What I learnt from running 8.4km at Round The Bays

by - Saturday, March 14, 2015

currently: have my feet up.

the look of someone who ran 8.4km in the hot sun with a sports fanny pack on.
Running is boring.
Running 8.4km is boring, and tiring.
Running 8.4km in hot sun is boring, tiring, and really hot.

But I still did it anyway. And for some strange reason, I would be happy to do it again. Which is weird.

It was last Sunday morning, 9.45am. Wearing my bright yellow More FM team shirt and my stupid but practical sports fanny pack (aka "waist belt"), I began the longest run I've ever done.

At first it's easy. You put one foot in front of each other really quickly and make sure you don't run into walkers, pram pushers, the Auckland University Engineering association riding a couch with a keg, or your own two feet. For a while you feel pretty good passing others who had definitely slowed down. But then, about 3 minutes in, you start feeling tired and breathing gets hard. And then you remember you have to run another 8km feeling like that.

When you think about it, running is an incredibly stupid activity. It's mindless, it's long, and it's even more dull when you are just running by yourself. Every fibre of your being wants to stop running. And it's worse when the hot sun is on you makes you want to melt.

But of course it's more shameful to not finish a race. So you keep going, and going, and going. I had my pedometer on my phone timing me, and by 22 minutes I was incredibly frustrated that I had barely done 2km.

By 3km, I set myself the goal to beat every other person running in bright yellow t-shirt or in costume. Because if you're losing to a giant kangaroo, you're doing something wrong.

At the halfway mark, my running goal had changed to rushing to wherever I found shade. And my running style resembled more like a squid. Just flailing limbs everywhere.

Most of the time I didn't look at the people I had passed, but I'd occasionally flick a look at some people and notice their equally struggling expressions and sweat on their foreheads. We all had the same goal to get to the finish line, with all of us pushing our bodies to our limits under an awfully hot sun.

And then at 5km - I apparently had finished the race, because smartphone pedometers are the most inaccurate calculator ever. I didn't rush myself over the line. I didn't do a celebratory cheer or fist pump as I crossed the line. I didn't really have many thoughts other than 'where's water' and 'where can I lie down now?'

After you finish running, the last thing you want to think about is running more, or even moving more than you need to. All you become thankful for is that you've stopped needing to run, and you're out of the hot sun. But after an hour later, as we reflected on what we had just accomplished, that sense of completing what felt impossible made us feel like we could do it all again. Past me would have considered this crazy, but post-run me wondered if I could really push myself further with another ridiculously long run?

It's like a combination of curiosity, and craziness.

So overall, what did I learn from running 8.4km?
1) Running is boring. So boring.
2) But strangely, running is satisfying when it's done.
3) Never trust your cellphone's pedometer.
4) I may actually consider doing Auckland's half-marathon.

By the way, if you're wondering what my time was, I ran the 8.4km in 51.31 minutes. Much faster than the 1 1/2 hour time I had set myself to beat, though that's still a very boring 51.31 minutes to run.

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