Monday, 31 August 2015

Karen writes: Adelaide marathon

The Adelaide marathon was a whole week ago, another case of the time just disappearing, all that lead up and now it’s ancient history.  So how it went...there was meant to be rain, but it was a cool clear morning, 7 degrees C to start, and it turned out to be a great running day, no wind, not too hot, and pleasantly overcast at times. There was a nice sized field with nearly 500 marathon runners, as well as a lot doing the half and the 10 km who all started later.

There was an early start which is always excellent because you miss the heat of the day and still have some hours left with not going straight from finishing your run to recovering then to bed. And what a lovely course, over bridges, under bridges (my favourite), tunnels, cobbled paths by the river, along roads and gravel track through bush, and winding through the beautifully manicured botanical gardens too.  Some very pretty residential streets made up the only hill, and while it was a two loop course, me being me I had forgotten what I had seen by the time I was on my second time round.  Some of that was due to talking (“headphones strongly discouraged” yeehah!), some of it just me paying too much attention to odd things around me.  Like there was quite a long stretch with golf course on either side and I spent some time trying to figure out the likelihood of being hit by a golf ball. Then I recalled a golfing friend being a bit bemused at me suggesting that any real golfer would whack a ball somewhere it really wasn’t intended to go (I was speculating about windows around a golf course at the time), so presuming only real golfers played there us runners were theoretically safe.  Ditto trains, a train track ran alongside one of the golf courses too, so it was a paradise sort of run for me, beautiful surroundings, people to talk to, interesting things to think about and a regular view of trains going past.

I met some very nice people, and one not so nice. The story on this one, I actually felt embarrassed as a runner when this man, an Ironman it seemed, behaved like an arrogant prat.  What happened was I’d been passing and being passed by this runner wearing Ironman logo’d gear, and at one point when he was overtaking me on a track,  a cyclist came up behind us politely ringing his bell.  Mr Ironman snarled at the cyclist “I heard your bell, but I’ve got the right here because I’ve paid to be part of an event”.  I was a bit shocked, there was no need for that sort of rudeness, especially when it seemed the cyclist was doing us the courtesy of letting us know he was there, I was glad it wasn’t Ironman NZ on his branding.

The most memorable point of this event came 8 km from the end when I saw someone up ahead looking like they were having a bit of trouble and it turned out to be a young woman doing her first marathon.  She had had an injury the week before and had been ok for most of the run, but it was finally catching up with her.  I spent much of the last bit of the run with her, and we talked about everything and anything and nothing to help her ignore the pain.  Every so often I asked her to do a ‘stocktake’ to get her to consciously think about if anything was getting worse.  The stocktake was my compromise when I worried about what damage she was doing to herself, it’s one thing helping someone to tough out pain, it’s something else to encourage them to risk doing themselves permanent harm.  Anyway, it was one of those weird what I call ‘bubble’ times, where you discuss all sorts of things with a complete stranger safe in the knowledge that you will never see them again.  Well that’s usually the case, but a bit of investigation on her part later and she found me and sent a lovely message to say thanks.  For me, I found her courage and determination in the face of such obvious pain absolutely inspiring and the privilege of helping her out made that marathon, which was much like many other marathons before, a very special thing for me to be involved in. She has since said she plans to run another marathon and I am sure she will find it a snap next time. Finishing that marathon also highlighted the importance of support at the finish, thank goodness for the people who miss out on all the fun of the run themselves and are ready to be there with encouragement and help at the end.

So the following week I attended the conference which was the main reason I was in Adelaide for and managed a couple of short runs, ate too much, got some real exercise with the kiwi conference-going contingent showing the locals how to dance it up hard at the conference dinner, and now it’s time to get moving again. As ever I’m thinking ahead to my next big event which is Auckland marathon now only nine weeks away, but it has to be viewed in context of other non-running events just after it, like the Taupo cycle challenge four weeks later, and Rotorua Half Ironman a couple of weeks after that.  I’m stubbornly ignoring Ironman lurking just out of sight in March of next year, that is just too big to think about when I’m feeling over-weight (nutrition changes made a few weeks ago are NOT working), seriously under-trained and that sort of level of fitness just seems impossibly far away.