The first of the disasters began just after my arrival on Thursday when I attempted to open the lock on my luggage..... but what good is a coded lock if the code won't unlock? And so began my career as a safe cracker! With a serrated knife from the kitchen I sawed & I sawed & I huffed & I puffed till I broke the lock down! First problem solved!
Then followed two days of walking on the beach, meeting with other Cool Runners for coffee, dinners etc.. & watching excellent & rather violent DVDs at night with Ewen : "The Secret Window", "No Country for Old Men", "Rendition" & "American Gangster", while eating pizzas with good red wines!
Sunday, all ready dressed & about to leave for the race at 5:30a.m. (allowing 45 minutes to walk to the start) a second disaster! Hurricane "Norma" struck by way of a huge blast of wind through the bedroom & slammed & jammed the door shut...lock, stock & barrel! I was locked in the front section of the apartment with no phone & no tools, except for a biro!
After pushing & whacking the handle with no good results, I was fast coming to the conclusion that I wouldn't make it to the start, let alone the finish unless I screamed from the balcony or jumped five floors hoping to land feet first in the swimming pool, or tied sheets together & lowered myself, James Bond style, down the side...but two sheets just wasn't going to do it.
However, after one more mighty thump on the handle, the whole thing, - handle, springs, washers & all - flew off. But, horror of horrors, the lock was still sitting in place, pretty & smug! My only tool was the biro with which I started poking through the hole in the door where the handle had once been. The minutes were clicking away & so were my luckylegs - it was now 5:45a.m. - the biro was shattering into a thousand fragments & still no luck...the lock wouldn't budge.
By this stage I was beginning to think this might be my last resting place! What a ludicrous way to pass on! After a hasty prayer to Saint Bic, the patron saint of biros, I thrust & I parried with the last piece of biro & the lock miraculously slid back! Relief like I've never felt before! Out the door, into the elevator (which for some reason didn't get stuck), & ran pell-mell for thirty minutes to the start, climbing over a side railing so as to get "up front" & not be at the back of the thousands of other runners already lined up & waiting.
Somewhere within the first 5km I felt a blister forming on the ball of my left foot. I ignored it, pushed it aside - as I did some runners even slower than I towards the finish! - & ran as fast as my lucky legs would go, even passing others, almost 'running out of sight'! I was trying so hard during the last 5km & badly wanting to stop or slowdown, but I pushed all thought of that aside too, desperately wanting to go under 2.5 hours......and I did!
Back at the apartment I was dismayed to see a huge blood blister covering the entire forefoot. I wasn't all that concerned, though it certainly was painful, but not enough to prevent me turning up for the "after party" which was fantastic meeting so many new & "old" Cool Runners.
I arrived home in Mittagong two days later by which time the foot had become infected & I was feeling far from well. Wednesday night I was shipped off to hospital & treated for five days for septicaemia & a 'touch' of pneumonia.
All the above, apart from the blister bit, may explain why I ran my fastest half marathon in the past three years, going under 2.5 hours & finishing in 2:27:02.