I completed my first half marathon. Or should I say that I joined a large group of people for an organized run together. People from all over the area came to run at the same time through the same path. A community if you will and a community of like minded people doing the same thing as me. My training is done alone, early in the morning and I decided to run a half marathon which 5 years ago was not an option at all… I simply could not have run that distance.
I entered it a little last minute but was very glad that I did. It was minus 4 Celsius and sunny. It warmed up slightly as the day went on and was great to run in. The event was well organized but could have used a little more direction once inside the race kit pick up area.
I hadn’t run 21k in over a year but had done a number of 10k runs and also a bunch of 8k marches with a 65lbs pack on my back which usually take about an hour and a half. I figured that with being on my feet with the pack for the same duration as the race and also running shorter distances that I would be prepared. Well, I was right.
I started the run with the idea that it would just be a training run and that I wouldn’t push it. I started off at a pace I knew that I could maintain for 10k and scaled it back slightly. Once I got to the 7k mark I was feeling really good. I decided to pick up the pace a little. I hit 10k and felt good so I kept going at that pace. People were starting to pass me and I was passing others. That long distance meditative state was starting to kick in.
For about 700m before the half way mark it was a steady down hill where I let gravity take over and passed a bunch of people. The down side to the down hill at the turn around is the slow uphill. Luckily I have done a lot of hills in my training so I was well prepared. After running about 17km I thought it would be a nice leisurely run through the golf course. I was WRONG. There were some major hills. In terms of hills they were extremely steep and were similar to running stairs. Heinous is the word that comes to mind. I saw a number of people run the hills and then walk after each one. Luckily I was in good shape and didn’t die with the hills but I did struggle and it was a great opportunity to cheer other people on.
My favourite part was cheering the others on. Some of the people were starting to slow and I loved motivating them to keep up their speed. It was a friendly environment and nice to talk with people along the way. It was a little weird sparking up a conversation with someone after running 17k with another 4k to go, but hey, they can try to run away from me if they don’t want to talk.
For example one person that had a steady lead on me from the beginning started to slow down. I tried to get her to catch the group in front of us. I said “come on, let’s go get the group in red ahead of us.” It put a smile on her face when she was starting to struggle. Another was in the last 5k and close to passing another person but started slowing down and I told him to keep up and let’s pass the guy in front. Again he was struggling but managed to crack a smile. Lastly at the finish line there were three of us side by side and I said to them let’s sprint it out… May favourite saying: Finish Strong!
It was nice to be part of a community who come out and struggle through these races together. While the majority of my training is done in solitude at 5am in the cold mornings, these events are a nice way to come out and bring my training to the community. The community of like minded people who also train and come from come from many walks of life but in the core of us all we are similar. The core values of train, improve, join together. A process definitely worth repeating.