I spent the weekend in Cochrane with one of my dearest, longest-known friends: Suzi, also known to me as just Sku. I am home after a long, rainy drive, and my heart is full and happy from so much goodness!
The main reason for visiting this weekend was to participate in the Footstock half marathon on Saturday morning. I knew that I was ready, but that didn’t stop me from having incredible pre-race jitters!! I took 2 melatonin tablets before bed and still tossed and turned all night, listening to the rain and thunder outside.
I woke up to a cold, dreary day. The ground was soggy and the wind was howling. Suzi and I bundled up into my car, cranked the heated seats on, and drove to town! And before I knew it…I was off!
The pack mentality was hard to shake. I knew what my goals were: keep a 6:30 km/min pace or faster, walk one minute every 5 km, and finish under 2:15. The energy swept me away from the starting line and I had to fight to keep from pacing with the crowd. I held back, knowing that I would be better off in the long run
Six beautiful kilometres along the Bow River, and then the hill from hell that Melinda had warned me about. Even knowing, I was completely unprepared for the monster that lay ahead of me. Head down, one foot in front of the other, don’t walk. And when I wanted to walk, I didn’t, because I was going to OWN THIS DAMN HILL! At the top, it curved to the right…and then KEPT GOING UP. Oh god.
And then…I crested the top and headed 3 kilometres down a dirt road that had been magically transformed into a mud pit. The wind beat down on me, and I could barely see through the rain drops dripping off my eyelashes. I was soaked and cold, and just like *that* – the turn around. Halfway done!! I hadn’t even paused to walk!
I passed the 12km line, and all of a sudden my right IT-band started screaming at me out of the blue. I’d had no pain until then, although I’d been expecting it. I promised myself to walk if it started hurting worse. A couple hundred metres later, it did. I have never stopped moving SO suddenly. It hurt.
I swore under my breath as I walked it out, trying to stretch and lengthen my stride without stopping. I tried to talk myself up. I had just over 9km left in my run…I could do this. I had to do this. I was NOT letting some nagging stupid injury foil my great plan!!
So I ran.
And as I ran, I played with my gait until I found a strode that minimized the pain and let me keep going. I vowed to adapt as necessary, but for the next 9 continuous (no walking – woo!), I ran with an imaginary Skip-It on my right ankle:
Yup. I can’t WAIT to go to physio on Wednesday!! Pleeeeease don’t kill me, Laurie??
But surprisingly, even though I swung my right leg out for 9km, it didn’t hurt. And post-race? My knees were tender if I sat for too long, but not stiff and definitely not painful! And today? I’m not the least bit sore, tired, or stiff!
I screamed down the hill of death, and into the river valley. I was on track for my pace, and the wind was at my back. My energy was high, and I was flying. I broke out of the trail at 18km, and a song came on my iPod.
And suddenly, 3km from my goal, I had a lump in my throat the size of Texas and was fighting back tears. I was completely emotionally overwhelmed by the magnitude of the day and overcome with gratitude for everything and everyone who got me to that point. I was also profoundly proud of myself and my body for making it happen.
Yes, I was bawling on a dirt path while I ran.
And then the finish line was in sight. I bucked up my pace to a beautiful 5:30km/min for the last kilometre. I saw my dear Sku at the finish line, camera in hand. I heard my name on the loudspeaker…
And I finished.
And now, I have this to add to my collection: