Settle in (again) and prepare yourselves for a long post. I had contemplated writing this post as the days happened and I wish I had – I’m sure, now that it’s done, it’ll be hard to capture the mood. Or, rather, the moods. It was definitely a ‘moody’ week.
I skipped Tuesday’s run intentionally – my leg was feeling a bit dodgy and I knew I needed every bit of health and energy for what was to come. So it became an extra rest day.
Thursday was the beginning of the mini-Dopey simulation and I was kind of eager to get it started. With the warm weather well and truly here, I chose to go into town and run around the park and along the waterfront so that I could finish with a dip in the water. The run was great. I made sure I took it easy, both in pace and on my leg and was happy with how it went. Having said that, I was still very, very doubtful that I would actually manage to get all the kms in. It’s like there are 2 voices in my head – one yelling quite loudly ‘You can’t do it! It’s too far! It’s going to hurt! You’re not a marathoner!’ and another much quieter voice, quite simply asking ‘What if you can?’. At this stage, I was listening to the louder voice and trying my best to do it anyway.
Friday had 6.5km scheduled so I got to it after work. I was hot and tired and still sceptical but I set off around the block anyway. My goal for all of the runs this week was to get them done without worrying about pace. If I could keep under Disney pace, great. If not, oh well. So this was more of a walk with sporadic bouts of running to keep the pace down. My leg was a bit grumpy at the end of it and I wasn’t confident of it holding out for the rest of the kilometres planned. I did my rituals – epsom salt bath spiky ball – and tried to think positive thoughts.
On Saturday, I needed to do 16km and wanted to do the extra kms pre-parkrun so was down at the river by 6am to set off. I ran in the opposite direction to my normal route and found a bit of a hidden gem in the other end of the river. Very picturesque and winding enough to keep me wondering what would come along next. It was also not as quiet as I thought so I felt quite safe with other walkers and runners along the path. Coming back towards the parkrun start, I bumped into friends out for their pre-parkrun kms and hatched a plan with Jo to join her for the long run the following day. I will admit to being a bit uneasy about this – I adore my running friends and have had many great runs with them but have tended to do this training alone so I don’t feel like I’m holding anyone up. The added bonus being it’s only me who has to put up with my inevitable whingeing in the final few kms. So this was going to be something new.
I made it back in time for briefing then completed a steady parkrun to finish off my kms for the day.
My alarm was set for 4am on Sunday and, surprisingly, I got up straight away and got ready. To say I was not looking forward to this was an understatement. My legs were fine despite 3 days of running and I wasn’t suffering too much from a couple of early mornings but nothing about running 37km appealed and the steady drizzle outside did not improve my mood. Husband and I drove to Kardinia Park to meet the others, took the obligatory start line selfie and then were on our way.
And my anxiety dissolved. Of course this would be ok. These people, who I am lucky enough to call my friends, were here to help Jo and I get it done and cared enough about us to get up very early on a Sunday morning and run in the rain. For once, I didn’t have to depend on my own resources, drive and determination – I could share the energy of the collective. I can’t say enough about how grateful I was that they were there and how supported I felt – definitely a different vibe to my solo runs.
Before long, we were out of town and into the countryside. I was surprised at how quickly the kilometres were ticking off although it probably helped to not really know where I was so had no real sense of distance. We were joined by another friend along the trail then another couple at Leopold where we stopped for a toilet break. Having fresh friends seemed to freshen us up as well – it still a hard slog but I was definitely buoyed along by the atmosphere this bunch created.
Along the path not far from Drysdale, we gained another 3 who accompanied us in to our temporary aid station where I changed my socks for dry ones, checked on the state of my blisters and added extra band aids and there were toilets and drinks for those that needed them.
From here, we embarked on the hardest part of the run – an out and back totalling 17km to make up the distance. And this was where having such a big group was perfect as our paces were very different. Personally, I was flagging. The previous 3 days of running were catching up with me and I was tired. I took in more fuel and did the mental checklist of body parts to find out what was hurting but really, it was just tiredness. My feet were ok and my calf was behaving itself. I walked a lot in this section but at a pace that kept me ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I was happy with that – very happy. I’d worried about my ability to do this at all and, here I was, walking it in but still keeping the pace. Tick.
Turning around and coming back was even harder although not as bad as my last long run which I took a lot of comfort from. Having friends around helped, so did all the training. The little voice that had been quietly asking ‘What if you can?’ was beginning to gain some confidence and volume. In those last few kilometres, despite the pain of blistered feet and general aches, I believed for the first time that I have a chance of completing the Dopey challenge.
Weekly summary – 64.8km total
Thursday – 5.2km (45:06)
Friday – 6.5km (1:04:16)
Saturday – 16km (2:35:39)
Sunday – 37km (6:07:00)