Quick pace smoothly maintained, with no speed-walks or slug jogs, and 51 minutes later (at least 20min faster than I'd anticipated!!!!!) I happily finished and had this bottle of diluted goo presented to me. I did drink at least half of it, trying to convince myself that it would do what the advertisements say it does, i.e., make me turn neon and fly across the world sequined in beads of glamourous sweat or whatever high-energy sports people do. I also got a free running magazine full of ads for shoes and more Gatorade, a sample bag of some kind of granola, and my very own medal so I could pretend I was the Grand Wiener.
I did not even get to the start line until 10:19, partly because the race started late, but more so because it takes a while to funnel 25,000 people through an arch that was basically a bouncy castle without the bottom part for jumping on. And I also have no photos from any part of the event except for a few after I finished (I swear I ran it. I did, I did!) A mishap at 7:30am resulted in me inside a tube car and the Early-Morning Motivational Unit (Sean Bonney) on the outside. Camera, banners, race info, map were all with me in a bag, and Sean Bonney was left behind on the platform. We waited for each other at the wrong stations. My anger was too great to take any photos, and I checked my bag in with head hanging. Obviously the camera could not come with. I trudged towards the start on my own, too gloomy to chat to anyone on the Brain Team.
Once it all started, my mantra, "it's not a race, it's not a race, take it easy", was immediately discarded as I found myself in a busy market/shopping mall scenario, surrounded on all sides by bodies. Pressed together. For the entire 10km. I get very angry in such situations: when I am on a mission and there are crowds in the way I nearly start pushing and shoving and have the pedestrian equivalent to vehicular road rage. The entire route was an obstacle course of bodies, thousands of plastic water bottles flying through the air (wish I had the camera), and regular objects on the pavement, like bins and bollards and ordinary people walking by. The sensible runners who remembered "it's not a race, it's not a race", had a lovely time but unintentionally forced impatient cretins like myself to start leaping and swerving about dangerously, hopping on and off curbs and annoying the stewards who were meant to keep everyone on the road and within the confines of the ribbons.
One of the problems is that human beings have yet to be equipped with rear-view mirrors, and everyone bobs about and the gaps for zooming and over-taking fluctuate, opening and closing without notice. The other problem is one can't really get angry in these situations. You have to smile even when a gob of spit flies within two inches of your face, because the spitter didn't know you were coming up quickly behind him. All for charity, ah.
It was about a quarter of an hour after finishing that I met up with Early-Morning Motivational Unit (whom I managed to catch sight of while running!) at the pre-designated after-race location. He stood alongside Race-Finishing Motivational Unit (Paul Sutton, maker and provider of the finest cakes), and Race-Finishing Motivational Unit 2 (Sharon Borthwick, to whom I am Lady-in-Waiting and must report).
We all shared a nacho at the Brain Tumour UK HQ, the Texas Embassy, as well as some lovely margaritas. It was lovely to speak to fellow Brain Team members and some of the charity's organisers after the panic of the obstacle course was over. Difficult for everyone in the room to have to stop and think about why/who they had been running for as a few speeches were made, but we squished together for a sweaty group photo and all was well. Drinks and ideas shared. And I believe there will be a photo of me actually running that will be put up on the Brain Tumour UK website, so I will give word soon. And there were balloons too. I like balloons. I can't touch them or my skin will fall off, but I like balloons.
I am very proud to have run for the charity and to have had so much support from everyone who donated to Brain Tumour UK on my behalf, as well as from those who gave me messages of love and luck and the like. More to come on this ... feeling a bit weepy and it's also time to get back to the PhD chapter I still haven't finished writing because I have spent many weeks focused on my brain rather than on its products. I do not feel guilty. I love my brain.
(My donation page will still be up for a bit, but don't let that stop you from donating to the charity at any time. I just might run next year too. And when I can double this length, that'll be a half-marathon. And then. Et cetera.)