Monday, 31 August 2009

Bridge to Brisbane

The 2009 Bridge to Brisbane was a mixed experience for me. To be honest, I probably enjoy having done more than I enjoyed doing it. Nonetheless, I couldn't class it as anything but well worthwhile.

The day started early, with a 4:30am wakeup. After a quick breakfast, I grabbed a backpack and walked off to Bowen Hills Station (about 2km). There I caught the 5:13am train (the first of many, I suspect) to Murrarie, near the start of the run. The place was awash with people, and it was very hard to work out where we were supposed to be. I found myself at the back of the "green" (50-60min expected time) starting zone, but was unsure, as I was surrounded by people with yellow numbers. This was indeed a bad thing. I waited for what must have been at least an hour between arriving (6-ish, I guess) and actually getting to the start line, which did nothing for my wellbeing or my patience. Also, having left my iPod at home having read the requirement to do so in the race guide, I was disappointed to see every second runner with headphones in.

Once I started, it was a matter of picking my way through the people already walking, pushing prams, and chatting on their way over and down the bridge. This continued for almost the entire 10km, despite my having started in the "green" zone. The system of starting people separately is fine, and should work, but the poor signage and almost complete lack of any marshals, meant that people essentially started whenever they could, irrespective of the guidelines.

After 3km I took on water, probably too much, and I started to slow a little. By 5km I was counting the kilometres, telling myself "one more km before I stop to walk" - wussy, but it was a hot day, and I really hadn't trained properly (at all). I managed until the 7km mark without stopping, then broke and walked for two or three hundred meters. Over the final 3km I had another 2 breaks, for a total of perhaps 800m or so of walking, before finishing strongly over the last 200m (for the cameras, you know).

The finish line was almost as chaotic as the start. Big queues for water, for fruit, and especially to reclaim bags left at the start. I somehow also came away with a bag of goodies from the Heart Foundation, having raised more than $50 for them. (Fortunately, I'm 90% sure the goodies were donated, not bought), in addition to my "I finished!" shirt. I thought about wearing it to work today, but its quite offensively white, and there are 46,000 other people with one, so I'm even less inclined to brag about it.

Having started so long after the official start time, I have no idea what time I ran. With my breaks, I'm sure I was well outside my ideal time of 50minutes, and possibly outside my more realistic aim of 60min. I suspect the official times won't be posted until the major sponsor (The Sunday Mail) prints them next weekend (at which time hopefully they can be read online - I refuse to buy that rag). The day proved frustrating, but talking about it with other runners today has been really good, and it has motivated me to improve my running and fitness so that I can complete 10km "properly" (i.e. without walking, and under 50min) in future.

EDIT: According to the race website, I ran 56:44, which was good enough for 6056th place (not that I care about the place). I'm reasonably happy with that time, given the conditions, the weaving through people, and that I walked for a bit of it. My target for my next 10km run remains 50 minutes, though.

My fundraising page is still up over here. The Heart Foundation do good work fighting the effects of heart disease, so if you're inclined to give them a hand to do it, then I'd encourage you to do so. If you donate through my donation page, then it'll make me feel good about myself, and lend creedence to the Bridge to Brisbane as a useful fundraising activity, which can only be a good thing.

holiday schnee

Schnee. Not knee.

So a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I headed over to New Zillund for a ski holiday. It started badly. I got up at 4am and caught a taxi to the airport. I was ready for my flight to Sydney to meet Lee and head across the ditch. The aeroplane was not, at least not until an hour and a half after it was supposed to leave. So, when I got to Sydney, Lee had organised for us to fly out the next day (which was great). We had a nice day in Sydney, visiting galleries and the gardens during the day, then going to the opera house for the Sydney Symphony in the evening, before a late but excellent dinner with Andrew & Steven, who put us up for the night.

The next day, we put into play the plans we had made for the day before. We flew in Christchurch, picked up a rental car, and drove down to Lake Tekapo to stay at the YHA for the night. Then, on Saturday, we drove down to Cardrona, and after some initial problems with directions, found our way up the mountain to Snow Park. There we met up with Di and Mike, and our hosts John & Mary.

We spent 6 out of our 8 days on the cross-country trails at Snow Farm, with conditions that went from very good to a bit slushy, although the groomer denied the warm wet weather to ensure that the trails were always accomodating. When we weren't on the snow, we hung out with Di & Mike, John & Mary, and a few other acquaintances who cycled through the Snow Park. All were accomodating, charming, and great company, especially those named. It was great to spend some time with Mike, who I'd previously only met for a day and whose company I really came to appreciate, and Diana in an environment I'd long known as one of her "natural habitats". Hanging out with John & Mary gave a really great insight to the park, with their stories about the history and operation of the Park/Farm adding real depth to the visit.

As for the skiing, I think both Lee and I really benefited from the lesson we got on the first day, which confirmed a lot of things I think we consciously or unconsciously worked out in Norway so many years ago, at the same time as giving us things to fix and concentrate on. I know that we both got a lot better during the week, especially at the things that had given us troubles, Lee on the up-hills, and me on the down. On the last day, we were still being breezed past by the Olympians (Canadian, Korean, American and Kiwi, all there for training and the Winter Games), but we felt less likely to fall over when it happened :)

A good holiday, despite a false start.

EDIT: Lee's photos from NZ are up here. I'll look at putting mine (unfortunately not many) up soon.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

charity run

I enjoyed my charity rides last year, and I do regret skipping the first two this year.

By way of penance, I've signed up for the Bridge to Brisbane charity running event, entailing a 10km run from the Gateway bridge to the Ekka grounds (which is fortunately near my place). I've never really been a very devoted runner, but I'm not too terrible at it, and will have my friend Andy to keep me company (at least until my fitness gives way and he leaves me behind). My aim is to finish somewhere around the 50 minute mark, which should be do-able if I can get my cardio endurance built up over the next few weeks.

Much like the bike rides last year, the Bridge to Brisbane is linked to a charity, in this case the Heart Foundation. I have set up a web page for people to sponsor me, with their donations going to the Heart Foundation. If you feel the urge to give, please do so here. Alternatively, there's a little box on the right-hand side of this blog with a nice easy link to Donate. I'll endeavour to do my part by getting to the finish line without falling over (I'll also be donating, of course).

off to the snow, bro

Tomorrow I fly out (bright and early) to New Zealand for a holiday in the snow with my sister Lee, aunt Diana, and her partner Mike. Lee is fit courtesy of her football and other activities, Diana is a long-time die-hard x-country skier, and Mike is a park ranger, so I anticipate being challenged keeping up with them on the trails.

I'm really looking forward to it :)