Thursday, July 26, 2001

Qantas Flight Bangkok to Frankfurt

20:45 p.m.
Wednesday, 25 July 2001

It has been 16 ½ hours since we left home with Rob’s sister Lynne to go Canberra Airport for our (ultimately) delayed departure. Having taken our large and heavy luggage much earlier in the day in the station wagon, even fitting in our dearest friend and neighbour Nancy Wilkinson with her small hand luggage for an earlier flight to Melbourne, there was little drama to attend to with the usual queues of checking in for international departures. Hideously overweight (our bags, filled to the brim with special food supplements for me; Team Australia racing gear; bikes and three months supply of medication for me with its’ accompanying paperwork), I still think that there is considerable merit in a total weight allocation for passenger and luggage. In the case of Rob and myself (feeling smug as, despite having just had my fill of steroids and kilo inducing drugs and having had no exercise in the bleak Canberra winter I am back to normal ish Carolyne size and weight, about 54 kgs ±4 kgs of fluid. To wit, I fit into normal clothes, which I was unable to do or pack going to Cairns.

Surely a 100kg footballer and 20 kgs of luggage are equivalent to Carolyne and 60 kgs of Triathlon gear and medicine (stored more equitablablely in the hold in the underbelly of the plane?).

Having almost resented the leaving of Cairns, my friends, the sun, the training groups and what will have to become a winter retreat where I flourish I was ambivalent about going to Europe at all up until the last few days. Canberra was experiencing one of it’s rare unpleasant winters, and, whilst the treatment seems to have kicked in one my hermit existence was confirmed! Shunning even a family get together in fear of becoming ill prior to the journey I haven’t felt this good since I left Cairns in August last year, It has certainly been worth it.

I keep referring to Europe, as the jouney for the three months 10 weeks, or 69 days of car to car at Nice airport to be precise, is, as usually relatively unstructured. Due to the notification of my surprise inclusion in the Australian Team for the World Duathlon Championships in Italy in September, and having made arrangements with our dear Canberra ex patriots Paulette and Richo, with a Powerman duathlon to begin in the French Pyranees for Rob this coming Sunday, it is far more structured already than imagined, where visiting my Uncle Zdenek in the family home village of Bechyne in Southern Bohemia (I like saying that. As it legitimises my claim to being rather bohemian at times), the Czech Republic having been the only desire and wish up until then.

This is exciting, and the enormity or what we are hoping to do began to sink in over the last three days. A much needed haircut the day prior to leaving makes me feel far more European and less frumpish than I did before, ignoring Bob’s advice to only take shorts, jeans, sandals and running shoes, I also have some of my slightly sexy and stylish gear that I picked up in Vancouver for a song a couple of years ago/ I know that once I hit the French Riviera, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, the innate sense of style rubs off, and although I am proudly married to a Peter Pan looking Aussie bloke, I don’t want to be one. In Europe, I like to assume the mantle of being if not a local, then something far apart from the teeming hoards of American and German tourists in their Bermuda shorts, ‘fannny bags; and cameras slung around their necks. Indeed, this trip we are not even taking a real camera and shall rely on disposables for what is required.

04:15 a.m. (Central European Daylight Saving Time)
Thursday, 26 July 2001
35,000 feet somewhere nearing Frankfurt

Well, for the first time I was able to sleep (somewhat) on a flight with considerable success. I tended to wake every hour and had a glass of water and so on. My ability to sleep improved considerably as time went on ~ however, just as I was getting into the swing of things it was time for a v.e.r,y. early, and lamentably bad breakfast coming out of Bangkok. This was really unusual for the standard up to date, however the vegetarian option was as bland as they came: a tiny tomato skin overflowing with tasteless breadcrumbs; some slices of what appeared to be potato (however could have been any root vegetable); something similar in an orange colour; and some interesting straw mushrooms. With over sweetened orange juice, reminiscent of airline food twenty years ago, a couple of Riveta, and museli and soy milk (purloined by Rob quickly – it was all too high in fibre and fat, however it helps to drink and fill in the time by having something to drink).

Thoughts kept entering my mind of our transfer in Frankfurt to Nice, and the difficulties in getting the bikes and heavy bags through customs, and then on a relatively small aircraft in too little time. Resigned to paying extra, I was still unconvinced that the transition would work, with different air allegiances operating the flights, not ensuring a smooth transition, and the bike cases full of possibly prohibited foodstuffs such as my GU and Liquid Diet drink; as well as enough restricted medication for three months to sink a ship. Along with that, I remembered the folly of my ways with the L’OURS Fun Run (assumed) on Sunday, and my diet not being ideal for the last 36 hours or so. This journey into solid food could result in dire consequences, or which I was well aware. The fact that the distance or type of run was entirely unknown was inconsequential, running or activity of any sort with solid food would be a disaster.

I have not seen much of Rob since the flight started, he having bolted to an empty centre row of seats for a good lie down and more sleep whenever there wasn’t food available. He is back there now.

It is delightfully light outside now, and my Vitamin D levels are growing by the minute in anticipation. I can’t explain it logically ~ genetics shouldn’t explain it, aside from my mothers side of the family establishing themselves as Baptist missionaries in Calcutta for a few generations; and whilst the sun shines in Czechland during summer, winters and the shoulders must be very bleak indeed.

Aware of the poor condition when I travelled to the Zofingen Powerman with Bob two years ago, I am consciousness of not repeating the experience. Sleep, enough food, stretching and doing sprint training and jogging in between whilst in transit in a quiet section of Bangkok airport all must help. I shall do whatever I need to do in order to be in peak condition for the entire journey.

The Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) scare and recent news has had an obvious effect on many of the passengers in our relatively sparsely populated section of the cabin at the tail end. The German couple in front of us are regularly getting up to do their exercises, as are many others. The video and in-flight magazines certainly are an obvious reminder and should prevent Qantas from further litigation from this point forward. The difficulty of people not sitting in the smallest possible space for the long haul flights, whilst accommodating food trolleys and the inevitable need for others to visit the bathrooms over the 24 hours, without drinking extra water during the flight to prevent the threat of DVT, and then doing the walking tracks around the narrow aisles is an issue which will be much harder to accommodate in the future. Perhaps these mega sized aircraft mooted by Boeing and Airbus may assist with a dedicated area, or area for people to stand, sit on stools, or exercise equipment occasionally, however the