It was a cold, wet and very early Canberra morning when, at after resting for the few precious hours before the big run, I had slept ever so lightly, like many other marathoners, around Canberra city on the morning of Sunday the 10th April, 2011. The run began in earnest a fraction over time. Then the surge forward the race had begun.
I had flown down to Canberra from Brisbane on a Friday afternoon on the 8th April 2011. Prior to leaving home for the Brisbane Airport, I was keeping to my scheduled programme by running a comfortable 8.5km run this morning around Crestmead.
At around 11.30am my sister arrived from driving around Brisbane as a yellow cabbie and she offered me a ride to the airport. I gladly accepted the offer.
Arriving at the Brisbane airport was without any drams at all. The E-ticketing procedures was smooth and uneventful. The security screening procedures was prompt and very efficient which was good.
I had boarded my very first Virgin Blue flight ever. It was to Canberra. I was impressed with the speed of the flight lasting only an hour and twenty minutes.
I had arrived in Canberra airport feeling relaxed and a bit excited about arriving in a newly constructed airport terminal. It had a very new atmosphere about it with light green white colour schemes which seemed to be mild to the visual cortex of my minds eye. The spaciousness and the lack of busying people around the airport seemed to bely the importance of Canberra to Australian society in terms of airtravelling people in and around Canberra. There was enough room to swing a cat in.
I was even more surprised with finding only a solitary coffee cafe in the middle of the airport, adjacent to this centralised coffee cafe was a display of the future airport profile encassed in a glass display. Next to this minature model display of the Canberra airport, was a newsagency with an added foodstuff section, whereby I had bought some small snacks on my flight back to Brisbane on the post-run Sunday afternoon.
Outside of the airport I was eager to find a Canberra airport sign so as to take a snapshot photo. It was proof that I had arrived in Canberra. There was only a tv monitor display with Canberra airport displaying on screen.
I walked out of the airport and into a warm setting afternoon sun and waited for the Airport bus service into the Canberra CBD.
I had arrived at the YHA Canberra, at Akuna Street, within the London Circuit part of the Canberra CBD.
The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) in Canberra I would describe it as a fairly generic YHA hostel. I had once been a backpacker and a member of the YHA Australia, and I had been to most YHA within the three major cities within the East Coast of Australia, and New Zealand, in decades past. Consequently, arriving at the Canberra YHA was pleasantly convenient and within walking distance to CBD shops and in particular the Canberra Centre.
I had settled in on Friday night cooking my own home cooked chow mein which was a spontaneous recipe I had concocted myself. I had allowed a couple of young German female tourists to sample my dinner which was met with their appreciative approval. I gave them the finer points of my version of Asian cuisine which I had only acquired culinarily speaking simply because of its simplicity and highly efficient way in which it is prepared, cooked, and then served, straight from a sturdy wok. It worked well.
I slept late that night and played some pool with some Dutch backpackers and a Melbourne traveller. Got on the internet then slept in my ten bed dormatory amongst the shared sleeping dormatory bedfellows included my two young German girlfriends, whom I had shared my meal with earlier in the night. They had left the following morning for Melbourne.
In the meantime, on a Saturday morning through to the afternoon, I had spent it all at the Australian federal parliament. It was a very worthwhile experience and certainly highly educational.
I did not cook this evening instead I had carbo loaded with some Italian pasta dishes within the European meals buffet within the Canberra Centre. This was also my last major meal before the marathon.
I had an earlier night in my bunk but it was a spasmodic sleep. I was awoken by the various noises throughout the night including having to wake myself for natures beckonings. I had been loading up with fluids all night as well.
In the wee small hours of Sunday morning I was up and using my pen light to negotiate my way through the darkness, i had managed to get dressed and to pack my backpack in order both check out the hostel and to prepare for the run.
Conveniently, I was offered a ride by a Sydney Strider member and a former Intraining club member. I was running for Intraining on this particular morning. I had gladly accepted the offer of a ride to Tolepea Primary school for the start of the race.
The rain did not start until we had actually begun the run. It stayed with us throughout the run. Personally, the coolness of the pettering droplets was welcoming. It was cooling my overheating engines during the run.
The run itself did have its peculiar moments, the moments of anxiety was dependent mainly upon my body signals which was deceptive mainly due to my mind telling me when to increase my tempo and the uncertainties of when it was the opportune moment to make a surge forward in order to lift up my cadence in the run. As it turned out my mid 5 minute cadence was a bit too lethargic compared to the vast majority of runners who were well ahead of me.
I had started the 42km campaign well at the back of the pack and throughout the entire race, I was at the rearguard. I had a last minute surge at the 38 k mark and made my move forward and overtook most people who seemed to have expended their energies by commiting themselves to their surge well before I did and had paid the price for this over enthusiasm. I had resigned with the fact that certainly in this run I was no way near going to do a pb.
Negotiating the course was pretty much a sightseeing tour for me. I had been around the Australian federal parliament area the day before taking photos from my camera. Incidently, my camera had disappeared in my Quantas flight back to Brisbane on the Sunday afternoon.
The run around the federal Parliament zone was the highlight of my tourist run around the Capital city of Australia. Then the crossing over the Burley Griffin man made lake was also interesting if not for the scenery, then, certainly, for the historical value of the lake and the name of the man to whom the architectural design of Canberra itself is brought to my attention here, namely the American S. Burley-Griffen.
The hardest part of the marathon, in which I think that all will agree, would have to be the climb up the Beloconen road portion along the Black Mountain portion of the run. It was a mild and yet seemingly perpetual incline to the top of the hill then a turn around going back down the same way. It was a southern then easterly direction in which we had returned to the hub of the Canberra parliamentary area. Then we had returned back to the foot of Tolepea park for the first of our two lap race.
On the second return to the foot of the Tolepea park we headed straight ahead northbound towards the Tolepea Primary school to the finishline and whence we started the race, whereupon we had crossed the finish shute to the beeping sounds from the blue carpet strips and onto the clicking cameras welcoming the arrival of the exhausted but very relieved runners.
The view of the dangly medals seemed to dull the surging pains and the grimace expressions upon exhausted faces. Internally, the inflated lactic acid legs, coupled with the tenderness of weary leg muscles, would ineluctably welcome in the post-run aches and stiffness.
It was all worth it in the end and we are always grateful of a hard earned medal, with some rehydration fluids, that is a tangible symbol of our achievement on this day, the 10th April, 2011.