A year ago, for me, managing to run two laps of the local sports oval would have been momentous.
So the fact that I ran the 14-kilometre City To Surf yesterday is, for me, momentously momentous, and I'm feeling a little bit clever. It's bittersweet – I now have the knees of a 90-year-old woman, but the arse of a teenage boy.
Highlights, lowlights, footlights and electrolytes:
· I finished. I ran all the way. Slowly.
· Heartbreak Hill is a) a bitch; and b) now my bitch.
· Whilst waiting for the starting gun, I thoroughly observed my co-runners. My "favourites" included a mother with her two daughters. The mother, guesstimatedly four months pregnant, was wearing a midriff singlet, and had written "Baby On Board" (or similar, I didn't want to stare) in texta on her belly. Her daughters, probably aged thirteen and fifteen, had both obviously done their hair carefully, were wearing full make-up including foundation and lipstick, and one of them wore a low-cut singlet with her pubescent puppies almost completely on display. Seriously – there was visible areola.
"What are you dressing up as for the City To Surf?"
"Slut Jailbait Lolita Trash. You?"
· I discovered that I am lacking in skills such as Drinking Whilst Running. This may be a hangover from my mother forbidding me to eat or drink whilst walking around the house, but now my running gear, bum-bag and sneakers smell like sports drink. Some went in my mouth, however, and my opinion regarding sports drinks has not changed. Salt-flavoured spit. Yech. Strange and unexpected joy was to be found, however, at each drink-station and the 200 metres afterwards, as the sound of thousands of feet running over squashed plastic cups was discovered to be more than a little amusing. I may write a poem entitled "Crunchy Cups". I may not.
· I loved the bands that set themselves up along the course, from the leather-panted, fake-mulleted cock-rock cover band on the eaves of the Golden Sheaf to the grey-haired brass band in a Bondi bus stop, to the ten-year old solo bagpiper. Bless you.
· Thanks and cheers must also go to those course-side residents who thumbed their noses at water restrictions and sprayed us all with their front-yard hoses. One of my workmates pointed out that they weren't really breaking the rules, as runners aren't technically classified as "hard surfaces". Oh yeah? Feel my thighs, buddy.
· Before I started the race, I had a mild urge to wee. After I had finished running, I didn't wee for two hours. Running makes the wee go away. I don't really want to think about this too much.
· Before entering, I was partly encouraged by the fact that the City To Surf would probably be an all-day perv-fest, filled as it was with fit blokes wearing not much. I failed to factor in sweat, stink, unbelievable hairiness, face-redness and mid-winter leg-paleness. I, of course, looked glamorous and windswept the whole way. Cough.
· When I saw the finish line, I'm not ashamed to admit that I got a little emotional. I trained really, really hard for this, and in nobody's imagination am I a natural runner, so I pretended that the three or four escaping tears were just a combination of sweat and badly-aimed Gatorade.
· After making sure I was properly rehydrated with water and more Spitty Salt, and cramming some carbs into my oesophagus, I settled in at the Eastern in Bondi Junction with Nick from Whale Sushi and his mate for some proper, grown-up, amber-coloured rehydration. Nick beat my race time, but I can confidently lap him in the beer stakes. A tops bloke, and quite the smarty-pants conversationalist. An excellent way to spend an afternoon, gentlemen – I thank you.
· With regard to the above conversation, I have learnt a thorough and surprising lesson – there is no good time to discuss the topic of arse-acne.
I'm pretty sure I'll run the City To Surf again next year. But I'll have a rest first. Right, knees? Right.