New Year’s Eve went off with a bang this year, for the simple fact that I was actually awake when the clock struck midnight and that there were in fact bangs (well I could see the bangs just not hear them). For the first time in a long time I decided to see in the New Year out of my comfortable bed, and in the company of new found running friends. All those times I’d sat back at school wondering why one earth some of the other kids were running around the oval doing lap, after lap, after lap, came back to bite me on the bum this New Years, as I could no longer deny that I was in fact now a runner.
For those of you who were like me and perhaps ran a little bit, but would never dream of calling yourself a runner, I have news for you; you are a runner. I was always hesitant of using the term ‘runner’ because of how it would be perceived. Society in all its terrible wisdom has taught us that runners run, they run fast and they run hard. It has taken me a long time to get my head around the fact that I could possibly refer to myself as someone who runs. Yes even when my training for Running for Bums has me up over 60 kilometres per week at times, I still struggle to call myself a runner. It sounds insane I know, and as someone who generally doesn’t give a rat’s bum what others think, I found myself questioning what other people would indeed think. What would people say if I told them I was a runner, but then walked part of the race, or ran very, very slowly? How would they react when we go for a run together only to find out that I run a solid 7:30min/k on a good day?
There are so many numbers out there that it is possible to reduce your ability to run to nothing more than a chase that you’re never going to win. I am the first to admit that I love numbers, facts and figures – it is how my brain is programmed. In my limited experience of running in events, I am not immune to chasing numbers, and trying to hold certain paces (slow ones, but paces none-the-less), but I have also learnt to not be defined by them. A number, a place, or a time, doesn’t define your worth on the trail, the road, or the track. It doesn’t belittle or reduce in significance the effort that you put in to get to the start line. Whether you ran it all, or ran a little, you can still cross the finish line and be proud of your achievement.
It has taken me a while to accept that I can now, in general conversation refer to myself as someone who runs if the topic pops up. There is nothing to be worried about, no ‘pace’ to be ashamed of, and no distance to be scoffed at. At the end of the day, the only people who are going to take issue with your use of the term ‘runner’ are probably people who don’t run, and who visualise Mo Farrah when they think of what a runner should look like and how fast they should run. So basically what I’m saying is put your big girl panties on (or big boy jocks), suck up any worries or concerns, and believe you are runner even if everything inside you is screaming at you not to.
As per usual I have digressed from the main point of this blog, so bear with me as I get back on track.
So this blog post was supposed to be about the New Years Eve trail run that I did in the You Yangs, very aptly named Rock Around the Clock (RATC).
So sorry for my wee little diversion – I’ll keep it short(ish).
RATC is a Trails Plus event held close to Melbourne and includes a variety of events from 10k to 42k, as well as both a 3 and 6 hour endurance race. The course itself is a 5km loop that circumnavigates Flinders Peak, and which includes one relatively short, but interminable climb right in the middle of it, before a breakneck descent which was way too much fun for moi.
Now one does not simply race on New Years Eve without being appropriately dressed so it was on with the tutu and the glow sticks before hitting the trail just on dusk. With only one loop in daylight the trail passed beneath my feet steadily as darkness fell, and I was left following my brand spanking new Ayup head lamp around and around (easily in the top 10 best Christmas presents I’ve ever received). I’m very new to this whole ‘racing’ business and wasn’t exactly sure how I’d find a loop race, but I actually loved the idea of being able to genuinely keep track of how I was going. I’m not sure how I would feel about doing anything more than 22 kilometres looping the same 5k, but it was certainly a great place to gain experience in it. As someone who generally doesn’t know any of the trails I find myself on, it was always nice to know exactly where I was on the trail, what was coming up and how far there was to go until the check point/finish line.
STOP PRESS! I had one gripe with the race.
It was that the coke at the above mentioned check point was being reserved for those doing the 42km and the 6 hour enduro events. I’m generally not one to kick and scream about much, but I had a genuine look of shock on my face when my question about getting a mouthful of coke was denied. DENIED!! SHOCK HORROR! Who denies someone coke on a trail run! I don’t drink the stuff on any other day of the year, but at a race – yes please give me cancer causing, stomach burning, teeth destroying, fizzy brown goodness NOW! Get in my belly! I was however lucky that the ever faithful Kirk joined me for 100m while I vented my shock at this, and promptly had some coke for me on the next loop. Thanks champ!
In all honesty the coke doesn’t do much, it is just something that puts a fizz on the lips and gives you a bit of a short sugar kick, but it is the principle of the thing. Or maybe it’s just the vibe. Or Mabo. Or whatever.
Anyway, I eventually crossed the finish line for the last time just before 11pm, and much to my delight I found out that I had managed to pull off equal splits for the entire run (non-running folks this just means that each lap took the same amount of time). I didn’t care so much what they were, but I was beside myself with excitement that they were equal. I did a little happy dance and then had another mouthful of coke.
So after all the coke had been drunk, all the chips eaten, and with runners still lapping the finish line every few minutes, all that was left to do was sit on the hillside over-looking the bay and watch the fireworks explode above Geelong and Melbourne. Whilst we couldn’t hear the bangs, the light cloud cover illuminated the fireworks even more so and the sky was ablaze with bright colours and smoke trails. It really was the best way I’ve ever brought in a new years and I think from now on I might just make a trail run, followed by a night under the stars with friends, my new New Year’s Eve habit.
Here’s to a fabulous 2017; may you get all you work for and work for what you truly want. I look forward to sharing all things Running for Bums over the coming 12 months. Stay classy x