Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Crossing off another of life's to-do's: running across the Harbour Bridge (Sydney - Part VI)...

And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City.  MUFFIN PUFFIN COMES HOME TOMORROW!!!!  The Bull hit the gym again tonight, doing 27.5 KM on the treadmill in about 50 minutes.  Either the new machines offer more resistance or I'm growing weak in my old age, but whatever the cause I'm definitely having to scale down the resistance level when pedaling.  Price - you got an EPO I can borrow?  HGH is in short supply over here...

I'm carrying my girl to the Winner's Circle!
Moving back to Sydney, Saturday was a GORGEOUS day all around, and so Dean drove Jenny, Charlotte, and I over to Watson's Bay for some of Doyle's famous fish n' chips.  They were DELISH, but at bloody $18.50 (PLUS CHARGING FOR EACH SAUCE) the better have been! I'd originally planned to buy the barramundi, but that was something like $65,000 plus your first 3 children and a pair of business class flights to Tahiti, so I went with the skate instead.  Joking aside, the food was excellent (probably not the ideal pre-race meal, but who was NOT complaining?  THIS GUY...), and the views from around that area were just superb.  We walked along a rise called the Gap, and Jenny and I were mesmerized by the water coming in and out.  I definitely had that "this is as close as I'm gonna get to the 12 Apostles for awhile," but that was fine by me, as the view was just stunning. 

It was then over to Bondi, the most famous and iconic beach in Sydney and, more notoriously, the place where I almost bought the farm back in 2003.  As some of you might have heard, I went to Oz with T-Bone in 2003, and Bondi was a Day 1 stop on our tour.  Well, it's a MASSIVE beach with rocks on either side, and we went for a wander to the point where the rocks meet the sea at a cliff.  Wanting a cool photo, I told Tait to wait until the waves crashed good and sprayed some water, and so we stood there patiently, waiting for the perfect shot.  Well, when the wave did come, it was a TSUNAMI.  Seriously - it blasted over the wall like a Sherman tank, knocking me down and dragging me across rocks and barnacles for about 10 feet.  When I finally stopped, I was right on a ledge with rocks below - it would NOT have been pretty if I'd gone another couple of feet.  I finished that day walking SIX MILES HOME in socks covered with blood.  Needless to say I needed to go back to slay my personal dragons.

The day was turning chilly by the time we made Bondi, and the water was FREEZING!  I got in to my ankles (yes, Pappas - that makes me a risk taker...), but it was too cold after that.  There were SO MANY PEOPLE swimming - craziness!  But the trip was nice, as I met D & D's friends Melissa and Nathan (who, incidentally, is the SPITTING IMAGE of Hugh Jackman - accent and all), and we all chatted for an hour or two before shuffling back up to the Northern Beaches.

Dinner that night was at Dom's parents house, which is a six bedroom MANSION in Manly.  Seriously - it was like being in a house from Gone with the Wind or something.  We packed in some last minute carbs (this is the point where Miller makes the joke about carb loading vs. "carb overloading") before shuffling back over to D & D's place, where it was an early night (as I had a 3:15 AM wake up call!).

Sunday was it - D-Day:  The Blackmores Half Marathon, part of the annual Sydney Running Festival.  I went into this feeling really good.  I'd trained hard, setting a schedule in mid-June and sticking to all but 1 run (so finishing just 3.1 miles shy of total planned mileage).  I'd mixed speed work on the treadmill with long runs outside, counting on the humidity to balance out the hills that are nonexistent in Singapore but prevalent along the harbour in Sydney.  I'd eaten right, limited the beer on vacation, and had even managed a good night's sleep.  All in all, I felt very confident.

The cab ride over was easy, and I arrived at the race start at 5 AM, in time to stretch whilst watching the sunrise on the harbour.  As I watched the light climb the pylons of the bridge and the sails of the Opera House, I kept telling myself:  "remember this moment - you may never pass this way again."  And then, sunscreen on and in the runner's corrale, we were off at 6:20 AM.  And it was at THAT point, ladies and gentlemen, that the wheels fell off.

Simply put - it was NOT a good race day for me.  I was laboring by the 1K mark, and every step of that race hurt.  I knew that the hills would be a factor, but you don't realize how flat Singapore is until you hit rolling hills.  Charlotte would have been a DREAM training area for this - very similar topography.  Throw in the fact that it was 88 degrees AT THE START OF THE RUN without a drop of shade, and you've got a long day in front of you.

My, doesn't Dean look refreshed despite all that exertion?
Oh, wait...cheeky...
Despite all that, it was an amazing experience.  I ran across the bridge, saw the Opera House from many different vantage points, ran through the Rocks, by Hyde Park, through the Botanic Gardens, along Darling Harbour, and through Circular Quay, finishing at the Opera House.  I must give the organizer's credit - minus the volunteer who was totally worthless at the expo (and a lousy expo itself), it was a GREAT run that I would recommend to ANYONE.  I finished in 1:55:45, my slowest half marathon ever (excluding the 2 in Singapore) - about 8:40-45 a mile.  And if you think that's slow, let me tell you - it's REALLY slow when compared to Australians.  I was passed NON-STOP during this race, no matter how hard I tried to push.  Consider this stat:  In Singapore, I finished in the top 4% overall.  In Sydney I shaved 11 minutes off my SG time and finished in the back third.  Yeah, those kids can run.
The girls triumphant!  Dommy - next year it's the full
marathon or bust!!!

The picture of civility...and body odor.  Lots and lots
of body odor...
After the race, however, life was grand.  The weather, a bummer for the race, was GREAT for spectators, and I just sat in the shade and slept for a bit before Muffin and Dommy came through on the Bridge Run.  I saw Jenny roll through (she did GREAT) - she was looking strong!  It was Dom's first race EVER, and she did fantastic, coming in well under an hour (as did Muffin) - way to go, ladies!  We then hung out with some friends in the Botanic Garden before rolling over to Nespresso, where Dean DAZZLED us with his cultivated, sophisticated pallet.  Seriously - not sure if any of you cats have ever been in a Nespresso store, but it's like something out of Gattaca - I was blown AWAY.  Picture rows and rows of colored capsules surrounding all these sophisticated coffee making gadgets ranging in price from $400-$1100!!!!  As Dean and Dom are members, we were "allowed" in (reeking, I might add, post race - who needs a shower?) and treated to a stellar coffee.  So guuuuuuuuuuuuuuud...peppy cheekies.

It was then over to lunch, where I had a burger the size of my head whilst Jenny took down a falafel wrap fit for a king.  We then headed back to Manly via the Ferry, where Jenny and I watched the sunset at "Four Pines," the Manly Microbrewery overlooking the Wharf.  We saw a table open just as we picked up our Pale Ales, and you should have SEEN Jenny blast through time and space to snatch that spot from enemy clutches.  I was REALLY impressed.

And so we sat there, waiting for our rides and for the last meal before a final sleep and then our flight - and everything was perfect.  Granted, I was (more than) a little disappointed in my run, but minus that life was perfection.  Soul mate beside me, drinking a nice schooner, watching the sun set over the pines and the water on our final night, a farewell chill in the air before returning to the Equator - who can really ask for anything more than that?

Dean and Dom - thank you guys SO MUCH for having us and hosting us.  I know that it was dreadfully inconvenient with everything that you've got on at the moment, but thank you so much for making us feel so welcome and showing us such a GREAT time.  You guys are absolutely two of mine and Jenny's favorite people on EARTH, and we can now add Charlotte and Jacob to the list of "reasons to return soon for another visit Down Under."  You're the best - thanks again so much for being part of our lives and for letting us share yours.

Well, that's Sydney wrapped, minus the missing "Muffin Chronicles."  However, she'll have to handle that, as all I've got are the photos, which I don't think will do the tales justice.  But if you'll excuse me now, I'm off to watch my newest selection from the Fitness First library -  "Red Riding Hood."  Yes, that's right - the one from the dudes who made "Twilight" and with the chick from "Mama Mia" in it.  CLEARLY I am comfortable with my manhood...

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print.  Chat tomorrow (to celebrate the triumphant return of Perfect Pumpkin)!


 Sam and (now back to Krabi Town, no doubt knocking back a few last minute Changs and a bowl of Tom Yum) Jenny

No comments:

Post a Comment