The half-marathon that almost wasn’t

Well, I’m sitting here with the post hard run feeling that is a mix of slight nausea and dead tiredness.

I should have known that things for my run weren’t going to be silky smooth when our next-door neighbour decided to have yet another one of their fantastically loud parties that continue until the early hours of the morning and that send those deep thumping base sounds to every corner of our house. I’d gone to bed at 10:00ish hoping that the music would die down, seeing as I was planning to be up just after 6am. 11pm came and went. By 11:30pm I’d gotten up and jammed a pair of earplugs in my ears but nothing was drowning out that sub woofer duh duh duh. It would have been well after midnight before I finally dropped off.

I got up, had two weetbix with milk for breakfast and a coffee. I’d hoped there might be some bowel movement following consumption of the coffee, but alas not. I then angsted a little bit about whether to wear a long-sleeved shirt or a short sleeved shirt. After stepping outside in the chilly morning air, I went with long-sleeved and pinned on my race bib.

All stations go.

M was waiting outside for me with the camera as usually and he snapped a couple of pre-race shots. Then we piled into the range rover and started the 15km journey into town. We had gotten about 200m down the road and were stopped at the give way sign when rangie decided that she was not going to move into first gear and we would be stuck there. M hopped out of the car ready to push the girl out of the intersection and told me to get into the driver’s seat. I angsted for 0.3 seconds before climbing in and with the help of a fellow passerby who also assisted in pushing, we got rangie off the road and into a side carpark.

I had 40 mins before my race was due to start.

I looked at the petrol station near where rangie had stopped and saw a taxi that was fueling up. I raced over and accosted the driver asking him if he could drive me into town. He’d just come off shift and was due to drop the car off to the next driver. I put on my best girl-in-distress-look and begged him and after several hurried phonecalls to the other driver and his boss, agreed. I raced back over to rangie, grabbed $50 out of my wallet, my ipod, sunnies, lip balm and tissues and threw my phone and other stuff at M, told him to call the RAC to have the car towed and hopped into the taxi.

The driver agreed to drop me into town if I gave him $50 as a cash job. The trip in to town normally costs about $30, but I wasn’t arguing. $50 to my knight in a shining white taxi it was.

I had 35 mins before my race was due to start.

5kms down the road we ran into road works and had to divert around the area that was closed off. We finally reached town and he ended up dropping me about 10 mins walk from the marshalling area of the race, saying that he needed to get back on the freeway and drop the car off before his boss got too angry.

I was ready to hug him.

By this stage, I needed to pee. So I took a slight detour walk to the bus station and went to the public toilet. After that small relief, I headed down to where I needed to be. Of course, I’d forgotten what 45,000 people all attempting to get to the same place was like – pure and utter chaos. I wasn’t getting very far, very fast. Approaching the area I could see that the other half-marathoners were already lined up at the starting line.

Unfortunately, I was on the other side of the fence, heading in the opposite direction, trying to find a way to join them. By the time I found a break in the fence, I knew I’d have no time to drop off my stuff for its journey to the finishing line and make my way back to the start, so I just found an empty space on the side of the road, stripped off and started to get ready. Walking up to the start line, I adjusted my iPod, put on my gloves and applied lip balm – that I also had to donate to the side of the road along with my jacket as I had no way to carry it.

Anyway, I’d just joined the rest of them when the starting gun went off. It was not the zen-like peaceful start to the race that I had hoped for and the whole situation certainly wasn’t in the myriad things I’d angsted about in the four-month lead up to the race, but at least I’d made it.

I did the first 10 kms in blistering pace, emerging out of King’s Park in just over an hour, but there were still two massive hills left to climb and my pace dropped dramatically after that. By the 16km mark it seemed like I was just shuffling along.  It’s true what they say about the course, it’s hilly and not for the faint of heart.

For some reason, I’d been thirsty about the 5km mark and decided to have some poweraide. It was blue. It was not a good decision. Even though I only took about two sips of it, it sloshed around in my stomach for the entire rest of the race. From then on, I had water and nothing else – hoping and praying that I wouldn’t need to pee or poop suddenly.

I had water at about 4 of the stations, sipping a little and sloshing the rest over my face and head. This year I managed not to throw my cup or water into anyone else, but I still managed to throw water all over my sunglasses and then spent the next kilometre trying to see straight.

Last time I did the city to surf it was the 12km. The 12km has the most entrants and I remember vividly spending a lot of time dodging other people and prams. I was also overtaken a lot by people pushing prams. This year because I was in the half-marathon, we were separated from the 12km-ers by a fence and  it improved my running experience exponentially.

Anyway, so I made it over the finishing line in about 2hrs and 12mins. It’s a time that will only ever qualify me for the slow olympics, but at least I finished and I ran at a faster pace than I did over the shorter 12km distance.

I ended up catching the bus home, which seemed to work out quite nicely, but I was absolutely FREEZING. Since I didn’t have a jacket or anything else with me, I put on my souvenir finisher’s t-shirt over my running top and jumped around from foot to foot trying to stay warm. I came home and immediately hopped in the bath – probably not the best thing for my muscles, but I needed to get warm.

While I’d been out tackling the course, M had walked home, called his mechanic and had the rangie towed to be fixed.

While I was running I kept thinking about how comical and pretty fucked the whole situation had been. I reminded myself about how I’d angsted and angsted over every single little detail – what to wear, what to eat, shoes, underwear, pacing, etc. etc. But never for a moment did I think I would ever miss the start nor that I would ever want to hug a taxi driver.

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