by Alison kemp
My First Half Marathon
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They say “A thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao-Tzu My “thousand miles” was actually 21.2 km but I am sure I took thousands of steps. A non runner just a few short years ago, running didn’t come easily to me and I never thought I would attempt a half marathon. But my boyfriend presented this goal to me and after some serious thought, I jumped in dragging 3 of my friends with me. I knew I would need their support and I thought they might enjoy the challenge as well. We chose a 6 month training period to allow our joints the time to get accustomed to the distance. Our 3 training days each week included strength, speed and endurance runs. Every Sunday was our long run and these soon became our favorites -- each Sunday, we took turns providing the post run snack. This motivation got us through many km’s of wanting to stop but pushing on to get to the treats at the end! We each had our own reasons for taking on this challenge and we all had bad days. But we encouraged one another, relied on each other strengths and found shoulders to hold us up on our weak days. It was a grueling process and a huge time commitment but when we reached the 14km mark in our training program, we all knew it was achievable. One of the best bonuses was how fantastic our legs were looking... just in time for summer. Finally the moment had arrived: the Ottawa Race weekend. Filled with nervous energy, we stood in our starting corral waiting for the horn...
it went and we were off, alongside 12,000 runners and an estimated 100,000 spectators. We settled in to our pace and followed the mass of runners along the Rideau Canal, across into Quebec and back into Confederation Park. Enroute, there were scrumptious garlicky smells going through Little Italy, a sea of green Gatorade cups at every water station, fantastic steel drum bands, bongo playing musicians, and cheering people with noisemakers and encouraging posters. The energy was contagious and I’m sure it made us run faster! Keeping an eye on my watch and working toward my finish time goal, I paced my fuel and electrolyte replacements. As my body parts started to complain loudly, I kept repeating “chest up, hips forward”. What I found most surprising is how emotional I got. There were a few times during the race that I got teary (so I put my glasses back on!) and many times again on the drive home. Why? I am not sure. Was it because I had accomplished something I had always thought was out of my reach? Was it the bigness of the event? Both my boyfriend and I are still baffled but my eyes well up even as I write this. It is a good feeling to find such emotion in achieving a goal that I didn’t know I cared so much about! Gang, a half marathon may not be your goal but each of us has a secret challenge tucked deep down inside a pocket. Give yourself the biggest gift you can by tackling and accomplishing one of your hidden treasures. ACHIEVE BELIEVE COMMIT SUCCEED