Should I run or should I cheer on my BRF at the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon? I literally didn’t decide until the night before. This is not a typical race strategy, nor is it a strategy that I suggest. Many weeks of training had gone into my preparation for my second half-marathon. An injury interrupted my training program and a doctor’s appointment severely crippled my confidence. With the support of my fellow bad ass mother runners, I decided to race.
I decided to race for so many reasons. Primarily, my BRFs made a very convincing argument. I had just run my first half 12 weeks earlier. My training runs had been consistent until my injury. I only missed 3 long runs, but I had completed a 15 km a few weeks earlier. My longest run before Disney’s Princess Half-Marathon was 15.7 km. I had logged the miles and trained consistently thanks to my running group at school. My body would remember this. And, my pride would never let me forget if I didn’t seize the moment and run!
So after a shopping spree, an unforgettable dinner and a pre race two-step that Jodi and I do so very well, we laid out our race gear and got ready for our second half-marathon. Colours were chosen to honour the Boston Marathon: blue and yellow. As we ran the race, Jodi and I could not forget the tragedy of what happened that day. Our hearts are with the victims and families affected by the bombing at the Boston Marathon. We were determined to finish for Boston.
Race day began with our usual pre race prep – after all, it is all about the sparkle for us! Our friend, Laural was driving in with her family and was well on her way to meet us. Meanwhile, Jodi and I didn’t realize that we had a race of our own and it had nothing to do with the half- marathon. It took us 38 minutes to drive 8 minutes, due to a wrong turn and the most disorganized, bottle neck parking situation we have ever seen at a race. We barely arrived in time to check our bags and make it to the corrals. In fact, Jodi had to run and jump into her corral as the horn was going off! The course was so challenging. The Disney Princess Half-Marathon was pretty much flat with 3 moderate hills. This course, due to last minute detours, boasted two massive inclines that were both long and steep, not “moderate” as the race web site claimed. At least we can say that we both completed an incredibly hard 21.1 km and we both PRed it at that! Like our finisher necklaces?
Thankfully, my body did remember the training that I had done. I easily slipped into my routine of 3 minute running/1 minute walking intervals. The scenery in Sunnybrook Park was beautiful. You don’t feel like you are in the city at all. There was an amazing spirit of comraderie in the air. It is one of the reasons why we chose to come back and run the half-marathon in Toronto. We both loved the atmosphere of the Women’s 10km last summer. As well, the volunteers along the course were exceptionally motivating, friendly and helpful. That was except for that one volunteer at 17 km who lied to me about the rest of the route being flat. Little did I know that a massive hill marked out the 18th km. That was so NOT funny! Neither was that sign at 10km that stated that we were NOT almost there! Um, thanks for the memo.
Fortunately, I also had an angel running with me. Her name was Carol. She was a complete stranger. We will probably never cross paths again. But, for those 21.1 km, she was truly an inspirational force in my ability to not only complete the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon, but reduce my time from the Princess by 43 minutes! After the initial adrenaline of the beginning of a race, the pack begins to spread out. Those runners familiar with running intervals can relate that you usually find yourself playing ping-pong with fellow runners.
Carol and I realized at the 6 km mark that indeed we were doing just this. Our back and forth banter began with friendly words of encouragement. At first, Carol remarked that it was me that was keeping her on track, inspiring her to keep pace with the oddly comforting beeps of my Garmin intervals. And, as I was maintaining a 30 second quicker then expected pace, Carol strived to keep up. At the 10km marker, we cheered each other on. At the 13km, I began to hit a wall; it was Carol that pushed me on with her positive comments. It was at the 14km that we actually exchanged names. By the 17th km, we needed each other again. I looked for Carol to pass me at the 30 second rest mark. She made sure that I was running my full 3 minute intervals. What I didn’t expect was that at the 18km that marked the steep hill, she actually stopped and cheered me on, urging me forward. Carol claimed that after everything we had been through, there was no way that she was going to finish alone. Those last 3 km were my hardest yet. While I may have been instrumental to her at the beginning, it was Carol that truly motivated me to give it my all. At the 20km, Carol urged me to run hard for the both of us. As I crossed the finish line at 3:04, I turned and watched Carol cross the line herself. We had started out as strangers but will forever share the elation of what it feels like to accomplish a 21.1 km journey as a team. Carol, you truly are my running angel and, where ever you are, I thank you!
So while there was a lot of race day drama, Jodi and I did what any BAMR does: we came, we ran and we left our blood, sweat and tears on the race course. I am so thankful for all the support and encouragement. I would have truly regretted not attempting the half-marathon. That Foxy finisher necklace has not left my neck! And, as I have only one life to live, I don’t have any time for regret!