Monday, August 2, 2010

Painathon - Do Not Try This At Home

My life changed generally for the better when I fell into the sport of triathlon .With that came a whole new dimension of fitness and a whole new world of ....endurance sports .It is a lifestyle and possible an endrenaline rush for the fitness junkie.

On 1 August 2010 , I met a whole different subset of endurance sports junkies. I was introduced to a whole new level of pain as well. There were 70 entrants to the painathon . 23 doing the full race of trying to finish as many of the 10 challenges between 7am and 5.45pm . I decided to give the Painathon a go again as I managed 8 challenges last year and stopped at the Quadcruncher a 4.4 km run on a horrible rut of a track at the back of Bickley Reservoir .


The race commenced at 7am at City Beach with 3 laps on the beach of about 380m and then on it went.The first 5 challenges were all in the City suburbs .It was a beautiful day to race and the weather was fine all day . I was coughing a bit from the cold air and whilst I felt well the flu had made me really weak and just deconditioned .But I decided to give it a go as I had a number of sponsors for the event and it was all going to a good cause , the Variety Club for kids. At Challenge 2  which was 2 laps of Reabold Hill , I was coughing lots and having a really hard time on the run up.I have not mastered the art of running and coughing at the same time. Trevor a friend was at the top reminding me how dumb it was to be racing when I had the flu. Well  noone said you had to be smart to do a Painathon. I think the prerequsite was actually the opposite and an ability to feel pain.

By the time I had got through Challenge 2 I had lots of mucus and fluids all over my racing bib .it was a good look but I felt better . On to Challenge 3 and 4 at Kings Park .The run to the DNA Tower was relatively easy 1.4km run and then back down on a gradual gradient. The run up Mount Street was familiar territory as I run around Kings Park and it is a short sharp run up 200 m (approx) x 3 .I had to walk a short part as I was just getting too wheezy with my breathing. 

I was mentally ticking of the challenges and hoping I was making good time . Challenge 5 was a 10km run between the Causeway and the narrows bridge in the city and I did the run in 56 minutes . My slowest and I had done the 5 challenges in 3 hours. On paper I had 7 hours to do the remaining 5 challenges. By now I was one of a handful left doing the full Painathon.I headed out on Great Eastern Highway alone to ride the 34 km to the Swan Valley for Challenge 6 the Beast . It is a 8.5 km run up and down two hills with amazing views of the city 30 kms away. It was warm by now and I made very slow progress .Passed one rider who was cramping and that was the only fellow competitor I saw all the way there.As I arrived , Norman Black and Michael Parotte were finishing the Beast and I was now an hour behind. 

I was struggling and started a walk and run regime to keep moving .It was simply trying to get to the top.Everytime I made it to the top of a hill there was another climb round the corner .Running down was no joy as my quads were beginning to hurt and I knew I had to conserve what energy I had for the other challenges. I was trying to pace myself with the risk I would not finish all 10 challenges in the alloted time. I was eating and taking in a lot of fluids and electrolytes with salt tablets but I was cramping on the bike .It was really a reflection of the lack of conditioning rather than my electrolyte intake. As I ascended the first hill a couple of young Kangaroos bounded out of the bush and across the road. As I ran up I saw 4-5 runners coming down and everyone was walking the uphill sections. Cheered them on as they also offered what simple words of encouragement .There is sympathy in moments of shared pain and possibly stupidity. 

I made it down and had a short break before riding down Campesic Road to the Ziz Zag run in kalamunda. It was a convoluted ride through the hills and across great eastern Highway which was busy on a Sunday afternoon .It was past 1pm and I was running out of time .Challenge 6 had taken 2.5 hours of riding and running. Zig -zag was a 7km run on a fairly gradual gradient and we could cut across the bush on the way down .The short cuts were good but I had to walk stretches because they were pretty slippery . I was now running 4 minutes and walking a minute. It was hot , lonely and mentally just hard.I was cramping and getting worried about the time .

The marshalls along the way were great and very supportive and after Zig Zag I managed to get more water and fill up the now empty bidons and just plod on. Took another 45 minutes to get to Bickley , fortunately I did not lose  my way and I was the last person to finish the Quadcruncher. I only managed to walk the course as it was just too steep for me and by this stage my quads were just hurting. I got to the top and punched my card and walked down with the Marshalls . Slipped and fell on the way down but fortunately I was fine accept for all my legs cramping. 

Once I got back down I was told that I had to get back to Kings Park as I would not have enough time to do the Canning Bridge run. I rode back the only route I knew which was to Canning Bridge and then on to Kings Park . It was hard as there was lots more traffic and the sun was low and visiblity was a problem with the sun setting. I got to the finish line at 5.39 pm . I had been riding and running  (sort of) for 10 hrs 39 min .  No major triumphs or failures.I had managed to finish all the bike legs but fell short of finishing all the challenges. On hindsight I should have given the race a miss but it was an experience in trying to overcome all negatives and just pushing through mentally.. It was good practice for just staying focus on each challenge. I owed it to all those who had sponsored the challenge and it was a nice day to go out for a ride and  run.

I expect the pictures and results to be out on the painathon website in the next few days. Many thanks to everyone who donated to Variety and to Jono Hague who organised and came up with this race. 
It has my respect.