When I was in high school, some (ahem) years ago, I got a zero on my report card for failing – twice – to run the mandatory cross country (I can’t recall the precise distance; it was a few kilometers masquerading as an eternity. All I know is I had to get picked up in a car). For someone who prided herself on doing well in school, this epic fail was unacceptable. I never quite got over it.
So it was with mixed feelings that I returned to the site of my shame – Parramatta Park, in Sydney’s western suburbs – to run one half of the Brooks Spring Into Shape Series, benefiting the Heart Foundation.
But this time I was ready. No knee-length skirt and sensible brown shoes for me (I was forced to run my second attempt in my Catholic school uniform. Not that it really mattered; I failed wearing sneakers too). No, this time I had eight 5Ks under my belt, a pair of brilliant shorts and an iPhone. And it was only a 4K. I was going to triumph.
In your face, Parramatta Park!
Great southern sun
It was a glorious day for a run, under a trademark Aussie blue sky. And the park really was quite lovely, with its jacarandah trees in vibrant purple bloom. But, oh that sun (nasty, shadeless school-picnics flashback).
I had forgotten how merciless the Australian sun is, even in the early morning. I started well, running the first two kilometers without missing a beat. I even managed to scale a couple of (granted, minor) inclines with my newly realized hill running techniques. But the sun was determined to get the better of me. And so it did.
I gave up the dream of running a full race, although I walked only a couple of times. Still, I finished strong (on grass, no less), despite the absence of my cheer squad. Considering it was my first run in more than a month, I was happy.
In addition to the opportunity to finally consign my lingering high-school shame to the Dumpster of history, I was excited that this race gave me the chance to wear my very first sneaker timing tag.
Now I am hard core!
The event: Brooks Spring Into Shape Sydney Series, Race 2
The location: Parramatta Park, NSW, Australia
The date: November 5, 2011
My time: 28.01
The T-shirt: No T-shirt! I had to run both races of the series to get one. (I don’t know what the Aussies have against T-shirts.)
The aftermath: Water. Yep, water.