6am the alarm clock goes off and I am up! I am so excited about today. It is something that Mandy and I have been training for the last few weeks. JP is also up ... he might be even more excited than I am!
As I get ready for the race ... aka put on some shorts and a T-shirt JP continuously tries to hydrate me all morning as if I am running a marathon in the Sahara. I tell him to relax it is a 10km race ... I will be fine. He then asks if there is time for him to make a sign that says “Go My Denis!” and told him NO SIGNS. He pouts.
Before we leave he insists I eat something, so I give in and he pours me a small bowl of Special K with some banana in it. Isn’t he just the best?!
Out the door and onto the scooter, we need to meet Mandy at 6:30am to drive to the coast together. Once we arrive we find a parking space and then realize we have no idea where we need to go. Everything is in Chinese. We pull the lost foreigner faces and stumble around some booths looking for registration. Luckily many of the organizers spoke English and we found our numbers and signed in.
Now we wait to start. I am not nervous about the distance we have to run as I have practiced the 10km a few times before today. But I am nervous about the hundreds of people I need to share the road with. I am used to running at night, alone or with Mandy. I have my own space and my own speed. Here there are hundreds of people of varying abilities sharing the road. This is going to be rough.
We get our tunes out and ready ... there is no way I am running for over an hour without music. JP has the camera clicking away to capture every moment. Mandy and I both like to blog and document everything we do on camera. So we were very thankful JP was willing to get up and be our personal paparazzi today. We line up at the start and listen as someone is shouting in Chinese over a megaphone or microphone or both. They blow horns relentlessly but the race is not to start for another 10minutes.
We wait with excitement building and finally the official horn goes and the mass of people start to move. Slowly ... this was frustrating. I wanted to start and get my pace. Instead for the first couple hundred meters we were bobbing and weaving around men, woman and children.
As I started to settle into the run I looked up to see JP there at the corner snapping pics. I was embarrassed and grateful at the same time. I knew these would not be attractive photos but I also knew I wanted them.
(laughing as I notice my paparazzi in the crowd of spectators)
Now it was time to quiet the mind, breath and keep my pace. I could not worry about the people running quickly ahead or the idiots leap frogging me for over a 1km. I had to shrug off it off and ignore the people who would cut me off or stop dead in front of me at the water station to have a chat and sip some H2O. I needed to just keep going. I had a goal to finish this race in one hour and five minutes.
Running in the sun is a change for me and a black T-shirt was not the best choice as it got quite warm but I tried not to focus on that. On the way out we watched marathon runners return from their run. These guys are hardcore and I am totally jealous of their fitness level. I feel like a hero after 10km ... these guys are like gods!
At the turn around we were given a white band for our wrists to ensure we went the correct distance. I love the turn around. It means we are almost done. I smile at friends as they head to the turn around and I am heading back. I also give the finger to some idiot drivers who are trying to drive down this small side road with runners on either side. When Mandy and I pass each other we give a supportive high five. We are really doing this! She thought I was nuts a few weeks ago when I told her we were signing up!
The volunteers along the route who control traffic cheer on the runners in Chinese and smile at me with a thumbs up. My GPS chimes into my music to remind me of my pace and I know I am going to beat my goal. I begin to pick up the pace for the last km ... almost there. Finish strong I tell myself. As I am approaching the final stretch before the finish line I am focused ... so focused that I hardly realize the man at the corner with the camera is JP. I laugh to myself and then shoot him a “Go Sharks” (his rugby team) sign. As I pass him he turns to run for the finish. He wants to capture everything. I continue on down the 10km finishing lane and I am timed and tagged as I cross the line.
I finished my first 10km race in 58min 06sec.
I placed 97th out of 487 runners and 7 out of the 150 female runners. Big smiles!
We then collect our bags and return to the same spot at the corner to watch Mandy come in. She smiles as we snap pics and then we run to the finish. Mandy and I have a huge hug! We did it!
Our next challenge ... Sprint tri? Half marathon? Another 10km?
Let the training begin!