I used to point at runners and say ‘why would you do that?’ I didn’t run. No way.
Two years ago a work friend decided she was going to go in the City to Surf. She’s never run. So twice a week during our lunch breaks we’d get in the car and go to Sydney Park. We walked. Then we trotted. Walked, trotted. For months. Then the trots became longer and the walks shorter. Once we ran one kilometre without stopping. So proud. Then we were doing three kilometres.
I started doing the Bay Run. I’d take my boy and he’d scoot it while I ran. Walked. Ran. After a while I ran the whole way. The. Whole. Way. That’s seven kilometres. Without stopping. It was a big day.
I went into the nine kilometre Bridge Run. It was hard. I started walking after two minutes. I lost my friend. She kept running. I made it to the end. That was an achievement. I cried.
It can hurt. Sore legs. Cramps in the night. Tight hips. Severe pelvic pain that can stop me in my tracks for five minutes. I’d walk it out. Then I’d go again.
I’Ve been told I don’t have the body of a runner. I’m too heavy-framed. I shouldn’t do it. My physio laughed, ‘Do you have any metal plates in your body I don’t know about?’ Nope. ‘Just run.’
I try to fit in a run once or twice a week. Whenever I can. I run to work. It’s only four kilometres. I feel good all day.
This morning my boy had AFL at Jubilee Park in Glebe. I could run out last night’s drinks on the Anzac Bridge loop. There’s a new pathway along the Glebe foreshore. It used to end at The Boatshed restaurant. Now the path winds around the water to a concrete factory on Pyrmont Bridge Rd.
I hate the first five minutes. Always. My ankles. My knees. My burning chest. Watery eyes. Wrong tunes playing. Stupid dogs on the path. Hate. Everything. What the hell am I doing?
Then comes the switch. Runkeeper app pipes in to tell me I’m actually running quite fast for my first km. I get a hit. Ankles are ok. Legs are in rhythm with my arms. I’m breathing. I can do this. Just keep going.
The foreshore run is beautiful. The fish markets with the city scape behind it. Yeah, Pyrmont Bridge Road sucks but it’s not so long now. Spit Syndicate come on. I’m bounding. I’m a gazelle.
So I like to think.
Hit the Fish Markets. It stinks. Chaos, grunge, keeps it real. Get to the lights on the other side of the Fish Markets opposite the Light Rail stop. I’m an athlete now. Hill Top Hoods are pumping. I’m feeling strong. I stretch while I’m waiting for the lights. I’m super sporty.
Have Runkeeper on pause. Don’t want the lights to show me up. I mean, slow me down.
Run across to Saunders St. Start preparing myself. For the climb.
It’s steep getting up on the Anzac Bridge. But I’m a Spartan warrior. I can face the climb. I can do anything.
Stop at the top. Heaving. Doubled over. Stitch. Walk it out for a minute. Just a minute. Pause to take a photo. I’m so arty. Then I see a Security guard. Seriously? Security on the Anzac Bridge?
Have to run again, can’t be seen slacking off. Bound past him. Smile, dying inside. Make it to the downhill bit. Love that. So much traffic. Need to look like a serious runner.
Decide to turn off the bridge before the end and take a detour. You can just keep running straight and cross over on the pedestrian bridge at the end of Victoria Road. More straight forward.
I had some notion that running along James Craig Road might be more picturesque. I stopped to change the tunes. Then I looked around. I was alone. Very alone. It was desolate. It was eerie.
You Am I ‘Purple Sneakers’ came into my head.
Had a scratch only you could itch
Underneath the Glebe Point Bridge
Such an iconic song. Saw them so many times at The Annandale pub when I was at Uni.
So I ran faster. Hoping to see someone. A few more trucks and people appeared as I got towards the end of the road. I ran around the corner to Bicentennial Park.
I made it! Five kilometres.
Here it comes… The buzz.
The endorphin rush.
The ‘I fucking did it’ feeling. A high like no other. The addiction.