Half Marathons Produce a Case of Tourettes

Sunday, October 12, 2008 by Michelle

Well, it's done. I ran over 21 km and my body is so not happy about that. Here's a recap of my experience at the Royal Victoria Half Marathon today (Sunday, October 12, 2008) The start was at 7:30 a.m., which meant I'd have to take a cab to get to the start line. Who knew one of the official hotels was more than 2km from the start? Turns out, I was up and ready in more than enough time to enjoy a warm-up walk to the start instead. The morning was a bit cloudy, but no rain threatened. And the temperature felt perfect. At 7:25 the lone wheelchair half marathoner started to the cheers of thousands of fellow-participants, then at 7:30, the race for the rest of us began. I wore my Garmin, set to chime every km and tell me what my average pace was. I was running faster than I should be, but the thrill and adrenalin of the race kept me from slowing down. I thought I'd regret that, but I didn't in the end. The course was full of undulating hills, not steep hills just gentle inclines and declines. Perfect really. Beacon Hill park was lovely, wearing fall colours, and the run by the ocean-side was beautiful. Once I hit 14km, I told my body, "we're in new territory now!" and kept going. And going. I was pretty jello-legged at 17km, when out of the blue a woman named Sue turned and started to chat with me. She was encouraging and enthusiastic, allowing me to forget about my aching legs and "hot spots" (places where clothing rubs the skin raw). She was doing 10/1s, so stopped for her one minute walk. I kept going and said, "I'm sure you'll catch up, and THANKS!" There were time when I told my body things like, "only one mile left - you can do that in your sleep! That's only four laps of a standard track for crying out loud. Get moving!" As I got closer, at 500 metres (or so they said), I started moving faster and faster. I think I growled a few times, and started saying things like, "where the hell is the %$@#$ finish line???" I don't believe it was always just in my head either. Anyway, I saw the line up ahead and really poured on the final burst of energy, hungry to get this over and done with. Sadly, that was only the imaginary finish line - make note to self that the finish line says FINISH. I slowed and was relieved to be done and one of the volunteers said, "KEEP GOING, THE FINISH LINE IS RIGHT UP AHEAD." SHIT! is what I said. Anyway, that final 50 metres or so I think I ran faster than I ever have, passing people like they were standing still. Don't be surprised if there's a picture of me with a snarl on my face crossing the finish line. I wanted this to be OVER, and it finally was. A few moments later, Sue caught up to me and high-fived and hugged me. It was wonderful to have someone to celebrate the finish with. We grabbed our food and water, and walked silently together for a while. Then she said her goodbyes and me my thankyous, and off she went. After a stretch and a post-run leg quick massage (best $$ I've EVER spent), I walked back to the hotel for a shower (OUCH! there were hot spots that didn't like soap). I'm glad I did this Half, but don't imagine I'll ever pull a stunt like this again. Racing in a group is MAGNIFICANT and I can always run so much faster than usual than during the slog of training mile after mile. I had originally hoped for a 2:30 time, and after not training enough this last month, thought it would be more like 2:45. It was 2:30 give or take a minute though; it's amazing how inspiring it is to see the elite marathoners coming your way on the course and to have volunteers cheer you on and to have fellow runners laugh with you. It really carries the day, and helps lend wings to the feet. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on. It was a very good day.