There are a number of things I have learned this weekend.
I'm sitting here in my dressing gown just trying to find the words describe what this weekend actually has meant to me.
I will get to that shortly.
First of all, this blog needs a soundtrack - and for purposes to be divulged, I'm naming the song of the blog Australian Crawl's "Reckless". It's my favorite song ever. I've also had it going in my head on repeat since Saturday afternoon as I watched the Manly ferry cut it's way to Circular Quay from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
I've just peeled off my clothes and done a load of washing. My clothing is now mostly size 14s. It wasn't there at the start of the year. In January, my clothes were more an 18-20. I was nearly 15 kilos heavier in January.
In the wash is also my running gear. I ran the better part of 14 kilometres today - and other than feeling tired, all is well. My feet are a bit sore, but I reckon I've done a marathon's worth of walking this weekend.
This weekend was the weekend a group of us, weight loss warriors in our own way, went and climbed a mountain - or in this case, a big Bridge. The group of six of us who went up the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the climb have lost in total more than 250 kilograms between us - or three, average, grown women. It's an acheivement. It's an amazing acheivement when you think about it. This Bridge Climb was to celebrate our acheivements - a reward for the hard work - but this was only a part small part of the riches of the weekend.
My first lesson learned is that I am a very, very blessed woman.
I've spent most of the weekend in the company of some very, very wonderful people - and I am honoured to know them and honoured to call them my friends (and in JD's case, family)
When this bridge climb weekend was planned, I made it known that part of the weekend would be spent celebrating my birthday, which is happening at the end of this week. As this weekend coincided with the City to Surf run, it appeared that my friends Gloria and Gaynor would be around in Sydney Town too - as Gaynor was keen to participate in the run too. Kez and Trin were coming, that was always part of the plan. Then once the plan was hatched, JD was asked along too.
There were stirrings from others in the group that there was clubbing and late nights to be had after the climb, the serious runners were reluctant to do this, so we planned a posh dinner away from the doof doof music - where and when to be decided nearer the time. It would be a great chance to celebrate my birthday in a manner befitting. Besides, I stopped clubbing back when God was a boy and who want's to go out and get smashed the night before a 14 kilometre fast hike over hills?
So I've been looking forward to all this for months. The Bridge Climb. Posh Dinner. City to Surf.
It was just far more rewarding that I ever could have envisaged.
:Lesson Two: Posh Dinners are the best - particularly when the company is fantastic
After asking about for restaurants tips in Sydney, a city of which I'm not particularly fond, Sake Restaurant in The Rocks was suggested. My friend Millie, an inveterate foodie, highly recommended the place. She did VERY well to suggest it. A table for six was duly booked about a month ago. It was in the price range we desired and as I found out last week, it was highlighted on the penultimate episode of Masterchef as one of the best Japanese restaurants in town.
As always, when booking, there was a bit of trepidation. Would my friends get on? Kez and Trin are party of my running fraternity. Gloria is one of my closest friends, her partner, Gaynor,also a runner, is delightful. JD had never met these people. I don't normally mix groups of friends.
Shouldn't have worried.
The place was gorgeous and the food was incredible - one of the best meals I've had in years. Making the night even more special was the company. I don't think I've laughed so much in ages. Very special friends made it a night to remember - along with the scallops cerviche and the Japanese Lime dessert and the plum wine and the ... superb meal.
Third Lesson. When the going gets tough, the tough get ice cream.
The only small downer to the weekend was when walking home from dinner on Saturday night, JD got a call on my phone. Trista had been admitted to hospital with complications. JD took the news on the chin. Her mum was in good hands and there was nothing she could do. She's see her as soon as she got back to Adelaide. Pragmatic to the last, the four of us went and got ice cream at a nearby gelati shop - complete with sixteen flavours of chocolate gelati. It seemed fitting. My coconut gelati was brilliant.
Lesson Four: There is not that much you can do about snoring.
JD snores like a tractor on heat. Trin doesn't snore. She has a mouth guard that prevents her from doing that.
I know I snore - I allegedly "cute" snore - not too loudly, but still, I can't cast the first stone.
Regardless, wired on ice cream, knowing I had to be up at 6.30 to prepare for a race the next morning, JD is a foot away from me in the next bed making a noise that would put a Massey Ferguson to shame.
Trin has put in her mouthguard and earplugs and appears to be off in the land of nod.
I'm lying there, shaking JDs mattress periodically hoping she'll turn over. Shaking the mattress stops the snoring for a minute or so, then she starts up again.
How does one get to sleep? Normal methods of relaxing are not available (like I'm going to do "that" with two other women in the room - like no... I have standards) I don't take pills - and I don't have them to take anyway. I don't have ear plugs. The pillows are thin and they let noise through. I could smother JD in her sleep, but she is my step-sister. My step-dad would be mad if I did that.
In the end, I get about three hours of unbroken sleep for the night.
Lesson Five: Lack of sleep does not make for good running.
Trin, Kez, Gaynor and myself made our way to the start of the City to Surf at 7.30. It has been raining overnight. It was cool. There's a bit of drizzle about.
There were 85,000 other participants!
I'm not happy. I hate crowds. I'm tired. My knee is giving me jip. I was in my "Sod this for a game of soldiers mood." The other's area aware of my anxiety and I'm doing the best I can to contain it.
Thing is, I came up to do this run - so run I did. I'm far too bloody minded not to. And tight. There's no refunds for late drop outs.
The gun went off at 8.29 a.m.
Kez and Gaynor went on ahead . They're quite evenly matched runners and they streaked off. They got through the course in an hour and 23 minutes.
Trin and I run well together too. I'm a normally bit faster than Trin, but today was not a good day. My heart rate monitor decided to misbehave. I was getting pushed about. I was ready to either cry or go home.
Trin thankfully calmed me down a bit.
That and the fact there were firemen lining the route at the first kilometre kept me going. I wanted to see if there were more. (I like firemen.... (Large grin))
Lesson Six: Sometimes adjusting your expectations make for a more rewarding time.
Two kilometres in I came to the realisation there was three ways to approach this race. Battle on and kill myself. Use the twenty dollars tucked in my bra to get a cab home. Or slow down, take it easy and try and enjoy the race.
Sensibly, I chose the third option.
Sydney is a humid place. After a night of rain, the roads were slippery. I'd had about three hours sleep.
I'd rather have my armpit hairs pulled out one by one with rusty pliers than run in humidity. It's one of the reasons I dislike Sydney so much. It drains me. I don't cope well with it unless sitting by a swimming pool with a cold beer in my hand.
Thankfully, this put me right on Trin's natural pace. We ran 3-4 minute intervals for the first few kilometres. The humidity was a killer, but we plodded forward. After Heartbreak Hill - which really is a bitch of a hill, the breeze picked up, the humidity dropped and my demeanour improved. This was also helped along by watching Trin take her first gel. Gels are runner's race food - 100 calorie pouches of complex carbohydrate and caffeine that gives you a pick up along the way. Trin has finally worked out where the "running fairy" comes from. It was great to watch.
Coming into Bondi, I got the realisation that I really do know what I'm doing with this running lark. Okay, it was nowhere near my best time. But I did the race. I got through. I didn't get carried off in an ambulance. I can run up hills. Twelve hours later, my legs feel great. And in adjusting my expectations, I came out happy.
I'd do the race again - just next time there will be no sugaring up the night before and JD, if she's about, can have her own room where she can snore to her hearts content.
Also, twelve hours on, though still tired, my legs feel fine - fresher than they were this morning - which is a great sign. The toe socks Danger Dood suggested worked well too.
The last lesson from the trip is about crossing bridges.
I look back on the bridge climb and I see that in climbing the bridge yesterday as a necessary crossing.
I'm not the person I was at the start of the year. She's gone. She got left behind when she suited up to go and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This new woman faces her fears head on. In this case, my wandering vertigo got a bit of a work out. And I hate climbing ladders. But I did all this with grace and ease - well as much grace and ease as I could muster. Attached to the static line, taking in the views, surrounded by friends, the old me, the one I left behind, would never feel worthy of such an experience.
The new me laps it up.
The old person, left behind, would probably not feel the joy of knowing that what ever she sets her mind to, she can do, whether it be running long distances, or setting new challenges, or wearing pretty clothes and feeling attractive... all things that the new person is thriving on. The new person takes nothing for granted, doesn't accept second best, demands the most out of everything and generally gets it. The new person faces her fears and challenges head on. She takes no crap. She doesn't suffer fools.
How much has changed in the year.
But most of all, the biggest blessing for the weekend, is the blessing of friendship.
As Trin put it, Best. Weekend. Ever.