First, I learned that when you hang out downtown with more than 59 000 other people, there's bound to be a little bit of peer pressure. It's kind of like being in high school and wanting to be like everyone else, except much more intense. It may lead you to do things that you wouldn't consider doing in your own neighbourhood, and in your right mind. You may regret your rash decisions.
I learned that 59 000 people can generate a lot of noise. It's hard to talk on the mobile phone and hear the person on the other end of the line.
I also learned that I'm much older in body than I am in spirit.
As you can probably deduce, I ended up going on the run. I mean walk. It turned out to be cold, but sunny. No rain! I arrived at the race start at 8 am, but as I was not in the international amazing runners section, didn't actually begin the "race" until about 9:45. That would be 15 minutes after the first runners started to arrive at the finish line! I guess it takes a long time to start more than 59 000 people!
It was a great day. There was a party atmosphere, and everybody was having a good time. So was I. By the time we got through the starting line, I was so pumped that I ran, even though I had planned to walk. The adrenaline was pumping and bands were playing. By the first km I knew that was over and dropped to a walk. By this time I was alone and regretted not bringing my MP3 player. Oh, well. On I went, enjoying the ocean view. I realized, at about kilometre 4, that I was in a bit of trouble. I was already hurting and my muscles were telling me I should stop the walking. They insisted that I couldn't do this foolish thing and go 6 more km. We had a brief argument, with me telling them that it was only a little walk and after all, I'd done much more that this in my lifetime. I insisted that if all these other people could do it, then so could I. I went on.
At 7 km, every step was painful. I could just hear "I told you so" over and over again. I wondered how I would get to the end of the route and make my way home. But I made it. Yay!
I was the last one of our school team to finish, and I found the others in the crowded stadium. They were all very kind and encouraging, especially considering that most of them are in their 20s and ran all the way. sigh.
Every trip has its souvenirs, and this one was no exception. What did I bring home? A race number, a bottle of water (given out to all the train passengers), and a beautiful piece of St. Agur cheese. There was a special cheese shop along the route, so I popped in and chose a gorgeous soft French blue. Such a nice personal reward for finishing what I began!
My muscles were right, though. The pain is just beginning. Maybe that's another souvenir - every step will remind me that I accomplished something special. And that next year I'd better train before starting the race!