lie down, arrive at Tulla on schedule to find a pleasant sunny (only 19 degrees) day and after picking up my luggage the hike to the other end of Tulla. Unfortunately the Skybus queue was like one for concert tickets and something like half an hour later was on the bus and in the city by 1:30. Decided it best to get rid of my luggage at Athletics Australia (and to check the time of the AURA AGM) and then headed down to my favourite cheap pizza place in Chapel Street (nothing like a Caesar Pizza with eggs and large lettuce leaves freshly made), resisted the temptation for a beer (it is a pub after all) and made it back for the AGM at 3:30.
At that time of day we were struggling to make a quorum with me, Rob Boyce and Mick Francis in person, and the AURA President on speakerphone caught out by his flight from the Coast being cancelled (obviously the weather had deteriorated back home).
South Australian David Billett turned up a little later (he was to run Coburg but injury had forced him out but he still had the flights) and we had a meeting, nothing too unexpected, except that i am now a Queensland AURA rep (being well known is a positive for the position but being out the country for 3 months won't help much !!).
It was then off to Curly Joes Restaurant in Brunswick for the pre race Carbo load, unfortunately with only me and David going there it meant public transport, so ultimately with his travelcard expiring at 5 meant we had a nice little 5K walk from Lonsdale St to the restaurant, bit of a walk down memory lane as i recalled many runs at Royal Park and Princes Park and probably a good way to work up an appetite.
Lots of familiar faces, and a very good feed of Penne Bolognaise for me as well as Garlic Bread. Was lucky that fellow Gold Coaster Geoff Last and his wife had a car and were staying at a nearby motel so that i got a lift to the Harold Stephens Athletics Track where i was to spend the night. A number of tents up and some familiar faces so a few quick giddays a cup of coffee and then off to my sleeping bag for hopefully a good pre race sleep.
As usual slept as well in my bag (if not better) than in my bed at home so was awake by 7:30 with plenty of time for the 10'O'Clock Start.
Brought a couple of chairs out trackside to put my clothes and food (7 Muesli Bars, 2 GU's, 1 Powerbar, 3 Bananas, 3 iced buns and a pack of lollies) on and i was pretty much ready to go, looked like being a lovely warm day.
Very consistent first few hours, spent alot of it just watching Tim Cochrane fly past repeatedly, but was making sure i drank every twenty minutes and ate every hour. Nothing spectacular but did the marathon in under 4 (as opposed to Tim's 3 HR) and it was looking like Tim, Mick Francis, David Eadie & John Pearson as the pace setters and me, Geoff Last, Scott Orchard, Danny Hooley, Dave Sutherland as the second group with time ultimately telling as to what would happen.
My highlight of the first part was definitely a choc top soft serve ice cream bought from the Ice Cream Van about 4 hours in (thanks to Deanne Nobbs crewing for Tim).
After 6 Hours i had just over 60K's down so i'd definitely backed off a little but was very comfortable and felt as though i could keep going like that for a long time but by now the sun was on it's way down and i knew this was where i'd have to be careful (nothing to do with the fact there was a full moon and bearded me was probably the most werewolfish looking competitor !!). Once the sun was set, it was off with the legionnaires cap (which i'd changed into after 3 hours) and back to the headband (good way to keep ears and forehead warm) and a polypropylene top, for the time being i'd stick to the shorts as usually my legs are last to feel the cold.
Once it got cooler i eventually put the yellow track suit pants (not trusting running in Skins i'm quite sure they affected my legs adversely using them in my only other 24 Hour run), beanie and my large blue gloves (using them as they are rather less tight on the hands than the racing gloves) - definitely making a fashion statement of some sort (like what not to wear :-)).
Aftre a while i'd found that my sciatic nerve was feeling very tight, i concluded that it was the constant going round in circles so i thought it was worth the risk of heading off track and getting a rub down. The Masseur Michael i can recall from Centurion Walks and i know he does more naturopath type stuff so wasn't sure i'd get an exact fix but knew a 15 minute lie down and some work on muscles could only do me good.
Went back out feeling good, but not long till again i was struggling very tight between the hips and back to a walk. Thought it was worthwhile to see if a re-do would help (he'd said that now my muscles were fixed they'd need to be retweaked a little later), but was told that first i'd be better off resting, probably the one thing not to say to me !!!! (basically rest was going to be the thing i'd do at the end of 24 Hours), so it was back out onto to the track.
At this point my recollections are a little hazy, i know i'd backed down to only 6K's an hour walking and i'd been given some pasta with meat sauce by Deanne as well as some chicken soup but simply seemed to have slowed to a point of no return.
At 12 Hours had done only 97.6 K's and i was beginning to worry that if i slowed further i'd do the whole 24 Hours and still not make 100 Miles as i'd simply run out of speed.
A bit later it was getting cooler so decided i'd risk 15 minutes and head in for a rub with the physio and some hot food and drink. A not particularly gentle rub, but thankfully right on the sorest muscles and then a potato pie, followed by pumpkin soup and i was ready again. Not sure what the temperature had dropped to (lowest for Tulla Airport was 6.7 so probably something similar) but it was no very cold and i found after a few cautious laps that i'd better now put my fleece top on (as well as putting on Nike Free 3.0's to replace my ASICS DS Trainers), good theory but i wasn't to know that a couple of laps later i'd be back to two minute laps and after 15 or so of them i was dripping sweat. So it was off with the jumper and then finding my dry clothes were wet from the heavy dew, so was rather chilly for a while there. One thing i had noticed was silence and was thankful when David Eadie suggested his crew put some music on just what i needed.
I mightn't have quite hit the dancefloor but was singing along with Meatloafs "Bat Out of Hell" and a couple of Cold Chisel songs and really started to feel back into it again, that was definitely what was needed.
Eventually the music stopped (some sort of curfew after all it is a residential neighbourhood), so i was back to singing to myself (everything from the Stones "Start Me Up" and "Star Star" to The Bosses "Born to Run" and a helluva lot in between), just thankful for the other competitors i don't sing loud when running!!!.
I'd now put bit of a safety barrier between me and the 100 Miles, basically worked out how many laps i'd done at the end of the lap and how many more required and soon enough i was now working on having to do 2K's an hour (so essentially all i had to do was remain on the track and remain vertical). In the the meantime tearaway leader Tim Cochrane had slowed down and ultimately had pulled out with ITB problems at 186 K's (approx 50K's in front of me !!!), Mick Francis had been gradually grinding him down and was now in front, with another early leader David Eadie having injury problems and heading off for a rest as he could now see 200K's wasn't achievable this time. It had become a war of attrition, Robert Boyce (with a best last year of over 200K's) hadn't been having a great day and after catching up with me had then gone off for a rest as had 206K runner Rob Ware and former winner Garry Wise had headed off earlier as well, so it was Mick, John and the ever enduring Geoff Last (seemingly going round and round at the same tempo throughout as the leaders fell away) and apparently (i didn't realise it till after the race as i was wasn't really taking much notice of the 12 Hour race runners lapwise) Sharon who had won the 12 Hour race and decided to upgrade to the 24 Hour (certainly a brave action).
Somewhere around the 21:15 i hit the 100 miles, frankly i doubted i had much motivation left but now the sun was out and first thing was to see what i could do in 22 Hours (the time i was on the track at the Gold Coast 24), although now i can't remember what that distance was.
By then i was back in Singlet, shorts and headband and happy to walk a steady 7K's an hour, walked with Rob Ware for the best part of an hour and had a good chat, seemed we both needed to take our minds off the track and by 23 Hours i saw i'd a reasonable shot at 180 (and would need it to keep Danny and David at bay), so a couple more walk laps and then judged i could handle 40 minutes, shame i forgot to have a drink !!! (had drank half a drink bottle of sportsdrink at 22:30).
From then on it was consitent 2 minute laps and by the time our 24 Hours were up a little under 2, ultimately giving me 181.639 K's (112.8 Miles), enough i thought for 5th overall (not realising Sharon had upgraded to 24 Hours till Monday didn't curse and regret not running that whole last hour at that pace rather than just the last 40 Minutes until the next day, simply didn't think there was any point as i knew 180 would be the next milestone and was going off the leaderboard placewise not noticing other changes to it).
Totally stuffed when finished and took the next 20 odd minutes to drag my carcase back to the clubrooms, a shower and then a lie down in the sleeping bag was really all i needed, sitting or standing just weren't options. Ultimately missed most of the presentations (and i think i still owe some people money for food !!! - we'll sort that out next time), and finally the long day was over.
Lift back to the Tullamarine - thanks Brett - (and a 4 hour wait for my plane, lovely nachos at the Irish Pub washed down by a beer) and finally homeward bound.
No walking home that night, straight across the highway to the bus stop and 10 minutes later i was on my way and about 10 minutes further on happily at home.
Still convinced this will be the last 24 Hour Track race for me as i find the track finds too many little niggles that you'd normally not get when doing a race on a road or trail, but i'll never say totally never and still reckon one day i'm capable of the Centurion Walk.

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