Yesterday was the annual Bridge to Brisbane fun run and, my goodness, it was a very interesting day! It had been a few years since I last participated, but my workplace entered a team, so I was pretty keen to be a part of it. Unfortunately, I got a cold last week, so I was still recovering from it yesterday (still have a bit of residual cough now), so I was not expecting to have a good result, but we’ll get to that later. I want to go over the whole morning. (Yes, there may quite possibly be a lot of menial details in this post, but I want to document as much as possible.)
I was doing the 10km course, so that meant starting the day off with a 4:56am alarm. I tend to set my alarm at random times like that because I know that when I wake up, I’ll probably just lie in bed for a few minutes more (hence why I didn’t set it at exactly 5am). I was meant to meet my team (the ones running/jogging in the same category) at 6:30am, so I was aiming to catch a bus around 6am (preferably a bit before).
Naturally, I prefer to run as unencumbered as possible – not even with my phone – but needing to be able to contact people, and also to secure the house when I left in the morning (and return to it, I suppose), I had to take my phone and keys. I added, also, my debit card and a bit of cash (as we would be having breakfast afterwards), and a small packet of tissues (since, as I said, I was still recovering from a cold). All this I tucked into the arm band with my phone, while I clipped my keys onto a lanyard.
Side note (this will actually become important later): I actually prefer to wear my arm band on my forearm/wrist because it feels too restrictive on my arm, and because it’s easier to check my running app; and I wrap the lanyard, holding my keys, around the opposite hand. I’ve done a few training runs, and found this configuration to work best for me.
Anyway, we’re getting to late winter now, but it’s been quite cold again, and it was rather cold on the morning of the race. I know I heat up quickly when I run (or exercise of any sort, really) but I had to survive getting there, and also not make my cold worse, so I was seriously considering bringing a jacket too. You can ditch your jacket/jumper at the start line (it all gets donated to charity) but I thought I’d end up holding onto it, and was worried it’d end up holding me back. But what to do? It was cold, and I was sick (I’d woken up in the middle of the night with a runny nose, and my sinuses were a bit stuffy when I woke at my alarm).
But after getting changed, and having a coffee, I started feeling better. The coffee warmed me up, and I started thinking that I didn’t need a jumper after all. Besides, I was running a bit behind schedule (I always underestimate how long it takes me to put on sunscreen…) so I figured I’d have a light jog to the bus stop to warm me further.
And what a good warm up that was! I think the adrenalin started pumping, and I felt as if my cold was practically gone. Getting on the bus, packed with other B2B participants, got my spirits up too. It’s just that feeling of all “being in it together”, and with such a large number of people too.
Here I can skip a few details because it’s just meeting up with my teammates, and waiting around at the start line. There were just so many people that we didn’t pass the actual start line/arch until almost twenty minutes after the scheduled time.
In the first stretch, of course, as the crowd gets going and everyone finds their own pace, it’s pretty slow. Some people, energised and enthusiastic, dodge and weave their way through, even though we all know this uses up precious energy. And even though I know this too, I was one of those people.
The course this year started on Wickham Terrace in Spring Hill, came down through Hale Street, and then onto the Go Between Bridge (yes, they were really creative with naming that one). Within a couple of kilometres, you get to the Cultural Centre where the museums are, and the State Library, as well as the site of the Performing Arts Centre. It was actually here, going into the turn leading to the carpark, that I tripped, or got tripped by someone else trying to cut in front of me…
Let’s not get the wrong impression here: Bridge to Brisbane is not a hardcore, competitive race. It’s a fun run, raising money for charities, clubs and schools. But it’s really popular and really crowded, so things like this are bound to happen (especially with overzealous people like me running around). And maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to say this was my favourite part of the run, but it is the part that I’ve told and retold most often.
Anyway, this fall was probably not even 2km into the race (or maybe it was just after 2km?). I’d already seen someone take a fall on Hale Street, so at least I didn’t feel bad about also tripping. What I felt good about, though, was how quickly I got back up again. The whole thing’s a bit of a blur, but all I remember is seeing someone cut in front of me from my right, feeling my feet hit hers, then going down and to the left; I hit the pavement (thankfully I fell onto the footpath, not the road on which we were running), did a bit of a roll, and the momentum carried me back onto my feet.
I know the people around me were probably shocked, and I heard people asking if I was ok, but I just shouted out a general “yeah, all good”, and kept running. Honestly, I was a bit shaken by it, but part of me felt pretty awesome.
I’d landed on my hands and left knee, so initially I was afraid I’d badly grazed my palms, and avoided checking the damage. But then I kept running for a bit, and decided I had to have a look. It was then I realised that having my arm band and lanyard where they were, my hands had been well protected – not a scratch on them. My next thought was that my phone would be smashed, but even that seemed to still be in working order (a good arm band, and good screen protector, I guess). Pleasantly surprised, I kept going.
This is actually getting ridiculously long, so let’s skim through a bit…
I did stop and walk quite a fair bit, but when I ran, I reckon I was running faster, knowing that I had to make up for all that lost time from walking. I did check my running app a few times throughout the race, to check my pace, and I was always surprised to see I was doing less than six minutes per kilometre.
And yet, even at the 7km and 8km marks, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the finish in less than an hour. But I kept thinking of that Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”, and I thought of that 61 minute run I did back in July, and I just kept going. I kept stopping to walk, but I’d walk maybe 20-30 metres before running again. And I told myself it didn’t matter if I just ran a few hundred metres before I had to stop and walk again – I just had to run as much as I could.
And, yeah, my knee was sore and stinging (my running pants just cover my knees, so I’d only realise later, after the finish, that it was a grazed), and my hands, though not bleeding, were tender; and, yeah, I was a little bit sniffly, and my lungs weren’t at 100%; and maybe there are so many other excuses I could come up with, but I just kept going. What other choice did I have?
It amazes me, the things that people can achieve.
Undoubtedly one of the best parts (if not the best part) of any long distance run is the final sprint. This part was even going downhill (entering into Grey Street in South Bank, from Kangaroo Point) so it was even better. And the cheering all along the way… There was even a kid at the last water station hi-five-ing everyone and saying encouraging things to us runners (and his dad/guardian was near him, kind of cheering him on to keep up the hi-fives and encouragement).
I met up with the rest of the running/jogging team at the finish, we got our free fruit, and then went to have brekkie at a nearby restaurant. We were all sore and tired, but we were feeling good and in high spirits.
My running app said I finished in less than an hour, but I didn’t pay much attention to the actual number; I wanted to wait for the official result. So, when I got home that evening (I was out the rest of the day, catching up with friends), I went on the website, and searched for my result…
57 minutes, 25 seconds
As sore and tired as I was, I was ecstatic and jumping for joy around the house. That’s my fastest 10km ever!
And I just kept thinking, what could I have achieved if I hadn’t been sick, if I hadn’t tripped over, if I’d had a better night’s sleep…
I reckon quite a few of my friends and teammates did better than they were expecting. This is why I want to remember this day – because we’re often more capable than we think we are, and sometimes it really is hard to remember that. And when you exceed your own expectations, that’s such an incredible feeling.