Oh fuck. I could hear the sound of the torrential rain that was forecast to hit Auckland making its presence felt at some ungodly hour of the morning. I rolled over and tried to get some sleep for my early start the next morning. And an early start it was. I was up at 4.30 for the 5am ferry across to Devonport. From there it was a mere 21km to the finish point at Victoria Park market. After teasing us during the night, the weather gods decided to cut the runners of Auckland some slack and turned on a beautiful day.
To my surprise instead of the usual slog, I found myself enjoying the first 10km and was making good time at the half way point in Northcote. However in my determination to get to the harbour bridge, I didn't have much gas left in the tank to get over the bloody thing and by the time I hit the tank farm, my pace had slowed to a crawl due to a blister on one foot and the achilles on the other leg making their presence painfully felt. The last 5-6km I kept asking myself the same question, why oh why didn't I just do the 10km instead? The answer was I had told too many bloody people that I was going to do this, and by god I was going to finish it.
Most people think of running as a solitary sport however my experience of it has been the complete opposite. The girls and coach in my running squad kept me motivated during the training sessions before the actual race. Sometimes I think the trainer liked to torture us with cross training sessions in Albert Park not to mention regular sessions running through the packed viaduct on Wednesday night. Urgh. My own version of take back the night, running past the swanky bars in lyrca to the odd cat call and smartarse comment. Though the amusement of watching one woman french fry in mid air put it down when I went jogging past still makes me smile as did all the wishes of support I received in the hours leading up to the event from my family and friends.
This is the first time I've run in a big race, and the atmosphere was awesome. Far from my vision of being the lone fat chick in a sea of well toned skinny athletes there were people of all shapes, sizes and ages lining up to take part, a woman in a Hijab and a guy in a Borat style mankini. But the best part was the many people of Auckland were out cheering us on, the people whose homes were on the route including one generous homeowner who left his hose running for some extra water, there were toots of support random passers by, and of course the family and friends of the competitors themselves. My parents dragged themselves out of bed early on a Sunday morning to cheer me on at various points during the race but perhaps the most heart-warming of the supporters were the kids out with their home-made signs supporting their mums along the route. Awwh.
So yes I finished my race and while my time wasn't flash, I have a base to build on for the the next half marathon.