Whoever decided that 7AM starts for half-marathons (or longer distances) are a good idea, should be repeated slapped in the face with smelly haddock. Why? Because invevitably, 7AM race starts means 5AM wake-up calls. That time in the morning (in my mind) is a mythical invention. Like Elves, Fairies, Goblins and an English football, (sorry Soccer) team that makes it to the World cup final. They only exist in the minds of the delusional. I admit, that Elves, Fairies and Goblins are a more creditable creation, but you get the idea.
So I dragged myself out of bed, was assaulted by my wardrobe, ate some cornflakes (well I think I did, it was too early to tell) and was outside waiting for my ride by 5:30. Luckily I managed to find a friend who was also running the half, and although we hadn't planned on running together, it meant I was able to skip the bus from the finish to the start and just hang around with my 5K race buddies for breakfast. Not sure why the start and the finish line are in different places for the half, but not the 5K. I am not the Race Director, (and before I get collared into being one - I don't intend to start!)
The start was cold. I mean it's June people!!! I was in shorts/running skirt and a short-sleeved+long-sleeved shirt and I was shivering. I was glad because running in the heat would have made the run worse, but a little sun would have been good. For some reason there is a supernatural force that insists I CANNOT have a race photo where I resemble a human being and NOT the drowned lemming I always seem to appear as. It was cold, damp, and a little miserable. Due to the unfortunate detours we had to get to the starting-line and the inevitable "Port-a-potty" line-up, my friend and I ended up 3 minutes late for the start. We didn't quite realise it at the time; we just thought the start-up was west-coast low-key. It was 7:03 and I had not had a cup of coffee. My limited brain capacity was running on empty.
I ran with my friend for the first 5K. As I had said before it was never really our intention to run together. We were both unsure of our pace and it had been so long since we had run together, it was inevitable that one of us would need a faster pace. As it turned out, I was the one that needed the faster pace, so as I sped ahead, I think my friend was grateful of the solitude. I am a little much to take at the best of times, but at 7:30 in the morning with a lack of sleep, I get the feeling I am unbearable.
Headphones on and I started my eclectic playlist. I was quite looking forward to a bit of space. I needed some alone time to contemplate the last few weeks, a chance to forget the last few weeks and an opportunity to strike-through and move on from the last few weeks.
I am a happy runner. I can't help it. I am insanely, stupidly, irritatingly a happy runner. Whilst my fellow racers were huffing and puffing I will play air-drums, sing, sprint, skip and pretty much act like the "uncommitted runner" I claim to be. I mean "uncommitted" in the sense I don't give a s**t; as for being committed to somewhere padded and secure, on some days that is pretty much a given. My air-drums did cause a comment. A fellow female runner at the 10K mark, laughed as I trotted by and said, "I think that's great that you are doing that!". I replied, that "It's 'The Clash'!" I had another one of those crazy lady looks I get quite often, but come-on! 'The Clash'; "London's burning". Need I say more. (If I do, then you are immediately struck from my friends list on FaceBook!)
At the 12K mark, I had a bit of a reflective moment. I wasn't intentionally in that frame of mind and I was probably hitting the proverbial "wall", but for a little while I felt my Mum by the side of me. It felt so real and so close that I swear I could have touched her. It wasn't a depressing "visitation" if that's what it was. I could feel her telling me how proud she was of me. How she was so glad I was doing this. That she was with me. I don't know how much wasn't chemical, but it was such an uplifting experience that I did have to stop for a minute and hug myself. Not because I was sad, but because for the first time in about 2 months, I realised that even though the pain wasn't necessarily going to disappear, I was going to be okay. I was so glad at that point I had decided to do this run, because for the purpose of putting an underscore to the last few weeks, it served it's purpose.
A couple of Km's later was my next uplifting experience. Not in the way I imagined. As a minimalist or barefoot runner, I think you are seen as a little bit kooky. People will nod and agree with you when you talk about it, but silently they are looking for the axe behind your back and the nearest exit. I have accepted this. I don't care and it's not an issue. As such, you aren't really looking for acceptance either. So at about the 14K mark I was surprised when one of the crowd waved at me and shouted, "You are flying the flag" and "You form is great". Looking back as I write this, it could have meant my shorts have fallen down and everyone was getting a good look. Better check the race photo's for confirmation on that one. But I LIKE to think it meant that somewhere in the Vancouver area there is someone more than myself running either barefoot or minimalist. As much as I like being kooky, (I would have kooky as my middle name, but it would make my initials rather unfortunate), it is nice to think that there is more than one nutcase out there. So as I disappear for a moment to top-up my wine glass, let's all raise a toast to all of the complete Loons out there!
Okay back, glass number three, so breathe a sigh of relief as this drivel will soon be at an end!
The rest of the run was rather uneventful as such. I did practise my Ultra-running techniques in preparation for MTD's next year. (That's a polite way of saying "I was too knackered to run all of the hills so I walked a little bit"). It was nice running into Vancouver, and I was surprised on how far away Stanley Park looked as I hit the 17K marker, but how quickly I seemed to get there. I tried my new alcohol-based iskiate at the 18K marker or so. My leg was starting to cramp. A new concoction of vodka/fruit juice blend spritzer and chia seeds. Not a great success. I am not much of a soda drinker and I did have a couple K either preventing ear-defining burps and/or vomitting on the runner in front. My advice stick to the wine/water blend.
I wasn't checking for time until I hit the 20K mark, and it was then I realised that I was actually running a good pace for me, even with the occassional walk breaks. As I hit 20K my time was (if we count my start as 7:03) at 1:55 ish. This gave me the final push to sprint as quick as I could manage. It also made me feel that I might actually see my friends before they started the 5K. The 5K was scheduled to start at 9:15; as as long as my gun-time was below 2:15 as I crossed the finish, I would get to see them start. The sprint felt good. Strange to say, but although I try to go all out on energy through a race, I always seem to have enough "juice in the tank" for a sprint finish.
I crossed the line in a gun-time of 2:04 and a chip-time of 2:00:53. My previous PB, (If you only count 3 races), at this distance is 2:03, so I had managed to, without training, beat my PB by 2-3 mins.
Hence the title... Training is for "sucka's". I was once told by the ladies at a well known chain-store running establishment, (rhymes with "Stunning Bloom") that you can't just go out and run a half or a full marathon. In the eloquent language of my country; Bollocks! Yep, you can. If a middle-aged, stressed-overloaded, low-trained Mother of a smart-arsed 5 year old, (in funky pink, non-supportive shoes) can knock out a 2:00ish half, then there is hope for everyone!
When I tell this tale, I get the comments of "You are a natural runner". I will warn you now. If ANYONE calls me a runner, (in the phraseology of "Red Dwarf"), I will come over and bite your nipples off!
So fellow runners I leave this mammoth race report to get another glass of wine. Please now consign this blog into the "recycle bin" of memories it so richly deserves!!