A very short throwback as this is a recap of last Friday’s 10km road race.
It begins with one step. In my case, that first step was to get up at dawn on a Friday when I would normally have a lie-in and get down to Jumeirah to participate in the Standard Chartered 10km Road Race. Up until the moment when Bernie, Patrick and myself arrived, huddled together to ward off the morning cold, I was not entirely sure that it was happening. It was surreal. I had my highlighter pink shirt on, track pants, sneakers, long sleeve shirt underneath and a light jacket to combat the cold, sunglasses and my 10km playlist on my iPhone – oh I was ready alright!
The spirit at the starting gate was something else. There were all kinds of people: those who were so pumped and ready to go, people who were there with work colleagues and friends and family, people who like me had no idea what they got themselves into but everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. The organizers were expecting at least 25,000 participants so you can just imagine the atmospehere. The grandstand by the finish line for the marathon side was already occupied by the Ethiopian community, in their bright, colourful robes and flags and things. The other side had a raised platform where members of a local gym, not sure which one, were doing warm-up exercises for everyone to follow. It was actually not as easy to move around when you are packed in a crowd.
Why was I dong the 10km? For starters, Nikki couldn’t do it! She registered herself but then a friend’s birthday brunch was happening at the same so she asked if her registration could either be cancelled or transferred to me. Unfortunately they don’t allow that so we decided that I would take her place. I just had to make sure that my husband knows my name for that day is Nikki in case I collapsed and the medical team needed to call my emergency contact!
Seriously, though, it was a way for me to get back into the fitness track. I got derailed spectacularly during the holidays, although I did go to the gym once in Manila and tried to avoid as much carbs as I could, and it was difficult getting back to my routine. I knew I would not be able to jog all the way, let alone run, so I brisk-walked most of it and jogged for about a kilometre. I slowed my pace down whenever I could feel something strange, like the numbness on the second toe on my right foot! It was annoying, and a little worrying. I did end up with three blisters on my feet after the event!
It was a lovely, cool morning for the 10km, and despite the sun shining gloriously, I started the walk with my jacket on. The boys wanted to jog so I told them to go on ahead and I would catch up, if I could. So I was mostly on my own, among a crowd of other people who kept pushing past me, making me worry that I would be the last one to cross the finish line! It was okay, every step counts, and the view was something else. Clear blue skies, the Burj Al Arab standing majestic as always. Yes, I did pause to take photos along the way. One of the official marathon photos of me was when I was in the act of taking a photo of the Ethiopian crowd! How embarrassing!
Hitting each kilometre mark kept me pushing forward. I averaged 11 minutes per kilometre, which was rather slow, but I was getting closer to that finish line with every step. I just wanted to make sure I got there before the little old grandma I kept seeing in my peripheral vision!
And there it was – the end of the line! So close! I thought about running the short distance but didn’t want to trip and fall on my face. It was here that they took photos of me with my iPhone taking photos of the Ethiopians. It was a good result, too I think despite mostly walking, 1 hour 49 minutes 57 seconds. I thought for sure I would take at least 3 hours!
And I did it! I bloomin’ did it! It wasn’t a competition against anyone else but myself. I endured the numb toe, the blisters, the heat, and the threatening rise of my blood pressure but I did it. It felt really good crossing the finish line, but would have felt better if my husband and son were beside me. I seem to have lost them somewhere along the way. I thought they had finished the race well ahead of me, but as I turned at the halfway mark, I saw them both on the other side of the road. They waited for me a bit further down at the start but with so many people we simply missed each other. I didn’t want to hurt my official result so I crossed the line and waited for them. They rambled in a few minutes later and then I went to collect my medal.
On my way there, who do I bump into but this lady with very red cheeks! Ruth! I knew she was there as we were texting each other but in a sea of people it was just difficult to find anyone I knew. We shared tidbits from the race and arranged to meet at the weekend for a very special anniversary (more on that later) and went our separate ways. Ruth ran a whopping 7.5kms of the way and finished 20 minutes faster than me. No wonder her face was cherry red! Cherries, get it? Well, no maybe not, but Ruth and cherries are the same thing in our world.
I was properly exhausted by the time I crossed that finish line. I can only imagine the kind of stamina the marathon runners have to be able to sustain a steady pace for over 42 kilometres. And the blisters on their feet! Oof! I have a new-found respect for runners. I could hardly stay in a jogging pace for longer than 3 minutes and I was starting to see black spots. Those people are phenomenal! No wonder the Ethiopians were cheering each and every one of their compatriots who crossed the finish line. Must have been some kind of morale booster and validation for the runners to hear all that cheering and pageantry. Makes it all worth it in the end.