My feet ache. My legs twitch. My belly demands feeding, again, as I look at the empty bowl next to me. My butt feels tight as, or should I say tight ass! And my arms are tired. How can my arms be tired?
This morning I ran 30 odd kilometres, 22 of those being part of a race. The Sri Chinmoy Waimairi Beach challenge. I was aiming to run at tempo, come in the top three women. And tack on an extra eight to fulfil my Jantastic long run. I had raced a pretty speedy off road 4k yesterday.
I woke early. It is a big day today. Later this afternoon we have the “grandparents” coming for afternoon tea. At 6am I got up and made scones, and mashed eggs ready for sandwiches. By 7am I was in the car heading east to Waimairi beach.
It was very dark. And a thick sea fog covered the slumbering city. This was good. This meant no easterly wind.
I warmed up with a 2k jog along the track, and then my routine of lunges, leg swings, hacky sacks, single skips. It works for me. I registered. Checked out the entry list. Very few women. No names I recognised.
I talked to one younger woman. This was her longest run. Ever. Sweet. Crossed her off of my list of threats. Then this uber fit skinny bitch bounced up. All muscle and speed. Top three, Robyn. I had already discarded any momentary thought that this was not a race. It was on.
It is the usual practice at Sri Chinmoy races to have a moment of reflection. I used this moment to rub my hands up and down my thighs, to feel the muscle bound by compression shorts, to focus on their strength. My mantra today would be strong. Vajin sounded the hooter and we were racing.
It was still. It was foggy. There was no colour. Grey sand. Grey cloud. Grey sea.
A wee dot of a thing headed to the front of the women. She was wearing a lot of colour – bright blue shorts and a red cotton Sri Chinmoy tee shirt. She was determined to stay ahead of me. I was sitting on her shoulder. When I went ahead a bit she sped up to catch me and stay just ahead. This went on for 2k. I was thinking, dumb move. My legs must be eight inches longer than yours, you are breathing heavily wasting all this mental and physical energy surging. I am a nasty mean cat toying with a weak mouse.
To my left I see the skinny bitch, all in blue bound alongside me. Wee dot pulled right back. I think she realised she was up against the big guns. Skinny bitch and I ran side by side for about 3k. The tide was out and there was a wide expanse of hard, fast sand. And pure luxury, no easterly headwind.
I could tell Skinny was determined. But so was I. Was I prepared to battle this out for 17 more kilometres, she was breathing heavier than I was but I was being made to work.
The beach calms me. I love the waves and I am sure the positive ionic energy created by the breaking water breathes new life into me. I thought of my mother. Part of my therapy to deal with depression involved me coming to the beach and having an out loud conversation with my mother. Yeah, I felt like an idiot but I found it helpful.
Today I heard the gentle ching ching of the two stone hearts my mother gave me as they tapped together. I focussed on mum. Come on, it is your time to help me. I changed my mantra to “give me wings, and make me fly.”
And fly I did. I subconsciously kicked it up a gear. Very soon Skinny was behind me. I felt strong. I was tearing north along that beach.
Ahead of me I could see just one other runner, a black silhouette. I knew he was third male. I was fourth overall, and now leading woman. I felt strong. I felt invincible. By golly, I must be Helen Reddy!
My pace was pretty steady half marathon pace, 4:35ish. Everything felt good. My Garmin was burring kilometre markings frequently. It seemed like no time until I could see more disturbed sea as the great Waimakariri river, which has come from deep in the mountains, meets the Pacific Ocean.
Cones marked our change of direction. And also change of surface. Farewell hard flat and fast sand. Hello marshmallow. Instantly we were on a rough beach track. The sand was incredibly dry and soft. My legs which for the previous 55 minutes had been pounding out speedy ks suddenly had the brakes slammed on. Every foot placement slid or sunk. It was hard. And slow. My pace dropped to about 5:40 but my effortometre was heading to a high nine out of 10. I knew we had a good five to seven ks of this. I dreaded being caught by someone else. Oh the horror if Skinny chased me down. I kept pushing through the thickness.
With relentless forward progress you do eventually reach your destination, or at least a marker in the journey. As we neared Spencer Park more people-traffic had hardened the track. And coming out of Spencer Park I know the track well. There are five little dune climbs, but the rest is hard and fast multi-use track. Which meant, of course, that there were mountain bikers, and men with dogs, and baby buggies the size of a small RV, and couples taking their Sunday constitutional. I was still asking for wings. I had picked up speed. I was flying again. My final kilometres were at 4:30 pace.
There were the flags. There was the finish line. If there is one thing I do, it is a strong sprint finish. I crossed that line, 1:47:05 after I had started. I don’t know the exact mileage, but it was pretty close to 22k, either up or down. I kept my Garmin running and went for a slow jog cool down to get my final kilometres in for Jantastic.
There might not have been many people in this event, maybe 40. There were only five or six women. But I gave it everything I had. I won it fair and square. More than the medal, though, I won the feeling that the training is going well. I feel confident heading into Rotorua in just under five weeks.
I ache, but it was worth it.
Beach runner photo
My final Jantastic score was 99.6%
Skinny finished about five minutes behind me.
Wee Dot came in about 2:15