Okay, so we’re erring a little on the late side posting this entry, but hey, I had a wedding to attend – mine!
Isn’t it ironic how things often seemed like a great idea at the time of conception and how far from great that same notion becomes when you have to wake up at some ungodly hour on a Sunday, haul your lazy arse out of bed and onto a running track?
That’s exactly how I felt on the morning of 18th of December, 2005. As I reached out to switch off the alarm on my phone, my weary mind lingered on the alluring thought of staying in bed instead. My thumb caressed the buttons on my mobile phone, blindly typing out a message to M that I had a headache and would not be able to make it to the race. It hesitated just as it reached the “send” button.
Of course M would know it was a lie, but he would reply understandingly with a message along the lines of “sure, catch you next time”. Oh it was all so tempting…
Whether it was that fighting spirit within me, the sense of commitment to my friends or something else, I managed to garner enough energy to propel myself into the bathroom. From there onwards, it was simply a matter of riding on the momentum of being up and about.
M, J, T and S were already at our meeting point by the time I pulled up in the Kelissa. They appeared ready and rearing to go. I sighed wearily, if only I could catch half of their enthusiasm, I might be able to batter off the thoughts of crawling back into my warm spot on the bed. Ah yes, life would be so much better as a cat…
After much warning from friends that I should take it easy leading up to my big day, who would have thought I would somehow manage to injure myself just from walking! For indeed that was exactly what I did. I did not fall while racing; I slipped on a spot of concrete slimy from the last rainfall and the accumulated oils from the passing of cars. How ironic. Here was my perfect excuse to proclaim an injured knee so I could turn around and head for the comforts of my warm bed, but no, I would press on.
The first 5km was fairly easy going and my watch informed that I was making good time by the time we hit the first water station. Hah! I thought smugly, who needs training? I was going to hit sub-1hr without it, imagine what I could do if I did train? It would appear that my visions of a grand finale came far too quickly, for the next 5km was far from a breeze. We tackled some ominous slopes that would have tested even the best of us.
Right from the gunshot at the beginning, I never even saw T or S. M passed me at the water point and J a little after. I never had a glimmer of hope of catching up with them. V was the only one I managed to keep pace with and for a while, I thought he had dropped off my radar entirely as well. As we rounded the corner near where we had parked the cars, I recognized the home stretch. Elated, I felt an extra burst of energy and increased my pace into loping canter. Fed by the encouragement of passing onlookers who cheered me on, I pulsed like an electron trying to escape its orbit of a neuron.
There is something about the mind that brings defeat upon itself, for as swift as my spirit had risen at the thought of finishing I deflated like a balloon without a stopper when I saw that final bend rounding up onto the field. The little turn had lengthened the track by no more than another hundred meters, but my mind had already decided my legs were giving way. My pace dropped to a jog and I finished up just behind V with a timing of about 70 minutes. So much for that sub-1hr finish I had so arrogantly believed I would achieve.
All in all, it was a good race and a pleasant way to end the running season for the year.