Now Perth is a LONG way from sunny Rockhampton. The reason I travelled to Perth was to run with my long time friend and first time runner Donald.
Donald and I have been friends since 1999, we both worked at Woolies (the Empire) together. He was studying politics and I had just started my OHS degree. He left Rockhampton in 2001 nearly the same week I met Bel.
On the weekend during my 48hr visit to Perth we spoke about a lot of things, we hadn't seen each other since 2009 but we speak every week via email or text. Donald is one of those friends that would do anything for you, loyal to the core - he is someone I would want in the trench with me.
Donald was meant to be visiting Perth for a holiday, and has since landed himself a terrific opportunity working in politics. Long hours, stress and sadness of the passing of his dad had resulted in his weight pouring on.
A little over 2 years ago, he started running - and I made a promise to him that I would run his first race should he be brave enough to sign up. However as is often when you start running, injury struck and he was out of action for 12 months. One physio told him that he should give up running and take up cycling!
But a chance run on the treadmill at the gym earlier in the year ignited the fire and he was back training solidly again. Just before he went to the UK to watch the ashes we both signed up for Western Australia's biggest event; the Chevron Perth City to Surf.
We would be running together step by step on Sunday with 48 000 other competitors in the event, we were one of 27 000 in the 12km race. Donald and his training partner Kylie had never entered a race before, never pinned a bib on in anger, never experienced the finishers chute. The nerves turned into excitement on Saturday, we chilled out in Perth, watched Karno in 50 Marathons in 50 Days then got some rest before the race on Sunday.
I have never raced an event with 48 000 others, I wasn't sure how the logistics would be. I guessed we would be waiting for at least an hour or two before we actually got to start. I hate when I am right!
As we drove into the city it started to lightly rain, I commented that it would be a great day to run the marathon, nice and cool with no sun. The newbie runners didn't like the prospect of running their first race in the rain!
We parked the car and did our last pit stop at Donald's office (which was downstairs from the convention centre) and we could see thousands of people streaming down into the convention centre. The lift was quiet as we went down stairs and over the road to the race.
As we started to walk across to the convention centre, there were thousands of runners all waiting trying to get in, it was weird as I was expecting that we would all line up along the road for our wave start. Instead it took 20 minutes of waiting before we were ushered into one of the huge convention centre rooms. Here we waited for another 45 minutes before we started! Our race was meant to commence at 9.15 but it was 10am when we finally got our side and started to run.
As we crossed the timing mat, it all became pretty real. The first KM was very quick and I probably got caught up in the excitement of the race, pushing Donald a bit too hard. This was a mistake as we hit a huge hill at the end of the first KM. It involved a bit of a power hike, but then we were off settling into a steady pace, cruising along down hill enjoy the event.
For me it was like paying my dues to the running gods. I had been blessed to have Ben run with me for 3 ultras, and as I was coaching Donald along the course it struck me that today I was the Jedi Master - Ben's encouraging words were coming from my mouth "get your breathing under control" "relax down this hill" "keep your head up".
We were probably moving a bit too quick at certain stages, and by the time we hit the 8km mark Donald was suffering - he said to me that it was really hard and he was struggling. I gave him a bit of "tough love" and said it was meant to be hard, and if it was easy everyone would be out here, run of the mill motivation but it was enough to ensure he got back into the grind and worked hard up the final hill to the finish.
Coming down the finishers chute was amazing, it was a great feeling and I was able to capture it on video on his camera. It was pretty cool watching it back - I wish I had all of my marathon finishes on camera like that!
As we finished a few tears were shed, and we wandered through to where the medals were being given out. A special moment for both Donald and Kylie.
In a farcical turn of events we grabbed a drink and within 2 minutes became separated. 45 minutes later we finally found each other, due to poor reception at the finish precinct!
A 30 minute bus ride back into the city and we were finished. I kept my runners bib on and medal, and as we sat down to have lunch Donald was already planning his next race. The running bug had well and truly bitten!
Running so often connects people on a deeper personal level. You are a runner no matter what the pace or distance, it is as primal as it gets. One foot in front of the other to get to another point, powered only by your own legs. Sharing the running journey and race experience with friends is a special moment. Much more rewarding than racing for yourself and your own time.
It had been a weird weekend, Ben and his family have left Rocky and headed back home to Wellington NZ. It sad to see such an awesome friend leave, but Donald is proof I can do the long distance friendship. It just takes commitment from both sides.
PS - Don't forget to sign up for our race the CQPhysio Group Spring Classic www.hreoz.com
|Just before the start|
|2km in massive hill!|
|Me, Kylie and Donald|