Especially since I'd dropped back to the half marathon, I felt very little pressure, and could enjoy the day. I was looking forward to meeting Tristan, and to supporting Speedy Reidy to finish her first Marathon.
On reflection, my relaxed and cheerful readiness to run seemed a fitting way to approach being part of Tristan's remarkable achievement of running 52 marathons in 52 weeks, right across the world.
I registered quickly then very calmly set about my final preparations. It was a real change from my normal pre-race anxiety - secretly I think KKB preferred this to the usual routine, which includes tears at some point in the 24 hours leading up to a serious race.
As I was figuring out my timing chip, I spotted him.
It was the strangest feeling. After more than a year following Tristan online, admiring him from afar, there he was in the flesh. I felt like I knew him, and yet I was very aware that didn't know him at all.
I nudged KKB. "Should I go and introduce myself?"
"Yeah, what are you waiting for. Where's your camera?"
So I introduced myself, feeling like (and looking like) a nervous teenager. Tristan, being the ultimate good guy, said "I know who you are. How are you feeling?"
He'd posted on my Facebook page wishing me well, following my blog post about being sick for what seemed like forever? I was overwhelmed by his kindness, and in some bizarre way was also relieved that the person I felt I knew was as genuine as he'd seemed.
I can't recall what I said, but that's probably just as well. I suspect that none of it was all that impressive, or eloquent, or reminiscent of just how much I have enjoyed following the Run Like Crazy roadshow. If I had that moment again, I would congratulate Tristan on his running, and complement him on his storytelling.
Soon afterwards, Speedy Reidy arrived, already kitted out in her Wonder Woman outfit. It was a cool morning and I was still incognito under long pants and a jumper. Race time was approaching though, so I peeled off the layers in readiness.
The forecast maximum temperature was 15 degrees so I'd decided to wear long tights and arm warmers for the race. It meant I could wear my Wonder Woman silver bullet deflectors! Yeah!
Speedy Reidy's support crew were awesome. Miri was the designated 'media manager' and she went about her business very successfully. Not only did she get us interviewed by Channel Ten news, I understand that due to Miri's diligence there's quite a bit of video footage and photos for Speedy to plough through before posting to her blog.
Before too long it was time for the aerobic warm up. I joined in with Speedy Reidy, another departure from my race morning routine in which I conserve energy at all costs. And besides, I'm really uncoordinated.
We made the short trek over to the start line, and before we knew it, the race was on. After only a minute or so, I told Speedy Reidy to run at her own pace and not to wait for me. As she slowly crept ahead, I wished her a good run, knowing that with the multiple loop course I wouldn't see her until I finished.
Not long after that I found some more company, a couple of other women who ran at around my pace. Two were doing their first marathon, and another was doing the half like me. I chatted with one of the women for most of the first lap. She had a steely determination to finish, despite being very aware that she hadn't done the training normally associated with completing a marathon.
She had been ridiculed by more accomplished runners, who felt she didn't deserve to run a marathon she hadn't trained for. Although I felt that way about my decision not to run the full marathon, I believe that the decision to run a marathon is a personal one. It takes guts. It shouldn't be undermined or underestimated by others. At the end of the first lap, she stopped to stretch and started walking. I never saw her again during the day, but found out that night that she had finished, and I felt elated for her.
On the second lap I stopped for the first of a couple of coughing fits I succumbed to throughout the morning. I was close to the road on the far side of the lake, and as I was doubled over with my wonder woman cape and skirt waving in the wind, a car drove past and beeped. I found out later that it was my friend Sue-Ellen, who had come to cheer me on. I saw her further on in the run, and took the time to stop for a hug and some extra good vibes. Mark and Megan had also made the trip in to cheer me on. It was great to see them and was grateful for their friendship and support.
Towards the end of the second lap, what must have been the first of the half marathoners passed me, sprinting for the finish line. By this stage, I'd made a few pretty good efforts to make conversation with an older gent, dressed in flouro orange, who was power walking the marathon. Our pace was quite evenly matched, and we passed each other as each of us waxed and waned. This happened many, many times throughout the race, but though I persisted, I didn't get much out of him.
"We'll have to stop meeting like this, people will talk." (Finally, acknowledgement and half a smile.)
Some time on the third lap he thought he'd lost me by ducking into a toilet, but he popped out just ahead of me. "Did you get behind me, did you?" Cheeky bloke.
Then on the fourth lap, my final one, I told him he'd miss me for the remainder of the day. He didn't confirm or deny.
I found out later on that he was doing his 11th marathon for the year. A great achievement.
Before long, my run was over. I just kept ticking over the Ks with the luxury of knowing that there was no real pressure. My primary goal was to run all the way, hopefully in 7:30min/ks. According to the Garmin, this was achieved, though official time tells another story - probably because of the couple of coughing fits and quick hug from Sue-Ellen.
Now all there was to do was wait for Tristan, and of course for Speedy Reidy. She came through on her fifth lap not long after I finished. I ran with her each time she came through the finish area. Though she said she didn't feel good, she looked strong and in control.
She finished in 4:45, a credible time for a first marathon. Unless you're supremely gifted, have run all your life, or both of the above!
Tristan had finished just over an hour earlier, and as he crossed the line the emotions of his gathered family and friends ran high. It was an honour to be there to witness him sharing this special moment with those closest to him, many of whom had banded together to put on an event that allowed him to run this finale in his home town.
The day after the race Tristan posted on the Run Like Crazy Facebook fanpage:
Thanks, Tristan, for everything. You have shared your journey so honestly and openly, something that's not easy to do. Your many followers have shared your victories as well as your vulnerabilities, throughout this adventure. This, as well as your physical feats, will inspire me, and many others, for some time to come.