I know what you’re thinking. Running is a solitary activity. There’s no team. There’s just you and the road. Or the trail. Or whatever you are running on.
But it’s not a solitary activity.
I ran a half marathon on Sunday. My third. Which is a pretty cool thing. And as far as the results go I was towards the end of the pack. I was 5th last in my category. I was 16th last for my gender. And 20th last overall. And yet I feel pretty great about my results.
My personal best for a half marathon is 2:14 and that was on one of the flattest courses you are likely to find. So I knew I wasn’t going to best that 500m above sea level with the kind of hills that Tamborine has. There were a lot of hills. I switched my garmin over to distance not speed. And I figured that if I could make it in 2:30 that would be a great achievement for me.
One thing I have is a bit of anaemia. Which mostly doesn’t bother me. It was a bit of a pain during preganancy, but for the most part, it doesn’t worry me at all. I should have remembered though that the iron deficiency wrecks havoc with me as soon as I get to altitude. I get de-oxygenated pretty quickly. And what looks like a bit of a flu is really altitude sickness. Which at 500m isn’t too bad. But when I was on my honeymoon in Sapa at 1.6km elevation was really bad and after two days I could barely breathe. Things that you’d think I remember, but didn’t.
So come race day, breathing was a bit of an issue for me. I wasn’t really thinking about that though. This is the first year they’ve done a half marathon at Tamborine and I was so impressed with the volunteers. Marshals and people manning the water stations. People who had gotten up at stupid-o-clock to help people run out of the kindness of their hearts. And clapped you every time you went past them. How awesome are they? People who make you feel awesome no matter what your pace is.
This is the first race I’ve done without Kate. And I didn’t know anyone else running that day so I was just out there on my own.
At the first water station I stopped to have a GU and drink some water. There was another guy there at the same time who was probably mid-sixties. He was pretty impressive. He had the shuffle of an experienced marathoner and I would pass him on the flats and downhills and he would pass me on the hills because he never stopped. Not once. And he finished well before me in the end. At a certain point we talked and he told me he liked my pace and thought I would be a fast finisher. I told him that I was a horrible finisher but I was working on it. And he wasn’t the only person who talked to me during the race. Someone else who was about my pace encouraged me when we were on the second lap. And right at the end someone else who was struggling up a hill reminded me that this was the last one and after that we could all go down hill.
Running is a team sport, even when you haven’t met them yet. But I also had my Operation Move team with me the whole way.
When I was struggling up hills, I remembered that LMG would sprint up that thing at less than 5 minutes a kilometre. When Mr. Brightside came on my playlist, I remembered that Lee had done double the distance. When I got to the half way mark I thought about how Deana had run a 10km and I imagined how psyched she would be to finish her race. Every time I got to a downhill stretch I had Kate in my head saying to me ‘you’ve gotta book it down that hill. Just BOOK IT.’ And when I could feel my shins and ankles were not quite right but that the percutane was warming them up and keeping them going I thought of Ashul. And when I was in my final stretch I thought about my team who would be running their own half in a week in Melbourne. I couldn’t be there, but they were there with me the whole time.
Running is a team sport. Without them I would have walked those hills, I would have taken it easy. I would have given less of myself. And I wouldn’t have finished the course in 2:25. And I wouldn’t have had someone waiting for me at the finish line.