Months ago, Sunshine mentioned to me that she was interested in running a 5k at the Maritime Race Weekend as part of a group with her work. She then mentioned that the half-marathon was the following day…on my birthday. At the time, it seemed like sign. What kind of sign? I’m not quite sure, but it seemed to at least be a sign that I should agree to run the half as long as Sunshine was with me.
Check that…WALK the half, not run.
Here’s the thing…I’m someone who is trying to find direction in his life, especially as I enter my 40’s. I feel like I need to truly find out who I really am. I’ve moved in a positive direction over the past five years, but sometimes I sit back and wonder just who I really am…and if I’m “that guy”, then do I want to be something more? If I do, what do I do in order to get there?
A lot of questions that need to be answered, I know. But I believed that one positive step would be to walk a half marathon on my 41st birthday. I figured that it was something that, even two years ago, I would have never even imagined me doing in a million years. To do something like that would be a new beginning, of sorts…a further evolution on my way to being the man I truly want to be.
I trained leading up to the big day. Not a lot, but I trained. The vast majority of my training dealt with short, 3-5km walks. On two different occasions, Sunshine and I went on 10+ km walks, with the second one being 18km long. I figured, if I could walk 18km then finishing a 21km half marathon would be no problem.
The event kicked off with a song that got me excited to get started.
The event was called the Maritime Race Weekend and had a pirate theme. In saying that, I had to attempt to look the part. I didn’t go “all out” but tried to, at least, fit in.
After five minutes, my feet were already wet. This was not a good sign of things to come. The good news was that I felt great. In fact, I began to do a “30 second run, 2 minute walk” pace that left me feeling really good about things. In fact, by the time I hit 10km I was feeling really good about things, in spite of the blisters that were developing on my feet.
The blisters got really bad in rapid fashion. If you’re a runner, you know what blisters can do to your ability to actually run. For a 200+ lb guy who doesn’t run properly (i.e. I run on the balls of my feet, not my heels), these blisters prevented me from actually running at all. I couldn’t even go 30 seconds anymore, so that slowed my pace considerably.
As we approached the 15km market, I was in a ton of pain. It wasn’t to the point that I was going to quit, but I was really hurting. I began to question just what in the heck I was doing. Did I think I was an athlete? Did I think I was supposed to be part of the same group of people who actually RUN this thing? I wasn’t really feeling it…
As I continued on, I realized that the “counting up” part of the race was over. No longer was I worried about how many kilometres I had completed. Instead, I was counting down how many kilometres were left. I was actually going to finish this thing!
I won’t lie…the final two kilometres were brutal. I was practically limping and was to the point of exhaustion that I stuck the headphones of my iPod into my ear, eliminating all outside distractions (including Sunshine), and just did my best to power through.
I saw the finish line through the fog and became emotional. I saw volunteers cheering me on and it helped to inspire me. I crossed the finish line and was absolutely elated…I had done something that my body didn’t think I could do, that my “former self” never thought I could do, that none of my friends and family would have ever thought I WOULD do.
I grabbed Sunshine for a super-huge hug…feeling her pride in my accomplishment. The volunteers put a medal around my neck and I was absolutely beaming…the reality of the situation still not yet fully sinking in.
Sunshine has caught me numerous times over the past month since the race downplaying what I did. It’s now at the point, though, that I can look back and really be proud of what I accomplished. So few people even attempt a half-marathon…why does it matter if I walked it or ran it? I finished walking 21kilometres in just over 3 1/2 hours. That is an accomplishment that nobody else can ever take away from me.
Will I do another one? Perhaps. I now have a time to base all future races by, should I want to improve my time. I think, though, that for right now I’m just going to reflect and let the reality of the situation sink in for awhile longer. My body is still recovering (the feet still have remnants of the blisters) and I’m only now getting back into a walking routine, which won’t last long as the snow isn’t too far off.
Will I do another one? Ask me again in the spring.