Race Report: Lifeline Fun Run (and the people you see at fun runs)

I put off writing about this fun run because I was pregnant at the time and it was impossible to talk about it without also mentioning that fact, which is fortunate overall but was very unfortunate when it came to this event. Much like 2013’s challenging runs – either due to hail or unexpected ascents – this one unexpectedly pushed us to our limits. Jude and I signed up together, convinced by the excellent cause it was supporting, the fact we’d get to run on the not-even-opened-to-traffic-yet Majura Parkway, and we’d neglected to enter a single bush marathon in 2014. (I blame the fact that the space tracker station event was held on my birthday this year.) I signed up for the 10km, downloaded a training program onto my phone, started training, promptly discovered I was pregnant, fell prey to dreadful morning sickness, knew I wouldn’t be able to finish training, and emailed the lovely Karen at Lifeline to switch to the 5km. Jude joined me in solidarity, because that’s what sisters do.

It was held on 23 November, a time of year with an average temperature in Canberra of 22 degrees.

It was 38 degrees.

That’s pretty much all you need to know: pregnant lady who hasn’t trained, “running” in unseasonably hot weather. The start line was at a winery (read: no shade). The route was on a brand new highway (read: no shade). It was 33 degrees by the time I hobbled over the finish line at 10.15. I’d walked the vast majority of it, emptied both my water bottles (which I don’t normally run with because I don’t run marathons, but I have a runner’s belt to carry them when I’m pregnant), ate all my snacks (one of the cruelties of pregnancy nausea is that eating helps – which means you start putting on weight immediately and you actually get sick of stuffing your mouth with more starches), rested for a good few minutes under the only shade available (a bridge), and still felt like I was going to die by the end. It was unpleasant, to say the least.

Huddling in the shade before we begin.

Huddling in the shade before we begin.

I did feel sorry for the Lifeline organisers, because on any other day (including the day before or after) this would have been a great event. But it was a terrible setting for such heat and sun and you could just tell everyone was super hot and cranky whether they’d done the marathon or 5km. It was the event’s first year so hopefully next year the weather will be kinder and they will still get a good turnout.

All that walking did give me time to think though, and especially ponder on the types of people you see at fun runs. Anyone who thinks they wouldn’t fit in at a fun run needs to go and have a look, because everyone fits in.

There are the people who are chronically underprepared. They show up in jeans or sandals or the same worn-out sneakers they’ve been walking the dog in for ten years. They don’t have a hat and they’re wearing the wrong bra. They look uncomfortable before they begin, or sometimes I wonder if they were just walking past, saw there was a fun run, and decided to join right then.

At the other end of the spectrum are people who are uber prepared for their 5km event. They’re wearing top-to-toe skins, even in mild weather. They’re carrying three litres of water as well as a back pack (presumably that’s where the first aid kit is). They’ve got their Garmin all set up, sometimes even two in case one fails, and the best sneakers money can buy. They’re stretching and jogging and laughing bravely in case anyone thinks they are at all nervous or unprepared.

There are the gym goers who are usually middle-aged and overweight and wearing the T shirt the gym or personal training company gave them, and they’ve been training for months for this event because any “10 Tips To Get In Shape” article will recommend having a clearcut goal to motivate you. They’re in a nervous group but they always try really hard and I hope when I am that age and shape I’m still getting out there and having a go even if I’m scared.

You can tell the marathon runners because they are all tanned and sinewy with bald heads and mirrored sunglasses. They wear tiny running shorts and nothing on top, or a fluoro bra if they’re female, and look like they live on spinach and egg whites. Sometimes they look like they are in their element and it’s easy to wish you loved something as much as they love running. But other times they look absolutely wrecked like they’d rather be anywhere else, and then you’re just glad that you have friends and food in your life, as well as running, because that’s called being well-rounded and it gives you something to look forward to after your run.

There are the do-gooder groups, wearing T shirts for an important cause or another, who don’t really try that hard but they wave their flags and make sure everyone knows what they are really there for. There’s the families, skinny kids with skinny mums and dads, and I can’t wait for Emma to start coming with me so she grows up knowing running is not to be feared. There’s the veterans, who look a lot like the marathon runners only more weathered and much happier, presumably just to be alive and still running.

These are the sorts of thoughts you have while you’re having to finish a 5km as slowly as possible lest you and your unborn child melt to the pavement. I didn’t run for 6 weeks after that, but now the morning sickness has eased I’m looking forward to getting out for some more slow runs before I really can’t do it anymore.

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