Finally blogging again. I've been away a while - I found some work and also found that the time I had available to write mostly went on things that I thought might pay. I'll catch you up on all of that in later posts. I wanted to tell you about an interesting run I was on the other week.
If you're linked to me on Facebook, you'll probably remember that I set up a fundraising page. I was going to run the 26 kilometre (16.25 miles) Axedale-to-Heathcote event in the O'Keefe Running Festival in order to raise money for Red Cross. I completed the run, and I'm very happy to report that I was able to raise $313.00.
This run was tougher than any other race I've entered. The day started with two emails that I saw as soon as I woke up. One was an update fron LinkedIn about a former colleague whose career is going great at a time when mine, well, isn't. The other was an email from the ex (enough said). Anyway, those emails pitched me into a bad attack of the blues all the way over to Axedale. Even my tablets couldn't budge it, which is saying something.
The trail follows the route of the old Heathcote-Bendigo railway line. The line was closed in 1958. As best I could tell, it rose more-or-less steadily from Axedale to Heathcote. However, you really didn't feel the climb: the railway engineers who built the line had much the same goal as runners today: as many gentle gradients and straight lines as possible.
The blues kept at me through the run. I suppose everyone experiences depression a bit differently; for me it's mostly physical. I feel like I'm wearing a kind of harness that straps a 25 kilogram (55 pound) sack of salt onto my chest and back, and as well as carrying the extra weight they squeeze the air from my lungs. This was precisely the feeling that accompanied me on the run: a crushing extra weight. I've run in ankle weights before. I can tell you I'd pick them over running with the blues any day.
The trail ran through the bush around Axedale and eventually began to climb into more open country. At about the 18 kilometre mark it skirted Lake Eppalock. Every so often other groups of runners joined us from other events - the quarter marathon and 5 kilometre for two. The race was remarkably well organized that way, with cohorts not clashing as they merged. Drink stations were set up about every 5 kilometres which suited me fine.
I crossed the finish line in Heathcote in a time of 2:41:48. Not my best time, but reasonable given the length of the race. The end point of the race was genuinely welcoming: fruit and water were provided to runners, and there was a bevy of community groups holding barbeques and selling coffee. I love this sort of thing that brings towns together. It was a nice touch that the finish line was marked by miniature pit-heads: appropriate as one of the major sponsors was mining company Mandalay Resources!
Because this was a point-to-point race, the organizers supplied buses to take runners back to wherever they'd left their cars. The soft chair in the coach felt heavenly. The blues were still gripping me when I got back to my car. In a way this was a relief: there was none of the sense of letdown when the race was over.
I've run longer distances than this race. I've certainly been over harder terrain. But I don't think I've ever done a race this tough. Athletes of all stripes tend to use cliches like "digging deep". This one required me to go on when there was nothing left to dig into.