Monday, February 26, 2007

It's freezing cold and windy...let's go run a half marathon!

Tanyia, the kids and I arrived at the Peterborough YMCA about an hour and half before the start time which gave me plenty of time to ask questions and check out the facility. The race bib pick-up, bag check and the information desks were all in the brand new YMCA building that had only been open 3 weeks! It is a stunning facility, loaded with state of the art equipment and even an Olympic sized pool....but this day was not about swimming.

My Mom, Dad, niece Hayley and "baby" sister Kate arrived about 30 minutes before the start time and we made our way over to the start line. This was a little strange. The start line was a good 10 minuted walk from the Y and I am not sure why it had to be. Not a big deal , but I would love to know why they chose that as the starting point.

As we arrived at the start line, there was about 1000 people, which is about double the number at my first run. I think that if this has been my first I would have been intimidated by the sheer numbers, but I felt a real rush of confidence as I said my goodbyes to my family and found my place in the crowd. In a race with these kind of numbers it is essential that people are able to group themselves by the pace they run, otherwise you could have people running slow at the front of the pack and slow down everyone else. To help this, they have people strategically placed in the crowd carrying signs with the time they run a half marathon. I run a half in about 1:50, so I had to weave my way through the crowd at the back until I got about half way up and found the guy holding the 1:50 sign with just a minute until the start. It was very cool to walk through the crowd, many of the people wishing me good luck as I past them to move forward, some even giving me a healthy pat on the back saying " way to go!".

As the announcer starts the countdown I do my self talk ritual "five"...OK Jim you can do this..."4" ...stick to the plan "3" ...mp3 player on.."2"...just breath and focus "1"...I am ready for anything.. "Go!!!" and I am off and running!

The first 15 kms went very smooth and I remember being surprised at how good I felt. At this point I was on pace for a personal best of 1:45. Then at about the 16 km mark the course turned into the wind and what a wind! Now running into a very strong wind, my pace slowed and many of the people I had kept pace with were now stopping to walk. I kept running, but the wind cost me allot of time and really drained my energy. With each step I was fighting back the thought of taking a bit of a walk break, this wind was killing me! But as I approached the Gatorade station my spirits lifted and as I sucked back a cup of liquid energy I regained my focus. I was now just 3 kms away.

The final 2.5 kms were tough , but with my renewed focus I ignored the pain and pushed on. As I approached the finish line with only 400 meters to go this Scottish Man in the crowd jumped out at me and yelled " Give it your all...PUMP...PUMP...PUMP !" and man did it work. I found renewed speed as I went from a run to an all out sprint. I crossed the finish line and Tanyia rushed to greet me. As I saw her I was overcome with emotion and kissed her with tears on my eyes. My Dad has often asked me why I do these runs and I would always respond "for the challenge" or "to see if I can", but as I stood holding my wife in a crowd of thousands, with tears rolling down my face..I knew the real answer. For anyone thinking about running for the first time, it is an experience like no other. It is the cleanest high you can experience...hard to even describe.

I had a great day all around! My final time was 1:55, not my best, but I don't care that much. I am just happy my family was there with me for the race and always.


Suds said...


Awesome accomplishment!


Vesper Peeps said...

Fantastic Jim :)

Sounds like a "scrapbooking moment" to me ! So nice to have all the support of your loving family - what a rush and what love, a true treasure to be witness your accomplishments :)

Teriffic! Have a super week.