couple of Sundays ago! Better late than never though. I just never imagined I'd be recapping an event where I was so nervous even just to walk it all.
I got down the coast early with my amazing friends Court and Mel who stuck by my side all morning. Literally. Mel drove us, and when we arrived, Courtney put my shoes on! Could I have been more looked after?
I'm not a princess when it comes to shoes, don't worry. My back was really bad last week, probably the longest stretch of pain I've had. Usually it lasts for 2-3 days, this time it was 6-7. I had to work from home two days (so I could lie down) and I had a lot of trouble walking and dressing myself. A new clay heat pack (I get sick when I use wheat bags and found this one) and Physio made me so much better.
But this was only Day 2 and I was struggling putting my shoes on so Courtney took over. All I could think of (apart from being so grateful) was this was not a good start! Eeek!
This was the first time I'd done this event. Because of this and it being at the Gold Coast (an hour from home), I didn't think there'd be many people I knew doing it, if any, and thanks to this I wasn't too socially anxious.
When we turned up though, I did get a bit anxious. Other than parkruns, this was the first big event I'd done since the Gold Coast Marathon (5.7km) in July last year. Something that used to be second nature was suddenly a bit overwhelming.
It'd been so long since an event that I forgot little things, like my HRM. I remembered as I left the house so ran back to get it. I put the strap on but then ended up forgetting my Polar and left it in the car, so couldn't use it anyway.
I even forgot to put sunscreen on (I left it in the car), and forgot to wear a hat. Fortunately they had communal sunscreen at the registration desk so I slathered it on, and we got free visors for participating, which I didn't realise. So I had my bright orange visor, baggy black holey clothes and my bright pink, very bad, old and tight Big W shoes.
After picking up our race packs, we had about an hour to wait, and watched people finishing. It was held in a huge sports stadium, and we got to finish by running into the stadium. I love that!
As it got closer to line up, we went and watched the 10km'ers coming through, just before entering the stadium. Like I'd done with my friends running photos the week before, I just stared at them in utter amazement, at how they could do this. How could they run like that? I was in awe. It was utterly ridiculous that someone who's run over 80 events including 7 half marathons could now not imagine doing that myself. I truly couldn't though.
I watched in total envy at runners walking around in their medals, because they'd already finished. It's not that I didn't want to do the event, but I usually feel like that at starting lines. In saying that, I genuinely wouldn't have gotten out of bed that morning if I wasn't meeting friends.
Both girls had offered to do the event at my pace, and were happy to walk the whole thing. They didn't say anything but each stood on both sides of me, which was completely comforting.
I jogged for the first 20m or so, just to see how it felt. I was able to, and that's all I needed for myself. I changed to walking straight away though, because I didn't want to worsen my back, and I didn't 'have' to run. All I needed to do was walk. 5km. And get through that finish line.
Almost immediately after going through the finish line, it all came back to me. I absolutely could picture myself as a runner. Literally 10min. earlier, I couldn't even imagine it. The concept was forgotten. But actually going through a start line and participating, now I could remember. Pretty silly, huh. I can't believe I couldn't imagine myself until that moment. I have been so out of condition. There's no
way I would go out and attempt a 30km, or half, or even 10km today, but I knew now that I could work back up to it. For now though, I had to just walk 5km in blistering heat, in my unflattering, holey black clothes and tight shoes.
It was SO hot. Autumn on the Gold Coast. Humidity was up, and I envied the girls running in their crop tops, while I huffed along in my hot, black T-shirt.
|In the start chute|
I wasn't too anxious, as I was in the middle of Court and Mel, and there were apparently a few people behind us. If you're a long term reader, you'll know that thanks to several times when this actually happened, it's an ongoing entrenched fear of mine, of having a course packed up while I'm still participating.
The sun was glaring down and the roads were open, closed to traffic, and sparse of other runners. (As they were all up ahead). We came to a roundabout where there was a line up of cars that were stopped due to the road closures. Like most events, one car beeped in ire. Drivers hate events, and I walked past the line up, feeling mildly amused at the impatient beeper, but mainly feeling embarrassed that I was walking. As my pace was further delaying this particular traffic jam from being able to be directed through the roundabout while there was a break.
Immediately beyond the roundabout, I spotted a hill. It was small, but it was still a hill. I hadn't studied the course map or terrain before this event, so everything was a surprise. I
may have sworn when I first saw it, but decided to just trudge at an even pace, and try to look down, pretending we were just on flat ground.
It hadn't seemed too big, but halfway up we sort of turned a slight corner, and suddenly it had doubled in length, and seemingly tripled in gradient.
|Sunny, empty roads|
Mel touched my back for a moment and we just kept going. I tried to ignore the crop topped runners coming back down the other side, meaning they had already turned around at the halfway point, and I tried to let it go that once upon a time, I would have ran up this hill.
The girls reminded me that going back down will be 10x easier - and somehow I reached the top with my breathing under control despite my heart rate being tin the 170's (I used a phone app to check it as I didn't have my HRM - and besides, I could feel it).
|The start of the hill|
We made it to the turnaround point, which was a beacon of shining light. It always feels better when you're running / walking towards a finish line, rather than away from one!
The top of the gigantic hill was a lot more fun in this direction, and we could see the stadium off in the distance.
As we approached the stadium, I could feel the end was in sight. I just wanted it finished. I was so glad I'd done it, but it was just so hot, and I wanted to sit down with food and water, with a medal around my neck, feeling satisfied. I kept visualising myself in the aircon of Mel's car, driving back to
Brisbane, feeling happy that I'd completed it.
We asked each other if we wanted to run the last 150m into the stadium. I always feel a bit guilty running at the end, if I've walked an event :) but I was definitely keen. The slow jogging at the start of the event had given me confidence, and I said to the girls that I was good to go, if we could do the pace that I'd done at the start.
We started jogging, and turned the corner, into the stadium. There was a scattering of people in the stands, a big TV screen (that we were apparently on!), and a running chute leading up to the glorious finish banner.
I was still in the middle, and we grinned at the cheers, and we ran.
Adrenalin and the atmosphere really kicked in though, and in the moment, we ended up running a fair bit faster than I was expecting, or that I've done in a while. I was trying to
smile as the small crowd were cheering and the MC spoke on the microphone, but I started to struggle.
|Sport lyfe ;)|
I literally had possibly 50m to go, and the only way I can describe it, is I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. My heart was beating out of my chest, and I remember thinking if I wasn't with the girls, and if I wasn't now just 30m from the finish line with heaps of people watching, I would have had to stop. It was horrible. We weren't really going that fast, but my fitness was shot, and I was struggling to cope at this pace.
I somehow got through the finish line, and tried to concentrate on my breathing, and on self talk to calm down. I leaned
forward so someone could put a medal around my neck, I kept breathing, and I was ok.
I did it. :)
We sat down in the stands as they were about to draw the random prize winners, out of the 150 people or so who hung around.
And, after about 10 winners, "1645" was called out! My bib number! I won a prize! I walked down to the field to collect it and be photographed. I didn't hear what I'd won, but the girls filled me in afterwards. Apparently the MC had read out that this prize was a $100 Brooks voucher. But when I got down there, he said "actually, I think we'll give you this one instead." As I got handed a $200 Brooks voucher! I don't know if he took one look at my tight Big W shoes or the hole in my pants, or both, and decided this girl needs a new running wardrobe, but either way I was very thankful!
My running shoe situation has been a bit dire since my beloved black "ON's" fell apart. I
have $ sitting in my account to replace them, but I've been having trouble finding the size and colour I want, as the exact ones I had have been discontinued. Because I haven't been doing much running (or any exercise for that matter), I haven't missed them too much, but I definitely want the exact pair I had, and will keep on looking (if anyone is a fan of ON shoes and knows of any secret stockists, please let me know). So to be fortunate enough to get this Brooks voucher is just doubly amazing, as I need to have a second pair for other exercise that I do, to be able to keep my ON's for running. I've been making do with wearing out each tight or holey Big W pair that I have, and I need to stop it, as runners shoes are like the tyres of cars, and pretty important! I can't wait to get them. (TNS x)
I was so proud of myself afterwards. It was one of my toughest events, both mentally and physically, but I got through (and got there - like physically made it to the event itself!), and was able to recall how it feels to be a runner. And that was my favourite takeaway from the
event; being able to imagine it again.
Apart from body memory, fitness / running wise I am essentially starting from scratch. That 150m sprint in the stadium mirrored my very first 200m running attempt 4 years ago. It sux, but I've sort of come to accept it over the last few weeks, and let the past go. I am where I am right now. And at least I have solid, valid personal proof that I can be a crazy fitness / running freak. So working towards more peak fitness won't be new to me, but it will still require the same dedication, persistence, and time.
And one day soon, I'll be able to say to myself, that I didn't think I could walk 5km, either.
Thanks so much Courts and Mel for your friendship and support xo
|Left, thank goodness|
|My name on the wall ;)|