PhD – Life – Play – Fitness Balance (or, the Otter is pretty silly)

28 08 2008

No, don’t worry… this is not going to be some philosophical posting full of lots of zen mumbo-jumbo. Just a bit of a story of my weekend and what else is happening besides my PhD.

Those that know me think I am a bit crazy. It is on a number of levels, but the main one is my ease of being swayed into physical activities. One thing that Monash University does well is their Team Monash program. This is Monash putting formal teams into major Melbourne fitness events, including the Portsea Swim Classic, the Mother’s Day Classic, Melbourne Marathon, and Around the Bay in a Day ride. Why I am crazy is that I do each of these. The Team Monash banner is addictive though… you get looked after well, get gear to run/swim/cycle in, and get be part of the big Monash group.

So, October is coming fast, which means I am running and cycling very soon. Before you think I some kind of Superman (which I am most defintely not), I am not running a whole marathon. That is just for crazy people. I was going to do a half marathon, but it is the weekend before the Around the Bay ride, which is my favourite, so I am just doing the 10km run. But it finishes in the MCG so I am pretty excited about it. My main focus is on riding around the bay.

For those of you not from Melbourne, we are situated on a bloody big bay (Port Phillip Bay). Someone, sometime decided “Hey, we could ride around this thing!”, and thus thousands of us looneys decide to do it each year. How far I hear you ask? Well, 210 butt wrenching kilometres, that’s how far. Yes, it is a long way, but it is also believe it or not it is really fun.

Below is a Google Map of what we ride. Scale is obviously hard to tell, but it is about 210-220km of riding. We get a ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento about half way, so we literally do go around the whole bay.

This is where the title of this posting comes in… at some point I had to tell (well, force) myself to say “Hey, you need to train for this… get on your bike!”. The main problems have been:

  1. I really want to get this PhD done
  2. Our winter has been pretty cold and wet this year
  3. Training means doing rides of at least 100km (ie at least 4-5 hour sessions)

So the weekend gone I said enough is enough. Sunday, being a pretty nice day, I threw the bike in the car, drove to my favourite spot in East Malvern, and started riding. I headed into the city via the main bike trail and went through to Port Melbourne, and the start of the famous (or infamous) Beach Rd ride. And that is where it hit me.

As I headed on my way to Frankston I had one of those kind of zen moments. I thought to myself “It is a beautiful day, I am on the water, I have nowhere to be, and this is great!”. I think it was a combination of a cold wet winter, not having been on my bike in ages, work being crazy, and the fact it was a nice day with no wind. But it was just one of those blissful moments.

So I proceeded to ride close to 120km over the next 4.5 hours. Yes, it is a lot, but I needed to kick the training into gear. But if 120km can be peaceful and enjoyable, this was it.

Anyway, that is the end of the story. What is the moral? Well,

  1. Yes, I’m nuts
  2. I discovered I am pretty fit (I do a couple of gym RPM classes a week to keep my fitness and sanity)
  3. Sometimes you just need to say “Sorry PhD, today is for my body, not for my brain!”

If you are struggling with trying to fit these things in, sometimes you just have to do it. Nothing like registering to ride around a bloody big bay to get you motivated. See you on Beach Rd!

… Matt