Here's how it went down: about 80,000 people give or take (ok, not all in the full marathon event, but all squished in together regardless) trying to surge forward and commence a running race. There's music, there's excitement, there are the ever present cheers of 'jar yo!', and then: boom - everyone slows and stops completely and then proceeds to shuffle/walk VERY slowly for the next 1-2 kilometres. Major human traffic jam.
As soon as we were able to feel awesome and actually start jogging / prancersizing, I had my eyes out for a loo. A public one was located in the next 100 metres or so and I unfortunately had to leave the race so early on and join a big queue. Picture ten fun minutes of waiting. (Unavoidable, as apparently still suffering with a bug - almost didn't get up to even start the race this morning, but so glad I did, despite this story.)
So, it's kind of like I started running or the proper 'racing' about 20-25 minutes late. But anyhoo. On with the race. My fuelling strategy was going excellently and I was fairly confident that I was getting enough carbohydrate and water at regular intervals, but hey, you never know, especially with a stomach bug. But today, snickers were my main source of fuel, along with sports drinks at aid stations, and later, some coffee boiled sweets. I felt good running, felt like my pace was good - not too slow and not too fast (now that I could actually run).
So, no 'hitting the wall' as I was worried about, BUT at about 12 kilometres in, when the route takes everyone along an elevated underpass (one way in, no escape off the sides, sort of like a tunnel), disaster struck. Not joking here, was seriously worried for my safety. For some reason the front of the giant crowd had decided they had taken a wrong turn and were trying to force everyone back the other way, amidst more and more runners piling on in. You hear about people getting crushed to death and trampled on in concerts sometimes, and I have a fair inkling of how easily this could occur. Scary shit, I won't lie. But then, one lone soldier proferring a pointing finger gesturing us back into the melee of which we'd just escaped, signalled that we were going the right way in the first place and after some minutes (felt like 10, was prob nearer to five for the whole time, but who knows) we were free again and running along an amazing stretch of road that takes the runners over the sea and around to the Southern tip of the island. Seeing Xiamen from this beautiful angle soon got me over my near-suffocating experience, and it was on with the race.
Until disaster struck AGAIN. Luckily not too bad this time, but was probably worse for the ladies involved: Two women became entangled due to us having run on top of each other because of the numbers and they both went face first on the tarmac. Only ONE other runner stopped and together we helped them up. They said they were ok. Phew.
And then it was on with the race. The rest of the race had no hiccups, albeit my excellent new Garmin ran out of charge at about 30 kilometres. Damn. Must get used to charging it the night before a long run or race. Up until then, it was working like a dream, and it was fun (if a little distracting) to keep checking my pace and finally find what my comfortable pace really is. It ranges between 5 and 6 kilometres an hour, in case you were dying to know.
So, as I said before, I finished strong and felt great about the race, which is why I was surprised at the time, as in my previous marathon I spent the last 9 kilometres in pain and definitely the last 5 in agony and walked/limped to the finish line. So that versus non walking (except in and out of drink stations, oh yeah, and about 25 minutes plus at the start, lol), with a speedy finish? This is why this race is a running PB for me - not in terms of time, but in how I felt strong and good, and DID NOT HIT THE WALL! Yay! It is possible! So, very glad I did get out of bed this morning. Even better, I had this beautiful, amazing man waiting for me at the finish line: my beloved husband, coach and support team, what would I do without you H?! If you're reading this: thank you for all your support and love: I love you so much. (This is entirely appropriate too - all the banners along the route today said 'Run for Love'.)