I awoke with a sore throat and chest, with lungs feeling tightly squeezed. Following Liz Yelling's advice of a hot shower to loosen the muscles, I made the mistake of having a coffee rather than my usual expresso. Wearing capri tights and a t-shirt, I rushed out and Stuart drove me to 'my' building, aka the Mellon Financial Centre.
On entering the atrium, there was a tremendous atmosphere - great music, lots of people around, a few tables piled high with fruit and other goodies from one of the event sponsors, Whole Foods. After I picked up my bib and timing chip, I found a quiet (relatively!) spot and after putting the chip around my wrist, did a few lunges. The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was very different from the running types. There were some very fit, very well hard looking people with muscles in all the right places, who looked like they had actually been practising properly for this event.
Well, I barely had time to chat with a few people standing nearby, when they called for numbers 151-199 to line up. I was 151. Standing in the queue was surreal - I could no longer hear anything except the electronic beeps as the competitors in front of me swiped their chips on the table before they ran off and disappeared around a corner. Twenty seconds separate the chaser, the chasee and the new chaser (no pressure eh). I put in my earphones just as I was being counted down. "Go", the starter shouted, and I sprinted off, also disappearing around the corner and started on my first flight of stairs.
I managed to sprint up 20 floors to the words of Mortal Kombat: Choose your destiny, flawless victory! before my lungs caught alight. Luckily there was a rest stop on level 22, and after a drink of water I sprinted off again. This time the burn in my lungs became so intense I could hardly breathe. I switched off the ipod and just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, all the while listening for my chaser, whose footsteps I could hear getting closer. He caught me at the second water station, but I chased hard and caught him.
He kindly stepped aside and allowed me to pass, and after running up a few more flights I had to walk for a bit. At this point my mind collapsed and I kept thinking that I still had 50 more floors to do whereas in reality I only had 10. This made it seem like a Herculean task. Imagine my surprise when one of the volunteers said "you're almost there". And indeed, as I sprinted up the last flight, there was the finish. I had barely swiped my chip when my chaser caught me and swiped his too.
I managed to grab a bottle of water and get to a bin, when I started throwing up. Naturally this brought the paramedics over. I felt so embarrassed and explained that I had just been a bit ill recently, nothing more. After the third throwing up, they wanted to give me medical treatment - now feeling properly embarrassed, I decided to settle for the black bag they offered me.
As I walked towards the lift to go down, one woman was being administered oxygen, another was having her bp measured, and a guy was lying on the floor in the angel position, whilst another was being helped to a chair. OK, so although I felt bad for them, I was happy that I was not the only one with all the drama!
Arriving downstairs to pick up my t-shirt, there waiting to hand it to me, was Carrie!!!! Sweet Carrie had decided to surprise me, and signed up in the week to volunteer for the event! "I've been waiting for you", she said. I was so happy - it is a truly nice thing when your friends and family come and support you at these events. Whilst I was disappointed that Carrie had not managed to sign up in time to participate herself, I was so glad that she was there. And I look forward to supporting her at one of her events. We chatted for a bit, and made a few arrangements to go down to Hyannis together, as we are both doing the 10K, and hopefully Kathy managed to get a place too.
As I left to take the T home, I felt elated. I had done it! But nothing compared to my absolute joy and elation when the results were posted last night - 10:29. Yes, I had done it in 10:29!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I placed 25/43 in my age group, and 317 in a field of 558. I started thinking about what might have been if I had practised some more. The winner of my age division did it in 6:37. I immediately promised myself that next year, I would train to win it. I will certainly give it my best shot - as Derderian says, "Boldly train to go where you have never gone before". I have never consciously set out to win anything - but maybe it's time to up the ante a little bit. I should at least try!