Monday, June 20, 2011

BLOODY NEW ZEALAND! Tales from Auckland

You can't see the outer layer of my leg is missing along with my right butt Cheek scared up!!!

Three weeks ago I signed up for a 10k road race in Auckland, New Zealand, just excited at the chance to race in another country. I didn’t know about the course or the people that had previously raced it, but I knew that the winner had run 33:59 in 2010 so I had a chance at winning. As the day would unfold I would be able to add running up a volcano twice, running through rain and mud, and having a session with medical workers to my list of things done while in New Zealand.
                The day prior to the race I decided it would be best to run from my hostel, to the race site so that I knew exactly how to get there the morning of the race. Sun was actually shining, I had just awoken from a nap and I hit the road in route for “western springs park”. After making it about 2.5 miles the roof just opened up from above and the rain just came by the buckets. All in all I ended up running 7.6 miles in order to find this park and run back in the torrential downpour. The night prior to the race I would once again wake up at 4am and fail to fall back asleep. After my flight through the night directly to Auckland from perth, I managed to not even catch 1 minute of sleep and go right into the Auckland morning. I had been lacking sleep critically, as I have been laying down around 11pm and waking up between 3 and 4am every night. The night of the race was no exception, in fact I just decided to go downstairs and have a small breakfast before the udder fatigue just begin to set in.

                Arriving at the race most likely looking aged by 10 years I had a nice warm-up and the “Run Auckland” set up looked pretty legit surrounding the start/finish of the race. I tucked away my track suit behind some tents and made my way to the starting line realizing that I could not remember the last time I had actually put on deodorant because of all of this back and forth traveling haha. The gun blast off and people all fly out in front of me, but I take my time to aim in on the 2 front runners who have distanced themselves from the pack and pursue. We hit our 1st kilometer in 3:12 which was all gradual uphill, just a bit too fast for me but I was able to tuck in fairly comfortable. We passed 2k in a slower 3:19 distancing ourselves from 4th place by a good margin. I took the lead and began to push the pace just as we turned a corner to look at the wall that soon we would be running up. The course was on/around a dormant volcano so basically we had to run straight up the back side of this volcano twice for the 10k!!! After managing to get pretty heavily into oxygen debt the top 2 runners hit the 5k mark just in front of me while I was happily surprised to be a 16:53 with that climb.
                Now for the juicy part of the days racing! I had 2nd place in my sights as the eventual winner just broke both of us. This time we had to run around all of the 5k runners who were released 15 minutes after our race, what a chore! These people blocked the sidewalks completely so it was a zig zag for literally 5k which slowed all of us down and drained any extra energy that we could have had. As I approached the climb once again, my spirit was broken from the fantasy of winning, I could hear some foot steps behind me, then I heard breathing. Breathing from a little boy or a girl, holy crap! I knew that there was a local woman who had been winning some of the races overall in some pretty fast times but I didn’t think it could be her, it was of course. She just flew up the volcano with her short choppy strides while I looked like a freak extending my legs a bit too long and eventually I began a nice walking pace.           Once I got to the top the woman was almost out of sight, I passed the 2nd place guy who was bent over at the top of the hill and then heard someone quickly approaching. I found a heart somewhere inside and convinced myself to dig a little deeper and begin with some surges. I was making my way through the hundreds of 5k runners or walkers should I say. Jumping in the grass, sinking my feet into the wet muddy grass then back onto the sidewalk for a few brief steps before 2 more women completely blocked the sidewalk we were racing on. “Ok just 2k or so to go lets rock it man, don’t be a P^$$y, MAN UP!”. I am running downhill between all these people, I glance at my watch as the 9th k clicks and I am going 4:41 mile pace at this point, woooo. Now to just plan my maneuver ahead between the 5 women half walking and running on this slippery wet surface. “I can make it between them before I hit the power pole, Oh Sh*t, I can’t make it”. So I take a sharp cut right as if I was Barry Sanders and then that’s when all hell broke loose for me.
                I am bracing myself for this mega fall down hill on this rocky pavement, BOOM SKIIDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. I am sliding on my right side just ripping into my knee and then I basically collapse into two women from behind almost knocking them over. They are in a panic, screaming, “oh my god are you ok, oh no, oh no!!!”. The only thing I am thinking is, “this is going to hurt later but I am not going to lose my 3rd place, get up Chris!”. I pop up the best that I can and yell to the concerned women, “I will sort it out later!” and continue my onward drive to the finish. The guy behind me of course passes me on this stretch while I am gathering myself again so I pop in behind him. We hit the last 600m and we are running on wooden planks that can carry at the most 2 people wide and from all of the rain, the volcano surface has turned into mud and washed down onto the planks. We are slipping and sliding, at the verge of a fall at any moment, trying to dice between other 5k runners. We both slip off of the little wooden deck into the swampy mud but catch ourselves for one last blast to the finish 100m away. I know I have a lot more left in the tank so I roll past him to the line and wrap up my 3rd place.
                After the race I look down and see blood running down my leg and people begin asking if I am ok. The medics luckily were on hand and took me inside the ambulance to begin cleaning my wounds and wrapping them up. The outer skin layer of my anterior tib was pretty much removed completely and my knee has a few nice slices that will be some sweet war wounds to talk about in the future. After waiting around for 90 minutes for awards, they do not give anything out and I may point out that they provide no food at the finish, only one bottle of water! It was a long 3.5 mile walk back to my hostel with my leg all banged up and the on again off again showers. What an experience!!!! Up next is a hiking adventure over some snow capped mountains, hopefully I can stay on my feet!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Australia: Home or Holiday?

          As the time has quickly approached for my departure back home with stops in New Zealand, then San Francsico, I have had a lot of time to reflect. When I arrived in Western Australia, I was so excited to meet the people with the funny accents, to see some beautiful beaches and check it off on the list of things to see. After a couple months of gathering an understanding of the culture a bit, I hit the Triathlon season with a furry and my life was consumed to finally put forth the work in order to come out on top at the end of the season at Busso 70.3. Post Busso’s unfortunate happenings after the culmination of hours of sweat, fatigued, pain, and suffering, I have been able to take these last few weeks to reflect on life; life in Australia and the thought of a lifelong stay in Australia.
            Spending much of my time in Australia on a bike, running or swimming, I have met so many unique people, people whom will stick with me until the day I die I am sure.  These unique people sacrifice many of the facets in life that I really appreciate including nightlife, especially hitting the dance floor as many know. One thing we all have in common is the fact that we want to push our individual limits while motivating others along the way. As previously mentioned, I am leaving for New Zealand in less than 1 week time, where I am sure I will meet a few other interesting personalities, but for some reason I am not sure it will top my Australian experience. As Cody began to set up my “Farewell Party” or as Cody calls it “1 Less Bogan” (“1 less redneck” for the Americans reading), it truly hit me that I will undoubtedly miss this place. Thinking about the people I see on a daily basis who approach me with a smile, a handshake, or a hug makes me a bit sad.
            While living abroad and attempting to create opportunities back home in the US, I have realized it is certainly difficult, especially with the time difference for communication. While I have dropped the bomb that I am leaving to many of my aussie friends, they asked me when I was coming back, as in coming back for good.  Hmmm that’s an interesting thought to say the least, live in AUSTRALIA forever? What is holding me back, why shouldn’t I? It sounds like pure bliss sometimes, I can’t lie, but the fact of the matter is that I really miss those people who share my blood line and have the same surname. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to come back to my 2nd home again in the future but for now I am concentrating on arriving back to the states in the coming months. Wait a second, home?
           Home where I will be faced with the daily pressure from our corporate society and looked upon as a failure if I choose to enjoy life as opposed to working an infinite number of hours at an office? Wow, I can’t wait to get back to the rat race and worry more about the type of car that I am driving as opposed to opening my horizons with time spent next to my loved ones.
            Recently I had a very interesting chat with a couple other “foreigners” who now call Western Australia home and I could just feel how passionate they were about living here. This place just does something to make you free, free in spirit and in mind, maybe it’s just the change that some of us need to reach our state of NIRVANA? Either way, I can see how this very laid back, coffee sipping, cocktail slurping culture can draw people into its web of natural beauty. The people I have encountered make my Australian experience the most grand in so many ways. My friends truly make training apart of their lifestyle in every way and the great thing is that their families/partners openly accept their dedication to improve upon themselves through sport. I have been in relationships myself where my companion just could not quite grasp the concept of leading a life of ambition to push the boundaries of my mind and body, but it appears as if most people are switched onto that notion here.
Northbridge Piazza
              As a reference to how ideal this place is for me, I will simply state “NORTHBRIDGE”. Northbridge is the mecca for the nightlife in Perth, as it has more than enough to offer a person who enjoys getting out and socializing to the pulsating sounds of music. Pubs, eateries, clubs, even an outdoor movie area in the middle of the square, this place is what Charlotte’s “The Epicentre” wants to be. Minus the normal weekend occurrence of some drunken fights and a few glassing incidents, this place is pretty awesome; I just wished I had been here when I was about 19 and it would be absolute heaven! One thing I dread when heading home is the guys that sit in the toilet on a stool, bumping gangsta rap and asking for a tip to hand you a paper towel, it just doesn’t happen here. In fact I have recently experienced the comedy scene that Perth has to offer, then several different stops which many of my friends like to call their home base, each one just great and perfectly suited for the area.
                Home? Home is where the heart is? Well is my heart here or there, another wrench tossed in my plans of course. Well my decision is final, this place is GREAT, and it’s certainly almost like a heaven on earth in several ways for me, but my heart is with the people who have been an integral part of my life, well, forever, FAMILY. I have been to some incredibly breathtaking places while being abroad and at times it hit me how much more fascinating it would be to have my mother or my little brothers here to share it with. Taking the biggest leap of faith and moving to Australia, even for the short amount of time I have been here, was the best decision I have ever made. Obstacles in my future have been knocked down just that much more, now knowing that I can succeed to the far corners of the world.
            I can NEVER show enough appreciation to those who have taken me in as family since being in Perth. The Angell family has been the guiding light to get me through the dark, pitch black cave of life and out on to the bleached white sands of optimism.  The gang at the Running Centre have been amazing as well, kudos to Raf Baugh for letting me grab some of his extra confidence, Jason Nuttman for giving me just a bit more swagger, Nathan Doig for finally enlightening me to something called style, and the members of Club Helena Valley for flogging me on those 2hr runs through the hills, then degrading me at the IGA for being a soft yank, I LOVE YOU GUYS!.  I could, and perhaps will, write a book about my experiences here, from the amazing dedication that my coach Paul Mackay revealed, to the inspiring words from 2:13 Marathoner Ray Boyd provided me(poof), or perhaps the in depth conversation with Australian 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson about the state of my home NBA team the Charlotte Bobcats. So many memories, so many people; young, old, insightful, on the piss, flogged, and intense, in every fashion thought possible. In closing I can say without a doubt in my mind, I WILL BE BACK!!! I may not be coming back “for good” but expect a visit in the next 2 years. 
Going to miss running along the river daily

IF YOU ARE READING THIS, THANK YOU FOR PRETENDING THAT I AM COOL ENOUGH TO TALK TO YOU WHILE IN PERTH and if you are ever on the East Coast of the US, message me, mi casa es su casa!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

HBF: Run for my Lung 4k

HBF Run for a Lung 4k

CL, Microwave (marc), and Cody

After two weeks of attempting to stuff myself with ice cream post Half Ironman, I decided it was time to race. Since I coach a group on Monday evenings who was preparing for the HBF Run for a reason 14k, I decided to sign up. At the last minute Cody convinced me to sign up for the 4.5k race, because I could most likely win some $ for a top 3 finish. Well I can go around and call myself a dreamer because that was far from the case!

I attempted a short speed session just 3 days out from the race to see if I could get my legs to turnover at all and it was minimally successful so I had a bit of false confidence heading into the race. Since January I had been training specifically for the Half Ironman and of course the half marathon distance, which did not include sessions of short intervals, so the 4.5k was a bit over my head. The goal was to line up with Thomas Bruins and Marc See, run on their heels as long as possible and to hope for the best to get 3rd place. Marc and Thomas had both recently over 1500m with times of 3:44 and 3:49, so naturally I thought I could hang with these guys(buzzer sounding reeeeeeeeeennnn).
Not the case, as we warmed up together I realized Chris Dale was also doing the 4.5k, as was Ben Green, all of whom are accomplished track runners to say the least, as well as they have an extra 8 years of fresh leg turnover on me.  Just before the start I unveiled my best Raf "Radar" Baugh impersonation, with his 10 year old EMBROIDERED singlet that said "RADAR" on it, everyone had a laugh.

Marc See pushing the pace in front of Risely, Gregson and Roff at Nationals!

Inside the WACA at the finish
The gun goes off and so does the lactic acid throughout my body as my lung began to collapse. Holy crap, we are flying and I am, maybe…in 10th place about 1/2m into this run, “this was a mistake” and then “come man, focus” were thoughts going through my head with thousands of people on my heels. I hit the 1k mark in 3:02, then I caught up to Greeny finally at around the 2k mark, thinking my patience had finally paid off. Just as we approached the last mega hill, he just crushed me! My arms felt like I was carrying a baby on each side while I was running and my upper back was in pain, it almost made me forget that I also was not breathing ha-ha. Before I knew it we were entering the stadium and the finish line was just in front. Thank the lord it was over and done with but, come on, really, that was 4.5k? Greeny came over to me as I crossed and said we did like 12 minutes mate, that HAS TO BE SHORT. So here I was, running a race that was way out of my fitness and it was even worse because it was shorter than advertised, it was 4k!

Lesson learned, if you go into a race with expectations but you know what you have been doing (in my case, NOTHING) then prepare to feel the pain! I was 5th overall in 12:30, I was actually pleased with my time considering but at NO POINT was I relaxed or settled into a pace. What reason did you run for?Video<

After a month or two of consistent running the hope is to be able to run sub 16 comfortably again but at this point, I have decided to take a very non critical view to my training regimen. Next up is a 10k in Auckland, New Zealand, more my style at this point.