Since I began running regularly in 2008, I’ve entered over 25 fun runs.
On February 23rd, I lined up for an 8km fun run (my 26th maybe!) If you’ve ever wanted to enter one, know what it is like and what you’re in for – read on! Put yourself in my bright, Newton running shoes for the day……………………………
The night before the run, you lay out your running gear, shoes, socks (the good ones) hat, and double check your Garmin is charged and your music playlist is in order. Then you take a pic of all your gear and post it on Facebook so everyone knows how awesome you are.
You get to bed earlier than usual to get a well-rested sleep. By 11pm you are still awake trying to think of anything but the race the next day. You might as well check Facebook to see how many people like your awesome photo. By midnight you try very hard to ignore the fact you only have about 5 hours left until your alarm rings.
When it does go off, you get a few brief moments of wake up time before the wave of nervous tension hits you, spreading out all over your body from your fingertips to your toes before settling in the pit of your stomach.
You tell yourself everything is all good. Thinking positively, you get dressed, paying attention to how your socks fit, tieing the laces just right and pull your hair back securely with extra bobby pins to prevent fly-aways. You try very hard to eat something but end up just chewing it up in your mouth and spitting it back out without swallowing. It is impossible to stomach anything with the bubble of dread filling your stomach.
You go to the toilet convinced you need to throw up. You can’t. So you just sit on it for a while thinking of all the normal people who are still asleep on a Sunday morning. This process is repeated about five times.
You arrive at the event venue and collect your racing bib. You are cool, calm and collected – on the outside. Inside your head is wondering if you have enough time to go to the toilet or if you should just get in the car and go home. After all, no one knows you are doing this. Oh wait, yes they do – you announced it on social media the night before. Damn!
You tie your timing chip on your shoe and watch the runners who are doing laps of the stadium as a warm up. You think you are smart for not having to do that and conserve energy for the run. Then you realise they are all going to finish well before you so maybe you should do a warm up run. You entertain the thought for about two seconds before deciding no.
At the start line you nervously bounce up and down and watch everyone do the same as well as some half-assed stretches. Everyone is nervously bantering about the weather “I’m glad it is overcast,” “Yes, nice and cool”, “A bit windy but that should help us along.”
As you listen, you wonder why on earth you entered the 8km instead of the 5km which is just finishing. You remember you haven’t run more than 5kms in six months. You tell yourself you are an idiot for not training more. You regret every snooze on the alarm over the last month and scold yourself for trading running for an extra hour of sleep.
The race director asks people to shuffle forward and then explains the race route. Time to ignore the officials speech and make sure your Garmin has found the satellite signal and your phone app is working. You turn on that rocking playlist at the perfect volume to drown out the doubting voice screaming at you.
Starting gun goes off. “Oh hell, there is no way back now. Why on earth am I doing this?” Nothing else to do but run. You get carried away with the crowd and think it isn’t that bad. You can do this.
1 km mark – Cruising nicely. Good mental headspace besides the fact the sun emerged from behind the clouds about two minutes after the start and the temperature went up 10 degrees.
2 km mark – Starting to tire as you haven’t found an easy rhythm yet. Trying to adjust posture and do a few deep belly breaths to prevent potential stitches taking over. You are coming up to a point where in the past, family members have gathered to wish you well as you run by. You hope they aren’t there today. You aren’t doing as well as you want to and don’t want them to see you struggle. As you approach the spot you look ahead and realise they aren’t there. “Oh god I could’ve really used a boost then” you think. You are all alone in this hell and have 6kms to go…..
3 km mark - The dreaded spurters emerge! Spurters are the most annoying creatures. They do not run. They run and walk. A spurter runs past you and then begins to walk about 50 meters ahead of you. You keep running at your consistent pace and overtake them. Before you know it, they have begun running again and are overtaking you. Spurters are annoying as it messes with your mental strength. You see someone who is walking so much but ends up passing you time and time again.
4 km mark – half way and you are in a great rhythm and know the biggest part of the run is behind you. You have a bit of funny banter with a lady next to you about how the worst is now over. Then your sunglass lens pops out so you have to stop and get it. You realise your glasses frames are broken so you hold them in your hands as you run towards a bin and throw them out. The stopping, the detour to the bin, the squinting you have to do now the sun is in your eyes. That’s all it takes. Rhythm is over.
5 km mark – foot starts going numb. Realise it is the foot the timing chip was tied onto. Have to stop and re-tie shoe and encourage feeling back in foot.
6 km mark – the dreaded pathway that never ends. There is a section of the course that is one concrete footpath that lasts forever and once you reach the end of it, you run around a witches hat and have to run all the way back again. The volunteer at the end says “Good on you, you can do it, nearly there!” You smile and thank her whilst thinking ‘easy for you to say liar,’ knowing there is a good 2kms to go.
7 km mark – have a good rhythm going again and pace is quite good. Look up ahead and you see a hill. A big one. Oh buggar. You shuffle so slowly up it you think you may just be going backwards because the headwind has picked up again. Rhythm killed once again. Oh great! You see a photographer up ahead getting into position to snap a photo of you. You can do absolutely nothing to try to improve your appearance. You curse the broken sunnies that could’ve at least shielded your squinty, sweaty eyes. You think you have never looked so bad in your life. You think about all the nights out you have been glammed up where not a photo was ever taken of you. Flash! The pic was taken. Awesome.
7.5km mark – you see a glimpse of you sister and your nephew on the sidelines near the entrance to the stadium. Maybe it’s a mirage. You didn’t know they were coming. It is them! Your adorable nephew smiles and waves and you pick up the speed as you enter the stadium. One lap of it til the finish line!
You try to shield your eyes from the runners lying on the grass, chatting over oranges and water as you still have to focus and run 400 meters. Knowing the kiddies race should begin any minute, you get a surge. You pick up the speed and feel excited when you notice a small crowd has gathered and they are cheering for you! Then you realise it is for the spurter who is breathing down your neck. Okay, now you really muster up all of your extra energy and sprint the last 100m to the finish line and beat her.
You finish the race. One step over the finish line you are asked to remove your timing chip to put into bucket. You resist the urge to ask if it is okay to take a breath first. Catching your breath, you remove your chip, grab a piece of orange and guzzle down some water. You did it. 8kms down. It’s all over. Runners are all chatting to each other, playing down their efforts. You feel amazing, life is great! Everyone smiles to each other as they pass by. You all went through the same thing. No matter where they finished, every runner pushed themselves to the limit. You are a part of a wonderful community of runners who run for a thousand different reasons. Running is a part of you, it makes you feel alive. It keeps you fit and healthy and striving for the things that once seemed unachievable.
So what are you waiting for? Go and run a fun run!
This run was part of the Sports Super Centre Series of runs which lead up to the Gold Coast marathon.
Click here to go to their website and register for the next run on Sunday 30th March. 5km or 10km. I’ll be running the 10km.
Image found here