How hard can it be to run 10 kilometres? 10,000 metres. On city streets in familiar neighbourhoods. In a crowd of other runners just out for fun.
My mistake was that I was actually going to do this in a competition with my client.
He was a serious runner. In top, ‘ripped’ shape. He worked out with weights! He had his Walkman (this was of course well before Ipods).
I assembled for the anticipated start alongside him at the 4 minute / kilometer marker. Seriously naïve optimist. And to make matters worse, I had set my Timex watch to beep at 4-minute intervals. I was sure that after 10 beeps I would be crossing the finish line.
Horn sounded. We were off.
Good pace for the first 3 kilometers. Adrenalin. Lots of people around. Lots of early race excitement. Beeps every 4 minutes more or less coinciding with the kilometer markings.
This was going to be easy. Why hadn’t I done this before?
Looking back, it was easy to see where the plan started to go awry. At the time I was clueless.
Around the first water station, I slowed to grab a cup. Gulped it down and tried to get back up to pace. Breathing a little ragged for a hundred metres or so. Noticed a few runners passing me. Strange.
The next 4 minute signal went off. Hmmm…where’s the kilometer marker? Nowhere in sight. Better pick up the pace. Oops.…legs not responding.
Sweating now. Breathing more shallow and ragged. Slowing down…running in slow motion as more and more runners began to pass me.
5 km mark. Dam. I was never going to finish this stupid race!
Don’t remember kilometer 6 to 8. Do remember the infernal beep from the Timex. Had no idea where I was and at what pace I was running. Knew that my original target time had gone out the window. Prayed that I wouldn’t cross the finish line last. Desperate to do it now in under an hour. (Yes, even in that distressed state, my mind could still do the math).
At 9 kilometres showing 54 minutes on my wrist, I realized I had a chance.
Learned there and then that the mind is the most powerful thing.
Picked up the pace. Ignored the pain in my legs and my chest. Pushed. Made it with 30 seconds to spare.
Never went looking for my client.