An extended trip abroad is something I’ve been planning for a while. There always seemed to be reasons not to go, but eventually Sharlene and I bit the bullet and planned a trip from mid December. The next question was where to go. Australia was the obvious destination, particularly as we had contacts there. It just seemed all too blasé. We were looking for something different. With my operations research background I built a mini decision model to measure the merits of various destinations, taking into account variables like cost of living, temperature, rainfall, social life, and athletic facilities. The cities in contention were Melbourne, Cape Town, Miami, Lisbon, and several South America cities (Quito, Bogota, La Paz, Buenos Aires, and Santiago). Very nerdy I know, but it did help, honest J
Bogota and Melbourne made the shortlist. Melbourne was the early favourite and we priced flights and even arranged accommodation with Jules, the Rathfarnham Aussie connection. However, on the day we were due to book we made a last minute change and booked Bogota. A riskier option, but hey what’s life without taking some risks. Well travelled mates said it was their favourite destination in South America, so perhaps it wasn’t much of a risk. There are several bad stories out there about crime and kidnappings in Colombia, but it seems to have cleaned up its act. Once a decision was made everything else fell into place. It’s relatively easy find good quality accommodation in Bogota and we reserved a nice pad in northern Bogotá (see here).
I spent the night before leaving at the Rathfarnham athletics club Christmas party. It was a particularly special night for me, being named athlete of the year & receiving the award from our coach Adam Jones for a second consecutive time. I didn’t stay out too late, but still managed to get in quite a few drinks. I particularly enjoyed a conversation with Irish athletic legend Eamonn Tierney. His marathon times are something I’m aspiring to, so I soaked in any tips forthcoming. Essentially he said I was a lazy git and need to train more. He is right and it’s something I needed to hear. I put in some solid training periods, particularly when focusing on a key goal race, but in between targets I’m a disaster. I indulge, binge and barely do enough training to tick over. Everyone needs a break, but I take the pi$$. Last winter was a prime example. In 2009 I put in solid training, clocking up a weekly average of over 80 miles from January to October. These miles were the cornerstone to achieving personal bests at every distance from 800m to marathon. After the Florence marathon I took a glorious break. For approximately 5 months I was lucky if I ran 20-30 miles a week. OK for the social runner, but not for someone looking to break 2:20 at the marathon. When I returned to training in March I was well over race weight and with no endurance training base. I remember meeting another legend Dick Hooper on returning to training and he gave me another timely kick up the behind by saying I’ve two choices – to train hard to become a good runner or sit on a bar and talk about unfulfilled potential. All this advice from people who know and I’m still not working hard enough. Training did improve in 2010, resulting in solid 10k and marathon improvements, but I know inside more work required to make the big performance jump.
One of my goals of the Colombian adventure is to start back the hard work to fulfil my potential as an athlete. Almost two months without distractions has to set me off on the right path – on returning momentum and motivation should finish the job. I did relax in November after the marathon, but this time it’s only a month and I should get back my fitness quickly. Full time status will also allow me to focus on some of the details like strength and stretching, which I typically ignore. I’m also looking forward to having some reflection time. Typically I’m the type that has 100 things on the go at once, leaving little time to properly prioritise and decide what’s important in life. Philosophical I know, must be getting old ...