Monday, October 29, 2007

Auckland Marathon Race Report Part 1: The Final Countdown

I'm typing this one-handed, propped up in bed after telling work I wouldn't be in til lunchtime. Ahhhh. I need this morning off SO bad!!

To start from the very beginning (a very good place to start), I feel like I need to go back in time to last Monday, which was labour day in NZ. As I've said, briefly, P and I spent the long weekend chilling and visiting rellies in Nelson, which was fantastic.

The only problem was that we caught a ferry home which left the South Island at 10pm, to arrive in Wellington at 1:00am. A ferry which was delayed by half an hour. A ferry which let us drive on LAST, despite the fact that we were one of the first cars to arrive, so our choices of seats were pretty limited. It was by no means the worst experience, but I was annoyed that they didn't tell us about the delay until after we'd checked our car in. We ended up "sleeping" on the floor under a row of seats, and managed to actually gets some zzzs in before docking in Welly, driving home, and crashing into bed a little before 2.

The plan was to use the following four days of work to chill a bit, and catch up on sleep. I knew we'd have a busy weekend, what with flying up on Saturday, a 3:45 wake-up call on Sunday, and flying down on Sunday, and I knew since I couldn't have the actual rest I had before Rotorua (we had a public holiday the Wednesday before the race, so I took the Thursday and Friday off as well, and raced Saturday), I'd have to try to use my taper to arrive on the start line rested and raring to go, not bleary eyed and exhausted.

Unfortunately, that was not to be. I had a tough week at work. The hours weren't the worst. Finishing at 9 or 10 is not my favourite thing to do, but it's better than finishing at 4, and it's not like that's never happened. But finishing at 9 or 10 after a stressful and mind-numbingly boring day, when you're already tired, and not eating til late because you want the delicious meal your precious has cooked you and not more spaghetti and meatballs from the service station (actually, those meatballs are pretty darn good, healthy, fresh and yummy!! and only $9), then falling into bed, then doing it all again, now that gets old fast. Especially when your brain is saying "Stop! Rest! Sleep!" and you're getting stressed about what needs to be done and planned and sorted for a fairly important little race...

I then woke up earlier than planned on Saturday (6:30..), and eventually J and I got up and got coffee, followed eventually by brakfast (9:30/10ish). Mmmm. Coffee. I struggled to eat my oatmeal, and eventually abandoned it, knowing I'd make up for it with some more food later in the day. We got some food sorted out for dinner and breakfast in Auckland, packed, and headed out to our flight at about 12, and landed in Auckland at 2. A dunkin donut at the airport, then got our shuttle into town and arrived a littl after 3. We wandered down Queen Street, passing bunches of protestors (our favourite sign was "down with this sort of thing"!!), tried to figure out somewhere good for lunch and made our way slowly to registration. It's funny how much time you can spend wandering when you're not too far from somewhere (but not "close"), vaguely familiar with a city, and vaguely aware where the somewhere is. By the time we got most of the way home, it was nearly 5, we were exhausted, still hadn't eaten "lunch" and the soles of our feet were sore. So we stopped at a semi fast food chicken place- y'know, mostly grilled not fried and a slightly healthier selection of wraps and burgers- for a snack before heading to the hostel for dinner. I ordered chicken nuggets (fresh, real meat- not fast food styles). After mopping some of the grease off with a napkin, I took a tentative bite of the still hot nugget. And found

Completely Raw Chicken

inside. We're not talking white with a trace of pink juice. Or dark thigh meat, with just a hint of uncertainty. Nope, fleshy pink, raw, RAW, chicken, surrounded by 2-3mm of white, and a layer of greasy crumb. Quick smart I was up at the counter, demanding a refund. No way was I going to let them make me a new meal!! Obviously, I didn't eat the raw chicken, but it freaked me out. I felt sorry for J, who had to persevere with her wrap, keenly examining it at every bite! We found me a bumper bar (361 calories packed into one tiny muesli bar- no wonder i never normally eat em!) and a banana and headed back home.

Now, the one complication with dinner was that our backpackers/hostel had pretensions of being a hotel and had NO kitchen facilities. So we had pasta and sauce to cook but nowhere to cook them, no desire to walk downtown again for eats, and no desire to eat oil laden restaurant pasta anyway, especially not for twenty bucks. So we got creative. We boiled the jug (we DID have coffee making facilities), added pasta, and waited. For about 30 seconds, when the jug overflowed at exactly the same time as someone (it was A) knocked on the door, and P called to tell me he'd had a bike crash. Argh! Fortunately, our plan did work, though we couldn't stop laughing at our kettle pasta, which we then tipped back into its packet, added sauce and ate with plastic teaspoons. I went downstairs for a quiet drink with A, then came back up, got ready and got into bed a bit after 8. J and I talked for awhile, about nerves and why racing makes us nervous, when nothing really matters, then decided we had to go to sleep. Easier said than done, of course. That's what marathon eve is about, especially with the 3:45 alarm set. I tossed and turned and occasionally dozed, and may have slept from about 12-2 and about 2:30-3:45. I was not up and at 'em and ready to go when the alarm started beeping, that's for sure!

Forced down some creamed rice, managed half a bagel and some coffee, then headed down to the ferry. We got on fairly quickly, found Ed at the other end, and headed to the bathroom queue. After waiting for ages, we were suddenly started to get nervous, and still needed to drop our gearbags off. EEK!!

We made it to the start line, although we couldn't find the 4:00 pacer. We were near the 4:15, but knew we'd be leaving him soon. Then the gun went off, and we inched towards the start line, granny stepping for a little over 5 minutes. Time to go!!

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