I have a few rules about running. And fitness for that matter.
Train regularly and often.
Get yourself out of your comfort zone.
Be generous with your time and advice with others (though with the latter only offer it when you know what you're talking about)
Stop bitching and get on with it.
I try to keep my integrity around these rules. I do train often - maybe not as hard as I'd like, but I do train. I do get myself out of my comfort zone regularly - and I like to mix it up as well. I'll get to the being generous rule in a bit.
And stop whining, get out of the Princess mentality and just do it - well yeah. It goes both ways. I've got to the stage with Pinochet that if I'm not up to giving him 110%, I reschedule - why go in half-arsed? Go hard or go home.
Well today was Mother's Day - which means I made my normal five minute phone call to my mother and I got up early and run the Mother's Day Classic - a charity fun run for breast cancer research. This year would be the third year I've run the event probably the seventh or eighth time I've participated (the other years I just walked with the walkers, which is always a sight - thirty thousand people walking around the Botanical Gardens) I'd entered in the eight kilometre run event.
This race is a bit special for me. It was two years ago that Emm and I trained up to do this race. We practiced on the treadmills in the gym for weeks before and on the day, we made it round the four kilometre track in 30 minutes, twenty seconds. We were on top of the world. We'd done it - we'd actually run in a race and not died.
It was two years ago, almost to the day, that I ran my first foot race.
Last year, Kitt and I participated in the eight kilometre event. Kitt trained up, I was in reasonable shape, and I set the proviso that I'd run with her, but I wanted to do the eight kilometres in under the hour. She agreed - and after a bit of coaxing for the last three kilometres (and nearly making her chuck when I made her sprint the last 100 metres... he he he) we did it in an hour and 30 seconds. Good work we said. We had a great time, Kitt got her PB and all was well.
Reindert instilled in me the need to be generous with fledgling runners. Reindert saw me round my first half marathon in Adelaide in 2009. An incredibly kind act on his behalf. Reindert completed the Boston Marathon in under three hours this year - the stuff of elite athletes - to run with him is an honour. He's given me tips and tricks, taught me breathing and stride techniques, rapped me for not doing hill and sprint training (something I do regularly now - well I do a lot more hills now - getting better with the sprints) basically coached me through my beginners running phase.
For me, it's a no brainer to pay it forward.
So running with Kitt last year, or with Trin in the Run for the Kids this year - it has to be done - I'm not out to set any speed records - I'm recovering from injury - bah, run with them - give me somebody to chat to along the way. No skin off my nose. Trin and I run about the same pace anyway.
But there has always been the question - what could I do on my own? What could I do if I ran under my own steam - what could I do if I wasn't there, chatting, coaching, egging on my mates with my trade mark "Mush, mush, Princess"?. Hmmm.
Well, today, for the first time in the Mother's Day Classic, I was on my own. Kitt and I were supposed to be doing the 8 kilometre run together, but Kitt's circumstances have made training impossible of late. Trin had other things on today and the rest of the girlies from the posse were interstate or participating in Geelong. Oh well, do it on my own. Suck it up.
Today was the day to see what would happen. Today was the day to test myself.
There were the pre-race jobs to do the night before. Get my bum bag sorted with race number, $20 (jokingly referred to as taxi fare), credit card, driver's licence, running keys (the ones that only have the house keys on them)., a Sunday Saver metcard, water bottle and a gel (runner's food - 100 calories of complex carbohydrate and caffeine). Then, set the clothes out, my compression leggings (which Reindert say are a waste of money and I have to agree now as they're getting baggy), my pink "Geek" t-shirt, two bras, shoes, socks, knickers, heart rate monitor and the timing tag for my shoe. The Pink Geek T-shirt is the only pick article I own in mywardrobe and it is the colour of the day so it has to be done. I'm proud to say it's really baggy now.
I got up in the morning. I had a headache. I'm a bit sniffly. It's cold. It's early.
"Suck it up, Princess. Mush, mush."
I get out the door on time and go to the tram stop. I look down Victoria Street to find that the tram is 300 metres down the road - past my tram stop and five minutes early. The next tram is 25 minutes away and that will make me late for the event.
"FFFAAAARRRRRRKKKKK." I hate Yarra Trams.
Plan B - scout run to Bridge Road a kilometre away. Scout running, for those who don't know, is running to a stobey pole/ lamp post / parking pole then walk to the next one over the greater distance - an efficient way of getting somewhere quickly without killing yourself (or in my case, tiring my legs). Bridge Road is just over a kilometre away - but at least the trams are more frequent.
Thankfully I get to Bridge Road and I see a tram about five minutes away on the correct side of the road. Cool. Good move.
Finally getting to the event in the city, I find the bag drop area an set my bag with my jumper and water bottle in it down with the nice ladies running the area. Coming out of the bag area I get clocked in the face by another runner taking off his warm up gear. It wouldn't be a Mother's Day Classic if somebody didn't beat me over the head - this is the third event at which this has happened - and I like did nothing to them!
Geez. These events are effing dangerous! I storm towards the start line holding my face, hoping to hell I don't get a shiner. I'm cold. I'm miserable. The panadol I took earlier hasn't set in yet. There are heaps of idiots about the place - like why would anybody bring a stroller and a dog and a kid on a run whilst wearing a pink wig. People. Phah.
I stand there waiting for the starting horn. Heart rate monitor poised to be set for go once I pass the blue start mats. At least it's perfect running weather. Overcast, cool, a light breeze. If I'm going to run, this is the weather to do it.
Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite gets in my head. "You're a frigging gazelle. Stupid bint. Should be in bed. None of your friends would run with you. Daft woman. You're agoraphobic - why the hell are you here?" I just love my self talk when I don't have anybody with me. Lovely, it is.
The starting gun goes off. I'm convinced the less time you have hanging round the start line the better. It was about five minutes this time - which is good. Give you less time to talk yourself out of the run.
As I pass the blue mats, set my heart rate monitor and start jogging with the rest of the 4000 daft gits who are doing the 8 km event.
It feels wonderful. Gertie leaves me and I get my normal running persona back. Trin calls me the running fairy. She says I get this angelic smile on my face when I run. I never knew. To me it just feels good.
One kilometre mark. 6 minutes. Eh! six minutes! Shite, I should slow down. But I'm comfortable.
I ran up Anderson Street without any drama and hit the two kilometre mark at 12.06... eh? WTF.
And on it went. The Tan Track is mostly a gently downhill with a good flat stretch and a horrid big sod off hill known as Bloody Anderson Street. I can run up Anderson Street when I'm fresh. Most fledgeling runners look at Anderson Street and start to cry - or turn around and run into the city for a coffee.
Kilometre Five. 31 minutes. Hell - that's the fastest five kilometres I've ever run! I normally do that in about 34-35minutes...
The second traverse of Anderson Street was done scout running - any why not? I set myself a target of doing the course in 55 minutes - that wouldn't slow me down. I'm feeling a bit peaky, but as I found while waiting for the starting gun, I left my gel at home so I'd just have to suffer.
At the six kilometre mark I met up with a young girl in her mid-teens who was struggling a bit. I called her over and we ran for a bit together. I asked her about the tribute card on her back. She was running for Team Amelia. Amelia died of breast cancer at 21 years of age she told me.
The tribute cards are the most poignant element to the Mother's Day Classic. Many people are running for friends or family who have had this insidious disease. More and more are surviving - but some still succomb to it. The most unsettling of these tribute participants is when you see a father with a brood of kids with a photo of a glowing young woman. The words, "I'm doing it for Mummy" - then the dates of her birth and death on their backs. You see that more in the walkers.
You go a bit too fast most of the time to take too much notice when you're running.
The girl asked me who I was running for. Hmm. Well, lots of people. I'm really fortunate - breast cancer hasn't blighted my family to date, thankfully. (Unlike ovarian, lung and kidney cancer) But I told her I was running for my friend Flick's Mum, and two of my old managers, and Kitt's Mum, and countless others who I know have gone through this. Courageous people who fight this crappy disease. I'm just thankful they're getting better at treating it now. We ran on, but as she'd freshened, is sent her on her way. The finish line wasn't too far away anyway. We'd just passed the seven kilometre mark.
Five hundred metres, four hundred metres, three, two... turn onto St Kilda Road. Finish line in sight...
My result, after sprinting the last hundred metres.
50 minutes 48 seconds. Nearly a clear ten minutes faster than last year....
I double checked my watch. Yep, under 51 minutes. My mate Kel the Whippet did her last 8 km race in 45 minutes. I was gobsmacked at how well she did. I'm only six minutes off that.
Under 51 minutes!!!!
Trin sent me a message after the race, after I questioned the result. She said, " Of course you ran well, - you lost that ten minutes 1. By not dragging a ball & chain 2. By losing 10+ kilos 3. By training with integrity 4. By simply being The Pand 5. Cos you're awesome :D " (Love my friends, blush)
I don't think I could be prouder of myself at this point in time.
And I now know what I can do.