Round the Bays: Looks like we made it
Round the Bays is done and I think everyone would call it a successful event.
In all honesty it was a bit harder than I expected, something I put down to the fact that you are running with so many other people and against the clock and you work a bit harder than you might otherwise.
When I crossed the finishing line I was hurting.
I ran it in around 45 minutes which isn't what I had anticipated when I began preparing but I'll take it. I'm impressed by the winner's time - 28 minutes, four seconds is quick.
As a race rookie one of the things I failed to take into account was how hard it would be to get around and through people at the start.
After being told 37 times that the race was "getting close", once the hooter did sound, people shuffled slowly forward and as if the yellow start sign was some sort of kick-starter, people waited till they hit it to break into a jog.
As a number of people said afterwards, they should really looking at staggering the start or putting those that wanted to do a faster time at the front, followed by slower runners then walkers.
Then you spend the first chunk weaving your way in and out and around groups of walkers before the participants spread out and you are able to get into it.
Once you're into the run it is a nice route but the race course is also a bit of a tease. You concentrate on each point in the distance but as you round that into the next bay you see another point in the distance and people rounding that also and you know you have a way to go yet. And so it goes on.
Fortunately, one of the quirks of running is that you can go into a bit of a zone and focus on things aside from the burn in your lungs or calves.
My thoughts strayed regularly and one of the things that kept me entertained was the variety of running gaits. Some people look athletic and economical in full stride and like they could run all day.
Others run like drunk camels and while it's easy to laugh, the reason I saw them was because they were ahead of me at some point.
It is actually very humbling to realise there are at least that many people in Auckland, some twice my age and half-again my size, that are so much fitter than me and it is again another kick in the pants to pick the exercise routine back up.
At the end, race organisers kindly made us walk 15-odd minutes to the tent zone but once there it was cool to see how many organisations are involved in what is a worthy cause and fun event.
One gripe, though.
It was frustrating to see so many people take a cup of water which was kindly provided at the start and at a couple of points along the route, drink it, then throw their cups down.
There were bins provided and it didn't take much to go out of your way to use those or even to hold on to the cup and get rid of it at the end. It's a lovely drive and I hate to think how many of those cups ended up in the water or in the greenery. Have a bit of pride in your city, people.
For all those looking at doing it, I recommend it. There are hundreds of teams involved so you can do it on your own and go hard out or walk it with friends or colleagues.
It gives you something to work towards and it's a cool day to be a part of.
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I'm still alive!! You may think that's a bit of an obvious statement, but seriously, on race morning I thought that by this time I would either be dead or humiliated - there was no middle ground in my head.
I am surprisingly chipper after having run almost all of the 8.4km - bar about 10 minutes where I had excruciating stitch or wanted to give my numb left foot a bit of a rest. All up my workmate and I finished in one hour and five minutes - five minutes slower than what we were aiming for, but we were pretty happy with how we went.
Probably a bigger achievement though was walking almost all the way back to town too. The buses heading in were pretty packed, so we harnessed the rest of our slowly diminishing energy and walked a good 5km. I would be lying if I said my legs don't hurt just a wee bit... Or a lot right now.
But the euphoria of actually getting out there and finishing and running most of the way has been pretty inspiring, and I'm already thinking about doing this. No, not the marathon. I'm not mental. But I think the 10km would be a good goal and will keep me out there training.
Six weeks ago when I began this blog I didn't think it would even have been possible to get to this point. Now I am ridiculously surprised how far I've come, but the truth is: if I can do it, anyone definitely can. I HATE running. I am the anti-runner. But there is something strangely addictive about it and such a huge sense of achievement when you cross that finish line - I fear I am now hooked.
All that remains is for me to thank everyone who has wished me well or believed I could do it over the past six weeks - I don't want this to sound like a cheesy Oscars speech a la Gwyneth Paltrow but all your positivity and enthusiasm has seriously kept me going when I really would have rather quit. And a massive thanks to my running buddy - her helpful encouragement during the race was exactly what I needed, even when I was too tired to answer her.
Now I'm off to place an order for my swish new running skirt - I think I've earned it.
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* How was your Round the Bays journey? Leave your comments below.