This morning, Sunday morning, Nic and I woke up at 6am.
It's Sunday! Day of weekly-weigh-in, berry pancakes (previously enjoyed with real maple syrup from Vermont (not the suburb south of here), but now since we're too poor to afford such luxury, with Supermarket Brand Maple Flavored Syrup), double episodes of Grey's back-to-back, vacuuming, and occasionally going for a walk.
But not this week, no.
I had been saying for over a year that we should go in a fun run! as a way to increase motivation to train and go jogging and try and get to 5km (or whatever). Since Nic had arrived in Australia, and had actually not run off on me (like an ex of mine), I had been saying this. But it hadn't happened.
Then we joined the gym,
And here I was, running 5km on a treadmill in 35 minutes (with occasional breathing-and-hacking-up-a-lung breaks), or doing intervals and running between 8.5km/h and 11km/h (I think I mentioned this, I remember putting something into miles a little while ago. Yup, here it is), and, a month before said gym membership or newly-found-running-ability, Nic found a fun run that completed the morning with pancakes, and entered us in it.
So we wake up this morning to a perfect Melbourne autumn day (a couple days early), which is to say that it was bleak, drizzly and depressing.
And we peel ourselves out of bed, make porridge (run out of home-made granola), make coffee, and trudge to the car. We arrive, along with a few beefcaking others who are trickling their way to the event in compression shorts, crop-tops and branded headbands. People are jogging here and there- eagerly ... eager.. to start the race. Jogging for no reason. Which just boggles my mind, to be honest. The race hasn't even started yet, people, chill the freak out. Everybody has a bib in either red (5km), yellow (10km), and blue (15km)(3mi, 6.2mi & 9.3mi respectively). Nic and I have red, and there is a depressing lack of others in red. Plenty of yellow. I feel like some kind of running baby. Like we're kindergartners, and everyone is much more seasoned and cool than us.
As we approach the marshaling area, I realize I need to pee- I don't want to be carrying a full bladder around the course, it's enough that I have to shift myself into gear without additional hindrances. The queue for the ladies' is at least 8 people long, and extending into the toilet block itself. Cold and wet, I wait, chatting to a stout middle-aged lady who has flown in from Vancouver and is running the 10km. She asks questions about when we're starting, where the course goes, what the order of the morning is, and I tell her, sheepishly, that it's my first time. Like some kind of racing virgin. A more helpful woman to her right helps out, gesturing here and there and using phrases like: "Last time I was here, I did the half marathon", and "Well, the half marathon only went up and around onto the road. Since this isn't a half marathon, I'm not too sure where we're going." She sounded flippant, like she did a half marathon every other day, no big deal y'know.
I am a dark cloud myself by this point. After all, I have no faith in my ability to actually run the distance. I've warned Nic - I can do this, but only if I can stop and walk sometimes. Only for 30 seconds, but I need to walk, damnit. Which, in my crazy competitive mind, makes me a failure. It's not a Fun Run-Walk-Run, after all. I finally emerge, 15 minutes later, to Nic looking panicked by the fact that it had taken so long. We (I) drag our (my) feet toward the start, where they are announcing how the race will be run (or walked). We miss all of the talk, and arrive as they blare over the loud speaker:
"MARKS! SET! GO!"
And people file off between two cones, so the electronic chip in their bib registers their start time. In this, it doesn't matter that we start nearly at the back.
And so we run, I feel like I'm setting a pretty cracking pace, which lasts about a kilometer and a bit. Then we walk. Then we run! The Canadian lady is overtaken, overtakes us, and is overtaken again- she has a funny shuffling run: a hybrid between a power walk and actually jogging. I see many ladies take on this similar stride and think I would feel too much like a phony to do it- you're not actually running, but I suppose if it gets you to the finish, why not?
We walk two more times, at my insistence, both because my Achilles was tight and walking seemed to help, plus it's a good excuse to catch my breath. Poor Nic tells me later that every time he settled into a rhythm and got comfortable in the run, I would ask to stop. And of course he obliges, and tells me it's ok to walk (he knows I'm beating myself up for it) and that he'd better not have to nurse me and look after me because I injure myself in a stupid fun-run. I don't know whether this is a good thing to say or not- good because he wants me to look after myself, bad because he doesn't want to look after me. That's how tired-running-brain interpreted what he was saying, anyway. I know my pain, and this was just stupid muscles-wanting-to-stop pain, not injury pain, so we pushed on.
I started playing mind games- just make it to the 4km sign and we'll stop. Just make it to the lady with the green umbrella, then we'll stop. Once we made it to the lady, I could see the finish-line banner, and so the next trick was: Make it to the finish line. There are pancakes.
As we approached, Nic says:
And I speed up.
Which sort of confused my brain at the time because I so wanted to be stubborn on this one, but my body wouldn't let me, and actually made things more difficult. I couldn't figure it out.
We neared the little finishing-lane area and broke into a sprint. Nic, at my side, who is 25cm (10in) taller than I am, has longer legs, and now stretched these out, and bounded ahead.
"Come on!" He cries, as if I'm not going as fast as I can, and am limited by the length of my legs only.
But we make it.
A few hours ago, Nic was SMSed the time:
Which, by the way, is amazing. considering we walked 3 times.
And then, what did we do? We went and bought me a bike, because we're getting insane like that and my old one was, well, old, and heavy. And maybe I'd like to ride to Uni and home because then I'll be super fit and can go in triathlons. Then we went on a 10km bike ride. And I didn't fall off. Which is also a major win, since the tires are about 10 times thinner than I'm used to and I nearly crashed on our first road crossing because I forgot how to take off. Whoops.
I hope you've all had a wonderful and productive weekend, too. I'm going to go cross off #32 on my life/sometime list now.