The Elements: Thunderbolt and Lightning

On Sunday, March 13, Tim and I participated in the Ports of Auckland Round the Bays race.  When I registered a few weeks ago, I jokingly asked Tim if he wanted to run with me. 
He said yes.
He said what?
Almost every morning I roll out of bed, eat a banana, drink chocolate soy milk, and go for a run.  This is what I do. Tim does not.  He prefers to ride bikes, climb rocks, and watch Manchester United. While he has a [semi]secret stash of awards, trophies, posters, and trading cards chronicling his ability to be the best at every sport [mostly true], distance running is not part of the archive. Thanks to my nagging though, running is now the rage [in all of its definitions].

The morning of the race we walked to the start line at Vector Arena.  This would have been a satisfying one mile warm-up, but a mob of people with numbered bibs pinned to their shirts had descended upon Auckland's central business district leaving barely enough room to stand, let alone walk or run. 
I have a strong dislike for large crowds. Maybe it's because I'm small or maybe it's because I place great value on being able to breathe -- always -- but the claustrophobic magnitude of 40,000 people is severe. Like, red alert abandon ship mayday mayday we are at DEFCON 1. 
This is SERIOUS.

I decided that I had to find a bathroom.  Immediately. Whether or not I actually had to go didn't matter; I needed do something that would take me away from the epicenter of hell.  We stumbled through the gauntlet looking for toilets and found ourselves waiting in line at a cafe with about 25 other desperate people. Ten minutes and a few mili-mini-metric-centimeters later, I gave up and left.

Tim and I agreed to not run together. I didn't want him to slow me down, you know. Well, really, we just figured we could run a better race if we weren't constantly trying to match each other's pace.  The plan was that I would start first and Tim would hang back.  We knew it would be awhile post-gun shot before we actually crossed the starting line, giving us plenty of time to take our positions.  At 9:30 am the mob collapsed in on itself and then pushed forward in a grand heave-ho.

Our plan fell apart. Tim made a dash for a small opening in the crowd, disappearing before I could wish him good luck.  I however, was still taking baby steps forward, hoping that one day I would cross the start line and then maybe in a few years I would finish the race.  I took my first jogging stride at about 9:37 and then came to a near halt almost immediately, bound by strollers, scooters, walkers, and an inflatable whale.  I don't actually know what time I started to run but it wasn't too long after that I officially entered the video game portion of the race.  Dodging people who are dodging people is surprisingly challenging. 

The race was 8.4 km or about 5.22 miles, a normal daily distance for me.  Except I never run fast, time my runs, accurately calculate the distance of my route, and I am rarely exhausted when I am done.  But moments into this race, I decided to run as fast as I could.  A few things:
1. It is possible that 40,000 people could be just that oblivious.
2. I now know why races start when the sun rises.  Because when races start at 9:30 am in the middle of the summer, it is very hot.
3. 5.22 miles is farther than I thought.
4. I can run fast-ish.

I only stopped at one water stand to pour water on my head. As I waded through the sea of discarded cups, my neurosis kicked in and I jogged to the garbage bin to throw away my cup.  Yes really.

I did eventually make it to the finish line. Since there was no chip-time, they scanned the barcode on your bib with one of those grocery store radar guns as you finished.
[Results based on gun time]. 
I finished the race in 50:47.
Tim finished in 50:59.
That's right, twelve seconds. I'm really not a competitive person but I won! I know I had an unfair advantage because running is my thing, but he started the race before I did so ...

50:47 minus 7+ minutes it took me to reach the starting line after the gun went off is something like 5.22 miles in 42-ish minutes.
This is not our last race.
So, until next time ... twelve seconds!

Round the Bays. Auckland [phone]

View from the end of Princes Wharf.  Auckland [phone]

Peeking into someone's backyard. Auckland [phone]

My favorite parking garage on Hobson Street.  Auckland