Five days ago I was complaining about a slightly sore throat and worried that it might affect my chance to go sub-50 in my 10k race. But then a slightly sore throat was totally put into perspective by some very heavy real-world stuff. Stuff that I won't be talking about here because it's not mine to talk about. But it was stuff that had me knowing that a race just wasn't that important even if it was the last one of a long-term goal. Quite frankly, racing seemed frivolous and inconsequential.
Thursday was supposed to be a day of baking to feed the hungry runners. It ended up being a day where I just sat talking and supporting someone I love dearly.
But by Friday things had improved enough for me to consider the race again. And by Friday afternoon I was down at the Gold Coast meeting up with two bloggers from Singapore who'd come over to race.
Holly is on the left and Grace on the right. Holly was running the half marathon and Grace was going the full 42.2. We had a lovely time chatting over coffee. It's wonderful and strange to finally see people that you feel like you know despite never having met.
Then it was off to the traditional pre-race Thai dinner with my bestie Natalie - who's totally to blame for the whole 10 years of 10k goal (even though she thinks it was my idea).
My son, Josh, turned up with girlfriend Serena and friend Jeremy later that evening and we agreed (some more reluctantly than others) to set our alarms for 4:30 am. Which came a lot sooner than I'd have liked. But, amazingly, there was no pre-race jitters.
By 6:15 we were on the start line. Champing at the bit to get going. Sort of. There were still no nerves. Just a steely determination not to make a liar of myself and run sub-50. I had a race plan of sorts - try not to go out to hard and die AND to see every kilometre click over under with 4 as the first number.
There was just time to photo-bomb Josh's selfie and we were off.
It was a little more congested than I'd remembered it being last year. There was a bit of dodging and weaving to be done before settling down into a comfortable rhythm. Race starts are always like that and it's hard to get the balance right between getting into clear space and not pushing too hard.
When my watch beeped at the first k at 4:50 I was a bit worried that I'd gone out too fast but I was feeling okay so I just continued on at the same effort.
I'm not going to go into all the minute details of the run but I will mention the highlights. The cheer from my high school friend, Chris, just before the 3k mark. Hoping that the action shots that Martyn, her husband, took didn't show the blind pimple festering under my nose. Running past the GaleForce tent on the way out to the turnaround point and feeling the rowdy support coming at me from across the road - best cheer squad ever! Seeing each kilometre beep with that 4 at the front like I was wanting. Getting to the 8k mark and knowing that I hadn't given up mentally like I so often do in 10k races. Seeing Chris again not long after. Then running right past my squad - the noise that they made lifted and carried me all the way to the finish line. Seeing the clock still under the 50 minute mark as I ran over the finish line. Yes, I did it! 49:14 - three seconds quicker than last year.
Then it was back to the tent to share the joy with the other runners. Winners are grinners!
Josh had told me earlier in the week that he thought he could go 45 mins. He did! And his friend Jeremy smashed it in 41:??
We waited for Natalie to finish and then she and I went up to a special tent to receive a certificate and polo shirt for completing 10 events.
My work was done but there was still the half and full marathons to be run on the Sunday. So this meant another early start. But the pain of getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning is always worth it when you're greeted with views like this.
The half marathon was first at 6:00am and not long after 7:00 we were already cheering the front-runners. I'm not sure what's more fun - cheering or being cheered - but I do know that the sense of camaraderie is amazing. Every PB is celebrated and the constant smiling and laughter makes your cheeks ache.
The marathon started at 7:30 but we didn't get to see any of them for a long time, being at the 32k mark. But eventually they started filtering through. I was thrilled to spot Grace (in the berry singlet below) twice on the course - on her way out to the final turnaround and then on her way to the finish. I'd missed Holly in the half until she was past and I realised too late. She was too fast!
Now it's all over for 2014.
And the big burning question is - what next? Build on those 10k's and make it to 20? Or complete the half marathon set? Only eight more to go there.