Today was the last day of my recovery week. I've let my body "recover" by running the best part of a half marathon on Wednesday, and completing the equivalent of a Half Ironman today.
I know, followers of the Athletic Powerhouse, that you will share my disenchantment that no free Tshirts were forthcoming at the end of these efforts, the way there would be at the end of the real thing. I hope, though, that you will enjoy the story of how I happily parted with with $5 in exchange for a can of Coke.
Many of you will have been there I'm sure. There are plenty of times in long training sessions, or even races, where you would give any amount of cash for something you covet. A cold drink. A warm bed. A bucket of hot chips. Sometimes even, just to stop.
Today wasn't quite like that. Not for the most part anyway.
The focus of the session was to maintain a pace higher than I might normally hold in training, but not so much that I'd spend a week recovering. (After all, this session was part of recovery week...?) I was also to practice my race nutrition. Just as well I'd received my order of Powerbar Sportsdrink to practice with! (This is the drink they'll serve at aid stations at Regensburg. It's always handy to know what's in store so there's no nasty surprises on race day.)
It was an early start at Somerville House pool for a 1.9K swim. I was dressed and ready by 7.15 when Katharine met me for our 90K ride.
To try and replicate race conditions, I'd planned a ride of two 45Km loops, each including a lap of Mt Coot-tha. I'd then do a flat 21K run along the river. The ride was a bit stop-start. It often is when you ride in the city. Add into that a mixture of bike path and streets... oh, and a couple of 250m climbs, well, perhaps I shouldn't be too disappointed with my average pace? I guess my coach will be the judge of that.
The downside of a longer than expected time on the bike was that I set off on my run a lot later than I thought I would. Not that that was really a problem. I didn't have anywhere else to be. But it messed with my head.
Not only that, as I went through my transition from bike to run, I discovered I'd left my Fuelbelt at home. I had to take drinks with me, but I couldn't carry all four of the flasks I'd prepared. In fact I couldn't carry any in my jersey pocket, they bounced around far too much. So, while not ideal, I set off for my 21Ks, holding two water bottles in my hands. How is this going to go?
From South Brisbane I headed over the Goodwill Bridge and turned right through the Botanic Gardens, along the boardwalk past Eagle Street Pier, under the Story Bridge on the floating boardwalk, right around through New Farm, past the Powerhouse and up to Teneriffe. I stopped only to chug down a GU at the 7K mark, and continued up past the Gasworks, did a block in the Valley and headed back the way I'd come.
To compensate for carrying less hydration than normal, I'd stopped at water taps along the way, but I had run out of electrolyte early. Knowing that I normally rely heavily on the sugar from my drinks in the second half of the run, I knew I'd have to find a shop to restock on the way back.
The mere thought of stopping at a shop got me thinking about Coke.
Before too long, I couldn't stop thinking about the tart tang Coke gives on the lips.
I never drink Coke. Hold on, let me rephrase that. The only time I drink Coke is when I desperately need a lift in long races.
...yes, I needed Coke.
By the time I hit my turnaround point, I couldn't get my hands on it quick enough. I found a little coffee shop along Vernon Tce, got myself a can from the fridge and paid. I shook it a little to try and get rid of some of the fizz before opening it outside, downing half and stowing the other half in my empty Fuelbelt bottle for later. The staff were fantastic, refilling my other bottle with water, giving me a few Freckles to munch on, and gushing adoringly at how I was filling in my day.
The $2.20 price tag meant I had $2.80 in change, which I stowed in a Ziplock bag in my back pocket before heading off again.
Clang clang clang clang clang clang clang clang.
If only the Coke was $2, or even $3.
Clang clang clang clang clang clang clang clang clang........
When I got to the end of the boardwalk towards the Powerhouse, I came across a recreational cyclist who was eating a mandarin on a park bench. He looked up and said hello as I approached.
"Great day for a run," he said as I put my bottles down on the bench beside him.
"Sure is. Could you do me a favour? Can you take this change off my hands? It's rattling around in my pocket driving me insane."
While this would freak out many, this fellow didn't bat an eyelid. I could kind of tell he would be the type to appreciate the zen of the a random act of kindness.
"If you're sure. It's funny. I went to a Chinese temple this morning and they gave me fruit. It must be my lucky day."
Yep, I picked the right guy.
I thanked him (yes, thanked him) as I once again set off. Less than an hour now before today would be over, and another milestone reached.
But, sadly, no free Tshirt to show for it.