My first 5k: With the grace of an elephant

Braving the freezing fog

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 16:06 13/06/2014
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REARING TO GO: Janine Branje, Jo Mckenzie-McLean, Shelly Cornish, and Elise Velenski ready to race at Cromwell Bike Park fundraiser.

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MISTY EYED: Jo Mckenzie-McLean hobbles through fog over the finish line of her first race.

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Through thick fog, mud and ice, and with the grace of an elephant I completed my first race.

I agreed to run 5 kilometres of a 10km run of the Cromwell Bike Park fundraiser last week in a relay with friend Elise Velenski.

Preparation for the run had been next to nothing as during the week I had been sick, my son had chicken pox and on Saturday I had a blow-out with the neighbour and drank too much wine.

So come race day, I was less than optimistic about my chances of running well. I just wanted to complete it.

Rushing from work, I had to change in my car parked in a paddock (sorry to the man beside me who had just finished a bike race), before running through bog to get registered. I bumped  into Terry who chided me for not bringing gloves and offered me his stinky sweaty head-neck band to keep my neck warm. Thanks, but I would rather have a cold neck that wear that pongy thing again I told him (he loaned it to me during a cold training session during the week).

I kind of regretted not taking it because it was absolutely freezing out there, and the fog was so thick I could hardly see the markers ahead of me.

''Geez, I hope I don't get lost,'' I thought as I watched the runners bolt ahead of me.

Terry had warned everyone to take care because parts of the course were extremely slippery with mud and ice.

The first uphill stint had my calves burning and the snarky little demon in my head started whispering taunts - ''How are you going to handle the Northburn 50km Mountain Run? You can't even run up a hill for five minutes without wanting to stop.''

''Be quiet,'' I snapped to myself and instead focussed on a lady in a bright pink top ahead of me and made it my mission to not let her get out of my sight.

I passed a few farm dogs on my travels, and as I neared the end, feeling like I had achieved something a boy on a bike was parked at a checkpoint.

''Are you on your second lap?'' he asks.

''No I'm not,'' I cried back, and with that I took off, determined to get up speed for my poor relay partner waiting for her turn.

The fog was so thick I couldn't see anyone, but I could hear voices. Then, appearing like a angel enveloped in mist, I could see the yellow jacket of Elise who started cheering me on.

Getting excited, I lost concentration and before I knew it my legs, bum, arms were in the air and I landed with a thud on the wet ground and started skidding downhill. Nursing a sore tail bone I hobbled my way across the finish line grateful the fog had shrouded the embarrassing end to my first race.

Mum and reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean is taking on one of the biggest challenges of her life training for the Northburn Station 50km mountain run.

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- The Southland Times

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