Here’s a blow-by-blow. Neil kept to his usual stellar timekeeping and made me stressed because we got there with a grand total of ten minutes to spare for me to register and warm up. However, the 5k was still going on so we were delayed a bit. I was actually feeling a bit nervous because there were people there in running club singlets with the word ‘Olympian’ on them.
When it came time to get in the pack to start the race, Raymond put us in the front. (Raymond had collected donations for the Beatson Oncology Centre, so he was doin’ it for charity.) Not right in front, mind you, but only three or four rows behind. That makes me uncomfortable — I in no way deserve to be in the starting pack, so when the horn went off I dashed over to the start of the actual track and slowed right down to my usual pace. Here’s a reminder of that pace:
Anyway, the number of people passing me was, frankly, quite embarrassing. But there was no way I was going to try and keep up as there was a next-to-interminable distance ahead of me to finish, and my goals are to not be last (I was in serious danger of not achieving this one) and to not ever slow to a walk. There were fluorescent yellow signs every kilometre completed after the 2km mark, and it seemed like 25 miles between each sign. My hip was really bothering me for the first half of the route, so I was trying really hard to keep a steady pace and not aggravate it.
It’s especially bad when two women who look like grannies pass you. And when a bloke who looked like he just decided to sign up for a lark passes you, and stays ahead of you even when he does a walk-jog thing. I caught Raymond coming back when I was close to the halfway mark, and he was about 15 minutes ahead of me at that point (I hate 20 year olds). I was constantly watching for the guy on the bike who follows the last runner, because I so did not want to be the one. (The last runner on the 5k pretty much collapsed at the finish line as his name was read out by the announcer, which was something else I didn’t want to happen, I don’t want anyone pointing me out at all!) At the halfway mark where we turned around, however, he was so close to me! There was only one other bloke and Granny #1 behind me at that point (she’d passed me then couldn’t jog the inclines, of which I’d forced myself to power through).
So there was my motivation at that point. DO NOT SLOW DOWN OR YOU WILL DEFINITELY BE LAST. I guess the runner’s (jogger’s in this case, I guess) high kicked in at about the 7k mark and it started getting a bit easier. There was another female jogger who’d slow to a walk, then run again and pass me whenever there was a race marshal about. Towards the last kilometre I guess she couldn’t do it anymore, so I managed to pass her.
That made me, what, fourth from last? The route was open to the public, so while we were running we had to dodge people walking four abreast who saw you coming but did nothing to give you a little room. It was entertaining to see the dogs being walked though, they loved the lake we were running beside. Anyways, the next person I passed was a middle-aged fellow who was walking, and the finish line was totally in sight, so I said ‘Come on!’ to him and kept going.
When I crossed the finish line, the announcer said my name. Into the microphone. Bastard. At least most of the real runners had already dispersed in the way real runners do. Better things to do than wait for a bunch of snails! Or tortoise with a beanie, in my case.
I got my finisher’s medal and a bottle of water. Raymond’s mum took lots of pictures. I forgot to mention that our other colleague, Richard, had come by to cheer us on (or rather, as I suspect, be the independent third party to confirm to the rest of the office that we had actually shown up and done the run). I didn’t bother get my ‘official’ time as I had my own stopwatch running, and at 66:17, it was 15 minutes faster than I normally managed when I was in Xiamen, definitely faster than when I did it the first time at the 2003 Biathlon in Singapore, and I didn’t stop or slow to a walk at any point. Even when it was muddy or sandy.
And I managed to be faster than a granny, a couple of middle-aged men, and walking woman. So I wasn’t last. Success!
See the full set of photos (as shot by Neil) on Flickr.