Race report: Run Melbourne Half Marathon
Time: 2.42.43 (PW)
This is really really long so I have divided it into sections so when you have to go for a cuppa or a loo break you'll know where you were up to.
The run was really really long too. I think this could be my Personal Worst time. I was briefly upset by that but am over it now. I can run for nearly three hours on bloodymindedness and a bling-fixation, and that's good! I am That Person!
As my five faithful readers know, my preparation for this run has been less than ideal - but if I only did things I was super-well prepared for and had a chance of excelling at I'd spend a LOT of time at home. I felt like doing it, I knew I could do it, so I did. And despite still walking like the Tin Man two days later, I'm glad I did. It was a good day.
Apart from the absence of any consistent training, which I think I may have mentioned, everything leading up to the run went perfectly. I hydrated and carbed up on Saturday and did my race nails in time for an early night. The alarm went off, I remembered to get petrol and got a free park about 1.5km from the start. Score! Last year the bag dropoff was an absolute schemozzle - everyone's bags were all in one spot, in the rain, so when the slow half-marathoners fought their freezing way to the front of the bag scrum, all our stuff was wet - so I was very happy to literally walk into the half-marathon bag area while I was looking for it. Score again! I was in the last wave so there was plenty of time to use the rather nice facilities at Fed Square and amble up to the start. The weather was perfect too - still, quite cold and foggy at first, clearing to a gorgeous fine morning that never got too hot for my long sleeves. I took a bit of a risk wearing the runners I bought on Friday but they were really comfortable. Triple score! I couldn't find my friend Mrs W, who is about my speed, so I was worried she'd caught her husband's cold and hadn't been able to start. I never feel excited before a race, just a bit sick usually about what a stupid idea this was and how I shouldn't bother because I'm so slow/unfit/lardy. I shuffled along under the arch (which I belive fell down on the 5km runners!) trying to wish some energy into my legs but finding very little. Seeing as this run was all about the medal and the pain, not the time, when I caught up with some friends halfway up the Shrine Hill I decided to walk to the top with them. It was time to HTFU and start running so I set off, with Z bounding irritatingly ahead of me like a demented kangaroo.
I quite enjoyed the first lap in the way you do when you know you're going to PAY for it later. There were bands playing and there was plenty of room along the river path, around the Tennis Centre and over the skybridge to the MCG because the 10km hadn't started.
and the 'Passout here' sign near Gate one amused me no end. I caught up with Mrs W around the 'G too - she was having a rough day but soldiered on to within about five minutes of her PB. You're a legend, Mrs W!
When I thought about the next time I'll be running around the MCG I just grinned like an idiot.
The lap around the upper concourse was flat, too, unlike any other bloody part of the course. Don't think that's the worst word I used about the oh-so-gradual but never-bloody-ending rise through the park around the stadium either. I was still feeling pretty strong along Wellington Parade, even up the little hill to Flinders St. I stuck to my 9:1 run:walk all the way. It got really lonely really fast, though, after I passed the 'first lap, straight ahead, second lap turn left' sign and headed toward Federation Square and my second loop. Z was walking quite a bit now and we'd chat briefly as he got his breath back and then took off again. He told me later he hadn't eaten breakfast - ah, the foolishness of youth! No wonder he looked so crook.
We had our own lane alongside the thousands and thousands of 10k runners lining up. It seemed to take a long time to get past them. Off up the Shrine hill again I went. It was very quiet and I was starting to feel tired. Josh Grogan carried me this time - "you raise me up" came on the earphones and I cranked it up loud and played it again and kept to my 9:1 until I got almost to the top of Anderson St again. Then I said a rude word to myself and walked the last steep bit. I was having the run I'd earned and it was pretty much as hard as I thought it would be, dammit.
By the time I reached Olympic Park for the second time the 10 km elites were well gone and the pace packs were thundering by. The 40 minute 10k-ers run almost twice as fast as I do. Pack after pack streamed past. It was quite unsettling. I literally retreated into myself to shut out the noise and the stupid wash of shame. It doesn't matter how slow you are. It doesn't matter. You're going to finish another half marathon today. Hold your form and slow down.
Running over the skybridge with a thousand of your closest mates is a hoot! The concrete wobbles and bounces and your legs are still a bit confused when you stagger off for another spin around the MCG. I still liked the statues and managed to laugh at the "passout here" sign again, but going down along Brunton avenue and around past all the food vans mmmm....doughnuts.... and back toward the oh-f#$%-not-again rise through the gardens I really started to crack the sads. I hurt. It was only 3km to go but it still seemed a long way.
Around this time a very interesting and helpful thought occured to me. I was running along, arguing with myself, as you do, about whether anything bad would happen or I would be a hopeless worthless lazypants if I walked up a bit of the hill. This really hurts, I thought to myself. I hate this. Then I thought, hang on - that second sentence doesn't necessarily have to follow the first. It hurts - oh yes it does, no denying that. It hurts like billy-oh. But I don't have to hate it. It can just be something that is, rather than something that p!$$#s me off. Hmmmmmm. Following this train of thought passed a couple of painful uphill minutes, but oh how happy I was to take the sharp left along Wellington St. Downhill at last! I caught up with Z again and we cheered each other up talking about what we were listening to - he was bopping to the sex p1stols (he's very young) and I was steaming along to I don't care what you think as long as it's about me - the best of us can find happiness in misery...I love it when the ipod fairy delivers. Past the Hilton and the Flagstaff gardens, past the Brunton Avenue underpass...not far now. Oh, I was hurting, yes I was. A bloke was just about to take down the 20km sign so I yelled at him to just leave it where it was until we went past. We earned that sign! Up up up the very last hill we trundled. There was no way I was stopping now. I was so grateful that Z was there distracting me with his puffed-out attempts at cheery remarks and his annoying bouncy stride. Misery shared is misery halved.Another sharp left and then a lovely lovely downhill again, across the tram tracks and to the last corner.Z (centre)is looking keen - I'm grandstanding on the right
I knew the finish was not far away, and damn I was ready to stop. I called to Z to go go go and he bounded away (21-year-old legs, they can do that), and finally I ran over the mat. I could stop. That was another very good moment.
A very nice young lady cut off my shoe tag - there wasn't going to be any bending down done by me, no no no no. Another charming individual gave me the cool medal. I lurched through the showbag area but somehow failed to acquire anything except a small bottle of a very peculiar drink, I think called an oxy-shot? Opinion: bleh!
In lieu of standing up, I draped myself over the finishing chute fence to cheer in Mrs W, who finished strong and smiling as always. I was just contemplating the long walk up to the bags when Noddie and the Spousal Unit showed up! What a lovely surprise! I was so happy to see them, especially because I wouldn't have to drive home and could partake of a hard-earned sherbet with the CR crew. I love being around people who think it's a top idea to gut out an underprepared 21.1km on a cold winter morning and then yap on about it at length. Just one thing though: to the skinnyfast CR who remarked in a surprised voice "You look really tired" - just because I took twice as long as you doesn't mean I didn't work as hard as you. Effort and speed are not correlated. So there.
The afternoon was a pleasant blur of ice-bath, lunch, a nap and sitting by the heater with my feet up watching my Bulldogs win. I didn't buy a race shirt, but I haven't taken off my medal either. As I said to the Spousal Unit, there's something about running 21km very slowly that puts you in a very good mood.
Goodness knows how I'll go on the Gold Coast this weekend. I'll start, I'll finish, I'll get a medal and I'll have a drink or several with Mrs W to celebrate our victories over our sworn enemies Old, Fat, Slow, Real Life, Fear and Doubt.
Life is all about celebrating, my friends
More anon, conquerers!