Race day is getting closer, the training runs are getting longer (taper is fast approaching - phew) but the temperature just isn't getting any cooler. Not that I am complaining. The Gold Coast has been an absolutely fantastic location to devote a block of time towards training for an event. However, the challenges I have been faced with have been of a very different nature to what I would have been confronted with in either New Zealand or England.
Everyday I look forward to my training. There is something amazingly cleansing about this place. The sea breeze, the salt air and the spectacular sea views allow me to say that each and every run is an enjoyable experience. I literally pinch myself everyday when I look out at the ocean at Nobby's Beach Look Out, located only 3kms from where I am living. Running alone is good for the soul. Running in paradise just blows my mind, every single day. I could not reccomend it more.
I arrived here at the beginning of December, with the intention of staying until April, before returning to London to run the marathon. As much as my mind has been blown with the incredible experience of training in such a cleansing place, the tropical climate has undoubtedly presented a number of challenges; in which I have had to overcome. It's all part of it and all very character building, to say the least.
My training diary (and personal diary) over the past two weeks have been full on, mixed with lots of happiness and also learning experiences.
Here is a few snippets of training/life of the Goldy;
My alarm goes at 4.00am and this is enough evidence that I have become one of those crazy marathon runners. I literally have to do my long runs at this time though. It is usually getting up around 30 degrees by 8.00am and I have always found it hard to stay cool while I am training. I sweat A LOT and I therefore loose a lot of electrolytes. Rising early for long runs is something I have had to do - especially when my run is on the up side of two hours. I used this particular run to practice consuming energy gels at the correct times - a simmulation of race day. I also had to stop a couple of times to stare at the magic that is present during a sunrise on the Gold Coast. About 90 minutes into my run, I enter a beautiful bushy head land, sun rising behind. Looking down and seeing 100, still, silent surfers waiting on their boards for the next wave, sun rising behind them literally took my breathe away.
Exactly one week after getting engaged on the beach I have grown to love so much (very exciting unanticipated times) I decide to head to the grass track for a fast freshen up session. I decided to leave this work out until after work as it was a particuarly hot day. The sun sets early here (most people are in bed around 8.30pm and rise early) so I was heading down to the track in the dark. The track is only a couple of kms from where I live. It is also located next to a swampy lake. Being the poor, naive kiwi that I am; I took my shoes off for a couple of the reps I was doing ( I love running barefoot - call me Zara Budd if you must), very unsuspecting of the venomous wildlife known to be living in the area. I was running quickly around the dark track, barefoot, when I felt a sharp pain under my foot. The pain travelled through my foot and leg. Naturally I finished the session (only kiwis will get that joke). My foot remained sore and tingly. I assumed that I had run over a sharp pine cone or something. The pain didn't go away once I arrived home, nor once I had showered, cooked and eaten dinner. My fiance (Sam) looked at my foot and quickly bustled me into the car and drove me to the hospital. He saw the unmistakable two holes formed by snake fangs. As I said; poor, unsuspecting, naive kiwi. I had to stay over in hospital, having blood taken every 4 hours to ensure the snake that had bitten me was not a venomous one.
I am fine. The snake bite was not venomous. I returned home very tired, a little embarrassed and very put off running barefoot.
I was off to Brisbane to race my last big race before the marathon. Looking back; my head was really not there. I had been celebrating my engagement, my friends wedding in NZ and nursing snake bites. However, I stood on the start line trying to discipline my mind and get it to the place it needed to be. Sam was next to me - with plans to pace me through for a personal best time. It was 5.00pm and still thirty degrees. I had been sitting in a hot car for an hour and a half. Fellow runners - if we want to find excuses - oh, we will. These are just a few of mine.
This was a very humbling race for me - races and training have been going pretty much to plan up until this event. I could write a novel of excuses relating to heat, pressure, life getting in the way but at the end of the day - there are good days and there are days when we learn things! This was one of those days for me and a necessary part of my journey. I have learnt to go with whatever I am presented with - not against it. I am having to go with this race failure (I literally panicked 500m in and couldn't breathe), except this as a failure race - without excuses - and hope that I will be stronger for it during the marathon, with a few extra mental strategies added to my tool belt.
Termperatures will always vary, race times will change and life will happen! Running and being good at it is all about being able to tackle anything that arises and adding it to the list of things that can be overcome, as apposed to possible, available excuses at hand. Harsh but true.