Tuesday, January 25, 2011

25km run before brekky, before work

Ok so our training schedule is hotting up, and in addition to our long rides that fill up most of our weekends the 'long run' is starting to fight for space - both in our day and in our heads.

The long run is feared by a lot of triathletes. On the bike you can steal a rest here and there as you shoot down the other side of a hill, or cool off in the breeze (if you're lucky) as you sail through the ks at higher speeds, or enjoy a social chit chat as you ride in a club group then chew the fat over a latte at a nearby cafe. But the run is more static: your pace doesn't change as much (ie boring for some); you don't move so fast; and quite often it's lonelier because you slot it in around work, regular club riding sessions and other fun things like cleaning the house or whatever floats your boat when it comes to procrastinating!

The run is also the last portion of the race itself (if you don't include pigging out after crossing the finish line!) and I guess there's an element of fear: you know you're going to be hurting by this stage, and if you carry that fear over into your training then you'll fear the run sessions as well. Training's all about eliminating any barrier to getting your butt over that finish line and enjoying it as much as possible.

What's a long run? On race day the marathon will take us at least 4hrs. While we wouldn't run a weekly marathon to train for this we need to teach our bodies to run for long periods of time and how to consume the nutrition that we pump down our throats via energy bars, gels, electrolyte fluids and the odd fly that we swallow.

Today I did my scheduled 2hr 15min run, getting up at 4:45am to be out the door by 5. It was beautiful. Quiet - except for the last of revellers heading home from a Bondi bar after last drinks, and the humming of garbage trucks as they moved up and down back streets. The sun wasn't up yet but it wasn't far away.

As I climbed Military Rd at the northern end of Bondi I tried not to focus on the fact I'd just completed 3min 17secs of the heady 135mins that were ahead of me. "I'm going to enjoy this" I told myself, and promised that I would believe thee words as well.

Running down into Watsons Bay (so steep it almost hurts to run down the hill) I saw a huuuge cruiseship negotiate the Heads and enter the Harbour, wondering whether the guests on board had been woken up to experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of coming into the world's most beautiful harbour, which I was now running around. Yep, I'm definitely lucky to be able to experience this - especially at a time (5:30am) when most people were still slumbering away.

Made my way up the loooong Hopetoun Ave to the top of the City to Surf's Heartbreak Hill, then descended down the Hill to turn around at the bottom and attack it on my way back home. Only 1hr to go.

By now the sun was up as I made my way up the steep hill by the Gap. What a privilege to see the start of a new day break over the sea's horizon. A couple of people out walking their dogs, I couldn't resit a chirpy "Hello" or "Good morning!" as I pounded past them, my singlet now completely soaked as sweat poured off me in sheets.

Coming down Military Road back into Bondi I knew the instant I saw the beach that I'd run straight for it and dive into the cool waves that were forming in evenly spaced sets, a nice volley of dark clouds building out at sea that formed a surreal backdrop to the hive of activity that was happening on the beachfront - with runners, dogwalkers, bootcampers and paddlers all getting their morning fix.

Usually I'd enter the morning water gingerly, but my tired muscles were craving the refreshing tonic that was a combination of chilly water and weightlessness. As I floated for a few minutes on my back as the waves slid underneath me, looking back towards the pavillion I couldn't help but think smugly to myself that I'd found the perfect way to start the day.

Weighing myself when I got back home I realised I'd just lost 2kg in fluids and was starting to feel peckish. Time for a reward (food!) then off to work.


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