Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that's what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that's really special and if you're not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. -- Amy PoehlerIt's taken me all week to recover from my first half marathon. It's also taken me all week to decide how I felt about it all. There was a lot to think about.
But I'm getting ahead of myself: Last Sunday, I ran a big, long run in Vancouver on the morning of the second day of a heat wave.
The hubby drove me to the drop off area, and I cried a little because I was scared. It was hot for 7:30am. Heck, it would have been hot for 12:00 noon, and it was only going to get hotter. I made sure I drank a lot before I got to the site, made sure I used the porta-potty when I got there, then drank some more. I stood in my corral, and hugged a lady who told me she was terrified. I was terrified, too.
The pack started moving forward, and soon, our feet touched the starting line, our timing chips fired, and we started running. It was hot... humid hot. I could tell that my sweat was going to come, and that it might not evaporate the way I needed it to.
The first 10 kilometres were pretty good. When you enter these races by yourself, you find yourself just looking around and listening to the people around you. Some people chatted away to their running partners, and some were like me... just running along, breathing in and out, listening.
And then the hills came, and it became a moment to moment kind of experience. But I didn't panic, and I didn't crash. It was slow and steady. I drank fluids as often as possible, fuelled myself with chews and with my energy drinks like I planned to, ran through sprinklers when I could, and poured water over my head at each aid station after the halfway mark. Somehow, I ended up running next to a guy dressed up as Elvis for the second half of the race (unless I was really hallucinating, but I can't say for sure). The hardest part was crossing the heated concrete of the Burrard Street Bridge. The city closed half the lanes to accommodate us, so it was full of cars with very ticked off people. I remember the heat shimmering off the concrete, up into my face, drying my sweat at the same time it was produced.
Eventually, I got to the point where I was searching for the finish line. I wanted to be finished. My eyes strained over the bobbing heads in front of me, and when I saw it, I started to pick up speed. When I watched the video at the end, I found out that was actually sprinting. I didn't know I could do that.
And when I got to the end, someone put a medal around my neck. Someone handed me cups of water, which I drank greedily. I walked through the crowds over to the tents, and found the tent for The Kidney Foundation of BC and the Yukon. I'd never met them before, but they knew I was coming. People I never met before took one look at me, read the name on my bib, and put their arms around me to hug me.
I met a woman who had run the 5k that was running parallel to my race. I was admiring her running shoes, and she told me that they were a gift from her son, who was in the hospital waiting for her and her husband. "He's doing dialysis right now. I wanted to give him my kidney, and we were a match, but the anatomy of my kidney is too complicated for him to accept."
And I told her that everything would work out... that everything would be fine. And I thought about all that time I spent running that morning... about how he was in the hospital waiting for his mom and dad the whole time.
The run was hard... but the tough part for me was over.
My final time was slower than I wanted to be, but I had to make a decision near the beginning of the run: run to the program and risk being seriously ill afterwards, or run it as smart as I could and see what happened. And what happened was I finished it with no pain, and without getting heatstroke.
I found the hubby, and I got into the car with my sweaty clothes, and we drove towards the ferry terminal. We found a leisure centre, where the woman behind the desk watched me stagger in with my race bib still pinned to my front, and let me in for free to let me take a shower.
We went into the port. We were too early for our boat, so we went and relaxed at the Starbucks. A woman left her dog with us while she went off to run errands. He was a cute little surprise.
On the boat, I took out my crochet project, and finished all the yarn. The second half the pattern was confusing, and it didn't match the first half: the decreases weren't working out properly. But I decided that it was just like my race: not quite how I imagined it, but still a pretty good result...
... even though it kind of looks like a striped slug.
It took me all week to feel normal enough to actually block it, and it's so hot right now that I only managed to throw it over my shoulders for a couple of bathroom selfies before it was too uncomfortable to wear. I think I might use it to fend against the A/C chill of the office this week.
So, how do I feel about all this?
I wish I was faster. I wish I had felt more prepared. I wish I felt lighter, that I felt more like a real runner.
I wish I knew how hard the week after was going to be. I've woken up each night feeling hungry and sore, with aching muscles and swollen feet, feeling lonely and depressed and disappointed that I wasn't faster.
But... I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot about myself: about what happens when I am faced with a long stretch of road that I'm supposed to run on. And I'm proud that I took it on. And no, I won't do it again. It's not my distance... too long for me. And maybe that's was the point. I needed to learn that I can't plan every single thing to my advantage. I can't calculate everything into submission. It was a race that didn't quite go according to plan.
But it's a freakin' cool medal.
I bought new running shoes the other day, and I signed up for another race: a 10k in November. And you know... now that I think of it, I'm proud that 10k is an easy race now. I know how to do that.
And I'm glad I can go back to my yarn and spend a bit more time with it. I spent some time last night, day dreaming about what I was going to make next. I feel like I've come home and found and old friend waiting for me.