Yesterday was the day where I ran in my first running race since 1983 (apart from the Mother’s Race at Alfie’s Athletics Carnival a few years ago).
As most of you are aware, I tried to prepare for the race by buying new shoes, purchasing orthotics and joining a jogging group. From the outset things didn’t go well as the orthotics gave me blisters and then curiously and seemingly from no where, pain developed in my knees. I have no idea why. I asked a massage therapist, an elite runner, a physiotherapist and the jogging coach if there was anything I could do to recover from the knee pain.
Most of them told me to try stretching before jogging and while I did try that, the knee pain only became worse. For the 10 days leading up to the race it was so bad I was unable to continue with any training. I hoped the period of rest would bring healing but it didn’t. A few days before the race I went to see a Bowen Therapist and he spent an hour working on my knees and over the next few days there was some improvement. The day before the race I went to see him and he taped my knees.
After my knees were taped he said, ‘Tomorrow when you’re running, if you’re in pain, just pull out of the race’. I looked at him like he was mad. I said, ‘I had to pull out of this race last year; I’m not pulling out this year’. And he said, ‘Better to pull out than cripple yourself’. Not necessarily.
I asked Carl if he could come along and take photos. He said, ‘Really? Running is so boring to watch; I’d rather go and watch Arabella row’. Because Arabella was in a rowing regatta at the same time. Besides the fact he did say he would come and be supportive, he was in the sin-bin.
I have a condition where the night before any early start I don’t sleep well. I’m so paranoid my three alarms will fail to go off that I’m wide awake most of the night. On the day of the race I woke at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I rose at 5am and watched the sunrise. Bonus!
My knees were sore but not too bad. Alfie and I walked to the starting line at 6.15am. It was a very cold morning and waiting around for the race to start in the 10C (50F) air in the dark was horrid and I seriously wondered why I had decided to run in this 10km event. Then I remembered – it was because I wanted to do something with my little guy.
Except we wouldn’t be doing it together. We stood side-by-side at the starting line but that’s where the togetherness ended. I said to Alfie, ‘At no point worry about me. Go ahead and run your own race. Don’t wait for me; and see if you can beat last year’s time’.
As soon as the hooter went off I lost sight of Alfie. He took off while I took a few hesitant steps and realised my knees were in a very bad way and probably worse because they were now stiff from the cold. One by one the 1400 other runners shot past me. I was running guardedly and very slowly.
At the 3km mark when I was limping past my own residence I thought about pulling out and going through the gate of home-sweet-home. Except I remembered I didn’t have a key to get through the front door.
But around the next corner I saw a friend cheering from the sidelines and she said, ‘Keep going Charlie; you’re doing really well but Alfie is doing extremely well; he’s way ahead of you’. I was pleased to hear my little guy was still going strong.
There were lots of downhill slopes in the race and these were really bad for my knees. I ended up running down them sideways like a crab. Every time I was running downhill, so many other runners flew past me. I worried I would end up being the last runner across the finish line.
At the 8km mark I’d had enough. I wanted to pull out but there were so many supporters lining the streets yelling out things like, ‘Not far to go’, and, ‘You’re nearly there’, and, ‘Well done’, that I felt I just had to keep going.
I tried to keep going as best I could and wanted to burst towards the finish line but my knees wouldn’t let me. My goal was to finish in less than an hour. My finish time was 01:01:39. Unbelievable. Where did I lose that 1.39? So annoying. I ended up coming 229th out of all the 750 or so female runners and 82nd in my age division. I think there’s room for some improvement. Carl came up to me with his latte and egg and bacon roll and observantly said, ‘You look like you’re in a lot of pain’. You reckon?
Then I saw Alfie looking all composed and completely at ease like he hadn’t even run. Well, he’d had a lot of rest waiting for his mother to cross the finish line. Last year Alfie ran in 55 minutes. This year his time was 00:48:26. Un-bloody-believable. Amongst the males he came 147th out of around 750 and was 10th in his age division of Under 20. He was also the first child across the finish line. For a chap I’ve always considered non-competitive, I was amazed.
All children completing the race received a medal from one of Australia’s greatest ever runners, Herb Elliott. He presented Alfie with his medal which was such an honour and a thrill.
But it wasn’t over for Alfie. He had signed up to also run in the 5km race and then the 2km race. I have no idea how he did it but he did. As best I could I was on the sidelines to cheer him on. As he was the only child to run in all three events he was interviewed by the MC who asked him if he’d like to become a marathon runner and he said he would!
Alfie must have given it his all because for the first time ever in his life, last night he said to me, ‘I’m ready to go to bed now’. And he was out like a light.
As for me, I just ache all over. I’m off to see a specialist about whether it’s the orthotics that have caused all the knee complaints.
My Alfie has said he’s signing up for all three events again next year and I’m determined I’ll be back – I’ve got to take 1:39 off my time and do a sub-60. Who’s with me?
The Mini-Mos Fun Run and Fair is Sydney’s premier community event, promoting health, fitness & fun to runners of all ages. Featuring 10km, 5km and 2km races through Mosman’s beautiful, hilly streets, Mini-Mos provides options for everybody. Mini-Mos raises money for Autism Spectrum Australia and the Unicorn Foundation.
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