I ran (walked) because I can

I have long held the belief (which I inherited from my dad), if the sun isn’t up yet why should I be? It was this very thought that entered my mind at 5:50 AM when my alarm (set to 100% volume) catapulted me out of bed. It was dark, chilly and looked as though it was going to rain plus, it was a Sunday. If I had any sense I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep but I didn’t.

I had set myself a few goals for 2014, one of which was to run a marathon. 42 km is slightly out of reach for me so I decided to start with the 4 km division of the HBF Run for a Reason.

It is estimated that an average woman of my age can complete the course in between 20 and 45 minutes depending on whether you choose to walk or run. As much as I would like to think of myself as a Paralympic runner, unfortunately I am not one and so I was compelled to walk.

Until now the furthest I have walked in one go is 2 km and I managed that in 1.5 hours. I remember being absolutely spent after that, but I was able to use this as a benchmark to set a goal for my time. A sane person would say, “If I can do 2 km in 1.5 hours then I can do 4 km in three hours””. I said,” Screw that, I am going to do the whole 4 km in 1.5 hours!” It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I began a rigorous training regime on the treadmill at the gym, and with the encouragement of my personal trainer Suzie, I had managed to accomplish a 4 km/h speed. This gave me confidence. I had planned to go for a daily walk as practice but a mixture of bad weather, a busy schedule and a generous amount of laziness meant that, of course, this did not happen.

As the date of the run drew nearer panic began to set in. What if I couldn’t finish the course? What if I was stone cold last…AGAIN? See it’s not easy being green.

So, I put a call out on Facebook for a walking buddy to do a practice run with and the wonderful Erin came to my rescue. We had planned to go for a walk to see how far I could manage but instead decided to aid my training by keeping me well hydrated with drinks at the coffee shop around the corner from my house. For the record, we did walk. There and back and I managed it just fine.

At last the day of reckoning arrived and after resisting the temptation to go back to sleep I pulled on my team shirt and my trusty red walking boots then set off in the car on route to the muster point. I had never done anything like this before and so had no idea what to expect. The crowd was a fascinating mixture. There were people of all shapes and sizes, all ages and even people in electric wheelchairs. “Isn’t that cheating?” I thought jealously.

It was a long wait to get going with each division being sent off one by one according to their nominated distance (4 or 12km). So, although we had been there since 8AM, it was after 9am when we approached the start line. It did give us the opportunity to do some celebrity spotting though. We saw Fat Cat (a West Australian icon), Elmo and a woman from the television news whose face I recognized but whose name escapes me. She did manage to scare the daylights out of me though, when seeing us looking in her direction she approached us carrying a microphone. I managed to dodge her but Mum wound up on the radio.

At 9.15 AM we finally set off. The first kilometre was easy as it was mostly down hill. “This is good” I thought, “I can do this”. As we passed the 2 km mark we passed a band playing Gloria Gaynor’s hit “I will survive”. To my embarrassment I noticed I had begun to strut AND sing. Oh dear!

It was at this point my body began to protest (this had nothing to do with the singing). My hip began to ache, my hamstrings were making themselves known and my hands were sore from maintaining a grip on “Cecily” my walking frame. Drivers in the opposite lane were beeping and yelling encouragement as we passed. This didn’t help. If anything, I resented them for being able to sit down. At least it wasn’t raining.

By the 3 km mark I had regained some enthusiasm. Only one more kilometre to go. Hooray! We passed another band featuring a drummer who was at least in her 80’s. I checked the time. We had been going for 50 minutes and if I could maintain this pace I was sure to reach my goal. I was further encouraged by the fact that we had completed the previous kilometer in just 20 minutes.

By now my legs were killing me and I was unintentionally dragging my feet. I was supremely tempted to stop and sit down. I really needed to harden up. I had come this far and there would have only been about 500 metres to go. “Don’t give up, there’s plenty of time to rest when you’re dead!”

Then, there it was. The finish line. I had made it in 75minutes, 15 minutes faster than my initial goal. WOO HOO!

I am glad I did it. Even though my legs still hurt, my wrists are sore and my baby toe is bruised and bloodied. I now know that it is possible and that sense of accomplishment is empowering.

Oh, and my reason? Because I can. City to Surf here I come.



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