22 May 2007

The Great Ocean Road Marathon

I ran a 10K on Sunday in 58:30. Not to bad, considering I still had nearly 32K to go.

Add it all up, and I participated in the Great Ocean Road Marathon, a leisurely stroll from Lorne to Apollo Bay. The run is shown on the map above. To view the full map at Google Maps, click here. Check out the satellite view and zoom in on parts to get an idea what I saw. As you can see here, my final time was 4:29:17. For my first marathon, I'll take it.

Especially considering how difficult training has been for me this year. My training runs have been significantly slower than in the past and I have been dealing with nagging injuries the whole time. To be honest, I was pretty discouraged heading into the race, and had resigned myself to enjoying the ocean views and trying to finish before the road opened back up. I had originally set a goal of 4:30, so to actually beat that after all the difficulties felt great.

And the views were great—the road traces the ocean the entire way, weaving back and forth. The only exception is a stretch about 500 metres surrounded by eucalypts, but that is where the koalas are hiding. I spotted five. If you look at the elevation chart further down, you'll notice that some parts of the road are almost at sea level, while others are quite high up, so you enjoy both the sounds and spray of the surf and the wide, panoramic views. It's almost enough to make you forget that your knees are killing you.

Because of my difficulties during training, I did not intend to run the entire distance. So I was quite surprised when I did, excepting brief walks (30-60 seconds) through the drink stations every 5K and walking up two steep climbs at about 27K and 33K, about two minutes each.

Of course, I don't mean to imply that I didn't want to walk, or that I wasn't hurting. At the end of the race, I rated my body pain like this:

  1. hips
  2. left big toe (blisters)
  3. knees
  4. feet
Other than that, I felt great.

After three days, I am pretty well healed. My only remaining concern is the toe. Turns out, the blisters on the side were nothing. The real problem is the blister that developed under the nail—I think I'm going to lose it. Pictures, anyone?

Below are a couple of my charts from the race. The first is my 'lap time' for each kilometre and the second is the previously mentioned elevation chart. These charts (and many others) and the map at the top are courtesy of my Garmin Forerunner 205 (also pictured above) and MotionBased. If you run or cycle, I would highly recommend one of these. Yeah, they are a little pricey, but absolutely worth it. It tracks your distance, time, pace, bearing, elevation, calories burned, etc. You can set it to auto pause when you slow down or stop. You can 'race' yourself against a previous run or a preset pace. It can auto lap at preset distances, times or points. Basically, it's like having a state-of-the-art treadmill on your wrist with one exception: while it is a little bigger than a standard watch, it is definitely smaller than a treadmill.

Plus, you can load all that data onto your computer, get all these charts, graphs and maps. You can create specialised training sessions or trails on your computer and load them to the Forerunner. I could go on and on—just go to the websites and check it out yourself. And tell them Chris sent you.

Time chart

Elevation chart
Key stats from the race:
Distance: 41.66K
Time: 4:29:17
Minimum elevation: 1 m
Maximum elevation: 72 m
Temperature: 12-16°C
Koalas: 5

Finally, supersportimages.com already has pictures from the race up. Click the link and select 'view photos' under the May 20 Great Ocean Road International Marathon—my bib number was 139. In one picture I show a five for the koalas. In another, I flash a 'hook 'em Horns'. There are a few other good shots with ocean backgrounds.

I said I was discouraged before the race, but I'm glad I did it. I didn't expect it, but I do have a sense of pride and accomplishment about it. Will I run another marathon? I don't know—we'll see after my toenail grows back.

17 May 2007

Railway reading: City Weekly

Thursday is City Weekly day. This is more of a food/style/culture publication. For example, the cover story this week is Bellissimo!, a piece about Sydney's Italian Festival (May 22-June 11). Also included are TV, music and DVD recommendations and various small style pieces. Mostly though, it's a collection of ads for hotels, restaurants and boutiques.

And that's about it. I know it doesn't sound like much, and it is a lot of filler. But this is one that I'll pick up every once in a while if the cover seems interesting.

Rating: Two trains.

16 May 2007

Railway reading: The Epoch Times

Sorry I missed yesterday. I didn't even think about picking up the daily reading in the morning. I'll make it up next week.

Wednesday is The Epoch Times day. This is a weekly newspaper that is published around the world in various local formats. The strength, and in fact origin, of The Epoch Times is news coverage in China. It began in 2000 as a news outlet to fill a need for uncensored news in and about China. In 2003, they expanded to include news from around the world, but still include significant news on China. For example, there is a Chinese language edition handed out alongside the English edition, and there was also an additional 'exclusive report' titled 'Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party'.

On the front page, I read about the Australian government's boycott of Zimbabwe cricket, the ivory trade on eBay, Tony Blair and how the UK's health system is better than Australia's.

Inside, I read about fires in California and Alaskan oil spills.

In the travel section I learned that the Great Barrier Reef was voted the best destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Life section had a piece about lawn bowls.

Science & Technology covered the discovery of King Herod's tomb and reminded me to cheer on Australia as they defend their title at the RoboCup 2007.

Opinion had a column discussing Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel. In Business I read about tax cuts and home mortgages.

Arts & Entertainment had articles about Live Earth 2007 and the upcoming Sydney Writers' Festival.

Sport covered Roger Federer's split with his coach and the all South African final in the Super 14s.

And of course, sudoku.

All this and more can be found on The Epoch Times website.

Rating: Three trains. Pretty good information, although a little stale on occasion due to the weekly format.

14 May 2007

Railway reading: 9TO5

Things have been quiet around here, but I'm planning on making it all up this week. This is the first part of what should be a series running all week on the various magazines and handouts that are available each day at the train station.

Monday is 9TO5 day, geared to the ladies. Lots of shopping, gossip and pink. And horoscopes, of course.

Cover story: A one page interview with Avril Lavigne, who was in Sydney last week promoting her new album. Topics covered include her fashion style, career, married life and growing up a child star.

Feature: An article on the dangers of plastic surgery. Specifically, a young woman who tried to do it cheap in Thailand. 9TO5 advice: 'Avoid cut-price sales.'

Fitness: Reducing your real age: eat a good breakfast, eat honey, eat foods with healthy unsaturated fats.

What's hot: Designer gumboots, pomegranates and 'design your own superhero undies' (Bonds, if your interested).

What's not: Men's handbags, Paris Hilton trying to avoid jail and athlete salaries.

Also included: Celeb fashion, socials and travel. All equally shallow.

Pages: 55

Rating: One train.

Good thing I'm not in their target audience.

01 May 2007

TV Turnoff Week 2007: The verdict

TV Turnoff Week 2007 is finally over, and it couldn't have ended a moment too soon. I'm telling you, Heather and I almost went crazy. I spent the week staring at anything shaped like a box, hoping for a moment of TV entertainment. I didn't know what day it was without a TV programming routine to remind me. Worst of all, I cried myself to sleep each night, and dreamed in technicolor sitcoms, reality shows and crime dramas.

Or not.

It was actually quite refreshing. Newsflash: there are other things to do with your time than watch TV.

On Monday, we went to go see A Friend of Mine, a film that was part of the German film festival in Sydney last week. It was billed as a comedy, and while there were funny/amusing/cute parts, it was a drama. But it was good. Not what we were expecting, but good. (By the way, some of you may be questioning going to a movie during TV Turnoff Week. The point is that we were out of the house and met with friends, rather than sitting at home in front of our TV. Also, it was as much a cultural event as a typical night at the movies.)

On Tuesday, we played Scrabble, which Heather always beats me at. No different Tuesday: she won 2-0. But what are you supposed to do when you have FOUR 'O's?!?

Wednesday was ANZAC Day, so Heather and I were both off. We planned to go to a 4:15 sunrise memorial service and even went to bed early, but when the alarm went off and it was raining outside, we didn't get up. However, I did go to a 12:30 service at the ANZAC Memorial near our home. I have video from that that I will be piecing together soon to share, so check back for that. Other than that, Heather got some quilting done and I read a lot.

On Thursday, I conducted our satire workshop. We read Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' then we read some samples that I found on The Onion last weekend. Highlights were 'Bill of Rights Pared Down to a Manageable Six' and 'Millions Participate in Cuban Version of Survivor'. We talked about target, audience and satire technique, analyzed the purpose of each one, and talked about how we would have approached the same topics as a satire.

By the way, The Onion has gone video now. Here are two good ones.

Breaking News: Something Happening In Haiti

Immigration: The Human Cost

After that, we played Scrabble again, but this time I stole a game. I think she let me win.

Friday we saw Hot Fuzz, a British comedy. Not a drama with funny/amusing/cute parts. A real, over-the-top, satirical/parodic (I looked that up) comedy.

Saturday we did some quilt fabric shopping and I finished Don Quixote. Three stars.

Sunday we read about South America and did some general planning for our trip later this year. At the moment, Mexico City, Cusco/Macchu Picchu, Peru and Rio, Brazil are looking good.

So what will I take from this? I'm not going to sell my TV and XBox and cut off the internet now, but taking a break for a week has been nice. It helps you realise that you don't need to be constantly wired in, that there are other things to do with your time. I'll be more careful not to automatically turn on the TV when I get home and end up sitting in front of it all evening. I'll still watch what I like, but when it's over, I can turn it off and do something else, rather than flip channels all night looking for something mildly entertaining. The official TV Turnoff Week is over, but I recommend you give it a try, even if it is just for one day. Find something else to do, preferably something with other people that sparks conversation. I just don't recommend playing Scrabble with Heather—she's a killer.