It was last year on Mother's Day that I did my first outside timed run. M from the gym and I had trained up on the treadies at the gym and set ourselves this goal of the 4 km Mother's Day Classic - a charity run for breast cancer research. I remember the adrenalin rush of starting this event, coaxing M up the gentle slope of the Tan track, stalling a little as she asked to walk in a couple of places. I also remember the exhilaration of passing the finish line, knowing I didn't have to run any more and the pure delight of acheivement. We'd worked for it - and me made it around the four kilometre track in a smidge under 31 minutes.
As I prepared for the same event this year - only this year I was doing the eight kilometre course with K, did I realise just what I've really done in the last 14 months.
Firstly, on retrieving some safety pins from old race bibs for my tummy number, I looked at the pile. Ten other numbers were in the pile - the Run Melbourne 5 km, the Grape Run, The Sussan Classic 10 km, The Olympic Dream (which I piked on as it was bucketing down that day) The Puffing Billy Great Race - and most incredibly, the Adelaide and Melbourne Half Marathon bibs.
Okay, the times aren't of any great feat - but for me - I've done them all and that makes me proud.
So Mother's Day, around 7 am, K and I got the 109 tram into town, following the tradition that M and I set the year before. We got there with a little time to spare, dropped off the bags and took our place near the back of the pack. I said we'd take about an hour to do this - slow in comparison to many, but an acheivement for us.
K, to give her due - did brilliantly. She signed up for the eight km race only six weeks ago and has been training ever since. I said I'd run with her to keep her company and to spur her along. Adding a bit of coaxing here and there, bribing her with the phrase "you can walk a bit at the next street sign" and making her sprint the last 100 metres after which she nearly threw up. We ran 90% of it easily. She's as stoked as I am.
We made it around in an hour and 36 seconds. I feel wonderful in the knowledge that I could have done it well under the hour if I was alone, but there was no way I was letting K down on her first big run.
My other discovery. I can run, for an hour, outside, hills and all - and not feel tired, puffed out, exhausted, strained or miserable. I can even sing and run at the same time after an hour. This is all a bit scary.
The week before my friend Gloria's partner, Gaynor, and I went up to the Dandenongs for the 13.2 km Puffing Billy Race. The goal for the fast guys is to beat the old, iconic steam train to Lakeside Station - 13 kilometres away.
The goal for me was to run hills and not die.
Added to the fear factor was a warning from my doctor. My blood pressure has been doing silly things of late and I've been warned to take it easy - no over training or going over 80% of my maximum heart rate. I heeded the warning and took my time.
Whining all the way up to Belgrave on the 7.30 am train, Gaynor and I were joined by hundreds of others there to run with the iconic steam train. (http://www.puffingbilly.com.au/ for those who might be interested) I met up with Dan, who I used to run with at lunchtime before he left. He wanted to beat the "Ladie's Train" or the second train that pulls into Lakeside Station after the initial train.
The Puffing Billy Race, hands down, was the BEST event I have ever competed in. It was superb. Running up and down the hills of the Dandenongs on a blissfully cool, overcast day, actually overtaking quite a few people near the end. The best bit - the last three kilometres of gentle downhill gradients down a mountain path. Absolute magic. Again, I finished with the last 200 people - but I did it. And I did not die, or get injured or feel at all bad about my effort.
I want to do this race for as long as I am distance running - it was truly spectacular.
And pushing things further along, Reindert comes back on Wednesday - so I really have to pull my finger out.
Funny what a difference a year makes.