Next Sunday morning at 9am I will be lining up with 7 friends from the office – and 74,993 other people – in Sydney’s city centre, ready to run 14km (8.6 miles) to Bondi Beach.
Why? You may ask. WTF? even.
“I don’t rightly know” is the answer.
Why do I run in general and why choose to run this particular course in particular?
Let me just make one thing abundantly clear: I am not a natural long distance runner. Yes, I am tall and have long legs, but I am sturdily built rather than whippet thin. Even in my twenties when I was skinny I still had broad shoulders and wide hips. I like to think my frame is built for power; you know, short sprints to evade hungry sabre-tooth cats, that kind of thing. Jolly useful for most of the 40,000 years modern hominids have been trotting around. Less so now, though, I grant you.
Anyway, my point is that hauling my not-inconsiderable weight around for more than a few minutes at any speed is truly pénible (I’m afraid only the French word is good enough in this case).
I hated running at school (I was a brain, not a jock, despite being Hockey Captain). I hated running at University (still a brain, though by now well soaked in hormones). I hated running when I moved to London and started work (my boyfriend at the time was in the Royal Marines and there is nothing more guaranteed to put me off something than being strongly encouraged to do it by a man in uniform robustly telling me how good for me it would be). I thought running was stupid and pointless and painful and considered that the harm to one’s joints more than outweighed the benefit to one’s cardio-vascular system.
I still mostly think all these things. And yet I run.
And when it comes right down to it, if I am perfectly honest, I run because I like people to think of me as a Runner. As a fit, healthy, outdoorsy, active type of a gal.
Of course, I also like actually being a bit fitter than the average. I like that I don’t have to diet or smoke to keep my weight down, unlike most women my age. I like seeing the seasons change as I run around the city and harbour. I like the feeling of satisfaction when I complete a course or even just make it to a certain point without stopping or within a given time.
But – and here’s the really galling part – I’m still not particularly good at it.
Yesterday I ran the Bay Run (a mere 7km and mostly flat) with a friend. She had done practically no training. I have been out 2-3 times a week for the last couple of months with my colleagues, practicing for next weekend’s race. She stopped to walk 4 or 5 times. I slogged round the whole course without stopping. And I was three seconds faster than her. Three seconds. Just 3.
I mean, come ON. Where is the justice in that?
Which brings me to my second point: what on earth am I thinking, planning to run 14km next weekend? And, perhaps more importantly, why on earth are my team-mates relying on me to get them round? I’m crap at running!
Can I be proud of myself just for getting them to enter their first race, for doing the training and, hopefully, for all finishing it? Even if I struggle all the way, hate it and desperately want it to stop, and only make it round in a barely respectable time??
Okay, let’s lay it out there:
I’m aiming to complete the 14km City to Surf 2009 in under 95 minutes*, a little over double my 7km time of 44 minutes. Given the hills, that is going to be VERY HARD.
Wish me luck or a sneaky taxi…
* And just to put this into perspective, my Running Accountant Friend did a test run of the course yesterday, completed it in 60 minutes and reportedly feels fine today. Bastard.