Alarm beeps its familiar tune before the sun has any ideas of shining. Even a little earlier than the usual morning training starts that have become routine, there’s no hesitation in rising today. Even my kids have agreed to come along to cheer me on and to run a shorter race themselves.
Race day is here!
Clothes prepared and laid out ready for a quick change. A check of the weather conditions. Comfortable, 11C and slight breeze. As I rise there’s still the residual effects of a cold, but the medication I started taking has improved the symptoms greatly.
Athletes and supporters swarm the event area, with staggered start times for the various distances. Greetings and well wishes are exchanged, both to familiar faces and new ones. Seeing so many of the people I have trained with, the spirit buoys me in anticipation. Especially Mr J and Ms T, who began the journey with me months ago. Marathoners are the first to gather at the Start line, as the sun works its way past a bank of clouds. Nearby, many other lines form leading to the ‘Port-a-loos’ as other runners prepare for their races.
A quick warm up and suddenly it’s time to find the Start line and the right section. I weave my way to a place just before the 2:00 time section, with the intention to finish in under 2 hours. Without a moment to pause and reflect, the announcer advises 30 seconds to go, and it’s now or never. Months of training and the moment has arrived.
And the race begins. Strava timer activated. Fitbit timer activated. It takes nearly 20 seconds to actually get past the start line, as the pool of about 2000 runners edges forward. Eventually reaching pace, the crowd moves as one along the road and towards the hill – one that I struggled with early on, but have done countless times and now I can handle it. Running along familiar terrain almost seems like just another day training. Only with hundreds of runners surrounding me, and hundreds of supporters cheering on the sidelines.
Finding a steady pace, I put one foot after another and feel comfortable and managing it. The drink station approaches and I always struggle to run and drink without choking, but I know the importance of hydration, especially fighting off a cold.
Round and back, past the 10km mark – nearly half way. I still feel comfortable, and notice my time (about 54 mins) and mentally note that already I have done a faster 10km than last year when I was running the 10km event. It also means that I’m on track towards my target finish time. Trying to pace myself with a few runners just ahead of me, I gradually realise they are getting a little further ahead, and also a number of other runners begin to pass me.
A group of supporters has a basket with lollies/ candy of some sort, so I grab one in hopes that a sugar fix will spur me on. I’m not particularly out of breath, or sore in the legs or knees, just a bit fatigued overall. Keep moving the feet, one after the other. It’s tough going for a little while, and soon I realise that it’s only about 3km to go and it hits home that I’m nearly there, and I know I can make it. My pace picks up a little and I pass familiar landmarks as the finish draws nearer.
Approaching the home stretch, the crowd of supporters thickens and the cheering and atmosphere carry me through the last few hundred meters. Suddenly the Finish line is in sight and I just keep moving towards it, sights and sounds blurred into the background. I don’t even register the time on the giant clock, though I know I’ve beat 2 hours.
Elation and exhaustion as I cross the line and stop to walk it off and catch my breath. Emotion takes over me for a moment. My running buddies Ms T and Mr J help me with water and congratulatory hugs. We made it!
Time to relax and celebrate after a long journey.