On the day of the Perth Kilt Run, I zipped around the house like a kernel of popcorn meeting hot oil. (Remember this analogy when I talk about the weather later.)
I didn’t know what to do with myself – how to bridle all that anticipation. I’ve heard that if an actor doesn’t feel nervous before a show, he or she may not perform as well. I wondered if the same would be true for running. I was excited, but not nervous.
The heat? I had trained for it (I thought). The distance? Can do. The rumoured hills in the golf course portion of the run? Too late to worry about that now.
Even my wardrobe concerns had been quelled. I picked up my race kit in the morning and very nearly wept with joy to find not only had I overestimated my size – so no emergency alterations required – but the kilt came with Velcro at the waist. An adjustable kilt with a pocket for my iPod. Awesome!
I’d purchased a “black goes with everything” shirt earlier in the week (although navy would have looked better with this tartan), so I had that squared away. The fact that black can be warmish in the sun crossed my mind, but I was prepared to make this sacrifice for, um, fashion, especially when kilts are oh-so-slimming. Not. Ahem.
The iPod was charged, the turtle earrings were donned to remind me to pace myself and I was germ free.
All that was left to worry about, I thought, was the mental game. When I speak to my Algonquin classes about doing oral presentations, which most of them despise, I tell students to try to turn distress into anticipation. Visualize yourself completing the job – like a figure skater finishing a successful routine. So I tried it. I could see myself crossing the finish line – plodding along slow and steady as a turtle, but also alive and smiling like Esther Williams.
I talked to my mom in the afternoon – she who had been captain of almost every sports team in high school. Her daughter? Not so much. Okay, not at all. She gushed about how she had waited 40 years to see me run. Sad, but true. I wish I had done this 40 pounds ago, but oh well.
And then it was finally time to run.
The sun beamed down onto the stone buildings, the pavement and my black shirt.
It was hot.
It was very hot.
Popcorn-popping and egg-frying hot.
As we shuffled toward the starting line I tried to pretend I was at the beach, but that just made me want to go swimming instead.
We started off at a good pace. In that heat, it was easy to plod like a turtle.
It was a tough run.
I had to drink more water than I like to and I walked a few times to stop my head from spinning. I’ve never felt dizzy while running before but, then again, I usually don’t run while wearing a kilt and shorts. I wasn’t as prepared for the heat as I had thought, and this made the mental game harder. Still, I managed to fight off the intensely strong desire to simply stop at the 18th hole and sit in the river.
Every time I run I’m ready to go home at 5K, so the 4- to 7K stretch through the slightly hilly golf course felt long, and that’s when the dizzies kicked in.
Nevertheless, I did it. I made it just under the target I had set for myself, coming in at about three quarters of the way through the pack and my age group. Not bad for a first time. There are even pictures of me smiling and waving and looking happy (not in the golf course, though).
Thanks to all the volunteers, organizers and fellow runners for making this a phenomenal event. It was a great experience and fun seeing old friends. Thanks also to the wonderful folks who lined the streets to cheer us on – that was awesome!
Like childbirth, though, you should probably wait a while before you ask me if I am going to do it again.
Published in The Perth Courier, July 7/11