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In which a 73 year old poet and zombies have changed my life.
Awesome Gaius
erika_sanely
So almost 3 months ago a Canadian friend of mine who now lives in Western Australia came for a visit. Over a lovely vegetarian meal she told me about a writer’s festival she attended in Perth that Margaret Atwood was talking at, and that Ms Atwood is a fan of Zombies and mentioned a Zombie running app you can download. There’s two different types – a couch to 5K version and a full on running one – and they’re like normal running apps, except every now and then the cry of “Arrgh! There’s zombies chasing you!! Run” happen and you run faster. I myself am a fan of both Margaret Atwood and Zombies, so despite being overweight and a complete and utter non-runner I thought I would give the couch to 5km one a go. I made a point of telling some key people at work that I would be starting this, so I would have some accountability and would have to explain to people why I didn’t run and away I went.

I bloody loved it! It starts off nice and slow (15 sec runs with a 1 walk) and works its way up each week, so hopefully by the end of week 8 you can run 5km without dying.

I had to take a week off at the end of week two, as week 3 was 1 minute runs, and quite frankly I had neither the correct shoes or underwear to comfortably achieved that. There is an amazing difference in sports shoes. I had bought walking sport shoes at the end of last year, and quite frankly if you are going over a comfortable stroll they provide no support whatsoever. I ended up going to an Athlete’s Foot where they make you walk over this science fiction device which looks at your distribution of weight and balance and picked a running shoe that way. I also have what I think the correct term is “real life boobies” that need a bra, have a constant fight with gravity and if aren’t given the support they so desperately need you will either end up with sore boobs, bruising/stretch marks and a bad back/poor posture. So I went to a proper bra store, and bought a sports bra purely for running sessions. Both items helped fix my running technique and made it so the next day I could walk.

I had another break before week 7, because I was getting this intense pain that ran from the outside of my calf, behind my knee and halfway up my thigh. Saw a physio, and while I was doing everything correct (I showed her the workout, and how it increased, and I only did it every second day so my body had a rest day.) it turned out my calf muscles weren’t used to actually being used, and I needed to stretch them more (and I was also stretching incorrectly. You get the right stance, the stretch COMPLETELY changes.)

All this meant that I would finish week 8 – the last training session – on the day of my Hometown’s 1st annual fun run. A 10k fun run that also had a 5k option. It was kismet. So I signed up for it, and kept my head down and ran Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays training to be a runner for the Abel Township and dodging Zoms the whole time.

The Sunday just gone was Run-Day. I had 3 goals for the race (well, 2 goals with an added goal if I achieved the first one: 1) Not to come last, 2)To run 5k in less than an hour, 3) if I could manage that, to run 5km in less than 50min) I stayed overnight at my parents house, and they got up early so they could cook me a boiled egg and drop me off to the race course.(they were coming back a bit later so they could watch me finish.) I met up with my friend another friend she bought with her, warmed up and away we went. My friends pulled away from me fairly early (at the start of the race was a hill; who does that to people?!?!?) and I just kept plodding along. I ran as much as I could, walked a fair way of it (I’m a fan of running the length between telegraph poles. It’s an easy marker to look for) I’m not gonna lie; halfway through I was hating it. The one good thing about a hill at the start is that there’s a hill at the end, so the run home is downhill. I climbed the hill at the end, and as I got over the crest, I could see over 50 people at the finish line watching people come in. (Also, they weren’t far off from starting the kids 2km run, so they were all there as well.) Having all those people watching really helped, and I ran the last 500 meters. My parents were waiting on the finish line for me, so when I crossed the line I had them clapping and saying how proud they were. (I was too buggered to really thank them.)

Also, during the run I had the people of Abel (The township I was training to be a runner for in the Zombie App.) cheering me on as well. I don’t know how the people who wrote it knew exactly how to time the actors, but just when I was starting to feel really crap and yet another person overtook me (the 10 k-ers started 10 min before us 5km people and had already done 5 kms before joining our course) one of the townspeople would say something like “Surely that’s not Runner 5 out there; they’ve gotten so fast!” or “I can’t believe how much you’ve improved” or the best ones which are along the lines of “I know you’re hurting, but you’re so close, and what you’re doing will save lives.” And honestly, lines like that – people reminding you how much better and faster at running you’ve gotten – really helps keep you motivated. (Even if the people saying the nice things aren’t real. When you’re starting to think to yourself that you should give up, having a new voice in your head saying the complete opposite is EXACTLY what gets you moving again.)

When I crossed the line, I looked at my watch and saw I made the 5 kilometer run in 52 minutes, which isn’t bad, but sort of frustrated me. But still, it was less than an hour and I didn’t come last and three months earlier I wouldn’t have even considered doing the run, so it was all good. My parents kept saying how proud they were (and no matter how old you are, that always makes you feel good) and they drove me home where I had the world’s greatest shower and we Skyped my brother and his family in Auckland. I got home yesterday afternoon and checked the run’s website to get the official time. According to them, I ran 5 kilometers in 48 minutes and 9 seconds.

48 minutes. 9 seconds.

I am not ashamed to admit that I choked up a bit and shed a tear. I had never thought I could achieve something like that! Sure, I came 122nd out of 148 runners, but still. I’ve sent an email to my friend who originally told me about the app to thank her. Such a little thing has made some pretty big changes to my life. We’re already planning to do another fun run (in fact, there’s a couple of colour runs in the next couple of months that look really fun and cool.) and I’m looking forward to seeing my niece and nephew again. By then my nephew should be walking around, and I’ll be able to chase them around and not worry I’ll have a heart attack.

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(Deleted comment)
Thank you! I've still got aways to go - I really want to be able to run 1 kilometre without stopping - but I'm just stoked that I've done as much as I have. I think 5k funruns will be my limit. But when the Zompocalypse occurs, I'll be trained up for it! :-)

That's awesome! You should be very chuffed! :-)

Thank you! And I feel very very chuffed. ;-)

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