Today was the annual Run for the Kids. This is an annual Melbourne event which this year which has one of the best courses around Melbourne, the long course taking you through the Domain Tunnel and over the Bolte Bridge then back through the Docklands to the Botanical Gardens, where the race started - some 14.38 kilometres. For some, the race of the Melbourne foot race calendar. For others, like me, it's a chance to participate in group civil disobedience - like how often do you get to run on Citylink and not get either fined or put on psychiatric watch.
Last year, my gammy knee strapped, Trin and I made it through in an hour and 41 minutes. It was a great effort.
The year before, I really wasn't prepared for this race and came in at the hour fifty mark.
This year, at the start of the morning, I would have been happier staying in bed reading my book.
I'm the first one to own up to the fact I haven't been running enough in the last few months. I'm still training 4-5 times a week, but running - I've been slack. I was chuffed the other week when Dan, Alan and myself did an 8 km loop of the Tan in 56 minutes - doing long intervals. I was thrilled with this run.
The other thing that's been on my mind is some stuff that came up at dream group a few weeks back. The competitive overachiever thing. Why do I push myself? Why do I rely on numbers? Why is it that I have to go into this with the this competitive edge. It's been playing on my mind for the last few weeks.
Also, with leaving the job on Friday, finishing up stuff and running around like a headless chook for the last fortnight I didn't get to make arrangements to meet people either before the run or after, which is a bit of a strange feeling as for the last year I've always had people to meet up with. I wasn't fretting about this. It felt like some of the pressure was off. Also had a tarot reading in Daylesford, some 100 kilometres away the night before, which meant arriving home late and very tired.
Generally, not in the right space to go on an all out fast run over a 14 kilometres.
So this morning, I let myself off the hook. I'd run. I'd walk if I wanted to. There was to be no killing myself. I was to run for the love of running. Nothing more, nothing less. Time was not an issue. I haven't been training to the level to do a fast run. What ever happened, happened. The only element that was important was that I had a good time. Dream group was getting their wish. I was going to run for the sake of running.
Have fun on a 14 km run. Phah!
Setting off for the event on the last tram available to make the starting gun, I was feeling relieved. Not taking anything extra, no jacket, to bag, just me, my phone, credit card and driver's licence in my SPI belt (small personal items belt - the runner's best friend.) and a couple of gels in my t-shirt pocket for the 9 km and end zone. With $20 tucked in my bra for emergency cab fare if I crack the sads and my house keys pinned into my upper bra it was just me and the road. Nobody to meet meant not having to be sociable - or waiting around in loo queues and all the other things you seem to do with others before a run. I got to the starting line with five minutes to spare, hanging out with the orange tagged crowd. In a fit of gung ho pride back in January I put myself in the semi-serious runners group with the yellow tags - able to run the 14 kms in under 1.30. Trained up, I theoretically should be able to do this quite easily - but not today.
Today was about fun. A nice long training run - albeit through a tunnel and over a bridge, on the road... not from my place, round the Tan and back again.
The other thing about the day - humid. Bleargh. I hate humidity. I hate humidity even more when I run - mainly because it tends to make my bra shred my breasts to kingdom come. The chafing began to become apparent around kilometre three. I was thinking about how to get off the course and use that money stashed down my front.
Salvation came at kilometre four. In front of me, a rather short woman with a loping stride.
"I know that stride anywhere!" I yelled in her ear over her doofdoof music.
Bobby and I ran about 10 kms of the 2009 Melbourne Half Marathon together. We sat on each other's pace quite well at the time before I went off around the 12 km mark. Last year, I ran into her again, but this time, running far stronger, we chatted for five minutes then I streaked ahead - and came in a good 20 minutes in front of her.
Today, with no agenda other than to enjoy myself, Bobby and I stuck together. She slowed me down, I sped her up. We talked about all sorts of stuff from the four kilometre mark. Work, health, life. We're both originally from Adelaide. We both work in IT. We've both struggled with our fitness. It was just fantastic to have somebody to chat to. We saw each other over the Westgate and over the Bolte. Bobby kept telling me that I should go on, she was slowing me down. I said I'd run with her until the nine kilometre mark - then I'd have my gel and let the Running Fairy really kick in (The running fairy is the annoying bint I turn into after having a gel. I sing. I smile and I speed up and pass lots of people... oops)
The thing I love most about running, after the fitness and the sense of achievement, is the generosity of spirit you can find with it. I loved that Bobby let me run with her- facing the road together. I love the encouragement you get from the other runners on the course. I love the fact that across the race, you get to meet so many different people - all running for different reason. It's wonderful.
Through the Docklands, I passed another woman I'd met on runs before. Said hi, gave some encouragement, and ran on. This encouragement -this camaraderieie among strangers - love it.
An hour and forty eight minutes later - I finished. Not my fastest time. Not my slowest time. The joy comes in the fact I participated in something - and loved every minute of it. I ran for the sake and the love of running. Nothing more.
However, there was one other great result for the day. By taking it easy and enjoying the run, I've come out of it in great shape - barely an ache on my body. My poor breasts are covered in bandaids, lavender oil and papaya cream to ease the irritation of the chafing, but that's it.
I walked the four kilometres home to Richmond and went and sat in Glen Waverley's bath for an hour with my book. The bath steeped with Epsom salts. The cat sitting in the bathroom door shouting at me. Breakfast at Tiffany's delighting the soul. It was bliss.
All I'm aware of now, other than a bit of lingering tiredness and the knowledge that over the next eight weeks I have some real training to do. The Great Ocean Road Half Marathon is not a walk in the park. 23 kilometres of hills from Kennetts Bridge to Apollo Bay. I'm not setting at time for myself, though I would like to be a little lighter and running better - not that I'm running that badly.
In the training comes the knowledge that I can do this, and do this well.
A great result all round.