I woke this morning at 3am. A little cold. Needing to pee. And wondering which snorer I would smother first – the husband or the cat. I chose to read my book instead, and let them live for another night.
By 6am I was up starting my pre-race routine of two strong cups of coffee, two bits of gluten free toast with peanut butter and squished banana. And hopefully enough visits to the toilet to empty all systems.
Just after 7am I woke the snorer who could drive and he took me to my friend’s house, within walking distance of the start/finish line of the Christchurch Marathon.
It was -2 degrees.
We went for a short warm-up then wearing just our race clothes we walked to the start. I was running in my usual club singlet and shorts. I had a kiddie’s polyprop on as a top layer and some mismatched mittens and a throwaway beanie.
I met a number of people I knew before the start. It was not long before we were called to the start line. We found other runners from our club and lined up with them. It was cold. But the air was still, the sky clear and the sun was shining brightly. Another brilliant winter’s day in Christchurch.
The pre-race briefing warned us that there was ice on the route. I realised systems weren’t quite as empty as I had hoped. Too late. We were off.
I have to admit I felt uncomfortable and looked for any tree or something I could dive behind, but with the full marathon, half-marathon and 10k all starting together there were a lot of spectators.
My club members had all agreed we would run our own race. So even though I was with them I did not feel tempted to talk.
1k down. We turn onto McLeans Island Road and there is the brilliant vista of snow clad mountains in the distance. The sight of three turquoise portaloos was even better. Dammit! They are all occupied. I waste about 2minutes here but the relief is worth it.
My club mates have gone ahead. I run my own race. Pace is a little faster but I feel relaxed. I tossed my polyprop at the start and I am starting to feel warm.
4k done. I start to see the first 10k runners heading back.
5k and the 10k turnaround. This is always run by our club. High fives. A few slaps on the back. And encouragement. I drop my hat and gloves. First water stop and my water is frozen.
We set off around the back of the airport and turn up a side street which is lined with trees.
Ice! Very slippery. I choose to run on the grass. It is harder underfoot but I am faster because I am not scared of arsing over.
8k and the half marathoners peel off to run their loop. More people I know. Vic and I were having a slightly risque email exchange yesterday which ended with him called me a tease and me calling him a cock. As I ran past him, he grinned. “Tease.” Right back at you with “cock”.
On towards Yaldhurst Road, more ice. Robbie’s old hockey club are on drinks here. More people I know. Down Pound Road and there is my brother in law out the front of his lifestyle block with Ugly, his pet sheep.
Ryans Road and here is Sam Wreford, the eventual winner, miles ahead of second place. We turn around up here and so I was counting my place. I had me sitting at fourth woman in my age group, give or take a place. (I missed one person coming in fifth). I also saw Rodger and Guy from my club who were also running the full.
I was feeling good and starting to pass a few people. In fact from here I was not passed by another woman.
The ks are ticking over quickly. I went through 21k in 1:44 which was pretty much on target for 3:30.
I signed up for Christchurch the night before I ran Rotorua. I had to do it then to get the cheaper rate. But my plan was if I ran well at Rotorua then I would just run, with no goal, Christchurch. In honesty though I was hoping to do under 3:30.
A race official car drives past. One of my club mates is driving it and has a loud hailer. Nothing like being told at full volume with your full name being used to hurry up.
We loop around a bit and had to back up Icy Road. It had not thawed out at all. The race car is back giving me a breakdown of where my teammates are. Sam runs past again on his way to the finish.
Back down to Yaldhurst Road, past Malcolm and Ugly. He tells me to run fast or he will set the sheep onto me. All I can think is roast lamb!!
Back past Vic who promises me a kiss at the end. I am still waiting! We head out to do our loop and from the turnaround can see who is ahead. I am still passing people. Those poor buggers who are walking, or stopping to grip their legs as cramp takes hold.
Past Vic for the final time. He has his camera out and I run at it making silly faces. I may live to regret that. Back down Icy Road for the third and final time. This time around the drink station the frozen spilled water is treacherous. It becomes too much for me, all this changing pace. I suddenly get very tired and sore. It is 8k to go. I can see the airport and hear the finish. I want to be there.
I keep running. The first runners pass me since 15k, a quartet of men. I catch one up further on, but I am spent. My pace drops from 4:50ish to 5:10. I push it. It hurts. My quads are tight. My feet burn. My butt and hamstrings are tormenting me.
I count down the ks.
We round the back of the airport by the nor’west runway and then head back onto McLeans Island Road. I see Rodger. He is only 500m ahead. I dig deeper. There is not much there.
I pass a friend walking her first half marathon. Well done, you!
3k to go.
We turn into the actual airport. Apparently this was a bit thrill seeking attraction. I couldn’t care less. 2k to go
I am not gaining on Rodger. I can’t.
I bump into my pal with the loud hailer. And another club mate. “Come on, Robyn. Go faster. You can catch Rodger.” I stopped. Turned around. Stuck my hands firmly on my waist and yelled, “FUCK OFF.”
Everyone laughed. And from the two comedians I could hear “DQ. Offensive behaviour. Disrespect for officials.” Idiots!
Last bend. Finish. I couldn’t sprint. I think it was the slowest 500m I have ever run.
I crossed. 3:31:03. Got my medal. Met Rodger. I wanted to puke. Lie down. Stand up. Walk around. Die. Puke. I felt awful. And sore. And stiff.
We staggered back to Rodger’s house where we were reconvening. I had a shower. And coffee. Eventually some toast and a banana.
After 90 minutes it was time to go back to the prize giving. I was surprised to find I had only come fifth. Oh well. It was all I had today. A little disappointed.
It is not yet five hours since I crossed the line. I have to get up and cook dessert for dinner guests tonight. Luckily they are members of my club. I am sure they won’t care that I am entertaining them in compression tights, ug boots, a bright orange polarfleece and a blue and orange striped beanie. Yes, I will be wearing my medal!
PS This is rough and unedited.