A few months back, Dr Victor (my boss) had promised me prize money if I could beat him in the Park City 10K run. The race was on 24 November 2013.
On race morning, I opened my eyes groggily. It was still dark outside. It felt as though I’d been sleeping for a very long time. I wondered when the alarm on my phone would ring so that I could finally drag myself out of bed. I blinked on my phone, and my heart skipped a beat: 6.04AM! I had to wash up, get changed, grab some breakfast, drive myself to Desa Park City, park my car and then get to the starting line, all within the next 36 minutes. Every minute wasted would pull me further away from the prize.
I jumped out of bed, bathed and got dressed within minutes. I was panicky, and was literally shaking when trying to place my contact lenses onto my eyeballs. Funnily enough, I had decided to pack everything into my backpack the night before, instead of rushing on the morning of the run like I would normally do. I thank God I made that call, because my brains were too frazzled for any decision making or clear thinking.
I managed to shove a spoonful of chia seeds into my mouth, gulp down a mouthful of water and grab two slices of bread for breakfast before zooming out the front door. The journey to DPC took about 15 minutes. During the drive I fumbled around, alternating between having my phone and my breakfast in hand, made a few calls and tweeted (I am not a good example. Parents, tell your kids about me). I called and arranged to meet up with Yvonne (my colleague) on the road, and she was nice enough to wait for me (the initial plan was to meet her at her house) so that I could tail her car to Desa Park City. Yvonne handed over my race pack which had my running vest and running bib. I didn’t even have enough time to change into my running vest. After parking our cars illegally at the side of the road, we headed to the starting area. It was already 10 minutes after the 10K flag off. The pack had taken off and I was still walking towards the starting area, trying to pin my bib on. As soon as I passed the starting mat, I broke into a jog.
The first few kilometres were horrible. I was feeling so demotivated. I was right at the back of the pack. I had to slither my way through the crowd which took forever. There was no way I could catch up with Dr Victor, let alone spot him among the sea of runners. Thinking about how hopeless it all was, I thought I’d just take it slow, nice and easy.
I would have continued that half-hearted pace if it wasn’t for a pervy-looking uncle that started matching my pace and running beside me! He started talking to me. Whenever I tried to break ahead, he would speed up and then ease into a slow jog beside me.
When we reached the edge of a hill, I decided to shake him off, once and for all. I’m pretty good at hills, so I started sprinting up thinking that it would be a short one. I’d soon find out that it was over 1 kilometer long. Nearing the top, before the course turn around, I spotted Dr Victor on the opposite side of the road! He was already on his way down and I still had quite a bit left to reach the top. But seeing Dr Victor gave me a surge of adrenaline. I forgot about the long hill I had just run up. Nothing else mattered, I knew I had to catch him now or I’d lose sight of him.
I dug deep, gathered my strength and burst into a sprint like it was my last kilometer. I zipped down the hill. At that pace, I did wonder if I had enough energy to finish the race when I eventually caught up to him. Nevertheless, I was in my element. My legs were flying, my mind focused.
One kilometer later, he was within sight. As I ran pass him, I gave him my best grin. All he could say was “OUUUII!” and that was the last I heard of him until after the finish line. I was still slowly closing gaps to the other runners that were ahead of me, which meant that I was still accelerating. Or maybe the other runners were slowing! I was breathless and my feet were burning by the time I crossed the finish line. I waited for him and we high-fived. It was a happy ending, for me at least.
I had overcome a less than ideal start to finish strongly. All I can say is, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!
Set Goals. Commit. Work Hard. Train Mean. Accomplish.