When the tank is empty, run with your heart

So what’s the trick when your legs are dead and the acid in your stomach singes in that last stretch of your race? There’s no trick, Salina Christmas discovers. Tell your head to shut up and listen to your heart. As part of our storytelling features, GLUE will bring you, under our #1bodymind series, frequent updates on our accounts as amateur athletes or enthusiasts in running and cycling, coupled with a graphical artworks by Holmes.cc Studio.

I got a Personal Best (PB) in my second round of scratch race in August 2013 for the monthly Serpentine Running Club handicap. At 37:35, it was not that spectacular given that I could have done better over my last handicap time in June 2013, which was 37:47.

However, I have reasons to celebrate for I had overcome two key obstacles. Firstly, during that race, in the beginning of the second lap, I had to stop for a loo break. That added a good 30 to 40 seconds to my time. Halfway through the first lap, when the urge kicked in, I decided to go for my break and make it up in the second lap.

Secondly, I managed to do a home run by sprinting in the last stretch. I love sprinting, though I am not terribly good at it. During the second lap, I waited for The Wall to happen: for my lungs to either give up or my legs to die on me. That did not happen. Right, I said to myself, I could do a sprint here.

Quote: Mike Fanelli. Poster: Zarina Holmes, Holmes.cc
Poster: Holmes.cc Studio

I made my dash in the last 50 metres of the race. I was one of the last to finish the handicap – thanks to the loo break – but in the last stretch that began from the Serpentine Bridge, the man-made construction that separates The Long Water and The Serpentine, I increased my speed. It was not pleasant as it was 24ºC. Not really hot, but under the warmth of the morning sun, not really pleasant either. There were no trees lining this last stretch, which meant no shadow for me to run in.

A lady ran ahead of me, her cadence measured and heavy, not surprising in that moderate heat. I edged nearer and nearer, and she was unaware until one of the marshals shouted and some of the bystanders began to clap. Ten metres to the finishing line, she turned her head back to look at me, surprised by my speedy encroachment. She sprinted forward. I caught up with her in the last 5 metres, and we both finished together.

Someone whooped. It had turned into a spectacle, this mini competition. Ever the crowd-pleaser, or the clown, I had given my fellow Serpies a source of entertainment. It came at a cost, though. I then staggered past the marshals, sank into the grass and coughed my lungs out. It was too much for my little body.

One of the marshals joked about my loo break, and made a remark later about my competitive streak. “I was being childish,” I said sheepishly. It was a half-truth. Mike Fanelli, the US running coach, had once said about the race: “Run the first third of a race with your head, the middle with your personality, and the last third with your heart.”

The truth is, I had nothing left in that last stretch. The tank was empty. But my heart said: Don’t you stop on me, and I didn’t.

See more Cycling Photographs and Graphic Artwork at Holmes.cc Studio

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