Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire and Ice Successfully Completed

After months of preparation the Fire and Ice Soiree has been successfully completed. The evening started off with drinks all round, provided by the fantastic bar staff of David and Rebecca and an opening speech by the MC - Ric. The exquisite food was provided by Eliza and Juanita and included oysters on ice, coconut coated prawns, and lots of other great tasting nibbly bits. Guests then had the opportunity to mingle and check out all the fantastic silent auction goods on offer. Throughout the evening raffle tickets were sold, thanks to Julie who did a great job and the first ice-breaker game 'out of line' resulted in an equal draw amongst seven people. Music was ably supplied by DJs Plump & Rosie.

At around 8pm the live auction took place with our auctioneer, Brad Cooper, doing a fantastic job of working up the crowd to spend up big! This was followed by a short speech by me and our next ice-breaker game. There was also an uniquely designed cross-word, crafted by the MC. So what is the country code for Antarctica? The final entertainment of the night was a quiz specifically designed by Ric that was played by teams of 4, which involved audio and visual questions. The photographer who did the great promo shots for Alice2Antarctica (seen on the front page of the Alice 2 Antarctica website), Wee-Ming, generously offered to take photos at the Fire and Ice Soiree. He was kept busy all night capturing the events on film - photos will follow soon.

A great night was had by all and after adding up all the numbers, the evening raised over $9000 a fantastic effort. There are a long list of people who I want to acknowledge for this terrific outcome. Firstly thank you to all of the supporters who turned up on the night - it meant an incredible amount to me to see you all there, showing your support both of me and what I am trying to achieve. An additional big thanks must of course go to the various businesses and organisations that generously supplied their goods/services for this event. In particular I would like to acknowledge those companies and individuals that provided goods for the 'live auction', these include; Anaconda who donated a Fluid Ricochet Mountain Bike; Matt who provided the limited edition Ricky Ponting print; Alex Brown, the head of the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research who generously donated an original painting; Mediapad who provided the Melbourne Helicopter Joy Flight and; Deirdre Jewellery who donated the beautifully handcrafted silver necklace.

Next thanks must go to my organising team, without the major contribution of these people the event would not have happened, nor been as successful. Tasj, the event coordinator was brilliant at seeing the bigger picture and about keeping us all in line and to schedule, she also was a donor for silent auction goods from her 'One Hedi Day' line of travel accessories. Shahan, of 'the Science of Copy' used her finely crafted copy writing skills to develop the content for the Events Brochure and she also liaised with many of the auction good donors and on the night did a great job on the Welcome Desk. Leith, of Communications Consultant, was our media liaison man, he also coordinated the DJs and provided the A2A posters. Sue, the Donations Coordinator, was instrumental in sourcing many of the silent auction goods and raffle prizes, and although she couldn't make it on the night her efforts were greatly appreciated. Sally, who was our liaison with the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, was a great resource for the event as well as playing a major role in the set-up for the night as well as on the Welcome Desk. I should also mention that together Sally and I consolidated the costings - auction goods, entry donations, raffles and despite neither of us having strong accounting backgrounds we both came up with the same numbers!! Finally to the MC, Ric who played the major role in the success and enjoyment of the evening for all, in fact all the feedback I have received about the event is based on the great work Ric did. Not only did Ric do an outstanding job of directing the evening, engaging the crowd and keeping the laughs coming but he is also a major sponsor of A2A through his company, People Teams Leaders. Ric has been an incredible support to me from the start and I really value his contributions, even if some of the jokes were at my expense - it's okay because I was laughing too!

My thanks to those who played roles on the night. These people include: David and Rebecca on the bar, service with a smile and they even cleaned up afterwards, thanks to you both; Eliza and Juanita on catering - I have been getting such positive feedback from all attendees about the fantastic food, great job; Julie who offered her services and willingly sold raffle tickets all night, I really appreciate your help Julie with the tickets; Brad Cooper, the auctioneer, I invited Brad to attend at extremely short notice and he readily agreed to assist with the live auction; and Perla, who was instrumental in 'dressing' the function.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Page 5 Girl

Hot off the presses an article in today's Stonnington Leader Newspaper on page 5! While I was getting photos taken in Fawkner Park across the road from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, the 'photographer' thought that the Baker IDI logo on the building was framed very nicely between the tree trunk and the branch and jokingly suggested 'we could get a photo of you in the tree'. I guess most of you wouldn't be surprised that I readily agreed before I had considered how exactly I was going to get up the tree since the branch was way over my head and there were no step ladders! So I hope everyone likes the photo because it took some effort for me to climb the tree - especially since this was only 3 days after the marathon and there wasn't much strength left in my legs to push me up onto the branch. This meant that the poor photographer had to help and push me up on the branch!

Anyway I think they did a great job overall with the article and the photographer was pleased with the untraditional pose and best of all my 6 year old niece was very impressed to see that her aunty can climb trees!

PS - Thanks to my neighbour Duncan I discovered that this article was also published in the Bayside Leader Newspaper!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recovery Run

On saturday morning I went for my first run since I completed the Alice Springs Marathon a week ago. Let's just say it wasn't pretty and I felt every step of the 10km run. But it was definitely nice to be back running and I see how much a part running is of my regular life. It was just a gentle run along the beach track from Mentone to Black Rock and back. It really is such a scenic trail and I enjoy looking out over the coast line. The head wind as I ran towards Black Rock was hard work but the tail wind on the way home was much appreciated.

I then spent the rest of the weekend finalising details for the Fire and Ice Soiree - the major fundraising event for Alice 2 Antarctica. I have got over $10,000 worth of goods and services - now I just need the people to come and buy. I must admit I like all of the goods on offer but my personal favorites are the mountain bike, the red leather office chair and the Helicopter joy flight!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Anaconda is the A2A Gear Sponsor

It is with great delight that I can announce that Anaconda have agreed to provide gear for the Antarctic portion of the Alice 2 Antarctica challenge. This is a fantastic opportunity and will play a major role in enabling me to survive warm and dry in the extreme weather conditions in Antarctica. Even though I will be undertaking the Antarctic leg in summer the temperatures can range from -10C to -40C, and the strong winds in the region can add to the extreme conditions.

In addition, Patriot Hills the location of the Antarctic Marathon is a summer camp, with no permanent structures. This means that I will be sleeping in a tent for the duration of my stay so a highly-rated sleeping bag will be a necessity for keeping warm.

Anaconda have also generously donated a mountain bike, the Fluid Ricochet Mountain Bike for the Fire and Ice Soiree, the major fundraising event for the Alice 2 Antarctica Challenge. It's a great looking bike - not sure how it handles on the ice and snow though!

Once again I want to recognise the generous support of Anaconda for the Alice 2 Antarctica challenge, it certainly will play a big role in the successful completion of the challenge. Thanks Anaconda!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Alice Springs Marathon - The First Desert Marathon!

Sit back and relax this blog post is going to be a long one! The official start time for the Alice Springs Marathon is 6am - which meant a 4 am wake-up call for the team, Elisabeth, Erin, Baz, Davo and me. That is, excluding the false start at 3.30am due to someone forgetting about the 30 min time difference between Alice Springs and Melbourne when they set their alarm!!!! At 4am the stars were still shining bright and the moon was beaming down on us.

I nervously ate my breakfast - a banana, a museli bar and a piece of toast with honey. Runners are a strange bunch when it comes to pre-race nutrition each of us had our own tried and tested regime for pre-race food. It is a delicate balance between eating enough to keep the energy levels up and not eating too much so we are weighed down processing the food. Generally we avoid dairy and high energy food like jam and honey are favorites. I also had my hydration sorted out with bottles of Endura at every 6km!

I also made sure I coated my skin in sunscreen - I burn very easily and 3 hours in the Alice Springs sun would fry me (the first hour is run in darkness). We then all piled into the taxis for a short drive to the start of the marathon at the Araluen Arts Centre. We made it with plenty of time to spare but the tension was building. We caught up with some other Coolrunners at the start line and had our obligatory team photo, while we were still fresh and unscathed - although some of us looked a little apprehensive - you can decide who!

The call was made and we all gathered at the start line behind our police escort. A total of 35 marathon runners gathered together from all states of Australia and even a couple of runners from overseas. I think we were all a little apprehensive particularly with the warm start, it was already 20C and it was only 6am! The gun went off we launched ourselves into the darkness - perhaps it was a good thing that we couldn't actually see exactly what we were letting ourselves in for.

My race plan was to run a sustained 5min30sec per kilometer - for as long as I could hold it. Thanks to my trusty Garmin GPS watch, kindly lent to me by my running buddy Phil I didn't have to do any difficult mental arithmetic to work out my pace - the Garmin would do it all for me and measure my heart rate as well! My other race plan was to get my drink bottle every 6km from the fantastic volunteers along the course. Erin and I started running together and as we headed out of town it grew darker as we left the town lights behind. We kept on running as the stars began to fade and the sky grew lighter. At about 10km into the run Erin decided that she needed to pick up the pace and went on her way.

Just before the 15km mark we turned off Larapinta Drive and headed onto Bulleen Road. This was quite a scenic section of the race with trees intermittently spread along the course, providing some much needed shade. Not long after the turn off I saw the first half marathon runners heading home. I was both pleased to see the other runners and give a cheery shout of encouragement (and receive one in return) but also quite envious of these runners knowing how far I had come and how far I still had to go! At this point I also saw Elisabeth heading home and she took an action shot of me running!

It was with much relief that I finally saw the 21.1km turn around at 1h55min - not too bad considering my first ever half marathon I ran in 1h58min and then I got to stop. This time I still had 21.1km to go! I was still feeling okay at this point and very happy to have made it that far. I was marking off the kilometers and keeping an eye on my pace. Still travelling at the speed I wanted but the heat was beginning to become an issue for me. It was at this point that I was starting to look forward to seeing the water stations every 3km, I would grab my water bottle and drench myself with water to keep cool.

I finally hit Larapinta Drive at about 27km and was really looking forward to reaching 30km. I reached that mark and then hit 32km in 2hr54min. This meant I had 66min to run 10km and finish the marathon in under 4 hours - that speed was well within my capability - under normal conditions. But this was far from normal conditions, having already run 32km at race pace and with the temperature rapidly rising - probably already in the mid to upper 20s at this point!

I continued steadily running until 33km when I finally conceded that I had two choices. Continue running as best I could, and more than likely suffer a dizzy spell and potentially collapse (and be unable to finish the race) OR take deliberate walk breaks and hopefully be able to finish the marathon in one piece. In previous races I had ignored the warning signs and suffered for it, so I took the smarter but slower option and chose to slow it down. I walked the inclines and tried my best to run the flat and downhill sections. I got quite excited when I saw the 'Welcome to Alice Springs' sign and then the 90km sign, followed by the 60km - I had reached the city limits. I distinctly remember reaching the 39km mark at 3hr 48min, only 3km to go - but the longest 3km of my life! I think it was at the 39km water station there was a lovely man who had a plastic watering can that he offered to soak the runners with. I readily agreed and he jumped up on a little stool and proceeded to pour cooling water over me - it was great.

I finally made it to 41km, with only 1km to go I decided that I would run the whole kilometer - well let's just say I attempted to run the last kilometer but didn't quite manage it. However, when I turned the final corner and saw the Coolrunning crew cheering me on I was motivated to sprint those final few meters (okay it probably didn't look like a sprint - but I gave it all I had). I crossed the finish line of the Alice Springs Marathon in a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes. Not a bad effort when you consider that it was the hottest ever Alice Springs Marathon and the fact that I was completely shattered - there was absolutely nothing left! And now I have a really cool trophy to prove it!

PS It's a good thing I taught my Mum how to google stalk since she found my finish line picture on the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club website!!
PPS Thanks Greg. for letting me 'borrow' the cool profile of the Alice Springs Marathon Course!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Last Run Before the Marathon

Friday morning Peekie and I decided to do a gentle 30 minute run as our last run before the marathon. I also wanted to test out the Garmin GPS watch that Phil had kindly lent me for the marathon. We went out early while it was still mild but you could feel the heat rising and building for the day to come. The Garmin worked fantastic and showed we ran 30 minutes and averaged 6.07min/km exactly what we planned to do, my heart rate also stayed steady 140bpm which is good.

Luckily we were able to take a dip in the pool when we got back to cool off and then it was a short 4km stroll into Alice Springs in time for my radio interview on CAAMA - Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association. I met up with Celestine Rowe during 'Women's Business' and we had a chat about Alice 2 Antarctica and the work done at the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research here in Alice Springs. It was my first face to face radio interview and I really enjoyed having a chat with Celestine.

Friday night was the big carbohydrate loading with the rest of the people running the Alice Springs Marathon. We found out that there will be 35 people running the Alice Springs marathon and about the same number running the half marathon. Interestingly there is almost even numbers of men and women running - quite unusual for the longer distance runs. The locals assured us that the cold change would come through on Saturday night - although Saturday itself would be 34C - it was hoped that Sunday would only reach the high 20s. Our fingers are all crossed for cool weather!

Living Next Door to Alice

After a very early morning start I arrived in Alice Springs on Thursday morning. I had a liesurely tour of the Alice Springs airport - which didn't take long and then I sat down to wait for my coolrunning buddies to arrive. In total there are 5 of us staying in a cabin all eager to run across the Alice Springs outback - well that is until we discovered the forecast temperature - 30C. Hmm we will all need to work on our hydration levels and drink plenty of water!

While waiting for the team to arrive I got a call from the Baker IDI Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research. The unit had arranged for me to come and visit and talk about the Alice 2 Antarctica event, my own research in stroke prevention and of course there would be opportunity to talk about the fantastic research the unit is doing in the area of Indigenous cardiovascular disease research.

The team finally arrived and it was great to meet up with the rest of the coolrunning team, Peekie, Baz, Davo, and Courtly. We made our way to the caravan park which thankfully has a lovely swimming pool. I then headed off to the Centre in downtown
 Alice. It was great to meet up with the people working at the Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research. And to see how the money I am raising will help this fantastic research team do their critically important research.

After my talk I caught up with my coolrunning team and walked up to the top of ANZAC hill and admired the panaroma of the Alice Springs Township. We then bought up supplies for a big vegetable stir fry - cooked by Peekie and it was delicious.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Less than a week to go!

Well things are starting to get a little bit busy right now, the Alice Springs Marathon will take place on sunday, my major fundraising event - Fire and Ice Soiree will take place just less than two weeks after that and yesterday I did a radio interview with ABC Southern Queensland Drive.

I spent Saturday organising goods for the Silent Auction, and I actually I got some great positive feedback from people I spoke with. I also got some really great auction prizes - goods from Oroton, Officeworks, and a fantastic Jewellery Store, Shimmer and AVEDA will provide a complimentary treatment (15 min) with a sample for ALL people at the event!

So now I have the auction goods sorted out I just need people to buy their tickets!

My marathon training has gone really well and I am so pleased that I got through the training with no major injury. One of the hard things about marathon training is the wear and tear on the body resulting from increasing the numbers of kilometers that are run.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Running a Half-Marathon is Easy!

Okay the title is a bit of tease, running a half marathon is still hard work but at this stage of my marathon training when I am now reducing the length of my 'long runs' running a half marathon doesn't seem so hard :). On Sunday morning I met up with Gary and Phil my regular running buddies to do our regular Brighton Beach Baths to Rickets Point run (and return of course). I really do enjoy these beach runs, lots of trails to run on so gentle on the joints and the fantastic ocean view and even Steve Monaghetti agrees the trail is a fantastic place to run!

On the way out the guys quickly outpaced me but were nice enough to stop and wait for me at the water stops. At our turning point - Rickets Point - we all had a drink and I had an Endura Gel. I had never tried one before but Gary had a spare so I tried it out - I'm not convinced about the 'citrus' flavour but at least it didn't upset my stomach. We then turned back towards Brighton to discover the reason why the run out had been so pleasant, we unknowingly had a tail wind - of course this meant a head wind for the entire trip back! Oh well, I thought it's great resistance training and I do need to train for the potential Katabatic winds in Antarctica!

On the way back the head wind was tiring and the guys had well and truly run off ahead so I couldn't even use them as a wind break! Luckily for me at this point I was joined by another runner - Peter who was also training for a marathon, the Melbourne Marathon. We started chatting and it was great distraction for me. As it turns out Peter was a very experienced Marathon runner, running numerous national and international marathons all at a much faster pace than me. I asked him what inspired him to keep going back and doing more marathons, he replied simply that running was his passion.

It was really interesting to hear what motivates other people to do long distance running and while I would say that I am passionate about running a bigger motivator for me is the challenge and completing the goal. With only a week and half till the completion of one goal - the Alice Springs Marathon I am feeling good :).

My other news of the week is the most recent addition to the Silent Auction Goods. As seen in the picture a signed, limited edition (49/100) print of Ricky Ponting valued at over $800. So if you are interested in owning a beautifully framed picture of one of Australia's Sporting hero get your 'Fire and Ice Soiree' ticket now!