Running a race. Running out of energy. Running on empty. Running can mean different things to different people – to the exercise haters it inspires terror with memories of high school cross countries – but to those of us who actually enjoy our body performing in this way it’s a drug like no other.
Since post-viral fatigue took over my life there has been a distinct lack of running in it, until last weekend that is. Don’t worry I didn’t run – I certainly wouldn’t be typing this on a Wednesday if I’d been running on a Sunday – but I experienced the next best thing…
As a lifetime sport lover I normally want to be the one playing the game/running the race/throwing the ball and have never taken kindly to being benched, however, this last weekend I lived vicariously through 1300 very fit people and had a thoroughly good time at the final leg of the Salomon Trail Running Series in Anglesea. It was the earliest start I’ve had in a while – no worries about being out of my PJs by midday as I was dressed and on the beach in Anglesea by 8am! I was there with my two big brothers – who spent most of our childhood ganging up on me (but deep down are quite nice boys) – and they are two very fit individuals.
This was the second year they’ve done the series and I had been appointed “chief bag holder” at the first race in June. At that one I made the mistake of not wearing enough warm clothes for a cold Melbourne morning and they found me curled up in the car asleep under a pile of their clothes. This time I was prepared with my brand new down jacket, a beanie and gloves and of course it was a balmy September morning and I needed to slather on sunscreen.
I cheered loudly as the two brothers ran past (who also have red hair and stand out like beacons in a crowd) and then returned to my bag-holding duties and two of the happiest dogs in the world, not caring in the least that I wasn’t running – hey, I didn’t have race-day nerves or lactic acid in my muscles and I wasn’t gasping for breath, they are all good things.
The two happy dogs are called Muscat and TimTam and are curly-coated retrievers who just happen to be half siblings. After too many throws of a ball for them to fetch the fatigue fog rolled in with a fuzzy feeling and a hot flush. Oh dear. It enveloped me and I suddenly needed to sit down, right then and there. Problem was we were at the water’s edge of a very low tide and all around me was wet sand… What to do? Well, the thing to do would have been to walk back up the beach to the dry sand but when the fatigue fog hits I am not the world’s best thinker… I sat on the wet sand, crossed my legs and closed my eyes. I didn’t care about a wet bum, I just couldn’t stand up any longer. A few minutes later my sister-in-law noticed I’d gone silent and still and told me to sit on my brother’s/her husband’s bag. I decided this was enough permission and shifted across, wet sand setting to the bottom of it instead of me. TimTam was overly attentive, sensing something was up, but the fatigue passed after a bit, and we went in search of coffee.
We sat in the sun with coffees and a ridiculously cute baby (she belongs to a friend, we didn’t steal her). A two-man band was playing ballads and the two dogs grinned at every passer by, sidling up for pats whether they were welcome or not. The intense pressure to be still and silent and on the ground was gone and while I knew the afternoon would not be pleasant and I’d need a big sleep I was really quite happy to watch red-faced people cross the finish line, heaving in ragged breaths.
Finishing a 15km is impressive enough really, and my brother AJ was quietly pleased with himself for completing it in spite of a distinct lack of training. Mike on the other hand did a little too well, so we lingered for presentations. I dutifully took photos as he stood on the dais in third place for the run. Then he went up again, so, forward I scurried, iPhone at the ready. Then he went up again. Talk about an overachiever, the boy won the medium course series for his age group and overall! Mike looked embarrassed but pleased and AJ and I stood there basking in his reflected glory.
In the end the boys were pretty sore and stiff, the dogs were covered in salt and sand (and their own slobber) and I’ve now got a new deadline to be better – first race of next year’s Salomon Trail Running Series. Although I think I’ll aim for the short course.
When I forced the boys to pose for a sibling photo they were compliant, but of course couldn’t resist ganging up on me again…