24 November 2011

Jen's Excellent Adventure

Hi readers!
It's 4:24am and I am finally getting a chance to write my blog about my wonderful, yet tortuous weekend away doing what I love best - running! 
I am reminiscing about my whereabouts at this same time last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We were getting up each morning at 3:15am, ready to start running at about 4:45.  Come to think of it, why actually did we need to get up so early?  With 60 Intraining members involved, I am guessing it was to get all of us organised in time!  What a logistical nightmare but our fab coach Linda and everyone involved in organising things did a great job and no-one was left by the side of the road (which would have been really easy to do…)
The start was at Griffith University campus at Mt Gravatt where the sight of a mobile coffee van brought a song to the hearts of many semi-conscious runners.  Obviously the guy running it had some sense of community spirit (or was just a savvy businessman) because he popped up again at Beaudesert later in the morning and again in Gatton at the end of the weekend and was always a very welcome sight considering all any of has consumed prior to seeing him was water and perhaps a 6am piece of chocolate caramel slice.  
From there it was all aboard the Love Bus to Beaudesert where the first leg of the relay started.  For me, doing my first relay, I was totally confused but soon got the hang of it.  Some of the team had run a criterium leg in Mt Gravatt and now the actual relay was to start, involving tagging and tutus.  Yes, tutus.  The Red Tutu was our baton.  It added a particularly enticing touch to the event and showcased several pairs of great legs over the weekend.  
 Well may you laugh at this sign but you have no idea how close to the truth it felt while running along beside it in 32 degree heat with the sun blasting down onto the melting road tar and 3kms to go before the comfort of the air-conditioned Love Bus… 
Speaking of the love, everyone decided not to like Team Victory - because they were So Fast!  They just blitzed everyone all the time AND worst of all, they did not wear tutus or blue sunglasses or use water pistols but instead, did stretches and warm downs and sensible things like that.  Booo…  To think there is a correlation between those activities and speed is ridiculous, I say! 
The day heated up like a switched on oven as the hours and kilometres clicked by so by the time I had my first run, I think it was about 11am which is really not the most suitable time to hit the tarmac, but how could I let the side down?  I was quite nervous but soon got into the swing of things - just because I was DESPERATE to get back on that bus and the only way that was going to happen was if I was to RUN to get to it!  My god.  Good grief.  It was hard, hard running.  It was so hot.  The road was radiating back incredibly intense heat.  The dry grass by the side of the road seemed to crackle as step by step I ticked off the metres.  When I got to a hill, I just put my head down and filled my brain with positive thoughts. If anything, this weekend really highlighted for me how much of running is psychological.  How much you need to convince yourself you can do it.  The legs were fine really (on Day One anyway) but my head was screaming at me.  Finally seeing the blessed orange cones and the red and white pompoms of my team, was one of the happiest moments of my life.  Yes, I know it sounds dramatic but… well, it's true.  I found that first leg to be more challenging than the marathon.  I certainly felt far more wrecked afterward!  And I only ran 4.9km!!
End of Day Two was here, where possibly, we drained the bar of all its beer….
 Our team was called The Village People
Can you see me smiling?  No, possibly not….  The other hazard (!) was the thousands of flies!  Amazingly, I only swallowed one all weekend but it sure made you think about your breathing.  Suddenly, nose breathing became very popular so that you didn't inhale one of the little blighters.  We ended up in Boonah on Friday afternoon where I ran a 3 x 1km criterium around the town as the locals cheered us on from the pub (where Al Jazeera news was playing on the telly in the public bar!  Too weird….)
We saw a lot of horseflesh over the weekend.  They look so magnificent running in their paddocks and me being the very horsy person I am (!) was seeing all sorts of poetic imagery in the galloping horses and the galloping runners until Kay just told me straight that they were  plain freaked out by all of us and the racket we were making.  
Remember Maverick, from my last blog post?  Well, he had a ball on the weekend, despite being kidnapped by the Star Wars team and held to ransom (note and all) and finally ending up in the arms of …. well, you'll see later.
Rathdowney and Boonah and that area were my favourite places over the weekend. It was so pretty!  On Saturday morning, I was lucky enough to have a running buddy, Jackie, so the pair of us were able to enjoy the view as we staggered and stumbled along the road, wondering what had happened to our legs which suddenly did not seem to want to work anymore!   
Food over the weekend was sporadic and taken On The Go most of the time.  Here's Tesso tucking in to her lunch, which she didn't get a chance to gobble before we were off on the next leg!  Luckily, the bus was well stocked with home-baked goodies. We had so much cake, biscuits and slice we could have set up a stall by the side of the road and funded our weekend I think! 
The sight of prime beef cattle, horses, some free range pigs, goats and lots and lots of birds was an added bonus.  Really, I can't reiterate how pretty it was out there and I will definitely be planning a weekend in the area some time in 2012.  
This is the School of Arts building at Yangan at dawn on Saturday. On the far left is the tiny little 'loo where I thought I would make a pitstop, until I discovered the women's stall was full of MEN so I made a hasty exit, but not before taking this photo of their very unique plumbing set up.
Activities on board the love bus involved rotating sweaty towels, reading trashy mags, eating and stirring eachother up mercilessly.  It was so muc fun and such total bliss to be on board after each leg that I am finding the bus is what I am missing most!   
Bron (above) and Scotty (below) were two of our fast runners.  I was the team caterpillar.  Possibly wearing Maverick's silver g-banger may have made me faster though….?  I must be honest and say that this little piece of "fashion" really does not suit him….  One has to ask, "who WOULD it suit?" 
Here are more of my speedy buds.  After the tag changeover, we would all hop back aboard the bus, yahooing and yelling encouragement from the bus windows as we drove past our runner and then we would stop further up the road, jump out of the bus and run to the side of the road to yell some more.  So, there was a lot of getting on and off the bus and standing on the very hot side of the road - but it was no trial when it was to cheer for our friends - and for other teams too, even Team Victory on occasion (if we actually SAW them)

One of the runners on the Intraining One team (the really fast team) was Clare Williams who recently came fifth in the Melbourne Marathon!  She is an amazing runner and happily posed for a photo with me so that you can all see why I will never be an elite runner.  My body is just too big!  I like eating cake!  I have no discipline!  
Intraining Team Three, also very fast (with the energy of youth… big sigh) had the kids' contingent who, as cute and sweet as they looked, were utterly ruthless and mischievous.  After kidnapping Maverick, they set about giving themselves food names.  Hence, Steph Steak, Hamish HamHam, Daniel Danish etc.  On Day Three, with very little enticement, I was easily persuaded to hand over Maverick in exchange for my very own food name, and ended up with Juicy written down my leg in pink zinc.  Needless to say, when my team mates discovered I had sold out so easily, basically pimping Maverick out, I was almost tossed off the bus! The heat made me do it!  And by Day 3, I would do almost anything for some zinc cream, so fearful was I of sunburn.

Throughout the weekend, Endeavour staff were there to provide us with sustenance in the form of bananas, yoghurts, flavoured milk, cereal and apples until Day 3 where, at Gatton, we got bacon and eggs!  Yummy!  
Thank you Endeavour and Gatton Scouts!
I think that possibly Day Three was the hardest.  I had the first leg of the morning and 4:45am found me lined up in the USQ campus at Toowoomba with about 12 men, about to race 5kms down the range.  I DID remind the men about chivalry and the old adage, "ladies before gentlemen" but they didn't seem to hear me and by the time we had left the uni, they were mere specks in the distance.  At least it was cool!  I discovered that I need to learn more about biomechanics (or whatever) because for some reason, once I got to the flat, I could not seem to make my legs go faster.  Anyway, rather than announce to my team that I had come last….  I put a positive spin on the whole sorry event and declared myself First Woman Across the Line!  
This was NOT my trophy however.  I did not win any trophies.  I just wanted to feel a trophy.  I wanted to discover whether holding a trophy aloft could really put strain on your shoulders (it doesn't).  Besides, it suits me, don't you think?  Day Three (Sunday) also meant a 5km run at 1pm along the old railway out of Lowood.  THAT was definitely my hardest run of the weekend.  It was Seriously HOT at that time, running along a light-coloured gravel path, with two nasty hills.  I didn't think trains could go up hills…. or was that just wishful thinking on my part?  Anyway, I rallied every single positive thought I could muster and luckily, because I was running with Temony, I was able to mutter and groan positive encouragement to her as we ran along, all the time convincing myself that I was having a Really, Really fun time!  Discovering at the end that we'd all taken a wrong turn and run an extra 700metres AND an extra hill might have caused me to do something crazy but I just had nothing left in my tank and all I could do was whimper….
And it was here at the finish line, at Fernvale, that we found Maverick.  In the clutches of funny, funny Di who spent the entire weekend handing out water to Team Three in various crazy outfits.  Saturday had been spent wearing this Catwoman suit and Sunday she was a fully outfitted bride, right down to the horseshoe, and complemented by a sign saying, "Just Looking" with her mobile number underneath!  She was so hysterical!  I bet Team Victory wished she'd been THEIR water person….
So, Linda has asked who is doing it again next year.  I haven't yet replied.  I suspect however, that with every passing day, my pendulum will swing towards a big old 'YES' because, despite the torture of the running, despite the heat and the sore legs, the exhaustion and the sunburn, it was one of the most fantastic weekends of my life.  I discovered a strength and toughness that I didn't think I had. I learned that I CAN do ANYTHING if I really try.  And in the end, all that effort and discomfort is really not that bad at all.  I learned to love my running buddies even more than I already did.  The team spirit and camaraderie was so inspiring.  Yes… as a famous man once said, "I vill be back".

1 comment:

swellgal said...

Your "friend" is very popular on the running rounds...does he have rubber legs at the end of it all?
Enjoyed you blog Jen...always do. No throw a it of inspiration my way...xxxxxxxx swellybelly