Ok everyone, Race #1 in Perth Australia is in the rearview and the Quest is really underway. Therefore, the days of my long-winded pontifications are through for a while... I know, you aren't here for the spectacle that is 7 Marathons on 7 Continents in 7 Days, you're only here for my philosophical musings and jibber jabber... In which case, you'll want to skip the next week of posts and come back when I have a bit more time on my hands. Right now, I'm sitting in my hotel in Singapore and coming face to face with some pretty hard facts, namely, it is 1am now (as I BEGIN to write a blog), I have to be downstairs in 4 hours and the race starts in 5. I'm chaffed in places neither of us want to think about, the flight attended waited until I took off my shoes to step on my toe with the heel of his shoe, and I'm still peeing a dark yellow that borders on brown. Let's do this!
POP QUIZ ON THE METRIC SYSTEM:
1) What is 39 degrees Celsius converted to Fahrenheit?
2) What is 102 kilograms converted to pounds?
3) What is 42.2 kilometers converted to miles?
1) Way to darn hot! (102.2 degrees F, the temperature when I finished the Australia Day Marathon today)
2) Way too fat for ultra-hot weather marathons (225 lbs, my weight when I left the USA)
3) Way too far for a fat boy to run when its 102 degrees outside (26.2 miles, but the race was actually right at 27 miles, so 43.45 Km for those in this neck of the woods)
How did you do on the quiz? About as well as I did on the first of 7 marathons this week? Sorry. Better luck next time!
Alright, enough of the schoolwork- I gotta get to bed! I didn't get to bed last night until nearly 1am and the alarm went off at 4... I reset it for 4:30 and felt much better about things. The alarm went off at 4:30. I steeled my resolve and started my pre-race prep. Lotion the feet, drink some Poweraid, put on calf sleeves & socks, lube up and put on shorts & shirt, all electronics including GoPro, and made the only real choice I'd left for the morning. I chose to go with the white Zoot cooling hat instead of the visor I had planned on wearing because I knew it was going to be sauna hot in bright, full intensity sun. I also applied some sunscreen (not enough as it turns out) and hustled downstairs to meet the group. We had a little boxed breakfast waiting that I consumed in the van- a croissant, another mini pastry thing, some jelly and an apple... this breakfast was not made for a 102 kg man! About 5:30 we were at the start of the marathon when the sprinklers came on and shorted out the compressor that inflated the blow-up start/finish edifice... so the race start was delayed a bit to 6:18 am. Then we were off. Unfortunately, our Australia Day Marathon was on the day before Australia Day, which is like having a marathon on Wednesday, the 3rd of July in the USA... people were too busy buying their super long weekend at work and not nearly as worried about running 42.2 km in 39 degree heat. But, some of us were pretty invested in the whole idea, so we started with an official air horn blast by our Race Director, Chris. I have all that on GoPro, but you'll have to live without that for now!
The course was very pretty, running along the Swan River in 6 out and back loops. The temp was warm, but not miserable at the start, but that changed pretty dramatically as the day went on. Everyone was saying how slow they planned on running today before the race began, but I guess the excitement of the beginning of the quest put some pep in everyone's step and we were all cooking along at a sub 10 min/mile pace. I was actually DFL (the common formal designation in race circles for Dead F'n Last) for the whole first loop and I was going faster than I had intended. But, by lap 2, most people started to slow down a bit... with the exception of speed demon #1 Steve Hibbs (the organizer of the 777Quest) who ended up running about a 1:40 half marathon and lapped me as he finished, and Dan, who ran a sub 4 marathon today which allowed him to beat some of the worst heat but also found him completely coated in rippled white salt stains on his black clothes at his finish (which was just after I finished my 4th lap).
Along the course I saw some pretty cool wildlife, a homeless guy in bare feet ran and chatted with me for about a mile, and the fact that the temperature was becoming dangerously high was simply unavoidable. I wear a chest strap with a Heart Rate (HR) monitor and during my last 2 laps, I had to throttle way back just to keep my HR down. There is a phenomenon called cardiac drift that occurs as the heart has to work harder and harder in hot temperatures to cool the body. I was experiencing it pretty acutely and getting a HR of 160+ even when walking! When running, I couldn't manage it and I know better than to run on a pegged out HR for very long in a marathon, let alone the first of 7 consecutive marathons. So, there was plenty of walking done out there today and I'm not afraid to admit it! I dumped the GoPro after the 4th lap because I'd already killed 2 batteries and having that big, bulky black camera & headgear was just counterproductive after a while. I may give up on GoPro altogether, not sure yet. As the day got hotter, so did the aid station water. By the last lap, it was like drinking weak tea, I would've blown on it to cool it down if it weren't in my handheld bottle! Yes, it was that hot- think Sun Tea if you are a child of the 80s. But, the alternative was to fully dehydrate which was still pretty much happening even with 20 oz per mile of water intake. I used up all of my Gatorade Endurance mix by lap 5 and ate 8 S-Caps salt tablets and 3 Gu gels during the race as well. All I could think of to describe the last lap was "Death March".
At long last, I finished just behind Jagjit (I spelled his name incorrectly yesterday) and Lisa, who finished pretty close to Steve (from Canada). Then Steve Hibbs gave us some Poweraid and Subway subs on our way back to the hotel. I showered and discovered that I had blood in my shorts from the chaffing... nice. I put on recovery pants and socks, then some wind pants and a t-shirt and packed up all my stuff. Clearly, my stuff was eating better than me because it somehow grew and was very challenging to fit back into the 2 carry-ons. I was second to last to get back down to the van and when Chau came out last (spelled her name incorrectly yesterday too) we departed for the airport. There, I was hassled about the weight of my carry-ons and was forced to take stuff out of the backpack, expand my carry-on to make it fit, then check the hard case carry on. We busted through the airport and had a few minutes to get some drinks and chips before getting on the plane. I was flying in Coach and they came out to tell me that my tray table was broken at my window exit row seat. Problem is, I had to choose between exit row and window because there weren't anymore of my preferred seat left. What a choice: sleep easier against the window wall with cramped legs or have nothing to sleep on but have good leg room. I went with the leg room. Aside from having my toe trampled by the flight attendant (at least its my nerve-damaged foot), the 5 hour flight was uneventful and I mostly slept and ate.
When we got to Singapore, Steve and I power walked through the terminal since 4 planes had all landed at the same time. We got to the Passport Control line and spent about an hour to get through. The rest of the group skipped line to get up with us. It was so worth the death stares! We finally got through, got my bag, and rode in 2 vans to the hotel and checked in. Congrats, you are now up to date and I am going to bed. Looks like 2 hours sleep if I can get right to it. More tomorrow from the 15 hour flight to Cairo, after the mega-humidity fest in Singapore... surely the worst is behind me after that though...? We'll see. Enjoy your comfort!!