Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Harvest Half

The last few days have been filled with dread and anticipation and running fueled dreams. I didn't feel nearly prepared for this, yet signed up and told myself that even if I walked the entire 21 and some km, I was doing this.

Today started out beautiful. We were greeted with an amazing sunrise as we made our way over to the community centre where the race commenced. Rainman was my one man cheerleading squad and had his camera ready to grab my action shots as I made my way through the picturesque course.

We started at about 8 a.m. and although it was slow to begin with (it always is in races like this as we all work to find our perfectly paced place in the pack), soon we were moving along. Having grown up in this area of the city, I enjoyed remembering who lived where and different events from my childhood as we made our way through the residential streets. 

The first hill was a long, curvaceous climb that I felt really awesome about and I ran the entire thing. Having various peoples' families along the road (and community members on their driveways sipping coffee) cheering us on kept me going. The girls with the signs informing us that we were running better than Calgary Transit made me laugh out loud. Having my music on shuffle and System of a Down blaring as I pummeled that hill helped too.

A few more km through residential streets, we finally reached the park entrance where I was greeted with an off trail run. Down hills on dirt and rocks is scary for me. I kept thinking I was going to slide and cause catastrophe amongst my new 999 closest friends. But I made it. Once in the park, it was about 10 km of flat terrain.

And it was beautiful. We ran through the forest part of Fish Creek first with all of the leaves in vibrant yellows and offering satisfying crunch beneath my feet as I pounded the pavement. I ran under the train tracks as a CP Rail train roared overhead. I felt as though I was in a movie. On the East Side of Macleod Trail, the scenery reflected the prairies more and the run started getting harder. Note to self, bring sunglasses even if there is no sun when you first start.

At about kilometre 16, Rainman was on the side with his camera waving and cheering me on! It was the boost I needed as I began to feel my legs start to turn to rubber and the humongous blisters on the bottoms of both of my feet reminding me with every step that I still had 5 more km to tackle. Not to mention the ginormous hill at km 17. I waved to my fiance and kept at 'er (at this point there was a mix of running and walking).

The HILL. I took one look and remembered many days from my youth having to ride my bike from Sikome Lake home. And knew that I would walk this. At the top, I was greeted with high fives and much needed Gatorade  And the excitement that I had very little left to go. Still walking and jogging, I felt overwhelmed and could feel tears build up in my eyes. This was a huge goal on my bucket list. And I was 1 mile from completing it.

The final leg of the race was through a pathway between houses also littered with leaves. Turning the corner and seeing the school field, my heart raced with elation and as soon as I saw the finish line, I turned on super mode and sprinted across.

I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours and 28 minutes, which I am completely happy with. AND I had the best cheer squad out there who captured my glory as I received my first metal for finishing. I am so happy to have him by my side for the rest of my life cheering me on. I can't wait to reciprocate.

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