Sunday, August 23, 2015

Going the distance

I love a piece of Cake at the best of times, in fact listening to it again, I still love it. 

Right now it's about gaining confidence in my body to carry me further; I know I can run fast and cover 5km but can I cover double, triple, quadruple that? Can I bounce back and ride or swim off the front or back of that distance?

The weekend that passed I wanted to test my body; see how it would react. I went all mad scientist and stretched my training numbers up, in fact I went further than I'd been before, not faster but further. 

It started Friday night; my new swimming/ sauna night. I punched out some endurance laps of 500m, including using my new hand paddles to assist with getting better arm strength and technique and finished with some sprints. I felt confident in the pool in only my second session, feeling natural rolling the arms and body. I happened to get chatting to a nice local guy in the sauna and started explaining my quest, he didn't laugh at it or question it but admired my single mindedness to do laps at 9pm on a Friday Night while my daughter slept soundly and my friends chased pints. 

That conversation had me thinking. I need to be the influence and make people see that its not just 5km runs and walking to work; and sometimes you've got to get the coffee grinder going a bit earlier or sacrifice the comforts of a warm bed if you want something so badly.

A friends BBQ / Housewarming was a good opportunity to push a little further. A 16km trail unveiled itself to me when looked at how I would run to the party, with super wife and Z-Girl in the car ahead and me testing some home made rice cakes for some extra energy along the Yarra River. Swimming had recovered my legs from the week's riding and I felt good when I started running, telling myself a new mantra - 'the further I go, the easier it gets.' Weaving my way from walking path to skinny single tracks, I got to the party ahead of super wife and Z-Girl. A part of me wanted to keep going, the legs weren't showing any signs of weakness and my mind was asking the question of more kilometers.

Then came Sunday morning, I ride in most weather to work rain, hail or shine. And as my major mode of transport I have conditioned myself just to get pedaling and the weather will sort itself out. So Sunday I headed for Humevale, a beautiful gradual climb outside Whittlesea. The only catch, it takes 35kms to ride this beautiful 7km climb (crazy I know) but the lead into Whittlesea rolling past farmland is just perfect for a lonely moment turning the pedals.

6am coffee sucked down and a gut full of porridge I headed out, a light weight jacket and a thick pair of gloves. At the 25km I hear the friendly honk and its the Sommerville Crew heading out on my path but starting a little closer!! Some words of encouragement from the Captain and a quick Happy snap kept the legs moving. 

The pace wasn't my best as my loneliness had got me thinking. Legs ticking, light pedals strokes, tempo, tempo, dammit I'm hungry. But knocking back another sweet rice cake (will give away the recipe soon) hitting the base of Humevale Rd I just still felt stronger like I could ride across the state! The endorphins had me feeling invincible and endless in my energy.

But then I think I've always had this. As a junior swimmer I broke age old school records but always preferred the long distance races and my heroes were Kerian Perkins & Daniel Kowalski that summer of 1996. I preferred the long ones, the 400m individual medley, 800m freestyle and the mother of all 1500m is what got me excited. It wasn't about being the quickest but can you be consistent.

Outlasting my rivals with my ability to stay at a consistent high pace for the whole race rather than surging efforts, I built my lead lap after lap feeling stronger the more strokes I took. And it's this I'm starting to get back, the freedom within the grind, the joy in the movement. I'm finding my distance legs and feeling happier when the activity lasts longer than an hour; the only real draw back to wanting more distance is finding the time; and setting early on weekend and weekday isn't everyones cup of tea (or strong coffee) but then if everyone did, nobody would say I was crazy.

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