Marathon 4/7: Melbourne, Australia – October 2012
When you fall off a metaphorical horse it can be easy to give up, or let the setback affect you mentally. Fortunately I had no time to think negatively.
When I arrived at Melbourne airport, I was greeted by a cousin who I had never met before. He was using an enlarged, printed photo from 15 years ago to spot me in the sea of arriving passengers, and what a good job he did.
After an Australian flat white coffee and an excellent breakfast, I met with other family members and was shown some of the local sights and a side of Australia that I had never seen before.
Despite living in Australia for almost 2 years, it was my first time in Melbourne. I had heard people compare Sydney and Melbourne to two sisters. Sydney being the younger, sexy sister and Melbourne the more refined, cultured one. Maybe it was the weather or the fact that the architecture wasn’t as modern, but I prefered Sydney on my initial inspection.
After checking into my hotel and going to the race Expo to pick up my race packet, I decided to explore on foot, this city that I had heard so much about. What really struck me was how European Melbourne was, with it’s colonial style buildings and winding alley ways.
On my self guided tour of the city, I stopped at every opportunity at the rusticly modern coffee shops, which kept me caffeinated and jet lag free. In the afternoon, I took the elevator up the 88 flights to the top of the Eureka SkyDeck, the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, which gave me an amazing panoramic view of the city.
That evening I heard that Chris Guillebeau was speaking at one of the co-working spaces in Melbourne, so instead of an early night, I headed over to Hub Melbourne to hear Chris speak about his stories and travels. After a few glasses of wine, I walked back to my hotel for a relatively early night as I knew I would need a good nights rest for the day ahead of me.
I made a coffee and ate my banana and cereal bar as I changed into my running gear that I had organized on the chair the night before. I wondered if the deflated result from the previous weeks marathon would help or hinder my performance today.
Momentum is something that can change at a moments notice. I had completed 3 marathons in my quest to run one on every continent and I didn’t want to stop now. Things were only going to get harder from here so I knew I needed to get back into the slipstream of momentum.
It was too close to take a taxi to the start of the race, and it was also a little too far to walk. However, walking was a good opportunity to see Melbourne as I thought I might be too tired after the run and I would be leaving the following day on a long 14 hour flight for Los Angles (Something that is not advised after a marathon).
As I made my way to the starting line, people were getting ready to go to work as the cool breeze sped up my pace to a brisk walk. As I got closer to the start, I could hear the buzz of people, and rock music playing on the PA system. Despite, the large number of people the start of the race felt relaxed and well organised.
Not surprisingly with Australia being a country that bestows an outdoor lifestyle on it’s beautiful population, many of the runners were fit and taking this run seriously. Others, however were more relaxed, running in groups for various charities.
It felt a little lonely being half way across the world in a sea of people but not knowing anyone. However my cousin was in fact running the half marathon that would be starting an hour or so later, so I looked forward to meeting up with him after the race for a beer.
As the fog horn was sounded for the start of the run, I felt determined to improve on my performance from 7 days earlier. As I crossed the starting line, I knew that I couldn’t make the same mistake of starting too fast, I was going to run a more relaxed and consistent run, without stopping as I did the previous week.
The route of the marathon, went straight through downtown Melbourne. we passed the iconic train station, as the trams and other travellers watched and supported us from the sidelines, before we headed towards the outskirts of the city.
The weather was perfect, bright blue skies, without the heat and humidity that I had to endure the previous week in Sri Lanka. I thought to myself, In comparison this run was a walk in the park, as the race route started to literally go through one of the many parks of Melbourne.
I find that when I run, I sometimes experience a meditative or flow like state. I noticed this happening as we ventured out of the city. I put myself into an autopilot like mode and let the rhythmic motion of my legs take me into a relaxed state. I was focused, calm and could experience what was going on around me, but it was as if I was experiencing it more mindfully in a third person like state.