Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Agony of a Goal

I'm not a runner.  Hell, I'm not an 'exerciser', either.  I ran a bit when I first started dating Sam, because at the time, he ran--and isn't pretending that you're a more rugged/adventurous/athletic/accomplished person what you do when you're first dating someone and you want to impress them?  When my parents were dating, my mom told my dad she was big into camping, and they fully outfitted themselves with camping gear when they were newlyweds--but oddly enough, none of my fond childhood memories include cozying up in a sleeping bag with my family after an evening telling stories around the ol' campfire.

I do like to keep a general level of fitness, because if I'm going to stick around for upwards of ninety years, I'd like to avoid getting creaky as long as possible.  My yoga practice back home in Denver brought me the lovely trifecta of friendship, fitness and spirituality.  Our bank account can't justify a yoga practice in Australia--so my fitness here consists of meeting at the beach once a week for an exercise session designed by my slavedriver super kind friend, Emily.  The relaxing coffee excursion afterwards is my real motivation; that is, until I foolishly signed up for the popular Sydney running race, City2Surf.

City2Surf is the world's largest running race--let's face it, I'm never going to enter the world's longest race, so it might as well be the largest.  Riding on the coattails of my sprint triathlon last fall, I had looked forward to our trip to Australia and thought it would be great to participate in an event while we were there.

And then I proceeded to basically do no exercise until June 20, when I registered for the race.  The City2Surf route begins in downtown Sydney and finishes up at Bondi Beach; a great way to enjoy the gorgeous city of Sydney.  And I had a whopping 7.5 weeks to get used to running 14km; not so bad, even for someone who really doesn't like running.

Hahahahahahaha. (sob!)

So in the meantime, I wisely spent my energy doing lots of agonizing and procrastinating, along with a teensy bit of running.  You see, I'm lazy at heart, and I simply don't have a lot of motivation to run any sort of distance on my own.  I manage about 4km and then feel...done.  And when I feel done, why should I go any further?  Thankfully, the large majority of humanity doesn't suffer from this affliction.  Surely this gene isn't selected for, or else we as a society would still be living in caves and grunting monosyllabic words.

While I wish I could say that I was able to muster up a miraculous and vigorous inner strength and follow a strict solo running plan to train for the event, it's simply not the case.  Instead, my runner friend Kylie took mercy upon me and slummed it with me for a few runs--even though it meant that she was doubling up on her runs with her real running partner.  Suddenly, I was scheduled for a 8km run (which was great), a 10km run (which I despised every step of after the 7km mark but finished it only because Kylie was running with me), and a final 10km run last weekend (that felt great).  Of course, there was lots of agonizing before each of these runs.  After the last one, the agonizing continued because it was my final shot to run a longer distance and I was still 4km shy of where I needed to be.  Also, since Kylie was running in a different category than I was, I would be alone for the real race--amongst the massive throngs of other runners, of course--but this was still worrisome.

. . . .

This morning I awoke a few minutes before my 4:15am alarm and braved the insane gusty winds occurring in these parts to stand around for 2.5 hours until my start time--it turns out, 85,000 people take quite a bit of time to get over a finish line, even if they're neatly divided up into categories and locations in an intersection.
one section of runners, as far as the eye can see and beyond
Despite the cold, people were out playing music and shouting classic Aussie chants to keep the crowd pumped--how can you not get a little extra spring in your step running while listening to 'Walking on Sunshine', or the ubiquitous Men at Work song 'Land Down Under'?  Before I knew it, I was 4km, and then 7km (plodding along as I ascended 'Heartbreak Hill').  I still felt great at 10km, especially when I glimpsed the ocean coming into view.  The last 4km flew by.

My goal for the race was to not walk, and my best case scenario was to have the same pace I had in my earlier runs, right around 6 min/km.  My unofficial time was right around 88 minutes, averaging 6:08/km.

Not speedy, but for a non-runner, I'll take it.

And Kylie, I absolutely couldn't have done it without your help.  Thank you!


  1. Well done you!

    I'll be running that sucker next year, probably around the same pace, because my training plan will be comprehensive and detailed, and mostly involve "thinking about running" and "looking at my running shoes from the couch" with a sideline in "reading about running". Apparently the mental preparation is very important ;)

  2. Where did you come from???? A runner in our family??? Maybe the hospital switched you at birth!
    We're so proud of you sweetie. Is there nothing you can't do?