I did it and I am so pleased!
It was a long day and I'm quite sore this morning so I'm planning on spending most of the day in bed or in my pyjamas. I don't know how this is going to impact my trip to the supermarket but I think I will need to buy food today.
Here's the very long and selfindulgent full story:
I got up in time to have a normal breakfast and a bath. I packed all my bags with spare clothes, my parking permit, my wallet, my ipod, my laptop, my knitting, my gameboy, a notebook, a cuddly toy and a set of silk ties. Ok, not the last two but it was an epic amount of organising as I went straight to my sister's after the race as I was due to babysit in the evening. I wanted lots of things to do and to be able to tell everyone straight away of my triumph/misery. I was nervous and excited and not as worried as I thought I might be. I realised there were no real consequences to this. I had felt a little like I was going to sit an exam I wasn't ready for but there was nothing like the sick feeling before my accountancy finals. That's because it didn't matter how well it went in the race to anyone but me. If I liked it, I could do another one, and if I didn't I could just laugh about it later. I felt more relaxed when I realised that.
I was pretty pleased with myself that I'd left enough time to go to the cash machine and didn't have to worry about being stuck behind really slow drivers on the A21. I became a little less smug when I couldn't see any directions to the venue but it was just a little further than I'd expected. I did begin to wish I'd left earlier though as I wandered around getting more and more worked up as I couldn't find the registration tent. I went to the start line to ask directions then walked back to pretty much where I had parked and a bit further in that direction was the event village. Um, that was me being quite dumb but I didn't have time to berate myself further as I was too busy having a panic at how frightening the finish line looked. There were people there and they would see me and it was at the top of a hill and there were lots of people looking half dead staggering across it. These people were in the much earlier starting waves and I expect they ran the whole way. I very nearly turned round and went home but I've been having so many conversations with Dan-san about not turning up to Japanese lessons you've paid for that I figured I couldn't chicken out now and waste all the entrance fee. Dammit, I wanted my goody bag and you only got that when you finished.
I signed in. I deposited my spare clothes. I made a quick toilet stop (very pleased I did) and toddled off to the start line. I knew where that was already (ha!) and it counted as a warm up as I was hurrying and it was 5 minutes away. When I saw the people in my starting group, I felt some relief. Most of them looked a bit like me. None of them looked like elite runners (no offense), they were all wearing similar clothes to me, had similar looks of expectancy and nerves. It was fine. I guess, given the wave we were in (70 minutes plus) we were all planning on taking in the scenery and getting lots of race time for our money. The fastest waves had finished long before we started and the official medal ceremony would take place when we were somewhere around 3 km.
The organiser chatted to us for a few minutes before we started, telling us there was water at 4km and 7km, a toilet at 5km and the first km was uphill. That was a perfect reason to start off walking. I was right at the back and overhead the lady walking just in front of me tell a marshall she was planning to walk the whole thing as she had a knee injury. Oh, you cannot tell how relieved I felt when I heard that as even though I'd been advised plenty of people would walk some of it, I still wasn't convinced. I chatted to her for a while, admitted this was my first race and she was really kind. She told me all about how an evil dog had tripped her and the evil owner wasn't remotely sorry. If it wasn't for her, I'm not sure I'd have made it up the hill in the first kilometre but I managed to keep pace as she powered up. She then said she didn't mind at all if I wanted to run and as it was flat and I really like running, off I went. I passed a couple and an individual and then I thought I should pace myself a bit. I didn't want to make the mistake of starting really fast and then struggling to finish. In reality that's probably what I did do but I think it was unavoidable as I hadn't done anything like that distance before. The trail went through really beautiful woodland, with bluebells along the edge of the track. The weather was perfect - not raining but enough cloud cover to keep it cool and occasional bursts of sun. The first water station at 4km arrived surprisingly quickly. I think I was there in about 30 minutes so I thought wow, I might manage my secret hope of 1hr 15min but this thought passed quickly because really, what's 5 minutes or 10 minutes here or there in real life? I wanted to focus on enjoying it and getting round in less than 1hr 30 minutes as I figured I could probably walk it that quickly. Actually, it was so hilly I think it would have taken much longer.
At 5km, the couple in front of me stopped for a toilet break and I'm not surprised they'd stopped as they drank a whole bottle of water each at 4km. I took advantage of this and put on a short burst of speed. I'd read that in races it's best to take every chance you can to get ahead. I also made sure I ran past and thanked every marshall. For the next few kilomotres, I was stuck behind another runner. I couldn't get up enough speed to pass her convincingly and didn't want her to pass me a minute later so I just used her as a pace maker. At 6km, I noticed the toes on my right foot were hurting, and at 7km, the ones on the left foot hurt too. There was a super encouraging marshall at 7km who spurred me on to the next water break. By this time, I had already covered about double the distance I would do in even my longest training run. My legs were feeling wibbly and I was walking much more than running. At 8km, I noticed that when I tried to run, my legs didn't join in, so I had to accept that there was going to be a lot more walking, and the toilet couple were looming up behind me. Noone else had passed me and it wasn't like it mattered, so just after 9km, I pulled over and gave them a little cheer as they went past. The final kilometre! I almost couldn't believe it. My back ached, my legs and toes ached, I was sweaty and dusty and my lips were covered in gross mouth breathing goop. So close to the finish, I kept on walking. Around 9.5km, there was a lovely tree lined path, then a sign saying only 250m left. A hill in the way. More walking. Then there was the finish line, and it was all me. I ran along, heard the loud speaker announce my number and my name and there was clapping and I passed the finish line and threw my arms in the air and cheered. I did it! I was so happy! I stumbled to the finish tent and was rewarded with my medal and goody bag and some water. Then my pal with the bad knee from right at the beginning arrived, she'd sneaked in some running too, and the people who had clapped me turned out to be her friends from her running group. I was really glad they'd waited for her although she was a bit embarrassed.
At this point I should have done some stretching but I was a bit monged out and elated. I remember signing up for a free massage and eating a burger and stumbling around a bit. My massage was great. Local university students studying sports science were donating their talents and it was much appreciated. I kept telling people how this was my first ever race and they all seemed surprised and impressed. The race I chose wasn't really for beginners (did I mention it was all uphill) but it was such a lovely venue. I only ever run outside and prefer fields to road so it was perfect for me. I managed to get back to my car and call my mum to tell her I did it and got the goody bag. I called my sister but it kept cutting out so then she called me back, sounding rather worried. I confirmed I was all good and had my medal and was on my way after I'd finished a banana. She ran me a bath and baked me a cake and cooked me dinner and assured me she wouldn't be back late. I wasn't impressed when that turned into 1am and I couldn't work the internet and had left my knitting at my house but all was forgiven by the time I crawled into my own bed.
So that was it. I am sore today but I can still walk and it has definitely encouraged me to keep running and keep entering trail races. I didn't manage any knitting last night which was probably just as well as I was really tired and spaced out. I probably could have slept in the afternoon and didn't really interact with my family much. All I could do was play pokemon ranger so I did get a level 5 assist power up (meaningless to anyone apart except my sister but just know it takes plenty of repetitive play and determination).
Thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement and thanks to my legs and feet, you get a nice rest today.
Labels: life, race day, running