It takes three weeks, right...

I've completed the first two weeks of what I can fairly honestly say is proper triathlon training.

I made a commitment about a month ago to train six times a week, and although I can't say I've achieved this, the last two weeks have definitely qualified as some form of training for triathlon
  • a run over 10ks
  • a long ride (or in today's case, a long WT due to rain)
  • a swim session
  • ... plus a couple of other bits and pieces each week.
I know, I've got a long way to go before I can feel confident that I've got an Ironman in me physically. But I figure by the time 2010 rolls around, I'll be doing 12k long runs and 80-100k long rides. An OD age grouper would be doing this at the peak of the training. A HIM athlete would be happy with this as a base for any endurance program.

Since it takes three weeks to form a habit... wish me luck to keep it up for Christmas week...

You've got mail

Package arrived today from Roadrunner Sports. KKB and I have been ordering up a storm.

I've got enough GU to see me through for many a long run. I'm excited (in some sick, deluded way) to try the new Mint-Chocolate flavour. It's one of their special holiday flavours, along with Vanilla Gingerbread. Apparently it's a limited edition, so I hope I don't like it that much...

Add to this mountain of Gu Goodness the Megaburn Bars donated to me by my recently "retired" friend Annie, and I'm set.

Running Like Crazy

Happy birthday to my new online buddy, T-Bone, who will run like crazy for all of 2010.

I discovered T-Bone on one HD's Thursday Night Live, when I tuned in to watch an interview with Craig Alexander. There was T-Bone, being interviewed about his dream to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. His adventure will see him attempt to complete marathons in all of the continents, including some of the "must do" events like Boston and New York.

I started following his blog and recently discovered he'd decided to run the last of his marathons at home in Melbourne on New Year's Eve next year. He put the call in for 100 runners to join him and before I knew it, I was emailing him telling him what an honour it would be to run his last of these marathons with him... practically begging him for a spot!

Call it a moment of weakness, call it the comradarie of running, call it crazy, if you will. But whatever you call it, I'm officially in.


I know, I've been a bit silent after my last post, when I was full of bravado about my next Ironman. Can I just say my plea for people to train with was greeted with, well, not much interest. So, what's a girl to do?

Here's what. Up the stakes... who wants to race with me? There's only 400 or so places left so get in quick...

Talk about a way to guarantee some more silence...

In other news, I've officially started my campaign. The key till the end of the year is consistency. Don't worry about what to do, just do it. Run, ride, swim, whatever. Six training sessions a week minimum.

So, since my last post I've been sick for a week, completed the BlackHeart Sprint adventure race at Karana Downs (lots of fun), started swimming after a l-o-n-g hiatus and dusted off the mag trainer for some bike sessions in front of the TV.

Bring it on I say.

Ironman announcement: the athletic powerhouse is BACK

The athletic powerhouse has entered Ironman Regensburg, a new Ironman race for 2010 in eastern Germany (near the Bavarian forest).

This means that the athletic powerhouse has lots of strength training to do for the next 3 months, and lots of hilly rides to do for the next 9 months. Anyone wanna train with me?

Another brave woman

So from Jessica Watson, to another brave woman I met yesterday on the River Ride.

I aimed to do a two hour ride, one and a half laps of the river yesterday. I felt I needed the time on the bike to prepare for next week's adventure race, and the river ride is easy. It's a backup; a default. It's a ride I think we all take for granted.

I was most of the way round and already calculating how I would make up the two hours when just near Davies Park I encountered a lady changing a flat. As is the custom amongst cyclists, I asked if she was OK. I could just tell from her hesitance to answer, that the answer should have been no.

Of course I stopped. She was kneeling on the ground with her two spare tubes laid out in front of her, trying to figure out what was next.

"I'm just a little out of practice. It's my first ride for a while," she explained.

Rather than take over and get her on her way quickly, I decided it would be more productive, and she would feel more comfortable, if I helped her less, and offered her moral support. After all, she did have all the gear and clearly was an old hand.

"I've booked my bike in for a service on Tuesday. I just thought I'd take a quick spin. And I get a flat." Everything had deteriorated - her spares took a lot of coaxing to get any air into and her pump just didn't work. I did what any cyclist would do, inflated her tyre with a CO2 cartridge, which she offered to return if I left her my details. I refused of course - it's just a canister. It's what cyclists do for each other.

She had been obviously quite agitated throughout the process, but it wasn't till we were almost ready to go that I found out her full story.

It had been 18 months since her last ride. Not long prior to that, she'd moved to Brisbane from the Gold Coast with her new husband. After just nine months of marriage, her husband, not even 50, had suffered a stroke. She was now his full time carer, and spent her days ferrying him to physical rehab, speech therapy... a long list of appointments, which took hours to prepare for and hours to get him home from and settled again.

As she guided him through his rehabilitation, and as he got a little better, she'd started searching for an opportunity to get back on the bike. She had let him know, but wasn't sure that he comprehended, that if he woke up one day and she'd left a helmet on the bed, that she was out riding; and that she would be home soon.

I could see the guilt weighing heavy upon her. That's what I'd identified as I'd first seen her kneeling by the side of the bike path, struggling to repair her bike so she could get home to him - preferably before he even knew she was gone.

As we parted ways I encouraged her not to let this one bad experience discourage her. I reassured her that her husband would understand her desire to ride.

In retrospect, I wish I had have given her my details. At the time, I'd declined for the right reasons, and even when I found out her situation, I felt that she needed the cost of the canister more than I did. But now I wish I could contact her, I wish I could continue to encourage her and support her.

For this lady, whose name I do not know, the River Ride is a luxury beyond my comprehension; she dreams of a Saturday when the River Ride is once again the default activity.

I hope she continues to pursue this dream. Even though yesterday didn't turn out quite as she would have liked, I hope she continues with the same bravery.

Should she?

Jessica Watson set sail from Sydney last weekend in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted. There has been a lot of controversy about whether she's ready, whether she'll make it, and whether her parents are doing the right thing by letting her go.

The only of these questions I really feel qualified to respond to is whether she'll make it. Of course, I hope she does. I'm not an expert in sailing, so I don't know whether she's ready; and I don't have children, so don't feel qualified to make a judgment as to whether her parents should have let her start.

What I do feel qualified to make a judgment on is whether the general population should be making this judgment, of Jessica or of her parents.

There is no denying that many adventurers don't make it. Some, no many, get rescued at sea off the coast of Australia alone. And yes, some perish. I remember very distinctly a documentary I saw about Andrew McAuley, whose sea kayak was retrieved just 30kms shy of his destination, New Zealand, on his attempt to cross the Tasman Sea solo. More than two years later, his blog remains untended; a haunting self portait retrieved from his kayak is the final item posted.

Andrew was named Adventurer of the Year in 2005. So arguably he was eminently qualified to embark on his final journey. But the thing I remember most from his documentary was his demeanour when he started paddling. It was almost as if he knew this would be his last adventure. Did I think he should have known that, and "had the sense" to stop? No. I think he did the right thing by continuing.

Andrew left behind a wife and small son, so the knockers were many. Just as they are for Jessica, who is underage and must be "protected".

It seems to me that some of the most revered adventurers (we used to call them "explorers") have been ridiculed by their contemporaries. At one time in our history, the only way to prove that it was even possible to sail around the world was to set forth towards what people then thought was the edge of a flat world.

If you ask me, the very moment we take a stand against the adventurous spirit, we lose our sense of what human endeavour is all about; and lose sight of what it is to live.

So should she? Yes, she should. As a society, we must believe in Jessica's ability to make it. And as a society, we must celebrate not only her success, but also her willingness to try.

Follow her blog or log on to her website and show your support.

Triathletes - go green!

OK so after a month of neglecting the Triathlete Chronicles, I feel compelled to fulfil my pledge to support Blog Action Day with a post relating to climate change. Keeping in the theme of the Triathlete Chronicles, I've decided to write about what triathletes can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

1. Act local by supporting local events. Triathletes are quick to jump on a plane to race all over the country and world. Why not support events a little more local? Long course races can be harder to track down, but they're there. In Brisbane, try the Hell of the West instead of flying to Geelong for the 70.3. Yes, I know, you'll still have to drive the four hours to Goondiwindi - but why not car pool for a good old fashioned road trip? Trust me, if you make the effort to look for races that are a little off the beaten track, you will add an unexpected dimension to your racing - you can feel good about injecting something into a small, local community.

2. Go off road. There are more and more off-road triathlons popping up all over the country. Event organisers usually have an ethos of minimum impact, with initiatives such as laminating race numbers and reusing them, BYO swim caps, and using less infrastructure on course. In2Adventure, who run the Tre-X off road triathlons and Teva Adventure Racing Series nationally, publish an environmental policy which governs all their activities.

3. Integrate your training into your commute. Ride or run to work. It takes just a little bit of planning and organisation, but it will actually save you time. Most organisations have showers and bike facilities. In Brisbane's King George Square, the Cycle2City facility houses showers, lockers and a bike mechanic for cycle commuters.

4. Train from home. Instead of driving to training, training, and then driving back home again (or to work, train from home. Training by yourself also adds an extra challenge for some - embrace it, even just for one day a week. You never know, you might just like it!

5. Don't litter. Yes, gel packets are small. Used tubes don't fold up as easily as the new one you take out of your spares bag when you get a puncture. But the effects of litter are varied and serious, whether it be algal blooms, harm to aquatic life, or 'natural' disasters such as bushfires. Planet Ark estimates that Australian federal, state and local governments spend $200million annually to clean up litter, according to this fact sheet put out by the Queensland Government.

Happy Blog Action Day!

You know it's a long day when you start and finish in the dark.

Sunday morning at the Gold Coast Worlds started like the picture attached. Dark! But a beautiful view across the broadwater to Seaworld.

I reported again at 4.30am to help out at the age group world champs transition. The lowest point was witnessing an athlete struggling terribly with her wetsuit, knowing that I couldn't help. I'm not sure whether the zip was stuck, or whether she thought the zip was down but it was only down to her shoulder blades. Either way, I couldn't watch - I had to walk away and think about something else. This athlete had come out of the water in a seemingly good position in her age group.

I will, however, admit to helping an older gent who couldn't find his bike. He was amongst the last five athletes to enter T2 and couldn't find where to put his bike. I know I shouldn't have, but after a good five minutes of him searching up and down the racks, I helped him find the running shoes that awaited, and a gap for his bike. He thanked me for his help; I replied that when I'm 75 years old, I hope that someone helps me a little too.

On to the Juniors and Elite Women. You know the drill by now; athlete lounge (decals again) and then off to the start line. The juniors line up in their rank order rather than selecting their position, so I didn't need to note which athletes stood in my marshalled area, just make sure they toed the line and started correctly. The elite women were also fairly well behaved. It all happened very quickly - as expected the higher seeded women chose positions at either end of the pontoon, but I was responsible for Debbie Tanner and Annabel Luxford's start.

It didn't seem too long until we were cheering Emma Moffat over the line to win not only the grand final, but also the series.

All too soon it was time for the technical team to say goodbye over a quick beer, before I left them to their well deserved celebrations. We'd come from all over the world to put on a race for the world's best, and we'd done well.

Just on dark, I headed home for a well deserved sleep.

Don't worry, it's only international TV

Today started at 3.30 with my mobile alarm, followed at 3.35 by my watch alarm. Yes, I'd been nervous about sleeping through the 4.30 start at ITU HQ at the World Champs.

After helping out on the Olympic distance race for age group, teams and paratriathletes, it was time to adjourn to the athletes lounge for Elite Men checkin. I was on decal duty, which means that if any of the athletes try to check in with incorrect body numbering, I have to take off the old ones with gaffer tape and place new ones for them. Not a bad job at all, thank you very much.

Britain's Tim Don was my first customer and he was very excited to have help on hand and happily let me manhandle his biceps and triceps. Other notable customers were Frederic Belaubre, who was a little more sheepish about having stuffed up his own numbering - not once, but on both arms and legs. It's OK Frederic, I'm here to help.

As the athlete lounge shut up shop, it was off to the start line. We'd practiced our protocol on the Under 23s, but today's had to be perfect - it was being telecast and streamed live internationally.

Amazingly, as we marched out to take our positions behind the start podium, we got a cheer from the crowd. Yes, the technical officials! It was a real buzz to be acknowledged by a crowd on such a prominent stage.

The start went almost to plan. There was a bit of movement in my area on the start, but was not able to call a false start. As we regrouped to compare notes, I discovered that there had been a false start amongst the athletes close to me, but not in my group. That explained why my guys had been restless on the start.

After a bit of a break for lunch, it was back to the finish line to report in as a back-up athlete chaperone. I was promoted up the order to spot the third placed male. I kept Jan Frodeno in my sights - he had disappeared into a corner... and then he was gone. My heart leapt into my mouth. How could I lose him? At 6'3", he's one of the tallest guys on the field of play.

I scoured the finish area, the chute beyond and started heading around towards medical. Someone else spotted him and called me back it was time to get him to the ceremony so there was no time to do much more than escort him back up to the presentation.

Whew. What a day. A few nervous moments, but all's well that ends well. Especially on international TV.

The Aussie mascot?

What a great day at the worlds.

I helped out on the U23 races today, mainly athlete registration and the starting line. A great bunch of athletes. If they're they next wave, triathlon seems to be in good hands.

Special mentions to James Seear for his second place after coming out of the swim a little off the pace; and also for the two Josh Ambergers. Yes, two. One of his mates braved having Amberger brandished across his arse by wearing one of Josh's old speed suits. He also did his hair appropriately.

In age group action, the guy pictured didn't quite get his machine into transition today... He is obviously taking his pre race hydration seriously, carrying a mini carton of VB. And he's obviousy keen - already kitted up in his team uniform, race number and time trial helmet. (The Athletic Powerhouse usually refers to these as "wanker helmets").

In any case, good luck to all the Aussies competing tomorrow - in the OD age group, Para and Teams triathlon, and to Sticksy and Courtney in the Elite Men. And I guess also to my friend Craig, even though he's representing NZ...

The runners' secret

An excellent article in The Courier Mail today about triathlon. Sure, it's a blatant sell for the World Triathlon Championships happening on the Gold Coast next weekend, and even more blatantly uses sex to do so.

It would have been very easy for a less accomplished columnist to stay with this theme. Kathleen Noonan, though, digs deeper. Might be because she often writes about running and cycling, and it's always convincing because she's a devotee herself.

She writes about our bravery, and our lust for life (and running). She writes about how we heal our lives through our exercise; about how we all need something to get ourselves through the day (of course, running's better for this than scotch).

Kathleen Noonan writes about how we're not meant for 'sitting at a desk on our growing arses in front of a computer'. That's because Kathleen Noonan believes we were born to run.

Unlike the Athletic Powerhouse, Kathleen Noonan has the power to influence hundreds of thousands of people into giving up the computer for a pair of running shoes, even for a day or two a week. Imagine what that could do for the obesity crisis?

Alas, I expect that because her writing is so connected to the runners' psyche, she largely preaches to the converted. Not that I mind. Part of me enjoys that fact that other people don't get it...

And that, my friend, is the runners' secret.

They don't call it "cycle-gaine" for nothing... Pt4

No, they don't. So what do I think I "gained"?

I have a newfound sense of adventure. At the beginning of the event, when the other teams continued on along the sealed road, my first instinct was to wonder whether they were lost. They weren't; they'd just chosen a different option to us. Early on, when things were tough, I'd wondered why we hadn't also chosen "a different option" but in retrospect, I'm glad to have had the experience I did, as hard as it was.

I gained a couple of blisters. Big ones. But they'll heal.

I gained a fantastic memory, of an excellent experience with Miri. The last couple of times I've ridden with her I've felt humbled at what a patient and encouraging person she is, and how lucky I am to have her as a friend. She stuck by me and looked after me. Thanks Miri!

We gained a second placing. Mostly, when I enter a race where there's three entrants in my category, I place third. We did well.

I gained an appreciation of how much fitter I need to be in order to contribute effectively in a team situation.

I gained an idea of what I can achieve on the mountain bike. Before Sunday, the total time I'd spent offroad on my mountain bike wouldn't have been much more than four hours in total. To spend that much time in one go, and survive as well as I have (blisters aside) is something to be proud of, and build upon...

Ironically, for all that I gained through this experience, I also learned that there's still more to gain.

They don't call it "cycle-gaine" for nothing... Pt3

The "upwards" weren't entirely done for the day, but none of them seemed as bad as the first section we'd already endured. We certainly continued, onwards and forwards, finding control points at a "high point", downstream and upstream, at a "watercourse head" and to the south east side of "spurs junction". Though neither Miri or I knew what that meant...?

I have to admit that most of the day, I followed Miri's navigation unquestionably. There were a couple of occasions when other teams asked questions about where we'd been and how far we were from the checkpoint. The first couple of times I was really very vague, before sheepishly admitting I had no idea.

It took me a couple of encounters such as this to realise that perhaps my evasive reactions may be considered by those enquirers to not be in the spirit of things. Even though the rules of rogaining clearly state that teams shall not accept assistance from, nor collaborate with, other people...

I realised my mistake and from then, I simply told the truth. "I've got no idea... I'm just following..."

We'd collected seven checkpoints, and had only about half an hour left on the clock when we encountered the boys. We were on our way to our final planned checkpoint of the day, 81. Pretty soon after this, Miri was telling me how fine we were cutting it for time, so even in the spots where the sand was like a sink hole, we had to either ride or run.

She'd been chattering away all day up ahead of me. This was one of the few things I'd understood first time. She must be serious.

So I did what I was told. We finally got back onto sealed road (for the first time since right at the start of the event) when Miri pulled over with a slight mechanical issue. I presumed it wasn't serious when I understood her for what seemed like the second time of the day.

"Keep riding as hard as you can. I'll catch you."

All of a sudden there were teams all around us. We hadn't had company like this since the start of the event. But now, with the clock winding down, there were teams everywhere, desperate to get in before the 3.30pm cutoff.

I kept riding, and Miri did catch me. I stayed on her tail and we made it back to the Hash House with just 19 seconds to spare. We handed in our chips, awaited our printout, and found our result card hung in second place. After an anxious wait, the third team in the Womens Open category finally materialised. They were third. We'd earned our second place fair and square, and only missed first place by ten points.

They don't call it "cycle-gaine" for nothing... Pt2

We headed off on a section of sealed road, along with several of the other teams, in pursuit of checkpoint 85.

We had plotted our route around some higher point values, and while we veered off onto a less beaten track, many other teams continued along the sealed road.

It wasn't long before I wondered, even if ever briefly, whether those other teams had it right. We very quickly found ourselves on terrain that I would never dream of calling a "track/path". Sure, it was ridiculously steep (up and down) but more importantly it was so rutted out that I was at a loss to pick a line. I very quickly had no choice but to push my bike (up and down). On one of the ups, I was literally unable to push any more. I let my bike drop to the ground, gasping for breath.

I quickly experienced a pang of guilt. What if Miri saw me? I immediately scrambled to get my bike upright and kept pushing. I sneaked a look at my watch. You're joking... we're only 45 minutes in???

We eventually found our first checkpoint. I'd helped Miri decide which way was "downstream" so felt I'd contributed something. "Onwards and forwards!" Miri yelled for the first of many times. I was strangely very relieved to hear her adapt from "onwards and upwards". I'd already had enough upwards, thank you very much.

They don't call it "cycle-gaine" for nothing... Pt1

Kekeboy and I arrived at the Peachester Hall, bright and early, not really sure what today would bring. Just the way I like event days to be - I've often said that the day I stop feeling any kind of emotion on race day, is the day I'll give it away.

There were no sign of our team members yet, but there was plenty of time until the race start.

Finally, at 10am the boys set off on the six hour event. Miri and I still had half an hour before the maps were issued, then another hour before our race start. We used the time to get our gear thoroughly organised, and then just chill out, before we picked up our map and tried to decipher it.

As is the custom in rogaining, the checkpoints had different values - in this case, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90 points. We looked at groupings of checkpoints geographically, knowing there was no way we would be able to collect all of them, and decided to head off in pursuit of the two groups of checkpoints to the south of the Hash House.

Miri mapped out the route, mainly on "dirt roads, track / path" according to the map legend. We attached our maps, Miri to her map board and me more amateurishly, with cable ties to my handlebars.

Until this point, we'd been set up in the Phoenix Adventure HQ around the back of the HH. When we went around the front to the start, we were startled by the number of teams also anxiously awaiting the whistle start. It was then that the excitement really kicked in! It was only a few minutes before the whistle sounded and the Grigor Peachester Four Hour Cyclegaine was on.

It's like freedom

I went for a quick mountain bike ride this morning. Out exploring the suburbs

Luckily, my suburbs now include the Boondall Wetlands. Although most of tracks are sealed, and it's hardly a bush track, I happened upon a dirt road to help me get into the swing of things for Sunday's cyclogaine.

On my road bike, I would have been limited to the bitumen tracks and wooden bridges across wetlands. On my mountain bike, I was free to roam more widely.

Adventure REALLY begins

I've just made a snap decision to do the Peachester Pedal Cyclegaine on the weekend. I'm doing the four hour race, which is probably enough for me right now. Besides, the four hour race is for those new to the sport. Yep, that's me.

My team mate though, well, she and her team mates from the Teva race on the weekend placed third in the womens teams category. What's she doing with me??!

Wish me luck.

Triathlon meets Adventure

So, kekeboy and I are now looking at some options for our next big overseas race. We've just come across the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon... those scandanavians are crazy.

The race is an iron distance race. The 3.8k swim is in a 400m deep fjord. Expected water temperature 15.5 to 17.5 C.

The 180k cycle is not only hilly - there aren't any aid stations. You are required to have a support team with a car, but you're not allowed to sit in the car on the bike leg, even for a rest when it's stationary.

And then there's the marathon.

Again, aid stations are only on part of the course. That's because, and I'm quoting from the competitor manual here, the mountain is not really a mountain, but more of a pile of rocks. It looks beautiful from a distance. This final rocky path up to the finish line will be a difficult walk up as there is an uneven path of different sized rocks.

You can't enter the last 4.7ks of the run without your support crew, and you have to carry your own food and drinks, warm clothing and mobile phone. Even in summer, the estimated temperature for this section of the run is 2 to 12 C. There's a free ride down in the elevator for every finisher - but not their support crew who have to walk back down the pile of rocks.

If you can't find a support crew willing to take this on, firstly, why...? There is an alternate route but if you take this option, or miss the final time cutoff, you get a different colour Finisher shirt. They've really got this sussed.

There are several "special rules" for Norseman Triathlon which allow neoprene caps and booties for the swim, blocking OK on uphill sections. Another rule that you never see anywhere else but scandanavia, Competitors will not be disqualified for nudity while changing in the transition zones.

Only in Norway...

Adventure Racing 101

Today was the culmination of the Phoenix Adventure Intro to Adventure Racing course - a real adventure race. I arrived at the Indooroopilly Canoe Club not really sure what to expect. Did I have everything I needed? Who would I be teamed with? Would they be able to read a map?

We all received a map and had 15 minutes of individual map reading, before our teams were announced. We then had a further 15 minutes to finalise our strategy together. Because I was somewhat familiar with the area, I spent too much time trying to orient myself to the map's landmarks. As a consequence I had basically nothing to contribute when I met with my team members, Miriam and Sophie.

Luckily, Miriam had it dialed. She became our navigator, and Sophie and I would spend the day following her directions to collect the controls throughout Indooroopilly, Chelmer, Toowong and St Lucia.

In all, we covered about 6km of paddling, 20ks on the mountain bike and a few Ks on foot. We made a strategic decision to not go after one of the controls up Mt Coot-tha (I wasn't too confident on the mountain bike component, and Miri wasn't quite sure how to get us across the freeway to the trails). As a result we crossed the line first, but had an anxious wait for the other teams to see if the half hour penalty we took for this decision would pay off.

It turned out that we and another team had missed a control point. We had to take our bearing from a metal shed in a park. We set off in completely the wrong direction, which reminded us of an important tip - metal objects can interfere with your compass.

We weren't the only ones that made this mistake though, and we were well satisfied to have placed second overall at the end of the day.

I'm not sure where to from here. The TEVA adventure race that many in the course were preparing for is only two weeks away and with next weekend already accounted for, there won't be any time for any further preparation. It may have to wait for another time - perhaps the Teva Champs in October.

Thanks Andy for a great week.

Photos courtesy of Phoenix Adventure - Andy Stewart and Erin Appleton

If you fail to plan...

So now my next challenge is getting ready for tomorrow's big finale - an adventure race through the suburbs surrounding the Indooroopilly Canoe Club.

So, I've got my equipment list from Monday's info night. Although Andy hadn't stipulated any mandatory race gear, I thought about what I would need and should carry with me. And then, figure out how to carry it all...
  • Mountain bike and helmet
  • Flat pedals
  • Spares
  • Running shoes and socks
  • Appropriate race attire - tri shorts and Phoenix Adventure jersey (a bit of flattery can't hurt can it?) as well as buff/hat, glasses, sunscreen, etc.
  • Stationery - pencils and eraser, permanent marker, highlighters, small notebook
  • Map case - or an improvised zip lock bags and cardboard
  • Zip ties could come in handy
  • Nutrition - Camelbak, electrolyte drink, energy bars, GUs
  • Extra ziplock bags for waterproofing items if required
I didn't worry about the waterproof jacket or first aid kit that are regularly stipulated as mandatory equipment by race organisers. I did take a whistle, though it wasn't the pea-less kind usually recommended; but would have to borrow a compass from Andy.

So with all this planning, surely I couldn't fail...!

It's ALL about the bike

At last, the session I'd dreaded most, given my past failures and fears. No, not lion taming, offal eating, and there wasn't a spider in sight.

It was in fact, mountain biking.

You can refer back to my previous post about my efforts at mountain biking here. In retrospect, it all seems quite positive and forward looking. Challenging my fears and all that... Well, I'm a little embarrassed to have to admit that I haven't done much "challenging my fears" via mountain biking since that earlier post.

So, we meet up at Daisy Hill, me more nervous than most. Andy took us through emergency breaking, how to balance our weight on the bike, cornering and other handy skills. I'm not sure whether it was this additional learning, or whether it was the pressure to perform in a group. But the morning went really very well, and despite a few early tears, I managed to successfully negotiate several of the trails. I'm even looking forward to getting back on, sooner rather than later.

A random number one

I wasn't the only one that had assumed that Friday night's "team dynamics" session at the Regatta Hotel was more about drinking than doing.

I can't say I was disappointed to be wrong.

First order of the evening was to randomly draw our number. I was Number One! Finally! Alas, the numbers were only to allow us to quickly split into even groups, it wasn't any kind of ranking system...

The night was full of fun and interesting challenges. We tied ourselves together and negotiated the stairs down to the bar; worked in teams to decide which rope was the odd one out; and figured out how to save our belongings in a flooded creek bed. (Imaginary of course.)

I guess it sounds kind of weird but I actually learned a few things about myself and my ability to work with others. I think everyone else did too. Maybe it wasn't so random that we all came out on top.

Start with the basics

This morning's success was always going to be measured on whether I ended up in the Brisbane River or not. We met at the Indooroopilly Canoe Club for an introductory session under the guidance of Erin Appleton, a past Australian representative and record holder in several kayaking events.

I had been really looking forward to the kayaking session. I've always enjoyed having a crack at kayaking, but never had any real tips on how to do it properly. Even so, I was extremely nervous about even getting into the vessel, as my confidence for anything that requires balance and the ability to hold your own body weight is pretty much non existent.

With Erin's help I finally managed to scramble in unscathed. We did a few different drills in the session and by the time we got to practicing paddling backwards, Erin had worked out that I am very comfortable with my limitations, and commented that she thought I was faster backwards than forwards... Could that be true?

After an hour or so on the water it was time to get out. Again, my stress levels rose, but in the end I managed to execute an extremely unglamorous roll out of the kayak onto the pontoon. I didn't care. I'd gotten through the whole session upright and dry. I wasn't about to spoil it right at the end by plunging headlong into the murky Brisbane River.

While I certainly can't say I've mastered kayaking, we learned the basics of how to paddle, steer and manourvre a kayak with some proficiency, and had the time to enjoy a sunrise on the water. A fantastic way to start the day.

Logistically challenged

Tonight's Phoenix Adventure session was navigation.

Andy took us through the basics, from reading maps, using a compass, how to navigate the landscape, planning our route, as well as basic safety techniques for getting found in the bush (if ever we needed it).

Most of us didn't know contours from controls before this session but by the end, we were confident enough to get through a 12 point orienteering exercise around Southbank. I even sacrificed a minute or so in the race against our peers to practice my compass skills. (Not that successfully, Wayne had to stop by and remind me that I needed to have North pointing North...whoops).

Despite my logistically challenged nature, I could definitely get hooked on this.

What I did yesterday

4.45am - rise and shine
4.46am - feed the cat
4.47am - whatever else I needed to do before...
5.30am - leaving the house for trail running
5.50am - drive around the outskirts of Anzac Park trying to figure out how to get to the meeting point. Who'd have thought I lived around the corner from here for, like, eight years...?
6.00am - running drills. I knew there was a reason I stopped going to formal running training.
6.15am - off on the trails. Yes, I've done heaps of running lately. I just ran a marathon. But training on flat roads and bike paths is NOT the same as running in the bush.
7.00am - end of training session, drive to work
7.20am - shower at QUT
7.30am - drive to Angela's at South Brisbane to park for the day
7.50am - walk across Goodwill Bridge to QUT, catch shuttle bus to other QUT
8.30am - work. Rest time. (Did I write that or think that?)
3.45pm - back on the shuttle back to QUT city campus, walk across Goodwill Bridge for final work appointment, celebratory drinks at the Ship Inn. Yes, I had softdrink.
5.15pm - walk to Angela's to pick up the car. Time for a quick hello and costume change
6.00pm - arrive at cliffs for... abseiling!

Susan from Adventure Seekers was there waiting for us with all the gear we needed laid out and ready for us. We practiced some drills, watched a demonstration, but it wasn't until I was all kitted up with a harness and hardware, standing on the side of the cliff that it became real. Was I up to this...?

I focused solely on the fact that I'd done this before. In fact I'd abseiled off taller cliffs, and even the Sheraton Brisbane. The first time down was a bit scary but on my second abseil I stopped and looked around... the city lights off the Brisbane river is really a beautiful sight.

??pm - arrive home for a quick bite to eat and SLEEP.

Try, try again

So, tonight's session at the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Strength and agility.

They've never been my strong points so I spent a lot of time this afternoon psyching myself up for what I thought would be a terribly embarrassing experience.

Like most things that you make yourself do under duress, it didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought it might have been. In fact, if Andy runs any more of these sessions, I'll probably go back.

It's not that I love lunges; and I certainly didn't discover a previously untapped talent for balance. Although I have trained on the stairs at the Kangaroo Point cliffs, I've never made myself run them.

But that's just the point. I dreaded these things. I would never make myself do them, even though, deep down, I know they're good for me. I'm not 100% sure that you can learn things like balance, but I am sure that I'll never know unless I work at it.

So it's off to bed. The Athletic Powerhouse has an early rise and logistical hell day tomorrow.

Seeking adventure

Tonight my new life as an adventure seeking Athletic Powerhouse begins.

I'm off to the introductory evening for the Phoenix Adventure Intro to Adventure Racing course. It is all new to me, so of course I'm not sure what to expect. The night will cover equipment (watch out wallet), nutrition (watch out waistline) and throughout the course we have the opportunity to kayak, mountain bike, and learn to navigate (watch out world!).

I'm feeling almost the same apprehension as I did all those years ago, when I went to my first introduction night for triathlon. The rewards that have followed that fateful night have been rich, so diverse and life changing.

If I have all of that to look forward to again, bring on the adventure.

Crazy Hair for Smiddy

My mate Bryn Somers is riding and Smiling for Smiddy next month.

Who was Smiddy? Smiddy was a young cyclist and triathlete who passed away a few years ago as a result of an aggressive melanoma. For the last couple of years, an ever increasing group of crazy cyclists have ridden 1600 Kms in eight days.

Fittingly, perhaps, last night Bryn kick started his fundraising for the Mater Foundation with a crazy hair party. The rules? Pay a cover charge, pay for drinks, pay for dinner, and wear crazy hair. Simple really.

Much more simple than completing the Smiling for Smiddy ride. And much less crazy.

Beginnings and ends

La Dolce Vita is a standard hangout for cyclists in Brisbane. So by association, is a favourite of triathletes and runners as well.

Today marks the end of an era for the well known haunt, with the well known barista is on his last day. This barista is not known and loved for his coffee (though he does a good job behind the coffee machine). He's known for his constant banter, calling girls sweetheart and darling; and flattering the blokes by likening them to George Clooney. In the spirit of true "dolch" hospitality, the owners brought out free bikkies for everyone, and passed around a card for the regular crowd to sign.

As for beginnings, well, I guess I can't exactly promise a new beginning, but I've signed up for the Intro to Adventure Racing course starting Monday. At the very least, I hope the course will kickstart my training (which has been nonexistent since the Marathon) and challenge me physically and mentally. And maybe, just maybe, entertain the thought of adventure racing.

It's official

Yes, I am officially a Marathon finisher.

Great weather, a dedicated support crew, the best cheer squad on the coast and a very patient pace runner (well, for a couple of Ks anyway... shhhh!) got me through.

As did an anonymously drawn picture on the road.

I've replicated it here - a smiling stick figure runner, wearing a Gold Coast Marathon Tshirt and medal.

Whoever drew it knows that for some of us out there, all we want is to get our hands on that shirt and medal. But not for the reasons that many would suspect. The "race bling" isn't for show.

Yes, we all wear our Finishers shirts. Sometimes, even in public. But when you pull on a Finisher shirt, it's not for anyone else.

Sure, people will see it and think all kinds of things - some positive, some negative. But none of that matters.

When you pull on a Finishers shirt, whether it be straight after you finish for a happy snap with your loved one, or whether it be weeks, months, or even years later, you can't help but feel something. Pride in a well deserved achievement (perhaps a PB). The memory of a great day in the sunshine. Sometimes, it's just relief that you got through what wasn't such a good day.

When you pull on a Finishers shirt, above anything else, it makes it official.

An explosion, two days early?

So, after getting my "personal refreshments" ready to go last night I arrived at work with a bag full of Coke (rather than a couple of bottles full of Coke). It obviously wasn't as flat as I thought it had been, and had exploded from the small disposable bottles I'd so carefully decanted it into.

My workmate totally misjudged my arrival at work with a bottle of Coke as terrible breakfast nutrition. Luckily, he asked so I could explain why I'd arrived to work at 8am with a bottle of Coke at the ready!

I hope my drink bottles are the only thing that fall apart over the next couple of days.

But what should I wear?

So, it's time to finalise what I'm going to wear for my Marathon debut on Sunday.

I'm thinking I'll go for the Phoenix Adventure jersey with running tights and my new Saucony Hurricanes. I'll have to wear one of my Ironman hats - as multisport is really where my heart lies.

What you wear in a race is always a big decision. This time, I've agonised over the decision to wear the Phoenix Adventure kit, even by my standards. I even asked KKB whether he thought I should ask Andy if he would mind me wearing his new club kit, given that I haven't really trained with him for this race, and also because I wasn't realistically going to set a blistering pace...

KKB wondered why on earth I thought Andy would possibly mind. Doing your best, rather than being the best, has always been Andy's ethos.

Nevertheless, when I got the chance to run it by Andy, I did. As KKB had predicted, Andy looked at me a little blankly, as if he couldn't quite fathom my request. As Andy wondered what to say to me, I kept chattering away, explaining my predicament.

"It's just that I'll be out there for a while... in fact I'm a little bit worried that I might come last. I don't want to be a bad advertisement for you", I continued.

Andy reminded me that his team had finished the recent Geoquest 48hr Race just a couple of minutes before the official cutoff. "Why do you think we did that? Everyone was there waiting for us, the presentations were about to start, it was the best exposure ever!"

Problem solved.

Focus on the positives

Taper has been going nicely. I have had a massage and my last long run on Saturday, 1.5 hrs, felt good and was over before I knew it.

The key to a good taper, though, isn't just physical. More than anything, it's about getting yourself mentally prepared.

On Saturday as I ran past a bus stop and a would-be passenger called out as I passed, "I wish I could do that. I've got busted knees". I realised how lucky I was to be able to consider running a marathon. It was then that I remembered how important it is for me to spend this week focussing on the positives.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Throughout my preparation for this, my first marathon, I've been reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - a memoir by novelist Haruki Murakami.

As a (very) amateur writer and runner, it is perfect reading material for me right now - lent to me by my boss when she heard I was training for the marathon.

I identified really strongly with his attitude to running. For Haruki, it seems that running is a meditation and a discipline; a way for him to tackle his life as a writer with a newly found physical and mental strength. It doesn't seem to be about success in its pure sense; rather his running is a way for him to challenge himself, to better himself, and to find out more about himself. Through his running, he remains true to himself.

All of these things, I identified with. They're exactly what I talk about, when I talk about running.

Running Pink

KKB has been following the progress of Deborah de Williams, who is attempting a world record run around Australia to raise funds for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

We were both devastated to read on her blog last night that she has recently had to retire from her attempt to become the first female to run around Australia. Running between 20 and 50ks every day for a year is always going to take its toll, but about a month ago, Deborah tripped over her running companion Maggie, her border collie. She has soldiered on since then, but having twisted her ankle, she has had ongoing injuries due to changing her gait to compensate.

A gutsy lady, she's looking to start her second attempt in February and will continue her fundrasing effort for the NBCF.

Our thoughts are with you Deborah.

Keep the respect

Well, I was fairly apprehensive about my big run yesterday. After a few double runs of 30k combined, it was time to put it together to complete a 33k River Loop.

Like the previous days, the morning was cold, and as we are still a week and a half off the winter Equinox, the sun wasn't strong enough to cut through.

KKB had offered to ride a loop to measure my intended path, then come back to supply extra drinks and moral support.

I needed the extra Gatorade but needed the moral support more. In retrospect, I don't think I'd prepared mentally for the run. I've done this route before when preparing for each of my Ironman races, so maybe I thought it would be all too easy.

I had a few issues along the way with my tummy and tight muscles, so hopefully some better dietary preparation and a few massages will help with that. But mentally I've realised I need to keep the respect for what I'm doing. A marathon is not a walk in the park.


Cut my run to a short speed session. Nearly froze my face, feet and hands off.

Where I want to be

I did my double run on Saturday afternoon along the beach at Lennox Head. KKB and a couple of friends rode 200k to Lennox - with the aim to ride back to Brisvegas on Sunday.

I'd driven down to meet them so when it came time to back up the morning's run, I set off hoping to find a path along the beachfront. As I ran aimlessly I came across a couple of blokes that had obviously just returned from their afternoon sabattical. They gave me some directions for an 8k loop but I was far too unfamiliar with the town to have any idea what they were talking about.

They saw this, so suggested I just run along the beach. The tide was right to have hard sand, they assured me.

Although I was a unsure whether this was a good idea - it turned out to be an absolute delight. The sand was definitely hard enough to ensure it felt just like running on the sand track at UQ. The air was a lot fresher than any of the runs I'd do at home. The scenery, well, obviously it was wonderful.

I found the right path to get me back to the shops near where we were staying, and as I crossed the road I saw a plant pot stencilled with "Are you where you want to be?".

Something I say to myself when I'm finding it tough in training, or racing for that matter, is, "Where else would you want to be?". Invariably, the answer is "Nowhere. I'm exactly where I want to be."
I smiled to myself and ran round the corner home.

The comraderie of running

Another 25ks this morning, out and back back through New Farm and the Botanical Gardens.

Obviously 25ks is a long way to run. Sometimes I get asked how I keep myself occupied when I run. It varies from run to run. Sometimes I'm happy just to look at my surrounds, and other times I need to be try a little harder to distract myself from the task at hand.

Often, I take notice of the people around me, and when I do this I've found that I especially take note of those who look like they're on a long run - loaded Fuel Belt, visibly smeared with sunscreen and often with compression socks.

On out and back runs, you often come across the same people twice - once on the way out and again on the way back. So when I'm on longer runs, I love seeing my endurance comrades at the start and end of a run. Sometimes, they recognise me too, just with a bit of a smile or a nod. But that's all it takes to communicate the respect and encouragement that's shared by endurance runners. It's a good thing.

My old stomping ground, in bad socks

Today I decided to go back to my old stomping ground to train. Although I've enjoyed the change of scenery in my running, I rarely see anyone I know any more, unlike the good old days when I ran around the Uni and Coro Drive bikepath.

It paid off!

I planned to run from Teneriffe to the Regatta and back for a 25k long run. It took me until the Goodwill Bridge to see a familiar face, but just a couple of hundred metres along and Mike and Michael rode up behind me.

Closer towards the Regatta I saw Daz, still nursing his broken collarbone. I guess that since the weather was his optimal training conditions, even he couldn't resist a stroll in the sun. In almost the same spot on the way back, was Bryn (compression socks and all) and then along the city boardwalk, my old friend Shiraz.

I was on a high for a short time - but I still had 8ks to go. Although generally I felt fatigued, mostly, my feet hurt. When I finished my run I tore my shoes off immediately. When I got home I threw out my old, worn socks, which I blamed for my pain.

Now though, with the benefit of a few hours after my double run, I wonder whether I wasn't just blaming my tools for my less than desireable consistency over the last couple of weeks?

I guess I'll never know for sure, because the offending socks are gone...

A change of scenery

This weekend we were at Andy and Miri's wedding at Midginbil Hill, at the foot of Mt Warning. A beautiful ceremony and an excellent weekend away with friends.

The weather wasn't fantastic, as the rain-clouded picture demonstrates. But we didn't let that dampen our spirits, nor stop us from training. Many of the crew had brought their mountain bikes or running shoes (or both) and on Saturday morning, many of us set off for our sabbatical.

KKB and I both ran. I'm usually a fastidious planner of my training routes. I love Map My Run. This weekend I didn't have the luxury of an internet connection with which to plot where and how far I would run. I just had my running shoes, my watch, and, with any luck at least, a sense of direction to get me back to the campsite.

In the end, this added to the sense of contentment I felt when running. Just a bunch of trees, the odd cow and horse, and very few cars. Bliss.

On the way back, I even stopped on the side of the road to gather some additional autumn leaves - at the behest of the bride-to-be. Who am I to argue?

Decisions, decisions...

The down side to the weekend was another missed long run.

Although I'd arranged to go into work late today - post long run was the aim - I've woken up with a potential relapse of the cold.

(Yes, I'm sure it's not swine flu.)

I decided not to risk it but I hope the decision doesn't return to bite me on the bum.

I'm in

I'm all signed up for my first marathon. There's no turning back now...

Look out for the Athletic Powerhouse, bib number 1622.

Training by trial and error

As I shuffled along Kingsford Smith Drive this morning, a couple of fellow runners did their U-Turn in front of me, and as the minutes passed as I ran along behind them - they didn't get away from me.

I picked up the pace a little, then they stopped for a drink. When I caught them up, we compared notes. Training for the GC Marathon? Check. Three hour run today? Check.

They asked me how long I planned to run on my longest run, and I told them the River Ride. I thought they'd know what I meant because one of them was wearing a cycling jersey - turns out though it was her husband's jersey and she had no idea.

"33ks", I elaborated. But they weren't quite that advanced in their planning, and weren't sure how far they should run in training.

Just before we headed our separate ways, they told me they'd just discovered "these energy things". They were excited that they could now run for more than two hours with the help of an Endura gel.

As they headed off down the opposite way to me, I wished I'd run with them to try and share what I knew about endurance training. Not that I'm an expert. But I've been lucky to have the support and advice from a squad and a coach for most of my time as an Athletic Powerhouse. It's saved me from a lot of trial and error.

Swines and cheaters

I woke up Friday morning feeling pretty much like death warmed up. I called in sick to work but felt a little guilty about it, as we were due to set off that afternoon for a weekend in Byron Bay for the annual triathlon.

It definitely isn't swine flu but it is a bit of a setback in my training. No long run this weekend.

It also kept me from volunteering as a draft official for the triathlon. Instead I was on the receiving end of drafting, looking after the Penalty Box. Funny, most of those who reported to me swore they weren't cheating. Of course.


I can't believe I did hill reps...

I remember enjoying hill reps. Maybe that's because I haven't done hill reps for even longer than speed work?

Even so I was a bit unsure. But KKB preempted the lame excuse I was thinking of using, "I'm new to this area, I don't know where any hills are..." by pointing me in the direction of the perfect hill for such training and off I set.

Maybe my memory of enjoying hill reps was accurate after all.

Double Hell

When looking over the downloaded program, I made a few notes and committed myself to double runs throughout my marathon program.

While many people doubt the theory of the double run, it's a godsend for athletes like the Athletic Powerhouse, who have trouble covering enough distance in programs where long runs are based on time. Rather than attempting to build long runs by too much time each week, I've opted to follow the prescribed weekly long run with a shorter run that afternoon.

Yes, it can seem like hell. But it's worked for me before...

This afternoon kind of hurt, but only for the first few hundred metres.

My mysterious double life

The athletic powerhouse has had a slow couple of weeks. Duty called and for a weekend I resumed my secret life as a technical official for Triathlon Queensland.

(Hey, it almost sounds glamorous when you put it like that, like Superman ducking into a phone booth to emerge as a lycra clad superhero...)

The Mooloolaba Triathlon particularly was challenging as always, with record numbers of athletes to cater to and a new extended transition layout... but wait, there's more - cyclonic seas meant the Plan B swim course which had to be measured and verified before the gun went off...

As a result I've missed my long run for the last two weeks. Not ideal of course but what else can you do when you've got a demanding double life to uphold?

This morning I took up where I left off with a long run into Teneriffe Ferry. It all went OK so no harm done, I guess...

It's only 3ks...

I returned to my old Hood this morning for the first of several 3k Time Trials that Pat Carroll recommends you do when training for a marathon.

I'm a little unsure about that. Speed work is one thing, but when you're as (un)gifted as the Athletic Powerhouse, time trials can be downright depressing...

I won't embarrass myself with details, but I was fairly impressed with my effort this morning. Whether I continue to impress in future Time Trials, well, that remains to be seen.

Exploring the new 'Hood

Since I got married I've moved. (KKB and I are renowned for living apart. When we got engaged one of my friends even asked whether, when we got married, it would mean we would actually move in together. Yes, Miri, it does mean we moved in together!)

So new digs means new running options.

While I've been a bit tentative about it, as I now live closer to the Kedron Brook bike path, which was well known for attacks on women last year. As far as I'm aware, they've never found the offender.

Even so, this morning's run ended up taking me along Racecourse Road and Kingsford Smith Drive. Nice scenery to explore, without a doubt.

What's speedwork?

OK so I downloaded the Pat Carroll program from the Gold Coast Marathon website. It's a serious running program with (gasp!) speed work.

I haven't done speed work for a while. Up until this morning I was quite doubtful that I would ever be able to motivate myself to do it, particularly as I'd opted to train solo rather than with a squad.


I'd forgotten the adrenaline rush that comes from running hard. And even though I was training alone, a cyclist gave me a bit encouragement as I stopped to catch my breath between efforts.

And of course, it's fairly easy to trick yourself into speed work when the set is 6 x 1.45 minute efforts. You can tell yourself it's only ten and a half minutes running...

I'm doing what???

I'm a bit unsure how I got myself into this situation. Actually, that's not quite true. I know exactly how I got myself into this mess.

What mess?

It seems that I'm running the Gold Coast Marathon this year.

How did this happen?

Well, I mentioned to KKB a couple of weeks ago that maybe my next goal after Jervis Bay should be attempting the Gold Coast Marathon. All of a sudden, he's asking me what I'm doing for coaching or training, and when I'm going to start.


Race Day

A beautiful sunrise awaited us on Race Day.

There were several of us that had traveled from Brisbane for the race, some seeking qualification for the Worlds, some more seriously than others.

It was Ironmoles reunited, as Jilly, Annie and I competed together once again for the first time since our first Ironman in Port Macquarie nearly 3 years ago. How time flies.

Race day was quite lonely for me. Bryn had finished by the time I headed out on the run (partly because of the wave starts, but mainly because of the difference in our abilities!). And the Sweep on the run course was a young bloke called Morgan.

Although initially I was surprised I was so far behind everyone, but if I'm really honest, my time was pretty much what I'd predicted. I just hadn't counted on everyone else being so much less slow! Even though I was last across the line, I wasn't the slowest overall, or in any of the three legs. I was satisifed with that. It came down to the wave starts, which were pretty spread out, and mine was closer to the end than the start.

I'm working on a full Triathlete Chronicle, which I'm sure will be live soon.

The hard stuff

The hard stuff's done now. Did the race distance bike yesterday and run today. (Well I was 1k shy on the run - miscalculated and only did 19 - but what's a k between friends?).

Tough going this morning as well after yesterday's Hens effort. I know, I'm already married, but since I eloped and didn't get a proper hens (just a Fake-Practice-Planning one) my friends and I headed to the races for an afternoon out yesterday.

Let's just say this morning's run was later than normal...

Back to the grind...

The Athletic Powerhouse thought she'd had a few good reasons to slack off on the training lately. Getting hitched is a big commitment. (What am I saying, of course it's a big commitment. What I actually mean, is that it takes time and energy and it's difficult to concentrate on much else.)

But now there is nowhere to hide. The Longcourse Champs just a few weeks away, and I'm feeling quite underdone.

I did my own program for this race rather than training with the squad. I thought it would be too difficult to weasel out of training without being honest about the elopement if I had a coach to be accountable to. So, I worked out a modest program to build my swimming, cycling and running to a standard that would allow me to complete the race.

Now, three weeks out, I'm not sure that was the best decision.

Then again, there are three weeks to go. A few more long rides and runs, and some more cramming at the pool and I should be OK. Right?

Back to reality

Back to reality now with just under four weeks until the Longcourse champs.

I've been training fairly well, building all three disciplines but without any specific training in terms of speed work. Swimming in the new pool at work has been pretty good - usually not too crowded, and often a lane to myself.

My running has been progressing well - only 2 more long runs before race day. And cycling has been constant with the preparation for the Tour Down Under.

Our photo on

Check it out properly in Lance's photo album on

TDU Stage 6: City Criterium

We had another early start to stake out our spot for the day, and also had to pack up the iMAX with all our gear for a dash to the airport after the finish.

Again we got the jerseys out to try and get Lance to SIGN HERE. Again we got plenty of attention - most notably from Lance's own Livestrong photographer. We've realised since that we have a photo on the Livestrong site!

We took turns to move away from our spot to eat and check out the atmosphere of the event. I got my photo taken with Australian cycling legend Phil Anderson (home page or Wikipedia) before heading back to watch the day's action.

The QuickStep team worked hard to earn a win for their leader Alan Davis, and we watched him climb the podium to be awarded the ochre winners jersey for 2009.

And yes, the iMAX made it back to the airport! KKB and I got the last two towels in the QANTAS lounge, so had a comfortable trip home.

TDU Stage 5: Snapper Point to Willunga

We got the chance to get up close and personal like no other opportunity today. We got our spot early just opposite the sign-on board, just shy of the start line.

We had close encounters with Oscar Pereiro and George Hincapie, and watched all the stars sign on - Michael Rogers, Stuart O'Grady, and a contemplative Alan Davis, still in the ochre leader's jersey.

Becauase we'd gotten such a good response to the LANCE SIGN HERE jerseys yesterday, we decided to get them out on show again today. They again attracted attention, from the stage premier Mike Rann, and Channel Seven sports guy Mark Beretta. I was even interviewed by a Channel Seven reporter, which despite my best efforts (dropping phrases like "superstar like Armstrong" and "iconic event" and "travelled from Queensland and we'll be back") appears to have ended up on the cutting room floor.

And still no attention from Mr Armstrong. We got just a couple of glimpses of him through the peleton but our attention was not reciprocated.

As soon as the peleton rolled out of Snapper Point we headed straight for Willunga Hill. Always trust a scientist with a map - Andy got us to a plumb parking spot about 200m from the action on Willunga Hill. Sure, we had to cross a major highway on foot... but everyone else was doing it. And noone died, right?

We got our position about halfway up the hill and got to see the entire field pass by three times.

Yes, three times! That never happens in the Tour de France!

We had to rely on Team Nokia to get the final result for the day, then ventured into the heart of Adelaide to experience the tour village festivities. Each of the teams has a booth in which each afternoon, the mechanics work on the riders' bikes. Today Cadel Evans was also there to sign autographs.

The Tour Down Under offers a different experience to the Tour de France. While we were looking forward to seeing Alan Davis defend the ochre jersey on tomorrow's final stage, we were disappointed that the week had gone so fast.

TDU Stage 4: Burnside Village to Angaston

Today was our day to ride. We entered the Mutual Community Challenge which rode the Tour 155k route from start to finish. There were other options though, and some in the group had opted for the shorter 97ks version.

There were two starts for the 155, the earlier of which was for "faster" riders with a start half an hour later for the more casual riders. Miri and I took a gamble on the second start. Although worried about being at the back of the pack and being caught up with less experienced riders, we thought it better than to be caught up with bunches of gung-ho riders that might just want to flatten us...

The gamble paid off. We arrived at the start just as the first bunch pulled out. It was massive. We were pleasantly surprised to find a significantly smaller bunch to start with, and an additional start just 15 minutes after we arrived, rather than the scheduled 30.

We'd talked tactics the day before. Happily, we both agreed that taking one of the "bailouts" was perfectly acceptable. After all, they were sanctioned bailouts - fair game right? I also figured that I was training for the Australian Longcourse Championships and if I was at home I wouldn't be doing a 155k ride. I'd probably in fact be looking at a 100-120k long ride. So, taking the bailout wouldn't even harm that.

However, the highlight of the ride was breaking out the team jerseys. The organisers had an event jersey that was compulsory for all riders. If you had enough people, though, you could register as a team and customise your jerseys with a team name. We had gone for the team name:

It got the thumbs up from almost everyone that passed us (and in Miri and my case, that was a lot of people). But whether it would get the same from The Man himself remained to be seen...

We arrived at Angaston in plenty of time to get a spot for the race finish.

When we headed home, tired after a long day, we spotted pro riders on their "warm down" ride. Surely they weren't riding the full 80ks back to Adelaide...? Yep, we think they did.

TDU Stage 3: Unley to Victor Harbour

This morning we went "star spotting" at the race start, and witnessed for the first, but not last time of the week, the Lance Armstrong media frenzy.

It was just a short ride from our apartment to the race start on Unley Road. Of course, as tourists, we got lost, but had plenty of time to get there before the team cars rolled in.

We got to see the preparations of hard man Stuart O'Grady, up and comer Jack Bobridge, ex pro Matt White in his new role as Garmin team manager, and Alan Davis in the ochre leader's jersey. A couple of us were most thrilled to meet legendary commentator Phil Liggett. We sheepishly asked for his autograph, wondering whether we'd catch him off guard... and were perhaps a little disappointed when he obliged as if it happens all the time!

The Caisse d'Pargne team of Oscar Pereiro casually sipped coffee at one of the cafes that lined the street, while other riders sheltered nervously from the crowds in the back of their team vans.

The circus arrived, though, when the Astana van pulled in. We saw glimpses of Lance through the media scrum. Between media commitments and the last minute sign on before the peleton rolled out, there was a short window for autographs. Alas, I was on the opposite side of the road and would miss out today. (Probably just as well; I was wearing my Livestrong jersey and would have had to whip it off very quickly had I have had the opportunity to pass it over for an autograph.)

I also spotted a placard in the crowd, bearing the words

I wasn't sure quite how I felt about this. It was either pure genius, and bound to get a much sought after signature or meeting with Lance; on the other hand it may have been incredibly bad taste.

I don't know whether or not it worked. But when we returned home after a quick lap down to Glenelg for lunch, we regrouped to formulate better tactics for future Stages.

TDU Stage 2: Hahndorf to Stirling

On arrival at Adelaide airport we had the logistical challenge of fitting four people, four bike bags/boxes, two large suitcases (ashamedly, mine and KKB's) and two smaller suitcases (Mark's and Mike's) into our rental car.

The Hyundai iMAX was the butt of many a joke during our time in Adelaide, but I have to say, we managed to fit a lot of stuff in it.

Reminiscent of the TDF, the locals of Stirling had done some decorating along the streets. Photos of a couple of my favourites - especially I Like Lancealot. Would perhaps have been better if it were held by a knight in shining armour rather than strapped to the trunk of an elephant (what the?). But even so...

The honeymoon?

Not exactly. Straight after getting hitched KKB and the Athletic Powerhouse ventured to South Australia with friends to chase down Lance in the Tour Down Under. We weren't sure what lay ahead. We were hoping not quite the frenetic pace of activity for us that we'd experienced watching the Tour de France last year, but were hoping for the same frenetic pace of racing!