Randomness on Race Day

Spent today at Beijing’s Summer Palace but had these random thoughts about the race yesterday. Some are a little sad, some are a little funny but just thought I’d share. Enjoy.

Woke up, considered a bad dream. Smashed a can of baked beans as suggested by my old colleague JR. Tried to go to the toilet before I left the hotel. Nahdah. Strapped my right knee. Took a photo with a toy panda.

Listened to Eminem’s Lose Yourself on the bus. Arrived at race site to dancing and drums. Caught up with the Adelaide crew racing to raise money for the Julian Burton Burns Trust. Went to the toilet again. Chatted in the queue to random Americans about Lululemon and how good their sizing is. Got asked for a tissue by a girl in the queue. Had 15 seconds of internal hell contemplating whether to give her one of my limited supply in case I needed them around the course. Told her ‘no’. Immediately regretted it. What’s one square? Tried to go to the toilet. Nahdah. Bopped about to a song talking about keeping up with the Jones as part of the warm-up. Back to the toilet – Bingo. Lined up to watch the first wave of marathon runners start. Saw the 5km winner crossed the finish line. Said a little prayer.

Started my watch. Ran past some horses – seriously? Why, why? (see Stacking It post). Smiled at the different running get-ups out there. Started the climb. Ran a bit, walked like a Chinese man a bit (see Walk like a Chinese Man blog). Spotted a fellow competitor Marion up ahead. Marvelled about the fact she was walking quicker than I was running. 4km. Got a cheer from the Adelaide crew running past. Heard some random footsteps next to me. Looked over to see Phil. Wondered how long he’d been running behind me and whether he noticed my backside wobbling. 5km. Reached the start of the wall. Felt really good about my preparation. 7km. Reached a bottleneck in the half-way point of the wall. Got frustrated by the wait and started timing it. Recorded a birthday message to Phil’s 5-year-old nephew. Took a couple of snaps. Smiled thinking about a little boy on the orientation walk who blurted out “if you give me a wet willy, I’ll give you a wedgie’’. Started to worry the 20 minute delay was going to make me miss the cut off point for the run. 8km. Decided to overtake people on the “single file” part of the wall. I couldn’t afford to wait. Stopped for a lady who was trembling as she clung to the rope on the way down. She was scared of heights. 9km. Powered through Yin Yang Square.

Ran past the horses again reaffirming my decision to take an antihistamine. 15km Finally noticed a distance marker. Headed off-road towards a nearby village. 16km Was handed hand-picked flowers from a little Chinese girl. Exchanged them for a bottle of water at the next drink station. Went to the toilet behind a tarp next to someone’s number twos. Accidentally peed on my sneakers. Got busted in on by another runner. Got my headphones caught in my underwear rushing to pull my pants up. Lost the fuzzy bit that protects your ear. Realised it was back in all the urine.

18km got in to a rhythm. Started to feel the isolation. Was buoyed by a girl in a Mexico t-shirt in front of me. I’m glad I wasn’t alone. 19km gave hundreds of high-fives to village kids bordering the route. Regretted it when I saw the dirt on their hands. Did I bring my hand sanitizer? 20km heard my name being called from down the bottom of a ridge. Erik from Adelaide, only a couple of kilometres ahead of me. Big smile. Ate a carbohydrate gel. Wished I had some Mesomorph. Stopped and made a video at the half way point. Passed “Miss Mexico”. Tried to pee behind a bush. Got caught by the cops. Wondered if peeing in public was illegal in China. Considered what was worse – being arrested in China or finishing this race? Whipped my pants up quick smart. Ran another few hundred metres. Went to the loo behind a bush. Peed on my trainers again. Thought about burning my sneakers and the affects on the environment. Ran a few more kms. Got stage fright needing to pee AGAIN! Got back on the road and the urge immediately returned. Watched the complete meltdown of a fellow athlete in front of me. He head was swaying more than Stevie Wonder in full verse. Patted him on the back and kept running. Ran along a rocky path. Loved that it broke up the monotimy. Concentrated not to roll my ankle. Got startled by a police officer who jumped out of an orchard and started taking photos of me. WTF? Considered the needs for rocks in society. What is their purpose? 26km got concerned that I’d made a wrong turn when I came across a sign for the 16km for the half marathon. Said “Nǐ hǎo” (hello) to villagers. 29km regretted jumping from rock to rock like a school girl on before mentioned track. Knees and feet sore. Passed the 32km cut off point with more than an hour to spare– BRILLIANT! Got bored of the isolation and started to faulter between 32-35km mark. Was spurred on by cheers from the Adelaide crew and the people who I had met at the hotel, for my third pass through Yin Yang Square. Thought I was home and hose with only an hour to go. Got a wristband as I entered the wall again. Realised really quickly, the path was different to the one we had come down earlier. Wasn’t prepared for that. Started to pass vomit from fellow runners. More horses – I mean come on, seriously? Had to start scampering up the steps like a rock climber because of their height. Not breaking a sweat but knees unable to response to the height. Passed a women sobbing into her hands. She was broken. Offered her comfort and told her to join me. She declined. Was pleased that I was not hurting mentally. Used hand ropes to pull myself up a hill. Saw another women being escorted down exhausted. So close. Came within 20m of a fellow competitor I had been stalking out all day. Then lost him again. Chatted to an elderly couple which said they wouldn’t wish this on their worst enemy. Agreed with them. Hammed it up for the cameramen along the wall. It was a long day for them too. 36km – took a video of me reaching breaking point. Offered a photographer all I had to put on my shoes and run the rest of the way for me. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. Watched a lay man get stretched off the wall by army personnel. Seriously considered rushing the stretcher, pushing him off and getting on myself. Passed a doctor in a white lab coat. Rubbed the Great Wall sign as I came off the wall. Rolled my bottle of water down the hill and watched where it landed. Thought about my parents. Thought about my dog. Was passed by an ambulance. Decided the road was definitely longer than on the way up. Started to get sunburnt on my chest. Wished there was more people out on the road cheering. 40km stopped and made a video (see videos under visuals) about God Save the Queen. Was delirious and accidentally meshed two verses of Advance Australia Fair into one. Got over taken by the old couple from the wall. Kudos to them. Was passes by countless buses transporting other competitors back to Beijing. Told a marshall I’d had enough running for one day. Entered Yin Yang Square. Saw Brigitte screaming towards me telling me to hurry or I would miss the cut off. Welled up with tears that she and her mother Marie and Phil had waited all those hours for me so that someone would be there to see me finish. Run though the finish line holding their hands. Got my medal and a hug from a marshall. Got my picture taken. Hugged Marie who was now sporting a Chinese hat after being rugged up like an Eskimo 8hrs earlier. Got my complimentary lunch. Skipped the massage. Got on a bus. Admired the sun tan on my legs before realising it was dirt. Got teased via text message for being so slow. Took my shoes off. Ahhhh… Watched The Blindside on my iPhone. Made Phil do the drinks run at the rest stop. Drank water and needed to pee again. Held on for the next two hours. Found a hand bag on the bus. Stared longingly at the shower for 45 minutes waiting for its owner to come and collect it. Finally got my shower. Watched a bit of F1 Grand Prix qualifying. Stared at the TV for 15 minutes before realising I hadn’t taken in a single bit of it. Got into bed. Pulled the covers up. Ripped off my baby toenail which was hanging by a thread on my bed sheet. Winced in pain. Sleep.

  1. Shirls says:

    Love it all. Too funny. Never realised you were quite so comedic.

  2. Jemma Peucker says:

    Huge effort Crust! So proud!

  3. Jemma Peucker says:

    PS I hope I was in your thoughts at some point LOL!

  4. KT says:

    Love the way you wrote this Crust, awesome story you can tell for the rest of your life.

  5. Natalia says:

    Love the toilet humour! A great story that will no doubt be etched in your mind forever.

  6. Jo Keam says:

    Amazing, congrats!!! So proud of you for getting through!!! xoxox