Now, after my second half last week, I'm ready to quit running all over again.
Don't get me wrong - the race wasn't horrible. The weather was perfect, not too hot or too windy. The part of the route that went up the trail FOREVER was a little (a lot) sucky, but all in all, not that bad.
I started out running with Renee. She was smart and decided that she should do the 10K instead of the half. The first 8K of both races was the same route, so we stuck together and I quickly realized when she turned back toward Bowering Park and I headed back down Waterford Bridge Road that those 8K were the best part of the run.
Having someone to run with keeps your mind off the fact that you are torturing yourself with running a race. As soon as I was on my own the only company I had was my brain and my brain hates running even more than I do.
I was literally on my own. There wasn't another runner in sight. If I looked really hard I thought I could see one lady way ahead in the distance. I refused to turn around and see if there was anyone behind me. I didn't need that pressure.
I soldiered on in what felt like a ghost town. Seriously, where was everyone?? There must at least be a marshal around somewhere. Was I still on course? I realized then that I was supposed to keep an eye out for the turn for the second lap when I did the first run down Waterford Bridge Road but was too busy chatting with Renee and forgot to look for it. My brain kept telling me that I had missed it. I still couldn't see any other runners and by now I had fully convinced myself that I was so far off course that I might as well just go straight down town and have a doughnut at Tim's.
But then, like a hero in the night, this guy materialized at a water table and was pointing me down a hill toward the trail.
I've run this trail many times, but always in the other direction. I'd convinced myself that even though the trail was on a slight incline all the way to Paradise, it really wouldn't be that bad. Lies.
Now that I was on the trail, I could see a few more runners. It was a comfort to know that I wasn't on my own anymore. I chugged along, watching the lady in front of me turning back every two minutes to see how close I was getting. I knew then that I would catch up to her. I was inside her head and that's never a good thing to have happen to you when you're racing. It's why I never look behind me.
I made some remark about how much running sucked as I passed her. I think she grunted a similar phrase in return. A kindred spirit.
The trail went on and on and on. I kept thinking, "The turn around must be close," but it wasn't. When I saw Batman up ahead of me I felt a little better, knowing there was someone close by that could tell the ambulance driver my details if need be. I kept watching his back, waiting for all that yellow to turn around and face me, letting me know the end was in sight. But he kept running for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually I started to see familiar faces as they made their way back down the trail. At first I was happy to see all my PRC peeps but I quickly realized how far ahead of me these people should be which meant I still had miles and miles to run up the trail. I wanted to assume the fetal position right then and there.
But then I pictured the soldier running behind me in his combat boots, carrying his rucksack on his back and I knew that I had to keep going.
And then, just like the guy at the water station, there it was:
I've never been so happy to see a pylon. I think I heard angels sing.
The route back down the trail didn't seem quite as long. I caught up with Batman who didn't look at all pleased to see me. I watched a few others who were still slogging up the trail and felt their pain. Corporal Rucksack was there too and I let him know that the worst was almost over.
With the park in sight, I picked up my pace. I seriously wanted this to be over. I nearly collided with a woman who decided to walk the last few meters. I ran faster, past more walkers. I wanted to shout at them, "The finish line is right there! Why are you walking?? RUN! RUN! RUN!"
I had hoped to finish somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45. When I ran under the clock it read 2:29:22. At the time I didn't much care, I was just happy to not be running anymore. But I guess I'm pretty happy with that number.
I know we all have bad races and even though my time was great, I still felt like this race belonged on the naughty list. I didn't feel good after and I spent the afternoon wondering how I could get out of doing the Huffin Puffin Half without Renee getting mad with me.
Who knows what the summer will bring. Maybe when the Tely is done I'll be rearing to go for half #3. Or maybe I'll retire from running yet again, take another hiatus, go on strike.
I guess I'll have to wait and see what's beyond the pylons.