Sunday, 1 June 2014

The run that needed to happen

If you've read anything of mine before, you'll know that I'm a 'tell it like it is for me' type of person.  I share the good, the bad and the ugly of this weight loss / fitness gain venture that
My view from the park bench
I'm on.  Because it's not all good!  It would make for a pretty boring story to follow if it was.  Sometimes I share too much.  I know though, that in sharing my story, others may not feel so alone in their ups and downs. 

I don't share absolutely everything though.   Sunday's story of my fun run was definitely going to fall into that category.  I'm not hurt and I’m not in trouble, let's just get that out of the way.  But I was, and still am, so completely embarrassed about the events that unfolded. 

Immediately following the run, I had breakfast with my brother and sister in law, visited my parents, caught up with a friend for a planned D&M, then went to a friends birthday party with a group of close friends. 

And I didn't say a word to anyone about what had transpired that morning. 

I think I was probably in a bit of shock, and was trying to process it.  It wasn't until the end of the birthday party that I finally opened up to two friends, and it was only because they noticed I wasn't myself and asked me what was up. 

Since then I've told heaps of friends, but I quickly decided that this wouldn't be a story for my blog.   I am so, so deeply embarrassed.  Some things just aren't worth putting out there. I'm pretty fragile at the moment, I don't need any judging. 

But as the week's gone on, I felt uncomfortable with leaving this out.  It's part of my story after all.  Yes, it's one of the ugly parts, but it’s still part of it.  I think I would feel something is missing, if I skipped over it.  Then a couple of runner friends said they would have done the exact same thing as me.   So I realised that maybe this story could help someone.  (To be honest, I have no idea how!)  But maybe it will.  We are all of us just trying to do our best, and fumbling and learning along the way.

Still, it's taken me a week of being up and down with my decision.  Did I really want to share this?  But I remembered my quote in my blog's bio: "I wear my heart on my sleeve no matter how much it sometimes hurts." 

So, here we go.

This story is about how I am human.  It's about a run that needed to happen.

Sunday's run was a 10km fun run event. Just a small suburban official event with 10km, 5km and 2km options.  Not a biggie.  It was on 'The List': a list of runs I had planned to run this year.  I was fine leading up to it, but as soon as I arrived and picked up my bib, I started battling with my mind as to whether I should pull out.   I don’t know exactly why.  I suddenly
Sitting in my car
felt unconfident, unmotivated and unable.  Sitting in my car to try to keep warm, I teased myself with the option that I could go home, right now.  I dared myself for half an hour to do just that.  My lovely friend Em rang me and said all the right things.  She encouraged me to do it but said it was ok if I didn't.

I really wanted to go home.

I wasn't feeling up to it today.  But I've got this stupid 'thing'.  I do not give up.  I just don't.  I don't cancel events, and I don't stop running.  There's no run/walk/run.  I'm completely strict with myself.  And I've never pulled out of a run before, either leading up to or during.  (Once I couldn't attend an event because I had a car accident the day before.)  But apart from that! If I sign up for something, I run the entire way, and I finish it!!  No negotiations.

Lately though, I've been saying to some friends how I really need to do an event, and walk during it.  Or quit half way through.  On purpose - just to give me some reprieve in future events, for when I really need to.  Just let myself do it, so that it's out of the way and I don't feel this inexplicable mission to be my own Wonder Woman in!  My 200% dedication to never give up, however self commendable, has started to see me push through some runs that I really should not have done.  My running angel half marathon, for example?  Or my 30km event, where the the last 5km was running to get help?

Actually letting myself do this, however, was another thing.

So, as always, I got out of the car on Sunday, warmed up, and lined up.

I told myself that I'd just give it a try and if I really wanted to stop mid-run, then so be it.  

On the inside though, I laughed at that.  "Whatever, Kate.  You plan a run, you do it.  Besides, you spent $30 to be here!"

As I waited for the start gun, I wondered what was wrong with me.  I'm nervous about every run, but this event and my angel half marathon saw me really nervous, with complete disbelief in my abilities.  I was also a bit uneasy about running this day, remembering what my Marathon School trainer told me the day before about my O pain.  But I've been running for 18 months with it and I didn't have any pain before the run though, so I thought I'd be ok.

We started.

And, like the angel half, I didn't relax as I usually do as I went through the Start banner instead.  All that happened, was that my mind games increased. :(  Around and around, so many thoughts circling around my head.

Negative thoughts, telling myself I can't do this.  Followed by calming thoughts: "I'll just run and see how I go. I can pull out if I need to.”  Followed by “but I never pull out!” 

1km down.  That wasn't so bad!  9km to go.  I looked around and realised I was at the back of the pack.  That was nothing new, but it didn't help my mindset.  "You're so bad at this Kate!  You're so stupid, why do you even try?"  Hmmm.

Just up in front of me was an older lady.  There were two ladies behind me, and from what I could tell, that was it.  The two ladies overtook me.  They were walk/run/walk/running and they'd overtake me until they walked again, when I would overtake them.  They eventually overtook me and stayed there.  I was the last runner.

2km down, 8km to go.  Maybe I could do this.  I overtook a guy with a blue knee brace who seemed to be struggling, and a girl who was walking and texting...........nothing to be super proud of in the speed stakes!  But still, I was getting ahead! ;)

I had slight pain and kept thinking of my Marathon School trainer.  But I asked myself if this
was an excuse, as I was already in two minds about running....and I kept going.

Around here was when it all started getting a bit tough.  The course split, with the 10km'ers going left, and the 5km'ers going right.  I went to the left and realised soon after then that blue knee brace guy and texting girl were nowhere to be seen - they must be 5km runners.  The old lady and the two ladies were ahead of me on the 10km course, but within view.  I am slow anyway, but my shocking mindset and slight O pain was making me even slower.

There were so many police cars with flashing lights (no sirens) marshalling the course, but around here is when it started to seem that they were circling me.  There must have been 3 police cars and 1 police motorbike on course - I've never seen so many police for any events, let alone a small one like this.

I have the greatest respect and love for police, but have a nightmare-ish fear of them following me in events, thanks to one disastrous cycling event a few years ago.  I didn't want them anywhere near me.  I don't need to explain why it feels like they draw attention to you when they drive near you!  I was already feeling pretty embarrassed about being the last runner, I didn't want any more attention.

We ran past a creek, away from the main roads. I was really struggling.  The whole run, my mindset, the slight O pain, being so frigging slow that I was the last runner, flashing lights police at every corner, I was finding it tough, and while I had a bit of solace, with no circling police, where no-one could see or hear me, I burst into tears. This in turn sent my breathing haywire.  I'm not sure if it was a comfort thing or a teasing myself thing, but I Google Mapped the finish line and kept this app open on my phone, so that I had a map to the finish site ready if I pulled out at any moment.  I kept crying, breathing funny and running.  I willed myself to go on.  I
would have gladly paid the $30 entry fee to be home right now!

Up ahead, I could see the course went back to the main road.  And of course, there was a police car waiting.  The two ladies had run past them by now, so I gathered they were parked there for me.  Oh my.  "Why can't I just blend in?  What must they think of me?"  I grit my teeth and ran past them.  As soon as I did, I saw another two police cars up ahead.  They were everywhere!  Another one slowly drove past me.  I could see the police watching me out the windows as they drove past.  This happened more than several times.  Each car seemed to have at least 3 police in them and they looked like they were straining their necks to visually follow me each time they slowly circled me.  I felt like I was on show.  

I kept considering pulling out.  "I'll just sneak off, no-one will know."  I think these thoughts comforted me throughout, allowing myself the option if I decided to.  I kept running though and saying to myself  "Maybe I can do this- I've already run 3km, what's another 7km?  I've already run 4km, what's another 6km?” etc. 

One thing playing on my mind was "Kate, you're doing a marathon in 6 weeks, you can't
even do this??”  Round and around in circles.  "Well if I'm that pathetic, I may as well quit right now!"  But I kept running and the police kept circling and peering at me.  5km, 6km down.

One of my friends Kylie had said that the course went directly past her house, and that she and her 3 little boys would stand out the front and cheer me on.  This kept me going too, although I promised myself that if I did quit, as I kept tempting myself to do, that I would drive around the corner from her place, run past for her boys, and get back to my car.  I had it sorted.  But I really wanted to see her, and I started to think I actually would.  I'd done 6km now, less than 4km to go.  So really it was only 3 point something to go.  I spoke to myself realistically - why don't I just finish this thing.  For the first time that day, I started visualising myself at the finish line. 

I turned a corner on a long stretch of road.  Up ahead, I saw a ute pull over on the side of the road.  It caught my attention for some reason and I watched as I ran towards it.  I quickly realised what the guy in this ute was doing.  He was packing up the course.

They were packing up the course.

As I got closer, he picked up a sign and packed it in his ute.  I suspected it was the 7km sign
The police speaking to the ute
didn't know for sure until
I drove back after the event and saw the spray painted '7km' on the footpath.

I was shattered.  I wasn't that far away from him and I was only 5min, if that, behind the next last runners.  I had just seen the next last ladies, 'the two ladies' turn the corner ahead.  Yet he was packing up. I was so upset they couldn't wait for just 5min?  Or try to confirm that the course was clear before they did?

As I watched, a police car drove alongside the ute and spoke to him.  The police must have told him that I was still coming...that there was 1 more runner.  I was thankful, but how embarrassing, for the police to have to tell them this for me.
I watched as the police left (until their next drive-by!).  But the ute guy didn't put the 7km sign back, instead he put one of their "you can do it" signs out that they had scattered through the course.  It was very nice of him, I know.  But at the time I couldn't get past the fact they were
The sign he put back / put out
packing up in front of me. That really broke me. I kept my head held high and ran past him standing in front of the ute - he was nice at least and called out "you can do it!"

I was still considering pulling out at any minute.  But - even though I didn't confirm the 7km mark until later, I did know that I’d gone so far that, regardless of everything, I would have finished the whole thing if this next bit hadn’t happened. 

Around the corner I saw one of the arrow signs that they had around the course to guide the way - but it looked like it was pointing to run into a house??  A guy in stubbie shorts and no shirt was standing underneath, tinkering with his car or something.  I was confused.  Was this arrow in the wrong spot, because they'd started packing up the course?

I didn't know what was going on, so I kept running straight along the road.  After I had run past the sign, a car beeped me and a guy yelled out.  Oh dear.  I turned around as I continued to was the ute guy.  I assumed he was yelling at me.  What was going on?  Even though I turned around, in the moment I was so embarrassed and overwhelmed that I actually ignored him and kept running! 

He then drove up alongside me, so I ran on the spot while I talked to him.  He said that I missed the turn!  I replied, incredulous: “that was some guys house!”  He said no, there was an easement / path there, a tiny one in between two houses!  I couldn't believe it.

He said I may as well just keep running forward to the main road.  I assumed it would meet up with where the easement would have eventually taken me to.  

I made out like it was all fine & smiled and nodded a lot and he drove off. 

But this was the final straw.  I was now off course, the course was being packed up and the ute guy suggested I continue the wrong way??  As soon as he was out of sight, after 7km of battling with my mind, I finally stopped.  Out of all of my runs, ever, I finally gave up. 

I stood on the side of the quiet suburban street, shell-shocked.  I was like a volcano, bubbling up inside.  I was in a bit of a state and didn't know what to do.  First things first, I didn't want the circling police or any officials to see me stopped.  I was mortified, yes, but what I was more worried about was that I didn't think I'd have been able to handle it if they stopped and asked if I was ok.  I expected that if this happened, I would tearfully lose the plot and I had visions of me hysterically being guided into a police car and driven to the finish site if they felt sorry for me.  I would be a mess and then any embarrassment I had earlier felt, would be multiplied.

No, that certainly wouldn't do.  I had to get out of there.  

So instead of continuing ahead to the main road where I could easily be seen, I walked back to the easement that I missed to check it out, also assuming it would be a less conspicuous route.  Just as I reached the easement, I thought I heard a police motorbike coming towards me!  I was beside myself and just wanted to disappear.  I didn't want anyone to see me.  So without thinking, I RAN AWAY from what I thought was the police, through the easement!  I tried to hide in the easement itself, but there were only flat, high fences.  I walked close to one side of the easement just in case it helped conceal me.  

I looked up and saw an older lady watching me from her balcony as I ran and 'hid'.  She was probably suss.  I don't blame her!  I suddenly felt like a teenage petty thief skateboarder, on the run like you see on the cop shows on TV.  This must be how they feel.  Except I didn't have on a backwards baseball cap, I had my bright pink running visor.

Ahh...a bright pink running visor.  I suddenly realised that if the police drove past, they would spot me instantly.  I needed to disguise myself.  Which, let me tell you, is hard when you're out running with nothing! 

Can you tell I wasn't thinking straight??

All I could manage to do was to put my bright pink visor down my pants, roll my race bib up (there was instructions on the bib saying not to bend it, so I didn't - did it matter, Kate??) and put it, rolled up, down my top, and take my hair out so that I had wild long blonde hair instead of the bun I ran in.  I considered taking my bright shoes off and leaving them next to a tree to pick up later but kept them on.

I saw a park across the road from the easement and headed there.  I beelined for a lone park bench, sat and cried my heart out.  I sobbed so hard, for so long.  I was so upset about the whole morning.  And I was so worried that the police would circle me again and that I wouldn't be able to speak.  I was humiliated and didn't want anyone to see me.  So I sat
Finding the least public route back
there for as long as I could, hoping they'd drive away.  I think I cried more because I was stunned at myself that I was trying to disguise myself from police!  Who does that??

Who does that?

An overwhelmed girl who shouldn't have ran today but gave it her best shot.  That's who.

I then realised that I had to get back to my car, which was at the start / finish line!  I didn't want the police or organisers to spot me on the way back, even though I was 'disguised'.  I considered calling Kylie to help me; I assumed she must have forgotten that the event was on as I thought I would have seen her by now.  I didn't want to bother her or be a crazy crying mess in front of her young boys though.  (Flash forward to the next day and she told me that she had been waiting at the 8km mark!  I couldn't believe it.  I had finished just before her.  She was apparently 200m from that park and the beautiful heart was upset I didn't call her.) <3

I considered a cab but decided that was a close second to the vision of embarrassment if I
My shadow as I slunk back to my car
arrived back in a police car.

Instead I tried to be brave and used Google Maps to find the weirdest and quietest back streets near creeks to take me back.  I walked slowly, crying, with my head down, not making eye contact with any cars or passerbys, all the way back, so worried that someone would spot me.  I got back to the pretty huge and open sports centre and cut across a field like a frigging Russian spy, trying to be incognito and finally snuck into my car.

And that, my friends, is my Sunday story that I was too embarrassed to tell.  I'm not embarrassed that I didn't finish it, I'm embarrassed about my train wreck type behaviour in the end, and the fact that it took a run like this to teach me some valuable lessons.

I've done my self assessing and I know what I did wrong and I know what I need to do to change.  I know that this was a run that needed to happen, to make me see this.  But I also know that these things happen.  I said that this was one of the 'ugly' parts of my journey.  Well, we need the ugly parts to help us create the good.
Butterfly lollypop my friend Bron happened to give me that afternoon


  1. What an awful experience for you Kate, I could empathise with you for most if it (only because I've only done one event with police doing the the marshalling and there were marathoners coming in after me and a 10km that started after I'd finished) but I'm sure my turn will come. You've had a terrible few weeks and just need some unconditional loving. Your stories, no matter how ugly you feel they are, are your stories, they're real, and they are what make you so inspiring to other people.

  2. So sorry to hear this Kate. Please be kind to yourself - treat yourself as you would someone else who'd gone through this experience. Thanks for sharing, you really are brave. xo

  3. Oh honey, this sucks, it really does, but it's just one blimp in a very long journey you are on. As well as lows there will be amazing highs. Trust me. Hey, and if it makes you feel any better, mate, I wet my pants in the middle of a fun run once. There, I've announced that to the world. See, hiding from the police, wetting ones pants, we all have a sucky experience every now and then. Just onwards and upwards and don't give it a second thought.