"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out." -Mae Jemison, astronaut

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If You Don't Like Your Life, Change It: Coburg 6hr 2014

Here I am two days on from the Coburg 6 Hour Track Championships and I feel like I'm struggling more with my blog post than with the race. Sitting down to type now, after scribbling down various thoughts over a couple days, I'm none the wiser as to what I'm about to write. Why is that, I ask myself?

I think it's because the story seems so undramatic. There was no big to-and-fro with another female racer, there was no terrible weather or bad race management, no bad lighting, no vomiting or bloodletting, no cries of agony or ambulances. There was just this little redhead going around and around and around. 187 times.
Unadjusted Garmin file - massive over-reading typical of track racing

A little redhead who planned this race a year ago, but gave up when Melbourne had a heat wave. Who burnt out late in 2013 and had some disastrous training weeks October through December, bottoming out one week with a measly 32k.

Seriously regrouping through January and February, both mentally and physically, I aimed for Coburg's 2014 event. The weather agreed, so I flew over east. Then around and around I went, taking a 125ml bottle of Perpetuem every 15 minutes from my crew, standing diligently within one metre of the crew table, abiding by IAU and AURA rules. It was a regimented and simple world broken down to counting laps: ensuring all early ones were about 1 minute 50 seconds and late ones were no more than 2 minutes each. Counting off 2 minutes at a time for 360 minutes. Time goes surprisingly quickly, actually.
Crew gets a rare moment free to snap a photo

Chapstick, 1min 50. Caffeine, 1min 50. Perp, 1min 50. See hot air balloons rising, 1min 50. Check form, adjust left wrist, 1min 50. Notice powerlines for first time, 1min 50. Hear birds chirping, 1min 50.

It was a race in which so little happened and as a consequence so much happened. I slept the night before better than I ever have pre-race. My heart rate was barely elevated with nerves. I didn't really hit the "business end" of the race until 4.5 hours in. I experienced a few funky nerve twitches through the left hip down to the top of foot (effects of repetitive running) and some quad fatigue and nasty calf tightness, but those things only registered at the "mild" discomfort level in my brain. The weather, especially by Perth standards, was downright cold (15 degrees) for the 6am start and didn't get uncomfortable until 10 am (21-24 degrees, which is certainly uncomfortable for me at race pace).

I had calculated I should be capable of somewhere between 72 - 74km, with 74 being on the end of the "perfect conditions" continuum. With disrupted training and a short lead-in time, I saw things as less than "perfect." I also developed a tight tib post before the race that was less than perfect. I'm a realist, not a pessimist.

Pre-race with Barry Loveday, amazing athlete, novice crew!
But in my favour were solid training sessions through January and early February and mental strength (really cutting down on the over-commitment thing). The realist put those into the equation, too.

And so, quietly, with just the timekeepers and their stopwatches clicking away, at 3 hours 55 minutes and 51 seconds, I surpassed the Australian W40 50k track record which belonged to Helen Stanger for 20 years. In fact, this time represented a PB for me at the 50k distance, whilst taking about 16 minutes off the record.

Perp, 1min 56 sec. Pour water over head, 1min 57 sec. Sponge, 1min 56 sec. Check form, adjust hips, 1min 56 sec. Word to crew as passing the table, "I'm going into the business end. Stay switched on!" 1hr 58 sec.

Rainbow light. Few will understand. That's okay.
20 minutes to go - time to push it out. So many cheered me on, and in turn, I tried to bring a few with me. "Come on, let's finish this thing!"

Then, "Bang." The gun sounded and I dropped my sandbag. Coincidentally beside my crew table. For a moment, I felt there would be tears, then they were gone. Barry went to check totals. 74.8k (still provisional at the time of writing) plus the distance to be measured from the start line to the crew table where I finished (provisional total 74.930km).

I had broken Helen's 20 year old AUS W40 track record of 69.400km (which I also broke at Moe in 2010 with 70.400km, but I wasn't an Aussie then. Now I have taken the pledge, even if my accent is still "Texan Irish.") I had reclaimed the CAN W40 record of 71.699km, set by Christine Torres in 2013, when she broke my 2010 record. I had broken the CAN Open record of 73.264km belonging to Ashley Evans, a 29 year old at the time, who set that benchmark 20 years ago.

Subsequently, I was told that I have run the third largest 6 hour distance in the Australian all time female track rankings, after Linda Meadows' incredible 78.742km and Lavinia Petrie's 76.042km.

Once, several years ago, I sat in a chair late at night, with a boyfriend passed out in a chair across the room. In dejected anger, I scrawled on a paper adjacent to me, "This is my #@*!$*# life." I went to bed. In the morning, I got up and walked past that paper. Written underneath it was, "So, change it!"

What good advice. We are, after all, the only ones who have the power to change our own lives.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations!!! Epic!!... Massive success in Coburg... Well done!!!

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