My First Half Marathon Post Heart Attack !
It took me a while to write this. I had to sort through all my thoughts on this race.
I trained hard, I was dedicated, I pushed when I wanted to give up, kept going to the gym even when I didn’t feel like it. Every moment leading up to the race was a challenge. I was as ready as I was going to be. My mind, my body felt strong.
Now, before I dive into this further please understand I am very proud of finishing the race and no one can take that away from me. The pride and the finish.
I spent time before the race meeting friends, taking photos and having my photo taken many times thanks to people loving my race shirt ! The Shirt….that is for another post.
To say I was nervous would be the biggest understatement of the day.
I was ready to take this race and make it mine. In my training I had felt amazing, was running an 11:45 min/mile. I only had a few blips while training but worked through it smartly.
Smart. That here is the key word my friends. I trained not for speed, I trained to be smart, healthy and to ensure I was having fun. Trained not to think too much about my heart attack and what could go wrong. I felt so amazing !
Then came race day. Up at the crack of crazy ( 3am) for a start time of 7:00 am. I never publicly stated I had a goal but in my head I wanted to finish in 2:25. That is what I trained for.
I won’t detail every kilometre, I promise.
The course was amazing, flat, scenic. The weather was cool at the start and quite warm as the race progressed. The first kilometre and a half I ran with my friend Susan but realized her 9 min per mile pace was too much for me and out of my training zone. I let her go ahead because I did not want her to stay behind for me. I really wanted to do the whole race with her but realized she was a lot faster than I was. Respect the pace, respect the distance is exactly what was going through my head.
The first 5 KM I felt amazing, was matching my 12 min/ mile pace and just before the 5 km mark I stopped to see my friend Danielle who was waiting kindly for me by the Starbucks in Bridgeland. It was so good to see my friend Danielle on the course, it gives you a little boost to keep pushing forward. I took a photo with her and off I went.
As I ran back across Memorial Drive I was loving the race having fun with other runners and was still keeping a 12 min mile but that was not to last much longer.
It was slightly before reaching 17th avenue that a little fatigue had started to set in. This was between kilometre 8 and 9.
17th Avenue. What do I say about this part of the course ? It was definitely the worst part of the entire course. It was 2.5 km of uneven roads, pot holes and a narrowing of the course. Pedestrians crossed at a few points from the sides of the street. Just before Kilometre 10 is when my race started to go downhill.
I went to pass 3 runners who were running side by side by side. As I cut to the right I hit a dip in the road hard, twisted my knee, tried to brace myself from falling right over ( BIG MISTAKE !). It took about another KM before I started feeling immense pain. Now in theory this could have absolutely ruined my race but something great came out of it. The Injury? A Sprained Knee which I am still battling the pain of a few weeks later.
As I went to walk to the side once the pain started, I bumped into a young woman, apologized and we laughed. This woman would be one of 2 that I ran/ walked the rest of the race with. Her name was Lindsay. The other girl was Shona.
The rest of the race we paced each other, taking walk breaks and although I admitted being in pain, I downplayed it. I remember at one point, Shona had said I was the reason she was running and staying in it. That was awesome to hear and yes, it motivated my ass to keep going.
My pace slowed to between 14-16 minutes per mile. There were far more walk breaks than I had hoped for but I knew pushing harder would have made this injury worse. So I did what I seem to do best in hard situations.
I laughed. I danced. I chatted with those around me. I posed as I ran past cameras. I hugged a random person. I pretended to be Superman, only, I was missing my Lois Lane. My Knee was my race kryptonite but it would not wreck my spirit. I kept repeating encouragement to my run mates as they did with me. This race was still mine.
The final kilometre was upon us and yes I continued to run/walk right up until the final corner where I ran, in tons of frickin pain but I ran. That finish line looked so close and yet so far away. The three of us kinda split at the end. I would run into Lindsay again at Bag Check and a few days later on Instragram.
Crossing the finish line. OH. MY. GOD. So much awesome that it is hard to put into words.
I Crossed, I Cried ( that is again for another post), crouched to my knees after crossing, got up and walked up to… and this is where it gets really cool.
Her name is Sarah Lynn Stephens. The day before the race she saw me at the packet pick up and told me I would finish and do amazing. Little did I know til later that the girl I got my medal from, who’s shoulder I cried on was the same girl who had encouraged me before the race. A Girl who’s sister is actually on one of my Dodgeball teams. Small World.
Seriously such an awesome finish, I would not have changed a thing.
The Race was fun, tough, but fun. My Heart felt amazing, not once was I worried about my heart. It was my heart that got me through to the finish. My body was up to the task at hand and I had fun for the entire 21.1 km. I made a couple new friends, experienced brief emotion ( again a different post), finished a race and became very proud of what I accomplished even if it wasn’t the goal time I had hoped.
So what else is there to say?
When you set out to accomplish a goal, No matter how hard you train, how prepared you are…..Sometimes things don’t go as you had hoped or planned. Sometimes we search and try for one thing but discover another. There is no reason to be disappointed if you don’t get your time or PR and complete your goal. Use it to move forward but don’t beat yourself up, be proud of what you did accomplish and look for what made the experience great.
For me, it was two women who made me laugh, crossing the finish line, crying on the shoulder of someone who said they were proud of me and in the end……Kicking Heart Disease’s Ass for yet another day.