I used to only sign up for races with medals.
But that was in the before.
As we start to move, hopefully, tentatively and kindly, into the after, now I run because I want to and because I can.
Returning to races has been a bit of a struggle for me to say the least.
It seems kinda silly.
Last year, I signed up and didn’t show up, or signed up and DNF’d (don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about that recap). I didn’t want to run but I really wanted to run at the same time.
I love the goal and the challenge and the places. I also love the people, even though seeing groups of friends and running buddies makes me jealous as hell, I love the comradeship and the random conversations you have with random people.
But the people also give me epic anxiety. Not individuals per se, just the number of them. All breathing and hanging around together without their masks.
Even yesterday, when I was having such a great time, I got stuck behind a larger dude on a single track (his size is only relevant due to my inability to delicately go around him). My first thought was not about my time or pace, it was I’ve been close behind this dude for a few minutes now and he’s huffing and puffing (as was I), I hope he doesn’t have COVID.
I’m not proud of it, but it’s where I am at this point in 2022, two years since this all started.
And I’m working on it, I don’t want to be a runner who doesn’t run races.
So I signed up for a race without a medal. I wanted a training run, close to home, small field, small (ish) distance , in preparation for my Tarawera replacement race, the Snowies 70k in two weeks. A no pressure, no one cares shuffle and a chance to test out all my “heat” gear.
So I showed up at Anglesea just after 8 to find the spot where the river meets the sea a flood of people.
I grabbed my mask and headed over registration and once that I was sorted, I headed back to my car. No loitering for me. In fact, I ended up running to the start line and through the arch without the pre-race nervous on the spot shuffle at the starting arch. I don’t recommend this, I actually thought I was going to miss the start which didn’t help the pre race nerves at all.
As a “training run” and not an a race (which lets be real, I rarely race for a goal time anyway!), I set out to run as much as I could, no hiking when you can run and to keep at Freddo pace, so between 6 and 7 minute k’s.
The course is rolling hills. It doesn’t look like much when you just look at the overall elevation gain but the map says it all, it is not my usual dead flat suburban situation!
My unconventional start line approach, meant I was a bit stuck on the single track at the start, but I wasn’t in a hurry so I kept to own pace and stuffed up passed people instead of just walking behind them. If I could run, I was going to run.
The signs and course markings were excellent and really easy to follow even with three different distances on the same set of trails. I’m not sure what the other arrows were for but I followed the red arrows and pink ribbons (there was also yellow and green depending on your race distance).
The course was mostly single trail around the Anglesea area. There was a little bit of beach, a little bit of fire road and a huge chunk of mountain bike trails, which are fun for 5 minutes but then you want out.
I made the mistake of saying it was the trail that never ends and managed to get that stuck in my head for the rest of the run.
I ran past the first aid station because it felt kinda early, maybe 5k in and I still had heaps of water. This should have been a red flag, but I wasn’t paying that much attention.
Turns out it was almost the 10k mark and I wasn’t drinking enough water.
By the time I got to the next aid at around 16k, it was super hot and super dehydrated.
Safe to say, my all white euro get up didn’t save me from not drinking enough water!
All the people I had just spent the last 10k knocking off, all passed me as I filled up my bottles.
Shuffling down towards Anglesea I ran into my OG trail buddy turned race photographer Elise, who was just as surprised to see me at a race with no medals as I was to sign up for one.
I have to admit, it was super weird running through the arch and all that and not getting a medal at the end. Maybe it’s conditioning but it was kinda deflating.
I was super stoked with my time and managing to keep my average pace at perfect Freddo pace.
Afterwards, with no one in particular to meet up with or cheer for, I grabbed my bag from the car and headed down to the beach for a swim in my white clothes!
There were icebergs in them seas!
I quick change in the back of my car (I’m never getting a small car again) and I headed out for a post run smoothie and burrito at the Anglesea vego cafe.
With the exception of a little chafe (the white shirt didn’t pass the long run test) and odd feet peeling situation (socks didn’t either), it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning. (The dehydration headache kinda wrecked the afternoon though!)
So kids, medals aren’t everything (they sure are nice), sometimes getting out there is the real prize. (Go on, stitch that on a pillow!)