7th June 2016
A funny thing happened on Sunday. Not necessarily funny haha, so if you’re looking for laughs, why are you even on my blog? No, I’m talking the other funny – odd, strange, in keeping with my personality…
Sunday was deemed a rest day in the vague scheme in my head that is my “training plan”. And as the Brisbane weather had decided – for the first time in my experience – to be anything other than >28° and sunny – one would think that would have been a good plan. The ideal way to spend a Sunday when the wind was howling outside would be to stay indoors and do as little as possible. However, being the structured kind of kiddy that I am, I woke up at 4:30am to try and break into City2South: a running event that I hadn’t entered.
The plan was to run the Kokoda Stampede on Saturday, a 10km trail run which I’d duly forgotten I’d entered and therefore failed to do any a) hill sprint type training or b) off road running. Plus, someone had pointed out that many races with “Stampede” in the title involve obstacles along the say… was I sure that it wasn’t actually an obstacle race…?
It is easy to cast doubt in my mind, as I’m not one for mere details. It was, therefore, entirely possible that I’d overlooked that teensy piece of information.
I hadn’t as it happened, but I was suitably dubious about my participation in the event. Largely because on checking the actual details, it turned out they didn’t provide bling for ALL finishers, so I was on the verge of flatly refusing to turn up. Because, erm…, why even bother if I don’t get a medal at the end of it to hang on my medal hanger? Huh?
Fate was on my side, though, and the forecast of torrential rain meant the event was cancelled on the grounds of safety. Which, when Saturday morning came around proved to have been EXACTLY the right decision, because the rain was pounding down and only idiots would go out in that. (Did I mention that I went out for coffee with my lovely tribaby chicks?) 😀
Delighted Devastated at this turn of events, I was, however, slightly perturbed that I now needed to probably actually do what was on the less vague plan that I am actually sort of pretending to kind of follow. Because the one event that I haven’t forgotten that I’ve entered is the Brisbane Half Marathon. And 21.1km is a lot further than I’ve run in a lot of months. So I am occasionally taking it seriously and putting some effort into training for it. I have even got as far as printing out a training schedule designed by Zoey at Operation Move! And that dictated that my long run for the week should amount to 14km.
I didn’t relish the idea of running 14km on my own. I have developed a bit of an aversion to running alone, certainly since joining South Bank Tri Club. Even if a lot of the time I do run alone, even when I start as part of the group. I enjoy the camaraderie of watching everyone else’s backs disappearing into the distance and knowing that they might well try to run away from me, but I can stalk them back to the coffee shop at the appointed time. And there are times when a few of us BackofthePackSuperstars congregate together for a down-tempo run.
So, I was listlessly flicking through Facebook on Saturday night, trying not to think about the prospect of 14km solo the next morning, when fate remembered how adorable I am and stepped in again.
A fellow SBTCer was unable to participate in the City2South the following day. (I suppose breaking a foot is a pretty good reason not to run. A bit extreme in terms of methods of getting out of an event, but a reasonable reason).
(Although I do know of some tri chicks who ran despite breaking their toe. If you haven’t checked out Lauren’s blog at She Can Try, you should!)
The only bit of attention I paid was that the event was 14km. FOURTEEN KILOMETRES!! 14km of running without having to be on my own. Yay. Perfectamundo.
Sonya had demurred at accepting the swap – worried about any gender checks. I did see that part of the discussion.
That was the only part of the whole discussion that registered in my pea brain.
So, at 8pm on Saturday night, I messaged the poor unfortunate with the broken foot and agreed to make use of his entry.
I then attended to the other details.
Like the entry bib hadn’t been collected.
And the collection docket clearly stated that the entry was for someone called David. And it also clearly stated that David was male.
I pushed that to the back of my mind. I actually needed to locate where the event was being held, as I had no idea. And figure out how to get there. And where I could park, because roads were being closed.
I went to bed wondering if this was really one of my brightest ideas…
So, I woke up at 4:30am on Sunday morning to find that the rain had abated, but that was because it had been blown away by the howling wind. And the wind was cold. And my bed was very cosy and warm. And people knew that I was going to be at City2South now, and as my having the race entry had meant someone else had been blown out, it would have been too rude not to turn up…
I grudgingly got dressed into my club singlet and long running tights. Then layered on as many sweatshirts and wind proof jackets as I could find. Because, despite being British, 6 months in Brisbane means I can’t cope with anything below 25°!!!
Google maps and I then went into battle with road closures to get parked as close as was mechanically possible to the start line, because if I wasn’t able to blag my way to a race number, I wanted to be able to make a quick getaway.
Bundled up against the cold, I made my way to Queens Park – official start location and race number
blogging collection. Walking through the lamp lit streets of the city, I realised that 6am is the revellers home time. But there were one or two other stoic runners around, also heading towards Queens Park, so I didn’t feel too out of place or vulnerable in the city streets.
The park was deserted except for volunteers, who looked cold despite their bright red hoodies and who were struggling to man handle flags into place without the wind whipping them away. I spied the number pick up point, and realised there were only about 5 other runners around, so my intended cover story of “David’s just gone to bathroom, can I collect his number” didn’t feel very authentic. It was just before 6am and the race didn’t start until 7am. Why couldn’t he just get the number himself…?
So I lurked, wondering how I could pull my deception off.
The park is interestingly positioned directly beside the Treasury building. It still houses coffers, but not the State’s. Instead, it is now a casino. And the casino lets its guests out into the night, or more accurately, the morning, via a door overlooking Queen’s Park. I wondered what must be going through the mind of those who has spent the night cosseted in the warmth and surrounded by gambling tables and alcohol, when they lurched onto the early morning pavement as goose-bumped flesh, clad in little more than a singlet and shorts wandered past. They regarded us in the park, as we regarded them. I’m fond of a night of revelling, but I felt like an entirely different species as I tried to keep warm, come up with a suitable white lie and keep warm.
The cold obviously got my brain ticking, though, as I suddenly realised that the influx of runners was pretty slow – doubtless due to the weather, and it would be entirely plausible to go and collect a race bid for a friend who hadn’t arrived yet. So, up I toddled with the collection docket and asked if I could collect a bid for my friend who hadn’t arrived yet.
The lady looked through her envelopes, then at me, asked “so it’s for David?” and I did my best innocent-nonchalant smile and nod and stuck out my hand to take possession of
my David’s ticket-to-run. Yippee. I love it when a good blag comes together!! And I ambled off to put as much distance between myself and the race bid distribution tent as possible. Just. In. Case.
As I was lurking again, alone, and with no-one to talk to, as no-one else was daft enough to be up and about and face-booking, I noticed 2 gentleman that I had seen earlier, originally outside the casino, were now standing together in the park, giggling and staggering a little. They had engaged a volunteer in conversation, but otherwise kept themselves to themselves.
More people arrived and the park started to fill a little. Still not to the fullness I would have expected this close to the race start. But others were a) clearly better prepared, so hadn’t needed to leave such an enormous amount of time to deal with any eventualities and b) more sensible to the weather.
My thoughts were rudely and suddenly interrupted by a loud banging. And accompanied by shouting.
I looked round to see one of the casino ex-inmates propped against the door of a port-a-loo, hammering on it with all his might.
“Gedout. GEDOUT! GEDDDOOUUTT!! HURRY UP!! GEDDOUUUTTTT!!!!”
I thought he might put a fist through the door he was banging so hard.
Maybe he just thought he was a toilet drummer?
I’d assumed his friend must be inside, but NO!! I glimpsed him standing where they’d both been previously.
Volunteer security arrived and managed to prise him off the outside of the door, followed by the door opening and a very startled, pale-faced and slightly confused runner emerging. I guess that got his heart rate up and pumping. No further warm up required there!?!
Then I found my SBTC posse. To those I hadn’t met before, I introduced myself as #justcallmedavid. I was in good company. At least 4 of us had only made the decision to run the previous day….We congregated by the statue in the park, braving the cold to bare team singlets for a photo before heading over to hang out by the tent for the elite runners. Because obviously, we belonged there. Or maybe just because they had patio heaters that we wanted to benefit from…
And then it was time. Time for the race to begin. Except half the field were in the queue for the bag drop, because EVERYONE had left it to the very last moment to remove warm layers and hand it in. I was one of the errant many.
Then I decided it would be a really good idea to nip to the loo before starting the race, so I joined another queue.
And as I was heading to the starting pen, the race set off, with the elites heading off first and Pat (our club running coach, and super-runner in his own right) leading the field within the first 3 paces. I’d like to know why I don’t look so awesome when I run? Huh!
I joined the back of the green pen as the front green runners were already underway. I’d lost Sonya, who I was hoping to keep pace with. (Although she was targeting 6:30/km and I was thinking I’d be pleased with 7:00/km on current form). But, I had no expectations, so I decided I could try to stick to 6:30 and die in the later stages as necessary.
I pootled in amongst the throng, admiring the different singlets, shorts, pants and shoes everyone was wearing. I hadn’t paid any attention to the route map, so I was happy following along, seeing where the course would lead me, surprised when we passed the first “Run Out Loud” station – they play music at you!?! and generally feeling quite fine about the whole thing.
Over Victoria Bridge we went, with the city looking pretty across the water. Into a part of the city I’d never seen before. Back over a bridge. Past Mel’s apartment. (Sorry for the noise and inconvenience, on behalf of everyone, Mel). Along the Freeway. Past where we join the road when we cycle the River Loop.
And then my mind set itself free and there was just internal dialogue.
Oh, I know this bit. I wonder what it feels like to run it? Feeling comfortable. Oh, Garmin says 6:35/km. Hum. I’d forgotten that Brisbane is quite this hilly – good that I’ve realised this before I’m running the half. Garmin still says 6:30/km. Oh well, I’ll start to die soon. Maybe I should slow down? This is my long run, it’s supposed to be run at an easy pace. But it does feel easy at the moment. But my heart rate is higher than a proper easy pace. Never mind. I’ll just keep going. Oh, those 2 in front of me are running a really good pace. I’ll just tuck in behind them. Oh, don’t stop and look for your friend. Damn. Oh, we’re by the university and that’s 6km. That’s come round quickly. I still feel good. Oh good another water station. They have an energy drink! I’ll grab some of that. We’ll be at Green Bridge soon. That slope will be interesting; my legs have been dead the last couple of times I’ve cycled up it. Oh, the bridge seems wider than when we cycle it. That’s Sonya just ahead. I think I can catch up to her. “Hello.” Oh, we’re on the road, not the cycle path. I’ve never noticed where the road runs. Ugh. I’m going to walk up this bit. It’s too steep. “You go, I’m walking this bit.” Oh, there’s Sara. If I walk a bit quicker, I can catch up to her. “Hi, how are you?” Oh, this bit is downhill. Hooray. “Go Jo!” Huh? Was that me someone shouted at? Oh it’s Scott! He’s got a camera. Smile, wave, try to look strong. [Can’t pull all 3 off together, it turns out]. Ugh, hill, I’m not running this. Blimey this is steep! Thank goodness, the top. Ugh, why is it only flat. It’s hard to run on the flat. I thought it would be downhill now. Woohoo. Here’s the downhill. Oh, we’re turning this way! I’ve not been down this hill before. Oh, where does it come out? Must keep pushing and make the most of the downhill. It will make up for the slow bit up the hill. “Almost at the finish. Just round this corner.”
And there it was, the finish line. 13.5km later. And I still felt great. Bizarre.
Through the funnel. First a banana, then a water bottle. AND a medal!! It was worth getting up at 4:30am after all.
City2South was a great event. One I will actually enter in my own right next year.
But for this year, #justcallmedavid.
This post is dedicated to Emma, who made this possible, and who I hope is recovering well today. xx