Actually, the week in Tokyo wasn’t as bad training wise because most days, I was on my feet all day. Returning to Australia gave me a week for my final preparation. Rather than ride to work, I walked and took as many long cuts as I could. I think the smartest thing I did was buy some compression skins. I am convinced they helped me on the
day and more importantly, during the recovery. The older I get, the less concerned I am about the fashion statement I might make. This was no exception, as I cut a dashing figure in my black tights under my white shorts with my white socks out on top and my lemon polo shirt and baseball cap.
The other key ingredient on the day would be the iPod that seemed to know the right times to put a more high energy song on. It was funny when “Nut Bush” came on as I struggled up O’Connor Ridge.
The walk started just after 7:30 and I walked with long legged Peter and his brother for a while but their pace was going to kill me so I bid them farewell and settled into my own pace which I remarkably managed to keep up all day at just over 5 kph. Lots of deep thought to keep me occupied.
The first checkpoint was at the 8k mark and I was pretty sure I was at the back of the field though the walk wasn’t a race. However, I needed to finish by 4:00 to qualify for my medal and that was my incentive. I had a camelback with water and was loaded with milo bars and muesli bars but each checkpoint, I made sure I drank plenty of their offerings. The second checkpoint was on Black Mountain peninsula and I was aware of the same people who were roughly walking at my pace.
Heading off to the 3rd checkpoint at the Botanic Gardens, there was a temptation to cut a sizeable corner but I’m glad I persevered with the marked route. A nice walk through the Rain Forest Gully, a bit of an altitude climb and then headed off toward O’Connor Shops and the next check point. As I neared the shops, I saw Krystyna sail by a cross street in the
convertible and amazingly, she saw me as well. My love had coffee, and an egg and Salmon baguette for me which was great. I knew I couldn’t stop walking or I would never restart so I had a gulp of the coffee and chewed on the roll as I walked. Got confused as to the correct route out of O’Connor and added a few hundred metres that I didn’t need to.
Got back on track, cut a short corner but this made up for my detour so my distance would be good for the day.
The climb up O’Connor Ridge was tough in the sun and the soles of my feet hurt if I stepped on a rock. There was some muttering going on here as I crashed through some mental and physical hurdles. The next checkpoint at Lyneham Shops was over the half way mark and I was happy with my rhythm but my feet were hurting a bit. The traffic Lights at Northbourne Avenue favoured a quick crossing and the checkpoint at Dickson shops was quickly negotiated. Another mental barrier as I headed up Northbourne Ave toward Goulburn as my brain told me this was the wrong way!
I could see a woman walking toward me but I paid no attention as I was on a mission. However this woman said “Hello” and thrust a Kit Kat into my hand. Wow, my beloved had spotted me near Dickson and had parked up the road and walked back to keep me company. We continued this process for the next couple of checkpoints with Krysia parking and coming back and walking with me and helping me maintain my pace. What a gal !
The last 2 checkpoints were along the firetrail on the slopes of Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie. My feet struggled with the uneven ground and I zig zagged to make the most of the shade. Didn’t see Krysia for a while as she had problems reverse engineering the route near the War Memorial. This is understandable as I had problems engineering it as there were a
few branches of the firetrail which weren’t well marked.
My pace was flagging as I approached the War Memorial and I was feeling a bit touch and go about finishing by 4:00
I could see Krsyia’s car so I knew she was somewhere on the mountain looking for me. I send her a text
message explaining where I was and my intended route. I picked up my pace and strode down Anzac Parade and she drove by me as I rounded Blundell’s Cottage. Krysia parked at the Carillion and we walked the final couple of kilometres
together. It was absolutely great to cross the finishing line with her by my side!
I am immensely proud of this achievement. Not sure whether I would do it again but boy, do I have some bragging
rights now !