I arrived on my own, ready to run.
The end of the night clung to the crispy morning dew, as the sun fought through the clouds. The grass was littered with colour, wind breakers of every imaginable shade stretched and inside the bright exterior people tried to keep warm. Everyone was smiling with pre race anticipation, knowing soon enough the smiles would disappear to long aching muscles.
They aren’t a normal bunch.
I make my way to the start line ahead of two hundred or so others, I hide behind my new shoes and hope in orange I stand out enough to fit in.
I don’t know if I can dig deep enough to complete ten miles of non-stop exertion. I don’t have pen marks on my arm reminding me how quickly I need to complete each kilometre. I don’t have a belt of evenly placed water bottles around my waist. I haven’t even stretched.
The space around me fills with more people and I hang back conspicuously enough, the start gun blows but no one is listening, each person has headphones in, and there is mass human movement, the rainbow starts forward and we run.
The first mile passes me before the pack thins and I am filled with hope that I might not finish last. During the second mile the lactic acid hits my system. I hit a wall, I’m no longer cold but I’m not warm either. I’m in-between and dreading the next eight miles.
Between mile marker two, and the final sprint to the finish there was not a moment of the race I actually enjoyed. Nothing about running is fun, not the pounding of feet into pavement, not even the vaguely enthusiastic cheers of the course markers. None of it.
With finish line behind you and the medal is placed around your neck, when you know you are redder than a beet and twice as tough, when all you can do is catch your breath, but your mom sticks your own camera in your face the minute after you passed the finish line, you still feel on the verge of horrible.
I think the only satisfaction of a long run comes from the choice you made at mile seven to keep going when you’re sure you have a hernia, and a mountain hell disguised as a grassy hill stands in front of you with such looming intensity you want to cry. The only satisfaction for me came from the choice I made to finish before I began.
Finished 71/186 females
10 miles in a whooping 1 hour 39 minutes.
[Re-written from Oct 2013 – I haven’t ran a race since.]