The weather was absolutely horrendous on Saturday. I believe it may have been one of the coldest July days on record in Melbourne. It was certainly one of the wettest...not to mention the icy winds! I was absolutely terrified we'd have a similar day for the run, but by the evening, the weatherman was assuring me that rain would be, at worst, light.
I woke up with a sore throat and achy glands, but I wasn't going to let that deter me. Although it was dark and chilly, I could tell the day was going to be an okay one for running. Win!
I forced my beloved to get up early with me. As my live-in barista, his mad espresso skillz have rendered me dependent on a nice brew to start the day, and this day was no different. Along with my flat white, I had two pieces of chia bread toast - one with peanut butter and the other with Vegemite (Aussie gold, for any unacquainted readers) - a glass of water and my usual vitamins.
Then it was off to meet one of my friends who was also competing and, quite fortunately, lives only 15 minutes (by foot) from the starting line. Car park win! We rugged up and wandered down St Kilda Rd to Federation Square in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. There, we collected our race packets and spent the next 45 minutes huddled for warmth and queuing for the toilet. After dropping off our bags and additional clothing, we headed towards the start line and this happened:
There were thousands of participants in the 10k event alone (nearly 8,000, I believe) - plus there were also 5km and half marathon events on the day. As such, there was definitely a little waiting as wave after wave were started and we shuffled our way forward.
At one point, the announcer made the comment that in the wave ahead of me, the leader of the Australian opposition was about to start the 10km event. Now, I am not, have not and will never be a supporter of this man. However, irrespective of political leanings (and, let's face it, there's no longer a way to lean in this country - grrr!), I thought about how blessed we are to live in a nation where our political leaders can feel comfortable enough to complete a fun run with the rest of us. I honestly cannot see that happening in many other developed countries.
And then....we were off!
As I'm training to achieve a few personal goals in a 5km event next month, I wanted to take this event pretty casually and decided, with the help of coach extraordinaire, Julia, that I would walk a minute of every kilometer of the race. Well, that was all good in theory, until I couldn't work out how to get my Garmin to display time elapsed and had to guesstimate. As a result, I applied my own run/walk approach. I ran the first two kilometres (I was going to walk at the end of the first, but remembered that virtually the entire second kilometre was downhill and it wouldn't be very strenuous to jog) and, at the first hill, I thought "uh huh, this is my new plan - walk the worst hilly bits"...and that's exactly what I did. About 7 or 8 times through the event, I conserved my energy by walking up the steepest hills.
Now, I know this was a timed event, but I'm going to report on what my Garmin told me....because there was a MASSIVE bottleneck under a bridge next to the Yarra River in Richmond (along the northern bike path for anyone who rides into Melbourne from the east), where not only were we all forced to walk, but there was even a period where I came to a complete standstill thanks to a whole bunch of walkers blocking the narrow pathway. I didn't personally have a problem with the stop (though couldn't help myself turning to the bloke next to me and informing him facetiously, "that's it, PB is shattered"...teehee!). I estimate that this delayed me by about an extra minute, which is reflected in my Garmin times, but not in the overall race times.
Anyway, let's back track a little.
Kilometre 1: 6:19
The adrenalin kicked in as soon as I heard the starting gun and I jogged off feeling great. There was one hill in this first part of the course, but aside from that, it was largely flat. I listened to my breathing and simply felt great to be participating in this event with the extended Melbourne community.
Kilometre 2: 6:08
Downhill!! This portion of the course was almost entirely flat and downhill. I definitely could have pushed harder, but Coach Julia's words were echoing in my ear - 10km is a long way - you need to conserve energy at the start of your run. I was feeling simply sensational at this point!
Kilometre 3: 7:27
My first walk was during this segment - up a pretty steep hill. I then recommenced jogging, turned a corner and was faced with yet another hill (right next to the Royal Botanic Gardens). Instead of forcing myself to jog up it, I slowed to a fast walk again. I was grateful, as it meant I could fly down the notorious Anderson St hill and make up a bit of lost time.
Kilometre 4: 6:41
Kilometre 5: 6:47
The next two kms were an out and back section along the south bank of the Yarra River (i.e. down Alexandra Ave for the Melburnians). This was one of my favourite sections of the event last year and it remained so this year. It's long and flat, with a couple of music stages and a drink station. As I approached the turn around point (probably around 4.5km through), the musical duo were playing an acoustic version of Easy (i.e. like Sunday morning). I kid you not, I got teary. Why? I cannot tell you - I just felt so blessed at that very moment to be out running in such a beautiful city. I do wonder if running somehow heightens your emotions - any thoughts on that?
I finished 5kms in 33:22 and felt fresh, happy and invigorated. I certainly hadn't pushed to my limits and I'm thus pretty stoked with the outcome of the first half of the run. As a consequence, I'm going to modify my 5km time goals for next month accordingly.
Kilometre 6: 6:45
It was during this segment that the aforementioned bottleneck/standstill incident occurred. Towards the last part of this section of the course, I started to find that moving from a walk to a jog was increasingly difficult. Once I started jogging, I was fine and moving from a jog to a walk was also okay. However, getting back into that bouncy gait after walking was tough. I think my butt, calves and feet were beginning to feel the distance. No matter, I just kept up the jogging lightly and soldiered on.
Kilometre 7: 7:17
All was going along relatively smoothly. And then this happened.
That's right folks, your favourite "unco" did it again. My foot landed on an uneven piece of curb, my ankle rolled and, no doubt, hyper-extended, and then over I went. I grazed my "good" knee pretty impressively, but I was more annoyed about putting holes in yet another pair of expensive leggings (any Lululemon executives reading this, please note that you should definitely send me a new pair of running leggings...with a zip waist pocket, if possible. Pretty please!).
The fall was a bit humiliating. Everyone around me was so lovely and concerned, asking if I was okay and needed help. I pulled myself up, dusted myself off, thanked everyone for their concern and shot them the biggest grin and thumbs up that I could muster to let them know I'd be okay. The knee wasn't too painful at the time - I was far more concerned about my ankle, which was a wee bit tender.
So, what's a girl to do when she falls over spectacularly? Jump right back up and start walking/jogging again. I knew from prior basketball experience that I hadn't sprained anything, but that once I cooled down I'd likely be a wee bit sore - i.e. best to keep moving.
Kilometre 8: 7:07
I think it's around the eighth kilometre mark of Run Melbourne that the course takes you over a long foot bridge in the heart of the Richmond sporting precinct. This may well have been the toughest part of the course for me. I knew that slowing down to walk would mean it would be difficult to get back into a jogging rhythm and the overpass, while not especially steep, was looooong (and virtually all uphill!). I waddled my way over it (by this stage, I wasn't lifting my knees much and I'm sure I could have walked faster!) and was glad to come down and out the other side.
Kilometre 9 and 10
I chugged along and was beyond relieved to see the marker for the final kilometre of the run. I remember from last year that there's one mammoth hill (Wellington Pde South) before a 500 metre downhill/flat dash to the finishing line. I made the decision to walk up the hill (evidently the correct one, as I was even passing some stubborn joggers who refused to walk!). Once at the top, I knew all the tough bits were over and I could enjoy the last 500 metres. I bolted down that last hill and sprinted to the finish line. It never ceases to amaze me that even though EVERYTHING hurts, I somehow have enough energy to sprint to a finish line - just goes to prove that you can always push a little harder than you think you can.
My final time? Garmin says: 68 minutes, 44 seconds
In the back of my head, I was hoping for a sub-70 minute result, given that I knew I'd be walking throughout (mind you, I had told myself that it would be very unlikely). My official race time is also sub-70 - yesssss!
Upon reflection, I am super dooper proud of myself, especially given how sore I am today in all sorts of places I didn't know could hurt!
After collecting our swag we wandered back to the apartment, I cleaned up my knee and it was time to relax and recover - a big bubbly spa bath, followed by pizza and beer. Bliss!