Saturday, 5 November 2011

I've seen the enemy, and the enemy is me.

I've really been on a journey of discovery over the past month.  It's been an exploration of the difference between being outside just to explore and have fun versus being out there to compete.



When I'm out exploring new trails, when I'm there just to discover what is out there around the next bend, well then pushing my bike up steep hills, carrying it over flooded streams or pushing it through mile after mile of muddy, unridable track is just kind of fun.  It doesn't matter how long it takes, there's no stopwatch ticking down, no person in front, no person behind.  It's just me and a place I want to be with the added benefit that around the next bend might be somewhere more wonderful than ever I've dreamed, a small magic place that only I get to see.  It suits me.


But all this competing recently has sent me into a battle with myself, and I have been my own worst enemy: I've failed to train, I've failed to commit to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet (I need to lose at least 10kgs to even begin to be race ready), and so every event I've entered, I've set myself up for a world of  pain, frustration and anguish.

That's why on Saturday, despite suffering a light dose of food poisoning on Friday night, I threw the ski on the car and drove up to Bridgewater for a "bridge to bridge" paddle to start putting some kilometers into my arms for the impending Murray River Half Marathon.


Bridgewater Bridge
I basically paddled up from Bridgewater Bridge to New Norfolk bridge and then back again, a return distance of around 34km.
New Norfolk Bridge
I suffered quite a bit on the way back, and that's what I needed to know: where my limits are, but I also got to paddle a piece of water I've never been on before, to chat to the fishermen drifting past on their boats and to watch and interact with others out there enjoying what was a beautiful day on the water.

Local New Norfolk Girl's Scull team in training
Boyer Newsprint Mill
Cool building in New Norfolk
One of the more scenic sections of the river
Almost home ... returning to Bridgewater Bridge.
Unfortunately, I think I pushed myself a bit too hard after my bout of sickness on Friday night and managed to get a fairly bad case of sun-stroke for good measure.  The result of this was that I spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday feeling pretty off-colour with a pounding headache to finish me off.

However, I had trained, and I got to digest my limites.  What I found very interesting when analysing my Garmin GPS data was that despite the fact that I felt good and fast heading up the river but slow, sore and exhausted heading back down again - the reality (see graph below) was that  I averaged about 4km/hr faster heading downstream than upstream. Thankfully, the Murray is all downstream racing.



So I've now got seven weeks to get fit enough to be able to maintain a minimum average speed of 7km/hr over five consecutive days.  This breaks down into paddling distances of 51km, 46km, 50km, 33km and 20kms repectively. 

Critically, I've got to get fit enough to enjoy myself in the process.

That's why I'll be back out on the water after work tonight.  I guess I've realised that if this is going to be a battle, then I may as well step into the ring and see if I can't sort this fitness thing out.  After all I started this blog just over a year ago for precisely that purpose, and up until when I broke my knee in February I had lost 16kgs and was the fittest I'd been in years.  Today, I guess I start again.  I stepped on the scales again today and weighed in at just over 107kgs, so the first target it to get back under 105kgs, then 100kgs, then to lose 10kgs ... step by step it's time to get back into this fight.

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