Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Best Day of My Life. Part one - the ceremonies

On Sunday the 27th of January I married Deseri-Joy. It was the best day of my life, and I am going to describe it in minute detail. There will be little reference to running.

The setting is Camp Breakaway, 20 minutes south of Newcastle. They hold camps for disabled kids and their families and hire out the facilities to raise money to run the place. They have roomed that the guests can hire out, and we had about 50 guests staying the night before. As a result we had many willing volunteers to help us set things up the night before. The atmosphere as this was happening was great - lots of our friends from different circles working together. Unfortunately I had started developing a cold, which I was self medicating as hayfever. As a result I went to bed with a slightly runny nose and no chance of sleeping.

This turned out OK because in the morning the adrenaline kicked in, and Des and I started organising things. At seven o'clock I had started to feel the pinch and I was really starting to regret not taking my espresso machine up. This is when Des said to me:

"Darling, this is your surprise: at 8:15 a coffee van will arrive and serve coffees to all of our guests for two hours"

My girl knows how to look after me.

After the van arrived I gathered with the guests under the trees at the front of Camp Breakaway and chatted, played guitar and waited for the girls.

A little after 9:00AM there was excitement as the girls started to make their way up from the cabins. Firstly the flower girls with the two junior bridesmaids (Emily and Brielle) and then Des and her two best friends, Sharon and Katie.

Now I already happen to think that Des is the most beautiful girl in the world (yes Bruce - I'll agree to disagree), but on this particular occasion she brought tears to my eyes - she looked like a goddess. And she was about to marry me.

There was never any thought that the wedding was ever going to be anything other than extremely casual. I was wearing hemp pants, a woven cotton t shirt and no shoes, as were my best man and groomsman, Marlz and my brother Clint. Des found her dress by googling "hippy wedding dress".

So with our guests sitting on picnic rugs and camp chairs or standing the ceremony started. We had an idea that we'd like the celebrant to do only the parts she was legally required to do and my mum conducting the rest of the ceremony. The celebrant wasn't keen to give that much up, and my mum is not a confident public speaker. The result was that we had short vows and a long reading that was "vow like" by my mum.

We didn't have the opportunity to have a rehearsal, and there were two aspects of the ceremony where this showed. Firstly, every time the celebrant said "Deseri" she mispronounced it. Secondly, when the celebrant asked us to move closer together we took it as the "kiss the bride" moment - and we hooked into each other to the cries of "not yet!" from the celebrant.

The wedding ceremony was followed by a short ceremony for John's naming day, in which we asked all grand parents, great grandparents, uncles, aunties, godparents (Sharon & Marlon) and Em and Bop to read a verse from a poem.

With the end of the ceremony we headed inside for the breakfast reception.

Stay tuned for the reception, but for a sneak preview, look here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Black Stump Recovery

The body is a strange and wonderful thing.

I think I looked after myself particularly well during the Black Stump run - I hydrated well, my pre race nutrition was well planned and executed and my race strategy was a winner. Post race I was straight into the appropriate recovery foods and as a result the day after I felt like a million bucks.

Unfortunately my resumption of training, whilst well planned, was poorly executed, and as a result I think I'm still feeling it.

Warning: poo story in next paragraph

My initial plan was to adopt Pat Carroll's post race strategy of no fast running for a week. On my first training run back this was made impossible by an ill timed visit from the poo fairy. I knew I needed to go about 2K away from the next public toilet, and this turned the session into a form of speedwork that I'll call poolek - you go increasingly faster as the urgency grows, and I did the final 500m at 3K race pace.

The run after this was a run at Sook 54's excellent twilight race. I had John in the pram. I planned to do 10K very easy, but John went feral at 3.5K, so Marlz and I stopped, gave him a bottle and jogged back from there. Even at the reduced pace, pushing the pram on a windy night trashed my legs badly.

Since then I've taken it very easy, but my legs still feel heavy. Tomorrow the plan is 21K, which is still 10K shorter than where my standard long run is, but I hope to get back up to 30 the following week.

The next two weeks are going to be hard to plan - obviously most of my focus will be on the wedding. Things are coming along well in that regard - it's going to be a very relaxed and casual celebration.

After the wedding, we get serious and put a plan together for the Canberra sub four quest.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Beyond the Black Stump - a Bloody Great Bush Run

What an awesome way to start the year?

In planning for this run I had bought a hydration pack and a couple of Power Bars.I filled the hydration pack with 2L of Staminade. Rod the Hornet kindly gave me a lift so that I didn't have to pack the family into the car at 6:00AM.

I took some very good advice about this race and went very conservatively from the start. I ran the first third of the race mainly with Kazz, Bushbaybee and a bloke who's CR handle I didn't catch (Basil Brush?).

The first 8K was an uneventful mix of bush and road butI was a little worried about our time when we pulled into the ferry on about 1:20.

We didn't have to wait much at the ferry. I had planned to pick up some Gatorade, but it looked closed, so I decided to ration my Staminade. after the ferry there is a 4K uphill which is mainly road. it was here that I started to pull away from the others as I jogged a goodly portion of this section. My policy on this uphill was that if my breathing got laboured I walked. At the top of the hill someone had left some drinks (Coke, Gatorade, a couple of beers) I foolishly decided to leave it for the trip back. From here it was back into the bush and a steep downhill. This section seemed to last for ages, but finally I reached the ruined castle - the turnaround point. At this stage I had been going for 2.5 hours. I took a break here and had a stretch. While I was doing this I was caught by BushBaybee and we had a few photos.

From here Bushbaybee and I ran together for the entire trip back to the ferry. The climb after the ruined castle was steep and a bit tough, and I was looking forward to the drink station, but when we got there we found about 200ml of Gatorade and a half drunk can of Coke. We shared the Gatorade (I'd run out of Staminade already) and I drank the Coke (I usually avoid the filthy black liquid like the plague, but it's gold on a very long run). 500m later there was some people giving out cold water, so I took some in the pack (thanks guys).

We made some good time on the road back down to the ferry, but wasted it all by a long break at the marina where I went to the toilet and filled my again empty pack with Powerade. A long wait at the ferry had me itching to get going.

The next section is the hardest of the course. I lost Bushbaybee soon after we got off the ferry and was running, sorry, climbing close to if not with Carmen as I slowly ascended through the bush. After what seemed like an eternity (it was really 2.5K in 45 minutes) I finally hit some flat track and broke into a jog.

I actually felt pretty good throughout that section, and I started to get visions of a massive kick to finish, but I left it until I hit some road about 4K from the finish until I thought: "OK, let's pretend this is the final stages of a marathon - let's try to finish this baby off at 4 hour marathon pace".

I didn't - my legs were not capable of going that fast at that stage, and I finishedwith some 6:0X Ks.

Approaching the finish I noticed the people mover we affectionately call "the bus" and two excited little faces peering at me. The twins ran the last 50m with me as I stopped the Garmin at 5:17:55. I had qualified for the Six Foot Track Marathon.

I didn't realise exactly how happy this was going to make me. I've been on cloud nine all day. Additionally I have felt bubbly, energetic and cheerful, where quite often I crash and burn after (or during) a race. This afternoon I frolicked with the kids at Ryde pool.

Thanks to Rod for the lift, all the people I ran with for the company, all of the drink givers and especially Jen for support and advice and my support crew & cheer squad.

It's been a special day.