Sunday, November 30, 2008

Centennial Park sexxi cross-country

The title of this post may require some explanation...

Some time ago, CoolRunning Australia member ShanksPony complained about the term half-marathon thus...
I think we need a new word for a half-marathon. The word 'half' is misleadingly diminutive, and this distance deserves better.

21 is also XXI, and i would like to propose that the half-marathon becomes the 'Standard Entry' for race meetings. Therefore the half-marathon could be renamed the SEXXI. This in turn would lead to an obvious re-classification of the other distances:

10km: Ain't half sexxi
marathon: 2sexxi
ultra: far2sexxi

This is such an obviously sensible and empowering suggestion that it's amazing that no one had thought of it before now.

The final Sri Chinmoy event for the 2008 Sydney series was a sexxi cross-country in beautiful Centennial Park. For those looking for faster fulfillment there were also 4km and 7km races.

I'd like to say at this point that I'd been training well leading up to this event and felt in tip-top shape and supremely confident - but I won't because it's not true. I arrived at the race feeling sluggish and nursing a sore achilles which I had somehow managed to provoke despite doing almost no running. Is it possible that you can strain your achilles while sitting down ?

The morning was unseasonally cold for spring time in Sydney, with occasional light showers and gusts of wind, but this made for quite nice running conditions, and anyway, nothing can dent the pleasure of running in Centennial Park. It's very easy to forget that you're just a stone's throw from the city as you jog past lakes and playing fields, through pine glades and over rolling grassy hills. I had chosen to wear my FiveFingers, thinking that they would be better than sandals if the course was muddy, and they felt very comfy on the grass and dirt trails.

For the first part of the race I ran and chatted with my friend Crabby (seen here rehydrating while I strike a fashionable pose) until she got into her stride and disappeared over the horizon as she is wont to do, as well as other CoolRunners MichaelG, Bert and RunningAngel. But after a while I found myself running alone and tried to get into a steady chug that I hoped would hold up for the 21.1km.

As it turned out I made it to the finish comfortably, having taken a bit over two hours for the run - a much better time than I deserved given my lack of preparation.

Many thanks to Prachar and the wonderfully friendly and encouraging Sri Chinmoy folk for another great event. If you're in or near Sydney, visit the Sri Chinmoy web site for details of the 2009 race series.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Slow by name...

...and slow by nature, especially when it comes to keeping a blog up to date.

I don't know how the rest of the universe does it: all those organized souls who keep the world posted on the minutiae of their daily lives. Where do they find the time ? Don't they ever sleep or go to the toilet or just sit for long periods staring blankly into space like... well... like me ?

Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival 25-26th October - Canberra

Each year in October, the Sri Chinmoy folk put on a fantastically packed weekend of triathlon events in Canberra. There are events for all ages and abilities and quite a few folk, fired with enthusiasm or perhaps just paralysed by choice, compete in more than one.

Last year, feeling the need for a life-affirming challenge, I did the Classic event. This is the Olympic distance: 1500m swim; 40km cycle; and 10km run. I completed it and finished feeling good, but it was certainly challenging - especially the cycle that included a steep climb.

The original plan for this year was to do the Classic again, aiming to finish it in a shorter time.

Yeah, well... there's planning and then there's real life. And this year real life for me meant a serious dose of couchitis after my Sydney Marathon attempt.

As the day of the triathlon drew closer I began to feel less and less confident about my ability to survive the swim, or ride a bike up that big Coppins Crossing hill, or stand up after the cycle, let alone run. So finally, after a lot of um-ing'n'rrr-ing, I landed back on planet reality and downgraded my entry to the Sprint event: 500m swim; 20km cycle; 5km run.

So pleased that I did ! The Sprint event was run on a perfect Saturday afternoon, not too hot, not too breezy. There was a good field and a really friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere. Canberra is a great place for triathlons, and Yarralumla Bay, where the Sri Chinmoy Festival is held, is the perfect venue.

Event summary: I found the swim quite hard - it seemed to take forever and at one point, when the breeze across Lake Burley Griffin picked up enough to generate some head-high chop I had the very strong impression that I was going backwards. The cycle was terrific. Canberra is a great place to ride but it's even better when you have race marshall's holding back the traffic for you as you speed through yet another roundabout. Finally the run, which I did wearing my favourite huarache sandals, was an idyllic jog in the soft light and balminess of the late afternoon.

Secret plan for next year is to attempt the famous Sri Chinmoy Peace triathlon (2.2km/80km/20km)

Iron Cove (The Bay), Sydney, 2nd November

Yet another Sri Chinmoy event, this one being the penultimate race in their 2008 Sydney Series. Great conditions for a run: just a tiny breeze and welcome cloud cover since there's little shade to be had on this course.

I don't know whether it was just my impression, but this seemed to be a especially friendly event. Almost everyone I met on the out-and-back course nodded and smiled or exchanged hellos. Of course, looking forward to an apres-race pancake brekky makes anyone feel cheery.

Early in the race I enjoyed running and chatting with Bert, a fellow CoolRunning member, very experienced runner, and stalwart of Sydney events.

For some reason I chugged along quite a bit faster than my usual pace... so much so that I completed the 16km in under 90 minutes. I usually don't concern myself with my race times but I have to admit I was chuffed.

Of course, this gets put into its proper context when compared to the winning times of 68 minutes (women) and a staggering 55 minutes (men).

But I'm still chuffed :-)