I ran the city last Sunday.
Not in the sense that I dream of; where I am the Mayor of the town and have total power, changing all the parking meters to lollipop vending machines and releasing dolphins into all the public fountains. This was for one of those supposed “fun runs”.
This time I was running the streets with 12,000 other citizens. We had sacrificed a Sunday morning of sleep-ins, scrambled eggs and various regrets to raise funds for the Special Care Nursery at the local hospital.
I had registered for the 6km run although I don’t think that fact had quite registered with my cardiovascular system. I had done my best to prepare in the lead up to the event, embarking on a few runs of various distances and intensity.
The morning of the run I ate a light breakfast of natural yoghurt, potassium-rich banana (to avoid cramping) and a handful of superfood berries. This was a late attempt to counteract my overly-complex carbohydrate meal from the night before of fish n chips, ice cream and a coke (just like Usain Bolt would do).
I arrived at the starting line and found myself among a group of participants, who like me, had figured they’d complete the race in around 30-35mins. We all huddled around a sign which predicated the same.
The run started (was it a race? Some people right up the front wearing a lycra seemed to think so) and I surged forward with the wave of people around me. This was a new experience for me and one that immediately had an impact. This feeling of community, of being not just a runner but a part of a running organism, was euphoric. This was why people do fun runs! Not for the free t-shirts or the opportunity to pretend you were escaping the zombie apocalypse. Here we were, taking over the streets of city normally ruled by cars, running like bulls towards a free bottle of water and a feeling of achievement.
Less than a kilometre in and we had hit the middle of the Moorabool St hill. I had pinpointed this as the biggest challenge of the course and pre-planned to attack it with gusto. I lengthened my stride and picked up my pace, being careful not to take out the dozens of meter-high children taking on the course. After accidentally elbowing an asthmatic out of my way, I arrived at the top of the hill gasping and briefly considered going back to my victim to rob them of their inhaler.
One of the fun bits of this run was the various entertainers assembled along the course. A Mariachi band was at the starting line to send us off, a DJ booth setup was setup at the hospital to keep motivation levels up and arriving casualty patients grooving and elsewhere I saw a full choir. The good times didn’t stop there with many runners forgoing the event t-shirt for fancy dress. I was overtaken by Luigi for the first time since playing Mario Kart and at one stage was offered water by Chewbacca. The most disturbing thing though was the amount of kids that passed me along the course, gliding by like time itself.
I had made two commitments to myself pre-race; finish in less than 35 minutes and don’t walk. I was 1 km from the finish when both goals came up for negotiation with my sub-conscious. The thing you have to understand about my sub-conscious is that it is an expert negotiator. We are talking about an entity that convinced me to wear corduroy pants for far too large a part of the late 90’s!
The promotion for the run invited you to run, walk or roll. As I neared the finished line I wanted to walk and was longing to roll into the foetal position, but I didn't. I finished as I started.
Running the city.