Sunday, March 13, 2011

Video snapshot

This video was played on the closing night, and sums up the day, the weather and the spirit of what we experienced.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WE DID IT!

Thank you to our supporters. Especially my gorgeous nephews (Aiden, Luke and Dibby Dib) who painted this sign that Nonna and Heppy brought over.
At 18:27, almost 11 1/2 hours after I took my first stroke in the calm waters of Lake Taupo in pre-dawn light, I approached the end of the lakeside road that I'd been running along for over 4 hours.

I could hear the finish line before I could see it. The unmistakeable din of the voice of Ironman, Mike Riley, was announcing to athletes ahead of me that they were home.

I turned right up Tongareiro Avenue, the main drag in town, and could see the barricades and grandstands that lined the final section of the marathon route. I loved this crowd: it had been raining all day with wind and chilly temps added in for good measure - and we at least had the luxury of being able to keep our heartrates up and bodies moving all day! - whereas the supporters had been out there since dawn, cheering all of us that had passed by.

As I ran along the final minutes, knowing that I was about to enter the Ironman family, I couldn't stop smiling. Tears were welling up but the excitement of realising a goal and a dream about to become reality took over. I was on cloud nine. Nothing could touch this.

As I turned the corner into the Transition area and lined up the finishing chute I took a moment, slowed my pace, and let a couple of runners past. I wanted to savour this moment forever. All I remember is trotting down that chute, my grin reaching my earlobes as I smiled at every face in that crowd, and found mum and David towards the end. How lucky am I to have this moment. I gave them a hug and didn't even hear Mike announce "Brett Murphy from Sydney, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!". I then rejoined the chute and ran under the banner: 11h:31m.

I was home, I was over the moon, and I STILL couldn't stop smiling.

Simi was still out on the course, but she was doing great. She started the marathon at a flying pace (I was just behind her, on my second leg and took about 4km to catch her) and gave it everything she could - also beaming at the crowd - before her back injury started to flare up. As we ran together for a while we both knew that we would both finish and both realise our dreams. It didn't matter what time we finished in. That was all that mattered. (Simi will write her piece later).

The day for us began at 3am - we had to get up and get some brekky and carbs into us before getting back to bed for a short rest - if not sleep, before getting up proper at 4:30. On the road at 5, the short drive down to Transition and the tent city.

It was bucketing down with rain, which felt strange because it was still dark. We entered the tent zone, got marked (arms and calves), dropped our special needs bags (you put stuff in here that you might need on the cycle or run legs - like a jacket or a sandwich) and checked our bikes that had braved the wind and rain overnight. Simi will tell you what happened to her thumb, but suffice to say her day almost ended before it began!

We spent the final 30 mins huddling in front of a gas heater as we counted down the minutes before having to do up our wetties and head down to waters edge. The moment of truth was here.
Traditional welcome from the Maoris. The sun wasn't even up and they were sending us off into the water! Lucky for us we were still huddling in front of a gas heater up in Transition at this time. Oops!
We heard the cannon go off at 645 - the pro's were off on the swim leg. It was still dark and we were praying for it to lighten up in the next 15 minutes before our mass start of 1500 atheletes took to the water.
Dumping our swim bag in the truck next to the water (this bag had all our gear that we'd change back into at the end of the race) there was no way that we could find our family in the sea of thousands that were lining the water's edge.
I had seen photos like this before and quite frankly was dreading this moment - waiting in the water for the cannon to go off before a 3.8km swim. But it was surreal. Water was nice. Most people calm.
We waded into the water, adjusted our goggles and luckily remembered to prep our Garmins and Polars for race start. We were calmly nervous. Still too dark to see the buoys that marked the 1.8km out and back along the lakeside.

Bang!

We were off. I concentrated on not letting my breathing get out of control and therefore making me flustered. I settled in to a nice pace and let other swimmers race past me. Simi was behind, but we had already said our goodbyes when the cannon fired. She'll be fine, I knew it.
We're out there somewhere. Inspecting the blisters on someone's feet up close.
Passing the first fluro orange buoy after 150m I calculated from yesterday's swim that there were another 24 to go. This could be a long morning. Luckily I wasn't getting passed by too many swimmers and my pace was ok, so I was happy. I could see perfectly in the crystal clear water so there was lots to take my mind off the fact I was doing something I usually looked forward to with dread. Thankfully no dodgy soundtracks playing in my head... yet.

Passed over the hundreds of golf balls that surrounded the Hole In One pontoon, and someone had arranged golf balls into the Ironman logo on the lake bottom with a huge arrow pointing the way forward. Yep, keep going, I told myself. So tempting to stop.

Got to the turnaround poin, still surrounded by swimmers clawing at my feet or trying to climb up my back. Geezus, I thought I would've found space by now. Glanced at my watch: only 30+ minutes had passed.  That can't be right!! This marked the first of many "Achievement Zones" we'd agreed on - the swim turnaround. It's all homeward bound from here, easy. Amazing what the mind does to you.

Spent most of the homeward leg trying to find my own space (impossible! It was a constant washing machine, dodgem cars style!) and counting the buoys: 18..... 19.......20....... Finally I could see the last one but it was still an eternity away. Didn't matter, I knew I'd make it. I inched close and saw the thousands of supporters on the shoreline. Such a special moment. Nothing like a training session.
Yeeee haaaaa!!!! This was an ultimate achievement. I was SOOO excited!!!
Finding the sand beneath my feet I emerged from the lake with a huge grin and let out a huge "Yeee haaa!!!!" as I ran over the timing mat and along the 400m carpet lined either side with everyone's supporters that took us the stairs to Transition. Time to get into bike mode!

Happy boy - came out of the water at 1:07 (the clock is for the pros who started 15mins before us).
Seeing Mum and David and Simi's parents was a huge boost and there were tears all round. I was already having the best day of my life.

Into the tent, a volunteer gave me my bag and showed me to a chair - and ripped my wetsuit off me in a whoosh. On with the cycle shoes and helmet and a quick snack - and a read of the adorable note that Simi had left in my bag. Out on course I felt free - if not a bit chilly from my wet clothes that were under my wettie.

The cycle course was 2 laps of 45km out to a town called Reporoa and back to Taupo, mostly on a one-laned country road that went up over a hill behind Taupo and down the other side to the plains. We quickly found out that the rain had set in and the swim leg was going to be the warmest of the day! But that didn't matter: all through town you would pass people who were cheering, clapping, giving words of encouragement as you passed them - especially on the hills. "Lookin good mate" "Keep it up, you're doing well" or "Go the BRATs" as I was wearing my club gear. I love this sport!
The rain came down (kept my sunnies on as goggles, not for the sun!), but I didn't care.
Up over the hill I went, feeling good and well on my way to Reporoa. I settled in to a 30km/h pace for the first leg, making sure to drink and eat as planned (gels and powerbars). The road became a little monotonous but I reminded myself it was better to be cold and wet and off with the fairies than melting my muscles up a huge climb on a 42 degree day. This was heaven!

Turning around at Reporoa 1hr 15min later I let out another Rebel Yell. "Yee haa!!" and the volunteers cheered. They need to keep their morale up too and I loved interacting with them. They had it tougher than we did: cold, wet and windy and standing still! This was another Achievement Zone as it marked the fact that we really could do this.

Before I knew it we were back in Taupo, having clocked up 90km. Through town was a buzz: you really felt special as roads had been closed with priority given to the odd cyclist that was coming through. By pure coincidence our hotel was right by the corner marking the start of the big climb out of town. It was so nice to see our family there - the first time since exiting the lake, now an eternity ago.

With a cheer from them I set off up the hill, knowing that the next time I saw them I'd be well on my way on the marathon leg. Up and up I went and as the hill petered out around a left hand corner I passed the special needs bags tent and they already had my bag ready - a volunteer holding it out for me as I flew past. Now that's organisation! What was in my bag? A vegemite and cheese sandwich! Yum. A few bites wwere enough before I realised I'd be munching all day trying to digest it, so I stuffed the half eaten sandwich in the sandwich bag down my tri top, knowing it was within reach if I got peckish later.
Avoiding the slippery white lines. I think this photographer was trying to catch action shots!
I'm sure you're curious about what happens when nature calls. Let me tell you this: you'll rarely see athletes in an ironman race get off their bikes to go to the loo. For Ironvirgins like us, they call it christening the bike. Yep. No imagination required! Saves a lot of time and keeps the legs moving! I call it lazy, but it works a treat.

By now I'd had 3 gels (taped to the top tube of my bike) and had to have the next 3 on this lap - otherwise I risked not having enough energy or cramping up. Drink, gel, cycle, pee when required. Easy!

Reach the turnaround point for the last time (another Achievement zone and rebel yell - yeee haaa!) and headed home with the wind. I felt good. My average speed picked up and I was passing other tired legs. I was visualising coming down the hill into town and getting into my run mode. I had TOTALLY forgotten that I'd never done a marathon before - not to worry!!!

Slowing down as I got to transition for the second time I hopped off the bike when a waiting volunteer took it from me and I collected my run bag - also waiting for me (how do they do this!!!!). More smiles, claps and words of encouragement from the volunteers and I realised I couldn't feel more special and humbled than I did that day. This was a very special moment in my life.

As I willed my jelly legs to work (always a song playing) I looked at my run split and was happy to have finished faster than I'd estimated. Lots more time for the run leg!

Changed out of my wet socks and into a fresh pair, my big toenail still hanging on, and a small volunteer kid came up and gave me a paddle pop stick with a huge swab of vaseline on the end - for those sensitive nipples and hard to reach places.

I started my marathon as I intended to finish it: a comfortable pace and a smile on my face. This was heaven - so many people out along the route, and with the race number now turned to the front, spectators could read your name and give you a cheer as you passed them. "Well done, Brett from Australia. You're doing well". I would hear this from 5 year old kids to veteran grandparents, and you can't help but respond with a "Thank you!" or at least a smile and a thumbs up.
I was deliriously happy. Nurse!!!!
The funny thing was that some people would say my name from a huge distance away - too far for them to be able to read my name. And then I realised that the kiwi pronunciation of BRATs (as in, "Go BRAT") sounds just like my name. Either way, it was great to have that connection.

Still smiling. Starting out on the run. 42km to go.
I ran past our hotel and our now-soaked parents at 3.5km, 16.6km, 24km and 38km on the 2x out-and-back marathon. It was such a lift to look forward to this, even if it would only last for a split second (I didn't want to slow down or stop in case I never got going again!). Apart from these times I looked forward counting off the distance markers (23.... 28.... 32.... 35... 37.... 39.....) as I knew they were all taking us towards the finish line.

Running past the hotel was a highlight on the run - we got to see our parents 4 times on the 2-lap out-and-back marathon course.
At some points - when I was most delirious - I wouldn't want to reach the finish line because it would then be all over. At other times some spectators told me I was mad: "If you're smiling that much, you're obviously having too much fun". It was absolutely wonderful!
Sometimes I would fall into step with another runner - and if I'd caught them it meant they were struggling. We'd have a few words "Mate, it's a matter of getting to the turnaround point then back up over the hill and then all downhill to the finish" and all I'd hear is a heartfelt "Thank you" as he laboured with each step. I grabbed a cup of coke and a chocolate bar from the aid station and replied with a "no worries". No wonder I put on 2 kilos by the end of the race!

When I reached 32km I realised I was in unchartered territory - I'd never run this far before - and there was a hill separating me from the finish line. My knees started to ache and my left ankle was swollen, but I convinced myself it was all in my mind, and that it was more comfortable to keep running than attempt a walk. I'd also calculated an 11hr 30min finish based on my current (slower) pace so there was no way I was slowing now. Simi and I had our brief run together and she sent me off with a smile. We would see each other soon when we were both an Ironman.
One foot after the other. Easy.
Saw mum and David one final time before they jumped into the car to see me cross the line. The final kms were a struggle, but I was still ginning and to be quite honest - really couldn't believe I was about to finish.

In those final minutes I thought back to where it all started a year ago: buying my first road bike, going for longer runs, getting over my fear of long distance swimming, getting up early before work for training (!!!), comitting to the Ironman journey, realising how lucky we are to be young and fit and healthy - and relishing this - and battling the fears of this day that was always looming. I was about to become an Ironman and prove to anyone reading this that any average Joe can go on their own Ironman journey and reach their own goals and find out so much about themselves. It's not for the elite: it's for anyone who wants to achieve something in themself. By comitting to it you're almost there.
Mum and David were at the finish line. What a wonderful moment.
Coming down that finishing chute is really something special. I never thought I was capable of spending a whole day in the wet, wind and cold - and smiling every minute. The only tears I had were tears of pure happiness and the thrill of living life. It was the best day of my life and I will treasure this forever.
One of the happiest days of my life.

Back in SYD - still 100ft tall.
If you're interested in the stats, take a peek here: http://ironman.co.nz/main.cfm?id=94&aid=46151

If you'd like to contribute to giving a kid with a disability the chance to becme more active and mobile, visit here: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/brett_and_simi

Thanks for your support.
Brett

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Follow us on race day

If you find yourself online anytime between 0500 - 2200 (AEST) you can log on to www.ironman.com and check where we are on the course:

Simi's race no.: 464
Brett: 395

Less chance that we'll lie down for a quick nap then!

1.83 days to go! Bring it, Taupo!

It's amazing here.
After arriving after 9pm last night following a long day of travelling and trying to interpret funny NZ road signs (more on that later) we awoke to the most beautiful view: the clear waters of Lake Taupo framed by some spectacular mountain scenery.
This view barged into the living room when we awoke on Day 2

Craning our necks to the right of our balcony we can see the last of the buoys that we'll swim around, and back to Transition zone. Funny, because the sight of the swim leg usually sends my heart into a flurry of nervous activity.

After changing a mysteriously dud inner tube (thank god it happened before the race) we took off for a gentle spin on the bike, more to check that everything was ok following the trip over and we hadn't missed anything when we put them together late last night. Don't fancy a wheel coming off when we're flying down the side of a mountain - actually, that would really make us fly into the nearest tree.

Simi demonstrating her bendiness - and the camel-like carrying abilities of Mary the Merida
Right near our hotel about 2km from Transition is the start of the big climb. So I took a spin up there too - not bad at all - just to smooth out any nerves from unknowns that might build before race start. We'll be fine there.
We've checked in at registration, dipped our wetsuits in the 'Dydimo' solution (to prevent nasties getting into NZ waterways) and weighed in so they can do a fandangled study on how much we stupid competitors use up on race day. I took a slow stroll down the final run chute to visualise this last part of the race so that I'm working towards it on race day. If only, if only....

We're now at the event centre by the lake, about to drive the cycle course so we're more familiar with it.

Getting excited....!
Brett & Simi
Dipping our wetsuits in a 'special' solution to prevent dydimo - some bug that gets into the waterways.
Getting wristbanded - our access pass for the next 3 days. Pretty scary to think that we won't be taking it off until AFTER the big race.
Whereas in my case it was to prove I was out on day relesase.
The weigh in. We're either going to drop a few or stack it on.....
Stack it on for sure!
Testing the timing chip. We have the technology!
Visualising running (or hobbling) down the finisher's chute for race day (or night!)
Our destination. Simi decided not to stand or walk under this until the real thing. Don't blame her. It felt strangely ominous standing here....

Local Maori troupe revving us up at the thursday night carbo party. Very inspirational.
... if not a little daunting!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Always a song playing...

You know when a song gets stuck in your head? (Yeah we've told you about this one before! It's a recurring theme). Well sometimes it's like a sbroken record - or your iPod on repeat (who has records anymore?!).

These are some of the tracks that have been doing a few laps in our heads lately. All for good reason, as you'll find out.

The Wombats - Jump into the Fog.
This one just makes you get out of bed and into gear. 

 Illy's "It can wait" was literally stuck on repeat on that 42 degree day. I was even catching myself singing out loud as the sun was burning off the heat haze all around me - "Happiness, happiness is fine when it's momentary, a momentary lapse of reality...". I think we had a permanent lapse of good sense that day. 


Mark Ronson "The Bike Song". When you hear the chorus kick in, substitute it with "Gonna ride my bike until til my butt hurts".


As they say on Triple J, "This is my new song husband!". From Architecture in Helsinki, this is Contact High. Wait for the keychange.....!

Naked and Famous - Punching in a Dream. Another get up n go track. Do it!


Gotye - Eyes Wide Open. Apart from the fact that it's got some beautifullly laden harmonies, there's something about the lyrics that has got under our skin: "We walk the plank, with our eyes wide open". Maybe the trepidation of doing something that challenges you, but with full consciousness and commitment - or something like that :)


Ke$ha - We R who We R
Ok, so a chick that likes 2 use sms wrds doesn't usually get my vote, but as Simi will confirm, I go nuts when this track comes on. I think I first heard it in a spin class at the gym and I was on top of the world. Then I had to come home and play it on repeat. So not an accidental choice.
OMG wat's happng 2 me?!


The soundtrack continues....

Friday, February 25, 2011

We challenge you not to cry

While we're talking about inspiration, it's hard to go past the Hoyt family.
Watch this and see why. Not a dry eye in sight!


And more....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Inspiration from 1901

Roosevelt said this in 1901 - still very apt today:. A mate of mine passed this on.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly;

who errs and comes short again and again;

because there is not effort without error and shortcomings;

but who does actually strive to do the deed;

who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.

So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”


To keep it all real, he also gave us this morsel:
"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”

Peace, peoples.

The Beer Mile

Maybe it's because we just gotta keep racing, even after it's all over. Maybe it's to make up for all the times we've had to turn down a drink after work, or a night out, or decide against that glass of wine with dinner.

Whatever the reason, there's no avoiding the traditional post-race BEER MILE.

What is it?

It's exactly that - a mile of beer, usually taking place the day after the race. Competitors line up on the starting line (preferably at a 400m athletics track), and commence proceedings by skulling a stubby of beer.



Only when your drink is downed (usually confirmed by technical officials) you then proceed to complete a lap (400m) and put away another beer.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat. Until you have completed 1600m and 4 beers.
Some 6-pack proponents even claim to warm up and cool down with a beer. Not sure if this is humanly possible.

Why all of this????

Who knows. But it's guaranteed to make our stomachs turn and sore limbs cry for help.
Will we do it? Brett: unlikely. Simi: definitely.

Lay your bets now......

The official website:
http://ironmile.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back on my bike

Well it has been a week of doing not too much in the way of exercising. Brett  has been off sick with a bad case of man flu. So we have both been resting up.

We went for a little cycle of 2 hours yesterday. I felt strong with little pain when cycling. It was only painful to get off and on the bike. A few yelps form me here and there but a swift manoeuvre of the leg over the bike seat and it is done. Kinda like the ripping off a band-aid.  Running unfortunately is still off the cards for the time being.

I think that swimming is the order of the day for the next few days. That and learning how to change my tyre. I have yet to master this skill. I will maybe try a run later in the week.

Packed up my bike affectionately called Mary; sometimes  Scary Mary when I ride her fast (usually when going down a hill), for the last time so that we could get her back to Sydney.

I am coming home to Sydney for good next Saturday, then off to New Zealand for a bit of fun!!

Brett has an appointment with a male beautician, he is keen to rid himself of all lower limb hair. Why you may ask??? A very good and reasonable question I would think.  Some say it is to make the legs look more defined and appealing, others say that it is to make an injury more easily cleaned whilst others claim it makes rubbing in the sunscreen a lot easier...but I reckon there is something more to it. Whatever it is, he will  soon no longer be Mr Murphy, but Ms Murphy. I am so looking forward to that :(

Monday, February 14, 2011

A right pain in the...BUTT

I have had a few falls off my bike, especially when I first started riding. They usually were as a result of me being not able to un-clip my shoes. This would usually result in me ungraciously falling over to the side and landing onto my thigh. Nothing hurt except for my pride.

Over the weekend whilst trying to complete the 180km I fell whilst going up a hill. The road was slippery because of the rain and my back wheel just slid from under me and I just somehow landed on my behind. Prior to this I was having one of my best rides ever. I had completed 160 km and felt on top of the world. My speed was good and I knew that I would finish the 180km in under 7 hours. I had always thought that anywhere around 8 hours would leave me enough time for the marathon run to follow. I was determined to finish my last big ride on Saturday, so after I sat on the road and made sure nothing was broken, I got back on my bike. Unfortunately I just managed to do another 10km before I gave up; too much pain. I rang Brett, who had already finished and he came and rescued me.

I was meant to run yesterday but was unable so went for a swim instead. My butt just hurts and it is hard to sit in one place for too long, or roll over in bed or get into and out of cars or stand up.

It is Monday today, and instead of going to work, I visited a sports physician who has then referred me to a chiropractor. I will meet him tomorrow morning.

I just hope things heal up quick smart so that in just under 3 weeks I can keep going for the 15,16 or 17 hours that it will take me to finish this journey.

Here's to running this week and getting back on my bike..


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cravings - yum!

This is the closest I'll get to being pregnant (thank God, you say!).

We've both been having some insane cravings lately, but luckily they're mostly after a training session.
You've already heard about our frozen coke fantasies, especially during last weekend's crazy heat. But it doesn't stop there:
  • Vanilla milshakes were the original devil. After a big cycle we'd have the usual big meal and a drink... but then before we knew it we'd be down at the local cafe ordering up big. A big vanilla milkshake that would go down in a gulp. Yum. 
  • a BIG steak. Thick, sizzling n juicy (for me), or cooked through and through (for Simi). Mashed potato compulsory. Not sure if there's iron or protein or vitamin C or even carbs in the steak (just kidding) but it seems our bodies just need it. All of it. 
  • Yum. The makings of part of a delish dish!
  • ice cream. Whether it's a 50c soft serve, or even a large caramel sundae from Macca's (you get topping on the bottom too - does that even make sense???), a meal's not complete til we've demolished it down to the last crumble of the cone.
  • Pizza - enough said. Guilt free, the best flavour!
  • Coke - different to the post-training frozen variety, coke during a ride (or as Simi will tell you, a flat coke during the run leg of a race) is just beeeeewdiful. I crave the coke during the ride and treat it as a reward for X km. And a reward it is. 
  • Macca's - a mighty Angus burger or, even just today, I was craving a quarter pounder. You know, lots of melted cheeeeese, juicy meat, sauce.... It's enough to make my eyes glaze over. Salt. Lots of it. I'll salt anything these days, even the cokes and ice creams. Salt, salt, salt!!! (Seeing as we sweat out cakes of the stuff, it kind of makes sense!).
This is pure salt - formed on the clothes I wore during a recent Half Ironman. No wonder we want to put it back in!

  • Last but far from least, WATER. My god, this stuff is seriously one of life's luxuries. And we don't even appreciate it most of the time. During a long run I did recently, I spent the last 45 minutes fantasising about water. Dreaming about hopping over someone's fence and guzzling mouthfuls of water from the backyard tap. 

  • When that water finally quenches your thirst it's the most magical thing.

    I was in such a dream state on the final metres of my run that when a mate of mine recognised me and yelled out "Hey Brett", it took me more than a few moments to work out where I was, what I was doing and who he might be. I was off the planet.

    I don't crave beer yet. The Beer Mile will sort that out.
    Stay tuned.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    140.6 Reasons to do the 140.6 (miles that is)

    001. Makes everything else seem so SHORT.
    002. The 3 week taper before the race.
    003. The 4 week recovery after the race.
    004. To reach down and find strength you never knew was there.
    005. As much bread/pasta/carbs as you can eat.
    006. To find out who you really are.
    007. Beats watching the new Survivor, Big Brother, or anything else on TV.
    008. For all the times you heard someone say "I'd do one of those ... I just can't swim."
    009. Early mornings to watch the sunrise over Bondi.
    010. Because I've told everyone I one day will be an Ironman.
    011. Mike Reilly's hoarse voice still bringing people home at 11:30pm
    012. The Massage Tent - anywhere.
    013. Our family waiting for us at the finish line
    014. For the ones that believed
    015. ...and the ones that didn't.
    016. Chalk on the road.
    017. Easy rides and runs the week before.
    018. Finishing your last workout and smiling because you know "I'm SO ready."
    019. For everyone who has ever asked you "Why?"
    020. To make up for all the school carnivals you missed
    021. To run whilst watching the beautiful sunset over Brighton SA
    022. You want to test the endurance limits of the iPod music collection in your head.
    023. Creating your own, "Amazing Race"
    024. Spectators looking up your name and cheering as you plod past at sunset.
    025. Where else can someone ripping off your clothes in public be considered a benefit ? (Wetsuit Strip)
    026. The famous post race “Beer Mile”
    027. See the world and eat the food in each country, guilt free.
    028. So you can answer "One." When people ask "How many days does that take?"
    029. To wave at the scuba divers.
    030. To backstroke and wave at the TV helicopter.
    031. Encouraging Cards in your special needs bags.
    032. Encouraging Cards in your T1 and T2 bags.
    033. To really look forward to simple things like frozen cokes
    034. Flat coke on the course
    035. To one day show your child what he or she can do...and at an earlier age than you.
    036. Because we sooo love to get up at 430 am…not
    037. One step further to your dream.
    038. Because I gave up beer (Brett) and Baileys (Simi) to do this!!!!!!!!
    039. Driving the bike course in our rented car again and again the day before the race
    040. Valet Parking and Catering ... all day long.
    041. You might get on TV
    042. To gain the confidence to do anything.
    043. To have the confidence to say yes or to say no.
    044. Takes as long as having a baby, nearly as satisfying, only without the morning sickness and the 21 years of bills that follow.
    045. Flying with a bike case makes business trips seem EASY.
    046. Sharing a smile with people wearing the finishers T-shirt the next day.
    047. Knowing that as you step in the water on race day - YOU MADE IT THIS FAR! Now just get home.
    048. How many people can say they did anything for 12,13, 14, 15, 16...hours?
    049. Knowing that you are running the same race as really famous and super fit people
    050. The wristband that somehow becomes your favourite fashion accessory.
    051. So that when you tell your grandchildren stories about what you did when you were young...yours will be true.
    052. Running along the lake in Taupo..hope it is flat
    053. High fives from people you don't know.
    054. The Sponge as a fashion statement
    055. Because even when you are hurting, you can still run !
    056. Knowing that after the gun goes off, you don't have to worry anymore.
    057. First Place and Last Place get the same amount of cheers.
    058. Walking to the start with friends...
    059. Getting lapped on the bike by Michelle Jones and Craig Alexander
    060. Getting lapped again on the run by Michelle Jones and Craig Alexander,
    061. Making the turn for home
    062. So that 7am on a Sunday seems like a delightful sleep in 
    063. To justify wearing lycra
    064. It is the only time when men can officially have less hair than women…
    065. To know that as long as you look good, it doesn’t matter that you are slow.
    066. Did I mention eating a lot of food?
    067. To justify visiting the Lorna Jane shop/bike store/Assos shop
    068. Easier than Eco-Challenge.
    069. Didn't play sports in high school.
    070. Because everyone knows you are training and you can't stop now.
    071. For all those 4:45am mornings, when you wished your head was still on the pillow.
    072. For the goggle eyes post 3.8km swim.  
    073. You enjoy the smell of chlorine in the morning.
    074. You've had enough with your current social life.
    075. For the love of Macca’s Super Sundae
    076. Your friends are watching on the web.
    077. You need to prove to your mum that even if you get on the bike right after you swim...you won't catch a cold.
    078. Because if Tony Abbott can…
    079. Your work mates think you are nuts.
    080. Masters swimmers really think you're nuts.
    081. To know that 1 in 10 people in the city of Taupo volunteer for the race day!
    082. To see the Maori Warriors right before IM New Zealand
    083. Monday morning swims... you feel like every Monday is the start of a new thing (even though it is not)
    084. 3 hour breakfasts at Trio in Bondi after the morning swims
    085. To fulfil a dream.
    086. To say, "I am an Ironman".
    087. Because we LOVE ordering new stuff over the internet and getting it delivered to work!!
    088. Glow sticks on the run close to midnight
    089. Silent hugs on the start line.
    090. Because Winston Churchill said I can't ever give up.
    091. The 12-step program to make me stop hasn't been invented yet.
    092. Any National Anthem, before the start, anywhere.
    093. Knowing that when you wake up at 4:00am, the next time you go to bed you will be VERY different person.
    094. Because we LOVE our post workout PROTEIN shakes..
    095. The whole ride of IM New Zealand
    096.  To check out the swimmer, biker and runner  set up on the roundabout in the middle of the village of Reporoa
    097. Makes your next marathon just a nice morning run.
    098. To make your Boss jealous because YOU have a life that doesn't involve the office.
    099. Because the longer you're out there, the less per hour it really costs!
    100. Being there is way better than watching
    101. Finding yourself in the middle of your doubts ... finding a new meaning of being scared.
    102. Finding out that you're far stronger than those doubts a few miles later.
    103. Falling in step on the run and making a friend to the end, without having to say a word.
    104. A fried breakfast the day after with loads of bread.
    105. Watching people headed home while you're headed out, thinking "I'll be there soon ..." and they cheer for you.
    106. Understanding why that is as your cheering for people headed out when you're finally headed home.
    107. That feeling of ice cubes in your hat on a hot run never getting too cold.
    108. Telling folks with flat tires "It's a long day - hang in there!" and seeing them breathe and smile for a moment.
    109. Hearing people cheer you up while your changing a damn flat tire.
    110. Rolling into T2 knowing that no matter what - you can't have a flat sneaker from here on in.
    111. Having someone catch you, and hold you up when you can't do it anymore.
    112. Miles in the Bike.
    113. Because pain is temporary and glory is forever.
    114. To see if it really feels as good to do as it does to dream.
    115. And then to see if it really feels as good the second time, and the third, and the fourth.... maybe
    116. To learn the power of commitment and determination.
    117. To swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo
    118. To try and finish in daylight.
    119. To try and finish before midnight.
    120. To try and NOT get stung by that (*@! bee this time.
    121. Your nieces/nephews already think you're a hero - prove them right.
    122. Because we can.
    123. An M-Dot Tattoo would look swanky on your ankle.
    124. 5000 Volunteers - all for you.
    125. Hearing them say "You're almost there!" all day long.
    126. Being nearly almost there - for real.
    127. Flat coke! (It's been awhile)
    128. The finish line.
    129. Because your training partners said you were a fighter
    130. The first time you think "Holy crap - I'm doing an Ironman!"
    131. Beating back the voices that say "Holy crap - you can't do an Ironman!"
    132. Mile 26.
    133. That moment when you KNOW you're going to make it for the first time all day.
    134. Running down Tongariro and Redoubt St.
    135. To enter the finish shute
    136. THE FINISH LINE
    137. The first step after you cross the line and think "Oh, My....God....!"
    138. Hearing Mike Reilly say, " You are an Ironman!"
    139. The Medal
    139.6 Because they said I can't
    140.6 Because we say we can.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Definition of stupidity: 160km cycle on a 42-degree day

    So the training plan required us to cycle 180km today - our biggest ride for the build up ahead of our taper, the 2-4 week winding down that happens before the big race to allow the body to absord the training and mend itself.

    Brekky in the morning before our ride: trying not to think about how many of these goodies on the table we'll have to eat.
    We knew it was going to be a hot one: what we didn't know was that it was going to reach 42 degrees (plus).

    On this popular and scenic cycling route along the Old Pacific Highway, from Hornsby to Calga via the "big dipper" at the Hawesbury River, we'd usually see groups of cyclists and dozens of motorcyclists drawn here by the notorious twists and turns - and the two cafes along the way where you can eat (pie for the bikers, energy bar or gel for the cyclists) and drink (coffee for the bikers, gatorade for the cyclists) and ogle at each other's bikes (Hondas and Ducatis vs Cervelos and Meridas). It's usually a bike show, week in and week out.

    This baby doesn't lie: the temperature over 7 hours of riding.

    This is what our goodies turned into. Normally jube-like lollies, they melted into a slimy gunk.

    Today it seemed that everyone had the sense to stay home or hang out at their local air-conned Westfield.
    Except for us and the 4 other cyclists we saw along the way (2 of them also in training for IMNZ). The cafes were empty.

    The other was a girl who was sitting in the gutter, almost passed out but with a huge grin shining through her beetroot-red face as she yelled out "Are we CRAZY?!" to both of us as we passed her at different times (we were riding by ourselves today, to get used to doing it on race day).

    The other was a 70-year old man who was on a 200km ride, and therefore was officially crazy.

    But it was the heat that got us in the end. Within metres of pedalling off we were already sipping on our bidons (our bikes have capacity for 2 at a time, so we need to refill each time we can), a wall of heat accompanying us the whole way as it warmed up our bidons to the point where we couldn't drink the contents. Luckily the cafes are spaced perfectly apart (about 20km) so that we'd be refilling our empties constantly (we drank 18 bidons each, plus countless cokes and icecreams - about 12 or 13 litres of fluids).

    Touching the handlebars was like getting into a car on a hot day and almost burning yourself when you grab the seatbelt. We were both talking to ourselves, singing out loud to take our minds off the heat and even cursing it - also out loud.

    Simi had a meltdown (literally), sat in the gutter under a tree for a mini break, checked the temp on her iPhone (40 degrees) and had a good cry. Both of us experienced periods of delirium throughout the 7 hours, not knowing whether we were going up or down a hill, or even not knowing where we were and where we were going.

    In the end we cut our day short (after 7hrs we still hadn't reached 180km). Even the stubborn pair of us knew it was pushing it to stay out there longer.

     
    Simi 'rescued' me at 160kms. I was thankful for this because the cafes were all closing (taking the free water supply with them!). She later told me she was going to puncture my tyres if I didn't get in the car.
    So we enjoyed our well-earned reward that we'd both been dreaming about all day: a HUGE frozen coke from Macca's, accompanied by large fries (for the salt replenishment) and a big Angus burger. According to our watches we burned almost 5,000cal on the ride - so no-one can tell us we didn't earn it!

    Delirium had long since set in. We were excited about our frozen cokes, only minutes away by car.

    Here's what the Telegraph said:
    
      
    Yesterday, Australia's biggest city resembled a ghost town as the mercury hit 42C, the hottest in a week of 35 degree-plus days - the longest such spell on record.

    The scorching heat forced the city's four million residents indoors, leaving parks, playgrounds, the harbour, beaches and even public pools sparsely populated on the hottest day so far this summer.

    For most, it was simply too hot to try to cool down outside. There was no escape from the relentless heat anywhere outdoors. It reached 41.5C in the city, 42.2C at Sydney Airport and 40.7C at Penrith. Sydney's maximum was just short of its hottest February day on record, 42.1C, in 1926.

    Greater Sydney and the lower Hunter were the hottest parts of NSW. Williamtown, north of Newcastle, recorded the State's highest maximum of 43C.

    The ridiculous! (Warning: offensive language!)

    Quite often we get blank stares when we tell people what our weekend plans are:
    "Tonight it's a 3k swim, then tomorrow a 7hr cycle followed by 6k run, then Sunday a 2.5hr cycle and an ocean swim".

    But it's not at all joyless - quite the opposite in fact. We've had a lot of laughs along the way and it's the good times that make it all the more enjoyable.

    Bondi Beach: the safest place in Sydney. Brett couldn't remember where he'd left his water bottle (bidon) until we found it the next morning on top of his car - where he'd left it the night before. Sweet! (Though the real question was whether it was safe to drink the warm contents!)

    When packing up after a race weekend in QLD the gravity in the room did a funny thing... Simi had to compensate to get her bike into the box.

    The yellow sign says "Warning, dangerous currents. Do not swim here!" which happened to be the place of the swim start the next day at Port Macquarie Half Ironman. Nice!

    Who needs a family of three when you've got bikes!

    Doing the bike-lift tango!

    Foot massage on Bondi Rd. All was blissful until I remembered I'd just done a beach run and my feet were covered in blisters.

    Essentials for the office.

    Goggle eyes

    Goggle eye. It's the new look in Adelaide, apparently.

    What the?!

    Not the same ride - but what does it matter?! This little fella was curled up... on the cycle path.

    Adelaidian humour. Priceless!

    He's got more iron than I do!