Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Five for the price of One
Canberra Marathon - April 2008, perhaps one of the most interesting days I've ever had running.
I met some great people at the pre race pick up/registration afternoon and watched a few friends compete in the 5k and 10k races. Then it was off to a slightly cramped motel room with all 6 of us eventually finding a spot to sleep. Well to lie awake and wonder why on earth I was doing this run.
I lay there with the familiar thoughts going through my head
"I'm not really a runner, who do I keep showing up at this things?"
"I will once again, be at the back of the pack and feel like I haven't trained hard enough"
"What if I find that I can't actually do this race in Five Fingers and look like a fool?"
I'm still struggling to let go of the person who never participated in any sport for fear of looking foolish. I have glimpses of what I'd like to see myself as, but mostly my brain trips me up. With this in mind I decided I would finish the 50k no matter what, if only to further put behind me the mental image of a girl who always gave up.
I arrived very early at the event, in fact before much activity had begun. I find this helps me start the day more relaxed. I like to watch the goings-on before a race. The organisers frantically adjusting things at the last minute, nervous competitors going through pre-race rituals, supporters fussing over family and friends.
Waiting in the hall before the start, chatting to others, it became apparent that today would be wet and cold. Rain started to fall and the decision to start in Five Fingers was easy to make. I can't run on bitumen in the rain with bare feet. It hurts.
And cold it was, freezing really. The drizzle went on for quite a while and I don't think I was ever quite dry during the whole race. The first couple of hours ticked by nicely, and I felt comfortable. I kept telling myself not to rush as people ran past me... I was here for 50k. At 25k I worried for a bit that I would not get there, but realised I'd set a new PB for this distance by about 6 minutes (2.48), which gave a much needed boost. Again at 30k another PB, this time by 15 minutes (3.27).
I had taken my 5 Fingers off at 28k, as the soles of my feet were desperate to feel the ground, and the seams of the shoes were starting to cut my into my feet. I carried the shoes for the rest of the way to the marathon finish, which must have looked rather ridiculous.
Although I had wanted to go under 5 hours for the marathon, I didn't quite make it. 5.07.54 for 42.2k today. Still it was another PB by 12 minutes this time. Tim and Lorna cheered me through the line and I plodded on to finish the last 7.8k.
I started walking, as the will to push on had basically dried up. After a quick drink and a couple of lollies I found some new energy and started running, albeit slowly, down the path.
After posting another PB at 45k (5.33) a most unsual thing happened. The black skies opened up and huge rain drops began to fall. These quickly turned into little hailstones, then larger hailstones. I laughed out loud, thinking no one would believe me that I'd run in the hail... but it didn't stop. It got heavier and harder and more difficult to run in. People sheltered under bridges and building awnings, but I stubbornly carried on. Running on ice pellets while being hit with yet more ice pellets is strangely difficult to do!
I actually passed one person in this last stretch of the race, which to me was a victory... especially as he called to me "You're way too fast for me today!"
The hail eventually stopped and I ran through the finish line for a second time, sore and sorry but satisfied. 6.18.31 was my time and I'll take that as my 5th PB for the day.
The race organiser checked to see if all was ok, as I was barefoot, and once assured I was, he delivered the slightly disappointing news that they had run out of medals for finishers. I'll wait patiently for that at some point in the future....
As always I learned a lot about life and myself while running today. There are so many people out there, all with their own goals and ambitions for the day. Those who are out to win, in blistering times that make my head spin, others going for that elusive PB. Some out to conquer fear, others to tick another item off their 'bucket list'. New runners, old runners, parents, grandparents, husbands and wives... I watched others around me as I ran and realised all our experiences are the 'most important' of the day.
There are 1041 'finishers' stories from this day and I was one of them.