Two Mondays ago I was in Dublin for the Flora Mini Marathon 10K.
After nine years living here in the UK, I'm still not over the novelty of being able to "pop over" to a whole other country for the same price/time it used to take me to get from Canberra to my hometown! But it would be a sad, curmudgeonly day if I ever lost that sense of wonder. Even when wonder is really profound stuff like, "OMG Cadbury Tiffin! You don't get that in the UK or Oz!"
Unlike the Running Festival last month I walked this one solo. But I was in a crowd of 40,000 other women, the Mini Marathon being the biggest women's race in the world…
I also had company in spirit - Up & Runner Cels was over from Brussels to do her first 10K (and she kicked butt) and Coach Julia J was over from Modena, with some of her Italian runners. We hung out all weekend and I could say nowt but ciao. I need to work on my Italiano.
The atmosphere was brilliant. So many people were running for charities and had the names of lost loved ones on the back of their t-shirts. That wells me up every time; always a sober reminder of the fragility and randomness of life.
The race was divided into Runners, Joggers and thousands of wonderfully chatty Walkers. The pace was slow-going for ages – most seemed up for a fun stroll rather than to steam along as fast possible like a big ginger walking machine as per my own intention.
At 4km I had to ditch the number obsession after I accidentally switched off Walkmeter so I didn't know how fast I was going. My brain about exploded trying to add up the splits with my watch, so the rest of the race was just me and my feet and all those ladies.
I've fiddling with this post for almost three weeks now, flitting between feeling proud and emotional then feeling stupid for feeling emotional, because all I did was walk ten piddling kilometres. It seems so silly when my friends routinely run for miles, Julia just did another Half Iron Man; Gareth is about to cycle up some Alps. It also seems extra lame when I used to be able to run and haul up mountains and kick arse at kickboxing.
I got stuck on that whiny groove around 6km (why does this always happen in the middle of races? I guess the brain wanders): You're so slow. Why'd you get so lardy again? You did 14 minute miles in Moonwalk training, why didn't you appreciate it? My feet hurt. This sucks. I suck. I bet Julia is in the pub with a Guinness by now!
But emotions come and go like the tide. The trick is to let 'em wash over and keep walking anyway. As I got closer to the finish line the bleak thoughts were replaced by peacefulness at being in a foreign land on a sunny day in a happy crowd; bewilderment at the lady smoking as she walked along in a cancer charity t-shirt, and the fun of eavesdropping on some breathless on-the-go wedding planning:
So I've got my shoes I've got my dress I've done the invites too my hair? I'm not sure about the hair depends if Kelly is coming if Kelly is coming I'll get her to do my hair for free she's a hairdresser see but if she's not coming I'll have to find someone else to do it oh no I've not done the flowers yet…:
Here are some photies I snapped along the way:
I finally crossed the finish line in 01:45:49, an average of 10.35 minutes per kilometre, which I was okay with considering the first three km's were a very snailish 15, 12 and 12 minutes as it was so crowded. I must've sped up towards the end there.
I felt fitter than I did in Bologna last month, with no knee or sciatic pain. That's the comparison I choose to make now, rather than dwelling on where I used to be years ago. Being part of that race, with so many women of all shapes and sizes and stories, reiterated the importance of celebrating and making the most of where you are, right now.
Walking can be boring but it's working and it's taking me some interesting places!