Even though I'd asked for a wake up call at 6:00am, Sunday, I found myself looking at the clock just about every hour, on the hour all through the night, but then falling into a deep sleep at about 5:00am. From there followed the worst of all possible nightmares; since it's funnier than the event itself, I might not bother with an account of the half marathon.... just the nightmare that preceded it! It happened like this:
" It seemed I was late leaving the hotel & Ewen had gone on ahead so as not to be late for the race. The rest of the nightmare was me desperately & in vain trying to find the start of the half marathon!! I was frantically running around streets (this was happening in what I knew to be Canberra!), asking where the start to the half marathon was; everyone I approached shook their heads : they'd never heard of it! There were people lined up for just about every possible distance but none for a half marathon. I even ran through houses which somehow were part of the course (!), knocking over furniture as I went; running & stopping right on the edge of cliffs just before falling over, climbing to the top of mountains, still searching for half marathon runners, until eventually I found myself somewhere crawling on grass unable to move except by clawing & grabbing at the grass with my hands to pull myself forwards, & even then, not moving forward, not even an inch! How real these things are at the time! Lost again & terribly distressed over a first DNF...and a DNS!!
I woke with a powerful feeling that it was a reality & so upset that I had to sit up in bed & try to clear it all away & out of my head; even then I couldn't shake off the awful feelings it had left, so I got up, made a cup of tea, a hot muffin with jam, climbed back into bed & sat there eating breakfast until I felt normality - whatever that is! - slowly return & until the wake up call came through at 6:am! Not the best night before a race & what if that dream somehow sabotaged the run!!
I found out much later - it didn't!!
With some of the nightmare aftermath still in mind, Ewen & I walked from Phillip Street to the start - met up with more than a few Cool Runners; I'm hopless on remembering names so I won't try to mention them, but wonderful warm welcomes & hugs from all...thank you!
Took about 2 minutes to cross the start mat, but that was OK; I was no longer on a mission or in the middle of a nightmare! I felt strong during all of the first 10km (1:08) loop (at 5km 32:35); the hills, especially Hunter Street & the Argyle Cut, didn't bother me as much as in previous years; surprised that I felt so good & running so well having started a new program & not a single long run since the Canberra 50km back in early April .
I hope the casual wave I returned to the many who called out encouragement, was sufficient to let you know just how much you were helping me - I'm always so focused on where I'm going, staying on track, not tripping over, I can't talk!! The second 10km loop is always harder & it was again this year & I somehow missed clicking my watch during this loop, so I missed the splits.
I was delighted this year to find that I was no longer running the entire race on my own; I suppose that has to do with the extra 1000 runners, but I'd like to think it had something to do with the fact that I was running a bit faster as well!! Psychologically it makes a huge difference : runners to focus on & knowing there were quite a few behind me!
I struggled on some uphills in the 2nd round but absolutely loved the fast run down Hunter Street both times - I went berserk (quads, knees & calves today attest to the speed I'd gathered!) & I felt like I was flying through space! At the Argyle Cut for the second time & when I was surely feeling I didn't have much left, to my surprise Ewen was waiting & I think I berated him for standing around idle!! I was lucky I didn't get a clip under the ear! And this is how the run progressed for the final 2.5 to 3km :
Me, over & over : I can't go any faster; I have to slow down; I'm out of breath; both knees are hurting & the right one is killing me; I won't be able to sprint to the finish; I've got nothing left; I know, we're nearly there; got to keep going, I know I can't stop now...etc. etc..
Ewen, over & over: just keep moving; if you can do the next km at (naming it) pace, you'll break last year's time of 2hours 28minutes; keep moving; slow your heart rate down here; pick up the pace there; 1500m to go; not too fast yet; 1km left; there's the Finish Line (couldn't see it though!); see that lady up in front with the pick top, we'll slowly gain on her (we would, I agreed though she seemed a hell of along way off!); wait, (we did & passed her!); steady & get your breath here, lower your heart rate & be ready for a sprint finish; no, not yet; wait till the last 50m; just keep going; there's the finish line (again!)! And finally, O.K......GO!!
The Dream Come True!
And I did! I was off into a sprint & across the finish line with a net time of 2:24:47 .... 4 minutes faster than last year (to be confirmed in tomorrow's results). Gun time, around 2:26 I think. Still puzzled where the energy comes from to make that final sprint when you've been saying to yourself & everyone else that you haven't a thing left to run on!!
In the last few hundred metres, 2P & Gnome joined Ewen & me & lent their support in willing me to "keep the faith.....as well as the pace!" Thank you both so very much for running those extra metres! You were terrific & so very kind! I always get a special thrill to think that anyone would come back & run some of the final stages with me.
And what can I say about Ewen? I hope so much that the following simple statement goes some way to describing the sort of person he is : He made sure I finished the half marathon race...........ahead of him! ....I hope I can show my gratitude one day by "running out of sight on a dark night'!