Saturday, 22 March 2014

USC Research Project—6 hours of running, with crew, for free!

So my morning involved climbing out of bed at 2:45 am to jump in the car and drive to the University of the Sunshine Coast for a research study into the effect of a 6 hour run on brain activity (tested via EEG both relaxed and carrying out maths tasks) and mood (tested with some quizzes).

The first delightful discovery was that I have brain activity. Win for Tam!

Then I saw a stunning sunrise with colours scattered across the clouds. Soon after, those clouds dumped their contents on me, which provided blissfully cool relief from the steamy (but not yet hot) morning, but sadly caused a little chafing. A guy who seemed to be an electrician joked that I only had 50 laps to do. Not far from the truth, buddy. (He acknowledged this some hours later.)

Things took a turn for the worse when the little rugby dudes and their parents turned up, and suddenly my 1.2 km loop was scattered with obliviously roaming individuals…but I kept plodding out my laps, trying to avoid them.

When the sun came out I forgot to apply sunscreen for a few laps, so I came out with a shockingly uneven leg tan and a little redness on my nose. Bugger.

It was nice to chill out every hour in the air conditioning (for about 7 minutes), even if it involved having an EEG cap on my head and carrying out various tasks, but it wasn't so nice starting again afterwards. Still, after half a lap of discomfort I felt better.

The researchers were ever attentive, with offers of cold drinks and gels and even a bakery run. I've had a lot of good crew at races over the year, but with these guys I really felt loved. It was awesome! :D I stuck with Hammer Gels, an Emma & Tom Bar and a can of Fanta (plus water and salt). And a post-run can of Coke, which was the one disappointment—where was my beer? ;)

Emanuele was there to recharge and switch on my iPod, which has a broken power button and therefore runs itself to flat and can only be switched on when it's plugged in. It came in handy during the last two hours when the heat started to get to me. It was fascinating to watch the heart rate monitor and see my heart rate jump 5–10 beats per minute every time the sun came out and drop again the few times the clouds came in.

In the end, I did 61.7 km around a 1.17 km loop (approx) in 6 hours of run time, and about 6  hours 35 minutes of elapsed time (allowing for the 5 x 7 minutes of testing, during which the clock was stopped). I'm super happy with this because I'm not training much at the moment and it was hot and humid. At 6 hours of elapsed time I checked the distance, too, and it was about 55 km, which I think is a 6 hr PB. Double extra win for Tam!