So, I did a half marathon this morning. Ain’t no thang.
I signed my sister (hero) and I up for the Bankstown Hidden Half (organised by Westies Joggers). We had talked about doing it to cap off our half-marathon training which actually ended in July, though there were no half marathons around that time. Our half marathon training actually ended in a snot-propelled 8ish-Km run around the self-same park we ran today while we were both stricken with never-endeding colds.
Some weeks later, the day of the Hidden Half arrived, and neither of us were completely ready. We hadn’t been training long distances (or any distance really). I did a 7ish Km run before work on Friday (or maybe it was Thursday, who can tell?) but that was my longest run in about 2 months of colds, snot and drop-foot. I’m not sure my sis had fared any better on the training front.
Here I am to relate the whole story to you as I nurse a glass of straight Bombay Sapphire (in direct contravention of my pledge to give up drinking)…
Except that I was then interrupted by the need to read bed time stories… so I am back again 24 hours later to continue. I want to get this out before the memory warps too much!
We rock up in the early morning. We see lots of seriously-short-clad runners warming up and jogging in packs. This is what scared me off sport in primary school. Short shorts and pony tails! We find our way to registration and pick up race packs. I notice we are a minority wearing long pants and warm tops. I know I will regret this later, but its just too cold to strip down to the nothing that some people have on.
Yes, we are scared and intimidated by the short shorts, the racing club singlets and the all-around air of this being a tiny event for some serious runners! Neither of us have run any distance for weeks. Oh well. get it done.
We get the call and line up. After a few minutes everyone starts running and we sort of start running too. Wow!
The first km or so felt awful. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy this run, just grit my teeth through it. Then suddenly, I got a bump, and whoosh! I bounded off into the distance. I passed a number of people. One old bloke, Tony, called out “you’re doing well did you start late?” and I called back “nah just started slow – you’ll catch me later”. And don’t worry, he totally did.
I passed an older lady with a steady pace. She eyeballed me as I swooshed by… remembering my face for later. Yep, she overtook me at the end too.
Around the 3rd or 4th KM, the leaders whizzed back past me. They had been all the way up the hills to the turnaround and back and had about 4kms on me at this point. No matter, I was feeling great!
At some point, I picked up a buddy who was using me as a pacer. He caught up to me a few times and we chatted – he said I had kept him going. That’s so awesome. I saw him cross the finish line with a sprint, but wasn’t able to find him again afterwards.
I had some magical moments in the first half of the race. I was flying down the hills, and the flats gave my legs time to rest and the spring just stayed in them. It was amazing! I went through a number of thoughts an emotions during my run. At first, very intellectual – I was the journalist thinking about the best way to blog the story. What puns could I sneak in? After a time, my mind drifted and I became absorbed in the actual running part of things. My stride, my pace. I could make my legs hurl me along if I wanted. No, faster! Faster!
I was on a hill at Km 10 or 12 when a bike bell dinged behind me and someone called out “the winners are coming through!” I saw only a couple of sleekly-sweaty, lean and well-muscled men bound past me. They were both covered with lather, they were working so hard.
Occasionally my buddy would come up level with me and declare “I haven’t gone past you yet!”
That’s Mark behind me. He was getting cramps, so was walking and running. He still finished ahead of me. But he came and patted me on the back after the race. That picture must have been early since i still had my black shirt on. Taking that shirt off mid-stride and managing the iPod cables is a story for a night out at the pub!
At some point my head got bogged down in a numbing kind of defeatism. “Just put one foot in front of the other, that’s all”. But my legs and feet were so sore, it was hard to do that. My 200ml water bottle weighed on me. My freaking watch started to feel heavy. Everything started to ache, and every time I thought about how long I had to go, it made everything worse. At one point I was actually hoping to trip over and break an ankle on the uneven path so I wouldn’t have to finish.
There were lots and lots of volunteers to help us find our way during the course. They all called out encouraging things as we passed. At first I believed them, then I started to feel like a charity case. My poor brain wasn’t able to take on sympathy between 14 and 17km. And don’t get me started on the marshall who told me I had only a kilometre to go. That was 2nd hardest kilometre of my life… so tantalisingly close to being done, but really so so far away from home. If I felt like giving up at any point, it was that last km.
This was such a great local event. There was fruit at the finish line. Nuff said!
It is now 10pm on Monday night and I am still sore. At least FitBit thought I had an awesome day. AND I ATE ICE CREAM TOO.